Links 12/27/18

Japan to restart commercial whale hunts BBC :-(

Rerouted cruise ship rescues two fishermen stranded in Caribbean MPR (Chuck L)

Etna, sisma di magnitudo 4.8 a Catania: feriti lievi, case crollate e tanta paura. 600 sfollati La Stampa :-(

A life on the tracks New Statesman (Chuck L)

Greenland’s Rapid Ice Melt Persists Even in Winter, Study Finds Common Dreams

There’s no easy fix for our nuclear past High Country News (diptherio)

Two years later, I still miss the headphone port TechCrunch (M). What is wrong with people? I have antique equipment (pre GPS iPods) so this has not caught up with me yet.

How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually. New York Magazine (resilc)

We finally started taking screen time seriously in 2018 TechCrunch (EM)

NYPL’s Chief Digital Officer Says Public is Better off When Libraries Are ‘Risk Averse’ About Tech Geekwire

Now We Can 3D Print Homes for Next to Nothing, Using Mud Futurism (David L)

Turkey’s magical hangover cure BBC (furzy)


China’s advances in Arctic may pose security threat to Canada Asia Times (resilc)

China Heads Into Trade Talks Bracing for More U.S. Demands Bloomberg

It’s in Washington’s best interests to engage China as a partner, not an adversary Seattle Times (furzy)

UN Members Thwart China’s Bid to Gut Funds for Myanmar Probe Human Rights Watch (furzy)

India Curbs Power of Amazon and Walmart To Sell Products Online New York Times


Ill-considered act behind the Brexit paralysis Financial Times

Business confidence in UK at lowest ebb since Brexit vote – IoD Guardian

ALEX BRUMMER: The Corbyn exodus: How fears of a Labour government have ALREADY got investors pulling their money out of Britain Daily Mail. Wellie, that’s a pretty clear point of view, now isn’t it?

German industry views Brexit, Trump as biggest risks to economy Reuters

Germany mulls introducing ‘mosque tax’ for Muslims DW

New Cold War

From Politoco’s European newsletter:

INCOMING: Russian President Vladimir Putin had quite the holiday gift for his people: A successfully tested hypersonic missile system that will enter into service next year. Putin called it his “New Year’s gift to the nation.” Lili Bayer reports the new system “can carry nuclear and conventional warheads.” The test comes amid growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, as well as NATO concerns over Russia’s lack of compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Russia Warns U.S. Against Interfering in Saudi Royal Succession Bloomberg. Resilc: ” If Putin can get a moron to run China, he’d then have his hat trick of USA USA, Saudi and China run by dummies….”


Israeli airstrikes threatened 2 civilian flights in Beirut and Damascus: Russia almasdarnews (guurst)

US troop withdrawal heralds the New Syria Asia Times (Kevin W)

Christmas makes a comeback in Damascus Asia Times (Kevin W)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Hacker Steals Ten Years Worth of Data From San Diego School District ZNet

Top Amazon boss privately advised US government on web portal worth billions to tech firm Guardian (David L)

A Woman on Twitter is Abused Every 30 Seconds Fast Company

Trump Transition

In Latest Shutdown, Some Lawmakers See a Diminished Congress New York Times (Kevin W). From earlier this week, still germane.

From now on, Trump will try to use foreign policy to distract us. It won’t be pretty. Washington Post (furzy)

Trump’s national security team is constant source of turnover The Hill

Trump makes first visit to US troops in harm’s way Seattle Times (furzy)

President and First Lady make SECOND stop to visit U.S. troops in Germany on way back from surprise trip to Iraq where Trump told cheering soldiers: ‘We’re no longer the world’s suckers’ and ‘The U.S. cannot continue to be the policeman of the world’ Daily Mail

Three oddities in FBI handling of Flynn interview The Hill (UserFriendly)

2020 Dems go on offense over drug prices The Hill (UserFriendly)

McCaskill on Ocasio-Cortez: ‘I’m a little confused why she’s the thing’ The Hill. UserFriendly: “Easy, she isn’t a sell out to big $$$ like you.”

Dow Industrials Leap More Than 1,000 Points Wall Street Journal. Blame it on Hair Furore being away from Twitter for over 24 hours.

Behind the Market Swoon: The Herdlike Behavior of Computerized Trading Wall Street Journal (David L)

Markets In Crisis: Trump Has Damaged the Fed Bloomberg (furzy). Help me.

Portland Hotel Calls Cops on Black Guest Making a Phone Call in the Lobby Slate (Kevin W)

Guess Which Country’s Companies Profit Most From War? Fast Company (JTM). Sadly still germane.

Big Tech in hiring spree for looming antitrust battles Financial Times

Tech is Killing Street Food The Atlantic

Class Warfare

Notes on the Latest Crusade Paganarch. UserFriendy:

This is sooo good and so is the original that caused the backlash, and the article he quotes from. Very much in the vein of Adolph Reid.

Antidote du jour (dipehtrio):

And a bonus (Chuck L). Hopefully you can get past the stop-action overproduction:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Wukchumni

    A life on the tracks New Statesman
    Growing up until I was 6, I was mad about trains, couldn’t get enough of them. Had a conductors hat and early xmas gifts were train sets i’d have broken by early January if not sooner.

    Like most Americans, i’ve never been anywhere on a train in the states, aside from short hauls. We have a wedding up in Seattle next summer and my wife related the other day that we could leave from Hanford (in the Central Valley) and be on trains the whole way to Seattle in a sleeper for $382 per person, and it has some appeal.

    I cut my teeth on UK trains in the 80’s, and it was hard to tell who won the war, when you compared them to German choo choos of the same era. To be able to open the door on a carriage from the inside in merry olde, you had to manually lower the window and open it from the outside handle, whereas in Deutschland, a press of a button opened the door electronically in a jiffy.

    Swiss trains were the ultimate for this traveler, with a honed precision that never varied and what a perch to see the Alps from!

    Once in awhile a Swiss soldier would be on board in uniform, lugging some piece of high velocity weaponry that to my mind seemed out of place. It’d be like a GI Joe in uniform here taking a light machine gun on a commercial flight.

    I guess I probably did a few dozen overnight rail trips, the clickity clack being oddly soothing to somebody that doesn’t like repetitive metallic sounds.

    One trip was from Athens to Belgrade in the early 1980’s, and was a “24 hour express” train that finally arrived 52 hours later.

    I had a Sony Walkman cassette player that was a year old, and the train ride was it’s hospice in that it was dying slowly but surely that sojourn, and meanwhile sitting across the way from me, A Yugoslav about my age that doesn’t speak a lick of English is fanning out a wad of Dinara and motioning to my much desired western technology, and i’m eager to make a trade, but how to convey that he’s getting a tech prop that doesn’t work?

    I pick out around $25 from his outstretched hand and point to the Walkman and then pantomime slitting my throat with the same finger, and he gets it. I’m sure just the act of having one will make him the coolest Serbian rock n’ roll rebel without a cause.

    1. Aaron

      I’ve crossed the US by train. It’s a bit of a mess. Amtrak takes a low priority to freight, so transit times are long. Food is extremely expensive and station stops too short to do anything about it, so it’s as good a time as any to do some fasting. By the second day half the toilets will be utterly destroyed, so that’s some additional motivation to need them as little as possible. Finally, theft from passenger car baggage areas is a problem. That’s the experience from the cheap seats. A sleeper car with dining car meals might be a different story.

      1. Kim Whitmyre

        Sleeper cars are the way! If you can afford them it’s worth it. I’ve been across country by coach and sleeper car. My wife slept on the floor when we went coach…Food is much better in the diner car than the snack bar: the complimentary personal bottle of champage just before lunch was appreciated!

        The Coast Starlight from L.A. to Seattle was very enjoyable. Now, if the trains were subsidized like the airlines, they would be better for passengers and staff. But…USA!

          1. Malcolm MacLeod, MD

            MLTPB: My wife and I took the TS from Moscow to Irkutck Russia to Bejing in the summer
            of 1986 (Gorbachev was in power) and we had a compartment. Fortunately, the neighbor
            compartment held a Moscow news correspondent and his family being transferred to North
            Korea. Alcohol was rationed then to Russians, but not to tourists, and I stocked up on a lot
            of vodka in the tourists only store before leaving Moscow. It was a clever move, because
            once underway we had great parties until Irkutck, when the line to NK split off. The next
            day, however, we could buy Chinese wine in the dining car. Between my wife’s German
            and my English we had a dream week with primarily natives and we all became fast friends.
            The folks were the best part of the trip. I would never recommend a “tourist” train.

      2. jrs

        “Amtrak takes a low priority to freight, so transit times are long. ”

        It’s the perfect train for America: business and profits (freight) always come before people. And no the trains don’t even run on time.

    2. homeroid

      Try the Alaska marine highway. The best way to travel. Get a stateroom and the food is good. If i have the time i will take the ferry rather than fly. Wish we had land trains as good.

    3. Procopius

      Go for it. I’m afraid train service has changed for the worse since then, but back in the late ’40s my mother took me on the train a couple of times from Akron, Ohio, to visit grandparents in Iowa. It was a great experience. One time was a regular sleeper, another time we got a roomette. Dad used to take me to the train station in Akron to watch the trains. It was thrilling when they were still all steam, not so much as they switched to diesels. The steamers are just raw power, the diesels just don’t have the character.

  2. JTMcPhee

    How much of the internet is fake? The article has what, eight references to “Russian trolls” and “RussiaRussia evil influences,” along with bits on clickfarms and other scams that are by all accounts (which also may all be fake, of course) much yuuuger than any of the “Russian” involvements. And so little passing mention of the “Alabama” thing, the authors of the “Steele Dossier.”

    So many forking humans, inventing stuff, building Cloud-Cuckoo Castles of fraud and deception. Was it always thus, or is this just another “tipping point” phenomenon? An infinite “Operation Mockingbird,” Disney-fied and now seeming to come to a Matrix-like degree of closure and enclosure of all “real” experience? Are we to the point that we are Rutger Hauer, as “Roy” in “Blade Runner,” pushing a spike through our hand to confirm that we are still alive? Even sensory “reality” will no doubt soon be made counterfeit and turned to serve the servants and acolytes of ol’ Ed Bernays, who maybe, who knows any more, was just an agent of Cthulhu sent to sharpen the blurring of all edges and “realities” in service to what? Some skulch “ruling class?”

    It’s getting to where it’s are to tell if anything ‘matters” any more… Though my grandson is staying with us for a couple of days, and one can see that removing him from “screen time” and working on socialization and reading skills seems to be real, and important…

    1. JCC

      That was the first thing that struck me about this article, too. No mention whatsoever of Chinese bots, American bots (the leading bot technology originator I believe), Brazillian bots, Israeli bots….

      The article is interesting, but when I read stuff like this I often wonder if the true purpose behind mentioning common day-to-day irritations of web advertising and site logins, something almost all Internet users can easily relate to, is really to promote a political stance. This article in particular over-hyped the Rooskie thing to the point of being just as irritating and distracting as Internet advertising, login proofs of being human and bots in general.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Rutger Hauer…a spike through the hand…still alive.

      That has been a problem since Zhuangzi’s butterfly dream.

      After waking up from a dream that he/she was a Russian troll, the question came to mind: “Am I a Russian troll dreaming I’m a Democrat now, or am I a Democrat dreaming I’m a Russian troll?”

      1. ambrit

        As long as we don’t get to see attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Sevastopol. Then it really would be time to die, for all of us.
        Some dreams effect the phenomenal world in measurable ways.

          1. ambrit

            Would Vishnu’s Dreams be the phenomenal world?
            Something like infinite regression hypgnosis.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Rhyd is one of my faves.
      the comparison to Adolph Reid is spot on…they make people uncomfortable and tear down a bunch of ill considered “norms” and other assorted windmills
      as a white penis holder, myself(not holding it now, but I remember that it’s sort of pinkish brown…sigh), I take great exception to the identitarian miasma infecting Team Blue.
      How is any of that not sexist, racist, etc in it’s own right…all it does is prove the John Birchers right, after all,lol…that “the Left” is the source of racism, that we are intolerant and hateful…was that the intention?
      There are numerous wrongs that must be addressed…but to carve out little kingdoms of ones and twos is hardly a method of taking power and actually changing things for the better.
      …and the linking of indentitarian totalitarianism with Calvin! (“total depravity”)
      That’s gotta hurt!
      The absurdity of it all is what gets me…free college for everyone is racist?
      free healthcare is supporting the patriarchy?
      and meanwhile, pulling out of a stupid war(s) is unamerican?
      It’s a crazy world when the American Conservative is more lefty than Alternet on any given day.

      1. Olga

        Yup, the day Tucker Carlson started to make more sense than some “lefty” whoever – I knew all was lost for the so-called left (well, there was P Buchanan before him). The truly progressive left needs a new ‘handle.’

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I’ve been thinking about “the search for sanity” and where we end up finding it, and how. By any measure it is clearly insane that our great nation chooses limitless funding for endless war across the globe instead of clean water, working highways, airports and trains, safe bridges, and basic human dignity healthcare at home. When we end up hearing the likes of Pat Buchanan and Tucker Carlson and The American Conservative offering basic sanity about our sprawling, out-of-control neo-con vanity project empire, or when we see the reaction when The Orange Man has the temerity to end just one of our useless and illegal wars, it simply serves to highlight how insane the rest of the body politic has become. We need to support sane voices, whoever they are, and from whichever side of the aisle they’re from, and we need to hold our hopeful future leaders (*cough Bernie cough*) to a sanity standard, a new basic litmus test. Q: Given a choice, would you vote to bomb impoverished women and children in a desert 5000 miles away, or fund efforts to bring U.S. infant mortality rates up to the same standard as Cuba and The Ukraine?

        2. Lambert Strether

          If you don’t put the working class first, you’re not on the left. When you think about it, the identitarians share two strong beliefs:

          1) Rey Texiera’s “coalition of the ascendant”

          2) call-out culture

          It’s not a coincidence that these beliefs, er, intersect with those of liberal Democrats, for whom, wittingly or not, they’re running interference.

          They’re also committing political (though not personal) suicide, since IIRC the crossing point for majority-“minority” is 2044, or 26 years from now. That gives their weird project of de-massifying the 90% via identity, and then re-massifying them with intersectionality — and on what basis other than in the property that most unites the 90%, i.e. wage labor* — has almost 30 years to run.

          NOTE * So why not start there? For pity’s sake.

      2. jrs

        “free college for everyone is racist?”

        No it’s classist in it’s assumptions though, you don’t hear anything about free trade schools … so yea obviously so I think.

        1. False Solace

          The proposals include free trade school and community colleges. If you don’t hear about that it’s because the reporters are classist. Not necessarily the proposal.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I hope they include private tutors as well.

            Some skills can only be learned after a lenghty period of seeking out hidden masters.

    2. flora

      Yes. This bit of quotation from Alyssah Pariah within the article

      “Focusing our ire on people who receive privilege instead of people who dole it out is a losing strategy for ending oppression. This idea flows from post-structuralist academic theory that sees collective struggle against domination as largely misguided; ….”

      reminds me that any real left critique was eliminated from academia in the 50’s (and continuing into the early 60’s) McCarthy red scare witch hunts. The academic left was reduced to navel gazing and tended toward a neutered intellectual force vis-a-vis larger economic power relations. imo.

      From the article:

      Such a critique runs counter to all the dogma of American social justice politics, where each person is to dismantle or at least “check” their privilege in order to build a better, more fair and “socially-just” society. But of course the people running Goldman Sachs don’t have privilege–they have power, and wealth, and also much more say over who gets oppressed than some white male construction worker who will never read Judith Butler.

      To bring such a discrepancy to the fore, however, is to disturb the foundation of Social Justice “radicalism,….”

      It is the safe sort of “radicalism” that disturbs no larger power arrangements, that academia welcomes precisely because it is safe for the Goldman Sachs-type economic powers in the US. imo. It doesn’t threaten academic funding.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        people who receive privilege instead of people who dole it out

        That is the nut right there, it leaped off the screen at me too.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Top Amazon boss privately advised US government on web portal worth billions to tech firm”

    Amazon is setting up a portal to supply the Government with all its material needs with “everything from paper clips to office chairs”. It also runs a cloud service for the US intelligence community including a contract with the CIA. In addition, they are going for a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the Pentagon which other competitors for this contract complain is being deliberately written so that only Amazon is able to get this contract. I am trying to recall an old saying about this situation – something about eggs and baskets – but just can’t remember. Oh well, it can’t have been important.

    1. Wukchumni

      To really be able to GUMshoe your way into what is happening in the USA is that yes comrades, 1 department store does fit all.

      Just another odd plot twist in the Cold War, still ongoing.

      After reopening as a department store in 1953, the GUM became one of the few stores in the Soviet Union that did not have shortages of consumer goods, and the queues of shoppers were long, often extending entirely across Red Square.

      1. Arizona Slim

        And right now, GUM is decorated for Christmas. Oh, and did I mention that there is a huge Christmas market on Red Square?

        1. Wukchumni

          Did they ever mess up Communism nearly as bad as we butchered Capitalism, and didn’t even have the pc decency to call it a huge holiday market instead.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            as we butchered Capitalism,

            Natural results of capitalism. Yes, capitalism involves buying the government.

            Did they ever mess up Communism nearly as bad

            Usually, everything is interconnected, but despite its faults, the major problem with the USSR was a political one similar to the king not having defined and secured heirs or just relying on his old buddies who are the king’s age. What happens when they get old? We mocked the old men of the USSR at the Politburo level, but they were old men everywhere. The absence of healthy contested elections didn’t allow for orderly succession, leaving a bum like Yeltsin with a great deal of power and little institutional opposition or even memory. Everything that wasn’t nailed down could be moved.

          2. SimonGirty

            It really does seem that we scared bossman the worst, when small e-vendors hurt sales. They almost lost control of their monster? I was living in a ridgetop shack, using dial-up Netcom and UPS by way of support for online barter, p2p sales and file transfers. The notion that folks could encrypt communications and disseminate forbidden information, narrow-cast to like-minded individuals around the entire planet, as god & A. C. Clark intended…

    2. Lee

      Makes me wonder just how much disruption a slowdown or strike at Amazon might cause. Disruption: that’s a good thing, right?

      1. ambrit

        I’d expect some future President to call out the National Guard and declare those Amazon workers ‘disrupting’ the system to be ‘Potential Agents of a Foreign Power,’ and force them back to work. After all, Amazon would be a ‘Strategic Asset’ of the United States. Just invoke the Spirit of Harry Truman.
        America really is re-entering the McCarthy Era.

        1. SimonGirty

          Won’t have to. Supervisory Associates will see any convict labor or those who snuck by HR algorithms as red through their iGlasses and drone swarms will be deployed to protect coworkers. One no longer has to hire half the working class to kill the other half. Just sell them Bushmasters or robotic rotweilers?

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Well that should make it even easier for Uncle Sugar to continue indulging its ongoing propensity for grossly overpaying scam artists for subpar goods and services. From the How Much of the Internet Is Fake? link:

      Earlier this year, the writer and artist Jenny Odell began to look into an Amazon reseller that had bought goods from other Amazon resellers and resold them, again on Amazon, at higher prices. Odell discovered an elaborate network of fake price-gouging and copyright-stealing businesses connected to the cultlike Evangelical church whose followers resurrected Newsweek in 2013 as a zombie search-engine-optimized spam farm.

      Here’s a link to the article mentioned in the above excerpt which is well worth a read too (like all decent articles that appear in the NYT, this one was relegated to the ‘Style’ section where presumably fewer people would notice it):

      As an experiment yesterday I checked out Amazon using a VPN and without being logged in to the site – I thought that might make it easier to search for some books that I could later purchase somewhere else :) It seemed to me at least that the site was clearly being run by algos whose decisions on what I or any human being might want were making a lot less sense than they used to. Quite a few suggestions of products that clearly seemed bogus, or just repeating the same suggestions under different categories. There was no rhyme or reason to what I was being presented and when I tried to search for more specific items that I might actually want, things I know must be there didn’t show up in searches. I was looking for new sci fi novels I might not have heard about and I kept having umpteen awful Star Wars novels (that are so ubiquitous they’re probably written by bots at this point too) shoved at me. Their own internal search seems just as crapified as google’s is. Thousands of books out there and I kept being fed the same few dozen. It made me wonder why so many people used amazon when it was clearly infested with so much shit. I just don’t get it.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Almost any author or self-publisher has several tales of the day Amazon suggested their own book as something they’d likely enjoy. I still get suggestions I buy stuff I’ve already bought, sometimes more than once. Frankly, I like getting the Amazon promotions for their entertainment value.

        Did get into an interesting discussion of UBI vs. FJG on Twitter yesterday that immediately became too unwieldy for the venue. There seemed sufficient interest, so I started a group on the subject on MeWe. Hoping to see if it’s all social media or just Facebook/Twitter that makes intelligent online discussion difficult.

        1. Lambert Strether

          I have also read that Amazon deliberately under-orders books to force authors and publishers into their publishing-on-demand system, where production values are, naturally, crapified; lousy typography, cheap binding, etc.

      2. cnchal

        > I just don’t get it.

        Have you read the Prime and Punishment article?

        John Harris knew selling on Amazon was a “state of constant warfare,” and he had taken defensive measures. He sold survival gear — firestarters, compasses, combination firestarter-compass-watches with paracord wristbands — and in the world of Amazon, his account was a locked-down bunker with a panic room. He had trademarked his wares and registered his brand with Amazon, giving him a streamlined method for booting hijackers off his listings. He’d even built his own software to instantly send out cease-and-desist letters the moment someone tried to steal his Buy Box.

        Typically, the prompt legal threats were enough to scare off competitors, but one September morning last year, he woke to see an interloper had remained on his listings through the night. Strangely, Harris realized, they had also found a way to steal his own seller name, SharpSurvival. His account had been transformed into the generic Seller123. He reported the imposter to Amazon, as he’d done countless times before. But this time, nothing happened.

        Over the following days, Harris came to realize that someone had been targeting him for almost a year, preparing an intricate trap. While he had trademarked his watch and registered his brand, Dead End Survival, with Amazon, Harris hadn’t trademarked the name of his Amazon seller account, SharpSurvival. So the interloper did just that, submitting to the patent office as evidence that he owned the goods a photo taken from Harris’ Amazon listings, including one of Harris’ own hands lighting a fire using the clasp of his survival watch. The hijacker then took that trademark to Amazon and registered it, giving him the power to kick Harris off his own listings and commandeer his name.

        “This was very, very, very well orchestrated and researched,” says Harris, a pseudonym he wanted to use in order to avoid further attacks from rivals. “From a customer’s perspective, the scam was very seamless. The customers thought they were still buying the stuff from us.”

        Instead, according to court documents, customers began receiving shoddy knock-offs of Harris’ survival gear, and pillorying his products in their reviews. He sent dozens of emails and appeals to Amazon trying to explain the situation as he watched his wares fall in Amazon’s search, only to be told he’d have to work things out with the rightful brand owner. Then came the retaliation: tired of Harris’s futile attacks, the imposter booted Harris off his listings entirely, reporting him to Amazon for infringing on his own brand. “We consider allegations of intellectual property infringement a serious matter,” warned an email from Amazon.

        Attacks like this are increasingly common on Amazon. More customers and more sellers mean more competition for the top search result and more to gain by winning it. . .

        Amazon Jungle. King Kong owns the jungle and snakes eat each other alive, and what’s left over is paid to King Kong as tribute.

        As for the article by Jenny Odell and the fake Amazon seller, here is another take. From

        It’s clear from the article that Jenny is a very bright, talented and inquisitive writer. She’s a faculty member and lecturer at Stanford. I love the way she investigates and writes. It’s also clear that she’s not a forensic accountant, since she, unfortunately, missed the main theme of what she’s written about. What Jenny has discovered and wonderfully described has been hiding in plain sight for years. Jenny has stumbled onto an exceptional mini-chronicle of “weirdness” that’s become endemic in US eCommerce. Simply put, the Chinese Communist Party has designed an incredible ecosystem to facilitate money laundering, in their never ending quest for US dollars, using silly, questionable American e-Commerce storefronts. The CCP has become relentlessly adept at running exceptionally goofy eCommerce frauds operating right under regulatory noses, which move untold amounts of US Dollars off shore in exchange for no real value.

        There is no other possible explanation for this coordinated buffoonery. There’s no apparent, easy way to fix this problem without significant Amazon and Walmart participation. Unfortunately, both are effectively paid to look the other way.

        Crazy Talk or not?

  4. bassmule

    re: A Life On The Tracks: Riding The Rails With E. M. Frimbo

    “It is only with the deepest reluctance that [Frimbo] ever consents to ride in an automobile or plane. He regards both of these Johnny-come-lately forms of transportation as the natural enemies of the railroads, and therefore his enemies. ‘The automobile has replaced the terrier as the all-American pet,’ he told us.”

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      there was a railroad, complete with siding, that ran adjacent to the little neighborhood i grew up in.
      I was riding the damned things by the time i was 10…when they’d go slow in passing each other.
      (as in so many things in my history, it’s remarkable I survived at all,lol)
      once, the train got going too fast to jump off, and i ended up in East Houston in the big railyard, 70 miles from home.
      grounded for like a year.
      There’s a whole culture of freight riders in America, today…all but invisible.
      There’s a long history of rail romanticism:

      and of course, Kerouac’s Dharma Bums.

      1. lordkoos

        I’ve loved trains ever since I was 7 years old, when my family took the Milwaukee Hiawatha from central WA to Chicago, about a 5-day trip. Tried hopping a freight once when I was around 18, ended up about 80 miles from home and had to hitchhike back.

        There is a pretty good documentary called “American Nomads” produced by the BBC a few years ago – the whole thing is worth watching but there is a bit on modern train hoppers starting at 1:06. There are an estimated 20,000 people riding freight trains around the country at any given time. It sounds dangerous as hell though, as much from people you might encounter as from the activity itself.

        1. Wukchumni

          There is a pretty good documentary called “American Nomads” produced by the BBC a few years ago –

          In the same documentary @ 1:18 is a story about my friend Yogi, who I met about 30 years ago. He’s been everywhere-seen everything in Sequoia NP.

          1. Carey

            Thanks to lordkoos for the video link and for the story about Yogi.
            I liked what he said about the first half-day in the Sierras more or less curing what ailed him. Quite a lesson there?

      2. wilroncanada

        We lived a block and a half from the railroad which ran right through the middle of Hamilton, ON (Canada). My brother “failed” kindergarten because he frequently played in the shunting yards instead of going to school as a five-year-old.

  5. anon in so cal

    Israeli airstrikes on Damascus, Syria, on Christmas Day:

    Several interpretations of this event circulating, such as:

    –Israeli bombers were merely hiding behind these commercial airliners to avoid detection by Syria’s new air defense

    –Israeli bombers were using the commercial airliners as human shields

    –Most nefariously, Israel was deliberately attempting to trick Syria into blowing up one of the commercial jetliners, to trigger worldwide condemnation of Syria and trick Trump into keeping US forces in eastern Syria

    Regardless of which interpretation one prefers, there appears to be little to no condemnation of Israel’s bombing from Establishment quarters

    1. Bill Smith

      Or none of those interpretations are true? After all one of the civilian aircraft was “preparing to land” in Beirut and would have been behind (relative to the Syrian air defenses) and to north the F-16’s if they were over Lebanon on the Syrian border.

      Some stories say the Israelis hit 3 different arms depots and an anti-aircraft site that fired at them. Another story says the Israelis used Delilah cruise missiles in addition the the GBU-39’s. Yet another story says that the Israelis’ used surface to surface missiles in the attack in addition to the whatever was fired by the F-16’s. And yet another story adds armed drones to the list. Finally one story says that F-35’s participated in the second wave of the strike (against the anti-aircraft site?)

      People in the area posted on various social media sites that they heard explosions for about an hour. That seems far too long for just 16 GBU-39’s.

      And this part from the article is might be misleading “16 US-made laser-guided GBU-39 bombs” as it’s not likely the bombs used laser guidance from the F-16’s if they never entered Syrian airspace. Never entering Syrian airspace would mean the F-16’s never got closer than 40 km to the target. The slant range would be greater and it sounds like a long way for a targeting laser. However if it is true drones were used as part of the raid then maybe they painted the targets and the F-16 where just bomb trucks.

      The only thing that appears to be certain is that the satellite photos show that at one site two buildings in the general area described as being attacked were destroyed between passes of the satellite.

    2. timbers

      In my experience it’s common for Israel’s defenders to say the bad guys use “human shields” and that’s why it’s OK for Israel to kill folks and for America to do that, too, such as Obama’s drones.

      I asked a co-worker who was always defending all the civilians Obama has drone bombing back in the day, who insisted those civilians where human shields and up to no good and knew what they were doing:

      “Are you saying it’s OK for the U.S. government or Israel to bomb this office building with you and I in it,
      potentially killing you, me, and everyone else…if someone asserts there are “terrorists” here – because you and I and everyone else are human shields?”

      “Yes.” he replied.

    1. anon in so cal

      “During the Central American immigration crisis of 2014, the Obama administration bypassed standard bidding processes in order to quickly agree to a $1 billion contract with the nation’s largest prison company for a detention center in Texas for women and children seeking asylum.”

      Separately, in California, the State of California pledged “$30 million for Dreamers to pay for college, legal help.”

      1. marym

        Yes, the DB post does at least mention that the issue isn’t unique to the Trump admin.

        For-profit prisons and prison labor injustices go beyond immigration detention, are bi-partisan in their implementation, and not only at the federal level.

        1. JBird4049

          Well, there is a reason why the Thirteenth Amendment is so conveniently worded.

          Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

          Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

          And why all over the South, and later everywhere else, so many laws were enacted that only seemed to only apply to blacks and to some degree poor whites. Vagrancy laws in particular have been so broad and capriciously, orconveniently, enforced especially when the local farms had harvests due or the local mine or factory had labor shortages.

          A good start for reading is Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II written by Douglas A. Blackmon. It has its problems, but it does kill the idea that slavery stopped after the Civil War.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Well it could get worse. Remember reading how, about two centuries ago in Scotland, mine owners would go out into the countryside and kidnap young Scottish men and would take them back to the mines to work for them underground as virtual slaves. Have’t got to that point – yet!

              1. JBird4049

                Legal? I wish. Neo-slavery was a Southern practice, especially criminal convictions on order, but the legality or illegality of many practices in the South or the greater part of the United States as it pertained to Blacks, and again to a lesser degree poor whites, didn’t mean much. There is a reason why sundown towns were spread throughout the country.

                Some of the Southern practices of the time were not actually strictly legal, including some common labor and sharecropping practices, never mind the completely illegal lynchings that were common, but getting the Southern courts to act was almost impossible with the Federal courts being slightly better. Even when the local government was not a corrupt cesspit, there was often a well functioning system of neo-slavery sanctioned by the legal system.

                It’s comparable to how the modern Supreme Court has made almost any form of political bribery effectively legal although anytime before the 1990s, maybe the 1980s, that was not the case. Certainly the Founders thought differently!

            1. JBird4049

              So after the Highland clearances, deportations, and immigration there was a small labor shortage? Or were the owners just that cheap?

    1. ambrit

      Well, a lot of us here do advocate ‘lighting a fire’ under various and sundry ‘officials’ and politicos. Better yet, light the fire on the ‘politicos’ and make the panjandrum meme complete. It would also have the benefit of exploiting the politico’s ‘Achilles Tendon-cy.’

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Two years later, I still miss the headphone port”

    I was re-reading a John Michael Greer book which points out that the point of diminishing returns applies to technology as well – all technolgy. Take the present article. Does the lack of a headphone port on an iPhone make it a better product than what it replaced? No, I didn’t think so. Is the present incarnation of programs like Word better and easier to use than they were a coupla years ago? Is Google better at getting search results than it was a coupla years ago? My point is that in our technology and tech services, they are getting worse over time and not better. Operating systems themselves are at the point of getting incomprehensible and over time more and more functionality seems to be lost. This does not bode well for the future.

    And since it’s #caturday!, may I offer up a contribution?

    1. Eureka Springs

      The more I think about it the more I’m amazed that customers cannot order models with a headphone jack or other customized options on five hundred to thousand dollar gadgets.

      I did notice in comments on that post mention of several other phone makers who do have the mini jack. But as one who has been on mac for 30 years I’m trapped by my reliance on itunes. Music 80%, text 18%, and reading or maps 2%, while traveling are my reasons for having this thing improperly called a phone. I use the camera but prefer a stand alone. If I could find a very easy comfortable way to overcome the music trap while keeping my mac mini at home (no streaming or cloud wanted, just my own music on my own drives) I would abandon iphones with glee at this point.

      1. lordkoos

        Why not ditch the iphone and buy an old ipod? I still use my ipod classic, 160GB, holds about 7000 songs, they are on ebay for about $50.

        1. Eureka Springs

          What a deal! Need the portability of a phone for texting on the go. Also moving between a couple vehicles and a boat. All three stereos need the headphone jack.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      About Word and similar programs, wasn’t there an article done a few months back about how many of the program types which were available in the 80’s now take longer to start up due to bells and whistles?

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Speaking of diminishing returns, the returns could actually become negative, in technology or various other fields. That is one possibility. In that case, the curve on the graph would reverse its slope.

      I mention that in relation to Roman concrete. It has been commented, here, that it gets stronger as it ages, and even today, after 2,000 years, it is still getting stronger (I hope I remember this correctly). The question is, will it ever reach a high point, and starts to get weaker? If so, when?

    4. ex-PFC Chuck


      Is the present incarnation of programs like Word better and easier to use than they were a coupla years ago?

      Word processing user-friendliness peaked with the last revision of Word Perfect. The “Reveal Codes” mode made it easy to identify and fix whatever formatting issues you had. Word would never have gained market traction if MS hadn’t been giving it away and later subsidizing it with their OS monopoly.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Agreed! Peak word processing was WordPerfect circa 1994. Autoformatting (outlines, any type of hierarchy) in Word for the Mac is an abortion. Virtually impossible to make work.

        By contrast, in the old WP, you could format to print out non-standard envelopes (like Christmas card envelopes) and set up precisely where the send and return addresses would print.

        1. grayslady

          I still have my copy of Word Perfect on my XP computer. It is the only program that can print out teeny-tiny labels for insect collections; the fonts on Word can’t be made small enough.

        2. JBird4049

          Word for the Mac is an abortion.

          Preach it! The last I like Word was about twenty years ago in Windows. I don’t even like Pages that much. However I often have to use Word for emailing any work I do for college. Feh.

      2. rd

        I think the key change in technology was related to Google figuring out how to monetize eyeballs on the Internet. Up until then, technology was sold as a product to consumers of the technology. After that technology became a means of turning consumers into the product. So the focus in much of technology is no longer in producing a better product for the consumer to use to accomplish their purpose. Instead the focus is on getting the consumer to use a product to maximize interaction with vendors.

        So our best and brightest are focused on producing games and shopping websites.

    5. Plenue

      I’m sorry but it simply isn’t correct to say ‘all technology’. A lot of what you’re describing is feature creep and deliberate crapification in the name of having something new to sell each year. It isn’t because of some fundamental law of diminishing returns. Especially on the hardware side things continue to improve in real terms. Especially for GPUs and mobile processors (less so for desktop and laptop CPUs, which are approaching a wall), and graphics software.

      Whether these are things that so much focus should be put on is a different issue.

      Anyone who does a lot of less trivial stuff like video-editing or photo-shopping can tell you that things are better now than they were even five years ago, with cheaper and better SSDs, significantly better GPUs, and faster processors.

      From what I’ve seen John Michael Greer has a bad case of Dunning-Kruger.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Video-editing or photo-shopping are niche functions that would of course improve with faster processors. We are talking about the bulk majority of user’s experience here. Apple, for example, has lost the plot ( and I won’t have a bar of Windows 10 either. In fact, I still use Windows 7 and when I want to write up a letter, call up WordPad rather than wait for Word itself to load up which takes forever and a day. I use PDF-XChange Viewer to read pdf files as Adobe Acrobat has grown to be a monster. Yves has stated that is she were to re-do “Econned” that she may not be able to do it as the Google she used for research has changed significantly since then – and not for the better. Though not a Twitter user, I read that they changed their feed to ranked over chronological. And so it goes on.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Twitter actually just changed. You can now choose a chronological feed like nature intended. Click the little stars at the top right (at least on iOS) and you will see a dropdown. (And what UI genius decided twinkly stars were the best iconic suggestion for that functionality?)

          Twitter being Twitter, there’s a catch: At random but long-ish intervals, the setting is changed back to algo from chronological. And there’s no visual indication of the change, so you have to check it yourself and reset as needed.

        2. Plenue

          Sounds like you need to upgrade your hardware. Video and photo editing are resource intensive, extreme examples. If they’re improving in performance, by definition so is everything else. I’m running Windows 10, and just opened up WordPad, Took maybe an eighth of a second.

        1. Lee

          But, according to my very quick study, Maremmas are possessive of the critters they guard and one best not mess about with their charges. How do they react when a person they don’t know approaches the animals they protect? Would I lose a hand were I to try and pet one of the herd? At what point will they be introduced to the herd. Quite early, I’m assuming. This inter-species relationship of carnivore and herbivore is a fascinating phenomenon. The wolf lying down with the lamb as a result of human mediation. It’s magical!

          Naturally, your puppy pile pics have made me covetous. But alas, they are not recommended as pets for city dwellers.

          1. diptherio

            Yes, they are possessive. No, they probably wouldn’t go after you if you tried to pet a goat or cow. They will go after any unknown canine on the property though, which has caused a bit of a problem a couple of times when visitors ignored the requirement that their dogs be kept firmly on leash. Almost ended in disaster. They go with the animals around the 3 month mark, I think. Not really sure though, as this is my first go round with the animals and I just recently moved up to the farm.

            Not good city dogs, but we’ll be selling them relatively cheap to local ranchers. If any of the readers in the NW MT area are interested, let me know. 5% off for NCers!

  7. ex-PFC Chuck

    I am in the midst of a canary-in-the-coal-mine experience with the book publishing industry. Or perhaps a better avian metaphor would be a vulture circling the road-kill of a de facto free press.
    About the first of December I went to my nearby Barnes & Noble to buy a copy of Michael Hudson’s recent book, . . and forgive them their debts. I didn’t expect they would have it in stock, since it was only a few weeks after its publication and the book not likely to be a best-seller. But I was surprised when the sales clerk told me because it’s a print-to-order publication I’d have to pay for it up front. Although I didn’t think to ask at the time, the logical inference is that this is a B&N-wide policy regarding PTO books, and a second order, disturbing inference is that afttd will never be found on the shelves in any store of the USA’s largest brick and mortar book seller.
    Fast forward to a week or so before Christmas. The book had arrived and I’d read a few dozen pages into it but had put it aside because my name had finally come to the top of my library’s* long waiting list for one I’d been eagerly looking forward to. (It’s due on New Years Eve and I can’t renew it.) But reading the introduction afttd reinforced my conviction of the book’s importance so I went to the Library website to verify they at least had it on order. It wasn’t, in spite of the fact they have several other Hudson books in the catalog including its two immediate predecessors – Killing the Host and J is for Junk Econonics – so I clicked on the “Suggest a Purchase” icon. Checking the website a few days later I learned that the suggestion was rejected. As usual the message was that “ . . it didn’t meet the criteria blah blah blah . . . “ and click here for more detail. I’d clicked “more detail” on previous occasions and had never found it much more helpful.
    Being a heavy library user and it being the Christmas season and all I decided I’d donate a copy of the book to the library, so I went to the “Contact Us” page of the website and asked how to go about making the donation, and yesterday I received a response. I’d apparently waxed too eloquently on the virtues of the book itself and not enough on my intention to donate it; the assistant Librarian Associate thought I was trying to influence them so I could check out the book to read. (I attribute this misunderstanding to the third glass of pinot noir of the evening I was savoring as I filled in the contact form.) The ALA person closed by asking what the rejection notice said. As noted I’d long ago learned that these didn’t usually tell much so I hadn’t clicked through at the time. But at her/his behest I did so yesterday and found the following message:

    “This is a new publication with no reviews and no holdings in any US libraries. Due to the lack of information available, we will not be purchasing this for the collection.”

    Taken together I find this and my experience at B&N disturbing in several regards. Admittedly the book only recently hit the market. However what I’ve experienced suggests there is a presumption in the retail sector and the library community that a book, because it is PTO, is unworthy of serious consideration in spite of the fact that it’s by a serious author with a number of moderately successful books over past decades. Do all libraries and book store chains operate under this presumption? Does “any US libraries” in the library’s response also include academic libraries? The publisher of afttd, Islet, is the same one that published Hudson’s two immediately previous books, and if I recall correctly I bought Killing the Host off the shelf at that same B&N store.
    I suspect that most members of Naked Capitalism’s readership would agree that USA and indeed all industrial societies need to hear and see the message that Michael Hudson presents in and forgive them their debts, as well as his other recent books. We should all do what we can to get the word out about this book, especially to our libraries.
    I’m interested in the experiences others have had learning about and getting access to PTO books.

    * “My library” is the Hennepin County Library, serving the most populous such jurisdiction in the state of Minnesota. Ten years ago HCL subsumed the Minneapolis Public Library system after the latter painted itself into a financial corner with cost overruns on its then new Central Library building, and it now serves all 1.25M county residents through 40 plus locations.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      If you have the energy, I would try again and show them these reviews:

      It was selected by Martin Wolf, the Financial Times’ chief economics writer, as one of the best books of 2018:

      It is so important that the US editor in chief, Gillian Tett, made it the topic of a separate op-ed:

      Wiping the slate clean: is it time to reconsider debt forgiveness?

      And before they try saying the FT is a UK publication, it has far more US than British subscribers. Tett as the US editor is more important to the FT than its UK editor.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        Thank you, Yves. I will do so. I have already sent them the link to the John Siman piece from November.

    2. Watt4Bob

      While my kids were growing up, we would visit the Minneapolis Public Library in downtown Minneapolis every Saturday. It was there that I discovered, as explained by library staff, that Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was one of the most stolen books in the Minneapolis Public Library system.

      My daughter was writing an essay on the book, and with no copies in the Minneapolis Public Library system, it was clear from the catalog that they ‘owned’ many copies, but all were stolen, so we had to purchase it elsewhere.

      I relate this experience to point out that there is evidently a dedicated effort afoot to suppress books that are not to the liking of our masters, and I would guess that their idjit minions are somehow responsible for the situation you encountered.

      They don’t ban books anymore, they just refuse to distribute them, and if they somehow find their way into our libraries, some idjit will steal them.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        I’ve observed the same phenomenon regarding books that debunk or expose dirty linen of religious sects. Some small and some not so small.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I wonder if Michael Hudson is suffering from having a relatively common name. As someone with the same problem i sometimes find that various search algorithms can get a bit confused as to who the ‘real’ one is in a particular context. So it might be discounting that he is already a well reviewed author. I can’t think of any other reason why a Library system wouldn’t flag that a book by him is not at the very least, worth considering for purchase.

      1. Donna Boxman

        I didn’t confirm this before posting. But I follow Michael Hudson at different podcasts. When he was interviewed about this book Forgive Them Their Debts I believe he said no one would publish it. So heaven forbid, it is only available at Amazon as an ebook.

    4. KPC

      I do not find it vaguely inappropriate that Barnes and Nobel asked you to pay up front. They are ordering a book explicitly for you, not their inventory. They do run a business which is as necessary as a library. If you do not return to collect the book you ordered they are stuck with the cost.

      I do this all of the time with LibroMAX International up the street. I do not want to buy and own every book but occasionally I do and I cannot imagine Randal or Maria actually stocking an inventory of some of the books I order. Thanks to my gods and goddesses. If they did, they would go insolvent in a nano second then I would be stuck with whom? Amazon who cannot get my address correct and the shipping cost of FedEx twice?

      Nah, LibroMAX gets all upset because sometimes it takes them a whole week to get my book on their normal inventory shipment and they do NOT charge a centavo for shipping?!?!?!

      Yes! This is how one runs a real book store.

      I will add that Randal and Maria are, oh, a bit different than me? Would this shock you? So, they spy on my orders plus what I buy out of inventory and then add suggestions I would never have guessed existed on planet earth! Thankfully. You should see some of the new books out there these days and some deal with economics no less. Try Evermore and, I think, Everless was released on 22 December.

      The algorithms on Amazon et al get this backwards. I already know what I like. It is the stuff from sources of which I am clueless that I want for recommendations.

      Thus, I am a source of profit and referral to that fabulous book store up the street from these offices… . And not one time in 158 years have they failed me and this firm.

      Do you see how this economics gig works now?

    5. Alfred

      ISLET Verlag is a scholarly publisher based in Germany, apparently specializing in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. See Print-on-demand is increasingly the norm in publishing books deemed to have a limited, scholarly audience. Thus, far from being a indicator of unimportant or marginal titles, Print-on-Demand is likely to be one of books of quite special significance. It seems logical to me that while large academic research libraries would be set up to deal with publishers like Islet Verlag on a routine basis, for even large and admired public library systems like Hennepin County’s a request for one of their products may come as such a surprise that staff (and more pertinently, policies) are unequipped to handle it. It is indeed routine for retailers of print-on-demand items to require payment for them to be made at the point of ordering, and very common for them to be supplied on a non-returnable basis. All that said, it is VERY unfortunate and even tragic to discover that no North American public library seems yet to be making a copy of this book available to the public. As of a few moments ago, WorldCat is showing only six libraries holding it in North America — all of them academic (some of which may only have an ebook version, which would not normally be available through interlibrary loan). (Cataloging lag-time may well be a factor.) Interested readers relying on public libraries, I suggest, should personally approach a reference librarian with a request for this book, rather than a circulation specialist (as might be suggested by library websites) or just filling out an online form. Readers may also have standing to suggest acquisition of this book by nearby state-supported university libraries. Finally, I’d note that’s paperback price of $26.95 is quite reasonable by standards of European academic publishing. One reason this book can cost so little is because Print-on-Demand eliminates the requirement of shipping a physical item overseas. By having ISLET Verlag handle his publications, Hudson may well believe he is therefore doing his potential (international) audiences a favor.

    6. Elizabeth Burton

      I can explain the policy regard print-to-order (formerly “print on demand”) books in one word: returns.

      Many on-demand titles, especially those published by their authors or a very small press, are not eligible to returned after being ordered by a bookseller. As some may know, since the Great Depression, the publishing industry has engaged in a form of welfare whereby any book ordered by a bookstore can be returned, usually without limit as to time and/or quantity, for full credit. When books are printed in the multiple thousands, the relative costs to major publishers isn’t that bad, and they can remainder most hardcovers and trade paperbacks so they aren’t a total loss.

      The per-copy price of on-demand books, however, make it too costly to allow returns. It also sucks for the environment, but that’s a story for another time. You were fortunate—I’ve heard of bookstores flat-out lying they couldn’t get an on-demand book even if it was listed with a major wholesaler. The reason being that if the person who placed the order never comes back, they’re stuck with the book.

      I suspect the increasing number of big-name authors who are self-publishing, though, has resulted in the now-official policy of just insisting the books be paid for in advance. Likewise the use by many of the Big Five of on-demand for steadily selling backlist titles.

      Just as an aside, mass-market paperbacks are also eligible to be “returned”, but the only part so returned is the front cover. The rest of the perfectly readable book must be destroyed. So, picture big boxes of books that could be donated all over the world being hauled to landfills by the truckload.

    7. PlutoniumKun

      The problem of getting your book in bookstores isn’t new – in 1938 it even led to Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh resorting to violence against innocent booksellers:

      At 11am the next morning, Patrick Kavanagh returned to Hanna’s, telling the owner that he had “15 minutes to put my book in the window”.

      “This is an ultimatum,” said Kavanagh, who then left.

      Shortly before his second visit to Hanna’s, however, Kavanagh popped in to see Mr William P Figgis of Dawson Street whose bookshop – Hodges Figgis – displayed one copy of The Green Fool on a table.

      “Kavanagh demanded to know why it was not in the window and said they were hiding the book,” according to Reynolds’ report.

      Kavanagh left Hodges Figgis shortly after.

      The poet who – according to one bookseller – “appeared to have some drink taken” returned to Hanna’s of Nassau Street at 12.20pm and “commenced throwing books off the shelves onto the floor” before an assistant, Joseph McNeaney, grabbed him by the arm, asking him to stop.

      “Are you looking for a fight?” Kavanagh barked. “My name is Kavanagh and I am an Irish poet. They are not giving my book a fair do. They are not displaying it in the window.”

      Kavanagh then asked McNeaney where Arthur Hanna was. “By God, I’ll break his skull,” the poet barked. “I’ll wreck the joint.”

      Once Hanna found out Kavanagh had returned, Reynolds notes, he put The Green Fool in the bookshop window.

      In his report, Sergeant Reynolds states that while “it’s obvious from the annexed statements that Kavanagh’s conduct was such as would likely lead to a breach of the peace…the Managers do not desire that the Garda initiate any proceedings…”

      Later that day, Kavanagh returned one last time to Hanna’s of Nassau Street.

      At 5.15pm, he thanked Arthur Hanna for displaying his novel prominently and said; “Now see that you have 24 copies. I will be back next week.”

      Having taken witness statements the following day, Sergeant Reynolds tried to trace Kavanagh’s whereabouts.

      “But, so far, I have been unable to ascertain it.”

  8. Livius Drusus

    Re: A Woman on Twitter is Abused Every 30 Seconds

    I sometimes wonder how many “men” online are actually women pretending to be men because of all of the abuse women get online. Twitter seems especially bad. It is perfect for the kind of short, nasty comments one might expect from a schoolyard bully. No wonder that it is Trump’s favorite platform although to be fair he is not much different from the millions of ordinary Americans who use Twitter and other social media platforms to bully and attack people.

    For example, cyberbullying is now a huge problem for schools. It seems worse than ordinary bullying because at least in the old days the bullying ended when school ended but now thanks to the Internet the bullies can attack you no matter where you are.

      1. ambrit

        “Was there a control group for this analysis?” The question lacks rigour.
        The entire population of people “online” are under control of one sort or another.
        Q.E.D. (The new Q.E.D. however: “Quod erat delendam.”)

    1. JCC

      I also read that and then went through a few of the comments. One was interesting with two links from relatively trustworthy sites that showed that prominent men get more abuse than women and that women shell out as much gender abuse as men… which just goes to show that humans of both sexes have a lot more in common than some like to believe.

      If anyone is interested, here are the links:

      There were a few more comments pointing out that without a control group, the “study” was pretty useless.

      1. Lynne

        what does it matter that “prominent men” get more abuse than the average woman? You sound like you don’t have a problem with women being abused, and surely that’s not your point. Is it? I also read the comments, including the vile attacks directed at a woman (and the vileness directed at men using vulgar slang to call each other parts of female anatomy, because of course to them the worst thing you can be is a woman), thereby proving the point.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          You must not have been in the same places I am where otherwise intelligent, sensible women gleefully slut-shame and denigrate any woman connected to the Trump administration. Am I to accept that only approved women should be protected from abuse?

          1. Lynne

            What? Not sure how you got that from my comment. I don’t think abuse is ever justified. Of course, I also don’t think criticism is abuse per se. it’s disheartening that many cannot tell the difference. Back in the day, I saw a group of twenty-somethings insist that an acquaintance had proven himself an abusive racist misogynist because he said someone needed to be taken down a peg. they were quite earnest in their insistence that using the phrase proved racism and misogyny because they themselves had only ever heard it directed at black women.

            1. Carey

              Please tell me how to reliably discern what is ‘abuse’ and what is acceptable ‘criticism’. Thank you.

        2. JCC

          Of course that wasn’t my point.

          Confirmation bias is problematic, but one should at least read the articles before accusing others, particularly other they don’t know, of supporting abuse of women. You might try reading the original link above as well as the two links supplied by comments to that original article that I posted above before you make these types of accusations.

          Just to get you started, here is the quote from the original link relative to your assertion that this is all about “prominent men” getting more abuse than the average woman:

          Amnesty International and Element AI looked at data from 288,000 tweets sent to 778 female politicians and journalists in the U.S. and U.K.

          Your assertion does not match the core assertion of the article.

          One of the articles in the followup to the original ( offers a study that said well known men get more abuse on twitter than well known women, about 2,5 times as much.

          – 2.54% of the tweets containing the @ username of male public figures contained abuse, compared to only 0.95% of the tweets received by prominent women.

          And the second article (at Quora) offers a study that says women are just as likely to use gender abuse as men.

          Like I said, “humans of both sexes have a lot more in common than some like to believe.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is virtue-signalling a form of bullying?

      “You are less virtuous than us.”

      “You bad, bad, bad.”

      Here, Trump is out-done by too many others, and virtue signallers’ victims are both female and male.

    3. ewmayer

      Well, maybe the lady should get the heck off Twitter! What is she, some kind of glutton for punishment?

      (Yes, I do love a poorly-phrased headline as much as the next sardonicist.)

    4. Big River Bandido

      I find it rather amusing that people are getting upset over “abuse” in on Twitter, as if platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook weren’t intended for that purpose to begin with.

      But considering the New York Magazine article on How Much of the Internet is Fake?, perhaps the question should be: if one Twitter bot abuses another, does the one feel pain and the other shame? And if they both die of depression, will anyone hear their cry for help?

  9. Tertium Squid

    Loved the train article.

    Even in Germany, whose railway system is among the wonders of the world until something goes wrong, hopelessness can set in, and one begins to understand why the generals told the Kaiser he had to go to war because the railway timetable was immutable.

  10. KLG

    Rand Paul, self-certified ophthalmologist, is advertising his Duke connection along with his lame attempt at humor. Duke University School of Medicine must be so proud!

    1. Craig H.

      The last time I checked Duke was pretending Nixon was not an alumnus. Perhaps their most accomplished alumnus ever.

      Which American commander-in-chief authorized the largest tonnage of bombs dropped? <— this question stumps google from my computer. Perhaps your version of the service could be more informative.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Did Nixon go to “Duke” or Trinity before the Duke family (Duke energy) bought the naming rights?

      2. JTMcPhee

        Biggest bombing President/CinC? DuckDuckGo gives a number of links that help answer the question. Here’s one:

        Obama did pretty good at “killing people” with a pretty good tonnage himself.

        And the persistence of the idea that “victory” can be obtained by “air power,” bombing and strafing and burning the snot out of huge areas and populations that won’t or can’t “Say Uncle!!” loudly or often enough, after having their lunch money and sneakers stolen by the Schoolyard Officer Friendly Bully. Lots of rice bowls involved there, and a truly stupendous self-licking treat…

        And which country has had the most bombs “per capita” dropped on it by the Empire? Try Laos. May Kissinger and Nixon and all those Generals rot in a particularly nasty hell. Of course that’s just not the way it works, you can bet. So we mopes with some kind of moral sense that says bad acts should result in proportionate punishment are left with a turn to religiosity for reassurance that there is some kind of justice in the universe, when there’s darn-all likelihood, looking around, that what some of us believe is “evil” is just another physical constant that “simply is,” with no moral element or vector to is at all…

  11. JohnnyGL

    In response to Harry Enten’s question…

    There’s the initial knee-jerk reaction of racism, which is more true than democrats are comfortable admitting.

    But, I think the real answer is….as it always is with team dem….FUNDRAISING!!!!!!!!

    O’Rourke raised truckloads of cash….more than Gillum or Abrams. The hype machine around him is driven by consultants looking for a payday. The pundits take their cues from their go-to consultants that they regularly talk to around political matters. In 2016, those pundits and consultants were wrong about tons of stuff, as they often are, but it was so brazenly bad in 2016. They’re trying to manufacture consent again, and struggling to do so.

    Nomiki Konst and the activists fighting to gain control and bring some transparency to the DNC showed exactly how much the consultants run the party.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Yes fundraising, and Democratic power brokers find O’Rourke’s soothing sort of social obedience quite pleasing. He’s the right type. That’s also why he’s a handy fundraiser, but it’s a distinct thing.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Primaries matter. It’s important to examine HRC’s popularity and Sanders/Obamas results. Name recognition and nostalgia were largely the stories. Sanders is not a figure ready for cult like devotion. On the Internets, HRC didn’t seem very popular outside areas run by loyalists like Josh Marshall or just long term hell holes such as DKos (they never lost their way. It was always scummy. The racism and sexism on display back in preparation for the 2008 primary was revealing).

        Obama had three real keys besides his charisma and story. One, Iraq. Two, not being a Clinton (the 2005 DNC race was about this), and three, his charisma and story which gave him an organic base. His age too. There isn’t a nostalgia candidate, so they need an Obama.

        With Biden being an obvious clod, how do the courtiers keep Sanders out? They have been shopping candidates, but none have any kind of following outside their own home state if they have one there. Safe blue states aren’t necessarily the best place for building mass mobilization efforts. Sanders isn’t a Democrat. He beat them. He knows how to win beyond dropping into a safe seat.

        There will be an antiSanders vote, but largely from an older crowd of the usual suspects. Watching MSDNC all day doesn’t help with organizing. Iraq and horrid policies tend to be the domain of the Democratic courtier class. This leaves the organic base due to charisma and story. Beto doesn’t have Obama’s story or much of his charisma, and the other lovers have been trotted out for months. Sanders enters the primary with a strong base, name recognition in front loaded Southern states with less political organization, and proven ability to win caucuses. This separates him from other previous front runners such as Lieberman (who also had terrible policies). The panic is setting in. After all, Obama had to enter the fray to keep Ellison out of the DNC top job. The other candidates didn’t create excitement. Time is running out.

        1. John k

          Hope you’re right. I’ve been predicting they can’t keep him from the nom, and that he would therefore easily be pres, since hill lost, but sometimes doubts set in.
          Also worry about something happening to him, and suspect this is why he doesn’t go full frontal against endless war… better to be pres, and get change in those heading the agencies, first. And stay away from grassy knolls.

          1. Carey

            “..can’t keep him from the nom..” Really?

            With due respect, I think you’re mistaken. They can, and they will.

            “Not even a Democrat…”

        2. oh

          You forgot #4: Obama was a convincing liar and a grifter. The people wanted (who voted for him) to hear the things he said.

          1. Carey

            I see it a little differently: Mister Obama was a convincing liar for
            those looking desperately for one, post-Bubba gravy train.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Encouraging article at the Intercept that was probably already linked here on Tom Perez setting a standard for small-dollar donations (not the number of them only, but the percentage of the total funds raised too) for D candidates to participate in the televised debates.

      Perez’s introduction of a grassroots fundraising threshold to participate in debates is born out of the DNC’s efforts to appear unbiased in the primary, correcting its mistakes from 2016. But in doing so, Perez is actually putting his thumb on the scales of the race — only for once, it’s against big money and corporate candidates.

      This extra incentive to focus on grassroots fundraising will transform how the primary is run. For years, when candidates filed their campaign finance reports, reporters raced to get up stories on how much each hauled in — the bigger the better. But with the DNC spotlight on small donors, reporters will now zero in on that small-dollar number. It won’t just be Sanders touting his average contribution amount; expect any candidate with a decent grassroots program to do so as well.

      However, there is a chart included and the total amount raised (BO, EW ahead of the others by tens of millions–though Bernie is first on dollars raised from small donors, Kamala Harris second) so far exceeds TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS and it’s only 2018.

      TWO HUNDRED MILLION BUCKS that will mostly go to smarmy consultants and the corporate media that consistently refuses to educate and inform the public as the Fourth Estate was intended to. Ugh.

      1. False Solace

        I’m reminded of those DNC flacks who thoughtfully donated $1 at a time 27 times to their favorite Democrat corporate sellouts, in addition to the millions those sellouts racked in from their owners. Just to make the “small donor” count go up. Of course, then you have the Republicans who openly expect their candidates will sell themselves to the highest bidder.

      2. Lambert Strether

        We tend to be idealistic about small donors, mentally contrasting them to squillionaire donors. But that’s foolish; the reactionary Republican direct mail machine of the 90s was built on small donors. Relying on small donors is an operational decision, not a sign of virtue. As such, it can be adopted — or, more precisely, be made to be seen as having been adopted — by any campaign. Now, insurgent campaigns — Dean; Sanders — adopt small donor strategies out of necessity. What Perez has just signaled is that small donor strategies have been domesticated (thank you, ActBlue) and can now be adopted by non-insurgent liberals. Witness Beto.

  12. PKMKII

    On the removal of the headphone jack port: I got the first iPhone to go lightning connection only, the 7 (my first smartphone) in 2016. I wasn’t bothered by the lack of a headphone port, as the included lightning connection headphones worked fine and I never needed to charge it while listening to the headphones.

    However, earlier this year I started having this problem where the headphones started disconnecting randomly. It seems that the Apple engineers hadn’t accounted for the fact that people would be plugging and unplugging the headphones in multiple times a day, and thus the port itself would become degraded faster than when it was just getting plugged and unplugged for charging. So I had to buy a pair of bluetooth headphones, and even now when I charge the phone, I have to make sure the cords sits at the right angle or else it won’t charge.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      my previous dell laptop had that problem. i keep whatever laptop i’m using on a high shelf in the bedroom(to be able to connect to the wifi router, out that window over there, in a birdhouse on a fence post) and have a separate monitor at the foot of the bed. sound is connected to the ancient analog stereo, then to an a/b/c/d splitter to the speakers in here and all through the trees outside(with the push of a button, the whole place transforms into a beer joint)
      the headphone jack almost immediately wore out, so i attached a string and a pen to the wire, to hold it downward so it would connect.
      one might think that these moderately expensive products would be more well made,lol.
      as for fones…until recently, I obtained all my phones for free from the cell phone company…a regional affair that set up shop out here, where no body else wanted to go to the trouble.
      started with flip phones…until one day when I was due for an “upgrade”, they gave me an iphone(i think it’s a 7, but could be wrong). battery died during wife’s month in the hospital…and you can’t just put in a new battery. so i plunked down $200 on a used one(“i want one exactly like this one”–to the girl’s confusion and distress. why wouldn’t i want the newest?). wasn’t until I was 130 miles away that i realised that I could only hear it on speaker….the one you hold to your ear doesn’t work.
      yet another way that apple, et alia is killing Privacy,lol:
      all my phone conversations are on speaker, now.
      of course, I had lost the rct almost immediately….what with living out of the car and all with wife in hospital.

      1. PKMKII

        But notice that when the ol’ fashioned connection goes, they’ve always got a flashy, and more expensive, new tech option waiting for you. You headphone jack connected to your speaker splitter went out? Well why not buy a Google Home and connect it to your Sonos system? Lightning headphones died? Why here’s the latest bluetooth iBuds for the low, low price of $400. Latest technology, so much more reliable than the connections of old. Until, of course, we “upgrade” the codecs and standards and stop offering upgrades for your “old” equipment. Not that it couldn’t run on your old equipment, we just decided to stop supporting it at some arbitrary point. Nothing to do with getting you to buy a whole new set of more reliable equipment!

    2. jhallc

      Check to make sure the port isn’t full of dust etc. which keeps the lightning connection from fully connecting. I have to clean my Iphone 5S port occasionally to keep the connection working. Might be an easy fix or not.

  13. TimR

    Re “… Col. Ripper was right about the fluids, wrong abt the fluoride..” in yesterdays comments (paraphrasing Lambert)

    Why do people who haven’t looked at anything about the issue just assume this is a non-issue? Maybe bc Kubrick painted it as a tinfoil hat issue, so “I will not even consider the idea, at fear of ostracism”..?

    The book “The Fluoride Deception” is written by a mainstream reporter, and well sourced. In his version, a confluence of events plus one powerful and eccentric character distorted the course of events. Most studies don’t support it, and most countries ban it.

    On its face, it’s a dumb idea.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Agnotology is against this site’s written Policies.

      Studies DO support the use of fluoride to strengthen teeth, most importantly when children’s adult teeth are developing.

      In Europe, many countries have fluoridated salt rather than fluoridated water.

      The studies that show harm are ones with doses vastly higher than for fluoridated water or salt. If you were to consume similarly high doses v. normal of, say, caffeine, you’d be dead in short order.

  14. Chauncey Gardiner

    Regarding the dominance of algorithmic-driven, high frequency trading in the financial markets, with an estimated 85 percent of all trades now ‘on autopilot’, I suspect that yesterday’s aberrant “Algos Gone Wild” feedback loop would have garnered somewhat more critical interest had the market dropped by a similar amount over 5 hours rather than recorded a gain of 1,086 Dow points. Wondering if there’s really any actual cash behind it all anymore, although I did notice after-the-fact that there was a run-up in the $USD and a drop in the Euro and Yen around mid-day, which suggests the possibility there was “Money” behind the trading volume in a form of “carry trades”. Aren’t the ECB and BOJ still in QE-NIRP mode, with pre-established swap lines, and aren’t their primary broker-dealers still the same list of names used by the Fed?…

    These markets and the institutions that own them are now largely divorced from the real economy and do not meet the needs of savers, elderly retirees, nor ordinary citizens who have 401(k) plans or other saving plans and are setting aside part of their incomes for retirement or as a prudent cushion in event of layoffs. Hoping for some profound changes in this financial system in the next Congress, including increased regulation (I know… I know…).

  15. TimR

    Ambrit, thanks for comment on stocks as an aftermarket in yesterdays links.

    Nobody has ever really been able to explain to me why it “works” though. Is it just a sort of “collectible” ? Like old comics?

    A limited number of these chits have been issued… They have only a delusional connection to their eponymous issuers… But as long as we all “believe,” we can play at trading them amongst ourselves.. And value them more or less depending how the real world entity they represent fares in the market..

    1. Wukchumni

      “Of all the mysteries of the stock exchange there is none so impenetrable as why there should be a buyer for everyone who seeks to sell.”

      J.K. Galbraith

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Speaking of mysteries, in one comment yesterday, the stock market rebound yesterday was said to be helped, in part, by the strong Chirstmas sales.

        That seems to suggest the Carpenter was a saviour of some kind…in this case, saving the stock market, for one day. He was directly responsible, for some happiness, even among nonbelievers.

    2. ambrit

      Thanks. I wondered how applicable the ‘aftermarket’ idea was.
      As for scarcity issues, (pun intended,) Wukchumni was a numisnatist in a past incarnation and should have a better understanding of how a ‘managed deficiency’ system works.
      As the man says at the end of Chapter One: “It’s all in your head.”

    3. jrs

      well they pay dividends and have *some* value for that reason, although there is also speculation, now the stocks that don’t even pay dividends … are all the next Amazon right?

  16. Wukchumni

    President and First Lady make SECOND stop to visit U.S. troops in Germany on way back from surprise trip to Iraq where Trump told cheering soldiers: ‘We’re no longer the world’s suckers’ and ‘The U.S. cannot continue to be the policeman of the world’
    I don’t get it, why not go visit troops in the USA instead, if that’s your speech?

    1. Ford Prefect

      Trump said he didn’t want the U.S. to be ‘taken advantage of any more by countries that use us and use our incredible military to protect them’ as he complained that ‘they don’t pay for it, and they’re going to have to.’

      My guess is that the troops are generally not that concerned about who is paying for what, but instead who is being put in the way of an IED or a bullet. So it is kind of a bizarre inspirational speech to tell them that we are pulling them out because of our checkbook instead of casualty rates.

      Time will tell if this de-escalation of US forces hurts or helps in the Middle East.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘they don’t pay for it, and they’re going to have to.’

        Isn’t that the description of a protection racket?

          1. The Rev Kev

            My point is that protection rackets are usually imposed on people who do not want or need them. It’s an offer that they can’t refuse. Europe, for example, has more than enough resources and manpower to put together a serious military force. But the Pentagon is fiercely opposed to the concept of a European Army as that would make the US/NATO force moot. And to be honest European leaders are happy to go along with the whole charade as it makes life easier for them around budget time, even if they do have to end up sending their military to the far corners of the world as part of a tribute system.

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “There’s no easy fix for our nuclear past” — “…Hanford, the site of the country’s first plutonium production plant” is particularly toxic and dirty on that account. DoD is intent on “modernizing” and expanding its nuclear arsenal. Where will the lucky beneficiaries of this government largess located?

    The question: “How do you tell people in 200 years not to disturb the soil? How can you be sure they’ll understand the same things we do — the same language, the same symbols?” is a matter which should be of particular concern to anyone who imagines Humankind might survive the many looming possibilities for achieving self-extinction in the near term. The question seems similar in some ways to how might we communicate with other intelligent species or alien beings, or how could we preserve what we know in the present so it might be available to the future. Electronic storage of information has poor longivity as do books printed on the usual acid containing papers. Even books printed on special acid-free paper have lifetimes measured in centuries. A millennium is but a moment in the lifetime of our planet.

    1. polecat

      I’d go for grand cautionary monuments (rings of obilisks??) made of stone. In the case of Hanford, that would mean utilizing the local basalt .. it’s quite tough, and should endure the uhm .. ‘elements’.
      As for what kind of message to depict ?? .. there’s always images of congressional members, say, in the act, along with usual assortment of corrupted government contractors and industry lobbists, of some malfaesance or grift, to be chiseled in bias-relief for all to see !
      That would scare just about anyone who had toughts of entering the forbidden zone, no?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I like obelisks or obelisks and statures of demons carved from basalt and maybe create a myth of great Evil to be coupled to the region. The idea might work as the framework for a future based short story — although with an ending less happy than the iconic “By the Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Now We Can 3D Print Homes for Next to Nothing, Using Mud Futurism (David L)

    I hope the title doesn’t say all that is in the article, because to be seismic resistant, you need steel rebars, not just mud.

    1. Lynne

      I’m not getting the article at all. People have built mud/straw/sod houses for a very long time. Is not getting your hands dirty really that crucial?

    2. diptherio

      Actually, earthquake researchers in Canada have found cob buildings (a combination of clay, sand, and straw) to be surprisingly good at withstanding shaking. It’s a very old technology, and some very old, multi-story, buildings made from it are still standing.

      My thought reading the article was “this is old news” (it’s from 2016) and that it’s actually not very impressive. With a little more man power you could accomplish the same thing without the 3D printer. And, of course, using human power in the traditional way, you’re not constrained in the size of your structure.

      They say the problem is speed, but it’s a well-known fact that you can only put on about 1 meter of material a day, while building with cob (building higher leads to slumping). That’s a property of the materials involved, not something specific to 3D printed versions.

      Oh, and the USDA has a guide to building rammed-earth structures, another similar building method that is also very cheap and can be done easily without some “futuristic” tech. This is just the alternative building version of those “as-seen-on-tv” gadgets that claim to help you do something that’s already easy, imho.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In that case (mud, sand and straw), it could be due to the straw in the straw bales reinorcing the mud and sand, replacing rebars.

        It also helps that buildings built that way are light. And as lighter structures attract less seismic force, and heaviers ones more, it’s another factor in its favor.

        And one would have to incorporate straw into 3D mud printing.

        1. diptherio

          Yup, that’s the deal. The straw replaces the rebar. In the video they test a cob building at 7.2 and get only minor cracking. At 9.0, chunks fall out of the walls, but the building stands.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I once saw a documentary about Beijing’s Forbiddence Palace, and how it survived numerous quakes (that part of China has been seismically active).

            Two keys, according to the show.

            1. The unique Chinese architectural element (quite decorative too) called Dougong, that transfers the load from the roof to the column and then to the ground.

            2. Base isolation…meaning the columns are tied down but are free to move, in a quake.

            The latter is the same concept used by Frank Lloyd Wright in his Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, which survived the quake in, I think, the 1920s. The Chinese concept is at least 600 years old (when the palace was first erected in the early 1400’s). And the cob buildings can be strengthend similary, perhaps.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Naw, the Tech Lords would never resort to straw. Have to be some Miracle Disruptive High-Tech Fiber, or Bucky Balls or picocarbon bipoles or some such sh!t…

          Not enough IPO potential in simple old straw…

          1. ambrit

            Simple. Follow the Big Pharma approach. Make the straw from GMO wheat. That’s patentable, and can be ‘messaged’ to imply superior structural qualities. As patents lapse, introduce ‘new improved’ strains of cereal crops.

            1. oh

              Use all the discarded pharma pills as a binder in your mix; more uselful and definitely less lethal than ingesting the wretched pills.

        3. polecat

          The ‘mud’ needs to have enough clay content to bind everything together, omitting soils that contain organic matter, as that would cause rot and eventual loss of structural integrity .. especially where it pertains to strawbale construction, and ‘void-packed’ mud-coated straw wall fill.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    It’s in Washington’s best interests to engage China as a partner, not an adversary Seattle Times (furzy)


    I think that idea (as all nations as partners) should be in every country’s best interest.

    The questiion is, which nations treat all others as (equal, hopefully) partners?

    1. ewmayer

      Lambert has a Reuters link over in 2pmwc today: “China has proposed a ban on forced technology transfer and illegal government ‘interference’ in foreign business operations, practices that have come under the spotlight in a trade dispute with the United States.”

      Hmm, forced technology transfer and illegal government interference in foreign business operations, along with mass-scale IP theft and government-sponsored mass-scale hacking and industrial espionage … dunno about you, but those kinds of practices strike me as a smidge, what’s the word?, ah yes – ‘adversarial’.

      Love the false binary choice offered by the globalist-rag Seattle Times headline, though!

  20. Wukchumni

    Welcome to Joshua Tree. Sorry about the shutdown. Now, about the toilets …

    …But all visitor centers and many restrooms are closed and many other services have been disrupted, including bathroom maintenance and trash collection.

    Those conditions pose a particular peril in Joshua Tree, locals say, because these are some of the busiest days of the year.

    “And I’ve been emptying all the trash cans that are there and putting bags in. And then I’ve been giving out trash bags to people. I’ve probably put 60 hours in.”

    Abbott, a 54-year-old Marine Corps veteran and paraplegic who is well known in the climbing community, said he has also been trying to talk visitors out of illegal fires, illegal parking, littering and other forbidden activities.

    Some comply right away, but “70% of the people I’m running into are extremely rude,” Abbott said. “Yesterday, I had my life threatened two times. It’s crazy in there right now.”

    Joe De Luca, a sales associate at Nomad Ventures in downtown Joshua Tree, agreed.

    “It’s a free-for-all in there. Absolutely ridiculous,” De Luca said.
    It’s cold and overcast here @ Sequoia NP, with icy slippery mountain roads full of holiday traffic as an added bonus, so there’ll be no first hand report from me from the NP to see how things are faring under the bare bones aegis brought on by the shutdown, but it’s around 20 degrees up top and shit does happen, whether there’s a toilet or not.

    1. Carolinian

      Here in SC our state park system took out the trash cans from many state parks on the theory that it makes for less work for them. I’m told that many of the Grand Canyon facilities are being kept open by the state of AZ because Christmas is a favorite time for visitors (and any other time, really).

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Can Berlin ask the same? Did it violate Germany’s sovereignty?

    This, in relation to the link above:

    President and First Lady make SECOND stop to visit U.S. troops in Germany on way back from surprise trip to Iraq where Trump told cheering soldiers: ‘We’re no longer the world’s suckers’ and ‘The U.S. cannot continue to be the policeman of the world’ Daily Mail

    1. The Rev Kev

      If the judge was stupid enough to buy this argument, it would be interesting if someone in a foreign country used the exact same pedo insult against the judge and see how he reacts. This is one can of worms that needs to be welded shut at the seams.

  22. diptherio

    Credit where it’s due: I didn’t send in the HCN article about Nuclear Power. Thanks to whomever did.

  23. Rajesh K

    “Tech is killing Street Food”. Really? I work in SF and the city is overrun by food trucks that charge more than sit down restaurants. Off The Grid is literally running rampant all over the city. They even run a food truck stall near Twitter (who provides free food) and I’ve never seen the food trucks wanting for business.

    Tech is far from perfect but that article is just BS.

      1. The other Jean

        In my neck of suburbia, food trucks are highly regulated – they are only allowed in certain areas (basically designated parking lots) and must have a place to dispose of used grease and graywater that is a permanent address. This means that the food trucks are usually just artfully camouflaged extensions of larger restaurant corporations.

    1. jrs

      next up: brown bagging your lunch is KILLING STREET FOOD. You thought you just did it to save money or calories, but no ..

    1. Unna

      Thanks for these. When I was a kid I couldn’t get my head around Gould’s playing. Now, for some reason, after too many decades, what he did makes perfect sense. Whether that’s a good sign or a bad sign I’m not sure. Especially enjoyed the Byrd piece. A composor I’ll have to explore.

  24. Pat

    On Obama turning his attention to gerrymandering and voter suppression, as per the watercooler link.

    How nice of him to now notice, two years out of office. How nice of him to put his former attorney general on it now when he has significantly less power to fight this. How nice of him to put muscle in fighting this rather than muscle and funds into the clearly more subversive fight that Lambert highlights – getting people registered despite all the efforts to make sure they don’t.

    Call me a wild and crazy conspiracy theorist, but frankly what that tells me is that they see this issue gaining traction and need to get ahead of it before someone really does something about it. These people like less people voting. They like gerrymandering. What they don’t like is more and more people voting and demanding real action on the part of the politicians they elect. This is right up there with announcing that Trump’s nominees for the courts would be subject to more Democratic scrutiny. They have less of a majority in the house that does that and NOW they are going to be more careful and harder on the nominees. So much bull laden PR, that assumes the public are stupid and illogical and have no sense of history, that they will accept the pretense rather than the reality. Likewise for the gerrymandering and voter suppression issue if OFA sucks all the air out of the room on this subject, their slow motion pretense of fighting this issue will just make sure that nothing gets done AND that the consultants and donors can just keep doing what they are doing.

    1. rob

      I think you are right.
      Most likely obama has been put in the defensive line, so no one gets through.
      too little too late doesn’t even account for his 8 years of willful ignorance.
      Greg Pallast exposed voter suppression tactics fifteen years ago.about when diebold and others made the election result a thing of “faith” when bush was in office…. before obama even won the bribery lottery from blagoiovitch. bidding for the illinois senate seat…. everyone else went to jail for that, or was charged… except the guy who got the seat… funny how that worked out.

  25. grayslady

    Regarding Democrats going after drug prices, I was astonished to receive a direct mail piece the other day from a Pharma lobbying group. Of course, they don’t identify themselves as a lobbying group: when you pull up their website you initially see a group of smiling doctors (mostly from the South). It’s only when examining, in small print, the group’s “associate members” that you can find a PDF of every big pharmaceutical manufacturer imaginable. The Alliance for Patient Access (headquartered in D.C.–an immediate giveaway that these are lobbyists) is very concerned that you might pay less for drugs! On the front of the flyer, in big letters, you are told: “Your Medicare Benefits are at Risk…” On the back of the flyer, you are told that Congress must stop Trump’s Medicare plan that will lead to “unprecedented price fixing for medicine based on deeply flawed European health systems, stifling America’s leadership in cancer research and innovation.” The flyer indicated that my congressman, who is a real jerk, supported this group, but when I typed in what looked like a website belonging to my congressman, Google said it doesn’t exist.
    I wish the information on Medicare beneficiaries wasn’t public information so I could stop receiving spam mail directed at the over-65 crowd; however, it’s edifying to see the pathetic arguments of this lobbying group to know what we are up against in D.C.

  26. Oregoncharles

    “A Woman on Twitter is Abused Every 30 Seconds ”

    How often are men abused on Twitter? From the accounts I’ve seen, it’s Trollville. What constitutes abuse? How much of it is perfectly justified? (The stats are for public figures – I’ve seen a lot of abuse of women politicos right her on NC.)

    I think there probably is a problem, but this article tells us very little about it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner


      Focusing on this word. Sirota is receiving crazy attacks in recent days, but Liz Bruenig was called by Chris Matthews “That Bruenig woman” on MSDNC the other day. I think women folk get quite a bit of the second. Sirota, Bruenig, and (it seems like there was a third article on O’Rourke in recent days by a third writer) are being attacked, but I feel like responses to Liz Bruenig have been designed to dismiss her as a “woman” and not worth listening to. The attacks on Sirota revolve around his time once as an intern.

      Its my perception but there are items women lefty blogger types have shared on twitter which are so out there I’m tempted to think they were made up except its a similar story (when theres smoke theres fire).

      I noted the “pie fights” at DKos during the 2008 primary contest, but “pie fight” was a polite way of saying racist and sexist attacks.

    2. False Solace

      Western civilization has a long and venomous history of denying women voices in the public sphere. Mary Beard’s Women & Power: A Manifesto (2017) is a quick and recent overview.

      > How often are men abused on Twitter?

      This response is so common that it’s known in feminist circles as “what about the men?”. It’s different from the “not all men” response because “what about the men?” minimizes or denies the existence of sexism and misogyny. It derails discussion away from how an issue affects women back onto the argumentor’s preferred group. So I wonder, are you suggesting that misogyny and sexism don’t exist on the internet? Are you suggesting that women who receive graphic rape and death threats on a daily basis are taking it too seriously? Even though women are socialized differently from men to take such threats seriously because they and their mothers, sisters, daughters have real life experience of being victims? Are you comfortable with the fact that large numbers of women quit out of social media because of the loud abusive chorus telling them to shut up? What kind of conversation are we fostering when we allow trolls to threaten a significant portion of the population, who quit in response to the threats?

      The whole point of the article was how abuse affects famous women on Twitter. To provide data on how frequently it happens. To help quantify the problem for people like you who are trying to understand how frequently it occurs. If you want info on how men are affected, feel free to read some other article.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        To your point:

        1. Women have vastly more intense socialization about needing to be nice, look pretty, behave properly etc than men. So taunts about “not behaving” in many forms will hit most women harder than men. And women will be attacked about their appearance and dress to a vastly greater degree than men.

        2. Generally speaking, men are bigger and stronger than women. Virtually all women are afraid of getting too confrontational with men (separate and apart from the socialization above, which in part is a result of #2) because the guy could beat the shit out of them. That can bleed into other contexts (stronger emotional reaction to threats and violent language and threats of violence than the situation warrants, i.e., the recipient may recognize intellectually that this is just noise but that may not lessen the emotional impact).

      2. Oregoncharles

        No, that was not a “what about” question, it was a statistical question. For all we know from the article, men are abused on Twitter, etc. far more and far more intensely than women. The numbers are quoted the wrong way around and fail to make their point.

        Evidently, trolling is a big problem in internet forums. That’s why the close moderation here is so important. But that very brief article fails to establish that women are any worse off. Yves makes the point that they have more to fear and are likely to be more affected, which makes sense, but raises some other questions.

        To be useful, an internet forum has to prevent most trolling. Apparently we need better ways to do that, and maybe some understanding of why some people turn so nasty. The impersonal quality of the exchange is a big factor; I know that flames are far more likely on email than in a conference call – even just voices make the exchange more personal and more constrained (not that I haven’t seen some heated in-person discussions).

        Everyone is affected by trolling; women aren’t the only ones who will abandon a poisoned atmosphere.

  27. dcrane

    The latest in the battle of rumors over Cohen and his alleged Prague meeting with Russians:

    A mobile phone traced to President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials, four people with knowledge of the matter say.

    During the same period of late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague, two people familiar with the incident said.

    Based on anonymous sources claiming knowledge of secret intelligence, so ymmv.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Digital “evidence” “[b]ased on anonymous sources claiming knowledge of secret intelligence.”

      So, let me know when there’s something the public can see and evaluate.

      1. dcrane

        Yes, I’m with you there…and Charlie’s take below.

        The idea that such evidence could have been kept under wraps for all this time strains credulity as well.

    2. Charlie

      During the same period of late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague, two people familiar with the incident said.

      Read: Ukraine. This is the main reason we should not be the World Police. Others starting spats and getting someone else to sacrifice their fleah and blood. Though the CIA loves to start spats. They need to be dealt with as well. A more useless agency there is not.

  28. Big River Bandido

    The Hill article on Claire McCaskill side-eyeing AOC:

    Wow. Even up to the very end, the tone deafness of Senator “Forgot-to-pay-taxes-on-my-private-plane” never ceases to amaze. I’m not clear whether Avery Anapol’s irony is self-aware or clueless, but nevertheless it’s there:

    The two-term Democratic senator also warned Ocasio-Cortez not to ignore the plight of white working-class voters who have distanced themselves from the Democratic Party in recent years. “I hope she also realizes that the parts of the country that are rejecting the Democratic Party, like a whole lot of white working-class voters, need to hear about how their work is going to be respected, and the dignity of their jobs, and how we can really stick to issues that we can actually accomplish something on,” McCaskill said.

    In 2018, Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected a right-to-work law. And for good measure, they overwhelmingly voted to increase the state minimum wage. Clearly, working class people are a force at the polls in Missouri…and yet, they couldn’t be bothered to support McCaskill. Why, it’s almost as if they were repelled by her.

    So, a Senator who lost re-election in large part because she couldn’t inspire working-class support, is whitewashing the working class while lecturing a Representative who won her election because of her heavy support from working-class voters? That’s rich.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      People want to feel they are “good” and have an idea of good involving fighting for some moral point. If the 3rd Way nonsense isn’t a good strategy and was laughable by 2006, then what does it say about the outgoing Senator? She isn’t a backbencher in a random legislative body. She’s a United States Senator, the most powerful individual legislator in the world.

      McCaskill was an opponent of Gillenbrand’s efforts to address sexual assault in the military.This is how she used her power, and without a greater good, she can’t polish her legacy without getting her hands all smelly.

  29. The Rev Kev

    Re the successfully tested hypersonic missile system. So I guess in spite of the Pentagon wanting to station more and more nuclear tipped missiles on Russia’s border, that the Mutually Assured Destruction principle is still in effect then?

  30. knowbuddhau

    Thanks for Notes on the Latest Crusade. What he said.

    Except the bit about “doing real work and addressing the material conditions of the poor.” Don’t see how that follows. Sounds like dogma, even religious cant.

    “…and lifting up our suffering kin.” FIFY.

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a snap shot. From the fourties. Animate and update it. We poors need more than to be addressed like pets, or as a chance to earn yourself a leftist merit badge, tyvm. Way more to me than my mere material conditions.

    Imagine a solid quadrilateral pyramid. Make the peak glow and the base go dark. Now spin it on the vertical axis. Now rotate it about the peak. Faster. See the still point in the turning world yet? It’s a dynamic volume. A body of light, one might say.

    Identify with that.

  31. drumlin woodchuckles

    It is not surprising that a Seattle newspaper would support Trade with China. Seattle, like LA and SF and Long Beach and some other port cities, has spent decades making a fortune off of America’s misfortune. The article brags about the “16,000 jobs” Seattle has based on handling trade between America and China.
    The article has not a care in the world about the several million non-coastal jobs which were destroyed by the trade those 16,000 jobdoers help handle.

    I would like to see those several million assassinated jobs brought back to life here inland away from the coast. Killing the “16,000 jobs” in Seattle would be a very good trade for bringing those missing millions of jobs back to life.

    Which we could do, if Free Trade were abolished and trade of all sorts were as reduced as much as feasibly possible to as near to zero as it is feasibly possible to approach.

  32. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the “Portland Hotel” which “calls cop on Black Guest” . . . . it would seem the effective way to respond to actions like this by bussinesses like this would be to dox them and diss them and subject them to an extermicott if it is possible to recruit enough of their customer base into participating in an extermicott long enough to exterminate the target. ( I.E. force it into irreversible liquidation).

    Such a visibly high profile extermicott, if visibly successful in a high profile way, would encourage other managers of other businesses to avoid such “misunderstandings” . . ( har dee har har) . . . in the future.

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