2:00PM Water Cooler 8/28/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this is a bit short, because I keep wandering off into mini-essay mode. But I have to run errands now, so this is as long as it is going to be. –lambert


“It’s not the right time to talk to China about trade war, Trump says, as he focuses on Nafta renegotiation” [South China Morning Post]. “‘They want to talk,’ Trump said, speaking of Chinese officials. ‘It’s just not the right time to talk right now, to be honest with China…. ‘It’s too one-sided for too many years and too many decades, and so it’s not the right time to talk,’ he said. ‘But eventually I’m sure that we’ll be able to work out a deal with China.”

“Truth, Tariffs and the Perils of Short-Term Gains” [Travis Hessman, Industry Week]. “A year into President Trump’s administration, half of us assume he has fixed everything that President Obama broke, half of us assume he has broken everything Obama fixed. Neither president could make or break our economy; neither president could fix or break our democracy. But they can certainly put a dent in both…. I have become very well-acquainted with tariffs and trade disputes. I have followed the stories of the industries they are hurting, followed the financials of the industries they are helping, and I re-run the math in my head endlessly. And the math doesn’t work out. The damage keeps outpacing the benefits…. I honestly lose sleep over this issue. I struggle to see the strategy, I struggle to see the add. But I can’t find it. All I can find is the damage being done, the impact to small and midsized companies that have stuck it out in America…. The fight for trade is vital. But we can’t lose sight of long-term struggles through short-term crises. Manufacturing—not as an industry, but as a movement, as an engine to democracy—can fight through these crises for the long-term win.” • After the neoliberal turn, we gutted manufacturing and sent it offshore. Forty years later, it seems that wasn’t such a good idea after all, except for the 9.9% + 0.1% (ka-ching). Bringing manufacturing back onshore is going to cause a lot of upset. But, as the writer suggests, I don’t see how the nation survives without it (assuming that’s a good thing, and assuming the turn hasn’t come too late). But Trump isn’t making a coherent case for a national project that would last decades, and it’s not even on Democrat radar.



A propos elite impunity for financial crimes, I give you Eric Holder:

Wowsers. Stoller comments:

2020 is going to be so fun. Thank gawd we’ve got the Superdelegates to rein in the cray cray.


69 days until Election Day. 69 days is a long time in politics.

“Key races to watch as Florida, Arizona head to polls” [The Hill]. “Expectations that Democrats can retake the governor’s mansion in Florida have led to the emergence of a five-way primary for the party’s nomination, though only three are seen as having a realistic shot…. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a progressive who has been endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is pulling out all the stops to win the primary, taking a bus tour across Florida and bringing in a slew of high-profile surrogates, including Sanders himself. Those late-in-the-game efforts may be paying off for Gillum. A survey by St. Pete Polls released Sunday showed the Tallahassee mayor running in second place behind [Former Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.), daughter of the late Sen. Bob Graham], with 25 percent of the vote.”

New Cold War

“Stormy Daniels Isn’t Backing Down” [Amy Chozick, Vogue]. Good clean fun from the author of Chasing Hillary. “Avenatti, with his refrigerator-shaped jaw and overcaffeinated demeanor, can come off as Daniels’s macho protector. But up close their relationship is warmer and more equitable. For all his cable-TV cockiness, Avenatti seems to admit that Daniels could outsmart him. (‘She’s really [family blogging] smart,’ he will tell me at least three times.) Daniels clearly trusts and relies on Avenatti, but she also treats him like a lovable, well-meaning stepbrother who forgot to take his Ritalin. ‘You want a cookie?’ Daniels calls over to Avenatti, extending the box of pastries his way.” • Indeed. It’s as if Mae West had, well, something on Warren G. Harding… Still, all this agita over consensual sex?

“Fact-Checking the Red Menace” [RealClearPolitics]. Let me just pull out this one horrid sentence: “The report concerns [torture advocate John] Brennan’s turn as a speaker at the 2016 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual conference. During a panel on diversity in the intelligence community, Brennan was asked whether a history of activism would hamper an individual’s prospects for future government service.” • Stanning for torture. That’s our Black Misleadership Class….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Tens of Thousands of Adults Line Up for Free College in Tennessee” [Inside Higher Ed]. “State officials had initially anticipated 8,000 adult learners to apply for the program, which expanded the popular tuition-free Tennessee Promise. But a week before the start of the new college semester, more than 30,000 adults had applied for the scholarship according to state education officials.” • While liberal Democrats busy themselves deriding such programs as ponies and unicorns, while Tennessee, with a Republican governor and a Republican legislature, passes it. (Liberal Democrat Cuomo’s parallel program is, as we might expect, a debacle of rejections, as foreshadowed at NC here.)

“California’s Unprecedented Plan to Tackle Fake Election News” [Governing]. “Earlier this month, the California legislature approved the creation of an Office of Elections Cybersecurity to be overseen by Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla. He expects Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to support the new office, which Padilla says would be ‘the first of its kind in the nation, as far as we understand.’ In addition to addressing cyber threats to California’s voting systems, the office would proactively root out false information online about the state’s electoral process, including where and how to vote. Staffers would monitor social media platforms like California-based Facebook and Twitter, then coordinate with local election authorities — or directly with those companies — to remove the falsehoods.” • I can’t find the link (it was in the last month), but ironically Google search provided incorrect voting times and locations for a 2018 primary (2010 example; parallel 2018 example). But what are the odds that the “Office of Elections Cybersecurity” will regulate Google’s algos?

“RGJ investigates: Nevada’s voting machine problems were much bigger than first thought” [Reno Gazette Journal]. “Officials said then that a spate of well-publicized voting machine problems — including glitches that left some candidates off of ballots or displayed the wrong slate of ballot choices — only affected a small handful of voters. But a Reno Gazette Journal review of public records found more than 300 reported machine malfunctions across the state. More than 100 were recorded in Washoe County alone. Those software hiccups contributed to a double-voting snafu that forced officials to call a rare special election in Clark County. Records reveal they also saw Washoe threatened with at least one election-challenging lawsuit amid widespread reports of candidates being left off the ballot.” More:

Now, little more than two months ahead of the general election, elections officials have said in interviews with the RGJ they don’t know how many improperly displayed ballots might have gone unnoticed by voters and unreported to poll workers during the primary.

Broken record: Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, would solve Nevada’s problems with machine voting (and as a bonus, solve any security problems by removing digital from the equation). You would think that local elections officials would welcome a simple, rugged, and proven voting system that didn’t oblige them to display ignorance, or lie. And yet they don’t. One can only wonder why.

“The Demography of the Alt-Right” [Institute for Family Studies]. “Although the racist right can be ideologically diverse and make many different arguments, there are three key sentiments that are widely shared across these movements: 1) a strong sense of white identity, 2) a belief in the importance of white solidarity, and 3) a sense of white victimization. Although someone who rates high on all of these views may not necessarily identify with the Alt-Right or a similar movement, we can anticipate all or nearly all individuals who are involved in white identity politics to share these attitudes… [A]bout 6% of respondents expressed all three opinions. It is worth noting that a 2017 Washington Post-ABC News poll estimated that about 10% of respondents supported the Alt-Right.”

Stats Watch

Consumer Confidence, August 2018: “The consumer sentiment index at mid-month came in much weaker than expected in complete contrast to today’s consumer confidence index which easily tops expectations” [Econoday]. “The most important detail in the August report is a notable decline in those saying jobs are currently hard to get which is down very steeply…. A second detail that speaks to impressive strength is the outlook on income… Buying plans are yet another major positive showing strong gains across the board: autos, homes, and major appliances.” And: “Consumer confidence looking strong, in line with the stock market, while consumer sentiment fell” [Mosler Economics].

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, August 2018: “expanded strongly” [Econoday]. Contrasting with slowing reported by the Philadelphia Fed and Kansas City Fed and more aligned with the strength seen in the Dallas Fed manufacturing survey, the Fifth District’s expansionary acceleration in August will probably bolster the case for more rather than less tightening by the Fed.”

International Trade in Goods, July 2018: “July’s $72.2 billion goods deficit compares with a monthly average of $66.7 billion in the second quarter which was a very good quarter for trade, representing 1.1 percentage points of the quarter’s 4.1 percent pace” [Econoday]. “Today’s results, however, pose a very slow start for the third quarter.” And: “Larger than expected” [Mosler Economics].

Retail Inventories [Advance], July 2018: “Retail inventories rose” [Econoday]. “Given that inventories were very lean going into the quarter, today’s news is not only positive for GDP but also for production and employment as businesses, meeting strong demand, restock warehouses and shelves.”

Wholesale Inventories [Advance], July 2018: “Spiked, led solidly by a rise in durable goods” [Econoday]. “[T]oday’s news is not only positive for GDP but also for production and employment as businesses, meeting strong demand, restock warehouses and shelves.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, June 2018: “missed already subdued expectations” [Econoday]. “The housing sector is having a tough year with construction limited by labor constraints and high prices and buying demand also limited by high prices. Yet the ongoing sag in home prices, which started in the early part of what proved to be a disappointing Spring selling season, should begin to make homes more affordable and in turn help stimulate sales.” • [whistles in dark].

Durable Goods: “Weak apart from ‘core capital goods’ but best to wait until next month’s revisions before passing judgement” [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “Expect peak shipping season to be tougher than ever, experts warn” [FreightWaves]. “The U.S. economy remains on one of its best trajectories in years, leading to higher demand from consumers. The demand is butting up against tight transportation supply, especially for trucking. As a result, intermodal freight likely will become an increasingly popular option during the peak season…. ‘You have this combination of low inventories and high demand, which means inventories have to be replenished and sent out again,’ [Ibrahiim Bayaan, chief economist at FreightWaves] said. ‘This lean inventory is positive for the transportation industry, but it does put pressure on carriers to do things in a timely fashion.’ Of course, more of those goods are moving through ports, and FreightWaves’ data platform SONAR points to shippers having started their peak shipping early….”

Manufacturing: “Prevalence of composites prompt calls for updated airframe rules” [FlightGlobal]. • This is a paid article I can’t read, but the headline alone gives me the creeps. Can knowledgeable readers comment?

Tech: “Trump takes on Google in complaints about social media” [Associated Press]. “President Donald Trump lashed out at tech companies Tuesday, accusing Google and others of ‘suppressing’ conservative voices and “hiding information” and good news…. [Google responds: ‘Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology,’ the Mountain View, California-based company said. ‘Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. ‘We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.” • Uh huh [nods vigorously]. NOTE * Uh huh [nod vigorsously again]. I mean, have you tried using Google News lately?

Tech: And speaking of Silicon Valley and manipulating political sentiment, an alert reader throws this over the transom:

From yesterday:

“Ratface Andy” is no more hate speech than “short-fingered vulgarian,” also invented by Spy, and converted to the ubiquitous “small hands” meme for Trump. The real moral of the story is that if you fail to show proper deference to a thin-skinned Blue ✔ failson like Chris Cuomo, down comes the Twitter hammer! And the cream of the jest is that the source of “Ratface Andy,” Shane Goldmacher, is a New York Times reporter, also with a Blue ✔, who continues to Tweet vigorously. Welcome to “our democracy”! Mastodon is looking better all the time.

The Bezzle: “The undertakers of Silicon Valley: how failure became big business” [Guardian]. “That’s the funny part of the tech industry’s narrative about itself. For tech, failure is always assumed to be temporary; for everyone else, it’s terminal. Taxicab companies are going out of business because they’re losing money? Creative destruction, my friend – sink or swim. Uber hemorrhages cash? Well, that’s just a sign of how visionary the company is. This double standard justifies the exploitation of workers outside of the tech industry – and, in certain cases, the exploitation of workers within it.” • Turns out that liquidating Silicon Valley startups is a good business. Not very romantic, auctioning off all those Aeron chairs and foosball tables, but steady.

Mr. Market: “Saudi King Overrules World’s Largest IPO” [Safe Haven]. “Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has demanded that the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco be called off, stepping in to shelve the plans of his heir apparent, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for what was tipped to be the world’s biggest IPO ever… According to one of Reuters’ sources, Saudi King Salman held consultations with family members, oil executives, and bankers in early June. The main concern over listing Aramco was reportedly that an IPO would require full disclosure of finances and reserves of the Saudi state oil giant.” • The original Reuters story: “But the shelving of the Aramco IPO is a major blow to the prince’s Vision 2030 reform program, which aims to fundamentally transform Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent, state-driven economy. It suggests the king is keeping the new unilateral power of the young prince – accrued soon after his father’s accession to the throne in January 2015 – in check. It also raises doubts about Riyadh’s management of the IPO process and commitment to making the economy more transparent, some investors say.” • It’s certainly odd that the Saudis don’t want Aramco’s books opened. Graft, one assumes, but… issues with inventory?


“The paradox of irrigation efficiency” [Science]. Let me just quote to whole abstract:

Reconciling higher freshwater demands with finite freshwater resources remains one of the great policy dilemmas. Given that crop irrigation constitutes 70% of global water extractions, which contributes up to 40% of globally available calories (1), governments often support increases in irrigation efficiency (IE), promoting advanced technologies to improve the “crop per drop.” This provides private benefits to irrigators and is justified, in part, on the premise that increases in IE “save” water for reallocation to other sectors, including cities and the environment. Yet substantial scientific evidence (2) has long shown that increased IE rarely delivers the presumed public-good benefits of increased water availability. Decision-makers typically have not known or understood the importance of basin-scale water accounting or of the behavioral responses of irrigators to subsidies to increase IE. We show that to mitigate global water scarcity, increases in IE must be accompanied by robust water accounting and measurements, a cap on extractions, an assessment of uncertainties, the valuation of trade-offs, and a better understanding of the incentives and behavior of irrigators.

Our Famously Free Press

“On NYT ‘s homepage, the simpler, the better” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “More important, though, is that I don’t want people to sort their news via byline. Too many readers get their news exclusively from sources they are predisposed to agree with; untold articles have been written about the need to break out of our echo chambers. Saying that readers should choose their media diet based on individual reporters’ names seems antithetical to responsible news consumption.” • This dude will change his tune once bot-written stories ripped from the wire start showing up on front pages everywhere, but by then it will be too late.

Class Warfare

“GoFundMe Marine veteran is homeless (again), claiming couple won’t give him his money” [Marine Times]. • Ugly. Those poor people had better be worthy if we’re going to give them their money.

“The United States Has a National-Security Problem—and It’s Not What You Think” [The Nation]. “Over the past decade the proportion of people who exhausted their monthly paychecks just to pay for life’s essentials actually increased from 31 percent to 38 percent. In 2013, 71 percent of the families that had children and used food pantries run by Feeding America, the largest private organization helping the hungry, included at least one person who had worked during the previous year. And in America’s big cities, chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless, sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families.” • Thanks, Obama!

News of The Wired

I’m going to be lazy, and overplay the cat card:

Sorry for the less than ideal composition, but I was at my desk. The shovel at top left is to dispose of the cat’s little gifts, one of which this morning was right where I put my feet when I sit down. Thoughtful! (And then, after I bury the casualties, something comes in the night and digs them up! What Disney termed “The Circle of Life,” I suppose…

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

ChiGal writes: “I like to think musical spirits inhabit these trees up the Lelenau peninsula duneside of Lake Michigan (east coast). Never seen others like this, just these two, nor do I know what causes them to grow like this.”

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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. Wukchumni

    Indeed. It’s as if Mae West had, well, something on Warren G. Harding… Still, all this agita over consensual sex?

    It’s all about looks. If the reign of error got it on with the girl next door-such as Monica, the press would’ve savaged him. And conversely, if Clinton had his dalliance with somebody that looked like Stormy, Al Gore becomes President in 2000.

    1. fresno dan

      August 28, 2018 at 2:11 pm
      Still, all this agita over consensual sex?
      NO, not consensual sex….it was the breaking of an…uh, er, um…. oral contract that the agreed to sex would be remunerated by means of a TV show….
      THIS IS CAPITALISM, and if your paying for f*cking, you can’t f*ck somebody by not paying them. Its just not right!

      1. John Beech

        Do you take seriously the contention Trump told Stormy he’d make her a TV star? On what basis?

        Women have been lied to by men who are dogs since time immemorial. Beginning with the most famous; “We have an understanding.” Or, “she doesn’t understand me!” Followed by; “Our marriage is over.”

        In short . . . grow up and show a little more sophistication about the real world. This, instead of letting emotion color your political opinion.

  2. allan

    “Nevada’s voting machine problems were much bigger than first thought”

    Arizona to Nevada: Hold my beer

    LIVE Election Day updates: At least 4 polling locations closed due to machine malfunctions
    [AZ Central]

    10 a.m.: Four polling sites closed

    Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes addressed the widespread voting issues at a press conference Tuesday morning.

    He said his office became aware of issues with the voting equipment Monday when troubleshooters were testing at the polling sites.

    The contractor responsible for the voting machines was supposed to provide more than 100 technicians to assist with issues, but only 70 were available. …

    The fundamental problem with paper ballots is that they don’t require expending public funds
    to hire a private contractor to provide no-show technicians.

    1. Wukchumni

      Never put anything beyond those @ the controls of the crass-test-dummies, it’s a proving ground for other states.

    2. Shane

      It’s incredible (yet totally believable, of course) that Maricopa County would continue to have this much trouble with voting after the 2016 primary, when both the Bernie and Hillary campaigns sued the county because of what a clusterf[amilyblog] it was. (Incidentally, the systemic disenfranchisement there really makes the fact that they were finally able to defeat Arpaio a testament to the organizing to remove him, that they still managed to overcome that.)

    1. CalypsoFacto

      Z is a great film! remarkably prescient, great soundtrack. Costa-Gavras’ film State of Siege is also distressingly relevant to our current times. State of Siege covers the Uruguayan response to the left-wing guerilla kidnapping and murder of a US cia agent and is a bit less theatrical than Z. Costa-Gavras has some of the most interesting political films ever made, really thought-provoking stuff. highly recommended

  3. prx

    Can’t recommend reading “The undertakers of Silicon Valley” Guardian article enough. It’s about so much more than the headline suggests; the culture of pattern-matching growth-at-all costs and burning VC money will have to come to an ugly end at some point.

    1. Kokuanani

      Further on bad behavior by Silicon Valley folks, I’d recommend “Bad Blood,” by John Carreyrou, the WSJ reporter who broke the story on Theranos, the “blood testing” fraud company. Especially noteworthy is how so many “elder statesmen” [Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, George Schultz, Robert Kraft ] were taken in by Elizabeth Holmes, the blonde bombshell, Jobs wannabe.

    1. Wukchumni

      Altitude really does a number on flatulence and we were @ around 10,000 every day last week and I don’t want to downplay it, but we were getting cold-calls from OPEC wanting to take me on as a member of their cartel.

      1. voteforno6

        The Air Force, as part of its training for pilots, sends them through an altitude trainer that will, among other things, demonstrate the effects of hypoxia to them. One of the other, not-so-discussed side effects is a demonstration of the ideal gas law on the human body. That can lead to some rather,
        umm, interesting reactions from those who try to fight physics.

    2. fresno dan

      August 28, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      I find it hard to believe that there was a prohibition of flatulence in his employment contract.
      Let he who has not let one rip be the first to cast off the first employee….

    3. JCC

      Thanks for that. It’s nice to get a good laugh once in awhile, and I thought he handled his firing with grace and aplomb.

    1. Wukchumni

      Yes, almost all fruit & nut crops in the Central Valley are drip irrigated now (a few crops are still flood irrigated-such as walnuts & pecans) and it saves a ton of water, but there are vastly more trees than there was a few generations ago.

      When the drought was playing hot and heavy, I came across a report on the 1976-77 drought from the state, and to give you an idea of increase in fruit & nut trees in the 40 years or so since, there are approx 120x as many trees now, versus then.

  4. Stephen Tynan

    National Security
    Let me tell you, a Prius is the most uncomfortable thing to sleep in.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I hope my Prius is grateful that I defended it from being labeled as the most uncomfortable car to sleep in.

        2. Whoa Molly!

          > Here is something better (to sleep in)

          Bid is only $7,000-ish.

          A couple drawbacks tho…

          1. “Power is from a rear-mounted 454ci Chevrolet V8 paired with a 4-speed 4L80E automatic transmission and Currie-built Ford 9″ differential” The only shops that will repair something like this are RV specialists. Repair people are hard to find, and expensive.

          2. It’s clearly an RV. Unless parked in an official RV lot, or a campground, there’s a good chance the local gendarmes are going to come by about 3 AM and whack the sides with nightsticks. When you poke your head out to see what the hell is going on, they ask you to move on. “No sleeping here.” Short version: I’m not at all convinced it would ‘blend in in silly-con valley’.

          3. Gas mileage has to be horrendous.

          The truly big problem with this thing –if it is purchased as a live aboard–is the same as living on a boat. Where do you berth the damn thing long-term? Walmart parking lots? Campgrounds? RV parks?

          Nice conversion though. I like the looks.

          1. anon

            4. Where’s the RV bathroom, or at least a sink? Particularly for females, who have to squat and drop their drawers to their ankles to even pee, while local cops may be called upon to route out RV dwellers at whatever hour.

            5. What’s the mailing address of that RV; which one needs to RECEIVE VITAL MAIL, Vote™, get a Library card …

  5. bob

    “ChiGal writes: “I like to think musical spirits inhabit these trees up the Lelenau peninsula duneside of Lake Michigan (east coast). Never seen others like this, just these two, nor do I know what causes them to grow like this.””

    It looks like a scots pine.


    They are used as framing timber in Europe. Native to Northern Europe. Several people tried to introduce them in the US, but used bad seeds, according to an old forestry professor. Crooked trees. Too many twists and bends to be of use for framing lumber.

    The tree looks like it was “topped” a while ago and regrew from what was left of the trunk. I’ve seen others that this happened to, they look the same. Very hardy trees.

    1. paddlingwithoutboats

      Adding my 2 cents, it looks to me like the tree was victim of pine bore beetle, as trees that are rather solo can be hit when young and the beetle bores into the main shoot, lays egg(s). When they hatch and eat their way out, it stunts the shoot causing side shoots. Pines less elegant are all around, but often are obscured by other trees and their own needles. Very thick where little pines sprout in a pasture, field or other open space. Apparently easier for the beetle to find as opposed to where often needled trees live, in forests.

  6. Samuel Conner

    The “circle of life” comment re: the cat-idote reminded me of this bit from the “Humanure Handbook”:

    “I spent a few months in southern Mexico in the late 1970s in Quintana Roo on the Yucatan peninsula. There, toilets were
    not available; people simply used the sand dunes along the coast. No problem, though. One of the small, unkempt and ubiquitous Mexican dogs would wait nearby with watering mouth until you did your thing. Burying your excrement in that situation would have been an act of disrespect to the dog. No one wants sand in their food. ”


    Are you disrespecting the local dogs, Lambert?

    1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      Reminds me of being in Thailand on a short tour of the hill tribes and after an uncomfortable night in a village hut. On going outside to put the usual deposit in the bank-of-life, I was followed by the pigs. Armed with a stick I was able to ward them away from my ATM: as you can imagine, the whole experience was somewhat tense.

      I now realise what king D. must feel like at the morning levy.


    2. Jen

      I have no way to enforce this but my rule with feline offerings is intact only. They are indoor cats with ample prey to pursue, especially at this time of year. My older cat is considerate. She leaves an in tact carcass at the bottom of the stairs where I will see it but not step on it. The younger feline has on occasion left partially digested mouse bits on the stairs. The dog’s of course should clean up any leftovers but I won’t fault them for being selective.

  7. TomT

    Unconnected to any of today’s links but…
    I’ve been confused about the Reality Winner prosecution, and I thought this readership might be able to shed some light for me:
    I don’t understand why the #Resistance and MSM folks aren’t trying to present her as a hero/martyr/smoking gun in the Russia-Russia-Russia narrative. What exactly am I missing here? (I understand that the document she is accused of leaking alleges “meddling” and not collusion, but still — you’d think they would be all over this, and I’m just not seeing it.)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      First, the elites in this country aren’t particularly bright.

      Secondly, Trump destroyed rice bowls. This is about GOP sugar daddies going, “wait, what good are these troublesome strategists. What does Alex Castellanos bring to a campaign? David Gergen? Paul Ryan probably fancied being the Speaker to oppose HRC and run in 2020. It was probably his best shot at the White House. He’ll be long forgotten by 2024 when a window might open again. Despite universal condemnation of the DC class, Trump beat the Bush family, even down in South Carolina which the msm hailed as Bush country because of the whispering campaign against McCain in 2000, and the Clinton family while personally insulting John McCain along the way.

      Where is the youth of America? Going to a presentation by some old Jewish carpenter who has not once risen from the dead. HRC’s “call me your abuela” and “women who don’t support me are going to hell” isn’t working anymore. Lesser Obama’s aren’t gaining traction.

      At the same time, Team Blue and Team Red justify their existence by being less worse than the other. They can’t pivot to a centrist party because their whole support is based on not being each other.

      The lack of a revolutionary vanguard or young turks (similar to Gingrich’s takeover of the GOP after the weak congressional showing in 1984) has left them in enough positions to have power.

      What does this have to do with “Reality Winner”? Everything and nothing. She means nothing to these people. Her leaks are irrelevant. The people applauding HRC while she collected money from the Saudis could care less about Russia and probably can’t find it on a map. This is about numerous interests who had their primary selling point destroyed which was access to power, and they aren’t in line for the youth vote.

    2. Tom Doak

      The establishment does not like whistleblowers of any kind: corporate or government.

      I used to wonder why the previous administration, being so Liberal, was so hard on whistleblowers and leakers. But now that I see the cozy relationship between John Brennan and Obama and the #Resistance and the MSM, it is all perfectly clear that they are on one side, and inconvenient truths on the other.

      Come to think of it, maybe Al Gore picked the wrong name for his book!

      1. TomT

        The establishment does not like whistleblowers of any kind: corporate or government.

        I totally get that leaking would be seen as a rude violation of treasured establishment norms, but — given how desperate and crazed the #Resistance has shown itself to be — doesn’t it seem a little weird that these people haven’t tried to use this leak/prosecution to help them push their narrative?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The Pink Pussy Hat sheeple will follow wherever the #Resistance shepherds care to lead. If the #Resistance shepherds don’t see their interest being served by screaming “WinnerWinnerWinner!” . . . the Pink Pussy Hat sheeple are not going to be smart enough to start screaming it all on their own.

  8. RUKidding

    Eric Holder? Sigh. Ugh. Barf.

    No surprises that Eric [family blog] Holder doesn’t think his sugar daddies on Wall St and the Banks didn’t do any crime… it’s why they’re not doing the time. However, if you or I did something financially skeevy that blew up in our faces, well then, that’s a diff’rent matter entirely. One law for me ‘n my well-connected, well-heeled, overly generous buddies over here, and another law for you useless criminal hooligans over there. Nyah nyah.

    I stopped watching Maddow years and years ago. She had a brief early period of being rather a good talking head on the tee vee, but, as they say on The Wire (I’m only NOW watching season one & am a true convert), Maddow was “got” many years ago. Worthless, or rather, quite dangerous as is indicated by some “liberal woman” who is thrilled at the puke-making notion of Holder for POTUS 2020.

    As Lambert likes to opine: just kill me now!

    1. Pat

      I wonder how that liberal woman would feel if she found out how much time Holder spent on trying to screw up Medical Marijuana in places that weren’t going the manufactured route like NY. I remember screaming in 2009 and 10 when I kept checking the news to see there were multiple actions by the DOJ meant to shut down dispensaries, and meanwhile Jamie Dimon was back putting overpriced eateries on his expense account. And then there was the crackdown on Occupy which had his fingerprints all over it.

      Meanwhile Maddow was doing live video reports from America leaving Iraq…(hahahahahaha, yeah they actually covered that bull.)

      1. RUKidding

        Oh we all know all about that in California, where mj is now legal, whether for medical or recreational purposes (for better or worse). Holder and Obama kept threatening CA. The time and money and energy that ObamaCo wasted on going after medical mj and pushing against states that were legalizing it wholesale was disgusting, especially given the context of the butt-kissing to the likes of Jamie “presidential cufflinks” Dimon.

        And yes, the crackdown on Occupy which was swift and brutal and backed by many so-called “Democratic” Mayors, including the worthless Mayor KJ (Kevin Johnson) right here in Sacramento. KJ had high hopes of being on the fast track to higher political positions of power but lucky for ALL concerned that got derailed.

        Oh my D-voting friends love to turn blind eyes to such stuff (speaking as a former long time D, myself), but the same kind of stuff happens across the political spectrum. Team USA has turned tribalism and pom-pom waving for “your team” into a finely honed art/science/what have you.

      2. lambert strether

        I don’t think you mean “Maddow.” I think you mean “Rachel.” Do try to keep up.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Just in case any Mainstream Democrat operatives are reading this . . . . .

      Dear Mainstream Democrats,

      If you nominate Eric Holder to be your candidate for President in 2020, I will vote for Donald J. Trump. Just letting you know so you can factor that in.

  9. Wukchumni

    The time to become concerned about one’s catiphate is when they leave you beheaded gifts draped in smallish orange jumpsuits.

  10. Pat

    If I’m understanding the “gifts” correctly, the cat must think you need more to eat. Welcome to the Pride!

    Oh, and tell the cat they make that purple flower look good!

    1. fresno dan

      August 28, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      I’m thinking the cat thinks Lambert needs Unprocessed food. No sulfates, no preservatives, …no cooking.
      Features, and/or tails, I hear is a good form of roughage….

  11. fresno dan

    “The United States Has a National-Security Problem—and It’s Not What You Think” [The Nation]. “Over the past decade the proportion of people who exhausted their monthly paychecks just to pay for life’s ESSENTIALS actually increased from 31 percent to 38 percent. In 2013, 71 percent of the families that had children and used food pantries run by Feeding America, the largest private organization helping the hungry, included at least one person who had worked during the previous year. And in America’s big cities, chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless, sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families.” • Thanks, Obama!
    Among other things, Hickel and Kenny both agree that the widely used $1.90 a day standard for measuring poverty is woefully inadequate, noting that some analysts have pegged $7.40 a day as “the minimum necessary to achieve good nutrition and normal life expectancy” while others have called for setting a bar twice as high. If we were to adopt $7.40 a day as our global poverty standard, we’d be confronted by the fact that a shockingly high proportion of the global population falls below it: “The absolute number of people living under $1.90/day has declined significantly, while the number of people living under $7.40/day has risen — from 3.19 billion in 1981 to 4.16 billion in 2013.
    Notice a similarity? Full employment in the US! Global poverty decreasing!
    Except of course its all bullsh*t
    Makes me wonder if the exact same people who designed the US unemployment determination metric also designed the global poverty metric….NAH, sheer coincidence

    1. Wukchumni

      The Soviet leader would often be reelected by a 97% margin, which seems about as real as our 3% unemployment rate.

    2. Christopher Fay

      Hey, Mr Negativity fresno dan, why don’t you just turn that downer bullish*t into bullish?

  12. Anonymous

    Alt-right is a meaningless term used by the Democrats to label everyone in the range between people with questions about the most ludicrous and corrupt social equity policies (e.g. Open Borders) to outright admitted nazi’s. We are simply not allowed to question any policy of the left without being called racist or sexist, and possibly having one’s career and livelihood threatened.

  13. Wukchumni

    It’s hard enough being a Bills fan-as nope always springs eternal, but as of late, the video game mass murderer was a Bills fan, and here locally, another Bills fan was fingered for dealing drugs:


    For those of you playing @ home, I predict a 7-9 season and much caterwauling among the fan base, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

    1. danpaco

      I enjoy a Sunday afternoon Bills games via rabbit ears from just across the border. Always a great excuse for a nap.

      1. Wukchumni

        We were @ the Ralph about a decade ago hoisting barley sodas with Gulag Hockeypellagoans in the parking lot before yet another loss, and I asked why they were here @ a Bills game and not watching something from up over, and as if in unision they all practically shouted:

        Canadian Football Sucks!

    2. Christopher Fay

      I’m kneeling (for now) this season and not paying attention to the Massachusetts BBK show. I’ll be training for tv watching the Celtics.

    1. Darius

      The Crooked Tree, l’Arbre Croche, was a well-known landmark on the Michigan shore of Lake Michigan in pre-American settlement times. There were books written about it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would strongly recommend to Hillary not to campaign (not if, but when) by that tree.

  14. NoOneInParticular

    “On NYT ‘s homepage, the simpler, the better” —
    One Sunday in July I woke up, reached for my laptop, and opened up the NY Times homepage. It looked wildly different and for a moment I thought it was a brand new look, sans bylines, or maybe an international edition (do they still have that?) At the bottom of the page was a survey message about how the paper looked, so I took the survey and told them what I thought — I missed the bylines and the page, on that morning, was almost completely taken over by opinion (the right third) and pseudo-opinion (a top-left “news analysis” piece about Trump and Putin). The survey, as I recall, was poorly worded and laid out and at one point I mistakenly ticked a positive box and it wouldn’t let me go back and fix this. I noted this in every subsequent comment box. Later that day, I went to my other machine and opened the Times homepage and it was… the same old Times homepage, bylines in place as usual. Since then, my laptop has had the “new” look. So I guess they pushed the new look to some subscribers, making us pay to be guinea pigs (and feel, momentarily, gas-lighted). I miss the bylines but what really bothers me about their absence is that now the only names you see on the front web page of the NY Times are those of opinion writers and, weirdly, photographers whose names are still credited on front-page images (if you’re going to remove the reporters’ bylines why keep the photographers’?) So it’s clear to me that how the Times is branding itself is as a source of opinion, not information. Personality-based opinion, at that, since little headshots of the columnists appear next to their headlines. In the good old days of print, the opinion writers were safely tucked away at the back of the front section, where they belong and we could easily ignore them. They also shoot themselves in the foot with silly (destructive?) things like the list of most popular stories which, at the moment I write this, includes two stories about John McCain, one headlined “John McCain will no longer be treated for brain cancer” next to another headlined “John McCain, war hero… dies at 81.” Times change, and so does the Times, and not necessarily for the better.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the ink-on-newsprint paper edition of the times still has reporter by-lines for all the stories, and keeps the opinion pieces at the back of the news section, it could be that the NyTimes is trying to drive digital-edition readers back to the paper version by fecalizing the digital edition so thoroughly that readers just can’t stand it anymore and go back to the paper edition.

      1. ambrit

        The Times management might also be thinking that Digital readers scan and assimilate information in a different way than Print readers do. I’ll wager it has something to do with perceived attention spans.
        The “Most Anythinged Stories” category is pure push style propaganda. Seeing how most people only view the two or three most prominently displayed pieces in a reading session, at least on the digital media, if my suspicions are correct, this is the way to propagate a meme and ‘steer’ the public’s attitude about current events.
        Remember “Manufacturing Consent?”

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          That’s probably a more reality-based theory than my reverse-psychology-based theory.

      2. Procopius

        I only view material from the New York Fishwrap that is linked to from blogs that I follow. I would prefer not to even do that, but I’m usually careless about checking where a link is going to take me. Bezos Marketer, too. I actually end up reading more material from both than I intend to.

  15. Wukchumni

    “RGJ investigates: Nevada’s slot machine problems were much bigger than first thought” [Reno Gazette Journal]. “Officials said then that a spate of well-publicized slot machine problems — including glitches that left some candidates off of ballots or displayed the wrong slate of ballot choices — only affected a small handful of gamblers. But a Reno Gazette Journal review of public records found more than 300 reported slot machine malfunctions across the state. More than 100 were recorded in Washoe County alone.
    I changed a word here and there, to make it more state appropriate.

  16. clarky90

    re; “We’ve temporarily limited some of your account features”

    Sovietization of the Baltic states (1939-)

    “According to historian Robert Conquest, the selective deportations from the Baltic States represented the policy of “decapitation” of the nation by removing its political and social elite, “as was later, evidently, to be the motive for the Katyn massacre.”

    Naive Left-leaning USAians believe that the “un-personing” of Alex Jones, and his fellow travelers, protects them and the integrity of their “personal bubbles.”

    This assumption is false, false, false….

    All totalitarian regimes (1) identify, (2) isolate and then (3) murder (quick or slow death) every thought leader and their families; irrespective of their place on the social/political spectrum.

    If you are not a robotic member of the totalitarian regime, and you have any heart-felt opinions, and are any sort of community leader (PTA president, community organization member, blogger….)

    You are a threat and are killed or imprisoned.

    Look at the Red Terror of the late 1930’s. Stalin killed most of the Bolshevik “Heroes of the Revolution”, as well as anybody else “who stood out”, for any reason.

    I have reveled in the last 23 years, since I first found the internet. I have pursued my interests in health, diet, politics, history. So much wonderful minutia for me to wallow in!

    In the last few years Big Tech (Big Brother) is slowly, gently, “lovingly”, cutting us off from OUR river of un-censored information and opinions.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The recent shut-down of The Internet Archive Wayback Machine could be a part of this process you describe.

      If I had the drive and initiative ( which I don’t), I would be getting little hard drives and memory sticks and etc. and downloading onto them all the Best Of The Web and the Net which I know I would miss if it disappeared never to re-emerge.

      I would also get a both-sides-of-the-page desktop printer and feed it with acid free paper to last for several centuries and desktop print the very best of the very best to have it preserved for when all the chips are down and all the computers are dead.

      People might also want to figure out how to make small-scale micro-film and micro-fiche production centers so as to store as much information onto microfilm and microfiche.

      And of course, buy and hold relevant information-filled books. And support libraries which do more and better of the same. People who know me point and laugh at the few-couple thousand books I own. Don’t I know I can find all that on-line? Well, the death of Internet Archive Wayback Machine shows that I can’t. And as more and more digitally stored material is taken down, cancelled, erased, etc.; more and more people will come to see it.

      1. False Solace

        Sounds like Fahrenheit 451. In our world they don’t care about books, nobody reads books. But it’s very important to control mass media. So they destroy effective online memory.

        In the book there was an underground of guys memorizing Bible verses. Maybe my habit of saving bookmarks to political articles should change to saving offline copies of those pages. Seems like after five or so years it’s hit or miss if something online ever actually existed.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        The recent shut-down of The Internet Archive Wayback Machine

        I’m still traumatized by the death of geocities. Please provide a link.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well . . . its working now. There must have been some sort of technical difficulty somewhere which I automatically assumed was a shutdown-and-removal.

  17. Wukchumni

    An estimated 2,975 people died in the six months after Hurricane Maria as a result of the storm, with the elderly and impoverished most affected, according to a long-awaited independent study ordered by the U.S. territory’s government that was released Tuesday.

    The findings contrast sharply with the official death toll of 64, and are about double the government’s previous interim estimate of 1,400 deaths.


    This is atyical Soviet era lie (64 dead) that would’ve been laughed @ by the Russian populace, although they would have never been informed that the death toll was really almost 50x as much as stated by the authorities.

  18. diptherio

    Mastodon isn’t all roses, but at least you can figure out what’s going on when the stuff gets real:

    Catching up with the debate that has been happening around social.coop federation, and reflecting that as hard as it has been, at least there is a record of what happened. Most social media platforms provide no visibility into these important discussions.

    1. Webstir

      So what happened?
      I comment on my Mastodon experience below. In the short time I was there I did read an article about the admins of one instance completely banning interaction with another federated instance.

      Is this the hubbub of which you speak?

  19. DJG

    Saying that readers should choose their media diet based on individual reporters’ names seems antithetical to responsible news consumption

    Maybe I’m doing a drive-by, but who would even read an article like that? Having been force-fed Rebecca Solnit by Harper’s, I can assure you that names do matter. And yet there’s Seymour Hersh and Glenn Greenwald, who marshal facts and details to get somewhere, somehow near the truth. But why bother with Hersh and Greenwald when you can have some unattributed burblings of, who knows?, Judith Miller Redivivus to add digestibility to one’s approved media diet. Consumption, indeed. I guess that we are all filter feeders now.

  20. Webstir

    “Mastodon is looking better all the time.”

    I hadn’t been on any social media since around 2014. About a week ago I came across Mastodon and decided to give it a go due to it’s open source, advert free, federated nature.

    I wasn’t on there more than three days. When you get right down to it, it’s not the social networks. It’s the people. Just a bunch of rats punching the lever for their dopamine fix. People get the social networks they deserve. If a person chooses to structure their social network online, then they deserve to be preyed upon.

    Ffamily blogging] storm coming in 3 … 2 … 1.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I would say, rather, that people get the social networks they create. That’s what makes the current furor so suspiciously Orwellian, in that it strikes me as yet another case of Big Tech being used by Big Brother to save us from ourselves.

      As with anything else, social media can function well if the user takes the time to understand how it works, uses the mind the universe gave them to apply common sense, and remains skeptical of anything that sets off alarms. Yes, uncontrolled social media can be a zoo, but it can also be a place to discuss things sensibly with people you can’t set up a kaffeeklatsch with on short notice.

      Some people hate parties, some hate social media. That’s fine, and (as Mark Twain noted) is what makes for horse races. It makes no sense to me to blame the hammer because a lot of people who don’t know how to use it bang up their thumbs. Or decide to use it to break windows in other people’s houses.

      1. Webstir

        You can do that with a group msm, email, regular phone calls. Share photos a hundred different ways.
        It’s the dopamine. High-school all over again.

  21. MartyH

    “Composite Airframes” as an issue!!! Who are they kidding. They have been the gold standard for years! Somebody’s looking for a Standards-Writing gravy train.

  22. Wukchumni

    In the meeting, President Trump also warned the evangelical leaders that “you’re one election away from losing everything that you’ve got,” and opponents were “violent people” who would overturn these gains “violently.”


    Here’s somebody with absolutely no faith, pushing the evangs towards a civil war, so as to save his sorry arse.

    How much longer can this chimera ruse go on?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It is said that when the Bible was first printed in English, instead of Latin (or Greek), people began to question things (though it could still be obscure, even in English, or especially after one more translation).

      Can we expect the same when laws are written in plain English, so that we don’t need oracles to interpret them?

      1. Wukchumni

        One of the few things of worth that dogma provides, is the concept of a moral code in how one lives their life, adherents are taught right & wrong and how to act in public & private, along with the concept of being very narrow minded history majors for a brief glimpse of time a few thousand years ago, as far as the major cults go.

        Our ersatz leader has none of those qualities, a mountebank that cares for nobody but himself.

  23. Wukchumni

    We’re resuming military drills in SoKo, as it appears the great dealmaker’s potential Nobel peace medal is off the table now.

  24. Wukchumni

    Clovis Unified pays for the salaries and supplies of its police department, including firearms and ammunition, with money earmarked for the needs of low-income, foster youth and English Learner students.

    The district’s Local Control Accountability Plan includes approximately $1.5 million to fund school resource officers, with just over $741,000 of the allotted sum going toward the salaries of 16 Clovis Unified Police Department officers, according to the district’s budget. District spokeswoman Kelly Avants said on average, the district spends around $3,600 on firearms and $2,281 on ammunition every year.

    The Clovis Unified Police Department was formed in 1985, making the district one of 23 in California, out of almost 1,000 districts total, to have its own police agency. And although California law bans guns on school campuses in almost all cases, security personnel are an exception.


    Interesting in that Clovis (Fresno-adjacent) schools have had armed policemen on campus for over 30 years now.

    What a waste of $20 million that could’ve been used on the students instead…

    1. fresno dan

      August 28, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      So I drive by the junior high I went to when I go to my HICAP volunteer job. Fort Miller Junior High. And I noticed there is always a police care parked in front now. Never was when I was going to school.
      There is really something going on when society feels it needs armed police at JUNIOR high schools.

  25. Wukchumni

    Judge condemns ICE arrest inside courtroom, says judges should control courtroom, ‘not ICE’


    Hispanics are plenty terrified in the Central Valley, I keep noticing them driving a smidge slower than the speed limit, and can’t say as I blame them all that much. Meanwhile, their Caucasian employers that all voted for the reign of error, are taking it in the shorts thanks to all the tariff tantrums.

      1. Wukchumni

        According to Wiki, the next town over is 86% Hispanic, and yet the homes there fetch $200k or more, and most everybody there works in Ag, so how do the locals pull it off if they’re making next to nothing, as per your claim?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How many of the hispanic inhabitants of those houses own them as against renting them? What kind of agricultural work do they do? Are they legal citizens? Maybe even multi-generational born here? Millions of hispanics are, you know.

          Are the jobs they do the same jobs at the same pay as what the illegal aliens are paid a low wage to do? If yes, then we should know that. If no, then we should know that too.

          We should know all that stuff. Otherwise, how can we be sure you are not inviting us to compare apples and wax fruit?

          1. Wukchumni

            Woodlake has been an incorporated city for over 100 years and has a little under 8,000 people, and is 87.7% Hispanic, a bit more than I mentioned. There’s no way of knowing the makeup of whether they’re documented or not, and the city is surrounded on all sides by citrus, orchards of which extends for miles in every direction. These orchards are the primary employer for the area.

            A glimpse of who lives there:

            There were 1,777 households out of which 53.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.5% were married couples living together, 18.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 15.8% were non-families. 12.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.74 and the average family size was 4.02.

        2. Mark Pontin

          Wukchumoni wrote: ‘…the next town over is 86% Hispanic, and yet the homes there fetch $200k or more, and most everybody there works in Ag, so how do the locals pull it off if they’re making next to nothing, as per your claim?’

          Two ways that homes in Woodlake — and Stockton and Antioch — can still go on sale for $200K or more, and yet the rents may not be too insane for Ag workers : –

          [1] Just before the GFC arrived in 2008, such towns were touched by the Central Bay Area RE bubble’s expanding periphery and everybody got hyped about how Stockon, especially, would soon have residential values in the millions. There’s still a hangover from that: those that bought in then are still underwater and can’t take a loss. Others are simply hoping against hope that that bubble will somehow come round again.

          [2] I work as a musician in a big black Baptist church in Oakland on weekends. In my experience a fair number of folks there are precariously maintaining American bourgeois status (I mean no disrespect, it’s a challenge).Many of them have moved out to Stockton, Woodlake, Antioch, etc. both because the Central Bay Area became unaffordable and/or their parents or Auntie Mae and Uncle Albert left them a Berkeley or Oakland property that cost $6-$35K when the deceased bought it in the 1950s-60s but that’s now worth $2 million or more — so they cashed in.

          Some of these people bought second homes, which then went underwater and may or may not have resurfaced. Black Americans — except for the ones who’ve been driven crazy — are pretty realistic in my experience. If they’ve got Hispanic renters — and quite a few do — they’re realistic about what that market will bear, if the alternative is losing the place and taking the hit to their credit.

          Hence, for example, one old lady in my church owns a six bedroom McMansion in Stockton but rents it out to a Mexican family for $12-$15 hundred a month.

  26. BoulderMike

    Is it just me, or are there others who take umbrage with calling companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc. “Tech” companies. Showing my age here I know, but during my prime working years Tech companies were companies that developed software or hardware. For example, Oracle, Microsoft, EMC, Apache, Red Hat, etc.

    IMHO, Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc. are not Tech companies, but rather government sponsored data gathering and spying companies that use technology . Sure, they have departments that develop some in-house software, but that doesn’t make them Tech companies. I worked for Corporate Express, now Staples, at one time. We developed all of our software in-house, based on the Oracle Product Stack (Oracle DB, etc.) but we didn’t consider ourselves to be a Tech company. Rather we were a retail and wholesale seller of office supplies that, like just about any company on Earth, uses technology to go about our business. It bothers me that these privacy thieves masque themselves behind the sexy allure of “Tech” when they are anything but. Using technology is not the same thing as creating technology!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You make a good point, though I think Google’s search engine was a software developed by them (I assume).

      Still, the umbrage is the excessively dominant positions they occupy in their not-so-technology-like sectors.

      1. BoulderMike

        Mostly agree on Google. I think they sort of started as a quasi “Tech” company in that their software was designed to “serve” the Internet. However, over time I would say they have devolved into a surveillance company that uses in-house developed software and that their primary business is not software development, but rather privacy invasion through data gathering and the analytics they run against just about any website you visit.
        Regardless, I agree that Google is/was at least more of a “Tech” company than others like Amazon,Twitter, etc.

        1. Procopius

          I’m so old I remember when Yahoo! was the “best” search engine and Google had not been started. Heck, I’m so old I remember when there weren’t any search engines, there was a dead trees book called the Internet Yellow Pages printed once or twice a year (it’s so long ago I don’t even remember). In its early years Google was very definitely a tech company. I’m not sure it still should be called one. There was a time when a selling point for personal computers was that they were sold with several hundred URLs pre-installed in whatever browser came with them (most likely to be Netscape).

    2. Mark Pontin

      BoulderMike wrote:’ Is it just me, or are there others who take umbrage with calling companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc. “Tech” companies.’

      I feel you. I’ve worked as tech business journalist and I hate the ‘app economy,’ and particularly parasites like Uber. For that matter, Apple is a ridiculously overpriced appliance company and Facebook simply needs to die

      That said, it’s more complex than you think. There’s a whole lot of advanced infrastructure on the back end of some of these companies that you don’t see.

      Feel free to hate on Jeff Bezos, for instance — I won’t argue with you. Nevertheless, I had to cover Amazon’s cloud computing effort back in 2006 — Amazon was commercially firstest with the mostest there — and had my little mind blown by how they were then arguably the leading AI company on the planet, renting out supercomputer capability for $50, rather than the dinky little Internet book and retail outlet I’d pictured them as.

      Similarly, Google employs Peter Norvig who used to run AI at NASA Ames and who literally wrote the leading textbook on AI. The company also hired Geoff Hinton who’s the man behind Deep Learning and used Google to implement it. Yes, surveillance, but ….

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    About wondering why local election officials would reject the analog paper ballot solution . . . I have a hypothesis.

    I don’t know what percent of such people are civic-minded citizens who want the True and the Good. But probably at least some of them are. But since they are also small frogs in small ponds, they share the general public’s digital shock and awe at the wonders of computers, chips, internets, electronics and etc. They believe in modernism and progress, as most Americans at their modestly micro-successful social class level do. As such, they would regard adopting paper ballot voting hand-counted by humans as being a regression to medieval technology, like grinding corn with a horse tied to a pole walking around in circles.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I’ve always assumed it was in part because the voting overseers would have to ensure they had enough warm bodies to cover all stages of the process, which would likely require paying for same. Which is a non-starter when you’ve been screeching about cutting government expenses.

      The thing is, these days the most logical answer to just about any “Why?” is “follow the money.” Or unavailability thereof.

      1. Procopius

        In 2002, Congress passed an abomination called the Help America Vote Act. Ir requires all states to use electronic voting machines. The initial idea was to prevent a repeat of Bush v. Gore. It was rushed through and purposely badly drafted to favor a couple of connected vendors, I believe. In any case, it specified and required the states to buy badly flawed machines which we now understand were a terrible choice. It used to be the media would mention in their stories about how bad the machines are, that Congress mandated their use and the states cannot now change unless Congress allows it.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Now that you remind me of this, I remember a little bit about it. Yes, Congress legislatively forbade the use of handmarked Legal Paper Ballots Counted By Hand.
          Congress would have to be tortured and terrorised into repealing the Help America Vote Act before those states with pro-Legitimacy citizen-majorities could institute Legal Ballots Legally Counted.

          I vaguely remember reading that Steny Hoyer itself was personally invested in one of the favored digifraudulent machine-voting systems.

        2. Lynne

          And in my county, it forced the closure of a local polling place because we couldn’t afford that many machines. The county was forced to sign an adhesion contract that said, among other things, that we agreed the machine manufacturer would not guarantee accurate counts.

          There are many local officials who railed against it and still hate it

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    About whether Aramco might have some inventory issues they don’t want us to worry about . . some years ago “Peak Oil” was all the rage in some quarters, and part of the concern was around whether Saudi Arabia had a whole lot less oil than they were claiming. Articles and books were written about that.

    Here is one about the claimed-at-the-time slow depletion of their hugest oil field.

    An oil analyst named Matt Simmons, friend of the Bush family, wrote books and articles about this. He wrote a book called Twilight In The Desert, for instance.

    1. John k

      I have a copy.
      Said book thought their production would be vastly lower, and prices vastly higher, by now.
      Certainly they’re depleting, but when will production be constrained?
      Probably before we’re ready.

  29. The Rev Kev

    “Fact-Checking the Red Menace”

    I saw mention of the Congressional Black Caucus in this article which reminded me of something I saw a coupla days ago. In researching for a comment, I came across the motto for this group. You think it would be something like ‘Equality and Justice for black Americans’ or ‘With Liberty and Justice for all’ but no. Here is their actual motto-

    “Black people have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies … just permanent interests.”

    Get it? Everything is up for negotiation. There is no final goal. It is all about interests. Whose interest exactly? Why I am guessing the Black Caucus’s interests. With a motto like that I will state that you could vote out the entire, complete Congressional Black Caucus in the next elections and it would probably be an advancement for the rights of black Americans. Bah! Humbug!

  30. Wukchumni

    Bow hunter severely mauled by black bear in Riverside County

    I was just looking @ the history of fatal bear attacks in California, and nobody has been killed by one since 1870, and that was a Grizzly. Black bears here are oh so very mellow in comparison to other states and provinces, especially Canada which is a mecca for bruins committing humancide.


    1. Craig H.

      As a former child fan of Smokey and Yogi I can only say that the guy who shot the bear with an arrow deserved it. I didn’t read the article through to the end. Did they get a quote from the guy’s wife? That might be hilarious.

  31. Code Name D

    When John McCain ran for presdent, he was the greater evil, the latest incarnation of Hittler that must be stopped at all cost if we are to save America from a fashist tide.

    Today, the same people are telling me he was an American Hero.

    And they hve the gall to be befudeled as to how Trump won? Hell, 20 year from now, they will be singing his praises too.

  32. Jean

    “Earlier this month, the California legislature approved the creation of an Office of Elections Cybersecurity to be overseen by Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla.”

    The same Alex Padilla who disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of potential Bernie voters while part of the Hillary Clinton for President campaign?

    See “Uncounted” on Youtube for an analysis of the effects of his muddying the waters in the California Democratic primary.


    My thesis: The corporate banking Democrats would prefer to lose to Trump than win with Bernie.

  33. John Beech

    Composites and life limits of airframes? This is relatively straightforward. With aluminum, as with other metals, we can take a piece and subject it to repeated stress and strain cycles until it fails. For example, we know the design limit for a part, and in an aircraft we may say it’s good for 10,000 hours but we know empirically it’s still meets design specs after 100,000 hours.

    However, with composites we have a difference. They’re stronger and lighter but little things like voids can make a huge difference in strength. Testing is more difficult, also. Then there are issues with delamination (because ultimately, the composites are little different from a Corvette with a fiberglass body other than the fibers are made of carbon instead of spun glass, and the resins are epoxy versus polyester-based.

    Case in point, our Bonanza – the aircraft we fly for business use – was designed in 1947, and ours is an example manufactured in 1954. It has about 5000 hours on it and is for all intents and purposes as good as or better than brand new despite being more than 60 years old. Think that’s a lot? Not by any stretch. In our inventory of military aircraft are the Boeing B-52 bombers being flown in some instances by 3 generations of pilots from the same family. Think about that!

    Meanwhile, other aircraft get a life limit. For example, the Beechcraft Baron 58TC, built by the same company that built my Bonanza (and using many of the exact same components, e.g. wings) has a life limit of 10,000 hours. Others in the line are limited to 13,250 and 16,000 hours. Yet there are examples of Bonanzas like mine with more than 20,000 hours! And the other day I flew on a 737 with more than 30,000 hours!

    Anyway, in MN a civil aircraft of similar specifications to my Bonanza called a Cirrus (now owned by Chinese AVIC) is made of fiberglass – a composite. The oldest example in the fleet is about 20 years old (meaning it received its type certificate in 1998). How’s it holding up? Will it make it to 60 years, longer? We don’t know!

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