Links 10/28/18

If I stop eating meat, will it really help climate change? Asian Correspondent. Perhaps it is best to begin by thinking of meat as a condiment.

Defensible Space Boston Review. Megafires in the Pacific Northwest

Battles begin to turn in long war on TB Medical Express (CL).

We May Now Have the Tools to End AIDS. All That’s Needed Is the Will. Bloomberg

Strong GDP growth, weak fundamentals Econbrowser

The U.S. Secretly Halted JPMorgan’s Growth for Years Bloomberg. Secret law is not law.

The Fed needs better rules. This Democratic bill is a start. The Week (DK).

On Maximizing Employment, a Case for Caution Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Self-driving car dilemmas reveal that moral choices are not universal Nature. Oh, great. Localization for moral choices in robot car software. What will the granularity be? And the default settings?


Jeremy Corbyn urged to back amendment for second Brexit vote Guardian

Final Say: One million people sign The Independent’s petition for new Brexit vote Independent

No ‘white knight’ for banks in no-deal Brexit, EU regulator warns FT

Brexit: the Efta/EEA option revisited EU Referendum

A Bundesbank Economist Has a Radical Plan to Halve Italy’s Debt Bloomberg

German mega-merger would create a banking juggernaut Handelsblatt


The Foreseeable Disaster in Yemen The American Conservative

Summit in Istanbul as ramifications of the Khashoggi debacle roll on Asia Times (KW).

Four-nation Syria summit calls for lasting Idlib ceasefire Agence France Presse

Saudi Arabia rules out extradition of Khashoggi suspects FT

Oman says time to accept Israel in region, offers help for peace Reuters

Bahrain says ‘Arab NATO’ to be formed by next year Al Jazeera. Let me know how that works out.


Smart money shuns China stocks as foreign and leveraged traders wary of state bailout South China Morning Post

Why Democracies Are Turning Against Belt and Road Foreign Affairs

Trump Transition

Driven by Trump Policy Changes, Fracking Booms on Public Lands NYT

Trump pitches policy in final midterm message AP

Georgia’s Kemp Purged 340,134 Voters, Falsely Asserting They Had Moved Greg Palast, Truthout. Kemp, like Kobach, seems a little conflicted… .

Bernie Sanders Is Partnering With A Greek Progressive To Build A New Leftist Movement Buzzfeed

Realignment and Legitimacy

An open door and a massacre: Gunman kills 11 at synagogue AP. At the very least, let’s hope for no copycats.

UPDATE 1-Who is Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect? Reuters

Mail bomb suspect made numerous references on Facebook to Russian associates and echoed pro-Kremlin views WaPo

Defuse America’s Explosive Politics Peggy Noonan, WSJ. “Maybe you assume everything’s safe when you’ve spent your whole adult life, as [Trump] has, with private security and private cars, surrounded by staff.” True of a class, not merely of an individual.

America’s ‘Free Speech Crisis’ Just Took a Very Dark Turn For the Worse Alternet

Democrats in Disarray

America’s Democrats need to set out what they stand for FT. This issue has me genuinely perplexed. The Democrat response to the Crash was not to change the system, but to reboot it. Is the Democrat solution for today’s difficulties rebooting the system again, refreshed with an Obama 2.0 in the White House? If not that, what?

Who Will Speak for the Democrats? NYRB. Interesting contrasts between 2006 and 2010, though at the end, the author disappoints.

Dem leadership hopefuls dole out millions in campaign cash The Hill. The only kind of wave that really counts…

Meet the wealthy donors pouring millions into the 2018 elections WaPo

Billionaire Brawl: Warren Buffett vs. Sheldon Adelson in Nevada Nevada

Health Care

Free at the point of service. Worth a listen:

Imperial Collapse Watch

Another Military Pilot Drew a Sky P*nis, and This Time It Was a Marine Zeitgeist watch: This is a family blog, so normally I wouldn’t include this link — or the next one — but it dovetails with a power surge in the military (see yesterday’s link).

‘The Blowj*b Paper:’ Scientists Processed 109 Hours of Oral Sex to Develop an AI that Sucks D*ck Motherboard (UserFriendly). More zeitgeist: Reifying performative behavior in datasets. Please make it stop.

Class Warfare

U.S. Labor Markets Aren’t Truly Free Bloomberg

Anti-Pension Illinois Governor Made Billions Off Pensions The Intercept (UserFriendlly).

California Workers, Retirees Are Unwittingly Financing an Anti-Proposition 10 Campaign Capital and Main

What a massive database of retracted papers reveals about science publishing’s ‘death penalty’ Science (KS).

Japan’s unusual way to view the world BBC

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. John

      If they didn’t write it in smoke and it could only be seen when looking at a flight path tracking visualization why would anyone even care?

      1. knowboudicau

        Because that’s not what we’re “supporting” them to do with our multi-million dollar war planes? Because it makes a mockery of all those who have to live under their flight paths? Because they publicly failed to honor their duties and oaths?

        Because that’s, at the very least, behavior unbecoming to an officer, a grossly juvenile thing to do with a weapon of war, and the pilot and crew should never fly for us again, if they’re even allowed to wear the uniform?

        1. John

          Nope still dont see it. I agree its juvenile, but hardly worth a second thought.

          I imagine flying flight maneuvers is a boring task. What I see is a couple 20 somethings whose sense of humor challenged them to lay out a complex flight path which they executed fairly well it would appear. The turns look like nice large arcs, nothing unsafe. Nothing offensive to anyone on the ground unless you are specifically looking at computer tracked flight paths.

          I have no shortage of critiques for the wasteful military spending and war culture, or how old men are constantly exploiting broke youth to go exert their agendas in the name of service.

          I would much rather they keep their sense of humor than other alternatives such as not being engaged or just doing cookie cutter flight patterns that didnt challenge them. Now if they had drawn a giant pentagram or 666 in the sky that I would find troubling.

  1. Boomka

    Haven’t seen any discussion of Tesla for a while now. Last time it featured in comments or links was all about how they are leaking money, Musk misbehaving, and in general company going down the drain towards possible insolvency. Now that they have surprised us with strong profits last quarter, would be nice to revisit the topic and see why we were so wrong (or if we weren’t, what’s to make of last quarter?).
    Some other sites are already starting the soul searching, e.g. we saw this link in Water Cooler yesterday:

    1. Christopher Fay

      Anyone in charge or responsible for accounting at Tesla quit or was fired in the last sixty days. The thing about losing money on every additional unit is hard to quit, so who knows? Theranos went on for a decade +.

    2. Lee

      Tesla was up on the Water Cooler just a few days ago.

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

      Then in the comments it was noted that not only is their money funny but they’re putting out crap cars as well.

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

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

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

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

      1. Lee

        Sorry for the misapplied correction. The sun is not up where I am. I’m bleery-eyed and need more caffeine. And the damned edit feature is off. Cheers.

    3. Octopii

      This past quarter’s sales number beat BMW and Lexus for passenger cars. I’m regularly sighting Model 3s around town.

      Theranos was vaporware. Tesla is delivering efficient vehicles that offer a unique driving experience and move their owners significantly further away from supporting the filthy petroleum industry. I am rooting for them.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If the filth caused and by-produced by rare earth mining and then rare earth element refining were safely sequestered and stored in such a way as to be totally isolated and danger-contained for several thousand years to come, how much would that cost? And how much would the price of the rare earth elements have to rise to cover that cost?

          1. Odysseus

            Define which rare earth elements you’re talking about.

            At roughly 10x current cost, it’s economical to refine lithium from seawater. That’s a very different set of environmental issues than leaving noxious chemicals in tailing ponds.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I was thinking about the rare and precious land-deposit-only ones with the exotic names, like tantalum . . . columbium . . . neodymium . . . unobtainium . . . upsidaisium . . .

      1. John k

        Me, too.
        Yes, outselling all the lux brands. By far.
        Buyers are buying.
        True, model 3 has reliability issues, unlike model S, which has been in production much longer.
        Not sure about profits, but clearly profits and production continue to improve.
        Regarding vapor ware… we’ve been hearing of competition arriving next year for years.

        1. Plenue

          The production is a disaster. Strether has talked at length about this, with comparisons to his own factory floor experience. Musk fundamentally doesn’t understand how to mass produce real, physical things, and the times when he manages to push production up to his promised levels it’s only briefly and a result of him personally living at the factory (and presumably berating people to work faster). And even then a huge number of the cars come out broken in some way, requiring additional fixing.

        2. oh

          I doubt you’d be happy to get hosed by Tesla when you have to get your car towed into their service shop, the only ones that are allowed to fix it.

      2. Plenue

        The cars are crap. 84% of them come off the production line needing repair to fix mistakes from Musk’s messy, ad hoc production process. Even when put together properly the quality of Tesla is very not great, as is only going to become more and more apparent with time (and woe on you when you need a replacement part, since Tesla manufactures them all itself and is massively behind on supply).

        And Musk thinks he’s going to introduce more models and features on top of this? Puh-leaze.

    4. Craig H.

      Tesla was on the one page summary news for this week’s Economist. Everything is hunky-doory in investment bubble land.

      Maybe GM or Ford could buy them out and rejigger the industrial structure? It is difficult to foresee this ending well.

  2. verifyfirst

    I was a bit shocked to read this article last night on climate change to date in Canada–very puzzling (to me). Here is a quote:

    “People say, well gee, the world’s warmed up by 1 C in the last 135 years, but there are parts of Canada that have warmed in some seasons by four, four-and-half degrees in a 70-year period,” Environment Canada’s senior climatologist, David Phillips says. “So twice as much in half the time.”

    The map in the article showing varying degrees of change across Canada is amazing.

    Also last night another article on about the major but somewhat hidden impacts on trees in Canada (article is called Drunken Trees and Browning Forests). The link is too long to post here.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      What about the article you read shocked you? The Arctic is warming more than other regions and the polar ice is melting. Please explain further the nature of your shock. Were you previously unaware of the changes affecting Canada?

      1. verifyfirst

        Well, a couple of things shocked me.

        –I had not realized the magnitude of the changes that have already taken place in specific areas; big difference between a 1 C average (seasonal) increase and a 5 C increase in some areas (yes, the 5 C areas are closest to the poles, but in western Canada up to 2 C increases appear to go all the way south to the US border!)

        –I mostly follow Atlantic Canada, where according to the map the increases to date are much more in line–i.e., much lower–with what I had imagined was happening so far. The article does not say why places at the same latitude in Canada are so different in their increases to date–west versus east. Do you know why that is?

        –I had also thought Canada would be a net beneficiary of climate change, if the “bread basket” moved north out of the US, and they would also have fewer problems with invasive plants and insects and such as are slowly moving north through the US (and less problems with Zika and other formerly tropical climate transmittable diseases).

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          The impacts of Climate Disruption at the poles, especially the Arctic are more complex than at other areas. The impacts of Climate Disruption in Atlantic Canada will be difficult to predict due to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Remember the strangely cold Winter a few years ago. []
          “If you doubt that the AMOC has weakened, read this” from this May. []
          Things could get very interesting in a decade or two when the Arctic pole melts more completely.

          Another thing to consider — I’m not sure climate zones are smoothly moving up in latitude as often described. I believe the climates in each zone will be more variable than those we enjoyed before the Anthropocene. There will be more hot spells and cold snaps, early freezes and late season warmth — weather like the weather that brought Japanese cherry trees and Lambert’s forsythia to blossom in the Fall. The plants and animals we live with have adapted to reasonably predictable seasons for their climate zone. I think the seasons will become much more variable confusing the timing of plant and animal life.

          1. Wukchumni


            We’ll have to get used to the new normal, and it’s already been telegraphed, by temps in the north of Scandinavia 30-35 degrees over normal in July, and seeing as we have 100 days of around 100 degrees here each and every summer, in time the Central Valley will be uninhabitable, and forget about all the tree crops as well.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      This is one of the basic predictions that the Warmists made before the Big Heat began rising for real. That global warming would manifest in a faster sharper warmup in the Arctic and Subarctic much faster than in the non-Arctic. Those events are happening as predicted.

      The fact that Man Made Global Warming theory permitted the “warmists” to correctly make that prediction ahead of time is support in my mind for the reality-basis of the theory.

      After all, if Purely Natural Cycles theory is correct, how come the Cyclists weren’t able to make this same prediction, based on their Theory of Cyclism?

    3. Oregoncharles

      Canada, like Russia, is both a petrostate AND a long-term beneficiary of global warming. One movie had scenes of US climate refugees trying to go North and stopped at the border. This will happen.

      Granted, rapid change destabilizes things in the immediate, but the amount of usable land – largely restricted to a couple hundred miles from the border – will increase enormously.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Canada can only stop so many climate refugees at the border. When its a hundred million American climate refugees, plus a hundred million Mexican climate refugees, plus 30 million Central American climate refugees . . . . Canada won’t be able to stop them all.

        Same for Russia regarding 500 million Chinese climate refugees, 500 million Indian climate refugees, plus a whole lotta buncha more from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. etc.

        Plus a couple million square miles of Siberia is near-sea-level permafrost which itself is 50% frozen water and is a thousand feet deep in some places. If the global warms enough to thaw out all the permafrost and melt all its embodied ice; that, combined with a rising sea level will put at least a million square miles of Siberia under a vastly expanded and very shallow Arctic Ocean.

        1. witters

          Well, the compulsory optimism so many insist in today as necessary and essential in an ocean of decadal long inaction leads some people (here, unfortunately, OC) to BAU vacuities like this.

        2. rd

          Actually, there is lots of room in the US for climate refugees. Of course, they will have to move back to the high tax, blue state Rust Belt that many of them fled from.

          Why would they go to Canada where it will be colder with higher socialist taxes? Some of the people there speak French instead of English as well, which makes them decidedly unAmerican.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            So . . . the Sunbelt Republitarians will move north to escape all the Latinxos and Latinxas from Mexico and Central America. And the Northerny Libbruls will move north to escape the Sunbelt Republitarians.

            It will be a Volkswanderrungenen of the Peopleses.

    4. bondsofsteel

      Not shocked. Smoke was so bad in Seattle from B.C. fires that for a week you couldn’t go outside for long. The sky had this eerie yellow glow. Second summer in a row. (Last summer it snowed ash.)

      We’re like >200 miles away. I’m surprised there’s any BC forest left.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not being flippant but there would be a great painting to be made with Seattle under a yellow sky. Earlier in the 19th century, the British painter J.M.W. Turner did several paintings whose sky reflected the fact that volcanoes in other parts of the world had altered the colour of the sky as immortalized in his paintings. Can you imagine the same for Seattle but due to smoke?

  3. HotFlash

    Proofreading police arrive! A title problem? “Links 10/27/18 – 10/28/2018 – Lambert Strether” Not picking nits, just it may confuse indexing.

    1. JTMcPhee

      What’s worse — the methods used, or the corp that was the target? Or is that just a falsely limited choice?

      One wonders at the motivations of the people who applied the “limits to growth:” trying to shrink a plague, help a competitor, or what?

      And from my experience as a federal regulator, there of course are zillions of examples of “secret, or at least hidden or obscure, law,” like all the “regulatory interpretive memoranda” and “policy guidance documents” and “enforcement strategies and manuals,” even the “delegation manuals” that force all regulatory decisions into various tailorings of strait jackets in aid of some obscure/opaque aim of some “interest group” or cadres within the “regime.” The cadres with the power to authoritatively publish these kinds of items that used to be on my and my fellow enforcement attorneys’ cubicle bookshelves. And which those of us that tried to hew to the fundamental notion of “protecting human health and the environment” had to constantly practice a kind of ‘institutional jiu jitsu to avoid the strictures of, in our efforts to enforce the spirit of the law against, e.g., the ravages and depredations of the Reaganauts and their successors. Not to mention the power of outfits like Monsanto, Dow, US Steel/USX, Waste Management, Exxon and the, who used to whine about how the mean old federal government had “infinite resources” (a few enforcement personnel in the Agency, and reluctant and careerist DoJ attorneys, by and large, hamstrung by budget and staffing constraints and massive resistance from the bought-and-paid-for senior executives within the Agency and DoJ) to crush their poor little armies of lawyers, lobbyists, accountants, experts and the rest

      Going on about “secret law” ought to be done in context, with an eye to the aims and effects. I wonder — did slowing Dimon down help Blankfein/Goldsux become even more powerful and predatory?

      All comes down to what kind of political economy, driven by and aiming toward what kinds of organizing principles, ought to be sought. And what kinds of people, driven by what motivations, administer “the law.”

      As it is, all the vectors and momentum and inertia of the thing are directed, it would seem, toward the cliff edge.

    2. perpetualWAR

      Yep, but instead, we get news Jamie Dimon thinks he should be President.
      Thanks Obama! Thanks, Holder!

  4. SimonGirty

    I’d just left my hometown to return to NYC; following a couple months working in a mill there, my coworkers from Mississippi, while staying with some very hip, perceptive and prescient young AirBnb hosts in an adjacent white, working class neighborhood. I’d walk or cycle up to Squirrel Hill simply as an antidote of sanity & reason. We’d joked, nervously, about the divisivness, income disparity and stochastic terrorist cage rattling, across the country.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Got to love those hip, perceptive and prescient and presumably well off AirBnB hosts, and their impacts on the community…

      1. SimonGirty

        Too long for here, but utterly fascinating transcient kids; drawn to Pittsburgh by the universities, medical & robotics start-ups so heavily promoted by national media; fixing up squats in “abandoned” hollows. These folks knew immediately, what nobody here in NYC would be able to piece together. Still, the simultaneous imput from steelworkers a third my age, my decidely right wing, peckerwood gas industry coworkers, local MAGA bikers and tourists riding a famous rail-trail we’d helped start, up from DC. We’d all discussed wet-gas fracking as additional pipe lines blew; discussed how media ignores the worker’s pretty nightmarish lives; discussed FOX and friends unremitting baiting and Trump’s blithering hate and lies; discussed an entire generation of indentured sharecroppers, devoid of prospects, heavily armed… how tiny Pittsburgh has opoid deaths roughly equivalent to Philly and New York…

      2. SimonGirty

        PS: nah, three of the hosts were just trying to survive the sharing economy. Used truck, BigLots/ Aldi’s food, thrift shop everything, chickens & goats… reminded me of the Reagan Miracle days, varmint hunting, dumpster diving, community garden (very near this synagogue) in the poisoned soil. We did joke about Anthony Bourdain’s crew loving the REAL Pittsburgh, CNN ignored.

      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        Airbnb provides normal, not stunningly well off people in flyover country a chance at a living. In BF Egypt, it’s one of the few breaks available for people who are trying mightily to just keep their heads above water.

        I drove >7000 miles around the North American continent this summer, from Reno, to Montreal to New Orleans back to Reno. Stayed at Airbnb’s run by on site homeowners in Walla-walla, Toledo, and Sault-Sainte-Marie, a vegan camp in Kelowna, and stayed with offsite hosts in the massive metropoles of Medicine Hat, AB, and Tishomingo, MS. The slick, corrupt, quasi-criminal operators that apparently typify the business in Mahattan and Barcelona were conspicuous by their absence.

        Based on my ~14-15 experiences at Airbnbs since 2011 – mostly in the more desolate and inexpensive reaches of the continent – I suspect that the fashionable hate here for Airbnb is a reflection of 50 and 60-somethings’ distaste for change, not a valid assessment of the business or it’s users. Manahattan may be different. It often is.

        1. Wukchumni

          Was talking to a local mom, and the kindergartner class went from 20 last year to 12, largely on the basis of out of towners buying up properties for which they are short term landlords, and have no stake in the community, other than to profit.

          Fortunately we don’t have any vacation rentals near us, but friends live cheek by jowl in close proximity, and instead of the really quiet mountain foothill town, where they bought a house in 2002, it can be a loud madhouse next door, and the renters don’t care about the ruckus they create, leaving all the lights on, or partying to the wee hours.

          It has really split our community, we have once a month town hall meetings where the usual 23 suspects show up every month and said get togethers are pretty droll, but when the town hall meeting was in regards to vacation rentals, almost 250 people were in attendance-over 10% of the population in total.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks for this, some people seem unable to separate the company (undoubtedly predatory) and some unscrupulous landlords from the concept, long established, of people making an income from unused home space. I know plenty of people who make a little income from unused bedrooms on Airbnb and relatedcompanies, as well as people who were able to afford family holidays that would be otherwise unaffordable because of it. I see nothing wrong, ethically or otherwise, with people renting out an unused bedroom. In reality, it’s surely better to ensure rooms are full and used rather than otherwise, especially in overcrowded cities.

          The problem – caused by airbnb’s greed – is the way full time landlords are bypassing necessary safety laws by turning homes into short let accommodation. This is wrecking havoc in some key cities.

          The answer is not to demonize every Airbnb host, but to regulate. It properly.

          1. Anon

            And in my tourist-centric city many of those homes turned into short let accommodation are not paying their appropriate 10% bed tax. Local hotels not happy. Me either.

          2. newcatty

            Another interesting phenomenon regarding people “renting out an unused bedroom” to make a little income. This is not to cast any dispersion on people renting out rooms in their own homes. Agree, Airnb and similar companies should be properly regulated. But, ahem, that means, gasp, government regulation! What I and others have discussed is the growing number of home owners or those with leases renting out on a monthly basis a room to not just a single person or couple, but to a woman with children. The owner or primary renter charges the “roomate” enough to either help make the owner’s mortgage payment, or to just make some income. The “roomate” is supposed to have access to kitchen and back yard, etc. Usually, the “roomates” find out they are so bossed by the owner or primary renter that they end up paying for essentially a room, and sometimes, their own bathroom. The owner or primary renter pockets a nice bit of change over months. In cities across the country these predatory owners or primary renters are charging, for example, $1000.00 a month for a large bedroom and bath. A little less for a small room. These predators take advantage of sky high rents in their cities. The low income earner is vulnerable to the fact that this situation is TINA. Homelessness is not acceptable. Some of these predators have turned their homes into boarding houses. No regulation. This is quite different from people who are sincere in wanting to share a home with roommates in a considerate and fair arrangement. These predators are not one of the Golden Girls.

        3. Ellery O'Farrell

          I think Manhattan — and any place with multifamily condos or co-ops — is indeed different. Put simply, would you like to allow a complete stranger full access to your building and all security except your own doorkey? Without any verification?

          We in Manhattan, and probably all other condos/co-ops, rely on protocols and signed access permissions. Perhaps we’re paranoid, but based on reported experience (subject I suppose to reportial bias) we don’t think so.

          Single-family homes may be different. They often are.

    2. Darius

      And Bibi’s Israel is in league with these MAGA antisemites. If anything, Israel’s increasingly odious right wing extremist behavior and alliances make it less eligible for acceptance by the region. Not more. It would be like saying Brian Kemp and Chris Kobach are stealing elections more blatantly than ever before. That’s something I can get behind. Or way to kill that WaPo columnist and dismember his still living corpse, MBS. You’re our guy.

      1. Doug Hillman

        Israel’s right wing thrives on anti-Semitism, doing it’s utmost to incite it while masquerading as victims, so the paradoxical mating w MAGA is very symbiotic.

        The Reuters link reports on Oman courting Israel: “. . . a helpful step for our peace efforts & … stability, security & prosperity between Israelis, Palestinians & their neighbors.”

        The deep empathy for Palestinians is so heartwarming. But ultimately, as the article reveals it’s all and only about “Curbing Iran”. Say no more. We all know about Iran’s predatory and brutal aggression in the region. Right?

  5. BillK

    Re: Self-driving car dilemmas reveal that moral choices are not universal

    Interesting, but it’s an opinion poll. Beware of assuming that what people *say* they will do will be the same as what they actually do. Self-preservation will usually be first choice, then if there is time available after that they might consider other consequences.

    1. Eduardo

      Self-driving car dilemmas reveal that moral choices are not universal Nature. Oh, great. Localization for moral choices in robot car software. What will the granularity be? And the default settings?
      And can I tweak these settings? Or can some third party actor (maybe unknown to me) tweak these?

      So, given a choice of running over a dirty politician or splashing muddy water onto a child the vehicle gives preference to maintaining “cleanliness”? I see all sorts of opportunity for chaos if the vehicles are hackable.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Moon of Alabama did an article on this that included a chart on the preference of sparing characters which had some bizarre results. Cats fared worse of all but the chart showed that old people, homeless people and criminals did not fare so well either.
        All this seems to have based on an internet survey but did they weigh the factors of the people who could be bothered taking such a survey? Were they young, old, male, female, rich, poor or what other factor may have distorted that survey from ordinary drivers?
        What happened if some tech type people figured how to game such a system by having their mobiles emit a signal saying “Do not hit!” to those self-driving cars? Tell me that that is not possible. It would be the pedestrian version of the old police radar detectors in cars.
        That MoA link with the chart, by the way, was at-

        1. flaesq

          Thank you for that link. The underlying article was excellent. I stayed for the surprisingly long comment thread, and wasn’t disappointed.

          1. jsn

            MOA is a good place to hang out for a drink!
            To my mind, b does for the spookisphere what Yves and Lambert do for finance with a similar moral framework. The self driving car thing is a new direction for b and I thought he nailed it!

        2. John Zelnicker

          @The Rev Kev
          October 28, 2018 at 9:02 am

          That MoA post was excellent.

          I recently participated in survey about self-driving cars for a university traffic institute, although it didn’t ask about moral preferences. It was focused on estimates of how soon we might move through the levels of autonomy and whether or not I would be interested in autonomous vehicles of different levels for myself.

          I volunteered to participate in a follow-up telephone interview, for which I am waiting. With all I have learned here, especially Lambert’s explication of the Levels and potential consequences, intended or unintended, I look forward to giving the interviewer some well-informed answers.

          IMNSHO, we will not see much beyond the present technology and low level of autonomy, because humans are far too complex and unpredictable to reduce their behavior to an algorithm.

          I’ll report back when there is a Links or Water Cooler discussion about autonomous vehicles.

        3. Doug Hillman

          These cars should be fitted with a coin dispenser in case the carriage wheels should cripple or kill a less nimble street urchin in the hood.

        4. human

          It will be generations before humans are conditioned to accept without intervention the decisions of a machine.

          Can you see an A type sitting quietly in ordered traffic unable to pass the vehicle moving too slowly in front?

        5. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps robo-car opponents will figure out a way to create slow-moving robo-pedestrians disguised as the elderly, the homeless, and the otherwise lo-cash-valu types of people. These robo-pedestrians can be launched into motion ahead of the robo-car into its path. They can be filled with sticky icky tar or car-paint-acid or some other thing designed to destroy value without killing the robo-car passenger when hit.

          Also, robo-car opponents might begin throwing or sowing caltrops in the path of the robo-car tires.

  6. Procopius

    meat as a condiment

    In Thailand, food, except rice, is thought of as a condiment. The literal translation (not usually recommended) from the Thai word for “food” is “with rice.” When the population is practicing real subsistence farming, and there is no refrigeration, you have to rely on small portions of meat, from the least costly animals to raise. Fish from the streams near your home are really good, because they cost you nothing to raise and catching them can be fun. Chickens are good, because they can mostly forage for themselves and they breed pretty fast. Pigs are not so good because they are so large a single family basically can’t eat all of one in less than a week. They can eat all the leftover or unappetizing stuff, but there usually isn’t much of that, so you have to make or prepare at least some food for them. The Thai, for some reason, never adopted smoking or salting meat to preserve it. I really don’t know what they did do keep such a large quantity of meat from spoiling. Anyway, my initial point is, traditionally the staple food was rice. That is, at least 85% of their calories came from rice. The other stuff was eaten in small quantities, basically just enough to add a variety of flavors to the rice.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I recall that the Japanese word for “rice” has also come to refer generally to “the meal,” or to food in general. For the same reasons — the biggest source of calories, and meaning. happens as climate disruption affects the rice crops? How fast will that “change everything?”

      Ahh, just another stupid thing to worry about and trouble my already troubled sleep…

      1. Harold

        Apparently not long ago the staple in these countries was millet not rice, though. Millet a food for poor people. Rice only for those who could afford it.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          A Criterion commentary to Seven Samurai mentions that the farmers were probably eating millet not rice — the rice was too valuable as something they could sell to the more wealthy. But I wondered where that factoid came from as I wonder about millet as a staple instead of rice. Have you ever eaten a bowl of millet? The stuff is all right for thickening a soup but if millet were a staple I would expect the land of millet to have a much more robust herb and spice culture than I believe Japan has.

          1. Harold

            My daughter’s Waldorf nursery school teacher (she was Finnish) had them make millet every day, and since we had the school in our house I ate it too and developed a taste for it. Though when I made it it myself it wasn’t as quite as tasty.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            Millet would have been mixed with barley to make a more palatable porridge, maybe oats too. For most farmers, rice was a cash crop, not a food staple.

            Interestingly, in Kurosawas later film RedBeard set in the mid 19th century, his doctor character makes an obese aristocrat eat grain porridge to cure his constant stomach problems. This is quite medically accurate, no doubt Kurosawa was aware of the benefits of whole grains.

            The Japanese always valued white rice as a luxury product, not a staple. That’s one reason why Japanese will always have it in the centre of the table, while for example the Chinese just see it as something to fill the stomach. Chinese people will often deliberately not order rice in front of guests as a way of saying ‘I can afford not to’

            I assume historically this is because so much of China is ideal for rice cultivation, while japan has poorer soils and fewer valley plains.

          3. drumlin woodchuckles

            If we are talking about the tiny little whitish/round grains that are called millet, like this
            then I used to eat lots of millet when I was a $3,500/year dishwasher. I liked it with garlic, tomato paste, cut onion boiled in there with it, Kraft shaker-can parmesan cheese and olive oil. I would eat some most days.

            This makes me want to run right out and cook and eat some millet.

        2. Plutoniumkun

          Yes, while rice was favored, most Japanese lives off barley and millet and other grains.

          Beriberi was a huge problem in 19th century japan, the navy spent a lot of money trying to find a cure. It turned out that it was restricted to sailors and the urban middle classes. These were the people who ate mostly rice. The poor ate barley and millet while the rich ate more meat and fish and so were not so vitamin deficient. It was apparently very hard to persuade people to add barley to rice (the simplest way to prevent beriberi) because all all rice diet was seen as the benefit of having left fermwork for a waged job.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I love barley and use it often in my soups! If most Japanese lived off barley and millet why didn’t they adopt more spices than soy sauce and other fermented soy products? Is there a spice/herb tradition in Japan that I am ignorant of? If so please inform me. I am a spice/herb enthusiast and didn’t find much on offer from Japan compared to what I found in so many other cuisines.

            1. meeps

              You might like Shichi-mi tōgarashi. It’s a nice finishing spice blend you can sprinkle on to taste.

              From Wikipedia:

              Shichi-mi tōgarashi (七味唐辛子, seven-flavor chili pepper), also known as nana-iro tōgarashi (七色唐辛子, seven-color chili pepper)[1][2] or simply shichimi, is a common Japanese spice mixture containing seven ingredients.[3]

              A typical blend may contain:

              coarsely ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient)
              ground sanshō (“Japanese pepper”)
              roasted orange peel (Chenpi)
              black sesame seed
              white sesame seed
              hemp seed[4]
              ground ginger[3]
              nori or aonori (seaweed)
              poppy seed

              Some recipes may substitute or supplement these with poppy seed, yuzu peel, rapeseed or shiso.
              It dates back at least to the 17th century, when it was produced by herb dealers in Edo,[3] current day Tokyo, and sometimes it is referred to as Yagenbori (薬研堀, from the name of the original place of production).

              1. Jeremy Grimm

                I think I may have eaten that mix on my rice. I got it at the Chinese market but as I recall it came from the Japanese section and had kanji on the label. Thanks for reminding me of it.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              A lot of Japanese spices are non native, they took time to become part of their diet. I would guess that soya sauces and pickles would originally have been the main condiments pre 19th sentry but I don’t really know. Japan was always more open to external change than assumed. Even tempura and sushi are relatively recent introductions/innovations. Tempura was introduced by the Portuguese.

              1. Jeremy Grimm

                I think cuisine greatly benefited from global trade. It’s easy to forget how much we all owe to the peoples who invented so many of the food plants, including spices and herbs, we enjoy now.

          2. Harold

            I alway heard it was the highly polished white rice that caused the problems with beri beri, not brown rice, poor peoples’ food. We had a similar problem here with grits. Beri beri and pellagra were no joke. Caused mental retardation and even death. In my youth these deficiencies were said to be the cause of the supposed mental backwardness of the Southern poor.

        3. ObjectiveFunction

          Foul fact for the day.

          The Sulu pirates who plagued the colonial Philippines, Borneo and Sulawesi with far ranging slaving raids would take along rations of sorghum, which they would boil and eat. Being hard to digest, most of the grains would pass through… Those would then be umm, collected and duly reboiled for the next meal.

          You’re welcome.

    2. Stephen V.

      Analysis of the mid-Victorian period in the U.K. reveals that life expectancy at age 5 was as good or better than exists today, and the incidence of degenerative disease was 10% of ours. Their levels of physical activity and hence calorific intakes were approximately twice ours. They had relatively little access to alcohol and tobacco; and due to their correspondingly high intake of fruits, whole grains, oily fish and vegetables, they consumed levels of micro- and phytonutrients at approximately ten times the levels considered normal today. (Snip)
      Regarding MEAT AS CONDIMENT!
      A little science and history linked on NC ages ago…

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          “The mid-Victorian period is usually defined as the years between 1850 and 1870, but in nutritional terms we have identified a slightly longer period, lasting until around 1880.” … “Our recent research indicates that the mid-Victorians’ good health was entirely due to their superior diet.” … “The increased sugar consumption caused such damage to the nation’s teeth that by 1900 it was commonly noted that people could no longer chew tough foods and were unable to eat many vegetables, fruits and nuts [26]. For all these reasons the late-Victorian diet actually damaged the health of the nation, and the health of the working classes in particular.” … “The fall in nutritional standards between 1880 and 1900 was so marked that the generations were visibly and progressively shrinking. In 1883 the infantry were forced to lower the minimum height for recruits from 5ft 6 inches to 5ft 3 inches. This was because most new recruits were now coming from an urban background instead of the traditional rural background (the 1881 census showed that over three-quarters of the population now lived in towns and cities).” Should I infer from this that Karl Marx and Charles Dickens were alarmists and to reach the good health that blessed the good Anglicans of the mid-Victorian years I just need to set down my wine and eat more fruits, vegetables and fish? And a happy corollary — if we all are so inspired the Medical Industrial Complex’s efforts to collapse our collapsing economy will be thwarted by our vegan resolve?

    3. nycTerrierist

      To everyone here concerned re: climate change, the Asian Times piece concludes:

      “One of the most comprehensive studies to dates found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.

      At a time when we’re told to give up straws, use public transport, and reuse our plastics, cutting out meat is your best option for saving the planet. As lead researcher Joseph Poore, from the University of Oxford said:

      “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth.”

      1. TimR

        Well then I say amen! Guy sounds like a real TED Talkin’ expert or sumptin’… I’m off to purchase my rice bowl

      2. JohnM

        yes that’s what they concluded but did the article support that conclusion with any meaningful information or did it merely repeat vegan dogma?

        does a claim such as ‘meat production is special evil’ cause you to hesitate a bit and question the objectivity of the source? maybe it’s just me. when was the last time you heard similar statements about other discretionary carbon-producing human activities? tourism is a special evil. heating your home to 72 degrees is a special evil. traveling to see your family for thankgiving is a special evil.

        always question the vegan zealots.

        1. bassmule

          If humans stop eating pigs, there won’t be any more pigs. I am against this.

          “A pig is a jolly companion,
          Boar, sow, barrow, or gilt —
          A pig is a pal, who’ll boost your morale,
          Though mountains may topple and tilt.
          When they’ve black balled, bamboozled, and burned you,
          When they’ve turned on you, Tory and Whig,
          Though you may be thrown over by Tabby and Rover,
          You’ll never go wrong with a pig, a pig,
          You’ll never go wrong with a pig!”

          1. JTMcPhee

            THE PIG SONG.
            It was back in last November,
            How’well do I remember,
            I was staggering down the street in
            drunken pride,
            When my feet began to stutter,
            So I lay down in the gutter,
            And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
            As I lay there in the gutter,
            My heart was all a-flutter,
            ‘Til a lady passing by was heard to say:
            You can tell a man that boozes by, the
            company he chooses;
            And the pig got up and slowly
            walked away.
            Walked awa-ay, walked awa-ay,
            And the pig got up and slowly walked away.

            1. Unna

              Some myth has it that the gods feast on pork in Valhalla.

              On the Winter Solstice slowly roast pork and have it ready before dark because if hungry Riders of the Wild Hunt stop by maybe they’ll be satisfied to take a slice of roast pork away with them and not take you.

              Any excuse to eat pork will do….

        2. TimR

          I think what we have are two zealot forces… Vegans and global warmers… Joining forces.

          I question the motives of both.

        3. JohnnyGL

          The vegans don’t have a plan for how to fertilize their preferred annual cereal crops that doesn’t involve either 1) hefty carbon emissions or 2) big drops in agricultural productivity per acre.

          They’re loath to admin they need animal manure as fertilizer.

            1. Wukchumni

              With so many kids highly allergic to goobers, this almost sounds like premeditated murder, no?

              Take me out to the ball game,
              Take me out with the crowd;
              Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
              I don’t care if I never get back.

              1. wilroncanada

                Or Wayne and Schuster, Shakespeare variety:
                Take thou me to the ball game,
                Take thou me with the crowd.
                Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks,
                Wash it al down with a flagon of sack.

        4. nycTerrierist

          Factory farms are evil.

          via Martha Rosenberg on alternet:

          Yuval Harari:

          “Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history.”

          “The fate of industrially farmed animals is one of the most pressing ethical questions of our time. Tens of billions of sentient beings, each with complex sensations and emotions, live and die on a production line.”

          JohnM: I would add, your glib reply makes false equivalences.
          Heating your home/traveling to see your family = factory farming animals?
          where are your ethics?
          mechanistic worldviews like yours are destroying this planet

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        That looked like a very detailed report of many pages. It would take a few-couple hours of slow careful reading before I could have an opinion on it as a report.

        1. zer0

          Allan SAVORY. Wow, great name.

          Anyways, anecdotally or IMO, Ive met more overweight vegans than skinny ones.

          I think there is a very large disctinction to be made from the original Janism-style vegan, which is, basically eating only fruits, vegetables, and grain locally sourced (actually, self sourced in Janism), to this weird American Veganism, where its the same menu, but everything meat has been replaced by some weird chemistry experiment involving soy, oats, some binding chemicals, etc, and everything dairy is replaced by legitimately all processed chemicals, some derived from plant sources, others well not so much.

          I dont get why everyone always has this tendency to swing wildly to the opposite extreme. What happened to having meat just once or twice a week? Was that such a bad way to live?

          And why not go after the frozen food industry, the fast food industry, i.e. the biggest supporters of the low quality high volume meat industry, instead of the everyday American, who is probably just scrambling to get by and doesnt have the time or will power to go find real alternatives to their diet?

    4. Lord Koos

      I’m not advocating meat but pork is popular in Thailand, especially in the north. Pigs are easy to raise, and put on weight faster than other animals. If they are small there isn’t so much waste. People also share, sell or barter what they cannot eat.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      Given that growing rice causes and releases significant amounts of methane, perhaps people should stop eating rice in order to stop warming the global.

      Oops! Whoops. Sorry about that . . . . .

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          By now, every problem bloating up out of the ground is a real problem. What we have is a problem problem. Too many problems to keep up. A problem for every taste in problems.

          People will just have to pick their favorite pet problem and try addressing that.

          In the longest run, a NON-Jackpot way to float the human population back down to sustainable numbers would be a good thing.

        2. Richard

          Bull. Or I should say, I think it is more a case of standardizing a lifestyle inimical to civilization in the long run, and the heedless, extractive rush to ruin inspired by market ideology. It is more to do with that than the pressure of absolute numbers of people, IMO.

    6. Jeremy Grimm

      At the current price of beef I have trouble adding it to my list of condiments. It costs more than I’m willing to pay. Fish are problematic as a food source after a few problems with the pollution of farmed fish and the petroleum and radiation dumps into our gulfs and seas although I do eat them as I can. Only turkey or occasionally chicken are available at what seems a reasonable price to me. Vegetables and fruits are almost as expensive as meat and they come under-ripe and under-flavored with a dose of poisons [… and no I don’t trust the “Organic” label on US produce although I do buy organic where I can]. The price of beans keeps going up. Rice might contain arsenic — wheat, barley and other grains are probably dried Roundup ready — and the potatoes are genetically modified to make make their own poisons. Quinoa seems OK as long as I feel I can afford it and also wash it carefully to remove the soapy insecticide it makes for itself [The Indians who grow quinoa rejected the offers from GSM to make quinoa without the natural insecticide it makes … and they rejected the idea!]. But the FDA is protecting our foods so I feel so so safe and can eat what I can still afford and what I am still willing to pay for in “safety”. Is this a great country or what?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I still semi-trust the USDA Certified Organic label even though big Corpoganic players and the USDA have been co-conspiring for years to dilute and destroy the standards. I semi-trust it because many of the Certified Growers are legacy holdovers from before the Federal Takeover and still bring efforts at Movement Integrity to the enterprise.

        And if you have done enough gardening and enough years of study/reading/thinking about the methods, then you can talk to smallish local farmers about what they do and see if they seem conversant with the info and concepts you know about.

        Here’s an “organic” source I will never trust and never buy: China. I don’t need the organic lead paint, organic melamine, organic asbestos particles, organic everything else which the Chinese would probably allow into the Chinese Certified Organic food. “Probably? Only probably?”
        Even just “probably” is too big a risk where China is concerned.

  7. dan

    Re: Self-driving car dilemmas reveal that moral choices are not universal

    Given that replacing a bumper on a car with some basic ultrasonic range sensors costs thousands
    and thousands of dollars, replacing and calibrating the electronics such as lidars, infrared cameras,
    whatever are going to be an order of magnitude higher.

    The AI system might just aim for the softer targets….

    1. cnchal

      > The AI system might just aim for the softer targets….

      Not a chance. The algorithm will have a {$kaching} loop to make sure any crash will maximize profits.

      1. charger01c

        Speaking of which, those extra sensors cost enormous amounts of money to repair for every slow-speed collision or parking lot mistake.

        1. Jean

          Does that mean that whacking them with the ball of a ball peen hammer when they are parked is counterproductive to the cost savings of AISDriving cars?

  8. timbers

    Regarding the American nurse getting sick in UK, a few days ago I heard 2 of my coworkers chatting next to cube both managers talk medical bills/co pays & college expenses. One is a father with newborn with wife who also works. He said the pays were killing his budget and mentioned bills show up out of nowhere that aren’t covered like a $400’charge from a doc who walked in looked at his baby for 3 minutes then walked out. The was female her voice harder to hear talking abt the expensive bills she’s getting for UMass Amherst. You’d like if Dems really wanted to start winning elections for a change or win over Republican voted as were frequently Hillary wanted, they’d start talking MedicateForAll and with no co-pays. Couldn’t Team Blue throw just 1 of their donor groups under the bus that would do so much benefit for so many in exchange for winning elections?

    1. allan

      Access for responsible working families to quality health care billing
      is the slogan the DCCC would probably come up with.

        1. allan

          It means: future New Democrat™ or Problem Solver Caucus™ member.

          If the Dems do take back the House, their first order of business should be HR 676,
          but instead it will probably be fighting for a balanced budget.
          Just like working families tightening their belts while sitting around the kitchen table.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If the Dems do take back the House, their first order of bussiness will be conspiring with the Republicans to get the Grand Catfood Bargain against Social Security and Medicare. This is why the Dems must not be permitted to take back the House.

            If every CIA Dem and every Clinton-tainted Dem and every Obama-polluted Dem were defeated in its House election, and ONLY SanderSocial New Deal Reactionary Dems were permitted to win, we could kill two birds with one stone.

            Bird #1: We could abort the BiPartisan Conspiracy against Social Security and Medicare.

            Bird #2: We could begin the decontamination process against the malignant metastatic Clintonoma cells and the Yersiniobama pestis plague bacilli within the Democratic Party. We could begin the engineering of a Purified DemParty made up of
            “Red Gingriches” ready to burn down the House ( and the Senate too) if they (we) don’t get their way.

            ” We want the Whole Loaf. NOW. Or no bread for anyone.”

            1. neighbor7


              WE WANT THE WORLD AND WE WANT IT……..

              This song came out in 1967 when I was 15, and already we were asking with Jim–

              What have they done to the earth
              What have they done to our fair sister
              Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
              Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
              And tied her with fences and dragged her down

              No wonder we want(ed) it NOW!

    2. Nick

      Here in Massachusetts we’re seeing that some on Team Blue are fickle friends.

      There was an article linked here yesterday (and an earlier one in the Intercept) that describe the current state of the Question 1 campaign in Massachusetts (bottom-line Nurse staffing limits). The coalitions for and against aren’t neatly politically one-dimensional but it’s opened up a clear fault between the progressives and centrist Dems.

      Basically it comes down to trusting and valuing the workers or the bosses, and boy I hope they can pull it out.

        1. Nick

          Yeah… For me it was the nonprofit hospitals’ offshore accounts.

          I was tabling for DSA and spoke with a nurse (non-hospital, non-union) at the next table who was a Bernie fan and down for our stuff but pretty firmly No on 1. She came from a rural community and bought into threats of facility closure if the staffing requirements were to increase. It’s easy for me to argue “but fibbers’ forecasts!” but in some of these post-industrial towns lucky enough to have them, the regional medical facility might be the only game left (e.g. Southbridge) and that threat looms large.

          More broadly I think we’ve done well convincing people that insurance companies are extraneous and immoral, but less so in vilifying hospital owners/administrators. I’m eagerly awaiting the retrospective that sketches lessons from YesOn1 to Medicare 4 All, whatever those lessons might be.

        2. Polar Donkey

          My wife knows a young guy who had a car accident. Drove into a fence, wooden plank went through the windshield and broke his jaw. Went to hospital. Had several jaw surgeries, mostly to stop bleeding. Went well. Aside from his jaw, he is ok. Been in hospital for 2 weeks. Family trying to get him up and moving. Hospital had a catheter in the guy and said he would need a lot physical therapy. Family threatened to remove catheter themselves and walk out. Hospital suddenly had catheter removed and sent guy to physical therapy. Therapist said why is he here, he doesn’t need anything from me.
          I have now heard similar stories multiple times.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            My Dad lost his admitting privileges when he sent a patient home. From what he told me, an old guy, coal miner, had roughly a week to live (terminal cancer), had already suffered a bowel prolapse (his insides were falling out), and there was no hope of recovery, just expensive procedure after expensive procedure. So, he sent them (the whole family was there, watching, waiting, wailing) home with a script for some opiates. Apparently, that was “bad medicine”.

            1. JTMcPhee

              When I was in nursing clinicals, I was assigned to a terminal cancer patient who was also deep in dementia. A doctor came in with a surgical tray and ordered me to assist him with a bone marrow puncture aspiration and collection. This involves jamming a large bore needle into the hip bone, which is extremely painful. I got up the courage to ask why he was doing this to a comfort-measures-only patient and was told to shut my mouth and tend to my own work if I ever wanted to graduate from the nursing program.

              I have more examples of what are known as “wallet biopsies.” Sometimes I’m glad I retired.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              It is unfortunate that your Dad was not able to sue the responsible people for that decision for libel, slander and whatever else is involved in an accusation of “bad medicine”.

              Further, it is too bad your Dad was not able to petition the relevant Medical Licensing boards to have the people who made that decision revoked of their licenses to practice medicine, on the grounds that they do no know or care what good medicine is , and for treating medicine as a bill-running-up rackets opportunity and etc.

              People need to start thinking in terms of massive retaliation and maximum revenge . . . if it can be achieved.

      1. kurtismayfield

        Even if Question #1 does pass on election day ( which I am voting for, a pox on the hospital industry’s house.. they helped create this disaster of a system), do you think the legislature will take it up? I don’t see it as I don’t think the Nurses union are our politicians true constitutes.

        At least with marijuana legalization there was a line of ex pols ready to snatch up licenses and make money off it.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      Lurking so much around the South Texas Medical Center, I’ve overheard a lot of such talk…and not just from patients and their families.
      I’m not one to let an opportunity for discourse go to waste, so I’ve managed to talk to hundreds of people about the state of healthcare in the last 2 months.
      anger and bewilderment are the most common…and when I find a way to work in my one experience with an ER in Toronto, 30+ years ago, into conversation…everyone…all of them…say something to the effect of “yep. that’s what want”.(defining feature of that experience: nurse telling my grandad with his wallet open trying to pay somebody, “but sir…it’s paid for…”)
      as for billing from strangers,lol…yeah…about half the bills we’ve opened so far are from doctors or surgeons or whatever who are unknown to us.
      Did they merely walk through the room?
      I have no idea.
      the docs we’ve actually met all say “pay what you can”…in a manner that suggests that this is the worst part of their job, and one they would gladly be rid of.(nobody likes the healthcare bean counters). But the docs we have met all appear to see us as human beings, which is nice…although I wonder at how they can maintain such a lack of distance, doing what they do. I’d be a basket case, prolly.
      The bean counters, on the other hand, give off strong vibes of self loathing, which manifests as cold indifference if not outright contempt. I’d be interested to learn what the turnover is for the bean counters, money-takers…and some kind of psych-profile of people who last in that job.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        The stress is on the providers, anyone attracted to the bean counting racket is driven by $$ and in my experience it is line staff who burn out while the others survive.

        1. Jean

          I keep asking a contract law question: How can a hospital bill you for expenses that are not listed on the forms you sign?
          A contract is not valid without both parties being privy to the terms.

          1. foghorn longhorn

            We had a set price of 2500 for a surgery for my wive, paid in full upfront.
            We received another 500 in bs bills and challenged their validity.
            Were promptly turned over to the rapacious bill collectors, ended up paying another 250 just to make it stop.
            F this

    4. rd

      I visit my family in Canada regularly. There are lots of elderly people with numerous ailments that are detailed graphically in discussion.

      What is never mentioned is the cost of the treatment of these ailments. Unless it is non-conventional or experimental approaches, the patients directly bear little of the cost. Even a lot of home care is covered by the system because it reduces the system-wide single-payer cost by keeping them out of the hospital.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        rd–one of the weirdest things in my 49 year sojourn in Texas back country…just how many Liberals(*) there are who don’t realise that they’re Liberals.
        when there’s a lull in the frothing, if you can interject calmly an anecdote such as yours, they discover that it’s exactly what they would like to see.
        Same with college…examples from everywhere else(talking about Germany or Croatia is better out here than mentioning France, which is a trigger word)…and how they Look after one another, at a societal/civilisational level far above our own(keeping their numerous problems in mind, but to myself)
        Living Wage…even Unionism, if properly constructed, avoiding triggers…
        In just about every issue before us, save abortion and hermaphrodites in bathrooms, so many of these people are in agreement. Only differences in degree or method.
        But then I say,”so you’re a Liberal(or prog etc)”
        and it’s “hell no!”.
        That word makes them see the cartoon before their eyes…nefarious, vaguely Jewish, “lording it over”…

        (* I hate the definitional confusion in USA about this. I operate under JFK’s definition, with an FDR backbone))

  9. cnchal

    > Smart money shuns China stocks as foreign and leveraged traders wary of state bailout South China Morning Post

    Only the “national team,” the nickname of Chinese retail investors for state-linked rescue funds, remained as active buyers. The Shanghai Composite unexpectedly escaped from a regional rout on Thursday, clawing back an intraday loss of as much as 2.8 per cent, as the state funds were suspected to have bought large caps companies to prop up the market. . .

    With multiple ‘Plunge Protection Teams’, how can investors in Chinese stawks ever lose?

    As for Chinese stawks listed on American exchanges, where they came from and where they might be going could be the real trade war, and the advertised trade war is a misdirection.

    The gist of the article is that when it comes to Chinese stawks, fake companies are sold for real money (yours, stuck in pension and mutual funds among other sources) and that money is used to buy up assets, such as real estate and profitable operating companies in the ‘West’, orchestrated at the highest level of self serving Chinese leadership.

    In a perverted way, you get to compete for resources with money you gave the competing bidder.

  10. Eduardo

    “‘The Blowj*b Paper:’ Scientists Processed 109 Hours of Oral Sex to Develop an AI that Sucks D*ck Motherboard (UserFriendly).”

    Would training an AI to perform oral sex based on watching porn be like training it to fight based on watching fight scenes in movies?

      1. ewmayer

        Not just full contact … “no holes barred”.

        I liked the article’s, um, tongue-in-cheek humor – besides the giggle-inducing mention of “deep learning”, we have deft little quips like

        “Aside from the math, it’s an accessible, easy to swallow breakdown of how AI is coded into products…”

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Both mountains are being drilled, carefully and sparingly. This is where two tunnels will be passing through. It is of course much cheaper to blow the mountains down with explosives. But earlier this year, China engraved the “Ecological Civilization” into its Constitution, and what it preaches at home, it also implements abroad.

      Great, so now we can look forward to the recall of China’s 2600 super-trawler fleet, a rebound in vanishing populations of tigers,elephants and hornbills, a ban on palm oil from newly torched rainforests, and above all, breathable air in Chinese cities?

      Pass the opium pipe there, Baghdad Bob. I’ve visited enough Chinese job sites to call BS on Andre’s little piece of fanfic. They’re all-Chinese colonies, local crews dig ditches and pull security, that’s it. Nobody speaks a word of English, much less the local lingo. Zero money into the local economy, unless you count local Peoples Committee chairman Nung’s new Land Cruiser….

      Say what you will about OBOR, Dude, at least it’s an ethos. Nihilism, brrr…

      1. rd

        That was a generation ago. Societies become more environmentally conscious as they get wealthier as the US has demonstrated over the past 80 years. We are still seeing that play out state by state in the US.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Bahrain says ‘Arab NATO’ to be formed by next year”

    After watching a doco on ancient Athens, I have a pretty good idea how that would work out. At first it would be an Arab NATO but in a few short years it would in essence become a Saudi Empire with Riyadh demanding tribute in the form of wealth and military resources from its ‘partners’. They certainly could use the cash and they probably would want the military of the other countries to help them in Yemen – under Saudi leadership of course. In addition, all decisions would also be routed through Riyadh, or else.
    The heart of the Alliance would be the Gulf states (Qatar would be on the agenda though) and with Egypt tolerated. It would be in any case an Arab alliance against Iran as the Iranians are not Arabs (they are Persians) as they are in competition with Saudi Arabia. Some may note who is not on this list meaning the Lebanese, Syrians and Jordanians. The reason is that not all Arabs apparently are equal and some Arabs are more equal than others. The Levantine Arabs are regarded as second class with a different ethnicity, culture and environment which is one major reason that they refuse to take Syrian refugees. The Australian-Syrian blogger ‘Syria Girl’ states that ‘Arab supremacists see east Mediterranean as inferior non Arabs’.
    Of course, that Arab NATO may be simply a Sunni alliance against the Shias of the Middle East too.

    1. David

      You hear this kind of thing frequently in the ME, but no-one I have ever spoken to has much idea of how NATO actually functions, or how its organisation would map to the region (in any case, try defying “Arab” in this context: Mauritania to Iraq?) You get similar questions about the EU. In both cases, it amounts to saying that the countries in those groups are generally internally stable and generally don’t fight each other, so can we have some of what they are drinking? I generally point out that maybe they can if they are willing to go through the hundreds of years of blood and slaughter which it took Europe to arrive at its current configuration; That does rather calm things down a bit.

  12. Charlie

    Sky P***s: I’m not quite understanding the reference to a power surge, though taken with the link below it, I guess one could see a pattern.

    However, I can’t help but wonder if mutiny against commisioned officers that give orders for new wars is on the horizon.

    1. 3.14e-9

      You and Lambert are both overthinking this one. Is it so hard to imagine that hot stuff pilot trainees, presumably in their early 20s, would pull a stunt like this?

      As the article notes, they were copycatting an incident last November that went viral in the social media. That one was captured on video, which answers the question by John in comment at 8:05 a.m. It happened on Whidbey Island and also was attributed to pilots-in-training. Since this is a family blog, I won’t post the link, but you can find it in the article. It likely didn’t help discourage future Picassos that the Whidbey kids’ punishment wasn’t reported. For all we know, they were ordered to write “Surrender Dorothy” 100 times on the sky-board. Further, punishment was offset by their stunt being commemorated in a Christmas tree ornament.

      Notwithstanding, this being a thinking family blog, here’s my $.02: NC recently posted a link to a report about our military being fat and tired. Maybe they’re bored? Sure sign that they need a war.*

      * I hate having to point out sarcasm, but if I don’t, somebody is going to take it seriously.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Just use /s

        Most of us get sarcasm here. It’s the only form of humor on NC.

        Oh yeah, cynicism, irony…. I know there’s more

  13. noonespecial


    Pursuant to the US State Dept.’s 9/12/208 certification re. military support to the Saudis and the UAE, these two ME powers are, “taking appropriate steps to avoid disproportionate harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure…[and that] the Sauid-led coalition incorporated a no-strike list into its target development list.”

    A vegetable market did not make the “no-strike list” since it must be where all those terrorist shields sit next to the tomatoes. Ben Norton’s article at the Grayzone Project details not only the bombing of the market, it also includes a quote from an investor conference call with Raytheon’s CEO in which he, “has reassured financial analysts that it will continue to make record profits. and stated, ‘I’m pretty confident we’ll weather this complexity.’” This “complexity”? Staggering ignorance and erasure of the humans at the receiving end of the company’s widgets.

    1. Synoia

      You do not understand the strategic danger of Tomatoes. They are used in their rotten form to inflict much damage to the egos of leaders receiving them.

    2. kgw

      The CEO fails to see he/she is integral with THIS complexity. God may not be dead, but ethics/morality has certainly been snuffed out with a vengeance.

  14. Lynne

    Wow, that Alternet piece on free speech really makes me appreciate NC. It desperately needed an editor. I had trouble following much of it but it was clear in concluding that Trump is obviously the root of all evil and its rather dubious assertion that Trump controls all 3 branches of government. dubious, of course, because it seems clear to me that the control is rather the other way around.

    1. John Zelnicker

      October 28, 2018 at 10:03 am

      I sent that link in last night (and others may have, also) and I think you missed the point. Yes, it does need an editor, but his main point is that we not only have to worry about government censorship, but also about corporate censorship, such as being carried out now by Facebook and Google. (I do wish he had named names.) It’s part of the neoliberal corporatism project and has been building for many years, going back well before Trump.

      This seems to be the key sentence:

      “…no matter how alarmed we are by the specter of Trumpian authoritarian censorship, we need to face the even-more dangerous, if subtle encroachment on our freedoms of speech – the commercial assault on truly free speech that has long seeded both the campus overreactions and Trumpism itself. We miss making the connection not only because we’ve been distracted from it but because we’re invested in it.”

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          This podcast of the Real News features someone who spoke to a member of the Atlantic Council cabal at a neolib/con conference in Germany.

          Can’t remember his name but many of you would know it. He explicitly took credit for the latest round of FB exterminations of alternative news sources and proclaimed this to be “just the beginning”.

          It is chilling and a must-listen imho.

          Disclaimer: It seems to be broken into parts 1 & 2, not sure which I am linking.

      1. ambrit

        Good link Mr. Zelnicker.
        My take on the editorial angle is that perhaps a WaPo ‘editor’ inserted anti Trump snippets to keep the piece in line with Corporate Overlord Policy (COP.) Such editorial meddling, when considered in the light of the palpable mediocrity of much “New Media” wordsmithing, would account for the somewhat muddled and semi-coherent nature of the piece in it’s entirety. If so, this piece itself is an example of the trend being warned against.
        PS. When the polsters call you back, do record the questions. I, for one, am interested in the methods employed by polling organizations. Hidden biases can be gleaned from the stubble and chaff of public discourse.
        All the best from the H’burg gang.

        1. John Zelnicker

          October 28, 2018 at 1:02 pm

          And, Thank You, Mr. ambrit [bows].

          Also, for the excellent suggestion to record the interview. If I can’t figure out a way to do that directly, I’ll try to take notes. Methods and questions are also important to me in assessing the biases in the survey protocol.

          I have seen examples of questions with slightly different construction eliciting wildly different responses.

          Hope you and your’s are well, from the Mobile gang-ster (no gang).

            1. ambrit

              Hi. Sorry I didn’t include you in the comment below about call recording. Basically, states are either “one party” or “two party” states for recording conversations. One party means that one side of the exchange can agree and legitimize the recording. So, you, as the recorder can legitimate the recording on your own behalf. Two party states require both sides of the exchange to agree to record.
              Alabama, where Mr. Zelnicker resides, is a ‘one party’ state. However, there is a legal loophole through which a dishonest person or group can drive a telephone company bucket truck. That is described in the link I put in the comment below.
              An overview of the subject in brief:
              Hope your weather is treating you kindly.

          1. ambrit

            Yo! Back at cher!
            Something marginally related to the “to record or not record the call” issue. The issue as parsed out in the debt collection game.
            Basically, the point is that ‘duplicitous’ collection agencies will have their call centres set up in ‘two party states.’ That means, where both sides of the conversation need to agree to the recording. Alabama is a ‘one party’ state, but the agencies will threaten to sue in the state their ‘shop’ is set up in, said state being a ‘two party’ state.
            If you end up taking notes, do use the, “wait a minute, my hearing aid just went fuzzy” tactic. Slowing down the process is useful for all sorts of reasons.
            Tangentially, I have had fun with collections calls by telling the person, “For quality and quantity purposes, this call may be recorded.”
            Be Ye of good cheer!

            1. John Zelnicker

              October 28, 2018 at 7:01 pm

              And, thanks again. You’ve been providing me some excellent advice lately. Great ideas about delaying the flow to make notes, if necessary. Although I don’t have hearing aids, I am aware of a deterioration of my hearing at the age of 68, as I often have to ask friends and clients to repeat themselves. So, it’s more than just a tactic.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “A Bundesbank Economist Has a Radical Plan to Halve Italy’s Debt”

    Confiscation. That is what he is talking about. Confiscation aka theft. Just like happened with the money that was in people’s bank accounts in Cyprus back in 2012-13. I looked up Wendorff’s bio (;jsessionid=E82F1C70EAF8E7611C577FFB51871B50.intranet2?nn=24646) and it seems that he has never worked a day in the private sector so may be unfamiliar with terms such as, oh I don’t know, ‘bank-run’ or ‘wealth-flight’.
    I have a different proposal. How about Italy set up a financial transaction tax (FTT). After all, the European Union has been talking about this for years but keeps on putting it off. Ensure that this FTT cannot become tax-deductible by any person, company or organization as well. Lets see how one would work out in practice. This FTT would only really have a major effect on the financial sector with their constant transactions but I shed no tears for them.

    1. BillS

      That’s the same feeling I had. Italians are frugal savers (better than Germans in my book) and many (if not most) own their own homes. I am surprised it took so long for someone to suggest confiscation of private savings as a way to pay off the national debt.

      I suspect there is already a substantial amount of mattress-money and Swiss bank-account holders in Italy, in anticipation that such a preposterous proposal might become a serious plan.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Mail bomb suspect made numerous references on Facebook to Russian associates and echoed pro-Kremlin views”

    Aha! So the Russians did it! Thank god for the Washington Post. Now waiting on them to confirm ties between Robert Bowers and the Russians.


    1. flora

      First thought on reading only the headline: The CIA, MIC contactor Bezos’s newspaper claims a Russia Russia Russia connection to this terrible event. (Of course they do…)

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      I actually bothered to read the article and it doesn’t really support drawing any conclusions from the headline, which unfortunately won’t prevent the rrr crowd from doing so.

      It’s all over the place: ranging from a conspiracy theory he touted that Russians were planting bombs under IIRC the sea off Florida to the fact that there are many Russians in the area where he lived, so the “Russian friends” he referred to in social media posts might just have been his friends…

    3. 3.14e-9

      From the minute I first heard the news, I wondered how long it would take for the headlines, “Putin did it!” Clever that they also managed to link it to Trump. Then, note the author of the WaPo story. He’s well-known to NC.

    4. Skip intro

      Fear not, Facebook is working closely with Saudi Arabia, via the Atlantic Council among others, to eradicate and dismember dangerous opinions!

      1. knowbuddhau

        No habeas corpus, no problem!

        Proving once again: for the Church of NatSec, evidence of failure is a failure of evidence.

  17. Wukchumni

    Defensible Space Boston Review.

    We’re almost approaching the end of ‘the troubles’, er, the potential of a wildfire laying waste to the surroundings.

    It’s the same story every year, you breath a little easier once the threat either greatly lessens or late fall rains and cooler temps put paid to the possibility.

    Pretty maddening, and you do all you can to create as much defensible space as possible. I’ve spent a decade clearing anything bigger than a #2 pencil from the ground, and did oh so many pole saw dances under limbs no longer living, in order to excise ladders of opportunity.

    Still, it’s Joe versus the volcano, when you get right down to it. If a big enough conflagration comes our way, c’est la vie.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      I think the point of the article was for people to quit encroaching on the forest and its natural life cycle.

      Defensible space is not feasible: the rights of private ownership of the land is trumping the public interest, not least because HALF OF ALL national park service dollars are spent on the Western fires, including protecting homes built where they shouldn’t be, with no constraints imposed by regulation.

      Not unlike building in a floodplain.

      1. rd

        If a home in the woods is feasible, then defensible space has to be feasible. The scrublands and woodlands in these arid areas will burn sooner or later. I find it interesting that a country that seems to think it is good to consider requiring private armed guards for schools, churches, and synagogues balks at requiring homeowners to provide defensible space and instead assumes it needs to provide an army to protect them.

        I think that the Forest Service should be focusing on general containment of fires, so not too large an area burns at once, but generally shouldn’t be responsible for saving single dwellings in the wildlands.

        However, I think the Forest Service can be providing homeowners with periodic information about the fire and fuel potential around them. Since wildfires are generally on a 25-50 year cycle, a generation or two can pass between fires so people forget that they can happen. So homes could get something every couple of years that lays out the current fire risk and recommendations on defensible space and other measures.

    2. Lord Koos

      In my area there are more and more homes being built in the woods. Contractors and real estate agents are making a lot of money, as people are spending a lot of money to have a McMansion in the mountains. In 2017 wildfires burned right up to the back yards of some of these places but firefighters were able to save the houses. Sooner or later there will be too many houses and not enough manpower to save them. Whole developments continue to be put in around the Cle Elum area and places north. It’s putting a lot of pressure on the local environment — I mourn the fact that once quiet trails now often have twenty cars parked at the trail-heads, even on weekdays. What were once fairly remote areas are now places where people walk their dogs, because they are just a few miles from their homes. It’s difficult to get accustomed to this new reality.

      1. Wukchumni

        We haven’t had much building in terms of new houses in our little town, maybe 30 in the past 15 years, nothing really.

        You can’t help but notice how popular hiking is becoming, the trailheads here in Mineral King are chock-a-block full every weekend, and even on this, the last weekend the public can get up here, and a bit on the cold side, 85% full.

  18. Musicismath

    On China, this piece of reporting by University of Washington anthropologist Darren Byler is pretty remarkable:

    Much reporting has focused on the unprecedented scale and penetration of the surveillance technology deployed to carry out [the suppression] campaign and on the ways China’s government has pressured other countries to assist in the work of forcibly repatriating Uighurs living abroad. But less attention has been paid to the mobilization of more than a million Chinese civilians (most members of the Han ethnic majority) to aid the military and police in their campaign by occupying the homes of the region’s Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, and undertaking programs of indoctrination and surveillance, while presenting themselves as older siblings of the men and women they might then decide to consign to the camps.

    Darren Byler, China’s Government Has Ordered a Million Citizens to Occupy Uighur Homes. Here’s What They Think They’re Doing, China File (24 October 2018).

    1. Olga

      If all those writers, who focus on the suppression of Uighurs in China, also gave a bit of context – that would be very helpful. This context may include descriptions of how the west has used (and, no doubt, plans to use in the future) Uighurs as the fifth column to undermine the Chinese government and the stability of the country. All along the lines of “a few stirred up Muslims,” at least according to Zbigniew B. Call me crazy, but I don’t think the world can afford yet another round of “stirred up” anyone.
      But this is an old dilemma that the west has delighted in creating in places that are not completely subservient to its goals: resist (which may include suppression of a fifth column) and be accused of human rights violations, or not resist and have your sovereignty undermined and eventually overthrown. This is not to say that certain groups might not have legitimate gripes. Unfortunately, these too often get co-opted by the west and used for its own purposes.

        1. VietnamVet

          Or, the Kurds. Saudi Arabia paid the USA 100 million dollars to occupy Eastern Syria. This weekend Russia, Germany, France and Turkey guarantee Syria’s former borders. This is untenable. Either the USA starts a war with Iran and the rest of the world or it withdraws.

          1. The Rev Kev

            That would mean that the French would have to remove their special forces teams running around northern Syria. And the Saudi Arabians paid the US 100 million dollars for the occupation? The US would be spending that much per month on what it would cost them. The Saudis got that one cheap.
            There is already trouble in that region as the people there are Arabs, not Kurds, and this is an occupation of them. The US is only occupying that region as there are rich oil fields there and a Rand plan that came out not that long ago had the idea of that region being cut off from Syria for its oil as well as a zone to get it safely out of the country. That plan would work as well as the one that gets Afghanistan’s trillion dollar mineral wealth out of the country and out to the west.

  19. Synoia

    Brilliant solution to Italian Debt:

    Instead of a European fund that buys Italian government bonds and that is ultimately backed by European taxpayers, a national fund should be created”

    Such a fund would be financed…by Italian households…20$ of their net wealth.

    Offloading Italian debt onto Italians. Brilliant? Yes if you are German.

    1. kurtismayfield

      So the Italians have no control over the currency, but have to take on all the debt. I would beung up a vote to leave the EU if I was an Italian pol, just to scare the crap out of Brussels.

  20. Richard

    Wabi-sabi (Japan’s ununusual way to view the world), was already a little familiar to me, thanks to watching Bobby Hill achieve rose excellence on King of the Hill. Thanks for this link, which makes me feel better about my fellow humans, especially monk-like guys in Japan!

    1. Olga

      Yes, this is an interesting write-up on the old concept of wabi-sabi. It is this and other intriguing aspects of the Japanese culture that make it so much more difficult to understand how they could have turned into cruel killing machines in WWII.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’m deeply sceptical of a lot of western writing on Japanese concepts such as wabi-sabi. There is nothing at all unique about it, in fact you can find similar concepts right through the history of western art too (‘there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’) as Leonard Cohen wrote. You could just as well say it translates as ‘rustic’.

      The writer Alex Kerr, author of ‘dogs and Demons’ calls those western writers ‘the chrysanthemum crew’ for their habit of exhaulting quite mundane Japanese beliefs into something uniquely special, often encouraged by mediocre Japanese artists seeking a ready western market for their wares.

      There is plenty that is amazing about Japanese culture without falling for what is often little more than a marketing tag line for second rate work. The whole Wabi Sabi thing is often little more than a way to sell some broken crockery to credulous westerners

      1. Richard

        I’d say you’re right about the many referents to the same idea throughout western culture, although maybe more in contemporary or pop culture? Were the romantics wabi-sabi? I dunno. I like the idea though, or I did this morning :^

  21. PressGaneyMustDie

    John, Ducfelblog is the military version of The Onion. Dry sarcasm send ups or inter-service rivalries is one of its core gags.

  22. Wukchumni

    “It’s necessary to strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” Xi said. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly.

    “We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war.”

    Details of his speech were not released to the public by state media until Friday.

    Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said the country would never give up “one single piece” of its territory and warned that “repeated challenges” to its sovereignty over Taiwan were extremely dangerous and would result in military action.

    One of the primary missions of the Southern Theatre Command is overseeing the South China Sea, an area where tensions and military activity involving China, the US and other powers have been growing steadily.

  23. John Wright

    Please give a link to this as Consumer Reports makes a point of taking no advertising and is universally respected by people I know.

    An reputational slam with no supporting information seems sloppy for a “Dr.” to post.

    1. John Wright

      I tried to reply to a comment from a “Dr. Roberts” ? that questioned the integrity of Consumer Reports re Tesla.

      I don’t see the original comment now..

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        It’s a recent feature here at NC along with sometimes not being able to edit. Something to do with something but I’m not complaining.

        What they do with their limited funds is beyond amazing.

  24. JohnnyGL

    Re: meat eating

    I think the large-scale offensive against eating meat is misguided. What we need is properly managed livestock, because wild herds of animals don’t exist in large enough numbers to restore our landscapes to vitality.

    The studies cited seem to come from engineers, not ecologists and biologists. Animal impact needs to be viewed in context, not in isolation. Animal effects on climate can’t be understood properly without looking at the effect of animals on the plants they eat and on the soil they grow in. Animals and plants co-evolved together and need each other in order to be as healthy as possible.

    Ask yourself this:

    1) If large numbers of herbivores are so bad for the climate, then why didn’t the planet fry when there were massive herds of buffalo marauding around the landscape of post-columbian america, drinking all the water and eating all the photosynthesizing grasses???!?!?!

    Answer: because buffalo impact (dung, urine, mowing, trampling) fertilized the soil and improved the quality of the grasslands and the soil such that it actually TRAPPED more carbon.

    2) How are we supposed to get rid of energy hogging artificial fertilizers (haber-bosch process still dominates) to boost crop yields if we don’t have farmers spreading animal manure on their farms?

    Answer: we can’t!!! We need animal manure as fertilizer. Farms need to get more diversified and less specialized. That’s how nature works and agriculture needs to mimic nature more closely if we’re going to reduce outside inputs and still get good productivity from farms.

    3) How are we going to get calories out of drylands that don’t have enough rainfall, far-northern latitudes that don’t have long growing seasons, or mountainous areas that aren’t good for crop production? In many of these areas, grazing animals are the most effective way to produce calories without causing erosion or using outside inputs (fertilzers, soil amendments, etc).

    In short, animal herding MUST be part of the solution to climate change. But it has to be managed properly. Feed lots are hazardous and should be banned. Farmers that are doing things the right way should be encouraged and celebrated.

    1. TimR

      Great point about the buffalo… Or just ecosystems in general. This idea of meat = bad is absurd on its face, yet ultra “civilized”/ brainwashed humans will buy anything. If an expert tells them it’s so.

    2. Olga

      To me, at least, the comment makes sense. But I want to add one more point: I rarely see those who advocate for the reduction (or elimination) of meat from diets mention the fact that its consumption is distributed around the world rather unequally. Certainly, in Africa and even Asia, people consume much less meat than in the so-called “developed” west – which makes me wonder about all this hyper-ventilating about this offending food item. Whose agenda does it really serve?

    3. Anon

      Some people may want to end all cattle (beef) raising. But most just want an end to Concentated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s). The herding style of animal raising you encourage is environmentally acceptable to many. Unfortunately, it would likely decrease the overall supply and likely increase price (w/o a drop in demand) of beef.

      This is where the people on the planet issue bumps against the planet capability issue. (Those buffalo herds were not the only “animals” effecting the pre-1492 North American landscape; there were possibly 20 million natives who called the land home.)

      See: One Vast Winter Count; Colin G. Calloway.

  25. WonderPup

    This was “interesting’: “Military Times readers said they believe the U.S. will be drawn into a new war.” Exactly when was the last time U.S. was dragged into a war. Seems to me that U.S. is always leading the charge; Ted Nugent blaring from from lead Humvee and a trail of fallen grunts and civilians covering up the lies and omissions used to justify the brutal expedition.

  26. How is it legal

    Re: California Workers, Retirees Are Unwittingly Financing an Anti-Proposition 10 Campaign


    “In my district, teachers, firefighters and nurses often can’t afford a place to live,” said U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). “Cities should have the right to provide apartments at affordable rents. Any effort to kill Proposition 10 hurts not just the working class but also undermines the ability of local communities to determine their own destiny.”

    Fascinating to read that – not surprised, just disgusted – because prior and current searches of Ro Khanna’s 2 active twitter feeds (@RoKhanna and @RepRoKhanna), his official website, and a general search for Ro Khanna and Prop 10, pull up zilch. Outside of that paragraph in the article there’s no record of Ro Khanna’s endorsement of Proposition 10; despite the crushing rents in his own district.

    (There’s still time to get out there and push it Ro, as if you actually have any concern for the working class and the homeless.)

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      Right. Only Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters show up on the YesOn10 endorsement list.

      In fact, it looks like most of the support for this does come from local officials in the Bay Area.

      An important local race in my neighborhood is for my state assembly. California AD15, as it is known, has Buffy Wicks (an Obama democrat) running against an Our Revolution progressive named Jovanka Beckles. Wicks, who has only lived in the area for 2 years, has the support of the Democrat establishment, and endorsements from MSM papers like the loathsome SF Chronicle. Beckles, who cut her teeth in politics by successfully ending Chevron’s stranglehold on the city council in Richmond, CA (a story in itself), has the endorsement of Barbara Lee, whose Congressional district includes AD15.

      Bernie Sanders was in Berkeley yesterday to rally for Lee and GOTV. Sad to say, he did not come out with an endorsement for Beckles as some had hoped.

      It should come as no surprise that Wicks opposes Prop-10 and Beckles supports it. And like Prop 10, Wicks’ campaign is funded in by corporate funded PACs. In fact, in both the unprecedented amount of money Wicks has raised, and the sources of that money, have been one of the defining issues of this race.

      1. How is it legal

        In fact, it looks like most of the support for this does come from local officials in the Bay Area.

        Yeah, haven’t witnessed any State Representatives in the Bay Area’s Silicon Valley/Santa Clara County supporting it at all, neither does the local [San Jose] Mercury News, which is, disgustingly, no surprise whatsoever.

        As to Local Politicians, there’s a pathetic count of only five Santa Clara County Politicians – from only three of the County’s 15 Cities and Towns – noted as even endorsing Proposition 10 Rent Control (let alone actively pushing it), all local politicians:

        Mountain View Mayor Lenny Siegel
        Mountain View Councilmember Pat Showalter

        San Jose Councilmember Don Rocha
        San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez

        Santa Clara City Councilmember Nassim Nouri

        None of Santa Clara County’s Cities or Towns have endorsed it, including the three respective Cities noted above. Shame on Santa Clara County Leadership™, with one of the highest unsheltered homeless rates in the country.

        Lastly, yeah, Ro Khanna’s name is (of course) not on that linked endorsement list.

        1. How is it legal


          Lastly, yeah, Ro Khanna’s name is (of course) not on that linked endorsement list.

          To wrap it all up, I should have added – for non Californians especially – neither are any other Silicon Valley/Santa Clara County presiding – such as Ro Khanna in District 17 – Federal House Congress creep’s names, such as Anna Eshoo, and Zoe Lofgren; certainly not our two Federal State Senator’s names, Dianne Feinstein/Blum’s, and Kamala Harris’. And, neither are Governor Jerry Edmund Brown’s, or soon to be Pay to Play Governor (wanna be president , like Ro and Kamala) Gavin Newsom’s.

  27. Wukchumni

    Missed this story from a few weeks ago…

    Concerned about downed power lines sparking wildfires, two major California utilities took the rare step of cutting power to customers amid high winds — and another power provider was considering similar action.

    The move came as strong winds swept California, knocking down trees and power lines. One woman was killed when a tree fell onto her car.

    In Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric for the first time began cutting power Sunday night to tens of thousands of customers after the National Weather Service warned of extreme fire danger across the state due to high winds, low humidity and dry vegetation.

    San Diego Gas & Electric followed suit Monday, turning off power to about 360 customers in foothill areas near Cleveland National Forest, where multiple blazes have scorched large swaths of land in recent years.

    SDG&E has pre-emptively shut off power to customers in the past, most recently in December when 14,000 customers went without power — many for four days.

    Stewart Munnerlyn was scrambling to find generators to save $8,000 worth of ice cream at his creamery shop in Pine Grove, about 55 miles (89 kilometers) east of Sacramento. Munnerlyn said he is in Virginia visiting a sick relative and received three text messages Sunday night from PG&E saying it might cut power, but he didn’t know it actually happened until a friend called him.

    “They knew what they were going to do obviously,” Munnerlyn said. “We weren’t given enough notice to properly prepare.”

    Kevin Kathman, executive chef of wine country restaurant All Seasons in Calistoga, said $12,000 worth of food at the site would spoil if power isn’t restored soon.

  28. Susan the other

    Yannis Veroufakis and Bernie Sanders. And maybe AMLO. Sounds like a good restart. I’ve been wondering why it has taken so long for the socialist internationalists to reassert themselves. Interesting that YV’s new party – European Spring – has adopted a platform that someone from another country can represent any country that elects him/her in a new European Parliament. To counter the fascist tendencies of the new nationalists. YV himself running in Germany is pretty interesting. I wonder if it is too late to save the ECB. Contrast the new approach of an EU parliament dedicated to the idea that sovereignty can be EU-wide to what the Germans have proposed to alievate half of Italy’s debt: the continued nonsense of neoliberal debt, just giving the enforcement over to the locals to impoverish their country or forgive the debt at their own expense. It sounds like the EU would be happy to accept Italy’s new budget if the Italian oligarchs will underwrite it. I see no solution to this neoliberal can-kicking.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I was hoping to get Lula and the PT back in charge in Brazil, but the PT has burned too many bridges (Marina Silva and Ciro Gomes) and hasn’t honestly confronted its own role in the rampant corruption. Now it can’t unify a winning block of support.

      Plus the oligarchs there have wrought such destruction and left people so desperate, that they’re willing to take a flyer on a crazed Pinochet wanna-be like Bolsonaro.

  29. Otis B Driftwood

    Regarding the Prop-10 initiative in California, that Capital & Main link hits home.

    An important local race in my neighborhood is for my state assembly. California AD15, as it is known, has Buffy Wicks (an Obama democrat) running against an Our Revolution progressive named Jovanka Beckles. Wicks, who has only lived in the area for 2 years, has the support of the Democrat establishment, and endorsements from MSM papers like the loathsome SF Chronicle. Beckles, who cut her teeth in politics by successfully ending Chevron’s stranglehold on the city council in Richmond, CA (a story in itself), has the endorsement of Barbara Lee, whose Congressional district includes AD15.

    Bernie Sanders was in Berkeley yesterday to rally for Lee and GOTV. Sad to say, he did not come out with an endorsement for Beckles as some had hoped.

    It should come as no surprise that Wicks opposes Prop-10 and Beckles supports it. And like Prop 10, Wicks’ campaign is funded in by corporate funded PACs. In fact, in both the unprecedented amount of money Wicks has raised, and the sources of that money, have been one of the defining issues of this race.

  30. John k

    Looks like Bernie and Liz will compete for 2020.
    Fortunately the ABB (anybody but Bernie) vote is itself split by at least a half dozen neocons. Plus queen bee herself might try a third time… isn’t that the charm?

    1. Yves Smith

      Maybe she will come back from the near-dead, but Warren has so mishandled the Native American business that even if no one on Team Dem will bust her chops on it, the power brokers know that Trump can continue to make her look ridiculous on it, that she lacks the discipline to drop it and keeps taking the bait every time Trump goads her.

      She’ll be over by early in the primary season.

  31. Oregoncharles

    “Defensible Space Boston Review. Megafires in the Pacific Northwest”

    Something I’m very conscious of, though I don’t know the Okanogan Valley in WA. First, a couple of suggestions for those who live in fire-prone areas:

    The original Permaculture books contain a great deal of information on defensible space – how to design your homestead to resist wildfire – because they came from Australia. Some of the recommended plants are tropical, but otherwise their ideas fit the NW, especially the interior, very well. We’re summer-arid, as the article implies, so more like Australia than we’d like.

    And a very specific suggestion, which I’m repeating in case someone hasn’t seen it: mount rotating impulse sprinklers on the edges of your roof, where they will cover the roof and the surroundings. This should be permanent, not last-minute. You should be able to just turn it on. If you can also protect your well and pump, better. The sprinklers and hoses will be visible, unless it’s plumbed into a new house, but that’s a small price to pay for fire insurance.

    Beyond this, don’t allow tall flammable trees, like Douglas Firs, where they can fall on the house. They’re a hazard in a windstorm anyway, as we discovered to our cost (fortunately, it was a glancing blow; the worst damage was to the gas meter, which shattered and left a wide-open pipe, but insurance did cover the damage). And they can drop large burning pieces on your roof. They don’t belong on a typical lot. At least 200 feet away, I’d say.

    Proper landscaping and preparation should allow you to survive all but the very worst fires. Not building out in the woods might help, too, but recent fires have moved into urban areas, so the suggestions might apply to all of California and much of the PNW.

    He mentions the “Tillamook complex” among historic megafires. That was before I got to the NW, but I lived near Tillamook in about 1968. Every time I went to Portland, I could see the remnants of the Tillamook Burn, still very visible. I have a book about it, bought then, which includes a picture that looks like a hydrogen bomb going off: it firestormed, repeatedly. Today, it’s the Tillamook State Forest – most of the land wound up belonging to the state.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Oregon Charles… I’ll add a further tip to the sprinkler on the roof idea: install them where you can get to them…for to apply vaseline periodically, or to ram a bit of wire down the hole if you have hard water, and/or silty water supply. and if it freezes hard where you are, make sure the header pipe that goes to these lofty sprinklers has a drain valve at the lowest point.
      I have a row of these specifically for fire suppression on the one side such a threat could come from. defensible wide space on all other sides.
      of course, my roof is sheet metal, as is common around here, and so flameproof.
      I hit on the idea independently…I use these for the pocket gardens…75-100′ diameter wetting, so I don’t have to move water too often….just go turn on a valve for a while…since they’re permanent. I have drip for normal watering(including gray water and rainwater)…the big guns are for cooling everything in july and august, and soaking when we get no rain(not a problem this year)
      I’ve advocated for them for fire around here, but to little avail.
      Glad somebody else hit on it.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I’m glad somebody actually did it. (Full disclosure: I haven’t, as there’s a river on the windward side of the property.) Hope they’re never actually needed.

  32. Oregoncharles

    “The U.S. Secretly Halted JPMorgan’s Growth for Years” – a penalty for illegal behavior; the Trump admin. has now unleashed them.

    If you look at the little sidebar, JPMorgan’s stock is down substantially, along with every other bank listed. Maybe Mr. Market doesn’t approve of their expansion plans.

  33. Oregoncharles

    From the Bloomberg article on Italy’s national debt (clever idea, probably unconstitutional – but suggest how authoritarian German economists are willing to be):

    “The move followed another week of acrimonious clashes with the European Commission and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi over plans to expand spending that FLAUNT [my emphasis] EU rules. ”

    Bloomberg can’t afford copy editors?

    And to repeat the implication: the EU is now locked in battle with FOUR of its members, including the 3rd-largest economy.

  34. Oregoncharles

    From the Escobar article on the Istanbul Summit, the buried lede: ” Additionally, it’s no accident the Trump administration suddenly backtracked and decided not to cut Iran off SWIFT.”

    They did?

  35. JohnnyGL

    Alan Savory famously advocated a plan in Zimbabwe which slaughtered thousands of elephants thinking he was going to protect/restore the landscape from degrading. It failed and made the land quality worse!!!

    Plants need animals just like animals need plants.

  36. Wukchumni

    Let’s just say that my Congressman Kevin McCarthy isn’t the sharpest blade out there, not that it was a guarded secret…

    House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy posted and later deleted a tweet last week that suggested three Jewish, billionaire Democratic donors were attempting to “buy” the 2018 midterm elections.

    “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA,” McCarthy wrote in the tweet posted Tuesday and deleted a day later, a reference to top donors to Democratic causes George Soros and Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

  37. rd

    The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting was in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. So the Presbyterians from his home congregation around the corner from the synagogue are out in force to protest against the anti-Semitism of this hate crime. Apparently the shooter didn’t watch Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood growing up and missed his lessons of tolerance and love.

  38. Crusty Engineer

    RE: Self-driving car dilemmas reveal that moral choices are not universal

    I don’t find at all plausible the discussion about the moral choices that an autonomous vehicle will supposedly have to make.

    As a system engineer, I think constantly about the need for safety, security and reliability. Complexity is the enemy of all three. A supposedly safe system that makes moral choices as part of its design is inherently complex and bound to fail.

    Here is a plausible heuristic for the design of a safe autonomous vehicle:

    1) Under normal circumstances stay properly within the lane of traffic. To not do so is clearly unsafe.

    2) Calculate an envelope of safety (safety margin) around the vehicle. If the envelope of safety is clear of obstacles, the vehicle is safe at this moment. The envelope of safety clearly depends upon speed and direction. The higher the speed of the vehicle, the greater is the required safety margin.

    3) If an obstacle impinges on the envelope of safety, the vehicle occupants and surrounding people or objects are potentially unsafe. The number 1 strategy for regaining safety is reduce speed, rapidly if necessary, while remaining in the current lane. This strategy minimises the required margin of safety.

    Clearly, there are plenty of situations this heuristic would not cover – an empty cardboard box obstacle, for example – or a vehicle approaching at speed from any direction other than head on. On the other hand, how many human drivers successfully and safely succed in avoiding vehicles impinging on them from the side or rear ? Even in that circumstance, a crash at lower speed is less likely to harm people than the same crash at higher speed.

    The point is that a sound strategy should first of all be simple; a sound strategy does not need – indeed should not use complex ethical judgements.

    The article says that people already make moral decisions – swerving out of the lane to avoid a cyclist on a curvy mountain road for example. Such a strategy is demonstrably not safe – putting the vehicle occupants, oncoming traffic, and the cyclist at risk. The sound strategy is to reduce speed until it is safe to overtake. If the vehicle has not given itself sufficient room to avoid hitting the cyclist without swerving, then it was already out of its envelope of safety.

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