2:00PM Water Cooler 10/31/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

“China Manufacturing PMI Worsens in October as Trade War Bites” [Industry Week]. “An official gauge of activity in China’s manufacturing sector worsened in October as the effects of an ongoing trade war with the U.S. hit home. The manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 50.2 this month from 50.8 in September, missing the median prediction of 50.6 in a Bloomberg survey of forecasters. The non-manufacturing PMI, which reflects activity in the construction and services sectors, also worsened to 53.9 from September’s 54.9 reading. A level of 50 marks the dividing line between expansion and contraction. The government this month introduced a raft of measures to stabilize sentiment, adding to steps to boost liquidity in the financial system, tax deductions for households and targeted measures aimed at helping exporters. Top officials including President Xi Jinping also sought to bolster investor confidence, commenting on the fundamental strength of the economy and attempting to talk up the stock market, which has fallen 9% this month.”

“The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative was flooded with thousands of requests earlier this month from companies eager to be excluded from tariffs that President Donald Trump imposed on an initial $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. Twenty-one days later, the opportunity for other companies to object (and the initial requester to reply) ended on Tuesday. That clears the way for USTR to start granting exclusions. However, it remains unclear how soon any decisions will be made” [Politico].

“Ocean Carriers Brace for Orders Surge Ahead of Potential New Tariffs” [Wall Street Journal]. “A growing array of seaport and trade figures suggest U.S. companies pulled forward their orders for goods from China to get ahead of new tariffs, and shipping and logistics businesses now are bracing for a similar surge before additional tariffs could be rolled out at the start of next year. The push to get goods to U.S. shores brought an early peak season for seaports, while raising costs for importers and adding distribution complications that could grow across supply chains in the coming months.”



“‘Moving day’: White House staffers set to split for 2020 campaign” [Politico]. “The anticipated shuffle is in line with what’s occurred under other presidents preparing to run for a second term. About six months after the 2002 midterm elections, several top officials in the Bush White House were dispatched to the reelection campaign. Former President Barack Obama began deploying multiple administration officials to his Chicago headquarters in January 2011, a few months after his first midterm election in office. Trump is getting revved up even sooner.”


5 days until Election Day, next Tuesday. Too late, I think, for any game-changing events. Even this year.

“Pelosi declares victory before Election Day” [Politico]. “Appearing on ‘The Late Show’ with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that ‘up until today, I would’ve said, ‘If the election were held today, we would win.’ ‘What now I’m saying is, ‘We will win, we will win,’ Pelosi announced.” • I remember doing election night coverage in 2006, when the Democrats took back the House and, incredibly, the Senate. I actually broke out a bottle of champagne, and posted the image. Happy days….

“The Battleground In The House Is Really Big — And That Makes Life Hard For Republicans” [Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight]. • This is worth a read, but it reinforces my feeling that Silver is stylistically quantitative, not substantively. Three different models, each tweaked in different races. That doesn’t mean that Silver isn’t an interesting handicapper. He is!

“Unlikely Democratic House candidates are gaining momentum, even in GOP strongholds” [Los Angeles Times]. “Democrats’ path to seizing the House may very well run through small, suburban wine bars such as the one in downtown Wauconda, Ill., 50 miles outside of Chicago….”

“12 Young People on Why They Probably Won’t Vote” [New York Magazine]. • Don’t blame the voters….

“The Faces of Change in the Midterm Elections” [New York Times]. “In the 2018 midterm elections, diversity has become a political movement. Rising out of the protests in the early months of the Trump administration, an unprecedented number of women, people of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates are now running for Congress and governor, according to a New York Times analysis.” • I would have thought that Obama taught us the lesson that ascriptive identity does not provide a readout on policy, but we seem to have doubled down on that assumption.

ME-02: “Can ranked-choice voting end ugly election battles? This November, Maine hopes to find out.” [WaPo]. “In most ranked-choice elections, the plurality winner still ends up winning. The instances where it can tip the scales are in races with multiple candidates with overlapping positions on some issues, such as in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) and state Rep. Jared Golden (D) are in a dead heat in the polls, with two independents — Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar — trailing far behind. By all indications, second-choice votes will decide who wins a majority in the district.”

NY-14: Haven’t seen any polls on AOC, meaning, I suppose, that there’s nothing to worry about:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“This is how republics end” [Mike Duncan, Washington Post]. (Duncan’s podcasts: The History of Rome, and Revolutions, both excellent.) “What does a republic in decline look like?… [T]he seeds of American decline were sown not in the past 15 years of war and recession but in the 1970s, when economic inequality began to rise, a process that has only accelerated in recent years. As the decline of the Roman Republic shows, sharp inequality, left unaddressed, can be catastrophic, unleashing political and social consequences that can bring even a centuries-old republic to its end.”

“How Big Sky Country became the front line in a long battle over dark money” [Christian Science Monitor]. “The future of Montana’s campaign finance laws may not lie in Helena but in Washington, D.C., with nine robed justices. Bopp Law is urging the Supreme Court to strike down the state’s laws dealing with two chief pillars of post-Watergate campaign finance: limits on how much individuals can give to political campaigns and rules about disclosing contributions.” • Well worth a read for the history; we seem to have returned to the days of the Copper Kings: “[William] Clark and his agents tossed brown paper bags of cash into legislators’ hotel rooms, purchased ranches, and paid off mortgages and debts.” • Because tossing a brown paper bag full of cash is really free speech (at least according to CItizens United).

“Judges Shouldn’t Have the Power to Halt Laws Nationwide” [The Atlantic]. “Democrats were ecstatic when a judge in Honolulu barred enforcement of the Trump administration’s travel ban. They were thrilled when a judge in Chicago halted a policy to rescind grant funding to sanctuary cities. In both cases, the judges extended their ruling beyond the litigants to the whole country, issuing so-called national injunctions. For opponents of Donald Trump’s administration, this legal maneuver has seemed like a godsend. Now it may come back to haunt them, as a single federal judge in Texas considers putting the Affordable Care Act on ice—not only in Texas, but anywhere in the country…. [T]he United States is a fractious, complicated democracy, and it’s disconcerting how much authority we’ve ceded to lone, unelected judges.”

“The politics of artificial intelligence: an interview with Louise Amoore” [OpenDemocracy]. “I think that deep machine learning is not circumscribed at all by a limited spectrum of possibility. A minute change in the weights inside one layer of the neural net can shift the output of the algorithm dramatically. In a convolutional neural net for image detection or face recognition, for example, this can represent millions of possible parameters, far in excess of what could be meaningfully understood by a human. This is why I am sceptical of claims about ‘opening the black box’ of the algorithm in order to have some kind of accountability. I would say instead that there is no transparency or accountability in the algorithm’s space of play, and so we must begin instead from notions of opacity and partiality.” • So we can’t maintain AI? At all?

Stats Watch

ADP Employment Report, October 2018: “ADP estimates that private payrolls in Friday’s employment report will [be] higher-than-expected” [Econoday].

Employment Cost Index, Q3 2018: “The employment cost index continues to signal elevated price pressures for labor” [Econoday]. “The slowing in benefit costs is a plus in today’s report and that helps offset the acceleration in wages. This report probably won’t turn up the heat for accelerated rate hikes from the Federal Reserve which watches this report with special focus.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of October 26, 2018: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell” [Econoday]. “Purchase applications have been adversely impacted by the sharp rise in mortgage rates in recent weeks, which will put additional downward pressures on the housing market already showing signs of increasing weakness.”

Shipping: Investors clearly are expecting same-day parcel carriers to deliver big profits. Deliv Inc. is the latest specialty logistics startup to draw in big cash, with a new $40 million funding round that values the company at nearly $500 million” [Wall Street Journal]. “New investors including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and rental-car firm Enterprise Holdings will join earlier backers that include United Parcel Service Inc., which bought into the business at a $71.6 million valuation. Deliv provides same-day deliveries for Walmart Inc. and other retailers, and it’s carving a niche somewhat separate from the app-driven startups that are rushing into the field. The business operates more as an outsourced provider to name-brand retailers, working behind the scenes through logistics software and crowdsourced drivers. Deliv isn’t profitable, but with operations in 1,400 cities its scale is proving attractive to investors.”

The Bezzle: “List of key players in KPMG fiasco over leaked PCAOB inspection lists” [Attestation Update]. “Sometimes you gotta’ have a scorecard to keep track of the players and the story. After a former partner pled guilty this week in the fiasco at KPMG over leaking of PCAOB inspection targets, I had to sort out again who was who.” • Rather a lot of felonies for a Big Four auditor, surely?

Technology: “Opinion: The 2018 MacBook Air is the iPhone X’s ASP strategy all over again” [9to5Mac]. ASP = Average Selling Price, here increased through market segmentation. “From a financial perspective, everything Apple has done is smart. But the company has prioritized ASP over logic in its MacBook line-up. We now have a MacBook Air – a branding all about lightness – which weighs more than the MacBook. We have a MacBook – a no-frills name which suggests it is the basic model – which costs more than the MacBook Air. And we have an inferior machine, the MacBook, which costs more than a significantly better one. But it’s a line-up that makes perfect sense in financial terms, and dollars trump neatness every time.” • Hopefully the keyboards work on the new MacBook.

Technology: “We posed as 100 Senators to run ads on Facebook. Facebook approved all of them.” [Vice]. “But on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, a VICE News investigation found the ‘Paid for by’ feature is easily manipulated and appears to allow anyone to lie about who is paying for a political ad, or to pose as someone paying for the ad.” • Facebook is run by crooks. Political advertising on social media should be outlawed altogether. Why not? And if that’s too hard [whine], just make them public utilities and eliminate advertising altogether. That would be disruptive!

Technology: Not wrong:

Private Equity: “Only candy-eating rats survived the Necco takeover” [St Louis Post-Dispatch]. • Best headline ever…

Fodder for the Bulls: “Moody’s economist: 9 months of growth ahead, then ‘garden-variety’ recession” [Construction Dive]. “There’s an old wives’ tale out there along the lines of “what goes up must come down,” but deRitis asserted: “There’s no reason mathematically or based on economic theory to suggest that just because we’ve expanded for 10 years and we set a record, we must go into contraction.” The Netherlands saw a more than 20-year expansion, Australia’s expansion is still going strong 26 years in, and Japan holds the record for its 33-year expansion, he noted.” • Hmm.

Mr. Market: “U.S. stocks rose for a second day on Wednesday, as investors snapped up technology favorites and strong results for General Motors and a host of others lifted spirits at the end of a torrid month for global equities” [Street Insider]. “Shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) jumped 2.7 percent after the social media giant said margins would stop shrinking after 2019 as costs from scandals ease.” • Oh.

Mr. Market: “Dow up 300 points as stocks attempt to finish an ugly October on a high note” [MarketWatch]. • Stocks don’t “attempt,” surely?

Mr. Market: “It’s Politics Zapping Stocks, a Big Democratic Hedge Fund Guy Says” [Bloomberg]. “‘If Democrats get control, I think you’re just going to have a lot more volatility. The reason you’ll have more volatility is that you’re going to have more headlines,’ [Marc Lasry, the] Avenue Capital founder said in an interview with Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg Television. ‘Political risk is getting priced in.'”

“Trump’s EPA wants to rewrite standards for tribal waters in Maine” [Bangor Daily News]. • Working with LePage, who wants to weaken them. Of course, water that’s better for the fish that support the tribes is better for all of us…


“The Climate of Man—I” [Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker]. Part II; part III. • From 2005, still germane. I dug this out because I remembered Robert Socolow’s notion of “stabilization wedges” (see in part 3), which I find appealing. More: “Wedges reaffirmed” [Robert Socolow, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (2011). I’d be interested to know what climate change mavens in the readership think of the approach today. (I do find one aspect of Kolbert’s series problematic: “Man,” like “humanity,” does not have political agency.

“Judge Strikes Down Wyoming ‘Ag-Gag’ Laws” [Courthouse News]. “A year after a 10th Circuit panel tossed the challenge of Wyoming’s “ag-gag” law criminalizing the collection of research data on public and private land back to the trial court for reconsideration, a judge in the case on Monday found the law unconstitutional.” • Good news, especially if you regard meat as problematic from the climate change perspective.

“CSF Climate Change in Your County” [Climate Smart Farming (allan)]. • Handy interactive map, but of the Northeast only.

Class Warfare

“The Masterless People: Pirates, Maroons, and the Struggle to Live Free” [Long Reads]. “Although maroons escaped from slavery, it was no Exodus. No God tendered them a land of milk and honey as reward for keeping faith. They retained no orthodox hegemony. They were heterodox. Typically, they came from various districts in Africa, and although they might share a creole language and common suffering, they shared little else. They entered no promised land. The wildernesses to which they fled were not their natural element, though the Europeans often thought they were. The mountains of Jamaica were just as inhospitable to Africans as they were to Europeans. The jungles of Suriname and the swamps of Carolina posed the same dangers for blacks as for whites. These places terrified the escaped slaves as they would terrify you or me were we suddenly hurled into them with only the resources we could steal and carry…. According to the anthropologist Richard Price, even hundreds of years after their escape from bondage, “freedom” still defines maroon communities. Choosing freedom is the pillar of their identity. Maroons are the people who escaped slavery; who braved the snakes and alligators and cats of jungle, swamp, and mountain; who had the courage to risk the retributive torture of pursuing whites — all for freedom. Maroon identity, Price tells us, “is predicated on a single opposition: freedom versus slavery.” No other mode of society identifies so strongly with the unalienable human right of self-determination.” • Long indeed, but worth it.

UPDATE “Witches and Class Struggle” [Silvia Federici, Jacobin] (an extract from Federici’s Caliban and the Witch). “Feminists were quick to recognize that hundreds of thousands of women could not have been massacred and subjected to the cruelest tortures unless they posed a challenge to the power structure. They also realized that such a war against women, carried out over a period of at least two centuries, was a turning point in the history of women in Europe, the “original sin” in the process of social degradation that women suffered with the advent of capitalism, and a phenomenon, therefore, to which we must continually return if we are to understand the misogyny that still characterizes institutional practice and male-female relations.”

UPDATE “Christo Geoghegan explores deadly accusations of witchcraft amongst a remote healer community” (photographs) [It’s Nice That]. “Geoghegan: My first series, Banished of Balsapuerto, focuses on a community in the remote Peruvian Amazon who saw a series of violent and systematic murders take place within its traditional healer community between 2010 and 2011. Some reports claim the death toll sits anywhere between 14 and 30. Peruvian and international press stated that all healers had been accused of witchcraft and had paid for that with their lives.” • So it still goes on. Here is Geoghegan’s full exhibit.

News of the Wired

Fun. Maybe useful?

Happy Halloween:

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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 (MP):

MP writes: “Attached is a photo of Merten’s moss heather, taken in an alpine meadow at 9,500 feet this July in the Pintler Mountain Range west of Anaconda, Montana. The blade of grass provides scale to the flowers!”

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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. flora

    re:“The politics of artificial intelligence: an interview with Louise Amoore” [OpenDemocracy]. “I think that deep machine learning is not circumscribed at all by a limited spectrum of possibility. A minute change in the weights inside one layer of the neural net can shift the output of the algorithm dramatically.”

    From the article:

    When people say that these algorithms ‘detect patterns’, this is what they mean really – that the algorithms group the data according to the presence or absence of particular features in the data.

    My question about machine “learning” comes down to a very simple question: Do computing machines accurately discern the difference between pattern and texture? I’ve seen several neural net graphic outputs that look like texture and pattern were blended in a manner that looked like failure to discern the difference between texture and pattern; texture was treated as pattern after a few iterations.

    1. HotFlash

      Mr. Market: “Dow up 300 points as stocks attempt to finish an ugly October on a high note” [MarketWatch]. • Stocks don’t “attempt,” surely?

      That’s Mister Stocks, to you, sirrah.

      1. DonCoyote

        If money is speech, then stocks are hifalutin’ book-larnin’ speech, aka “I have the best words”.

      2. FreeMarketApologist

        “Dow up 300 points as [‘traders’ or ‘investors’] attempt to finish an ugly October on a high note”.

        No, ‘stocks’ don’t attempt.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          With total Zen concentration, and losing oneself (to the zone or the flow) to the present moment, investors or traders can become stocks.

          “Be the arrow.”

            1. Wukchumni

              HFT # 183: They think they call the shots, ha!

              HFT # 74: Hey, not so loud, they still have power over us.

              1. Wukchumni

                My dad was in the stock biz in the Go-Go Years of the 60’s, and one curious thing that happened was, as the number of trades greatly multiplied, actual physical stock certificates had to be mated up, and this presented a real problem in the late 60’s, and my dad’s firm had 3 or 4 people employed, whose job was to be vault custodians, to sort things out. It might’ve taken a few days to actually consummate a trade once done, when things got hectic.

                It also worked to slow things down, not a bad thing.

                When the crash comes, it’s going to happen so quick, as all the mechanisms favor speed.

      3. Wukchumni

        “Of all the mysteries of the stock exchange there is none so impenetrable as why there should be a buyer for everyone who seeks to sell”.

        John Kenneth Galbraith

    2. ChrisPacific

      Regarding pattern versus texture: the answer is no, they don’t understand it in the way that a human would, although if you train them well enough they can be taught to fake it quite convincingly.

      As a human, differentiating pattern and texture requires you to:

      1. Recognize that the 2D image you’re looking at is a projection of a 3D scene;
      2. Identify an object within the scene including its rough shape, orientation etc.;
      3. Recognize that the surface of the object has a regularity to it arising from the structure of the surface material;
      4. Recognize that the surface of the object has been imprinted with one or more colors in a regular pattern that’s distinct from the one in #3 above;
      5. Learn to identify and distinguish different texture/pattern combinations in other, similar images.

      Convolutional neural networks (the type most commonly used for image processing) can’t do #1 through #4, because their entire world consists of 2D images and pixels. The idea that a 2D image is a snapshot of a larger, 3D scene isn’t something that can be represented in their underlying model, at least in their current form. They can do #5 very well, given enough labelled training examples to work with, but even if they learned to recognize and differentiate patterns and textures very effectively they still couldn’t tell you what made them qualitatively different the way a human could (steps 3 and 4 above).

      The reason that the neural net outputs you saw confused patterns and textures is likely because they weren’t trained to distinguish them. It’s generally not something they can figure out on their own given the current state of the art.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Convolutional neural networks (the type most commonly used for image processing) can’t do #1 through #4, because their entire world consists of 2D images and pixels.

        So are you telling me all the clicking through I’m going on Google Captcha images of cars and buses and stoplights is wasted effort?

    1. John

      Asking Engadget to comment on Apple is like asking Fox News to comment on Nancy Pelosi, you can guess the general theme beforehand.

      I’d also point out that the plain old MacBook is nearly 18 months old. It is a little unfair to compare that to the MacBook Air which was announced only yesterday.

      I cheerfully admit that critiquing Apple is hard for this, and other, reasons. Apple is opaque about future products and even about how it makes decisions. It is curious that many of the criticisms may have a good basis in fact yet customers seem to keep buying them by the boatload.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the price points, Apple and that weasel Tim Cook want me to make the iPad Pro my “main” computer. Even though access to the file system is awful, there’s no desktop, cutting and pasting by touch is far harder than with a mouse, and there’s no consistent UIUX across applications, because the iOS developers did away with the Mac’s Human Interface Guidelines. I use my iPad a lot, but not for anything that requires a keyboard, like most productive tasks. I also can’t use it for editing photographs, because you can’t calibrate the iPad’s screen (how happy I would be to be wrong on that).

      I assume at some point us curmudgeons will die off, and the young folks will be content with a flashy but crapified device, which is what Apple is counting on.

      Oh, and the date for a new MacBook for professionals has been pushed off another year to 2019. Because of course.

      1. Huey

        Maybe true, Re: younger gens. But at least not even they are all lost.

        I certainly have a disdain for crapification, and I’m not the only young’un on here, where one gleans much wisdom.

        I personally know a significant number of my peers who feel the same way. What I have also noticed is that they are all middle-lower class, so perhaps as usual, their voices are silenced.

  2. Steve H.

    > stabilization wedges

    “The paper assumes that the world wishes to act decisively and coherently to deal with climate change.”

    ‘Global’ and ‘world’ are the problem words. While the global perspective “is to make the game last as long as possible” fossil fuels are finite. This means there is competition, down to the level of the individual organism, to sequester as much benefit as possible before they are gone. The EROEI is just too juicy.

    Can the wedges be implemented at a less-than-global level? There’s no long-term without the short-term, and short-term winners can drive long-terms strategists to extinction. What many of the wedges do is localize pollution. So there can be less-than-global strategies which can still drive the wedges, to local benefit, without demanding global authority.

      1. Steve H.

        Solar and batteries have been good examples, emissionless at the point of usage, but ore mining is horrible environmentally. Add on this point from yesterday. The carbon footprint for nuclear power is pretty amazing when you think of trucks carrying ore, etc.

        Wind power is one of the wedges, clean at the point of usage, but not in the manufacturing and transport chain. But even at a non-competitive EROEI, the independence coupled with clean environment can make it worthwhile to subsidize, to “improve the capacity for independent action.” Think about the information-as-power gradient of a soldier in an Afghanistan desert with a solar-powered computer and satellite uplink. Econspeak would be competitive advantage.

        Coupling a jobs guarantee with green energy investment is a viable national strategy. Just sayin’.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Coupling a jobs guarantee with green energy investment is a viable national strategy. Just sayin’.

          That’s why I was looking for. We might even think of it as industrial policy (although industrial policies don’t protect families. Wars, sadly, are seen to. Hence mobilization….).

          I thought of the wedges because we need a plan, and the wedges at least are a plan (as opposed to Bill McKibben whinging about immigration reform). So go wedge by wedge, and (a) assess where we are with each wedge and (b) what are the obstacles to each wedge (I mean obstacles at the Monsanto or Cargill level of abstraction, not the capitalism or patriarchy level of abstraction). It may be that a national strategy integrating the wedges — i.e., a political platform — is a missing piece.

          Is there another plan besides the wedges? (I mean a non-handwaving plan that doesn’t involve stuff like moving the earth into a new orbit or Unknownium plants at the neighborhood level).

          Q: What has to happen so my grandchildren don’t fry or starve or die of thirst?

          A: 1,2…. N

          Not seeing Answers like that. I’m hearing nonsense about “humanity,” “the planet,” and so forth. (And if the Answer is make a prepper kit and head for the hills, that’s where we’re headed. Bellum omnium contra omnes, except not as a Hobbesian origin story, but as the neoliberal ideal, realized.)

          1. Steve H.

            Lambert, I’ll give a too-long response on a stale thread because you’re asking for speculation.

            > Q: What has to happen so my grandchildren don’t fry or starve or die of thirst?

            The answer from ecology is niches and habitats.

            The abstraction is to take the activation energy graph and make it real. Think of a walled city with a chemin de ronde. That’s a physicalization of an energy relation, with the top of the wall having an implicit potential energy advantage in power relationships.

            Now take the billions of years of solar energy concentrated in fossil fuels, available for use at a scale down to the individual. A person by a coal vein can take a chunk and burn it. You cannot implement global control on that.

            I bought a really wonderful rocket stove. Designed to boil a pot for a meal, it is manufactured at the site of a marvelous clay, so light it floats. This about doubles the efficiency of fuel use over the billions of three-stone fires around the planet. But the supply train, the energy required to get the item out to the sticks, can outweigh the energy saved at the point of use. Even spreading information about using local materials to build rocket stoves has an energy cost. This constrains how physical power transfers to social power.

            Having that available energy to push over the non-catalyzed hump, to a potentially catalyzed state, is (at this time) powered by a finite resource that dumps carbon. An industrial chain is a catalyzed state, and who has what material goods when the fossil fuels run out will determine a lot of outcomes.

            However, the Jackpot is happening on a quicker timescale. The stalinstat is billions dead, particularly in locations where billions live. When we talk about immigration we’re usually talking jobs; migration is about population.

            Remember that extinction events, of which the Jackpot is a subset, do not require humans (meteors and volcanoes). The complexity of the global situation is too complex to adequately model, too many positive feedback loops. My credentialed opinion (Master Enviro Sci) is that the amount of heat already absorbed by water & ice melt has been vastly underestimated, and that heat sink has kept many warming trends in check. Things can happen fast, and are happening fast.

            Vitally, decreased protein yields are already being seen in food plants. Unless we migrate agriculture with temperature changes (and recall the bird extinction at altitude link the other day), we have to have local climate control, which means greenhouses. Neither of those two solutions works well at larger scale. That’s also a necessary solution to keeping radioactive dust out of your soil. And acid rain.

            That climate control costs energy, which right now is fossil fuels. However, geothermal is an energy source with a geological time-scale, and a minimal industrial level to implement. Again, geologically and thus socially localized. So long-term energy availability at about a large-city level of industrialization is possible and I’d say probable.

            However, globally, absolutely everything anything does dumps heat into the atmospheric system. That’s just the way it is. It’s not just the greenhouse gases and toxins. I’ve seen one technique being developed, to absorb heat and emit light at a wavelength that penetrates the atmosphere into space, turning us into something like a star. But I find it unlikely that can more than compensate for heat gains.

            (This scenerio has an endstate that looks something like Coruscant in Star Wars Battlefront II, a planet emitting light from an interconnected grid of city-states. tmi)

            So, to answer the question, use the concentrated and readily available energy content in the fossil fuels to create habitats capable of riding out rapid environmental change. Localize production. Don’t count on global supply chains, they lead to fatter crocodiles upstream. And migration is the losers game.

            1. DonCoyote


              Excellent commentary, a few footnotes:

              1) Besides birds, see also links a week ago on decreasing insect populations and yesterday or the day before specifically in bee poisoning. We could stop poisoning, but it may be too late.
              2) In the Ringworld series, the Puppeteers had the same problem we do, and their solutions were drastic:

              The Puppeteers had to make some drastic alterations to their home system, during their history, as waste heat due to overindustrialisation was rapidly making their planet uninhabitable. They moved their home planet further from their sun, to lessen the effects of global warming, but overindustrialisation forced them to move five other planets closer to their world and terraform them into “farming worlds”, arranging all the planets into a ‘Kemplerer rosette’.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I think the wedges idea is a little too gimmicky and may be misleading at this late date. The wedges look like the front end of a cluster of solutions from a climate model given different assumptions and the different inputs that would feed the models. That’s all right up to a point but after a certain point the curves are not so nicely linear. Linear may be easier to understand but that simplification hides how badly things could progress. In 2018, I’m not sure the argument that “average outcomes are safer to talk about, because the science is more solid” holds as much weight. The assertion: “Today’s science cannot predict how much atmospheric change would let these monsters [the monsters behind the door] in, nor how quickly they could enter…” is no longer as true as it was earlier in this century. I believe Hansen et al. from 2016, while it cannot “predict” — does contain paleoclimatic evidence that monsters do stand behind the door and can step from behind the door in a matter of decades and less.

      I am also skeptical of the assertion: “A portfolio of technologies now exists to meet the world’s energy needs over the next 50 years and limit atmospheric CO2 to a trajectory that avoids a doubling of the preindustrial concentration.” I think it is countered by the assertion at the top of the linked article: “It is counterproductive for advocates of prompt action on climate change to pretend that the new knowledge has only positive consequences, such as the stimulation of green jobs and elegant new technology.” I believe we will need to greatly modify how we live and there are no nice solutions that let us continue on as before except now without adding as much CO2 to the atmosphere.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “A portfolio of technologies now exists to meet the world’s energy needs over the next 50 years and limit atmospheric CO2 to a trajectory that avoids a doubling of the preindustrial concentration

        Regardless, we need the portfolio, no? Isn’t creating a portfolio the best analytical approach? If not, what?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Yes we need the portfolio. I don’t know whether it is the best analytical approach or not. I am fearful of those who might add geoengineering — other than planting trees or white roofs for houses — to the portfolio. I am also concerned at the too close tie between the word “portfolio” and the ideas of a carbon “budget”. I believe we have already spent and possibly overspent our “budget”. A collection of ways to reduce how much more CO2 we add to the atmosphere, a portfolio, is well and good, especially as we deplete the easy supplies of fossil fuel. I think humankind is at the point where it’s time to face just how bad things will all too soon become and recognize a way of life that cannot be continued will not continue. The pie shaped wedges have become wedges of upward arching curves which look more and more like exponentials.

  3. marym

    Judge declines Kemp’s request to pause absentee ballot injunction

    A federal judge has declined to pause an injunction she ordered that changes how Georgia elections officials evaluate certain absentee ballots.

    She wrote that granting a stay “would only cause confusion, as Secretary Kemp has already issued guidance in accordance with the injunction to county elections officials.”

    “The Court finds that the public interest is best served by allowing qualified absentee voters to vote and have their votes counted,” May wrote.

  4. Tomonthebeach

    The NYM article cataloging the apologetics of nonvoting young adults were whiny, petulant and/or immature. If you do not vote then you have no moral standing to complain about things later. The apparent lack of community connection is something writers have increasingly commented on – it seems like a common thread in their remarks.

    Most disturbing, the story also betrays a common character flaw that does not bode well for their future career success. They all seemed to be fatalists – acquiescing to the world happening to them rather than them making a mark on the world.

    1. cm

      If you do not vote then you have no moral standing to complain about things later.

      Remember when the United States was founded, and only property owners could vote? Did the renters also have no moral standing? The slaves? Women?

      In today’s world, what about felons? Do they have no moral standing?

      What about BS votes where there is only one candidate? I do not participate in such elections, yet I certainly fell I have a moral standing.

      Until such time as there is a “None of the above” with actual meaning, I have no qualms about not voting.

    2. jonhoops

      How many times do the press and the peanut gallery of oldsters get to run with this ridiculous trope before it gets tired? I’m sure if I walked into any venue I could find a few lazy clueless old people to confirm my biased view of them.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      It is a higher order of morality to recognize gray areas: lesser-evil voting Nazis (not saying you are one) remind me of what (having worked in the substance abuse field) I like to call the AA Nazis. One size doesn’t fit all.

      My mom gave me a pin with the word VOTE spelled out in fake diamonds. Just can’t bring myself to wear it.

      The complacency, ah, the complacency…

      I could say, if you vote for corporate Dems you have no right to complain about the cost of health care, rise in state surveillance, favoring of Wall Street over Main Street, and continued adventuring abroad.

    4. Plenue

      I don’t have much sympathy for people who can vote, but don’t. Not to delve into “they died for your freedom” territory, but the fact remains that what democracy we have was fought for and obtained at cost, not least from our own government. There are people who find it to be an annoyance and would happily discard it, again not least of which are many of our own leaders.

      I’m not at all saying vote for one of the two legacy parties; even if all you do is ineffectually vote for a third party, or just write in a fictitious character in the blank space, you should at least do that much.

    5. Alex V

      Or perhaps young people have already witnessed the perversion of hope and subsequent betrayal by candidates like Obama….

      1. CarlH

        Ding Ding. We have a winner. I have voted in every election I have been eligible to vote in, but the Obama betrayal, the 2016 election, and the Dems purposely giving up their role as opposition party has had me really wanting to sit this one out. I probably won’t, but have no harsh words for those who choose to.

        1. Oregoncharles

          there are other choices. And of course, selectively not voting – the “undervote” – is also a statement.

    6. neo-realist

      If those young people are disenchanted with the wings of the “property party”, they should write in the person of their choice, or do the work of researching the candidates and vote for the good, if not perfect candidate that best reflects their interest. Jason should use his frustration with the dems to get involved in his local democratic party and possibly run for office.

      Yes, I’ll bet there are a few lazy codgers, but a higher percentage of them vote.

      1. cm

        Where I live, a turnout of 35% is considered high. Potential voters of all ages do not vote, and I’m in Washington state – where vote by mail requires no postage.

        I, too, am tired of sensationalist articles making ludicrous generational attacks.

        The notion that we (I assume US here) fought wars for freedoms is ludicrous. The National Guard certainly did not. Spanish American War? Mexican War? Panama?

        I’m reading Zinn’s _A People’s History of the United States_ and boy is it depressing. It should be required reading in high school. It will disabuse the 99% about how great the country really is.

        He quotes Helen Keller:

        Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee…

        You ask for votes for women. What good can votes do when ten-elevenths of the land of Great Britain belong to 200,000 and only one-eleventh to the rest of the 40,000,000? Have your men with their millions of votes freed themselves from this injustice?

        1. MichaelSF

          I’m reading Zinn’s _A People’s History of the United States_ and boy is it depressing.

          I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’ve stalled at about 1830, and before that I could read about 30 pages at a time before having to put it down.

          It is interesting and informative, but it is difficult to stick to it.

    7. Jeremy Grimm

      My children seemed to slip into the “the world happening to them rather than them making a mark on the world” idea. I got the impression it was something about what and how they were taught in high school. I could easily imagine the current crop of high school and grade school teachers projecting that sort of idea given the many ways their autonomy has been violated and controlled by the local boards of education and the state. I think back to my own carreer and that was a lesson I was too often taught since I failed to learn it in high school and college. The direction of our society in the last several decades hardly bespeaks of anyone “making a mark on the world”. Even our leaders seem best able to accomplish little beyond further degradations. Much as our education in the public schools and in the workplace promotes as sense of powerlessness the “lack of community connection” is definitely promoted by the much vaunted “mobility” of the American workforce.

      I vote and have voted and complain with full “moral standing” with the same effect as pissing into the wind. But as we all know voting is not enough. The problem is — it’s not clear what might be enough to compel our Power Elite to hear the lamentations of the growing dissatisfied masses. This is frightening as the ratchet tightens.

      1. makedoanmend

        “..My children seemed to slip into the “the world happening to them rather than them making a mark on the world” idea…. I could easily imagine the current crop of high school and grade school teachers projecting that sort of idea given the many ways their autonomy has been violated and controlled by the local boards of education and the state…”

        Or ordained to be controlled and dictated by Mr. Market. TINA. We praise the wealthly, bow beneath its alter of wealth and then wonder why we have no agency…

    8. curlydan

      Here’s what pre-Boomer Bob Dylan said/sang about voting in “Highlands”–kind of like the young “fatalists”?

      “I’m crossing the street to get away from a mangy dog
      Talking to myself in a monologue
      I think what I need might be a full-length leather coat
      Somebody just asked me
      If I registered to vote

      The sun is beginning to shine on me
      But it’s not like the sun that used to be
      The party’s over and there’s less and less to say
      I got new eyes
      Everything looks far away

      Well, my heart’s in the Highlands at the break of day
      Over the hills and far away
      There’s a way to get there and I’ll figure it out somehow
      But I’m already there in my mind
      And that’s good enough for now”

    9. Elizabeth Burton

      I have to agree the interviewees seemed to embody what I’ve seen as a very minor segment of young people, to the point one has to wonder if their comments were deliberately chosen to make “young people” sound like whiney, over-privileged snowflakes.

      I did empathize with the young lady who has to move about extensively for her job, because she’s correct. The voting laws are Byzantine, and her only real recourse is to establish a “permanent address” somewhere. As for the rest, “I have ADHD and if you don’t excite me it’s too much trouble for me to vote” is an insult to all of the people with ADHD who do vote. It’s also, to me, indicative of the “permanent victim” personality type, with whom it is impossible to hold a sensible discussion.

      And then there’s the “informed/uninformed voter” segment that made absolutely no sense but ended up with, essentially, “I forgot to do it.”

      No one should be told they’re a bad person for not choosing to vote, but that bunch of excuse-makers is offensive when so many young people of their age group are too well aware that not just their future but their very lives are at stake.

      1. RMO

        “wonder if their comments were deliberately chosen” Of course they were! Most stories have their interviewees and quotes weeded to be in accord with how the writer wishes the story to read. We have a member in my glider club who has worked in television news, documentary and “reality” shows (some rather low-key Canadian reality shows that is) for a couple of decades and he was very clear in that if we ever have an accident or incident serious enough to attract the attention of the media we should A: make one person the contact person for them, everyone else declining to make a statement and simply directing the media to that person and B: make sure that designated person says as little as possible too. He told us, and demonstrated with real world examples that no matter what you say, no matter how clear you are or how clever you believe you are that the footage could be edited and selected to support just about any slant the producer wishes to put on the story and to make the interviewees look as good, or bad as they want.

    10. Lambert Strether Post author

      Did you not read the post? Where I said “Don’t blame the voters?” I did that exactly to pre-empty comments like this one.

      If I had five shitty jobs, couldn’t afford to miss a single day at work because I’m in the precariat and might get fired, was loaded with debt, and needed day care but couldn’t afford it, I too might find it hard to go stand in line for four hours to vote.

      Granted, voting is one thing that might over time ameliorate such conditions. Several commented that they found organizing more effective.

      I also wonder just a little about the selection. I remember speaking before a class at the University during Occupy. Many were quite engaged and not at all self-indulgent. Not a pajama boy among them.

  5. allan

    Most Detailed Observations of Material Orbiting close to a Black Hole [ESO.org]

    ESO’s exquisitely sensitive GRAVITY instrument has added further evidence to the long-standing assumption that a supermassive black hole lurks in the centre of the Milky Way. New observations show clumps of gas swirling around at about 30% of the speed of light on a circular orbit just outside its event horizon — the first time material has been observed orbiting close to the point of no return, and the most detailed observations yet of material orbiting this close to a black hole. …

    Still no sign of Matthew McConaughey or Jessica Chastain.

  6. Goyo Marquez

    Re: Rome and the end of the Republic.
    Posted this quote from Will Durant’s The Lessons of History, once before:
    ““We conclude that the concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceable partial redistribution. In this view all economic history is the slow heartbeat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of concentrating wealth and compulsive recirculation.”

    Rome is one of the examples from which he draws the principle:
    “The Roman Senate, so famous for its wisdom, adopted an uncompromising course when the concentration of wealth approached an explosive point in Italy; the result was a hundred years of class and civil war. Tiberius Gracchus, an aristocrat elected as tribune of the people, proposed to redistribute land by limiting ownership to 333 acres per person, and alloting surplus land to the restive proletariat of the capital. The Senate rejected his proposals as confiscatory. He appealed to the people, telling them, “You fight and die to give wealth and luxury to others; you are called the masters of the world, but there is not a foot of ground that you can call your own.”37 Contrary to Roman law, he campaigned for re-election as tribune; in an election-day riot he was slain (133 B.C.). His brother Caius, taking up his cause, failed to prevent a renewal of violence, and ordered his servant to kill him; the slave obeyed, and then killed himself (121 B.C.) ; three thousand of Caius’ followers were put to death by Senatorial decree. Marius became the leader of the plebs, but withdrew when the movement verged on revolution. Catiline, proposing to abolish all debts, organized a revolutionary army of “wretched paupers”; he was inundated by Cicero’s angry eloquence, and died in battle against the state (62 B.C.). Julius Caesar attempted a compromise, but was cut down by the patricians (44 B.C.) after five years of civil war. Mark Antony confused his support of Caesar’s policies with personal ambitions and romance; Octavius defeated him at Actium, and established the “Principate” that for 210 years (30 B.C. – A.D. 180) maintained the Pax Romana between the classes as well as among the states within the Imperial frontiers.”

    My take, the wealth will be redistributed we just get to have some say in the how.

  7. Jason Boxman

    I vividly remember 2006, myself. I was adamant that change had come and the Democrat party was going to do stuff like end the Iraq War… and thus began my political education. I’ll certainly never be fooled again. At least I can respect conservatives. They get their stuff done. Liberals are entirely vacuous, and ever ready to stick the knife in when you’re not looking.

    1. RMO

      Having hope can hurt, can’t it? I thought the point of no return may have been reached with the 2004 election when Bush wasn’t tossed out but the 2006 election showed me that those in control of the Dem party wouldn’t do anything about the administration’s crimes even when they had the power to do so. I still have hope that a left wing movement will manage to pull the U.S. out of the death spiral though. Nihilism would be easier but I just can’t quite manage it.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      One reason I left the cube, with health insurance coverage, and moved to Maine in 2006 was that Maine had MaineCare and I felt that the Democrats were ascendant and couldn’t possibly screw health care up, so I’d be safe in three or four years. What a fool.

  8. Synoia

    The paper assumes that the world wishes to act decisively and coherently to deal with climate change.

    Is there ANY evidence the assumption is correct?

    Personally I believe there is not. I wish my belief completely wrong.

    1. dcrane

      I have long figured that “the world” would act decisively on climate change only once the average 1st world voter began to personally suffer significantly from its consequences. We’re nowhere near that condition yet.

  9. FreeMarketApologist

    The Masterless People: Pirates, Maroons, and the Struggle to Live Free

    In some old Bugs Bunny cartoons, Bugs would occasionally say to Elmer Fudd “What a maroon!” as Elmer fell for yet another one of Bugs’ shenanigans. Was this a racial slur referencing those people (similar to the N-word), or did the word have a principally non-racial or -ethnic meaning?

    1. eg

      I always interpreted it as an intentional mispronunciation of “moron” for reflexive comic effect, but defer to those more experienced with the Looney Tunes canon

    2. Ranger Rick

      “Maroon” is used in the cartoon as a corruption (a mispronunciation) of “moron.” That the word had a racial history went unnoticed and unremarked at the time.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes–obviously! Maroon may be a real word but it’s a pretty obscure word.Smart alecky cartoon writers don’t tend to be language scholars.

      2. Big Tap

        There was a Montreal ice hockey team called the Montreal Maroons. They were in the NHL until 1938 and according to Wikipedia won two Stanley Cups and 11 of their players and 5 coaches are in the hockey hall of fame. The team was meant to appeal to the cities English population while the Canadiens were primarily towards the French. The team nickname ‘maroons’ was after the color of their jerseys not of the Maroon people.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Pirates and Bugs.

      One origin of the word boogeyman (boogyman, bogeyman, etc) refers to Bugis or Buganese pirates of Sulawesi.

      Those pirates were Bugis, not quite Bugs.

    4. Fiery Hunt

      I always thought it was a mispronunciation of “Moron!”…(the joke being only a moron would mispronounce “moron”.)

    5. ChiGal in Carolina

      Ha! The sports teams of the infamous the University of Chicago are known as the Maroons and the student paper is the Maroon.

      It’s also a color ;-)

      1. Jeff W

        We’ve just heard that in the English Channel, a ship carrying red paint has collided with a ship carrying purple paint. It is believed that both crews have been marooned.

        —from the BBC’s long-running comedy show The Two Ronnies

    6. The Rev Kev

      The Rugby League football team in the State that I live is known as the Maroons due to the colour of their uniforms.

  10. allan

    NY-14: Crowley calls on mystery campaigners behind anti-Ocasio-Cortez fliers to ‘knock it off’ [NYDN]

    Rep. Joe Crowley says he has nothing to do with mysterious flyers urging Queens and Bronx voters to support him over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — the upstart Democratic nominee whose primary win rocked the political establishment — in next week’s midterm election.

    “Not running. Not campaigning. Shut down campaign operations months ago,” Crowley tweeted Wednesday. “Not circulating fliers.”

    The leaflets, first reported by Gerson Borrero in his Bochinche column, feature Crowley’s face and blame his primary loss on “low turnout.”

    “We need Joe back in Washington more than ever,” the flyer proclaimed. …

    “We”. Sadly for the D-trip,

    …. The 28-year-old former organizer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid is expected to beat Republican Anthony Pappas, who lost the support of his own party after admitting his ex-wife accused him of domestic violence, in Tuesday’s general election.

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    The internets seem to claim Bugs Bunny’s use of the word “maroon” was just a humorous way to say moron. The word was in use in the 17th century and into the 18th century. The writers of the cartoons claimed they did look it up after some long period of time after finding out it was an existing word. It looks like the only Maroons in the U.S. lived around the Great Dismal Swamp, were exterminated by the Spanish, or are part of the Seminoles. The Maroons still live as Maroon communities in Jamaica.

    Disney didn’t stop its use in Rodger Rabbit. R.K. Maroon and Maroon cartoons.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      My phrase for this is Tumblr Naiveté. Your breaking point may vary.

      The quote I recall from age ‘god knows’ was approximately, ‘what an imbess-ill, what an ultra-maroon.’ Asked my dad about it once when he was giving me quantity time (probably shortly after I got my first Crayola 120 box. Was Crayola making a racial slur?), and he explained it was a joke on ‘moron’, color pigments, and the self-reflexive humor of mispronouncing what you think is an insult to somone’s intelligence. I think both ‘imbecile’ and ‘moron’ were clinical conditions at the time, so Bugs is probably dodging that while being Groucho-edgy. Your mother’s shoes were less inflammatory than your family’s mental health quirks. (Father was born 1911, urban midwest, so knew the cant. It was only a few years ago that I looked up why he called the nutmeg grinder ‘Aunt Irma’. Would always tell me the skinny if I knew to ask. He did not mention any racial implication. He would have mentioned if ‘ultra maroon’ was intended as a gay slur. Has any pomo poser gone there?)

      Go! Go! I say, Go, and torrent the Looney Toons, etc, that they don’t put on the DVDs. Kids expecting dog whistles from the kinds of 20s and 30s media that are conducive to the internet are kind of precious. Racial humor was its own genre with sub genres. Postmodernism is only fun because earlier economies of communication were so genre-constrained.

      Now, in media that were not as capital-to-genre-constrained as moving pictures and cartoons, these creative cultures could at least be offered in a potpourri. I wonder how much Google’s newspaper scanning project foundered on the realization that they really just couldn’t ethically publish a lot of the content that were standard Features of pre-50s newspapers. I am Gulli-bull, but when I went searching my public library’s newspaper microfilms for decades of free comics, I learned a lot of stark lessons that I still think about today. My Mom will occasionally still bring up how chuffed she was when the Sunday Parade supplement she read as a teenager put Polish Catholic at second-to-you-know-who on one of its charts of ethnic social standing. She was not surprised by the chart itself. That was normal.

      Maybe we need a time travel show that’s about a half an hour long: the regular crew travels to some time in the narratively recent past, gets killed within the first eight minutes, restores from a previous save, and spends the rest of the show debriefing on what they entirely failed to understand about the foreign culture they just visited.

      1. Late Introvert

        This is important. Read Prairie Fires, a book about the early life of Laura Ingalls. We are absolutely clueless about previous generations, and it’s dangerous. Repeating all of the same mistakes, and forgetting how hard it was not that long ago.

    2. JCC

      Well, for what it’s worth, I always thought it was an intentional mispronunciation of moron. Until today I had never heard of Maroons, and I asked around and those I asked hadn’t either… and they are well pretty well educated.

      I always called those in the Dismal Swamp and outlying islands Gullahs, because that is what my history books and S. Carolina cousins told me that’s what they were called.

      I think that’s one of those problems that crop up occasionally. One region uses a descriptive word/noun with no realization or intention of any sort of slander, while another region uses it in a much different fashion… and the next thing you know it’s decided someone is intentionally politically incorrect, or racist, or whatever.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        almost the same for me. I was only marginally aware of Maroons/Gullahs until earlier this year, when I watched a show called Black Sails, that dealt with the Nassau Republic and had the pirates allying with a colony of Maroons.
        So I had to go awandering in Wiki, and in the footnotes therein.
        I felt a little foolish that I had never looked into either Pirates or Maroons before.
        Both, but especially the latter, gel very well with my default Manner of Being….as well as the nebulous Platonic Goal i’ve been more or less shooting for most of my life(Zarathustra in his mountain redoubt).
        It’s interesting, and encouraging, that this Maroon business has entered academia and popular entertainment at this time.

  12. Kurt Sperry

    The fact that Trump lies, is seen to lie, and gets away with it insofar as it hasn’t led to him paying a telling cost for lying, is an actual positive to those who admire a strongman-type leader, who are in awe of power. Who is more powerful: (s)he who lies and isn’t or more correctly cannot be held accountable or (s)he who willingly and weakly allows themselves to be constrained by truth? The liar is the more powerful. Real, hard power is as much about unaccountability as much as anything else. What use is power if it is allowed to be subject to the constarints others–your enemies– place upon it? GWB and his neocons lied–not trivial lies, but lies that led to hundreds of thousands of pointless innocent deaths, tortured helpless, sometimes wholly innocent victims for no good reason and a few years later Michelle Obama is giving him a coughdrop and calling him a bestie to Democrat’s applause. That is major-league unaccountability; power stroking power. All-powerful financiers commit the largest frauds in known human history, millions of people are financially ruined, lose their homes, have their lives ripped to shreds and they are rewarded instead of punished. More raw, unaccountable power. This worship of unaccountability and the unbridled power it communicates isn’t a Trump thing, isn’t new. Religious leaders preach screamingly obvious lies like denying evolution and saying the Earth is 6,600 years old, and their followers–at least the brighter among them I’m sure– don’t see this as a weakness but indeed as a strength. And it is! Their power is so great that they can do, can say, whatever they like and never face accountability or judgment. The bigger, the more egregious the lie, the bigger the crime that can be gotten away with, the more powerful the liar becomes.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Capitalism was horrible when it crashed on a decade to decade basis. It now appears that it is worse if you don’t let it crash ever. Our whole society is currently devoted to keeping the promises of a few lucky sociopaths whole in the face of entropy.

      I’d prefer more local development.

  13. dcblogger

    “12 Young People on Why They Probably Won’t Vote” [New York Magazine]. • Don’t blame the voters….

    I blame the editors for running the least relevant article of the election. We have presidential levels of turnout driven not by genius political consultants, but an army of grassroots volunteers. it would have been far more interested to here from some of those volunteers.

  14. frisc

    [T]he United States is a fractious, complicated democracy, and it’s disconcerting how much authority we’ve ceded to lone, unelected judges.”

    Seriously? Unelected judges, that’s their line of reasoning? If you have to account for the partiality or even partisanship of judges as you can’t assume independency and impartiality, you’ve got a much more serious problem going on.

      1. frisc

        What is vs. what is possible and ought to be. Look at the justice systems abroad. It is both the culture and the system which you have to change, otherwise you indeed will have no choice but to face politics in the judiciary.

        1. Phillip Allen

          All justice is political, as is all administration of justice, irrespective of the culture and system in which it functions. The question becomes one of which politics controls the narrative of ‘law’ and ‘justice’. All consensus is temporary; there are no settled questions.

        2. HotFlash

          We don’t elect judges here in Canada. It seems to work fine, for the most part. Keeps the money and the politics out of appointing judges. Keeps our elections simple too — here in Toronto we vote for Federal Member of Parliament, the leader of the party with the most members elected is the Prime Minister. Party leaders are voted on my party members (usually there are dues, you don’t simply declare yourself a Conservative or a Liberal or whatever).

          Provincial Member of Parliament (or Legislative Assembly or whatever), a separate election, works the same way — we only vote for our local rep.

          Municipally we vote for our local councillor , for the mayor, and for school board trustee. That’s it — keeps elections simple, ballot-counting short and sweet.

          It’s not perfect, although I think it’s better than the US biennial voting circus, which reminds me of nothing so much as a demolition derby.

          Here I think having ‘at large’ candidates as well would be an improvement, so if, say, 10% of the population votes Green, there shouldn’t be Zero Greens in Parliament. 10% would be nice, but I’ll settle for even 5%. Another method is ranked choice, which eliminates distortions of popular will by vote-splitting. See Jill Stein on ranked choice voting on Jimmy Dore.

  15. In the Land of Farmers

    Re: “The Climate of Man—I”

    Humanity’s folly is that it thinks we are better than the wolf pack who cannot, and will not, stop eating rabbits even though they are finding fewer and fewer of them. They need to eat the rabbits to survive and will do so even when they start starving and dying. Humans need to keep burning carbon to survive and we will continue to do so even when we are starving and dying in great numbers. This is the thing that both ensures our survival and our destruction. However, it is the thing that will ultimately lead to ecological balance as well.

    We are no better than animals becasue we are animals. This is the Way, the Dao, there is no way out, no other outcome. Struggle all you want, it will change nothing. Acceptance is peace and peace is the way. Yes, we can reverse climate change, but having the ability does not mean we have the capability.

    I will leave it to your own introspection, you all have the ability to change your lives drastically to mitigate climate change, but not one of you are capable becasue of fear (job loss, starvation, social standing, addictions, etc). While there is nothing standing in the way of our ability, there are countless things making us incapable individually and as a society.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > there are countless things making us incapable individually and as a society.

      I think we would need to move to a higher level of societal trust. A “war footing” would do that. We also need a State that functions, and is seen to function, to “provide for the general welfare.” #MedicareForAll would do that.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          It appears to be self evident to those who already are, but that’s a question I’ve been asking for as long as i can remember,lol.
          I reckon it’s another good question to ask whether I really want to join, all things considered…or if it’s just loneliness or boredom, or a combination thereof.
          Perhaps weirdos have some evolutionary function…it wasn’t the boring monkey people who came down out of the trees, picked up a rock, and decided to smash the old bones to get at the marrow, it was the freaky monkey people… and that made all the difference.
          That’s about as close to teleology as I’m willing to get.

      1. In the Land of Farmers

        Besides agreeing with you that we have the ability to do what you say, I think you missed my point that humanity is not yet capable succeeding in carrying out your ideas.

        What makes you think a “War Against Climate Change” will succeed any more than the “War Against Drugs” or the “War Against Terrorism”?

        Wars against conceptual threats are ultimately wars against freedom. Yes, climate change is real and caused by humans just like terrorism and drug use. But what we are really fighting against is “human choice” and “human freedom”. Humans have been fighting for freedom since the French Revolution, only 300 years ago, and right now we are collectively like teenagers that have a taste of adulthood but have yet to understand the responsibility.

        Mom: “Climate Change is destroying the Earth so you need to take the bus.”
        Teenager: “But I don’t wanna take the bus! Only dorks take the bus!”
        Mom: “I don’t care! You are getting on that bus!”
        Teenager: “I hate you! I am never coming home again!”

        This is not a war outside of ourselves we need to fight, it is an internal war, between our false notions of personal freedom and the truth of communal responsibility. Our folly was thinking that we can have human freedom without impacting our communal responsibility. Human freedom is a myth, a story told to us by some people who had an idea that felt good but had no idea if it was going to turn out well.

        Medicare for All? Sure, why not? Will that make people stop eating like crap and getting diabetes? Nope. People want the “freedom” to eat like crap but none of the societal responsibility.

        Climate change is not a mechanical problem, it is a spiritual problem, and we cannot force people to become spiritual and look inwardly. People get spiritual when they hit rock bottom or they have some luck of insight or some spiritual understanding before they do. My only role is to be there in both instances.

        Just so there is no misunderstanding; I am not a Libertarian or a Republican. I am a Daoist and would call myself an Anarchist (Libertarian Socialist). I am also willing to give humanity the freedom to find out that freedom is a myth, even if that means it will die in the process. I care for humanity and wish it would not, but all I can do is talk to others. If they listen and the outcome are both out of my hands. That is what we call Wu Wei, actionless action, acting without care of the result.

        1. pretzelattack

          the equivalent of medicare for all works well in other countries. climate change is a physical problem in that a bunch of people will die if it isn’t addressed. people already are, in the increasingly severe storms.

        2. Bridget

          “Medicare for All? Sure, why not? Will that make people stop eating like crap and getting diabetes? Nope. People want the “freedom” to eat like crap but none of the societal responsibility.”

          Not only do they want freedom to eat like crap and get diabetes with zero responsibility, they want to foist the responsibility for the resulting massive health care issues on others while simultaneously making it politically incorrect to even suggest that maybe soft drinks and junk food ought not to be provided by the rest of us free of charge via SNAP. And, lest I be accused of picking on the poor, I look equally askance at the many non-poor diabetics I know who have brought their ill health upon themselves and who totally and completely resist reforming their lousy habits and feel completely entitled to shove their health care expenses on the rest of us. Access to the best health care does not change their habits one whit. On the contrary, my observation has been that they quickly learn to abuse their medications to facilitate their consumption of sweets.

          It is not, I am more and more convinced, possible to persuade many human beings to forego all sorts of pleasurable things that are very, very, bad for them. (Religion and the threat of Eternal Damnation did the trick for a few millennia but religion is losing it’s grip.) Even the horrible consequences they are sure to suffer will not deter most of them from drinking too much alcohol, eating too much garbage, smoking too many cigarettes, having unprotected sexwith the wrong people, etc. etc. etc.
          I am a Republican conservative genuinely trying to evaluate the pros and cons of Medicare For All. Chronic and expensive diseases resulting from a lifetime of really bad choices are a sticking point I am having difficulty wrapping my mind around.

          1. In the Land of Farmers

            Do not assume for a moment that I am against Medicare for All. While it solves nothing in terms of why people get sick it is still the most compassionate thing to do and will save money as well.

  16. Wukchumni

    We know now that in the early years of the 21st century, this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man’s and not mortal as his own. We know now that as human beings busied themselves about their various concerns, they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacence, people went to and fro over the earth about their little affairs, serene in the assurance of their dominion over this small spinning fragment of solar driftwood which by chance man has designed out of the dark mystery of Time and Space. Yet across an immense ethereal gulf, minds that are to our minds as ours are to the beasts in the jungle, artificial intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. In the 18th year of the 21st century came the great disillusionment. It was near the end of October. Business was better. The North Korean war scare was over. More men were back at work. Sales were picking up

    1. neighbor7

      I was thinking about Wells today–someone of whom it was said that he cared deeply about humanity, it was people he wasn’t too fond of.

  17. Kurt Sperry

    “The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative was flooded with thousands of requests earlier this month from companies eager to be excluded from tariffs that President Donald Trump imposed on an initial $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. Twenty-one days later, the opportunity for other companies to object (and the initial requester to reply) ended on Tuesday. That clears the way for USTR to start granting exclusions. However, it remains unclear how soon any decisions will be made”

    This is actually brilliant. Corporations come individually lined up begging for indulgences. The Trump Administration has at a stroke created a situation where they can negotiate quid pro quos with the beating heart of American business on a one-to-one basis, bypassing and nullifying all the collective organizational lobbying structures they have built to assert their influence as a group. It’s like negotiating bilateral trade agreements vs. negotiating with powerful trading blocs; the power assymetry is exponentially greater than what groups of businesses acting in concert are used to facing in trying to influence policy. Not quite divide and conquer, but divide and leverage the division to exert their power. If an industry group tries to hard ball them, they can offer a special deal to individual businesses within that group to split them off, like lions and a huge herd of wildebeest. Except the ones that are split off can negotiate special treatment instead of being dinner.

  18. Wukchumni

    Where do the retailers put all of the extra just-in-time imports they bought to beat the tariff, as the system doesn’t play warehousing all that much anymore?

  19. marym

    Native American tribe sues to stop North Dakota voter ID law before election

    A Native American tribe is suing to stop North Dakota’s new voter identification law before the midterm election vote next week, saying that the law disenfranchises voters living on reservations.

    The complaint centers around a state voter ID law that requires voters to provide a form of identification that includes their legal name, current street address and date of birth. The plaintiffs say the street address requirement poses a unique challenge to Native Americans who live on reservations or in rural areas…

    Many Native Americans “simply have no residential address because the government has not assigned them one. Others have been assigned an address, but it was never communicated to them,” the court document reads.

    …Many roads have been assigned “multiple, conflicting names,” the complaint reads, and many houses have “multiple, conflicting numbers.”

    Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the implementation of this voter ID law.

    1. Lynne

      It’s not just in North Dakota. Many rural areas have the same problem. I once had AT&T refuse to sign up service for my iPad because they insisted my address did not exist, accoutrements their computer. The fact that it was the new 911 address direct from the county auditor didn’t matter to them. The computer recognized an o.d HC address but ATT refused to use that because, even though it was also a physical address for the same location, it had the word box in it.

      1. marym

        Thanks for the interesting info. Sad to see the judge denied the tribe’s request. Hope you eventually had better luck getting service set up.

        A federal judge denied a motion on Thursday seeking relief from North Dakota’s voter identification law for Native American voters, but said the allegations in a lawsuit from the Spirit Lake Tribe give him “great cause for concern.”


    1. edmondo

      LOL> Down with Tyranny is not exactly an impartial source. He had Hillary winning 400 electoral votes.

  20. roxan

    Grand article from Long Reads! I have a friend who was devastated by his Vietnam War experience, and went to Jamaica when he was discharged. He lived up in the hills with maroons for a long time, and has remained a devoted Rasta ever since. He felt they saved his life.

  21. Wukchumni

    Think modern wildfires are bad? Fires once burned up to 36 times more of the West, study says

    Murphy said the research also shows that many are underestimating the risk wildfire poses to water supplies in the West.

    Fires have big implications for water in the region because “high severity wildfires can cause significant erosion and deliver substantial amounts of sediment to rivers,” hurting quality and storage capacity, the study said.

    Researchers said part of the solution should be increasing the amount of land subject to “managed wildfire,” so potential fire fuel can be burned off in controlled, low-risk conditions.


    There’s decades of work for our veterans to slowly but surely burn out all the debris in our forests for the trees, and they’re a good fit, as they were/are fit, as it’s physical labor.

    Pay them what they made in the military, with all the benefits.

    1. Unna

      “How Republics End” is, I think, an article to be taken to heart. Almost every event or trend mentioned has a modern correlative if you look closely at it. And I agree, history will not ignore you.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for the link and recommendation. A whole article in the WaPO without even a mention of Trump piqued my interest – just started listening to the podcasts on Rome and they’re really good.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Duncan is saying some pretty radical things in that informal, wry, quiet voice. I was very glad to see this Op-Ed, and I’m looking forward to his book on Lafayette.

      My only critique of History of Rome is that it’s a bit too “Great Men of History” for me, but he’s superb on the timeline and on storytelling, and in non-academic language, too.

      From the editorial, this:

      Like all ancient societies, Rome had always used slaves. But it wasn’t until after it had emerged as the strongest power in the Mediterranean that slaves by the hundreds of thousands flooded into Italy. From physical labor to skilled arts and crafts, the work of the Roman economy was increasingly performed by slaves. So just as lower-class citizens were pushed off their land, they were forced into a labor market flush with slaves with whom they could not hope to compete.

      Some in the Roman leadership could see clearly by the 130s and 120s B.C. that this socioeconomic dislocation was becoming an acute problem. They could see that, out in the countryside, families were losing their land, and in the cities, grain shortages were leading to panic and starvation. These poor families were certainly not sharing the benefits of Rome’s imperial wealth and power. So a new breed of popular reformers led by the Gracchi brothers, introduced laws aimed at restoring some dignity to those left behind — land redistribution, subsidized grain and a general reduction in the power of the senatorial oligarchy.

  22. cm

    In weird Portland Oregon, Hollywood Theatre is an awesome independent operation that screens unusual movies. Nov 7 they will present Wild In The Streets — a utopian 1968 movie I had never heard of:

    Max Frost and the Troopers are a psychedelic rock band that manage to take over the United States after the voting age is lowered to 16. The new regime legalizes all drugs, puts everyone over 30 into acid re-education camps, and creates a new hippie/fascist “utopia.”

    Power to the people!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Man I remember that film. They got an important law passed by putting acid into Washington’s water supply so all their opponents were too high to vote against them. They wanted to put anybody over thirty out of business. I won’t spoil the ending but let us say that what comes around goes around.

    2. Duck1

      I believe this was associated with Mike Curb who was associated with the reign of Ronnie ray gun as lt. gov. if my brain cells are properly aligned with the cosmos

        1. ambrit

          I’ve told this once before, but I and some friends, as teenagers, worked on making ‘hand made’ signs touting Dick Nixon for President that were used in the Convention Centre during the ’72 convention. It was well organized “spontaneity.”
          Nixon grew up a Quaker! And was a champion debater. (Then he went to China.)

            1. ambrit

              My friend Ralph did a sign proclaiming that; “There’s A Big Dick (Nixon) In Your Future!”
              We never found out if it was caught or was paraded around the Convention Centre floor.
              The underage sign makers were paid off with Burger King free food coupons. We weren’t all members of the Young Republicans Club. Some of us just wanted a dishonest days pay for a dishonest days work.

  23. allan

    Local Mike Pence camp follower mocks M4A:

    Administrator Seema Verma Verified account @SeemaCMS

    This year’s scariest Halloween costume goes to…

    Hilarity ensues.
    Or not, if you think that people dying because of undertreated medical conditions isn’t funny.

  24. Wukchumni

    Kinda funny that all of the First Children are anchor babies, as their mom didn’t become an American citizen until well after they were born.

  25. VietnamVet

    The end of the Roman Republic is apt to our time. How can the wealth generated by rising inequality be redistributed? Corporate Republicans are hopeless. So are corporate Democrats. The plebes will have to take things In hand. However, the elite are hammering down wedges that make this impossible. In 2016 corporate liberals became unreadable pushing Russia as the scapegoat for their diaspora.(Josh Marshall). In 2018 deplorable white males became unreadable (James Kunstler). In 2017 property storm damage and spending on aid and relief cost the US $306 billion. Growth in the US GDP at the same time was $788 billion. With the lack of infrastructure spending, climate change destruction and offshore hording, there is not enough wealth for repairs or for the plebes to live free and pursue happiness. Unless the ruling class give up some of their wealth, civil war is inevitable.

    1. ambrit

      Yes. The ‘Powers’ of today have forgotten the lessons of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Really, the New Deal was a New Lease on Life for capitalism. Nothing goes on forever.

  26. ambrit

    Here’s one for the “Big Brother Is Watching You” department.
    Following a string of links from one of my tinfoil hatt sites led me to this.
    Recognizing individual people on camera from their gait and gestures.
    Read: https://horizon-magazine.eu/article/cctv-software-identifies-people-their-walk.html
    Connect this up with Purdue Universities Homeland Security Institute and you get a world where everyone carrying a cellphone can be identified and tracked.
    Read: https://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/phsi/
    Read: https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2018/Q2/system-allows-surveillance-cameras-to-talk-to-the-public-through-individual-smartphones.html
    Orwell would be shocked, shocked I say!

      1. ambrit

        Phillip K Dick turns out to have been a Prophet yet again. Pre-Crime!
        One easy way for the Pentagon to predict political protest and violence is to call on over to Langley and Homeland Security and find out what they have on order.
        Basic business methodology. Cut out the middle man.

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