Link 10/25/18

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New Caledonian crows can create tools from multiple parts PhysOrg (Robert M)

Local Inaction Threatens China’s Snow Leopards, Report Says Sixth Tone

‘We don’t want all the attention’: Mother of 6-year-old boy whose birthday party guests were all no-shows speaks out Yahoo (Thomas D)

Discovery of Ancient Spearpoints in Texas Has Some Archaeologists Questioning the History of Early Americas Gizmodo (Kevin W)

We’re altering the climate so severely that we’ll soon face apocalyptic repercussions. Sucking carbon dioxide out of the air could save us. Business Insider (David L)

Remnants of Hurricane Willa to help fuel powerful East Coast nor’easter USA Today (David L)

Super Typhoon Yutu, ‘Strongest Storm Of 2018,’ Slams U.S. Pacific Territory NPR (David L)

A Zero-Carbon Economy Is Within Reach Project Syndicate (David L)

The Electric Future Will Run on Two Wheels Bloomberg

Mum’s voice makes better smoke alarm for children BBC

Global preferences for who to save in self-driving car crashes revealed The Verge (David L)

Apple and Samsung fined for deliberately slowing down phones Guardian (Kevin W)

Atmospheric Radiation Increasing from Coast to Coast in the USA Space Weather Archive. Glenn F: “It seems to be an effect from low solar activity.” From the post:

Who cares? For starters, anyone who flies. Cosmic radiation at aviation altitudes is typically 50 times that of natural sources at sea level. Pilots are classified as occupational radiation workers by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and, according to a recent study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, flight attendants face an elevated risk of cancer compared to members of the general population. They listed cosmic rays as one of several risk factors.

Psychedelic psilocybin therapy for depression granted Breakthrough Therapy status by FDA New Atlas (David L)

European parliament approves sweeping ban on single-use plastics Guardian (J-LS)

Draghi tries to dodge an Italian budget bullet Financial Times


To Unlock Brexit Talks, Britain Must Atone for a Sin of Empire: the Partition of Ireland Intercept. Very useful backgrounder. Ireland is the obvious problem, but the “future relationship” isn’t solved either, and that is a huge practical as well as negotiating problem. How can the UK exit and not have adequate internal agreement on the eventual shape of a trade and services deal?

May sets November date to trigger no-deal Brexit preparations Guardian

Brexit deal ‘progress is at 0%’ until Irish border solved, warns Guy Verhofstadt Independent

Theresa May does little to reassure her Brexit critics at crunch backbenchers meeting City AM versus May quells dissident Tories with ‘heartfelt’ plea for unity Financial Times

Nicola Sturgeon sees ‘ever greater’ prospect of no Brexit deal Reuters

New Cold War

‘US would be history if Russia nukes Yellowstone volcano with mega-bombs’ – expert RT (Chuck L)

Pence Won’t Rule Out Nuclear Weapons in Space as Plans for New Force Begin (Kevin W)


Khashoggi Drama – A Deal Has Been Made But Will It Hold? Moon of Alabama

Leak by Leak: Erdogan Exerts His Leverage Over the Saudis Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch (J-LS)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

‘City of Surveillance’: Google-backed smart city sounds like a dystopian nightmare RT. Kevin W: “Creepy video.”

How to Clear Your Search History Off of Google’s Servers With the Company’s Latest Update LifeHacker (David L). If you think the NSA doesn’t retain this info, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

The One Place in the US Google Earth Stopped Mapping Motherboard (JTM)

Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin NPR

Ecuador says Assange must sort out own issues with Britain Guardian (Brooklyn Bridge) :-(

Trump Transition

Donald Trump attacks ‘media hostility’ after mail bombs BBC

US watchdog: Agencies ‘unaware’ of child separation policy BBC (David L)

China and Russia listen in on Trump’s personal phone calls: NYT The Hill

For Senate Success, Democrats Must Regain Obama-Era Black Support Wall Street Journal

New York Attorney General Files Suit Against Exxon for Climate Fraud Climateability News (J-LS)

West Virginia House Race Becomes a Coal Industry Proxy War, Pitting Executives Against Mine Workers Intercept

New McCarthyism

Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media ‘Just the Beginning,’ Warns Top Neocon Insider Consortiumnews (UserFriendly)

Tesla shares soar on surprise third-quarter profit that beats Wall Street expectations CNBC

Here’s what happens when police pull over a driverless car Stuff. Lambert flags the last para. And my question in light of the pipe bomb frisson of yesterday: how come no one seems worried about driverless cars as a perfect way to deliver car bombs?

This Stock Market Is “Gradually” Rotting Under the Covers Wolf Street (EM)

The cost of data protectionism VoxEU. I’d love to know who paid for this, or whether this is the intellectual version of working toward the Fuhrer. And see this: Apple and Facebook call for EU-style privacy laws in US Financial Times.

SEC Won’t Release ‘Speed Bump’ Study It Promised Two Years Ago Wall Street Journal

Janet Yellen sounds alarm over plunging loan standards Financial Times

Class Warfare

How China’s economic rise killed off 3.4 million US jobs Asia Times

An Alternative History of Silicon Valley Disruption Wired. Chuck L highlighted this part:

It is only now, a decade after the financial crisis, that the American public seems to appreciate that what we thought was disruption worked more like extraction—of our data, our attention, our time, our creativity, our content, our DNA, our homes, our cities, our relationships. The tech visionaries’ predictions did not usher us into the future, but rather a future where they are kings.

Education Corporation of America files for receivership: Using lawyers’ tricks to suck up more federal student-loan money Condemned to DEBT (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour. Again from Tracie H:” Sea Lion in Newport Beach Harbor. ‘What a nice man; letting me use his fishing boat for sunbathing!’”

And a bonus video:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Wukchumni

    Ask your doctor if a Liberty Cap* is right for you!

    This is how Americans became cognizant of fun fungi, via a 1957 Life magazine article:

    Psychedelic psilocybin therapy for depression granted Breakthrough Therapy status by FDA New Atlas

    * side effects could be glorious, but please ingest somewhere in nature’s realm to assure it happens.

    1. abynormal

      Indeed. -When the light turns green, you go. When the light turns red, you stop. But what do you do when the light turns blue with orange and lavender spots?-
      Shel Silverstein

      Sid sends good tidings…

    2. flora

      Liberty cap? * A reference to the French Rev. so early in the morning? ;)


    3. Kurt Sperry

      Liberty cap is the common name for the Psilocybe semilanceata, a common pasture mushroom across the Northern temperate zone of the US and Eurasia. We are probably in or near peak season for them in the coastal PNW where I usually hang out.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Ahh, yes: hordes of hippies carefully inspecting the cow patties, a yearly spectacle. I used to live at the coast, too. Farmers hate it – those that haven’t started charging admission. Or harvesting and selling the “caps” themselves.

      1. ambrit

        You bought??!!
        We used to go collecting shrooms on the Northshore. Start out at three or four in the morning some balmy spring night. Luckily, we weren’t dumb enough to try it drunk or stoned. One year a fellow down the hall joined us and collected several five gallon buckets of cow plops and grew the ‘Tickets to Paradise’ in his closet.
        I’m convinced that the “War on Drugs” is mostly about enforcing social conformity.
        One memorable night a few of us consumed some caps and went out to see Al Copeland’s Christmas light show over in Metairie. Twinkly colours!

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Donald Trump attacks ‘media hostility’ after mail bombs”

    Donald Trump calling for civility? Well as Hillary Clinton called for the opposite I would call that a win for the Don. I doubt that any of those parcels were ever going to reach their recipients though as they have far too much protection. Not like us muppets. My guess is that someone was either trying to give out a message or else to drum up votes for the mid-terms in a fortnight’s time.
    In a newsflash today, several leading Republicans received their own parcels in the mail today but which turned out to contain boxes of breakfast cereals. Dick Cheney received a box of Apple Jacks, Bill Kristol received a box of Cap’n Crunch, George W. Bush received a box of Corn Flakes while Mark Rubio received box of Crispix .
    The FBI announced that they are now on the lookout for a cereal bomber.

    1. Skip Intro

      Finally, the October surprise is revealed. Terrorism hysteria helps conservatives… bye bye blue wave.

      1. tegnost

        maybe not, follow the hysteria, who’s voters are most likely to be energized by these acts? Poor queen hillary and say it ain’t so joe biden….throw in a little soros…ISTM the conservative draw is the migrant caravan, the liberal deflection is the current kerfluffle (so far as I know no one has been harmed in this act) and we have not seen anything close to an october surprise at this juncture…but I may be addicted to skepticism…

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      “…one computer gag: “What kind of murderer has moral fibre? A cereal killer,” did surprisingly well, ranking higher than a third of all other jokes.” []

  3. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Readers in the UK and perhaps overseas may be aware of a #MeToo story bubbling in Blighty. Readers may not be surprised that it concerns a British friend and, on his Caribbean island, host of St Barack. As we say in French, “Jamais deux sans trois.” One wonders which associate of St Barack is next.

        1. paul

          Your blind suggested the bearded plunderer of public services to me, the third might have a sweeter name than his nature.

          I suppose green is already damaged enough to out without shaking our faith in the entrpreneurial class.

    1. ChristopherJ

      Thank you, Colonel. RB was always a bit too flash, always having ‘fun’, always seen with ‘beauties’ around him

      Hope they get him, would feel as good Rolf

  4. Wukchumni

    What happens if the Dow Jonestown players that be, overshoot to the downside in an effort to sway the election, and it doesn’t work?


    I’m glad the dog in the video was saved, but almost always when a human tries to save a perro from peril who fell into rushing water, the person dies and the pooch is unharmed and makes it out of the water.

    1. a different chris

      A dog of mine was once way out in a raging river (an old fashioned 0-10ft deep 50ft wide rocky river) because I guess she liked the challenge, and my mom got excited and told me I had to go out and “save” her.

      I started laughing. I said, pretty much what you just did, that if it could make the dog struggle then I was a dead man. The dog eventually thrashed her way back to shore, happy as a, well, clam.

      1. begob

        Similar story during a storm on the Irish coast – more air in the water than water in the air. My brother started to take his shoes off, and I … advised him against taking the plunge. Young Duchie caught a wave that dumped her back in the rock pools. She then ran onto the beach and spent ten minutes in the shallows, scuba diving for rocks and coughing them up on the sand. Crazy bitch!

      2. Doug Hillman

        We saved a dog once, struggling to escape one of Phoenix’s mal-desgned fast-flowing canals — though not by foolishly jumping in. It was a black lab unfamiliar with OSHA marked steps cast into the rough, steep gunnite (shotcrete) banks at long intervals. We called and coaxed it to one of these ladders. It got out totally exhausted with bloody paws . . . and gratitude. Times like that make life worth living.

    2. Todde

      At my wedding reception we saw a dog in the water trying to get up on the dock.

      My best man and i eventually had to pull him out of the water.

      Spent a pretty penny paying for water damage on the tux rental

  5. Steve H.

    > We’re altering the climate so severely that we’ll soon face apocalyptic repercussions. Sucking carbon dioxide out of the air could save us. Business Insider
    > A Zero-Carbon Economy Is Within Reach Project Syndicate (David L)

    Buried lede: “massive investment”

    : Technology = monetizing entropy. (Second Law of Thermodynamics)
    : Focus on CO2 using methods that increase CH4, N2O, etc. (Feedback Loops)
    : “An Inconvenient Truth” is that the tour was a Bond Drive for carbon tax credits.
    : Using electricity to make fuel molecules? That’s just.. o read this.

    You want technological, how about dumping heat off the planet without losing molecules? (Durnit, where’s that link?)

    Carbon capture? I give you: PLANTAE. Wood Is Good.

    * Here’s a symbol for ‘green technology’: A green bezel.

      1. Steve H.

        The advantage of the first four of those ways is that they induce positive feedback loops. Life is the best leverage, you get the advantage of billions of years of experimentation available at low cost. And it flows uphill.

        Because we’re standing on stargoop, we’ve got millions of years of scalable cleanish energy available with geothermal. But it doesn’t concentrate well, so it’s hard to control and weaponize.

        Our monkeybrain ethics recognize moderating power usage, but haven’t found a way to fully engage Odum‘s 6th Law. From nuclear bombs to free capital flows and cryptocurrency theft, we loves us some rapid energy exchanges.

        “So distribution should undo excess, And each man have enough.”

      2. liam

        Using wetlands is a no-brainer, but with forests I’d worry. I love them, but we first have to get our heads around what forests are and where they should grow.

        Typically when a country reforests, economic reasons and incentives dictate matters. The first is the dreaded discount rate. Trees take a long time to grow, and if there’s an intention to harvest, the higher the discount rate, the less likely appropriate species are to get planted. In essence the return is pushed too far out into the future.

        Second, when reforesting, the relevant stakeholders includes the various owners of land. Farmers typically, seek to use their marginal land for forests. Marginal land is also typically, boggy, marsh type land which is not of much use for agriculture in any case, but is however, of immense ecological value, (including as a carbon and methane sink). So in seeking to use this land, it is drained, and whilst there is a gross carbon capture from planting trees on it, the methane released make the carbon capture net negative.

        Third, when reforesting, and selecting species to plant, the simplest species to model are usually those that are selected. Typically with straight bole, uniform lifespan and growth-rates, and broad site tolerance. Monocultures are the norm, and thus conifers, (usually a spruce of one kind or another), fits the bill. Conifers, are dark, and remain dark throughout the winter. This has the net effect of darkening the albedo of the earths surface, and thus, despite subtracting carbon, increasing the effects of warming nonetheless. Due to the prevalence of coniferous forests, European forests are considered a net negative in terms of warming effect.

        In saying all that, we most definitely should be planting more forests, but it cannot be allowed to be determined by the money men or by industry. Equally, we need to be very aware of just how easy it is to greenwash our efforts, whilst actually making things worse. I’ve only scratched the surface above. Other issues such as acidification of soils also come into play. Truth be told, the explicit intention should be to determine how much land we truly need and to re-wild the rest.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, forestry and CO2 emissions are complex things – I’ve seen models that suggest that a reforestation programme for the Sahara could, under some conditions actually increase temperatures. Another problem is that afforestation in northern lattitudes can lead to emissions from boggy soils. In reality, more appropriate management of existing forests would probably be the most cost effective and safest approach.

          1. liam

            Thanks PK. The answer is, as with most things, it depends.

            Take Ireland for example. If we were to grow oak and beech woods, we could only grow them on brown earth / loamy type soils. That’s tillage land. The benefits of doing so would be immense, but so are the costs. And the discount rate really works against you there. So if you are a farmer with quality land like that, what you’re probably going to plant, is something like Douglas Fir. A great quality wood, that will give you a relatively early yield, but is nonetheless a non-native conifer with a dark albedo effect. What you might do, if you’ve done it right, is a mix, so that when one acts as a nurse for the other. Douglas and oak work well.

            What is pasture land could support a wide variety of species, oak, ash, hornbeam, and along our rivers we could have riparian woods of alder, birch etc. These would be ideal, but once again, cattle is king.

            So instead we forest on our ‘marginal’ boggy land, with the predominant species being Sitka Spruce from the pacific north west.

            It’s amazing really, the intersection between the monetary system and something such as forestry. The only way, non destructive, beneficial investments in forestry occur is through large scale investments with a, (basically negative), interest rate. And in our system, the only time that occurs is when governments are in retrenchment and not spending on things like forestry. The Germans, luckily have been managing such resources for centuries now. As far as I’m aware, they don’t apply a discount rate on their accounts as they’re managing an on-going resource. Also, their level of sophistication is superb. They use single tree selection systems. It’s an art.

            But frankly, I often think that climate change is caused by modern accounting.

            1. PlutoniunKun

              Yes, the Irish forestry policy is a horrible mess. A bit like those blobs of conifers that destroy the landscapes.

              Mind you, a few weeks ago I found myself (long story) right in the middle of a former worked raised bog – near 100 sq km in extent. On google view it is mostly brown, with some scrub. But with just five years of being untouched its a dense, deep forest of birch and alder, almost impenetrable (we could do with some wild boar here). Standing on the sole bit of raised bog in the middle felt almost like being in the Amazon.

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  Not too far from there, close to Prosperous village, but it’s not supposed to be open to the public.

                  1. liam

                    Well, it’s great to see what they’re doing with those sites. I was delighted to see what they’d done in Lough Boora. It’s a template for what they can do all about the Shannon Basin.

                    You’re right to reference the Amazon by the way. One of the outstanding features of bogs is the similarity between the plants of the bogs and the epiphytes of the rainforest canopy. It’s hard to believe sometimes, but there are years when the precipitation levels approach rainforest territory.

                    As for the boar, while they’d definitely help, the forest will open up anyway. Birch and alder grow in dense thickets in their early stages, but open up as they give way to other species. I’d love to see how forest succession proceeds on those sites.

                    Well, I hope the midges didn’t treat you too unkindly :)

                    1. The Rev Kev

                      I think that deer added to the mixture might help as well. Try to recreate how the land was in ancient times as near as possible. Did Ireland ever have beavers?

                1. liam

                  Beat me to it. I remember cracking when I heard him say that. He’s bang on too. A lot of those little pockets of pubic forestry will never be harvested. It makes no economic sense. Crazy stuff really.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          Instead of trees perhaps bamboo would be a better choice? Trees have difficulty dealing with the kind of weather that’s coming. And if trees or any other plant it might be best to chose those most likely to fit into the most likely future climate.

          1. Tinky

            Whatever one does, do not choose (fast growing) Eucalyptus. They are a disastrous contributor to forest fires here in Portugal.

            1. The Rev Kev

              And California. You should see what they can do here in their land of origin Australia. They can literally explode in a bad fire. Our bad exporting those.

              1. Jeremy Grimm

                They make excellent firewood. But the wood is so brittle and their leaf and seed trash so toxic to other plants they were indeed a poor addition to California’s plant life. Some varieties are a nice change over cactus and succulents which are the likely inheritors of the California plant scene as regular rainfall and water becomes more and more a memory outside Central Valley aquifer fed Almonds and rice.

        3. KPC

          So, we are all supposed to wait to plant a tree because a tree takes so long to grow?

          We are all supposed to wait to change how we grow food because… .

          We are all supposed to wait for some idiot to come with yet another machine to fix it all so we do not have to change our behavior… . The post modern era or the industrial revolution or the age of machines…might be a small factor in this very problem? Take a look at Alexander von Humboldt, Johann von Goethe and Simon Bolivar? This problem is not vaguely new.

          Analysis paralysis.

          So, yesterday and today we planted a few trees including fruit bearing, we planted a few ornamentals and we planted a few vegetables here on this law and accounting firm’s lot and building which we have been renovating or recycling, as you choose, for some four years now. By our Gods and Goddesses, those plants are filters of the air as we live in a metro area of about 2.5 million and they look kind of nice to and they shade the building so it is a bit cooler without using a single flipping machine.

          It actually was a nice day for a little exercise out doors as well. And we taught a student that law and accounting is administration and we might possibly want to educate ourselves in our agricultural and food provider clients’ PRODUCTIVE business because us lawyers, accountants and diplomats probably need to eat a healthy diet so we can get to an appropriate level of assisting our clients administer their productive businesses… .

          Then, of course, there is that fabulous doctor to me who would probably agree that healthy food and a clean environment might allow the lady to have a day off… . The gripe or flu has been, well, weaving its way through the ‘hood and Central Valley.

          Tis in the Karma Sutra: Pure water, pure air, pure food leads to a pure life. It also leads to a whole lot less contamination. And, of course, we do have to start somewhere including simply changing our behavior – time, you know, is a circle. It is the cycle of life, the rhythm of life.

          A final observation. One cannot eat money. Money is the conveyancing system which allows us people to trade our goods and services… .

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I must revise my three-option future by adding a fourth:

      1) Business as usual–wars, pestilence, famine, disasters reduce population and carbon emissions (contra: Bendell);

      2) Authoritarian, Statist solution–Panopticon employed to cut carbon emissions;

      3) Great Awakening–near universal shift in values and lifestyle cuts carbon emissions;

      4) Big Bang–carnival barker like Musk sells elites on technological “solution” that goes wrong and ends life on Earth.

      That last one really scares me. The upside is that the 10%-ers wouldn’t have to live without the perks they bargained for when they sold their souls.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        2) a Green Dictator?

        If the human race depends on a great soul to let him/herself to be the bad guy/gal, in order that others can live and can remain virtuous (no dirty work for them), would he/she make the sacrifice?

        In Buddhism, that is the concept behind bodhisattva…let others enjoy first.

        1. Eduardo

          But don’t you want the experts at safely handling carbon to be in charge? They have a proven track record!
          Just imagine, if they could do for the atmosphere what they have done for water with fracking!

    2. Wukchumni

      You meant to write ‘bezzle’, but in urban slang, bezel means indulging in ecstasy, or in old school terms-the rim around the face of a watch.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I’m not opposed to solar energy or wind for that matter but I am a little skeptical of visions like that in the Project Syndicate link: “Zero-Carbon…” for reasons similar to the reasons I”m extremely skeptical of the PNAS push for carbon capture. [PNAS was also ‘big’ behind the “Gathering Storm” panic about too few STEM graduates and STEM employees for the future.]
      Zero-Carbon: “Building a zero-carbon economy will of course require massive investment in power production and transmission, new industrial plants, and more efficient equipment.” Further down it mentions “carbon pricing” another disturbing ‘tell’. Tell me all the calls and robo-calls trying to sell me a solar energy installation are motivated by a desire to make the world zero-carbon. I rent and would not be inclined to invest in a solar energy installation with a nice new note to pay for the long-term investment it represents or the liabilities I might adopt for the impacts the installation might have on my landlord’s roof. In a future where poorly built McMansions sheathed with sheets of compressed and glued wood-chips stand in distant subdivisions — who will benefit from the solar panels they pile on their roofs?

      Another quote from “Zero-Carbon” link:”Governments must deliver [–] carbon pricing [–] and product regulation and support key technologies and infrastructures, and companies in the energy-producing and main energy-using sectors must develop strategies focused on how to achieve zero emissions by mid-century and how to begin the transition today.” The IPCC reports — not just the last one — include carbon capture among the strategies for dealing with Climate Disruption. Even the greenest of green projects can have a Neoliberal underbelly that gives me pause wondering whether the outcome will be zero-carbon or a lot of green for the proponents of the projects. Building solar panels isn’t geoengineering but the way it is implemented need not be green or zero-carbon.

      Unlike Libertarians, and Neoclassicals — Neoliberals have no qualms about using governments to achieve profitable ends. We are entering stage three of the Neoliberal uses for Climate Disruption — ref> Prof. Philip Mirowski keynote for ‘Life and Debt’ conference minute 46:37 slide: “Ultimate Long-Term fix [3] Geoengineering by Private Firms to Further Alter Climate” It would be bad to toss aside a nostrum solely on account of its polluted motivations but it would be most unwise not to be very skeptical in today’s political-economic environment.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I’m not at all up to speed on the various climate solutions.

        But given the dominant ideology for the last 40 years, if carbon pricing worked, wouldn’t it already be working?

        Pause for discussion, including examples of where it’s working, discussion of what “working” means, discussion of working for whom, etc….

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Mirowski discusses the carbon tax ‘solution’ on the slides leading up to the slide on step [3] of the Neoliberal approach to dealing with Climate Change. Mirowski has a nice slide showing how carbon taxes worked for the EU at 43:22. Go to 41:46 to see his slide “[2] Carbon Permit Trading Invented by Neoliberals”. Carbon taxes don’t work. They aren’t supposed to work. They buy time for Neoliberal step [3] … geoengineering … where there is some serious government and private money to be helped from its current owners.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I believe solar and wind energy are partial climate and energy ‘solutions’. The only ‘real’ solution might have been something like cold-fusion or even ITER style fusion if they ever get it working — which I doubt will happen. But solar and wind power — as presently implemented — are very dependent on very specialized materials and processing techniques which in their turn are dependent on the high levels of specialization of our engineers and scientists — implying a large population which the near future will not support with food and water — and on widely spread support technologies with similar bases of technology and technical personnel. If we have a way to generate power locally … why incur the substantial costs and losses resulting from physically concentrating the generation of that power and then distributing it as is presently done. Batteries are a very mature technology and without some true breakthrough they are at a point of diminishing returns. Why make great efforts to retain a way of life and a way of achieving it we will not be able to sustain? Many of the uses of electric power could be more directly supported. One of the best examples is the use of solar energy to warm water for our baths and showers. A little thought might suggest we should rethink what we really truly need to live a good life. Many of today’s necessities like washing machines, frequent hot showers and baths — at least as they are done in the West — multiple changes of clothing, our many energy costly entertainments … all might deserve a little unmoral discussion.

          We have learned and discovered so much — I believe as a direct consequence of our profligate use of fossil fuels. What we have acquired, humankind might never again be able to relearn or recreate. Humankind stands on the brink of great discoveries and learning if only we might preserve what we have learned so far and equip future generations with the kind of society that will allow and enable them to arrive at those waiting discoveries and advances so cruelly and stupidly halted by Neoliberal control of Science even as humankind stands at the entrance doorway to a new age of wonders.

  6. Colonel Smithers

    Readers may pipe up about The reference to the Radetzky March made me think of a chat with friends, all of us the children of immigrants who arrived in the 1960s, last year. We thought that once Lillibet moved on, the union, if it survives Brexit, and monarchy will end not long after.

    Having visited dad when he served in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s, one could not imagine that the Orange State and its imperial sponsor would come to an end within two generations.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its a lovely essay, very thoughtful. I must admit to almost always been caught in two minds between being instinctively in favour of the desire for self determination of small nations, while aware that very often these simply become a vehicle for bigotry and ethnic nationalism. For all its faults, the Austro Hungarian empire (and other empires) often did a pretty good job of forcing everyone to live side by side and get along.

      1. makedoanmend

        “Force” being the operative word. If overt sectarian laws made to discriminate against their own so-called citizens, pogroms and a police state as evidenced by the six counties in Ireland are anything to go by, I think we could have done without big brother’s cohesive forces. There is a huge chasm between cooperation and coercion on one’s quality of life and indeed existence.

        (Not having a go at you PK, I just think there is a little too much of a glossing over of the creations of the Orange statelet and how it came into being and its mode of operation. This is especially poignant given how brexit and the unionist/tories are handling the situation. Not good and getting worse. Not learning from very recent history and all that….)

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I wasn’t actually thinking of the British empire – like most empires with ‘far’ possessions it used divide and conquer to hold them. I think they tend to be different beasts than the likes of the A-H empire or the Ottomans who existed more through an inability of the smaller nations to get their act together than active conquest (yes, I know this is a gross simplication).

          1. makedoanmend

            All to the good…like I said, not having a cheap pop at yee…and my knowledge of A-H is pretty fuzzy at best…have to go back to my leaving cert/a-level days in the last century and try to remember about Bismark etc. to even jog the memory…about the only historical person I can place in that time is Gregor Mendel

      2. Olga

        Well, perhaps one had to be there… I could not really see the point of the article. The author skips over so much history to express seeming nostalgia – for what? Austro-Hungarian empire? Really? Are we talking about the same people, who forcefully annexed large swaths of Central and Southern Europe, suppressed, and exploited them for centuries – sucking them dry of resources and talent for their own aggrandisement? Only historically blind/ignorant can think that this was a good thing. Have we forgotten how many rebellions there were to shake off the Hapsburg boot (or, the Hungarian one in the case of Slovakia and Romania).
        Yes, Vienna is lovely – a marvelous example of an imperial city – built with the toil of people who could rarely benefit from it. But has anyone, who ever visited Vienna, noticed how many businesses bear Slavic names? What that tells me is that – to prosper – one had to move to the Austrian territory, abandoning one’s own (that’s the reference to the stripping of talent).
        Yes, Bratislava – the capitol of Slovakia – was multi-cultural. It is said that three languages were spoken there: Slovak in the morning (with the servants), Hungarian at lunch (with one’s gossipy friends), and German in the evenings (high society). Thus, Slovaks in their own land as servants only. How is that a good thing?
        Those who know history well will tell you that there has been an almost 1000-year struggle by the Slavic peoples against undue German power. Today, the brief period of USSR’s influence s gone, but the countries in the region are not free – too dependent on the German economic might and politically largely subservient to US demands (as is Germany, ironically). So it’s just a (geo-political) game of musical chairs; however, little changes for the locals.
        The Hapsburgs also enforced divisions along economic lines: some areas were deemed industrialised (Bohemia), some agricultural only (Slovakia, Romania) – there was typically very little hope for a more robust economic development. The USA would not have had Andy Warhol (or, Andrej Varhola) had moving overseas not been the only possibility of a better life for many in the eastern part of the AH empire.
        And as for “…often did a pretty good job of forcing everyone to live side by side and get along.” Perhaps the operative word here is “forcing.” But even that is not accurate. In just one example, Hapsburgs artificially promoted a Ukrainian dialect to become “the” language – all in an effort to split the various minorities in the area that is today western Ukraine. Divide and conquer was as much a Hapsburg MO as it was for the Brits.
        And then, remember, suppressing people’s grievances for too long usually leads to eruptions of struggles and violence. Europe has certainly seen enough of those… while later, polite people wonder about “petty nationalism.” Yes, surprise…
        And the author’s mention of Hasek’s Good Soldier Svejk is a funny one, indeed, Perhaps she’d not read it – as there is hardly a better example of a protest against imperial power, albeit related to us through biting satire. It came out well after 1918 – Hapsburgs would likely have not permitted it to see the light of day.

        1. makedoanmend

          Thanks for the insights Olga…like I said, my knowledge of A-H is a laughable and I only received information about it in the context of German and Italian unification in the nineteenth century – hence very little. And I gotta say, it was pretty dry material to study for an Irish student. But I might have to revisit that region’s development in the coming years. I suspect it will play a more vital part in European politics over the next couple of decades. It seems the European political centre is moving Eastwards for those of us viewing from the most Westward edge of Europe.

          1. blennylips

            I echo makedoanmend Olga, and appreciate your taking the time.

            > The author skips over so much history

            Yes! One of the enduring mysteries of smart people with way to much time on their hands concerns “The Martians”. How is it that so many founders of the modern science/maths revolution came from Hungary?


            “The Martians” were a group of prominent Hungarian scientists of Jewish descent (mostly, but not exclusively, physicists and mathematicians) who emigrated to the United States in the early half of the 20th century. They included, among others, Theodore von Kármán, John von Neumann, Paul Halmos, Eugene Wigner, Edward Teller, George Pólya, John G. Kemeny and Paul Erdős. They received the name from a fellow Martian Leó Szilárd, who jokingly suggested that Hungary was a front for aliens from Mars. In an answer to the question of why there is no evidence of intelligent life beyond earth despite the probability of it existing, Szilárd responded: “They are already here among us – they just call themselves Hungarians.”

            Read this one at your own risk:; I’m just diving in now.

        2. Wukchumni

          The Good Soldier Švejk is a how-to guide to comedy so black @ times, you need a flashlight to read it.

    2. Wukchumni

      The Slovaks, ethnically and linguistically Slavic, like the Czechs, were invited by Masaryk to share the new country so as to increase the population, but he treated them with disdainful paternalism. So it was that right at the start of his years as president, Masaryk unwittingly insulted and humiliated two powerful minorities.

      I’m 50.000009% Czech & 49.999991% Slovak*, and according to my mom, it’s very similar to the relationship between Americans and Mexicans, one looks down on the other with disdain.

      * Masaryk’s father was Slovak and his mother Czech, i’m the other way around.

    3. Unna

      So here’s my impressionistic take on that article which I enjoyed:

      *The grandmother would have liked to pay in Euros.* “Alle Menschen werden Brüder” and all that.

      But I read the other day that for Germany the euro is 10% undervalued and for Italy the euro is 9% overvalued. Result: Export economy for the Germans, but for the Italians, austerity, foreign political interference, and unemployment. Such is the fate of those countries which continue to exist as de facto subordinate dominions of greater powers.

      *…the European Union put an end to Putin’s dream of extending Russia’s dominance into Europe.*

      Really? Didn’t the Russians try that twice in Eastern Europe, once under the Tsars and again under the Soviets? Drained money and resources and created political opposition within the “empire”. My bet is Putin has about as much interest in reoccupying Poland as the USA has in reoccupying Vietnam. Just don’t tell the Poles because they have such a great deal going for themselves with all those billions they’ll be paying for Fort Trump.

      Truly so much genuine culture nurtured for so long under Austria-Hungary and from so many sources brought to a particular overripe sweetness by the turn of the last century which we can all still enjoy shouldn’t distract us from the issues that brought that empire to collapse:

      “Nationalist and separatist movements grew in strength during the Great War and pressed for independence from the Empire.” I thought those movements started BEFORE the Great War. The Archduke got shot before the War because somebody really didn’t like him for some reason. And so where did all these movements come from and what were their grievances? Article doesn’t say. Toss in for good measure Wilsonian “idealistic” self determination for all the broken pieces of enemy empires, but not for Britain, France, or America. And voila, the tinder box for WWII. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

      *(Prague’s) multiculturalism, inherited from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was one of its distinguishing features.*

      But it was an uneasy multiculturalism, and when the Czechs got in control after WWI they in turn disregarded their own minorities which undermined them against Germany in the 1930’s and broke them apart after the end of the Cold War as the article points out.

      Anyway. So now the UK too might be stumbling towards the final resting place of all empires. Managing Brexit might be too ambitious a project. Maybe Mrs. May ought to be calculating how to manage as peacefully as she can the dissolution of what’s left of empire (see today’s excellent Intercept article) and without bloodshed save England to rule for that little boy, or for Corbyn or BoJo, whatever. If she does that and England emerges as a prosperous, peaceful, and respected Northern European country she’ll be lauded by the notables of the world to no end, though like Gorbachev, she’ll be hated in her own land.

      1. zer0

        “But it was an uneasy multiculturalism, and when the Czechs got in control after WWI they in turn disregarded their own minorities which undermined them against Germany in the 1930’s and broke them apart after the end of the Cold War as the article points out.”

        What are you talking about?

        Like seriously, none of that is true or makes any sense.

        Czechoslovakia split was a bloodless, mostly economically founded decision between both countries fueled by the disagreements between Kalus and Meciar, the two prime ministers of Cz and Sl. In fact, the Czech side had been giving budget surpluses to the Slovak side, which was ended in 1991. The split was in 92 and initiated mostly by the Slovaks (I wonder why…). The media centers were different, the people mostly segregated anyways, except in the border towns.

        And yet you say it was because of multiculturalism or lack thereof. Not at all. It was because two states, which were joined by mostly paper a similar language, were in actuality run separately, had separate economies, separate laws, etc.

        And the 1930’s thing, I wont even bother detailing it. Hitler sent a message of war. Benes got the military ready, but asked for England & France’s aid. They denied it. He then ordered all troops to stand down, a remarkably good decision in retrospective: Prague and virtually all Czech cities remained untouched and undamaged, and there wasnt a hopeless loss of life. The germans outnumbers the Cz’s and Sl’s 20 to 1.

        1. Wukchumni

          My father, like most of his generation, never forgave the English & French for appeasing der fuhrer, but Prague was hardly touched in the war, whereas Warsaw was blown to smithereens, so you just never know how things will turn out.

        2. Unna

          Well, from my reading the Czechs after WWI didn’t exactly go out of their way to make the German minority happy. The Sudeten Germans were left in Czechoslovakia in violation of Wilson’s policy of self determination primarily to give the Czechs a more militarily defensible position due to a mountain range. In any case the Czechs started off with land and currency confiscations, see Wikipedia:

          “Early policies of the Czechoslovak government, intended to correct social injustice and effect a moderate redistribution of wealth, had fallen more heavily on the German population than on other citizens. In 1919, the government confiscated one-fifth of each individual’s holdings in paper currency.

          The Land Control Act brought the expropriation of vast estates, many belonging to German-speaking nobility or large estate owners. Land was allotted primarily to Czech peasants, often landless, who constituted the majority of the agricultural population. Only 4.5 percent of all land allotted by January 1937 was received by ethnic Germans, whose protests were expressed in countless petitions.”

          So the Czechs violated at least two pieces of Machiavelli’s advice for a prince taking over a new territory: Don’t take peoples’ property and don’t change the laws, at least not too much. Also there were school issues, cultural issues, governance and business issues, etc, as I remember. Payback is hell, sure. But when you are a small people living right next door to a very large and powerful neighbor, why mess with their “ethnic countrymen” because the accident of a war and a border gives you the temporary power to do so?

          What steps did the Czechs take to win the loyalty of their German neighbors? My impression when reading about this awhile back is not much. In 1938 as the Sudeten Crisis was beginning to boil up Chamberlain sent a British lord to Czechoslovakia to report back. He found “…these complaints to be in the main justified. Even as late as the time of my Mission, I could find no readiness on the part of the Czechoslovak Government to remedy them.” Wikipedia article.

          So at the time there was not much sympathy for the Czechs. The real issue was geopolitical. Unfortunately, the power seeking to help the Sudeten Germans was not a democratic politically liberal Germany, but a Germany now run by Hitler and the Nazi Party. Germany wanted the Sudentenland back but the German minority there also wanted to get out from under Czech rule.

          Nobody was going to go to war for the Czechs. But they might have gone to war against Hitler if not for two things, Poland wouldn’t let Soviet troops cross it’s border to attack the Germans, and, Poland itself wanted and in fact got a portion of Czechoslovakia for itself, making Poland Hitler’s “ally” in the event.

          But of course, national hatred and ethnic aggrandizement in this part of the world never seem to end. Even during the war the Czech government in exile called for the expulsion of Germans, aka, the ethnic cleansing of Germans from Czechoslovakia. At the end of the war over 2 million Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia. These expulsions were ordered and carried out by one President Benes.

          1. Unna

            This is not to “take sides” in any way. Good guys are hard to find when studying history. The job is to find out what happened and why it happened leaving moral sentiments aside for the moment. That gives clarity. A kind of cause and effect and hopefully with some lessons learned. See Machiavelli for example.

            Once all this is established, the morality of the behavior of historical actors can be discussed. In his poem “September 1, 1939”, WH Auden rightfully spoke of a low and dishonest decade. I wonder what they’ll write about our times:

            I sit in one of the dives
            On Fifty-second Street
            Uncertain and afraid
            As the clever hopes expire
            Of a low dishonest decade:
            Waves of anger and fear
            Circulate over the bright
            And darkened lands of the earth,
            Obsessing our private lives;
            The unmentionable odour of death
            Offends the September night.

  7. Eclair

    RE: To Unlock Brexit Talks, Britain Must Atone for a Sin of Empire: The Partition of Ireland.

    Thanks for linking to this Intercept report. One takeaway quote, from an Irish comedian: “It’s not the Irish Border – it’s the British border in Ireland. The Irish border is the beach. ”

    The piece goes through the recent history of the English in Ireland, sparing us most of the sordid recounting of the 800 years of English Occupation. The focus is on the recent border happenings, from 1921 to the Good Friday agreement in 1998 that dissolved the hard border and brought an end (who know it would be only temporary?) to The Troubles.

    Nice snide asides about the other arbitrary and troublesome border the Brits drew as they were leaving an occupied country; the one dividing India and Pakistan.

    1. DJG

      Eclair: A moving article with some grim pictures. The reminder, too, that the border was the equivalent of the Berlin Wall shows us how poorly the British politicians are dealing with this matter.

      The statistics up top in the article confirm something that I have been thinking of: Brexit is almost purely English. It is a phenomenon among the English and not the other peoples who share the British Islands. Yet the English have no plan to accommodate the Irish or the Scots.

      Being mainly an English phenomenon, I now see what it is so important in the U S of A: Anything addressed in a plummy, toney English accent must be important. Brexit. Meghan the First’s pregnancy. Bubble and squeak. The nostalgia for Empire.

      1. a different chris

        The only problem I have with your post is the “Yet the English have no plan…”.

        I would put it “Not surprisingly, the English have no plan…”

    2. Craig H.

      Has anybody floated the idea of giving all the Northern Ireland real estate (back) to Ireland and subsidizing relocation expenses for anybody who wants to remain British?

      1. ChristopherJ

        Seems like a no-brainer to me, Craig.

        Then again, I could have sworn the Scots had wanted independence for, like, forever. And, then when they had their chance, half of them went all mushy with fear.

        I know the Irish situation is complex and full of history, violence and so on.

        And, a united Ireland, removes one of the Brexit stumbling blocks.

        Yet, there’s probably quite a few wealthy Brits who’d like the status quo to continue, eh? And, probably a lot of NIers that like being part of the UK. Prolly why it’s still two countries.

  8. Eclair

    Ack! RE: How China’s Economic Rise Killed off 3.4 Million US Jobs

    And, turned America’s Heartland into a Wasteland. Plus the US has a trade deficit of $225.79 Billion for the first three quarters of this year. And, Bad China uses currency manipulation, state subsidies and suppression of labor rights and wages to foster this situation.

    Umm, am I missing something here? Did the US jobs suddenly develop little legs and agency, and trundle off to China under their own steam? Were there not some (well, a lot of) large US-based corporations involved? Who didn’t want to pay union scale wages and benefits here? Or reduce their profits by cleaning up their pollution?

    And,now, it’s China’s fault? I am going to go bang my head against my specially designated ‘head banging wall.’

    1. DWD

      As always the numbers really only tell a portion of the story.

      When the paper mill closed here a decade or two ago, it took a lot of jobs from the people who worked there directly. The nefarious portion of this is that it took a lot more jobs of people who depended on the mill for their livelihood from the Mill Inn across the street to the forestry workers supplying the trees to the truckers bringing an endless supply of white pine for the pulp mills. And then there is all of the money that the workers and managers spent in the city on everything from clothing to entertainment and vehicles.

      I am pretty sure that economists can give these other jobs a name and calculate the amount of money lost, but these sort of things are never mentioned in articles about the loss of jobs.

      The multiplier effect is a real thing.

      And most importantly a lot of small cities and towns depended on these factories for their very existence. Without them their children leave for greener pastures, the schools languish for those left, and everyone just get pissed off enough to vote for an imbecile.

      We could change this: these job losses are the result of governmental policies that the investment class uses to screw the working class. Change the policies, change the outcome.

      Not all that difficult.

      1. Eclair

        Thank you, DWD, for putting it so succinctly. “… these job losses are the result of governmental policies that the investment class uses to screw the working class.” A different government policy would change the outcome.

        1. a different chris

          Yes but they are evil, not stupid. They prefer to scoff at strawman “buggy whip” manufacturers rather than allow us to point out
          1) It isn’t “buggy whip manufacturing” that’s being replaced, it’s that the same thing is being done, just elsewhere. And the people there are generally being or at least have been screwed once too, if you look close. Think of what the West did to the East to make it so cheap for business now.
          2) Buggy whips are the least important part of having a buggy whip manufacturer. Accounts, hiring, firing, so many things go into manufacturing that as Elon Musk can probably tell you, what you make is hardly even important most days. You can take the leather coming in and make purses if the market wants them instead, and/or car seat covers, etc, but once that enterprise is shut down it is hard, hard hard to stand it back up again.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      aye! I was very young at the time, but wasn’t that what Nixon in China was about?
      Yet another example of obscuring a wilful choice by predators as a natural process which we must just learn to accept and live with.
      As if the Market is a cold front or sudden proliferation of weeds.

    3. Partyless Poster

      I’ve often wondered about that too, people always blame China but no one ever forced a company to move to China. These are decisions made by american businessmen, who for some reason are never to blame even though its entirely on them.

      1. pricklyone

        Even worse, whole industry of “consultants” whose entire business model was convincing US business that the grass was greener in China.
        Preceded by an anti-union push which killed at least 20 large-ish industrial plants in my corner of the world in the early 1970’s (conveniently as I was graduating high school) as the big companies all tried to keep the cheapest plants alive, and kill the rest.
        Our small city was once home to two industrial power/bearing distributors, now empty buildings, with weed covered parking lots. Watching the decay has been a large part of my life, and never had the guts to just go. Now trapped here.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          those “consultants”…”Chicago Boys”…what have you…
          Since I obtained the internet, circa 1999, and basically re-read the history of the last 100-200 years…those creatures always reminded me of the Missionaries that went before the Conquistadors, Priests before the Legions…softening the way with division and confusion and the undermining of the “traditional” mores and folkways.
          Vanguard of a materialist and totalising secular religion, paving the way for imperial rapine.
          This history was not in the local library when I was coming up…I suppose I could have asked for such books, if I had known that they existed.
          I stand in awe at how broad and deep the mindf*ck has been.
          I suspise that most folks are still unaware of this history, having used the Web for cat videos and the like…and now the brief window of the Open Web is closing.
          It’s an Ontological War, and we’re losing.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            “made outside of china”,lol
            20 years ago, mom bought a plastic lawn chair at wally whirled, and i absconded with it.
            sitting outside drinking beer after work, mindlessly picking at the “Made In USA” sticker on the armrest, it came free…under it was a “Hecho en Mexico” sticker.
            Intrigued, I picked carefully at that one. Sure enough, underneath it was a “Made in China” sticker.
            Baudrillard didn’t go far enough.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Atmospheric Radiation Increasing from Coast to Coast in the USA”

    This is a job for Elon Musk. No, seriously. The way that I figure it, if Musk wants to send people to Mars he first has to solve the problem of how to get them there without absorbing enough cosmic radiation to riddle them with cancer or to have the astronaut’s bodies seriously degraded. If he can solve first the problem of protecting people that fly at high altitudes from cosmic radiation then that would give him a massive boost for his Mars venture. Apart form the fantastic amount of good publicity, there would be all those military contracts on offer as their pilots and crew face the same problem and he would have the world’s airlines beating a path to his door with wheelbarrow loads of cash. Solve this problem on earth and it will solve an even bigger problem in space where Musk wants to go.

    1. WWildwood

      We already know how to block radiation. Place as much mass as possible between the source and the target. Shielding planes makes them heavier, which increases fuel costs though.

      1. BillS

        Radiation shielding is a complex business. Cosmic rays consist primarily of atomic nuclei and some lighter particles (electrons, positrons). Collisions with the air caused a shower of secondary particles: alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, x-rays, neutrons, mesons, etc.

        Alpha particles and heavier nuclei are readily blocked by thin layers of shielding. The skin of an airplane fuselage is more than enough to block these. Aluminium also readily blocks electrons (but perhaps generating X-rays in the process!)

        The most penetrating are the gamma rays, x-rays, neutrons and muons. Gamma rays and X-rays are generally attenuated by mass (lead, depleted uranium, thick concrete walls, rock) and cannot hope to be blocked by an aircraft fuselage. These rays are very damaging to living tissue.

        Neutrons are tricky and are also very damaging to tissue, given their penetrating power. It turns out there is no simple mass rule for absorption of neutrons. Certain materials that are rich in hydrogen (plastics, paraffins, water) are good absorbers of neutrons. But you need to be careful that the neutrons are well enough absorbed and not merely “slowed down”. “Thermal neutrons” (neutrons slowed to very low energy) are readily absorbed by body tissues causing much damage, whereas high energy neutrons have a higher probability of “just passing through” with less damage. Lithium-6 is often used as a strong thermal neutron absorber that does not generate secondary radiation on absorption. Plain old water is one of the best neutron absorbers, but sufficient quantities of it are very heavy, of course!

        Out of curiosity, I took a Geiger counter on a flight once a few months ago and observed that the radiation level at 35000ft was 20-30 times higher than the ground level background (240-500 CPM vs 25-30 CPM). Keep in mind that the standard Geiger counter detects only X-, gamma rays and beta particles. Not neutrons.

    2. Bill Smith

      There are a number of groups that run radiation detectors at various locations all over the world. These are a ground level. It think they measure alpha, beta and gamma so only one overlap? I wonder if their historical readings support this article.

  10. Jason Boxman

    Regarding yesterday’s article on tech contractors, I was a TVC at Google. They did let us partake in the food. I wasn’t permitted access to much in the way of information, though. Not access to the local non-work related mailing list, which would have helped with finding an apartment, nor the necessary source code repository tools so I could actually do my job. That took 2 months to sort out.

    Unbeknownst to me, they decided early on that the position was better located in another city, so I relocated a few thousand miles for a job that was a dead letter almost from the third month. Granted, that was my choice, but still.

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      My outfit is in full swing converting FTE’s to contractors. I work on an R&D team that has been decimated over the past two years by three rounds of “force reductions” and attrition. Given we still have paying customers who need engineering support, upper management thinks they solved this using contractors. They are temporary, don’t need benefits and can be replaced.

      Business types still believe, after countless examples to the contrary, that software engineers are fungible.

      That they are indeed not interchangeable was reinforced for me yet again just last week, when my organization spent 100s of man hours troubleshooting, diagnosing and finally, fixing, an update to our application that rendered key functionality useless and exposed us to what in the healthcare game is known as a “PHI disclosure”.

      The problem was traced back to a mistake made by a contractor – inexperienced, and poorly supervised given our few remaining experienced engineers are spread so thin.

      My days are numbered at this place. I should have left long ago, but I stay for a few personal reasons. In the meantime, there is the morbid spectacle of watching a train wreck in progress.

      As you might imagine, morale at my workplace is about as low as can be imagined.

      Jason, I apologize in advance as I know this is not related to your experience at Google or a commentary on your value as an IT professional.

      1. JTMcPhee

        IT Follies: A local hospital, Level II Trauma center, once pretty good, has been bought and sold five times over the last few years. Current owner is an HCA-like entity called Community Health Systems, they own over 100 facilities in many states. There have been indications that the debt taken on to fund the acquisitions is choking the corporation and may destroy it.

        Long about august 4, 2017, I believe, HQ decided to pull the trigger on a complete replacement of all the local hospitals’ kludged-up but sort of functional computer systems — electronic medical records, personnel, billing, the whole thing. This was done without a lot of beta testing. One doctor I know, high in the organization, came to work one Saturday morning, went to do rounds on his patients, and discovered that NONE OF THE PATIENT DATA (or any of the many other data resources and operations that are needed to keep the institution operating) was accessible. No medications, no labs, no imaging, no notes, no orders. Same thing at all the 100+ other CHS facilities. This happened apparently because some HQ maven contracted with a single “supplier” of hospital operation software, and got a “deal” for the corp to do a mass turnover. I am sure he will brag up “managed complex operation” on his resume.

        The former systems were the result of a lot of overlays and kludges, but the staff had labored mightily to get it all to work as well as it did. And since then, and at the moment of crisis, that staff soldiered up and scrambled to provide care. A diminished staff, of course, because of the ever tighter application of the Neoliberal Business Model: More and more work for fewer and fewer staff, for less and less compensation, subject to matrix-and-algo micromanagement.

        I asked if the execs at this hospital and the others had notified their insurance carriers, and whether, since there were surgeries and procedures going on at the moment of turnover and very sick people in many of the departments, anyone had died or worsened as a result. He demurred, of course.

        And the problems have not yet been completely resolved (IT issues of course never are all “resolved”), up to this date.

        “”Profit over people.”

  11. apberusdisvet

    The article on atmospheric radiation increasing across the US is a marvelous example of purposeful disinformation propaganda. How can this article ignore Fukushima with its unstoppable radiation poisoning of the entire planet? Already, Pacific Ocean life has been decimated, and the radiation counts across the US have increased 10 fold, even as the USG has 5X multiplied “acceptable” levels. Wouldn’t want a cancellation of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, now would we? World class athletes dying of cancer within 10 years of participation might even make the cover of Sports Illustrated.

    1. Tinky

      Wait a second – I’m very cynical about Fukushima, but you believe that people who don’t live in japan, and will only visit and eat there for a few weeks, are likely to die of cancer in 10 years? Really?

      So when, pray tell, can we expect the mass die-off of Japanese citizens to begin?

  12. Eudora Welty

    I read some of the links here and Yves’ stories about Brexit, and I feel that I have some special inside information that the average person doesn’t have. I am feeling like I should take a quick trip to London before end of March. RT airfare west coast USA to London $400 right now (a real deal!). I don’t know if it would be more advisable before Crashout or a while after Crashout. I guess at the price of $400 RT, I can do both! Literally, the last time I went to London was in 1984, when the exchange rate was fairly advantageous for Americans.

    1. Wukchumni

      Back in the days of olde before the internet in the 1980’s, I used to buy airline tix from what were called ‘bucket shops’ in London, and the way it worked was say BA has 118 empty seats on a 747 going to LAX next week, and the airlines tell em’, get something for it, we don’t want any empty seats…

      I flew from Gatwick to LA for 99 quid when the pound was briefly under a dollar in the mid 80’s~

      1. Eudora Welty

        Im 1984, I bought a one-way ticket to London, and then purchased my flight home to the West Coast while in England for around $125 (if memory serves me). British Airways nonstop. So for the fare to be $400 RT in 2018, that’s great. I keep pricing a trip to Buenos Aires, but it never seems to fall below $1000 RT.

      2. JTMcPheeJ

        So happy for the few people who can “afford” such travel, “afford” especially since the “price” they pay does not begin to include the externalities involved. And then brag up their skill or luck at finding such “great deals.” Wonderful insouciance. But one can be sure that the experiences thus accumulated by the fortunate individuals are adding to the sum of human knowledge that will bring a better life to all humanity, and besides, the tiny bit of degrading of the biosphere that these pinpricks inflict makes them essentially meaningless, in the larger context, so we can tell ourselves it don’t make no never mind…

        One of our bruited Freedoms. No?

        1. Wukchumni

          Sometimes I look back and think I missed out on the golden era of playing repetitive video games over and over until you reached that ultimate level of accomplishment, but I wasted my time instead seeing the world.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Last video game I played was Ms. Pac-Man. I did get to see the world, flying to Vietnam in 1967, and do that other thing that GIs did there, speaking of externalities… And I will cop to being stupid enough to have enlisted in the Imperial War Machine.

            May you continue to do what you do, in good health, taking pleasure, consuming resources and shedding externalities, seeing the world, because you can afford to.

            1. Wukchumni

              It’s interesting to hear of your Vietnam experiences, one of the cabin owners in our community was also a G.I. Joe, but he was in some backwater listening post far from the action, where he told me everybody was stoned pretty much all the time. He never fired a shot in anger, nor was one fired @ him.

              As much as you try to pin the tale on the donkey in terms of go-juice, consumption and all that in terms of my usage, it’s falling on a pair of the deafest ears imaginable, but keep trying.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Naw, I’ve made my point and I am guessing other posts from your keyboard will continue to make it for me.

                And for myself, I can honestly say I have never indulged in any recreational self-medication, other than attending a showing of “2001- A Space Odyssey” at a movie theatre in Oakland, when I got back from Vietnam in 1968. And that was purely a contact high. Given the behaviors of some fellow GIs in Vietnam, under the influence of a wide variety of such substances, I opted not to turn my id loose that way.

                Choices, choices.

                1. Wukchumni

                  I was 7 and didn’t know anything about Vietnam, as I was lost in space, er the Apollo missions.

                  My mom took me to see 2001-A Space Odyssey, in a theater in Manhattan, pretty heady stuff for a kid, lemme tellya.

                  You frequently bring up your experiences in the war and they are always in a negative way, and it’s shaped your persona, where everything seems to revolve around events of half a century ago.

                  1. JTMcPhee

                    I’ll let you get the last word in, since it seems to be so important. But thank you for the armchair psych diagnosis. Very helpful

                    1. Mark Pontin

                      Wukchimini wrote: it’s shaped your persona, where everything seems to revolve around events of half a century ago.

                      Eh. If those events involved seeing people you knew — and therefore to some extent cared about — with their guts hanging out or their heads blown apart, and if you had the realization that the whole thing was happening at the behest of an incompetent sociopath elite who would never pay for any of it, and that everything you’d been told was a con (America, the exceptional nation!) …..

                      Well, you too might be something of a curmudgeon. Once you’ve seen people killed in front of you it really does change your attitude, unless you’re a psychopath.

                      Also, give JT some credit. I’ve met American men who fought in that war and could never face up to the truth of it, and therefore kept on spouting the lies (“we were betrayed by the liberals at home, the war was winnable,” etc).

                    2. newcatty

                      JT, you are right. Armchair psych diagnosis is not helpful at all. If a “credentialed” professional in the field does this it is, at the least, unethical and hubris on the part of the person. Coming from a person, who afaik is not a credentialed professional in the field does reflect on that person’s own “persona”.

                    3. Wukchumni

                      Growing up, I was in the sweet spot when I was a teenager, in terms of other kids fathers being WW2 vets @ say 55-60 years old in the mid 70’s, and the war meant a lot to me-as it shaped my life, and i’d ask friends fathers, “what’d you do in the war?”

                      Most were hesitant to talk about it, and the ones that did tended to be blowhards that never did diddily being in the back lines, but talked a big game.

                      My dad never, ever talked about his experience being in occupied Prague for 6 long years, but there were clues along the way.

                      We loved Hogan’s Heroes, the allied pow’s were the best smart alecs and the idiot Nazis could be counted on to do something dumb within a 30 minute stanza, and my dad couldn’t watch it, and would occasionally come into the living room and say “they weren’t stupid, you know!” and then leave.

                      Fast forward to 1997 and Hale-Bopp is up in the heavens for months, and my mom & dad & my wife & I go to Death Valley NP to see it in all it’s glory, and it was about the only time my dad opened up about what went on, and the horrors he witnessed were so awful, he felt they had to go to the grave with him.

                      We were in Prague a few years later walking around, and he says “See that wall over there?”

                      And I say, yeah.

                      He tells me matter of fact sans drama, that said wall was where the Nazis would shoot locals if say a Wehrmacht soldier end up floating in the Vltava with a knife in their back, he said he must’ve witnessed many dozens of innocent people being shot by the goosesteppers in retaliation, somebody had to pay the price.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin”

    Thousands of Swedes are also complete idiots. This is the same country that has mostly abolished cash this generation as being a really great idea. So I was looking at the image in that story of Erik Frisk, a Web developer and designer, using his implanted chip to unlock his office door in Stockholm when the obvious thought occurred to me. What happens if the power goes out? Depending where he is, does that mean that he is locked in or out of his office if that device has no battery backup? Will he be locked out of his home if a battery backup was flat? Will his data in that chip be secured from hacker readers? I can see so many failure points. Yeah, as I said, thousands of Swedes are complete idiots.

    1. Norwegian Rock Cat

      It’s spreading in Norway too, we are also getting key fobs to replace the keys for the main entrance to the apartment building. I wonder the same thing about when power is cut, but there is some sort of battery backup. For the moment, though, I still can use the key, and do so with happiness.

      One of the grocery stores in Norway had an ad that featuring a voice controlled smart home. I think it did a good job of summarizing the issue with having everything being voice controlled in 70 seconds. I normally would not post a link to an ad (YouTube), but it is well done.

      Since I do research in technology use, it was amazing how quickly the ad’s “door problem” suddenly arose whenever someone started talking about voice control.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Anyone remember Ray Bradbury’s anticipation of the “smart house?? “And there will come soft rains,” here is the whole short story:

        “Some say the world will end in fire,
        Some say in ice.
        From what I’ve tasted of desire
        I hold with those who favor fire.
        But if it had to perish twice,
        I think I know enough of hate
        To say that for destruction ice
        Is also great
        And would suffice.

        Robert Frost”

      2. ChristopherJ

        Getting floors polished in a week or so and we’re moving out for the duration.

        Contractor says to me, you’ll have to leave a key out for me.

        Sorry, mate, don’t have locks.

        Lucky? Yeah. (address not supplied)

        As for ioT. Nah. Bad enough being tracked on laptop…

    2. JTMcPhee

      Re Swedish idiots: Inbreeding, maybe? Possibly the immigrant phenomenon and that word used yesterday, miscegenation, might refresh the rootstock? Not that any such thing will result, soon enough, in enough smarts to get the species out of the apparent death spiral we’ve sent ourselves into…

      And I would not put much faith in the biohackers who are messing with their own DNA to produce the Universe’s Superbeing, or blue skin or whatever. Waiting for the smarties to modify the genome to let us humans practice photosynthesis, maybe grow extendable roots and deplorable leaf structures…

      Re the cosmic ray problem of high altitude or interplanetary travel: I like the notion of turning Market Players like Musk loose on the “problem.” Maybe Musk will pay smart people to fix his personal problem with death by accident, disease or apoptosis, but the best I bet he can hope for is to be another Moses — leading his warrior band of human locusts and dingos up to the River, but not getting to cross over to the land of milk and honey himself. I’m sure he is okay with that, though — his name will resound down through the ages, as a great benefactor, maybe even a Prometheus, of the human species… assuming a lot of things, like species survival.

      1. JEHR

        I myself suggest that Musk build a spaceship big enough to hold every single billionaire for travel to Mars. Such peace we would have then!

    3. Kurtismayfield

      Thousands of Swedes are also complete idiots.

      They probably trust their institutions to not completely abuse this, or at least have some accountability if they do. Here in the US we *know* it will get abused.

    4. Hepativore

      I can also see many companies in the US soon rushing to require the implantation of tracking microchips in their employees as a condition of employment as part of the hiring process, as I am sure that they would jump at the chance to be able to track employees via GPS both on the clock and at home. This way, their whereabouts would be known at all times especially in the event of them staging a protest or attempting to organize somewhere.

      Chinese bureaucrats might also eventually do something similar with their citizens as part of the Social Credit program.

      I am sure the techlords in Silicon Valley will eagerly push for this to be implemented across the world whether people want it or not, under the guise of making things more “convenient” such as being able to open doors without employee keycards or for office security reasons, etc. and there is all of that tasty data that can be gleaned from people with such a thing. The NSA would also be salivating over the idea as well.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not that I have a Swedish girl friend, but wouldn’t this make it easier for the cave-man boyfriend to control her?

    5. RMO

      I was wondering if there’s some sort of dual-factor authentication backstop to all the things that would be accessed via this chip… otherwise an opportunity for a crook who isn’t afraid of some gore would seem obvious.

    1. s.n.

      Murray also has some important remarks on Haspel’s rushed visit to Istanbul the day before yesterday:

      Haspel was sent urgently to Ankara by Donald Trump to attempt to deflect Erdogan from any direct accusation of Mohammed Bin Salman in his speech yesterday. MBS’ embrace of de facto alliance with Israel, in pursuit of his fanatic hatred of Shia Muslims, is the cornerstone of Trump’s Middle East policy.

      Haspel’s brief was very simple. She took with her intercept intelligence that purportedly shows massive senior level corruption in the Istanbul Kanal project, and suggested that Erdogan may not find it a good idea if intelligence agencies started to make public all the information they hold.

      today reports say that while visiting Erdogan, Haspel heard the audio tape of the killing:

      Quoting people familiar with her meetings with Turkish officials, the newspaper said Haspel heard the “compelling” recordings while on a visit to Turkey this week. Turkish media reports also suggested the CIA boss heard recordings documenting Khashoggi’s death.

      “This puts the ball firmly in Washington’s court,” the newspaper quoted Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and scholar at the Brookings Institution, as saying.

      “Not only will there be more pressure now from the media but Congress will say, ‘Gina, we would love to have you come visit and you can tell us exactly what you heard.'”

      1. Eureka Springs

        I can hear her silent but honest reply in her head. It was like a glorious soundtrack – extraordinary renditions of days gone by. Brought back great memories from Gitmo to Thailand and Dawg knows how many others. It’s a shame congressman, that MBS is already King, because a few promotions is what worked best for me.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Why is she not in Beijing to inquire about the fate of the Interpol chief? What is the latest on him? Is he still, er, one piece?

            1. ObjectiveFunction

              I’ve also noted that on regular Google search, an increasing number of dated news stories appear in the results with very recent bylines. Presumably the host sites desperate to lure eyeballs….

        2. ambrit

          That’s the problem. MbS is not King yet. Just Crown Prince. There’s still time to have him “removed from the line of succession.”

  14. ACF

    Fact questions because I’m ignorant, forgive me:

    1. Is it possible for Northern Ireland to vote to leave Britain and unite with Ireland?
    2. If yes, could it be done before Brexit?

    I ask b/c according to the article on Ireland, a majority of N. Ireland voted to remain in the EU, and there’s a bit about the majority being able to vote to leave Britain as part of the peace deal.

    So, if 1 and 2 are true, where is the movement to hold this vote? Are people just that much in denial about a reimposition of a border?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Answer to no. 1 is ‘yes’. Under the Good Friday Agreement there is provision for what is known as a Border Poll. Essentially a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ poll for unity, and all sides agree to abide by it (except the DUP, which never signed up to the GFA).

      Answer to no. 2 is ‘no’. There are a complex series of steps to hold one, its likely to take at least a year to organise one. And Republicans don’t want one as they believe that the demographics will take a few years to favour them (catholics tend to outbreed protestants).

      I do think its possible that if a transition period is agreed, there may be a push for a border poll at the end of that period as the reality of falling out of the EU might persuade some Unionist Remainers (essentially, the Belfast business community) to pick unity as the least worst option.

      1. ACF

        Thanks PK.

        But since a majority of Northern Ireland voted against Brexit, and a hard ‘line of malice’ is sure to resurrect deadly violence, it seems to me there is an organizing opportunity to unify Ireland through a vote. I’m just really struck that I’m not hearing about such an effort being made; where are the people saying: Look, we can avoid the horror of a hard border by unifying–Northern Ireland, you opposed Brexit, and you can escape it–let’s start the process. That is, why would the conversation await the negotiation of a transition period? Given the complexity of the process, what is the upside of delay? Wouldn’t there be plenty of time for the business community to decide to vote to unify?

        Or are people saying this, and I’m just not hearing about it?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Short answer is I think that because of the delicacy of the situation, nobody is trying to rock it too much. Sinn Fein think time is on their side, so prefer to stand to one side. ‘Moderate’ Unionists hate Brexit but can’t bring themselves to make common cause with nationalists.

          But you are right that there is an obvious need for people to express what they want – NI is in a unique situation in being dragged into brexit despite having a very large number of EU citizens (i.e. the many northerners who have Irish passports). By rights, they should have a vote, perhaps giving a choice of unification, Brexit, or the type of half in, half out membership with the EU has more or less explicitely offered. But nobody is shouting about this probably because everyone is too nervous about the sort of passions and confusion that this will raise.

          1. ACF

            Thx PK. It just seems such a straightforward way for the Irish border issue to resolve that would stop the DUP hijacking Brexit. From my place of unemotional ignorance, I could imagine English/other British business backing it also because it would facilitate Brexit talks for everyone else too. Maybe it’s only a matter of time the topic comes up? How can it not come up, when the hard border/re-imposition of the line of spite becomes to real to deny?

            1. JTMcPhee

              Doesn’t May’s and the Tories’ position atop the Elite depend on the continued “goodwill” of the DUP? Or am I oversimplifying?

              1. ACF

                I think so, which is why Brexit is headed for a hard Irish border. But I was under the impression that Northern Ireland/Ireland could get this done. If it needs May’s permission, then I don’t see how it happens, no.

  15. DJG

    Matt Taibbi on the current social-media-induced bout of panic:

    We’ll see what happens today. It occurs to me that the misspellings are almost stereotypes of the signs at some right-wing rally, where spelling is sacrificed to “authenticity.” (Among liberals, brunch is “authenticity.) Yet we are entering Guccifer territory here, and I am reminded that Guccifer writes in perfect (or a perfect imitation) of U.S. hipster English.

    And has anyone determined if these pipe bombs are functional? It has occurred to me–in these baroque and superficial times–that the “bombs” may not even be functional, just facsimiles of functional, just enough to sow more panic among “These Colors Don’t Run” Americans.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      I worry that the FBI bought all the materials and taught someone to build them, then screwed up and let them get mailed. This whole thing just reeks of someone being too clever.

      1. doug

        They weren’t mailed. they were delivered. Small point but…. the images of the envelopes show the stamps unmarked by the post office.

      1. knowbuddhau

        Well said. It’s all so familiar. It’s like watching people react to an old ‘B’ movie, as if it were real. The packages look intentionally dumbed down.

        And look, their blasts are too well targeted. This isn’t the work of Sand People, is what I’m sayin.

    2. rps

      I got as far as Taibbi’s ‘fact’ myth of Trump as anti-semite, “I have no love for Trump, his disgraceful rhetoric, or the blatantly anti-Semitic attacks against the likes of Soros.” Unsurprisingly, Taibbi and Alexander Soros’ anti-semite Trump attacks appeared the same day: George Soros’ son says Trump fostered the vitriol, including anti-Semitism, that led to bomb attacks

      The Times of Israel would disagree with Taibbi and Soros: Ivanka Trump gives birth to ‘beautiful Jewish baby’ Orthodox Jewish daughter of Republican front-runner Donald Trump welcomes third child, Theodore. And ‘Most pro-Israel’ Trump: Semblance of neutrality needed to end conflict. From Jewish Telegraphic Agency: These 2 billionaires love Israel but hate Trump, the president who has been closest to its government

      Just maybe Trump doesn’t like Soros the man and his brand of political machinations rather than Soros’ ideologic leanings.

      Taibbi states “And no sane person can have anything but contempt for the kind of incitement of violence that has become routine online the past.” And “ A huge problem with terror stories is that journalists are rushed for scoops and often take short cuts they otherwise wouldn’t.” Look in the mirror Taibbi, look in the mirror.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      A writer who names himself “Son of Baldwin” posted an op-ed on Medium that, for me, goes right to the heart of the matter. It is the ultimate hypocrisy for the corporate media to broadcast quotes from talking heads about how Donald Trump is responsible for all the awful things that happen, all the while ensuring that all the awful things he says that might encourage same are available 24/7/365.

      So, who is really responsible for the apparent increase in violence both here and abroad?

    4. Lambert Strether

      > has anyone determined if these pipe bombs are functional?

      As of late last night, I have never read that one has exploded, or that a forensic examination has caused one to explode. When you read deep into the articles — too lazy to find this one, NBC or AP, I think — you find people expressing that they are dubious they work. “Stunt,” I think the word was.

  16. jfleni

    “The Electric Future Will Run on Two Wheels Bloomberg” wrong -more likely
    – four all attached to public transit; scooters are useful, but not even close
    to good public transit!

    1. cnchal

      > . . . attached to public transit; scooters are useful . . .

      for wracking up massive hospital emergency ward bills. On the newz last night, electric scooters were touted as a solution where public transit is kind of thin, to for example, get groceries. They weren’t talking about the sit down scooters in Wally World either.

      Idiocy cubed.

        1. pricklyone

          None of my cars have ever induced any. But, yep, transit have killed a few as well. And bicycles and walking and swimming, Crawling I dunno…
          An electric scooter is like a diesel powered sex toy. Just not as practical.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’d suggest you visit some poorer Asian cities. Scooters are by far the most favoured way to get around. They are cost effective and relatively space effective. Often ‘public transport’ is a lift on the back of a scooter. This is so even in cities with transit systems (such as Bangkok), because often the cost of regular tickets is too much for many people.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Or Rome. Scooters are a gridlock-beating solution like nothing else in a a congested urban environment. I don’t see them as a public transport solution, but as a private one, they have a definite place. Dangerous, sure; but that’s largely up to the user, not the machine. Plus here in Italy, they are used as much or more by women as men, no subway/bus creeps to worry about. Empowerment + freedom.

  17. Wukchumni

    NPS wants to put a 138 foot tall cell tower in the front of beyond, and the claim is it won’t have much reach into the wilderness.
    Sequoia National Park Seeks Public Comment:
    Environmental Assessment for Cellular Facility at Wuksachi Village

    SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. October 24, 2018 – The National Park Service (NPS) has released an environmental assessment that evaluates a proposal by Verizon Wireless to install a wireless communications facility near Wuksachi Village in Sequoia National Park. The NPS is required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to consider all applications for the installation of cellular equipment on NPS lands.

    Verizon Wireless is proposing to construct a 138-foot cellular tower west of Wuksachi Village to achieve a coverage objective that includes a portion of the Generals Highway, the Wuksachi Village, Lodgepole, and Wolverton areas. Antennas would be directed, as much as possible, away from the wilderness. The proposed tower would be located in an established utility site west of Wuksachi Village at the end of an existing paved access road, which provides access to existing above-ground water storage tanks. No improvements to the access road would be necessary for either construction activities or subsequent maintenance of the new telecommunications facility.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Maybe the likely public comment = NIMBY?

      I guess it is too late to go back to those halcyon days of yesteryear, When the population was half what it is today and when Ma Bell provided reliable (if occasionally extortionate, rentier style) phone service, and even data, over copper wires that did not bombard people with “Honest, it is perfectly safe as far as we know” 2.4 and 5 gigahertz radiation. But copper, I guess, would not provide the “bandwidth” for all that pron and streamed video and such important information dissemination. And a way to summon the Air Rescue helicopter if one does something stupid or unfortunate in the outback.

      Wideband for you, wideband for me, maybe some problems for the guy behind that tree…

      1. Wukchumni

        You know what’s funny…

        In the 30’s, a backcountry telephone line extended far and wide into the back of beyond to remote ranger stations in Sequoia NP, so as to keep them all in contact with the park hq, and they did one heck of a job of getting rid of the evidence of it ever being there, as the wire was strung along the trails mostly, and easily removable.

        They got rid of it and now everything is on radio with repeater stations on high peaks, limited to use by NPS only.

        Read all about it in Gordon Wallace’s “My Ranger Years: Sequoia National Park 1935-47”

      2. Wukchumni


        My first trip to Sequoia NP was as a toddler to the Giant Forest in 1963 (my mom gave me a stash of old photos she found, and i’m looking @ one from 1966 and i’ve managed to somehow get on top of a fallen Sequoia) and every year throughout my life pretty much, thoroughly smitten, and this quote by the aforementioned Gordon Wallace really sums it up for yours truly…

        “Do not come here and roam here unless you are willing to be enslaved by its charms. Its beauty and peace and harmony will entrance you. Once it has you in its power, it will never release you the rest of your days”

  18. DJG

    Mother of boy whose schoolmates abandoned party: Attention.

    This brief article sums up the perils of this time of too much money, too much seeking for status, and too many social media. Party for twenty at a pizzeria (although they offered the kid a trip to a Disney park). Meaningless RSVPs. No one shows up. The gratuitous displays of money and the gratuitous displays of social cruelty give one pause. Who just blows off a party for a six-year-old kid?

    Yet the mother posts about it, blurring the public and private. Wouldn’t it have been better not to? Aren’t there times when we should turn inward instead of being socially driven?

    And the responses from the world of virtual thoughts and prayers are over the top, baroque, needless, inappropriate.

    Yet we are wondering how we have gotten to such nonsense as Brexit, scattered pipe bombs, the endless Clintonian farewell tours, Trump and his tactics, the public holiness of Mike Pence, and the ceaseless whisper campaigns of various kinds (fill in the blank)?

    1. s.n.

      there seems to be a recent trend of recycling what were once known as “human-interest stories”. The “nobody attended my son’s birthday” was almost exactly the same moving social cruelty story last year in the UK version of Daily Mail.
      Ditto yesterday’s Canadian girl scout who made a killing selling girl scout cookies in front of the cannabis dispensary. That story was done to death a year or two ago in a Bay Area version.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “For Senate Success, Democrats Must Regain Obama-Era Black Support”

    Good luck with that. To do that, they would have to list out all the great things that a black democrat did on their behalf when he was President (crickets). What could they possibly offer black voters to actually go down to vote? On what basis of trust could they work off? Jimmy Dore did a story earlier this year on this called “Milwaukee Minorities Didn’t Vote Hillary & Don’t Regret It” ( which has a lot on this. I guess that Charlie Brown realized that Lucy was never going to let him kick that football.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Ironic that of all publications it’s the Journal which has swallowed the ID pol view hook, line, and sinker — except for that part about “intersectionality”.

      First, the Democrat Party’s problems are not just with black voters, but with working-class voters of all colors. The difference between black and white voters of the working class is what disaffection with the Democrats leads them to do on Election Day: black voters stay home, white voters vote Republican to spite the Democrats.

      Second, there is no chance Democrats will take the Senate. None. That idea was always a pipe dream, but with their inept handling of the Kavanaugh nomination — from start to finish — Senate Democrats baked the cake. (I initially typed “inept” but then re-thought that; Feinstein’s actions are a tell that the Democrats never intended to contest the nomination at all. They were hoping to quietly acquiesce and that no one would notice. #MeToo blew up that strategy at the last possible moment, making the Democrats scramble since of course they hadn’t considered that contingency, and that just made them look worse — while energizing the Republican right.)

      Heitkamp is toast. McCaskill might be as well, and I certainly hope so. Manchin, Donnelly and Tester are in less trouble but they’re also vulnerable if the Kavanaugh hearings generated enough Republican outrage in their states. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what happens to any of these clowns — the Senate would be a better place without any of them.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        From an organizing standpoint, poorer blacks tend to be urban dwellers and easier to be registered and so forth. Because they are urban, renting is higher and so is moving around. Making sure registration is up to date is IMPORTANT too.

        The arguments to win support for leftier policies are the same, the efforts to put forth those arguments do make “black voters” which means “urban blacks” have a higer ROI. John Kerry was 10,000 votes in Ohio away from being President. Obama picked up 25,000 largely black votes in Cincinnati alone.

        The other issue with “black voters” and why its important to frame it that way is the Clintons. Our “first black President” saw significant declines in 1992 among minorities and the 1996 election was the lowest black turnout since 1956. The Clinton pivot to “soccer moms” and “Panera women” represented an embrace of Republican values and their voters. The promise the Clintons made was they were sacrificing values, and in the end they don’t win.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > #MeToo blew up that strategy

        The Democrats really do seem to be blown hither and yon as various factions assert themselves. This happened earlier with the #OccupyICE crowd. Not it’s happening with #MeToo. There could be a master plan… But I doubt it. Various factions grabbing the wheel happens, of course, because the liberal Democrats who dominate the party apparatus have no over-arching principles to which they can appeal, except the ability to raise money.

        Adding, this mordant characterization will doubtless outrage some liberal, somewhere. But for every example of supporting women, you have an abuser as an honored elder statesman, and so on down the line.

    2. Louis Fyne

      Nafta killed the black middle-class. 2007-10 took their homes.

      Hear it all the time (organically, don’t have to prod the converstaion) in my neck of the woods when people just shoot the breeze, black old-timers recalling the jobs from the local candy factories (big Oreo factory, among many, moved to Mexico) or railyards or metalworks.

    3. polecat

      Charlie finally realized that what he thought was a football, was, in actuality, a land-mine ! … thus allowing Lucy Hubris-In-a-purple-Mao-suit .. to give it a slow kick .. with all the resultant negative fallout ..

  20. Eduardo

    “‘US would be history if Russia nukes Yellowstone volcano with mega-bombs’ – expert”
    Yellowstone? Really? Does that make sense? The article does not really explain the headline.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yellowstone is over a mega volcano – essentially a very thin area of the earths crust. Every few hundred thousand years it erupts and covers a significant amount of north America in ash. These eruptions dwarf anything we’ve seen in human history and would be entirely devastating for the entire northern hemisphere.

      Whether its possible to trigger one with a 100 MT nuclear device, I’d be quite dubious, but I’m not a geophysist or a James Bond baddy.

    2. The Rev Kev

      If Yellowstone goes, then you can kiss most of the North American continent goodbye – and hundreds of millions of Americans. As PK pointed out, much of it would be under meters of ash. I watched a doco on this once and a Park Ranger was saying that years before, they knew that there was a caldera but they could not find it. Then one day NASA sent them an image of Yellowstone Park taken from space and they realized when they saw it that the whole Park was one huge monster caldera. The Ranger then pointed out a large several mile-wide gap in a nearby mountain chain. He said that was there because the last time it went off, it blew away that section of mountain range away.

      1. Wukchumni

        Yellowstone is one threat, but 760,000 years ago, much closer Mammoth blew up real good, and I don’t know anything about residual events of a like nature, but i’d say we’re ‘due’.

        Long Valley was formed 760,000 years ago when a supervolcanic eruption released very hot ash that later cooled to form the Bishop tuff that is common to the area. The eruption emptied the magma chamber under the area to the point of collapse. The second phase of the eruption released pyroclastic flows that burned and buried thousands of square miles. Ash from this eruption blanketed much of the western part of what is now the United States.

      2. Mel

        Tony Robinson (actor known for Blackadder and Time Team) hosted a mini-series about geologic history. Another caldera, different place, similar scale, is where all of Scotland came from.
        I can’t get my mind completely around anything that big.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The impact would be global, not just in America.

      The same can be said to nuke, to blow up or melt down all that ice in Siberia…this time, ancient viruses. Again, it will be global.

      Let’s remind ourselves that we are a small village on a small (cosmically speaking) spaceship, Spaceship Earth.

      1. Wukchumni

        “We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed, for our safety, to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love we give our fragile craft.”

        Adlai Stevenson

        (oh how I harbored the fantasy that Barack was a latter-day Illinoisan of the stature and intellectual depth of Adlai, but he was neither)

    4. Lee

      IIRC, some study or another estimates that if the Yellowstone caldera blows, all those living within a 400 mile radius of ground zero, will instantly be relieved of the burden of making plans for the future.

      What would follow would have not only continental, but global effects on climate for some years to come. Again, if memory serves, it is believed it will have a catastrophic cooling effect that will vastly reduce the production of staple crops. As for tomatoes and strawberries, forget about it.

      If one wishes to get prepared for this or similar catastrophes, I recommend learning all one can about pointy stick technology.

  21. vidimi

    Apple and Samsung fined for deliberately slowing down phones

    while good news, the fines were only 10m and 5m, respectively, so just the cost of doing business. i’m guessing the fine amounts to roughly 2€ per user which is nothing compared with the 600€ each will spend buying a new phone.

    1. Olga

      Yeah, the companies probably record these fines under “advertising” – i.e. promoting sales of new products.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    New York Attorney General Files Suit Against Exxon for Climate Fraud, Climateability News (J-LS)


    This one is slightly different from others that take oil companies to court over the effects of global warming.

    These other lawsuits (for the effects, not for deceiving investors) – can they be used (or misused) to take obstetricians, other doctors and hospitals to court for the effects of over-population?

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Time for these birds to unionize?

    New Caledonian crows can create tools from multiple parts PhysOrg (Robert M)

    I see low pay and exploitation in their future.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Mum’s voice makes better smoke alarm for children BBC


    And mom’s voice also makes better alarm clock for kids?

    1. polecat



      **I always liked the cadence of MOTHER’S soothing voice ..

      1. Fiery Hunt

        “Mother…I’ve turned the cooling system back!!”

        Nice!! Love me some Ridley Scott Alien!

    2. The Rev Kev

      “Mum’s voice makes better smoke alarm for children ”

      The aircraft industry found decades ago that female voices penetrate jet noises much better than male voices. It helped that male pilot were also paying more attention to female voices though that is not pc to admit. Female voices seem to be less mechanical in tone compared to female voices I find as well. If I had a voice activated computer voice on my ‘puter, I would prefer a female voice to listen to myself. Then again, I grew up on Star Trek’s computer voice. For more on this, see the following articles-

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China and Russia listen in on Trump’s personal phone calls: NYT The Hill

    Apparently Trump does it willfully, and likely knows he is being spied on, which makes one wonder if he is leaking disinformation to Moscow and Beijing.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > makes one wonder if he is leaking disinformation to Moscow and Beijing.

      Exactly. And I doubt very much that China and Russia can penetrate the constant bullshit any better than anybody else can.

      PRESIDENT [lowers voice] “… now don’t tell the Chinese this, but…”

      Probably the real objection is that it makes life harder for the NSA and the other alphabet agencies, for some reason.

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Are planets also driver-less spaceships?

    Here’s what happens when police pull over a driverless car Stuff. Lambert flags the last para. And my question in light of the pipe bomb frisson of yesterday: how come no one seems worried about driverless cars as a perfect way to deliver car bombs?

    Can they be weaponized as well (by beings far more powerful than us, at the present time)?

    1. AdamCoppola

      Autonomous vehicles ballistically navigate road databases, rather than gravitational fields. Categorially, they are weapons to begin with, whether or not they blow up. How to make them blow up, and how to build defenses against them, is a different question than whether or not the cars are military tech.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Autonomous vehicles ballistically navigate road databases, rather than gravitational fields. Categorially, they are weapons to begin with

        That is really interesting framing.

  27. Big River Bandido

    Paychecks cleared. Bills getting caught up. Managed to donate what I could, just in the nick of time to be counted.

    Thank you, Naked Capitalism! By sifting through all the crap on the internets to find stuff worthy of reading, you save me way more time and aggravation than I could fairly compensate you for. Reading your insights and those of the commentariat help keep my head level. I mostly come here for all the linky goodness on politics; if I didn’t look here first, I’d probably be lost in a sea of neoliberal claptrap. I read Yves’ economics pieces in hopes that some of it will stick in my musician’s brain — and sometimes it actually does. (That’s really much more of a compliment than it might seem.) I also love the series on detailed issues (e.g. right to repair, CALPERS even though I am far from California), and Lambert’s spread sheets on the midterms are truly staggering.

    Thank you for everything!

  28. JerryDenim

    Atmospheric Radiation increases coast to coast;

    “Pilots are classified as occupational radiation workers by the International Commission on Radiological Protection”

    Which is kind of sad and hilarious to US pilots who receive absolutely no training on the topic. The US aviation industry may have some dusty, unknown standards published somewhere, but without any monitoring or enforcement it’s not even a joke. Nine out of ten pilots and ninety-nine out of a hundred airline dispatchers will look at you like a tin-foil-hat idiot if you say the phrase “coronal mass ejection”. Even on days when NASA issues warnings for atmospheric radiation from solar storms, airline dispatchers will continue to plan even the shortest of flights at ridiculously high altitudes if their flight planing software shows one penny of fuel savings with the higher cruise altitude. Radiation exposure levels jump dramatically above 36,000 feet. Geography matters as well. Generally speaking, closer to the equator equals less radiation and closer to the poles equals more. Long-haul, ‘great-circle’ routes over the poles are the worst. The Europeans are a bit more circumspect thankfully. One of my pilot friends who flies in Norway is restricted to flight altitudes below 24,000 feet on short flights due to radiation concerns. I guess the thinking is, since the fuel savings on short flights is negligible at best, why expose passengers and crew to high levels of radiation needlessly.

    Perhaps my concerns are misplaced, but health-wise, (as a pilot) I worry more these days about circadian rhythm disruption and the effects of nasty chemicals like tri-cresyl phosphate and other well-documented cabin air toxins than I do radiation. Flying sure beats coal mining, but as medical science advances it’s becoming impossible to deny it’s a really unhealthy job. The same holds true for really high-time, road warrior business travelers, but I am yet to meet a business traveller that logs over a 1000 hours of flight time in a year.

  29. JTMcPhee

    And another $20 in lunch money from this curmudgeon. How close are we to fulfilling all your fundraising goals, which I offer are very modest compared to operations like dkos that actively do damage to the political economy? A big thank you from here.

  30. Iapetus

    “Khashoggi Drama – A Deal Has Been Made But Will It Hold?”

    Speaking of Saudi deals, did anyone catch that Jared Kushner’s 33 year old brother just raised another $1 billion for the family’s venture capital business? Apparently there are some questions as to whether any of this money originated from Saudi Arabia. Not sure if this is the case, but the Kushner’s Thrive Capital does hold many venture stakes in private companies which have received conspicuously large investments from the Saudi Funded Softbank.

  31. Anon

    RE:The One Place in the US Google Earth Stopped Mapping

    Well, it’s a military site with ‘top secret’ activity. I flew near the “no fly zone” while in a Nevada state airplane (special identifying transponder) and still a fighter pilot was on us in an instant escorting us to the north and east and at a higher elevation by banking around us (displaying some sizable wing rockets). Commercial airliners avoid the airspace by a wide margin.

    Just 60 miles from the “artists rendering” of the site shown in the article is Groom Lake where the Stealth bomber was tested/developed. If you have Google Pro (as I do) you’ll see that the perfect circle at the top of the rendered photo is the more interesting element. It is a 750′ diameter pixelated circle that is surely obscuring a man-made structure of some kind. But then Google also does this to the off-shore oil platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel, too.

  32. ChrisPacific

    The Verhofstadt quote on Brexit is on point. How many people would feel comfortable if they were sitting in an aircraft prior to takeoff and the pilot announced that the plane was 95% working?

  33. knowbuddhau

    Ran across this on Down With Tyranny! and thought, yeah, this is what I’m on about:

    NOAM CHOMSKY: Well there is a huge propaganda effort that we are all aware of to try to turn people into psychopaths who don’t care about anyone but themselves. That’s not new actually. They go back a hundred and fifty years, the early days of industrialization in the United States. Working people were bitterly condemning the industrial system that was being imposed, the way it was taking away their freedom, and one of the things they condemned is what they called the new spirit of the age– ‘Gain wealth forgetting all but self,’– Exactly what you’re describing. That’s a hundred and fifty years ago and ever since then there have been enormous efforts to drive these sociopathic attitudes into people’s heads. [emphasis added] (sic)

    About this, Chris Hedges adds from his personal experience:

    At the age of 10 I was sent as a scholarship student to a boarding school for the uber-rich in Massachusetts. I lived among the wealthiest Americans for the next eight years. I listened to their prejudices and saw their cloying sense of entitlement. They insisted they were privileged and wealthy because they were smarter and more talented. They had a sneering disdain for those ranked below them in material and social status, even the merely rich. Most of the uber-rich lacked the capacity for empathy and compassion. They formed elite cliques that hazed, bullied and taunted any nonconformist who defied or did not fit into their self-adulatory universe.

    It was impossible to build a friendship with most of the sons of the uber-rich. Friendship for them was defined by “what’s in it for me?” They were surrounded from the moment they came out of the womb by people catering to their desires and needs. They were incapable of reaching out to others in distress—whatever petty whim or problem they had at the moment dominated their universe and took precedence over the suffering of others, even those within their own families. They knew only how to take. They could not give. They were deformed and deeply unhappy people in the grip of an unquenchable narcissism.

    I would take statements like that last one literally: We’re ruled by people “deformed and in the grip of an unquenchable narcissism.” Note that this isn’t just Trump he’s talking about.

    The general public, too, has felt the effect, not just the rulers. You can see it in the near complete agnosia regarding that century and a half, and counting, effort: supplanting our own narratives with a toxic, synthetic, manufactured substitute. We, the peeps, are blamed for the effects of 150 years of being beaten with the propaganda stick.

    We’re supposed to build each other up, not tear down.

    As Thomas Mann described in his concept of erotic irony, put a little balm on that barb.

    Must, say, resorting to fake narratives is perfectly typical of H. industrialus, among whose creeds are “The Conquest of Nature” (heads up: that includes human nature, my peeps), and “Better Living [for some] Through [forcing others to pay for the externalities of our industrial-scale] Chemistry.”

    You really gotta pay attention when that bastard goes sotto voce on ya.

  34. The Rev Kev

    “New Caledonian crows can create tools from multiple parts”

    Never really like crows before but now I realize that this is a result of cultural prejudices built into our western culture that I incorporated as a kid. This is reasoning ability that these crows are using. They seem to be opportunistic thinkers too in that are putting parts together based on what they need. Between this article and others that have appeared on NC as well as images here, I find that I have had to completely reassess these quite remarkable birds.

    1. Anon

      Well, crows have their place in the ecosystem. But they are scavengers of human fast-food discards in many parking lots. Their population in urban areas has increased to unnatural levels and consequently radically reduced song bird populations in many cities. (Crows are prolific nest raiders.)

      Crows move/nest in groups and I imagine imitation accelerates their application of tools. An equally facile tool user is the the larger raven.

  35. Oregoncharles


    IOW, the major platforms will now be systematically censored. However, the websites are still there; they’re just harder to find, and have little chance for outreach.

    It seems to me there’s an opportunity here: a site that compiles all the censored sites. A blog, of sorts. Not sure how you’d go about publicizing it, without FB & Twitter, but there are other outlets. If someone can figure out a way to make it work, it might even be a business opportunity. There is certainly a need to be met. I’m not proposing that Yves, Lambert & Co. take on even more – though NC already does this to a degree.

    NC does offer a model of sorts, since it survived Google censorship. Yves has written about how they did it; partly by working even harder.

    Anyway, a very threatening void just opened in the Internet. SOMETHING will surely arise to fill it. Not that I’d be up to the task.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I’m loving Facebook’s ban on “co-ordinated inauthentic behavior.” Isn’t that basically a good working description of electoral politics as practiced by the major parties?

      1. flora

        It’s a good description of FB’s Emotional Contagion experiments, where they altered individuals’ newsfeeds to create targeted emotional response. “co-ordinated inauthentic behavior” by FB.

        If FB’s AI did not or does not work the obvious answer is to restrict real-world inputs that mess up its desired results. /s

  36. Eclair

    Many thanks to commenters Olga and Unna, for delving into the history of the complexities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, its shifting borders and its bickering inheritors. It’s one reason I love NC; the mini-courses in the stuff you missed out on (or deemed too boring at the time) in school. But is now coming back to bite us.

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