2:00PM Water Cooler 7/31/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Agriculture remains a key sticking point in newly reinvigorated EU-U.S. trade negotiations. Over the weekend, officials on both sides traded rhetoric over the issue as they highlighted agriculture’s role in the discussions. But beyond a few easy points of agreement, like increasing the volume of soybean trade between the two, agriculture is poised to remain a contentious issue throughout negotiations, especially where GM crops are concerned” [Stratfor]. “The French, in particular, have been vocal about their opposition to a trade deal with the United States that includes agriculture. Given those limits, it’s easy to see how disagreements over agriculture could lead to a collapse of the broader conversation between the European Union and the United States, inviting the return of a cycle of tariff threats and retaliation. In the long term, the fundamental disagreements on the future direction of agricultural technology — particularly the development and use of genetically modified organisms — could create even more barriers to a trade deal between the two.”



“Sanders Institute has little to show for first year and $500K” [VT Digger]. “The Sanders Institute website launched on June 7, 2017, with 29,000 unique page views, according to IRS documents obtained by VTDigger. In the first two months of its existence, the site saw 126,000 visitors. With irregular updates and limited original content, traffic has taken a dive. The Sanders Institute saw roughly 12,300 unique page views in June 2018, according to Semrush, a website analytics company.”


“99 Days to Go, and the Midterm Elections Battleground Is Not What Was Expected” [New York Times]. “The battleground in the fight for control of the House is starting to come into focus with 99 days to go until the November election. It’s not exactly the battleground that analysts expected. It’s not dominated by well-educated, suburban districts that voted for Hillary Clinton. Instead, the battleground is broad, and it includes a long list of working-class and rural districts that voted for Donald J. Trump in 2016…. [T]here aren’t many polls showing Democrats excelling in the well-educated districts where Mrs. Clinton won. Polls sponsored by Democratic groups have shown Republicans leading in Illinois’s Sixth, Pennsylvania’s First, Washington’s Eighth and California’s 39th. Even in the well-educated districts where Democrats lead in recent polls, like Virginia’s 10th or California’s 48th and 49th, the polls show Democrats merely running even with Mrs. Clinton. Individual House polls are never much better than a rough indicator, and this is an early stage of the race. But the overall pattern is fairly clear, and a similar pattern shows up in the special election results of the last year. Democrats have run far ahead of Mrs. Clinton in white working-class areas that backed the president by a wide margin, including Conor Lamb’s victory in Pennsylvania’s 18th District in March. They haven’t run so far ahead of Mrs. Clinton in the areas where she excelled, like Georgia’s Sixth or Northern Virginia.”

NY Governor: “Cynthia Nixon Endorsed by Indivisible, a National Grassroots Group” [New York Times]. “Cynthia Nixon’s insurgent bid to unseat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo got a lift on Monday: The national arm of Indivisible, the liberal grassroots network that sprang up following the election of President Trump, endorsed her.” • “Sprang up.”

NY Governor: “Emails, records raise questions on Cuomo donations, donor’s dividends” [Times-Union]. “Hal Teitelbaum needed quick action from New York’s government: the approval of an application allowing one of New York’s fastest-growing health care companies, Crystal Run, to keep expanding. In the fall of 2011, Crystal Run’s CEO was facing what’s often a lengthy, bureaucratic process. His path, however, smoothed out considerably after the CEO wrote a $25,000 check — drawn from Crystal Run’s corporate funds — to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign. Teitelbaum soon had a direct line to one of New York’s most powerful people, top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco, who according to emails obtained by the Times Union quickly helped solve the problem.”

NY Governor: A gentle reminder on Nixon endorsements:

IA-01: “This Might Be the Most Important Swing District in the Country” [New York Magazine]. “The district’s centrality to the national political discussion was clear as early as 2016, when industrial parts of the northeastern Iowa district — like the Dubuque area, which the president visited Thursday — abandoned their reliable Democratic hue to flip to Trump. Its position as a potent symbol was even more obvious when it became clear that the midterm race there would pit second-term Republican Rod Blum against Abby Finkenauer, an embodiment of multiple national trends working in Democrats’ favor: a 29-year-old local legislator with her own student loans and a union emphasis reminiscent of Conor Lamb’s. The race is a toss-up….”

VA-05: “Cockburn calls out Riggleman’s Bigfoot posts” [Daily Progress]. • So, if your feeds are full of Bigfoot posts, this is why. Interestingly, Cockburn was not the DCCC-backed candidate. This seems like a standard establishment tactic — a sophisticated variant of the losing but oft-repeated liberal Democrat talking point that they’re smarter than everybody, and in particular all their opponents — but I do understand why tagging one’s opponent as a purveyor of Bigfoot erotica (!!) is too tasty an opportunity to pass up….

2016 Post Mortem

Life’s little ironies:

Shows the Clinton campaign did not invent the “Pied Piper” strategy, interestingly. (More on that White House Correspondents dinnner here.)

“Precinct Data Shows Rich, White Neighborhoods Flipping Democratic in 2016. Will It Last?” [New York Times]. “Hillary Clinton won the nation’s richest and most exclusive neighborhoods by a wide margin in the 2016 presidential election, according to an Upshot analysis of election results from Ryne Rohla of Washington State University and census data…. The precinct-level data, which is far more granular than the county-level data available immediately after the election, complements a growing body of evidence that is forcing a re-evaluation of some of the initial views of the 2016 presidential election. It appears that Mrs. Clinton succeeded at winning over many rich and well-educated Republicans, perhaps by an even wider margin than pre-election polls implied, just as Mr. Trump made big gains in the poorest white communities compared with Mr. Romney. But there were more not-so-affluent white voters without a college degree in the battleground states, and Mr. Trump’s success with them was enough to give him the edge in the Electoral College.” • That’s cool. Liberal Democrats are repeating the strategy in 2018 that they announced and carried out in 2016, losing while doing it.

Obama Legacy

Dodged a bullet:

New Cold War

“Why Are So Many Leftists Skeptical of the Russia Investigation?” [Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine]. “A theme of their skepticism is a sense of frustration with the way the Russia investigation cuts across the electorate, and especially the political intelligentsia, in a way that frustrates their ideological project. While some leftists have disdained the Mueller investigation, many centrists and even some conservatives have supported it. By expanding the Democratic coalition into the center, at least temporarily, the Russia issue runs counter to their goal of repositioning the party to the left.” • I think it’s a lot simpler. One word: Iraq. For those who came in late, Operation Mockingbird. It’s entirely normal — and by “normal,” I mean, in this case, “fringe” — to treat the work product of the intelligence community, especially when leaked anonymously to the press, using a hermeneutic of suspicion (especially when the stakes for the intelligence community are enormous). Show me the evidence, show me the provenance.

The Liberal Democrats Have Lost Their Minds

Has the word “pleasant” lost all meaning?

(I call Mueller an “entrapment artist” stories like this, from 2013; and this admittedly speculative story from 2016. And then there’s the Whitey Bulger thing, which is possibly not an invention of the conservative fever swamp.)

“Illiberal Values” [Walter Kim, Harpers]. “Coming of age in the Seventies as a Midwesterner, a Mormon, and a resident of a town of about five hundred people, I didn’t get to meet a lot of outspoken liberals, but those I did meet made strong impressions on me. I was too young to understand the intricacies of their politics, but I liked how they approached the world. Compared with the dry, judgmental people at church who feared a communist plot against America, worshipped the military and law enforcement, and seemed obsessed with hygiene, health, and thrift, the liberals I knew were a refreshing change of pace: open, adventurous, questioning, and fun.” • Yeah, what happened to those liberals, anyhow?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Directional Clues” [Hannah Blog]. “Using a directional descriptor (left, right, east, west, up, down) for a moral or philosophical belief system suggests an inability to understand the difference betwwen a symbol and the thing it represents. Direction is a physical reality related to movement from a fixed point. Most dogs seem to have a sense of direction, which is how they find their way home. Many humans don’t…. Why would one follow a guide who does not know where he is going?”

“Party Unity is for Rubes” [Current Affairs]. “[T]he two-party system in the U.S. forces each party to build ideologically diverse coalitions of interest groups. Those interest groups are held together not by mutual love and fellow-feeling but by raw political need: none of the coalition partners can attain a majority by itself, so their only road to power is by staying in the coalition. But naturally each faction would like to see the whole coalition prioritize its own interests over the others; the question of which groups get legislation passed to their liking and which merely provide the foot soldiers for the larger whole is a vitally important one. So the normal condition of U.S. political parties is faction war, with each faction attempting to seize power within the coalition and the whole coalition held together by the need for alliance against the other party.” • As Obama understood when he stood up Perez to screw over Ellison. No point fussing about norms; that is the norm!

“There’s Still No Evidence That the ‘Radical Left’ Is Helping Trump” [New York Magazine]. “[O]ne month after voters in the South Bronx put ‘democratic socialism’ in the headlines, real America has registered its outrage at the Democrats’ hard-left turn — by giving the party a larger lead in the generic congressional ballot… Social democracy might allow Sweden to provide its people with longer lives, a lower poverty rate, cheaper health care, more retirement security, better educational outcomes, and higher levels of self-reported happiness than Americans enjoy. But American capitalism provides U.S. citizens with something even better than all that: total immunity from the threat of banking crises produced by housing bubbles. People used to know this stuff.” • Averages conceal, as with the generic ballot. Notice also the denaturing of “democratic socialism” into “social democracy.” Social democracy, the new centrism? Not such a bad thing, perhaps…

“Opening Statement BSA Meets Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” (PDF) [Black Socialists of America]. “Workers democratically controlling the means of production, and democratically controlling the surplus value (or profits) that their hard work produces. Here in the US, we can make ground on this, and we at BSA feel this is something you can speak to in a way that isn’t dishonest or misleading. However, when you imply that the ideal state is Social Democracy, as you do on your website and in your interviews, or as your public “definition” of Socialism implies, it doesn’t make us feel confident that Democratic Socialism is something that you actually advocate for. We don’t know if you’re advocating for Social Democratic policy as a gateway to full worker control of the economy, or whether you’re advocating for Social Democracy as an end.” • They certainly come prepared to their meetings…

“Why the argument for democracy may finally be working for socialists rather than against them” [Corey Robin, Crooked Timber]. “What strikes me about the current moment is how willing and able the new generation of democratic socialists are to go on the offensive about democracy, not to shy away from it but to confront it head on…. [By constrast, you] have the Democratic Party. Massively dependent in its nomination process on super-delegates. Massively dependent in its district-level wins on low voter turnout, in districts where the party structure resembles the Jim Crow South, as described by V.O. Key. You have incumbents like Joe Crowley who’ve not had to face a primary challenge in so long that, as we saw in the case of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they don’t even know how to wage much less win electoral campaigns… I can imagine the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) folks saying to these Dems: you really want to have a debate with us about democracy? Bring it on.”

“A New Party of a New Type” (Interview) [Seth Ackerman, Jacobin]. “I want to see the Left organize to the point that it can strategically and consciously exploit the gaps in the coherence of the system in order to create the equivalent of a political party in in the key respects: a membership-run organization with its own name, its own logo, its own identity and therefore its own platform, and its own ideology…. I think what we’re seeing now with Ocasio-Cortez and so many other candidates at the state and local level, are attempts, especially by members of Democratic Socialists of America, to take the first steps of having candidates operating under an alternative banner — somewhat tangentially, but still pretty palpably….. Every article about Ocasio-Cortez mentioned that she’s a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, that she’s a democratic socialist.” • Or is she… a social democrat? Is social democracy The New Centrism?

“The American Two Party System is Actually Pretty Great” [Benjamin Studebaker]. “The main obstacle in our system is not the party system or the electoral system, it’s the sheer number of offices there are to win. The House, the Senate, the state legislatures, the governorships–you need piles and piles of them to overcome the federal system’s checks and balances and push cool new stuff through. That’s not going to change anytime soon. We have to work with what we’ve got. But at least we have something to work with. Many Europeans are stuck with proportional representation, and they’ll keep electing the same collections of misfit toys over and over again. And we’ve seen that it is possible to win powerful, dominant majorities in America with the right message at the right time. Roosevelt had 75 Democrats in the senate out of 96. Did the New Dealers do enough? No.”

“Amid push from younger progressives, how much socialism are Democrats willing to embrace?” [Virginia Mercury]. “[Lee]. Carter said he was well-received in Virginia’s legislature, despite a few jokes from other delegates. Almost all of his proposed bills, some of which focused on workers’ compensation and studying the cost of universal health care in Virginia, were left in committees, though that’s not uncommon for freshman lawmakers in the minority party.” • This is a reasonably balanced roundup.

“Voting systems in Wisconsin, a key swing state, can be hacked, security experts warn” [Wisconisin Watchdog]. “[M]unicipal and county clerks interviewed by the Center say they are not worried about a cyberattack, citing the fact that voting in Wisconsin is not centrally coordinated but conducted on a local level by 1,854 communities, large and small. They also note that the voting machines are not connected to the internet. As a result, many clerks resist proposals to conduct post-election audits, saying they have no resources for such efforts, which they consider unnecessary.” And here is the mention of paper ballots: “But in interviews with the Center, leading national experts said that keeping the paper trail is not enough. They said robust post-election risk-limiting audits are a crucial tool to ensure accurate results.” • No no no no no. The “audit” concept is rather like “access” to health care: It’s a jobs guarantee for 9.9%ers, in this case security consultants — obviously talking their book in this article. (It’s also an artificially created market for electronic voting machine vendors.) Don’t audit. Keep it simple, and eliminate the digital layer of complexity altogether, exactly as eligibility determination should be eliminated from the health care system, and for the same reasons. Deploy hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, and all the problems created by digital go away. (You can skip the Russia hysteria at the start of the article. I mean, does anybody seriously believe that had more impact than Clinton never campaigning in the state?)w

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, June 2018: “Easing inflation pressure along with healthy consumer vital signs is the message from the personal income & outlays report for June’ [Econoday]. “Personal income rose…. with the wages & salaries component. The savings rate was shifted sharply higher in last week’s benchmark GDP revisions in what is a very fundamental sign of health…. The consumer didn’t dip into savings to keep up spending.” And but: “June 2018 Headline Personal Income And Spending Completely Revised” [Econintersect]. “Consumer income growth is higher than spending growth year-over-year (flip flop by annual revision). The backward revisions this month were relatively significant.”

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, July 2018: “The Chicago PMI continues its torrid pace” [Econoday]. “Rising costs and capacity stress aside, the Chicago sample’s confidence is strong with over half expecting third-quarter orders to exceed those of the second quarter.” And: “The results of this survey continue to correlate to district Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys – and generallly aligns with the overall trend of the ISM manufacturing survey” [Econintersect].

Employment Cost Index, Q2 2018: “Slowing in wage costs kept down the employment cost index in the second quarter” [Econoday]. “This is a mixed report but the slowing in quarterly wages is a tangible positive and complements the modest inflation readings in this morning’s personal income & outlays report.”

Consumer Confidence, July 2018: “Consumer confidence is steady and strong. It’s hard to make further upward movement in this report given its enormous strength, right at nearly 20 year highs. But the kicking in of inflation expectations is something new and does coincide with very clear inflation pressures being reported by manufacturers all year” [Econoday]. “It’s hard to make further upward movement in this report given its enormous strength, right at nearly 20 year highs. But the kicking in of inflation expectations is something new and does coincide with very clear inflation pressures being reported by manufacturers all year.” And: “Consumer confidence has been on a multi-year upswing – and this upswing is roughly correlating with increases in consumer spending” [EconIntersect].

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, May 2018: “Weakness in the major cities in the Northeast and Midwest is offsetting price strength in the West” [Econoday]. “Despite the strength in the West, both this report and the FHFA house price index have visibly slowed the last several reports, in line with what has proven, in contrast to all the strength in the labor market and the health in consumer spending, to be a downshift in this year’s home sales.” But: “Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers” [Econintersect]. And: “According to the data, prices increased in 18 of 20 cities month-over-month seasonally adjusted” [Calculated Risk].

State Street Investor Confidence Index, July 2018: “Accumulation of equities by global institutional investors slightly increased in July” [Econoday]. “The regional breakdown suggests that while Europe remains firmly entrenched in risk-off territory amid political uncertainty and lagging growth in the region, trade war fears among North American investors especially may have tamed risk appetites since April’s higher levels of accumulation to a few points above the neutral mark.”

Tech: @jack:

Since Twitter, et al, make their money on the algos, they actually profit by removing functionality. It’s an amazing business model!


Seamlessed.” Love verbing start-up branding. Juiceroed. Googled.



Thai Cave Rescue

A society with the capacity to mobilize. Imagine that. Some of the people who showed up with trucks and water pumps and started to empty the cave:

“Thai cave rescuers, who sedated boys, coach to get them out, describe harrowing moment when first boy started to come to during rescue” [ABC]. “Australian diver and anesthesiologist Dr. Richard Harris also injected the boys with the sedative Ketamine to knock them unconscious for their protection and the protection of the divers. British divers said if they were to attempt this rescue, the sedation was non-negotiable. ‘I can’t have him [one of the boys] twitching around,’ [British Cave Rescue Council diver Jason Mallinson] said. ‘He could have harmed himself. He could have ripped his face mask off and then he was dead. It was much better for me to sedate him and keep him under, in my opinion, for him [not] to harm himself or me.'”

Here is Harris presenting:


Allow me to underline that word “humility,” which seems to be in short supply, here in the heartland of Empire.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Word of the day:


“The rise and fall of bees” [The Economist]. “Bees are wasps that went vegetarian. This was a brilliant evolutionary move: they now outnumber wasps by around three to one. Instead of hunting creatures that would rather not be eaten, they turned to living things that offered themselves on a plate. Bees and flowers evolved together in a gorgeous spiral of mutual dependence. Nectar and pollen feed the bees; in return, the plants get to procreate… Mr Hanson cites an authoritative survey showing that around 40% of bee species globally are in decline or threatened with extinction…. Why? Diana Cox-Foster, an entomologist, offers [author Thor] Hanson the theory of the four Ps: parasites, poor nutrition, pesticides and pathogens. Widespread culling of flowers is a particular problem. ‘People look across a park or a golf course and think it’s green and lush, but to a bee it’s like a desert or a petrified forest—there’s nothing to survive on,” she says.” • Or a lawn. Plant flowers! Especially pollinator-friendly wildflowers!

Class Warfare

The road not taken:

“Does economic inequality breed political inequality?” [Democratization]. From the abstract: “This study argues that economic inequality should decrease political equality through multiple mechanisms: (1) it increases the resources of the rich relative to the poor; (2) it widens the gap in policy preferences across income groups; (3) it reduces participation; and (4) it depresses support for democracy. Using three measures of inequality and data on more than 140 countries between 1961 and 2008, it was found that economic inequality tends to increase political inequality, even when one controls for the level of democracy. Results hold when the sample is restricted by regime type.”

News of The Wired

“How to Fall Asleep in 120 Seconds” [Medium]. “The U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School developed a scientific method to fall asleep day or night, in any conditions, in under two minutes. After six weeks of practice, 96 percent of pilots could fall asleep in two minutes or less. Even after drinking coffee, with machine gunfire being played in the background. Which means if you follow these steps, falling asleep will be a piece of cake.” • I count backward from 400….

“Don’t Throw It Away—Take It to the Repair Cafe” [City Lab]. “It’s that throwaway culture that former sustainability journalist Martine Postma—now the founder of the Repair Cafe Foundation—aimed to tackle in October 2009 when she created the first of such cafes in Amsterdam… . From that first cafe in Amsterdam grew nearly 1,600 more across the globe, including 82 within the U.S…. She now sells a digital starter kit for €49 (about $58) that includes a manual, permission to use the foundation’s official logo, and communication access to all the other cafes out there.”

“The ethics of computer science: this researcher has a controversial proposal” [Nature]. • Love the Nature-style clickbait headline (“this researcher,” “controversial”). More:

If the peer-review policy only prompts authors to discuss negative consequences, how will it improve society?

Disclosing negative impacts is not just an end in itself, but a public statement of new problems that need to be solved. We need to bend the incentives in computer science towards making the net impact of innovations positive. When we retire will we tell our grandchildren, like those in the oil and gas industry: “We were just developing products and doing what we were told”? Or can we be the generation that finally took the reins on computing innovation and guided it towards positive impact?

Combine this with the precationary principle?

Kids these days:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Henry Moon Pie):

Henry Moon Pie writes: “My patches of cone flowers draw lots of bumble bees and even monarchs.” Pictures of plants + pollinators are now starting to arrive in my Inbox, and I find them really encouraging. The subject is technically challenging, too, for the photographer: The pollinators are always in motion, and flowers seem designed to catch the slightest breeze…

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Carey

    Chait’s contortions on Russiagate must be so fatiguing! Can you imagine having to think
    up his (any all the bought-and-paid-for media’s) tripe? Seems to me that over even the
    medium term it’s not really sustainable… but then, I thought that around 1982.

    1. Carolinian

      He probably took an online course at Tom Friedman’s School of Bafflegab. Column inches must be filled.

    2. clarky90

      I think that the “power” of Russiagate has little to do with the ins and outs of the case. Rather, it is all about our “trust” of The Authoritative Opinion (The News, the PhDs).

      During adolescence, I realized that my parent’s description of “our life” was self serving, full of omissions and white lies. It was upsetting and, ultimately liberating. I was beginning to make my own way in this awe-inspiring World.

      Gutenberg’s Printing Press allowed common people, access to the actual WORDS in the Bible. “Hmmmmm, interesting what Jesus says here! No one told me that.”

      We are being lied to. Sometime, outright lies (WMDs), sometimes omissions of important information (who is shadow-funding the “Our Democracy Love Family Peace Foundation”? What are their goals?). Also, the distortion of “History” to serve various agendas. Why the brain fade over important events? (Yemen, Holodomor…)

      I credit Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia as a wake-up alarm. “Stop dreaming people, it is morning time”.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        They start lying to you the day they bring you home from the hospital, first it’s the magical stork, then santa, the easter bunny, the tooth fairy, ad infinitum.
        If heaven is so great why do they have to scare you with damnation in h*ll if you don’t buy in.
        It seems to be some kind of pre-conditioning to ensure you will be an obedient little prole once you are grown.

    3. Skip Intro

      No, that’s the beauty of the Russia hysteria: they already had tons of stockpiled propaganda ready to fly from when the end of the cold war caught them by surprise. That’s why you see occasional anachronisms in the disinfo feed, like talking about the KGB. Most of the material has been updated, but not all.

  2. Carolinian

    “A theme of their skepticism is a sense of frustration with the way the Russia investigation cuts across the electorate, and especially the political intelligentsia, in a way that frustrates their ideological project.[…]

    By expanding the Democratic coalition into the center, at least temporarily, the Russia issue runs counter to their goal of repositioning the party to the left.

    That’s just pure gobbledeegook. Chait is a maroon.

    They are probably skeptical because they don’t think it’s true.

    1. Hameloose Cannon

      Could just be a refusal to accept any source of information that doesn’t back up their prejudices, a categorical opposition to, well… everything, and a lack of ability to provide credible sources to support their arguments.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      How hard would it be for someone to just poll marginal suburban Republicans and find out how intrigued they are with R!R!R!?

      Have these clowns actually done Focus Groups for this whole RussiaGate thing? Can I see the YouTubes? I could use a laugh.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for dropping this.

      Sy Hersh comes out playing hard-ball. I’m 5 minutes in and he’s already dropping great stuff.

    2. JohnnyGL

      “I will assure you that there’s no known intel that Russia cut into, intercepted the podesta emails” – WOW! WTF??!?!?

  3. diptherio

    File Under: Class Warfare

    Former-Starbucks employee Douglas Troester has won his long-fought battle to be paid for the time he spent closing up after he clocked out. His lawyer, Sean Seterah, says the company never paid Troester for the extra time he spent performing the required work.

    “This was not an anomaly. This was not by chance that his occurred. This is how Starbucks created procedures; to have them clock out, do the work, and then leave. So they knew specifically – they had specific knowledge -that all of the deposition testimony, all of the manuals, this is how they designed their system. This is one of the reasons we won the case. The Supreme Court said they can’t do it. And this affects every single employee in California.”

    It took six years to win the case.

    “We think it’s a great result. And I feel very pleased and humbled to have been a part of this case.”
    Sean Seterah was a guest on McIntyre in the Morning. [emphasis added]


    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      impractical to require Starbucks to record the brief amount of time employees spent doing work tasks before leaving a store

      If you’re not paying me, you’re a bum asking for favors. Is there a gentle explanation out there of why this is even a question? (I don’t want to explode my head this evening.) Staff privileges with management responsibilities?

  4. grayslady

    Regarding repair cafes: Thanks for the article. My library has been remodeling for a Maker’s Lab and I had no idea what they were talking about. As for repair, I’ve been doing everything from sewing repairs to electrical repairs for over 30 years. Not long ago, I replaced the oven igniter on my stove thanks to viewing a YouTube video and realizing how easy it was; savings realized: $240!

    My biggest beef about trying to do electronic repairs is that you find replacement parts are available but there is no instruction manual. My advice to potential DIYers is to look for the large format paperback books that were available in the 60s and 70s. The graphic drawings are far superior to color photos in today’s books, and the instructions are clear, step-by-step information. I suppose that’s because in those days it was routine to make things or repair things, not just replace them.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      The local “nonprofit, volunteer-led, mixed-use storefront space dedicated to art, agriculture, and action” in my little upstate NY town had one of these last weekend. I haven’t yet heard details of how it went, but plan to volunteer as a fixer when they schedule the next one.

    2. foghorn longhorn

      Helpful tips
      Pull up the make, model, serial number on the web
      90 percent of the time you are not the first person to experience this problem
      Watch the you tube vids
      Search ebay for the chinese replacement parts, very little is made here anymore
      Order 2 of em if the wallet allows
      Take your time, take pictures BEFORE you start
      Lay out the parts you remove in a logical manner
      Teplace parts in the order they were removed
      Take your time, don’t force parts into place
      If you get frustrated, back off, drink a beer and think about it

      1. BobW

        Esp. for laptops: measure the screws, lay them out just like they were removed (if space allows). Running a too-long screw into a component is not fun (ahem… or so I’ve heard, heh heh).

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        A good time to use the limitless pictures abilities of your phone if you have such.

    3. Lee

      Friend of mine diagnosed what was wrong with his ceiling fan but the replacement electrical component cost more than if he bought a whole new fan. What a world!

      OTOH, between You Tube and a mechanics repair manual, I can do quite a bit of my own maintenance and repairs on my motorcycle. And thanks to YT video and a little help from my friends, I was recently able to replace a power window motor and regulator on my jalopy. It’s amazing how satisfying a day of skinning one’s knuckles and cursing inanimate objects cab be.

    4. 4corners

      “They don’t make it easy”
      The article makes the important point that the problem isn’t just our throwaway culture but the planned obsolescence behind the products. Maybe when enough people care, repairability will be touted as a feature. (Then it becomes a calculation of whether your repair costs can match the economics of manufacture. Doubt it, but many of us might do it anyway, just on principal or sheer stubbornness.)

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        But with planned obsolescence the sensible people can complain about how we can’t afford better stuff. How much less overshoot would we have if every American only bought one blender in their life? When I was a kid, you could be the third owner of your phone for all you cared.

    5. ewmayer

      My own most recent venture into stuff-repair was an 85-year-old collectible (illustrated by Harry Clarke) limited edition of Faust with a nearly-completely-separated front part of the spine from the rest of the book, which I’d bought at an estate sale years ago. Did a little research, bought a roll of single-stictched binder tape, spent a few sessions gluing that in place and letting each sub-repair cure, result is not 100% curator quality but is quite nice. Only problem? The binder tape came in a 45-foot roll, of which I used only around one foot. Having no further books in need of repair, I did the obvious thing and put the remainder (i.e. the 98%-roll) up for sale on ebay, via the 30-day fixed-price (with the ‘make offer’ option also enabled). No sale in first week, but one of the potential buyers asked if I’d be willing to sell just a few feet of the stuff. I.e. same demographic as me. The new roll cost around $1/foot, so relisted on a per-foot basis (with multiple-foot orders shipping in form of a single folded-to-fit-envelope piece, to minimize wastage), $1.49/foot which includes shipping. I.e. cost covers what I paid plus 1st-class stamp. Since I’m not looking to make money here, just to recover roughly what I paid and get the stuff into the hands of fellow repairers, I don’t mind spending the few minutes needed to address the envelopes.

      Anyhow, a month later and the roll is nearly gone, in batches ranging from 1 foot to 7 feet. Hopefully a bunch of happy fellow success-in-repairers on the other ends of those mailings.

      (p.s: I’m on ebay under the same handle as here, in case any NC readers have such repairs of their own needing doing.)

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its worth pointing out here again that our well informed BTL commentator Vlade proposed this exact method of getting the boys out of the cave. I’m not sure of any other public forum or publication where they anticipated that the boys would be anaesthaesed in order to move them out manually.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        What’s BTL? Remember, per Yves, Vlade is also the OGC on this site: very first commenter, still going strong :-)

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      humility is the wisdom of both expertise and experience combined with knowing that all one’s expert knowledge and experience still leaves one’s actions dependent on chance and fortune

      Well put. Is anyone putting together a wishlist of values our culture might place higher than MONEY?

  5. Enquiring Mind

    Thai Cave Rescue, happy news.
    Not reading about attorneys trolling for plaintiffs, even better. ;p

    1. Floyd

      Or the local rescue authorities presenting a $1MM fee to each “victim” for services rendered.

  6. dcblogger

    The Indivisible endorsement is fantastic news for Cynthia Nixon and the single payer movement. Indivisible played a crucial role in the Democratic victories in Virginia in 2017. Indivisible brings an army of canvassers and phone bankers. It is support that money can’t buy. I am thrilled.

    Incidentally, the Canadian single payer system began in Saskatchewan financed by a payroll tax. It would be cheaper than what NY is paying now. A federal single payer system makes the best sense, but no reason you could not do it state by state.

    1. John k

      Need to keep sick people from moving in.
      Also, as pointed out here, strong incentive to cut health spending in recession when receipts are falling and mane expenditures are rising. Only fed is free to spend in recessions.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Im still skeptical of Indivisible because of its Clintonite Neoliberal origins trying to coopt populist support away from Sanders.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Unfortunately, I had to blow past this exchange:

        I mean, come on.

        * * *

        I’m all for giving corrupt Cuomo his comeuppance, but surely it’s possible that Indivisible’s endorsement has more to do with doing Cuomo — a 2020 candidate, at least in his own mind — down, rather than boosting Nixon? For my views on lowercase-i “indivisible” as a concept, see “Party Unity is for Rubes,” today.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I immediately unsubscribed from getting any more mailings from one of the worthy nature/wildlife organizations I have supported because their last request for assistance, just yesterday, was ostensibly from Hillary: “I need your help.”

          No. Never, no way. I looked for a way to tell them WHY I was checking out, but there was none.

          Apparently she’s no longer toxic?

          1. ambrit

            Well, money is fungible. So, Hilz probably told the organization that they would be getting lots of high-level ‘donations’ from everywhere, and all they had to do was pass it on to “The Foundation” and keep a ‘skim,’ say, five percent.
            Hilz does indeed need ‘help,’ but no-one has the intestinal fortitude to actually drive her to the Arkham Asylum MHCF.

            1. Mo's Bike Shop

              Joker and Scarecrow have put the kibosh on that, didn’t want to bring down the tone of the place.

          2. rjs

            i got two such emails from Hillary yesterday, for different causes. never before, at least not since 2016. wonder if she sold her name, for whatever it’s still worth

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              There are millions of Jonestown Clinties out there. So her name would still be worth quite a lot.

        2. Big River Bandido

          Doing Cuomo Down vs. Boosting Nixon

          I will vote for Cynthia Nixon, but I’m highly skeptical — in fact, I get the same feeling from her candidacy that I got from Obama’s in 2008. At the heart of the matter, I simply don’t trust former Clinton supporters who run as “progressives”. Nixon’s conversion from “progressive reformer” to “democratic socialist” came so soon after AOC’s primary win that it struck me as purely opportunistic rather than a principled stand.

          That said, this is New York State, where Democrat politics is all about destroying the other faction with glee, and I’ll happily sign on to Nixon’s effort in that cause. Doing Cuomo Down? Good enough for me. Change and reform? I don’t believe anyone is going to reform Albany from the top down, which inclines me toward skepticism on Nixon, who is promising it. I have more trust in Zepyhr Teachout, who displays far more genuine commitment.

  7. Synoia

    A federal single payer system makes the best sense, but no reason you could not do it state by state.

    Two points:

    1. Fiat money for financing single payer
    2. Blizzard of lawsuits.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      I would think… that if a single state did it on its own, there would have to be some caps on malpractice recovery as well. Perhaps stricter medical boards combined with a fund for victims?

      Just a thought-willing to get shot down.

      1. divadab

        In Saskatchewan it was a battle royal between the CCF (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation) led by the great Tommy Douglas (army boxing champ IIRC) and the medical doctors and insurers. The doctors went on strike for two weeks but the citizens were so in favor of medicare and shocked by the doctors’ actions they went back to work. And Douglas won. Saskatchewn had single-payer medicare for everybody in 1961.

        It was so successful the Liberals won federally in 1962 (?) with medicare as a plank in their platform – it was implemented federally in 1964 or 6 – not much of a gap to cause “sick people to move” to Saskatchewan – as if they would!

        ANd Canadian Medicare is self-financing – it does not require “fiat currency” – it’s paid for by a tax.

        SO far all the arguments against are dead wrong. The logical place to start is at the State level – but the enemy is way more powerful and organized than he was in 1961. IMHO it will take a depression and general collapse to make it happen in the US of A. That’s my optimistic take.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Shouldn’t we also double the number of Doctors?

          Or could we B-Ark them and let Physician Assistants move up like we did way back with Surgeons?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Many PAs I have encountered think they already ARE MDs. Trying to punch way beyond their weight and competence. Can be very good, depending very much on the individual and his or her personality and willingness to master critical skills, but something about putting on a white coat tends to inflate self-opinion way out of reason.

            A couple of Russian expat doctors I have come across, working in much more menial jobs because of licensing challenges observed that Russia uses a lot of paraprofessionals to fill out what they acknowledged was a weak Russian health care structure. But the two I spoke with said that there were not as many ‘medical deserts’ in Russia, and that basic health care is not expensive and widely available. Here’s an interesting US publication from the post-Yeltsin period, carrying the markers of the neoliberal wish lists to be imposed on Russia, concerning social welfare in the mid to late 90s: http://countrystudies.us/russia/54.htm Here’s a nice piece from RAND that is straight in-your-face neoliberal “advice” on how to “reform” the Russian structure: https://www.rand.org/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF124/CF124.chap5.html RAND is such a collection of sh!ts, IMO.

            Wiki has this to offer on the current state of things there: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Russia Souonds not too bad, by comparison.

            Maybe others here know more about how the RussiaRussiaRussians are doing at bringing concrete material benefits to the mopery there. Might be more grist and impetus for the anti-Russia set… whether things are better there, or worse…

            1. Carey

              The two PAs I’ve dealt with have not been good. A little knowledge, et c.
              The NPs, however, have been excellent. Give me one of
              those any time (if possible).

    2. cyclist

      This would be a good spot to mention Abdul El-Sayed, a doctor who is currently running in the MI Democratic primary for governor. Here is a story about his detailed plan to bring universal health care to the state: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/07/the-incredible-state-level-single-payer-plan-that-everyone-should-be-talking-about
      Unfortunately, he was running third behind two other Borg-approved candidates (although there was a Bernie endorsement) with only about a week until the election.

  8. Synoia

    Sanders Institute has little to show for first year and $500K

    Quite. Measured how? Dart board? Column Inches? Twitter? Facborg?

    Please publish your measurement system, and your metrics.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Unless I’m an outlier, I’d suggest site traffic is people new to the SI. Once there, one signs on for email updates, which contain links to their monthly seminars. Those who use social media will also likely sign up with those streams.

        So, site traffic isn’t anything like a metric for SI. I regularly post links to the seminars on my Strongholds group on Facebook and share to my personal timeline, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    1. Joseph Hilling

      Numerous metrics probably. However, unique site visits and unique page views were both cited I believe.

      1. Code Name D

        The frequency of content updates was also cited, giving an explanation for dropping page views. While I would agree this hardly makes the “in disarray” argument particularly convincing, it’s still a red flag that something is not working as advertised.

  9. Carey

    There’s Still No Evidence that the ‘Radical Left’ is Helping Trump- a very good, tight essay, I thought. I’ll be watching for more from the author, Eric Levitz.

  10. zagonostra

    A basic fundamental irreducible principle of any “science” of politics is that “every society could be split between two social classes: the one who rules and the one which is ruled.”

    Until a political party is formed that represents the interest of the ruled all is but a dancing of shadows on the wall, nothing more than idle discourse on how many angles can fit on a head of a pin…

  11. Matthew G. Saroff

    So Indivisible, arguably the most establishment of the new groups, endorsed Nixon in her (very) long shot campaign.

    Seeing as how her chance of success is very low, and Cuomo is famously vindictive, this makes them toxic in Albany.

    Why would they do this?

    The only reason that I can think of is that they did this to weaken a potential 2020 Presidential bid for Cuomo.

    In particular, the goal would be to ensure that NEW YORK donors consider other potential candidates from that state, which gives us Kirsten Gillibrand and ……… Voldemort.

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    About that seamlessed avocado on toast for $22.00 . . . . the mashed avocado looks green not brown, fresh not stale. So it fell off the toast in transit. Mr. $22.00 for some avocado-on-toast can just put the avocado back on the toast.

    If he had wanted his avocado to be on the toast to begin with, he coulda shoulda bought his own avocado and made his own toast and put it on the toast his own self. That way he could be sure it would be on the toast. And for less than $22.00, too.

    Maybe he should buy a Juicero to go with that $22.00 avocado on toast.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Ripe avocado, about 2-3 bucks max. Toast, 35 cents. Delivery service, maybe 5 bucks.

      Silicon Valley has some amazing margins.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        About .89 cents for a fresh avocado here
        3 bucks for a fresh baked loaf of bread at the local supermarket
        But yeah, it wouldn’t have been seamless

      2. ChrisPacific

        Seriously. I think it would actually be more work to order the $22 delivery than it would be to make it yourself.

          1. Carey

            Plus they’re zip! zow! making things happen with an app!, rather than
            than that boring DIY stuff. So cool. /s

    2. JohnnySacks

      And here I am on my daily hour+ trip home on mass transit after a day at work. And there’s people out there willing to pay $22 for mashed avocado on toast. Damn, why can’t I figure out how to steal some of that fresh meat?

    3. ambrit

      Really. ‘Seamlessed?’
      This bunch need to hire some ‘madams’ away from the ‘escort’ services to learn how things are done right in the ‘service provision’ sector.

  13. RUKidding


    All of those DNA companies say they’ll follow privacy guidelines when deciding to “share” your DNA info.

    This is truly a case of Caveat Emptor.

    No way would I send my saliva to some shady operator, like these companies. No telling whether DNA info is already in the grubby mitts of the police state. Yeesh.

  14. RUKidding

    Coming of age in the Seventies as a Midwesterner, a Mormon, and a resident of a town of about five hundred people, I didn’t get to meet a lot of outspoken liberals…. Yeah, what happened to those liberals, anyhow?

    We’re still around, and many of us are still fighting on the barricades. Sadly, though, many got co-opted into believing that somehow Big D was the answer, and we didn’t need to do anything anymore. I have quite a few friends who, like myself, have remained reasonably politically active (in a myriad of ways) over the decades. Unfortunately, some have gone headlong into the gaping maw of Russia!Russia!

    Plus it both saddens and sickens me how easily some allegedly “liberal” voters are now paying fealty to the Alphabets. I was around for Cointelpro (did it every go away), etc. Do I believe that the Feebs and the CIA are NOW the forces for “justice”?? As some of the kids say: B*tch, please!

    1. Steely Glint

      Read a tweet today. FBI is called in to find the bank robbers, CIA robs the bank

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe they should call it the ‘Get your s*** back together Area’. Just taking a local plane is a pain as your have to remove anything metallic like glasses, belt-buckles, mobile, etc. into your flight bag and when it comes out of the x-ray scanner, putting your belt back on and all the other stuff as well.

    1. Carolinian

      Thanks for link; Crooke is always interesting. However I question this part.

      Trump evidently has heard the two key messages from his constituency: that they neither accept to have (white) American culture, and its way-of-life, diluted through immigration; and, neither do they wish – stoically – to accommodate to America’s eclipse by China.

      I doubt very much that the ordinary people that voted for Trump care about battles over hegemony with China. And in fact Trump’s whole seeming ideology–which some have said is straight out of Pat Buchanan’s presidential playbook–is about withdrawal from the rest of the world if that’s what it takes to “make America great.” He even wants to build a wall to keep the world out.

      So the Iran thing could just be another negotiation and the recent reports that he has on multiple occasions requested meetings with the Iranians supports this. You can’t negotiate without meetings. Indeed Justin Raimondo has suggested that the Iranians are aggravating the situation by not understanding what he’s up to–that it’s all probably a bluff. But then nobody seems to understand Trump including, perhaps, the above comment.

  15. Kim Kaufman

    “99 Days to Go, and the Midterm Elections Battleground Is Not What Was Expected” [New York Times].

    In the CA races listed in the above article, in every CA race, the DCCC came in and pushed out more progressive candidates in favor of their mediocre self-funders. There’s not much in those candidates, at least one who was formerly a Republican, to turn out Dem voters looking for change. I believe these races would have been much more winnable with the better candidates the DCCC tossed aside.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        NC: Quit banging your head on that wall in particular.

        I’m just having an inside joke over a ‘pushing commenters away’ plaint from yesterday.

  16. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    I shut my eyes and think/picture total blankness/blackness. Thoughts/images pop up in the beginning, but Darkness always prevails.

    Unless im on coke…when the thoughts/images prevail

  17. Plenue

    Re: Bigfoot erotica (!!)

    There’s porn of everything. EVERYTHING. It’s one of the rules of the internet, number 34 to be exact. It becomes a sort of self-fulfilling rule, since there are things no one actually seriously wants erotica of, but upon pointing out there isn’t porn of X, within about 15 minutes someone will have come along with a sketch of X erotica.

    And it seems that these someones are usually Japanese. There’s a not insignificant amount of fighter jet pornography. Not anthropomorphized aircraft, though that also most definitely exists (hardware turned into cute girls is a common, uh, sub-genre), but actual fighter jets. Example, NSFW…probably? https://johnjohns1.fjcdn.com/comments/Blank+_24599be6ad49382799859ecb6ca205ac.png

    1. Richard

      That was a weird story, all around. Cockburn, btw, is the husband of Andrew Cockburn, who wrote the best book on Russian threat inflatement ever written (The Threat), and sister-in-law of Alex, who many of us on he left remember fondly for his fearless journalism.
      In the adjoining article, about her winning the dem nomination, the writer declined to give any policy information about Cockburn. Just mentioned how far left she was, and how that plays right into the repubs hands, etc, ad nauseum. Must have said “far left” three times without once defining what that term meant in relation to Cockburn. Some information, wrapped inside a hatchet job.
      As for the Bigfoot porn article, well, it appears her opponent has a side interest in BFoot. And he made a naughty picture, with a lame, dad joke. Or some friends of his did, I couldn’t get it straight.
      Maybe she was just trying to have fun, but I think Cockburn made a silly mistake by trying to make this an issue. For one thing, its meaningless rather than substantive. For another, as Lambert pointed out, it does have the air of elitism. But finally, and most importantly, she’s seriously underestimated how many devotees hokum has. Stick to s&%$ we can win.
      I’m only 1/2 joking.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      The pixelation that the Japanese use for hiding the naughty bits is now a kink with its own genre. I credit Andy Ihnatko with first noticing the concept of Rule 34 at least for the mainstream back in the aughts, but I can’t make a case because Google has destroyed history. He had thought he’d do a little parody on his new site about the perniciousness of ‘Elbow Sex’, then discovered he could not be facetious.

      I now feel bad about recently making a joke about Il Douche shagging bigfoot. I must have added to the zeitgeist.

  18. Shirley Ende-Saxe

    For bees: plant cosmos and zinnia. They are cast iron plants and drought resistant. I spend much time in the summer dead-heading (and flipping the seed heads to the ground, they come up the next season) surrounded by every kind of pollinator you can imagine, it’s a wonderful thing. Get one pack of seeds and you’ll be set forever.

      1. Bruce F

        Also consider broadcasting (i.e. scattering by hand/machine) clover. It will pull nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, so other plants can thrive, as well as give the bees a flower.

  19. fresno dan

    “The rise and fall of bees” [The Economist]. “Bees are wasps that went vegetarian. This was a brilliant evolutionary move: they now outnumber wasps by around three to one. Instead of hunting creatures that would rather not be eaten, they turned to living things that offered themselves on a plate. Bees and flowers evolved together in a gorgeous spiral of mutual dependence. Nectar and pollen feed the bees; in return, the plants get to procreate…
    ‘People look across a park or a golf course and think it’s green and lush, but to a bee it’s like a desert or a petrified forest—there’s nothing to survive on,” she says.” • Or a lawn. Plant flowers! Especially pollinator-friendly wildflowers!
    There is nothing I love more than flowers. This is my first year at my place, I expect to have a bunch next year.
    But we’re just not missing bees. I don’t think I have seen an ant this year (except a very few, very small ones – not the ones I remember when I was a kid). When I was a kid, there were zillions of these yellowish tan little butterflies – I haven’t seen one. A lot of my plants are doing poorly – they get plenty of water (but it is soooo damn hot) and I have all sorts of hummus and manure mixed in the soil.
    So I dig up some soil just to see how it is holding moisture. And than I notice….no worms! When I was a kid, putting a trowel in the ground and taking out some soil, and there would have been 6 or 7 worms. I dug and dug…not one.
    I am either on a toxic or radioactive waste site….or a burial ground.

    1. divadab

      Keep at it. You have no idea how much roundup, 24d, whatever the previous owner sprayed onto the place. Keep adding organic material to the soil, do your own compost, plant flowers – lavender is really great for a bee garden – and slowly you will restore some biological diversity and life to your spot. Soon you will be fostering an ecosystem!

      Life creates more complexity – this makes for resilience and health. Simplicity is for killers and stupids.

      1. crittermom

        Where I currently live appears to have the worst soil I’ve ever seen, yet the Lavender bushes seem to love it… and the various bees, butterflies & birds (such as Lesser Goldfinch & hummingbirds) are enjoying the Lavender.
        It has been blooming a long, long time, as well. Good recommendation!

        1. Clive

          Yes, I’ve killed many-a plant with kindness. Some seem to positively delight in being treated mean to keep them keen. Here too my lavender is the best thing in the garden, I think the bees and the butterflies have set up a queuing system.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      The heat will drive those worms deep.

      And get a soil test. I went to a local Soil and Water Conservation Service workshop, and we all received a packet to get a free soil test done by UMass Amherst, a nationwide standard of sorts. You’ll find out about your pH, N, P, K and trace levels along with lead in the basic test. They offer enhanced testing for a long list of heavy metals.

    3. polecat

      Ahem … fresno dan, I think if you mix humus into your soil you might have better luck … although, who knows ? .. maybe there’s some symbiotic relationship between hummus and soil/plant roots that I’m not aware of ..
      Bet the earthworms eat it up, for sure ! ‘;]
      All joking aside, perhaps consider planting things such as cilantro (early spring), in large patches .. say, 4’×4’ ft .. and just let it go to seed. I can guarantee you WILL attract pollinators, and other beneficials .. They LOVE IT ! … it is amazing the number and kinds of insects they can draw. Some other suggestions would be carrots, celery, and parsely .. however, they ARE biennial .. so you’d have to plan on leaving them in place for 2+ years, as it may take that long for them to go to seed.
      As for worms .. start a compost pile nearby .. the worms will most surely show up .. unless your soil is too sandy (if I recall, That part of the Valley has pretty sandy digs ..), in which case, ditch the pile .. and grab a pair of Sand hooks … and a thumper (No, not your bunny slippers !!), and get ready to Ride the Worm !
      …. Oh, one more thing .. don’t forget to wear your red ‘hammer-n-sickle adorned’ stillsuit.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        There is also the plant whatever nonperennial that grows and weed whack it into the ground when it gets ugly plan. But I’m at the other end of aridity here in NoFla. How do western water laws intersect with micturating on your plants? Are you denying someone downstream from your sewer?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I grew up thinking that discombobulate meant recombobulate. “Let’s discombulate that” was a catch phrase from my mom. I sussed out hoi polloi early on, but discombobulate was only two or three years ago. I think people would look at me weirder if I said recombobulate now.

      Being wrong will not stop me from using “Let’s discombulate that” in the future, because it sounds good. I’m not at all ready to use hoi polloi the way everyone thinks it should be used.

      Is there a channel of Simpsons outtakes cut to exactly that length?

  20. Craig H.

    > This here is an amazing lecture by #StraffordBeer about #Cybersin – the Cybernetics project brutally suppressed by #Pinochet.

    Don’t know if you have been following the Steve Outtrim videos (this is where I saw the S. Beer stuff a week ago) but he has been doing a bunch of digging on Silicon Valley boy-geniuses club. The Shadow History of Burners runs to about 25 hours of video in total and is far too much unless you are an enthusiast. He recently did a one hour and 12 minute abridged version which can be recommended more widely.

    Burning Man Acid Tests 2.0 and the Technocracy

    Beer is covered in this one — your video has much overlap.

    The Time We Stole the Internet from South America

  21. ewmayer

    Only inlining one of these 4 links in an attempt to stay under SkyNet’s radar [I detest being required to provide training data for Google’s self-driving AI in order to post multi-link content]:

    o Twitter turns to academics to improve conversational health on the platform | TechCrunch

    Good luck with that … didn’t see anything about the fundamental design of the platform perhaps encouraging unhelpful ‘conversation’ habits.

    o Retired Marine rescues horses from raging California wildfire | Reuters

    reuters DOT com SLASH article SLASH us-usa-wildfires-animals SLASH retired-marine-rescues-horses-from-raging-california-wildfire-idUSKBN1KJ09T

    A small bit of good news from that horrific situation.

    o And currently on the front page of Wolf Street:

    “Vancouver Condo Bubble Takes New Hit: Murky Condo Flippers Targeted in Pre-Sale Tax Hunt”

    “The EU Backs Off its War on Cash. Here’s Why” [Don Quijones]

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I know it’s fast and easy to have a link to click on — but is it that difficult to cut and paste the text for a link instead of running with hypertext? Hypertext need not have any particular relation to the link it references. Is it really so much trouble to type: Twitter turns to academics to improve conversational health on the platform [https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/30/twitter-turns-to-academics-to-improve-conversational-health-on-the-platform]? I don’t think it’s that much more difficult to cut and paste the text for the enclosed link into a new tab before launching. [And I admit just clicking on a link more than I want to admit]. This is a simple way to avoid promoting an unhappy discrepancy between the text of a hyperlink and the underlying link. I’m not sure whether this is pleasing to SkyNet. The ways of SkyNet are mysterious.

        1. ewmayer

          I am perhaps biased by the way I use the web – I never click a link which gives no indication of what it links to, i.e. I find annotation-less ‘check this out’ link-posts with non-content-indicating URLs annoying. Whereas with annotated links if I hover my laptop cursor over a link my browser displays the underlying URL at bottom of the browser window, so I can compare annotation vs URL before clicking.

          My e-mail program is similar, making for a virtually bulletproof phishing-mail-spotting system.

          And note that the idea of raw-URL links can be gamed, for example hover your cursor over, or click to follow, this “raw” rendering of my above twitter-story link:


          In this case I made the underlying URL harmless, but I could have easily made it point to something nasty.

          1. ewmayer

            Note: I see NC will render actual URL-only links as black text which makes gaming such as above easier to spot, but most online fora I’ve used will take a raw url and themselves wrap it with link-annotation text which simply repeats the URL, i.e. most people are likely conditioned to see a link as in my example above as “raw URL” and thus think they are gonna go to the advertised URL upon clicking.

            You mention separately copying a raw URL and pasting – that is indeed the safest way, but is also available with annotated links: while reading e.g. the NC daily Links page whenever I see a story I want to read in full I right-click the annotated link, copy the underlying URL and paste that into a separate tab, forcing me to examine the URL before hitting ‘return’ to go there. Safe surfing takes just that little bit of extra diligence, but it’s worth it.

  22. Carey

    That article ‘The EU Backs of its War on Cash’ is worth a careful read.
    I could not, unfortunately, create a link.

  23. Branden_H

    “Hermeneutic of Suspicion”…have you been reading Paul Ricoeur? I have the book Hermeneutics of Suspicion (by Merold Westphal) sitting on my shelf beside me. Anyways, I suppose in the case of the intelligence community (IC) this would be a manifestation of the necessary self-sustaining delusion Nietzsche believed sprung out of the will-to-power, which itself was a product of the will-to-live. Of course, the power of the IC itself certainly exists in the wider context of a society defined by class struggle, or at least that’s what Marx, another of Ricoeur’s triumvirate of suspicion, would say. So, which class does the IC serve is the ultimate question of those practicing the Hermeneutic of Suspicion, as those on the Left are wise to practice. Unless of course you practice the third hermeneutic: Freudian analysis. Then the ultimate question becomes, how does all this make you feel about your mother? I’m not a big practitioner of the last hermeneutic.

  24. Edward E

    Thanks for the sleep article, will definitely try that. Feels like I haven’t slept in decades, especially in the last couple of years with dad losing it… problems deep as a well. Problems probably don’t even compare to what many people have face. Took the wrong job getting back to work again, but another company is stealing me away, it looks really good from most angles and get to stay in the Midwest! Dealing with stress is very important…You need SLEEP to regain or keep your sanity so you can be successful

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I too will try the sleep technique. Trouble is — it’s a lot like the relaxation technique we learned at the end of an hour’s hard exercise class. It relaxed me then but I didn’t fall asleep or feel inclined to. I have seen Italian soldiers sleep standing up while riding a bumpy train so there must be some technique. Maybe I’m bad at following the last instruction about stopping my thoughts.

  25. sinbad66

    Social democracy might allow Sweden to provide its people with longer lives, a lower poverty rate, cheaper health care, more retirement security, better educational outcomes, and higher levels of self-reported happiness than Americans enjoy. But American capitalism provides U.S. citizens with something even better than all that: total immunity from the threat of banking crises produced by housing bubbles. People used to know this stuff.

    (in a Scooby Doo voice) Huh????? And they accuse Trump of making (family blog) up…. If you’re putting out stuff like this, you are REALLY have drunk the Kool-Aid. AOC got them scared….Time for you to take the blue pill….

  26. Tomonthebeach

    The story about the Navy method for quick sleep does in fact work. However, during both my tours in Vietnam, I never needed a “method” to fall asleep. Exhaustion was the norm. I have always raised a chuckle when talking about those days when I said: Between plotting and navigating our destroyer squadron’s attack missions, underway replenishments twice a day, meals, office hours, and conning the ship; 4 hours of sleep a day was the norm. If I was lucky, I got them all in a row.

  27. CenterOfGravity

    Rewardless struggle. The published discourse by BSA w/ Ocasio-Cortez is an earnestly straightforward attempt to critique the new candidate on against the rigors of democratic socialism versus social democracy but still relies on excessively principled proselytizing around ultimately undefinable labels. It remains a persistent feature of the left to argue over definitions rather than finding ways to apply intentions in practice. Or at least the back-and-forth over definitions and labels gets far more publicity than those who are putting the their ideas into practice. At this point I would be more convinced by 3-5 minute youtube clips demonstrating any novel or small examples of what democratic socialism may look like than yet another statement of position from yet another organization that I cannot associate with a single tangible accomplishment. Talk is endlessly cheap and thus gets infinitely manufactured from every quarter (including these comment sections!). Notice that the story about repair clinics here gets far more traction in the comments? It perhaps because it offers something actionable for many of us trying to survive in a technocracy?

    I’ve been telling folks to generally ignore what the majority of politicians say and focus on whatever they do. This same rule seems to apply to most political organizations also.

    Separately, there’s a grating lack of any shred of humor or even exaggerated braggadocio in the BSA statement. If a group is going to take the trouble of putting the word out about a great cause, at least couch it with some adventure and pep. If one is encouraging the world to go tilting at windmills then might as well portray them as dragons.

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