2:00PM Water Cooler 8/20/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, here’s a skeletal Water Cooler to get you going. My plan is to finish up my post on Elizabeth Warren’s co-determination proposal, and then circle back with more, later. Tomorrow, same. –Lambert UPDATE 6:02PM All done. Late even for California, I know!


“How Tariff-Proof Is Your Supply Chain Strategy?” [Industry Week]. ” An escalation in trade conflicts could also lead to more processed and therefore value-add products included in the retaliations and escalations. And as manufacturers pass the cost increases to customers, they risk losing market share. Take a textbook example of the duopoly between Boeing and Airbus. If Boeing increases customer pricing given an increase in raw material costs, then it will certainly lose business to its European competitor. Boeing, in this scenario, can use alternate materials like composites and carbon fibers, which is the case in the latest aircraft, along with cost rationalization through productivity improvements. The result: optimizing logical costs and earning somewhat lower margins—and eventually earning more through maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) contracts, which run for 10-15 years.”

“This late August week will be full of trade action, starting with today’s kickoff of a marathon-like series of hearings on the China trade front. The hearings will feature testimony on products that should or should not be included in a list of $200 billion in Chinese imports that the Trump administration intends to tax in its next round of tariffs against Beijing” [Politico]. “As the hearings unfold, a Chinese delegation will visit Washington at midweek in an attempt to rekindle talks geared toward heading off the brewing trade war. On Thursday, U.S. tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods will take effect, with Chinese duties set to be imposed in response. European trade officials will be in Washington today to continue laying the groundwork for bilateral trade talks, and more NAFTA meetings with Mexico are also on the docket.” • Lots of golf in the offing, no doubt.



“Chelsea Clinton says she has not ruled out running for office” [Guardian]. “For me it’s a definite no now but it’s a definite maybe in the future because who knows what the future is going to bring?”


AOC visits The Great State of Maine:

AOC making adjustments, in public, in near-real time:

(Regarding the flap about barring the press from meeting, where the attendees weren’t from the donor class.)

* * *

“Why Even a Blue Wave Could Have Limited Gains” [David Wasserman, New York Times]. “Of the 64 most competitive House races, only 14 are in states with highly competitive Senate races. These are two truly different universes: The median competitive Senate seat gave Mr. Trump 56 percent in 2016, has a population density of 88 people per square mile and falls below the national average in educational attainment and income. But the median competitive House district gave Mr. Trump 49 percent of the vote, has a population density of 407 people per square mile and ranks above the national average in college graduates and income.” • If only there were a candidate whose platform and persona appealed in both rural and urban areas….

“Could soccer moms swing the House? Democrats hope so.” [Yahoo News]. “Remember the “soccer moms”? That 1990s term for politically moderate suburban women has fallen out of usage lately, but they’re still around, and a key voting bloc in the upcoming midterms. Frustrated with Washington and turned off by President Trump, they could deliver Congress to the Democrats in November. Or not…. Republicans would have to lose more than just suburban seats to surrender control of the House, and Democrats have deployed candidates to urban/rural districts and rural districts that voted heavily for Trump. FiveThirtyEight, an analytic data site, said Democrats have a 75 percent chance of winning the House.”

“A Poll of Polls: What Do Americans Trust?” [Morning Consult]. “Democrats were more likely to trust the accuracy of the polls than Republicans, 49 percent to 43 percent.” • So if the polls say Republicans are in trouble, Republicans won’t listen?

TX Senate: “Beto O’Rourke Could Be The Democrat Texas Has Been Waiting For” [Buzzfeed News]. The lead: “Beto O’Rourke is a prolific, prodigious sweater. We’re talking shirt-soaking, chin-dripping sweat, most visible as he takes questions from the audiences that have gathered to see him across Texas. When I first saw pictures of O’Rourke, the El Paso congressman currently vying for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat, soaking through his blue dress shirt at the Houston Juneteenth Parade, I thought: This is the most Texas thing I’ve ever seen.” • I wouldn’t care if Beto’d had his sweat glands surgically removed if he supported #MedicareForAll. But he doesn’t.

VT-01: “Interview with Levi Sanders: On Running for Congress and More” [Progressive Army]. “[SANDERS:] Every day I work with low-income working class folks who are getting cheated and left behind by the system. It is time to fight back…. The problem is, the people I talk to, they don’t always understand how it affects them at a profound level. The real issue is to show people how it affects their lives on a daily basis, and how we can make things better in a tangible way.”

Obama Legacy

“Judge asked to block Obama Center-related construction in Jackson Park” [Chicago Sun-Times (ChiGal)]. “A federal judge is being asked to temporarily block construction related to the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park by park preservationists going to court in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times report revealing that trees were cut down at the park despite a lack of final government approvals.”

New Cold War

“Manafort conviction will add little firepower to Mueller investigation” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]. “The defense was a hung jury strategy combined with a rather obvious pardon strategy. Manafort’s best hope is that a few jurors will harbor doubts. All he needs is one holdout when the government must secure a unanimous verdict. That would mean he could be tried again, but a none decision can be the best decision when you are not seriously attacking the evidence. Of course, the problem is that it is easy for a defendant to hang by his own hung jury strategy. A jury can deadlock on some but not all counts, leaving Manafort bearing a decade of potential imprisonment.”

“Manafort trial Day 15: Jury meets for third day as Trump-fueled political cacophony grows” [Politico]. “Legal experts said it was far from shocking that the jury, which heard testimony from 27 witnesses and has been handed nearly 400 exhibits, is still mulling its verdicts after two days.” Importantly: “One of the jurors’ questions Thursday afternoon could signal that the deliberations could be a long haul. One or more jurors sought an index of all the exhibits in the case, cross-referenced to all the criminal counts. No such document is known to exist. Preparing one would be a daunting task and involve many subjective judgments, so Ellis turned the request down. If members of the jury want to make such an index themselves, it could take days.” • So, while generally a long deliberation is good for the defense, that may not be true in this case; the jury could be slogging through the documents. On the other hand, IIRC, the prosecution didn’t give the jury a painstaking road-map to the documents, so there are plenty of opportunties for things to go, from their perspective, wrong. I wonder if the jury will request sticky notes and highlighter?

“Manafort Jury Wrestling With Tough Choices Before a Verdict” [Bloomberg]. “Ellis instructed jurors to ‘ignore any argument about the Department of Justice’s motives or lack thereof in bringing this prosecution.'” • Doesn’t mean they will, though.

* * *

Even James Fallows sees that liberal Democrat yammering about furriners and outside agitators is bullshit:

One of “the twelve”:

“Speaking truth to power.” JFC. Help me.

* * *


If I were the cynical sort, I’d think this was a reach-around to an anonymous source for services rendered.

The Conservatives Have Lost Their Minds

#Resistance Hero John McCain:

Oh, come on.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Pope on sex abuse: We showed no care for the little ones” [Associated Press]. Cf. “We tortured some folks.” More: “[Pope Francis] demanded accountability but offered no indication of how he plans to sanction complicit bishops or end the Vatican’s long-standing culture of secrecy.” • Pope Francis is treating the bishops like President Obama treated the bankers.

“data for dunking #1: Elizabeth Warren =/= Stalin” [Data For Progress]. “As it happens, conservative think tank Heritage Foundation includes an index of economic freedom (it’s kinda silly, but it’s their index), which can be used to test this claim. Their index, available here, ranks countries by ease of starting a business and other measures. When we compare the codetermination index to the economic freedom index, the trend is completely flat.” • Hilarity ensues. On all sides!

Just so we’re clear:

But on the other hand–

“Resources for Strategic Thinking: Mapping the Resistance and The U.S. Six-Party System” [Organizing Upgrade]. “Motivating the effort is [Carl] Davidson’s argument that ‘the traditional ‘two-party system’ frame obscures more than it reveals’ about the actual political and economic forces shaping current battles and events. He writes that ‘U.S. major parties, in general, are not ideological parties in the European sense, but constantly changing coalitions of [factional or interest-group] clusters with no firm commitment to program or discipline.’ Uncovering the nature, interests and relative strength of these groupings (whether called clusters, parties, factions or some other term) – and drawing out the strategic implications for the left – is the purpose of influence.” • “Cluster” does seem like the right word…

Stats Watch

There are no stats of interest today.

Retail: “Amazon Isn’t Paying Its Electric Bills. You Might Be” [Bloomberg]. “Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing business, is its fastest-growing and most [only?] profitable division, but it comes with a lot of upfront infrastructure costs and ongoing expenses, the biggest of which is electricity… In at least two states, it’s also negotiated with utilities and politicians to stick other people with the bills, piling untold millions of dollars on top of the estimated $1.2 billion in state and municipal tax incentives the company has received over the past decade. Other companies, including Google and Tesla Inc., have taken advantage of the power industry’s hunger for growth and the relative secrecy that followed its 1990s deregulation in dozens of states. But Amazon stands out for its success in offloading its power costs and also because it dominates America’s cloud business, which has gone from nonexistent to using 2 percent of U.S. electricity in about a decade.” • I think we need to stuff Jeff Bezos into a rocket ship and fire him off to Mars as fast as we possibly can.

Shipping: “The top five trucking markets represent 18% of all U.S. domestic volume” [Freight Waves]. “Top five trucking freight markets currently represent 18% of the entire load volume of U.S. domestic freight. This according to a new SONAR market-share index released on Friday. The entire U.S. domestic freight volume is divided up among 135 total markets. The top five markets currently are: Atlanta: 4.48%; Ontario, CA (just outside of Los Angeles): 4.12%; Joliet, IL (just outside of Chicago): 3.46%; Harrisburg, PA: 3.10%; Dallas, TX: 2.83%.”

The Bezzle: “Some Tesla Suppliers Fret About Getting Paid” [Wall Street Journal]. “Several suppliers in interviews said Tesla has tried to stretch out payments or asked for significant cash back. And in some cases, public records show, small suppliers over the past several months have claimed they failed to get paid for services supplied to Tesla…. ‘We’re not behind because we can’t pay them,’ Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said in an interview Friday. ‘It is just because we’re arguing whether the parts are right.'” • And I’m supposed to be reassured by this?

The Bezzle: “The Musk meltdown” [The Week]. “It is beyond obvious that Musk has been so coddled for so long that he simply cannot conceive of the idea that the rules might apply to him — a characteristic he shares with most of his fellow billionaire CEOs. Perhaps throwing the book at him — as happened to Martha Stewart for a far, far smaller crime — might make an instructive example for the capitalist class.”

“The Bezzle: “Wish, an Internet Dollar Store, Struggles to Keep Customers” [The Information]. “Private investors have put a lot of faith in Wish becoming the online version of dollar stores, betting on huge growth for the ecommerce site and rewarding it with a valuation of about $8.5 billion…. On average, only 8% of people in the U.S. who bought something from Wish for the first time between August 2016 and the end of July 2017 were still shopping on the site a year after their earlier purchases. And the figure continues to decline after that, previously unreported data from the credit card transaction tracker Second Measure show.” • I guffawed, because whoever heard of an Internet Dollar Store?! Turns out there is one, and it looks a lot like the legendary Mardens of Maine, which is what a dollar store should look like. The Wish experience, by contrast, looks horrid: You’ve got to log in before you can browse! Who thought that was a good idea?

The Bezzle:”Uber’s Vision of Self-Driving Cars Begins to Blur” [New York Times]. “The issue of whether to retain or sell [the Advanced Technology Group] is complicated by Uber’s stated intention to go public by the end of 2019. The company, valued at $62 billion, has racked up billions of dollars in losses since it was founded in 2009 and needs to persuade investors that it can eventually create a sustainably profitable business. The self-driving efforts, which have been losing $100 million to $200 million a quarter, do little to help that case. And Mr. Khosrowshahi has been shedding money-losing businesses since he joined Uber.” • Well, except for the core business. Hard to “shed” that.

Infrastructure: “Pennsylvania to spend $64 billion in 12-year transport improvement plan” [DC Velocity]. “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will spend nearly $64 billion over the next 12 years to improve its transportation infrastructure, under an updated plan disclosed yesterday by the State Transportation Commission. The updated program, which takes effect October 1, anticipates $11.53 billion being available for highway and bridge projects in the first four years, $228 million for freight rail projects, and $319 million for multimodal projects, among other spending. From 2023 through 2026, the plan calls for $348 million for multimodal and $229 million for freight rail. From 2027 to 2030, $391 million would be earmarked for multimodal and $229 million for freight rail…. The projects depend on the availability of funding, which the commonwealth’s transportation officials anticipate would come from a combination of federal, state and local dollars.”

Tech: “Gatwick flight information screens fail” [BBC]. “Staff at Gatwick Airport had to write flight information on whiteboards for most of the day due to a technical problem with its digital screens…. Apologising to customers, [a Gatwick spokesman] added that the airport’s ‘manual contingency plan’, which included having extra staff on hand to help direct passengers, had worked well.” • Makes you wonder how many other “manual contingency plans” there are. My guess would be: “Not enough.”

Tech: “Smallest transistor switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte” [Science Daily (KW)]. Works at room temperature. Science is popping!

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on Gog. “Russia has been generally quiet on the world stage” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 180.

Our Famously Free Press

“SEO Is Back. Thank God.” [New York Magazine]. “For better or worse, SEO forced publishers to focus on providing their readers with relevant information. Social optimization for platforms like Facebook forced publishers to make their content evocative, incendiary, and interactive. Social content wasn’t about transmitting information as much as it was about helping people perform their identities online. It put a premium on heavy-handedness and polarization. It didn’t just need to say something, it needed to help the sharer say something too. And it was difficult for any publisher — major publication or one-man blog — to resist, given how much traffic the Facebook system brought to others. Now, by Facebook’s own account, the valve to the firehose has been closed. Great. Use it to build brand awareness or whatever, but otherwise, it’s time to recalibrate and leave the reliance on Facebook as a traffic source behind.” • If your business depends on a platform…


“Beer, Drinking Water And Fish: Tiny Plastic Is Everywhere” [NPR]. “Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it’s thrown away, it doesn’t just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces. Scientists call the tiny pieces “microplastics” and define them as objects smaller than 5 millimeters — about the size of one of the letters on a computer keyboard. Researchers started to pay serious attention to microplastics in the environment about 15 years ago. They’re in oceans, rivers and lakes. They’re also in soil. Recent research in Germany found that fertilizer made from composted household waste contains microplastics. And, even more concerning, microplastics are in drinking water. In beer. In sea salt. In fish and shellfish.” • Presumably, at some point something will evolve to eat the plastic. We might not like that, though…

Neoliberal Epidemics

“A Record Number of Americans Died Last Year from Drug Overdoses” [GritPost]. “Overdose-related deaths went up in all but ten states last year, including Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming. In some cases, it increased by as much as 20 percent or more in states like Indiana, Maine, New Jersey (which saw 27 percent more overdose-related deaths last year compared to 2016), and West Virginia.”

Class Warfare

“It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs” [Louis Hyman, New York Times]. “The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world. Only later does technology swoop in, accelerating and consolidating those changes…. But for the vast majority of workers, the “freedom” of the gig economy is just the freedom to be afraid. It is the severing of obligations between businesses and employees. It is the collapse of the protections that the people of the United States, in our laws and our customs, once fought hard to enshrine. We can’t turn back the clock, but neither is job insecurity inevitable. Just as the postwar period managed to make industrialization benefit industrial workers, we need to create new norms, institutions and policies that make digitization benefit today’s workers. ”

“Employees Likely to Leave Job if They See Compliance Violations” [Industry Week]. “Employees do not like to see compliance violations. In fact, if they witness two of these occurrences they are likely to start looking for a new job…. Fifty-nine percent of the sampled employees who observed a compliance violation were actively looking for a new job, compared with 29% who did not witness bad behavior.”

News of The Wired

“Female mice are protected from space radiation-induced maladaptive responses” [Science Direct]. • Sure, a mouse study. But if it holds up for humans, Elon’s not gonna like that. Or Jeff.

“1968 Created The ‘Ultimate’ Anti-Sport Sport” [NPR]. A history of Ultimate Frisbee. This is amazing: “But in some ways, Ultimate is not like other team sports. The game has a kind of honor system called the “spirit of the game.” And you can trace that the way back to the counterculture of 1968, when the players started out officiating the game themselves.” • One might wonder if the principal can be extended, and, if so, how far.

“America’s Invisible Pot Addicts” [The Atlantic]. “But cannabis is not benign, even if it is relatively benign, compared with alcohol, opiates, and cigarettes, among other substances. Thousands of Americans are finding their own use problematic in a climate where pot products are getting more potent, more socially acceptable to use, and yet easier to come by, not that it was particularly hard before.” • I wonder of outlawing cannabis had the paradoxical effect of increasing potency?

“Apple Inc. will release a new low-cost laptop and a professional-focused upgrade to the Mac mini desktop later this year, ending a drought of Mac computers that has limited sales of the company’s longest-running line of devices, according to people familiar with the plans.” [Bloomberg]. They hate me. They really hate me. Where’s the upgrade to the Pro laptop? Next year. Meanwhile, macOS Mojave will add “the ability to run iPad apps like Apple News.” No.

“‘Dumb phone’ sales up as users seek to escape smartphone addiction” [The Drum (KW)]. Ha. Yves and I are so retro, we’re futuristic!

* * *

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 (Nippersmom):

Nippersmom writes: “The swallowtails have discovered the Joe Pye weed and do they ever love it!”

* * *

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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. Roger Smith

    Dumb Phones: Yves and I are so retro, we’re futuristic!

    What kind of dumb phones do you have? I wanted to downgrade but even the phones Verizon’s offers are still too much money a month (for the phone).

    1. Fred

      Dumb phones (and I had one for a long time) are horrible to text on and you can’t play music thru bluetooth. I got a Moto E for $60 2 years ago and happy with it.

      1. Roger Smith

        I hate typing on touch screen phones. I have an Iphone 5c and typing on it was a losing battle until I got a 3rd party keyboard called messagease. Much better! The best phone I ever had for typing was the LG Voyager that had a fold open (long ways) design that uncovered a full, physical keyboard. That wasn’t the best part though. This keyboard had two space keys right where your thumbs rested on either side of the board, a feature I have not seen since on any mobile phone.

        1. katiebird

          I have an LG Octane that flips open the long way with a real keyboard. It also has a 3 mg camera that takes pretty good photos. I love it for texting.

      1. ChiGal

        But a lot of these are in fact VOIP as I discovered to my chagrin. If you bundle with a cable or internet provider, that’s what they’ll use.

      2. marieann

        We never gave up our landline….in fact it’s the only phone we have and it’s still attached to the wall….talk about Luddite:)

        We don’t even have a dumb phone.

        1. Richard

          Oh, I remember those days with the phone attached to the wall! Once a year, whenever there’s a bit of time to kill, I regale my students with tales of:
          Going home to catch an important phone call.
          Stretching the cord so mom,dad, sis, brother couldn’t overhear.
          Busy signals! Who are they talking to?
          Rotary dials.
          And many, many more stories of that golden age of phones that were plugged in, and stayed at home like they were supposed to.

        2. Synapsid


          Thinking about what friends in Tampa saw others going through trying to keep phones charged during Hurricane Irma (category 5) I formulated the following:

          If where you live is subject to hurricanes, earthquakes (I live in Seismic Hazard Zone 4; it doesn’t go higher than 4), or wildfires (people in the region of the California fires faced the same difficulty as those in Tampa) then you need a landline for backup.

          I still have my landline.

        3. landline

          Same here in our two person family. I was a bit baffled and dismayed when a 30 something person referred to a landline as a “curly cord phone.”

          We are in our 50’s and get along just fine without cell phones.

          The smartphone is the single worst thing for humanity since we began our reliance on fossil fuels to use more than our fair share of energy.

          Watch out for the methane hydrate eruptions. Is there an app for that?

          1. RMO

            Still using a rotary dial phone on my Telus landline here in BC… though I do have a “smart”phone too. Being able to call when away from home, especially in an emergency is a boon. Texting is useful. The ability to very occasionally use data for internet access away from a wifi network can be helpful now and then (such as when you wrote an address of a business down wrong and only find out when you pull up in front of the wrong place). Internet access is the only “smart”phone function in that list and I find everything else they do to be pretty much pointless.

    2. Samuel Conner

      I have been using an Alcatel OneTouch with a TracFone per minute plan, which was practically nothing to purchase and I think costs about $50/year to operate (mandatory minutes purchase annually. I think the per minute cost is about $0.05; as you can see, I don’t use it much, mostly as a “summon help” backup on my bike outings, though I suspect that in the event of an actual need for help, it’s likely that neither I nor the phone would be in working order.) Most of my voice contact is via SKYPE, which is about $60/year for land-line-like connectivity and an in-#, unlimited calling in US/Canada and cheap overseas rates (with episodically frustrating issues). But one has to be at the PC since I don’t have a smartphone to use it on.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      old school bush-43-era flip phone that belongs in the smithsonian here. alphanumeric to text. which means i don’t.

      inbox has been full for years. can’t leave me a voicemail.

      i live in the woods. rarely get a signal. Internet has supplanted the phone. Send me an email, I’ll get back to you when I get around to it. And when I leave my desk, it doesn’t tell my corporate overlords where I’m going and where I’ve been.

      Life is grand.

    4. diptherio

      I’ve got an old Samsung blackberry clone. I bought it at the grocery store for about $60. It’s a Net10 phone (owned by Tracfone) and costs me about $20 a month to keep it active. Takes pictures, plays music over bluetooth, and has a text only browser that I’ve only ever opened by accident. Works for me.

    5. Annieb

      Is it even possible to get service for a dumb phone, such as the old flip phone, that doesn’t track your every move?

      1. roxy

        The last time I had to replace my stupid phone I could still get a $30 flip phone at Radio Shack. The number is with Virgin mobile and you “top up” every few months on the website to keep it operational. I do the minimum $10 and have an unused balance of over $200. I make a call once in a while, keep it turned off. Some local democrat campaigns have left text messages on it lately. Good luck with that.

      2. Yves Smith

        Yes, I have a very old Nokia (a brick!) and the 3310. You can be located by triangulation but it’s much less precise than GPS (courts have ruled against triangulation as proof of presence at the scene of a crime because it’s +/- 100 feet) and is NOT on your phone if cops make you give your phone to them.

    6. Martin Finnucane

      An LG something-or-other flip phone: $25 to buy, and service is $25/month through a downmarket provider. The only time I’ve ever regretted it is when I’m doing a lot of texting, which probably really means I’m doing too much texting. A big advantage, which I don’t really hear anybody talk about, is that I’ve dropped the thing about a thousand times, with no sign of any substantial damage. In the meantime various family members have burned through a multitude of smart or smartish phones, primarily because of broken screens.

      And then there’s the whole dystopian dopamine loop surveillance device (which I pay for) angle to smart phones, which I don’t have to worry about. Also, it fits in my shirt pocket.

    7. In The Land of Farmers

      Consumer Cellular sells two that are cheap and very functional. I have the Doro.

    8. Milton

      Last year I put my LG envi (I think that’s what it is) back into service. My main motivation was data plan cost, however. I’m saving $80 a month on a single talk/text line.

      1. ambrit

        If an iPhone is needed to get into an event, it probably is too expensive for over half of the public to afford.

      2. landline

        I have faced this situation several times. The box office will print out paper tickets for people without smart phones.

        Similarly, I have attended events where the mobile tickets didn’t work properly. Affected attendees had to wait in line to get paper replacements, making some miss the beginning of the game. Those events were not “mobile only”, so people like me had no problems.

        Smart phone taxi cabs like Uber and Lyft exclude people without smart phones, which seems like it is a civil rights issue. Someone posted a photo of the “no cash, Apple Pay $1, all others $6” SF cafe last week. Later that week, I saw something similar as a marketing campaign, but the product was plants. I think that might be illegal here in California, but I am not motivated enough to follow up.

        1. neo-realist

          For now, with some sports teams and forms of entertainment, you can go to the will call window and get your tickets in lieu of buying and storing them on a mobile phone. However, with the progression of the technology and with the desire to weed out scalpers, the paper option appears to be on its way to being phased out. Heck, I like the convenience of paper and use it when possible, but, unfortunately, we have to be prepared for the inevitable.

          1. landline

            Scalping thrives in the paperless ticket world. Teams are even selling naming rights to scalpers–Stub Hub Center. However, with mobile and e-tickets, it is much easier for the ticket selling platforms or teams to act as a broker to take a cut. Ease of resale for profit is now a marketing point for selling season tickets.

            They don’t want to stop scalping. They want to put the old school scalpers out of business so they can replace them with themselves.

        2. kareninca

          You can use Uber or Lyft without a smartphone. You have to pay a fee to a company (https://gogograndparent.com) that acts as an intermediary. I don’t know how good it is; I may end up trying it at some point if I really need to use a ride service (that is, if there is no other option).

            1. vlade

              “And Uber and Lyft screw drivers.”

              Which is why I never used then, and never knowingly/willingly will.

    9. Richard

      I’ve had my old grandma/grandpa Motorola flip phone for years now. I had to get talked into it, to have on field trips. Before that a landline.

  2. Synoia

    Uber: Self driving technology does appear the be the lunch-ping of any future profitability

    1. Eliminates the cost of Drivers
    2. Can, or will, be licensed to Car Manufacturers

    Then they become a software company. Without that “self driving car” code the become a Taxi Company.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Uber ‘neglected’ simulation in testing their autonomous vehicles.

      As far as I can see, this would indicate they have little commitment to anything other than cashing in on an IPO.

      Everyone else in AV development is doing simulation.

      If they were serious about developing AVs, they’d be doing simulation, but that would cost real money and all they want is to get to the point of an IPO so early investors can cash out.

      While I think you are right, that somebody is going to make a lot of money on AVs, I don’t think that’s actually in Uber’s game plan.

      1. DonCoyote

        It’s the 80’s, Where’s Our Rocket Packs?

        I thought by now I’d walk the moon
        And ride a car without no tires
        And have a robot run the vacuum
        And date a girl made out of wires

        I thought by now we’d live in space
        And eat a pill instead of dinner
        And wear a gas mask on our face
        A President of female gender

        And my expectancies,
        become my fantasies
        My hopes are running low
        Things moving much too slow

    2. cnchal

      > 1. Eliminates the cost of Drivers

      Gain the cost of cars, maintenance and storage when not in use, never mind the operating expense when moving. When those sensors crap out, or ball joints need replacing who ya gonna call?

      > 2. Can, or will, be licensed to Car Manufacturers

      No car manufacturer worth it’s salt will ever buy an Uber self driving software/hardware system. It’s a joke.

      Uber is a joke, sinking one Nimitz per year of dumb money looking to get out by selling to dumber money. The questions are, is there dumber money, and if so, can they get it sold before the stawk bubble bursts or the dumb money gives up and licks it’s wounds?

    3. fajensen

      Rodney Brooks – involved in creating the Roomba and responsible for formulating the “Subsumption Architecture” has written a nice series of articles on what “Machine Learning, of the kind we know how to build” can and cannot do. Very refreshing reading, like the Internet in the Old Days.

      Here: https://rodneybrooks.com/forai-future-of-robotics-and-artificial-intelligence/

      Basically, the machines and us do not even see the same universe. We think the machines see things because they can classify them with word-labels that we use, actual reality is very different.

      Like this “Stop Sign” example:

      And many other examples:

      There is also the little issue that “eliminating the costs of drivers” by replacing them with robots also means assuming the full life-cycle costs of: Feeding, operating, maintaining, training (programming), upgrading, replacing and insuring them.

      With human workers all of those costs, for a rather nominal recurring fee that can be terminated at 3 months notice, can be rubbed off on Society! There are good reasons that Amazon & Co drives towards using “dumb AI” and surveillance on turning their human workers into fleshy robots rather than investing in the real thing!

      There real reason Uber (and many, many “Gratuitous Automators” wants automation is out of moral principle, not economics – It is an organisation that hates people and is willing to spend bigly on its little vice.

  3. jsn

    “It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs”
    “The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world.”

    Some technologies are inherently political.

    We need to understand this when we encounter them.

    Information technology, because it affects what ideas we are exposed to, is one.

  4. Scott

    Living in Massachusetts, one of the political stories that I have been following is Ayanna Pressley’s primary challenge to Michael Capuano. At first, I thought the only reason for her challenge was race (she’s black and it’s a majority-minority district), however, after reading this article, it seems to me that she has major philosophical differences with the incumbent, he’s too progressive.


    Although the article does not go there, some commenters are accusing the neoliberal establishment of using her identify as Trojan horse to get a more centrist, corporatist Democrat elected. I’m not sure I agree, but the article provides a useful reminder that not all primary challenges come from the left and even progressive voices like AOC and the justice Dems can be confused by identity politics

    1. Carey

      Sounds a bit like Tulsi Gabbard’s now-vanquished primary challengers in HI.
      Hope Capuano can do the same.

      Follow the money?

    2. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for that one. I’m in MA, too, but not in the 7th district.

      If I’m thinking from the establishment’s standpoint….it can be spun, either way.

      Pressley wins…it’s against an anti-war lefty, and ‘proves’ their id-pol narrative and they can explain away AOC’s election as one of demographic change.

      Pressley loses…it’s a sign AOC is a one-off and her endorsement doesn’t help other candidates.

      I guess the questions I have….why’d AOC back her so quickly? Does she know something we don’t? Does she just like her, know her personally? Did AOC make a mistake?

      Here’s a telling remark from Pressley: Pressley declared at a Clinton campaign press conference in Boston that “plans without price tags are simply pandering.” In a debate hosted by WCVB, Pressley said she only recently began supporting “Medicare for All” because “the world has changed.”

      From what’s outlined here, Pressley sounds like a Kamala Harris or a Corey Booker-type. She’s leaning left because the winds are blowing that direction and she’d like to get that wind beneath her political wings!

      1. johnnygl

        If Pressley is going to dally around in the “but how you gonna pay for that?!??!” type of BS advocary, then she’s going to have trouble making people believe in her. This only becomes more telling when she won’t commit to ending the wars or refusing to start new ones. Capuano is pretty clearly anti-war.

    3. DonCoyote

      Thanks for the link. A bit of a head-scratcher. He is a middle-aged balding white guy, and she is not. The are both fairly unambiguously for #MedicareForAll (he is a co-sponsor of HB676). So why is the centrist money behind her?

      1) Trojan Horse, as you said–she get elected and immediately pushes to water it down, delay implementation, etc.
      2) Firewall on some other issue–Fight for 15, Free College, etc.

  5. JBird

    It is the collapse of the protections that the people of the United States, in our laws and our customs, once fought hard to enshrine.

    It is the destruction of the rule of law that is the problem truly.

    The skeleton or meshing created by the law, rules, regulations, norms, customs, ethics, even etiquette along with such as religion and morality are all needed for any kind of society from a single family in the smallest band of hunter-gatherers to the planetary civilization(s) that both exist.

    What we have now is an increasing divide between the wealthy, powerful Elites who use tribe loyalties to acquire and their wealth, power, and status and the increasing class of global Deplorables for whom there are no rights even for such essential ones as the protection of the law.

    This is the reason as an American I am a fanatical supporter of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. There are parts of it that people can easily disagree on such as the Second Amendment, but it is what keeps the American nation together. There are far too many fools including the national leadership often educated in our most prestigious universities that are successfully killing to further their immediate selfish goals. Along with all the other laws that support the greater good against short sided greed.

    Study history at all and you will see this leading to collapse consistently.

    1. Summer

      “What we have now is an increasing divide between the wealthy, powerful Elites who use tribe loyalties to acquire and their wealth, power, and status and the increasing class of global Deplorables for whom there are no rights even for such essential ones as the protection of the law.”

      But…but…capitalism was supposed to be the “answer” to feudalism.

      So now we have feudalism, but with smart phones and Mars probes.
      Aye, no wonder the pirates will be making a comeback as well, mate!
      Keep this up, we’ll actually progress to feeding people to lions for entertainment again, except it might get done on the moon. Ooooh, ahhhhh,

  6. ChiGal

    It is seeming like the OC (Obama Center) is a done deal, travesty though it is. This massacre of trees is in the grand Chicago tradition of Daley Jr bulldozing Meigs Field in the middle of the night. Next morning the folks who wanted to keep that downtown runway instead of turn it into a theme park had no case: there was no runway any longer, just piles of asphalt. Illegal, yes. Reversible, no.

    1. Quentin

      Barack Obama and his completely hollow legacy: an Obama theme park in the most precious part of Chicago, open space on the lakefront, because he’s so, so MAGA. He and his wife are shameless.

    2. DJG

      ChiGal: The Obama Foundation is looking forward, not back at us little fish, who can fry:

      The Foundation’s focus is on the federal review process and continuing to engage with the public on our plans for a presidential center and museum that will tell the story of this historic presidency and Chicago’s role in it, that will both respect and enhance Jackson Park, and that will showcase the South Side to the world.

      I notice on the brief that the petitioners, those three hardy park protectors, are represented by Roth Fioretti. That’s Bob Fioretti, former First Ward alderman. Fascinating.

      1. ChiGal

        And it is the U of C behind it all. They have spent decades pushing residents out of Woodlawn (south of Hyde Park) and Englewood (west) and are now building monster edifices that will advance their corporate presence. I learned at a meeting last night that the Schulze bread factory (remember how the air filled with the smell of Butternut bread driving by it?) is to become a data center. The U of C has bought up the corridor of 55th St from Hyde Park to the Dan Ryan and the residents are being pushed out.

        No urban blight en route to the shiny new OC!

    3. Watt4Bob

      So sad, here I was, hoping that my home town folks would stand up and stop this tragedy.

      My childhood neighborhood was Englewood, where, when people asked how to get to the lake, they’d say “Walk east ’till yer hat floats.”

      You’d walk a long ways and then, when you got to Jackson Park, everything was suddenly greener, and the trees were bigger, and there were big gold statues, and the lake wasn’t far.

      And now, if I were to retrace my steps, I’d end up where?

      At Obama Land, monument to broken promises.

    1. Olga

      It is funny – and based on Nikolai Gogol’s play, which is even funnier (to the extent corruption may be funny).

  7. drumlin woodchuckles

    I am not surprised to hear Chelsie-poo say she thinks of running for office ” if this . . . if that”.
    It would make the Clinton Foundation a successful money-grubbing exercise again. I hope that every non-Clintonite in her area is thinking now about how to incinerate her political career if she tries to start one. If she ever gets into office, we’ll have the Clintons to kick us around for decades to come.


    Wouldn’t it be neat if people could take those hashtag entries and make them go trending on twitter?

    1. Summer

      I keep saying: it may be time to get rid of the imperial presidency altogether after a history of families trying to make it their personal fiefdom.

    1. shinola

      Seconding Slim – worth a read.

      Snippet: “Over five million Americans hold security clearances. When a cleared person honorably leaves government, he usually retains his status. Ostensibly this is to allow him to help out his successors, yet most people use their clearances to hop on the gravy train.”

      1. RUKidding

        I can maybe see extending the security clearance for one or two years so that maybe you can assist someone else who comes into the job after you.

        What this latest fracas has highlighted is how, at least the higher level types, are using these security clearances to hop on the grifter train for personal gain and not much more.

        I’d dearly love to see security clearances revoked wholesale in a much shorter period of time than what happens now. Clear out the whole lot and be done with it.

      2. Synoia

        When a cleared person honorably leaves government,

        “honorably.” By whose standards? I suspect a null set here.

  8. UserFriendly

    From links this morning “Smoke Brings Seattle its Worst Air Pollution in Decades“; I just wantted to make sure that people actually connect the dots between the burning of anything (wood, coal, nat gas) and the tiny particles that get released into the air. The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million die every year from ambient air pollution, and 4.3 million from indoor air pollution.

    And just because I’ve seen more nuclear fear mongering lately, I wanted to point out that even if you take the worst case scenario highest death estimates (which assume there is no safe level of radiation and every additional exposure increases the chance of death) and include people who died from stress while being evacuated; nuclear is leaps and bounds safer than burning anything. So even if we had more reactors and they had meltdowns at the same rate we have had it would be much safer. Even if we had meltdowns twice as often they would still be better.

    Radiation from the sun hits you every day.

    Even when you start to look at renewables accidents installing solar panels and wind turbines cause more deaths per KW because they generate much less energy.

    I know this is pointless though because people JUST KNOW nuclear is evil whatever the facts are. I get just as depressed about that as anything else. This whole damn species is too stupid to live.

    1. Summer

      Wasn’t it more about concerns about what to do and what was being done about nuclear waste? That all worked out?
      And everything is cool now in Japan?

      The only difference in energy sources are who and what is determined to be unimportant enough to sacrifice for its sake.

      1. Chris

        Everything is not cool in Japan, but conflating the Fukushima disaster with nuclear power everywhere else is just like saying all socialism is bad because Venezuela is doing awful right now.

        We have a number of options for dealing with nuclear waste. We just need to choose one. And with reprocessing, we give up far less than we do for other types of energy generation.

        1. Summer

          The problem with nuclear waste is that it will require regulations.
          And nobody wants to get in the way of “freedom” of corps to make waste.

          Other than that, yeah, there are options.

          1. Chris

            No, the problem with nuclear power is it is not profitable without a carbon market. It is easily the most regulated activity in the US. Anyone who says otherwise has never had to deal with the NRC.

            In the current market, nuclear can’t compete with natural gas. With a shrinking industrial base in the US, there’s not as much need for baseload. So, there’s less of an argument for nuclear even if you take all the other arguments proponents put forth at face value.

            Much like coal, the market is killing nuclear.

        2. JTMcPhee

          And reprocessing results in wonderfully bomb-ready fissionable material. And “we” humans have such a GREAT record of keeping track of bomb-grade material, now haven’t we (cough cough Israel)? And all those “test infiltrations” of nuclear plants by various “special ops” types that show what a crap job of “security” is often the case. And I just love the cavalier glibness by proponents of nuclear power about “relative risk” and gee, how “we” could absorb the meltdowns of all those nuclear reactors.

          And please tell what the number of options are for “dealing with” nuclear waste, that all we have to do is “choose between?” Which one(s) do you recommend? https://www.app.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/05/11/nuclear-waste-oyster-creek-yucca-mountain/601979002/

            1. JTMcPhee

              I guess that work will be performed by radiation-hardened robots? Kind of an intentional “China Syndrome,” if I am reading the references right:

              A high temperature, deep borehole disposal scheme for nuclear waste is outlined. This requires that granite host rock can be partially melted by the heat from the waste then completely recrystallized, both on the time scale of the cooling of the waste. Experimental studies of non-equilibrium partial melting of a typical S-type crustal granite were carried out under the conditions likely to arise during implementation of this scheme (P=0.15 GPa, T=700–850 °C).

              What could possibly go wrong?

              After all, “experts,” with their sterling track records as a group, are figuring it all out, with apparently a little help from ‘economists:”

              One of the basic principles of radiation protection is that radiation doses and risks from a justified practice should be kept as low as reasonably achievable, economic and social factors being taken into account. This is known as “optimization of protection”. The principle applies to radioactive waste disposal since waste repositories represent possible sourcesof radiation exposure to humans. In this context, optimization has the potential for use as an input to decisions involving choices between waste disposal options. There are, however, difficulties in applying the optimization principle in the context of radioactive waste disposal. The difficulties are mainly related to the long time-scales involved. Radiation doses to the public from the geological disposal of radioactive wastes are predicted to occur far in the future, if at all. At these times, the uncertainties in the predicted doses are often too large to allow any distinction to be made between possible disposal options on radiological grounds. Another basic problem in applying the principle is that the costs and benefits of reducing radiation exposures occur different times, raising the question of whether a cost borne now can be equated with a benefit obtained in the far future. These, and other more practical problems in applying the optimization principle, are discussed in Chapter 3.

              So “we mopes” can trust that the experts who have in the past assured us that nuclear power and its side effects are relatively safe, are now developing the planning structure to wrap high-level fuel rods and radioactive waste in some kind of casing that will withstand, for a while as it melts its way into granite bedrock, extremely high particle flux, and then that the mass of near-critical nuclear material, heated by radioactive decay processes, will just melt its way to “equilibrium” somewhere deep underground. Oh well, for this generation, “mission accomplished” and the crap will be out of sight if the melting works as modeled…

              1. Chris

                I prefer re-processing. People who say it produces fissionable material have no idea what it takes to make the substance into something you can put into a bomb. That is not nearly as big a risk as it is so cavalierly thrown about.

                But, besides that, cintering, long term storage, using it as satellite batteries, etc. there are options. We do need to pick one. The current regime insists on charging domestic plants for disposal options and then preventing anyone from using disposal options. So we keep a lot of waste on site in less than optimal conditions. We need about 3 Yucca Mountains now for all the waste we’re projected to have from all sources over the next hundred years or so, and we can’t even agree on completing one.

                And, when comparing safety records, US domestic nuclear industry safety is unparalleled in any other power generation industry. The worst offender world wide for loss of life is hydroelectric.

                Finally, there is no comparison between civilian nuclear fuel refinement and military grade refinement. You can’t make nuclear weapons with civilian nuclear fuel without doing an awful lot more to it.

                1. JTMcPhee

                  “Bomb-ready” includes, and I should have said it more directly, lots of nasty, highly radioactive, long-half-life stuff that can be part of what are called “dirty bombs.”

                  Consider a drum or three of high-level waste, or a batch of fuel material waiting for reprocessing, or other source material that gets diverted from one of the many unsecure storage and generation sites, or many of the thousands of “uncontrolled” radioactive thingies like Soviet-era power sources using heat of radioactive decay to generate electricity for remote beacons and such, and of course medical devices containing intensely radioactive isotopes used for diagnosis and treatment. These can be stuck in the back of the ubiquitous white panel truck by kamikaze jihadis or othe crazies, with a load of ammonium nitrate and diesel and other enhancers of explosion effects, with the appropriate initiator explosives, and driven easily into, say, downtown SF or Manhattan and exploded. Wiki has a decent article on the concept, which maybe by dumb luck has not been actually deployed as yet, with lots of added language minimizing the danger: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_bomb No need for fission reactions of the Fat Man or Little Boy type, just a nice rising cloud loaded with radionuclides to spread over the area, sicken and kill many, and render “important areas” untenable until expensive cleanups/“responses” and “public reassurance” have been accomplished.

                  We humans keep making more of this stuff, to ‘generate the power we want,” and more bad stuff is going to happen. And to the folks who say “Well, that’s a risk, but for us who aren’t likely to be exposed to it, it’s worth it.” The Madeline Allbright defense…

          1. Hepativore

            Actually, spent fuel from nuclear energy plants is practically useless from a weapons-producing standpoint. This is because plutonium-240 is produced as a byproduct of nuclear fission in many reactor types and it steals many of the neutrons needed for a massive fission event as in a nuclear explosion and it does not fission so it is almost stable.

            You could hypothetically refine the spent fuel to reduce the amount of plutonium-240, but this is time-consuming and technologically difficult and it would be easier and less expensive to make a reactor that produces weapons-grade matetial in the first place.

            There was a project codenamed the “Thin Man” in the 1940’s as part of US nuclear weapon development to do just this. It never got off of the ground as the bombs would often spontaneously detonate and their yield was disappointing.

            1. Chris

              And you have to machine the stuff into a shape which can be used in a bomb too. Even if you assume that people who want a bomb don’t care about loss of life and are happy to throw away people in the process of getting what they want… machinists who can work with that material are rare. If you want good results, you’d also need a hot cell with a lot of other special tools. We don’t have many of those in the world anymore.

              I understand people who complain about nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation. I just don’t understand why they think it is so easy to assemble a bomb. Sure, the we’ve proven the physics behind it all, but actually doing it is another thing entirely.

              1. Hepativore

                I think that nuclear energy should serve a major role in terms of energy production in the future. Solar and wind power will never be able to produce baseload energy and they are intermittent as to when they actually produce energy due to weather.

                There is also the fact that solar panels and wind turbines make heavy use of rare Earth metals like many other advanced electronics. While rare Earth metals are not all that rare, the process of refining them is heavily polluting, which is why we have largely relied on China to supply us with them. China has grown increasingly belligerent in holding is rare Earth supply hostage if we to not agree to trade concessions.

                I could go on, but I start work soon. There are many different reactor types, some have been built, and others are highly theoretical. In any case, nuclear energy has the capability to produce things like synthetic fuels and reprocess spent fuel and greatly reduce its amount and radioactivity with many designs that we have had the technology to build for decades. The only reason we have not is due to an irrational fear of all things “nuclear” in the eyes of the public, and the fossil fuel industries not wanting competition such as coal and natural gas.

          2. Oregoncharles

            ” And I just love the cavalier glibness by proponents of nuclear power about “relative risk” and gee, how “we” could absorb the meltdowns of all those nuclear reactors.”

            What do you mean, “we”? Does the CEO live next to the plant? The shareholders? The regulators? And not to put too fine a point on it, does Userfriendly? Because somebody does.

            My wife is a Hanford downwinder, fortunately with a relatively small exposure (Spokane) and, so far, healthy. She doesn’t like being reminded. But there were hundreds of thousands of people downwind of it, and it still leaks. Some of the releases were deliberate. Then there are the much larger number downwind of the nuclear bomb tests. And everyone who lives near the North Pacific. I grew up in Indiana; it was a revelation the first time I stood beside the Pacific, and realized there was nothing but water between me and Japan.

      2. jrs

        +1 yea about the who. Those working in nuclear power plants (even those that don’t melt down from my understanding) will always be deemed worthy of sacrifice. Of course people die of black lung as well so …

    2. JohnnyGL

      I love your links, commentary userfriendly, but I gotta disagree with you on nuclear. Nuclear is the only way we can actually destroy virtually all life in a given spot (or maybe the whole planet).

      NC has had links that say carbon emissions from nuclear plants don’t count construction, decommission. Plus, where you going to put the waste?!?!?!

      Re: accidents and deaths in installations of wind, solar sounds like an issue that OSHA should fix with better regulation, enforcement, etc. Think about how bad mining and oil drilling used to be back in the 1800s. Solar and wind are just starting to get adopted on a large scale, these kinds of problems can be worked out over time.

      1. UserFriendly

        Life Cycle Assessment Harmonization
        In this project, NREL reviewed and harmonized life cycle assessments (LCAs) of electricity generation technologies to reduce uncertainty around estimates for environmental impacts and increase the value of these assessments to the policymaking and research communities.
        Hundreds of life cycle assessments have been published, with considerable variability in results. These variations in approach hampered comparison across studies and the pooling of published results. NREL harmonized these data to:

        Understand the range of published results of LCAs of electricity generation technologies
        Reduce the variability in published results
        Clarify the central tendency of published estimates

        Nuclear much lower than PV.

        1. JTMcPhee

          To continue your excerpt,

          Chart that shows Electricity Generation Technologies Powered by Renewable Resources. For help reading this chart, please contact the webmaster.
          Comparison of as-published life cycle GHG emission estimates for electricity generation technologies. The impacts of the land use change are excluded from this analysis.

          The data showed that life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from technologies powered by renewable resources are generally less than from those powered by fossil fuel-based resources. The central tendencies of all renewable technologies are between 400 and 1,000 g CO2eq/kWh lower than their fossil-fueled counterparts without carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

          So nuclear, per the assumptions and data sets chosen by the NREL, produces less greenhouse gas emissions than any of the alternatives where any kind of combustion producing CO2 and other GHG is part of the ‘cycle.” And that proves what, again?

          I’d suggest anyone trying to form an opinion on this, the big issues of choice of power source presumably to maintain our Western lifestyle and growth, might do well to look at the other stuff produced by the staff of the US Department of Energy’s “National Renewable Energy Lab.”

          Sorry, I’m just a cynic I guess, but an outfit that does studies for USAID on how best to use the “biomass” of Liberia might have a bit of a credibility problem.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This whole damn species is too stupid to live.


      One human ideal is that, even if an animal or a plant that is stupid, or very stupid, deserves to live.

      In nature, though, to survive, a life form does whatever it can…trickery, deceit, brute force, guile, avoiding being stupid.

      So, are we exceptional, or some of us are exceptional for thinking a stupid dog or cat still deserves to live? Are we delusional for further thinking that the seven deadly sins would lead to bad karma?

      Is it human nature that is making us too stupid or undeserving to live?

      If the species were smart, or smarter, would things change? And why do we say some people are smart, and some are just smart alecks? Is there any difference between being a smart person and being a smart aleck? It’s as if being smart can meaning different things, and we need a qualifier ‘aleck’ to distinguish.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Humans seem to be “pioneers” – generalists that colonize and alter new environments. But since hunter-gatherers lived at relative peace with their environment for at least 100,000 years, it might be more accurate to say that CIVILIZATION (defined as the practice of living in cities) is the pioneer. I think you can make a strong case that it’s a huge mistake, despite its many advantages – for some.

          A mistake that might be self-correcting.

          1. JTMcPhee

            You don’t have to convince me — I’ve written in many places that the folks that discovered you could plant the seeds from a seed head rather than immediately eating them led to settled populations, granaries, walls and weapons to protect the granaries, organized militaries to use the weapons, priests to control the access to all kinds of information like annual cycles, kings to own it all and initiate and prosecute “wars,” and impose “laws” like the Code of Hammurabi, which was largely an early version of the US Commercial Code, regulation trade and transactions. Along with all kinds of penal sanctions and stuff. It’s an interesting read: http://iws.collin.edu/mbailey/hammurabi%27s%20laws.htm

            1. HotFlash

              WRT Hammurabi, there is no known court case of the time (granted not complete, but we do have a lot of them) that references the Codex Hammurabi. It seems to have been solely an exercise in political PR.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              That’s not the pathway a number of Indian Nations took with their civilization. Prior to the European Discovery Germocaust of the Native Nations, millions of people using seeding and planting and reliable surpluses created a village-civilization which was bio-terraforming the whole Amazon Basin.

              If we can learn and absorb and apply and live-within what the Indian Nations developed, we can become “smart enough to deserve to live”. Of course by then it may be too late and we will all meet our Rendezvous with Darwin anyway.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      The whole damned species will just continue to live using far less energy every day.

      Quite a lot of the species is in fact doing fine with far less energy than we use every day.

    1. RUKidding

      ha ha… I am VERY late to The Wire having just started watching it last week. NOW I get the “Omar’s coming” reference, which I’ve seen before and scratched my head over.

      No TV. Ergo sometimes outta the loop.

  9. RUKidding

    Pope Francis is treating the bishops like President Obama treated the bankers.

    Color me unsurprised. I think Pope Francis is better than Ratso Ratzinger, but unless Frankie’s willing to step up and clean the Augean stables, well… what’s the point?

    Disappointing to say the least.

    It’s junk like this makes me ever more cynical about any religion. They nearly all protect “their own.”

    At least 1000 kids diddled and all Frankie can come up with is weak tea. pffft

    And to make matters worse, it’s my understanding that a LOT of current kid-diddling RC Priests have been shifted off to Central & South America and/or places like the Philippines. What about them, Pope Frankie??

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s a bit cynical (on my part) to think that with a lot of the newcomers to this country, whom the Democrats count on (perhaps with strong confidence) to vote for that party, being from Catholic countries, perhaps they, the D’s, want to be like those in the 19th century America who worried about a papist takeover of this country.

      And with the Vatican doing a very bad job at this issue, the Democrats should feel a lot better than Queen Elizabeth, about divided loyalties.

      But that’s a cynical take, though.

  10. Lee

    Pope Francis is treating the bishops like President Obama treated the bankers.

    Actually the bankers got off lighter. They weren’t required to say a Hail Mary and an Our Father to receive absolution.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      They probably had to make a wink-wink nudge-nudge unspoken promise to give Obama hundreds of millions of dollars after he left office in return for him using his office to protect and shelter and immunize and impunify them.

  11. Divadab

    Re: Cannabis addiction

    Addictive personalities will addict themselves to something – and non – toxic cannabis is pretty dang benign in that regard. Maybe the Jesus addiction healthier but there certainly some unhealthy zealots out there who make idle potheads look good.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is that safe to drive and smoke weed?

      Now that it’s legal, in CA, what does the law say about that?

      1. Synoia

        Smoking weed while driving is considered DUI in CA.

        Note: I have no personal knowledge of this.

          1. Divadab

            Depends on the State. In WA definitely illegal and selling weed to a minor a felony. Anyway leave the weed to the old timers and be high on your young life. Best high there is.

    2. DonCoyote

      Yes, that article was a joke. Demon weed updated. Throw the baby out with the bath water because people can drown in water, dont’cha know.

      1) No discussion of addictive personalities (dopamine loop etc)
      2) As noted above, little comparison to other addictions. Alcohol a good place to start. And somehow alcohol OK because uniformly regulated? Gah.
      3) Use of “cannabis” to mean marijuana. Is it the NYT I have to blame for this, as I see it everywhere? What the entire article was about was THC. There are 443 ingredients in “cannibas”, (which we can’t {family blog}-ing do research on because it’s a schedule I drug), but we already found one that is not psychoative and “good for what ails you” (CBD).

      Sometime soon, I’ll tell the story of what I did with my summer vacation–visited a cannibas dispensary in CA. My most unpleasant side-effect–the 31% tax charged.

      1. Darthbobber

        Of course classism and class exploitation aren’t the same thing.

        And the terms have different implications for what action might remedy the situation

    1. JBird

      Nothing new. Both have used together since at least the Puritans. The American elites have used racism to divide the natives, blacks and whites for at least four hundred years. It was an effort, especially in the larger more cosmopolitan ports like New York or along whatever was the frontier, for the upper classes to do so. When one has to work and live with everyone else, often very closely, the most virulent racism just dies and the rest often followed. Indeed violence and murder has consistently used to destroy any cross racial and cultural contact, connections, and alliances among the poor. Mob violence, death squads, lynchings, into the early 20th century and the police into the 1970s. This also involved breaking up integrated neighborhoods and apartment blocks although that was done by legislation, banking, corruption, and sleaze real estate companies that actually used advertising and whisper campaigns sometimes by going door to door. Spread fear, make profit. Like it is done since 9/11.

      All of this is not covered much. There are books and the internet has stuff of course, but much has been black-hold.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Amazon Isn’t Paying Its Electric Bills. You Might Be”


    Noun Australian/NZ informal
    One who lives off or profits by the work of others while making no contribution.
    Originally British slang meaning pimp, its currency has continued in Australia while it has died out in Britain.

    E.g. Why don’t you get off your arse and give us a hand, ya bludger!

  13. Summer

    Re: Musk
    “Perhaps throwing the book at him — as happened to Martha Stewart for a far, far smaller crime — ”

    Throw the “kindle” at him. More appropriate…

  14. Quentin

    Later when Donald Trump builds his presidential cenotaph—oh, sorry cultural center or whatever—on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59 St. in New York City, in full view of his Trump Tower, he will then be called a narcissistic pig, vulgarian, for doing so by today’s ‘Resistance’. But today when Obama appropriates public land for the price of one dollar a year—that’s right, just $1—for his personal pompous grander right in Jackson Park, Chicago, none of Trump’s future critics utters a peep about Obama because, you know, he’s still cool or something cute,, not an utter narcissistic greed-head. Might they appeal to Michelle to talk some sense into him? Forget it.

  15. RMO

    ““For me it’s a definite no now but it’s a definite maybe in the future because who knows what the future is going to bring?”

    Wow. She sounds more like Bush Jr. or Trump than either of her parents… wonder how that happened?

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