Links 11/20/18

In Brazil, termites have built a sprawling megacity the size of Britain SCMP

Lightning striking the Grand Canyon and a magical dive into an abyss: The stunning winners of the panoramic photography awards revealed Daily Mail. Some stunning shots.

Quebec literary prize on hold after Amazon sponsorship controversy Montreal Gazette

It’s World Toilet Day, and there is a new standard defining what a toilet should do. Treehugger. Posting this a day late….

Will shrinking aeroplane toilets stop fat people flying? Guardian

Researchers hope a ‘robo-nose’ could give K-9 officers a break Phys.org

California Burning

Rain will bring much-needed relief to California fires, but also new dangers CNN

Deadly California fires prompt bold thinking about prevention: Shelters, strict zoning, buyouts LA Times

California needs to reinvent its fire policies, or the death and destruction will go on MIT Technology Review

These Prisoners Are Paid a Dollar an Hour to Battle California Fires TruthOut. Hesitated whether to file this under this heading, or under Class Warfare.

Is a New Toxic Danger Threatening California? Capital & Main

Syraqistan

In Yemen, cities spared from war fall prey to climate change Asia Times

Syria – Back In The Arab Fold Moon of Alabama

Trump administration hawks putting US on course for war with Iran, report warns Independent

Report: Saudi royals turn on king’s favourite son after killing Al Jazeera

American Politics Could Use More Conflict Jacobin. Absolutely! Must read.

How Congress Can Take Back Foreign Policy Foreign Affairs. From the Council on Foreign Relations house organ.

Making American Foreign Policy Unexceptional American Conservative

Brexit

Brexit: the revolution eats its children EUReferendum.com

Brexit deal: Government to publish analysis comparing impact of Theresa May’s plan with remaining in EU Independent

Spain threatens to reject May’s Brexit deal over Gibraltar Guardian

2018 Post Mortem

Legal Blue Wave? New Democratic AGs Could Change the Face of Climate Fight Climate Liability News. Don’t underestimate the power of state AGs– they brought us the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Facial Recognition’s Growing Adoption Spurs Privacy Concerns WSJ

India

RBI Board Meeting Ends in Tentative Truce With Central Bank Agreeing To Ease Liquidity The Wire

RBI move boosts Indian banks’ lending ability by up to $42 billion: sources Reuters

Japan

Japan is using cultural diplomacy to reassert its place in the world – but is the message too exclusive? The Conversation

Nissan shares slide after Carlos Ghosn’s arrest shocks Japan – business live Guardian

Ghosn arrest sparks fears for global car alliance FT

Democrats in Disarray

Sixteen dissident Democrats vow to oppose Pelosi as next speaker WaPo

Set Up to Fail? How High Schools Aren’t Preparing Kids for College Governing

Hungry to Learn Chronicle of Higher Education. More on the struggles many college students face.

Class Warfare

Opioid Industry Fights Efforts to Make It Pay for Crisis WSJ

Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given? Counterpunch. Dean Baker.

France’s ‘yellow vest’ protest enters third day as fuel depots are blocked The Local

Germany scuppers grand French plans for euro zone budget Handelsblatt

Facebook Fracas

Zuckerberg blamed Sandberg for Cambridge Analytica fallout: report The Hill. I link to this account for those readers without access to the WSJ. For those that do, here’s the original WSJ story.With Facebook at ‘War,’ Zuckerberg Adopts More Aggressive Style.

Health Care

Paul Krugman explains why single-payer health care is entirely achievable in the U.S. — and how to get there AlterNet. And the Quora session: Session with Paul Krugman

Our Famously Free Press

White House correspondents ditch comedians, ask biographer to speak at annual dinner Politico Does this spell curtains for the nerd prom?

Trump Transition

Whitaker is Unfit to be Attorney General, Acting or Otherwise American Conservative

Trump likely to give U.S. troops authority to protect immigration agents Reuters

Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban AP

Ajit Pai isn’t saying whether ISPs deliver the broadband speeds you pay for Ars Technica

The Case Against WikiLeaks Is a Crisis for the First Amendment Foreign Policy in Focus

Trump Starts to Fix Clinton’s Catastrophic Crime Bill Mess American Conservative

Sentencing Reform: Real Change Or Placebo? Above the Law

Antidote du Jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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180 comments

  1. emorej a hong kong

    Legal Blue Wave? New Democratic AGs Could Change the Face of Climate Fight Climate Liability News. Don’t underestimate the power of state AGs– they brought us the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

    A bonus of high-profile actions by state AGs, they will highlight the disqualifying (for President) track record of Kamala Harris as California AG.

    Reply
    1. Swamp Yankee

      I trust my Democratic (and “liberal”, too!) Attorney General, Maura Healey, of Massachusetts, about as far as I can throw her.

      Makes good noises about TRUMP!, and social issues:

      HOWEVER —

      1) Gave, contrary to the Massachusetts Constitution, part of a state forest in the southern Berkshires to a pipeline company — Kinder Morgan– in return for a risibly paltry payment. These acres of state forest, including 400 year old Old Growth _cannot_ be replaced after they are destroyed. In return the Commonwealth got 1.2 million dollars, which is ridiculous. Once Old Growth is gone, it’s gone. Not to mention the horror of fracking and methane’s role in the climate crisis….

      https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/12-million-settlement-clears-a-hurdle-for-tennessee-gas-sandisfield-pipeline,493508

      2) Has done essentially nothing for illegaly-foreclosed-upon homeowners (I sense a theme here, O Democrats!).

      Like most Democrats here in the Bay Commonwealth, she’s [redacted] contemptible.

      Reply
      1. Jean

        2) Just like Kamala Harris that did the same for 35,000 California homeowners who lost their homes. But, it did earn her a nice tip from Steven Mnuchin who owned the offending bank that she never bothered to prosecute as California A.G.

        Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “They” also brought us the 50 state mortgage fraud “settlement” spearheaded by DEMOCRAT and women’s rights champion extraordinaire eric schneiderman.

      But hope springs eternal I guess.

      Reply
    3. Lynne

      The thing about state AG’s: it’s all local and party labels don’t mean as much as one might think. Here, the republican governor has been on an 8-year mission to destroy in the name of fiscal restraint and had, among other things, gutted state mental health programs and effective drug treatment programs. Waste of money, don’t ya know, to care about criminals. /sarc

      In the last election, the only thing the Dem did that appeared democratic to me was to help sponsor a gay pride event. The republican candidate proposed building state-funded facilities with mental health and substance abuse treatments for offenders. The democratic candidate scoffed at that as fiscally unsound and said we should have a “public-private partnership” under which the people benefitting from the contracts might or might not have been his donors.

      Reply
    4. rd

      State AGs of both parties are also at the fore front of the opiod abuse litigation against pharmaceutical companies, doctors, and pharmacies. The Feds have been largely absent on this; they are too busy locking up people for marijuana, which is the spawn of the devil.

      Reply
    5. a different chris

      The other problem with AG’s is, well the long term problem with the Democratic Party. I think I’ve said before how the word “justice” makes me cringe nowadays, because of its implication of a courtroom showdown.

      You need to get people elected that will pass good legislation. If the court decides everything then people will stop voting. Seems like that has happened, doesn’t it? If the court decides everything your opponents will figure out how to take over the court. Anybody look at the Supreme Court lately? Yup, think that has happened also.

      The court also doesn’t compromise, it declares winners and losers. Don’t expect the losers to like the winners.

      Reply
  2. el_tel

    I had already read the aeroplane toilet article before this….and LOLed. I wonder if outrage possibly with lawsuits will arise when we end up in the situation Chinese airlines began to find themselves in a few years ago when a new middle class, with no experience of the “unwritten/written rules of flying” did things like let a child take a dump in the aisle. (I won’t post links, there are plenty – google them – it even happened on a Delta flight involving a Chinese airport….Delta are hereby added to United in my list of “no fly American airlines”….that doesn’t leave me much….)

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, I was wondering about that, I would imagine there could be a major lawsuit (or just a very unpleasant situation) on a flight if someone could not use the WC. Its not just the obese, a lot of people with mobility issues would have a huge problem with such a small WC. Perhaps they intend to keep one ‘normal sized’ one and replace the others with the smaller size.

      The question though is what sort of symbols they’ll replace the normal ‘male/female’ one to distinguish the skinny person from the fatter persons WC…

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        There already is a lawsuit involving overweight people but not one that you might expect. A guy is suing BA because he reckoned that he was badly injured sitting next to an overweight guy on a long flight. This is getting serious now-

        https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-46233158

        Looking at that aircraft toilet, if it was any more narrower a guy might have to use a hose to go for a leak in it as he would never be able to actually get into it.

        Reply
        1. Off The Street

          BMI-based ticket pricing, soon to be another option for the discerning traveler. Supplemental pricing for literally everything.

          Alaska Airlines, IIRC, aired a commercial many years ago about pay toilets. The hapless traveler asked fellow passengers for change for a dollar. With no takers, he increased the exchange rate in steps. The third step was 2 quarters for ten dollars or something like that as his discomfort increased. That airline was ahead of the curve.

          Reply
        2. RUKidding

          Interesting law suit. Wonder how it’ll turn out. I can sympathize with the man suing BA. Recently I flew on SW in the States. I’m probably built similarly to the man from Wales. My flight was only 2.5 hours, so not too bad, but a large woman was squashed in the seat next to mine (she was in the middle; I was next to the window).

          The plane seats are so narrow now, that I almost fill them up (and I’m pretty trim). I was able to scoot over an inch or two, which “allowed” her leg to flow into my seat area. It was uncomfortable but not completely unbearable. 13 hours, though, would’ve been horrid.

          Most of the international carriers I use so far have wider seats than SW, so that’s helpful, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they, too, get narrower to squash in ever more passengers.

          Again, would love to see the outcome of this lawsuit, as I sympathize with the plaintiff. There’s not much the larger passengers can do to reduce the amount of room they take. It leaves trimmer passengers having to share part of their seats whether we like it or not.

          Reply
          1. polecat

            Modern Jet Aircraft = Arial Tooobular Cattle Conveyance*

            *next, the airlines will be offering alfalfa meals .. for a hefty sum !
            … and hence, no need for WCs, where a hose will do …

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Well, if we proles want to fly our Subway in the Sky, we will have to accept certain inconveniences. . . .

              Reply
          2. apberusdisvet

            Some years back I was on a rather empty flight from Houston to Seattle with a stop at DFW. I had a window seat. At DFW, the plane virtually filled up, and a tall, very obese woman sat next to me, forcing me to scrunch almost into a ball. She also had enormous boobs, one of which invaded my space, touching me constantly. I think about that today with all the sexual harassment claims, whether real or not, and am happy that I longer fly.

            Reply
        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          As a heavy person myself, I WILL go to the bathroom even if i have to dent airplane walls.

          I barely fit Spirit Airlines Sardine Seats to SeaTac from MSY over the summer lol

          THEY ARE MAKING SO MUCH FN $$$!!!

          Can we get an airline with a renewable fuel so we can travel around the world for the equivalent of busfare?

          Reply
        4. Oregoncharles

          Airlines have been known to charge very obese passengers for two seats. A friend of ours ran into that and thought it was very unfair – but that lawsuit, and some commenter testimony, says there are two sides to the story. Or three, if the large person has a middle seat.

          I think the problem would be that the airline has no way of knowing until the passenger turns up, and many flights these days are very full, so two seats might not be an option. OTOH, fewer passengers, more expensive tickets – it costs the same to fly the plane either way.

          I wonder about making the seats narrower to squeeze more in: they still have to come in minimal increments, roughly two feet, so they would gain nothing unless the plane is pretty wide. A couple of inches over, say, 5 seats only adds up to 10 – not enough. Smaller planes might actually have roomier seating.

          Reply
          1. ewmayer

            “OTOH, fewer passengers, more expensive tickets – it costs the same to fly the plane either way.”

            No – the payload weight is directly tied to fuel consumed – otherwise, what would be the point of spending huge sums of money and engineering effort at making planes as light as possible? From this perspective, basing ticket prices on passenger weight is entirely justified – my problem with the airlines is that instead of taking a given flight cost and redistributing it according to weight, thus giving smaller folks and those with less baggage a break, they keep ratcheting up the cost for everyone at the same time they are busily crapifying the service. In the above weight-based-pricing scenario, a heavier passenger who is paying more based on that woud have every right to demand a larger seat … the billing-the-hugely-obese-for-2-seats is actually a version of that, it’s simply too coarse-grained an increment to be of any use for 99% of flyers.

            Reply
              1. ewmayer

                Makes sense it would be Samoa Air – Samoans tend to be, erm, rather robust folks. (There’s a reason there’s a disporprotionately high % of them playing in the NFL.)

                Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I doubt the airlines are trying to save the planet by encouraging people not to fly.

        Still, we can jujitsu or judo that into our benefit – by not flying whenever possible.

        Reply
    2. RUKidding

      I’ve experienced some of these tiny bathrooms. Luckily for me, I’m trim and not that tall. I can barely fit in some of them, and turning around takes some flexibility. I’m very fit and flexible, so it hasn’t been too problematic for me.

      But it’s insane. As someone has already pointed out, it’s not just about larger passengers; it’s also about passengers with mobility issues. Not a good situation.

      On a recent flight, another passenger had to accompany her mother into the bathroom. Mom had mobility issues; daughter clearly had to assist. That bathroom wasn’t the teeny tiny ones highlighted in the article, but I’m sure it was still quite the challenge to handle the situation.

      Ironically this is all happening as the world’s population (at least in developed nations) grow ever larger and larger (both in height and weight). Where does it end?

      Reply
      1. Bugs Bunny

        Where does it end?

        Some genius will bring back the Port-a-John and Port-a-Jane that you can use under a blanket while seated. That should send a message.

        I imagine they’ll want to tie that to an app. Since the Valley thing is to drop vowels, they can call it “pssbttl”

        Reply
  3. Matthew G. Saroff

    The robo nose will not be used by law enforcement because, unlike actual dogs, the cops will not be able to subconsciously cue it.

    For law enforcement, the Clever Hans Effect is a feature, not a bug.

    Reply
    1. georgieboy

      False positives versus false negatives: the dog is either correct or not when pointing.

      Could the officer cue the dog to ignore something? Sure.

      Reply
  4. cocomaan

    From the article about high schools not prepping kids for college:

    For rural high schools, the biggest challenge is funding.

    When I worked in higher ed I held my nose and got a program to specifically help rural kids with college preparedness funded by a philanthropist. Got the idea after reading Hillbilly Elegy.

    Most programs doing college prep are focused on urban areas, probably just because it’s simply more bang for your buck to reach out to kids in urban areas due to geographical constraints.

    Not to say that any one kid deserves more than another. But rural areas seem to be particularly screwed from the get go. In urban areas, parents in a ghetto can take the bus to work for the more affluent in a few blocks. For the rural kids, their parents have to travel hours.

    Reply
    1. Odysseus

      For rural high schools, the biggest challenge is funding.

      Nonsense. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The biggest challenge for rural schools is that nobody actually cares about education.

      I and most of my siblings performed above grade level for our entire careers in K-12. Through extracurricular activities like Scholastic Bowl, I was able to compare curriculum with surrounding schools. In literally every single case, the curriculum at other schools advanced faster than my own. My school did not allow students to skip grades. (which takes *NO* money)

      My older sister planned her high school classes so that she filled all graduation requirements by Junior Year, then left early and went to college.

      I transferred to a different school sophomore year, but I had significant academic issues because the best students there were as many as 3 (!) subject years ahead of me. Try taking sophomore physics (required) when you have Algebra I as your most advanced math. But hey, by the time I got to Trigonometry, I already had it down!

      Anyone who claims that funding is the biggest issue with rural schools has never been a student in one.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth Burton

        You’ve described your situation, but that doesn’t rebut the contention the cause of your being so neglected was lack of funds. Can you offer the reasons why the level of education in your district was so far behind other schools’?

        I’m not denying the experience. I’d just like to know why it happened. And if it helps, when I lived in PA, the quality of offerings among the various districts in the county reflected your experience. Nevertheless, the district with the poorest quality was also the one with the smallest tax base.

        Reply
        1. KPC

          I am somewhat similar to Odysseus – i.e., a flat out drop out from schools in your country’s middlewest farm belt as in indian reservations in South Dakota. No, would not waste my time with the test. Not vaguely logical – I be anglo with blue eyes. Warran is a female jerk or worse in this very area. One of my first teachers of the law was the Chief of the Sioux.

          Today, I have more than one doctorate as well as teach in doctoral programs thankfully in Europe and Central America which make Harvard look like chump change.

          The issue is “money” or, more correctly, wealth. With 300 families to support a public school system, ya ain’t gonna get teachers from Haaavvvard. Done. And, no, printing the money ain’t gonna fix it.

          In short there are limitations.

          Furthermore, ya might take a little look see at the text books used in these same areas in your country in the 19th century and compare them to comparable grades in the private schools of Lexington Massachusetts private junk of today. Dakota Sur wins that one.

          So, the problem is what?

          Your culture is your problem but do not make it mine again.

          Reply
    1. Olga

      Conditions in the three countries mentioned are different and the “far-right” label does not necessarily fit. For example, there’s nothing far right about Smer (a party in Slovakia). Here is an excerpt from the article:
      “For example, in Slovakia, one left-leaning party, SDL, supported its government’s austerity program. In response, another Slovak left-wing party, Smer, campaigned on a traditional left platform, criticizing the Slovak center-right governments for ignoring Slovakia’s growing disparities and catering to multinational corporations and financial interests. As a solution, Smer emphasized a return to the basic principles of solidarity and state involvement in the economy, offering changes in the labor code, pensions and education. Smer further pledged to increase public spending on health care, pensions, and education, and to introduce a second sales tax on basic goods.”
      Not sure how that fits into the far-right narrative. OTOH, there has been a slow-rolling coup against Smer, directed from outside the country. One can guess who’s behind it – the English signs “All for Jan,” referring to the murdered journalist Jan Kocian, are a dead give-away. They are carried by naive young people, who demonstrate against Smer and for “polite (or well-mannered) Slovakia.” In their youthful, yet completely misguided, enthusiasm it never occurs to them how vapid that slogan really is.

      Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    Tonight’s Antidote du Jour. I think that Jerri-Lynn might have photo-shopped that bird’s beak. I can’t find any bird like that on Google Images.

    Reply
    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      No, if any photoshopping was done, ‘twasn’t by me. Does look unusual, though, now that you mention it. Let’s see what others think….

      Reply
      1. el_tel

        I can’t speak for the bird in question. However, as a Brit who lived in Australia for 5 years and saw birds I would have sworn couldn’t be real and had I seen pics of, would have shouted “photo-shopped” regarding some colouring etc I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt…(and do I recall correctly that Rev Kev has more experience of animal life down under? Apols if confused you with someone else)

        Reply
        1. Anonymous2

          Good to see you back el_tel. On another topic, I recall that you put some thoughts on a thread a while back on the subject of criticisms of the work of Kahneman and his acolytes. Might you be able to remind me when that was, please? I read Kahneman with interest but of course am always interested to hear other perceptions on the matters he and his followers have written on. I find this especially valuable as I am a complete amateur in this area.

          Reply
          1. el_tel

            Thanks. I don’t want to get into trouble here (again) by breaking NC rules. Hopefully if you search on my old user name you can find my webpage with blogs and contact details….happy to chat privately so I don’t hijack threads.

            Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          ‘and do I recall correctly that Rev Kev has more experience of animal life down under?’

          Not really. Just another good city boy that found himself living out in the country among the horses, wallabies and the occasional snake. Sigh!

          Reply
      2. BillK

        Looks like a male Eurasian golden oriole.
        The original was photographed in South Africa, which is where the European oriole spends the winter.

        Reply
      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        The beak fits the face well enough and naturally enough so as to make me think its real and not photoshop.

        Reply
    2. icancho

      This bird would appear to be a golden weaver, Ploceus xanthops, with its diagnostic pale yellow eye and heavy black beak.

      Reply
      1. Anon

        Yez, I believe you’re correct. It is the lighting/glint in the photograph that makes the shiny beak appear blue. (Likely reflecting the blue sky?)

        Reply
      2. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        That’s what I think, icancho, — and agreed that the colour of the beak seems due to a trick of the light. The first time I remember seeing one of these was on a trip to South Africa in 2003. Not been back to anywhere in its range and thus haven’t seen any others since that trip.

        Reply
  6. Bill Smith

    “The Case Against WikiLeaks Is a Crisis for the First Amendment”

    Doesn’t the case about Assange being a Crisis for the First Amendment depend on what he is indicted for?

    In the Manning trial the government advanced the theory that Assange was not just a passive receiver of documents but advised Manning on what to take. In the trial the government also offered the theory that Assange helped Manning in an attempt to crack the passwords to access the classified system.

    While both of these theories was disputed, my opinion is that an indictment of Assange in this area is not an assault on the First Amendment.

    From news reports at the time:

    “As with the other charges, prosecutors contend that Manning enlisted Assange’s help. In this case, the soldier allegedly sought advice on cracking a password to surf a classified military network anonymously. The evidence for this hinges largely upon a short section of the chat logs between the two that has been made public.”

    Reply
    1. timbers

      You said:

      In the trial the government also offered the theory that Assange helped Manning in an attempt to crack the passwords to access the classified system.

      “Classified” is just another word word for hiding illegal and immoral government actions.

      If you think what you said justifies prosecution of those who expose governments massive and systemic criminal actions, you could at least apply that principle evenhandedly and call for prosecution of the Government officials who’s massive and horrific crimes Assange revealed.

      Reply
      1. RMO

        The records in the U.S. embassy in Iran that were shredded and painstakingly reconstructed by the Iranians, and subsequently published are still, last time I checked classified in the U.S. That should tell you everything you need to know about the reasons for classifying things. As Chalmers Johnson said when he got a high security clearance and was allowed to freely read a great range of classified documents, classification is largely to preserve departmental power against other departments and to avoid legal culpability by making records inadmissible in a court of law.

        Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I agree that the case against WikiLeaks is not — strictly speaking — a crisis for the first amendment. Assange and WikiLeaks are doing much much more than freely expressing and supporting the free expressions of whistle blowers and secrets leakers. Very little of the vast stores of classified information received their classification to protect ‘secrets’ holding any possibility of affecting what is so broadly construed as our national security … unless ‘national security’ includes protecting government, its officials, and their minions, and those who rule and own the government and its many appendages from embarrassment, or imprisonment for their stupidity, mendacity, greed, lust for power, ambition, cowardice, unbridled evil …

      The persecutions of Assange and WikiLeaks are a crisis for all our freedoms — all — such as we may still enjoy.

      Reply
      1. Bill Smith

        I agree with all of you in the over classification side.

        But if the government can prove that Assange helped Manning take the documents as opposed to just receiving them, well, in my opinion that’s a different story.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          That is a pretty big IF in my mind. One has to remember that Assange did not have access to the government servers, and was not in the same country as Manning. How much real help could he give Manning? I’m sorry but anything along the lines of “do you have any other information that supports this?”, including specific requests for information is NOT helping Manning whistleblow.
          Personally I’m of the opinion that Assange/Manning was a gross miscarriage of justice, especially with so little having been done to punish the subjects of Manning’s revelations, for some truly heinous crimes.There is overwhelming evidence that the US Government has been vindicative and out right criminal in regards to this issue. Any claims they make must be supported by a mountain of evidence, otherwise it is the same bull shit we are seeing in Russia!Russia!Russia! Without that I’m going to assume innocence. Assange is a journalist. This is a first amendment issue. And Manning was not fairly treated as a whistleblower.

          Reply
  7. #%^*$£#

    Jacobin & Conflicts
    It is very easy to keep the gentleman’s cadence in your dealings when you don’t suffer the consequences of your own decision making or just line your pockets.

    Also the most tribalist of the tribalist is the elite because they think only about themselves and despise everyone else. Pot calling who black?

    Reply
  8. Wyoming

    Re CA using prisoners to fight wildfires. It strikes me that while they can’t get jobs with govt entities they are a natural resource for all the private fire fighting companies being contracted by the insurance companies and the rich (Kanye!) to protect mansions and such. They are well trained, have few options, and are used to slave wages. Feature, not bug?

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “…can’t get jobs with govt entities….”

      That’s an feature when we first accepted the idea of security clearance.

      That means, not everyone is entitled to access information, and not everyone can get a job with the government.

      The prisoners, in this case, are assigned a very low rank, but not much lower than a lot of us.

      “What is your security clearance?”

      “Where do you rank?”

      Reply
  9. Livius Drusus

    Re: American Politics Could Use More Conflict

    I don’t necessarily agree with this. Conflict can be a bad thing if it is based on things like racial, ethnic or cultural Balkanization which is one possibility for America’s future and in fact to some degree we are already there. Imagine a situation where the Republicans are identified as the party for whites and in particular white Christians and the Democrats are identified as the party of non-whites and white, secular liberals. Politics could develop into a kind of identitarian spoils system akin to what you see in dysfunctional multiethnic societies.

    Also, consensus can be a good or bad thing depending on the ideology. Right now there is an elite neoliberal consensus that most NC readers would agree is bad. But after World War II there was a consensus that mostly favored liberals. After World War II conservatives complained that even the Republicans caved in on the New Deal. Barry Goldwater criticized President Eisenhower for supporting a “dime-store New Deal.”

    The era of relative comity after World War II produced most of the civil rights victories that we cherish today and to a certain extent that was due to the ability of politicians to wheel and deal. For example, LBJ got the House Republican Leader Charles Halleck of Indiana to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by promising to obtain a NASA research grant for Halleck’s district. Nowadays progressives and conservatives would call this corruption and pork barreling but it worked and promoted a good cause.

    One thing the article gets right is that consensus can be reached only when one side of an ideological battle wins and a new consensus develops. That happened when FDR won his battle with conservatives and established the New Deal consensus and when Ronald Reagan ushered in the neoliberal consensus. Right now we are going through a period where the neoliberal consensus is losing legitimacy among the populace but there is no guarantee that what will replace it will be better. It could be much worse.

    Reply
    1. el_tel

      “Does a system need more conflict?” – a value judgment. Can we alter the level of conflict via things like the system of voting? Most definitely. I sent a link recently that wasn’t used – probably rightly as it was a too-technical piece and not within the remit of NC. But its message accords with pieces linked to in the past on here – how the different voting systems across the developed world can favour/depress sections of the electorate and the strength of “their voice”.

      For example the first-past-the-post systems ubiquitous in the US and UK encourage parties not to split, provide little incentives for winners to compromise with small groups who are not “viable” contenders in elections. Whilst various “proportional” systems used in mainland Europe may give these small groups a larger say, we often then simply get into arguments over whether “smallish centrist/single issue” parties stay in power perpetually as power-brokers (e.g. the FDP in Germany for most of the post WW2 period until the Grand Coalitions relatively recently).

      I think more thought is required about whether a given voting system is still “fit for purpose”, given societal change. The example I referred to was (in the interest of full perceived conflict of interest) co-developed by a former colleague of mine: most-minus-least voting. I had no input to the work and am merely an interested observer of how it might reduce conflict and lead to a rebirth in constructive cross-aisle decision-making in places like Washington DC – something you could quite legitimately regard as NOT a desirable outcome in today’s political climate (!) But if a candidate knows that whilst their existing quest for “most desirable” votes is now just as important as the “least desirable” votes to be subtracted from their total from the groups they may be “targeting”, it might lead to very different political landscapes…..but the question remains, do we want that type of landscape?

      Reply
    2. Stephen V.

      Re: the New Deal, the first paragraph of this paper points to a more nuanced view of Herbert Hoover (!) in the 1920’s and the origins of the New Deal.
      Interestingly. HH worked with Julius RosenWald in the aftermath of the Great War organizing massive food shipments to Europe. JR has been in the news of late with the demise of Sears.

      http://www.trinityhistory.org/AmH/Hawley-Hoover.pdf

      Reply
      1. ewmayer

        Interesting coincidence that you mention heroes of the post-WW1 relief efforts – I just finished re-reading a bio (gifted to me in my youth) of another such hero, legendary Norwegian polar explorer and 1922 Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen, who accomplished unbelievable things in the face of governmental foot-dragging, mistrust (mostly related to western Europe’s isolation campaign against newly-communist Russia) and unwillingness of the European participants in WW1 to provide even relatively miniscule amounts of funding (relative to what they had been all too happy spending on making war) to aid the peace and the most helpless victims of their imperial slaughter. Nansen was literally the one man in the world who was trusted and respected by all the players as a person of such unquestionable integrity and stature that he was able to work around such barriers, cf. the broad international acceptance of his personally guaranteed “Nansen-pass” as ID for the documentless. Nansen also singled out the US among the erstwhile combatants as being uniquely generous in providing aid. Surely it was easier for the undestroyed-by-war US to do so, but still.

        Reply
      2. KPC

        Thank you for this reference.

        In these troubled times, it is imperative that we revisit some of these very areas. History tells us how we arrived in this moment and that counts.

        In addition, there are lessons in the histories including those in literature. Lessons tell us what works and what does not work, including but not limited to “technology”.

        Again, thank you.

        Reply
    3. Rojo

      Yeah, I’m not sure about that story’s angle.

      Sure, the elite’s valuing community and bipartisanship is silly. And it’s ridiculous that they think we share their concern.

      But, frankly, the team-sport tribalism (and I’m sorry, I don’t know what other word to use — “teamism”?) we see in the media isn’t helpful at all. It’s a tremendous distraction. It leads to “any blue will do”.

      Reply
      1. Kurt Sperry

        Conflict based on ideology and policy is fine, assuming the goal isn’t simply to antagonize and tribalist wagon-circling, but instead to bring over, welcome, convince, to both give and take, and include is fine; tribalism and conflict based on tribal partisanship and identitarianism isn’t. It’s basically the difference between love and hate. Always keep love in your heart and your conflicts will be fruitful.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          True. Wouldn’t it be great if we had any “conflict based on ideology and policy”? We don’t. We have one set of policy views that are airbrushed with a thin veneer of Red and Blue paint. Neo-Keynsian economics. Neo-liberalism. Permanent War. Fossil fuel industry subsidies. Health care as a rent-extracting activity. Banker bailouts. Union suppression. Non-prosecution of monopolies. The “Overton window” is more like an “Overton tube” the elite allow us to peer through. For circus they excite the plebes with slapstick like elections and personalities. To keep everyone divided they amplify every possible fault line – gender, race, ethnicity – to be sure the 99% don’t rally around the one that matters most: class.

          Reply
    4. Left in Wisconsin

      But after World War II there was a consensus that mostly favored liberals.

      This is part of the mythology of consensus. Racist housing covenants, McCarthy, an alliance of racist southern Dems with northern urban machines, … If one looks at real-time reports from the 1950s, no one is claiming there is anything like a social consensus. Even with regard to the economy, the so-called “social contract” between business and organized labor was hardly a consensus and only achieved its limited coverage because of decades of union struggle.

      Reply
  10. rattlemullet

    Thanks for all the NC links. I find them invaluable. However why is it you only run Democrats in Disarray? Doesn’t this just continue a myth and promote a thinking that Republican are not in Disarray? Perhaps you could run a Republicans in Ruination section.

    Reply
    1. The Beeman

      shooting fish in a barrel is not much fun, isn’t much of a challenge, the fish don’t like it and it makes a lot of noise.

      Should I have used a sarcasm tag?

      Reply
    2. Mark Gisleson

      You want to subscribe to Roy Edroso’s email newsletter then. Roy (most recently from The Village Voice) has been following the Right this entire century and is pretty funny to boot.

      Personally, I find it hard to wallow in Republican sin because I feel no responsibility for it. The sins of Democrats, otoh, I do feel responsible for and do want to learn more about.

      It speaks to the nature of both parties that most activists prefer to read about the sins of Democrats, but that’s a character issue. Progressive (nonneoliberal) D’s seek self-improvement, R’s like to laugh at D’s.

      Reply
      1. KPC

        Thank you, Mark.

        Is the issue political?

        Personally, I think not. I think the issue in its essence is violence and a culture of violence. This is cultural collapse, not political collapse. Dra. Hannah Arendt speaks to this matter and does so in English as well as German. Google will find a good deal including some really wonderful video of her speaking to her views.

        Dra. Arnedt is a student of the Universidad de Heidelberg in continuous operation since 1368 (no typo).

        It is so very painful when the culture of one’s birth, one’s home becomes a culture of… ?

        One might also look a bit to Dr. Karl Jung, should you be so inclined. He is sufficiently “modern” that there are videos of his comments and discussions in these areas as well. Again, google does help here.

        You see, there is no such thing as “economics” which is the reason there is no Nobel Peace Prize. The zone or professions of law, accountancy, diplomacy, economics, consultancy and so on are all about human behavior and, perhaps, administration of human behavior including this thing called “limitations”? Tis simple, actually.

        How very painful for you and so many others, rich and poor alike.

        Never ever doubt. There are solutions.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          There is no such thing as “economics”? And that is the reason that there is no Nobel Peace Prize?

          But there IS a Nobel Peacer Prize. So what are we talking about here?

          Also, if the thing we call “economics” is not “economics”, then what is it?

          Reply
          1. todde

            there is no nobel prize for economics.

            It is The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Swiss central bank paid the Nobel Foundation to give it away, but it is not considered a Nobel Prize.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith

              Hate to tell you, but everyone in economics and in the business press calls it a Nobel Prize.

              See this NYT headline: 2018 Nobel in Economics Is Awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer.

              Reply
    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Republicans have been a party without any redeeming characteristic since 1865, I think April in the second Act. Is it necessary except for the goldfish memory crowd at DKos? Do people still think George W was a unique monster? Reagan? Paul Ryan? Bill Frist? Bernanke? Haig? Kissinger? Bob Taft? Goldwater?

      What is there to redeem? “Good Republicans” (the wet dreams of centrist Dems everywhere) are as common as angels or Santa while driving a sleigh powered by unicorns

      Reply
    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Here is the other issue. For all of the GOP’s foibles, they should be a Southern and Western rump party, but they aren’t. The story is about the Democratic elite who saved the GOP from being destroyed back in 2009.

      So we saw the ET tape, Trump with drawing from the Iran deal, or anything hideous that’s he’s doing this week, and what does Team Blue counter with? Chuck Schumer, who can’t confirm Trump’s judicial appointments quickly enough.

      The GOP is not a party in disarray. They finally lost the House to a much smaller than dreamed of blue wave.

      Reply
    5. John D.

      The Republicans are what they are. They’re downright evil, yes, but they don’t pretend otherwise. It’s the Democratic “leaders” relentlessly propping up the GOP and acting as their enablers that is the key to why we’re in such horrific circumstances right now.

      Things are horrible on practically every level we can name, and we got to this state entirely due to bipartisan efforts. To use the Corporate Democrats’ favorite word.

      Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          About righteousness in general, I think it makes us who have it experience certain feelings more intensely, greater rage or stronger euphoria, for example.

          Moreover, virtue-signalling is related to righteousness, I believe. We see ourselves as virtuous, and that leads a need to signal that. For example, we believe ourselves to be sapient, and name ourselves (without being aware, in the slightest, of the conflict of interest) Sapiens. “We are number one! We are number one!!!”

          One more – righteousness is very contagious and seems to be universal.

          Reply
        2. John D.

          I don’t know that it is. Yes, they’re hypocrites (particularly the religious primitives among them, as you mention), and yes, they’re self-pitying cowards. Like all bullies, they don’t much like it when people hit them back.

          But on the level I mean, they’re unabashedly authoritarian thugs. It’s part of their tribal identity now: They like throwing their weight around, they like stomping all over smaller, weaker opponents, they like picking on targets that either can’t or won’t fight back. They obviously get off on that, so much so that they don’t bothering hiding that aspect of themselves or their party anymore…to whatever extent they ever did.

          The way things are set up now, the GOP are still allowed to act like a genuine political party, which means they genuinely try to win by whatever means necessary while their supposed opposition whimper and whine and roll around in puddles of their own p*ss, sobbing and boo hoo-ing that they simply don’t dare raise a finger in self-defense whenever the Rethugs are in attack mode. Look at Pelosi blubbering about bipartisanship and reconciliation in the immediate aftermath of the election, after we’ve heard nothing but Trump being a unique and unprecedented evil for the past 2 years. The Republicans aren’t interested in any of that crap and they don’t fight fair. That’s what they don’t bother to hide anymore…if, in truth, they ever really did.

          Reply
    6. tongorad

      If the Republicans were disarray, you might expect the Dems to take advantage.
      The fact that they haven’t is incontrovertible proof that we have a one-party system.

      Reply
    7. Massinissa

      The Republicans are corrupt, but they are competent. So they aren’t really in ‘disarray’ the way the Democrats are.

      Reply
    8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think it’s for the same reason people only talk about taking over the Democratic Party, and not the Republican Party.

      In theory, or for communists, it’s possible to infiltrate any political party, especially since in America, you can be a party member by simply stating that your’re one (it’s harder to join a party in some other countries).

      Reply
    9. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Because the Republicans get their members to vote in lock step agreement.

      And because this is a Marxist site?

      Reply
        1. KPC

          Correct! MMT is NOT Marxist. Thank you!

          I believe “Dr.” Karl Marx spoke to this subject in the time some school admitted him in London before he could speak a word of ENGLISH. His roommate Engels did some seriously curious translations.

          One could start with “der”, “die” and what exactly is “das”. It is not “el”. It is not “la”… . ¡ Y ah id mi!

          Reply
    10. drumlin woodchuckles

      Since Republicans are capable of learning, perhaps we should not point out their disarray because they might fix it and then become even more dangerous to us.

      Reply
  11. Off The Street

    The Daily Mail photographs provide a wonderful uplift on a gray day. The work of those dedicated photographers reinforces one’s view of the magic of the human experience.

    Reply
    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      YUuuuuP

      I screen shotted every one on my PS4.

      My favorites are prolly the Grand Canyon, Oklahoma, or Louisiana Swamp.

      Reply
    2. Anon

      Yes, some stunning landscapes to view.

      Do note that the photo of Mt. Whitney has a caption that says the peak is ~6100′. It is actually 14,505′ (4421m).

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Japan is using cultural diplomacy to reassert its place in the world – but is the message too exclusive? ”

    Probably doesn’t help that the Government department responsible for Japan’s relations with the rest of the world is the Ministry of Gaijin Affairs.

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        省 – if you put that character in Google translate, in Japanese, it means ‘ministry,’ and in Korean and Chinese, it means ‘province.’

        Not sure where ‘focus’ comes from.

        Reply
    1. Plenue

      Gaijin literally means ‘outside-person’ (it doesn’t mean unwashed barbarian or similar false translations I’ve seen from time to time). It isn’t inherently a slur, though it often effectively is in practice. The name almost literally means Ministry of Foreign(er) Affairs.

      Reply
  13. JW

    Spain threatens to torpedo Brexit over Gibraltar.

    I thought that had been settled? And he doesn’t Britain just let them have it at this point in some kind of power sharing?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Think of the strategic implications. Gibralter is at the choke-point of all Mediterranean to Atlantic shipping. It is also the premiere ‘listening post’ for the Med and North Africa. Just knowing where and when Russian naval ‘assets’ move to and from the Black Sea region is worth the effort. Finally, it is a “Symbol” of Lost Empire. Liken it to the American South and the ‘Myth of the Lost Cause,’ which persists a hundred and fifty years after that war ended.
      As an added bonus, it could come to war with Spain, either genuine or contrived, and ‘unify’ the country behind the Tory Government. Remember the Falklands? Oh yes. Brexit could be a Touchstone if it devolves into armed conflict!

      Reply
      1. Kurt Sperry

        If by election, you meant referendum, then yes. The referendum was explicitly advisory and non-binding, the wiser politicians–assuming such exist in the UK–should just refuse to abide by it, and ask the EU to accept the withdrawal of Art. 50 with their apologies for the drama inflicted.

        Reply
  14. rd

    Re: California needs to re-invent its policies regarding wildfire

    We live in an age where people buy houses without thinking much about natural disasters. They get quite upset about having to pay insurance for coverage against those disasters, especially if they are in moderate or high-risk areas. Here are some large scale risk maps that people looking to live in an area need to understand so they are not blind-sided by insurance costs or by reality when it strikes.

    Wildfires: http://www.fire.ca.gov/fire_prevention/fire_prevention_wildland_zones_maps

    Landslides: https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/national-landslide-hazards-map

    Earthquakes: https://earthquake.usgs.gov/hazards/hazmaps/conterminous/2014/images/HazardMap2014_lg.jpg

    Flooding: https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home

    In 10 minutes, you can figure out if your dream property is likely to have one of these four major disasters occur within your lifetime. Most of these have tools on the website to dig down for more detailed data, both specific location and nature of risk. They have shapefiles associated with them that can be input into GIS programs. However, for most people, simple knowledge of what county you live in, your street address, or latitude and longitude suffice to get a good estimation of your risk. BTW – your realtor probably does not know how to look this up.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “How much is the rent or mortgage payment” should not be the first question asked.

      Rather, questions like ‘how safe (from other humans)’ or ‘how good is the school district’ comes more naturally and immdidatey for the very rich (who, for beauty – the ocean front view, for example – will set aside the question ‘how safe (from natural disasters).’

      Reply
      1. LifelongLib

        The very rich live in gated communities with private schools and security forces. They don’t have to worry about things like school districts and crime. That’s why they keep supporting policies that make things worse for everybody else.

        Reply
          1. Massinissa

            They don’t have to ask themselves that at all if they can put their fingers in their ears and tell themselves ‘Greed is Good, and my private security forces will *never* betray me if things hit the fan’

            Reply
            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You’re right and I remembered to mention ‘how safe from other humans,’ assuming those security force members are humans.

              Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          gated communities

          Tactically speaking, there are two sides to a gate.

          I’ll bring my trebuchet. And popcorn.

          Reply
      1. rd

        People often don’t pay attention or understand the magnitude of what is in a checked box, especially when most properties in an area have the same boxes checked. This is one reason why many homes don’t carry flood insurance. Looking at maps usually makes it much more visual and leads to better understanding. One of the things it tells you is where a much lower risk is.

        And then there is the ultimate, where the entire system is designed to not have you understand your risk…..
        https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/harvey-reservoirs

        Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Set Up to Fail? How High Schools Aren’t Preparing Kids for College”

    Look, this isn’t anything new – not by a long shot. The SciFi author Robert Heinlein wrote an article decrying the loss of standards with shocking details on the high standards that existed in his father’s time – and this article was written back in the 70s. As a modern example though, he noted that the University of California was a “tough school” and the rules in effect then restricted admission to the top 8% of high school graduates for that State – the intellectual elite in “the most lavishly educated State in the Union”.
    There were examinations in English-composition to be taken before entry but if they failed, they had to immediately take (with no credit) “Subject A” otherwise known as “Bonehead English” until they passed. After 12 years of schooling and being the elite you would reckon that few would need to do this course. Upon checking, he found that the new class at UCSC had 50% having to do Bonehead English which was considered normal across California and no worse than most States. And this was back in the late 1970s. Not my figures but his but it does show how this is not a new problem.

    Reply
    1. el_tel

      The deterioration in standards in math(s) was well-known to me back in 1991 when I took my British A levels. (For non Brits, the exams to get you into university taken at age 18ish). Of course the UK traditionally required specialisation much earlier for students (so you typically took 2 or 3 A level subjects….4 if you’re ambitious). My choice especially “specialised” me (single maths, further maths and economics). We already knew standards had slipped enormously since the 1960s – our “mock” exams for further maths were the “single” maths papers of the 1960s. We just shrugged and accepted it.

      What changed was the attitudes of students and the “establishment” *cough*Blair*cough* – when teaching medical students 10+ years later I was (a) horrified that so many mathematical skills essential for them to practise medicine had simply not been taught in single maths (typically required as an A level for medicine in the good UK universities), and (b) Highly annoyed that they considered their A levels to be equivalent to mine…though I was teaching at a university (in)famously known to be the home of rich Oxbridge rejects, many of whom expressed a sense of entitlement beyond their actual capabilities all round. They would not accept (as I had done) that standards had been slipping for 40 years…..but then again, maybe I should cut them some slack – they had already become conditioned to be “consumers”, rather than “students” and “the customer is always right” had already taken hold in attitudes…..*sigh*

      Reply
      1. curiousdoc

        as an MD you made me curious: what are these mathematical skills that are essential?
        The only ones i routinely need are multiplication and division.

        Reply
        1. Kurt Sperry

          I audited a 100-level microbiology course at the University of Michigan for high school credit in the mid-seventies that was just a basic, required first-rung step for pre-meds, and as a cocksure kid who had sailed through all the prep science and math classes, I was astonished how much more difficult it was than anything I had faced before. I’ve never since lost respect for the academic rigor that must be required of students who successfully surmounted the whole program to becoming MDs. My hat’s off to those who made it through. It cannot have been easy.

          Reply
        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          To do a statistical study, I imagine one would need more than multiplication and division.

          “Integrate the area under the curve.”

          Reply
          1. el_tel

            Yep there’s so much. The (Bristol) curriculum I worked under would not allow a student to pass unless they had a set of skills from statistics and calculus. For instance you must have a certain knowledge of statistics (knowing straightaway the proportion of people under the normal distribution between +/- 1, 2 or 3 standard deviations from the mean, at the very minimum….not to mention HOW to calculate a standard error in the first place in a particular trial).

            From quoted prevalence rates, specificity and sensitivity of a test, how likely a positive test result ACTUALLY meant the patient in front of you has the disease. Hint – the “gut” reaction most people use is wrong and good doctors spend a lot of time unlearning this – it is Bayesian statistics.

            Another calculus example concerns cost-effectiveness ratios (for those working in Canada/Europe/Australasia). But basically ALL students must be able to properly critique a paper in the clinical trial or health economic evaluation literature…..not least since if they are doing their CPD (continued professional development) and reading the literature after qualifying, they must be able to keep up with modern medicine. Which makes me profoundly worried about a LOT of the younger doctors I see and their clear lack of numeracy.

            Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think one reason is that with ‘progress,’ the world is simpler for the young to deal with.

      For example, 8,000 years ago or more, to be initiated into an elite club, you had to be able to start a fire from nothing.

      Then, later, not many kids could pass that ‘tough test.’

      And then older people lamented (maybe even 2,000 years ago) about the loss of standards.

      That’s one reason, among many other reasons.

      Reply
    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      This is on my mind when there are discussions of college access. My father completed four years of high school, without bothering to qualify for a diploma (truancy was a different thing in urban areas of the 20s) but came out with skills one would today associate with an AA degree. My older cousin completed a two-year engineering degree post-Korea and developed a very popular line of heart/lung/kidney machines literally in his basement. High School curriculum now seems like they took Harrison Bergeron as a guide to pedagogy.

      I’m for free as heck education, but my pessimist worries we might actually end up with more buck-passing and finally remedial courses for incoming Grad students.

      Reply
    4. Huey

      The reverse is happening outside the US, poorer places particularly.

      Here it’s ‘become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, athlete, musician, or gang-member’.

      They’re teaching anatomy and physics in 4th grade. An example from a few years ago in a 5th grade quiz that really spooked me was a question asking for the name of the ligament between the diaphragm and duodenum.

      They can’t teach English though, because no one was taught English, lol. Most people can’t write a sentence to save their lives, including the ‘English teachers’. The feeling is if you can excel enough, you can get to fly away to the great US and take a crash course there, anyway.

      That’s another thing we do, prep everyone for a neoliberal meritocracy. Parents here have been encouraged to enroll their 1 year olds lest they be left behind.

      Reply
    5. Jeremy Grimm

      Is there a loss of standards for education or a different model for selecting what students to educate? I suspect the standards were much higher when there were fewer slots for students in the hierarchy of learning — and when those admitted were expected and supported toward successfully graduating. I think many schools are attempting to attract as many students into their doors as possible with far less regard for how many successfully graduate.

      Regard the conundrums facing today’s school administrators. Each undergraduate student, regardless of interest or major, pays much the same tuition and fees as any other student — yet the smaller class sizes, higher level professors, and specialized equipment required for upperclassmen in many majors is more costly than providing a seat in a vast lecture hall for an undergraduate humanities class or a remedial English class. How would you maximize the bottom line? The same kind of thinking must be applied more broadly to continue growth in the business of education.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I believe the root problem with our public education system is far more serious than a lack of standards. We have far too many tests and standards. We have standard textbooks, standard tests, standard teaching plans, standard goals … plenty of standards to go around. I believe the root problem with our public education system is its genius for killing interest in learning — for killing the spirit of the young we offer up to Moloch. I believe the public schools are designed to promote and foster boredom, disciplined decorum, and the rote acceptance and regurgitation of a disjointed pastiche of facts and techniques. Is it really surprising the knowledge our public school students take with them from high school so quickly evaporates?

        However — all complaints and mourning aside — such training is good preparation for the jobs available for our young when they get out of school. And as the filters for employment further press students into higher education should we find surprise that our systems of higher education adopt similar methods to prepare our young for the wonderful world they will inherit?

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth Burton

          +1000

          The fact is, anyone commenting who hasn’t done some serious research in what’s been and being done to our public education system in the name of “reform” is seriously under-educated. Even people who had or have kids in school often don’t understand just how badly their offspring are being screwed over.

          Reply
  16. petal

    Potential presidential candidate Cory Booker to return to NH for Democratic Party celebration:
    New Jersey senator to make second visit to first-in-nation primary state this year on Dec. 8

    New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is the first potential Democratic contender for the 2020 presidential nomination to make plans to visit the lead-off primary state since the midterm election two weeks ago.

    WMUR has learned that Booker will return to New Hampshire for the second time in less than two months on Saturday, Dec. 8.

    The centerpiece of Booker’s visit will be a New Hampshire Democratic Party “Post-Election Victory Celebration” of gains made by the party’s candidates in the Nov. 6 election. The event will be held at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, 148 Concord St., Manchester, beginning at 2:30 p.m.

    “We are thrilled that Sen. Cory Booker will join Democratic elected officials, activists, and party leaders from around the state to celebrate our Coordinated Campaign’s historic successes in this year’s midterm election,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley.”
    ———
    Please make it stop. Please.

    Reply
      1. Massinissa

        What Sperry said. If Booker, Beto, or Clinton win the primary, I’m not voting for them in the general.

        If Biden wins, I will think about it, and then probably vote Green anyway.

        Reply
  17. allan

    Don’t fret the lame duck [The Hill]

    Reading the author’s “credentials”,

    Christopher Koopman is senior director of strategy and research with the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University and a senior affiliated scholar with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

    it’s clear that the op-ed should have been titled Be very, very afraid of the lame duck.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One lame duck, or all lame ducks?

      It seems we always will have them…after every election, usually (though not always).

      Reply
      1. allan

        Some lame ducks are worse than others. Here’s a nice summary.
        2010, when the Tea Party election swept the Dems out of the House, was particularly bad.
        It led to austerity when the economy was still in rough shape (and the sequestration is still with us),
        and, together with the 2012 lame duck, the infinite extension of the Bush tax cuts.
        The next two months are going to see wholesale looting.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It sounds like it’s not the lame-duck-ness itself that we should fear, but the make up of each particular lame duck (the people in it).

          Reply
  18. Darius

    Whitaker is a demonstration of why all the right wingers on the Supreme Court are Catholics. The Catholic Church has an infrastructure for producing rightists who are intellectually competent, aren’t afraid to read widely, and understand opposing arguments well enough to undermine them. Evangelical right wingers are pretty consistently stubbornly ignorant, superstitious Fox News grandpas at any age.

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Funny you should mention that. The Constitution is a lot like the bible in that you can pretty much find something in it and “interpret” it to justify any position you want to impose. Belief in omnipotence / omniscience (SUPREME!) is a handy concept in this regard.

      catholics are expert–they’ve been at it a long time–and shameless practitioners.

      As for Whitaker, just more worthless blah, blah, blah.

      Reply
    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Yuuuuup.

      I went to one of their feeder schools, the University of Dallas, for Classics, but left after two years because nothing made sense to me.

      Im like why are all these sex starved college kids chalking up the Quad with Anti Abortion slogans???

      Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “They are all (pretty much) alike…”

      I hope I don’t get my head handed to me, but I think maybe some Catholics are afraid to read widely and don’t understand opposing arguments.

      Reply
      1. Darius

        The Federalist Society is too smart to promote those ones. The problem for the evangelicals is that they’re pretty much all that way. Catholicism with all its faults allows for more exposure to a variety of viewpoints.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There are many ex-Catholics, even here at this website, if I remember the comments correctly.

          Then, there are those who are on they way, but are still Catholics currently.

          And I don’t see why any group should be pretty much all that way.

          Reply
    4. Ford Prefect

      For example, historically the Catholics in parts of Europe were able to justify the Inquisition and enslavement of non-Christians. In modern times, they have also somehow managed to internally justify the cover-up of child sexual abuse. So justifying disenfranchisement of voters should be child’s play for them.

      Reply
      1. Sparkling

        Every large organization internally justifies covering up rape. This is a typical Protestant/Ex-Protestant attack which of course ignores all the nastiness that goes on elsewhere, including in some of their own churches, to attack one of their favorite boogeymen (Muslims being the other). Call me back when the Baptists stop trying to make the United States a theocracy.

        Reply
  19. How is it legal

    Re Sixteen dissident Democrats vow to oppose Pelosi as next speaker

    At a town hall meeting in Amesbury, Mass., Monday night, Moulton heard an earful from Pelosi supporters — including about 20 organized protesters who held signs reading “I Stand With Nancy.” Many of them saw sexism and ageism in the push to oust Pelosi.

    Clearly those protestors have not witnessed the rampant misogyny and toxic ageism which Pelosi – and other female, millionairess, decades long legislators representing™ the California Bay Area/Silicon Valley Technocracy: Feinstein, Boxer, Eshoo, Speiers, Lofgren – has/have allowed to fester, and ultimately destroy lives, for nearing two decades now, in their own backyards. Shameful.

    I call them Trojan Mares, along with their Hollowwood #MeToo™ supporters.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We need something to determine if going after Ivanka is because she is a she, and she is not old enough (reserve ageism, I suppose).

      Perhaps Pelosi can help here.

      Reply
  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Legal Blue Wave? New Democratic AGs Could Change the Face of Climate Fight Climate Liability News. Don’t underestimate the power of state AGs– they brought us the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

    I am skeptical but I hope they include ‘less consumption’ as an important response, instead of ‘just buy more energy efficient or greener products.’

    Recycling doesn’t really work (so we are reading)

    More energy efficient products may not work either.

    Do we go to outright banning (no straws, bring your own ceramic cup and handkerchief, limited flying mileage for vacation, or just say no, etc)?

    Reply
  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Paul Krugman explains why single-payer health care is entirely achievable in the U.S. — and how to get there AlterNet. And the Quora session: Session with Paul Krugman

    They have universal health care in Japan and Taiwan, among other nations.

    We should not have to wait until we become a prefecture of Japan or a province of the Republic of China to get that…which are two ways (in theory) universal health care is achievable for Americans.

    Reply
  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Japan is using cultural diplomacy to reassert its place in the world – but is the message too exclusive? The Conversation

    —-

    1. To reassert it’s place in the world – it didn’t have its place in the world shortly before the reassertion?

    2. Perhaps we should ask this first, what do they mean by ‘its place in the world?’

    3. If the definition of ‘its place in the world’ is something like that int the 1930’s,, then, they do have to ‘reassert its place in the world.’ And it is easier to understand under this definition why the message would sound exclusive (though it could sound so for other reasons as well).

    Reply
  23. JohnnyGL

    Nice to see Paul Krugman has his brain back now that Clinton’s out of the way. He and his fellow NYT columnists twisted themselves in endless knots to bash Bernie and promote Miss Inevitable.

    I’m sure the cloudy haze will return in the next year or so once the 2020 primary season gets underway.

    Reply
    1. Kurt Sperry

      I read that and once you dive in he winds up arguing for the inevitablility of incrementalism to arrive at universal single-payer, which is BS. You just give your opponents more opportunities to defeat you with an incrementalist approach. You also end up inevitably validating many of their arguments.

      Reply
      1. ChrisPacific

        I am pleased to see him helping to debunk the canard that single payer would be more expensive. But I think his political thinking is still hopelessly boxed in. When incrementalism has been reduced to “vote for us and things will keep getting worse, but more slowly,” as it has with healthcare, then that’s a pretty good indication that it has failed as a political tactic.

        Sanders has it right. Go to the voters and sell them on your idea. If you get them on board in sufficient numbers, you are able to threaten politicians with the only consequence they care about – losing an election. See if the broken system stays broken when their jobs are on the line.

        Reply
      2. Jeff W

        >incrementalism

        You also have lots of people dying or having their medical conditions get worse in the absence of health care (or its deferral) due to lack of insurance; even more having to file for bankruptcy or undergo financial hatdship due to lack of insurance or being underinsured; and mostly everyone else experiencing the stress and uncertainty of dealing with a byzantine private health insurance system. So there’s all that, too.

        Reply
  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Hungry to Learn Chronicle of Higher Education. More on the struggles many college students face.

    —-

    I think it’s more than tuition.

    And people in need of help are not just students.

    Hunger.

    Homelessness.

    Lack of health care.

    Low pay jobs.

    And other problems.

    Money should not first or only go to one group’s one problem.

    Reply
  25. Pelham

    The common description of the White House Correspondents Dinner as a “nerd prom” is an insult to nerds.

    Nerds, for all their faults, at least know a lot about some relevant (to them) subject matter. For a long time that hasn’t been true of the Washington press corps, whose superficiality is on glaring display every day. And it’s getting worse.

    Reply
      1. Sparkling

        Did it ever take that much skill? You get your talking points from Washington and use them as an outline for your latest novella chapt– uh, I mean latest newspaper article.

        Reply
  26. Oregoncharles

    “In Brazil, termites have built a sprawling megacity the size of Britain SCMP”
    There’s a similar phenomenon in temperate zones – I’ve seen them, in eastern Washington. They’re called “mima mounds”. They’re low and wide compared to the termite mounds, but distributed similarly. I don’t think the area is nearly as large. They occur in a number of places around the world, where the soil is very thin (Eastern Washington is a gigantic lava flow, with the surface stripped off by equally gigantic floods, so the soil has formed only since the end of the glaciers).

    they’ve been a mystery for quite a while. The last theory I heard is that they’re made by gophers, rather similar to termites. Gophers make mounds as they tunnel; apparently on those thin soils, they tend to make their mounds in the middle of their area, concentrating it. Then, of course, those mounds become the most fertile areas, so the effect perpetuates itself. But maybe it isn’t gophers; maybe it’s ants or termites. I’ve seen some very impressive at mounds in the woods here.

    Reply
    1. Kurt Sperry

      You can clearly see the Mima Mounds taking the Amtrak South from Seattle if you are on the right side of the carriage. I’ve only seen the really big ant mounds on the Eastern slopes of the Cascades in the Ponderosa pine forest zone. The ones I’ve seen on the West side aren’t anywhere near as impressive.

      Reply
    2. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. I was reminded of the East Texas version of the harvester ant(big red ones that make the trails and are fungi farmers and aphid ranchers). one near my childhood home covered about 4 acres…and I am given to understand that the below ground portion of that particular mound complex could be50-75 feet deep. it was mostly sand, there, at the edge of the piney woods where they petered out into mixed deciduous.
      I used to follow these ants around when I was bored…and i noticed, even then, that they didn’t have a noticeable impact on the local environment…ie: one might think with a billion or two ants harvesting grass clippings that there would be no more grass…but this wasn’t the case. turns out that the un-noticeable impact these creatures made was below ground…feeding the trees.
      the version we have here, some 350 miles west, have a smaller footprint, and had been decimated by the imported fire ant. when I endeavored to knock the latter back(injecting Beauvaria Bassiana deep into the mounds out to 500 feet from our fenceline)..the harvesters(and the rest of the natives) came back strong.

      Reply
  27. Synoia

    Zuckerberg blamed Sandberg for Cambridge Analytica fallout

    A Facebook spokesman said in a statement to The Hill, “We were paid well absolutely too slow to identify a range of issues over the past two years, but once we did we took strong action to address them, Zuckerberg blamed Sandberg for the loss of revenue and prevent future abuse/.

    Reply
  28. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “World Toilet Day, and there is a new standard defining what a toilet should do” —
    I hoped the article might refer to some new implementation of an inexpensive waste system — but the mere celebration of a new ISO standard is less than disappointing. I took a quick look at the standard and what caught my eye was the long list of ISO standards the toilet standard referenced. I can only imagine the shelf of notebooks stuffed with these standards. In my opinion standards have worked wonders to kill innovations and protect markets from competition that small ventures bring. Just acquiring the wall of toilet standards would consume a considerable part of a small venture’s startup cash and the time and energy of its proponents.

    In my opinion the extensive proliferation of complex standards have lead to the near terminal obfuscation of many technical ideas I regarded as relatively elegant and simple as they were when first invented.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’m pleased that they did a version of a composting toilet…but displeased that they complexified it so much. It’s a really, really simple construct.
      My cracker rigged version is pretty hands on, and I’m sure that it could be made a lot better…but the way they do it is almost silly.
      part of the problem, of course, is the American aversion to bodily waste.
      That’s the thing that will have to change if we’d really like to stop wasting all that perfectly good water.
      To that end, in the 3 years since we moved in, my eldest has had a bunch of his buddies and girlfriends over.
      The guys usually drain the vein outside(it’s the country, and I have a designated area off the porch)…but the girls must brave the composting toilet. Initially, I gave the instructional rundown…now my son does…and his buddies.
      Everyone thinks it’s neat(to my great surprise), are astonished it doesn’t stink at all, and understand immediately the necessity of moving in this direction.

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Bravo. I’m the sort of nerd who thinks about how much plumbing we’d need if we only created gray water and adjusted our soaps to suit that.

        Re: Third tree on the left: My mother was so flustered by my great grandmother’s ability to just drop and go that I heard about it several times over the course of growing up. Great grandma sewed her bloomers so as to make it simpler. Fixing the little problems can go long way to empowerment.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          There was a practical reason for the hippie fashion for long skirts and no underpants: with minor attention to the skirt, she could just “drop and go” without being uncovered. Not that hippies were all that worried about nudity.

          We have a fairly elaborate composting toilet in our, umm, guest cottage, mainly because guests have to cope with it. The house came with a toilet and septic tank, but us males mostly go outside where the nitrogen will do the most good. Like Amfortas, we’re in the country. There’s a near neighbor, but many places they can’t see. Permaculturists swear by “Vitamin P.”

          Reply
        2. Amfortas the hippie

          getting the right soaps is a challenge. I use Dr Bronner’s for my laundry, swithed to the line that goes to some pear treas. Wife insists on the sodium laden smelly chemical laundry detergent, which is switched to the line that runs to the bamboo stands to the north(evergreen windbreak, eventually).
          the kitchen, bathtubs, etc all fan out to various places…and the diverted pee from the toilet(very important to separate “solids” from pee) and the “urinal”(a S/S funnel screwed to the wall,lol) go to a built wetland in an old, disconnected gully:cypress, willow, Walnut at the edge, horsetails, etc. Cattails will go downstream of this a ways, where the kitchen sink drains.
          Low tech…but perfectly legal in Texas…even in town, unless the city in question has specifically addressed graywater in their codes.

          Reply
  29. Oregoncharles

    In the sidebar to “Germany scuppers grand French plans for Euro zone budget”: https://global.handelsblatt.com/opinion/lazy-italians-ugly-germans-euro-sows-discord-930342. “‘Lazy Italians’ and ‘ugly Germans’: How the euro sows discord
    A common currency was supposed to unite Europeans. Instead, it increasingly divides them, as Italy showed again this week. Pro-Europeans must talk honestly about the euro.” Dates back to June, so prescient.

    Handelsblatt seems to have an interesting POV. That’s by the editor-in-chief of the “Global” section.

    Reply
  30. knowbuddhau

    “In Yemen, cities spared from war fall prey to climate change. Asia Times.”

    I feel for the school custodian. Hard to imagine mopping up after a flash flood in an arid land.

    Something about the title bugs me. “Fall prey” to climate change? And the predator is…?

    Cities don’t “fall prey” to climate change. “Feel the brunt of,” maybe, “Can’t escape,” definitely.

    I must insist, though, that, “Mahra is on the front lines of climate change,” is right out. What kind of bizarre organism is it, that thinks its own source is its mortal enemy in an eternal war? Storms do not rage, they are not attacking us with fury, they just are.

    So what are we supposed to do, after our war on nature brings on climate change, have a war on that, too? Be honest: it’s war war war, all the way down, isn’t it?

    You can even read of “battles raging in outer space” between mutually arising opponent forces that are more clearly seen as dances, not arms races.

    Metaphors matter. They materialize, put into material form, our intentions, The metaphors with which we conceptualize climate change matter a great deal. If we don’t get the metaphor(s) right, we won’t perceive it or act on it right. (See also, target-image interference.)

    The victims of climate change are not the victims of an unspeakable predator, from which carnage it’s best to avert ones eyes and be thankful its them, not us.

    Nor are we at war with our own source. What we are, is dangerously out of synch with it due to a mistaken effort to conquer it. Balance is being restored as we speak, often catastrophically.

    Some of us, in “forging empires” of one sort or another, also made of the climate a Procrustean bed for all of us. We will be fit.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Have you happed to read an interesting book by a distant cousin of mine, John McPhee? It’s called, with full irony, “The Conquest of Nature.” Several different illustrations of the aridity and futility and greeds that drive this aspect of The Human Idiocy.

      Reply

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