2:00PM Water Cooler 1/18/2019

Dear patient readers,

So so sorry, but as we announced in a post that is already up, we are cancelling our NYC meetup that had been set for this Friday, the 18th. Some readers said they will still go to the venue, Slainte, at 304 Bowery, informally. Normally I would come out, but I haven’t left the house for days except to go to the drugstore to try to get some OTC relief from the flu.


* * *

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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


Why doesn’t any other candidate talk like this? (1)

Why doesn’t any other candidate talk like this? (2)

“The Tulsi Gabbard Factor” [Counterpunch]. “Gabbard seems to think of international relations in a different register, seeing states as rational agents pursuing their national interests – mainly in self-preservation and self-defense. Academics call this way of thinking about geopolitics ‘realism’; it is old-fashioned Realpolitik projected onto the global stage…. If Gabbard’s candidacy catches on enough for her to become a threat to prevailing interests within the Democratic Party, expect to hear more about how her policies are of a piece with Assad’s, the demon of the hour, and also, of course with Vladimir Putin’s, the devil incarnate in the eyes not just of Clintonite liberals, but also of the anti-Trump “conservatives” who have overrun CNN and MSNBC (=MSDNC), and of the national security state “experts” whom one sees at all hours of the day and night on those increasingly unbearable cable networks. Worse still, expect to hear more about how Gabbard’s views coincide with Trump’s. If anyone really is the devil incarnate, he’s the man. But face it: when he’s right, he’s right, and compared to Clintonite Democrats, on more issues than foreign affairs – on trade, for example — he’s often more right than they. Better a leftwing realist, which is what Gabbard seems to be, than a Clintonite moralist.” • Indeed.

“New Trump campaign hires to focus on convention delegates, party organization” [Politico]. “The new hires will help run the campaign’s delegate and party organization arm, which is waging an elaborate nationwide campaign to ensure the delegates selected to attend the nominating convention are staunch White House allies — not Never Trump Republicans. The group will be focused on delving into the granular state-by-state battles that will ensue in the coming months and which will determine the composition of the convention delegation.”

* * *

Global elites like gold (1):

Global elites like gold (2):

“Why you can’t look away from that Trump fast food photo” [Los Angeles Times]. “It’s quite an interplay: opulence and modesty, high and low, point and counterpoint, Trump in the middle. It evoked a period costume romp about royals or some dark comedy on cable…. It is not surprising that people found the photo visually arresting, said George Baker, a professor of art history at UCLA who specializes in modern and contemporary art. It observes the rule of thirds and has some aspects of the golden ratio, he said, but it’s more powerful in the way it evokes classical art…. For Baker, though, the most interesting thing about the photography is the interplay between Trump and Lincoln. Healy’s ‘Abraham Lincoln’ was completed before Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ sculpture, though the pose is the same and has been used throughout art history to depict contemplation, including in Michelangelo’s tomb for the Medici princes. ‘The gesture Trump is making could be no more different,” Baker said. It’s ‘so striking and so the opposite of the contemplative figure behind him, and the lineage of thought that that painting borrows from.'” • The Twitter has moved on but I think we will look back at this photo….


2016 Post Mortem

Doubling down in so many ways:

New Cold War


Realignment and Legitimacy

“Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality” [Counterpunch]. “Solidarity is the guiding principle for any egalitarian philosophy. The basic idea is that all oppressed people face the same enemy and the only way any of us can defeat our collective oppressor is with the collective force of a diverse people united against it in all its demonic manifestations. Today they call this principle intersectionality.” • This is a ridiculous attempt to make intersectionality’s problems go away by completely redefining it.

“Inciting Emotions and Playing US: Why Sectional Movements are Counterproductive” [Ghion Journal]. “Demographic based movements are not trivial in terms of the underlying issues they bring to light, people who take part in them have very real frustrations and rightly feel outraged—they march and protest as a means of seeking redress. However, the very powers who purvey suffering around the globe and subjugate the masses with impunity have, time and again, co-opted the pains of marginalized people in order to fracture the oppressed. It’s a playbook that is timeless, few are able to dominate many by segregating humanity into encampments. This simple scheme of dividing the public has evolved over time; what started with color, gender and religion has burgeoned into a paradigm of perpetual schisms where artificial constructs are created on a regular basis. It has gotten to the point where people say what they are for minutes before they say their names.” • And their pronouns.

Somehow I don’t think Filopovic thought this through:

Stats Watch

Industrial Production, December 2018: “A surge in motor vehicle production together with construction supplies along with a strong gain for business equipment drove a rare 1.1 percent December increase in manufacturing production that far surpasses Econoday’s consensus range where the top estimate was only 0.4 percent” [Econoday]. “Indications from many regional reports were pointing to factory slowing at year end though today’s report, and it’s definitive set of economic numbers, tells the opposite story — one centered in the unexpected gain for vehicles. Yet separate data on factory orders and shipments are being delayed by the government shutdown and do cloud what to expect for manufacturing’s contribution to fourth-quarter GDP.”

Consumer Sentiment, January 2019 (Preliminary) [Econoday]. “In what is the first major economic indication of trouble tied to the government shutdown, the consumer sentiment index plunged to a 90.7 reading that is far below Econoday’s low estimate for 95.5…. The report cites other negatives aside from the shutdown including the impact of tariffs and instability in the financial markets. But the shutdown is the front and center issue right now facing the nation and the drop in January’s preliminary index — by far the very steepest since early in the economic cycle — suggests it may very well be rattling the confidence of the nation’s consumers.”

Capital Investment: Handy chart:

The Bezzle: “Twins get some ‘mystifying’ results when they put 5 ancestry DNA kits to the test” [CNBC]. “Last spring, Marketplace host Charlsie Agro and her twin sister, Carly, bought home kits from AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA, and mailed samples of their DNA to each company for analysis. Despite having virtually identical DNA, the twins did not receive matching results from any of the companies. In most cases, the results from the same company traced each sister’s ancestry to the same parts of the world — albeit by varying percentages. But the results from California-based 23andMe seemed to suggest each twin had unique twists in their ancestry composition…. “The fact that they present different results for you and your sister, I find very mystifying,” said Dr. Mark Gerstein, a computational biologist at Yale University. And there’s a simple reason for that: The raw data collected from both sisters’ DNA is nearly exactly the same.” • It’s not “mystifying at all. It’s yet another Silicon Valley scam. But somebody should tell Elizabeth Warren, so she can go back to Square One on her putative Cherokee ancestry….

The Bezzle: “Facebook employees busted leaving 5-star reviews for Portal on Amazon” [The Verge]. “[A]t least three of the roughly 100 five-star reviews for the Facebook Portal all match the names of specific Facebook employees: Tim Chappell, also the name of the head of supply-chain & strategic sourcing AR / VR products; Javier Cubria, an event marketer at Facebook; and Oren Hafif, a security engineering manager at the company… All three reviews in question are listed as “Verified Purchases,” meaning that Amazon’s system has confirmed that those products were bought at Amazon. And based on Boz’s comments, it seems that these are just three Facebook employees who are really, truly happy with the Facebook Portals they bought and wanted to share the good news with the world without any corporate encouragement.” • The fish rots from the head; these aren’t line employees.

The Bezzle: “Judge unseals trove of internal Facebook documents following our legal action” [Reveal News]. “A glimpse into the soon-to-be-released records shows Facebook’s own employees worried they were bamboozling children who racked up hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of dollars in game charges. And the company failed to provide an effective way for unsuspecting parents to dispute the massive charges, according to internal Facebook records.” • Just another day at the office for Facebook. When are we throwing Zuckerberg in jail, anyhow?

The Bezzle: “Summit Learning declined to be studied, then cited collaboration with Harvard researchers anyway” [Chalkbeat]. “Summit Learning, a fast-growing “personalized learning” system, touts a partnership with Harvard researchers even though Summit actually turned down their proposal to study the model. The online platform is backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy and is now being used in 380 schools across the U.S.” • The Seal of Bad Housekeeping….

The Bezzle: “The Attention Economy Is a Malthusian Trap” [The Atlantic]. “[S]ome of the largest tech companies have exhausted their main markets. Apple and Samsung may have reached the smartphone plateau, as phone sales seem to have peaked. Facebook and Google have grown to dominate digital advertising. But in the U.S., overall ad spending has historically averaged no more than 3 percent of GDP. How do you grow forever in a sector that isn’t growing? That’s easy: You don’t. There may be a Malthusian trap in the attention economy. Eventually, revenue growth bumps up against the natural limitations of population and waking hours.”

The Bezzle: “He Hawks Young Blood As A New Miracle Treatment. All That’s Missing Is Proof.” [HuffPo]. “Jesse Karmazin, the 34-year-old founder of the startup Ambrosia, had a pitch journalists couldn’t resist: For a fee, he could help his clients combat aging and its related ills with infusions of blood plasma from the young. Teen donors, vampiric undertones, a serious-sounding study, an $8,000-per-person price tag and rumors that venture capitalist Peter Thiel might be interested earned Ambrosia more than 100 press mentions in just two years. But despite declaring the study a success and announcing plans this week to accept new clients, Karmazin never showed any proof that the transfusions actually helped people…. Ambrosia, which declined to comment on whether the company has any investors, is only one of many firms investigating how to help people feel younger for longer. But Ambrosia’s ability to attract paying clients and years of positive press coverage — without providing scientific data to back up its claims — shows just how easy it can be for promises to outpace the research when Silicon Valley gold-chasing mixes with Americans’ fear of death.”

The Biosphere

“Investing Prophet Jeremy Grantham Takes Aim at Climate Change” [Bloomberg]. “At universities and investor conferences, gardening clubs and local environmental groups, [Grantham] gives a talk titled “Race of Our Lives”—the one between the Earth’s rapidly warming temperature and the human beings coming up with ways to fight and adapt to climate change…. While capitalism “does a million things better than any other system,” he says, it fails completely on long-term threats such as climate change. “You must not expect unnecessary good behavior from capitalists,” he says. The answer, he adds, is strong regulations: ‘I’m sorry, libertarians, it is the only way.'”

“Climate Change, Limits to Growth, and the Imperative for Socialism” [Monthly Review (witters)]. From 2008, still germane. “As the global ecological crisis deepens, some among the upper middle class recognize or sense that the existing capitalist “life style” is in serious trouble and cannot be sustained indefinitely. Yet, they are unable or unwilling to imagine anything beyond the capitalist system, on which their relatively privileged material life depends. They are not yet ready to give up their implicit political support for the capitalist class. Their living conditions and experiences are very much detached from those of the working class. It is therefore difficult for them to see that only with a massive mobilization and organization of the working class could there be any hope for the social transformation required for ecological sustainability to be accomplished. The upper-middle-class environmentalists, as a result, have to put their desperate hope (or faith) in technological miracles on the one hand and the power of moral persuasion on the other hand (which they hope would convince the capitalist class to behave morally and rationally).”• Eleven years on, this seems like a pretty good call. And Grantham and the Monthly Review are singing from the same page in the hymnal, at least on one issue…


All great economists were:

Our Famously Free Press

“What Does Free Speech Really Mean on Social Media?” [The American Conservative]. “In Davison v. Randall, a local government official in Virginia (Phyllis Randall) blocked a constituent (Brian Davison) from her “official” Facebook page. The court held this to be viewpoint discrimination, a 1A violation in a long-recognized category of unconstitutional speech restraint. Advocates for Davison like the ACLU and the Knight Institute supported the case and used it to bolster the argument that Trump cannot block people on his Twitter feed. Lower courts have agreed, saying it is unconstitutional for Trump to silence his critics this way. The Department of Justice is appealing, but the ACLU is happy to build precedent with smaller wins like Davison, as the Trump case will almost certainly wind its way to the Supreme Court. The ACLU is likely to prevail against Trump. The problem is, by narrowly focusing on an individual politician’s responsibility not to block users with unpopular opinions, the courts have allowed Facebook, et al, to do exactly the same thing on a much larger scale against ordinary people.” • 

Guillotine Watch

“Jack Dorsey Has No Clue What He Wants” (interview) [HuffPo]. “It seems clear that Twitter’s current iteration, a machine learning-curated hell, isn’t the website Jack Dorsey wants. He just refuses to say what that website actually is.” Dorsey: “Right now we’re just trying to determine what the indicators are. Like, temperature on your body — that indicates whether you’re sick or not, right? So if you were to apply the same concept to conversations, what are the indicators of a healthy conversation versus a toxic conversation? That’s what we’re trying to figure out. We did this whole thing with outside researchers and RFP to get external help to determine these indicators.” • Dorsey certainly seems like an odd duck, but a goal of “healthy conversations” — more or less imposed on Twitter by, well, social media types — doesn’t seem easy to define or achieve. What would “conversational health have looked like in France in 1788? And speaking of which–

“Revolutions” (podcast) [Mike Duncan]. • Mike Duncan was recommended some years ago by a member of the NC commentariat, and gosh, for some reason, it seemed like it was a good idea to listen to the French Revolution segments again. This, from Episode 3.7 (2014), The Séance Royale (somewhere between the Assembly of Notables (1788) and the Estates General (17, er, 89), is an interesting comparison: “The resulting debate did not occur in a private room. There would be, for the first time, an audience. In the early going, the audience would be drawn from the two thousand or so clerks, bailiffs, and young lawyers who were attached to workings of the parlement, and for whom this debate was the center of the universe. Mostly younger, mostly liberal and/or radical, they cheered speakers who preached resistance, and hissed those who advised compliance. The existence of “the audience” will soon become a key feature of the French Revolution, which is in pretty marked contrast to the English and American Revolutions, where all the great oratory was directed at fellow members of Parliament, or, say, the Continental Congress. But the leaders of the French Revolution always had a crowd to play to, and the impact of turning governance into theatre would play a major role in how things would unfold.” • Mass media events, even Town Halls and Debates, are not theatrical in that audience reaction, though possible, is limited, whether in the hall or the studio. But there is an arena where reaction to oratory is in the mass, passionate, immediate, often very well-informed, uncircumscribed, and capable of driving the news cycle: The Twitter. Trump — as befits his show business background — performs “governance as theatre” in that venue very well. So, interestingly enough, does AOC.

Class Warfare

“The richest 1% own 50% of stocks held by American households” [Yahoo Finance (JohnnyGL)]. “Market volatility is unsettling to investors. But just who makes up the investor class? According to Goldman Sachs, stock ownership is extremely concentrated because of the growing wealth gap in the U.S., and thus the market’s performance affects households making up the wealthiest 1% of Americans much more significantly than the other 99%. “The wealthiest 0.1% and 1% of households now own about 17% and 50% of total household equities respectively, up significantly from 13% and 39% in the late 80s,” Daan Struyven, Goldman Sachs’s chief economist said in a note earlier this week.” • Hence, the disportionate focus on Mr. Market and his feels, and the confusion between “the economy” and “the market.”

News of the Wired

“Study Identifies The Most Effective Mental Strategies That People Use To Get Through Aversive Challenges” [The British Psychological Society Research Digest]. “What strategies do you use to push through a tough challenge, be it a run on a treadmill or a stressful phone call with your boss? …. Across the different types of aversive challenge, the strategies correlated with success were: thinking about the positive consequences of getting to the end (this was also the most popular strategy); monitoring one’s goal progress; thinking that the end is near (the second most popular strategy); and emotion regulation (e.g. trying to stay in a good mood). In contrast, distracting oneself from the aversive challenge was associated with less success – perhaps because distraction makes us more inclined to give in and do something more pleasant.” • But see the end for study limitations.

A very Japanese version of #MeToo:

This episode would supply the plot for an opera, quite a tragic one.

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

Huey writes: “I live in the tropics so I can perhaps add a little extra variety to the Cooler’s pictures, although most of my immediately available plants are orchids.” And lovely orchids they are. Nero Wolfe would be proud!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Henry Moon Pie

    Harris was undoubtedly under enormous pressure to prove herself to be “tough”

    Two questions for Harris’s defender:

    1) Under “enormous pressure” from whom? The citizenry, the donors, the punditry, the consultants, the Democratic Party?

    2) “Tough” on whom? ( I think we all know the answer to that one already, and it sure ain’t bankers like Mnuchin.)

    1. Geo

      2) “Tough” on whom? ( I think we all know the answer to that one already, and it sure ain’t bankers like Mnuchin.)

      It is telling who the target of “tough” tend to be, isn’t it? The best path to career advancement is to punch down, never punch up.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Jill Filopovic may think that this was understandable for Harris but if you do stuff like this, it indicates that you do not have your own principles that you are willing to follow. Your actions are then always subject to somebody else’s validations – and to your benefit.

      1. Michael C.

        Rev Kev, I agree. From Access to Insight:

        The definition kamma: “Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.” — AN 6.63

        “‘I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir’… “[This is a fact that] one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained…

    3. BobWhite

      Harris was only ever “tough” on poor people, sex workers, and people of color.
      At least two women were jailed for their children’s truancy during Harris’ tenure.
      She consistently gave wealthy financial industry fraudsters a pass. (Mnuchin and others)

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      What struck me about Filopovic’s tweet was the implicit argument that voters should “take one for the team” on policy* to achieve diversity goals.

      NOTE * Both advocacy and implementation.

  2. Isotope_C14

    Tulsi’s statements re: LGBTQ courtesy Jimmy Dore:


    Of course we could have Broadway and Chardonnay with Hillary, though I’d think it would be slightly more enjoyable to have 20 consecutive root-canals without anasthesia.

    Interesting that it says, flights and hotel on us, how much are they leaving out for this utopia-trip with her majesty?

    1. dcblogger

      HRC will never be a candidate again. We are not comparing Gabbard to Clinton, but to Bernie. Bernie is by far the better public servant.

      1. Richard

        I think that goes too far, although Bernie admittedly is tough to match. Especially his last year: for an “out of power” politician, I think his accomplishments have been remarkable. But Gabbard surpasses him in some ways, imo. Tulsi’s proposed paper ballot legislation was exactly the correct response to the problem of electoral fraud. I know he’s been busy, but where has Bernie been on shifting the narrative there?
        She’s been a more consistent critic of the unbelievably reckless permanent war state. How important is it to confront that? I think your answer to that depends on where you live.
        I’m not sure I would support her over Bernie, but I will say she’s the only candidate out there that offers something (to me at least) that Bernie doesn’t. Who else surpasses him in any way?

        1. Michael C.

          Gabbard and Sanders or Sanders and Gabbard. Either way on the ballot, a good match, She carries foreign policy cred where Sanders lacks. They would be a good balance in so many ways–youth and age, female and male, domestic and foreign policy strengths,

      2. Pat

        Your keyboard to God’s monitor.

        But IMO, there are too many signs the arrogant and entitled Hillay Rodham Clinton IS planning on finding a way to repeat her debacle of 2016. That includes this fundraiser. It is presidency or death for HRC!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          There is still a strong network of Clintonite loyalists in the Democrat Party. She/they might seek to be power-brokers, especially in the second-ballot, superdelegate-determined convention that is DNC’s Plan B (Plan A being Anyone But Sanders).

      3. Spring Texan

        Distresses the hell out of me when people defend Tulsi; she’s super pro-war-on-terror and anti-Muslim. Likes Modi and al-Sisi. I think she’s sincere and I also think she’s awful.
        https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/1/16/18182114/tulsi-gabbard-2020-president-campaign-explained ‘There’s only one clear explanation: Gabbard’s most controversial positions represent her authentic convictions. She deeply believes the US would have been better off helping Assad slaughter Syrian rebels, and that combating terrorism requires saying the magic phrase “radical Islam.” There’s something admirable about a politician expressing their deep convictions even though it’s politically devastating — except in this case, those convictions are morally repellent.’

  3. alex morfesis

    Global elite or hall monitors…Gold ??…which went down in value during the depression(1931)…sadly as the years go by…the joke of being called toto (from the wizard of oz) in my younger days resonates louder and louder…just ignore the fools with the stop signs and go about your business…they know less…much less, than imagined…

    can they manipulate…somewhat…

    or is it just Clouseau type nonsense…i meant to do that…(or was that pee wee herman ?)

    Clouseau is all that comes to mind every time Macron speaks…maybe with a little donald duck thrown in for flavor…

    but control…?? nah…not capable…just buffoons who imagine their luck is genius…

    after feasting on more rubbish at a purported higher end country club in St Pete yesterday…rubbish seafood that moi would not dare feed the half dozen feral outdoor cats the crazy lady next door keeps…and listening to the usual mayors state of the cities noise…and looking around the room at self proclaimed guardians of the commonweal…

    seriously…no clue…and no capacity to realize it…

    ignore the hall monitors behind the curtain…

    1. polecat

      Not just gold … but the styles of furniture !! French royal provincial is EVERYWHERE, no matter the government French, Saudi, American, Ugandan, Mexican, you name the venue ! .. what gives ??
      No wonder the elites are always so pinched .. I would be too, if I had to sit in an uncomfortable chair, hunched over a gilt slab !

      As for Trump vs Lincoln … first off, that was OrangeManBad’s version of brunch .. and second, I think Abe was mighty hungry, having endured being placed on the wall for so long .. thus in deep contemplation of that calorific display !

      1. Summer

        “French royal provincial is EVERYWHERE…”

        Yet people still think there is dialog to be had with these types.

      1. alex morfesis

        tovarish…of course flo-rid-duh…although…vee do have ourselves some wonderful tolstoy foundation and ruskaya heritage foundation dinner here so perhaps our mayor who insisted emperor distrakto needed visa to visit is super triple kolotoumbo secret former stasi boy…


        although his dads hardware store did have many painted red areas…


        so should we in st pete have our own meetup finally

  4. a different chris

    Haha despite my contrary view here on Warren’s supposed stepping in it, I have always suspected the whole DNA thing is just crap. That other Elizabeth – Holmes – is just somebody who actually got caught pushing current science way beyond its actual limits.

    But 23andme and the other 4 (for Chrissake there are 5 of these companies now? If that isn’t a Bezzle marker I don’t know what is) just ride merrily along. Ms Holmes must be so frustrated, she picked the wrong scam.

    1. polecat

      Maybe Warren should wear black .. (no collar though) .. just might improve her image – authoritative, but coooool to boot !

    2. Spring Texan

      Agree on Warren . . . just an example of how anyone decent gets burned by the press on anything, where any decent press would have headlined “Warren wins Trump’s ‘bet'” — liberals never get a break . . . just like Corbyn is blasted as an anti-Semite and Bernie excoriated for sexism. All bullshit.

  5. RUKidding

    “Twins get some ‘mystifying’ results when they put 5 ancestry DNA kits to the test”

    I truly thank those twins for doing this. I always figured that those “ancestry DNA” test kits were a scam. I can’t tell you how many friends/acquaintances of mine have done one of these bogus “tests,” and then said: we always thought we were mostly ___________________, but then I took the test and found out that had all of this DNA from countries X, Y, Z. WOW!!!!

    Imma like: ohreally?? YMMV, but Imma thinking your “results” were probably bogus.

    Plus who wants that type of personal info out there for whomever to hack and use for whatever purposes?

    Interesting to get some reasonably reliable results that show how stupid these kits are.

    1. Hana M

      Ancestry.com’s tests on Y-chromosome DNA are a useful genealogical tool used in concert with standard research methods and their mitochondrial DNA results are quite interesting in a speculative sort of way, but both involve much smaller stretches of DNA that are very well studied. Any mass-produced test that looks at an entire genome is much less likely to yield accurate data–something, sadly, that our criminal justice system doesn’t get.

    2. FreeMarketApologist

      My boss and his partner have just done one of the tests, and are having a lot of fun with the family tree aspects of it — it has prompted him to connect with various relatives to fill in bits of his own missing knowledge, and has confirmed quite a bit of the family lore he grew up with. It didn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know or intuit, but I think the fact that it has helped reinforce family connections is valuable (he called his great aunt!), but not sure if the price of privacy loss is worth it.

    3. Kurtismayfield

      It is obviously just a scam to get your data.. if you were asked “Hey can you donate your DNA to us so we can sell it”, what would you say? This way they are providing you a “service” that tricks you into thinking that you are a customer, when really no one can competently give you the info to they provide for $99 dollars. You are really the product, and you are paying them for it.

    1. Geo

      Elites will be elites: it’s rumored that Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory bathed in the blood of young women to retain her youth way back in the 1600’s. While rumors were around for years no action was taken until the children of other wealthy people were victims. Due to her own wealth and status she avoided a trial.

      1. Lee

        Wow! She rocketed right through a certain glass ceiling.

        She has been labeled by Guinness World Records as the most prolific female murderer,[3] though the precise number of her victims is debated. Báthory and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of young women between 1585 and 1609.[4]

      1. Darthbobber

        Doc Brinkley. Clugston’s old book on Kansas politics, Rascals in Democracy, has a chapter dealing with the Goat Gland Rejuvenator’s nearly successful campaign for the governorship in 1930, and the collaboration between the elephants and donkeys to barely keep him out.

        After this, and the sale of his Kansas country music station, he became one of the pioneers of Border Radio, taking one of the first Mexican issued high power licenses, with programming that reached big chunks of the southwest and lower Midwest.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I knew that there was a reason why all those billionaires support Charter Schools so much. If young blood is supposed to make you “feel” better, then how about the blood of young children!

        1. Steve H.

          Like Trump, they are far smarter than people give them credit for, and they operate with the discipline of a clan.

          Remember when the tweet about Snapchat freed up about a billion dollars for a week? Do you have any doubt that friends and family had shorted the stock? Seven, eight, potentially nine figures of pure profit. In one week.

  6. Lee

    The Bezzle: “He Hawks Young Blood As A New Miracle Treatment. All That’s Missing Is Proof.” [HuffPo].

    Ambrosia recently completed a clinical trial but has posted no results.

    Some cautionary takes from Science Based Medicine:

    Some researchers have also raised concerns about stimulating stem cells in older patients. Parabiosis researcher Thomas Rando said:

    My suspicion is that chronic treatments with anything — plasma, drugs — that rejuvenate cells in old animals is going to lead to an increase in cancer. Even if we learn how to make cells young, it’s something we’ll want to do judiciously. https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/parabiosis-the-next-snakeoil/

    The complete article is interesting if this is the sort of thing you find interesting.

    1. Yves Smith

      The much bigger risk is bad reactions. Any time you put someone else’s material in your body, even if all sorts of precautions are taken, you are asking for trouble.

      My father got two gamma globulin IVs to help with his autoimmune disease. First one helped. Second one effectively killed him. Set off a series of bad reactions, including ulcers in his mouth so he could not eat, bad irritable bowel syndrome so he could not sleep, among other things. He lost 25% of his weight and his MD was unable to do anything. My father shot himself because he couldn’t take it any more.

      1. lee

        Condolences. Although his final, unbearable illness was not medically induced, my father made the same choice.

  7. Chauncey Gardiner

    So this president ordered the cancellation of a military flight of a congressional delegation undertaking a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan, then leaked the schedule of House Speaker Pelosi’s alternative plans. Nice. His actions raise some serious Constitutional questions about presidential overreach, the limits of executive powers, and our system of checks and balances. I hope Congress will aggressively pursue this in court. Already 4,500 comments.


    1. polecat

      Fact finding ?? Nawww. Continuation of the MilitaryIdusrialCONGRESSIONALComplex of $elf-licking icecream .. most definately !

    2. RMO

      “His actions raise some serious Constitutional questions about presidential overreach, the limits of executive powers, and our system of checks and balances”

      Those questions were largely ignored when it came to the president abducting, torturing, killing, murdering by drone and bombing entire countries… you really think this is the tipping point?

      1. RUKidding

        Quite honestly, I’d be happy with any tipping point that got all of us to question what’s going on.

      1. Yves Smith

        I doubt it. No evidence that the trip was the result of an official act of Congress, like fact-finding that was pursuant to an official investigation.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > obstruction of Congress

        I don’t think “obstruction of Congress” is a thing.

        The whole thing strikes me as an exercise in tit-for-tat pettiness, and the same pearl-clutching would take place however Trump retaliated for Pelosi canceling the SOTU (as retaliation for… (as retaliation for…. (….))). Perhaps I’m too jaded but I can’t get excited about this.

        Why on earth isn’t Pelosi’s messaging “Trump is drowning government in a bathtub, because that’s what Republicans do” instead of “Trump canceled my junket to Afghanistan*?”

        NOTE * What on earth would Pelosi learn by going to Afghanistan that we do not already know about that debacle?

        1. Rod

          Draining the Swamp sounds so catchy on the surface that everyone, everyone I’ve talked to stops in the shallows.. But how many have given real thought to what end and how that could get done??– IMO.
          Maybe POTUS really has.

        2. Prairie Bear

          Thank you for this! (belatedly) I have been wondering the same thing at all the FB memes, etc., about how Trump did yet another Awful Thing — among others “endangering Nancy Pelosi’s life” FFS! (to be fair, I guess that was for revealing the plan to use commercial flights after the gov one was pulled). Just too tired of all the theater to post any responses to them. Also, if we are in such a crisis, why should she be going off there? As you say, we have more facts than we will ever need. The troops don’t need to be “visited,” they need to be brought home. Now.

    3. integer

      IMO visiting the troops in Afghanistan was just window dressing for the two main aims of the junket, the first being to meet with NATO representatives in Brussels in order to ensure them that the bipartisan establishment will not allow the elected president of the US to revise the status quo of NATO, and the second being to attend meetings in Egypt, which were probably focused on undermining Trump’s plans to withdraw the US from the Syrian war. I expect the D party’s newfound neocon patrons are apoplectic that the trip has been cancelled, especially considering that it was Pelosi’s petty SOTU gambit that precipitated the cancellation.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > meet with NATO representatives in Brussels in order to ensure them that the bipartisan establishment will not allow the elected president of the US to revise the status quo of NATO, and the second being to attend meetings in Egypt, which were probably focused on undermining Trump’s plans to withdraw the US from the Syrian war.


        The itinerary included a required stop in Brussels to allow the pilot to rest, the statement said, adding that the delegation planned to meet NATO commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies “to affirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance.” The trip did not include a stop in Egypt, Hammill said.

        NATO is a treaty. The Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2:

        He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…

        Last I checked, Pelosi wasn’t a Senator. So why is she freelancing like this?

        1. integer

          It seems unlikely, to me at least, that Trump would explicitly state the junket was visiting Egypt if it wasn’t. The tweets from Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, have been quoted by many media outlets yet appear to be the only denial that a visit to Egypt was planned.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’d feel a lot more sympathy for Pelosi’s failed junket to Afghanistan if she was using the time freed-up to support the teacher’s strike in LA. #JustSaying

  8. Geo

    Facebook bamboozling kids:
    South Park had an amazing episode on this subject back in 2014 called “Freemium isn’t Free” and really gets into the ways companies like Facebook scam kids (and their parents) for huge sums of money by pushing “free” games with paid “premiums”. The compare the companies doing this to drug dealers which is accurate.


  9. clarky90

    Re; “…turning governance into theatre would play a major role in how things would unfold…”

    Donald Trump’s “Fast Food, With Silver Service” is a consciousness bending, piece of Modern Performance Art. It has been filmed, commented on, and inspired umpteen derivative works (visual, musical, sculptural,,,,) by other artists. It will live on through the centuries.

    It would be the centerpiece at La Biennale di Venezia, if entered!

    POTUS is portrayed as “stupid”, “boorish”, “racist”, “misogynist”, “incompetent” by our overtly clever, over-classes (aka, “the psychotic, money/power hoarders”). lol

    “Fountain is a readymade sculpture produced by Marcel Duchamp in 1917: a porcelain urinal signed “R.Mutt”. In April 1917, an ordinary piece of plumbing….”


    Trump will, also, be remembered as the incendiary and revolutionary Performance Artist.

      1. ambrit

        Unlike his ‘opponents’ on the other side of Paradise, Trump has trained at the source of kayfabe, American Professional Wrestling.
        I am waiting for a Luchador flick to come out soon where the masked grapplers tear down the border wall at night while los gringos build it during the day. Make it a comedy, with English subtitles and the pointlessness of the whole thing will be clear to anyone with two functioning brain cells left.

  10. MichaelSF

    seeing states as rational agents pursuing their national interests

    Is that somewhat like the economists presuming that humans are rational agents pursuing their own interests (with full knowledge of all related factors)?

    It seems to me that states pursue the interests of those who hold the power, so “national interests” vary with who is in power, even though the vast majority of a population may have stable shared interests that differ.

    1. Roger Boyd

      Structural Realism (or neorealism) in International Relations is explicitly based on mainstream economic theories, the realist authors (like Mearsheimer and Waltz) state their use of such theories.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It seems to me that states pursue the interests of those who hold the power, so “national interests” vary with who is in power, even though the vast majority of a population may have stable shared interests that differ.

      Very true.

  11. nick

    In the tweet by Owen Davis about the investment boom that wasn’t, he quotes Bank of America: “growth expectations are a much bigger driver of capex than cost of capital.”

    This is textbook Hyman Minsky. Capitalists make lending decisions based on their expectations of the future. It should come as no surprise that a bank (or, at least, its research division) articulates a Minskyian position like this, since Hyman Minsky gathered a lot of his insights from bankers.

  12. Summer

    Re: Facebook / DNA

    This only reminds me of a meme going around that Facebook or whoever “already has all your data” so learn to like them or whatever the hell that statement is suppose to be furthering.
    No. It’s never to late to full stop protect and fight for privacy and ownership. Their marketers need updated current data. That is why all thw acams for DNA and other things (the 10 year challenge). F’ em. Fool them. Lie if you don’t turn off.

    1. Isotope_C14

      Actually, the funniest thing to do, with the 23 and me thing, is open a container of chicken broth to atmosphere.

      Take sample 24 hours later.

      Submit as your DNA.

      I’d be shocked if they told you, that you were some random mold or bacterial strain. If they contact you, just say you needed a negative control.

  13. Plenue

    Regarding the Japanese pop idol, I wonder why this particular case has blown up. Japanese pop idols apologizing when they haven’t actually done anything wrong has been the norm for years. J-pop (and by extension K-pop, and China and other countries are getting in on the industry now as well) is everything bad you could possibly say about manufactured, vapid popular entertainment magnified by at least an order of magnitude.

    Idols pretty much explicitly aren’t people; they’re carefully groomed and packaged fantasies for the audience. Human beings as product. It’s more than just finding pretty people who have good vocal pitch. Idols are molded to fit various personality archetypes, and they’re held to draconian contracts (that they often signed years before as kids; making a pop idol is a long-term project for management companies) that usually destroy any semblance of a personal life, and often dictate things like how they aren’t allowed to date, lest the paparazzi catch them and the fantasy of their persona be ruined (this is an example of the type of thing idols will record tearful apologies to their fans over: the ‘crime’ of going on a date).

    I appreciate efforts to curb abuses in the industry, and things have improved somewhat over the years. But analyses always seem to miss the broader point that the mere existence of these industries is inherently an abuse.

    Here’s a useful video on the Korean variant, which if anything manages to be even worse than the Japanese form.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that amazing link, Plenue. I have seen the future of the music industry in the west – and it is K-Pop!

  14. bob

    Trump picture-

    “It observes the rule of thirds…”

    I’m not seeing that part. Trump is dead center: His tie, if not his hands, which are the center of his power….

    1. bob

      Well, ulitmately that may be the point…

      The garish Trump is out of place within the understated nature of the Whitehouse and McDonalds, which are always perfectly composed.

    2. Alfred

      Variously cropped versions of this photo turned up on the net. In some the ‘rule of thirds’ is more evident than in others. In this version, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-appearances/the-pure-american-banality-of-donald-trumps-white-house-fast-food-banquet , the image is divided into thirds both vertically and horizontally. The horizontal divisions are defined by the edge of the table and the line of the mantel. The vertical divisions are defined by the pilaster flanking the fireplace. Thus the image is divided into none squares, a widely attested classical scheme of composition. Because it is centralizing it can be considered ‘conservative’. In this case, Trump’s torso occupies the central square; the dead center of the whole composition roughly locates his belly. The juxtaposition of a centered, presidential belly in the center with a foregrounded mass of ‘food’ in the foregrounds forms the chief motif that lends itself to interpretation as a political allegory (authoritative power in relation to its base). But there is much else of interest. For instance. Trump stands in the orant position, wearing an overcoat that looks like a vestment: thus the picture takes on religious overtones. Gilt is much in evidence, suggesting the wealth that is gold and bringing to mind the ‘guilt’ that must be ideologically expunged from its acquisition. There is also much whiteness in the picture, just as there is (allegedly, at least) in Trump’s support base. Lincoln, I would say, represents a ‘democracy’ that has been relegated to the background by an ‘imperial’ presidency that looks directly into the future (which is where we, the viewers, stand, outside the frame but drawn into it by the presidential gaze).

      1. The Rev Kev

        Forget the optics for the moment, anybody ever bitten into a cold MacDonald burger? That is what you are seeing. A whole table full of food gone cold. Ughh!

        1. jrs

          of course the New Yorker writer thinks it would be ok if it was In-N-Out or Chik-Fill-A. Puh-lease. How silly is that. For me it’s all fast food, no difference. Or was that sarcasm, man it’s been so many decades since I’ve actually had fast food I don’t even know.

          I wouldn’t touch any of it … unless I was very very hungry in which case … yea it starts to look good at that point.

        2. polecat

          Not to fret Rev Kev. They’ll be handed out to the cold White Haus pressed corpses, as they don’t use their brains anyway ….

      2. Mamzer ben Zonah

        Definition of orant. 1 : a female figure in the posture of prayer in ancient Greek art. 2 : a usually female figure standing with outstretched arms as if in prayer used in early Christian art as a symbol of the faithful dead.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The horizontal divisions are defined by the edge of the table and the line of the mantel. The vertical divisions are defined by the pilaster flanking the fireplace. Thus the image is divided into none squares, a widely attested classical scheme of composition. Because it is centralizing it can be considered ‘conservative’.

        That is the optical version, below is the mechanical version:

        Trump’s centrality is a combination of — the complicity of? — Trump hitting his mark and the photographer standing where they stood. Everything is symmetrical, with the exception of the line from Lincoln’s face to Trump’s face, and Lincoln’s stance and Trump’s stance. That seems right…. But a happy accident, or a visual comment by the photographer?

        1. Alfred

          Trump has placed himself in front of ‘Lincoln’ and thereby turns his back on him. A football team might have recognized Trump’s positioning of himself as ‘blocking’ — perhaps a reference to a blocking of Lincoln’s legacy as preserved in the Civil War Amendments to the US Constitution, or even to one of the whole Constitution as such. Lincoln, through his portrait nevertheless turns away from Trump (as if gazing into a different, perhaps better, future). Thanks to the grid made explicit above, it becomes even more evident that Lincoln remains superior to the current occupant of the White House. Thus do art’s unintended consequences sometimes subvert art’s original intentions. The open hand (of which Trump displays two) is an old symbol of generosity. But Trump holds his open hands vertically, so that they can give away nothing — except the inhospitable emptiness of their gesture. (Maybe Trump thought he was posing as a quarterback readied for a snap?) More emptiness is evident on the mantelpiece and the tops of the two draped tables. Clearly, Trump has nothing to offer that he has not bought from some other source. The candles, standing unlit, lack the flames that are the most familiar symbols of enlightenment. Thus despite the incandescent brightness of the scene, Trump stands in symbolic darkness. The food in the foreground is all packaged and branded, just as Trump (like practically all of America’s politicians today) was branded and packaged for the consumption of an electorate shaped by advertising; indeed he branded and packaged himself. Curtains in the background, having been drawn, eliminate as effectively as blinds the possibility of seeing a way out. Curtains, of course, always connote the veiling of reality. Here in a seat of power they recall the various Purple Curtains of antiquity as well as the more recently familiar curtain of Oz. Curtains are always tools of separation; they divide in order to conquer (space). Etc. Etc. Etc. That’s all before we even get to the violations of etiquette evident in the photo,faux-pas like using a table in place of a sideboard, and failing to place a cloth between the table and the serving pieces, and choosing serving pieces whose sizes and shapes are unsuited to the dimensions of their contents, and stacking food items into teetering piles… I guess I need to stop before I get stopped. It’s just so hard to stop. Sorry.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Don’t forget the vertical. His figure spans the center third almost exactly (too exact is too static.) He is, after all, the center of attention, despite being in the background.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Notice also the diagonals from Trump’s hands* to the sconces. So Trump is not only the bringer of food, he is the bearer of light!

        NOTE * Which do not appear tiny, to me.

    4. Wukchumni

      The photo looks like one of those ‘how much fast food does this person eat in a year?’ montage.

    5. BobWhite

      Your first instinct was correct, it DOES NOT observe the rule of thirds.
      The LA Times writer has it wrong, and obviously not a photographer.

      The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts.

      With this grid in mind the ‘rule of thirds’ now identifies four important parts of the image that you should consider placing points of interest in as you frame your image.

      The theory is that if you place points of interest in the INTERSECTIONS or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally.

      Explained in further detail (with images):

      1. Alfred

        It seems to me that the linked discussion portrays the ‘rule of thirds’ in its application to the production of Modern pictures, which are intended to be dynamic. I was describing how the same rule can be applied to produce a static image, conducive to the propagation of a conservative worldview. The Modern approach is to set up regulating lines whose intersections predict the positioning of key features (focal points). The resultant effect is one of precarious ‘equilibrium’ rather than ‘balance’. The traditional (or non-Modern) approach is to treat such lines as boundaries between areas. Into those areas are then placed (often centrally) items related to each other along axes separate from the regulating lines (which in principle, in Modernism, must be non-axial); hence the suggestion of stasis. Twentieth-century art and architecture abound in examples of nine-square compositions of both the static and the dynamic sorts. Above, Orgeoncharles points out that Lincoln’s was an imperial presidency. I think that is certainly correct from an historical perspective. But I was speaking not so much of Lincoln the historical figure, as of the image of Lincoln (who indeed appears in the Trump picture not as a real man but only as a depiction of himself); and I do think that that image of Lincoln has been remodeled over recent decades into an (arguably illegitimate but nonetheless potent) icon of ‘democracy’. In any event, the frontal and axial, or ‘imperial’, view of a standing Trump contrasts starkly with the three-quarters view of a seated Lincoln. The formal contrast between the two figures as they appear posed and relatively positioned in this picture is undeniable. In that contrast I believe the principle source of the photo’s ideological power. I take advantage of this comment to point out that the iconic significance of white in the photo is sharpened by its contrast with the brown (of the table) which as a field of dark color is submerged beneath a burden of and false (because caloric instead of nutritional) American abundance. That chromatic contrast evokes the location of the USA ‘above’ Mexico, and I would even say of ‘white people’ above ‘brown’ ones insofar as they may be respectively identified with (or confined to!) geographic areas lying north and south of the Rio Grande. Therefore it, too, sends a political message that Trump’s supporters would likely find reassuring, but that his detractors will likely (as I do) consider disturbing. Thus the photo caters to one group even as it repels another. Thus, as propaganda, it simultaneously takes on both defensive and offensive roles. The fact that the food in the boxes has lost its warmth adds poignancy by demonstrating how the Trump administration cold-heartedly serves up, via Mr. Rico y Famoso in person, cheap ‘cold comfort’ quite literally on costly silver platters. My immediate impression of this picture, before I began to unpack it, was of what colossal contempt it heaps upon the President’s unseen guests who will not even realize that they were being humiliated. I dare say that in it we already have before the end of January the Picture of the Year, and quite possibly of the decade. I can only hope that someone from the National Portrait Gallery manages to snag a print of this work of art in the service of politics for the permanent collection. It may come across as disposable but (in part for that very reason?) it really is a brilliant achievement, one that will prove a stunner in any future exhibition.

          1. Eclair

            And, even ‘richer.’ Trump’s open-handed pose reminds religious (and us raised-in-religion, and maybe even art historians) people of the spread-armed and palms-open poses of Jesus Christ … and Saints. Like this one of ‘blonde Jesus’ in an imagined Second Coming.
            Apologies for the Amazon link.

          2. Fiery Hunt

            C’mon…I get the appreciation of being able to extend a metaphor/critique in the academic style but at what point does it become nonsense? Did Trump dissect the meaning of a brown table as foreground against white background walls as a secret racist message? Did the photographer?
            Do you really think this was thought out that far and the intention?!?
            I don’t.
            Yes, Trump, under Lincoln’s portrait with a spread of fast food…Pretty obvious perspective and provocative.
            The rest of the “analysis”?
            Doesn’t it smack of “Never Trump” or neoliberal derangement? Again, I understand the intellectual exercise of “art criticism” but not when it becomes about the critic’s fancy over the artist/photographer/writer’s intent. “Trust the tale, not the teller” was always as disrespectful an academic tolemic as ever there was.

            And as always, I remind, I do not support the man.

              1. Fiery Hunt

                No, I don’t…but it really is up to the artist to make their point/intention/perspective clear. To say any interpretation you like is equally valid is to denigrate the work and perspective of the artist. If there’s things that connect to the intention of the artist but that were happy accidents, fine but it’s dangerous to put our biases into the artist’s work. And there really is no reasonable way to get from the table is brown to the table represents Mexicans based on the photo.
                If the artist wants to evoke such connections, they would have or should have, and it’s got to be more than “brown” table in the foreground = disturbing “racist message”.

                Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > there really is no reasonable way to get from the table is brown to the table represents Mexicans based on the photo.

                  Yes, absent additional evidence (color schemes or artwork from the hotels?) I’d classify the interpretation of brown as far-fetching (not always a bad thing, and I think to be distinguished from “any interpretation you like”). A really great work of art rewards interpretation “at the edges,” as it were. There is, of course, the idea that the meaning of art is entirely divorced from the artists intent, a view I do not share. I think it’s a judgment call….

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Your first instinct was correct, it DOES NOT observe the rule of thirds.

        Very true. You place the points of interest at the nodes. That said, the important thing about knowing the rules knowing when to break them. The symmetry of the photo is clearly rule of thirds-based (see image above). So it seems quite appropriate that Trump is breaking the rules by centering himself (or, rather, his belly, as the commenter above points out).

        In other words, the photo “observes” the rule of thirds. It just does not adhere to it!

    6. kernel

      bob’s comment on “Trump picture” sparked 20+ responses (plz don’t count this one!).

      Not sure what this says about us, but it sure ain’t good.

  15. Darthbobber

    Nicky Reid’s panarchy piece:
    Actually makes Bob Avakian seem a towering intellectual.
    Lumping everybody together under the label of “the oppressed” may work rhetorically for some, see Freiere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, for example, or Fanon’s work, which strives through the ritual invocation of “the people” to somehow surmount all the fractures and divisions in that category.

    An anarchist variant of the “patchwork coalition” idea popular as a soft left fallback in the 80s. I still have a button, juxtaposes icons for feminism, black power, gay rights, labor, Chicano. Uses simple math to show that if you assume monolithic blocs and put all these together, you have a big majority. Did this happen? Could it actually happen so easily? No.

    At least that was an electoral miscalculation. The people promoting it were clear on the method, electoral, and the mechanism for translating into results.: a state, however modified, and with whatever nonstate civil society organs might be grafted on for one purpose or another. Misguided, but at least in the event of unlikely victory, the next part wasn’t pure handwaving.

    The anarchist variant proposes to begin by dismantling the existing structures, and the inevitably oh-so-philosophically couched discussions of what happens next ARE ultimately handwaving, which never really descend to the level of practicality for obvious reasons.

    But back to that intersectionality. The tensions between class, gender, race, to name but 3, as primary focus are only really resolvable by stopping the analysis at an arbitrary point. (eg , blacks include the black bourgeoisie, women a host of class oppressors). And the do it all approach translates into what we’ve had in practice for more than 30 years, One the one hand theorists of some variant of intersectionality, and on the real world practical hand a disparate collection of clientistic pressure groups, rhetorically acknowledging common interests, but practically prepared to throw each other under the bus on opportunistic grounds at a moment’s notice.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I still have a button, juxtaposes icons for feminism, black power, gay rights, labor, Chicano. Uses simple math to show that if you assume monolithic blocs and put all these together, you have a big majority. Did this happen? Could it actually happen so easily? No.

      Rather like all the corporate logos at the bottom of some virtuous project, come to think of it.

  16. clarky90

    A hint of a Neo-New-World-Order?

    Trump cancels U.S. delegation to Davos forum


    “Out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed, President Trump has canceled his delegation’s trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,” Sanders’s statement said.

    “Mnuchin and Pompeo had planned to speak jointly to the opening session of the forum on Jan. 22. They were also expected to jointly host a dinner of the Group of Seven foreign and finance ministers to discuss national security and economic issues.

    Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also planned to be part of the delegation.”

  17. Summer

    Re: The Attention Economy

    It’s a mess. A co-worker went to work at an online company that markets stuff (that’s the best description I can come up with). I couldn’t tell exactly what or to whom from what I saw of the site (but the pics and design were pretty). But I’m sure they are disrupting…something…and moving the conversation for some “culture.”

  18. hemeantwell

    Re the French Revolution

    crowd to play to, and the impact of turning governance into theatre would play a major role in how things would unfold.

    Theater is not quite the word we’re looking for here.

    As I understand it from reading Soboul, Tilly and others, political life in Paris was structured around clubs, among them the Jacobins. I think that these constituted, if not a mass base, then active scenes of debate that attracted something more like mass input from neighborhood crowds. Forms of dialogue ranged from orderly debates to street corner orations that would relatively permeable in that they could be conducted by people who were not society members. When things got hot, e.g. if food was scarce and there was talk of limiting rations further, mob action would develop. All of this would be brought to bear on the Assembly. Speeches there ran the gamut from initiating to responding to mass action. Talking of that ferment as “theater” might make sense if the author qualifies the term a lot, but otherwise it sounds vapidly snarky and superficial.

    To get a sense of how leading members of the Assembly felt they had to be responsive to the street, I’d suggest reading Sophie Wahnich’s “In Defence of the Terror.” She makes a good argument that the formulation of the Terror was an attempt to channel popular outrage. The nobility and commodity hoarders really pissed people off, and there was also a fear of counter-revolution that set up a strike first mentality that informed the Terror.

    And I’ll put in a good word for Geoff Mann’s “In the Long Run We are all Dead” here. Really good, eye-opening stuff about Robespierre.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The context for the “theatre” is the club, yes. Duncan is quite clear on that.

      Now, “theatre” might not be the right words. But the perception of “playing to an audience” in the French revolution was different from the American and English revolution contributes to understanding, IMNSHO, and is useful in the present day.

      What’s a better word?

    1. Darthbobber

      Though this journalist’s framing of it as indicative of privileges of either whiteness or maleness is pretty silly. A clueless patzer is just a clueless patzer.

      I think it’s a sign of how pathetic it can rapidly get when you have no agenda and turn the problem of “seeming” authentic over to the professional handlers.

      I wasn’t a big fan, but in his senatorial campaign he could put on a decent performance on the hustings, and had enough confidence in his own ideas of what might be a winning strategy to follow it consistently.

      Not awesomely great, but he didn’t go into vacuous, clueless mode until after they started blowing smoke up his —, and flattering him that he was presidential timber. Harris, who doesn’t seem to get a mention, is also nearly this bad as she casts about for a character she can believably play.

      While the two may not have race or gender in common, I think they do have the futility of present presidential ambitions in common, unless one or the other hits on more than they have.

  19. Summer

    The Bezzle: “The Attention Economy Is a Malthusian Trap” [The Atlantic]

    Reads like he is searching for a new buzzword to hype.
    Checkin that hyp-o-meter.

  20. redleg

    You’re welcome, re. Revolutions.
    If there was any group of people that I thought would appreciate Duncan’s podcast, I figured it was this group. It’s nice to see Duncan’s work appreciated here several years later.
    The French Revolution series is (IIRC) 60 episodes.
    He also has the English, American, Hatian, and “Bolivarian” revolutions podcasted at that site too.
    Somewhere he also has a History of Rome, but I haven’t listened to that one yet, and several books published.
    Good stuff!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Retrospective thanks!

      In all of Duncan’s work, I could wish for more about the 90% of the time, but wow, is he strong on the timelines!

      History of Rome is excellent, but IMNSHO too much focus on doings at court. The fall of the Republic part is terrific, however.

  21. John Buell

    Re:Politics and Madison

    “For a general will to be brought into being, effect (social spirit) would have to become cause and cause (good laws) would have to become effect. The problem is how to establish either condition without the previous attainment of the other upon which it depends.” Rousseau, Social Contract quoted in Bonnie Honig, Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy.

    1. Carey

      I’m greatly in favor of a *humanism* of and for the 99% that allows the biosphere to thrive, since we all depend on it.

  22. Summer

    Re: Trump \ Fast Food

    Yeah, I have my occasional junk food. Potato chips mainly….
    But am I the only one that thinks a lot of fast food joints smell bad? Especially if the trash isn’t dumped often and regularly and even when it is?

    1. John Buell

      Yes. Moody presents provocative discussions of the vulnerabilities in just in time supply chains as well as the role of union rank and file in successful labor actions. His book came out before the West Virginia and Oklahoma actions and these strikes provides evidence for his perspective.

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