Links 9/3/18

Readers, we have now entered one of our two yearly comments holidays, beginning today and continuing through and including Sunday September 9.

Happy Labor Day!


‘A different time:’ 93-year-old female Harley rider says it was frowned upon when she started in 1941 Fox (The Rev Kev)

Fertility doc inseminated dozens of women with own sperm, DNA sites find Ars Technica (Chuck L)

The New Reading Environment n + 1

Super Typhoon Jebi Is Now the Planet’s Most Powerful Storm The Inertia (David L)

THE FUTURE OF FOOD: Scientists have found a fast and cheap way to edit your food’s DNA WaPo.  J T McPhee: No problem, mate!

This 16-year-old invented a robot that can help scientists keep trees and forests healthy Business Insider (David L)

The AI, machine learning, and data science conundrum: Who will manage the algorithms? ZDnet (David L)

Retail’s new niche: Aging baby boomers  The Oregonian (CM)

2018 Election

Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, and Ben Jealous Could Be the First Black Governors of Their States. Here’s How They Got This Far. The Intercept (furzy)

The Cuomo-Nixon Debate and the Definition of Politics The New Yorker

Dems vow rules overhaul to empower members if House flips The Hill

Ex-CIA officer running for Congress says GOP obtained her unredacted personnel file with sensitive information WaPo (UserFriendly)

Advocates Say Paper Ballots Are Safest Bloomberg. From early August but still germane.

Ethnicity not a factor in Elizabeth Warren’s rise in law  Boston Globe

Burn, Baby, Burn

California bill passes PG&E fire liability on to customers ABC Fresno (The Rev Kev)

Class Warfare

This city has a vision for mass transit that doesn’t involve city buses Ars Technica (Chuck L)

The Online Gig Economy’s ‘Race to the Bottom’ The Atlantic (David L)

Silicon Valley’s Jaron Lanier: Big tech needs to channel Netflix and ‘clear the trash out of the internet’ CNBC (furzy)

Why Technology Favors Tyranny The Atlantic (David L)

Uber takes another go at Germany’s tough ridesharing market Handelsblatt

Greece is done with the bailout. Young people say crisis not over Al Jazeera

Amazon’s pricing tactic is a trap for buyers and sellers alike FT (David L)

Wells Fargo fires employees over falsifying dinner receipts San Francisco Business Times (RS)

Guillotine Watch

Confessions of a superyacht stewardess CNN. J T McPhee: “What they do with all that money.”

Futuristic ‘moving grandstand’ proposed for horse track in New Mexico NBC (UserFriendly)

Obama readies fall campaign push, but some Dems say no thanks The Hill

Kill Me Now

Obama to urge rejection of ‘authoritarian politics and policies’ in speech The Hill (UserFriendly)

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is asking for statehood. Congress should listen. Vox

North Korea

Trump threw China under the bus and blamed it for derailing talks with North Korea — here’s why that doesn’t make any sense Business Insider (furzy)


Rethinking Belt-and-Road Debt Yale Global Online

China Protest Over Cash-Strapped City’s School Plan Turns Violent WSJ

Beijing set to pledge billions more for Africa despite concerns over Chinese lending SCMP


The Crisis That Created Putin Jacobin

Russia to stop flying U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station in April, increasing pressure on NASA Japan Times (The Rev Kev)


The Unseeables London Review of Books. Tariq Ali.

India sees an ancient textile, produced in colonial-era mills, as a fabric of the future LA Times

US Pharma Giant J&J Faces Heat in India Asia Sentinel

Indo-US 2+2 Dialogue a Chance to Address Specifics in Context of Larger Geo-Political Goals The Wire

Trump’s Rougher Edge Complicates Trip by Pompeo and Mattis to India NYT

Trump Transition

McCarthy leads GOP charge against Silicon Valley The Hill

‘We Would Be Opening the Heavens to War’ FAIR (UserFriendly)

A Summer of Megafires and Trump’s Non-Rules on Climate Change New Yorker

Tariff Tantrum

Ford Cancels Focus Crossover For U.S. Consumers After Trump’s Trade War Tariffs HuffPo (The Rev Kev)

John McCain & The Uniparty’s Funeral For Itself Alpha News (ScottTX). Today’s a day I really miss Alexander Cockburn, who ignored the de mortuis nil nisi bonum injunction, and could be relied on to produce an honest obituary for the likes of John McCain.


Antidote du Jour.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    Looks like I am first cab off the rank here. Working link for “Fertility doc inseminated dozens of women with own sperm, DNA sites find” story at

    You reckon that at the very least they would have charged the sob with fraud by lying to the women as to the source of the sperm. Maybe those kids could sue him for all the support payments that he never made as he was the actual father.

  2. Carolinian

    Re The Atlantic and Technology Favors Tyranny–the assumption of the article is that in a few decades machines will become so sophisticated that the elites will no longer need “useless eaters” because their material needs will be met by robots. It does not go so far as to suggest that the robots will no longer need the elites (the stuff of science fiction for sure). The chief example given is a Google AI chess player that taught itself to be a grand master in four hours.

    Maybe, but mastery of chess–a very rules based activity ideally suited to computers–doesn’t pose a very convincing example. And even if all this were to come true you wonder how happy those future rich people would be with no peasants to rule over and dominate. Being lord over a mechanical world could turn out to be a bit lonely. The one percenters of this dystopian future may decide that tyranny isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  3. Darius

    I’ve heard that Nassim Taleeb has said that things that have been around the longest are most likely to endure. I saw the headline from WaPo about GMO food and thought: Whiz bang. The only thing that would make this better is if Elon Musk were involved. Cutting edge food! Turns out it’s to facilitate more-efficient and more-fake processed food. I suppose GMO low-gluten wheat will become standard so I won’t be able to find high-gluten wheat to bake bread with.

    1. Octopii

      High gluten flour has given some of us (a rapidly increasing percentage of us, actually) a lifelong autoimmune condition. Just sayin.

      1. sd

        Raises hand. On MRIs, I have scarring similar to that found in MS. Gluten literally caused the nerve damage. And no, I don’t have Celiacs or MS.

  4. DorothyT

    The Unseeables London Review of Books. Tariq Ali.


    So much has been written (or produced by BBC TV) about India during British colonialism and its decline. This book, a family biography, captures the caste system then and vividly brings it forward to the years since Indian independence.

    Our Jim Crow laws get a mention in Tariq Ali review with a quote from a previous essay by Arundhati Roy:

    Each region of India has lovingly perfected its own unique version of caste-based cruelty, based on an unwritten code that is much worse than the Jim Crow laws.

  5. Edward E

    Forrester the robot keeps trees and forests healthy. Bring it up here, guys, we can fix it up to be a kudzu eradicating robot. We need that in the worst way! Tune it to cut the vines off trees and spray herbicides, cut stump methods and dig out the tuber crowns. Need a talented robot not to be buried by kuzu

    Kudzu (Pueraria montana) invasion doubles emissions of nitric oxide and increases ozone pollution | PNAS

    “A family in Abbeville was quoted not long ago about the kudzu problem they were experiencing around their home. They have kept some exact figures on just how fast a six-acre field of kudzu will grow. They say you start with one acre, 4840 square yards of area. In an old kudzu patch each square yard contains about six kudzu crowns or plants. Each plant has about 20 runners. That’s 120 runners per square yard. Each runner will grow about 18 inches in 24 hours. That comes out to 2,160 inches per square yard. For an acre of kudzu that would be 871,200 feet.

    You divide 871,200 by 5,280 (feet in a mile) and the answer is 165 miles per day per acre. If you multiply that by six, then you get 990 miles per day. Divide 990 by 24 hours and it shows a runner growth total of 41.25 miles per hour, 24 hours a day.”

  6. Alex

    Re Arlington shuttles, the money quote is “If every passenger paid full fare, then 24,000 passengers translates to $72,000 in revenue [in 6 months]. For comparison, Via is being paid around $900,000 to operate the 10-vehicle service for the first year”

    Still makes sense to do an experiment somewhere to assess feasibility. Still it would be pretty hard for them to earn money with these prices. Now “Passengers told me that most of their rides so far have been taken alone or with one other passenger.” Suppose for the sake of simplicity it’s just 1, and then they would need all the vans to be full all the time (6 paying passengers) to get revenue of 6*2*72 = $864k

  7. Lambert Strether

    Oops, we had a little technical isssue; comments were really supposed to be closed. And now they are. Sorry! We’ll have Water Cooler open threads starting tomorrow. Enjoy your holiday!

Comments are closed.