2:00PM Water Cooler 12/14/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Trade

“The Latest Sign of a U.S.-China Trade Truce: Corn” [Bloomberg]. “Corn futures gained on Friday after Chinese officials were said to be preparing to restart purchases of American supplies as soon as January in another sign that China is working on a lasting detente with the U.S. The Asian nation may buy at least 3 million metric tons of U.S. corn, according to people familiar with the discussions, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential. Corn for delivery in March gained as much as 0.8 percent in Chicago as soybeans and wheat declined. The Chinese government is also considering various options for how to handle the 25 percent retaliatory tariffs on American corn that China adopted in July, the people said.” • The source is “Chinese officials.” That locution, “the people,” seems odd. Presumably an algo can’t be a source?

“China to Announce Resumption in U.S. Soy Purchases Soon” [Bloomberg]. “The final decision will be made by the State Council or cabinet, said the people, who declined to be identified as the matter is confidential. Details to be decided include whether the volume should be 5 million tons or 8 million tons and if commercial companies should buy a further 2 million tons and be reimbursed for the 25 percent tariffs, the people said.”

Good question:

Politics

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

2020

Well done:

Sanders on social. #2 after Oprah:

Amusing to watch the press and the political class hastily erase Sanders’ role in this.

“Beto is the new Bernie” [The Week]. • No.

They’re bi-coastal!

“California could have seismic impact on 2020 Democratic presidential race” [Reuters]. “The nation’s most populous liberal state has moved its presidential nominating contest to early in the 2020 calendar, a shift its leaders hope will give it maximum impact on the selection of a Democratic nominee and push candidates to address progressive issues such as climate change.” • ***cough*** Kamala Harris ***cough***

“Top House Democrats join Elizabeth Warren’s push to fundamentally change American capitalism” [Vox]. “A group of five House Democrats — critically including newly elected assistant leader Ben Ray Luján and Progressive Caucus Chair Mark Pocan along with Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Stephen Lynch, and Brendan Boyle — are joining her by co-sponsoring a House version of Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act. Pocan and Schakowsky are longtime progressive stalwarts, but Luján’s co-sponsorship is a bit more surprising. He ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during its very successfully 2018 cycle, and he’s now stepping up into the No. 4 spot in the Democratic hierarchy, setting himself up as a leading contender for speaker when newly adopted term limits take effect in 2022. The proposal would have drastic consequences, redistributing trillions of dollars from rich executives and shareholders to the middle class — but without involving a penny in taxes…. The Accountable Capitalism Act focuses on… how to prioritize workers in the American economic system while leaving businesses as the primary driver of it.” • The Bearded One would, I think, call that a contradiction.

2018

NC-09: “North Carolina’s election fraud scandal has both parties planning for another campaign” [CNN]. “Democrats are zeroing in on Republican nominee Mark Harris’ ties to operative at the center of the alleged election fraud, demanding Harris personally address the depth of their relationship, while escalating nationwide fundraising appeals to back their candidate, Dan McCready. Republicans have sought to nudge Harris from the stage, most clearly by moving to mandate a new primary in the case a new general election is called, and by suggesting — as one senior party official did to CNN — that the mess has rendered him damaged political goods…. The decision to re-run the midterm race, which Harris initially appeared to have won by a slim margin in November, ultimately rests with the State Board of Elections, which is overseeing an investigation into allegations of an absentee ballot fraud operation directed by an operative on the payroll of a firm hired by Harris.”

Please Kill Me Now

“Ossoff strikes populist tone as he mulls Senate bid” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “[At] Ossoff’s town hall meeting in rural northeast Georgia… he unveiled an urgent, populist message railing against the corporate influence in politics and a national economy ‘built on debt and consumption.’ ‘There’s more and more cynical politics. Student debt is skyrocketing. We’re still maintaining this unfathomably large empire that costs trillions of dollars,’ said Ossoff. ‘We’re doing nothing for crumbling infrastructure at home. And we wonder why there’s so much anger.'” • Ossoff ran against Handel as an especially mushy centrist. Now he’s a populist. What will he be the next election cycle? Born again?

No:

Hot beef sundaes?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Is the Women’s March Melting Down?” [Tablet Magazine]. Perhaps the most anodyne paragraph: “Since it was conceived on the rooftop in the chaotic days after Trump’s election, the Women’s March has never really escaped the contradictions and internal conflicts present at its founding. There wasn’t any one rift that could be healed or moved beyond; there were many—over personalities, ideology, money and organization. Is it a 501(c)(4) organization called Women’s March Inc. or a different entity, a 501(c)(3) called the Women’s March Foundation? And why is it that there are two entities and the group will only acknowledge one? But those are not the only kinds of questions that have pulled at the seams of the movement. There are profound questions, too, about its core values and what, exactly people are marching for.” • Worth reading in its entirety, for all the detail; grab a cup of coffee. Suffice to say that there’s a real distinction between the national and the local.

“Why Is The Center For American Progress Betraying The Left? [Current Affairs]. tl;dr: Because they’re liberals, and liberals, like conservatives, oppose the left. Also donors. One tidbit: “The Center for American Progress does not just accept shady donations. It also gives them. Journalist Andrew Perez reported that according to financial disclosure forms, CAP donated $200,000 last year to the American Enterprise Institute. The AEI is a right-wing free-market think tank perhaps best known as the longtime home of racist social scientist Charles Murray.” • Well worth a read!

“Analysis: In democracies’ political chaos, new model emerges” [Associated Press]. “Bickering in the Oval Office. Shouting at the Houses of Parliament. Rioting on the Champs-Elysees. It’s a chaotic moment for the countries that have long underpinned the global order, a time of instability for the balance of power that has reigned for decades…. It’s a similar narrative in each place: People outside the centers of power are rejecting political elites they feel take them for granted, and backing new movements that eschew the rules and that often play to their basest thoughts. To be clear, this isn’t a weakening of democracy. In a way, it’s the opposite.” • Unusual to see a piece of this nature and tone from AP. Countless small and not-so-small papers are ripping it from the wire and printing it, even now…

Why not just outlaw electronic voting? Thread:

Stats Watch

Industrial Production, November 2018: “Big jumps for utilities and mining more than offset a flat performance at manufacturers” [Econoday]. “Manufacturing had been showing some life in this report but today’s data include a sharp downward revision to October… These results, together with the previously released factory order data for October, point to a factory sector that may be running a bit out of gas going into year end.” And: “The increase in industrial production was above the consensus forecast, however the previous months were revised down. Capacity utilization was at consensus” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “There was downward revision to last month’s data. The best way to view this is the 3 month rolling averages which marginally declined. Industrial production remains in a long term upward trend” [Econintersect].

Purchasing Managers Index Composite FLASH, December 2018:”December’s initial PMI samples report noticeably slowing rates of growth” [Econoday]. “Today’s report echoes the slowing in the manufacturing component of November industrial production which fell into the minus column. Yet however much manufacturing and also services may be slowing, a strong holiday shopping season, which is the indication from the retail sales control group, would point to a quick rebound for the new year. ”

Retail Sales, November 2018: “Sharp contraction in gasoline sales held down November retail sales” [Econoday]. “When excluding autos and also gasoline, the strength starts to show… and when looking at the control group, which excludes gasoline and several other components that slowed in November, sales really jump… in a reading that ultimately defines the strength of the results.” And: “The increase in November was slightly above expectations; sales in September were revised down, revised up in October” [Calculated Risk]. And: “There was upward adjustment of last month’s data. The real test of strength is the rolling averages which declined” [Econintersect[.

Business Inventories, October 2018: “Business inventories open up the fourth-quarter on a positive note, rising” [Econoday]. “Inventories relative to overall sales, however, may be looking less lean. [T]he inventory-to-sales ratio [rose] to 1.35 from 1.34. This is a reminder of the large and welcome inventory build during the third quarter which has lifted stocks, perhaps, to balanced levels.” And: “Inventories significantly grew this month. Our primary monitoring tool – the 3 month rolling averages for sales – declined again but remains in expansion. As the monthly data has significant variation, the 3 month averages are the way to view this series. Overall business sales are improving since the low point in 2015 – and the trend over the last 6 months shows little change in the rate of growth” [Eocnintersect].

Consumer Credit: “Just Released: A Closer Look at Recent Tightening in Consumer Credit” [LIberty Street Economics (TW)]. “Particularly in the context of a strong economy and still relatively low, though rising, interest rates, the elevated flow into serious delinquency is potentially concerning. Evidence from the SCE Credit Access Survey, SLOOS, and our Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit suggests that looser credit standards and an increase in subprime card issuance during the 2013-16 period are likely to have contributed to the rise in delinquency rates. However, the increase in the delinquency rate can be seen even within finer credit score buckets, which is consistent with a loosening in underwriting standards beyond just credit scores with more cards going to more marginal applicants. Alternatively, the increase in the credit card delinquency rate may reflect the gradual rise in interest rates or weakening economic conditions facing subgroups of borrowers, even while the economy overall is doing well.” • Interesting read.

Apparel: “Keeping Clothes Out of the Garbage” [Anthropocene]. “The industry, driven by fast fashion, has steadily become one of the most serious polluters in the world. Clothing manufacture was never exactly tidy, what with toxic dyes, copious amounts of water needed for growing fiber and processing fabrics, and waste from factories. But in 2015, carbon emissions from clothes surpassed those emitted from all international flights and all maritime shipping combined. Cotton, for example, uses more pesticides than any other crop—and organic cotton takes up more land and much more water than conventionally grown cotton. At the same time, clothes are worn for less time than they ever have been previously.” • This is a very good summary, and it reinforces what we’ve all discussed: The post-NAFTA crapifcaiton of clothing.

Commodities: “The explosive dominance of soy over a century went unnoticed by most Americans—except for those growing it” [The New Food Economy]. “Although soy products like tofu have been consumed for tens of decades in this country by certain populations like Asian-Americans, Seventh-day Adventists, and health- and environmentally-conscious eaters, most soy products are consumed indirectly or invisibly—as cooking oil, the ubiquitous emulsifier soy lecithin, or as soy-fed beef, pork, poultry, and even factory-farmed fish.” • A good round-up on the soybean.

Commodities: “Exclusive: Dutch hospitals to drop U.S. body brokers, cite ethical concerns” [Reuters]. “Two major Dutch hospitals say they will stop importing human body parts from American firms, which they have been doing without any regulation for a decade… Earlier this year, Reuters reported that one broker under scrutiny by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation – Portland, Oregon-based MedCure – has used a Dutch hub to distribute tens of thousands of kilograms of human body parts across Europe since 2012. U.S. authorities suspect MedCure sold body parts tainted with disease to American and foreign customers, a concern triggered in part by such shipments to Canada and Hong Kong, according to people familiar with the investigation.”

Tech: “Verizon signals its Yahoo and AOL divisions are almost worthless” [NBC]. “In a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, Verizon Communications Inc. said it was taking a $4.6 billion charge on the goodwill balance of Oath, the division it created in June 2017 after it spent billions of dollars to buy Yahoo Inc. and AOL Inc. Oath was supposed to be Verizon’s big push into web-driven advertising, a bid to compete with behemoths like Google LLC and Facebook Inc. in the U.S. online ad market.” • That was their idea? Wowsers.

Tech: “Postmates unveils Serve, a friendlier autonomous delivery robot” [Tech Crunch]. “Serve can carry 50 pounds of goods for 25 miles on a single charge — enough to make around a dozen deliveries per day. Thanks to a low center of gravity achieved by building the battery into the bottom of the chassis, it’s less likely to get cow-tipped. It uses Velodyne Lidar and a NVIDIA XAVIER processor to tell where it’s going. A Postmates spokesperson tells me, of the scalability and efficiency of the rovers, that ‘ultimately we believe that there will be a world where goods move rapidly at almost zero cost to the consumer.'” And then there’s this: “There’s also the question of what happens to the labor Serve replaces.” • Not really. Falling life expectancy will ultimately take care of the problem.

Gaia

“Satellite spies methane bubbling up from Arctic permafrost” [Nature]. “As icy permafrost melts to form lakes, microbes break down organic matter in the thawing ground beneath the water and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Researchers have measured the amount of methane seeping out of hundreds of lakes, one by one, but estimating emissions across the Arctic remains a challenge. Understanding how much methane is being released by these lakes is crucial to predicting how much permafrost emissions could exacerbate future climate change….. [Melanie] Engram’s results suggest that previous research over-estimated how much methane was coming from many large lakes, partly because scientists have spent more time studying smaller lakes with relatively high emissions.”

“Viking cat skeletons reveal a surprising growth in the size of felines over time” [Science]. “Many animals shrink when they become domesticated—the average dog is about 25% smaller than its wild cousin the gray wolf, for example—but a curious thing appears to have happened to cats during the Viking era: They got bigger. More research is needed to confirm the new finding, but there’s a good chance it had to do with being better fed.” • Or rather, inducing better feeding.

“When humans are wiped from Earth, the chicken bones will remain” [New Scientist]. “The explosion in chicken farming and the rapid changes in the form of chickens due to selective breeding make them an ideal sign of our time…. The modern broiler chicken – the variety farmed for meat – is now unrecognisable from its wild ancestor, the red jungle fowl. Though chickens were domesticated around 8000 years ago, they have undergone especially marked changes since intensive farming took off in the middle of the 20th century…. The modern broiler chicken – the variety farmed for meat – is now unrecognisable from its wild ancestor, the red jungle fowl. Though chickens were domesticated around 8000 years ago, they have undergone especially marked changes since intensive farming took off in the middle of the 20th century…. If future geochemists were to analyse the carbon and nitrogen isotopes in these fossils, they would see a striking difference compared to wild fowl, thanks to the chicken’s homogenised diet.”

“Earth’s first life-forms played it cool in deep ocean, Stanford study finds” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “But why, the two scientists wondered, did life-forms become more complex in such a cold, dank and forbidding place a mile beneath the waves, where light and food are scarce? Why not in shallower water, where most marine life thrives now? Because, researchers Tom Boag and Erik Sperling found, the deep ocean might have been very cold, but it stayed cold. Temperature swings, they said, would have made it tough for single-cell organisms to evolve into bigger critters.”

Water

“Harvard Quietly Amasses California Vineyards—and the Water Underneath” [Wall Street Journal]. “The university’s endowment manager, Harvard Management Co., was stealthily building a sizable grape-growing business on the Central Coast…. With the land, it was acquiring rights to vast sources of water in a region where the earth’s warming is making the resource an ever-more-valuable asset…. Harvard’s bet has proven prescient. The $39 billion fund, among America’s biggest endowments, now values its vineyards at $305 million, up nearly threefold from in 2013, while its overall natural-resources investments have done poorly… David Gladstone, chief executive of Gladstone Land Corp. , a publicly traded farmland-investment trust, says the recent California drought was profitable for his company and tenant farmers because they had access to water while others didn’t. The changing climate has made control of water more valuable, he says. “‘That is certainly true in most of the U.S., but very true in California.'” • That’s nice. Nancy Pelosi owns a (vanity) winery, so she’s in good company.

“40 million Americans depend on the Colorado River. It’s drying up” [Grist]. “Under the current rules, federal water managers project a 52 percent chance that an official water shortage will be declared in fall of 2019, with mandatory cutbacks beginning in 2020. A shortage is more than 99 percent certain the following year. The problem is, due to systematic over-use, even those cutbacks won’t be enough to prevent the river from falling still lower, so the multi-month series of meetings this year have centered around agreeing on deep cuts starting right away. To be clear: There is no remaining scenario that does not include mandatory cutbacks in water usage along the Colorado River within the next few years. The long-awaited judgement day for the Southwest is finally here.” • Maybe we can start using dew collectors, like the Fremen in Dune.

Health Care

“Case Study of 1” [Alex Press]. The conclusion: “I just wish it, all of it, would be classified correctly, as murder: the mistreatment, the abuse, the insurance mix-ups, the lack of access in the first place, the disdain, the bills, what that psychiatrist did today. It’s homicide, on a mass scale: take a number, wait until it’s called.” • A must-read.

“How do resource-constrained countries commit to universal health care?” [WaPo]. “Thailand, Brazil and South Africa share similarities that made them ripe for comparison…. [E]ach country’s decision to pursue health-care reforms was unexpected, given a number of factors…. [I]n line with recent work that has shown how major new social programs in developing countries [such as our own] do not always reflect the priorities of citizens, my research highlights that the impetus for reform may actually be less broad-based than we might expect. While traditional activism was important, I found that democratization also empowered well-situated elites from esteemed professions, who in turn drew on their privileged positions in the state, their knowledge and their social networks, to outmaneuver the broader professions of which they are a part and deliver benefits to those who needed them.” • Very interesting. The author doesn’t say this, but it’s hard not to conclude that our own elites must, therefore, be more corrupt and/or ineffective than those of Thailand, Brazil, or South Africa. Unsurprising!

“A local TV station dedicated three years to investigating hospital bills” [Poynter Institute]. “[KUSA-TV Denver Investigative Reporter Chris Vanderveen], investigative producer Katie Wilcox and photojournalist/editor Anna Hewson have produced more than 36 in-depth stories and two hours of prime-time specials about Colorado patients who were willing to share their detailed medical records to prove that hospitals, clinics, doctors and other caregivers game the system to charge patients for care that was never provided. And, the team learned, when patients can’t or don’t pay, they risk their homes and their credit ratings.” And:

The series caught fire when 9News reported the story of a man who went to the emergency room to have a splinter removed from his thumb.

“He got a $2,100 bill,” Vanderveen said. “That seemed stupid.”

“We didn’t have any intention of following medical billing stories for years, but at the end of that first story we put up an email, showusyourbills@9news.com, and it became a treasure trove of stories. People were willing to send us their medical bills,” he said. “I knew they were mad but I didn’t know they were that mad.”

Remember that when the liberal Democrats go to work on their #1 policy priority: Preventing #MedicareForAll.

“Even among the insured, cost of illness can be devastating” [Harvard Gazette]. “Despite the Affordable Care Act’s much-touted expansion of health coverage in the U.S., a first-ever poll of America’s seriously ill demonstrates that insurance alone isn’t enough to protect against the high cost of care.” • Please allow me a moment to stagger about in astonishment at this discovery by the good folks at Harvard. More: “The poll showed that though 91 percent of respondents had health insurance, 53 percent of those with insurance had trouble paying their medical bills…. More than a third of the seriously ill with insurance — 36 percent — used all or most of their savings to pay for care, 21 percent had trouble paying for basic necessities, and 28 percent lost or had to change jobs because of illness.” • Hey, they had “access” to care, didn’t they? So kwitcherbellyachin’.

Class Warfare

“What do we learn, Palmer?”

Image definitely worth clicking on.

News of the Wired

“Thoughts on Proust” [Dark Ages America] (Morris Berman’s blog). “Soul error is the belief that there is no inner worth in here; that only what is outside of me, that which I can’t obtain, has value. This is what renders social life a farce, a gigantic waste of time. Feeling deeply inadequate, we are driven, forever on edge, always out to impress others that we are special, better than everyone else. This renders social interaction sterile, a vapid charade. The same dynamic applies to friendship and “love.” Involuntary memory, as far as Proust is concerned, is the only way out. It amounts to epiphany, revelation. It comes unbidden: suddenly, you are purely a body, purely kinesthetic awareness, existing outside of time. This is what feeds the soul; this is the soul’s true need. At the end of the day, this is all we have. Tolstoy said much the same thing. Can everyone choose this path, as Proust believed? The historical record would suggest not….”

“The Liberal Arts May Not Survive the 21st Century” [The Atlantic]. “For many years, wisconsin had one of the finest public-university systems in the country. It was built on an idea: that the university’s influence should not end at the campus’s borders, that professors—and the students they taught—should ‘search for truth’ to help state legislators write laws, aid the community with technical skills, and generally improve the quality of life across the state…. But the backbone of the idea almost went away in 2015, when Governor Scott Walker released his administration’s budget proposal, which included a change to the university’s mission. The Wisconsin Idea would be tweaked. The ‘search for truth’ would be cut in favor of a charge to ‘meet the state’s workforce needs.'” • Of course, “meet state’s workfoce needs” is anti-competive; it reinforces existing businesses without fostering the creativity to create new businesses (or lines of business). So you can see why “business leaders” would like that.

“Behind the hidden art of Baltimore’s bathroom graffiti” [Baltimore Insider]. • Word of the day: latrinalia. Since this is a family blog, I can’t quote my favorite, but feel free to search the page on “Hershkovitz.”

“The 25 worst passwords of 2018, based on 5 million passwords leaked on the internet” [Business Insider]. “1. 123456 (Rank unchanged from last year).” “1. 123456 (Rank unchanged from last year).” And cheekily: “24. password1 (New).” “You said letters and at least one number!”

Neato:

I wonder if there is a topology of ant-nests [pause]. Apparently so, or at least a morphology.

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

SS writes: “These are wild mini-pansies (bratki) that seem to last into early winter in Poland. Love the angry face. It is even more visible as the picture is being rendered.”

* * *

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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.

154 comments

  1. Summer

    Re: Harvard / Health Insurance study
    “Please allow me a moment to stagger about in astonishment at this discovery by the good folks at Harvard.”

    On top of that, each day we get a littany of op-eds and articles wondering why people don’t worship status quo elites anymore.

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      One rite of passage into adulthood, of sorts, is to act as an executor/trix. You may be exposed to more inner workings of administrivia beyond the legal business than you previously imagined. If that engagement includes some healthcare, then prepare for much frustration and time-wasting to the point that you get to relive those Kubler-Ross stages in a pathetically different way. Be prepared to contest everything, read fine print, argue, waste countless hours on hold or just in teeth gnashing. If you manage to wrangle some credits on bills, count yourself among the survivors.

      A takeaway from the above: system designers count on information asymmetry, and on the erosive effects of jargon upon your spirit.

      Reply
    2. Code Name D

      In Clinton-land, the ACA is “popular”. That is why they can’t stop braging about it. They insist that its “better than nothing.” I am shure that must come as a comfort to those who die when they can’t aford their medications.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-risking-it-uninsured-family/

        And with wonderful timing….here’s a TX family, making over $100K a year….catching an absolute beat-down from medical bills and insurance companies, dropping coverage from family members to save money. ‘Open enrollment’ insurance cost spikes in 2016 made them flip to Trump.

        It’s heart-breaking at the end to read that he’s against single-payer because he thinks it’ll cost too much. Especially so when the father is quite clear that top execs are ripping them off.

        On a positive note, I suspect he can be persuaded by a certain Senator from VT who knows how to make the case for single-payer (note he didn’t vote for Beto) and will point to how we spend 2x the % of GDP as every other developed country.

        One theme I think that gets reinforced for me is that you can’t just SAY you support Medicare for All, you have to get out there and SELL it. Make people BELIEVE. It’s easy to be a snob and say, ‘they should do their research’ and lament the ignorance of average Americans, but we need to understand how much work has been done to beat down expectations of what is possible. That’s what neo-liberalism is all about.

        Sanders needs to reach people like this family in time for the TX primaries. I sincerely hope he can do it.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          I actually think this is really important and completely distorts the lens of the dem consultant crowd. They’re chasing suburbanites making over $100K in TX with the idea that Trump is ‘unreasonable’ and ‘needs to be reigned in a bit’.

          Beto had a shot to get them (well, the dad, specifically). He failed, and prob lost the election because of it.

          The reality is that someone like Sanders can win the whole bunch of them but solving REAL problems that they face. But, he’s got to convince them that he REALLY has a solution and that he’s up to the task of making it happen. The task at hand is cutting through the republican noise machine that tells the Maldonados that “nice things like health care w/o bills can’t be done”.

          Reply
        2. Annieb

          @JohnnyGL. “Sanders needs to reach people like this family .. .”

          Yes, and you and I and everyone else who supports Medicare for all needs to start promoting and educating. I don’t like Facebook AT ALL but I am considering getting on again in order to campaign. We all need to decide what WE are willing to do to support Medicare for All and other progressive policies.

          Reply
          1. johnnygl

            Oh, you and your logic…i used to have epic facebook battles…it was kind of fun, but a real time suck.

            Perhaps we need a campaign slogan?

            “Medicare For All…because nothing else f-ing works!!!!”

            Q: How you gonna pay for that?!??!!

            A: With tax cuts, just like the Iraq war!!!

            Reply
            1. Jeff W

              It’s not clear to me the taxes need to go up [to pay for single payer] because we have no idea—nobody has actually looked at this and said, suppose that we downsize the insurance industry so much, as we transition to a single payer, that there are massive job losses and dislocations in the economy. We’re going to lose a lot of people who are currently working in the insurance industry, doing other things for health care administratively and so forth. Those people aren’t going to be doing that work and that means a drag on GDP. Now is there going enough other economic activity to replace it so that the economy continues to grow? Or might we actually need to cut taxes because this new program is going to be so cost-saving that it’s going to take demand out of the economy? I think that’s possible. We might in fact need tax cuts to pay for single payer.

              —Stephanie Kelton on Citations Needed podcast (54:20), “Episode 11, Part 1: The Deficits Racket – Single Payer Propaganda War,” 27 September 2017

              Reply
              1. johnnygl

                Your point above is exactly why i make the 1/2 joke, 1/2 very serious point about.

                1) i’m trolling right wing loons.
                2) making a point about MMT
                3) sending a warning to M4A supporters so they don’t accidentally cause a recession and end up with some kind of pyhrric(sp?) victory.

                Reply
              2. Oregoncharles

                There would also be much greater demand for medical services, so the answer would be to retrain those people to deliver real medicine. The retraining creates jobs and costs something, too.

                Reply
        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          The strong possibility that Sanders could reach them is what the DemParty is scared of the most. It explains why the DemParty will do whatever it can get away with to deny Sanders the nomination.

          The question then is: can Sanders and the SanderBackers defeat the Democratic Party and cram a Nominee Sanders down the Democratic Party’s throat?

          Reply
          1. Carey

            This is why there should be a Plan B, with someone other than
            Senator Sanders as its focal point, likely involving a new
            political party, with that new party focused on the
            post-electoral landscape that we-the-many are facing.

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Since it is doubtful that all the Sanderbackers would agree on the one same Plan B this long before events, perhaps different groups of Sanderbackers should think about different possible Plan B’s and all become aware of all of them so that choices can perhaps be made-in-contingency about “which way to run” if Sanders is denied the DemPrez nomination.

              Perhaps the “other Democrats” could be ranked on a scale from barely tolerable to hideously vomitously rejection-worthy. Which DemNoms “could” a Sanderbacker vote for in the election? Which DemNoms would lead a Sanderbacker to vote third party or not vote for President . . . . bearing in mind the risk that a failure to vote for Trump “could” mean that the distasteful DemCandidate “could” end up getting elected? And which DemNoms are so awful that a Sanderbacker would vote for Trump in a desperate effort to defeat the most awful DemCandidate?

              Sanderbackers should think about these things now in the back of their minds.

              Reply
              1. Carey

                I was unclear in my previous comment: electoral politics
                are now, in my opinion, a way of slow-walking the great majority of the citizenry to oblivion; maybe they always
                were, though I’m less much less sure of that. Being well organized seems like the great necessity as events shape-
                shift, and necessary responses will need to do the same.

                Reply
          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            I suspect they won’t be able to.

            HRC was a strange figure, dominating two cycles. I go back to 2008, and how much of Obama was the result of simply not being HRC or an established Democrat? There is the novelty and charisma aspect, but “hope and change” mattered so to speak. Being Jewish isn’t a novelty, and it doesn’t speak to the sins of the United States.

            Its one thing to control the questions in a crowd of 300. Its another in a group of 30 or even less. I don’t expect any candidate to draw a crowd that will be sufficiently large to protect a candidate in the way Obama and Clinton were. How does Beto O’Rourke handle this?

            https://splinternews.com/78-democrats-vote-to-weaken-a-key-wall-street-regulatio-1825249063

            Obama didn’t vote for the Iraq War, and John Kerry, who had voted for the Iraq War, had lost just over 3 years and two months prior to the first caucus. Obama called the Iraq War “dumb,” and Donald Trump while beating Jeb!’s brains in and trashing Saint McCain (despite how beloved McCain is in the areas of Washington where you might find white flight Republicans). Compared to the crowd, there were pretty good.

            None of these would be challengers have a deflection. What? Sanders held a filibuster against the Bush/Obama tax cuts for the wealthy extension? I’m sure this will go over well.

            Even with all the shenanigans, HRC still held sway with people who were old enough to vote for Gore and especially old enough to have voted for her husband. Her support from the crowd too young to vote for either of those clods was significantly less. Can you imagine the Clinton playbook in the hands of a less well liked figure with nothing like “not voting for the Iraq War” in their back pocket?

            Reply
          3. Carey

            As things stand, though, from the POV of our elites, if they can knock
            out Sanders- legitimately or otherwise- they’re home free (for a bit).

            Not that hard of a job, when you own or otherwise control the
            megaphones.

            Reply
              1. Carey

                Many of us didn’t in 2016, and don’t now. I do not believe
                for a moment that Stein-Baraka got only 1.03% of the ’16
                Presidential vote. No way.

                Reply
          4. dcblogger

            The question then is: can Sanders and the SanderBackers defeat the Democratic Party and cram a Nominee Sanders down the Democratic Party’s throat?

            we can, but will we? we almost succeeded in 2016, mebbe we can

            Reply
        4. Procopius

          I believed in 2010 and still believe that the Tea Party Wave came largely because the Democrats ran away from Obamacare. I didn’t see one case reported where a candidate explained to his voters what the benefits were and admitted the defects and blamed the Republicans. Maybe there were individual candidates who did and they just weren’t reported on (quite likely), but certainly the party nationally said virtually nothing in favor of the ACA. They never did any better since.

          Reply
    3. Carey

      Is it too obvious to state that they’re playing dumb until those of us who remember
      a USA that wasn’t always a dystopian hellscape for most people have died off?

      Thanks for the link to Morris Berman’s Proust essay. Saving that one for later.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It closer to they don’t know and don’t care.

        OK. On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as — the way it was supposed to. Has I been informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great. You know, I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity, a week before the website opens, if I thought that it wasn’t going to work. -The ever soaring and inspirational Barack Obama

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/transcript-president-obamas-nov-14-statement-on-health-care/2013/11/14/6233e352-4d48-11e3-ac54-aa84301ced81_story.html?utm_term=.033afc2aebfa

        After all, why should he care? Why should anyone in that orbit care? Its not his fault. He’s just the boss. If he knew, he wouldn’t have bragged as much or compared it to buying a plane ticket on kayak.com.

        Reply
      2. clarky90

        The Soviet Bolsheviks did not fall until 1991. By then, all those who had been alive as adults, (born 1900 or before) in pre-revolutionary USSR, were dead or almost dead. So, when the yoke was lifted, there were few voices who had experienced the transition from pre-Bolshevik to Bolshevik and could testify.

        So many people were born and grew up with Stalin and Lenin as their “father-grandfather”. They still long for the “good old” familiarity of their youth, no matter how objectively cruel and oppressive it was. “Normal” always seems normal.

        The fleeting nature of the German Nazi Regime, resulted in a frenzy of destroying evidence; burning documents, bulldozing concentration camps, exhuming the corpses of victims, then incinerating and scattering the ashes. But, they did not get away with it. Caught!

        If a criminal regime has enough time (the witnesses die of old age), enough cover (secrecy), and enough power (control the narrative), apparently, they can get away with a crime.

        I remember the USA of the 1950s and 1960s, fondly

        Reply
    4. clarky90

      I have lived in New Zealand for fifty years. In that time, my (including two children till 18 yo) TOTAL allopathic (conventional) medical billing would be less than $1000 nz. That is including midwives for two home births, checkups (a blood panel) every few years now that I am old, broken shoulder blade, ripped retina, cost of medications…

      I am dumbfounded by what I have read here at NC, about the USA Health (????) system. unbelievable. People do become numbed to atrocities, when they are ongoing, common and normalized.

      “The NKVD/SS came for the so and so family last night. Not surprising really. I guess they are being being taken to the train station/prison…. So, apart from that, how was your day?”

      How many dead USAians as a result of bad food, bad water, drummed-up anxiety (fear), 24 hour daylight, rotten sleep, disposable morality/religion, unaffordable healthcare, inaccessible healthcare, unnecessary healthcare, no shelter?

      IMO, this is simply, Genocide.

      Nazi Germany rightfully elicits universal abhorrence at it’s well documented murder of Gypsies, gays, Slavs, Jews, Russian POWs, mentally ill….Their genocide was bloody, photographed, justified by University Departments of Eugenics and often witnessed by the local population. Because the Nazis lost the war, there were survivors of the atrocities, who could testify. The Nazi rampage of murder lasted for six years.

      However, The Soviet Bolsheviks murdered more people than Hitler, over a far longer period (1917 til Stalin’s death in 1953, about 40 years). But have never evoked the equivalent horror and disgust. Fewer films. Fewer books. Less discussion. More taboo, “Please, don’t go there… ”

      Loading a myriad of families into cattle cars, with no warm cloths or tools, and shipping them to the Siberian Wasteland, resulted in almost certain death for most; from sickness, injury, starvation and cold. Separating families (father one destination, mother and kids another) just added abject fear and docility. The NKVD/CHEKA were careful of limiting or destroying photographic evidence. Mass executions happened, using “scientic” production techniques, in muffled prison basements, or out of the way, guarded woodlands. “Out of sight, out of mind”.

      IMO, what is going on in the USA is nothing less than an intentional reduction of the population…..similar to the engineered/”fortuitous” destruction of the Native American populations beginning 600 years ago, by using a similar system of “neglect”, disease and repression….

      We are not seeing piles of rotting corpses, but the people are disappearing…..

      It is actually terrifying

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I reckon i’ve spent around 2 years of my life in New Zealand and only needed medical attention once…

        Here’s how it went down:

        This was in the early 80’s, and I caught a cold a day or 2 before getting on a big jet airliner from L.A. to Auckland, and when I arrived, what a mess I was. I checked into a motel and for 2 days and nights, I either was sweating like a pig or freezing, but being a Yank and stubborn about having to pay exorbitant medical bills as was the custom back home, I tried to wait it out, but could no longer after a point and called the front desk and asked if they could send a doctor, and about 1/2 an hour later, my first ever and only doctor visit (he was carrying a black bag, ha!) occurred, and he looked me over, and told me I had a really bad flu and needed medicine, but I was in no shape to go to the chemist, so he’d do it for me, and 20 minutes later came back to my room, and gave me the medicine and instructions on when and what to take…

        …and then he hit me up for money

        He told me that healthcare in NZ wasn’t free, but it was very reasonable, and it would be $4 for the visit and $3 for the medicine~

        Reply
        1. sleepy

          About 40 yrs ago in Mexico, my knife slipped while cutting a tomato and it deeply cut my finger instead. I was directed to a federal clinic down the street which stitched me up, gave me a dose of antibiotics, and sent me on my way.. The whole time I was asking about the cost and they said not to worry. It ended up being a dollar or two; would have been less or free if I were a citizen. In a stateside ER even back then it would have been over a hundred at least if not more.

          Reply
        2. Conrad

          The decline if the NZ system is a pretty big issue here. They’ve stopped making housecalls and my last trip to a GP cost me $38. Prescription charges are about $6 I think. But you will have to wait for a specialist. Took around three month for my son to have his tonsils checked by a specialist then a couple of months more wait to have them out. No charges for kids.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            The decline if the NZ system is a pretty big issue here. They’ve stopped making housecalls and my last trip to a GP cost me $38. Prescription charges are about $6 I think.

            That works out to $30 U.S., which is a whet dream for the American healthcare payer.

            Reply
      2. Schmoe

        Yes and not much in coverage in Hollywood of the 1.5M killed largely by the US in Vietnam, or the 150,000 Iraqis killed by the US in Gulf War II.
        You might find the book “Vanquished” by Robert Gerwarth interesting as it touched on how awful the atrocities in the Soviet Union were after 1918 and WWI didn’t really end on November 11, 1918 on the Eastern Front; it just morphed into equally bloody miniwars or civil wars.

        Reply
      3. jsn

        Yes, I agree with you completely.

        But the truth seeking and moral imagination to see from your tawdry day to day through to the causality of what is slowly killing you, through the fog corporate miasma that is the US media, requires a lot of time and effort. Another defensive shell for neoliberalism.

        But the effects have been in evidence since the dawn of the neoliberal era in 1971: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDJCqdXzGAA

        Reply
        1. jsn

          It’s one of my theses that “neoliberalism” has simply been rolling out for the whole Western working class what American blacks have been dealing with from the end of Reconstruction. “The Mean Machine” is a neoliberal prophecy.

          Reply
  2. allan

    Purdue’s secret OxyContin papers should be released, appeals court rules [STAT]

    Kentucky appeals court on Friday upheld a judge’s ruling ordering the release of secret records about Purdue Pharma’s marketing of the powerful prescription opioid OxyContin, which has been blamed for helping to seed today’s opioid addiction epidemic.

    The records under seal include a deposition of Richard Sackler, a former president of Purdue and a member of the family that founded and controls the privately held Connecticut company. Other records include marketing strategies and internal emails about them; documents concerning internal analyses of clinical trials; settlement communications from an earlier criminal case regarding the marketing of OxyContin; and information regarding how sales representatives marketed the drug.

    The unanimous opinion by a three-judge panel is a victory for STAT, which filed a motion more than two years ago to unseal the records — which were stored in a courthouse in a rural county hit hard by overdose deaths. STAT won a lower-court order in May 2016 to release the documents, but after Purdue appealed, the judge stayed that order.

    Despite Friday’s ruling, the company records will not be made public immediately. Purdue has the opportunity to decide whether it wants to request another hearing before the appeals court or ask the Supreme Court of Kentucky to overturn the decision. …

    “We’re disappointed with the Court of Appeals’ decision today,” Purdue said in a statement. …
    “This decision raises important issues under Kentucky law, and we intend to pursue our rights to seek judicial review of the decision.

    Purdue basically wants to turn this into Jarndyce v. Jarndyce.

    Reply
  3. Carolinian

    Maybe we can start using dew collectors, like the Fremen in Dune.

    In Colorado rain barrels and cisterns were ruled as stealing water from the watersheds at one point. Doubtless dew thieves would also be fined although this tricky point of Western water law might have to go to the Supreme Court.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And how about now? Are they still legally “stealing” from Colorado’s watersheds? If so, rain barrelers and cisterners will still have to either break the law or go to court about it . . . along with the dew collecters.

      Maybe the Rainbarrelers and the Cisternizers need a national association. They could call it the National Cistern Association.

      ” When cisterns are outlawed, only outlaws will have cisterns.”

      Of course, if one is a real homedweller in a real suburban home with a yard, one can disguise a “cistern” in plain sight. One can divert all one’s roofwater into a visible “rain-garden” or even into a tiny little “wetland pond” . . . all rock-scaped and with koi in it and everything. It can then ooze its stored water into the food-garden right “downplume” from itself.

      Or one could also divert roofwater right into the food-garden itself. Or a French Drain in the food-garden. And every few years one could re-deep-dig and mix the garden soil several feet deep to create a vast soil-water storage zone.

      And one could push all the snow on one’s yard into “snow stupas” modelled on the Ice Stupas recently being rolled out in Nepal.
      https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A2KLfShrExRcRoYASCFXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyanNvNWYzBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjQ4NTNfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=ice+stupa&fr=sfp

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        There was one water company in South America that was privatized and sold to a French multinational. Said company came in and stated that all rain that fell from the sky belonged to them so if people had water tanks that were fed from their roof, that they would have to pay that company for the water in those tanks. In the end the company got kicked out but this is what happens when you privatize something that is of life or death importance to every human on earth.

        Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              You’re welcome. Sometimes things can still be easily found. I remember certain key keywords about something that interested me at the time, and if I type in those keywords, the search engine may still find it. It is always worth a try.

              Reply
                1. Oregoncharles

                  Yes.

                  there’s also a big French firm in the water business; that may have been somewhere else, as they aren’t any better.

                  Reply
                2. ChrisPacific

                  I wonder if that was the inspiration for the bad guys in Quantum of Solace, which came out a couple of years later.

                  It always seemed like an odd choice to me – Bond villains usually seek world domination, not monopoly control of a natural resource in a South American country.

                  Reply
    2. cm

      Washington state only allowed cisterns (generally 50 gal) about four years ago. Today, there is quite the legal ambiguity as one approaches a more practical amount of 10k gallons. Honestly, farmers don’t have a clear ruling from the state as to what is legal or illegal.

      55 gallons is OK. 15k gallons? Unclear, and probably illegal.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Your comment intrigued me so I went looking for info on this in Washington State and found one at https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Water-supply/Water-recovery-solutions/Rainwater-collection
        They talk abut rainwater barrels which I find weird as it makes it sound like a hobby. Here I have a 5,000 liter (1,320 gallon) tank next to our shed to catch rainwater and a 25,000 liter (6,604 gallon) tank at the bottom for the house roof. There is a wide variety on sale (e.g at http://www.bushmantanks.com.au/productlist/water-tanks) without the need for a permit or such from the local council or State government.
        I know that it rains a little bit in Washington so I find these restrictions strange. But then again, we went through a pretty bad drought years ago which forced local councils to let people install them. Maybe the same will one day be true for your region.

        Reply
    1. Pat

      I am amused that the butter cows are the stars with the rolls being the after thought. That and the GOP eating Mexican street corn…

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Wow, lots of open fracking lease possibilities specifically right where we live & in the Sierra Nevada, and i’m not sure how they’d go about doing it, as from what I can see of the map, it’d be @ higher altitudes, and there are either no roads or not much in the way of roads.

        It’s interesting how where all of the Ag is, there are just a few open lease potentials, as if the players that be, don’t want to muck up groundwater that nourishes the crops, or maybe there just isn’t any there, there, in terms of shale?

        Thanks for the link…

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Zoom in on frack well clusters in Colorado, Tennessee and such like places. Those “venture capitalists” will put roads to wherever they want the wells to be. From a sufficient height, some frack well clusters, with their roads, pads, and machinery look like giant motherboards.
          I’m not too good with electronica, but one decent way of finding said frack wells is to look for clusters of smaller earthquakes occurring regularly in certain areas. USGS has a site for such information.
          There was a halt put to a fracturing well program in Lancashire in England just the other day due to a measurable earthquake following the resumption of fracturing. (Sorry if it has been linked to already.)
          The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/29/strongest-tremor-yet-halts-fracking-at-cuadrilla-site-near-blackpool

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Yeah, that was crazy that. I checked a map when that story came out and the fracking was being done right at the literal edge of the city. They did fracking before like you said but had to stop because of the earthquakes that resulted. They started it up again and that story was the result. What is the bet that if there had been a major quake that got people killed and they tried to sue the company, that it would conveniently go into bankruptcy with the people responsible moving onto to other assignments for the holding company.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Like the world of “Brazil.”
              It’s a shame that when a company is eithanized, the top executives couldn’t be ‘put down’ with the company they destroyed. (Allowances for legitimate bankruptcies and looting behaviour can be worked out.)

              Reply
    1. jefemt

      Tax prep fees will no longer be deductible—

      Bernie on Social Media: interesting. Surprised there was mention of the clown-car stret t t c c c h limo list of entertainers. Maybe belongs under the Pass the Popcorn section?

      Reply
  4. grayslady

    Regarding the Anthropocene article, any home sewer knows that you are paying substantially more for organic cotton than for regular cotton. Whether this is due to the greater costs of producing organic cotton or whether this is just a marketing gimmick to receive more money for anything “organic,” I don’t know. What I have learned is that the few items I have made from organic cotton last years longer than those made from regular cotton. Those clothing items feel better against my skin, as well. Also, for home sewers, time is the real constraint: you don’t have the time to re-make a favorite garment constantly. Organic cotton may use more resources in production, but the investment payback, in terms of longevity, is noticeable.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the organic cotton really does last several years longer, as you say . . . . and also feels better on the skin for those several more years that it is lasting longer, then it is indeed worth more and should be charged more for and paid more for.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        And we should have devices fitted to our faces that measure our air intake, by volume and concentration of pollutants and toxins, so our ApplePay accounts can be appropriately charged for the value of said air. Nothing is free, after all. And if you don’t or can’t pay up, the device will simply block your airway! The algos will take care of the pricing and valuation and billing…

        One wonders if self-administered tracheostomies would become a possible workaround…

        /s, or is it?

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Do you think the farmer is your slave? Do you think the farmer should give you for free the cotton which the farmer spent time and money to grow?

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            Of course I don’t think that. Everyone needs a living income, fair pay for honest efforts.

            It would also be better if people got by with fewer clothes of higher quality, and if most or all cotton growing was done without monoculture chemical-heavy farming. Too bad that’s not likely, either.

            Just noting that “tech” is making rent and toll collection ever easier and applied to more elements of life.

            Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      IIRC, organic cotton is the result of extensive breeding work – ie, not the same variety – so it makes sense it would feel different. One side effect of that breeding was colored cotton, which was quite the rage a few years ago.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It also has to be grown organically to be designatable as organic. The chemicals NOT used mean the more hand-work which IS used to control growth and pests. It also means more knowledge possessed to be able to deploy the greater intelligence involved in organic growing. Such knowledge takes time , work and often money to gain, and deserves to be paid for.

        Reply
  5. Rosario

    Re: “Is the Women’s March Melting Down?”

    Not running the organization(s) like Disney Corp. would be a good start (merchandise, token inclusionism marketing), and can these movements PLEASE build on a foundation of egalitarianism and universal principles. It really goes a long way at opening doors for the most people, by design. In addition, going this route often removes the need to name out every single subgroup in society that needs represented or empowered, as if that is even possible. If the movement does that implicitly (via universalism) the membership will understand it.

    Race first and bourgeois feminism seem to inform most of these leaders opinions, and it shows in the movement’s lack of cohesion at a national level.

    Reply
  6. Summer

    “Oath was supposed to be Verizon’s big push into web-driven advertising, a bid to compete with behemoths like Google LLC and Facebook Inc. in the U.S. online ad market.” • That was their idea? Wowsers.”

    Yeah, if you had yahoo email which went off the skids around about 2016 for mobile users, you’re left with oath. I could only access my yahoo email account (but havr others thankfully) on a desktop or laptop. There was no customer service help from Verizon or Yahoo. HTC mobiles were affected, I believe. Users claimed on the internet to have workarounds. I simply did not or do not have the patience. So the yahoo account is still not accessible on the mobile phone.

    So whenever I check that email now on a laptop, I am presented with a service agreement for Oath. I decline, decline, decline. Maybe alot of pissed of yahoo users are doing the same. The company was bought and remained a custoker service nightmare.
    Glad it fell apart
    Cheers
    Great!
    There just might be a God.

    Reply
    1. Another Scott

      My understanding is that Verizon made these acquisition around the same time as it deciding to stop expanding its broadband network. Pretty much everybody would have been better off it the company had invested in infrastructure rather than acquisitions.

      Reply
    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      yup, “I’ll do this later” over and over as I haven’t figured out what to do with all my old email and I certainly don’t want VZ getting hold of it. Though realistically, they probably already have…

      BTW, wonderful assortment of links today, Lambert. You do realize it’s the holidays, right? I could spend the next two days reading and not be done with them.

      YAY Bernie for Yemen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      and folks, when I went to comment at NYMag, I didn’t see any other NC readers there. It’s easy to comment, you just give them a handle, your email, and make up a password. Yves has said she would appreciate our support over there, and she rarely asks for anything, so let’s show the lady our appreciation!

      Reply
    3. ambrit

      Strange that I don’t read about all those intrusive “rights” promulgated by ‘Oath’ being abolished. So who now gets to read every one of my e-mails and sell that stuff on to marketers and panopticons? (Panopticon does sound very much like the name for an AWACS style Transformer. Maybe a nickname for a real AWACS plane.)

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Hushmail (Canada-based) is working well for me as an alternative email provider, enough so that I’m going to upgrade to their paid service, I think.
        Much better than Protonmail, where “my” emails keep disappearing.

        One person’s experience.

        Reply
    4. blowncue

      VZ’s quest to become something greater than a wireless network provider has likely died with McAdam’s departure. VZ does not know how to do it. This isn’t a big secret; through the perennial layoffs – sorry, RIFs – playing musical chairs with workers and facilities – sorry, consolidation and shifting of facilities – offshoring, LOBs opening and closing, failed initiatives, it’s obvious that the inventiveness needed just isn’t there. Starting with their penchant for four- letter words for initiatives: Oath, Gold (rev generating initiative).

      Reply
    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      I like the Yahoo Images search better than the Images search on other engines. I hope that particular Yahoo appliance is preserved under whatever name.

      Reply
  7. Amfortas the hippie

    on ant nests:
    I was inspired by this guy (http://discovermagazine.com/2003/nov/the-secret-life-of-ants) to deliver a fungal parasite(bauvaria bassiana) directly to the queen of the imported fire ant mounds we used to be plagued with around here.(delivery was the problem, as the worker ants were too sophisticated to take such an organism into the nest, and would kill themselves, instead)
    15 years, and I have only rebounded/restored native ants.
    Tschinkel’s work is fascinating…although PETA is quite cross with him.

    Reply
    1. John Zelnicker

      @Amfortas the hippie
      December 14, 2018 at 3:41 pm
      ——-

      Can you tell me more about the fungal parasite or post a link. Thank you.

      I live in Mobile, the gateway to the US for the fire ant. They came in as stowaways on freighters from South America.

      As such, we have an ongoing problem and I am reluctant to use the poisons that are most effective as there are pets and small children around here.

      For those of you who are unfamiliar, the name refers to the feeling of being bitten by one. Worse, one rarely encounters one or two ants, or gets only one or two bites. They come in swarms and can, if a really big mound is disturbed, kill a small animal or child.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        the company I got it from , Rincon Vita, is apparently no longer in bidness.
        best I can offer is:
        Google Bauvaria Bassiana(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauveria_bassiana)…you want the liquid(and it’s expensive).
        they’ll tell you to inoculate white rice and shit, but ignore that,lol.
        take a funnel, and a 6 foot section of PVC water pipe…grease the pipe with vaseline(to prevent them crawling up to git ya)…jam that pipe down into the mound, as near to the bottom as possible(queen of this species(solonopsis invicta) likes it down at the bottome)…insert funnel, and pour a bit down the pipe.
        This introduces the fungal pathogen directly into the queen’s palace, as it were. so there’s no chance of the workers removing it.
        just a little bit worked for me, per mound. Maybe a half a shot glass.
        I did my whole place, and 100+ feet onto all my surrounding neighbors’ places.
        In fact, I would recommend coordinating this endeavor with as many neighbors as possible, at the same time.
        This ant doesn’t make new colonies by ground route.
        they fly a mile high, and mate, and then the new queen and her drones fall into wherever.
        so you’ll never be rid of them forever. They’re here.
        but in the meantime, after you’ve eradicated them for a time, you can allow the native ants to “come back.
        the better the natives do, the less likely the fire ants can get a foothold.
        I’ve got prolly 25 different species of native ant, here…including the native fire ant(who are your friends!).
        It has been cool noticing them coming back after I intervened.
        and in the last 2 years, the quail have come back.
        still no horny toads, though.

        Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        If you can’t get Beauveria, try household ammonia. We had this problem in Albuquerque; after they stung our 3-yr-old, I figured I needed a fumigant. Ammonia is very poisonous, and a gas. Pour it directly into the hole, drop some dirt on it. They were gone. Less ecological than a biological, but ammonia is at least a fertilizer, and naturally occurring.

        Then we found the mother nest in the vacant lot next door, and resorted to war gas: ammonia AND bleach poured in. There was a sinister puff of white vapor, we covered it with dirt and ran. Those were gone, too, but I don’t recommend that approach. You get drastic after they attack your kid.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Heading to the National Park tomorrow for maximum exposure of tourists on a Saturday while being a yellow belly.

          Judging from my failed efforts previously, to make an impact you’d need a gaggle of people attired in them, otherwise you’re just a construction worker in their eyes.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            “…otherwise you’re just a construction worker in their eyes.”

            Yes, but it has occurred to me lately that the class that makes things
            run/go/work likely own, and have worn a yellow vest before, and might not be averse to wearing it to benefit the Many, given the right
            circumstances…

            Reply
          2. Craig H.

            You should hand out tracts on how to make a Molotov cocktail. You will at least get the attention of the Security officials.

            Or those ACLU “how to deal with cops” cards if you value your own security to be on the safe side maybe.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Maybe i’ll tell the tourists it’s my safety vest in case a 2,352 year old Giant Sequoia decides it’s time to fall over near me.

              Reply
              1. WobblyTelomeres

                Mine has “Clinic Escort” hand written on it in black marker. I’m considered a Satanista in these parts when I wear it.

                Reply
      1. In the Land of Farmers

        HA! Totally. I commented to someone today that they only reason that the stuff has not hit the fan here is that gas prices have been plummeting.

        Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I should think the oil industry strategisers would want to keep the price of gas low enough for long enough that several million more car-buying Americans will get big SUVs or other gas-eaters instead of more gas-efficient smaller cars.

            When enough new car-owners are trapped enough, then the oil people will stop trying to keep gas prices depressed and then just let them “go where they go”.

            Reply
  8. steve

    An article discussing the disparity between singles vs marrieds in cancer treatment outcomes. I can say from personal experience this healthcare dynamic isn’t restricted to cancer patients.

    Reply
  9. a different chris

    Sigh, only scientists — and that doesn’t mean they aren’t correct, but they don’t see things like we see them – “is now unrecognisable from its wild ancestor, the red jungle fowl”:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_junglefowl#/media/File:Red_Junglefowl_-_Thailand.jpg

    This looks, to me, about as close to how a chicken looks as you can get. Actually the difference between these Junglefowl (I don’t know about the relative size, assuming it is close) and my chickens is about exactly the same as the difference between the French and US citizens. We are fat. As are my chickens, and broilers are even fatter.

    But it still is recognizably a chicken. This kind of stuff doesn’t help with the Deplorables, is my larger point.

    Reply
  10. Carey

    That was high level explaining-class stuff from the dude in The Week, claiming ‘Beto’™
    is the new Bernie. Says style, not policy, drove Sander’s vast popularity. Heh!

    But what else can the Few’s lackeys do but dissemble and obfuscate?

    What a bullshitter

    Reply
    1. John

      Corporate media is amusing in their ABB (anybody but Bernie) campaign. It’s as if they are trying to airbrush him from the photos like in the old USSR days.
      I would not be surprised to hear NPR doing obit pieces on him in the coming months. As in: The late Senator from Vermont was an unimportant obscure eccentricity on Americas wonderfully diverse political scene a few years ago.
      Meanwhile he’s actually #2 in social media land after Ophra. Ha!

      Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The original key to Obama’s popularity was not being a Clinton and not having voted for the Iraq War, looking the part helped too. Hillary’s was nostalgia more than anything else and a narrative of a secret liberal Hillary.

      What do Spartacus, a cop, Beto, the Kennedy spawn, and Biden have to build a narrative? The Iraq might be popular in DC, but Trump trashed Jeb! in Bush Country, South Carolina while mocking Saint McCain’s time as a POW.

      Reply
      1. John k

        Half the dem party think hill perfectly represents their views. They like open borders because cheap nannies, gardeners and mfg goods. And see no reason their imports should be raxed or in any way restricted.
        And endless war puffs up their equities. As far as health goes, they get good coverage at work. And mil police protect them and their gated communities.
        So Bernie will never get a huge majority of dems, he needs indies. So the more splitting the neoliberals vote, the better. Make sure progressives know Beto is neoliberals.

        Reply
  11. Steely Glint

    Green New Deal:
    AOC, “When we talk about a Green New Deal, it’s incredibly important that we don’t simply allow Oil Barons to become Energy Barons.
    A Just Transition to renewable energy must be paired with economic justice.
    An important critique by @CooperationJXN:
    http://inthesetimes.com/article/21632/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-climate-cooperation-jackson-capital
    A good read as far as input from other green grass roots movements. “There are some things in the framework that she put forth that need to be challenged. The one that I always highlight is this notion that the different types of solutions that are developed through the entrepreneurial innovations that come out of this program, like renewable energy technologies, that the U.S. government and major transnational corporations should be exporters of this energy and knowledge. That’s deeply embedding this thing as a new export industry, which is a new cycle of capital accumulation. That part really needs to be challenged. This is trying to embed the solution in market-based dynamics, but the market is not going to solve this problem.”
    RE: Public Banks. If I remember correctly the bar for creating them is very high. Might be a tremendous lift? Nice to see she responded to the tap on her shoulder.

    Reply
  12. freedomny

    I always thought that the “Woman’s March” organization would never have….as they say in Hollywood (or used to) – “Legs”.

    I’m glad that a lot of women got energized to fight back in whatever way they could, but to me the March itself just seemed like a reactionary, neo-liberal, Susan B. Komen Trump resistance event. Not surprised that the women who co-opted the original idea are coming under scrutiny.

    The French do resistance so much better…. hopefully we’ll get there again (as in Occupy) as well.

    Reply
  13. Wukchumni

    The Colorado River and reservoirs down the line being depleted, will be the first challenge in change of climate as opposed to what the old normal was, and there being so many straws and lack of cohesion (apparently Az farmers are the holdup in terms of renegotiating the use of the water) in the matter.

    Las Vegas strikes me as something we could give up and abandon, along with a good deal of Ag in different states, but who knows how it manifests itself, and how the American people react to the new aegis?

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Different region-loads of American people will react in different ways. The Water-Subsidy Belt will try reviving NAWAPA and also plans to drain all the water from the Great Lakes.

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

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

      Those regionloads of people to be targeted by the NAWAPA Conspiracy and the GRAND Conspiracy will object, of course.

      Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “40 million Americans depend on the Colorado River. It’s drying up.”

    This could get interesting as the water has to face restrictions as Lambert points out. What gets priority – water for drinking or water for say, California’s commercial crops? What say does Las Vegas have in all this? It’s not like they have ever come to blows about water sharing before. Oh wait-

    https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/november-10-1934-arizona-declares-war-against-california-parker-dam

    Water wars seems to be and old tradition in this part of the world-

    https://www.mfah.org/art/detail/45626

    Reply
    1. scarn

      California big agriculture is the over-arching issue here. Nevada and AZ have pretty enlightened water policies with solid groundwater and aquifer policies that make their comparatively tiny Colorado River water rights less pressing. CA big ag sucks up our aquifers and uses the majority of our river-water equity. That will cause a showdown with other states, but not because the majority of Californians need to expand our already outsized draw on the river resources. Big Ag won’t give it up, and they will fight for more.

      That said, there is simply money in water as it grows scarce. The Cadiz Project is one of the most egregious examples of speculation on water scarcity I have ever seen. I’m a resident of Orange County. We don’t need this water and I expect most people here don’t know we are buying it. We have good aquifers, a new boondoggle of a de-sal plant, and the draw on the common state river equity. Still, Cadiz Inc can force this nonsense through a dem super majority and cause enormous harm to a swath of the Mojave in the middle of climate change because of capitalism. What a terrible system of resource allocation “markets” turn out to be.

      Reply
  15. aletheia33

    proust and mysticism. intriguing, but to my mind the piece ends, cutting of its inquiry, right where it becomes most interesting. the final sentence more depressing than accurate–”Enlightenment is, at best, an individual quest, a private ‘solution.'”

    to that i would say, well, yes and no. berman’s idea of mysticism, looking just at what he says in this piece, seems to me somewhat limited and not particularly on target. yes: of course the pursuit of enlightenment leads nowhere, not just for larger society but also for the individual pursuer. that pursuit is not even as he says “at best, an individual quest, a private ‘solution.'” the pursuit of enlightenment, like the pursuit of happiness, cannot ever succeed, because the very pursuing of it renders it unattainable. grasping destroys the enjoyment of the goal or thing grasped for. as zen and other buddhisms and western and other mysticisms all affirm.

    and no: what was it that made MLK and gandhi such transcenders of, while simultaneously such powers in, the temporal realm of politics, money, power, a realm ruled by human craving? yes we know both men were full of flaws and human failings in their political “careers”. yet we acknowledge that they also wielded a “higher” (for want of a better word) kind of power in the world. a kind of power that seems to have been (perversely, or paradoxically) nurtured by their surrender of themselves to a certain kind of service of humanity. a kind of service that drew its authority and urgency from incontrovertible “truths” that we (watching these two men) recognize as transcendent and outside time. however dimly we may feel we grasp what those terms really mean.

    how did these two, and others of their ilk in times past (e.g. the early abolitionists), become able to galvanize so many followers to exercise a different faculty of choice from the human usual, to take such strong stands, to become “coffin-ready,” able to walk straight into the prospect of the ultimate terror (getting killed) just so they could stand in witness not only of their own suffering but also of some kind of universal justice, peace, and love? not justice peace and love as ideals but as action. this happened in the USA.

    this is where the real inquiry starts. of what does such people’s leadership actually consist? and to what extent does it even “belong” to them, as personal individuals? because, while it does seem that only a small minority of humans are irresistibly called to a “mysticism”-driven life path, it appears that those few for whom it IS irresistible can, via their surrender to it, become catalysts for astonishing forms of activism by surprisingly large numbers of the most ordinary people.

    and what is it, beyond immediate care for family and community, that enabled the tribes at standing rock to take their stand? surely what led them to take the great risks they took together was some kind of deep respect for “the earth our mother”, for all life, including all human beings too, some kind of love, some different kind of craving to experience a peace both within and with others, and to enact justice. led from within themselves and their community, not by any haloed figure. and surely this is some form of the awakeness from sleepwalking that berman says most of us cannot quite manage, really. i require more evidence from him of that.

    Reply
    1. Summer

      Yes, it was a good story and this part:
      “This is a hospital for poor people. I can’t stop wondering how many of them this psychiatrist will also withhold medications from unless they, too, agree to whatever preconditions she chooses. How many other doctors like her are there? The rich and the poor use drugs at the same rate, but there is no doubt in my mind this woman sees everyone here as an addict or a criminal and is determined to punish us for it. There are no consequences for her, but some of us will die…”

      That’s the USA in a nutshell.
      It’s beyond inequality, it’s a sick mindset that people must be punished for being poor (when the rentiers and scammers who get their wealth preying on poverty are lauded.)

      Reply
      1. freedomny

        Thank YOU! Sorry, I assumed Alex was a male. Because I didn’t, at first reading, find clues that she is a woman. Haaa. This actually could be a good thing though. Alex, Man or Woman is an excellent writer.
        Just excellent.
        And yes. Kind of cool that someone wrote an article and I assumed their gender,,,if wrongly
        :) Because it should be the same for all of us.

        Reply
    2. Tom Doak

      That was a great piece of writing, and a truly depressing read.

      The piece about health care bills in Colorado was also important. Our daughter gave birth in Colorado last year, and since she’s under 26, the bills came through my health insurance. TowRd the end of the process (when her deductible was used up) there were a couple of big charges and double billings that looked wrong and were wrong, but I suspect the doctors figured a new mom with a little one wouldn’t pay attention to the charges her health insurance company had to pick up. (I only paid attention because we hadn’t reached our larger “family deductible” for the year.)

      I want to say that America has reached Peak Ripoff, but sadly I think it will only continue to get worse until we get Medicare for All, or die trying.

      Reply
  16. ewmayer

    o “Analysis: In democracies’ political chaos, new model emerges” [Associated Press] — Real democracy is messy. Remember that the next time your see an MSM establishment propaganda pieve invoking decorum, or in Lambert’s preferred locution, “the norms fairy”. Decorous bipartisanship = system rigged by and for the elites.

    o “Behind the hidden art of Baltimore’s bathroom graffiti” [Baltimore Insider] — Being a Sci/Math geek, some of my favorites were on the stalls in the physics dept. at my old Uni. Examples:

    Scrawled on the wall of a stall: “[So-and-so] was here!” A scrawl in a different hand next to it: “He must have had a remarkable sense of balance”.

    “Heisenberg was here?” Another one with a later editorial add-on: “Pauli wasn’t – he was excluded.”

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Two stall experiences from my younger days.
      One was the Unisex bathroom in the back of a Lesbian Bar on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. The place was definitely for followers of the Sapphic Rites. Gay men were physically excluded. Straight men were restricted to a big table at the back of the barroom. Straight male service workers from the Quarter stopped there after work to have a drink without the hassle of being ‘cruised.’ You had to have a buddy watch the door for you if you went inside that bathroom. Very clean and hilarious graffiti.
      The other was the communal bathroom on our floor at the dormitory at the Poison Ivy League college I briefly attended. The ‘outside’ stall, up against the exterior wall was used for a monthly graffiti contest. A group of judges would pick the best one for the month and award a booze prize. Then we would break open some beers and paint over the wall with pristine white to begin a new month’s contest. I wish I had taken photos of those walls.
      Then there was the time our floor ROTC guy acquired a small dog as a pet and named him “S–t.” Imagine being dragooned into hunting for an escaped dog at midnight around the Quad calling out: “Hey S–t! Where are you? Come here S–t!” Once they stopped laughing, the Campus Cops helped us find him and told the Rotcy, “You’d better come up with a nicer name for puppy. Once he figures out what you named him, he’ll be biting off your ankles!”

      Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      A President Sanders could have fought back against a CongressDem kneecapping more effectively than President Carter ever did/could, given Sanders’s political experience with Congress. He might have lost, but he might have made their victory Pyrrhic.

      Reply
  17. Jack Parsons

    Giant Viking cats: it’s called a Norwegian Forest Cat or Maine Coon. They’re huge because it’s cold up there.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      But the article specifically notes that the cats got *bigger* over time … presumably the Vikings were breeding cats from their own latitudes, rather than ones imported from sunnier southern climes, no?

      It just goes to show that even the rough, tough nordic warrior races were not immune to the old saying, “dogs have owners … cats have staff.” :P

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Two possibilities:
      Domestic cats, introduced from further south, were interbreeding with wild Forest Cats and getting bigger; or
      Domestic cats got bigger because they were so far north and the eating was good, then escaped to the forest, as cats will do.

      I prefer the former; Norwegian conditions are a far cry from the conditions cats originated in, would require a lot of adaptation. This apparently happened fairly quickly, as if the adaptation had already occurred in the wild.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It’s not a huge change, and cats were the size of tigers 2 million years ago.

        My guess is the breeding was selective if not planned. I wonder if this was about survival on the boats. The bigger cats were put on boats, and they traveled around without too much wandering.

        Reply
  18. Mike Barry

    The Accountable Capitalism Act focuses on… how to prioritize workers in the American economic system while leaving businesses as the primary driver of it.” • The Bearded One would, I think, call that a contradiction.

    It’s called checks and balances. Check into it.

    Reply
  19. marym

    Ryan pushes for thousands of Irish visas before leaving office

    The legislation cleared the House Nov. 28 on an uncontested voice vote and is increasingly likely to clear the Senate next week, a GOP aide told POLITICO.

    The bill would give the Irish access to unused E-3 visas, which currently are available only to Australians in “specialty occupations” that require a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. In return, Ireland would offer additional work visas to Americans, among other concessions.

    (Trump also supports this bill – Link).

    Reply
        1. flora

          I will beg your indulgence here to let me parse what I see as a pattern wrt neoliberalism/globalism’s attempt to crush working people’s wages in many, many countries, including the US:

          Neoliberals/globalists create chaos/danger in southern countries, driving southern (and more brown skinned peoples north).
          At the same time neoliberals/globalists cut taxes for the rich (and again, I am not anti-rich, I am anti-neoliberal, and they are diffierent, but back to the story) and raise taxes on the middle and working and poor classes.
          Then neoliberal/globalists ask middle/working/poor classes to accept and incorporate said fleeing southern countries’ peoples.
          Said middle/working/poor classes say, “Yes, fine, but give us the funds to make this possible.” Where upon the neoliberal/globalists say, “No, you must fund this incorporation out of your own reduced moneys. Or pay higher rents. Or accept reduced wages.”
          Where upon the middle/working/poor classes say, “No. You ask the impossible of us.” Where upon the neoliberal globalists say, “You are racists! You are evil people! No one should listen to you.”

          Seems like a pattern across many countries, but I could be wrong. (I am often wrong.)

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Divide and rule.
            After Katrina, a local, very popular white television and radio news personality steadily pushed the meme, “it’s class, not race” in an attempt to tamp down burgeoning ultra racism that was beginning to gain traction locally in New Orleans. After the hurricane, resources were very tight. Competition for those resources available was fierce. Later, an elite inspired gentrification movement swept the city. A majority of the ‘lower classes’ moved on out of the New Orleans area were never repatriated. Houston still has not forgiven us.

            Reply
  20. The Rev Kev

    “Biden and Kamala Harris pose for photo together as 2020 speculation grows”

    But will they be able to attend a White House working dinner together alone if his wife is away?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I’m sure Hillary will volunteer to chaperone.
      I’m laughing. The spellcheck redlined chaperone as wrong. It could be a holdover from the Patriot Initiative days. You remember. When Google redirected queries for French Fries to Freedom Fries.

      Reply
  21. knowbuddhau

    Will wonders never cease.

    “Thoughts on Proust” [Dark Ages America] (Morris Berman’s blog). “Soul error is the belief that there is no inner worth in here; that only what is outside of me, that which I can’t obtain, has value. This is what renders social life a farce, a gigantic waste of time. Feeling deeply inadequate, we are driven, forever on edge, always out to impress others that we are special, better than everyone else. This renders social interaction sterile, a vapid charade. The same dynamic applies to friendship and “love.” Involuntary memory, as far as Proust is concerned, is the only way out. It amounts to epiphany, revelation. It comes unbidden: suddenly, you are purely a body, purely kinesthetic awareness, existing outside of time. This is what feeds the soul; this is the soul’s true need. At the end of the day, this is all we have. Tolstoy said much the same thing. Can everyone choose this path, as Proust believed? The historical record would suggest not….”

    Sounds like my Spring. “Direct drive” is the term I used at the time. Also “sudden onset situational awareness.” Sharpened sensory perception. Unbelievable verbal processing speed. No experience of the passing of time.

    I highly recommend it. Pro tip: first thing you do is, shred your credit cards. Hoo boy.

    Before you go there, you’re going to want to know your myths. If your mind melts down, and you fear you’re nearing that infamous Edge, you’ll see the way out through them.

    If you were a musician skilled enough, you could look at sheet music and hear it, right? Suddenly, I could see right through every last myth I could think of. They all make perfect sense.

    I say “think of,” because, just as suddenly, could barely make sense of alpha-numeric text.

    It was like Buddhist menarche. At work, at home, in shops. All over the place. For weeks. And I still have that job. Not bad for a poet, amirite?

    Luckily, it wasn’t the first time. Had my cell phone this time. As a former dementia-care nursing assistant and phenomenological research psych grad school drop out, I’ll dare say: Been there, done that, replicated, charted it.

    Reply
  22. Summer

    So the ACA was delivered another blow in Texas. Will see how that plays out.
    But so far, as predicted by many in 2010, it was a half-assed measure that wouldn’t last a decade.

    Reply
  23. flora

    So, wages for working class/blue collars might rise due to, uh, worker availability… and aluminum smelters might upgrade and modernize factory production in US due to tariffs…

    Jeez, those sound like good things to me. What am I missing?

    Reply

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