Links 11/25/18

Vermont couple looking for family peacock that ran off with turkeys Boston Globe

The little blind fish that can mend a broken heart Japan Times. Literal heart tissue.

Toxic Oilfield Wastewater Used to Grow California Food, Including Organics Food and Water Watch

Oilsands waste is collected in sprawling toxic ponds. To clean them up, oil companies plan to pour water on them The Star

Parliament seizes cache of Facebook internal papers Guardian. The same Parliament that’s now embroiled in Brexit?!

We tried Amazon’s bizarre Alexa microwave and weren’t convinced TechCrunch

Small bookstores are booming after nearly being wiped out CBS

Brexit

DAN HODGES: This Brexit crisis is now so grave that Ministers are talking about a National Government Daily Mail. Including Corbyn? Quelle horreur!

UK and Spain reach agreement over Gibraltar, paving way for Brexit deal CNN

Brexit: Theresa May’s ‘letter to the nation’ in full BBC

Brussels sees its Brexit mission accomplished FT

French police fire tear gas, use water cannon on ‘yellow vest’ protesters RTE

Bank of Italy sounds the alarm over banks’ stability FT

Syraqistan

AP Interview: Saudi royal says crown prince is here to stay AP

Trump and the Saudi effect: What’s really driving down oil prices? Middle East Eye

Two of Africa’s largest operators are collaborating to dominate mobile money Quartz

China?

“They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (attributed)


Or, in the vulgate, “There he goes again.” (For those who came in late, Kristol was a founder and chair of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which provided the ideological justification for Bush’s invasion to create “regime change” in Iraq.)

China lauds voters after defeat of Taiwan’s ruling party Reuters

Why are separatist militants violently targeting Chinese in Pakistan? South China Morning Post

Carlos Ghosn: A criminal or just a foreigner? Asia Times

Trump Transition

Deal with Mexico paves way for asylum overhaul at U.S. border WaPo but Trump says asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, incoming government denies Reuters. The WaPo story, however, was sourced to “senior members of President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s transition team,” not the Trump administration.

Newly elected Republican senator could be Google’s fiercest critic Ars Technica. One problem with the liberal Democrats ideology of a “coaliton of the ascendant” driven by identity politics and demographic change is that it assumes Republicans will simply accept the inevitable, passively.

Health Care

Liberal Democrat apparatchiks are complaining that AOC is dominating their Twitter feeds. And no wonder:

(Spectrum is a hospital, not an insurance company. AOC needs to get the details right.)

Democrats in Disarray

Bernie Sanders: Lion of the Left, but Not the Only One Roaring NYT. “Outflanked on the left by rising stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Beto O’Rourke, his stronghold on the party’s progressive wing has weakened.”

US media must ‘get smarter’ to tackle Trump, says Hillary Clinton (interview) Guardian. Always with the “smart.”

Big Business Is Stealing From Their Own Workers. Will Democrats Stop Them? Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast. “[Wage theft] affects many millions of Americans of all races and in all places. Yet I don’t hear many Democrats talk about it.” Because their base doesn’t care about it. Betteridge’s Law applies.

What Comes After the Blue Wave? A Q&A with David Duhalde Dissent. Our Revolution’s political director.

Commentary: For governments right and left, a season of discontent Reuters

Can We Continue to Care About Winning? Benjamin Studebaker`

‘The Academy Is Largely Itself Responsible for Its Own Peril’ Chronicle of Higher Education

Imperial Collapse Watch

Managing American Decline The Atlantic

How to Quantify America’s National Security Woes The National Interest

Less Than Grand Strategy The Nation. On Zbigniew Brzezinski

U.S. Nuclear Fleet’s Dry Docks Threatened by Storms and Rising Seas Inside Climate News

Brazil records worst annual deforestation for a decade Guardian. If we must fly expensive machinery about and blow things up with it, why not target Brazilian cattle ranchers?

Class Warfare

How Do War Financing Strategies Lead to Inequality? A Brief History from the War of 1812 through the Post-9/11 Wars (PDF) Rosella Cappella Zielinski, Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, Brown University (via). From June, still germane.

Suicide is rising in U.S., falling around world Axios. “Unemployed people kill themselves at around two-and-a-half times the rate of those in work.” Via Twitter: “This can’t be true because my economics textbook told me they’ve maximised their happiness by choosing leisure over work.”

Somali Workers in Minnesota Force Amazon to Negotiate NYT

Why so many tech workers worship their CEOs Salon

How a quiet California town protects itself against today’s megafires Mashable (DK). Montecito.

Climate May Force Millions to Move and U.S. Isn’t Ready, Report Says Bloomberg

Rural Americans Are Rebooting the Spirit of the Internet Wired

Taylor Swift’s New Record Deal Affects Thousands of Other Musicians Rolling Stone. In a good way. “As part of her joint contract with the label, UMG must promise to hand over to artists, on a non-recoupable basis, a portion of the windfall from its Spotify shares in the future. Not just to Swift, but to all its artists.”

Red Dead Redemption 2 Is True Art NYT. I know nothing of video games, but I’m haunted by the fear that one day a political campaign will find out how to weaponize them….

Best books of 2018: Economics Martin Wolf, FT. Michael Hudson’s “…and Forgive Them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year (see NC here and here) is, naturally, on Wolf’s list. Wolf summarizes: “The work of Assyriologists has shown that by the third millennium BC, the rulers of the ancient Near East understood the necessity of repeated debt forgiveness. The alternative was, [Wolf] writes, ‘economic polarisation, bondage and collapse’. The relevance of this history to the world of today seems clear: debt is necessary; too much debt is disastrous.” • I would have said the “clear” relevance is the need for a Jubilee.

How to Find an InSight Mars Landing Event Across Europe and North America Space

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

265 comments

  1. Geo

    If “Bloody Bill” Kristol gets his way again and we try a regime change in China I’m moving to the southern tip of Chile to be as far away from their retribution as possible.

    Kristol has said some really dumb stuff in his long career of being perpetually wrong but this may be his dumbest to date. The fact he is on TV spouting this stuff and not in a padded cell facing a life sentence for war crimes is a clear example of how unjust our system is.

    But, he doesn’t like Trump so the #Resistance likes him now. Yay.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      One quibble. Kristol would still be on TV spouting this stuff if HRC or Jeb! was President. He’s not on because he despises Trump. He’s on because of his views that the Washington elite agree with.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        Fox has given his tacit endorsement for years on panel discussions as the ‘respectable hawk’ point of view.

        A few years ago, I caught him talking on Fox where he argued the problem in Iraq was that we weren’t committed deeply enough to making it work. He was NOT immediately and roundly denounced by the other panel members as a clown. Doing exactly that is the ONLY appropriate response to his ideas, in my view.

        He’s still got a voice and he’s still dangerous.

        Reply
        1. ChrisPacific

          Sounds like the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy to me. Regime change only ever fails because of imperfect execution, never because it was a bad idea in the first place.

          More worrying is the fact that he apparently still enjoys a platform and is taken seriously, despite the abundant recent evidence of how destructive and dangerous his policy positions are. There seems to be a national crisis of critical thinking in the US at present.

          Reply
      2. Richard

        He’d probably would be on TV even more! I still remember him being a semi-regular visitor to the J. Stewart Daily Show, which is one of the semi-regular guest choices that I’m still holding against Stewart (the others are Brian Williams, and Cory Booker).
        I hated Stewart’s guest segment in general, so schmoozy and so counter to the soul of comedy and satire. But some of these fu$%#@ he had on repeatedly, like he was cultivating them for the public. Booker I guess really was just a couple of times, but he grated fro the beginning. Williams was always dropping in to be “cool with the kids”. Kristol, Jon actually seemed to like for some reason, and their interaction was always full of excruciating giggles from both sides.
        I’m sure corporate pushed B. Williams at him. Maybe Booker and Kristol (?!?) too. Bill Kristol I 100% do not get why some people think other people want to see and hear him. Nothing new or interesting to offer, ever. Deeply unpopular ideas that are proven to lead to more chaos and war. But somehow, he’s got a permanent place on their “panel”.

        Reply
    2. Lee

      Regime change is like a box of chocolates, you never know what yer gonna get. I’m sure fortune cookies can be equally surprising.

      Reply
      1. Geo

        My favorite fortune cookies are rare but always appreciated: the blank ones. I like knowing my future is free of determined outcomes. :)

        Reply
      2. DonCoyote

        Well, you do know some of what you’re going to get: more deaths and richer weapon makers. Exactly how many of the dead are Americans and which weapon makers got bigger slices of the pie are the known unknowns.

        Reply
      1. Enquiring Mind

        Irving Kristol was one of many parents who saw their less talented offspring try to outdo them, often with sad results. Bill Kristol manages to have an audience beyond his publication, although how well could that pay without some deep pocket support?

        Reply
  2. John Merryman

    I think what we really need to understand that money is the social contract/voucher system, enabling mass society, rather than a commodity to be mined from society, then a Jubilee isn’t all about helping the unfortunate, but saving the system.
    Of course, this goes much deeper into our cultural belief in society rising from the ideal of the autonomous individual, mediated by money, rather than the individual as an expression of the society and money as a useful tool, but one step at a time.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Hyperinflation is essentially a jubilee, and very seldom does it ‘save’ a system, as it’s a destroyer of money wealth & debt-not caring a whit about either, as it spreads misery.

      Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          p.s.

          The wording on FRN notes used to be different…

          The 1950 ones that were in circulation until the next issue in 1963 had printed on them:

          “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private, and is redeemable in lawful money at the United States Treasury or any Federal Reserve Bank”

          The idea that the current wording on FRN’s comes from 1963, just a year before our country was going off the silver standard, couldn’t have been a coincidence.

          A fiat accompli…

          Reply
        2. JTMcPhee

          I guess he means that debtors, if they have any money coming in as the value of the currency goes down with more being printed, can then pay off their debts, denominated in the contracting documents in “old Pesos” or whatever, in the “debased” new shekels. Assumes that debtors will be getting that new money, now “worth” a pfennig on the Deutschmark, somehow, and that any current source of income is indexed somehow to the rate of debasement. So if Joe Mope still has a job in which his pay in instantaneously devalued currency has risen in track with the panic- and greed-driven rate of “inflation,” or some money from another country that has not “lost its value,” he can go to the bank or the “market” and convert the other money to the local currency, or draw on his account in rapidly changing in value “money,” and then wheelbarrow a load to the creditor and get his debt marked “paid in full.”

          Maybe he has some historical referents that show how this worked in other inflationary situations of the kind that all of us have been trained to fear and detest, the “Weimar” faux example being one…

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            …in “When Money Dies: The Nightmare of the Weimar Collapse”, by Adam Fegusson.

            The big winners are the farmers in the countryside of Germany, as their goods in the guise of food, haven’t lost value like Marks have, and he relates of how many ended up with a dozen pianos, & arts of work or whatnot, as people had to eat, and they had edibles.

            In the book, Fegusson relates how Ernest Hemingway and a coterie of chums valiantly try and spend one whole Dollar Americano in the space of a day in 1923, but fail in their effort, with leftovers of bundles of banknotes in Marks.

            And if you had a (hypothetical) 30 year mortgage on a home that you bought in the Fatherland in say 1913, one could have paid it off in a pittance, no different than the very same 30 year mortgage on a place in Buenos Aries that you bought in 1999, now that Argentine Pesos are worth 1/30th as much as back then, when compared to other currencies of the world.

            Here, read it online: written in 1975.

            http://thirdparadigm.org/doc/45060880-When-Money-Dies.pdf

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Napoleon’s army retreating from Moscow is also a colorful example, having taken Moscow they were surprised there was no one there to surrender to them. So now they had de facto control of a nation but none of the food infrastructure was intact. Napoleon’s men looted the place, and given the cold the fur coats of the retreating elite were in big demand. Numerous soldiers even donned fancy women’s evening wear to try and stay warm (now there’s an image a Hollywood screenwriter should exploit).
              Retreating officers tried exchanging solid silver candelabras for stale bread or slightly-not-rotten horsemeat. No takers.

              Reply
        1. paulmeli

          hyperinflation is a process running out of control

          Not exactly. Hyperinflation doesn’t just happen, it has a cause, and all of the well-known hyperinflations were caused by supply shocks. Printing money/re-denominating the currency was a response. A response can never be the cause.

          Reply
      1. paulmeli

        Hyperinflation is an automatic response that moves a system back towards an equilibrium state. It’s a kind of governor.

        The question is, what causes a system to be out of equilibrium or unstable?

        In the case of hyperinflation, the cause has always been a supply shock ie a severe supply shortage.

        So how is a debt jubilee like a supply shock?

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          What sort of ‘supply shock’ would Bronze Age people have gone through when they got their cherished Jubilee, wiping out debt?

          And judging from their supply of oil, Venezuela shouldn’t have any problem supplying everything they need, so why does it take a foot’s width worth of banknotes to buy a chicken?

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            You continue an assertion of equivalence between inflation, maybe arguably a currency effect, and Jubilee, which looks to me at least like a system response to a divergence that threatened a desired sort of political economy. And by extension, I guess, offer the notion that “hyperinflation,” the generally agreed notion that too much money is chasing too few goods and services resulting in “Weimar,” would somehow provide a Jubilee kind of relief to what, a wide swath of debtors like those shouldering student loans and middle class mortgages, and living in something arguably closer to serfdom than citizenry?

            Your recourse to Weimar and remarks about how relatively well farmers did back then — any other sectors that were benefitted by printing all those “pieces of paper with writing on them?” Who in the US, where a tiny few are “farmers,” and what, 40% of us have no savings or stuff that constitutes “wealth,” and lots of “consumer debt” often incurred just to buy enough to keep eating, and who pay rent for housing and transportation, would benefit from an inflation “jubilee” in the manner you contend? And, serious question, how possible is it that there could be a “Weimar moment” here in the Empire? Even if the words on the paper “money” that once comforted the yeoman citizens, that said the certificates could be converted at the Mint into “real money,” gold and silver, have been somehow artfully erased, thus presumably allowing “the government” to print it in such quantity as to not even be useful for toilet functions?

            “Essentially a jubilee?” I don’t think the contention has been supported, not by the jump-switch to invoking “Weimar” and the “threat of Venezuelizaton” or the attempt to parallel the “current” situation to a Bronze Age generalization about how they did not have much “money” in circulation — that being the case, how did the Jubilee work, then? It’s been described in posts here, as release by “fiat of the ruler” from servitude, and return of farm land to farmer-debtors. What’s the analog today? Unshackling student loan and other provident and/or profligate debtors from their servitude to the grasping Few, so they can “start to do something productive with their lives than struggle to pay toxic and insupportable (for many or most, without regard to the “virtue” of their “personal choices” in a time when it’s ever more apparent that there is no such thing as “free choice” via “free will?”

            I’ll stick with my offering of a way to derail the systems that “afford” nothing but more of the same: #juststoppaying. Infuriating as that is to the “righteous” mopes who managed to complete the sysiphean task and roll the boulder to a position of rest at the top of the mountain. The “mountain of debt,” maybe?

            I do think this is useful discussion, showing among other things that there’s no clear understanding of what that thing we name as “money” actually is, in all its complexity — as shown by the comments here and in prior debates over the nature of “money,” in all its possibly intentionally obscure complexity.

            Any more than there is a clear agreed understanding of the nature of that correlative thing, “debt.”

            And there’s no straighforward answer to what “policy” should be, in terms of “government” acting to mitigate, let alone “end,” the vast inequality of position and property that characterizes the present. (Whatever, in the ‘real universe,’ beyond or beside or behind the one we think we see and feel and believe to exist, the “present” might actually (for some definition) be — other than a high old time soaking in a secret hot spring, out somewhere in the Commons…)

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Sorry to disappoint, but the hot springs we frequented were hardly secret, the soaking sublime. I’d guess there were 175 enthusiasts there. It’s 5 tubs can hold around a dozen people each and it’s a very social hot springs, conversation flows easily.

              Saline Valley requires a high clearance vehicle for the 50 mile or thereabouts drive on crushed lava and dirt road (take a couple extra beater spare tires on rims with you, the roadbase is rough on rubber) and it punishes vehicles not meant to be there (we saw a newish Toyota Yaris being clumsily towed out by a large 4×4 truck with a towing strap, apparently it’d met it’s waterloo breaking an axle) so the idiot factor is largely nil. I’ve heard it termed “the 52 mile BS filter” and it does a great job.

              All the ingredients are in place, every developed and most other countries have accepted the idea of completely fiat currencies that are largely without limits and physical existence, with the exception of folding money-which is a bit of a joke, as it costs less than 20 Cents to print a Benjamin, but almost a Dime to mint a Nickel.

              Weimar is just a teaser course for hyperinflation, take Brazil for instance, here’s how their long episode went:

              In 1967, Brazil introduced the cruzeiro novo (the word “novo”, “new” in Portuguese, only appearing on the provisional issue of banknotes), with 1 cruzeiro novo equal to 1000 “old” cruzeiros. It had the ISO 4217 code BRB. In 1986, the country switched to the cruzado, worth 1000 cruzeiros (novos). Following 1979, with Second Oil Crisis…

              In 1990, Brazil switched back to using the name cruzeiro for its currency. The cruzeiro replaced the cruzado novo at par. It had the ISO 4217 code BRE. This third cruzeiro was used until 1993, when it was replaced by the cruzeiro real at a rate of 1 cruzeiro real = 1000 cruzeiros.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_cruzeiro

              Imagine your $1000 in savings in 1979 being worth only a Dollar seven years later, and then that buck only being worth a fraction of a Cent, 4 years later?

              That’s what went down…

              We’re in uncharted money territory now and everything is incredibly sped up compared to anytime in the past.

              I’m content to hurry up and wait to see what happens…

              Reply
                1. Wukchumni

                  What if your father was convicted of high treason and sentenced to death in absentia, his crime being leaving his country?

                  The family property in Prague was worth precisely bupkis for forty years after he split…

                  Reply
        2. Wukchumni

          p.s.

          For the majority of the Bronze Age, there was no form of fungible money in coins (1st coinage was by the Lydians circa 666 BC) so there really wasn’t any wealth as we’d know it, so hyperinflation couldn’t happen.

          It’s always dangerous combining a dash of the past in comparing it to the present, but it sure is fun trying.

          Reply
      2. John Merryman

        The theory is that Volcker cured inflation with higher interest rates, but that slowed money to those willing to borrow it and grow the economy and only gifted those with more than they knew what to do with, with higher rates on their savings. It was Reaganomics which sucked up that money and so it had to be spent in ways which didn’t compete with private sector investing and supported it. Such as the military. When the government can’t afford anymore deficit spending, disaster capitalism comes home to roost, as those treasuries are traded for public assets, from parks to highways.Then we will have revolution, not jubilee.
        If there is too much money in circulation, the logical place to look for it would be those with more than they need, but that has been effectively obscured.
        Money is a medium, not a store of value. Like blood is a medium and fat is a store. Money has to be carefully regulated. The head and heart can’t tell the hands and feet they don’t need so much blood and should work harder for what they do get, or the system dies. Surprise.
        Economics is about completely obscuring the facts, not clarifying them.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Humm … Yeah, I’d be one to go along with that description, seeing as how neither arrhythmia, nor gangrene, are what I would consider good outcomes.

          Economcs, well … kinda like an MRI that can’t see through living tissue .. because it’s been programmed NOT to .. if I get your drift ….

          Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      Yeah, I think you’re onto something here.

      With Trump and the Republicans pushing a lot of fiscal stimulus, and yet, wages still aren’t rising, it’s showing us how broken the power dynamics are. Even proximity to Silicon Valley isn’t enough to ensure you get a sizable slice of the pie. It’s all going right to the top: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/11/18/silicon-valley-wages-have-dropped-for-all-except-highest-paying-jobs-report/

      Things like mortgage write-downs and student loan charge-offs are needed to provide relief, but we’re not attacking the power dynamics here. They’ve become enormously skewed. There’s not really enough changes at the root to stop the same thing from happening again.

      Perhaps a medical analogy works…debt relief as triage for the system?

      Reply
    3. Richard

      I like how you expressed: “the ideal of the autonomous individual, mediated by money”
      but your counter ideal “the individual as an expression of the society” will take some thinking for me
      Having a hard time letting go of autonomous
      The money you can take right now….

      Reply
      1. John Merryman

        Think nodes and networks.
        One of the basic issues is the nature of time. The Eastern, context oriented view is the past is in front and the future behind, because past and in front are known, while future and behind are unknown. Which corresponds to the fact we see events after they occur.
        The Western, object/entity view is the future is in front and the past behind, because we see ourselves as distinct entities, moving through our context. So it’s a two sides of the coin issue, as both apply, in their different contexts.
        Entities go from being in the future to being in the past, while the process creating them moves onto new, shedding old. Consciousness goes past to future thoughts. Species go past to future generations. A factory goes onto new models. As these entities come and go, future to past.
        There is only this present, thermodynamic state, of expanding energy and coalescing structure. Think galaxies, of energy radiating out, as mass gravitates in. Or our bodies, of the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems processing the energy to drive the information collection and structuring of the nervous system.
        We tend towards a singular, ideals based view of a situation that is more a tension of binaries; positive/negative, field/particle, etc. Everything is defined in terms of its context, rather than some essential, core ideal.
        In our current system, money has become the reductionist ideal of safety, security, prosperity and status. Irrespective of all the material destroyed to make it.

        Reply
        1. jsn

          Benjamin on Klee:
          “This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet.

          The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed.

          But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.

          This storm is what we call progress.”

          Reply
            1. Richard

              That was a great essay, especially the baldwin, thanks
              I get what he is saying about white people’s affected “ignorance” about black people
              And I do appreciate the point of view in the klee painting
              Or just how benjamin sees it
              But it also makes me feel more passive and reactive than I want to be or feel…

              Reply
        2. knowbuddhau

          Very well said, thanks. Esp. “a tension of binaries,” what I’d call a dance of mutually arising pairs of indispensable opponents.

          “Everything is defined in terms of its context” sounds exactly like mutual arising aka interdependence: shadows arise mutually with light sources, organisms with environments (which “things” are seen as separate only by analysis, in “reality” we’re all arising from the same field).

          None of us are autonomous, more like semi-autonomous at best. “You,” as a separately existing “thing,” like an atom in a vacuum, do not exist. You exist interdependently with all other events. It’s a field thing.

          Take a look at your “border.” You’ll find it’s semi-permeable. If you were perfectly autonomous, you’d be dead. You owe your life to your other, and they owe theirs to you.

          So whose life is it, anyway?

          Reply
          1. John Merryman

            Exactly. If we were free of cause, we’d be free of effect.
            The problem is this narrative view of time, with its deterministic cause and effect, but the computing of the input only occurs as the present. As Alan Watts put it, “The wake doesn’t steer the boat, the boat creates the wake.”
            Future becomes past, because of the actions and decisions of the present. The present consumes the past, in order to be informed by it.

            Reply
  3. allan

    The Jill Lepore interview in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
    It’s really hard to take seriously the opinions of someone who says

    Facts come from the realm of the humanities, numbers represent the social sciences,
    and data the natural sciences.

    Good lord.

    Reply
    1. tomk

      To be fair, it doesn’t sound nearly as idiotic in context, where she is discussing different approaches to establishing knowledge..

      Reply
      1. Ultrapope

        Would you mind elaborating more on the context in which she discusses these different approaches? The higher chronicle interview makes it sound like this is another book espousing the greatness of Enlightenment ideals, which seem a dime a dozen these days

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          FTA:”The larger epistemological shift is how the elemental unit of knowledge has changed. Facts have been devalued for a long time. The rise of the fact was centuries ago. Facts were replaced by numbers in the 18th and 19th centuries as the higher-status unit of knowledge. That’s the moment at which the United States is founded as a demographic democracy. Now what’s considered to be most prestigious is data. The bigger the data, the better.”

          this whole passage(including the problematic quote Allan gives) might have been overzealously edited…but it does make a lot more sense in context.
          continuing epistemological revolution. How we “Know” changes.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            and this little thought-worm make the whole interview worth it: “Anyone who makes an identity-based claim for a political position has to reckon with the unfortunate fact that Stephen Douglas is their forebear, not Abraham Lincoln or Frederick Douglass.”

            lol.
            Eat that, Team Blue!

            Reply
            1. Richard

              Yes, it occurred to me the other day, that the dems have long practiced identity politics, just not always celebrating the kind of identity they’re so proud of:
              See also John C. Calhoun, John Breckenridge, Theo. Bilbo, Woodrow Wilson, etc

              Reply
            2. Enquiring Mind

              Lately, Stephen Douglas has been. swapped out for Paul Douglas, he of that reductionist masterpiece, the Cobb-Douglas Production Function. When the only tools available are labor and capital (with exponents X and 1-X), everything looks neo-liberally dysfunctional ;)

              Reply
        2. Harold

          No. This piling on is embarrassing. She is criticizing the enlightenment valorization of numbers. Enlightenment was in the 18th c. as she correctly states. Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire were notoriously disdainful of history. (Much like now).

          Reply
          1. John Wright

            I have difficulty in understanding the reliability of facts.

            Hasn’t it been shown that the “facts” provided by eye-witnesses are frequently not accurate?

            When one tries to encompass an entire complex event in history, such as WWI, that Gavrilo Princip killed the Austro-Hungarian Archduke is a fact, but the subsequent war required many other events to fall into place.

            Historical bias is somewhat captured by the saying “The victors write the history”

            The complexity of historical events, encompassing the decisions of many, many people, many complex interactions and feedback loops make the summarizing of the time record by historians, even wrapped up with “true” facts, seem almost futile.

            Reply
              1. John Wright

                This is a very broad question, as “statistics” covers everything from sports data to economic data.

                If one reads my post, I made no claim that statistics are reliable.

                But, if you want my opinion, SOME statistics are reliable.

                For example, my work involves electronic measurements (statistics of a sort).

                I do trust that the various instruments’ results are accurate within the measurement uncertainty stated by their manufacturer, assuming the instrument is within calibration and calibrated by a trustworthy source.

                In this industry, instrument calibration is traceable back to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).

                So I do trust these “statistics” as being reliable.

                I also believe that Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 as people have had more than 75 years to correct this “statistic”.

                I trust that when a parking garage states “13 feet clearance” that is probably a good statistic.
                .
                But I am wary of putting much trust in many economic and historical statistics as these are frequently offered as pacifiers to the population.

                For example, our current “record low unemployment rate” (that neglects discouraged workers) despite an environment of stagnant wages.

                How does that make sense?

                Harold, what is your opinion of the reliability of statistics, surely you trust some statistical sources but not others?

                Reply
                1. Harold

                  Some statistics have a probability of being reliable. Also some facts, including facts about the past. Is it a fact that the eruption of Vesuvius took place? And did it take place in August or July. We must go by the preponderance of evidence. Numbers and measurement do seem more reliable, that is because they are a manmade construct that people agree on in advance. It is a fact, long noted by philosophers and laymen, that there are limits to what the human mind can perceive and comprehend, but that doesn’t mean we should not try to or retreat into cynicism. Trying is a prerequisite for survival.

                  Reply
      2. Unna

        Both Lepore and the Questioner are stuck with this:

        “Q. For democracy to work, of course, the people must be well informed. Yet we live in an age of epistemological mayhem. How did the relationship between truth and fact come unwound?”

        She and the Questioner are mired in the assumption that truth and facts have some sort of existence independent from ourselves as social beings. The problem, but certainly not the psychological tension, is resolved with the understanding that both truth and facts are nothing more than phenomena that appear to us as a result of pragmatically motivated interaction between ourselves, existing as social beings, and our surroundings. The truth and facts Lepore and the Questioner are yearning for are entities which exist only as an appearance in consciousness, where said consciousness itself is only a product of evolution, like an opposing thumb, “designed” to give us survival advantages and not to illuminate something called “The Truth”.

        That facts and truth are set forth from time to time as evidence, or numbers, or data does not change this much except to show how consciousness may have pragmatically shifted in how it seeks to organize phenomena to obtain advantage. This change of how truth is expressed, however, may in fact have the result of having shifted power from one group to another which may be something Lepore doesn’t like because perhaps it shifts power away from her group.

        Interestingly, Lepore’s own tendency towards the pragmatic use of history is revealed in her discussion of Lincoln’s vs Douglas’ understanding of America’s founding documents. Look at this run on of ideas concerning identity politics:

        “Making political claims that are based on identity is what white supremacy is….it’s the position taken by, say, John C. Calhoun or Stephen Douglas arguing against Abraham Lincoln…[with]…Douglas saying, Our forefathers founded this country for white men and their posterity forever. And Lincoln [saying]…No, that’s just not true! Lincoln read in the founding documents a universal claim of political equality and natural rights…. Anyone who makes an identity-based claim for a political position has to reckon with the unfortunate fact that Stephen Douglas is their forebear, not Abraham Lincoln….”

        Grant the following: [1] making political claims based on identity is what white supremacy is, (2) Lincoln read in the founding documents a universal claim of political equality, (3) identity politics makes Douglas your forebear not Lincoln. Ok, but does that observation make Lincoln’s reading of the founding documents true? I don’t know because I’m not a scholar of these documents. But you can see here that for Lepore Lincoln’s interpretation of the founding documents must be the true one because a social consensus in favour of political equality is for her more pragmatic, ie, is better, has pragmatic value, ie, is thus valid, is a fact, and thus her rhetorical use of Lincoln.

        But what if Lincoln’s understanding of the founding documents is “untrue”. Does that make Lincoln’s adherence to equal rights invalid? Personally, I don’t think so because I’m in favour of equal rights no matter what the founding documents say or what Lincoln thinks about them. Maybe Lepore should just say what she wants and we could all go from there.

        “All truth is simple…is that not doubly a lie?” F. Nietzsche.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          ^^^”Personally, I don’t think so because I’m in favour of equal rights no matter what the founding documents say or what Lincoln thinks about them. Maybe Lepore should just say what she wants and we could all go from there.”^^^

          but how did you arrive at that preference?
          I arrived at the same place by reading folks like Lincoln and Jefferson, and then thinking about it.
          The Nietszchean “ain’t no received truth” has a corollary: “…so we’ll have to suck it up and make our own”.
          So we pick over what’s come before, and choose what speaks to us.
          to Our truth.
          I’ve never heard of Lepore before this afternoon, but nothing she said glared out at me as nonsensical.

          Reply
          1. Unna

            ***So we pick over what’s come before, and choose what speaks to us.
            to Our truth.***

            What I was playing with was Lepore’s – I’d never heard of her before either – appeal to truth and facts as if they were these two innocent young things so easily violated and in need of her protection when truth and facts may actually be dangerous shadowy reclusive shape shifting entities of unpredictable benevolent or malevolent effect.

            The sun revolves around the earth. Scientifically, is that true? It seems to depend upon when and where you ask the question. In 500 CE in Alexandria it’s a true statement. In 2018 CE it’s no longer true. So the “correct” conclusion may be that there is no such thing as scientific truth. We all know that.

            OK, so what about moral truth? Can same sex relationships be good and morally uplifting to both persons? Is slavery a good institution? In Sparta circa 500 BCE both statements are true, but in the christian middle ages only one of them is still true. In 2018 CE same sex relationships seem to be making a come back depending upon to which social audience you ask the question. As to slavery and its de facto derivitives, unfortunately it’s still place and culture dependent. So there is no such thing as moral “truth” either.

            Read Lincoln, or the Bible, or gaze upon an image of godlike beauty in order to divine what truth speaks through that beauty. But as to your question, how does anyone arrive at a preference? Honestly, I’m not sure. Perhaps it has something to do with the quality of one’s soul – of course in our day and age that’s not a permissible answer. Let’s go full primitive and think about Wisdom. Channeling Socrates, which I don’t do so often: Wisdom is matter of Knowledge but Knowledge can’t be taught.

            Maybe we arrive at a preference on the basis of what we are drawn to, or repulsed by, aesthetically. That’s sort of my opinion. The rest is mostly words and rationalization. But through words we do hope to grope our way to what appears to be truer, and better, and more useful. Then again, how much worse do the truer and better and more useful sometimes turn out to be?

            How do you explain the difference between a Bernie Sanders, who got beat up by the cops 50 years ago over equal rights and who is still at it today, and say, one Jeff Bezos? Maybe it’s because equal rights is what Bernie loves.

            Some say horsemen, some say warriors
            Some say a fleet of ships is the loveliest
            Vision on black earth, but I say, it’s
            What you love.

            Sappho, Priestess of Aphrodite

            Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              Now, if we could only teach such thoughtful circumspection to the mundanes…
              lol.
              In my case, I must wait for Summer to come round again to continue the Eudaimonia Lessons with the boys.
              Sports interferes, always..
              But I reckon that’s the only way…mind by mind.

              Reply
    2. diptherio

      Ah yes, the old “I don’t understand what’s being said, therefore the author is stupid,” line of argumentation. But, in context, that sentence makes a lot of sense. (Warning, this is a long quote because what she’s saying is complicated and nuanced, just like reality, so pay close attention)

      There’s an incredibly rich scholarship on the history of evidence, which traces its rise in the Middle Ages in the world of law, its migration into historical writing, and then finally into the realm that we’re most familiar with, journalism. That’s a centuries-long migration of an idea that begins in a very particular time and place, basically the rise of trial by jury starting in 1215. We have a much better vantage on the tenuousness of our own grasp of facts when we understand where facts come from. [emphasis added]

      Do we all understand what she’s saying, here? That the concept of “a fact” originated in the legal sphere (part of the humanities) as an epistemological tool specifically suited to that domain. That is, in 1215 or thereabouts we started thinking about knowledge as being underpinned by facts (as opposed to authority or divine revelation, for instance). Everybody still with us?

      The larger epistemological shift is how the elemental unit of knowledge has changed. Facts have been devalued for a long time. The rise of the fact was centuries ago. Facts were replaced by numbers in the 18th and 19th centuries as the higher-status unit of knowledge. That’s the moment at which the United States is founded as a demographic democracy. Now what’s considered to be most prestigious is data. The bigger the data, the better. [emphasis added]

      The notion of facts as underpinning knowledge came out of a particular time and place (13th century courtrooms). As the times changed, so did the accepted underpinnings of knowledge, moving from the legalistic concept of facts to the social science-influenced use of numbers (this is where economics as a discipline seems to be stuck, btw — you are assumed to understand something if you can model it mathematically). More recently, data has become the accepted underpinning of legitimate knowledge, which is quite a different epistemology than what people had in the Medieval period.

      That transformation, from facts to numbers to data, traces something else: the shifting prestige placed on different ways of knowing. Facts come from the realm of the humanities, numbers represent the social sciences, and data the natural sciences. When people talk about the decline of the humanities, they are actually talking about the rise and fall of the fact, as well as other factors. When people try to re-establish the prestige of the humanities with the digital humanities and large data sets, that is no longer the humanities. What humanists do comes from a different epistemological scale of a unit of knowledge. [emphasis added]

      So there’s you’re supposedly damning quote in context. What she’s saying has, I think, a good bit of merit. As we’ve moved to a more scientific epistemological framework overall, debates about policy now happen in terms of data (however skewed) rather than in terms of values. I think that’s the shift she’s talking about and I think it’s probably real and likely detrimental…but it makes sense, whether you agree with it or not.

      However, she’s talking epistemology and I understand that epistemology is difficult for a lot of people. Most of us have a naive epistemology in which we assume that anything we already think is — by definition — correct and self-evident, whereas anything that is contradictory or confusing is — of necessity — wrong. It’s a common malady of the mind, but that doesn’t make it any more useful as a way of attempting to understand the world.

      Reply
      1. EGrise

        Wow diptherio, that is a magisterial comment. I know nothing of epistemology but now I’d like to know more. Thanks!

        Reply
      2. Harold

        ++ This. Humanism arguably grew out of law (legal argumentation). Developed in the Middle Ages, but roots in antiquity.

        Reply
      3. Grebo

        Data -> information -> knowledge

        By ‘facts’ Lepore seems to mean ‘things people agree are true’. If you know any people you will know this is not a good guide to truth.

        When people’s values are inconsistent with the truth of the world you get perverse policy. FACT!

        Reply
      4. skippy

        I would only add that the ownership [tm] of epistemology in the…. cough… social sciences aka mainstream economics reflects largely to what your banging on about diptherio e.g. econmetrics with poor theory application underpinned by the numerology – see Lars et al.

        Reply
      5. boz

        Thank you, diptherio.

        Two additional reflections from me, one looking back and one looking forward (it seemed appropriate):

        – consider how we ‘know’ about God/the supernatural – in the Bible, Genesis (the first book) was not written down for a long time. It existed as an oral tradition, and then was written down much later. Incidentally, the Bible really is the realm of WHO and WHY rather than WHAT and WHEN.

        – Second, looking forward: it is no longer even “I think, therefore I am”, rather “I feel, therefore I am”. Our personal feelings are increasingly held up as the markers of objective truth.

        We social creatures have moved from the tribes, out to the towns, cities and countries, and yet, paradoxically, inwards, so far, that our only reference point is our lived emotional experience.

        Which, if you accept that, points towards instability, regression, or cyclicality in the way we “know”.

        Reply
      6. Oregoncharles

        As frequently said here, “Anecdotes are not data.” Note which has priority. Anecdotes do prove certain things, most importantly, possibility. X happened, so it is possible. But they do not prove TENDENCIES; beyond possibility, they don’t give us the bigger picture. Both economics and politics, the main subjects here, come down to data – the number of votes, the rate of change of prices, etc.

        I think her distinction between the social and natural sciences remains to be proven – I associate data with the social sciences; in the present context, above all. But her overall point is illuminating: we’re thinking on a much larger scale, perhaps because our societies are so much larger. Unmanageably large.

        Reply
      7. ChrisPacific

        I still think it’s nonsensical in context (or confusing, at best). If I was her editor I would strike it out or ask her to reword it. I do think she is making a worthwhile point in the broader passage – I liked her comment about how the lack of emphasis on humanities means we don’t understand one another as well – but not all the language she uses supports it (in my opinion).

        I thought this bit was interesting:

        Like any Ph.D. program, what you’re being trained to do is employ a jargon that instantiates your authority in the abstruseness of your prose. You display what you know by writing in a way that other people can’t understand.

        She goes on to reject that as an approach, but she seems to have adopted a fair amount of it regardless as protective coloration. It’s like reading Keynes – occasional short, pithy passages of startling insight, followed by pages and pages of impenetrable academic-speak. Keynes was able to write very well and clearly when he chose (‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace’) so it must have been deliberate. This interview has a similar feel to it.

        Reply
        1. knowbuddhau

          Maybe not deliberate obfuscation. Just that talking about talking about things (and that gets us into what “things” are: nouns, in fact, parts of speech, not features of the known universe, which is a field of mutually arising, interdependent events), or worse, knowing knowing, bringing “bringing to mind” to mind, is most difficult to address with linear thought and speech.

          Maybe Keynes had literal flashes of literal, artistic, poetic insight, expressed succinctly, that then were turned over to the noetic side, which is the only academically respectable side. Not my area, just guessing.

          A field is a field, like the blank area around this line of thought. There it is, even between these words, see? Making the background into the foreground can be tricky. With what one word, or line of words, can it be de-fined, de-limited, or “captured”?

          There’s the source of all “things,” right there, and all around us. Yet who can put their finger on it? (See also, The Void, then see also Daniel Palmer’s report on Masao Abe’s new translation of sunyata as a gerund; from “voidness” to “voiding.” http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/CriticalZen/masao_abe_social_ethics.htm)

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            from one of the Vedas, maybe…but remembered from Joseph Campbell:

            “wherefrom words turn back, together with the mind, not having attained…”

            I’ve carried that around since I was, like, 13,lol.
            That is Such.
            straying into rather profound depths, here.

            Reply
      8. knowbuddhau

        Yes, this.

        And these “data”-driven debates are no place for amateurs, right? Economics is exactly like the weather, or any other natural system, which is too complicated for anyone but the experts, so we should butt out and let them tell us where we are, how we got here, and where we’re going. Them and the Pentagon, come to think of it.

        And don’t get me started on what counts as “data.”

        “Back to the things themselves!” — Edmund Husserl

        Reply
      9. allan

        Fact: there are an infinitude of primes: Euclid(?)- natural scientist

        Fact: the circumference of the Earth is approximately 24,000 miles: Eratosthenes – natural scientist

        Facts: (i) The orbit of a planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci.
        (ii) A line segment joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time.
        (iii)The square of the orbital period of a planet is proportional
        to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit. [wiki]: J. Kepler – natural scientist.
        Later derived from the inverse square law by I. Newton – natural scientist.

        Fact: the Sun radiates because of the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle: H. Bethe – natural scientist.

        Etc., etc. etc.

        Euclid’s (or whoever’s) result was based on numbers, but only symbolically, as were later proofs.

        Eratosthenes used a single data point (Small Data?).

        Kepler did in fact use data accumulated over centuries by others, as well as his own observations.
        This was one of the first examples of finding scientific laws using Big Data,
        and a spectacularly successful one. But what he established were facts.

        Bethe used physical laws (facts if you will) and mathematics, but not data in the sense that Lapore
        probably means, to reveal the fact of why the Sun shines.

        How any of these facts, or the work that went into establishing them,
        count as the realm of the humanities is beyond me.
        It seems that the economists aren’t the only intellectual imperialists.

        Reply
        1. cat's paw

          You’re missing Lepore’s point, as a historian and as an epistemologist – or at least as a historian of ideas. It is highly improbable that Euclid had anything about facts in mind – in the modern factish sense of the word – whatsoever. Truth, certainly. Facts operating along the same valence as we know and understand, very doubtful.

          Even Newton and Kepler would be hard pressed to understand the significance of your insistence on the “facts” of their discoveries. Of course they relied on data so-called. Of course they utilized mathematics. The question, as a matter of epistemology, is how, to what degree, and to what end – for what purpose? It was hardly to “establish the facts of the matter.” The very phrase still carries an overt juridical tone. Though, granted, this epistemic delineation becomes blurrier the closer we come to our own time. The point is how does a society make (that is, trust) knowledge – one use to say truth, but with us moderns it’s more accurate to call it power. Lepore is saying for modernity it was facts, then numbers, and presently data.

          Anyway, go read Galileo or Newton and then read any current physics paper from any journal of your choosing. The relation of the former to the humanities is clear enough. The relationship of the latter to the humanities is nearly none at all. This is but one relatively minor (but obvious) indication of the epistemological shift of the last five centuries.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            aye. we spin around in our inflated “knowing”…reductio ad absurdam.
            “I refute it thus!”…and now my toe hurts.
            and yet, at the same time, all our knowledge puts us right back around the fire, stolen from the gods…the quantum speculators find that they must rely on the Mahabarata to even think about what their data tells them is “true”…that nothing is really there, at all…
            It is when we veer off into such discussions that I wish I could invite you all under my Big Oak.

            Reply
    3. KLG

      The statement makes good sense in context, in a TS Eliot kind of way: “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

      As a biochemist/evolutionary cell biologist (and sometime administrator), I would add: Where is the information we have lost in big data?

      Reply
      1. Harold

        The poet Shelley was amazingly prescient in 1819 when he defended the social role of poetry against those who argued that it was an archaic survival:

        [The] exertions [of the promoters of utility] are of the highest value, so long as they confine their administration of the concerns of the inferior powers of our nature within the limits due to the superior ones. But whilst the sceptic destroys gross superstitions, let him spare to deface . . . the eternal truths charactered upon the imaginations of men. Whilst the mechanist [inventor?] abridges, and the political economist combines labor, let them beware that their speculations, for want of correspondence with those first principles which belong to the imagination, do not tend, as they have in modern England, to exasperate at once the extremes of luxury and want. They have exemplified the saying, “To him that hath, more shall be given; and from him that hath not, the little that he hath shall be taken away.” The rich have become richer, and the poor have become poorer; and the vessel of the State is driven between the Scylla and Charybdis of anarchy and despotism. Such are the effects which must ever flow from an unmitigated exercise of the calculating faculty.

        –P. B. Shelley, Defence of Poetry (written in 1819, published posthumously in 1840)

        Reply
        1. John Merryman

          Consider the General commands armies, while the Specialist is an enlisted rank, just above private.

          We can look for the big picture, or we can study the details.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            And today’s Generals are losers by the standards of “war,” and today’s Specialists are mostly trying to stay alive while taking fire from front and rear…

            Reply
            1. John Merryman

              The function of our military is to spend money. Where would Wall St. be, without those mountains of bonds and treasuries as the currency of the realm? They just have to find somewhere to dump all the borrowed money. Remember the money is backed by government debt.
              The generals do exactly what they are supposed to do.

              Reply
              1. JTMcPhee

                I’m only too well aware (from personal past experience as an Imperial Soldier and a foolish addiction to checking in almost daily to the “Defense Industry Daily,” Duffelblog, Military.com and other sources, and being drawn like the moth to the flame to such reporting as there is on the idiocies of the Pentagram) what the roles of the Generals are. Hence the reference to “the standards of ‘war,’” which is not what the mythology peddles at all, valorous troops charging up hills and taking territory and resources and all that…

                Good to have the point reinforced, though of course the mass and momentum of the thing we call the MIC is likely too enormous to change out for something the mopes might think of as “better.”

                Reply
                1. John Merryman

                  They will understand all too well when that force goes from centrifugal to centripetal. When the government can no longer issue sufficient debt and disaster capitalism, aka predatory lending, comes home to roost.

                  Reply
        2. knowbuddhau

          Whoa, dude: “The eternal truths charactered upon the imaginations of men.” That’s what Campbell and before him, Jung, were on about. Thanks, I’ll have to look into that. The phrase JC used was, the “grave and constant” of human experience.

          We’ve been human earthlings for around 300,000 years. And we didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. We have the whole history of the universe in every cell.

          That’s left a mark. Not only on our gross physiology, but on our subtle psychology, too. Birth, infancy, childhood, coming of age, marriage (or not), procreation (or not), maturity, senescence, and death, to name a few, all have been occurring, pretty much in that order, all this time.

          Art, poetry, intuition, the analog world et cetera know things irreducible to terms strictly noetic. Overzealous reductivism is just as bad as sentimental superstition.

          Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    “We tried Amazon’s bizarre Alexa microwave and weren’t convinced”

    Reading through this article reminds me of a saying from the 19th century where it was said that the trouble with servants is that you spend more time serving them as they do serving you. Here we are in the 21st century and this saying is coming back with a vengeance with all this you-beut technology.

    Reply
  5. SimonGirty

    Fracking return water irrigated organic crops (including livestock feed) in California is old news. And Yasha Levine covered the Resnicks at NSFW (hilarious story, really!)
    https://pando.com/2015/08/28/journey-through-oligarch-valley/ But just before Trump’s win, the whole country’s organic farms, affected by fracking waste, went from 11% to nearly 60% and few journalists remain online to write about this with any authority, since state water agencies have been run by ALEC & media staffed by Energy In Depth so updated, accurate assessment is basically unavailable. If you think about where organic & Amish farms happen to be, then look at services like Fracktracker, it’s pretty scary.

    Reply
      1. SimonGirty

        Thank you. I’d kept checking his twitter feed (along with his Exiled cohorts) as possible, while traveling on jobs. Journalism, when it’s encountered, gets me high. My youth was spent with various nere-do-well nerds who simply couldn’t let up on an interesting story. Trying to disprove our ingrained assumptions, pre-programmed suppositions and pet agenda. We were high I guess, or something? Here’s more, I’d used the paywalled URL, to avoid THEIR oligarch, hoping Yasha’s still paid by the bigger oligarch? I can just guess, who’ll star! https://www.nsfwcorp.com/desk/oligarch-valley/

        Reply
      1. SimonGirty

        You mean the Resnicks, nuts or “produced water?” Fracking’s been around since the late ’40s, but slick water fracking in places like the Marcellus (2006 on) will bring all sorts of far scarier stuff up from 10K feet down, including radium. PA claims they don’t salt roads with fracked return brine, but then… it’s been common knowledge for way over a decade they’ve simply been watering down produced water and returning it to, well, wherever. There’s a crescent of ~1,500 fracked wells from Obama’s “all-of-the-above days, everywhere west and north all across Pennsylvania & the laws are LOTS more lax than Texas. This is where many of our organic and Amish farms are. https://www.fractracker.org/2015/03/organic-farms-near-drilling-1/
        http://amishamerica.com/fracking-amish-country/
        https://newrepublic.com/article/113354/energy-companies-take-advantage-amish-prohibition-lawsuits
        https://www.google.com/amp/s/phys.org/news/2018-01-radioactivity-oil-gas-wastewater-persists.amp

        Reply
        1. SimonGirty

          PS: yes, I know it’s ~fifteen THOUSAND fracked wells (14,222) under Obama and Trump promises hundreds of thousands of massive, throbbing, thrusting tools shooting millions of YOOJ, shiny, beautiful tankers full of lethal chemicals beneath each and every loser farm in ‘Murika. Sorry, we were stuffing our faces when I’d seen the reply.

          https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/toxic-oilfield-wastewater-used-grow-california-food-including-organics

          Reply
  6. crittermom

    “Small bookstores are booming…”

    I am SO happy to hear this! Very good news, indeed.
    Good article, giving a great reason to support local businesses–personal customer service, which seems to have become such a ‘novel’ idea in these days of the internet. (yes, pun intended)

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I’d guess the reason small (used) book stores are thriving, is the idea that your product is a rarity in that most other small businesses only sell new items that are all the same, coupled with book stores having so many different unique inventoried items in a myriad of conditions, which would be a nightmare for any other retailer.

      In essence, it’s a labor of love.

      Reply
    2. Summer

      I had a friend that was moving and the books she had planned to sell to a used bookstore were all snatched up by people helping her move.
      I suppose good as payment or gift.

      Reply
    3. Fiery Hunt

      They’ve been running this story every year for decades…even back the year I closed mine.

      90% are still suffering greatly.
      Same as it ever was.

      Reply
      1. Brian (another one they call)

        Thankfully, Walmart shoppers don’t read. much. I feel lucky that businesses in our area have replaced much of what Wally World offers. We have a supermarket that beats their prices to hell. (locally owned) That doesn’t save the 4 or 5 dozen stores that disappeared when Walmart came to town.
        Big is only that. It is never better to live in a monopoly.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Wal*Mart has a tiny book selection, encompassing a space of about the same size as their ammo selection in the sporting goods department.

          Reply
  7. drexciya

    As to political use of video games, as far as I know there was a first-person shooter which was made or financed by the US Army, with the goal of recruitment or making a positive impression. I’ve looked it up, and it seems that this is an ongoing series of free PC Games, which was started in the early ’00s.

    Link:

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Last time I played a video game, I was in charge of Missile Command and it cost a Quarter. I’m way rusty but willing to go to battle via panem et circuits if my country needs me.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          And Missile Command teaches the player that important lesson of FUTILITY, because no matter how quick your game-trained and inborn reflexes, your six cities that you are charged as a sacred duty to protect, all the teeming millions living there, will eventually be destroyed, blasted to little tiny bits of radioactive ash, by the ever increasing onslaught of incoming nuclear explosives. GAME OVER is the only endpoint. Too bad the option noted by WOPR is not anywhere in the Missile Command universe: “The only way to win is not to play the game.”

          But thank you for your brave offer of your potential future service.

          Reply
  8. crittermom

    “Healthcare”, AOC, twitter

    I had to chuckle when reading that AOC is actively tweeting–just like our president?
    Not surprised that some Dems are complaining. She doesn’t fit their mold or plans.

    I hope AOC continues to be vocal, expressing the views & desires of so many.
    If her tweeting is a problem to some, that means she’s being heard.
    Good for her!

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      AOC must be terrifying to the Team Blue elite as nothing she says is really radical outside of the Beltway. The primary hold Team Blue has is the perception their lack of accomplishment is due to Republican opposition, not that Team Blue is simply the GOP in another jersey.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        I think team blue elite look at her as a beautiful, but difficult to tame, horse.

        They’d like to show her off as a wonderful specimen of team dem. In some ways, she’s everything they cherish…young, attractive, mixed-race, educated, articulate and multi-lingual. It’s very much the image they’d like to portray to themselves and the country (don’t mind the reality of old, white, conservative power-brokers like Schumer, Steny Hoyer, and Cuomo that pull the strings behind the scenes).

        They’d also love to put her to work doing fundraisers and at conferences to promote, say, more women and minority representation at private equity firms (the point of which is to promote future fundraising sources, of course. Because team dem institutions want to replicate more of themselves).

        But, from team dem’s elite perspective, she’s very frustrating as she keeps pointing out flaws and problems of real people and, perhaps more importantly, she talks to them and with them, too. When some people complain about ‘too much use of twitter’, what they really mean is too much talking to regular people.

        Team dem is much more comfortable with people like my Rep. Katherine Clark who’s ideologically left, and signed on for M4A, but plays the political game as an insider and doesn’t do much to raise her profile with her constituents or the public at large.

        Team dem can even appreciate Ayanna Pressley, who’s much more visible than Clark, but doesn’t really say much that makes team dem uncomfortable. Her twitter feed is filled with stuff about small business saturday and (I’m not kidding) intersectional nail polish.

        Pressley ticks all the same boxes as AOC for team dem, but doesn’t make them squirm. Now, they all endorsed Capuano, because seniority and party first, but ultimately, they’re quite comfortable with how she handles herself.

        If AOC gets ‘assimilated’, she’ll start talking/acting like Ayanna Pressley, and less like a next generation Bernie Sanders. THAT is what to watch out for. It’d only take a subtle shift to accomplish.

        Reply
        1. Jeff W

          When some people complain about ‘too much use of twitter’, what they really mean is too much talking to regular people.

          I think what the people complaining don’t like is that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reframes issues and other people’s comments in real time and nails them (albeit with occasional technical errors), exposing the political discourse for what it is and the commenters for what they are.

          Reply
        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          She’s really confounding for Team Blue because the very simple basics of her message show the entire Team Blue schtick to be a lie.

          Very difficult to incrementally tell people you’ve been hypocritical crony capitalist tools working against their interests all along.

          Reply
    2. willf

      One nitpick with Lambert’s reaction to AOC’s tweet:

      (Spectrum is a hospital, not an insurance company. AOC needs to get the details right.)

      It seems that AOC is talking about insurance companies here, she’s not saying that Spectrum is recommending GoFundMe specifically in that letter. I have seen a lot of “gets things wrong” comments directed at AOC lately and it seems to be a narrative that someone is trying to push on her. Not that this is what Lambert is doing, but we should be aware.

      Reply
      1. Brian (another one they call)

        I would offer that a hospital is an insurance entity. You don’t get in a hospital without first going to the insurance department to be cleared. All hospital policies are based around insurance, all treatment is based upon insurance, all payment to the hospital is based upon payment by insurance.
        It seems AOC was correct and every American knows it.

        Reply
        1. Katniss Everdeen

          And I read “fundraising effort” as “begging,” although I suppose, now that it’s tech-enabled, it could be considered “innovative” begging which, neoliberally speaking, makes it a less onerous and humiliating suggestion.

          Reply
          1. John k

            Fundraising isn’t begging, it’s the offer of valuable services for sale. In the political context relatively corrupt.
            Begging is asking for money or goods without offering anything in return. In the political concept, Relatively honorable.

            Reply
      2. rd

        Policy is details.

        It is why the Republicans failed in their Obamacare repeal. It won them a couple of elections but immediately failed on the rocks and shoals of details.

        The Democratic House should convene hearings ASAP getting testimony from people from countries around the world that have successfully provided universal coverage at 1/3 to 2/3 the cost of the US healthcare system. It is not all “single payer” “Medicare-for-All”. That will publicly lay out the details of how these systems work and provide an opportunity for rational conversation that should now be possible after the Obamacare back-and-forth over the past decade.

        We have lacked an intelligent, reality-based conversation on health care coverage over the past several decades.

        Reply
        1. kurtismayfield

          The Democratic House should convene hearings ASAP getting testimony from people from countries around the world that have successfully provided universal coverage at 1/3 to 2/3 the cost of the US healthcare system. It is not all “single payer” “Medicare-for-All”. That will publicly lay out the details of how these systems work and provide an opportunity for rational conversation that should now be possible after the Obamacare back-and-forth over the past decade.

          The Dems are not going to implement single payer. Nor will they present any evidence on record that the rest of the world does it better. Most ran on propping up the ACA, which means more insurance subsidies.

          I feel we are about a generation away from single payer. Everyone under 40 knows the rest of the world does it better. What is needed is a bench of competent people to take over from Pelosi/Schumer.. the lack of one is probably a feature.

          Reply
        2. marym

          We already know the approaches in other countries, conveniently described in T.R. Reid’s The Healing of America, and summarized by Physicians for a National Health Program here.

          Excerpted from the PNHP summary:

          Beveridge Model: healthcare provided and financed by the government through tax payments,

          Bismarck Model: Private, not-for-profit insurance funds (Germany has about 240 different funds);tight regulation gives government much of the cost-control clout that the single-payer Beveridge Model provides.

          National Health Insurance Model: Publicly funded national health insurance [Canada’s Medicare for All, and the basic proposals for HR 676 and S. 1804 – House and Sanders’ Senate M4A bills.]

          What the programs in other countries have in common is that they are universal, comprehensive, and eliminate for-profit insurance.

          There’s no reason to believe any proposal for the US that doesn’t incorporate those features will work.

          The ACA “conversation” lasted forever and came up with adding a means tested, for-profit, private insurance system with little in the way of government price control, tacked onto a patchwork of other private and increasingly privatized public systems, all of which fail to meet our needs. We don’t need another “conversation” to negotiate again on how best to retain assorted features of the grift.

          In my opinion, the failed ACA experiment leaves the Bismarck model out of contention for the US, even assuming private insurance companies would ever agree to some version of a supposedly not-for-profit model. A national health service or national health insurance, using the existing national VA or Medicare infrastructure: [de-privatized] VA for All or M4A are the choices, with M4A the more feasible right now.

          Reply
          1. knowbuddhau

            Yes, thanks, marym. The insurance companies have proven themselves to be non-agreement capable grifters. No matter what system is set up, they’ll game it, prioritizing lives of luxury for some over our very lives.

            We’re so rational in economics, our debates our so “data” driven, how come we keep paying way more to get a lot less?

            And never mind the numbers. That just proves how wrong it is, this bait-and-switch that gives us “coverage,” if you can make them honor it, when what we need is care.

            Reply
        3. johnnygl

          I like this ides, sounds like fun.

          Of course, if team dem delivered on M4A…they’d probably be in control of the House for another 40 years again. They’d wouldn’t want to be in charge for too long, else they’d have to govern…and spend a little less time fundraising!!! :)

          Reply
        4. NotTimothyGeithner

          You do realize the daily Obamacare repeal vote was a stunt, right? They didn’t expect to win the White House and had no interest in repealing a Heritage Foundation plot. The only people who expected Obamacare to be repealed were the Republican little people and Democrats with the memories of gold fish. Shockingly enough, Saint McCain was there at the end.

          The Democrats don’t need hearings. They need to start demanding their own members sign on and promise any future candidates supported by the party sign on for Medicare-For-All.

          Reply
        5. Hepativore

          Actually, I do not think the Republicans need to repeal the ACA at this point. When Trump removed the individual mandate, many people now see no reason to purchase a plan and pay increasing premiums for health coverage they cannot afford to use. Since the individual mandate was so central to the structure of the ACA, it is going to collapse inward on itself soon without Republicans ever having to lift a finger; leaving us right back where we started from unless we have a Medicare for all system. Fortunately, Pelosi has a solution to assuage the fears of the medical insurance industry in the form of Paygo.

          Thus, the Democrats acomplish two goals at once. They can blame the failure of the ACA on the mean, nasty, Repuplicans while absolving themselves of any wrongdoing despite the shortcomings of the program in the first place. Plus, they can make sure that Medicare for all is permanently squelched by the Paygo rule. Their donors are salivating at the thought.

          Reply
      3. JohnnyGL

        Agree that some on the right would like to write into the narrative that she’s just a ‘naive, loudmouthed kid who needs to learn from her elders’.

        There’s a lot of team dem adherents to the idea, too. Lots of comments on her twitter feed telling her to pipedown and learn from the wisdom of Nancy Pelosi.

        Others on the right seem to find common ground with her, though. Tucker Carlson liked her Amazon critique.

        I think the tectonic plates of politics are moving and shifting and lots of establishment and beltway types are having trouble figuring out where they are and how the world looks.

        Re: Josh Hawley, newly elected Repub who downed Clintonite Claire MacCaskill….“We need to have a conversation in Missouri, and as a country, about the concentration of economic power,” Hawley told Bloomberg back in March.”

        That’s not how Repubs and Dems talk, or even understand how to talk. It’s a foreign language to them. A quote like that could easily be attributed to AOC or Sanders and they’d agree.

        Beltway/establishment types have spent years airbrushing, ignoring, obscuring and skewing the dynamics of class power while fundraising from it eagerly. It’s a center ground that is becoming untenable.

        Reply
        1. JP

          I don’t think I can attach the label wise to anyone in congress. Pelosi is articulate and knows the ropes. She isn’t going to get marginalised easily. Her vulnerabilities have already been fully exploited by her opposition and she probably knows where several bodies are buried.

          That said, it would be nice if her legacy was disavowing the corporate money yoke and promoting some truly progressive legislation. However I’m sure she also understands that nothing she does will get past the senate and president and so she might just as well continue to work for the machine.

          Reply
        2. Aumua

          I think the tectonic plates of politics are moving and shifting and lots of establishment and beltway types are having trouble figuring out where they are and how the world looks.

          Well I can definitely relate, cause I’ve felt that way for some years now. It’s like every stance I want to take is trying to be co-opted by people who I do NOT agree with at all. When liberals are equated with communists and the CIA are celebrated heroes… tell me why this is a land of confusion. No port in a storm indeed.

          Sorry if this is a duplicate. I’m getting frustrated that half my posts go into moderation and never end up in the thread.

          Reply
    3. Lemmy Caution

      AOC is an effective counter puncher, which makes her Twitter presence even more effective. Every time someone attacks her, she is able to leverage the attention with fast and effective counter attacks. So far she is very good.

      Reply
      1. knowbuddhau

        It’s great. They reach out to punch her from LaLa Land, she grabs their arm and throws them to the ground, here in our world of Pain.

        When you’re opponents haven’t a leg to stand on, and their playing field is tilted to begin with, a little rhetorical jujitsu goes a long way.

        Is this the way a false narrative dies? I hope so, pretty sick of it. Go AOC.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          RE AOC: Too bad it seems like all the eggs are in one AOC basket, that there’s not dozens, thousands, doing the same thing. Too easy to co-opt or decapitate a “movement” that is tied to a single person or very small group (maybe unless the conditions that favored the Bolsheviks might obtain again?)

          I belong to a small club of radio controlled model aircraft flyers. At the last meeting, the one member who has been voluntarily doing almost all the field and equipment maintenance stood up and told the rest of us that, after eight years of people coming up to him and saying ‘You gotta’ do this, that or the other thing, like patch the runway or just take out the trash, that if they weren’t so selfish, they could have just done themselves, we could all go screw ourselves.

          And the response was to ask for another volunteer, “someone retired, maybe, so they have the time” to take over the same role. Some desultory discussion about creating a function description and a job board with members just picked at random (depending on physical limitations) to do what’s needed to keep the flying field in order. Many members noted that the “field maintenance” position entitles the person to a free annual membership ($70 a year,) so kwitcherbitchin’, yer paid to do this stuff, 25 hours a week with no time off.

          Discussion fizzled, punted to “the Board” that is another set of five individuals who out of a membership of 200 plus, does all the other functions of the group.

          An interesting inversion of the Iron Law of Institutions, maybe. And so very typical of how humans too often “organize.”

          Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “AP Interview: Saudi royal says crown prince is here to stay”

    That article mentions that the heads of state gather in Argentina next week for the G-20 summit. I am given to understand that there is like a cocktail circuit for all these diplomats to go visit each other in their respective embassies. If true, I wonder how many will be accepting an invitation to the Saudi Arabian Embassy. If you were going to go to a party, it would be better, and safer, to go to the Donner party instead.

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      This whole thing is such a ridiculous waste of time and energy. As if one of those royal saudi thugs is different from another.

      Reply
  10. Wukchumni

    When we left a week ago, the Eden Fire was 343 acres and quite a smoke generator, now it’s 5x as large-not very smoky thanks to a storm on Wednesday and it’s the kind of wildfire you hope grows even bigger, as the coming week’s storms will deluge it with water, both frozen and chilled.

    As it turns out, the perfect conflagration…

    Started by lightning on October 4th and burning in the John Krebs Wilderness, the Eden Fire area is now 1,718 acres with 30% containment. A parks-based helicopter reconnaissance mission occurred over the fire following the latest storm. Due to its location, there are currently no threats to life, property, or other assets.

    The fire received a combination of rain and snow at lower and higher elevations, respectively. As such, fire activity is moderating in many areas with pockets of heavier dead and down fuels continuing to be consumed. As the availability of aircraft allows the parks are looking to have another infrared flight this week.

    The next wet weather is forecasted to arrive during the middle to end of the last week in November. It is still too early determine rainfall and snow amounts out of this next system.

    Located in and adjacent to the Eden Creek Grove of giant sequoias, the terrain is steep and rugged with no access via the ground. The fire is working its way through an area that has no modern recorded fire history except for a couple of pockets around twenty acres each.

    https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6248/

    Reply
    1. rd

      Historically, this is how many of these wildfires would burn. The lightning occurs during periods when rain and snow can occur instead of hot, dry Santa Ana winds. So the wildfire would consume a bunch of fuel and then go out naturally due to green vegetation, rain, and snow. Frequent repeats of smaller, cooler fires. The fire ecosystem evolved to do this and thrive. In some parts of the country, the First Nations people would start fires at “safe” times to do the same and clear undergrowth and land.

      People built structures in these areas and then attempted to restrict all fire while increasing the number of artificial ignition sources, some of which coincide with periods of peak fire danger (e.g. power lines in high winds). So we build up fuel, increase consequences and costs, and increase potential for fire to start at the worst possible time. Climate change is playing a role, but it is really a supporting role, not the lead.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I walked by a nice couple sitting on the patio of a motel room not far from Hemenway Park in Boulder City Nv, and told them of the 30 or so Desert Bighorn Sheep only 1/4 of a mile away, and they were amazed, and told me they’d been on the road for 5 months in the SW and hadn’t seen hardly any…

        So I ask them where they’re from and they tell me SD, and the conversation revolves to the fires scorching the state, and the guy about a decade older than me, says: “It’s all the environmentalists fault” and I ask him why is that? and he says: “they wouldn’t allow them to burn when we could’ve!” and attempting to explain the policy of not allowing any sort of fire to happen in our forests, resulting from the Big Burn of 1910 and the feeling we better not allow something such as that to occur again, was mostly futile. He wasn’t buying it.

        Funny thing is, our leader claims California didn’t do enough to stop Burnzillas from taking place, and that’s also true of every other 49 states, and lets see some action on that front from the Federal side, in clearing out the clutter that has accumulated, so we can get back to the natural state of the forest for the trees.

        Reply
  11. JTMcPhee

    This ought to make the Tech Lovers happy: maybe soon the Tech Lords they love ( because they aspire to become the next Zuckerberg or Musk or Gates themselves) may shortly achieve “secular Randian GODhood” via actual immortality. Causing “ethicists” and other powerless barnacles to ponder and pontificate, “What are the ethical consequences of immortality technology?”, https://singularityhub.com/2017/08/09/what-are-the-ethical-consequences-of-immortality-technology/#sm.00000aot5ow353dpdscuauwbesjd3

    So us mopes will even be denied the minuscule schadenfreudic satisfaction of knowing that the Bezodians also have to die eventually.

    What does the category of “ethics” even mean in the “modern” context? Maybe ask a Bill Kristol, or Bannon?

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I wouldn’t worry. Remember that this is research is by companies that have such mottos as “Move fast and break things”. They might achieve immortality but realize too late that it would be a life with all the health and vitality of a ninety-year old. In fact, I have come across film of one such experiment. The tech billionaire was advised to wait until the research was complete but the first tests were so promising that he went and tried it himself anyway. He chose poorly.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIitjokEJwg

      Reply
      1. knowbuddhau

        Yo, MyLessThanPrimeBeef, how many Chinese emperors partook of “elixirs of life,” that were anything but? I can think of at least one, but the name escapes me. Also persecuted Buddhism, so that narrows it down.

        What’s old is new, especially for people who think themselves a little too exceptional.

        Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Until the cleaning lady accidentally trips over the cord to the machine keeping their “godhood” alive? Those tech titans may find that while their egos are seemingly imperishable, our minds, like our bodies, tend to “tucker out” (in the words of Saul Bellow).

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        lol. I just spent the last 2 hours rummaging in my badly disorganised Library(a funky trailer house in the woods) to find the sci-fi magazine that contained this:https://japeland.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/5050-short-story-3-the-days-of-solomon-gursky/

        really stuck with me…and that article reminded me of it.
        it’s a love story, over several billion years.
        Too…brain uploads are covered rather well by Frank Herbert’s kid in his prequel series to Dune…namely the Cymeks, Titans and especially the Cogitors(brains of philosophers in vats)
        I was also reminded of certain Heinlein novels…”Time enough for love…”etc.
        as far as immortality becoming boring, I recommend the Silmarillion…the Halls of Mandos, and the “Gift of Men”(ie: “Death”)
        Lots of good stuff on this topic.

        Reply
    1. John Wright

      As my house burned down during the Tubbs fire in the Santa Rosa events described, I was very interested in this.

      I wanted to read and save a transcript, but could not find a way to get this.

      It is a lot faster to read something and search for something in text that you might have heard.

      I’m assuming the speakers are following scripts, so the information is available somewhere.

      The 46.7mb mp3 is available under the RSS icon.

      If a transcript is not available, can anyone recommend a mp3 audio to text converter?

      At first glance, it appears that the oral history to written history transition is reverting.

      Reply
      1. John Wright

        The transcript showed up, it just took some time to get it done, apparently.

        Much easier to search for content.

        Thanks to Revealnews.org

        Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    >How a quiet California town protects itself against today’s megafires
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I’ve spent about a decade Montecito’ing our property, in clearing out everything bigger than a #2 pencil from the ground, and any trees with expired limbs within the 20 foot purview of my pole saw, have seen field amputations a’plenty.

    Essentially, i’m trying to get the same conditions that the Native Americans would’ve had, after deliberately setting fire to the understory each and every late fall, never allowing any buildup of things that can burn out of control.

    A neighbor on one side of us is also putting in a similar effort, while the one of the other side of us could care less-which is upsetting, but hey it’s his spread and he can do what he wants, i’m not his keeper.

    It’s total grunt work, and it’s hard not to feel as if you’re a hunter-gatherer for burn piles that take days to accumulate and 15 minutes to be reduced to cinders.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      I’m not a big RV fan (I camp in tents) but we may all have to start living on wheels or, alternately, pontoons and become weather pilgrims.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        In what I feel is the best contemporary book on the California Gold Rush: Eldorado: Adventures in the Path of Empire, by Bayard Taylor (he was sent west to report on it by none other than Horace Greeley) as he’s leaving SF on a ship and out to sea in SF Bay, all of SF burns up in one of the many fires the city experienced in the early years, and he has a catbird seat, safe from the action. Must’ve been a hellova sight, a 360 degree panorama of conflagration.

        Reply
      2. SimonGirty

        Just take not of what’s dropping out of the sky just behind you, if you’re heading into Bater Town™ and always check the organic produce, dairy & water for nucleotides, heavy metals & benzene?

        Reply
    2. heresy101

      For a perspective on how the Native Americans treated nature (no clear-cutting, “raking the forest”, but intensive maintenance and small scale fires), check out this interview on TUC Radio:
      http://tucradio.org/podcasts/newest-podcasts/restoring-the-forest-the-indian-way-dennis-martinez/

      Also, a perspective on the “The Hidden Life of Trees” by the forester managing a 4,000 year old beech forest:
      http://tucradio.org/podcasts/newest-podcasts/fire-and-the-underground-life-in-the-forest-peter-wohlleben-and-suzanne-simard/

      Check out Trump’s Rake the Forest:
      https://www.rt.com/news/444387-finland-rake-forest-trump/

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The Eden Fire has been giving me food for thought, in that it’s a lightning caused wildfire that’s a blueprint for the future, which only got up to speed as rain & snow came to quell it, and we could accomplish the same results and better, were we to prepare the forests to receive nourishment by clearing them out enough to not cause the fire to spread in a harmful way, and in lieu of fighting it, let Mother Nature do the heavy lifting.

        Check out the fire from the perspective of infrared:

        https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/videos/news/2018/11/21/eden-fire-burns-1-430-acres-sequoia-national-park/2081207002/

        Reply
      2. adrena

        @ heresy101 – Thanks a million for this. Just listened to the tucradio podcast. My forest walks will never be the same.

        Now I don’t feel such a fool for always embracing the Canadian Esdoorn Maple in my Dutch garden, upon my return in April.

        Reply
      3. Oregoncharles

        The Willamette Valley offered a somewhat different version. It was kept in savannah by the Indians burning it, apparently clear out onto the neighboring hills. You can still see the evidence, huge old oaks with spreading limbs, surrounded and gradually shaded out by hair-on-a-dog’s-back regrowth, usually oaks being displaced by firs. Fires served to drive the game and to keep things open, as well as encouraging food sources like camas – a beautiful bulb that is edible only after lengthy cooking, but was a staple for them.

        When whites took over, they stopped the burning; the result was even-age stands of oaks you can still see in certain woodlots, or the wildlife refuges. I’m told that given log enough, Grand Fir will take over, but these days the loggers serve instead of Indian fires.

        Ironically, the grass-seed farmers used to also take over the native role, burning their fields after harvest to “suppress disease” and get rid of the straw. The result looked like a war was going on, and annoyed the city people, especially in Eugene at the head of the valley, so much that the state finally put a stop to it. There were a few horrific accidents, too, and of course human disease problems. The irony is that the valley would have looked oddly similar under Native control.

        Reply
    3. ewmayer

      “it’s his spread and he can do what he wants” — It’s his spread until burning embers from it start to spread all over the place. That’s the problem with the private property ownership paradigm in fire-prone areas – if only a small % of folks lack diligence in the kind of labor-intensive fire-prevention maintenance you describe, it can very easily become a problem for everyone. Also the “total grunt work” you describe reveals another issue – you may move to a lovely cabin-in-the-woodsy area at an age when you can still manage the needed grunt work, but as one gets older and achier and more decrepit that’s inevitably going to tend to fall by the wayside. IOW, western-style fixed habitations spreading throughout fire-prone rural areas are going to cause problems even if their occupants arrive with the best intentions. And preventive-maintenance understory burning is nigh-impossible in the presence of such habitations.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Was driving around town today, and it’s the future scene of a damned shame, perfect fire ladders leaning against wizened oak trees in the form of a large fallen branches that would only need 30 minutes of chainsaw action to eradicate from being an issue, and it’s probably been there for a decade, that sort of thing.

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        Aawww, yer shadin’ my dream there. Actually, I’m already too old and decrepit to live that woodland elf life. And I appreciate your point about how the other ‘neighbor’s” approach to libertarian persona choice freedom living kind of gives the lie to the “virtues” of the rusticate living back in the beautiful woodlands — one rotten apple or physically failing mope can burn out the whole barrel, and I bet a large number of those places (except for wealthier ones who have ‘moved off-grid” with solar/wind power, and electric storage, and all the tenuous tech of inverters and batteries that involves) have above-ground electric lines bringing them the modern conveniences and the risk of utility-initiated wildfire.

        I’ve been to a few RV “resorts” and such places, and spent way too many hours staring at YouTube videos of people who have, often out of necessity, uprooted themselves (where they had roots in the first place) and now “live” in various forms of cars, converted vans, Class A B and C RVs and other rmobile “dwellings.” The numbers are hard to find, but I would guess there are millions of “Americans” whose “home” has four or six or (for the fifth-wheel set) ten or twelve wheels. And they have to move on to another spot every so often, because the Elite and developers and suchlike don’t want “your kind” around. Used to be that one could stop on one of those mostly empty Walmart “pave paradise” parking lots, but even the Walton family has put out the ‘your kind is not welcome here’ signs, so you have to look for a dead Supermall asphalt slab or try to find a “stealth’ place back out of sight — like the millions that are living in what in the last onslaught of Privilege were called “Hoovervilles,” or under the overpasses.

        What it might be like: https://www.businessinsider.com/photos-converted-van-life-disappointing-2018-10 One tiny “I at least own my own vehicle” step above homelessness, which I prefer the British formulation of — “sleeping rough.” No silly dreaming about the civic virtues of home ownership, which is increasingly rare in Britishland, and here, because the toffs own most of the land, and like toffs everywhere, continue to squeeze as much blood out of the turnips before killing them by demolishing even the National Health Service, that Socialist Nightmare…

        Reply
  13. YY

    On the Asia Times Ghosn item. So far the only issue made public is that of false financial reporting, not tax evasion. To say that had Ghosn been Japanese, he would be free from arrest is ridiculous and offensive especially in light of recent example like Horie who was jailed 2 and a half years for that kind of stuff. The writer should do his homework and stop talking out of his hat. I’d post this in Asia Times if they only would allow non face book posters. Any income tax related stuff would come later, if at all, and there is probably a better chance that there are income tax issues in France more so than in Japan. One would have to be a total idiot (which Ghosn is not) to create income tax issues in Japan based upon corporate reporting. A line in the annual report is not where Japanese tax authorities would look to check for income of executives, though it may be where it can create problems in other jurisdictions. There certainly is a lot more stuff to uncover purely on criminal mismanagement and the tax office would just wait this out and clean up for revenue enhancement at the end.

    Reply
    1. Ook

      As a permanent resident of Japan, I have to agree that a high percentage of the Japan articles there are complete nonsense, with the writer apparently pulling facts out of his a**.
      I have taken to reading only Pepe Escabar and skipping the rest.

      Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Despite the warm, enthusiastic “embrace” of elected Sanders acolytes as members of the big tent party publicly expressed by reigning dem royalty, it would seem they’re getting a little nervous.

      Sounds like the nyt, their preferred megaphone, has been given its marching orders–commence the divide and conquer treatment post haste.

      As an aside, what in the world is this about:

      Some close to him recognize that the lectern-pounding liberalism that Mr. Sanders embraced in 2016 — punctuated with frequent denunciations of the “millionaihs and billionaihs” — could benefit from a new element or two.

      So mocking someone’s accent is OK when the nyt does it? Rhetorical question.

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Many of his key policy positions, including Medicare for All and tuition-free public college, have been embraced by others — a victory for him, he would argue, but one that makes his agenda seem less novel.

        See kids, that’s what happens if you run on a clear policy with popular support and objective outcomes. Other candidates join in, the policy eventually gets passed, and then you have to do hard work like paying attention to the plebs to come up with a whole new policy to ‘fight for’. Not to mention killing a funding source and eating into your masters’ rents.

        The article tempts me as a view into the cargo cult, but I’m not sure my spleen can take reading the whole thing.

        Reply
      2. Amfortas the hippie

        well…wasn’t it OK when they had that homophobic cartoon of trump and pooty tonguing each other?
        of course, this is the mouthpiece of the same bunch who have abandoned due process and all other universal rights…so I guess consistency is to be applauded?
        and remember…it is perfectly acceptable to deride the accents, dialects and linguistic idiosyncrasies of literally anyone from the south.”all a bunch of racists any way…”
        sigh.

        Reply
      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        “millionaihs and billioniahs”.

        Wasn’t that amazing? The article was typical New York Times up to that sentence, in its smug but still somewhat covert mockery and sneering. However, the writer blew the thin veil off the story with that line. The Grey Lady once expected her people to somewhat disguise the class bases of their tittering, arch contempt for Sanders. But here….. an epic fail. In an article that pretended Beto O’Rourke is some sort of nouveau Huey Long!

        Reply
      4. Oregoncharles

        It’s a New York (Brooklyn?) accent; the NYT, in this case, is mocking its own. That’s legitimate.

        Not that I would normally defend them.

        Reply
      5. The Rev Kev

        They must have had fun with John F. Kennedy’s Boston accent back in the day. Mocking the idea of a Catholic becoming President of the United States may have been a step too far though.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The Fake News York Times is trying to create movement-destroying jealousy-based division under the cover of pretending to report about it.

          Reply
    2. Thomas F Hilton, PhD

      Totally concur. Ocasio-Cortez’s flubbed tweet throwing a healthcare provider under the bus of public opinion as a means of attacking Big Insurance is no different than Trump condemning California for causing its own wildfires through bad forest management.

      Ocasio-Cortex reflects just how naive these new faces in the DNC lineup are. In two years any of those new faces will be mowed down by Trumincomp. Trumpies may be hateful bastards but they know how to crush the weak to advance their power. Sanders, Warren, and other experienced progressives would not be so foolish.

      Reply
      1. Darthbobber

        I fail to see the flub. And if you truly perceive literally “no difference” between that and the Trump fire idiocy, I don’t really know what to say.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith

        First, that “healthcare provider” is owned by private equity.

        Second, the private equity owned hospital chain refused the transplant due to lack of ability to pay for immunosuppressive drugs, which IS an insurance issue.

        Reply
      3. Big River Bandido

        This comment is incoherent. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was recently elected to Congress. The DNC is a political action committee run by the Democrats whose sole purpose is the election of a Democrat to the White House. AOC has nothing whatsoever to do with the DNC.

        I find it novel that hospitals which overcharge can now be “thrown under the bus of public opinion” (whatever that means). More of it, I say.

        Reply
    3. Darthbobber

      And whether pressley emerges as to the left of even Pelosi remains to be seen. But it’s the Times. A brief break from portraying Sanders as “too out there”, to suggest that he’s in need of racing leftward. Right.

      Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    How much confidence can you have, when the board of supervisors for your county claims there are 2,300 homes in a community, when there are less than 50 in reality-how could they be off by oh so much?

    All the same, it’s nice to see some effort is happening in terms of clearing out the burnables, albeit a couple years from now.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    TULARE COUNTY – The state government is pitching in to help Tulare County cut down its fire risk in the epicenter of the tree mortality crisis in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

    At its Oct. 30 meeting, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors accepted five CalFire grants to remove dead trees from the forest lands surrounding the mountain communities in eastern Tulare County. Known as California Climate Change Investment Forestry Health, the grants are intended to prevent wildfires and reduce the severity of wildfires in high tree mortality areas by removing concentrations of dead trees, creating defensible spaces, and cutting fire breaks around communities and along evacuation routes.

    The Silver City project will thin trees from 175 acres of the Mineral King area surrounding the community of 2,300 homes. In addition to creating defensible space around the community, the project will increase roadside safety and secure a vital evacuation route. The cost of the project is $200,019 and will begin and end in the summer 2020.

    http://www.thesungazette.com/article/news/2018/11/07/state-grants-help-tulare-county-cut-down-on-fire-risk/

    Reply
  15. Summer

    Re: Small bookstores.”comeback”

    I have a sneaking suspicion “record” stores could have a future.
    And I’m not being sarcastic.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      There are a couple of such places in St. Petersburg, I believe… Makes me wish that I had somehow hung onto all my old vinyl…

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Kept all my vinyl through the years, and just this summer found an old SONY receiver/turntable at a garage sale .. on the cheap and in good tube-ular working order … dispite the grimy surface layer of nicotine? build-up ! Speakers and cabinet found at Goodwill to complete my System of Sound. I even fabricated speaker mounts on the top flanks of said cabinet, that swivel, that can be turned to whatever direction of my choosing … all for under 100 quatloos.
        Now, to build up that record collection ..

        Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      There’s one in my town, mostly used, that’s been there forever; as with a new bookstore and several used ones. But it’s a university town.

      Reply
  16. JTMcPhee

    That Studebaker piece is a nice topical inclusion: blah effing blah navel gazing blabber. As Mayor Daley used to demand of the two or three City Council members, like Leon DesPres and Dick Singer, that dared (from gerrymandered safe “identitarian” or “left” districts) to challenge His Powerfulness and the looting initiatives Daley put forth, “WHERE ARE YOUR PROGRAMS?” The joke being, of course, that the “dissidents” had to keep “representing their constituents” who did not have one “program” brick to set upon another, just kvetching about being “out of power” and pitching “ideal solutions” to somehow undo the Chicago Machine and bring water to the desert.

    No “concrete material universal benefits” for the mopery, nor even any realistic insights about “idealist” versus “realist” thinking that might lead to, you know, ACTION to gain and hold power. And while at it, engaging in the pleasant “Left” pastime of picking lint from each others’ navels, while arguing the fortuitous virtues and drawbacks of “innies” versus “outies.”

    Studebaker — wasn’t that a car manufacturer that could not keep up with the times?

    Reply
        1. Duck1

          Well let the fair haired anti-communist meditate in Mineral King while the socialist government initiates expensive fire control measures for the MK chapter of the Bohemian Club.

          Reply
          1. Duck1

            By the way wealth really disappears when say the French Revolution expropriates real property and distributes it to the peasants, particularly if they are never able to reclaim it via revanchist politics.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              I’ll have to remember that next time i’m 225 years in the past in a little street corner bistro on the Left Bank, thanks.

              Reply
  17. rd

    “American Decline”

    We will only decline if we want to. North America has a huge structural advantage over the rest of the world: the US and Canada are nations of immigrants. The rest of the world struggles to import its future citizens as they don’t meet the definition of being from that country.

    We have three major fundamental problems:

    1. Demographics – we are getting older but so are most of our “competitors”
    2. Inequality – we are at extreme levels that historically occur before major social disruption
    3. Racism – the last couple of years have popped the myth the US is a “post-racial society”

    Demographics are easily solved by allowing future immigration. This has been the bedrock of growth in North America since the French showed up in Canada and the Pilgrims showed up in the US.

    Inequality and racism are intertwined and are a much harder knot to cut through. It is likely that a major component of the post-WW II boom from 1950-2000 had a lot to do with opportunities opening up for many people who had been previously been excluded – minorities and women. Unfortunately, that period devolved into concentrating wealth into the top 1% which is causing economic stagnation and re-awakening old racial and other stereotypes.

    If we can resolve these challenges, the US can remain the “hegemon” for another century. Collapsing back into tribal and racial bickering is what would pull us under.

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Being the hegemon is why everything’s gone to crap. Why allocate funds for a new bridge when our treasuries are slurping all the surplus value out of the parts of the world that are actually developing? We can just insure away the risk that represents, in dollar value, and the books balance.

      15%+ unemployment? Throw more people at the labor pool! What is the real fear here, that gen X won’t believe they are getting the same deal that the Boomers supposedly are getting? I would suggest readjusting our folkways to accommodate a less than geometric population growth curve would be the prudent thing. And adding new Americans is terrible for the planetary carbon budget.

      Reply
      1. rd

        The best way for us to resolve labor shortages in the short-run is to stop incarcerating a high percentage of the population for non-violent and non-theft offences and educate them to fill valuable roles instead of just minimum wage. I believe a third of the country currently has a criminal record. In recent years, about 1% of the population will spend time in jail or prison and about 2% are on probation or parole.

        But in the long-richer countries tend not to have many babies and immigration will likely be needed to maintain a demographic balance.

        Reply
    2. Schmoe

      As for our fundamental problems, you left out campaign finance corruption. Other nations of course have corruption, but using big Pharma as Exhibit A, the scope of corruption is far greater in the US than any other Western Country. For Exhibit B, I always find it odd how people note that in China communist officials seem to do very well for themselves via straddling the line between public and private acts, while in the US private equity and HFs executives do even better in part due to public pension fund allocations and tax breaks for mgmt fees now embedded in the IRC. The gross inequality this perpetuates has dire long term macroeconomic implications.
      Another issue you left out is neocon adventurism, although Britain also suffers from this. I don’t need to expand on this any further.
      As for Demographics, note that our average age is 38, while Germany’s is 46. Our federal deficit is now ~ 4% of GDP and I believe Germany’s federal surplus is ~ 1.5% of GDP. See my first paragraph on why other countries are able to weather this demographic issue just fine, but we are completely screwed.

      Reply
    3. jrs

      “We will only decline if we want to.”

      I though this was going to be an argument for a steady state economy and I was like: AMEN. Being a nation of immigrants I thought might mean we would be more open minded to adopting such necessary changes.

      But another argument for groath? Oh well…

      Reply
      1. rd

        Replacement of the working age people is not necessarily growth if your population growth is below replacement rate which is what happened in Europe and Japan and is happening in China.

        Immigration is a valuable tool in balancing the working age versus elderly down the road. That is very difficult to do successfully in Europe, Japan, and China because their cultures are built around ancestry in that locality. That is not the case in North America.

        We are undergoing an unprecedented phenomenon in world history where people are in retirement for decades. This has never occurred in large numbers before and requires careful assessment and planning. The steady-state is different today than it was even 30 years ago.

        Reply
        1. Massinissa

          The more people we have, the more our environmental footprint. AI gives us the opportunity to stabilize or even shrink our population. Advocating having more babies and immigrants in order to have ‘groaf’ just further burdens the planet. The worlds overall carrying capacity will probably decrease as global warming makes current levels of agriculture more difficult.

          Reply
    4. Lord Koos

      I fail to see why more immigrants is a solution to anything. Why do we need more people when there aren’t enough decent jobs to go around, and with AI and robots continuing to take more work away from people? Yes the country is aging, but we have a millennial generation that is more numerous than the baby boomers.

      Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    “Climate May Force Millions to Move and U.S. Isn’t Ready, Report Says”

    Actually this is a big worry this in people not being allowed to move. As an example, evacuating parts of Florida because of rising tides is only logical but what if the politicians fight this because of the effect that it will have on their electoral map? There is always an election around the corner whether it is federal, mid-terms, State and local so will any climate-change denying politician be willing to lose whole chunks of voters which have kept him in office? Could you picture Mark Rubio willing to give up his Florida District to the tides and render himself office-less? Or would some politicians fight any attempts at long term evacuation in order to keep themselves in power?
    Think that it can’t happen? Not long ago the Iraqi government sent refugees back into the newly liberated city of Racca. It had no power, no water, no medical services. The place was full of rotten dead corpses as well as booby traps left behind by ISIS. But there was an election coming up in Iraq and they needed the people back in that city so that they could get the votes from them during the elections itself.

    Reply
    1. rd

      The parts of this country that are the most resilient to climate change have been losing population for several decades now and are relatively inexpensive areas to live in. These are the non-coastal Great Lakes and Rust Belt states. They are largely immune to sea level rise, hurricanes, high temperatures, wildfires, drought etc.They need work on renovating their infrastructure, but an increasing tax base can solve that. The climate change refugees can return to these areas that were the industrial and agricultural heart of the country until 40 years ago.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        The problem is, as of yet, these areas have essentially no new jobs. A jobs guarantee could fix this, but that doesn’t seem to be happening soon. Perhaps in two decades.

        Reply
        1. Edward E

          I just cannot wrap my head around that. In the last 122 years the west has warmed some and the east has cooled some. The climate has been chaotic for hundreds of thousands of years. Maybe the trend should have been cooler the last fifty years because of natural factors. Doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future, but super dramatically warmer? I wouldn’t be confident in those projections.

          https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-content/temp-and-precip/us-trends/tmax/trends-tmax-ann-por.gif

          https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-content/temp-and-precip/us-trends/prcp/trends-prcp-ann-por.gif

          https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-content/temp-and-precip/us-trends/tmax/trends-tmax-aut-por.gif

          https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-content/temp-and-precip/us-trends/prcp/trends-prcp-aut-por.gif

          Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t think the rich and powerful living in our great coastal cities will let Climate Disruption drive them from their perches without a ‘fight’. They control the state and federal monies and will make every effort to spend the public coffers to fund building the sea walls, dikes, and tidewater breaks to protect their cities. Given the corruption of our large scale construction in the US and the ways the wealthy have succeeded in taxing the rest of us to support their needs and wants suggests another little problem as seas rise. Will those who move inland early, within coastal states, end up footing the bill for doomed efforts to keep the waters out and hold back the storms from our cities? How much federal money can the coastal elites command at cost to the already plundered interior regions of our country?

      Reply
      1. rd

        The Senate is tilted towards inland states. Why would those Senators fund massive programs along the coasts depriving their states of benefits?

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Sounds good, but even the inland Senate might have some nostalgia for Washington, DC even if they have no love for NYC, Philadelphia, or Miami. But for my chosen destination the state taxes could be the killer.

          Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    There were temps in northern Scandinavia that were 35 degrees over normal this July, and imagine what similar temps would do in our cities in the summer, and yes i’m looking at you Phoenix in particular, a heat sink’s heat sink.

    Reply
    1. Monty

      If things really get hot and the sea levels shoot up, then “Wild” West Phoenix will become an oceanfront resort! The sea breezes will cool things down a treat.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Naaah, although there is hope for the crass-test-dummy state in that somebody other than a hard right acolyte done got elected to high position of power, they’d build a wall to stop the incoming sea from Mexico invading.

        Reply
  20. Summer

    RE: Shouldn’t an important U.S. foreign policy goal of the next couple of decades be regime change in China? https://t.co/TpFODNTwQZ

    — Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 23, 2018

    Which really isn’t saying anything. It’s already a goal even if there is no plan or a plan that readers have been told about. It’s already been tried and done by various outside forces throughout its long history – so it’s not a surprising comment for the Chinese to hear. What’s he doing with such a tweet? Just throwing out feelers to see who will seek his services if such a plan is in action or goes into action?

    Reply
  21. Dan Lynch

    Re: “Unemployed people kill themselves at around two-and-a-half times the rate of those in work.”

    And yet, suicide is rising in the U.S. while unemployment is falling.

    And white suicide rates are higher than black, even though black unemployment is double white unemployment.

    And some of the countries with the highest suicide rates, like Japan, have low unemployment.

    Point being, some of the articles about suicide, including the Axios article, are bullshit. It’s hard to pin suicide on any one thing — it really is.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Suicide is not stigmatized in Japan, while many cases of suicide here are reported as something else on death certificates. In addition, death by suicide voids life insurance, so men with families and insurance will kill themselves in a way that looks like an accident, like running into an abutment known to be dangerous.

      The US still has a low labor force utilization rate among prime age males.

      Death by alcoholism is arguably suicide and not captured in the statistics.

      Reply
      1. Harold

        Japanese society is still very status oriented and hierarchical, with socially enforced conformity. Appearances are everything. It doesn’t score as well as you might expect on those “world happiness” surveys. All nations have their problems, I guess.

        Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    It could have been worse, the hospital might’ve told the patient to go out and buy lottery tickets in order to save her ticker, but they had a heart.

    Reply
  23. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Bernie Sanders: Lion of the Left, but Not the Only One Roaring

    Wow, that article is so poorly written and comes to all the wrong conclusions that you’d almost think the NYT doesn’t want Sanders or any other lefties to win….

    The bit that chaps my rear end the most is this one:

    After loudly criticizing Amazon earlier this year over its wages and treatment of workers, he is now attacking Walmart on the same issues — burnishing his credentials as a champion of the working class.

    Because for the Beltway insiders, it always about the credentials needed to push your way ahead; the fact that he might actually be sincere doesn’t seem to cross their tiny little minds.

    Reply
    1. Annotherone

      I felt the same reading that rather condescending NYT article. TSK!
      “…burnishing his credentials as a champion of the working class” – his credentials on that score need no burnishing – they shine out clearly and very brightly, always have and always will!

      Reply
    2. Daryl

      It’s so weird that having more than a handful of actual leftists is considered “outflanked” rather than just, you know, a logical consequence of what people want. NYT and Democrats can’t understand taking positions based on principles, so any leftist is a “populist” trying to win elections by promising “unrealistic” things.

      Reply
    3. Jeff W

      …the fact that he might actually be sincere doesn’t seem to cross their tiny little minds.

      Chinese saying:
      以小人之心度君子之腹
      To gauge the heart of a gentleman with one’s own mean measure… (Base people will judge people of honor as being the same as they are.)

      Reply
  24. Wukchumni

    There were around 10 of us on the great hot springs roadtrip, all of us quite outdoorsy and experienced in that regard, and we were talking about how busy hiking trails in our respective areas have become in just the past few years, as not only is there a boom in tourism in general, but also in the wilderness or near wilderness.

    Hot springs tend to have what we call ‘mayors’, as in they are there an awful lot, and in the case of Arizona hot springs, the mayor is a nice fellow named Mike we’ve met over the years, his schtick being that every day in the fall/winter months, he daily hikes down 3 1/2 miles from the road and keeps the sandbagged hot springs in good order-and once done hikes back up to his car, really a remarkable fellow with a definite feel for the pulse of the place.

    A total of 90 kayaks/canoes can be on the Colorado River daily via permit, and about half of those are out for the day, while the rest are camping overnight @ Az hot springs.

    There is no limit to the amount of hikers though, and Mike was telling us that foot traffic has increased mightily which we witnessed firsthand, and there have been 4 deaths in past years in the summer months when it’s 110-120 degrees and it’s easy to walk down 1,000 feet from the trailhead-but a different story coming up, so NPS has barricaded the trail from entry in the summer, a Hadesdrian’s Wall of sorts.

    Mike told us that a couple walked down with 1 little water bottle between them in August, when their bodies were found.

    Reply
    1. Lord Koos

      We went out to hunt for mushrooms last month and there were 20 cars in the trailhead parking lot. This was on a weekday in October. It’s getting crowded here in the woods nowadays, eastern WA is the recreational zone for the west side urbanites.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Here, too, though there are still places where you can expect to see no one. Timing matters a lot; helps if you don’t mind getting a little wet.

        The overall population here is a lot smaller than Washington, though.

        Reply
    1. integer

      Clinton is apparently unaware that the liberal media establishment treated her with kid gloves during her 2016 campaign, while doing everything they could possibly do to discredit Trump. Her replies in this interview are pure hypocisy and projection, especially her condemnation of Trump’s attacks on the liberal establishment media (which is so one-sided in its reporting that it is not altogether inaccurate to label it fake news), considering she personally tried to get Matt Lauer fired when he “got smart” and asked her one question she didn’t want to answer.

      Reply
  25. cm

    An interesting Reddit post about the caravan halted in Tijuana. What makes it interesting is the large number of comments from Mexicans and others in Central American.

    Apparently various states in Mexico wanted to get the caravan out of their particular state, so bused them on to the next state. Now, TJ is suffering because they are the end of the road.

    A viral video showing one of the caravaners complaining about (free) Mexican food has had an impact.

    Reply
      1. Chris

        +1 for El Norte.

        That plus “The Milagro Bean Field War” and a few other works of magical realism were required in my high school in AZ when I was growing up. I really appreciated the different perspective and how complicated things were with the border and the land and the people and workers… it was good for an 18 year old kid to see that.

        Otherwise, I had a much different experience of the people across the border. There is and always will be a lot of cross border crime. If you’ve ever been a victim of that it’s very easy to understand the appeal of Trump’s wall. Of course, if you’ve ever lived close to the southern border, you know why building a wall would be a monumental task.

        But that still doesn’t stop you wanting the people who are causing you harm to stop coming in illegally and to stop making life miserable for people on the US side of the border. And it only takes one or two of those experiences out of the thousands of legal and safe and legitimate border crossings to make you think that Trump’s got a good point.

        I wish the people in DC and NYC criticizing people in AZ and Texas would think about that before mouthing off on policy and “the deplorables.” They’re not paying the price for the decisions they’re making. But someone in southern AZ is and that can make a more humane policy approach a really tough sell.

        Reply
    1. Chris

      Here’s a recent link from the LA Times on today’s border clash:

      Border Crossing Story last updated 5 PM

      Frightening stuff. Also, curious on a few fronts.

      I had thought the definition of a refugee with a legal claim to asylum excluded economic reasons. CNN has been posting articles all day with references to what Jeffrey Toobin said about asylum vs. “Wanting to come to US for a better life.” If these migrants are claiming that they’re “International Workers” then aren’t they setting themselves up to be denied refugee status in the USA if and when they have their time in immigration court? Doesn’t Trump have care blanche to deport all of them and deny all of them now after today’s events? Couldn’t BP just say “prove you weren’t at the rally and rush the border episode on November 26 or else you’re denied immediately” ? I wonder if the group gas anyone advising them of this?

      On a completely different note, kind of sad to see all the typos in the article. The times is a good paper. I know they’re updating things on the story quickly, but it would it kill them to have an editor look at it first?

      Reply
  26. Principe Fabrizio Salina

    From the Sunday New York Times, “The Website That Shows How a Free Press Can Die:”

    “But below the surface, the system has been degraded. The Constitutional Court is stacked
    with judges appointed by Fidesz. The judiciary and the prosecution service are headed by two
    of Mr. Orban’s oldest supporters. Both the electoral system and the electoral map have been
    altered to favor Mr. Orban’s party.”
    Dear New York Times, have we reached peak hypocrisy yet?

    Reply
  27. JEHR

    That Taiwan Blue Magpie is just gorgeous! Nature is so splendorous. I also like the black-billed magpie found in Alberta and the Canada Grey Jay (for its lovely personality).

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      That’s wonderful; I THOUGHT it looked like a magpie, only blue!

      Not that surprising, since magpies are fairly closely related to jays, which are generally blue.

      Reply
  28. torff

    Re: Wolf’s list, the same complaint about lack of gender and geographical diversity can be made about his year-end list as was made about his “summer reading list”, as noted in this letter to the FT:

    https://www.ft.com/content/28d3c662-8467-11e8-a29d-73e3d454535d

    And in response to Wolf’s summer reading list, an excellent alternative reading list. (Readers of this blog might be especially interested in *When Things Don’t Fall Apart*, which I’ve read and highly recommend.)

    https://developingeconomics.org/2018/07/01/an-alternative-economics-summer-reading-list/

    Reply
    1. Grand

      One of the books listed is “Red Flags”, and he had a quote there that really grates on me. He talked about the need in China to really structurally change the system, which was called “modernization”. It involves a move towards markets, lessening state involvement in the economy. I find that language and idea incredibly annoying and as off as off can be. We know that lots of information is missing in markets (environmental, social information), and we know that China has a full blown environmental crisis. We also know that the country is already very limited as far as land being available for growing food, and that inequality is massive. We know of the countries long history of famines. We also know the social unrest already in the country, with well over a 100,000 “mass incidents” in the country every year. As someone that lived in the country, I would add how diverse the country is. Hundreds of dialects, many different cultures, etc. Read “Constructing China” by Mobo Gao, published by Pluto Press recently, for a good background on modern China, how diverse it is. Before 1949, China as we know it didn’t exist. The very idea, given this, that the state should cede control and give more power to “markets”, which are key drivers in environmental destruction and inequality, and given how unstable China already is and how easily it could Balkanize if the central government were to really cede control to “markets”, is insanity. “Modernization” has been pretty disastrous the world over, and it would be more disastrous in China than most other countries. But then again, maybe the goal is to actually encourage the collapse of the PRC. If that is the case, then I can see the support for “modernization”. Deepen the market reforms, be open to the RMB being the world’s reserve currency (which would require the state ceding control to international financial markets), make the country vulnerable to the things that brought the region down in the late 1990’s, and pretend to be surprised that it was a disastrous idea.

      Reply
  29. Deschain

    “I’m haunted by the fear that one day a political campaign will find out how to weaponize them”

    It’s not so much video games per se, but rather the communities that spring up around them. The level of collective action that goes on in some of these video game communities is incredible.

    I actually think there are some key lessons for the left that could be learned by examining thriving video game communities. They largely exist online and are made up of people who have little or no connection in real life, and yet are incredibly passionate about the games they play and are willing to engage in notably selfless activities to help the community. Neoliberals and right-nationalists are opposed to collective action and so I worry less about them figuring anything out. Video game communities also thrive on authenticity which is another strike against the non-left.

    Games used to be a product; now most industry people view them as a service, but done right, they are actually a multi-way relationship between the developer and the players. I think politics-as-a-relationship (and not a product or a service) is a right way to think about what a winning model looks like.

    Reply
  30. Jean

    Many articles these days seem to have a huge amount of verbiage before the subject at hand is actually addressed. i.e. The Montecito fire story, we get 8 paragraphs of Hemingwayesque descriptions of the fire that came through, then finally, they get to the solution to the fires. The core paragraph of articles seems to be moving further and further down the line. Sometimes it makes sense to just read the last paragraph of an article to save time.

    Then it hit me, this is so there’s lots more room to post online ads alongside and within the verbiage. In the old days, newspapers and magazines printed ads outside of the space in which the article appeared. Now it’s in the same space. That explains the shift in writing and editing style IMHO.

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  31. How is it legal

    Re How a quiet California town protects itself against today’s megafires

    First, let’s fix that title: How a quiet California Fortress of Power, Wealth, and Influence protects itself against today’s megafires. Lamberts helpful attached wiki link can update non-Californians as to just who lives in Montecito.

    Second, let’s add that part about Montecito residents Trucking in water and being able to afford enormous water usage penalties, while working class municipalities’ yards and surrounding areas are dried out to a crisp.

    Third, particularly regarding this (highly edited, along with that horrid, obsequious title?) ironic paragraph in the piece:

    Not all the vegetation can be removed, of course. That would doom the unstable land during rains, enabling deadly landslides, and debris flows.

    I can’t imagine why the piece didn’t then mention, or edited out, the fact that the Montecito Fortress was not impervious to disaster. Montecito was still nailed by a deadly mudslide, on January 9th, 2018 (21 deaths ultimately reported), before the referred to Thomas Fire was even fully contained, on January 12th.

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Mudslides obviously have no respect for wealth…

        A number of homes are completely buried in muck, and might serve as a latter-day Herculaneum, when somebody digs them out in 3579.

        Reply
      2. How is it legal

        You’re welcome, I thought that’s what you were doing, because the article was outrageously deceptive, and omissive (told to protect insane Real Estate Valuations™?). How quaint: quiet California town, so humble, of moderate means, responsibility shoes, Kinkadian Season’s Greetings card seeming.

        Ever since Al & Tipper oddly bought a Montecito Estate (which, last I read, Tipper resides in), shortly before their separation (and then, divorce), and after having purchased a San Francisco Penthouse (which, last I read, Al still lives in, between London and Tennessee, presumably), I’ve been aware that Montecito’s an enclave for the Elite.

        (Heh™, would have responded much earlier, but woops, just as I was going to post my response, PG&E! – computer crashed. You don’t even want to know, and of course I had unsaved items I had to ‘resurrect.’ The elite literally obscure and steal: truth; time; and the little money they have (if any), from the rest of society.)

        Reply
    1. Enquiring Mind

      Montecito residents and their central coast neighbors were quick studies. During the Reagan era drought there were water restrictions so enterprising folk sprayed a green concoction on what was left of their lawn. That helped maintain spirits in dry times. Nowadays they just outsource the nuisances.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe FEMA can distribute a rake to each household that is located in potentially fire-stricken area. But I doubt it as it would not fit it being a ‘market solution’. to the problem of fires. That is, unless the householders were forced to buy a FEMA-approved rake.

      Reply
    3. Monty

      Probably just a bit of desperate PR. They have got to try and prop up the property values in the area. That piece of paradise got a lot less alluring in 2018.

      Reply
  32. Wukchumni

    Watching the woeful 2-9 Oakland Raiders lose again, and their coach Jon Gruden won a Superbow 15 years ago (like say a General that won the 1st Iraq War) and has been living off the glory ever since as a paid analyst (not unlike a retired General that toils for Fox) for various tv networks, but couldn’t resist going back to war, in a pigskin fill-in for Afghanistan.

    Reply
  33. Olga

    In case there are still doubts; https://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-founder-of-panera-bread-explains-the-economic-forces-that-led-to-trump
    “n the summer of 2017, Lynn Paine and Joseph Bower, two Harvard Business School professors, published a piece in the Harvard Business Review arguing that the idea that profits are all that should matter to a company’s leadership is a relatively new one. They trace it to an essay by the free-market economist Milton Friedman, which ran in the Times Magazine in 1970. In the piece, Friedman outlined what he called the “Friedman business doctrine,” which holds that ideas of corporate social responsibility, which had become popular in the business world, were undermining the American way of life. “The businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned ‘merely’ with profit but also with promoting desirable ‘social’ ends; that business has a ‘social conscience’ and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers,” he wrote. Instead, he went on, “They are preaching pure and unadulterated socialism. Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these last decades.” The article caused a sensation, and Friedman’s idea that managers of companies were nothing more than “agents” of shareholders was taken up by economists and business school professors, who helped build it into the dominant attitude in the United States and beyond. In their article, Paine and Bower argue that this theory is “rife with moral hazard.” Stock owners have no public accountability for what the company does, and no responsibility, as executives do, to place the company’s interests above their own. The costs of prioritizing shareholders’ interests are borne by the company, and by society as a whole, which is robbed of innovations, jobs, and tax revenue.”

    Reply
  34. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Nuclear Fleet’s Dry Docks Threatened by Storms and Rising Seas”

    Took a quick look at a map and it does not look like moving the dry docks further away from those rising tides holds much promise. That whole region looks like that much of it will go under because of marshes and the like. I heard mention that those dry docks are in not that great a condition anyway. Moving the whole base would be one – very expensive – solution but the problem would be in building it, would it be outstripped by rising tides in their new location? And if you build it too high for the eventual rises, would ships with deep droughts be able to get up to it? This is true of any docking facility that is located on a coastline which means ALL of them. The same must be true of all commercial traffic as well. This is going to get interesting.

    Reply
    1. Duck1

      Maybe the solons will revive the lighter aboard ship concept that arose during the SE asian kerfluffle and lead to the bk of the Alioto clan, though it was just a flesh wound. Essentially, the containers would be loaded lighters, that could be towed to less developed port facilities. One or two ships were constructed and sat around in SF bay for years.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Dry docks normally float; in fact they move up and down in use. I know this because my son used to work at the Portland ship yard, and helped prepare their largest drydock to be shipped around the world – taking his job with it.

      In the news the other day, the Russians just had their largest drydock SINK. Refloating it will be quite a project, and in the meantime they can’t do maintenance on their carriers.

      To be prepared, the Navy will have to have a series of bases at progressively higher locations ready to receive the docks – and will have to have them ready to move. The storm damage problem is more serious; if Norfolk gets wiped out, like that base in Florida, they’re pretty much up the creek (or the Chesapeake, in this case) until it’s repaired. And they might have to refloat all 3 docks.

      Reply
      1. Conrad

        Russian carrier, singular as Varyag Was sold to the Chinese quite a while ago. And both are pretty small compared to the US navies 20.

        Reply
  35. Edward E

    Bad time to have your peacock run off with a flock of turkeys. I actually have seen something similar here, never heard who lost it. Often heard the screaming calls and occasionally saw a peacock that was part of a flock of wild turkeys as they traveled around the area for years. They never did let me get close. The peacock didn’t make it past the last solar minimum cold winters or something. In fact the turkey population dropped low during this time and only partially recovered. AGFC blamed the cold and rainy springs on unsuccessful hatching and poult survival.

    Reply

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