2:00PM Water Cooler 8/24/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is a temporarily abbreviated Water Cooler. I’ll finish my post on “Fracking, the Water Cycle, and Sacrifice Zones,” and then circle back. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves! –lambert UPDATE 5:30PM Finished, and a bit unbalanced, sad to say. Plus, I got the date wrong again! I’m going to go eat, feed the cat, and have a nap.

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“US-China trade negotiations end with little progress” [Financial Times]. “Even as the officials met at the Treasury department, $16bn in new tariffs on Chinese imports were enacted by the Trump administration — a move that was immediately matched by Beijing with retaliatory measures of the same scale… Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University, said the trade dispute had become a ‘very complicated game of chicken’, adding: ‘The Chinese see an opening to restart negotiations but the difficulty they face is an inflexible and unpredictable US trade policy.'”

“Latest US-China trade talks end not with a bang but a whimper, if heard at all” [South China Morning Post]. “At the invitation of the US, a Chinese delegation led by the vice-minister for commerce, Wang Shouwen, travelled to Washington for two days of talks starting on Wednesday. The discussions were hosted on the US side by Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs David Malpass…. This week also saw the USTR hold an unprecedented six-day public hearing ahead of further tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods, expected to go into effect in September. Initially proposed at 10 per cent, the duties could be raised to as much as 25 per cent, at Trump’s direction…. The additional tariffs would effectively slap levies on half of all Chinese exports to the US, or roughly double what China imports from the US.”

UPDATE “Trump’s Tariffs Are Paying Off for Century Aluminum” [New York Times]. “Century has faced years of layoffs and its smelter here has several times been on the brink of shutting down. In 2015, it slowed production to 40 percent of its maximum capacity, cutting about 300 jobs. It was not until Mr. Trump decided this year to impose tariffs of 10 percent on aluminum and 25 percent on steel — saying that foreign metals posed a national security risk — that the company received the lifeline it was looking for…. [Coy Zuelly, a process technician at Century], who voted for President Barack Obama, said he supported Mr. Trump because of his commitment to protecting American manufacturing jobs with tariffs.”



“Biden’s midterm strategy has a presidential feel” [The Hill]. “Biden is seen as a strong surrogate for Democrats, particularly in places where they are seeking to win back territory lost to President Trump in 2016…. ‘You can kind of see what his strategy is not just in terms of 2018 but in terms of 2020,’ said one Democratic strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns. ‘He’s essentially going to the places Democrats need desperately if they want to win in the midterms and the presidential election. This is very much a pre-presidential campaign campaign.'” • Feh. If the Democrats were really desperate, they’d fire all their strategists and stop running Blue Dogs.

UPDATE “Biden wades into Delaware primary on behalf of Carper” [NBC]. “The move also pits Biden against the ascendant progressive wing of the Democratic Party, in his own backyard. Carper faces Kerri Harris, an Air Force veteran who is seeking to marshal the same forces who helped Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her upset victory over New York Rep. Joseph Crowley, one of the top Democrats in the House. Harris is endorsed by Justice Democrats and the Working Family Party.” • See, e.g., “Coons, Carper vote for controversial banking reform bill” [Delaware Business Now].

UPDATE “4 things Michael Avenatti said in Des Moines (and 4 things Iowans said about him)” [Des Moines Register]. Mike Carberry, Iowa City: “I’ve seen him on television (as) the type of person that understands media and understands how to use media and social media just as good as our current president. And he can fight tit for tat. I expected that he would be a little bit shallow and more of a showman. But I asked him a question that was a combo question on climate change, renewable energy and the Koch brothers and Citizens United and he answered it all. I was happy with his answer. So he’s progressive enough for me.” • Interesting…

UPDATE “Republicans Are Talking About Impeachment Way More Than Democrats” [FiveThirtyEight]. “[O]ur data suggests that a Democratic majority in the House in 2019 is unlikely to include a lot of new members who campaigned on impeachment and are clamoring to try to push Trump out of office. Would Democrats downplay impeachment during the campaign and then flip to aggressively pursue it once they had control? I doubt it…. [T]he talk of impeachment looks more like a Republican strategy to excite the party’s base ahead of the November elections than a realistic assessment of what will happen next January.”

UPDATE “‘Pay a living wage’: Bernie Sanders accuses Disney of dodging fair pay” [Guardian]. “The Walt Disney Company came under heavy fire on Thursday for a decision to walk away from hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks for its southern California theme parks, a move critics are characterizing as an extraordinary last-ditch effort to avoid paying a living wage to thousands of workers… ‘Disney is so nervous that the living wage ballot initiative in Anaheim is going to pass,’ [Sanders] charged, ‘it would rather end some of the corporate welfare it receives from local taxpayers than pay all 30,000 of its workers decent wages.'”


73 days until Election Day. 73 days is a long time in politics.

“In Many Close Races for GOP Seats, Democrats Have More Money” [WRAL]. “As primary elections draw to a close, Democratic candidates have outraised their Republican competitors in 22 of 47 competitive House seats that Republicans must defend in the general election in November…. Nationally, however, Republicans still have a huge fundraising advantage. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC endorsed by the House Republican leadership, had $73 million in cash as of July 17, with large donations by the deep-pocketed casino owners Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money and spend it on ads supporting or opposing candidates. The Democratic counterpart, House Majority PAC, had just under $23 million.” • I’m not sure when Republican big donors think the election begins, but my guess is not ’til after Labor Day. Then we should start seeing pallets of cash dropped from the sky…

“How online money is reshaping the Democratic Party” [McClatchy]. “[ActBlue] reached a significant milestone this month, when it crossed $1 billion in online fundraising since the current election cycle began. It’s a huge number on its own, made more remarkable by the fact the group has processed only about $2.4 billion total since its 2004 founding. That means more than 40 percent of its total take has come in the last 20 months. ActBlue processed just $780 million in donations during the last election cycle, even though online contributions usually spike amid presidential races. The surge certainly reflects grassroots enthusiasm among Democrats that has made small, online donations a priority. It’s the maturation of a phenomenon that began with former Democratic Vermont Governor Howard Dean in 2004, the original White House contender to benefit from online money and enthusiasm, and continued with Barack Obama in 2008 and Bernie Sanders in 2016. And no candidate raised more online than Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.” • I think, however, that the GoFundMe successes of intelligence community and #Resistance grifters like Comey, Brennan, and Cohen shows that neither “grassroots enthusiasm” or “small, online donations” are automatically progressive. Presumably, gaslighting can drive donations just as much as the Dean Bat did, back in the day.

UPDATE “Democratic unity disrupted by battle over Bernie Sanders-backed superdelegate plan” [NBC]. “The Democratic National Committee is set to vote this weekend on a Bernie Sanders-backed plan to weaken the influence of superdelegates in what has become a contentious showdown between factions at a time when the party is trying to project unity. After two years of work on the controversial issue, a delicate compromise that emerged from a labyrinthine reform process has encountered last-minute opposition before the crucial vote here Saturday at the party organization’s summer gathering. The proposed change would not abolish superdelegates, but would potentially greatly diminish their influence by preventing them from voting for the presidential nominee at the party’s convention — unless the convention deadlocks, which hasn’t happened since 1952, or the outcome of the vote is already a done deal…. Not surprisingly, many superdelegates are not thrilled about losing their influence.” • Priceless picture of Perez in the article; he looks like he smelled something bad.

NY Governor: “Gaffe Aside, New York’s Cuomo Rides High in His Bid for Re-Election” [Bloomberg]. “Cuomo’s $24 million campaign treasury dwarfs the $442,000 Nixon had as of Aug. 13. He’s spent $7.9 million this year, much of it on market research, polling and television advertising. His target has been not Nixon, but Trump, as last week’s misfired remark demonstrated. He’s touted himself as ‘a progressive who gets things done.’ As early as March, Cuomo conducted ‘a robust research project on what would the turnout be like and who the voters would be — if the turnout was traditional or if it was a massive surge,’ said campaign manager Maggie Moran. ‘Our internal polls are consistent with public polls. This race has settled in.'”

New Cold War

“Manafort juror says 1 holdout prevented 18-count conviction” [Associated Press]. “Jurors repeatedly tried to persuade the holdout to ‘look at the paper trail’ but she insisted there was reasonable doubt, juror Paula Duncan told Fox News. ‘We didn’t want it to be hung, so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her,’ Duncan said, adding that the four days of deliberations were so heated that there were ‘tears’ among the 12 jurors. ‘But in the end, she held out and that’s why we have 10 counts that did not get a verdict.'”

So, “never mind” on the whole Russia thing?

The Liberals Have Lost Their Minds

I’m so old I remember when “What are the drums, saying, Booker?” didn’t apply to Deray. Anyhow:

Holy moley. The antivax lunacy didn’t start with Russian trolls, and don’t @ me. And then there’s this: “It turns out that many anti-vaccine tweets come from accounts whose provenance is unclear.” Following which, the article seamlessly transitions back to Russian trolls ZOMG, without ever giving the provenance! Since attribution is hard, that may have been wise. Worse is the general tenor of the article: “These trolls seem to be… promoting discord in American society” [puts head in heads]. Discord?! Quelle horreur! In the country of the Civil War, the Haymarket Massacre, the Palmer Raids, the Bonus Marchers, the sitdown strikes, McCarthyism, the Edmund Pettis Bridge, school shootings, and Obama’s 17-city DHS-coordinated paramilitary crackdown on Occupy? Discord? Discord?!?! [clutches pearls, heads toward fainting couch]. The whole “promote discord,” “sowing division” reminds me of nothing so much as the Jim Crow power structure whining about “outside agitators.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Elections consultant fired over proposal to close Georgia precincts” [Politically Georgia]. • Good.

UPDATE “Proposal to close rural Georgia precincts soundly defeated” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. • Even better!

“DHS chief calls on officials in all 50 states to have ‘verifiable’ ballots by 2020 election” [The Hill]. “Nielsen listed three ways states could audit their ballots: By using paper ballots, machines that print out an individual’s vote so it can be verified that the machine correctly tabulated their choice, or using machines that send a duplication transmission when someone votes. ” • JFC. Any system that’s digital is hackable. Get digital out of the equation entirely. Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public.

UPDATE “Tech Companies Are Gathering For A Secret Meeting To Prepare A 2018 Election Strategy” [Buzzfeed]. “Representatives from a host of the biggest US tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, have scheduled a private meeting for Friday to share their tactics in preparation for the 2018 midterm elections.” • Simple. Start by not accepting revenues from political campaigns. Then kill the algos by converting all timelines to chronological lists of posts only from subscribed accounts. If you want to get more brutal, turn reposts from more than one degree of separation wat off by default, which would destroy virality. I said simple. I didn’t say profitable. Maybe social media should be a commons and not profitable.s

UPDATE A good question:

Especially since Democrats have shown over and over again they don’t want those votes.

< Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, July 2018: “A stunning showing for core capital goods orders steals the show in what looks on the surface, based on the 1.7 percent headline drop, to be a weak durable goods report” [Econoday]. “Turning back to core capital goods, the surge in orders will feed into shipments which is what the GDP account for business investment specifically tracks… Other details include a very large 1.3 percent build in durable inventories which had looked too lean going into the third quarter. Large builds for commercial aircraft equipment as well as continuing builds for primary metals and fabrications, both affected by tariffs, gave inventories a boost, one that will also be a plus for third-quarter GDP… Durable goods are one of the most volatile indicators on the economic calendar and today’s results further cement this reputation. But looking past the headline and at the strength of computers and machinery and vehicles, the factory sector continues to be the headline strength of the 2018 economy.” • What you want to see in a functional capitalist system (as opposed to stock buybacks).

UPDATE The Bezzle: “Uber has finally hired a CFO — who has his work cut out for him” [Recode]. “Now, after a series of fits and starts in the search for a viable candidate, the company has finally hired a CFO. Nelson Chai, most recently the CEO of insurance firm The Warranty Group, will be tasked with stewarding the company’s initial public offering Uber executives have slated for late 2019. Finding someone to take on the coveted albeit demanding role over the last year or so has been challenging. Before The Warranty Group, Chai served as the president and CEO of CIT Bank and EVP and CFO of Merrill Lynch.”

UPDATE The Bezzle: “Join me and I will be your silent guide into a world of horror.” Tesla IT thread

I can’t assess this, but perhaps some readers can (via HC). It’s certainly plausible as an instance of Everything Is Like CalPERS.

UPDATE The Bezzle: “After the Bitcoin Boom: Hard Lessons for Cryptocurrency Investors” [New York Times]. “After the latest round of big price drops, many cryptocurrencies have given back all of the enormous gains they experienced last winter. The value of all outstanding digital tokens has fallen by about $600 billion, or 75 percent, since the peak in January…. this bust could have a more lasting impact on the technology’s adoption because of the sheer number of ordinary people who invested in digital tokens over the last year, and who are likely to associate cryptocurrencies with financial ruin for a very long time.” • Good thing cryptocurrencies weren’t levered…


Oh, rats. Thread:


“The Next Big Bet in Fracking: Water” [Wall Street Journal]. “Fledgling companies, many backed by private equity, are rushing to help shale drillers deal with one of their trickiest problems: what to do with the vast volumes of wastewater that are a byproduct of fracking wells…. Sensing a chance for a big return, private-equity firms have invested more than $500 million into wastewater-disposal companies such as Solaris Water Midstream LLC, WaterBridge Resources LLC, Goodnight Midstream LLC and Oilfield Water Logistics LLC. There are roughly a dozen of these water-focused companies that analysts said could each be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” • Ka-ching. Looks like the WSJ read the same studies I just did

“Drought In Central Europe Reveals Cautionary ‘Hunger Stones’ In Czech River” [NPR]. “A lengthy drought in Europe has exposed carved boulders, known as “hunger stones,” that have been used for centuries to commemorate historic droughts — and warn of their consequences…. Over a dozen of the hunger stones, chosen to record low water levels, can now be seen in and near the northern Czech town of Decin near the German border… One of the stones on the banks of the Elbe is carved with the words ‘Wenn du mich siehst, dann weine’: ‘If you see me, weep.'”


“What would it take for drillers to drill Denver?” [Denverite]. “[F]or now, extraction remains far outside the city proper. But the continued evolution of drilling technology is opening wider and wider swaths. A single eight-acre site, [geologist Ronald Pritchett] said, could allow drillers access to a two-mile radius of minerals, assuming they have the rights.”

Class Warfare

FedEx doesn’t have a union:

News of The Wired

Library library? Huh?

Urban planning, if planning is the word I want:

Charles and Ray Eames, architects of light:

Pitch perfect:

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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. Altandmain

    I recently talked to someone who came from the US about MBAs. Apparently the students there are going very deep into debt to afford an MBA.

    Alongside management consulting, the MBA seems to be fundamentally bad for society. There seems to be an emphasis on short term profits over all else, and that their compensation along with shareholders are the only things that matter.

    Article from NC a while ago:


    Yet if it’s clear why MBA students would be alienated from a GOP now captured by Trumpism, it’s nevertheless curious that this privileged club, often typecast as conservative, feels so comfortable in America’s liberal party. The Democratic agenda, at least in the last election cycle, very closely resembled our own. No wonder then that vast swaths of the electorate saw it as elitist in its economic priorities and cultural concerns: a party happy to outsource average Americans’ jobs while finger-wagging at them for not keeping pace with an evolving set of social codes. To reclaim its place as the party of the middle class, Democrats could do worse than rebalance their platform in favor of appeals to the immediate, material concerns of ordinary people.

    Business schools today have their own considerations about ideological alignment. It’s foolish to expect any group not to guard its own interests, and I suspect part of the reason MBA students are so committed to this worldview is that it’s a fairly morally undemanding one, which still awards a potent aura of righteousness

    The article captures the problem. They are socially liberal, but economically very conservative. They support any legislation that boosts the profits of the corporations, not matter the costs for society.

    Another problem with the system is that there is a lot of self selection. A lot of MBAs are folks who want to advance into the corporate executive ranks at any cost.

    There are cracks. For example, gentrification. It is not poor alt right Trump supporters that are downwardly mobile due to loss of manufacturing jobs today causing gentrification in the big cities. It is socially liberal, 10 percenters that are causing problems in cities like San Francisco, New York City, etc. This is extremely hypocritical considering how aggressively the Liberal movement pushes identity politics. Minorities are often displaced by well off Liberals.

    For all intents and purposes their social liberalism is effectively a cover for the fact that their economic interests are aligned with the destruction of the middle class and making the rich along with the professional class richer.

    A lot of the decisions to crapify labor, lay people off, outsource, focus on short term profits, lobby, etc, originated from the MBA culture of short term profits and careerism. I think that this needs a lot more scrutiny.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      Yes, at the big Midwestern research university where I went to grad school in the humanities, walking through the business school was like entering a dystopian alternative universe where the sum total of existence was encapsulated by corporate-imperial architecture, un-self-aware public art, “fair trade” coffee shops (heh!), and people on Blackberries (I date myself) wearing sleek black suits which would not be found in any locale for hundreds of miles in any direction the minute you stepped out of that building.

      It was a good place to go as a scruffy grad student to mock the greedheads and squares. My favorite moment was when, one dry winter day, I got a gushing nosebleed, causing no small amount of fear that some deplorable or criminal element had invaded their sacred Temple of Capitalism.

      I also seem to remember them wanting to cut down a 250 year old oak tree, surely one of the oldest in that region, and then when local outcry arose, simply uprooting it and replanting it (which gave the tree something like a 40% chance of survival).

      More to Altandmain’s point, these are the people who when you say something about some mild reform of the current mess, scream “But Capital Flight!” and then complain about “TRUMP! (TM)” in the same breath. If they can’t accept Sanders, they are going to get Savonarola.

      1. ChiGal

        OMG back home in Hyde Park after 2 years away it is as if the MBAs have taken over. Everything is being corporatized. The area has been designated a TIF (supposed to promote development in “blighted” areas) and glass and steel high-rises are sprouting like weeds amidst the older low-rise vintage buildings. There is a Target on 53rd St now, fer chrissake.

        And of course no provision for additional parking, rents jacked up for storefronts: this community will soon be history, just an extension of the University of Chicago, once known for classics and generous scholarships for undergrads, now branded UChicago and attended by undergrads whose parents buy them condos to live in and who have summer internships as “consultants”.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Yes, my small liberal arts college town has gone the same way. It’s a damn shame. There used to be a Mom-and-Pop barbers, pharmacist, stationery/news-stand, a real book store. Now it’s all various Lulu-lemon nightmare-clones.

          I already felt alienated as a working class kid at a fancy institution, and the shops with actual, normal, non-10%er human beings were a critical source of psychic support in the shocking first months of school (really, I was like an anthropologist, in retrospect); now that’s all gone. Not only the local economy, the integrity of a living community against an invasive, metastatic capitalism, but also the small purchase us proles had at Fancy U are both eroded.

          But much abides, including the mountains and the woods and the streams, so I try to be of good cheer.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            I was going to comment about Gaines-berger, Fla-dee-da, but you’ve just about covered it.

            One exception is environment. We used to have 7-8 months of open-window weather. Now none. Irritating and worrying.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Two decades ago I had the incredible privilege to live on the exclusive Ile St. Louis in the middle of Paris, full of local butcher and baker and vegetable shops. My local cafe had been in the same family for 400 years.

              My heart sank for humanity when I returned recently and saw many had moved out, replaced by things like a high-end “make-your-own-doll” shop and a corporate sushi place.

              The cafe was still there. I attended their services every single day, back in the day. I was immensely pleased when I returned and the barman Jean, now graying, wordlessly poured my favorite beverage, placed it in front of me, and went back to polishing glasses.

        2. barefoot charley

          Chigal, I go back to Hyde Park on dad duty, and vouch for all you see. I now realize that the U of C (in ancient parlance) sold off its grad student housing and many dorms in order to upgrade the buildings where undergraduates are stored, or mined, or whatever they do to them nowadays above the requisite onsite bowling alleys, craft brew bars etc. Those ghastly towers on recently quaint 53rd street contain bathrooms only accessed from bedrooms. In other words, they’re still shitty student housing, disguised as deluxe for the planned-for pigeons. It is disgusting. Harvard’s a hedge fund with a university attached. Chicago, NYU, USC and god knows who else are real estate empires with students on top. And the non-profiteers (untaxed too!) really on top are paid multi-millions for their service. No mystery why the Obama temple destroying a sylvan setting was inflicted so close to campus.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well! . . . this certainly brings back memories. I remember a campus very like that . . . with a huge old burr oak tree which had to be dug up and moved after an outcry. Year before that I had been a security guard in its bussiness school buildings which were very like what you describe. I had to walk routes through the School of Education building and some-other-building and then this Bussiness School complex.

        The boredom got so unbearable some nights that when I got tired enough that one of my eyes started wandering and let me see through two 30-degree-offset planes-of-vision, I would keep myself in that state for a little while and see how close I could come to the top of the top-floor staircase without falling over the edge.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Yes, it was a Burr Oak! — I believe we speak of the same place!

          A nice feature of the NC commentariat — it’s a small world.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Yes, I think we maybe do. There was an interesting restaurant semi-near there and the Law School called Dominic’s. I haven’t been on that side of town for years now and I don’t know if Dominic’s still exists. But it would be the easiest thing in the world to search-engine for.

            1. Swamp Yankee

              Yes, I liked Dominick’s! A relaxed place. Good pizza if I recall. That side of town always was geared more to undergrads & law-business professional types; spent more time north and west, myself. The gentrification of that town over the last decade was really, really something, and not in a good way.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                I am now way at the North edge of town. I would have to make a special effort to break out of current habits to go to the Dominic’s area now.

                Not just gentrification. The U itself has been seeking a richer grade of student, and big developers are developing all kinds of luxury student housing. Not like the Dorms were. I hope there are still some people living in those good old Dorms.

                There are a few low income housing co-ops and I was able to get into one of those. Otherwise I would likely have been exiled to one of the social class Sowetos surrounding the social class Johannesburg of which we speak. I described the situation that way once to one of the Farmers Market vendors and she got all offended and stuff.

    2. PKMKII

      There’s also a cargo cult problem with the MBA-ing of the America business world. You get a lot of young folk who see people coming out of elite universities with MBAs and getting cushy jobs and they think “Well I just need to get an MBA myself and I’ll be set.” I’ve noticed a lot of meh-tier, especially for-profit, universities pushing MBA programs, especially accelerated ones (get your MBA in 18 months!), clearly aimed at said group.

      Problem is, the value in an MBA from an elite university is not in the coursework. The content in MBA programs is incredibly basic. It’s the networking functions that give it the value, the opportunities to hobnob with the corporate elite who can give you references and let you know about openings before they’re posted. You don’t get that at a commuter college. So not only is there a problem of that monolithic mindset you describe, there’s a problem of young people putting themselves into more debt for degrees that aren’t going to help them as much as they think they will.

      1. Hameloose Cannon

        When the peerage sees the Dauphin micturate on the walls of Versailles, do they return home to their own estate and refresh the facades? Crassness becomes ritualized, ritual becomes reverence. The lower tiers watch the upper tiers for novel social strategies, deploying them at a temple of their choice. Are corporations, companies, and bureaucracies not the pantheon of gods and temples into which we find order out of the chaos? In the year 4545, if man is still alive, if woman can survive, they may find in their textbooks a House of ChaseManhattan for worshiping the Goddess of Private Equity. I reckon, the MBA’s are the purple robes you put on to get closer to Jeepers Creepers.

      2. Altandmain

        It’s the networking functions that give it the value, the opportunities to hobnob with the corporate elite who can give you references and let you know about openings before they’re posted.

        That’s the issue though.

        Getting in gets the graduates access to an alumni network that can get them jobs that middle and working class Americans don’t have a chance to get.

        There is also the matter of many employers not even bothering to look at the resumes of other universities and only hiring from the most prestigious. A lot of employers simply won’t consider your resume for a job if you do not go through the same schools and graduated the way they did.

        Likewise, graduating from the top schools gives you a huge leg up if you want to network.

        They are jot so much teaching technical skills as much as they are giving access to an exclusive club.

        1. jsn

          Ordination into the Cult of Mammon has both trials and rewards, though the latter are reserved for the faithful.

      3. Mo's Bike Shop

        Especially the networking part. At a certain age my Alma started sending me cards and packets about their MBA program. All focused on how you could drive up and spend a few hours, pay your money, and be certified. That and a packet of incriminating eight by ten glossies will get you a cushy job.

        American Cargo Cult, by some guy named Klausler, is a really pithy piece of web ephemera that I have cross-linked in my brain with understanding MBAs:

        “Admitting alternatives is undermining one’s own belief.

        Changing one’s mind means one has wasted the time spent holding the prior opinion.

        When a person has studied a topic, he has no more real knowledge than you do, just a hidden agenda.”

        Web archive link, so it’s not only safe, it’s dead:


        MBAs have also ruined the blue blazer and khakis.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Back the gold-rush days here in California, it was said that the people making money were the ones supplying tools.

      In this case, today, you make money supplying credentials.

    1. Carey

      Ah, I had not noticed that Lambert was working on a post about this topic when I provided this link. Looking forward to it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’ve seen this before. The Albertan government worked at this, but they had two advantages: no ships and a low population density. They don’t have to get every rat. They just had to stop them from connecting.

      1. Lee

        Living in a port town we get a fair number of rats. My pit bull Staffordshire Terrier has caught and killed a dozen or so over the years. I take no pleasure in the killing of these critters. I had pet rats as a kid and I found them impressively intelligent and personable. But needs must so far as their wild cousins are concerned.

      2. roxan

        India had more rats than any place I ever saw. One day I was in the bathroom at the train station, where there were dozens of rats, all sizes, chasing each other, all sizes and racing along on the pipes overhead, too. They were having a merry time. It was so hard to locate a bathroom there, I was not going to leave even for rats. The Indian women sitting in the lounge drew their feet up, and sat Indian style, watching to see if I looked afraid. I was used to India by then. One of the bolder ladies declared: “RRRRATS! You don’t have RRRRATS in America!”

        1. Lee

          They has a scene in the UK TV series The Tunnel utilizing 200 rats that are meant to run over a woman who trips while trying to flee from the oncoming rodent horde. She shrieks, tucks up and the rats just cuddle up around her. The had to CGI the scene to make it scary.

        2. kgw

          My brother loves India, its art, and food. On his previous trip, he visited the Temple of the Rats, where bowls of milk, I believe, are filled regularly to feed the rats. He showed me a pic of a bowl with 15 or 20 rats drinking. If you drank with the rats, you accrued some sort of virtue…

    2. clarky90

      Re, Rats

      “Plague without rats: The case of fifteenth-century Iceland”
      Gunnar Karlsson


      “In the fifteenth century Iceland was ravaged by two epidemics which usually have been identified as plague. It is shown here that these epidemics were no less lethal than the Black Death in Europe. The first one probably killed half the population or more and persisted in the country for at least a year and a half. Since, for several reasons, it can safely be assumed that Iceland was not populated by rats at this time, this may offer the strongest available proof that an epidemic like the Black Death was not dependent on rats for its dissemination”.

      This article calls into question the Bubonic Plague trope. Just repeat a theory often enough and it magikly becomes “The Truth”.

      Imo, The Black Death was influenza virus.

    1. Lee

      At the link provided I’m getting a 2005 Atlantic article titled “In a Ruined Country
      How Yasir Arafat destroyed Palestine”.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have skimmed this article and will circle back and read it off-the-clock. Based on the little I have read so far, I think a good companion article might be titled: In a Ruined Society: How Binyamin Netanyahu destroyed Israel”. Maybe someone will write that article some day.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I noticed yesterday in reading about the hurricane heading towards Hawaii that the Navy was sending their ships, and presumably carrier as well, away from Pearl Harbor.

      It was under such storm cover that the Imperial Navy arrived at the scene.

  2. cnchal

    . . . Initially proposed at 10 per cent, the duties could be raised to as much as 25 per cent, at Trump’s direction…. The additional tariffs would effectively slap levies on half of all Chinese exports to the US, or roughly double what China imports from the US.”

    No Boobus Americanus will notice unless those tariffs get slapped on the electronic crapola imported by the likes of crApple and Googlag.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That reveals itself as a strategy for China – holding up Apple shipments to America in order to reduce Americans to withdrawal symptoms suffering ex-consumers.

      Just keep them in port warehouses on that side of the Pacific.

      “You won’t get your Apple until we get our pork*.”

      *the fusion dish Apple Pork Chops will have to wait another day.

  3. CarlH

    I’ve always wanted to work with animals! From the “LinkedIn” recruiter generator:

    Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend! My company DeepCube, a sharing economy-inspired Lehman Brothers, has just raised $600k on KickStarter to push the limits of day spas. With your considerable talents in A/B testing and hypergrowth, let’s discuss your potential future as our Head of Unicorn Husbandry. How about we hop on the phone to discuss—would you have time on Wednesday? Have a good one! Drew

    Living in SV, I am immersed in this sort of language. Corporate lingo is horrible, but the SV strain is particularly annoying.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I went to the generator, and here’s mine:

      Hey Lamar,

      Super-pumped to meet you! My startup Waste.ai, a sharing economy-inspired Juicero, has just raised $50M in our series C to push the limits of maritime piracy.

      Given your extensive experience in SEO and copy-editing, I think you’d make an incredible addition to our team as its Head of APAC Growth. How about we grab coffee and chat some more—how’s Friday?



      The “correction” from “Lambert” to “Lamar” is a very nice touch.

      1. a different chris

        It’s not a correction, methinks. It’s another mimic of the recruiter lingo… I got “Christy” several times, and I could just feel the clammy (virtual) fake-buddy handshake. On the fourth button push it reverted to Chris.

        Or maybe it’s both.

    2. Kayline

      As a point of comparison, here are a few actual recruiter messages I have gotten in the last week:

      Hi redacted,

      I see that you are open to new opportunities and mission driven work. Based on that and your full stack development experience, I believe you may be a good fit for a role we have here at redacted.

      As the first freight forwarder built on a modern web app, we are disrupting a multi-trillion dollar industry and making the movement of goods accessible to anyone in the world. We have recently raised a $110 Million dollar series C and are looking to grow the engineering team to help us unite the world in a seamless web of commerce.

      I’d love to get you on a short call to find out more about your background and career aspirations to see if we have a good fit for you here at redacted. Please let me know if you are open to a quick call. Thank you!

      Hi redacted,

      I am reaching out on behalf of redacted, a company using software to solve our country’s biggest medical problems. redacted is one of the first to have received FDA approval for a mobile app to help treat substance use disorder. They are working across the full stack with some of the latest technologies (react, react native, node) to unlock the full potential of software in the medical space. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to help build groundbreaking products for those in need. 

      We’re looking for a Lead Software Engineer and I find your profile very interesting. I would appreciate learning more about you and also share further details about redacted and the engineering culture (pair programming & TDD). Are you free anytime this week for a quick 20 minute call?

      TL, DR;
      – Recently closed a Series B financing at $45m in December 2017
      – The CEO is a Harvard trained Doctor dedicated to the mission of helping those in need
      – Located in downtown San Francisco and offer highly competitive salary and benefits program
      – Has multiple products in varying stages of FDA approval and are growing rapidly
      – In addition to winning the Fierce Innovation Award for Best Digital Health Solution for reSET, redacted was featured on CNBC. 

  4. dcblogger

    If Kerri Harris manages to win her race it will be VERY embarrassing for Biden. Do we have anyone for Delaware here?

    1. BobWhite

      Already voted for Harris via absentee ballot.
      Really want to see Carper gone… I would view it as seat switch from R (based on his voting record) to D, and a real progressive as well.

      FWIW – Delaware has a very good online voter portal – you can check to see if they sent, received, and counted your absentee ballot!

  5. Synoia

    T Rowing out the aircraft carriers …

    New jobs program? or

    Dear Sir

    We have a new model one man fighter which requires no fuel, and can be fielded in the millions. We do need a zillion to complete V2 of our machine, after our flaming success with V1.

    Icarus Inc.

    1. nippersdad

      LOL! Jobs program!


      Or, alternative question: What to do with the proliferation of deplorables these days? Send ’em all out in the new multi-billion dollar Trireme Aircraft Carrier and let the Russians sort them out.

      1. polecat

        But you’d have to make sure to have tied a barbequed squirrel to the back head of each and every .. um .. conscripted ‘oarsman’, as an incentive to push harder.

        And Always have a good drummer on board !

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Great article with a lot of interesting institutions, but alas no:

      unicorn root likes to grow in open ground that is moist and sandy.

      I’m on loam.

      Points for the reference :-)

            1. skippy

              Before a ridged ideology becomes untenable for some, then the event horizon dictates a change regardless of previous beliefs or feelings….

              1. ambrit

                The big question is whether that ‘event horizon’ is common to the majority of people, or a highly fractured congeries of ‘areas under the curve.’
                The basic weakness in the reform movements is an under-appreciation of human nature. The same can be said for today’s anti-Corporatism struggle.

                1. skippy

                  I prefer my information to be smooov too…

                  I think AGW is a pretty linear event horizon, but understand acknowledgement on an individual level will be fractured.

                  1. ambrit

                    Digital information is inherently discontinuous. So, face to face is best, making all effective politics, by necessity, local, and, in extension, heirarchic.
                    As for AGW, I can see it as a process, rather than a point. Thus, the ‘event horizon’ would be in dispute. How many people would have to be ‘recycled’ as a proportion of the overall population before an “event” is acknowledged? Or, what percentage of the overall population has to sink back to a pure subsistence level of living to qualify as an “event?” In this, social design comes to the fore. Feudalism functions well for Lords and Peasants.
                    I’m a bit of a nutter on climate. I have come around to support the Catastrophist theory of climate changes. It has happened in the past, numerous times. The time scale involved goes from zero to sixty in a second when some extraterrestrial natural force pays Earth a visit.
                    Something for the more rigourous tinfoil hatt brigade: https://cometresearchgroup.org/comets-diamonds-mammoths/

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          I was going to quibble that that’s pretty much high Dark Ages. ‘Norsemen? Never heard of him.’

  6. Wukchumni

    “The proliferation and the magnitude of the camps that we’ve seen develop in the last three to five years has just been astounding to us,” said Russ Webb, 68, who lives in the upscale South Addition neighborhood, not far from some of the trails most densely populated with homeless campers.

    Sitting at his kitchen table, Webb displayed dozens of photos he’s taken of sprawling encampments littered with garbage and human waste. “That kind of squalor is unsafe for the people camping there, and certainly for the people using those public green spaces, including kids,” he said.

    The debris, much of it hazardous, clutters trails, parks and waterways. As of mid-July, city workers this year had hauled more than 184,000 pounds of trash out of campsites. The litter runs the gamut from rote to resourceful: used hypodermic needles, booze bottles, soiled mattresses, spare bicycle parts, propane tanks. Even the occasional generator.


    I’ve only seen one homeless encampment in the wilderness, @ Deep Creek Hot Springs near Hesperia, Ca.

    It’s a 2 mile walk to get there, and the usual debris & squalor that comes with 4 tents not going anywhere soon, festooned with trash all over the place, and beggars in your face.

    It’s doubtful the desperad’ohs end up in the National Park here, as the tyranny of distance and the idea that you’d need to pay an entrance fee, is a great dissuader, but as the cities and available space gets scarcer, maybe?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Back in the 80s when the pipeline boom crashed, Anchorage used the permanent fund to get the homeless into reduced mortgages on foreclosed homes, mostly condos. Big problem after that was a lot of the building quality was bad from the boom.

      I don’t hear much about Anchorage anymore, my sister left nearly ten years ago because it doesn’t snow there anymore.

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Re: Post Office logo–

    There are probably some who think there should be a flag in every logo. Perhaps they’ve even tattooed one on their foreheads.

    But ‘Ol John Prine took care of that type 50 years ago:

    Your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore.
    They’re already overcrowded from your dirty, little war.

    Maybe Kane is an art critic. If so, I can’t fault him.

  8. fresno dan

    HICAP follies…or ordeals
    So, I was getting pretty confident and bored with giving the rundown of Medicare Part A, B, C, and D.
    So I started wishing for something more interesting….that was a mistake.
    So long, long….LONG story short (really, it would take 20 pages to explain it)
    Billing problem – doctor sends a bill to a Medicare Medi-Cal (i.e., medicaid) beneficiary. Typically, such beneficiaries should not even receive a bill. Call to the office and they tell me that medicare denied the claim. What gets me going is that they start by saying its a workman’s compensation problem (he’s 77 – he hasn’t worked in a long time- my spidey fraud sense is tingling!). Long back and forth, eventually my supervisor calls the doctor’s office and now it is an auto accident. (now my spidey fraud sense is ON FIRE)
    Eventually I call Medicare, using my special ultra decoder code number. After a lengthy regurgitation of events, Medicare tells me to call the Medicare Coordination of Benefits and Recovery Center (your auto insurance or workman’s compensation may pay prior to medicare paying – medicare doesn’t want to pay if some other insurance has already paid – it ALSO explains that billing can get confused between auto accidents and workman’s comp).

    So as the beneficiary had a back injury, it actually made sense that medicare would not approve a claim if there were oustanding insurance claims that medicare had not “closed” related to auto accidents.
    So it looked like no fraud.
    Until we found out there was a claim for an auto accident when the beneficiary no longer had a vehicle.
    So I took my first affidavit. (I was not in an accident on a certain date and I was not represented by an attorney named so and so and FAXED it off to the Medicare Center for Coordination of Benefits and Recovery).
    A lot of phone time and time on phone hold and dropped calls that pretty much doubled the time.
    Soooo…..I’m either quitting or killing my self. HOLD IT – I got an unopened pint of chocolate gelato in the freezer AND an unopened bottle of port. maybe later….

      1. Kayline

        You can get a bottle of Pedro Jimenez pretty cheap at Trader Joe’s. Pour it over vanilla ice cream – delish!

        Maybe I’ll do that tonight instead of thinking about the $2,000 insurance claim I sent to Cigna three weeks ago, which they still say they have not yet received.

      2. Synapsid

        Lambert S,

        That would work with Harvey’s Bristol Cream. I can’t think of anything else it might be good for.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Oh yes, I’ve found most knock-offs of HBC to be a far more pleasant liqueur than the thing itself.

  9. clarky90

    “The Reuters–Ipsos survey found 85 percent of Democrats said they support [Medicare for All] along with 52 percent of Republicans.” in Links

    Without access to any special info, other than my Spidey Sense;

    I predict that POTUS Trump will run with “Medicare for All” as soon as he can rope and hog-tie the Neo-Cons infesting the Republican Party. Trump is all about winning!

    1. foghorn longhorn

      This does make sense in a weird sort of way.
      He very much hinted at it during the election, and it would put the russiarussiarussia on a back burner as the dems could now freak out about M4A
      It would also be fun to watch pelosi’s head explode on live tv.

  10. anon

    This should be Productive™ (for a venal handful):

    Facebook, Google and Twitter execs are holding a secret meeting in San Francisco to discuss ways to prevent meddling in 2018 elections [Since they are so trustworthy in not violating their user’s privacy, and undeservedly destroying their online reputations with impunity – anon]

    rather like opening up a sack of hungry and amphetamine injected sidewinders a couple of inches away from bunny family holes and dens — since the last most well known events in which Big Tech Firms convened colluded together, they were colluding in wage fixing against their employees.

    Though not mentioned in the ‘secret meeting’ piece, I’d lay odds that Millionaire DemoRat Silicon Valley Congress Creatures, along with Homeland $ECURITY!™, will also be having their say in that collusion to censor. From what I’ve noticed, the only populace concerned about so called Russian vote meddling are those predominantly wealthy folk who refuse to admit to the horrifying inequality, poverty, and suicides in their own back yard — which they’ve created all on their own. Russia has nothing whatsoever to do with US citizens increasingly unable to afford the simplest of housing, and needed medical aid, and also increasingly committing suicide because they can no longer afford to live in dignity; despite their best efforts.

    (Of course Trump is venal, but it speaks volumes that he and the Clintons were, and probably still are beyond the charade, best of fwends (I’m reminded of Richard Mellon Scaife, repeatedly reported as a Republican Enemy of Bill Clinton, waxing eloquent about Bill DAWG Clinton — years after all was deceptively reported and done, in a Vanity Fair piece). All in a days work of those who have no moral compass whatsoever.)

  11. Big River Bandido

    I assume the Library Library of Congress is just another verbal tic, like Jerry Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” speech, wherein he attempted to restrain inflation by invoking the memory of “FDR Roosevelt”. I’m also old enough to remember hearing people say “ATM machine” and “The LeCar”. (Does anyone even remember the LeCar? There, I used the tic myself.)

    Matters of speech aside…isn’t it curious how companies these days spend hundreds of thousands of dollars having their logos redesigned, when that’s the absolute last thing they need? And how often what what they get for those half-millions is utter crap? I mean the exact same generic PowerPoint template they used for their last client.

    If you want to see what I mean, check out web pages and logos for several midsize symphony orchestras. They’re like Levittown houses: perhaps 3-4 different designs and every one of these organizations uses a barely-distinguishable version of one of them. And that’s just one type of business. This appears to be happening everywhere. People actually pay for this crap?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      As far as websites goes? People don’t want to pay for not-crap, and end up with crap websites. It’s infuriating.

      The LIBRARY LIBRARY OF CONGRESS thing is what happens when management thinks that graphic artists are overpaid.

      Branding, the story of how ENRON became ENRON instead of ENTERON will give any cynic a smile.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “‘Pay a living wage’: Bernie Sanders accuses Disney of dodging fair pay”

    Well in all honesty, working for Mr. Mouse has always been a tough gig as the Jonas Brothers found out (language alert)-


    Fun fact. In the early days of their career, the Carpenters were fired by Disney once.

  13. Kayline

    I checked out the Tesla thread. I can’t say whether or not the poster truly worked at Tesla, but what he’s saying all hangs together. It’s exactly the kind of situation I’ve seen as a programmer at web startups, only complicated by firmware and that whole assembling a car thing. Shoddy process, thrown-together tooling and limited reliability checks. Honestly, that’s fine for a new web app that doesn’t provide critical life support functions. It allows you to build quickly and try out different ideas. You don’t want to invest time hardening something you might throw away in 3 months. Anyone remember the early days of Twitter when you would regularly see the Fail Whale any time traffic got high?

    HOWEVER, applying that mindset to manufacturing automobiles is just bat$#!^ insane. Even if you were only operating that way during proof-of-concept phase, it’s still a car that can travel more than 100 mph. To think they’re still running that way while claiming to offer consumer-ready vehicles is terrifying.

    At the same time, Elon Musk is exactly the kind of personality that would refuse to invest engineering resources in improving tooling and process. None of that is Silicon Valley sexy, none of that generates re-tweets or hero worship.

    1. Jack Parsons

      Right, what he calls “thundering herd” problems, or scaling real-time processes. It’s the classic “just make it work, we’ll make it scalable next year” in an organization that doesn’t want to hear next year that you have to redo something that “oh it works fine doesn’t it?”. Note this org is run by a guy who watched PayPal go from nothing to huge, so he oughta know better.

  14. marym

    At least 26 children and four women killed in airstrikes in Yemen

    At least 26 children have been killed in the latest round of airstrikes in Yemen, the United Nations has said.

    The organisation’s humanitarian office reported that at least four women also died in a strike by the Saudi-led coalition – two weeks after a coalition air attack on a school bus killed at least 29 children.

    The UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, confirmed on Friday that a coalition airstrike on Thursday had killed 22 children and four women who were trying to escape the fighting in the Durayhimi district, in the Hudaydah governorate. He said a second attack in the same area that day had killed a further four children.

  15. nothing but the truth

    There seems to be an emphasis on short term profits over all else

    Basically, a crisis of values (meaning in as in philosophy, not economics)

  16. Big Tap

    Deray, you owe an apology to Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey. They probably believe in Russiagate too but they are the prophets of antivax theology.

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a you tube video taken by a British citizen of his interaction with a politely persistently harrassful police officer. The video poster is clearly offended and outraged by the whole thing , but I have to wonder whether if an equivalent citizen tried any small fraction of the same thing in America, whether said citizen wouldn’t either be summarily shot dead through his window or on the street at some later time, or otherwise swatted and shot dead that way.

    In fact, how many US citizens would even talk that way to a US police officer?

    Here is the link.

    How very polite the British situation seems by comparison.

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