2:00PM Water Cooler 11/20/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51


Sort of amazing no other (likely) candidates are doing Town Halls like this, or anything remotely similar:

“Democratic operatives eager to join Biden’s 2020 campaign — if only he would declare” [NBC]. “The Biden family heads to Nantucket for Thanksgiving as the paperback version of his 2017 book, “Promise Me, Dad,” hits shelves. The first-person account of Biden’s closing months as vice president is centered around his eldest son Beau’s brain cancer diagnosis, and the impact Beau’s death had — and continues to have — on the Biden family…. Next month, the same weekend that New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker travels to New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation-primary state, Biden will be in neighboring Vermont closing out a promotional tour for the paperback. It will be his main public engagement until he makes a final decision about his political future… He also said he remains committed to keeping the promise he made to his son: ‘Be engaged, Dad, he was saying. Stay in the game. Keep fighting for what you believe in. Don’t give up.'” • I think I liked McCain’s schtick better.

2018 Post Mortems

“Make No Mistake, We Liberals Will Squander Our Hard-Won Gains” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “We’re going to take this moment by the horns and settle.”

“OPINION: The Midterm Results Are a Serious Wake Up Call for Progressives” [Independent Voter Network]. “Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress and the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed a combined 107 candidates for Congress this year. Forty-four of them won their primaries and only 12 won their general elections. Five of those 12 were already incumbents. Five more of them were longtime party politicians in line for higher office, rather than insurgent candidates. Only two of them were actually opposed by the party and unseated establishment Democrats in the primaries — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. There are 435 members of Congress…. As a result, the blue wave is a corporate wave that has swept in the same kind of Democratic politicians that drove working people into Donald Trump’s arms after eight years of Obama.”

“Why Democratic policies outperform Democratic politicians in rural America” [The Hill]. “The Democratic platform consistently outperforms Democrats in red, rural states. Just look at the progressive ballot measures passed across the country this cycle….”

“These Unheralded Democratic Wins Could Reshape Voting Rights Across the Country” [Mother Jones]. “[Three Democrats] took over secretary of state jobs previously held by Republicans [in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan]. These races were unheralded next to congressional and gubernatorial races across the country, but these officials now have the power to enforce state voting laws in 2020, advocating and implementing practices that will make it easier to vote in critical swing states.” • “In swing states.” Why not make it easier to vote everywhere, fpr everyone? It’s the same mentality that led Al Gore to challenge the votes only in counties he thought he would in in Florida 2000.

GA Governor: “Stacey Abrams: The Exit Interview” [Rolling Stone]. “The more than 200 polling precincts that were closed, the 53,000+ registrations that were suspended and the untold thousands of voters who were purged from the rolls were not a specific attack on the Abrams campaign. The voter suppression we witnessed in Georgia was not happening because Abrams is a black woman; this was a consequence of a Republican Party that has taken advantage of a neutered Voting Rights Act and shortchanged millions of their small-d democratic voice. This was bigger than Stacey Abrams. Abrams, speaking with Rolling Stone by phone Sunday, was quick to point to how the issues at hand were systemic… Now Abrams has announced a new organization, the aforementioned Fair Fight Georgia, which she described in her speech as ‘an operation that will pursue accountability in Georgia’s elections and integrity in the process of maintaining our voting rolls.’ It was surprising, and not, that Abrams had such an effort ready to launch on the same day that she ended her campaign.”

MI: “How the Democrats Took Back Michigan” [The Atlantic]. “Debate what counts as a blue wave in the rest of the country, but there was a tsunami off the Great Lakes. It was enormous and swept over everything: governor, Senate, attorney general, two flipped House seats with two female alumnae of the Obama administration, plus another that put a Palestinian American woman in John Conyers’s old spot, five flipped state Senate seats, five flipped state House seats, all the way down to the state supreme court and the state university boards. They legalized recreational pot, and the vote wasn’t close. They banned gerrymandering. They created automatic voter registration and an absentee-ballot process, essentially a backdoor way to institute early voting, which together will almost certainly lock in long-term the gains Democrats made.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“We’ve settled on a shallow conception of democracy. And that’s dangerous” [Tim Wu, Guardian]. “there’s another, nearly lost, democratic tradition, in which the goals of a democracy and a worthy civilization are irreducibly linked to the healthy development of its citizens along social, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions. In this older conception, a great democracy is one that serves as a cauldron for the building of good character and the pursuit of a worthwhile life – one that includes but also goes beyond mere material security.” “Mere” material security? “Material security” is something most Americans do not have. Much as I like Tim Wu, material security is where we should start. We can work our way up Maslow’s hierarchy later.

“Portrait of a fake news troll and the racist retiree who believes everything he writes” [Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing]. • Worth a read. The trouble with this piece, and the WaPo story it links to, is that the entire political class lost its mind after the Bush Administrations epic fake news exploit on WMDs. Whatever the problem is, it’s larger than some fake news operation on Facebook, or the racist retiree.

Stats Watch

Housing Starts, October 2018: “Yesterday’s housing market index may have unexpectedly plummeted but today’s housing starts and permits report, though soft, at least is in the ballpark of expectations” [Econoday]. “The good news on starts comes from multi-family units… Permits show nearly equal declines for single-family and multi-units… Rising mortgage rates, tied directly to Federal Reserve rate hikes, are proving a major headwind for housing as are material and labor shortages. However strong the 2018 economy has been, housing is not part of the success story.” And: “The backward revisions this month were slightly upward.The nature of this industry normally has large variations from month to month (mostly due to weather) so the rolling averages are the best way to view this series – and it shows permits rate of growth slowing and completions rate of growth now slowing” [Econintersect]. “We consider this a weaker report relative to last month.” And: “Housing starts in October were slightly below expectations, however starts for August and September were revised up. Overall this was close to expectations” [Calculated Risk]. “Note the relatively low level of single family starts and completions. The “wide bottom” was what I was forecasting following the recession, and now I expect further of increases in single family starts and completions.”

Retail: “Why I Won’t Upgrade My Phone Until It Can Turn Into a Magic Pony” [Medium]. “[T]oday there are essentially two operating systems — Apple and Android — and our phones all basically look the same and can do the same things. For all the millions poured into marketing campaigns, most people can’t tell the difference between one year’s iPhone and the next…. f[F]r most of us, phones just don’t feel special enough anymore to warrant their steep price tag. As status symbols, they’re a far cry from designer handbags or luxury cars. A black rectangle just doesn’t give off the same godlike aura as a Porsche or Vuitton bag… But there’s a bigger problem that has nothing to do with the relative inconspicuousness of phones: incremental innovation. Each year, we’re told via loud, energetic ads that we should upgrade to the next version of our device. But at the end of the day, what are we really getting in exchange beyond a slightly better camera and screen?”

Commodities: “Column: ‘Dr Copper’ may be favouring fundamentals over trade politics” [Reuters]. “[i]n recent weeks there are signs that the copper market is starting to shrug off political concerns and focus more on supply and demand fundamentals. Copper is often viewed as an early indicator for economic health, hence its nickname as ‘Doctor Copper’, the base metal with a doctorate in economics…. However, before becoming too bullish on copper, it’s worth bearing in mind the industrial metal has a solid correlation with the China PMI, and the official measure has been trending weaker since May, and at 50.2 in October, was only barely above the 50-level that separates expansion from contraction. If the China PMI turns higher in coming months on the back of Beijing’s stimulus, then copper’s recovery should be confirmed.”

Shipping: “UK running out of food warehouse space as no-deal Brexit fears rise” [Guardian]. “Frozen and chilled food warehouses, storing everything from garden peas to half-cooked supermarket bread and cold-store potatoes, are fully booked for the next six months, with customers being turned away, industry representatives said.” • Hoo boy. Wonder if the same applies to pharmaceuticals. Readers?

The Bezzle: “California Car Dealers Abruptly Close Without Warning, but Massive SEC Fraud Probe Offers Hint” [Jalopnik]. “A California auto dealer abruptly closed most of its locations this past week without explanation, according to multiple reports, leaving employees unable to cash their paychecks amid rumors of a possible sale. But records filed in an ongoing fraud case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission offer some insight as to the possible root cause: the dealership’s owner has been struggling to grapple with an immense load of debt…. Momentum [Auto Group] is ranked by Automotive News as the 124th largest auto dealer in the U.S., closing $565 million in sales last year.” • Hmm.

The Bezzle: “Uber insiders describe infighting and questionable decisions before its self-driving car killed a pedestrian” [Business Insider]. • This is a must read, so I’m going to pull out just one telling detail: “A squishy thing” is Uber’s term for a human or an animal. Algorithms being notoriously poor at dealing with the squishy.

The Bezzle: “Bitcoin-Rigging Criminal Probe Focused on Tie to Tether” [Bloomberg]. “The probe follows allegations made in a June paper by University of Texas Professor John Griffin and co-author Amin Shams. Griffin and Shams wrote that trading in Tether shows a pattern of underpinning, and manipulating, Bitcoin. They claimed that Tether was used to buy Bitcoin at pivotal periods, and that about half of Bitcoin’s 1,400 percent gain last year was attributable to such transactions. Griffin briefed the CFTC on his findings earlier this year, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.”

The Bezzle: “No End in Sight for Crypto Sell-Off as Bitcoin Breaches $4,250” [Bloomberg]. “Turmoil engulfed cryptocurrency markets again on Tuesday, with every major coin extending a rout that’s rocked confidence in the nascent asset class just as U.S. regulators try to close in on alleged fraud… After months of enjoying relative stability, cryptocurrency bulls are left reeling by a sudden market downturn in November and increased regulatory reviews. Digital assets have now lost almost $700 billion of market value since crypto-mania peaked in January, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Trading on futures markets, where investors can bet against Bitcoin, has soared.”

The Bezzle: “Why aren’t chip credit cards stopping “card present” fraud in the US?” [Ars Technica]. “A security analysis firm called Gemini Advisory recently posted a report saying that credit card fraud is actually on the rise in the US. That’s surprising, because the US is three years out from a big chip-based card rollout. Chip-based cards were supposed to limit card fraud in the US.” The issue is that merchants aren’t complying with chip card requirements, and still asking or requiring customers to swipe. More: “From the merchant’s perspective, the cost of fraud might be less than the cost of figuring out what needs to be done after they buy a chip card reader.” • What a mess. (Personally, I hate the chip card readers: They slow down the transaction badly, as compared to swiping. The article doesn’t mention this, but I wonder if that could partially account for merchant reluctance? Those seconds on line add up….)

The Bezzle: “LuLaRoe is facing mounting debt, layoffs, and an exodus of top sellers, and sources say the $2.3 billion legging empire could be imploding” [Business Insider]. Lots of ugly details. Looks like the collapse of a classic multilevel marketing scheme. And this: “Thousands of others reached deep, sometimes into debt, in hopes of achieving the same rewards [as the top sellers]. These people directly fund the company. They include stay-at-home moms, single women, and people with limited mobility who were attracted to the idea of running a business out of their homes.”

Tech: “One of the fathers of AI is worried about its future” [Technology Review]. Yoshua Bengio: “[W]e need to have more democracy in AI research. It’s that AI research by itself will tend to lead to concentrations of power, money, and researchers. The best students want to go to the best companies. They have much more money, they have much more data. And this is not healthy. Even in a democracy, it’s dangerous to have too much power concentrated in a few hands.” • Bengio seems a little naive…

Tech: “[Updated] How I Went From Tesla Delivery Hell To Tesla Giving Me Control Of Their Site Forums With Over 1.5 Million Tesla Account Contacts” [DansDeals]. “Tesla built a truly magnificent machine… [The] service was horrific and reading through the Tesla’s forums on forums.tesla.com I was hardly the only person with major service issues. There were thousands of threads from people who had delivery and service issues, but the company didn’t have anyone online to respond to issues and take care of problems.” So the writer complains, and escaltes. And then: “I checked back on the forums after an hour and noticed something was weird. Suddenly I had the ability to edit and delete everyone’s posts!” • Hilarity ensues.


“Thousands of homes incinerated but trees still standing: Paradise fire’s monstrous path” [Los Angeles Times]. “Gray smoke meant vegetation. Black smoke meant homes, possibly entire city blocks. The Camp fire was no longer just a wildland fire. ‘It was an urban conflagration,’ Pangburn said. ‘It was structure-to-structure-to-structure ignition that carried the fire through this community.’… Pangburn’s assessment — that the Camp fire in Paradise was an urban conflagration, structure to structure — opens the door for fire behaviorists to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s codes for protecting property in fire-prone, rural environments.” • Again, the fires were “compound events.” Low moisture, high winds, disinvestment from the electrical infrastructure, real estate development, and now zoning and buildng codes all played a role.

“Antarctic melting slows atmospheric warming and speeds sea level rise” [Eurekalert]. “As the Antarctic ice sheet melts, warming of the atmosphere will be delayed by about a decade but sea level rise will accelerate, according to new research scheduled for advance online publication in the journal Nature. The study is the first to project how the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet will affect future climate, said first author Ben Bronselaer of the University of Arizona, adding that current climate models do not include the effects of melting ice on the global climate.” • Great! Now we can relax for another ten years!

Class Warfare

“Sheryl Sandberg and the emptiness of leaning in” [WaPo]. “Sandberg’s failure at Facebook exposes an emptiness at the heart of the argument that made her famous. Women, Sandberg argues in her 2013 mega-selling book, “Lean In,” should take a seat at the table. That’s all well and good. But what should they do once they’re sitting there? Sandberg herself, consummate table-sitter, has offered an answer over her company’s year of horrors: Keep everything exactly the same.” • Sounds familiar….

News of the Wired

“Why We Should Let the Pantheon Crack” [Nautilus]. “‘Too often, we’re trying to make old structures conform to theories we learned for steel and concrete,’ [John Ohsendorf, a professor of engineering and architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology] says. Those materials remain strong under immense stresses in modern buildings. But buildings like the Pantheon ‘stand because of their geometry,’ he says, ‘and the way builders conceived them was really through their geometry.’ Cracks and deformations, he argues, are not necessarily flaws; they’re often a sign that a building adapted to a sinking foundation centuries ago and found a new conformation.'” • Anybody who lives in an old house knows this.

“The Importance of Learning Primitive Communication Methods When No Phone Will Work and the Internet is Crashed” [Survivor Supply].

Fortunately, there are some good, old-fashioned alternatives [to the Internet and cell phones] dating from thousands of years ago to a few decades. Here are some of the highlights of what we’ll cover:

  • Morse code
  • Semaphore
  • Emergency Body signals
  • Ground signals
  • AM/FM radio
  • NOAA Weather Radios
  • Smoke signals
  • Gunfire
  • Walkie talkies
  • CB radio
  • Ham radio
  • Physical message boards

So this is Christmas:

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (CR):

CR: “My crabapple tree feeds the birds well into winter.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser, now completed. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click below! (The hat is temporarily defunct, so I slapped in some old code.)

Or Subscribe to make a monthly payment!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. Pavel

      My bank very annoyingly now insists that I have a smartphone to enable some internet banking transactions. I’ve been using a dumbphone for a few years but I dug out my old iPhone 5s (with its dead battery) and got a new battery for $35 and — probably against my better judgement — upgraded it to the latest iOS. Now I’m happy as a clam: if I must use one at least it is (IMO) Apple’s best-ever design, it is small and solid, and still has a headphone jack. :)

      Conversely my mother decided she finally needed one and I went to T Mobile for her and the “cheapest” model they had was an iPhone 7 for $650. It actually seems cheaper and more flimsy to me than the 5s. In any case I’m pleased I haven’t given Tim Cook et al at AAPL a few thousand dollars over the last few years. :))

      1. ambrit

        Our bank has similar strictures about using the Library computer to access our account online. (Computer woes are a boon to anti-depression drugs worldwide!) So now, I’ll carry the flip phone with me to the Library. To receive the ‘authentication code.’
        Now we pay many of our bills with cash. Just like humans have been doing for centuries. Sometimes, ‘conservatism,’ as in the propensity to favour old and tested methods is the logical choice. Newer is not automatically better, but newer, I have observed, is usually more expensive.

        1. Richard

          Well observed.
          But then again, I hate all new things, so I am possibly predisposed to say that.
          It’s funny we have one semi-derogatory word to describe a person like me (curmudgeon), and another full-on derogatory one (luddite), but no words that I can easily remember to put down people who constantly stroke and admire “innovation”.
          Help me think of one, or invent one, please. Those people need to be needled, too!

          1. ambrit

            This one’s going to take some thought. The term must be easily remembered, and have outside ‘connections’ to broaden the calumny.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            I can’t think of a “better” and non-disparaging word for curmudgeon or luddite or etc. I try thinking of clunky words like techno-sceptic and stuff, but that’s not very good.

            I have a good word for the opposite of “innovation”. And that’s “retrovation”.
            Retrovation means studying the whole record of past technological achievement and finding those particular past technologies which are fitter-for-purpose in particular cases then the newest current technology.
            Retrovation versus Innovation. Retrovative versus Innovative. etc.

            1. ambrit

              Sort of a back handed compliment: “You are soooo retro!”
              The good part about this idea of yours is that it is quantifiable.
              Instead of the ‘Jackpot,’ we can call this the ‘Bingo.’

              1. Mo's Bike Shop

                I support Ambrit Johnson, and further propose that on the lower end of things eschatological, the Archdruid’s point about what happens if one more person in your circle of 100 friends starts dying every year be designated the ‘Beano’.

            2. Richard

              I love this word, and will use it retroactively wink wink to bless all my past behavior and attitude toward technology. I mean, as if that was my reason all along.
              I think that’s too meta. I need to calm down.

          3. Mo's Bike Shop

            Techno-utopian is one. Similarly technocorpian/technocopian, but don’t try these at home without professional supervision.

            I’m culturally disposed to get my hands on new gadgets, but I waited for the Ipad 2, and my mom’s Ipad 3 was too hot and heavy. Once the flat look OS came out we both lost interest. Mom’s is somewhere in Alaska, and mine controls the wifi plugs.

            An android tablet that totally lies about its battery life is better for me as a read-stuff-around-the-house device. But experiencing 10 inch retina, which is about the best we can expect, has really reminded be how awesome glossy magazines are. Compare the experience of reading an article in National Geographic to reading one on their website. Tl;dr, the www has been flashy, but I’d be fine if the internet was text-only.

            1. Richard

              Techno-utopian sounds way too nice, Mo. No offense. We need to win, not tickle ’em to death!
              Of course those hologram-marryin’ fetishists would probably like that, wouldn’t they? Now the etiquette of the text-based internet compels me to add that I am joking.

            1. Richard

              I vote propeller head. Unless we want to debate all night, I vote propeller head and we all go to bed. Propeller head.

          4. Lambert Strether Post author

            > no words that I can easily remember to put down people who constantly stroke and admire “innovation”. Help me think of one, or invent one, please

            That’s a tough one. “Consumer” is already taken. “Marks” is a little vague….

    2. Eureka Springs

      People don’t generally buy Porsche or Vuitton and immediately cover it up with an ugly protective shell.

      And an Porche or expensive phone should be something a customer can customize when ordering one.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        A tablet that doesn’t need a bumper would get my attention.

        Something like an actual tricorder as well.

    3. charles 2

      Why I upgraded my phone :
      – bigger screen until iPhone 6 ( I am not getting younger), skipped iPhone 7
      – then watertightness for iPhone 8 (using a lot my phone outdoors, allowed me to ditch big case for small circumference protection)
      I totally passed on FaceID and last gen of iPhone
      What will make me upgrade :
      eSIM support by all the operators I use (I have 3 SIMs from 3 different countries, will make my life much easier), and 5G (because I am a big user of RDP/VNC, and 5G low latency plays right into that)
      I guess I have a few years waiting for all the stars to align, but it is OK

  1. diptherio

    For people in the UK who are interested in creating better social care options, check out this crowdfunder campaign from Equal Care Co-op in Hebden Bridge:


    We want to change the balance of power that exists in services and between care providers, families and people getting support. We want to re-centre the power, choice, and control for the most important people involved: the person receiving and the person giving support (whether paid or unpaid, family member or professional). When you get right down to it, nothing else is more important.

    There’s no single solution to a problem this complex, so we are going to do this in several ways:

    1. We are incorporated as a multi-stakeholder co-operative, giving our primary members (the givers and receivers of care and support) ownership of the company, technology, dividend and decision-making.

    2. We are using platform technology to enable workers and people getting support to choose one another and be in control of their lives and livelihoods. This gives us the ability to share the co-operative with other neighbourhoods, give care receivers much greater control over who supports them and how, ensure low running costs, and allow workers to be paid better and be in control of their day…

    I just spend the last hour interviewing Emma, one of the co-founders. She’s very clear-headed about what they are doing and why…and it’s great. Definitely worth throwing a few pounds at.

  2. Isotope_C14

    Great! Now we can relax for another ten years!

    Sadly instead of a Zeitgeist movement planned economy/vertical garden/Venus project we will have more Russia/trump theatrics, and end multicellular life on this planet. But Putin hacked the election!!!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Global DeWarming wannabes will just have to find eachother and take power or at least build up a visible power position in smaller communities where they are a plurality or a majority. They can then evolve and manifest their own little local visible zeitgeist demonstrations in particular locality after particular locality after particular locality.

      Transition Towns and stuff like that there. Permaculture Food-Fortress Suburbs.
      Power Down in place. Power-Down Transition Towns with all the surrounding suburbs turning into Permaculture Food-Fortress Suburbistans.

      1. Isotope_C14

        The problem is that if 3% come to that realization, 97% won’t and they will cook our proverbial goose.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Maybe that 3% can inspire and recruit more than just 3%. ” A thousand points of zeitgeist” could lead to more points of zeitgeist. It could be worth trying.

          And America contains enough people that millions could try ” a thousand points of spreading inkblot zeitgeist” while other millions try ” total social everyone-all-at-once mobilization”. Both could be tried at the same time by different groups of people.

          And of course the Transition Town Power Downers could become hard enough to starve out by a hostile burn-more-carbon enemy that they could lend their weight without losing their weight to targeted offensives against the burn-more-carbon enemy at various political and economic levels.

    1. ambrit

      All right JHB. Contain your enthusiasm. There are two one loss teams left. Los Angeles is 10-1, while N’awlins is 9-1. We’ve still got December to get through.

        1. pretzelattack

          i have to feel sorry for them, they’re just a bad upgrade like windows 10, browns 2.0, and
          the only cleveland browns team to ever win a superbowl was called the baltimore ravens.
          the browns fans didn’t deserve that.

      1. Synapsid


        “They are not” what?

        Both are indeed in Family Rosaceae; are you referring to something else? I’m confused (well, not for the first time today but still…).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks, I didn’t know they are in the same family (one big family). I only meant they are not jabuticaba berries.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You’re welcome.

              I’ve been trying to find out myself, in various Brazilian eateries and markets. So far, nothing (in the LA area). I’ve heard they are delicious.

              Maybe one day I viist Brazil…

    1. grayslady

      Just look for apple scab on the leaves (which is abundant in this photo) and you can be fairly certain you are seeing a crabapple!

  3. John k

    … class lost its mind…
    I don’t suppose mic donors decided to divide their attention between parties? Leading to both parties wanting endless war? Even a little one like Yemen brings a useful sprinkling.
    If you must spend four hours a day begging donors you might have time to listen to a mic rep explain how they’re starving, and might have to shut down a bomb making assembly in your district, and by the way, they love you and your views and want to express their appreciation with a token towards your next campaign.

  4. Synoia

    “Why aren’t chip credit cards stopping “card present” fraud in the US?” …. (Personally, I hate the chip card readers: They slow down the transaction badly, as compared to swiping.

    WTF? Tap and go cards with chips, used in Europe, make checkout faster than swiping.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      I’ve got a US RFID “tap and go” credit card I got sent to replace my old one. I even used it once at the grocery store just to see if it worked. It did. I’m just never in that kind of hurry though, so it seems pretty pointless to me.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I hope the ‘tap and go’ is not like what happened to me the other day. I accidentally tapped the device’s surface and found myself bidding $25 for a lot in an auction…and won it.

        Now to give up, to get out of it, my option is to pay 50% of that, plus 50% of the commission due the auction office.

        1. ambrit

          Looks like the system was designed to lock you into the sale. If you have any interest in the item, go for it.
          Maybe the site admins would like some of whatever it is. A barter donation! See, NC recognizes all types of ‘economics!’ (Cringes, ducks head, and covers cranium.)

    2. Carolinian

      The gist of the story is that if you’ve ever had to swipe your chip card instead of insert then a “skimmer” could have gotten your info regardless of the chip. Gas station pumps are a favorite place to hide these “skimmers.”

      1. JeffC

        I never ever swipe a debit card. No limit (besides my balance :) to what the skimmer could take. I allow only one particular credit card (limited fraud liability in the US by law) to be made vulnerable by swiping at gas stations, where indeed the risk, at least in the US, is highest.

        Don’t try to travel outside the US without a functioning chip-and-pin card. Made that mistake a few years ago in Sweden and couldn’t buy gas at the unmanned stations. And in Copenhagen a restaurant thought we were trying to con them when we asked about swipe and sign. They had never heard of such a thing.

    3. JeffC

      Personally, I hate the chip card readers: They slow down the transaction badly, as compared to swiping. The article doesn’t mention this, but I wonder if that could partially account for merchant reluctance? Those seconds on line add up….)

      This was true when chip terminals first came out. Lately though I’m finding that high-volume stores that can afford current technology, like supermarkets, have chip-reading setups that are as fast as swiping, if not faster.

      Might be different though in parts of Maine where a weak internet infrastructure really shows. Visited there a few years back and couldn’t believe how slow internet was. Maybe chip processing requires more internet overhead?

      1. RMO

        I’ve found they speed things up usually. Straight tap-to-pay (no PIN input) is really fast – though I don’t use it myself and have things set up for PIN only. Putting the card in an typing the PIN is a little faster than what used to be universal where I live: swipe, maybe a second time because it failed to read the first time, sign the receipt… and then occasionally be asked to present ID. When my wife and I took a quick trip to Oregon from our home near Vancouver for the total eclipse I was surprised to find almost no businesses used chip readers. I just assumed that a big market like the U.S. would get that before Canada. Getting fuel was a pain as it required going in to the station to prepay every time as we couldn’t get past the pumps demanding our Zip code before letting us gas up (we actually stayed the nights on the Washington side of the border as there was no room in Oregon, driving to near Madras for the actual event and didn’t need to get gas in Oregon so it was all self serve)

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Publix has bumped up the speed to where it’s almost rude. Its a looong wait on the little gray boxes, though. But not implementing it in the first place as a swipe has me flummoxed. Is someone trying to condition me? Or did it never occur to anyone in the process to think about how the best solution for their bezzle didn’t suit the situation they are addressing. Are there any economists who want to calculate the cost of adding 30 seconds to every transaction in our country? (I hope 30 seconds is correct, it feels like 20 minutes at my very important aunt’s house)

  5. Widowson

    Re: LuLaRoe, my wife has taught Jazzercise for a decade and we’re particularly close to her boss and owner of a local Jazzercise center. I think one could make a similar argument that serving as an owner of a Jazzercise center or, to a lesser degree, serving as an instructor, feels very much like you’re on the bottom floor of a similar MLM scheme. Jazzercise Corporate continues to extract its pound of flesh from the vast majority of owners that barely break even– don’t even get me started on how poorly the instructors are paid for their passion (but they can get in line behind most child care works, teachers, adjunct professors, et al.)– and at some point Jazzercise center owners will realize that if they’re not actually making money, they’re practicing a “hobby.” Something about if you don’t own the platform…

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I read and made lots of term papers out of English Renaissance ‘cony-catcher’ literature. Why isn’t ‘don’t be a Mark’ part of our basic curriculum?

      My basic curriculum did not include how to cut a check, so, largely rhetorical.

  6. ChiGal in Carolina

    re IVN

    I admit to not reading the article but I am infuriated by the headline. Wake-up call for WHO?

    If the DNC/DCCC (not good with acronyms) had thrown even a fraction of the cash at progressives that they did at conservative Ds running in the suburbs, there would have been a different outcome.

    A self fulfilling prophecy if I ever saw one.

    1. todde

      what I got out of it was it’s a wake up call for people who want to redeem the democrat party.

      just go 3rd party seems to be the call people need to wake up too

      1. Kurt Sperry

        The beauty of a third party* is that even if it never becomes near a majority, if it can reliably muster 15% or so of the vote, it can almost always decide who wins and loses and thus, even in blue or red state “safe seat” races, and thus exert considerable leverage. The natural target will almost inevitably be the Dems as it is their primary job to keep its putative base from getting what they want; the Rs are generally more honestly representative of their own. Don’t want to embrace universal, single-payer? Don’t want to reallocate MIC resources to a Green New Deal? Fine, we’ll reduce you to an irrelevent coastal rump party that can no longer monetize itself as an influence peddling racket within two election cycles. If they don’t want to play, take away their toys. Once you get over the psychological hump of voting as a weapon rather than succumbing to passive, ineffectual lesser evilism, you reclaim your lost agency and influence.

        * doesn’t even need to be a party per se, just a disciplined association of similar-minded voters

    2. Jeff W

      Nick Brana, former national political outreach coordinator with Bernie 2016, has been pushing for a third party, a People’s Party, for some time. He had previously tried to draft Sen. Bernie Sanders for the party but was not successful. He seems to think, at least in my view, that the current dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party among those who are progressive (and further left) and the fact that a majority of Americans say a third party is needed are sufficient conditions for its success.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        it would be a decades long battle in the teeth of total opposition from the Depublicratic Establishment. As long as people understand that . . . .

  7. Kurt Sperry

    Retail: “Why I Won’t Upgrade My Phone Until It Can Turn Into a Magic Pony”

    Anecdote for smartphone haters: a fifty euro refurbished ebay smartphone saved my rear when a nearby lightning strike took out the landline here in rural Tuscany and left me with no landline phone or internet. I reported the service outage almost three weeks ago and TIM, the Italian landline provider still hasn’t managed to fix the line* but with nothing better than that burner, a USB tether, my laptop, and a dodgy 3G signal, I can at least still communicate with the rest of the world.

    * the TIM tecnici called the same semi-burner phone this morning to tell me that they couldn’t find the house to fix the problem, so I arranged in my bad Italian to meet them at a bar in the central piazza of the nearest town so they could follow me back to the house. OK, right? But. All the nearby streets had been closed for some event involving school kids which RAI TV were on hand to videograph in the middle of a road chokepoint and the piazza and centro were barricaded and inaccessable by car and the TIM crew never showed. I couldn’t call the tecnici back because they called using a “numero privato” so had no way of making alternative arrangements. Sofa king Italian, the whole mess. But hooray for fifty euro burner smartphones, I’m sure glad I have one. It could be weeks before they call back.

    1. Hepativore

      My Android smartphone is nearing the end of its lifespan as it has a bad 3.5 mm headphone jack and the touchscreen is dying. Still, I have had it for five years and got it used off of Ebay for $50.

      I do not have a functional computer at the moment, so my smartphone is the only way I can access the internet through free WiFi. Still, with that being said, I do not understand why people would spend several hundreds of dollars on a brand new device when they could one used that works just as well and let somebody else take the depreciation hit.

  8. Anon

    Re: Maslow’s Hierarchy

    The other day, at work in a non-profit school, we had this author show up, Howard Ross, who apparently said that people have gotten Maslow’s Hierarchy wrong, that belonging was the building block and not material needs. Being compliant and diverse workers, no one called him out on it for fear of incurring the wrath of the CEO, who I’m sure put considerable effort into this. It seems weird for people to focus on belonging to something as opposed to not starving to death, though.

    1. Mac na Michomhairle

      One could say, though, that ‘not starving to death’ is much easier if one ‘belongs’, or rather (better term) cooperates as part of a group, and generally approaches life as a cooperative venture (unless of course you live in the modern world and have a good bit of money, or are a sociopath.).

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        belonging is the first need of hierachy

        +1 and Gold Star, because I’ve already stolen that. Thank you very much. Better than méconnaissance for us usonians, frankly.

  9. Summer

    Re: Why I Won’t Upgrade My Phone Until It Can Turn Into a Magic Pony” [Medium].

    And software / hardware tech for phones aren’t the only tech with that issue.

    But again, the “innovations” have to do with marketing, advertising, and finance.
    The devices have gotten better at guiding you where adverstisers and other manipulators want you to go. And these features are about manipulating future generations that don’t have institutional knowledge or much historical perspective.
    Advertising is for children and youth – despite the “laws.” The only time I think of it differently is when price and deals are the focus of an ad. Then they are usually targeting adult breadwinners.

  10. Kurt Sperry

    I’ve got a crabapple in the front yard called, if memory serves, “Sugar Time” which holds its bright red fruit into late Winter. The birds don’t seem particularly interested in it until February or so when pickings I assume get slim. It also perfumes the yard with an intoxicating scent on still Spring evenings. You could definitely do worse if you are picking a tree to plant.

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    It looks like Rudolph had enough of serving his cruel master Santa Claus escaping but taking out his kapo tormentors who didn’t let him play in any reindeer games. A security guard is contaminating the scene with all the skill of a police academy reject.

    1. Hana M

      I always knew Rudolf was the creation of the mercantile class. You know the ones. Those experts in guiding the extractive economy with their shiny red noses all saying “Shop, shop, shop ’til you drop!”

      Sadly, good ol’ Rudy has left most of the delivery team dead…What will happen to “last mile” deliveries?.

          1. ambrit

            Yegads! I’d expect Bardolph to be riding in the sleigh!
            Holiday Spirits will be our downfall. Economists rightly decry such.

    2. Hotei

      Caption for the Rudolf photo: “All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names…so he killed them; killed them all.”

      1. Charlie

        Or in postmodern neoliberal terms, he bought them out, showered them with all kinds of naughty coal stock debt instruments, and dumped depleted 401k offerings in the stockings just in time for Christmas.

  12. Roy G.

    Re: BoingBoing and ‘fake news,’ BB was one of my longtime hangouts that I had to quit because of the Russia Derangement Syndrome that erupted from their editors like an STD. Like many others, Doctorow is a great writer and blogger in his own area of expertise who turned into a raving lunatic after the election, and BB pushed a relentless amount of fake news about Teh Evil Russian Hackerz, not to mention an orthodox straightjacket around the righteousness of Hillary and the infallibility of the Democrat Establishment.

    It has been shocking to see how Derangement Syndrome spread equally across the aisle, with just a slight story upgrade from Kenyan Birth Certificate! to Russian Hackerz! Thanks to NC for being an island of reason in these hysterical times.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Yes. They began to drift into derangement territory during the 2016 campaign, and when Trump won they got bent and stayed bent. Groupthink enforcement is especially pronounced in their comments section, BBS, but the editors call the tune.

      Trump and his ever-lovin’ base are the sound of the wind soughing through their Abyss. He’s the repudiation of All That Is Right! for them. The pity is, they are so busy hissing, spitting and comforting one another with exclusionary posing and declamations…… they fail to attack him when it’s warranted, as it’s warranted.

    2. Skip Intro

      Remember, it is not just derangement, but also a loyalty test. I imagine some of these outlets were just hoping to get on the gravy train, instead of being targeted for pro-porn-ot and google/FB soft censorship. Of course, that doesn’t speak well of their integrity…

    3. sd

      I think it started back in the still early days of the Obama administration. Previously anti war blogs were suddenly doubling down on Obama-could-do-no-wrong and gave him a complete pass on indefinite detention. The cray cray just accelerated when Obama ran for a second term. By the time Trump shows up, crazy is the new normal.

  13. Carolinian

    Re Cory Doctorow–he’s always been great on internet and intellectual property issues but might as well be at Daily Kos when he talks politics. Use accordingly.

  14. Jean

    “Promise Me Dad….that you will pay off my student loans, because Dad, you made it impossible for us to ever reorganize our lives through bankruptcy protection.”

  15. Jason Boxman

    For the Uber story, apparently that’s part of BI Premium. I can’t read it without a membership. Amusingly, in Opera I can click “Reader View” in the URL bar (the open book icon) and it displays the full text of the article. This probably doesn’t work everywhere, but BI mistakenly loads the content, before blocking it with JavaScript. Reader View seems immune to this.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        OK, I’ve tried Reader View on a few sites now and it does indeed seem capable of successfully scaling some paywalls and killing all the overlays, mandatory permission asks to snoop and sliding opaque crap inserts intruding on the text fields that are the bane of modern web browsing, at the price of not getting images and multimedia content (generally an added bonus rather than a downside). I imagine it also significantly reduces bandwidth used. I hope it never gets popular enough for the sites to expend coding resources to devolp countermeasures to it. Between that, flashblocking, and the use of the VPN built into Opera which opens access to US sites that are geowalled because of EU privacy regulations, my web experience has been significantly improved.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      Hmmm.. Wants me to sign up for BI Prime, or “Sign up for our newsletter and receive guest access for 7 days”.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Reader View: That’s hilarious.

      I should really learn the standard, but the organization I work for isn’t trying to hide its content so it hasn’t come up.

      The ‘everything is calpers’ meme is very resonant on the web development side.

  16. Duck1

    Market on a bummer again today, sporting the 24K handle again. (Chops onion furiously in order to shed tear.)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps market manipulators are downpushing the market to teach the voters a lesson for electing a Democratic House majority.

      In that scenario, Trump can engineer all the recession he likes in order to “get it over with” because he can blame it on the Democrats and their voters. “Look what the Democrats did! Look what their supporters voted for!”

  17. George Phillies

    ” good, old-fashioned alternatives [to the Internet and cell phones] ”

    Face to face conversations?

  18. JohnnyGL


    Obama keeps having these moments in his speeches where you wonder if he realizes he was president for 8 years.

    I mean, seriously, we can’t make changes necessary to deal with climate change because of ‘racism, hate, and mommy issues?!?!?!’ You really said that with a straight face??!?!

    Come on, bruh, you got record to defend. Stop talking to me in the abstract about stuff YOU COULD HAVE TRIED TO FIX, but chose not to do so because you wanted TPP and a Grand Bargain and bemoaned the republicans’ 6 year refusal to give it to you.

    I’m honestly undecided as to who comes across as more out of touch, Obama or HRC. It’s dang close.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      When you look at how rich the Clintons are, and how rich the Obamas are getting, and the exalted social circles the Obamas get to circulate in and hobnob with; it is clear that they are very closely in touch with something.

    2. DJG

      JohnnyGL: Years back, in a profile in the New Yorker about Obama and, I believe, his second run for president, in the New Yorker, mind you, which has been an Obama fanzine for a dozen years, the writer slipped and described him as passive and stiff, like a Javanese prince.

      In much of Indonesia, the nobility was ceremonial, and Javanese society was highly ceremonial.

      I think that the New Yorker writer slipped something past his editors: Obama wants to be symbolic. He’s totally post-modern, an empire of signs all on his own.

      And now he can’t figure out how to be an unemployed ceremonial figure. I suppose that in Java he might have taken up traditional dance.

    3. Massinissa

      The really scary part is how many people INSIST that Barry was actually the MOST IN TOUCH with America of all the recent presidents.

      And I’m like, are we talking about the same person here?

      1. CanCyn

        He was and is in touch if you think of it like a con man is in touch and knows just what to say and how to say to sooth people into believing the con

    4. RMO

      “YOU COULD HAVE TRIED TO FIX” That’s one thing that really burns me still about the administration and its cheerleaders and apologists. I was one of the fools who had real hope and was excited when he won, looking forward to an attempt to actually get the U.S. out of the spiral dive it was in. I could still give the administration some slack for not succeeding in changing the endless war policy, getting the economy working for the majority of the citizens, putting the shredded Constitution and Bill Of Rights back together, holding those responsible for aggressive war, torture and the crashing of the global economy to account, undertaking a significant climate change effort and providing people with real healthcare – BUT THEY NEVER, NEVER even really tried! He didn’t even publicly advocate for these things and blame the Repubs for blocking his efforts, he just never made them.

      I can only conclude that a substantial and powerful part of the Dem party simply doesn’t want these things even if they could be achieved.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I can only conclude that a substantial and powerful part of the Dem party simply doesn’t want these things even if they could be achieved.

        They still don’t. The Democrat center of gravity, as it were, shifted toward the conservative vertex during the midterms, and by design of the liberal Democrat faction that controls the party machinery. It’s great to have strong individual voices like Sanders and AOC, but the party as a body is not moving in their direction. Which opens up interesting possibilities, because it means that in their quest for wealthy suburban professional votes, the Democrats are becoming increasingly detached from the electorate as a whole. Even more than they already are.

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      He only agreed to be our president for the importance of observing us in our childish passions (Red State/Blue State, can’t see it). Interfering would be against the Prime Directive. That could interfere with our history.

    6. Big Tap

      About TPP. Still amazed Obama went full bore on that issue in the summer of 2016. Couldn’t keep his mouth shut till after the November elections could he? This hurt Hillary big time since Trump promised to get rid of TPP. Thanks to Obama Trump won the Midwest and the presidency and Hillary lost. Her ‘Putin’ was actually Obama.

  19. ewmayer

    Former NYC mayor Bloomberg giving Johns Hopkins $1.8 billion for financial aid | Reuters

    “A summary sheet of the terms and conditions for the donation provided to this news organization showed that there would be some ‘behavioral requirements’ tied to receipt of the aid, including one that recipients thereof abstain from drinking sugary sodas, which Mr. Bloomberg has described as ‘a scourge upon American democracy’ and which he unsuccessfully sought to levy a special tax on during his term as mayor of New York City.”

    1. JohnnyGL

      LOL….Bloomberg’s war on Big Gulps is almost like a religious conviction. Doesn’t he get that way about smoking, too?

      What’s the enforcement mechanism? Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels?

      Bloomberg is someone that actually meets Foxnews’ caricature of librul culture warriors.

      1. ewmayer

        Spoiler: I totally made that quoted snip up to test readers’ fake-news detectors, but yes, MB’s anti-sugar jihad lends the fake news here a certain degree of risible plausibility. :)

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    We really need an organized movement, in all seriousness and not kidding, to find a way to get coastal reality-based global warming accepters and inland-dwelling fantasy-based global warming deniers in touch with eachother.

    Why? So that really, seriously, and not kidding at all; we can get millions of coastal global warming accepters and inland global warming deniers to trade physical places. Reality-based coastals should sell their houses and land to fantasy-based deniers, and buy land and houses from fantasy-based deniers to go live there instead.

  21. JohnnyGL


    Maybe you could have pushed Pelosi to drop pay-go rules in return for saying such nice things about her? Perhaps one or more of the other House Speaker hopefuls would have offered to get rid of the fiscal shackles?

    Seems like a missed opportunity to gain concessions in return for support on one or more issues.

    I hate to be one of the 10k or so people that would like to offer lots of bad advice, but that is why we’re here at the 2pm watercooler!!! :)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Trump wants Pelosi to be speaker for Trump’s own purposes. He knows a Catfood Democrat when he smells one.

      He also appreciates what a foil she is for him to use at rallies and on Fox News. He also appreciates what a rotting fish head she is . . . . the rotting fish head which keeps the Democratic Party rotting from the head first.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s not impossible that Trump gets enough Democrats to vote in a Republican speaker, if the D party in the House is so divided.

        If united, they would probably need less than 10 D votes.

        I don’t know if that would be a first.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Not easy to find, but I think they need about 18 to 20, assuming my math is correct, using the results I have.

    1. chuck roast

      to stasch all their cash in a bucket.
      But Beau missed the ferry
      and with no Uke cash to make merry
      they cried in their beer out in Siasconset.

  22. DJG

    Being passed around:


    So the entire crop of romaine can’t be eaten because so much of it is smeared with an angry strain of E. coli. (Conspiracy theorists, take note: This undermines the caesar salad monopoly.)

    As we groundlings often ponder here: How low can crapification go?

    A lesson in lettuce: We collectively have succeeded through poor labor practices, unsafe conditions, coddling of agribusiness, sloppy application of pesticides, and lack of regulation in ruining lettuce.

    It is said that Diogenes supported himself in Athens as a lettuce washer. (That used to be a trade, before crapificaition.) Imagine the things that Diogenese would have to say about toxic lettuce.

    From the biog of philosopher Diogenes by D. Laërtius:

    Some authors affirm that the following also belongs to him: that Plato saw him washing lettuces, came up to him and quietly said to him, “Had you paid court to Dionysius, you wouldn’t now be washing lettuces,” and that he with equal calmness made answer, “If you had washed lettuces, you wouldn’t have paid court to Dionysius.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for the interesting stories from history.

      I wonder what (Get out of my sun) Diogenes would say about washing emperor Diocletian’s cabbages?

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Oh Good Grief. Tabbed to send out tomorrow.

      I’d missed the ‘washer of lettuce’ bit about Diogenes. I’d have remembered because as an American that sounds a lot like ‘debasing of coins’.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      And here is where Suburban Sprawlians have the advantage over Urban Compactians. Suburban Sprawlians can grow their very own romaine lettuce in their very own yards without any E. coli at all. Whereas the Urban Compactians will be forever at the mercy of the Corporate E. coli Lettuce Conspiracy.
      ” No lettuce for you!”

  23. Summer

    Re: Uber..
    “The drivers felt they were not being utilized well. That they were being asked to drive around in circles but that their feedback was not changing anything,” said one former engineer of Uber’s self-driving-car unit who was familiar with the driver program.”

    Are they ready for people other than engineers to be test driving these things?
    Is that what they can’t admit?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think there are some people who, if they can’t make self-driving cars, would jump straight into making self-flying cars.

      They are like Thomas (failing 99 times) Edison.

      And in the future, they are the ones kids will look up to in their history books (if they are like what I had – mostly only happy ending successful stories when it comes to science and technology).

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Sheryl Sandberg and the emptiness of leaning in”

    Just like in politics, it is not a matter of having women in higher echelons of power but the type of women that is more important. To illustrate this point, I will cede the floor to the irrepressible George Galloway-

    “And as someone who lives in a country led by Theresa May, and Margaret Thatcher before her, I can tell you there is nothing necessarily good about electing women. Out of the 101 ‘Blair Babes’ elected in 1997 as women Labour MPs, well over 90 of them voted down the line for the Iraq War (not to mention cuts in benefits for, amongst others, single mothers).”

    1. JCC

      I take your point, and agree wholeheartedly.

      On the other hand, she seems to be taking all the heat for Zuckerberg’s crookedness and other failings. He’s the top dog, right?

      What happened to “the buck stops here”? Someone (maybe Zuckerberg himself) seems to have moved the sign over to her desk.

      1. The Rev Kev

        For Zuckerberg, when he heard that “the buck stops here” I think that he took it literally. Also, he has been in corporate affairs long enough to know that when there is trouble, throw somebody else under the bus – in this case Sandberg.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well maybe ( hopefully) Sandberg can drag Zuckerberg under the bus with her. ( “Always room for one more.”) And maybe they can pull the whole FaceBook under the bus with them, and all get wrapped together around the axle.

      2. Mike G

        I’d say Zuckerberg is overwhelmingly the one taking the heat, she mostly seems to be hiding out.
        But then Zuck never put himself forward as a symbol of empowerment and managerial brilliance. Sandberg was portrayed as the adult supervision at Facebook so she deserves heavy scrutiny with all that has gone on.
        Lean In struck me as vacuous solipsism, the idea that whatever was good for Sheryl Sandberg and a tiny handful of high-flyer career women equaled feminist empowerment for everyone.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Goldman-Sachs feminism.

          ” Together we put Eighteen Million cracks in that Tiffany Glass Ceiling!”

    2. Craig H.

      A couple of weeks ago they had a quote from Rees Mogg where he said something like (I forget the verbatim but my goodness the gist of it was sticky): in a hundred years the historians will rate Brexit with WWII and May has a chance if she doesn’t blow it to rate with Churchill.

      I almost fell out of my chair, I think. I have never fallen out of a chair unless I was far too drunk to read.

  25. Sparkling

    I was given Lean In as a graduation present– twice–and I never understood why it didn’t resonate with me. After all, I’m a young woman with a bachelor’s degree and therefore (I guess?) a credentialed member of the professional class. I’m the type of person companies will go out of their way to hire to look progressive but apparently treat like dung when the cameras are off. (This has never happened to me.) Lean In should be right up my alley! Why did I always get fed up with it and stop reading?

    I think I understand now.

  26. Oregoncharles

    “. “[Three Democrats] took over secretary of state jobs previously held by Republicans ”

    I don’t associate Democrats with electoral fairness. A recent Democrat Sec. of State was openly partisan, for instance trying to block Nader’s presidential campaign. Happily, that was the end of his political career. The current SOS is, remarkably, a Republican. He shows a lot more interest in fair electoral rules than the Democrats have, probably because Republicans are outsiders here.

  27. Chromex

    Disagree about Michigan. I once worked in a nonpartisan position for the Michigan legislature and note that the very stupid and tea party-dominated legislature remains firmly in Republican control.Given their performance over the last few years this should be labeled as nothing less than shocking! Because of the administration’s abysmal performance it is not surprise that they were booted ( Flint) but the Legislature worked as the administration’s handmaidens over that period. Also, the progressive candidates for Governor lost and an establishment dem won the primary. At least one of the “flipped” seats belongs to a former CIA operative etc etc. It is at least debatable that the results leave a structure in place that can return as the economy continues to go south.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . we did get State-legal recreational marijuana.

      And we also got a law permitting us to get a Citizens’ Commission to de-Mander the Gerry, with perhaps too little time for the Republican Legislature to sabotage it from happening.

      And we got some more-and-better ease of registering and voting.

      The EstabliDem Governor might give us some room and a chance to get a LefterDem Governor further down the road. Right now many Michiganders are focused on the very crudest and lowest brute survival improvements like roads which are more road than pothole . . . as against more pothole than road as in many places now.

      Of course the Michigan Republicans will sabotage any effort to even fix the roads, so they can say: ” Behold! The Democrats can not improve the roads! Better vote Republican again next time!” I think a way around that would be this: pass whatever laws are needed to created road-improvement self-taxing territories the size of State House Districts. In fact, let each State House District BE a self-taxing road-improvement zone IF it WANTS to be. And then we must hope that Dem-voting Districts would actually want to be self-taxing road-improvement zones. And that way Democratic House districts could get the roads they deserve, and Republican-voting House Districts could turn into the roadless semi-wilderness areas of their No Taxation dreams.

  28. Big River Bandido

    Re: pieces in The Hill and Independent Voter Network:

    The Hill piece sounds familiar, wondering if it already ran since the election as I was getting a sense of deja vu, all over again. Of course, that could simply be because the piece engages in the same sort of anthropological head-scratching as always: goodness, why is it that rural voters like leftist policies but not Democrats? Could it possibly be that Democrats don’t actually run on those issues? Nah…

    Nick Brana’s piece is almost laughable in its naivete. The “we need a third party” view completely ignores the need for movement building that must, by definition, precede the formation of a third party. No new party will ever get a single vote if they aren’t organized enough to even get a ballot line, and that kind of movement doesn’t get built in 2 or 4 years.

    Along the same lines, this piece puts forward the same flawed notion that somehow, the left should be able to expect gains at the congressional level, before doing all the hard, necessary work at the local and state levels to prepare for a congressional takeover:

    “Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress and the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed a combined 107 candidates for Congress this year.”

    Okay, stop right there. Not a word about state legislative races? Not a word about Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, and the huge changes he’s been making there over the last year? Nothing about Lee Carter or Summer Lee? These are all huge tells that the call for a third party is going nowhere, because the most consistent voices in favor of it seem to have no concept of actual political organizing.

  29. knowbuddhau

    “Mere” material security? “Material security” is something most Americans do not have. Much as I like Tim Wu, material security is where we should start. We can work our way up Maslow’s hierarchy later.

    “We can work our way up Maslow’s hierarchy later?” I vehemently disagree.

    So people below a certain material level don’t get art, they don’t get parks, they certainly don’t get HDTVs, refrigerators, or any other luxuries? And look, we gave you housing, we gave you jobs, and you’re still not happy? Ingrates. Our pearls are wasted on you swine.

    Once in a while I used to paint apartments. It was always the same: it’s “just” an apartment, not the Taj Mahal, so don’t make it beautiful. Never could get that right.

    People need beauty daily, and the uglier your life, the more you need it. Yes, of course material conditions matter. I just recovered from having a burning hole in my ankle for 5 months (stepped in some stupid and it burnt lol). Also rattle canned my Toyota truck in my side yard on October afternoons, and it’s a thing of beauty, IIDSSM. Others do, too.

    Damn, but that ankle hurt, but I discovered how to get the gloss and color I want. And the paint was on sale, 2 for 1. Still spent way more than half of all the money I have. Not hard, though, when you have next to nothing.

    I used to live by Maslow’s Magic Pyramid. Kept myself in Purgatory for years before I realized the truth in, All work and no play makes us all so very dull.

    Maybe “mere” is the wrong word. He could’ve made the comparison without disparaging material conditions. But there’s more to a life worth living than meeting minimum requirements.

    Arts and culture aren’t luxuries to be enjoyed only if you meet certain material requirements.

Comments are closed.