2:00PM Water Cooler 10/26/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“A group of influential WTO members say the global trading body needs urgent attention and will meet again in January to continue efforts. Plus, top officials at a U.S. business group are urging China to lay out a plan to spur a deal with Trump, while retailers urge Trump to find a long-term solution with China that’s not tariffs” [Politico]. “A group of 13 trade ministers left a daylong meeting in Ottawa on Thursday with one united message: The situation at the World Trade Organization is ‘no longer sustainable.’ Influential WTO members — including Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Japan — agreed to meet again in January as part of a continued effort to reform the global trading body. The leaders identified three areas ‘requiring urgent consideration’: the WTO’s dispute settlement system, approach to negotiations and monitoring of members’ transparency.”



“Sanders Makes a Strong Case Against the Saudis (and for Bernie 2020)” [New York Magazine]. “In recent weeks, the Vermont senator has weaved the Trump-Russia scandal — and the president’s broader affinity for foreign dictators — into a tale about the global struggle between the forces of democracy, and the “authoritarian axis.’….. Sanders [explained to the (blob-friendly) Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies earlier this month]d that the U.S. government could meet this challenge by, among other things, developing a foreign policy that prioritizes the promotion of labor rights, the elimination of tax havens, and a global reduction in arms spending.”

“We Must Stop Helping Saudi Arabia in Yemen” [Bernie Sanders, New York Times]. “The likely assassination of the Saudi critic and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi underscores how urgent it has become for the United States to redefine our relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to show that the Saudis do not have a blank check to continue violating human rights. One place we can start is by ending United States support for the war in Yemen…. Above and beyond the catastrophe that this war has created, there is the fact that American engagement there has not been authorized by Congress, and is therefore unconstitutional. Article I of the Constitution clearly states that it is Congress, not the president, that has the power to declare war. Over many years, Congress has allowed that power to ebb. That must change.”


10 days until Election Day. 10 days. That’s less than two weels, still is a long time in politics, as the “package devices” show. And Mr. Market.

“Man detained in Florida in mail-bomb case” [Associated Press]. “Law enforcement officers were seen on television examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, in the city of Plantation in the Miami area. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck. The stickers included images of American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear…. Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. But they were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.” • I’m including that last sentence as an interesting reminder that AP stories are often pastiches of earlier AP stories; an interesting production method.

“South Florida man arrested in connection with suspected explosive packages” [Miami Herald]. “A trail of DNA evidence on the packages or the devices helped investigators narrow a nationwide manhunt to Cesar Sayoc, a 56-year-old man from Aventura, law enforcement sources told the Miami Herald. Sayoc was being questioned by FBI agents with the Joint Terrorism Task Force following his arrest.”

“Cesar Sayoc Jr., Florida man, arrested in pipe bomb case; van with ‘right wing paraphernalia’ seized” [Boing Boing]. • With a good roundup of Tweets, including this one, said to be of Sayoc’s unusual van, in 2017:

The van today:

“Pipe bomb suspect arrested: what we know” [Vox]. “Sayoc has an an extensive criminal history, including an arrest for a past bomb threat in 2002, according to the Washington Post and the New York Times.”

Presser at 2:30:

UPDATE “Specifically, in terms of behavior, [this attack] has reflexively conditioned us to expect and immediately react to politically connected bomb threats. As a result, bomb threats are now far more likely to cause an evacuation and temporary shut-down of a targeted polling facility (during the midterm elections) than a week ago.” [John Robb]. • Now there’s a happy thought!

* * *

“House Midterm Outlook: Look for a Democratic Flip” [Stuart Rothenberg, Inside Elections]. “More important at this point of the election cycle, surveys in individual congressional districts show GOP-held suburban districts like Virginia’s 10th District (Barbara Comstock), Colorado’s 6th (Mike Coffman), New Jersey’s 11th (retiring Rodney Frelinghuysen’s open seat) and Kansas’ 3rd (Kevin Yoder) poised to flip…. A veteran Democrat I spoke with laughed at the prospect that Democrats were ever going to win 50 seats, insisting that 30 or 35 seats was always a more reasonable number. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales has projected Democratic gains of 25-35 seats, a “Category 1″ hurricane that would produce a wave that would cost Republicans the House but wouldn’t produce anything close to a 1994 or 2010 tsunami…. Although I have watched House campaigns and elections closely for almost four decades, I’m less confident I know how this cycle will end…. The focus remains primarily on suburban districts, college-educated whites, younger voters and minorities, not on rural and evangelical voters or whites without a college education. The House is still poised to flip party control.” • The key word being “poised.”

“Trump’s Numbers Improve, But GOP Problems Remain” [Cook Political Report]. “[O]ne interesting finding in that NBC/WSJ poll involved people who have a negative opinion of both parties. Recall that in 2016, the voters who disliked both Hillary Clinton and Trump broke at the end heavily toward Trump, arguably making the difference in the election. In this poll, among those who had a negative opinion of both parties in the August survey, they favored Democrats by 3 points, 42 to 39 percent. In September, those with negative views of both parties favored Democrats by 5 points, 43 to 38 percent. But in the latest survey, the Democratic margin soared to a 42-point margin, with 59 percent favoring a Democratic Congress and 17 percent favoring one controlled by Republicans. In both cases, those with a ‘pox on both your houses’ mentality broke toward the side that represented the most change. Two years ago it was Trump; this year, it’s Democrats.” • Change vs. more of the same!

“Midterm elections could have strangest result in decades” [New York Post]. “Democrats look poised to retake the House, but Republicans appear likely to retain control of the Senate on Nov. 6. That would be the first time since 1982 that a midterm election wave ended with such divergent results.”

“Redistricting Reform and the 2018 Elections” [Harvard Law Review Blog]. “No other country with single-member election districts like ours leaves the power to draw these districts in the hands of the most politically self-interested actors, the politicians whose power and seats will be affected. I have long argued this is an inherently pathological situation for a democracy and that we should move this power into the hands of independent commissions. But shifting to commissions cannot avoid the fact that substantive choices must still be made about how we ought to define fair maps and what criteria commissions, or any other redistricting body, ought to follow in order to design fair maps.” • This is a useful wrap-up.

GA: “NAACP Says Georgia Is Counting Democratic Votes as Republican” [Courthouse News]. “The Georgia NAACP complained to the Georgia Board of Elections on Tuesday that electronic voting machines in four counties switched votes for governor from Democrat Stacey Abrams to Republican Brian Kemp. The complaints are particularly notable because Kemp, as Georgia secretary of state, is in charge of voting…. Georgia is one of five states that use electronic voting machines that do not provide a paper trail backup.” • Great.

GA: “Georgia Dems say more than 4,700 voter applications are missing: report” [The Hill]. “Georgia Democratic officials claim that more than 4,700 applications to vote by mail are missing in DeKalb County, a progressive-leaning county of about 753,000 people…”

NV: “Democrats See Nevada As ‘The Model’ For A Blue Wave” [NPR]. “The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, calls Nevada ‘the model.’ ‘The Democratic party nationally needs to emulate what Nevada has been doing since the beginning of 2015, which is organizing early, organizing everywhere,’ he says. ‘Making sure we have a 12-month party where we are talking to people.'” • Not just talking to them, but expanding the base by registering them?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Imagine a world without facts” [Science]. “Facts are statements that have a very high probability of being verified whenever appropriate additional observations are made. Thus, facts can be reliably used as key components in interpreting other observations, in making predictions, and in building more complicated arguments…. Consider the present “post-fact” world in this context. The lack of acceptance and cynical or ignorant questioning of well-documented evidence erode the perception that many propositions are well-supported facts, weakening the foundation on which many discussions and policies rest. Under these circumstances, numerous alternatives appear to be equally plausible because the evidence supporting some of these alternatives has been discounted. This creates a world of ignorance where many possibilities seem equally likely, causing subsequent discussions to proceed without much foundation and with outcomes determined by considerations other than facts.” • And then there’s the replication crisis, money in medicine… which the following in the last paragraph seems to address: “We should acknowledge and accept responsibility for, but not exaggerate, challenges within the scientific enterprise.” Challenges…

Stats Watch

GDP, Q3 2018 (a): “Consumer spending is the driver that it should be, leading a solid third-quarter GDP report that, however, does raise some fundamental questions about the outlook for the economy” [Econoday]. “Business investment wasn’t the major star as it has been in prior quarters but still was in the plus column… Whatever tariff effects there are in the quarter, whether on metals or agriculture, they didn’t hold down imports which surged…. stimulus from government purchases is no surprise given the government’s massive $4.1 trillion in annual outlays…. inflation didn’t show much life… The real surprise in the report is the strength of consumer spending where the outlook, given the enormous level of demand for labor, looks very positive. Not positive, however, is the weakness in housing and also trade where the unfolding effects of tariffs and counter-tariffs are a major risk to future quarters. Uncertain in the outlook are inventories which may, however, continue to build given the underlying strength of consumer demand. But inventories, whose effects are abstract, added disproportionately to the quarter’s results, without which GDP would have come in no better than 1.4 percent.” And but: “Over 2% of this 3.5% growth number is attributable to inventory growth (materials manufactured but not yet sold). I consider this a very weak report” [Econintersect]. “I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed moderate acceleration from last quarter.”

Consumer Sentiment, October 2018 (final): Edged lower [Econoday]. “Despite the downtick in current conditions and the uptick in near-term inflation expectations, today’s results are strongly positive and fit in with the strength of the consumer.” And: “Final October 2018 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Down Slightly” [Econintersect]. “The final University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment for October came in at 98.6, down from the October preliminary of 99.0 and down from the September final of 100.1.”

Shipping: “Perpetual pilot purgatory” [Logistics Management]. Pilot programs, not airline pilots. “[A]n important part of the discussion involving robotics solutions providers, two executives from DHL and Target and a variety of consultants and systems integrators is that right now there’s too much hype and marketing around robotics in our space (mea culpa, perhaps) and not enough real-life examples and data around what works and more importantly, what doesn’t work. We’re all trying to answer those questions, and the brave customers who have been early adopters are playing it close to the vest. The result: Perpetual pilot purgatory.”

Shipping: “United Parcel Service Inc. is investing heavily in shipping capacity for a busy holiday season and expects shippers to help pay the bill. The delivery giant has been raising prices this year…, to back an effort that brings seven times more processing and sorting capacity this year than the company had had in 2017. UPS will need the new infrastructure: The company expects to deliver 800 million packages in the U.S. between Thanksgiving and Christmas, up from 750 million last year” [Wall Street Journal].

Transportation: “[Boeing] says its supply chain is returning to ‘a healthy condition,’… as new orders push the manufacturer’s backlog to 5,800 commercial aircraft. Boeing now expects to bring in as much as $100 billion in revenue this year, up $1 billion from a previous forecast, and says its plane deliveries remain on track” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company has wrestled with a supplier bottleneck for 737s, and unfinished versions of the single-aisle plane have stacked up at a factory outside Seattle. The big demand is coming from vibrant passenger-airline demand—global passenger traffic was up 6.8% in the first eight months of this year. But Boeing is also predicting strong demand for freighters, pushed largely by e-commerce growth.”

Transportation: “UPDATE 2-Rolls-Royce hit by delay to engine for new Airbus jet” [CNBC]. “British aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce said on Friday it would deliver fewer Trent 7000 engines this year than initially expected due to production problems, hitting both its shares and those of major customer Airbus…. Rolls-Royce has also been grappling with problems affecting blades on its Trent 1000 engines for more than two years, and last month said it was still managing durability issues within its fleet and was replacing affected parts.”

Transportation: “​Thai frets about reputational damage from grounded 787s” [FlightGlobal]. “Four of the carrier’s eight 787-8s are ground awaiting spare parts for their Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines… Issues with the both intermediate-pressure turbine and IP compressor blades in the Trent 1000 have been an problem with both Thai and other operaters throughout the world, periodically grounding portions of the world’s Trent-powered 787 fleet.”

The Bezzle: “Why almost everyone was wrong about Tesla’s cash flow situation” [Ars Technica]. “Each time Tesla has begun work on a new vehicle, cash flow has turned sharply negative as Tesla spent heavily to design the vehicle and build up its manufacturing capacity. Around the time each vehicle starts coming off the assembly line, the negative free cash flow hits a peak. Then a few quarters later, as the factory gets close to capacity, free cash flow turns positive. Tesla achieved positive cash flow in late 2013, mid-2016, and now in mid-2018. And the company experienced profits, however small, during each of these time periods as well…. Tesla is in no danger of going bankrupt. With $3 billion in the bank and a growing cash cushion, Tesla won’t need to raise any cash to pay off the big $920 million loan that’s coming due next March.” • Readers?

Honey for the Bears: “ECRI’s WLI Growth Rate Index Returns To the Dark Side” [Econintersect]. “The current [Economic Cycle Research Institute] forecast continues to be for insignificant growth (or lack thereof) six months from today.”

Mr. Market: “Wall Street resumes selloff; S&P flirts with correction” [Street Insider]. ” U.S. stocks resumed their selloff on Friday, with the S&P poised to join the Nasdaq in correction territory, sparked by grim earnings reports from Alphabet and Amazon that eclipsed data showing the U.S. economy continued to grow at a healthy clip…. While the U.S. economy continues to grow, despite trade wars, the same cannot be said of U.S. corporate profit growth, with a slew of disappointing forecasts this earnings season showing how tariffs, rising wages and borrowing costs, as well as jitters over geopolitical events are hitting companies.”

Our Famously Free Press

“When YouTube went down for an hour, publishers’ traffic increased” [Nieman Lab]. “A one-hour YouTube outage on October 16 at around 9 p.m. ET resulted in a 20 percent net increase in traffic to client publishers’ sites, Chartbeat found… That increase was roughly evenly split between general articles on the publishers’ sites, and articles specifically about the YouTube outage.

“What happens when Facebook goes down? People read the news” [Nieman Lab]. “Direct traffic to publishers’ websites increased 11 percent, while traffic to publishers’ mobile apps soared 22 percent.”

“Apple’s Radical Approach to News: Humans Over Machines” [New York Times]. “In a quiet corner of the third floor, Apple is building a newsroom of sorts. About a dozen former journalists have filled a few nondescript offices to do what many other tech companies have for years left to software: selecting the news that tens of millions of people will read…. ‘We put so much care and thought into our curation,’ said Ms. Kern, 43, a former executive editor of New York Magazine. ‘It’s seen by a lot of people and we take that responsibility really seriously.'” • Curation is good, but what about the creators?


“The Hope at the Heart of the Apocalyptic Climate Change Report” [Foreign Policy]. “The IPCC says we need to cut emissions to net zero by the middle of the century. But during that very same period, the global economy is set to nearly triple in size. That means three times more production and consumption than we are already doing each year. It would be hard enough to decarbonize the existing global economy in such a short timespan. It’s virtually impossible to do it three times over. If we carry on with growth as usual, then cutting emissions in half by 2030 would require that we decarbonize the economy at a rate of 11 percent per year. For perspective, that’s more than five times faster than the historic rate of decarbonization and about three times faster than what scientists project is possible even under highly optimistic conditions…. The plan the IPCC has in mind is called BECCS, which stands for “bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.” The idea is to grow massive plantations around the world to absorb carbon dioxide, turn those crops into biofuel, burn it in power stations, capture the carbon dioxide that’s emitted from the smokestacks, and store it deep under the ground. Voila: negative emissions.” • Biofuels don’t have a good track record, IIRC. Readers?

Class Warfare

“Arkansas Federal Judge Rules Sleeper Berth Time Is ‘Time-Worked'” [Transport Topics]. “A federal district judge in Arkansas has ruled that a legal class of nearly 3,000 truck drivers is entitled to compensation for time in the sleeper berth even though the drivers were signed out as off-duty.”

“”Stress Hormone” Cortisol Linked to Early Toll on Thinking Ability” [Scientific American]. “The study of more than 2,000 people, most of them in their 40s, found those with the highest levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol performed worse on tests of memory, organization, visual perception and attention. Higher cortisol levels, measured in subjects’ blood, were also found to be associated with physical changes in the brain that are often seen as precursors to Alzheimer’s disease… The link between high cortisol levels and low performance was particularly strong for women… Rockefeller University’s McEwen says other research suggests it is never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle by taking steps like reducing stress, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, getting enough good-quality sleep and finding meaning in one’s life.” • Hard to eat healthier if you’re in a food desert, for example…

“Most Americans say their finances have not improved since the 2016 election” [MarketWatch]. “Only 38% of Americans say their finances have improved since the 2016 election, according to a study released Thursday by finance website Bankrate, while 17% say they have gotten worse, and 45% say they are about the same…. Meanwhile, the gap between the rich and everyone else appears to be growing. The average wage for the top earners in the U.S. hit $719,000 per year in 2017, up 3.7% on the year, exceeding their peak of $716,000 per year just before the Great Recession… When inflation is taken into account, middle-class wages have remained stagnant, Divya Sangam, spokeswoman at personal-finance site Value Penguin, wrote in an email. ‘Given the market growth, consumers would expect to be earning more money, but it’s not really happening,’ she said. ‘Instead, Americans are facing ballooning student-loan debt and credit-card debt.'” • Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

News of the Wired

“A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley” [New York Times]. “‘Doing no screen time is almost easier than doing a little,’ said Kristin Stecher, a former social computing researcher married to a Facebook engineer. ‘If my kids do get it at all, they just want it more.’ Ms. Stecher, 37, and her husband, Rushabh Doshi, researched screen time and came to a simple conclusion: they wanted almost none of it in their house. Their daughters, ages 5 and 3, have no screen time ‘budget,’ no regular hours they are allowed to be on screens…. [I]n the last year, a fleet of high-profile Silicon Valley defectors have been sounding alarms in increasingly dire terms about what these gadgets do to the human brain. Suddenly rank-and-file Silicon Valley workers are obsessed. No-tech homes are cropping up across the region. Nannies are being asked to sign no-phone contracts.”

“How working memory gets you through the day” [MIT Technology Review]. “[W]orking memory gets us through each day by allowing us, for example, to follow the receptionist’s directions to find the doctor’s office, or to sort through the costs and benefits of one set of tires versus another at the dealership. It’s also profoundly debilitating when it is diminished by disorders such as schizophrenia or autism. [But] “what’s special about working memory is that it is volitional,” says [MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller]. ‘It is the main mechanism by which your brain wrests control from the environment and puts it under its own control. Any simple creature can just react to the environment. But what higher order animals have evolved is the ability to take control over their own thoughts.’… the temporary storage of that sensory information is achieved by how the interplay of these rhythmic waves changes the weight of connections among the neurons, called synapses… The evidence, and the model itself, challenges at least two classically held beliefs among neuroscientists. One is that brainwaves are merely byproducts of neural activity and don’t have functional meaning. The other is that working memory is maintained by a persistent hum of neural firing, rather than short, coordinated bursts.” • Fascinating article, though I’m a little dubious about capitalism coming to an understanding of brain function.

“A decade of data reveals that heavy multitaskers have reduced memory, Stanford psychologist says” (interview) [Stanford News]. From the summary: “People who frequently use many types of media at once, or heavy media multitaskers, performed significantly worse on simple memory tasks.” The interview, of psychology Professor Anthony Wagner, is bit more nuanced. Wagner: I would never tell anyone that the data unambiguously show that media multitasking causes a change in attention and memory. That would be premature. It’s too early to definitively determine cause and effect. One could choose to be cautious, however. … We know there are costs of task switching. So that might be an argument to do less media multitasking – at least when working on a project that matters academically or professionally. If you’re multitasking while doing something significant, like an academic paper or work project, you’ll be slower to complete it and you might be less successful.”

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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 (AA):

AA writes: “Here are a few plantish pictures from a trip to Old Blighty last March. Maybe they can rev up the canal traffic after all the car makers leave the country. This is Kidlington Green lock, Oxford canal.”

This makes me think of a Constable painting (though I think if it were, there would be a red accent somewhere).

* * *

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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

    Read that the perp claims to be Native American and has 1024 stickers, but is not related to Elizabeth.

        1. todde

          van der Lubbe confessed.

          the Germans claimed he was part of a conspiracy led by prominent Communist…

          if Trump invades Poland…

          1. ambrit

            I think that we already have troops in Poland. What if the Russians demand their half of the country?

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’ve seen vehicles like that in Tucson. And I’ve been tempted to say, “Dude, what IS your point?”

      I feel the same way about those cars that are plastered with bumper stickers for every left-wing cause imaginable. Too many slogans in too little space.

      1. polecat

        This whole series of incidents seems rather off to me — too cut-n-dried for my liking .. too picture perfect, especially all those un-floridasunfaded stickers/decals ..

        1) RW nutjob
        2) LW nutjob
        3) IC psyopterative
        4) Patsy

        Pick one .. or several

    2. Roger Smith

      What is the official account of these packages? The story seems to spin around the ideas that these were hand delivered, mailed, or found by USPS. The pictures I saw that I believe were CNN’s photos of their package had no postal service markings on the envelope over the stamps or their code stickers, etc…

      1. Wukchumni

        You know the rigamarole you go through when sending a package through the post office, as the clerk asks you: “is there anything hazardous, flammable, etc?”. You can’t just drop packages in the mail box @ the p.o. (have you noticed how few post office boxes are on the street these days, I think they all got raptured) as any package that hasn’t passed the ‘test’ would be rejected toot suite.

        The idea that the stamps weren’t cancelled, means the goods never went through USPS.

        Ever gotten a stamped letter that wasn’t cancelled?

        Yeah, me neither.

        1. Peter VE

          You can drop a package in the Blue box if it’s less than 13 oz., and has the proper postage. Those packages didn’t have the proper postage. They could have been delivered Postage Due, but not hearing anything about that yet.

        2. NoOneInParticular

          There are self-serve drop boxes for packages in post offices, at least here in NYC. And uncancelled letters get through by the bazillion, or at least used to. People who worked at businesses that received large amounts of mail from the public would grab piles of uncancelled envelopes and steam off the stamps and take them home. A fine fringe benefit.

      2. Peter VE

        When I tried to figure out the cost of shipping a similar package on the Postal Service Website, the postage for a first class package less than 4 oz. is $3.50. The stamps shown on all the packages total $3.00, which would mean the Postal Service delivered the bombs with postage due.

    3. Code Name D

      Odd, now that the suspect is a white conservative, the bombs were suddenly found “not intended to explode.” Would a different conclusion be reached if he was Muslim?

      1. David May

        That’s not the conclusion of the article:

        Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. But they were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.”

        If anything, they are leaving the door open to attempted murder charges.

      1. ambrit

        Oh for the days of the IWW and the “Anarchist Threat.” (I do know that the IWW still lurks in the shadow lands of “Exceptional America.”)
        Trumps pronunciamento about the “Bomb Scare of 2018” reinforces the unipolar nature of the American Mainstream political parties.
        Here, you try to unionize a WalMart and the company closes that outlet.
        I’d like to put up an ad on Reddit or where-ever saying: “Wanted! Looters for upcoming protest march. Must supply own identity protection gear and emporium access hardware.”

          1. ambrit

            I know, but it’s not like the glory days when the IWW sent an armed unit down to Mexico to help in the Mexican Revolution.

  2. jo6pac

    Wolfstreet on Tesla.


    The most pro Tesla site ever

    That’s less than two weels, still is a long time in politics, as the “package devices” show.

    That’s less than two weal’s, still is a long time in politics, as the “package devices” show.

    More on elon musk.

    1. boz

      Yes, read Wolf’s article and the comments. I was going to post that link as well.

      A couple of things to consider:
      – how has the recent turnover of senior finance executives affected their (and their department’s) ability to stand up to an autocratic CEO?
      – the jump (as opposed to gradual progression from negative to positive) suggests these result are have a one-off driver underlying. Look at previous positive quarters – what preceded and followed?
      – the track record of the company (ie EM included) in respect of investor announcements is not spotless.

      I thought quarterly results were audited, or is it just annual?

      We should be careful about alleging fraud. But by all means remain sceptical.

  3. Lee

    The Bezzle: “Why almost everyone was wrong about Tesla’s cash flow situation” [Ars Technica]

    And that ain’t all that’s wrong at Tesla.

    Tesla, U.S. Auto Makers Fall in Consumer Reports’ Latest Ratings

    DETROIT—Electric car maker Tesla Inc. tumbled in Consumer Reports’ latest reliability rankings, along with several other domestic brands, as the U.S. auto makers rush to roll out new technologies that have made their vehicles more glitch-prone than rivals.

    Tesla slid six spots, landing it third from the bottom of 29 brands this year, in the magazine’s closely watched new-car reliability survey.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In a truly egalitarian world, you would carry your car on your back as often as your car carries you on its back.

      “You burden my back and I will burden yours.”

      And the same between you and your cat.

      “I will humor you as long as you also humor me.”

  4. clarky90

    Re “The lack of acceptance and cynical or ignorant questioning of well-documented evidence erode the perception that many propositions are well-supported facts, weakening the foundation on which many discussions and policies rest.”

    This statement sounds reassuringly true, but it is not. “Well-documented evidence” has been commodified and can be bought on the open market for the right price.

    For instance;
    The Corruption of Evidence Based Medicine
    by Dr Jason Fung

    “Richard Horton, editor in chief of The Lancet said this in 2015

    “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue”

    Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of NEJM wrote in 2009 that,

    “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor”

    This has huge implications. Evidence based medicine is completely worthless if the evidence base is false or corrupted.”


    From my experience; I do the opposite of so called, “evidence” for my diet and have never done so well. I eat a ketogenic diet. It is a high saturated fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate, ancestral POV. My numbers are fine, my BMI is good and I am medication free. I am an old man.

    The problem is, of course, The Economy! How can crap-food-money, and crap-health-care-money be extracted from healthy people?

    The simple answer. With much difficulty. It is like pulling teeth

  5. Lee

    “A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley” [New York Times]

    …. [I]n the last year, a fleet of high-profile Silicon Valley defectors have been sounding alarms in increasingly dire terms about what these gadgets do to the human brain. Suddenly rank-and-file Silicon Valley workers are obsessed. No-tech homes are cropping up across the region.

    We know we’re in trouble when the chefs won’t eat their own cooking.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The Culligan Corp., water treaters at scale, was HQ’d in the town I grew up in back in the ‘60s, and was growing pretty fast back then. My dad was an Ad Man for the Wrigley corp, which is now just a brand of some bigger fish. He was offered a job with Culligan doing advertising and promotion, with a bigger salary. But he followed his father’s advice to stay with a company that had weathered the Depression — even in the ‘30s, people usually had a nickel for a 5-stick pack of Juicy Fruit or Spearmint gum (which back then was made from natural chicle collected by forest natives in central and South America, renewable and all, and is now made of petroleum based “gum substitute.”)

        Many of his acquaintances in the ad and marketing line took jobs with Culligan. With the job came a requirement to install and use a whole-house ion-exchange water treatment system. This removes calcium, sulfur and other minerals via an ion exchange process that results in increased sodium in the product water. Many of them also died young of cardiac issues, likely hypertension-related or -aggravated, more than seemed logical for the population. Much debate over sodium’s role in hypertension and heart disease, but who knows what besides sodium comes with the salt that ‘softens’ the water, and stuff released from the ion-exchange resins?

        Dad lived to 83. But who knows?

        1. polecat

          Whenever I was exposed to ‘softwater’ .. such as in showering, I felt that I could never rinse all the soap off my skin !
          Hard water for me.

          Re. ‘Screens’ .. I think I’m going blind trying to read these device displays .. too much eye strain. I prefer a genuine printed page over a digital one, anytime anyday !

    1. ArcadiaMommy

      I 100% agree with no screen time at all being easier to manage than limited amounts of screen time. “You can have 60 minutes of screen time per day” just results in nagging and carrying on EVERY day, plus the time spent having to monitor the time, secure the iPhones/iPads/laptops, teach daddy how to use the password on the TV, etc.

      The bad news is that quite a few assignments are internet-based, even in elementary school.

      Attitude and demeanor are also much improved when screen time is limited or goes away. Not sure if this is because of something with the devices or if running around/doing sports/playing with friends/reading/doing something creative soothes the little monkeys.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I suppose that this is no different to people that worked in the tobacco industry fifty years not only refusing to smoke themselves but coming down hard on their kids never to smoke. You note that those articles talk about making sure that their kids never get wrecked by screen time but there are no corresponding articles about how Silicon Valley is trying to do the same for everybody’s children. Or did I miss those articles?

  6. clarky90

    Re; ”Stress Hormone” Cortisol Linked to Early Toll on Thinking Ability”

    I wear blue-blocking sunglasses whenever I am in front of the computer (right this moment!) or watching the big screen. Blue-blockers are glasses with yellow, orange, amber or rose colored lenses. These are the colors of the sunset. Wind down, relax, go to sleep.

    The blue light from LEDs releases cortisol

    Try it and see

    1. JCC

      I do the same, plus most linux and all new OSX systems now have a “night” setting that attempts to filter out most blue light from LED screens. I think it works, or at least it seems to work well for me.

  7. Synoia

    The idea is to grow massive plantations around the world to absorb carbon dioxide, turn those crops into biofuel, burn it in power stations, capture the carbon dioxide that’s emitted from the smokestacks, and store it deep under the ground. Voila: negative emissions.” • Biofuels don’t have a good track record, IIRC. Readers?

    Makes a very big assumption about fresh water and steady, predictable rainfall for the Ag.

    Dear IPPC Panel: Please list the sites where this is possible. Do not forget farming Tropical forests creates deserts.

    The Sahel/Sahara is large and empty, and I’ve read there are reforestation projects there which are showing success – Must pen all the Goats.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Just curious, but why does every discussion of carbon-capture end with “and bury it in the ground”? In this wonderful world where entrepreneurs are the saviors of the future, is there no one who can come up with a way to use that carbon for something? Because doesn’t burying it in the ground just leave a time bomb for future generations, like the ones where all that waste from the nuclear power plants is buried?

      Is that one of the other symptoms of rampant capitalism—an inability to consider putting one’s trash and garbage to some useful purpose?

      1. Utah

        The goal of putting carbon in the ground is because fossil fuels came from the ground. During an event that happened millions of years ago, a bunch of living things got covered up by soil and decomposed, taking carbon out of the cycle, essentially. We’re putting it back into the atmosphere. Carbon burial doesn’t work yet, but the logic is there. I don’t know why we don’t cut out the middle man and just grow a bunch of stuff and then bury it, though. We all know big oil isn’t going to do their part.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I would favor a plan that might convert CO2 into sugars. Then I could add yeast to make ethanol and more CO2 … but I could spread a lot more happiness into the world.

        Besides– the Muses seem to favor those less than sober. May that a ‘fish’ might find inspiration and through experiment or deeper thought and study a useful addition [or even an intrinsically valuable addition] to the Wisdom of humankind.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Where else would keep it out of the atmosphere – and the oceans, which it is acidifying? Plus, as Utah says, that’s where it came from.

        There are really two different approaches. One is deep burial, in rock. That could be in deep wells, incorporated in basalt (doesn’t this happen anyway?), or better yet, in subduction zones. The plan is that it stays down there for a long, long time. You’re right that putting it all in place, or too few places, would create a potential time bomb. That’s already happening; volcanoes, for instance, are major sources, one of the ways subducted carbon “burps” back up. That’s why “all of the above,” in as many places as possible, is the most viable option.

        Then there is soil and plant storage, which is relatively short term. It’s the biggest, cheapest payoff, but it has to be a long-term plan, a new normal, so the cycle continues to sequester carbon. A big advantage is that it’s a win-win, improving soil fertility and, frequently, local climate, so the net cost should be less than zero. But it’s hard – you have to get millions of farmers or land managers to change their ways.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          You have to get billions of food consumers to be willing to pay more for food produced by those carbon capture ways so that those millions of farmers or land managers can afford to change their ways.

          Or, just limiting it to America, you have to get about 300 million food consumers to be willing to pay more for carbon-capture food in order to pay the several hundred thousand farmers or land managers of America to adopt carbon-capture ways.

          1. tegnost

            getting the organicos to buy something that has a slight mar on the skin would be a start….though there’s always apple sauce and cider, but a jobs guarantee would never work, what would they do?

          2. Oregoncharles

            Growing with cover crops is not more expensive; and since it increases fertility and drought resistance, it has significant returns for the farmer. OTOH, it requires more care and thought; and more important, it does nothing for the chemical companies.

            The real problem is getting set-in-their-ways, conservative farmer to change the way they operate.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              That’s a harder problem. Especially if the farmers in question are conservative enough that they would rather go bankrupt and lose their land to show their loyalty to the chemical companies than to switch over to Gabe Brown’s methods.

              ( Sigh . . . ) Maybe its like with science. Funeral by funeral, agriculture makes progress.

        2. tegnost

          you have to get millions of farmers or land managers to change their ways.
          just think of the potential. Food forests seem to have disappeared from the discussion, certainly in part because the time frame is generational and iphones can’t cope with that/s . Still, accepting the trend towards the decentralized fragmented groupings may have some upside, small groups of five acre farmers could really do some damage, especially in your neighborhood

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            A perma-farmer named Mark Shephard talks about a version of exactly this. He speaks of Food Savanahs, including the Food Savanah that he is modeling his farm into. He has compressed his usually-longer talks into a 30 minute talk.

            Somewhere in the presentation, he exACTly addresses the issue of how to get or help many small farmers to pool their efforts and their product into a very big selling entity which can address the “marketplace” from a position of equal force and power. Imagine a thousand Food Savanah farmers of one hundred acres apiece. That would be a hundred thousand acres of Food Savanah production. If each Food Savanah farmer could be considered artisanal, getting a thousand of them to co-ordinate their production and marketing-selling into one action force battering ram would be to scale the artisanal up to the artisandustrial.

            At only 30 minutes long, the video is worth watching even at the risk of dissatisfaction.
            But I don’t think the video will dissatisfy. Here is the link.

      4. The Rev Kev

        To think that one day after we are all gone, our bodies buried deep underground may undergo their own transformation into oil based materials. Then, when humans are gone and the next dominant intelligent species takes over the earth, we all of us may end up rattling around the fuel tank of some futuristic car.

      5. Grebo

        CO_2 is a low energy endpoint. Converting it into something stable and preferably solid takes either a lot of energy up front or a little energy over a long time. Burying it in now empty gasfields seems a fairly safe thing to do with it as they have held gas securely for millions of years. In the right kind of rock it can react naturally and combine with it chemically.
        There are a few schemes for converting it with solar power or waste energy but they will only ever be a drop in the bucket.

  8. Lee

    If you’re multitasking while doing something significant, like an academic paper or work project, you’ll be slower to complete it and you might be less successful.”

    If you’re multitasking while pounding a nail, you may mash your thumb; if while performing surgery, you may kill you patient; if while driving…..

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Be realistic. What is more important … your patient on the table … or the bottom line of your portfolio? A simple gall-bladder extraction will pay off the Winnebago!

  9. bun

    We should acknowledge and accept responsibility for, but not exaggerate, challenges within the scientific enterprise

    At the risk of repeating myself, but pharma and medicine in general, and psychology are not equivalent to ‘science’. The vast majority of the “scientific enterprise” is not in crisis over ‘replicability’ or ‘money in’ science. As a physicist, this equating of medicine, psychology, and let’s throw in economics, with science drives me up the wall. Much medical and economics research is thoroughly polluted by money, and IMHO in many cases are disqualified as science (well, economics is not a science at all, but is perceived as such by some). Psychology is really really hard, as it deals with the most complex organisms known to humans, namely ourselves, and its no surprise that understanding proceeds in fits and starts. Hell, a supernova is vastly easier to understand that the dullest, simplest person you ever met. And if that’s not hard enough, psychology is often polluted by politically expedient ideology.

    So if any of you in the commentariat engage in writing about science, please please PLEASE do not imply that ‘science is in trouble’ Science is working just fine, thank you very much. Do not thrown the baby out with the bath water.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        String theory? What are you suggesting/implying? The issues around experimentation and string-theory are quite different than the issues around science for hire and the best science money can buy. Some aspects of string theory may not be verifiable experimentally but does that negate the mathematics of what is possible? Science for hire as exemplified by the science our Medical Industrial Complex supports only looks for certain answers for certain questions whose answers of the right sort would valuable. I don’t believe similar considerations characterize of apply to string theory [and NO! I am not a proponent of string theory — though I find what I can understand of it interesting and provocative.]

      2. Bun

        I know string theorists and this will get me in trouble with them, but IMHO it’s not yet a ‘theory’ but a model or maybe an approach. In my book a ‘theory’ is a self-consistent mathematical description that can explain known measurements while making predictions for experiments not yet done. Apologies to Brian Greene et al, but string theory is far far from that. By my definition there are not that many theories around. Lots of models though.
        That said string ‘theory’ is a promising approach that is yielding insights into what a (ahem) real theory could look like, so for that it’s worth it for some to keep at it.

        Lots of room for argument here though, which is off the main topic.

        1. HotFlash

          Thank you very much for that distinction. Hmm. I would observe that sharpening our mental skills is *always* on-topic here.

    1. pretzelattack

      strongly agree. i would say that psychology is usually polluted by politically expedient ideology, and i don’t even want to get into economics.

        1. ambrit

          It’s actually closer to Astrology. Both Economics and Astrology use maths in their “calculations.”
          Psychology would be betterror compared to Theology.

    2. Summer

      Nothing wrong with letting more science get done.
      I also agree with the money issue you mentioned.

      The rush to hype how every study, theory, or invention will change “our” lives also gets annoying and causes some backlash. The ink isn’t dry in the journals before the marketers and social engineers plan how it can “disrupt” lives instead of letting the scientists do more science , testing, and questioning.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘Science is working just fine….’
      Science is like rocks…they all just sit there minding their own business.

      It’s humans who pick one up and do something with it….maybe we put it in the LA County Museum on Wilshire Blvd, for example, or use it to slay Goliath.

      The same with science.

      We faulty humans monkey around with the incomparable Scientific Method, getting provisional, partial knowledge every single time. And Nature does not always receive good results.

      1. redleg

        Rocks can fall.
        Science is a method, not a subject, so the method can be used to test anything, with some limitations.
        There is a substantial degree of trust involved in research and publication of results. Gresham’s Dynamic applies to both the research and the publication parts. The repeatability part of the scientific method can, over time, weed out fraudulent research but not necessarily fraudulent publication schemes.

    4. David

      >Science is working just fine…

      With all due respect, I disagree.

      From The Meaning of it All by Richard Feyman, Lecture 3, “This Unscientific Age”:

      I would like to point out that people are not honest. Scientists are not honest at all, either. It’s useless. Nobody’s honest. Scientists are not honest. And people usually believe that they are. That makes it worse. By honest I don’t mean that you only tell what’s true. But you make clear the entire situation. You make clear all the information that is required for somebody else who is intelligent to make up their mind.

      Feynman said this back in 1963. It’s just as relevant today.

      1. pretzelattack

        feynman also supported hard sciences against soft sciences, so where is the evidence he thought there was a problem in the hard sciences?

    5. VietnamVet

      Science’s troubles started when western society began splintering apart. Science is a tool, a way for humans to gather facts, observe reality. The problem is the greed of those who are now in control. Making money is more important than the truth.

  10. William Hunter Duncan

    So the geniuses are going to grow enough biofuels to replace apparently 260 million barrels equivalent of oil per day, on top of the land needed to feed 9.5 billion people or so in 2050?

    Clearly the genius econo/scientific adults in the room have become even more delusional and idiotic than the “burn baby burn…the earth is 6,000 years old…we (the people who matter) will all be raptured…you will have to deal with the devil and our pollution,” crowd.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I think the “genius econo/scientific adults in the room” fully intend to skip their dessert making all possible.

    2. polecat

      As you infer re. the Geniuses vs the Raptured ..

      They can be looked at as 2 horns on the same devil .. Occam’s Antlers ??

  11. Linden S.

    RE: Climate change + bioenergy and carbon capture and storage (BECCS)

    Here is a good North America-focused intro to BECCS, and to negative emissions technologies (NETs) in general:

    BECCS uses huge amounts of land. At the scale that is needed to get CO2 down to safer levels, I don’t see how it can work. There are just so many steps in the process:
    – clearing the land
    – planting and managing the plants/trees (fertilizer, irrigation, pest management..)
    – harvesting
    – processing plants and sending them to bioenergy plant (hard to transport without wasting a lot of your harvested energy!)
    – capturing CO2 before it leaves smokestack (this is expensive to do, even with coal! how hard will it be with bio-energy exhaust that per unit volume has much higher proportions of non-CO2 components? )
    – then sequestering the CO2 underground (this is the most proven part of the process I believe).

    I think people who strongly advocate for BECCS don’t have a sense of how delicate the balance between carbon negative and carbon positive could be, depending on the methods and care taken by the entire process. It is probably possible at modest scales, but might be too expensive/difficult for people to be willing to pay for it!

    1. ChristopherJ

      Thank you Linden.

      I think some of these proposals are technically feasible, but cannot be done with our current economic and geo political systems. And, yes we’ve not had a lot of success in carbon capture, as such ideas need ‘someone to pay for them’ as this is the way we currently think about ‘problems’ affecting the commons…

      Someone said the other day that what is needed is for us all to stop what we are doing, from banker to mechanic. And, start on rebuilding every single man-made ‘thing’ again, properly this time so that carbon is taken out of the air and put back in the earth where it belongs. ie most of our workforce goes from being destructive to restorative, with the balance feeding and looking after the ‘earthforce’

      Yeah, nah. Not going to happen, eh? Make a good story tho

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        There are no workable BECCS techniques for carbon capture … other than plant-life. It works quite well but requires a little more time than we have and a lot more concern. Carbon capture technology is Neoliberal smoke and mirrors for somehow making the IPCC accounting reach the proper sums for various of its policy recommendations. If we are down to Neoliberal smoke and mirrors I’m keen on “Space Mirrors”. What’s more cool than “Space Mirrors”?

        1. Linden S.


          Better ag practices + composting + replanting lost forests. The best things for the future are the same as we should have been doing all along.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Whereas, carbon-capture farming on commercial farmland has available to it several millions square miles of farmland which would provide the “at huge scale” part of the equation. The problem is, once again, that people would have to be willing to pay the higher price for carbon-capture food in order to permit the farmers to meet the higher costs of growing the carbon-capture food with carbon-capture methods.

      But it is true that an awful lot of carbon could be phyto-captured and bio-injected into 10 square million miles of soil if people were willing to pay to get it done.

  12. JTMcPhee

    Capitalism understanding brain function: Already largely there — what could possibly go wrong?

    Back in 1980 or so, a friend from the Episcopla church I attended at the time, a woman with a dual PhD in I recall biochemistry and neurology, had to take some mommy time off from her well-paid gig as a professor and consultant. She and her spouse and family lived the upper middle class income lifestyle — expensive home in Evanston, vacations, cars, all the latest must-haves, so her income stream had it terminated would have been sorely missed. To keep her skills up, she actually volunteered to do continued research for General Foods. The research topics were all about mapping and stimulating the biochemical and neuro responses of “consumer brains” to various kinds of colors, odors, type faces and shapes.

    She knew that what she was working on was just part of the “Hidden Persuaders” racket, aimed at removing ‘free will” of people walking down the aisles of stores where GM products were on sale, making them subject to as close to involuntary reaching out to grab this or that product on their way to the payments terminals at the front. Was very slightly disturbed at the implications, but found ways to justify what she was doing. And returned to full time work and compensation when an acceptable nanny (both highly educated parents were shall we say VERY selective in this) was found for offspring judged now of an age (2 and 4, as I recall) to be left in surrogate care.

    I imagine that there is a yuuuge number of people likewise engaged in demolishing what is left of that nebulous and evanescent “free will” thing, in all areas of “modern life,” to be replaced by mindless extraction and consumption and GROAF.

    Is there any kind of model that a sufficiently large number of people could agree upon, and insist be implemented, that would rid all of us of the predations of those who practice ‘capitalism,” the disease? Or will Gaia remove the pestilence in her own way?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe men will go back to Mars, and women to Venus.

        “Go home, you Homo Not-So-Sapiens.”

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      You are asking a Milgram kind of question. Ordinary Men conducted the exterminations of Polish Jews. Germany feels guilt for that and other sins, but how much without sin are we? We are captive in the stinking bowels of so many repulsive, uncaring, and essentially inhuman organizations and were we not … we might join the too too many homeless, forgotten, and exploited that roam our streets and verge to the furthermost edges of our cities and communities in places like rural Maine and rural New York … where they might work a most painless possible death they might find through narcotics or borrowed firearms.

    2. Matthew

      The entire education system up through at least high school is devoted to this project, because the same distortions that make people better consumers also make them easier to manage. As for what fixes it, that might be working itself out right now with the revolt of the managed.

  13. Carey

    I too think that Gaia will be coming out the winner, and thankfully so. In the short term,
    though, it seems to me that the few are finding it laughably east to manipulate and corral
    the many. I wonder if that will change.

  14. cocomaan

    Man, Miami/Dade and Broward Counties just sound like a haven for wackadoos. Parkland and this guy in a single year?

    Not to mention being the epicenter of hanging chads.

      1. cocomaan

        The memes write themselves! This man was a living meme before he even became famous for being the only person to send 14 packages in October.

        1. ambrit

          (I know I’m going to hate myself in the morning for this.)
          Do you mean, like [insert Snark Woods here.] {Any High School bathroom.}

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      What interests me is that despite what appears to be a possibly Cuban name, no mention is made of the man’s ethnicity, although that’s always one of the things mention when a suspect is from, say, Mexico or Venezuela or [enter Middle Eastern country here]. Knowing how the neo-Batistas in Miami love them some neocon GOP, why has the standard procedure not been followed with regard to Mr. Sayoc?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I hope this random guess doesn’t provoke any Slavophiles, but ‘Sayoc’ is not Slavic?

      1. teri

        Sayoc is a Filipino surname, and the man’s face appeared (to me) to be strongly suggestive of Filipino background, but then I have in-law ties to the American-Filipino community, without which I may not have recognized the ethnicity of the name and visage. Sayoc’s former attorney, who represented him in most of his earlier run-ins with the law, was interviewed briefly on one of the cable news channels last night. He is not representing Sayoc in this case, feeling it beyond his pay grade (imagine that – a lawyer turning down $ after humbly and honestly assessing his own strengths!), although the family immediately contacted him when Sayoc was arrested.

        This attorney said that Sayoc was born in the US to an Italian mother and a Filipino father. The father apparently deserted the family when Sayoc was very young, which the lawyer said led to “father issues”. The lawyer did not specify if he meant both parents had immigrated to the US from elsewhere, or if he simply meant that they were of, respectively, Italian and Filipino heritage. He added that the father issues are what led Sayoc to pretend to be a Seminole for awhile – seeking to grab some identity after a fatherless childhood.

        He (the lawyer) further said that Sayoc had always seemed like a nice enough guy, but was easily confused by what other people might consider mundane tasks. He even suggested that this might be why the bombs didn’t work; Sayoc simply isn’t very smart. (Of course, this lawyer, being a sort of friend to the family, might be helping to set up a diminished capacity defense for whomever ends up representing Sayoc in court.)

        In any case, Sayoc is American by birth, with both Italian and Filipino ethnicity in his family tree.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Many claimed, during the last Supreme Court justice nomination, that the FBI couldn’t be trusted.

      I believed then, and do now, that it should be judged on a case-by-case basis

      Hopefully, we don’t hear from the same people that the G men are not trustworthy, always and automatically.

    2. Lee

      My local NPR station has in recent weeks twice preempted Science Friday for first, Kavanaugh stuff and now for this nonsense. I wish they’d get their priorities straight.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I really like the idea of cereal as a sole ‘bomb’ constituent. The prosecutions should prove most amusing — and it could be far more destructive of our present “”security”” than a real bomb.

    1. Kasia

      The interesting question is what exactly is “energetic material”? Can these really be considered IED’s if they turn out to have contained no explosive material? The uncomfortable parallel will be “Clock Boy’s” device from a couple years ago down in Texas.

      1. Darthbobber

        This is not the sender misspelling their name. The heading comes from how the recipient entered the info in their contacts. I have a couple of lengthy message chains on my phone from my misspelled little sister and misspelled brother in law, because I cleverly misspelled both their names when frantically cobbling my contact list back together after the untimely demise of my previous phone.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        And leaving out that Obama did nothing about the foreclosure crisis generally, and with HAMP, did worse than nothing.


        1) Clicks from the tribalists for Mnuchin in the headline

        2) Radically oversimplified description of the mechanics of the foreclosure crisis and

        3) Careful airbrushing of Obama’s role.

        Sad that one has to pick and choose writers at The Intercept, and not be able to depend on its editorial process as a brand, but that’s where we are.

    1. cocomaan

      What a paragraph:

      Mnuchin co-owned and chaired the bank that eventually foreclosed on Sayoc. Soros, an investor in the bank, received one of the mail bombs. Kamala Harris, another mail bomb recipient, had an opportunity to prosecute OneWest Bank over similar foreclosure-related abuses in California when she was state attorney general, but declined to do so. Eric Holder, yet another recipient, did next to nothing to sanction bankers over foreclosure crimes.

    2. Yves Smith

      The piece is factually false. Mnuchin had nothing to do with the foreclosure. The house was foreclosed on January 7, 2009 and OneWest did not buy IndyMac until March, March 20, to be precise.

      So Dayen falsely tries to make Mnuchin responsible when he wasn’t and make the guy’s foreclosure a Trump problem when it wasn’t. I think Mnuchin is a complete douche but that does not give supposed journalists the right to make shit up to score points for Team Dem.

  15. Tom Doak

    Re: Tom Perez’s Nevada “model” : he would talk to potential voters at length to make sure they were safe establishment votes before daring to actually register them.

  16. knowbuddhau

    About that Science article. Read it last night.
    “Imagine a world without facts” [Science]. “Facts are statements that have a very high probability of being verified whenever appropriate additional observations are made. Thus, facts can be reliably used as key components in interpreting other observations, in making predictions, and in building more complicated arguments…. Consider the present “post-fact” world in this context. The lack of acceptance and cynical or ignorant questioning of well-documented evidence erode the perception that many propositions are well-supported facts, weakening the foundation on which many discussions and policies rest. Under these circumstances, numerous alternatives appear to be equally plausible because the evidence supporting some of these alternatives has been discounted. This creates a world of ignorance where many possibilities seem equally likely, causing subsequent discussions to proceed without much foundation and with outcomes determined by considerations other than facts.” • And then there’s the replication crisis, money in medicine… which the following in the last paragraph seems to address: “We should acknowledge and accept responsibility for, but not exaggerate, challenges within the scientific enterprise.” Challenges…

    Esp. this: “The lack of acceptance and cynical or ignorant questioning of well-documented evidence erode the perception that many propositions are well-supported facts, weakening the foundation on which many discussions and policies rest.”

    A perfect description of the pro-industry and pro-business propaganda we’ve been subjected to for a century and a half, and counting. All this hue and cry about being in a “post-fact” world rings very hollow in my ears, without mention of the insidious, pervasive, deliberate, and putatively scientific manufacture of consent.

    As many have said, this ain’t new. I’m so old, I remember hearing Gore Vidal say JFK told him, we’re in an era now where facts don’t matter, but “appearances are everything.”

    But propaganda is empty of real meaning, like empty calories. Fake messages (ie, ad campaigns, war propaganda) are crafted to release potential energy in the recipient, to vote, consume, or behave this way or that. But that’s it. As in, “America Is Already Great.”

    What happens to a population beaten with the propaganda stick too long? What happens when no message, however critical, releases any energy, because it all sounds like BS?

    What if the veneer of civilization is only a narrative deep, and we’ve been effing with ours for 150+ years, with no regard to long term effects?

    We’d best keep NC up and running, that’s what!

    1. knowbuddhau

      Speaking of which, I just read this on Counterpunch:

      The Crusade of the Green Revolution

      The Green Revolution was neither green nor revolution. Rather, it was an American strategy for industrialized corporate farming for the control of the world’s food. The two go together. Once you put the peasant out of business, there are no limits to the size of the farm. The Dark Ages feudal plantations proved that.

      The American leaders of the Green Revolution managed that global campaign out of the State Department, the US Agency for International Development, and the US Department of Agriculture. They enlisted the land grant universities, chemical companies and agribusiness, large foundations, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the agrarian elites of American allies in Western Europe and the tropics.

      Massive agricultural industrialization brought back the Dark Age-plantation in America and the world. Its proponents have been praising themselves for increased food production. They say our farming is science-based. They say peasants are backward. They say we need this additional food to feed the poor in the tropics. They cite UN predicting about 9.7 billion people by 2050.

      The dark secret of this Green Revolution (corporate farming) is chemicals: lots of them: petrochemicals, neurotoxins, carcinogens drenching food and the natural world.

      Thanks to the scientific manufacture of consent, we’ve been living in a fake world for quite some time. Many of Trump’s absurdities, like “beautiful, clean coal,” aren’t his alone, and have been a long time in the making.

      I can see it on a personal level, too. It’s hard to communicate with people from TV Land. The worlds implied by PR, PSYOPs, and the like, don’t really exist. But they’re leaning on them heavily.

      Bursting people’s reality bubbles has real, physiological effects. You’ve got to be careful not to unplug people from the Matrix traumatically. Standing beyond arm’s reach is good, too.

    2. djrichard

      What happens to a population beaten with the propaganda stick too long? What happens when no message, however critical, releases any energy, because it all sounds like BS?

      The “heat death of the universe” with respect to advertising campaigns? I could see that. I guess things could be worse – it could be the dark ages instead.

      I’m not into astrology, but I do find it fascinating that the next astrological age is supposed to be the Age of Aquarius. For some reason I construe that as placid water enveloping all, where all energies are enervated. 2100 years of that should allow us to get our energy stores back up to get back in the game.

      1. albrt

        Dark ages are coming. Pretty soon local libraries will not have any paper books that we can turn to when the internet crashes. Those computer terminals for the homeless and studios for high school kids to learn video skills won’t be very useful.

    3. Matthew

      I think what we’re seeing is not directly due to too much propaganda, but rather to a fracturing in the main line of propaganda. A critical mass of people are now receiving a different line of manipulation than the one that has kept the masses of people broadly docile for the past few decades. In most cases I don’t think it’s that people are figuring things out, but more that two mutually exclusive lines of BS are equally plausible.

      I also tend to think that propaganda broadly considered is what has substituted for more obviously authoritarian measures, so when it breaks down we probably end up with more of those.

      1. Procopius

        … propaganda broadly considered is what has substituted for more obviously authoritarian measures, …

        There’s a site called Whatever It Is I’m Against It. It seems to be about kind of typical snippets from the news of 100 years ago today. The last couple of years, of course, it’s been about what was being printed while America was in World War 1. Horrible. The government, sensitive to the claim common from 1914-1917 that the pressure to declare war against Germany was promoted by the big banks to protect their enormous war loans to England and France, exerted enormous pressure to prevent people from objecting to the war. The propaganda campaign was enormously successful. People were fired for being insufficiently enthusiastic about the war. People with German surnames were tarred and feathered. People were jailed for doubting the virtue of the war. America was not a nice place.

  17. Michael McKaskle

    The only way to actually get energy and sequester carbon from biomass is to heat it without air, collect and refine the gasses given off to use as natural gas and turn the remaining charcoal back into the farmland. You need good gear to do this efficiently without many toxic byproducts. There is no other actual way, just theories about future technologies. Growing hemp or other suitable plants everywhere and making biochar from it is needed but it will not support American levels and styles of consumption for the world or even the currently rich. There is no alternative but a quick, radical pivot away from any fossil fuel consumption. A MMT led new deal for green energy and energy storage deployment needs to be forced to the top of all leaders agendas.

    1. knowbuddhau

      I agree, a quick and radical pivot is needed. And imo we force that to the top by walking our talk and demanding the same of them.

      There is no human exception to the requirement for organisms to live in balance with their environments. “Externalities” don’t mean a damn thing in a system where there is no “away.”

    2. Matthew

      Okay, but doesn’t using the char in farmland continue the cycling of the carbon and thus not solve the problem?

      1. Chris

        No, the biochar just stays in the soil. Doesn’t go anywhere. It improves fertility by adsorbing nutrients so that they don’t wash away.

  18. Charlie

    Sounds cruel, but after the last ten years, I’m finding it really difficult to spur any sense of empathy when an elite has their life threatened. Whether real or a false flag. Karma may have something to do with it, maybe not.

    Rich people being the focus of attack? Why should I care? Why should I not cheer them on?

    And yes, it’s a rhetorical question.

  19. cm


    You left out the best part — it was back dated!!! The next twitter post (or reply?) states

    The assignment is dated January 23, 2009. The bank filed for foreclosure against Sayoc on January 7, 2009. This is a backdated, robo-signed, fraudulent assignment.

  20. Octopii

    Numerous canals like the one pictured above could be found in France as well. It is marvelous infrastructure, and well used in France for commercial transport of bulk materials.

  21. Procopius

    … with a slew of disappointing forecasts this earnings season showing how tariffs, rising wages and borrowing costs, …

    There’s a discrepancy here. I see many stories about how economists are baffled by the facte that wages are not rising, or are rising at barely more than inflation. I know owners are claiming it’s difficult to fine workers, but they are still not offering substantially higher wages, so they must not be seeing profitable new opportunities. Does not compute.

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