Links 6/16/18

Hart County grandmother kills rabid bobcat with bare hands Athens Banner-Herald (Dr. Kevin). She needs financial help with her rabies treatment…

New type of photosynthesis discovered ScienceDaily (Shane)

New form of matter may lie just beyond the periodic table PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Making buildings, cars and planes from materials based on plant fibres The Economist

New York, Boston Face Coastal Flooding Without a Storm in Sight Bloomberg

Leaked UN draft report warns of urgent need to cut global warming Guardian (Kevin W)

The Battlefield Subreddit Has Officially Had It With ‘Historical Accuracy’ Complaints Kotaku (Kevin W)

Verizon’s New Phone Plan Proves It Has No Idea What ‘Unlimited’ Actually Means Gizmodo

The most important study of the Mediterranean diet has been retracted Quartz


As Vote On ZTE Sanctions Looms, Some U.S. Lawmakers Focus On A Bigger Chinese Telecom NPR (Kevin W)

North Korea

Russia inserts itself into North Korea game Asia Times

North Korea Issue is Not De-nuclearization But De-Colonization Counterpunch

Delhi’s air pollution is now so bad it is literally off the chart Guardian

Germany’s political crisis over asylum: What happens now? DW


Brexit rebel Dominic Grieve says May’s compromise ‘a slap in face’ BBC

Brexit: no room for doctrine Richard North


US expected to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council: report The Hill. UserFriendly: “Because as we all know criticising Israel is always and every time 100% racist.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Apple, Facebook, Google issue joint statement condemning NSA data mining Duffel Blog (Kevin W)

The Onion is on a crusade against Mark Zuckerberg because it says Facebook is choking its traffic Business Insider (David L)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon Admits Afghanistan’s New Black Hawks Can’t Match Its Older Russian Choppers The Drive

Tariff Tantrum

How the Trump-China Trade Fight Is Rippling Through Corporate America Bloomberg

Trump tariffs threaten China’s status as emerging markets anchor Financial Times

No more cathode ray tubes from China, says Trump Administration Asia Times (Kevin W)

Could Ottawa slap the Trump Organization with trade sanctions? – Macleans. UserFriendly: “God, the Democrats would go absolutely insane over this. The Magnitsky act, no less. I can already imagine the Justin 2020 push, constitution be damned.”

Trump Transition

Manafort Heads to Jail After Judge Faults Witness Tampering Bloomberg

DOJ IG, Horowitz, Fails to Admit What He Proves by Publius Tacitus Sic Semper Tyrannis

White House walks back Trump’s rejection of immigration compromise The Hill (UserFriendly)

Paul Manafort: judge sends ex-Trump chair to jail for violating bail term Guardian

Mueller warns of Russian midterm attack, while Trump attacks Mueller The Hill. UserFriendly: “At least we’ll know who to blame when literally anyone loses.​”

UserFriendly: “II think Peter Daou had a stroke. He said something true.​”

You don’t really know who Bernie Sanders was in the 1960s. Medium. UserFriendly: “The worst part about this is that you can be damn sure that the Clintons and John Lewis knew all this from Opposition research and still ran the campaign they did.”

California appeals court reinstates law allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives Los Angeles Times

Elizabeth Holmes Finally Getting Her Comeuppance

Theranos founder hit with criminal charges BBC (David L). I recall when the Wall Street Journal started exposing the Theranos fraud, its comment section was chock full of people attacking the stories, howling that they were the work of jealous journalists who only wanted to tear down a successful entrepreneur. I wish they would get their comeuppance too.

Theranos Founder Holmes, Ex-President Charged With Fraud Bloomberg

U.S. Files Criminal Charges Against Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes, Ramesh Balwani Wall Street Journal. Reliance on wire fraud looks like going for what was easy to prove….a little surprised not to see charges regarding misrepresentations to the FDA but maybe that is part of the wire fraud charges. But it still adds up to a maximum of 220 years of jail time.

Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos CEO at TEDMED 2014 YouTube. Weirdly the full talk is down, but this clip is enough to see how deranged she seems. I’m not big on focusing on affect, since a lot of psychopaths have mastered the art of seeming charming, but her manner alone should have sent off alarms. Her fixed stare is consistent with being on a high dose of Percocet, which reduces one’s blink speed, or something amiss with her wiring. As I said to Lambert, it’s as if she’s a bad actress auditioning for the part of being a cult leader.

Canada Has a Subprime Real Estate Problem, You just Don’t Know It Wolf Street (EM). Wolf has been keeping tabs on this…

More from UserFriendly:

Class Warfare

Social mobility in richest countries ‘has stalled since 1990s’ Guardian

More than 400 Washington Post staffers wrote an open letter to Jeff Bezos calling out his ‘shocking’ pay practices This Insider (Kevin W)

Why would Tesla fight a rule that would force electric-car manufacturers to treat their workers well? Mike Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

Union defeats Deliveroo in latest round of gig economy rights case Independent

Harvard Rated Asian-American Applicants Lower on Personality Traits, Suit Says New York Times (Kevin W)

For the biggest group of American workers, wages aren’t just flat. They’re falling. Washington Post

How Long Does It Take to Get a Job in America Today? 84.3 Days for HR… TalentWorks (UserFriendly)

The Science of the Job Search, Part V: Getting Fired (or Laid Off) Costs You ~5 Years of Experience TalentWorks (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “A Vizsla enjoying his run at Eastview Park.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Eureka Springs

    Thanks for the bobcat story. I’ll be skittish for life now. /s I see bobcat in my yard all the time. Nowadays even in daylight. I’ve been trying for years to get a decent photo for Antidote du Jour but they are always too blurry. Warms my heart to see Grandma has raised twice what she estimated her medical costs would be.

    Once knew an old Doctor who I deer hunted with for a few years. He claimed to have taken over 70 in his lifetime.

    1. crittermom

      Great story. (Yet sad the Bobcat & other species in the area had rabies)
      I, too, am happy she has raised the funds needed for her care.

      I had Bobcat/Lynx/Mtn lion at my former home but was never able to get good photos, either. They only visited my place at night.

    2. The Rev Kev

      What was so amazing about that woman was that she had the presence of mind not to call for help as that might have called out her 5 year-old granddaughter and put her life in danger.

  2. fresno dan

    If there were two investigative options — e.g., (1) give immunity to Paul Combetta (the service technician for Clinton’s server who lied to the FBI and destroyed evidence) or (2) prosecute him for false statements — the IG says his analysis is limited to whether the option chosen was objectively defensible.

    This turns out to be an abstract analysis with a lot of gobbledygook about whether the prosecution would have served federal interests, whether Combetta was undermined by bad lawyering, etc. The IG is going to tell you that while immunity might not have been the best choice, it was a defensible choice — it enabled the FBI to get his testimony faster (i.e., to lie to them in a more timely fashion on the artificially compressed deadline they’d established for closing the case without charges). What is Horowitz not going to consider? That a hundred times out of a hundred, in cases not involving Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, most normally aggressive federal prosecutors, including Trump-Russia prosecutor Robert Mueller, would have charged Combetta and squeezed* him to roll over on his confederates.
    I think McCarthy of National Review has the most knowing and informed take on all things related to the Trump Russia investigation. In any investigation there are a zillion decisions to be made – and if Federali’s know anything, it is how to defend their decisions.
    Equal squeezing under law – was the Clinton team squeezed as long and as hard as the Trump team?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Of course not. The same FBI agents who referred to her as “the President” cast aside standard investigative procedure by interviewing potential targets in groups (so they could coordinate their stories), casting a blind eye on “lost” and tampered evidence (such as Hillary and her attorneys having done their own purge of “yoga and wedding” emails), and keeping no transcript which made “lying to the FBI” charges impossible.

      It was more like, “Wink, wink, we both know we’ve got to go through the motions here, but we’re making it as easy as possible on your fledgling administration by serving you some softball questions, knowing we’re going to need a strong working relationship over the next four years.”

      One would not be surprised if “Agents 1-5” actually donated to the Clinton Foundation after wrapping up their investigation matter, in the forlorn hope that Her Majesty would remember their kindness and perhaps elevate them to policy positions.

      Tens of millions were donated to the Clinton Foundation by foreign countries using the same logic. Why are we collectively unable to “go there” and conclude that this was outright bribery on a spectacular scale? Laundering two billion dollars would get you probably 897 years under the federal sentencing guidelines.

      Manafort is the poster boy of how our scorched-earth prosecutorial system normally works. “Off with his head!” Hillary would shriek if she were wielding the presidential sceptre.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        It’s deja vu all over again.

        First a highly bogus exoneration, and then an even more highly bogus exoneration of the exoneraters.

        Do they really expect anyone to buy this?

        mueller had better tread carefully. His team has a very long disabled list and the crowd is more than restless, they’re fed up to the gills. Trump is fast becoming untouchable.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Committee chairs Devin Nunes and Charles Grassley will make a last push during the less than five months they’ve got left before D-party chairs replace one or both of them.

          But with AG Jeff Sessions rarely venturing out from his assisted living facility, the odds are against them.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            Dunno about the senate.

            Here in Florida, Rick Scott is running a pretty compelling ad against Bill Nelson. It starts out with 1978 in big numbers on the screen, a picture of a couple in front of their new Ford Pinto, a photo of a gas price sign showing 69 cents per gallon and a photo of a young Bill Nelson.

            The voice over says that 1978 was the first year Bill Nelson was elected to Congress.

            The ad morphs into pictures of a wrecked Pinto, gas prices at $2.80 (I think) and a visibly aged, dare I say decrepit, Bill Nelson.

            Lots of blue-hairs in Florida who remember the good old days and want ’em back. I find myself wondering if the Russians had something to do with this ad, facile as they are at finding america’s Achilles heels and all.

          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            Jim, they have the same powerful disincentives that Democrat leaders do. The Clinton’s pay-to-play edifice is remarkable only in its scale. In its size, scope, and seamlessness. Most Republican politicians are quite happy to emulate them. (Aching to do so in fact).

            Much of their visceral hatred for the Clintons over these past 2 decades has been driven by envy, not offended decency. So no, they aren’t going to give their all in pursuit of justice in this matter. They’d damage their own options going forward if they did so.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Yes, because destroying subpoenaed evidence, selling global State Department favors to the highest bidder, and using intelligence agencies to subvert a presidential election, those are not crimes. Working to expose such crimes, in your parallel universe thought-o-sphere, ah now there we have a treasonous offense.
              Reminds me of Lanny Breuer stating that if we didn’t let bank criminals off scot-free it might be an existential threat to the integrity of the banking system. He had his conclusion right but needed to face 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Not prosecuting bank criminals is the existential threat to the system.

      2. Sid_finster

        Learn this well. In America today, there is no such thing as law.

        There is only context.

        1. perpetualWAR

          Oh, there are laws, but they are just for the 99%. We get thrown the book at us. But the 1% are untouchable…..except for the coming guillotines.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > Wink, wink, we both know we’ve got to go through the motions here

        Making it all the more puzzling that Comey did what he did so close to the election. (Personally, I don’t think it swung the election, because Clinton’s polling was dropping before Comey’s statement, but how could Comey have thought it would have no effect or, if he were biased toward Clinton, a good effect?)

        Or are we simply in “The Intelligence Community That Shouldn’t Shoot Straight” territory here?

        1. Pespi

          It smells like political ass covering. By that time the sensitive flame was bopping towards Donald Trump. Comey assumedly knew how deeply compromised the Clinton investigation was, the kind of thing that could destroy the careers of his loyal ladder climbers and himself. A flop sweat admission.

          All a bald headed guess, of course.

          1. Andrew Watts

            It’s basically a professional misconduct investigation judging from the IG report. That’s why Horowitz talks about political bias and his investigation is solely focused on it. I doubt I’m going bother finishing it.

            It’s likely Comey thought that it would tarnish or otherwise destroy the reputation of the FBI. His subsequent actions seemed like an attempt to insulate and protect the organization. Why else would he cease consulting and even communicating with Attorney General Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Yates about the ongoing investigations?

            IMO Comey comes off as a particularly naive boy scout who didn’t realize how deep the rot was which included individuals in the FBI he probably believed were above reproach. How somebody like that becomes the Director of the FBI is beyond my comprehension.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Perhaps the rotten rot-spreading rotters knew how Comey’s boy scout naivete’ could be used to protect the rot and help it rot deeper and higher. If so, perhaps the rotten rot-spreading rotters pulled every lever and pressed every button they had to get Comey installed as Director.

              1. Andrew Watts

                Possibly. It’d make it easier to do end runs around the Director if that was necessarily the case. While playing up the niceness of the man who is theoretically responsible for overseeing and guiding the organization.

        2. Watt4Bob

          Or are we simply in “The Intelligence Community That Shouldn’t Shoot Straight” territory here?

          Is that a trick question?

          Comey reminds me more and more of a Monty Python character with every passing day, so my scale is tipping toward biased stupidity, and of course;

          Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            On the other hand, stupidity is the best all-around cover a malicious agent ever had. There are many contexts and situations where that should be remembered.

        3. Rob P

          Comey thought Clinton was going to win anyway, and wanted to protect the FBI’s reputation. There was already a paper trail showing the FBI leadership finding out about the Clinton emails on Weiner’s laptop in September-October. He figured if they didn’t look into it before the election, it would come out after, and he’d be accused of influencing the election by burying it. Imagine if Clinton won, which is what Comey and everyone else expected, then a week later everyone finds out about the Weiner laptop stuff, and the FBI knew about it and didn’t do anything.

          1. anonymous

            Comey was the US attorney for the Southern District of New York who investigated and pardoned Bill Clinton in 2000 in the Marc Rich case and in a vote buying case. Clinton had pardoned some convicted felons in a voting district crucial to Hillary’s ability to win the NY Senate race.

            The IG, Horowitz, interestingly was the attorney for the Southern District of New York also, through 1999.


      4. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        June 16, 2018 at 9:16 am

        It will be too easy, however, to miss the most important conclusion of the report: there is no longer a way to claim America’s internal intelligence agency, the FBI, did not play a role in the 2016 election. There is only to argue which side they favored and whether they meddled via clumsiness, as a coordinated action, or as a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau. And that’s the tally before anyone brings up the FBI’s use of a human informant inside the Trump campaign, the FBI’s use of both FISA warrants and pseudo-legal warrantless surveillance against key members of the Trump team, the FBI’s use of opposition research from the Steele Dossier, and so on.
        Carter Page – I can remember when there were these things called civil liberties.

        1. fresno dan

          The good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared. But even if one fully accepts the IG report’s conclusion that all this— and there’s a lot —was not intentional, at a minimum it makes clear to those watching ahead of 2020 what tools are available and the impact they can have. While we continue to look for the bad guy abroad, we have already met the enemy and he is us.

          Abraham Lincoln: America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
          Unfortunately, Lincoln never said the above…but he should have.

          1. Sid_finster

            I have said it many times, to general jeering, but our own “intelligence community” scares me more than all the terrorists that ever walked the earth.

            1. Big Tap

              Correct. The ‘intelligence community’ can be frightening and lacks decency on occasion. Don’t forget Mueller’s incompetence in the 2001 Anthrax murders investigation. He blamed not one but two innocent people. The second person eventually committed suicide. He’s also a perjurer over Congressional testimony about Iraq’s so called weapons of mass destruction. Evidently he’s arrogant too.

      5. Procopius

        Keeping no transcript is standard FBI practice so they can charge people with lying. I believe in the last couple of years FBI agents have been allowed to record their interviews if they get permission from a high level executive, but standard practice is as Comey described his procedure with Trump. They never record, but after an interview is over they write down “notes” of what was said. It’s supposed to be done “immediately,” but the agent who nailed Martha Stewart admitted she didn’t write down the notes until a couple of weeks later. Of course the court trusted the agent against the defendant.

  3. cnchal

    > More than 400 Washington Post staffers wrote an open letter to Jeff Bezos calling out his ‘shocking’ pay practices This Insider (Kevin W)

    Specifically mentioned in the petition were pay increases of $10 a week . . .

    To Wapoopoo employees: Consider yourself lucky you aren’t working in one of his satanic mills.

    It’s America, bitch.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Maybe they should have paid closer attention when the same thing was happening to everybody else instead of “reporting” how great things are in the “economy.” What’s next, their “healthcare” is too expensive?

      Maybe they just don’t have the right “skills” for this new “knowledge” economy.

      They could just quit and move to where the “good jobs” are.

      Here’s the 411, guys and gals of wapo, democracy dies in “darkness.” And so does your paycheck.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I can imagine a writer who was just told he/she gets a $10 raise, then returning to their work penning billionaire-approved articles about how wonderful it will be to have more war, how great the economy is, how wage hikes will kill growth, and how ineffective single payer would be.
        We used to have a press that was the envy of the world. How long the plebes will even read the agitprop/Pravda we have today remains to be seen.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The ten per centers will keep reading it for confirmation and reassurance and emotional support. Look at the ads in the Waw Poo. Look at the ads in the New York Times. What per cent of those ads are aimed at plebs? What per cent of those ads are aimed at ten per centers?

        2. John Wright

          I am of the opinion that the US Press was never the “envy of the world”.

          As I remember, the US press was supportive of the militarization of America, the drug war, supportive of being “tough on crime” to fill the jails, supportive of “reforming” social security and was late to oppose the Vietnam war (or any US war).

          One upside to the “Russia, Russia” theme is that it smacks of desperation by the MSM as it could be trying to show the elite that they (the MSM) can still control the population with a narrative even though their favored candidate lost.

          We may now be in a Golden age of media, as in other media alternatives, like NC, to the mainstream media.

          But government censorship of the internet could end this Golden age.

          The USA MSM may never have served the USA population (and the world) well.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Parts of the MSM at times may have served us well in some cases. The McClatchy papers supposedly ran stories about the falsity of weapons-of-mass-destruction claims against Iraq during the runup to the 2003 Iraq War. Certain specialty publications have done good work.

            Perhaps we should speak of an SSM . . . for Side Stream Media. I have never felt ill-served by the very tiny-audience publication called Acres USA, and it doesn’t even HAVE a computer component. It is strictly ink on wood pulp fibers.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Funny I should have just read your comment this moment. I just finished the other Post article featured today, “For the biggest group of American workers, wages aren’t just flat. They’re falling”.

      By themselves, the paradoxes behind this article (some encouraging, some frustrating) are laid bare: the writer calls out lowering wages and increasing economic inequality, and suggests that the blame lies partly with “weaker union rights” — but then weirdly conflates “Democrats” with Bernie Sanders as though the “party” weren’t still trying to marginalize him. Or is this the writer’s attempt to “normalize” Sanders’ economic agenda for readers?

      But combine the undercurrent of that article with the one you pointed out, and the backdrop is quite stunning. It would seem that at this company, there *is* a disconnect between the owner and workers. A labor dispute that plays itself out in the pages of the newspaper owned by the greediest man in America? Maybe there’s hope for change in this country after all.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Conflating Democrats with Sanders.

        That’s one issue with taking over the party.

        When Nomura bought Lehman’s business in Asia, back around 2008 or 2009, I think they discontinue the brand name…too toxic.

        Probably need a new name here for after the take over…when or if.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How about ” Real Democrats” ? They could call the purged and decontaminated party the Real Democrat Party and they could call themselves Real Democrats.

          But they can’t do that unless they are able to purge, burn and exterminate every single Catfood Democrat microbe and every single cell of Malignant Metastatic Clintonoma from out of the party.

          Because if you have even one cholera bacillus in the water supply, you have cholera water. And if you have even one Malignant Metastatic Clintonoma cell in the political party, you have Malignant Metastatic Clintonoma.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I hope people can show better, as deep down, I believe, we all are capable of doing something good.

            And exterminating is not a comfortable word with me. Sorry, even for someone very far from being virtuous like me.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I will try training myself to find and use other words, like ” eliminate” and “remove” and “expel”.

  4. Eureka Springs

    First effort appears to have vanished. Hope this isn’t a repeat.

    Thanks for the bobcat story. I’ll be skittish for life now. /s I see bobcat in my yard all the time. Nowadays even in daylight. I’ve been trying for years to get a decent photo for Antidote du Jour but they are always too blurry. Warms my heart to see Grandma has raised twice what she estimated her medical costs would be.

    Once knew an old Doctor who I deer hunted with for a few years. He claimed to have taken over 70 in his lifetime.

    1. diptherio

      I’ve noticed more vanishing comments myself, lately. However, if I check back after 5-10 minutes, they do appear (like your original comment did).

      1. blennylips

        To say that a reinforcement is contingent upon a response may mean nothing more than that it follows the response. It may follow because of some mechanical connection or because of the mediation of another organism; but conditioning takes place presumably because of the temporal relation only, expressed in terms of the order and proximity of response and reinforcement. Whenever we present a state of affairs which is known to be reinforcing at a given drive, we must suppose that conditioning takes place, even though we have paid no attention to the behavior of the organism in making the presentation. A simple experiment demonstrates this to be the case.

        I always wait 3 seconds to refresh the page after “Post Comment”.

        What’s your ritual?


        B. F. Skinner
        Indiana University

        First published in Journal of Experimental Psychology, 38, 168-172.

        1. cm

          I always wait 3 seconds to refresh the page after “Post Comment”.

          I find delays of 30 minutes not uncommon, so I just post and wait for the system to work itself out. I *thought* that during troubled times/topics there was an additional delay for manual moderation and link verification, but I could be overthinking this. Just be patient…

            1. ambrit

              Patience is indeed a virtue. However, sometimes it bytes.
              How’s the garden doing? I’m working in ours today, and sweating my meagre brains out.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Due to caching, it can take as long as 2 minutes for a comment to appear. Be patient rather than reposting. Posting multiple times trains our software to see you as a spammer. Once that happens, there is nothing we can do, because among other things, we lack the resources to go hoisting comments out of the 3,0000 to 4,000 spam messages we get per day.

      1. ambrit

        Please clarify for this poor technology challenged individual.
        Would the “posting multiple times” refer to posting the same comment multiple times? Just so that I can be clear in my thinking. Thanks for your forbearance.

        1. HotFlash

          Um. I think this is how it works. Things to be uploaded are cached (as in the old-fashioned ‘put in a safe hidey-hole for future use’), until a sufficient volume/bytes/certain time happens. Another way to look at it is ‘batched’, just stored until there is time/space/sufficient volume to upload, then a bunch of stuff gets uploaded in one swell foop.

          So, if someone thinks their comment has not been recognized, and posts *the same comment* again (many of us compose in text files or other formats so we don’t embarrass ourselves quite so much), Skynet would see that as a multiple post and deem it spam. One person posting multiple *different* comments should not, so far as I can tell, infuriate Skynet. But I am only an egg.

  5. timbers

    North Korea

    Russia inserts itself into North Korea game Asia Times

    I read from some Russian news source that South Korea contacted Russia regarding a gas pipeline through North Korea. Seems like a sensible idea, but this is one reason I think when Trump moves on to other things the Establishment supports – like promoting war with Iran – the Establishment will turn it’s attention to sabotaging events in North Korea because among other things the possibility of Russian gas and influence growing in the region. The U.S. has sabotaged and opposed so many Russian venues for selling energy, seems this will not go un-responded by the Imperialists in Washington.

  6. bronco

    Battlefield subreddit article is disturbing . Whats bothering me is our country or society is so disjointed that millions of people waste hours a day playing some stupid on line game. Most of them just play the game I have no idea how many hours , however there is a group within a group that not only waste time playing the game they waste more time arguing about it online while they aren’t playing.

    Imagine if all or even part of those man or woman hours were devoted to useful activity?

    Like here I am , Joe or Suzi gamer in the prime of life , possibly struggling under the burden of a mortgage or student debt , and I choose not to work more to clear that away , instead I log into a game and pretend I’m a superhero or dragon slayer or tank commander. Fake accomplishments are no substitute for real ones. Killing an ogre or a tank or a dragon , being king of a virtual country , is a merely virtual thrill .

    Raising a child , building or buying a house , restoring an old car, climbing a mountain , kayaking a set of rapids, bowling a perfect game (in an actual bowling alley ) , hitting a home run in some softball league are real accomplishments. The gamers feel all these thrills but its all a lie, they feel proud of things that happen in a dream world , and I think its destructive , whereas doing things in real life actually improves you as a person. Real accomplishments build character , self confidence, keep you in shape , teach you about other people and how to interact with them in stressful situations.

    I’m feeling like its nothing to do with laziness or lack of determination or whatever some would call it. I think its some vast existential crisis of a population which sees no real challenge or purpose of life itself. They mentally wallow in pretend heroism or glory because there doesn’t seem to be any way to feel accomplishment in day to day life.

    1. Jim Haygood

      All true, bronco. But doesn’t it seem that active engagement in an online virtual reality is in fact more seductive than old-school passive engagement with the TV, where the only active inputs needed were working the remote, adjusting the foot stand height of the recliner, and hoisting a beer from the cup holder?

      If Bernaysians haven’t figured out how to subvert online games for opinion-molding purposes, they’d better get cracking. Plenty of classified national security funding is available to support this vital mission. :-(

      You’re in a fight to the death my friend
      Black metal t-shirts your shield
      You’ve got your past on your breath my friend
      Now name all the monsters you’ve killed
      Let’s name all the monsters you’ve killed

      — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Chaos and Clothes

      1. Carolinian

        It was once said that the average American spends four hours a day watching television. So now it’s four hours playing Battlefield? This may not be such a step down from The Dating Game and Petticoat Junction.

        1. polecat

          At least The Dating Game and Pettycoat Junction had SOME redeeming value, let alone Gilligan’s “those Poor people !” Island …
          But video games … blah ! Just fuel for the ‘Game Keepers’ gristmill, in the race to obliterate the ‘other’ the world over.

          1. Plenue

            Video games aren’t a genre; they’re a medium. Dismissing them altogether is like dismissing print or film because some (or a lot) of things in those formats are terrible or repugnant.

            Here’s just a smattering of the variety that fits under the label:









            On the subject of Battlefield specifically, it’s an online focused first-person shooter, a genre which often have rather mean-spirited communities (often made up largely of literal children). That said, it’s also very team and cooperation focused, and if played with friends can be a very rewarding social experience.

    2. a different chris

      >Like here I am , Joe or Suzi gamer in the prime of life , possibly struggling under the burden of a mortgage or student debt , and I choose not to work more to clear that away , ….
      Raising a child , building or buying a house , restoring an old car, climbing a mountain , kayaking a set of rapids, bowling a perfect game (in an actual bowling alley ) , hitting a home run in some softball league are real accomplishments.

      Um, did you notice that not one thing on you list would “clear [the debt] away”? In fact, the child/house things are really debt-increasing. You need to think about that, and I agree gaming is stupid but so is working your butt off for “the man”.

      People should pursue higher learning. Why do they have to pay a mint to do it?

      1. bronco

        I have no mortgage or student debt. I’m 50 I went to school in the late 80’s early 90’s when you could still pay as you went. I picked out a smaller house further out in the boonies because I hoped to pay my mortgage off and own it by the time I was 50. I managed it at 46 . Now I have a house with a small garage , I fixed up a basement apartment rented it out to a friend and said rent covers all my bills. I almost live for free except for food. I am self employed with no plans to ever retire , because I like to work.

        Time wasted in the virtual world unfortunately is subtracted from time in the real world , one should act accordingly , there is no such thing as a free lunch.

        Gaming is all about the free lunches, climb a mountain with no danger of falling. Fight a war without the danger of having your real legs blown off, have a virtual family without any of the downsides of being stuck in a dead end job to support them , or having your loved ones get sick or killed somehow and experience the that level of grief . All the joys that come from gaming are illusory , pale shadows of real life.

        Gaming is basically hours spent masturbating alone in a dark closet.

        1. a different chris

          Ah, you didn’t read my post at all. OK. Makes me feel like I’m at work….

          1. bronco

            I know climbing mountains and whitewater kayaking and having children doesn’t clear debt away. It was just examples of activities one could share with actual humans that are with you in the flesh. Its nice to have a feeling of accomplishment once in a while for a thing that really happened.
            Higher learning or education is just about putting people in debt now so why bother? Read a book and learn in a self directed way .

            I’m not saying houses are even good investments , I’m a builder , I gave up long ago trying to explain to my customers that maybe they don’t need a third bathroom or a 6th bedroom if they don’t even have kids. I just assume they will lose the house and hopefully the checks will clear as long as I’m working for them.

            Housing is dead for the most part but if you think outside the box you can get something. The same goes for education. To live the way things were in the 50’s and 60’s here in the US isn’t possible if you don’t hustle and do without a lot of things. Its still doable though

        2. Andrew Watts

          Gaming is basically hours spent masturbating alone in a dark closet.

          Bad analogy that proves you don’t understand the medium. Online gaming isn’t a solitary activity. It’s more like intercourse with your close online buddies and random strangers without the risk of contracting any STI/STDs.

          1. bronco

            So life in a protective cocoon then? Thats kind of my point.

            Why do you think people connect in person and risk STD’s ? When they could just be pen pals or chat online?

            Because its better to interact in person , to share whatever it is with real people that are actually present than live in that cocoon. Cocoons have value , but at somepoint if you don’t exit it you stay a caterpillar . You don’t get to stay in the cocoon and be a real butterfly.

            That shit right there is deep LOL

            1. Andrew Watts

              …or just blowing off some stress and/or hanging out with friends? There’s probably too much of a generational divide to come to any kind of mutual understanding. However, I will say that I don’t believe that everything in life has to be about productivity or serve as some social utility.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          Your achievements are admirable, but your experience is not relevant to today’s world of today.

          Little of what you describe yourself as doing is permitted or possible today. College has been priced into massive debt territory. Houses have been priced into massive debt territory. Many jobs have been downwaged into bare survival territory.

          If the Real World on offer to these people is a Road of Broken Glass, masturbating in the closet becomes a better alternative.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Are they trapped with playing video games the only outlet?

            Are things bad enough here in America that they seek asylum in other better run nations?

            How do those Russians, for example, who overstay their visas get the energy from, compared with those who stay back in Omsk playing video games?

        4. HotFlash

          Gaming is all about the free lunches, climb a mountain with no danger of falling. Fight a war without the danger of having your real legs blown off, have a virtual family without any of the downsides of being stuck in a dead end job to support them , or having your loved ones get sick or killed somehow and experience the that level of grief . All the joys that come from gaming are illusory , pale shadows of real life.

          Yeah, it’s just like, like that other waste-of-time thing, what’s it called? Yeah, — ‘reading books’.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Nothing can replace the experience of standing up to present a point one has reasoned through, having it proven wrong by your peers, and learning from that.

            That has benefited me a lot (being proven wrong).

            I don’t know if I can get that from a video game.

          2. bronco

            Not really . A book is a concrete item , you can own them if you want or get them free at the library. Gaming used to be something like that , now its a license , and a business model , and content delivery . You don’t own your game or maybe you do but you have to pay to play it , or turn over your data. Or you can play for free but people can buy things in game with real dollars and you won’t win against them.

            I play games quite a bit I get quite a few here


            I can play them on anything , and I don’t need to be online , and if I decide I don’t like what I’m playing I try a different one.

            Maybe I’m old fashioned but I like simcity2000 much better than simcity 4 or 5 or 10 . Maybe I don’t want to play a game where they can say you need to upgrade to windows 10 or you can’t play anymore.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              I used to go to the arcade as a kid but the only home PC game I ever played much was Civilization. I like to think that besides being fun you can actually learn something from that game. My kid’s school gave her access to some truly insipid computer games once she got to grade 3-4. Supposedly you learn math by manipulating glitter fairies and sparkle unicorns – I taught her to play Civ instead and she seems to like it.

              You hit the nail on the head with this –

              Gaming used to be something like that , now its a license , and a business model , and content delivery . You don’t own your game or maybe you do but you have to pay to play it , or turn over your data.

              I’d always bought the CDs for Civ but somehow I lost Civ IV and hadn’t played for a few years when I got an online gift cert at work. The new Civ VI had just come out and I didn’t get the disc – not sure it’s even available that way – and downloaded the game instead. That was my first experience with a download and I really don’t like playing that way at all – the game constantly changes now due to random upgrades that often seem to cause more bugs than they fix and the AI seems worse, not better. Plus the Steam service that you are required to use seems to be keeping quite the record of exactly how long I spend playing, etc, which I am not fond of at all.

              So your link made my day! All the old civ games are on there and it even has the Alpha Centauri spinoff. I still have most of the old CDs but they are no longer compatible with my computer so hopefully these will work OK on my current machine and I can dump the Civ VI version I’ve been using.

              1. bronco

                a lot of the games are ready to run in dosbox for you , someone took the time to find the proper settings and setup a config file.

                I’m working my way through the myst series , trying to do it without finding hints online is no easy task

              2. Robb

                Many older titles can be legitimately purchased through – they are also DRM-free there (this is the principle of the shop). Abandonware is dope but if you want a retro library you can get it inexpensively (there are sales very frequently – one on now ending at 10pm GMT). They’re good Polish folks and they’ve done great work digging games out of IP limbo. Many games are wrapped with dosbox to operate properly on modern systems.

                Alpha Centauri’s a terrific game
                – I think easily the best brain food I ever gobbled (the game’s director had just finished a Philosophy PhD).

    3. The Rev Kev

      Stuff like this has always happened. I have an article by a person talking about the rural town that they lived in. He was saying how you could come to town and the streets would always be abuzz and the shops open up till late. The sidewalks would be crowded with people and you would be meeting friends everywhere as you did your shopping or even if you were just strolling the streets.
      He then went on to say that in recent years the whole character of the town had changed. Nowadays the streets were nearly deserted and the shops would close earlier because of the lack of custom. The reason? The arrival of the film cinema. I should have mentioned that this article was written in the early 1920s and the films that he was talking about were the old black & white films – and silent films at that!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was not there, so I can only imagine how good that town was.

        That it has since repeated a few more times just makes me more wistful.

      2. HotFlash

        When we had the Big Blackout in 2003, I thought things got much nicer. Neighbours conferred on whose freezer would stay closed to conserve, who would thaw out food for immediate consumption, and we had community meals. We had a hand-crank fluorescent light, a local restaurant has gas for their stoves, we all had food. Dozens of neighbours sat out watching Mars instead of the TV for entertainment and we sang far into the night. Until we were hushed, actually.

        Even when power was restored downtown and many people were going back to work, our residential neighbourhood was dark. People sat out on their front porches for light, cool, news, and entertainment. Passersby were hailed and everyone exchanged whatever news they had or just chatted — what my grandparents used to call “visitin'”. I met more of my neighbours that 8 days than I had in the previous 20 years. I would take that neighbourliness back in a heartbeat. Curse you, Thomas Edison!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I can see something like this between the neighbors:

          “You also are for Medicare for All?”

          “Yes, how surprising you are too.”

          “I thought, in my isolated cell that i call home, I was crazy to think people wanted that.”

          “Me too.”

          “So glad we talked, instead watching TV or playing video games.”

    4. Rates

      Agree and disagree. If you’ve got debts, I agree clearing those off should be the main priority. But the rest like raising children, etc are simply choices, whether one’s better than another depends on a person’s values. I mean bowling’s better than playing a game? Did you help another human being while bowling? You do know that video games are super social nowadays right? You can chat and see people’s faces while playing a game.

      Did the mortgage crisis build character? Working in a bank also builds character since you work with really tough people? Of course the problem is the bankers are scammers. I mean seriously? All the things you listed don’t mean crap either. Go help someone homeless or something, then you see how real characters are made. Everything you listed seems to be just “things we do in the 80s or things we do because our parents do it”.

      And by the way, I am not even a gamer, and I am an 80s guy, but I can respect an evolution of taste.

      1. Lord Koos

        Getting some shitty job only to see your wages garnished to pay back student debt isn’t that appealing, I’m sure.

      2. SpringTexan

        I like video games, though as a rather sedate woman I tend to like only the tamest of them. But I can’t tell you the many happy,stess-relieving hours I’ve spent with my Wiii. Huge creativity and beautiful art and little neat details embedded in the games are rewarding and appreciated. I think it’s stupid to act as though video-gaming is a worthless activity.

        Endless Ocean is a scuba-diving simulation game where you get to explore underwater, see fish and other stuff, take photos, etc. etc. Very peaceful and enjoyable.

        Spent some enjoyable time playing Plants vs Zombies on my tablet too. Don’t knock it.

        A late-70s friend with cancer used to get relief playing Tetris.

    5. Altandmain

      The problem is that people are looking for an escape from life.

      Computer games have become an inexpensive way for people to escape their desperate lives. I think that for many, it has become what radio was during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

      For others, the computer has become a hobby and there is a large PC enthusiast market, much like there are car, sports, bicycling, and other enthusiasts of other hobbies.

      1. jsn

        Giving people better options addresses most if the problem. Options for income, education, socialization and personal fulfillment.

        Gaming and other social media do engage our dopamine receptors in what can be addictive ways, but for those individuals we have the tools to help as a society if we chose to use them.

        But actually using the tools we already have for public goods, which is what all of the above would be, is anathema to a culture envisioned as a machine to make money profits.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Sometimes, it’s

          1. (Others) give people (gamers) better options
          2. (Gamers) create better options for themselves.
          3. A combination of both.

          For option 2 or 3, somehow, gamers have to get out of the addiction themselves.

      2. drexciya

        It’s a bit of both I think. On the one hand it’s an escape. Not necessarily to feel great yourself, but playing something which unfolds like a story/book (but with multiple paths, which unravel based on your decisions, and where you can make moral choices – role-playing), or simply puzzle games, or action games like first person shooters, like Battlefield, and a lot of different things in between.

        On the other hand it can be something related to a hobby. Some people take military games very seriously (not in the way the average person would think). Especially in the simulation and war gaming area, people can be obsessive and it’s more like an extension of WW2 (or some other conflict) interest in general. Things that are not historically accurate, like when a certain weapon was actually available, will be caught and mercilessly criticized.

        It’s not really a new thing, but it has become way more accessible, since the price of computers has gone down, their capabilities (making the games themselves more graphical makes them also more accessible), much greater and the price of games has been more or less stable.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          Ive never been a gamer aside from playing stargate in the burger joint in my hometown, so my observations are at some remove.
          what I have observed is that it feels a lot like D & D* culture…the esoteric sniping and one-upmanship…the parallel social clique with a secret language and all manner of folkways and mores…
          it fills a need, apparently…one that is unfulfilled by real life.
          That need might be as simple as feeling connected, or as complex as adventure and challenge..hence the increasing reality of these things. Cousin told me about getting in a bar fight in a virtual world at some club where one can actually do that(!!), and how real it was.
          I would say that, hey…there’s plenty of opportunity for adventure out here in the real…but the reality is that there isn’t…at least not without a bigger investment in time, training,money, etc.
          (and of course, it’s easy enough to start a bar fight,lol…I’ve blundered into a few without even trying…but that would be a pretty perverse desperation for stimuli)

          (*”Dungeons and Dragons”)

      3. Kurtismayfield

        I was in a guild back during the original Battlefield that was full of engineers, scientists, and mathematicians.. Just like in real life,vot was a way to plan playing together and accomplish goals.

    6. Wyoming

      Unlike Mr. Haygood who thinks you have it right my opinion is that you are basically completely wrong in your conclusions and the assumptions from which they come.

      I don’t see a meaningful definition of a ‘real accomplishment’ anywhere in your post. I have climbed mountains, run rapids, hit some home runs, built a house, raised kids, fought in a couple of wars, been married for near 40 years, played a few video games, played some poker, read a few thousand books, and lots of other things.

      Everything we have done and everything we might want to do only exists in our minds. No one knows what reality actually is nor what really matters. We make our decisions within the framework of the options we perceive and hope for the best. Some who appear to be the greatest among us have the fewest of your kind of ‘accomplishments’ and some of those who seem to have everything are clearly the least among us.

      You seem to think you ‘know’ what life is about and what the purpose of it all is. Rather than complain about the faults you see in others perhaps you would enlighten us by explaining the abouts and purposes so we can get ourselves on track with you.

    7. Massinissa

      The world would probably be better off if more people played video games instead of making more kids. We already have enough people.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And even better if more people spend more time chatting with people like our informative commenters here.

        For me, it would be vastly less interesting if what our participating here is just playing a video game.

    8. curlydan

      wait until you learn about the latest rage, Fortnite. Pretty much every 8 to 18 year old boy I know or have heard of is playing this game from sunup to sundown. It’s crazy addictive for these kids.

    9. Andrew Watts

      I’m disturbed by it as well for entirely different reasons. I never thought I’d ever see the day when online gamers would complain about bewbs. Entire video game franchises have spawned multiple sequels based on the mammaries of the female sex. I just don’t understand young people these days.

      It’s unfortunate that people can’t appreciate the positive mind numbing prowess of video games and/or a good movie where theres giant robots and lots of explosions and/or prehistoric dinosaurs running around NOMNOMing random people. It’s a reason why I choose to believe that America is a fictional dystopia.

      It can’t possibly get any worse than this.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Have they already combined video games with porn or some libido-related prizes?

        That’d be a big winner, i assume (knowing nothing about video games).

        1. HotFlash

          Oh yes. You see, ‘video’ is the medium, not the content. The content is the same sort of things that humans put into all their media — books, visual art, music, movies, cave drawings, little clay figurines. And no, I will not give you a screen shot or game name, you are on your own for that if you wish.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Very alluring, enticing.

            I imagine it’s well known and very much in demand???

            1. HotFlash

              :) As my dear, departed dad used to say, whatever floats your boat. And we all recognize that when it happens. Me, I like Oblivion but I keep getting all these ads. Seems they assume if I’m a gamer, I’m a guy. Like the young ladies who give me the glad-eye when I’m on my motorcycle.

              And clearly you have not delved into Japanese anime.

  7. Altandmain

    Re: The Washington Post article on falling wages and job searching articles

    I think that the rising rent and home prices show how ludicrous the idea that the economy is recovering is.

    In many cities, rents are up 10%. That means that if you spend 50% of your after tax income on rent, which is alarmingly common in many cities now, that you need a 5% pay raise just to break even with rent.

    Actually it is more than that. You also need to take into account the other expenses, such as food, transportation, utilities, insurance costs, etc.

    We live in a world where corporations have worked to drive the cost of labor down as much as they can. Often they refuse to even give a measly 2% pay increase.

    There is a huge wage productivity gap.

    I wonder if the idea that the economy has recovered gives new meaning to the phrase “out of touch Liberal”. For the top 10%, the well off upper middle class base that comprises of what Thomas Frank described in Listen Liberal, the Clinton Liberal base, I am sure that the economy will provide them opportunity. For the rest of us, we are getting screwed. The rich have taken the productivity gains for themselves and screwed us over.

    The other is that in many fields, the job market is awful. Even for those who can relocate, they are going to be paying a lot more relocation expenses out of pocket. Plus employers often pay less knowing they are dealing with people who are desperate to find a job.

    1. Carla

      The blindness of well-off, white liberals is astounding. I live in an inner ring suburb of a rust belt city that was slammed by foreclosure fraud. Our population is about 50/50 African American/Caucasian, so you know in which neighborhoods the most of the fraud took place. In the upper middle class white neighborhoods, house prices are just starting to approach what they were in 2006 or so. The lower income integrated and mostly black neighborhoods still suffer from vacant and abandoned houses, weed-choked vacant lots where houses once stood, and all the social problems that are exacerbated by such blight. The poverty rate is up to 20 percent.

      Most of the (white) people living in the “better” neighborhoods think the economy is doing great and life is back to normal — because for them, it is. They literally cannot see past their own noses. And of course, they’re mostly life-long Democrats.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My personal experience is that “house poor”/keeping up with the Johnson types are attached to the narrative of a strong economy. A housing collapse will be an epic personal disaster for many. If you have ever been to Northern Virginia, it’s a dump of generic mcmansions and unwalkable dead end neighborhoods. The prices for these dumps are hideous. What happens if Senators start carving up the MIC spending? Whether cutting or redistribution. There are still areas that look like the neutron bomb hit from after the Cold War, but tons of people are going to be left with mortgages they can’t unload and no savings with jobs moved elsewhere. Holding onto the narrative is important. If they can’t convince a person to buy at price X, who will fund the retirement?

        1. Altandmain

          Unless foreign investors start flooding the market the way they have for cities like London before Brexit, Vancouver, Toronto, the West Coast, etc, there will be a big crash.

          It will be because of the few people in Generation Y who can hope to afford such a large Mcmansion.

          I think that much like the property taxes vs school funding issues, the homeowners are going to fight a very bitter fight to try to keep the property value bubble up as long as they are able to.

          Yes there are a lot of folks who are house poor, but there are many who are doing well. Inequality makes them richer and us poorer than we should be because they have stolen the productivity gains for themselves.

          1. Fiddler Hill

            For many homeowners, including me and my wife, who simply want a comfortable place to live and have no intention of selling, the rise in housing prices is depressing — because it simply means our property taxes will go up every year.

            Our home happens to be in California, and glib commenters frequently refer to Prop 13 as proof that California homeowners are being pampered because the government is restricted to raising property taxes by no more than 2%.

            They fail to understand two things. First, that 2% of $626,000 (the county’s valuation of our property) means that next year they will value our property at $638,000 — and they will increase taxes on that amount. The following year valuation rises to $651,000. The next year $664,000. It’s relentless. In 10 years our property will be valued at another $150,000, and despite approaching retirement, our taxes will continue to go up right along with the valuation. In another 10 years — we’ll only be in our 70s — tax valuation will over $1 million.

            Second, when there is a downtown in prices — in 2008, the only time in the last 30 years — the county continues to track what what a 2% valuation increase would have been had the downtown not occurred. So when home prices rebounded fully, as they did two years ago, our tax valuation went up $100,000 in a single year — and our property taxes right along with it.

            I’d suggest that for most homeowners, this “bubble” is no blessing.

            1. bronco

              You are at peak California , you should move out while your house value is still low enough to shield you from the worst of the capital gains. Find a state where you can live free .

        2. FluffytheObeseCat

          No one is going to risk upsetting the flag-wrapped elite of northern Virginia. They are, collectively, the most powerful political sub-group in the nation. I expect their impunity – and immunity to the rules that confine their inferiors, we common tax-paying citizens – to outlast that of the high finance types of the Tri State area. The banksters will mostly stay richer, but they’ll have to hunker on the down low for awhile. Eventually that will sap their wealth.

          The security state elite will always walk above our head. Quite publicly and without the slightest touch of embarrassment. They are objectively better than than the average American, and they know it.

          A McMansion-centered housing price crash is a more realistic concern elsewhere. Mountain View, CA. Fairfield County, CT. Newton, MA. Houston, TX if renewables ever take off. They may need to worry. All they have is “assets”, or cash money; they don’t have Congress by the short hairs forever.

      2. neo-realist

        The blindness of well off white suburban middle class extends to centrists and conservatives as well. People who have been in jobs/places of work for decades w/o being laid off think that not only is the economy fine but believe that getting a job once you’re out of work is as easy as flipping a light switch and that if you don’t get one immediately that there is something wrong with you–skills, interviewing. They never think about the broader structural issues that affect people who aren’t well off or aren’t white.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “US expected to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council: report”

    Are the sure that’s wise that? What if they do and then suddenly the Council has the subject of human rights in the United States as part of the permanent agenda right along with Israel. You can guess what would come up. Black shootings, excessive imprisonment, capital punishment, Guantanamo Bay, labor rights, children migrant’s rights, etc.
    The Human Rights Council may very well be reformed but if the US was not part of it, would that not mean that they would not have a voice in shaping the reforms? They may not even be able to shape the agenda as I doubt that with her threats, that Nikki Haley would be allowed a say here. US soft power would take yet another hit and I don’t think that people like Trump are aware of how powerful that can be.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      It is adding up. America the Blunderful. From stagnant sea to glossy stagnant sea.

  9. Anonymous

    The 20 minute version of the Elizabeth Holmes talk from TEDMED 2014 can be found here. (It’s mislabelled as 2017 in the post title, but the video itself is subtitled with “TEDMED 2014”.)

    1. Jean

      The Magic Circle of the Democrats:

      “Next Monday, Holmes is hosting a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Palo Alto. The event includes a conversation with former First Family member Chelsea Clinton, and participants who pay $2,700 get to go to a “host reception” with Chelsea.

      According to an email sent out to potential attendees, the fundraiser will take place at the Theranos Palo Alto headquarters. “Participation Levels” start at $100 a pop for students, and for “Friends” at $250. You can read more details in the invitation we’ve copied below, and we’ve reached out to the Clinton campaign for more information on whether those donations are suggested or mandatory…”

      Wonder if Harvey dropped in?

    2. sd

      I get the feeling she is reading from a Teleprompter or repeating something coming into an ear piece. I hadn’t realized she has a husky voice. I have a pet theory that women with husky voices are given more credibility and stature than those with more traditionally ‘feminine’ voices. Essentially rewarding ‘masculine’ women.

      1. a different chris

        >hadn’t realized she has a husky voice. I have a pet theory that women with husky voices are given more credibility

        Apparently that’s a widely spread theory, and Elizabeth Holmes believed in it and adjusted her voice accordingly. I don’t know where I read it, but if you read some of the first mainstream “just after the fall” stories one of them will probably have it.

      2. Anonymous

        In the book Bad Blood by John Carreyrou (who wrote the original Wall Street Journal piece) it’s revealed that the low husky voice is an affectation which she lets slip sometimes. In fact, you can see this for yourself if you compare the start and end of her post-accusation appearance on Jim Cramer’s Mad Money show in October 2015. She probably adopted the husk for exactly the reason you suggest. Perhaps she was trying to emulate Steve Jobs’ voice as well as his wardrobe?

        One amusing two-year-old comment under the Mad Money video:

        Holmes is wasting her natural talent. Instead of running this fraudulent company, she ought to be voicing a young Darth Vader in the next two Star Wars movies.

        Future fun: Bad Blood is going to be made into a film starring Jennifer Lawrence and directed by Adam McKay, who previously directed The Big Short.

      3. ewmayer

        Classic Tom Swifty: “Your sled dogs are marvelously well-trained, she said huskily.”

    3. Craig H.

      Elizabeth Holmes Finally Getting Her Comeuppance

      They haven’t locked her up yet. I’m thinking a defense along the lines of “it’s really the fault of the corrupt system” if not for a lenient verdict at least for a lenient sentence. Judges get bribed all the time. At this point maybe 50-50 she gets locked behind bars?

      The photo I saw (Lambert posted a CNBC link yesterday afternoon) had her without the black turtleneck and I am not sure if it was really her because I definitely did not recognize her.

      1. oh

        The super rich get offand the poor are sent to the slammer. I hope both Elizabeth and Ramesh get to see the inside of a pen.

        BTW, the turtleneck is usually worn to cover up the turkey neck.

      2. Kurtismayfield

        I am thinking that a defense of “Look at my impeccable Board of Directors” will work. The Board is a political force to be reckoned with.

    4. Pespi

      I followed the story, but had never seen her speak. One of the recommended youtube videos is her on Mad Money, even Jim Cramer can hardly buy the bullshit. I wish I was as good at conning old billionaires as she and her lover.

  10. Frenchguy

    Again a great piece from Tonny Connelly of the Irish Times on Brexit. Nothing very surprising but a lot of details on the inside of the negotiations.

    Some interesting bits:

    [EU] officials fear the UK could lure companies from India, Australia, Canada and so on to access the single market for goods even if they are really interested in providing services.

    This is because in a modern economy, goods and services are often intertwined: a new car is a good, but it will often come with a service, such as financing.

    The concern is that a huge economy like the UK’s, sitting on the edge of the EU, but not fully bound by the rules and obligations of the single market, could significantly undercut the EU economy.

    Ironically enough, countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands and others which have traditionally been in tune with UK’s commitment to the liberal, free-market economy, are exactly the ones that have expressed the most hostility to Britain undermining a “level-playing field,” a key demand in the EU’s negotiating guidelines.

    And more importantly:

    A threat to suspend negotiations is seen as counterproductive for the simple reason that the EU is trying to get sufficient progress, and progress would probably grind to a halt if a veto was wielded.

    The more likely option is to put the transition back in the spotlight.

    Another senior figure agrees that the EU will have to remind the Conservative government that if a credible backstop is not agreed, then all bets are off.

    “The strongest option we have is that we will not conclude a Withdrawal Agreement without a solution for Ireland. And quite honestly if there is no Withdrawal Agreement, this is a cataclysm for the UK. It will be very bad for us as well, but a cataclysm for the UK.”

    In other words, the big clash is coming…

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for that – just a minor point – Tony Connelly is the European Editor for RTE (the Irish national TV and Radio network), not the Irish Times. But he is very well connected with Irish and EU insiders and would be very much the official outlet for leaks, so I’d be happy to trust what he says.

      Its pretty clear I think that nothing the UK is prepared to submit is acceptable to the EU. Its the proposal on the table (Irish Sea border) or nothing. In other words, London has to capitulate entirely on the issue if its not to fall off a cliff. I know there is scepticism here, but I do think that if May shows a hitherto undemonstrated political acuity, she would be able to get this through Parliament, essentially by allowing Parliament to think its their idea. If this was the case, the DUP would probably not be able to bring May down as other parties would vote match.

      1. Frenchguy

        Thanks for the correction ! I had just read something in the Irish Times and I got my names confused…

  11. Otis B Driftwood

    Given that I work at a company that is ruthlessly cutting budget at the behest of a BoD pursuing an IPO, where we have had multiple mass firings (and another very big one coming up soon), I read the TalentWorks articles with some interest. I’m also a former hiring manager (back in the long ago days when this outfit was adding headcount), and can attest to the fact that short work stints are a red flag.

    Most of the people I stayed in touch with who were fired last year at this time were able to find new jobs, but in the case of someone closing in on 60 years old, it took several months.

    One thing about mass firings is that it leads to a downward spiral of attrition, morale and productivity. First, those who are spared the firing pay closer attention to emails from recruiters or start actively looking for a new position. So you have a steady stream of people who leave following the firings. And then those people aren’t replaced. Ironically, the thinking among middle-management is that if they don’t backfill those jobs, it will make it easier to justify keeping people when the next inevitable order arrives from upper management to cut staff. But the amount of work doesn’t change, so productivity drops, especially when key people make their exit. And then, of course, that doesn’t help at all, because a year later an even more brutal reduction in force happens. All because the budget numbers need to look good in order to sell shares in this company to investors.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Making buildings, cars and planes from materials based on plant fibres”

    I’m looking forward to the day that stuff like that will be grown using advanced biological engineering. By genetically programming in a shape and density, you would have no seams, rivets, etc. and if the base material is plant-based it could be super strong as shown by some of the stuff mentioned in this story.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Generations of timber shipbuilders did this by carefully observing the growth of oak trees and adjusting their ship designs to take account of natural curves and shapes in the growing trees – they knew that if a beam followed the natural grain of the wood it would be much stronger.

      Although it may not be true, Steward Brands anecdote about the timber beams of New College, Oxford is a great example of how builders used to understand natural materials.

      New College, Oxford, is of rather late foundation, hence the name. It was founded around the late 14th century. It has, like other colleges, a great dining hall with big oak beams across the top. These might be two feet square and forty-five feet long.

      A century ago, so I am told, some busy entomologist went up into the roof of the dining hall with a penknife and poked at the beams and found that they were full of beetles. This was reported to the College Council, who met in some dismay, because they had no idea where they would get beams of that calibre nowadays.

      One of the Junior Fellows stuck his neck out and suggested that there might be some oak on College lands. These colleges are endowed with pieces of land scattered across the country. So they called in the College Forester, who of course had not been near the college itself for some years, and asked about oaks. And he pulled his forelock and said, “Well sirs, we was wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.”

      Upon further inquiry it was discovered that when the College was founded, a grove of oaks has been planted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they became beetly, because oak beams always become beetly in the end. This plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next for five hundred years. “You don’t cut them oaks. Them’s for the College Hall.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s a great story.

        There is only one New College.

        When there is a new college around every city block, where do we get them oaks?

        Are there enough plants, enough space for those plants, for them buildings, planes and cars, and still room left over for say, to plant corn?

        Or do we eat those cars?

      2. Lee

        Reminds me of the gardener’s response when asked how to produce a fine English lawn:
        “All you have to do is get some good grass and roll it every day for 600 years. “

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Many kids reading the story are hoping the scientists will find a way to make concrete with broccoli and brussel sprouts, and peas to go with the carrots.

      1. RMO

        Buildings from plant fibers: Do I need to elaborate on how common these already are?

        Planes made from plant fibers: Lots of examples but for a famous example there’s the Mosquito (and the Bellanca), my early 70’s composite sailplane uses balsa for the wing and wing spar core and most composite props use balsa core.

        Cars made from plant fibers: The Marcos GT!

        I know none of those are really equivalent to what the article goes on about but the headline isn’t really a grabber for anyone with any knowledge at all in these areas:-)

        RE: The old Russian Helicopters being pretty good – doesn’t surprise me as I know a mechanic who works for a helicopter company here in Canada and they use some Russian equipment. He found them more reliable and easier to work on than the Bells, Sikorsky’s and Vertol’s the company has also utilized. Performance was good too.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Concrete reinforced with bamboo instead of rebar. I thought the link was funny in its focus on food plants like carrots when so many other plants are well-known and developed from ancient times for their fibers and structural properties — and they don’t rust like rebar.

          Which reminds me of a kid’s joke. What is the difference between broccoli and buggers? Kids don’t eat broccoli.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Ah ha. This is the background for one clause in the money quote from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ video that went viral (quote begins at 1:24 in the video):

      It’s time we acknowledged that not all Democrats are the same. That a Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn’t live here, doesn’t send his kids to our schools, doesn’t drink our water or breathe our air, cannot possibly represent us. (emphasis added)

      I live in that district and have never voted for Crowley, but I didn’t know his political/business dealings were that sleazy.

  13. Jim Haygood

    On Thursday the WSJ posted an article on our Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse with the provocative lede, “As the race to become the first company worth $1 trillion enters the final lap, technology monopolies are dominating the stock market.”

    Whoa dude … he said the m-word.

    A chart in the article offers a perspective on the 21st century to date. Microsoft became huge during Bubble I — the Internet Bubble — to the point of being added to the Dow Jones Industrials in late 1999. Apple and Amazon were around then, but were minnows in comparison.

    Alphabet (formerly Google) IPO’d in 2004 and by 2007 was about two-thirds the size of Microsoft in market cap. On June 29, 2007, Apple launched the iPhone, a monster hit that would make Apple bigger than Microsoft in 2010.

    Facebook IPO’d in 2012 and spent the next five years trading places with Amazon in the market cap rankings. But on Oct 27, 2017 — Amazon Friday — AMZN launched from 972 to 1101 in a single day on favorable earnings and has never looked back.

    As the WSJ chart shows, Amazon is now nipping at Apple’s heels from behind in the race to become the world’s first trillion-dollar company — provided that the grim reaper of flake-o-nomics doesn’t shut down the whole party just when the flapper girls are getting frisky. :-( Chart:

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I can honestly say that yesterday, I did not contribute to AMZN’s growth.

      I will not contribute to it today.

      (I don’t know if this confirms my monopoly on this virtue, or I’m in trouble for being un-American…only I yam what I yam).

      1. tegnost

        unfortunately you have no way of knowing how much of your data goes through amazons cloud services. Probably the worst arm of the worst company ever. Please Bezos could you leave seattle and take your bro’s with you…Please?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I didn’t realize that.

          So, I was fibbing there, but more as a victim than an enthusiastic volunteer.

          In any case, i do what I can (can’t afford to give up visiting this website).

  14. Jim Haygood

    Remnants of Pacific Hurricane Bud are marching north along the AZ-NM border, bringing rare June rain to the southwest where fire danger is off the charts owing to drought. Regional radar:

    This Bud’s for you!” crowed a local radio personality.

    1. crittermom

      Here in western NM, I awoke to rain this morning. We’re getting a good soaking.

      Unfortunately, for many near the fires, mudslides may soon be a problem.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Approaching .60″ in my Tucson rain gauge. The rain began at around 5 pm yesterday.

      1. newcatty

        Delightfully cool with gentle rain soaking into our corner of AZ in Prescott. Windows are open and refreshing our house with the sweet smell of, yes, rain in June. This will be a good thing for thirsty trees and all plant beings. Also, for other denizens of the place. Water fills up any basins in natural places or in human made. Birds are acting kind of giddy when coming to our feeders when flying from their tree hideouts close to the back deck. Our native wild flower garden will get an early jump start.

  15. PlutoniumKun

    The most important study of the Mediterranean diet has been retracted Quartz

    This article seems to me to be more than a little overstated. It implies that the conclusion that the Mediterranean diet is good for you is not supported by the evidence. I’ve been following this story for a while on Retraction Watch, so far as I’m aware that while methodological problems with the study were identified, the study was scrupulously reworked and republished in the NEJM, with broadly the same conclusions, i.e:

    In this study involving persons at high cardiovascular risk, the incidence of major cardiovascular events was lower among those assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts than among those assigned to a reduced-fat diet.

    The original study had the following conclusion:

    Among persons at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events.

    The only difference from the original study is that they refrain from speculating on cause-effect. But as there are plenty of other studies pointing the same way, that seems an entirely reasonable conclusion that the key components of the Mediterranean Diet have strong benefits for most people.

    This NPR article, written in association with RetractionWatch, has I think a more fair-minded overview of the issues and the errors in the original article.

    It would be a great pity if this relatively minor reworking of the study is used as ammunition by the food industry to undermine faith in good dietary advice.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Another useful comparison (instead of comparing to a reduced fat diet) is to compare it to the Standard American Diet.

      The other key consideration (for many people) is how tasty, or not tasty, the Med diet is compared to others.

      We might also consider how the various diets impact the environment (“What about the rest of us in Nature hoping to live a healthy life too?”)

  16. Carolinian

    Silly me. From the headline I thought the WaPo staffers were complaining about Bezos’ labor practices at Amazon. In reality these ten percenters are “shocked” at the way he is treating them by not offering bigger pay increases. Clearly a ten part investigative series is in order.

  17. gsinbe

    The Medium article on Bernie Sanders should be marked as one of today’s “must read”‘s. What a mensch…

    1. a different chris

      And yet Bernie is kindof right about “who cares what I did then, listen to me now.” A few people in the group picture, no doubt, went on to be come the standard upper class California [family blog]s.

    2. elissa3

      Yes, and it explains why I had such a visceral, over-the-top disgust with John Lewis, who, during the campaign said “I never saw (him)”. Lewis, who was badly hurt in protests of the period, either has become senile or simply has transformed himself into a sleazy hack. Gratuitous slur!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I felt it showed how cynically Nixonian Lewis could be in service to the Clintons. Since Sanders was active in Chicago when Lewis was active in the South, it is oh-so-exquisitely truthful of Lewis to say that he “never saw Sanders” at any actions in the South.

  18. flora

    Caitlin Johnstone has a good takedown of MSM frothing over NK.

    Surprising no one, MSNBC’s cartoon children’s program The Rachel Maddow Show took home the trophy for jaw-dropping, shark-jumping ridiculousness with an eighteen-minute Alex Jones impression claiming that the chief architect of the Korean negotiations was none other than (and if you can’t guess whose name I’m going to write once we get out of these parentheses I deeply envy your ignorance on this matter) Vladimir Putin.

    Aside from simple partisan political gamesmanship, what could be the point of always trying to ratchet up the fear level, even as this one event might make many heavy a sigh of relief that tension between NK and SK could finally be easing?

    Is it to keep us all in a state of petrifying formless fear? Lewis Lapham wrote a very good essay a year ago on this topic.

    ‘In my capacity as human being, I’ve met with most if not all of the descriptives handed down from antiquity, but in my profession as journalist, I’ve encountered primarily the distinctions between what Sigmund Freud in 1917 defines as real fear and neurotic fear, the former a rational and comprehensible response to the perception of clear and present danger, the latter “free-floating,” anxious expectation attachable to any something or nothing that catches the eye or the ear, floats the shadow on a wall or a wind in the trees. Real fear invites action, the decision to flee or fight dependent upon “our feeling of power over the outer world”; expectant fear induces states of paralysis, interprets every coincidence as evil omen, prophesizes the most terrible of possibilities, ascribes “a dreadful meaning to all uncertainty.” ‘ (my emphasis)

    I keep thinking the MSM is working overtime to keep us in a state of paralysis, to keep us passive. Just my 2¢.

      1. Olga

        By the way, has anyone noticed how Maddow has morphed into a perfect re-incarnation of Glenn Beck?

        1. flora

          The Beck/Maddow-type media gig pays well. It’s an advertainment to keep the cash flow going for the important ( to TPTB ) sectors of the economy.

          from the Lapham essay:

          [In the 1960’s] The always fearmongering news media projected armed revolution along the lines of the one that deposed and decapitated Louis XVI; the violent fantasy sold papers, boosted ratings, stimulated the demand for repressive surveillance and heavy law enforcement that blossomed into one of the country’s richest and most innovative growth industries.

          The tearing down of the Berlin Wall in 1989—as much of a shock and surprise to the director of the CIA as it was to the editors of the New York Times and National Review—undermined the threat presented by the evil Soviet Empire, and without the Cold War against the Russians, how then defend, honor, and protect the cash flow of the nation’s military-industrial complex pumping air and iron into the conspicuous consumptions of the American dream? A precious asset, the communist ogre in the totalitarian snow, and in 1989 not easy to replace. The Japanese couldn’t play the part because they were running short of money, the Colombian drug lords were too few and too well-connected in Miami, the Arab oil cartel was broke, and the Chinese were busy making shirts for Ralph Lauren.

          It doesn’t matter if the named ogre is real, only that people believe that it is real. Resurrecting the ‘ogre in the the totalitarian snow’ (russia russia russia ) as a cash flow generator is the important thing, apparently.

          1. Andrew Watts

            Yup. She probably decides to swallow any personal qualms or rationalize her actions after she checks her ratings and her paycheck.

            Good historical example too.

    1. Carolinian

      Current Dems: we have nothing to fear but lack of fear itself. They really do have nothin’ else.

      Third party yet? Anyone?

      1. oh

        To the Blue Kool-Aid drinking DIms, a mention of a third party will get their hackles up. They’ll trot out their meme about how Ralph Nader running in Florida was the reason for the DimRat party losing in 2000.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The question is not whether who can get into Harvard, but when Harvard will share its greatness with all seekers of wisdom and knowledge.

      “If this course is not required for your degree, will you still take it?”

      And “If this degree will not get you a lucrative career, will you still want it?”

      1. Kurtismayfield

        You mistakenly think that getting into Harvard undergrad is about dissemination of knowledge.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt.

          No doubt many take courses to get credentialed.

  19. David


    PHOTOS: Inside Shelter for Illegal Alien Children Separated from Parents

    The Department of Health and Human Services hosted Breitbart News and other media on a tour of a facility in El Cajon, California…

    Meanwhile, in the rest of San Diego County,

    RVs, Rescue Mission homeless not included in this year’s homeless count

    This year’s count of homeless people may be higher than originally stated because people living in recreational vehicles and the San Diego Rescue Mission were not included…That would have put this year’s total at 8,886 people instead of the 8,576 announced May 17 by the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless, which does the annual count.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Wikipedia, Homeless in the United States

      Because of turnover in the population of people that are homeless, the total number of people who experience homelessness for at least a few nights during the course of a year is thought to be considerably higher than point-in-time counts. A 2000 study estimated the number of such people to be between 2.3 million and 3.5 million.[6][7] According to Amnesty International USA, vacant houses outnumber homeless people by five times.[8] A December 2017 investigation by Philip Alston, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, found that homeless persons have effectively been criminalized throughout many cities in the United States.[9]

      Those figures were from a 2000 study.

      How many today?

      And while marijuana has been legalized in many places, homelessness, from above, is still criminalized, effectively, in many US cities.

      1. David

        The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, in their 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, report that 553,742 people experienced homelessness on a single night in 2017. They use a point-in-time estimate consisting of one-night counts conducted during the last 10 days of January each year. The estimated number was an increase of 1%, the first increase in seven years.

        Some of the data:

        For every 10,000 people in the United States, 17 were experiencing homelessness.

        Two-thirds of the people were staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing, a decrease from 2016. One third were unsheltered, an increase from 2016.

        Nearly half identified as white (47%). Most others identified as African American (41%). One in five was Hispanic or Latino.

        Homeless people in unsheltered locations tended to be white (55%), while people in sheltered locations were more likely to be African American.

        One of every four people experiencing homelessness are in New York City or Los Angeles. 95% of people experiencing homelessness in New York City are sheltered. Only 25% of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles are sheltered.

        Since 2007, homelessness declined by 14%, mainly due to large decreases in the number of people staying in unsheltered locations.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks, Dave.

          I am curious how the 2000 study related point-in-time counts, which you posted some numbers from 2017, to their estimates.

          1. David

            Yeah, there is quite a difference. The Urban Institute; who produced the 2000 number, according to Wiki, put out this presentation to describe their process.

            They developed the estimates from the 1996 National Survery of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC) produced by the Census Bureau. The Bureau states that the NSHAPC was “not conducted to produce a count of homeless persons” but was designed to assist federal agencies responsible for administering homeless assistance programs. At the time, it was one of the first surveys to look at these issues at the national level.

            Anyway, the Urban Institute used averaged numbers to extrapolate the total number of unique homeless people over a year vs. the point-in-time that is now used. They identify that the data they are using is likely to be an overestimate of the population due to several factors.

            If one were to try to compare both numbers on a point-in-time basis, one could say that the 1996 homeless number on a given evening was between 267,000 and 462,000. So, less than now, but there are ~40M more people in the country now than in 1996.

            Interesting stuff.

  20. jmkiru

    (re: Sanders in the 60s) “The worst part about this is that you can be damn sure that the Clintons and John Lewis knew all this from Opposition research and still ran the campaign they did.”

    They followed the Rove playbook: attack the other guys strength, i.e. “just make stuff up” – see Kerry and the swift-boating for example. Given all the profiles of Brock being the “Rove of the left” (…eww) it seems only natural he’d follow the full spectrum of Rove’s odious practices, and embrace this one as well.

    If we had a 4th estate worth even the salt on my fries, this would never actually work. Sadly, we won’t have one of those until the CEOs and / or billionaire-class see the value in a functional press, which I wouldn’t hold my breath on.

  21. Angry Panda

    Re: Theranos-Holmes Youtube clip.

    To be fair, it is only a two minute clip and I have never watched any other videos of this individual. In fact, I did not even know what she’d looked like until today.

    That said, rather than the whole “psycopath-percocet” reaction above, my initial impression was – oh good, someone is playing very hard at looking like Steve Jobs and sounding all “techie-revolutionary”. Complete with a fake male voice, because I cannot believe that’s what she’d originally sounded like. This isn’t psychotic, this is – likely – how she got wealthy people to give her money for so many years, “oh look, it’s a female Steve Jobs, let’s get in on this”. I mean, look at the list of her investors – from the Waltons to Betsy bloody DeVos. Clearly affecting an image can work on these people, and that’s what Holmes appears to be doing. And that isn’t psychotic to any degree, in my view.

    Incidentally, what IS amusing to me about the whole thing is that she is essentially being put on trial – literally – for convincing the Waltons et al to invest in an idea which ultimately did not work. Yes, yes, she broke laws and will pay the price and I haven’t any issues with that, but just consider the delicious irony. Market capitalism uber alles, I suppose…

    1. Scott

      What I find interesting is that the people she duped are all the “sophisticated investors,” whom the SEC has decided in the past don’t need protections. I haven’t seen much information regarding investments from pension funds (although they certainly did participate through some VCs). By contrast, Elon Musk has received similar public praise and a sympathetic press. If (or more likely when) Telsa goes belly-up, will he be facing similar charges? I doubt it. Holmes’ crime seems to be that she misled wealthy individuals who lost their entire investment.

      Even today’s article about Purdue Pharma could be seen in the same light. If it’s a crime to mislead doctors and patients about the safety and effectiveness of a particular treatment, then couldn’t the FBI develop against executives there?

      Make no mistake, I think getting executives (as opposed to their subordinates) charged and hopefully convicted is a very good thing. I hope that it will apply to companies that do more harm to the American people than Theranos did.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Holmes grew up in an extremely politically well connected family – I believe her family home was next door to George Schultz, who was a board member. If I recall correctly from an article I read last year, one of Schultz’s grandchildren or nephews tried hard to warn his family that she wasn’t trustworthy, but was ignored. For a lot of investors, having the right connections and board members is enough for no hard questions to be asked.

      2. rd

        “Because that’s where the money is.”

        There’s no point trying to get large venture capital from the unsophisticated investors, because there’s no money there. The best con artists go for the sophisticated people (Holmes, Madoff, sub-prime mortages etc.) because they are so smart they can be out-witted by playing off of their intelligence, sophistication, and social connections.

  22. Olga

    As much as I usually appreciate Mr. Bhadrakumar’s insights, this headline is a bit misleading: Russia inserts itself into North Korea game Asia Times
    Remember the “freeze-for-freeze” proposal from last year (or double-freeze, as it was called)?
    If memory serves, both Russia and China did a lot of preparatory work last year – before Kim could even consider meeting with DT. So Russia is just continuing its work to – let’s hope – assure peace on its eastern flank.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its often forgotten of course that Russia has a land border with North Korea, so it has a very real stake in any agreement.

  23. Paid Minion

    Borrowing a cliche from the NRA, business will hand out substantial raises when you pry them from their cold dead fingers.

    “Shortage of skilled workers” is a crock. Everywhere you look, employers are trying to dump their “over age 50” staff, and either replace them with 1099s (sometimes the same people they threw under the bus), or with less experienced, cheaper, and younger workers.

    If they can’t find anyone to take the jobs for what they will pay, well, they will just run short-staffed. Knowing that they can run short-staffed a lot longer than people can go without income.

    Why can’t economists figure this out? Or do their paychecks mandate that they ignore facts?

  24. The Rev Kev

    Elon Musk’s influences – Douglas Adams & Isaac Asimov

    I have said it before but I will do so again. IMHO he is deliberately not including Robert A. Heinlein in that mix as that would draw uncomfortable parallels between his life and that of Heinlein’s character Delos D. Harriman – ‘an entrepreneurial businessman who masterminded the first landing on the Moon as a private business venture.’

    1. neighbor7

      And wasn’t D D Harriman considering covering the moon with a soft-drink logo visible from Earth?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not quite. He made that threat to the biggest soft-drink company so that they would buy the option and publicly announcing that they would never use it but keep the moon pristine (he needed financing badly). He also got Pentagon support by saying that if the Soviets got to the moon before he did, that they might use the same technology to put a huge hammer and sickle that would be visible from the earth and de facto win the cold war. He was bsing of course but he desperately need funding to finance his moon project. The above were just the milder of the shenanigans that he used and I am sure that Musk took notes. I just hope that Musk did not read the part where it is noted the moon passes over parts of Texas and have America seek to claim the moon because of that. It would be something that would appeal to Trump.

    2. Plenue

      The Asimov part stands out to me more than the Adams one, and doesn’t remotely surprise me. The Foundation books are essentially neoliberal propaganda before neoliberalism. Paul Krugman cited reading them as part of his decision to become an economist. On the one hand the books seek to grasp the arc of history on a vast scale, which not a lot of works to. On the other hand they do it in the worst, most arrogant way possible.

      1. blennylips

        …Krugman emphasized that in spite of its farcical subject matter, the economic analysis in the paper is correctly done. In his own words, while the subject of this paper is silly, the analysis actually does make sense. This paper, then, is a serious analysis of a ridiculous subject, which is of course the opposite of what is usual in economics.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Actually, isn’t the premise of the Foundation books deeply Marxist? It assumes that history, at least in its broad strokes, can be predicted. It may also assume that the driving forces are economic (in the broad sense), which Marx called materialism. That’s a truism now.

        I read those books, but don’t remember any economic doctrine in them. Apparently I missed something, or it struck me as platitudes, given the times.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I read them before I was aware of neoliberalism.

        Can you give some examples of it from the Foundation books? Thanks. (The most memorable part was a robot – thought by may as human, falsely – saving the world).

        1. Plenue

          The entire concept that human society and history can be predicted (per-calculated), if only a sufficiently clever equation can be developed. The only time the system breaks down is when something not factored into the equation appears (courtesy of editorial meddling; Asimov didn’t want this antagonist). And the technocratic heroes overcome this obstacle and resume course anyway. At no point t does the entire system break down because the central concept is utter bunk.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A person who studies China (engages in Sinology) is a sinologist.

      He or she is not necessary for, or against, China.

      A person who studies Kapital can be said to be, similarly, or argued to be, a Kapitalist.

      1. diptherio

        Well, if you’re into creating new definitions for well-defined words, I guess that would work. Me, I’d refer to Marx as a political economist, since that’s what he was (among other things). Studying capitalists doesn’t make you a capitalist any more than being a proctologist makes you an a*****e…in my view, anyway.

        Hilariously, not only does Elon claim Marx was a capitalist, he also claims that he himself is a socialist.

        Actually, maybe that does make sense, since Elon is obviously a big fan of “socialism for the rich.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “argued to be…”

          I can see him argue that way, not saying I or others would agree.

    2. Massinissa

      Wait just a minute. Is Musk also saying that he himself is a socialist? That makes me even more confused.

  25. BrianStegner

    Could Ottawa slap the Trump Organization with trade sanctions? – Macleans.

    Everything but the link, which is here:

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Will Trump be the first president since Carter to lose money (and Trump could lose a lot of it) serving as a dicta…sorry, president?

  26. Big River Bandido

    Oh my Dog. The Business Insider article about The Onion is nearly as funny as an Onion article. Deliciously, it also includes links to *every* story in the anti-effbook series thus far. Even the headlines are a laugh.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    New form of matter may lie just beyond the periodic table PhysOrg (Chuck L)

    The nagging question has always been this: As we monkey around with high energy particle experiments, how do we know if there isn’t something else (a new form of matter, maybe) we have no knowledge of, and if we don’t unknowlngly make a big mess?

    A supposedly control experiment that does not account for all variables, and we are never sure, is irresponsible.

    1. Synapsid


      “…how do we know…”

      The short answer is: we don’t. That’s part of what the researchers are trying to find out. The work amounts to trying to learn what rules apply in the part of nature being investigated, and those are the rules that would tell us how to do a control experiment.

      The safety aspect is that the research is incremental, each step–even something of the scale of the big colliders–being designed within what we do know, in a way that can be expected to lead to furthering that knowledge but not by making big jumps. Foolproof it isn’t, but it has worked so far.

      Time for more port.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I agree. We don’t know, and we can only expect, knowing it’s not foolproof.

        In some way, we have been lucky nothing messy has happened yet.

        The new form of matter, in this case, could have been like a powder keg in the previously dark part of the cave where we are trying to discover, to enlighten ourselves, with a torch. And luckily, it isn’t…so far.

    2. Jake Mudrosti

      Naturally occurring high-energy particles criss-cross the galaxy — referred to as “cosmic rays” due to the original methods of detection, a century ago. These have been well studied, so the energy distribution of these particles is no mystery — a certain percentage of these particles routinely strike our planet with center-of-mass energies that are orders of magnitude higher than anything achievable for single particles, with any human-made equipment.

      A Google search of “Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory” will fill in the picture.

      There’s a key point here, in connection with the news about Theranos finally getting the broader negative coverage it’s been avoiding for so many years. A point I’ve often made in NC comments is that the past decade has been an absolute disaster for the continued well-being of the sciences. Data fakers and grant chasers have leapfrogged into positions of authority in countless academic departments, while the core of genuine knowledge has been weakened through retirements and failed promotions (Peter Higgs has been saying this for many years, too). Real work, painstaking work, that advances the field tends to get ignored, defunded, doubted, and even mocked in the public sphere, while data-fakers get “wow!”

      Fermilab’s Tevatron was defunded under Obama with no public reaction — even though it would have revealed Higgs sector physics not even possible at CERN. All this, while Theranos got billions from investors.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The universe is only dangerous to us humans.

        It does what it does…supernova explosions, galaxies collide, etc.

        When we don’t have a complete picture, and our theories are only the current best explanations, it implies that our knowledge is partial.

        I can’t shake the feeling that we have only been lucky so far.

  28. Pat

    Speaking to the continued clueless nature of our media, I’ve seen two items in the last few days that remind me that no they have not learned. And both were from employees of the New York Times – surprise surprise.

    First was an opinion expressed by a theater critic that De Niro’s Trump outburst was appropriate and timely and good for the program. An opinion that meant this vaunted ‘observer’ had missed that De Niro was acting with the same decorum and respect for polite society and convention as the hated Donald Trump. In fact with less, as Trump doesn’t normally break out with an out of the blue obscenity at a public function. He either introduces context or saves it for twitter. It also missed that one of the biggest reasons for this festival of self congratulation is to sell theater to people who might find this offensive.

    Second was the reminiscences of the reporter on the Trump campaign who got an emergency call at 9 pm on election day to write the Trump Wins story because the huge set pieces that had been written for Clinton were obviously trash. He didn’t get that not having two possible stories ready to go was them deciding the news. But beyond that he stated that this meant a period of soul searching about how he hadn’t really done his job. Now this might be my interpretation, but I’m pretty sure he meant that people still voted for Trump despite his reporting not that he hadn’t made it clear that people might vote for Trump for reasons X, Y, and Z and no one should consider this a done deal. And while I think the man’s intentions are good. He is still coming at this from a highly isolated very protected position. I thought of it this way – I’m pretty sure the folks that wrote the big Clinton wins pieces didn’t search their souls for the ways they failed to do their job because people would still vote for her. No, Russia! Russia! Russia! was balm to their souls because they didn’t fail pushing her to the Presidency.

    As bad as this is, it pales in comparison to ‘we exonerate the prosecutors for not doing their job because every one knows they couldn’t indict the unelected President of the US’.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Speaking of the NYT, today it unleashed an anguished, hand-wringing, top-of-page blockbuster article about the dire consequences of flake-o-nomics Trump’s trade war.

      Obviously there’s a subtle blue-wave agenda behind it, which HAS to be kept subtle since the D party has no coherent economic platform.

      Nevertheless, today the nation’s second most partisan paper [after the WaPo, natch] is a stopped clock briefly displaying the correct time.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I can’t seem to forget the SCMP news that the trade war was over (a while back) and China won.

        Since it is now owned by a rich guy from China, I wonder if this is the ‘victor’ not happy having to re-fight a war they had already won.

        “No rematch. It’s over. I struck you out.”

        “I was distracted. If you were really good, you’d try to throw that fastball by me again.”

        “Just kneel and stay that way, you loser.”

  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Master: “Ambrit, be one with the internet, and you will surf freely like a dragon coursing through the universe.”

    (Maybe the master has seen the film, Tron.)

  30. DorothyT

    Re: Vizsla antidote

    Sad to see a prong collar on this beautiful dog. Some dogs, some breeds, are hard to train to be off leash, or they pull when on leash. It takes patience and skill to train them. It’s good to review the characteristics of a breed (or the dominant ones in a mixed breed dog) and balance those with your life style and the life you’ll give your dog, rather than pick a dog for the looks that appeal to you. And when it’s said that a breed or a particular dog is ‘not for beginners,’ take it seriously.

    We’ve had different breeds over the years, even a wolf, but none were as hard to train as our current dog, a coonhound. We adopted her through a rescue group that brings dogs to the Northeast from kill shelters in the South. She was advertised as a cattle dog, but when we got her we realized she was a hound and not to be trusted off leash. We read the admonition to ‘never let hounds off leash’ as they will chase after any prey that catches their interest. But love, perseverance, rewards, lots of daily exercise and patience paid off. She’s a wonderful member of our family, spirit unbroken. No prong or choke chain collars. A harness helped during the long training period.

  31. Mark

    The link for “Pentagon Admits Afghanistan’s New Black Hawks Can’t Match Its Older Russian Choppers—The Drive” appears to be broken. What is the link for this? (Thanks!)

  32. Ray Phenicie

    The unfortunate turn of events in regards to Theranos (“Elizabeth Holmes Finally Getting Her Comeuppance”) shows the failure of the current system that regulates lab testing. What is even more astonishing is that Tharanos is still stating

    That said, our scientists and engineers have, over the course of 15 years, made real and (we hope) lasting advances in medical technology. We have a portfolio of more than 1,200 patents and applications that was recently judged by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to be among the most valuable in the medical device space. And we feel strongly, now as much as ever, that our emphasis on rapid, cost-effective medical testing in distributed settings is the future of medicine (or even its present, as testing is now available in grocery stores and pharmaceutical chains).

    We continue to believe that our ideas and inventions will contribute to advancing health care delivery around the world.

    Incredible hubris. The ability to lie in the face of a lack of empirical evidence seems to be endemic to 21st century life.

    But what really bothers me is the tyrannical behavior that Holmes displayed throughout. She knew her lab results would turn up spurious results and did not care that harm could result to people’s health. In addition, she was very severe, indeed downright aggressive towards employees who questioned her on a basis of the lack of empirical facts. She was willing to violate many people to go after a winning position. Sounds like toxic masculinity to me.

  33. Ray Phenicie

    Seeking to always win and to be competitive to gain control over people is always toxic.

  34. LS

    Re: The Onion is on a crusade against Mark Zuckerberg because it says Facebook is choking its traffic

    I hope the Onion writes one up on the IRS’ ongoing lawsuit against Facebook regarding a 2013 audit of it’s 2008 – 2010 taxes and that Double Dutch tax evasion. The status of the lawsuit never appears in Silicon Valley, or National mainstream news. It should have been at least a paragraph in any fawning article about Zuckerberg’s “charity,” which has been utter chump change (and with strings attached) in comparison to the billions in tax, interest and penalties in question, and the unquestionable and ongoing cumulative psychologically punitive and economic damage Facebook (and it’s otherCampus partners in crime and tax evasion infamy) has done to regular people, particularly minorities, living near the horrid Facebook Campus. From a July 2016 Fortune piece:

    Facebook appears to have a major tax headache on its hands after the Internal Revenue Service sued the social network on Wednesday to force it to comply with summonses related to a 2010 asset transfer.

    According to documents the IRS filed in San Francisco federal court, the agency suspects Facebook and its accounting firm, Ernst & Young, understated the value of intangible assets transferred to Ireland by billions of dollars.

    The IRS says it is seeking an order to enforce six summonses that asked Facebook to appear at the agency’s offices in San Jose, Calif., and to produce papers and others records. According to IRS agent Nina Stone, Facebook failed to show up at the appointed date of June 17, and nor did it provide the documents.

    The latest I could find on the lawsuit is from May, titled: IRS Ducks Facebook’s $7B Suit Over Blocked Tax Appeal

    If any regular citizen had treated the IRS with such utter, beyond the law disdain as failing to respond to six summonses, one can only imagine the hell in store for them, and it certainly wouldn’t have been dragged out for five years now and counting.

    Too bad the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) didn’t see fit to perform similar a audit in 2013, versus harassing and threatening it’s nobody citizens for highly questionable fines and penalties over laughably tiny (as in under $200 dollars), and questionable tax liabilities. I’ve heard of them even harassing people on Social Security Disability Income to prove they have no other income (the California FTB can’t attach SSDI payments) for such piddling amounts.

    1. LS

      A side note on the Empire of California’s taxing entities going after the poorest of the poor (a 9% average Regressive Sales Tax Rate in Silicon Valley?) and the disabled; versus going after Facebook, et al, when the Governing Leadership knew perfectly well that tax revenue thievery was going by Facebook, et al – Jesuit, [Edmund] ‘Jerry’ Brown is not that stupid, neither was Ahnold, the Ghastly Groper, before him, etcetera ….

      This, dated January 2011 fits in very well with what I’ve both experienced and heard of regarding California’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB), and I don’t have much doubt that the following words from ‘Gina’ were from either a real person, or based on a real person, ya really have to deal with the California Franchise Tax Board to realize how toxic and punitive against the most honest and vulnerable of California citizens it really is:

      I am a disabled Senior Citizen. I am receiving SSDI monthly. When I was employed before my disability (3 + yrs ago) my employer (unknown to me) failed to pay the payroll taxes she deducted from my paychecks for 6 years. Now the Franchise TAX Board (California) has sent me a notice that they are going to garnish my SSDI for the total owed, which is over $5,000. I only get 1,000 a month and this is my only income out of which I pay rent, utilities, phone, car insurance, medication copays and meds not covered by Medicare, gasoline and car repairs, food and clothing, etc. I literally have nothing left, no cushion at all, each month. If they do this, I will have to give up my car and maybe food too and sign up at a food bank for charity, but I will have no way to go get it. I live in the rural mountains and there is no public transportation. Is there any way I can file some type of special curcumstances or hardship exemption? All those taxes were deducted from my paycheck at the time of payment. It is not my fault that my employer failed to pay those taxes that I paid out of my checks each payday. I informed the FTB of this, but they did not care. They said I am liable for it anyway. Please help me, I am desperate for anwers. Thank you.
      Posted By: Gina L. | Nov 2, 2012 6:15pm PDT

      The response to her question:

      Gina, the Franchise Tax Board is not a creditor that under federal law is allowed to garnish or levy your social security disability income. If they attempt to obtain your social security disability payments through a bank levy you can dispute it. Your social security benefits are exempt from creditor action including those from the Franchise Tax Board. Your social security disability payments can only be garnished for federal income taxes and not for state income taxes. The social security act does not give authority to the state to garnish or levy your social security benefits. Posted By: Norma Duenas | Dec 5, 2012 9:51pm PST

      See also:

      If the California Franchise Tax Board levies your bank account then contact them right away for return of the funds. The franchise tax board is required to comply with 42 U.S.C. Section 407. Under this section Social security funds are exempt from attachment. levy or garnishment from creditors. The franchise tax board is included among the creditors that cannot garnish or seize your social security funds.
      Posted By: Norma Duenas | Jul 7, 2012 12:58am PDT

      Nonetheless, as to that, The Federal Law, the California Franchise Tax Board Employees appear to be deliberately untrained in California Tax Law and utterly under threat – perhaps offered bonuses for horrifying and intimidating the disabled into making payment’s they are not at all required to make, at threat of being ‘let go’.

  35. JEHR

    What I learned today:

    The Trump Doctrine:
    1. We’re America, B**ch
    2. No Friends, No Enemies
    3.Permanent destablization creates American advantage

    4. In addition, Strong Authoritarian Leaders are great too.

    1. Massinissa

      Sorry, but all of this far predates Trump. Hes just continuing these trends. We have been purposefully destabilizing the third world for our own ends for decades.

      1. JBird

        One can say we have been doing this since before the Civil War with the American-Texas-Mexican wars, Private American ventures in Central America, the effort to make Haiti fail, and the various examples of gunboat diplomacy in Latin America shortly after. So about 180 years of war for financial reasons.

        1. pretzelattack

          the locals didn’t always appreciate the colonists coming in and suddenly “owning” the land, and fought back, so i would say since before the revolution.

  36. Jim Haygood

    Global yield curve inversion — we’re already there, says JPMorgan. Cast your eyes, if you dare, upon this appalling chart:

    To be fair, owing to the short maturity of US Treasury debt compared to longer maturities in Europe and Japan, higher-yielding US T-notes dominate the 1-3y bucket in the chart, whereas low and negative-yield bunds, JGBs, etc predominate in the 7-10y range.

    But weighting quirks aren’t important if they’re consistent, and they have been. An inverted global yield curve signaled the 2001 US recession with a 4-year lead [2 yrs for the US-only yield curve] and the 2008 recession with a 1-year lead.

    JPMorgan explains the rationale: when investors have little confidence in the economy, or think monetary policy tightening is overdone, or see a high risk of an equity sell-off, they may prefer long government bonds as a hedge despite their lower yield than short-dated bonds.

    Tick-tock, Mr Powell, Ms Brainard, Ms Mester, et al. Time’s up. And it’s too late to dump that bulky, reeking bag of “balance sheet normalization” you’re left holding in some anonymous ditch.

    Onward to the icebergs!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If the Russians don’t want Treasury bonds, where else can they park their US dollars?

  37. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: New type of photosynthesis discovered — What most struck me on reading this link was the concept of a “red limit” — elaborated in the link as — “that is, the minimum amount of energy needed to do the demanding chemistry that produces oxygen.” I read this as a round-the-bend way of saying that the red limit was a minimum amount of energy needed to do the demanding chemistry of life. [I doubt plants are terribly interested in producing oxygen.] This concept of a “red limit” echoes the old notions of a kind of magic wrapping organic chemistry because it was a chemistry of life. It took scientists some time to feel comfortable with organic chemistry as the chemistry of carbon, a chemistry with an enormous catalog of complex structures and reactions. The “red limit” also reminded me of the “Raleigh Limit” for diffraction and its limitation of the resolution of lenses and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Considerations of the Raleigh Limit assumed no change in the materials which might be used for optics. They didn’t take into account recent creations of metamaterials which have a negative index of refraction. In a similar way considerations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics tend to hold thinking about the law seemingly ignorant that the law only applies for closed systems. I am hopeful many of these scientific laws from the late 19th Century and early 20th Century might become unstuck from their constraint on new ways of thinking, and new Science. Remember that many scientists from the late 19th Century believed all the great questions had been answered and all that was left was to fill in the details. [I have no reference for this notion but recall reading of the claim often though no references were offered in those readings.]

  38. The Heretic

    Concerning the courageous grandmother…Could someone please fact check the cost of a course of Rabies shots…. How the hell can that cost $10,000 ??! Is Martin Shekrilli involved?

    The cost to live free in the land of the free is astonishingly expensive.

    1. Massinissa

      I have asked Very Smart People why these kinds of things are so expensive, and the Very Smart People say the prices are this expensive because obviously insurance pays for all of these exorbitant prices.

      When I ask the Very Smart People what people without insurance should do, they reply, “Well, they should have had insurance” and change the topic.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When surviving in an asphalt jungle, always go with kind people over very smart people.

        When out in an open savanna, with roaming lions, you want to stick by every smart people, when they are slow runners or those who have spent every waking playing video games for decades (but not those who are more diversified in their activities).

      2. The Heretic

        So insurance justifies ever increasing yearly premiums, because they pay ever higher prices for drugs and treatment… and since they take a percentage of premiums for themselves… the ever increasing premiums means ever increasing profits and executive bonuses…and everyone (whom ever is considered important) wins!

  39. Daryl

    > Theranos founder hit with criminal charges

    Interesting that you bring up the original reception. On HN they dug up the first Hacker News thread about Theranos:

    On Hacker News at that time, probably the most receptive environment to “disruption” BS and techno-libertarianism, there are still some people who seem to have seen this coming…

    > The company is all hot air. They have a board full of retired military figure heads that have no experience in medical devices or retail services. Additionally, they do not have any products to show. Look at their patents. They are all very general and broad. There has been NO FDA CLEARANCE for anything they are doing, which raises legal questions. Speaking of legal, search for lawsuits they are involved in. Their core technology is not even theirs. They stole it from someone else.

    From “medman77”, September 8, 2013.

    And this one probably could have been pulled from the Naked Capitalism comment section:

    > So, it’s a health testing company that will keep all my blood-related health information and make it “actionable”, with the backing of James Mattis, William Perry and none other than Henry Kissinger. There are more soldiers in that board there than doctors.

    > The only way I’d give them my blood would be to infect them with a disease.

  40. anonymous

    Mediterranean Diet:

    Failure to implement random assignment of participants into the two groups (control and experimental) means the study was unable to guarantee non-spuriousness, i.e., rule out some potential confounding factor. So the putative causal relationship between a Mediterranean Diet and better heart health is actually spurious.

    1. blennylips

      The revised paper says only that people eating the Mediterranean diet had fewer strokes and heart attacks, not, as the original paper claimed, that the diet was the direct cause of those health benefits.

      Out of an abundance of caution and professional ethics, the study was adjusted with softer language in the conclusions.

      And yet, our noble MSM is reporting only that the study was retracted, comparing it to 50-ish other studies that were similarly flawed.

      With predictable results, such as the post this is in reply to.

      (Exercise for the reader: Is the MSM doing more harm than good here, or is it the other way around? Many, many other articles report the news with an opinion, such as “Trump meets with Kim, but it won’t result in anything useful”. Why couldn’t NPR have a similar headline for *this* article, such as “Diet study retracted, despite being accurate”?)

      I find the above compelling. But, I would then, wouldn’t I?

      I’ve long sworn off taking any nutritional research at face value.

      1. EoH

        The Guardian’s nutrition and food coverage, like much of its current take on politics, is traditional establishment, nothing to see here orientated. It is not very critical of industrial Ag and remains largely committed to the outdated high carb, low fat food pyramid. It’s coverage of the Bayer-Monsanto takeover is a good example.

        It has also adopted the MSM’s quote the pitch man and let the reader sort it out approach. An example from today is this: High Risk of Food Shortages Without Pesticides, Says Food Giant.

        The article’s seventeen paragraphs cite no counter-argument to the chemical company’s questionable, self-interested claim. Nor does the article consider that we might have food shortages in spite of or because of the continued use of pesticides.

        Prohibiting or more tightly regulating the use of high-cost, potentially diseasing causing and pollinating insect destroying pesticides and their pesticide-resistant proprietary seed analogs would be undesirable from the salesman’s point of view. It would threaten revenue and profits. It could restrict trade from countries that allow their use, further lowering revenue and profits.

        It might, however, be entirely necessary as a public health measure, something the reader has to wait until paragraph six to learn. And that is buried among sixteen other paragraphs that track the company’s line. This one is about the high global concentration of food and chemical company ownership:

        This leaves about two-thirds of the world’s seed sales and pesticide production in the hands of very few businesses, but [Syngenta’s] Fyrwald said people should not be concerned, saying regulators required various divisions to be sold off before the mergers: “I think there will continue to be plenty of competition. We are very committed to offering farmers choice and competitive products.”

        The article might have mentioned that government regulators are commonly outspent, outlawyered and co-opted by large corporations they attempt to regulate. IP laws commonly and sometimes outrageously favor such companies. Farmers and livestock producers are often tightly regulated through seed and livestock “licenses”, which bind the producer as tightly to them, and to silence, as any supplier is tied to Wal-Mart.

  41. The Rev Kev

    “Elizabeth Holmes Finally Getting Her Comeuppance”

    And you just know that NC has on file a template headed “CalPERS Board Finally Getting Its Comeuppance” waiting.

  42. Oregoncharles

    “Making buildings, cars and planes from materials based on plant fibres ” – paywalled, but: isn’t that called “wood”?

    Seriously, there’s an opportunity for plastics recycling. The example is called “Trex”; it’s decking made of sawdust bound together with melted plastic. The same principle as papercrete, but with plastic. It could also be made with waste paper or other fibers and used for siding, flooring, and so on. Not very structural, but that could be fixed with longer fibers – hemp, for instance.

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