Links 1/15/19

Dear patient readers,

So so sorry, but as we explain in a post that is already up, we are cancelling our NYC meetup that had been set for this Friday, the 18th. I hate to belabor the issue, but I want to make sure that no one who saw the earlier notices winds up turning up. Apologies to those of you who were looking forward to this event, but it didn’t come together.

Stowaway bird causes chaos in business class during 14 hour flight to London Telegraph

Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies Scientific American (Chuck L)

Alaska officials probing BP oil, gas wells at Prudhoe Bay after spill Reuters

The Super-Secure Quantum Cable Hiding In the Holland Tunnel Bloomberg

The single action you can take to reduce plastic waste in a major way without overhauling your life Well and Good (David L)

If You Can’t Deny It, Downplay It Current Affairs (UserFriendly). On global warming.


Chinese Investment in the United States and Europe Plummets Foreign Policy (Kevin W)

China offers NASA use of moon mission probe Sydney Morning Herald (Kevin W)

Canadian sentenced to death in China as Ottawa-Beijing tensions rise Financial Times

Millions in India gather for world’s largest religious event Agence France-Presse


EU offers Brexit reassurance but no changes to deal Politico. Quelle surprise.

Theresa May ‘will have to stand down’ if she suffers heavy defeat in Brexit vote, Cabinet ministers suggest Telegraph

From Telegraph’s Brexit Live blog: Brexit vote latest: Theresa May’s odds of crushing defeat on deal increase after Hilary Benn withdraws key amendment

The number of Tory MPs who oppose the deal stands at 72. Hayes will vote against. ConservativeHome. Interesting comments about gaming the publicizing of whip counts.

EU budget implications of a no-deal Brexit Bruegel

A Minute-by-Minute Guide to U.K. Parliament Votes Bloomberg (vlade)

UK: Emotions run high as Brexit closes in DW

How to watch the Brexit vote like a pro Politico

A nation ‘bored of Brexit’ risks sleepwalking into disaster Guardian (PlutoniumKun)

‘Brexit boxes’: Hundreds sold as Britons stock up for no-deal food supply disruption Independent

French probe casts light on dark practices in Japan’s Olympics bid – Asia Times (Kevin W)

Murder of Gdańsk mayor highlights Poland’s polarization Politico

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Cops Can’t Force People to Unlock Their Phones With Biometrics, Court Rules -Gizmodo (Kevin W)

The U.S. Government Has Amassed Terabytes of Internal WikiLeaks Data Gizmodo (Bill B)

U.S. proposes to allow drone operation at night, over people Reuters

Report: We Tested 5 Popular Web Hosting Companies & All Were Easily Hacked/a> WebsitePlanet

Imperial Collapse Watch

Worse than you thought: inside the secret Fitzgerald probe the Navy doesn’t want you to read Navy Times. Kevin W : “The article is much better than the title suggests. In short, imagine a guided-missile destroyer named the USS CalPERS.”

Trump Transition

The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a “National Security Threat” is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic Intercept (USerFriendly)

Apparently, the FBI, and not the CIA, are the real government. Sic Semper Tyrannis (Kevin W)

Fixated on collusion, Dems seeking (again) to subpoena interpreter present at Trump-Putin meeting RT (Kevin W)

Ivanka Trump to Help Select Nominee for World Bank President Wall Street Journal

TSA Careers and Airport Security Jobs | TSA Salary and Training Requirements | Requirements for Federal Law Enforcement Jobs Resilc highlighted this part:

Unlike most federal agencies that use the general schedule (GS) grading system to determine salary ranges, the TSA uses an SV grading system, a discrete salary system with pay ranges that differ from the GS system. Airport security jobs typically begin at the D pay band, which is $25,518 to $38,277. The promotion potential is the E pay band, which is $29,302 to $44,007.

Obama ‘new blood’ remark has different meaning for Biden Th eHill

How AOC Is Changing The Game Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

GOP leaders strip Steve King of committee assignments The Hill

Chicago Mayoral Candidates Pushed To Scrap Undemocratic TIF Process Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

The Bulwark Site From Weekly Standard Staffers Shows Neocons Are Back Rolling Stone (UserFriendly)


California’s largest utility just declared bankruptcy. Hello, climate change. Vox (David L)

California lawmakers in no hurry to help out PG&E SF Chronicle. David S: “The last bankruptcy just got passed along to ratepayers. Chiron editorial says break it up.”

Who Could Get Hurt by PG&E’s Fire-Driven Bankruptcy? Bloomberg

PG&E Was a Hedge-Fund Darling. That Bet Flopped. Wall Street Journal

U.S. Now Says All Online Gambling Illegal, Not Just Sports Bets Bloomberg

The end of sedans as we know it? Not so much Chicago Tribune (martha r)

Toyota Is Thrilled Ford And GM Are Giving Up On Traditional Cars CarBuzz. Martha r: “From December. may be of interest.”

New CalPERS Board Member Has Serious Concerns About Private Equity Plan Chief Investment Officer

Tesla Proposes Microgrids With Solar and Batteries To Power Greek Islands electrek. Beware of non-Greeks bearing gifts.

Class Warfare

Huge teachers’ strike in Los Angeles brings district of 640,000 to a halt Guardian

Los Angeles Teachers Strike For Smaller Classes, More Nurses And Librarians NPR (David L)

Hack job: Gillette tries to teach men ‘social justice’, meets massive online backlash RT. Kevin W: “Coming on top of the American Psychological Association officially recognizing toxic masculinity.”

Antidote du jour. Diptherio: “The Maremma puppies are one moth old today…and they just keep getting cuter!”

And a bonus from martha r:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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      1. Olga

        No, I have to disagree. Having studied the issue and written about it, micro-grids are likely our future, including renewables. Tesla installed a large battery in South Australia and – as far as I know – it has been a success (i.e., much cheaper than the frequent outages). M-grids will, however, upend conventional generation and transmission (which is why they face major push-back). I’d say “beware Greeks complaining about Greeks bearing gifts or grifts” – at least in this case. Just ‘cuz it’s Tesla does not automatically make it bad.
        (This is not posting, maybe because of the link – so just look it up: south australia tesla battery.)

        1. vlade

          agree. De-fossilising likely means much more decentralisation of energy. Unfortunately, it means much more capacity is needed, as the utilization will be less efficient.

          1. Olga

            Not sure why utilisation would be less efficient? In fact, having a m-grid (by definition, close to load) could make things much more efficient. There is such thing as transmission losses – particularly, over long distances. If you mean that folks would use more energy ‘cuz it’s “too cheap to meter” – well, who cares. With renewables, fuel is free (ok, there are O&M costs and perhaps water (but there is a lot of water consumption also with conventional gen)). Also, appliances and l. bulbs have gotten vastly more efficient over the recent years and if one owns the solar panels – I don’t see a problem.
            Think of the benefits, as you say – decentralisation – no more pesky utility co. that jacks up everybody’s rates and sinks $$ into plants that soon become dinosaurs; no PG&E bankruptcies just ‘cuz they’ve strewn misbehaving equipment over the forests (no causing fires); more control over usage; living off the grid – wherever one wants (ok, maybe we’d want to re-think that); no more pollution; we could retire all those horrible coal plants; and no more painful transmission siting proceedings.
            As for why Tesla – I actually think that batteries is one thing he mostly got right. If I were Musk’s business manager, I’d suggest that he drop everything and focus on batteries. Let’s not throw baby out with the bath water – in this case.
            As for the preference for “large” cos – some of them don’t make batteries and those that do, still have a way to go (it’s that innovation thing – requires the breaking down of the established way of doing stuff). Tesla makes both residential and large commercial sets – if focused on perfecting them (instead of flying in every direction), he could be a hero. But I know – it’s hard to keep a good megalomaniac down.
            A comment below mentions having to link together m-grids – however, part of the allure is that one would not have to do that. M-grids can function as islands (that is why they make sense on Greek islands) – they can be linked, but don’t have to be. Let’s first perfect them, and then worry about linking. A grocery store in Houston survived intact Hurricane Harvey with the help of a functioning m-grid.
            And as for W’s friends with an un-sellable off-the-grid house, if I were them I’d arrange educational tours (real estate agents and high schools come to mind) – the word would spread and it’d sell quickly. A friend has lived like that for over 25 yrs – there are adjustments to be made, but it is doable. For most people today, though, it is just too unfamiliar. The friends should invest some energy in educating their market (or contact someone who wants to hide from the centralised utility).

            1. vlade

              You need excess capacity at each node (it’s just good practice to have excess capacity), but you may not be able to share that efficiently – especially if you do away with a utility that has a national grid.

              So you’ll have more capacity installed and potentially wasted.

              Also, building one 100MW (which would be considered a small turbine) with one turbine is, just materiel-wise, much cheaper than installing 5000x20KW turbines (or sources in general) + batteries, and the usual node would need around 10-20KW.

              That all said, I’d consider the gains more than compensating for the inefficiencies.

            2. KPC

              Tesla batteries are made by Panasonic, not Tesla.
              Solar and batteries are NOT 100% carbon free when using a whole system analytics. Yes, they help but they are NOT 100% of the solution.
              Yes, all of us must cut our consumption including electricity including in the form of e-cars.
              In short, Musk did NOT do the battery tech. Panasonic did this.

              1. John

                Lithium batteries are probably not a good choice for microgrids. Their strong point is being lightweight which doesn’t matter for a fixed installation like this.

                1. Skip Intro

                  Yet Lithium batteries are commonly used and currently cost effective. I think this is due to ‘market distortions’ arising from the drive to make e-car batteries cheaper.

            3. Odysseus

              “Not sure why utilisation would be less efficient?”

              1) Interconnects aren’t free. Every coupler introduces it’s own losses, even more so if you’re doing any kind of voltage change, etc.

              2) What constitutes a large load? What happens when a large load suddenly comes online or goes offline? Large grids can smooth out events that take down smaller grids. It’s quite possible that a smaller grid requires larger margins for error.

          2. Ignacio

            Not necessarily.
            It will depend on what sources use those microgrids. In fact you can improve energy efficiency reducing energy transport losses as Olga indicates. I guess in the case of greek islands Musk is suggesting reliance in solar energy. No matter that solar conversion in electricity is inefficient (anyway we are “wasting” so much sunligth). What matters is that once produced your transportation losses are much lower.

            In fact integrated solar PV in buildings help to reduce summer cover and roof overheating and, consequently, refrigeration demand.

            1. vlade

              Where I live, solar may be viable for about 3 months of the year, when the electricity demand would be lowest. That is the case for quite a bit of Europe. The solar case usage is rather limited considering the population distribution.

              The energy transport losses are estimated at around 10% between power plant and the final usage place (estimates I saw top at 15%, but are usually lower). In a micro-grid situation, you’d need to have excess capacity – if nothing else, for failures.

              I’d estimate that 10% would be the absolute minimum of the excess capacity you’d need (say with solar, on a bad day, or a streak of bad days, you may need much more installed capacity than usual to keep you going), realistically I’d say you’d need about 25%. That extra capacity would be hard to share. With a grid, load balancing gets easier (I’d not say easy, I know what it actually means and it’s pretty tricky with the current creaky infra, but easier – and possible in the first place at all).

              1. KPC

                See the solutions and tech coming out of Cuba. Fidel himself restored the “private ownership of real estate… ”

                The answer is “various”. Wow! Nothing is 100% except …. .

                And, yes, cutting consumption of plastic and other toxic petro chemicals is critical for each and every one of us including each and every one of you.

                Cutting unnecessary travel counts.

              2. Ignacio

                But in the grid you have a large cost for flexibility. To satisfy peak demand you have to have a very large extra power production capacity. In the case of roof top solar-PV, there are two options IMO. Install enough capacity to supply “basal” demand during dayligth –in this way you reduce the need for utility-produced electricity and increase overal efficiency– or buy storage. Small-medium scale storage is seen as an essential of de-centralized grids. The pattern of energy consumption in residential and commercial is quite different. Solar-PV is more suited for commercial use with peak and sustained consumption highs during dayligth. For instance, in Spain, peak consumption has shifted from winter evenings to summer midday and afternoon when cooling systems roar in commercial buildings in full occupation mode and you have 40ºC outside.

                Of course the characteristics of a microgrid in Aberdeen (Scotland) or in Ecija (near Seville) should be very, very different and I guess it will be more efficient to rely on solar thermal and solar-PV in the latter. There are also differences between cities at the same latitude with different climates. Differences derived from construction styles, density etc. so there won’t be a model to fit all necessities.

        2. jsn

          No argument from me with regards to micro grids, I definitely want one! My issue is with Musks intentions.

          I’ll grant it’s the rare Dick Cheney who is pure evil, but Musk smells to my nose! It’s possible this has an element of altruism, almost certain to have some great engineering, and, on his track record, likely to include some financial or informational scam.

          Always delighted to find myself too cynical, rarely gratified.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Musk doesn’t have much credibilty and it’s natural to doubt him, and be mindful to the possiblity that it could be bad.

    1. fajensen

      I’d rather buy them from ABB, Siemens, AEG, Schneider, Toshiba, Mitsubishi … et cetera – That is from older businesses who knows what they are doing, why they are doing it and what it is what they are doing is doing :).

      1. PlutoniumKun

        It may well be the case, but in my personal experience of dealing with power engineering companies is that they are culturally entirely wedded to large scale top-down solutions. They really struggle to get their heads around anything that involves bottom up scaling. Its like getting a motorway engineer to design a cycle path (I’ve seen the results when that has happened, and its not pretty).

        There are a small number of major engineering groups that encourages more imaginative thinking (mostly design companies, like Arups, not those on the manufacturing side). But if I was a buyer for a micro-grid I’d rather go to a small specialist with familiarity with the specific problems of managing small bottom up projects, of the type that are far more common in places like India or Thailand than in the US/Europe.

        Much as everyone on NC likes to knock Musk, and with very good reason, I’d actually trust a Tesla engineer with a micro-grid more than someone from Siemans or Mitsubishi (no offence to them, they do what they do well, its just a very different type of engineering).

        1. fajensen

          I have worked quite a lot with the “Elder Ones”. While I agree that ABB and Siemens did Nothing all the way up to the mid ‘naughties, they eventually got the wind of something was changing and now they are back to their old form from the 1980’s/90’s where they were innovative in developing technology.

          Micro-grid is the future. Because of scalability and control issues once renewables become a larger part of the electrical supply. Once one want to transmit electrical power for thousands of km, the length of the cabling becomes closer to antennas at 50 Hz, the control becomes difficult and noise from phenomena like Aurora is picked up very effectively. For serious power, they are planning to use a HVDC “overlay” network linking national grids in the EU through converter stations, effectively making the local/regional grids into cells like one have in the micro-grid.

          In the 1’st world, the “Elder Ones” have the political and money capital to push forward, Energy is a very conservative business and “things” have to “be around” for 40 years or more. Companies like Tesla have to travel to further afield, in newer markets, if they want to make an impression or get a foot in the door. .

          I know (I peripherally was involved with it) that ABB, Eon and RWTH University of Aachen are developing a MVA-rated “switch mode distribution transformer”-station as a plugin for a regular transformer because one will need to connect those micro-grids together while allowing frequency, voltage and phase to vary between grids – in order to properly control power flow between the grids.

          The “upset people” are coal and nuclear who depends on electrical systems where they control the energy flow from “their generator down” with the flow only going “downwards” and a loud faction of what I call ‘dinosaur engineers’, who do not like one bit that everything they used to know is now being usurped by a bunch of “teenagers” wielding FPGA’s, Sillicon Carbide switches and Mathlab + Simulink tools!

          It’s the same type of discussion that happened when TCP/IP routed ATM in Telecoms.

          We had for more than a whole decade those “Telephone Engineers” in Stockholm working very hard on things like Quality Of Service (QOS), Resource Reservation Protocol (RSVP) and Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) to reforge them damn “unreliable” and “unpredictable” TCP/IP networks into ATM again via obscenely bloated management systems! Now the dinosaurs are retired and fibreoptics, with rate limiting on the edge, rules.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Thanks for that insight, very interesting – as you say, sometimes you need one generation of engineer to retire before you can get real fresh thinking. I’m glad to hear the major companies are changing that way.

          2. KPC

            We can hope in this regard. Thank you for explaining a little of this to others who still do not get it.
            Yes, RWE and Daimler Benz may be of some help in this very area. The Smart Car…? And we have to transition including the existing inventories of things such as rolling stock and more… .
            Toshiba together with Westinghouse and General Electric are positively tragic.
            And, yes, each of us has a RESPONSIBILITY to change…including consuming less… .
            No more patience… .

    2. Wukchumni

      This is off microgrid, but friends have a house they’ve been trying to sell for about 2 years now, and it’s a beaut built by the owner, strictly move-in condition, with 40 acres of mostly steep terrain and views up the wazoo.

      But nobody wants it.

      The reason being that it is all-solar, with a diesel generator backup that kicks in when needed. They were about $300k away from power lines being installed to include their domicile, so that’s why they went that way.

      People are always yammering on about how they’d like to live off the grid, and our friends have been living that way for 18 years with no problems, as far as electricity generation goes.

      I find it to be the oddest white elephant, with a view of the winter white elephant in Sequoia NP, which happens when enough snow falls to transform the left side of Alta Peak into a pachyderm, here have a glimpse:

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s easier to save heating energy living not so close to a snow zone.

        And it’s also easier to save cooling energy with something like a yakhchal and a badgir when building a house. No solar panels required.

        1. Wukchumni

          It’s easier to save heating energy living not so close to a snow zone.

          The town goes into great exaltations when one frigid morning once every couple years we awaken to 2, sometimes 3 inches of white as the driven snow, that’s all melted off by 11 am, as if it never happened…

      1. ambrit

        Where else could we be encouraged to learn to type an inflected version of English but here? Wonderful stuff.

    1. The Beeman

      About 3 months ago I grew a beard – my wife says she likes it and I get lots of compliments. I shave a small part of my face and neck to maintain clean lines.

      If ever I go back to shaving, it won’t be with Gillette products.

      Good job P&G.

      1. fajensen

        I recommend going with the hipsters and millennials on this one, using traditional safety-razors and those shaving soaps one must “mix up” with a brush. The old-school shaving tools and supplies are far cheaper to use than the Gillette products when used for a year. One uses maybe one or two razor blades per month and a block of soap lasts at least 6 months.

        One also gets a collection of much nicer-looking, more robust, “tools” with much less “plastic” and subsequent waste disposal. There are fewer chemicals involved too.

        The brands ‘Dovo’, ‘Merkur’ and ‘Edwin Jagger’ are popular. “Old style shaving” is “A Thing” so there will be tonnes of good products available.

        1. The Beeman

          Recently a close friend was extolling the virtues of his safety razor. Time to go downtown and find the store

          Up yours Gillette and P&G

          1. a different chris

            What is your problem with the ad, exactly? Seems to make sense to me, and I’m an man who (shamefully) hasn’t always been the greatest person to the opposite sex. The fact that I know that doesn’t give me immunity from having my face rubbed in it once in a while.

            1. notabanker

              Maybe the problem is a multinational conglomerate that records almost $10 billion in annual profit with a CEO to worker pay ratio of 287 to 1 that has been found guilty of price fixing, child labor, forced labor and false advertising is using identity politics to sell over priced razor blades?

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I’m all for “Toxic Masculinity” so long as “Toxic Femininity” gets equal time. XX and XY can both do better.

          2. Cal2

            I got religion over a decade ago. Hoping to save money and avoid waste, I asked my barber to find me a nice old fashioned straight razor. I got one, made probably in the 1920s in Germany, by Solingin, absolutely beautiful thing, six inches long, diabolically sharp with a mother of pearl handle to swivel the blade into, along with a sharpening strop.
            Applied shaving cream to my face and 30 seconds later I was a bloody quivering mess with a sliced up face. The cuts were so fine that they healed without scars. It still sits in my drawer.
            Harry’s razors are the best thing out there. Can get two weeks of shaves out of them. Gillette products, ‘blades’ and throw aways, are all mostly plastic with blades that dull immediately.

            1. JBird4049

              If you every want to try again, YouTube has tutorials on using a straight razors, but I will be sticking with my safety razors. Sometimes, I am not awake really while shaving. Blood here, blood on the walls, and on the floor and that can be with a safety razor!


              Safety razors are cheaper than those disposables especially if you buy the blades in bulk. Finding the right brand of blade for whatever razor you are using can be a pain as razors are made in very slightly different widths and the razor heads are also slightly different in size. Also a good razor can cost thirty or more dollars, but over a year it can cost pennies per shave.

              Finding the right mix of blades, razors, and soap can be a hassle though.

        2. Bugs Bunny

          I tried going that route (and the straight razor) about 2 years ago and found that I needed another shave by 5PM.

          Maybe I was doing it wrong but seems this rabbit is hooked on the fancy Gillette garbage. I do, however, use a shaving soap (Kiss My Face) that is so much better than anything made by P&G (unless P&G bought them…)

          One thing you can do is to dry off your razor after using it. This prevents oxidization and you’ll get twice the life out of it.

          1. el_tel

            As someone with very dark, strong hair, I have always had to ensure I shave ultra-closely in the morning if I am to avoid a 5 O’Clock shadow. Having used Gillette M3 for years I finally did a lot of research to investigate whether I was being conned and indeed whether I was shaving “correctly”.

            As I suspected, though such companies are hardly paragons of virtue when it comes to marketing etc (3 blades is definitely the max you’d ever need and 2 is arguably sufficient), the “old fashioned” razors and advice are not necessarily right for everyone (me especially). “Traditional” advice to shave with the grain is incorrect if you want the closest shave. However using traditional razors undoubtedly increases the risks of razor-burn and cuts with guys like me when going against the grain, something certain branded modern ones do well at.

            I have found with a lot of experimentation that provided I’ve washed, exfoliated (CRUCIAL if you are prone to ingrowing hairs) and used the right types of shaving cream/gels I can get the perfect shave with the M3 every time. Getting it with a “non-fancy” razor is riskier and definitely requires a lot more time and patience. Plus careful use of the M3 means my annual cost actually isn’t large at all – one disposable “triple blade” lasts ages before I notice razor burn. Of course we reached “peak disposable razor” years ago, as The Onion so memorably noted…IMHO nothing since the M3 is worth it and even the M3 is excessive for many men.

          2. polecat

            When I shave I don’t use soap at all .. toughens the skin up ! Does that endow me with toxic masculinity .. ?? Should I seek professional help ?

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Is not shaving facial hair unhealthy?

              I know it (not shaving) will lead to less waste (disposable razors) and less water usage.

              As for not shaving armpit hair, it is not likely to be unhealthy, since men who don’t shave their armpit hair or the hair on their legs seem to suffer no health problems.

              I think this is another area we can look at to save the world.

            2. KPC

              If grown in your area, try coconut oil.
              If not, find something similar.
              Using menta soap also helps. Menta in English is sort of mint but not quite. So, I would think for those not from middle earth in grand scale, mint soap would help IF it is NOT one of those “oh so trendy” herbal junk gigs for the ladies and gentlemen who lunch…at the country club or in various tourist gigs in the mountains… .
              Muir, von Humboldt, von Goethe and Simon Bolívar would be horrified not to fail to mention a few of the “indigenous”… .
              Ain’t nothin’ new under the sun.

            3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Same here. I use Gillette and my razor head is over 6 months old.

              I use it til the blades fall off while only needing hot water.

        3. turtle

          I second the vote for double-edged safety razors. I’m not sure if some people didn’t understand that you were referring to the original Gillette disposable blade design which is now well out of patent, as opposed to the even older straight razors. You forgot to mention that you can get top quality razors in bulk for about 10-20 cents each! Forget the dollar shave club. Welcome to the cent shave club.

          Regarding some of the other replies, these razors indeed don’t seem to shave as closely as the modern multi-blade ones, but to me that’s an advantage because it greatly reduces the incidence of ingrown hairs, without having to do anything extra (like exfoliating, etc.).

          Other advantages are the great feel of the razor and handle in your hand – a solid chunk of german stainless steel with a Russian blade, for instance, compared to the flimsy plastic swivel heads. Yuck. Also, these are almost impervious to clogging, unlike the modern multi-blades. Plus I get to remember my grandfather shaving when I was a kid and feel a connection to traditional (but not toxic) masculinity.

          I’m overall very happy with my switch years ago. Some day I may work up the courage to try a straight edge.

          1. Ook

            Hmmm. Nobody here uses electric razors? I loves me my Braun. And recently I’ve been shaving only once every 3 days. The look suits me, and my skin seems to like it as well.

        4. KPC

          YES! thank you. Fabricated in Vietnam and one can buy them up the street for a fraction of the cost of Gillette – a global monopoly as Gillette is Proctor and Gamble and BIC plus.

        5. Lambert Strether

          > The brands ‘Dovo’, ‘Merkur’ and ‘Edwin Jagger’ are popular. “Old style shaving” is “A Thing” so there will be tonnes of good products available.

          I have in fact joined the ranks of hipsters and millennials. I got sucked in because of ads for Harry’s razors on Mike Duncan’s History of Rome podcast, and I also liked the ads for Dollar Shave Club a lot, but finally decided to go full old-school with a Merkur I purchased (instead of subscribing for disposables*). It’s rare to find a product that’s both cheaper and better! And one of my few indulgences is fancy shave cream.

          NOTE * I fulminated on “_____ as a service,” including shaving as a service (the subscription model) back here. Not Jackpot-hardened, think. Probably the only system that would be is the old-fashioned straight razor + whetstone.

          1. ambrit

            For the straight razor, the old leather strap method works. Also, for regular knives too, a ceramic surface is the “cutting edge” sharpening method.
            If you want to “murderize” your face, or anything else for that matter, learn to knap flint. Flint blades have proven to be the absolute pinnacle of cutting technology in surgical procedures.
            On obsidian blades:
            Knapping fun:

      2. nippersdad

        About twenty years ago we bought a ten dollar dog trimmer for the yorkie we had at that time. It never worked on her because of her very fine coat, but it has worked a treat on me ever since. It may not provide the closest shave I have ever had, but tiny stubble on ones’ neck is so much more comfortable than razor burn anyway that the cost benefit analysis has worked out really well.

        1. crittermom

          When I knew I was going to lose my very long hair due to chemo, I went to a salon & had it cut short so it wouldn’t be as traumatic when that happened.

          About 2 weeks later when it began falling out in handfuls (into my food & down my collar), I tried my ladies electric shaver. It didn’t work.

          After pondering going to a salon again to have it shaved, I remembered the clippers I used on my Airedale.
          Worked like a charm, leaving only a stubble which was much easier to deal with.

      3. clarky90

        Comments on the Gillette Masculinity ad. At least we are still permitted to comment….for the moment

        “Matthew Kuiper
        14 minutes ago
        Downvotes just went from 375k to 368k. Meanwhile the upvotes jumped up by 2k. All this happened in 45 seconds. I’m calling B.S.

        9 minutes ago
        Yep just seen that too.

        Victor K
        8 minutes ago
        Yep the dislikes were at 400k!!! Hours ago!!!! They are deleting them super fast.

        Daniel Dwyer
        8 minutes ago
        Just jumped to 99k upvotes bs………..”

      4. Synapsid

        The Beeman and all:

        Try a safety razor and Wilkinson Sword blades. The blades are stainless steel (Wilkinson invented stainless steel razor blades, I believe) and I had to go online to find them although I used to buy them in drug stores, and they’re worth it.

        Wilkinson is swordmaker to Her Majesty’s officer class if memory serves. Class!

  1. ilpalazzo

    To clarify: murdered Gdańsk mayor was a liberal not a leftist as far as economic policy goes (which is a distinction completely lost on ruling party supporters). He privatized Gdańsk’s municipal central heating company which was bought by Leipzig municipal services company.

    Additional meaning of this tragic incident is that it happened during famous yearly charity event that collects money for medical equipment for hospitals. The charity is run by a former punk rock enthusiast with rather liberal social views that is hated by church and the right. The whole thing has a very disturbing potential for national sanity.

    1. Olga

      I betcha ya, in the socialist Poland they did not do charity drives for hospitals. At least that was my first thought (at least as he was still alive).

      1. BlueMoose

        Not normally necessary. There are some drives for kids that might need extended treatment or therapy but generally the system works fairly well. My wife is waiting for her hip replacement and I’m sure she would be glad to see it happen sooner, but it will happen and the cost will be 0. We might need to pay for some extra PT afterwards if we don’t want to wait. I had some cancer dug out of my forehead a couple of years ago. Cost: 0. Time from initial biopsy to surgery was only delayed because I am, to put it in technical terms: a big baby.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Re: “toxic masculinity”–

    Yesterday’s link to the Zizek article on “toxic masculinity” that was linked yesterday brought up an interesting point:

    Indeed, if, in the old days of heterosexual normativity, homosexuality was treated as illness, it is now masculinity itself which is medicalized and turned into a sickness to be fought. Thus, all the references to power, patriarchy and oppression of women cannot obfuscate the ideological brutality of the operation.

    While Zizek overstates his case, his point about the dramatic changes in APA definitions and standards over the past 5 decades is quite amazing. I’m re-reading an old (and we talking late 60s) high school assignment, Karl Menninger’s Love Against Hate. Menninger was a very prominent Freudian psychiatrist who wrote a Love Against Hate during the Second World War as an attempt to explain how things had gone so haywire in a world where millions were being butchered by their fellow human beings. What Menninger writes about homosexuality, gender relations and the role of women would get him bounced from polite company these days, yet at the time he considered himself a man of science driven by “facts” and evidence.

    What has changed since then? Have there been a series of remarkable factual revelations about human sexuality that have motivated this amazing change in doctrine among psychiatrists and psychologists? Or has this reversal been the result of a grass roots movement of LGBTQ folks that was eventually merged (coopted?) with a top-down, liberal, Identitarian effort at social engineering? Both/and?

    Such stunning changes in this doctrine with pretty thin factual basis make claims about the scientific nature of the social “sciences” ring pretty hollow. It looks more like a playground for the politicizers and propagandists. (See Economics)

    1. Monty

      “What has changed since then?” Identity politics? Use of shaming and propaganda to build an “intersectional coalition” to do “something” that doesn’t ruffle the oligarchs feathers.

    2. eyelladog

      “What has changed since then”

      What has changed is the push for social engineering. It was nascent back in the 50s as a way to condition people towards certain things. It was being heavily studied in the West after the rise of Stalin and Hitler.

      Unfortunately, as more information on social engineering became available, more people sought to use the propaganda capacity of the radio waves/television/other mass communication to further condition/advertise the masses. This was the beginning of the social engineering on the mass scale, especially as advertisers looked to hone messages for the masses.

      Nothing really about facts/evidence. Just agendas to continually divide us through the use of social engineering.

    3. David

      Consider the now universal use of the word “phobia” to describe dislike of certain groups, or remarks which might conceivably cause members of some of those groups to feel unhappy. A “phobia” is a clinical condition of irrational fear (eg of confined spaces) which can be diagnosed and treated. So the clear implication is that someone (usually male) who makes a remark characterised as “homophobic” is suffering from a clinical tradition that needs treatment. With a bit of effort, virtually all traditional male behaviour and attitudes can be made to seem “phobic” in some contexts, and so the fact of masculinity itself, quite logically, becomes a condition that needs psychiatric treatment. Think about that for a minute.

      1. hemeantwell

        To me it seems that the main problem with the APA’s pronouncement is that it is once again singling out a specific expression of a general phenomenon and, in the process, losing track of a general principle that most people could get on board with.

        Any state of mind that depends on a demonstration that you are not something should be thought of as problematic because it reveals a sense of vulnerability. It may be that the vulnerability has a strong basis in reality, e.g. “if I look weak I’m going to lose my friends.” If so, the problem locus includes the social, not just the individual. It may be that the vulnerability is more person-based, e.g. the claustrophobic who gets therapy and links it to smothering parenting (which may be socially driven, yep).

        Masculinity proving can quickly become Sisyphean. It’s not just anxiety-evoking, it’s also depressing. There are lots of social drivers — consumerism, demands of bosses, status crap, etc. Next time Gillette does an ad, they should try to draw out how effing tiresome the performance is. It reminds me of Freud’s observation of a little boy throwing a spool tied to a string over the edge of the bed, steadily saying “Fort” when it disappeared and “da!” when it reappeared. He thought of it as the boy trying to manage, through repetition of a symbolized return, his mother leaving him and then coming back. Masculinity performances often have that quality, a repetitive, never to be concluded recovery of something essential. And, yes, having what it takes to have access to a woman seems to often be in play. Alternatively, that can be denied in favor of “winning respect” or whatever from other men. Either way things get pretty neurotic.

        1. Geof

          Any state of mind that depends on a demonstration that you are not something should be thought of as problematic because it reveals a sense of vulnerability. . . . Masculinity proving can quickly become Sisyphean. It’s not just anxiety-evoking, it’s also depressing. There are lots of social drivers — consumerism, demands of bosses, status crap, etc. Next time Gillette does an ad, they should try to draw out how effing tiresome the performance is.

          You gave me a light bulb moment. The obligation to prove what you’re not is exactly what the ad promotes.

          Because you’re absolutely right that proving who you are or are not is Sisyphean. It drives nasty behaviours in men (and women, and probably just about every group). The response should not be to double down and have people prove the opposite: it should be to relax and let them open up and reveal wo they are – or are not, as they choose: expectations that everyone be “authentic” all the time are also oppressive.

          More generally, one of the big problems I see with social justice culture is that it models the behaviours it claims to be against. Do as I say, not as I do. People learn more from example than they do from being lectured. (This is the real reason for nat spanking children: they forget the words, but they remember that violence is an acceptable solution to problems.) We can see opposing factions feeding off each other, each learning the worst tactics of the other and firing them back, from the War on Terror attitudes and tactics (you’re with us or against us, truthiness, accepting torture/rejecting free speech) adopted on by social justice extremists, to the transgressive behaviours of right-wing trolls.

          It’s kind of Mcluhanesque. It’s not the message, it’s the medium: shaming, conformity, ritual, performance, loyalty, exclusion. That’s the “toxic” in toxic masculinity, but through actions, that toxicity is what social justice is teaching.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > you’re absolutely right that proving who you are or are not is Sisyphean

            Yes, the self-licking ice cream cone is an extremely profitable business model.

            > It’s kind of Mcluhanesque. It’s not the message, it’s the medium: shaming, conformity, ritual, performance, loyalty, exclusion. That’s the “toxic” in toxic masculinity, but through actions, that toxicity is what social justice is teaching.

            I agree on all points, especially the performance part. I just saw a Twitter account enact a ritual apology for “fat shaming” in some tweets that were four or five years old. At the same time, we have a (female) torturer at the head of the CIA, and no shaming rituals are being enacted around that (that I have seen). Not even the common or garden “Why have you not spoken out against?!” variety. Perhaps I’m turning into a reactionary old curmudgeon, but I’m starting the focus on the jouissance that is the psychic pay-off for the person doing the calling out, rather than the justice involved. The whole enterprise is striking me as less and less virtuous, and more and more a career path open to talents for the aspirational.

            1. Steve H.

              > shaming, conformity, ritual, performance, loyalty, exclusion

              “Bonding social capital, by creating strong in-group loyalty, may also create strong out-group antagonism”

              The quote is from Putnam’s ‘Bowling Alone.’ He is describing the most important dimension of social capital, bonding v bridging.

              What strikes me is normed gender identity conforms to this dimension, with females having stronger bonds and men bridging. See ‘Mean Girls.’

              It’s tempting to say this is an attack on men forming strong bonds, but Putnam makes a second point. “Many groups simultaneously bond along some social dimensions and bridge across others. The black church, for example, brings together people of the same race and religion across class lines.”

              So the applied aspect is likely to attach to particular groups, and which groups will be very interesting. A gender war can appeal to a centrist manipulator like HRC but paints with too broad a brush to be effective. Who goes down first is a big malo clue for who’s getting the bono.

    4. DJG

      Henry Moon Pie:

      What has changed:

      In the early 1960s, only Connecticut and Illinois had decriminalized sexual behavior between consenting adults. So a major change in the last 50 years is decriminalization of homosexual behavior.

      Homosexuality was de-listed from the DSM as a mental illness. (Yet conversion therapy goes on.)

      This is social engineering? What’s the issue?

      1. pjay

        I think one implication is that ‘social identities’ are being co-opted and repurposed by cultural elites in a way that mystifies certain realities of power — like class structure — while creating many artificial points of conflict (“divide and rule”), scapegoating (“white males”), or simply confusion (which further mystifies).

        There is a lot to this argument, as NC commenters have often noted. But I also think your example is important. Let’s not get so carried away with our derision of “identity politics” that we throw away the baby with the bath. This position, too, is easily manipulated, as those on the right have long demonstrated.

        I’d also argue that not all social scientists are charlatans — just the one’s that pretend that they are practicing Newtonian physics. But that may be harder to sell here.

        1. JBird4049

          I remember when hunting for the “homosexuals” and beating the Bejesus out of anyone identified as such was still an acceptable hobby amongst the more… malignant members of the San Francisco Bay Area; I also sort of remember when the when the area was livable by the worker class. Today both are almost unthinkable, but I also think that the good fight for the former was used to cover the death of the latter.

          I really don’t have any good answers except that the atomization of American society along with the increasing hopelessness and poverty will cause us all to come to a bad ending. Demanding respect for others’ identities does not mean much to someone with nothing except a (possibly) malignant identity but is their rock. That may sound melodramatic but it is almost a God given certainty.

    5. ewmayer

      No mention by APA of e.g. Bridezilla syndrome and other ‘diseases’ of the ‘toxic femininity’ variety. Interesting, that.

      And the APA – hey, wasn’t that organization involved up to its proverbial elbows in the Bush administration torture regime? Why, yes it was. We need a name for that kind of hypocrisy … perhaps “toxic pseudoscientism”?

        1. ewmayer

          I said “was” – my point was that given how horrendously bad their judgment has been on major policies in the past, why should we defer to their judgment now? Admitting they were wrong torture doesn’t make them automatically right on anything else, just as the Vatican admitting it was wrong in its persecution of Galileo doesn’t mean we should deem it an authority on less-settled scientific issues.

          1. Plenue

            Your entire argument is a non sequitur. Also, it looks like both APA’s, as a whole, had little say in the involvement of psychologists in the torture. The leadership of both organizations denied involvement, which was a lie. When the issue was finally actually brought to a vote among the actual membership, however, the result was an overwhelming condemnation and prohibition on further involvement.

            Having actually bothered to read the APA’s statement, they are condemning ‘boys will be boys’ excuse making. They explicitly reject any kind of blanket condemnation of masculinity. There’s barely any scientific issues at play here: they’re saying stop giving men a free pass at being douchebags on the grounds that being a douchebag is somehow characteristic of being male, as well as saying to stop discouraging things like display of emotion on the grounds it isn’t ‘manly’.

            The ridiculous hissyfit from legions of manchildren downvoting the Gillette ad perfectly demonstrates the core point of the ad better than any ad itself ever good. Too many men have the temperament of freaking children.

            1. witters

              And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt18:3)

            2. Lambert Strether

              > he leadership of both organizations denied involvement, which was a lie. When the issue was finally actually brought to a vote among the actual membership, however, the result was an overwhelming condemnation and prohibition on further involvement.

              “Further involvement.” Was anyone fired?

              1. JBird4049

                “Further involvement.” Was anyone fired?

                I know you are making a point, which suggests that the rules should apply equally to everyone, right? But here in the glorious American Republic it’s rules for thee, but not for me.

                Ethics, morality, or the law, even competence, apply to us, the little people, but are merely suggestions for the leadership. That reality is ignored by the media for some reason. Funny that.

      1. polecat

        I smell me some intiative, of low integrity, or a parallel off-shoot that then budded-off to promote this very kind of cellular division amongst the plebicites.

        1. Plenue

          And your post reminds me of “the godless commies are trying to steal our precious bodily fluids” insanity. Not everything is part of some coordinated conspiracy. in fact, most things aren’t.

          You might want to start by actually reading what the APA said. Or, you know, you could just keep engaging in straw manning and hyperbole.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Here is a link to the APA report.

            What I immediately note is that the phrase “toxic masculinity” does not appear. I’m not up on the detail of this latest moral panic, but it would appear that press coverage has been hijacked by an identitarian buzzword. And not for the first time!

            UPATE The “APA’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Girls and Women” was issued in 2007, but I can’t find an online version. If anybody has, could they send me a link? Thanks!

    6. Plenue

      If he was peddling Freud and psychoanalysis, I would say he was never as much a man of science as he fancied himself.

      Anyway, the Gillette ad. I have zero problems with it. It’s ultimately just a distillation of the “stop teaching your daughters how not to get raped, instead teach your sons not to rape” philosophy. There’s nothing objectionable in there. It isn’t telling men to not be men. It’s telling men to not be assholes.

      The backlash is entirely predictable. I see this exact thing constantly in the video game sphere. If something makes a social or political message the audience approves of, it’s “owning the lib cucks”. If it’s something they don’t approve of (which is quite a lot of things), suddenly there’s an avalanche of “keep your politics out of my entertainment”.

      Somehow I’m not surprised to see RT misrepresenting what the APA said and gloating over the backlash against the ad.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Bipartisan consensus. Threats to U.S. linked corporate profits are always protected by the bipartisan establishment. As for Trump, he doesn’t care about brown people and probably doesn’t have a clue. This aspect of immigration to the U.S. won’t reach Trump’s orbit.

        Like the GOP and their Benghazi obsession instead of addressing the whole Libyan attack, the GOP loves its own coups and activities and doesn’t want to raise public awareness. Its why the Congress critters don’t trumpet how much they spent on the MIC despite it being a bipartisan success story. Or on the domestic side, they don’t bring up the employers who hire these refugees or the H1B1 abuse, preferring to focus on one aspect, the border removing agency from their donors or potential donors

        1. Oh

          The wall is another way to give away money to the greedy corporations, while conveniently blaming brown people entering the USA instead of focusing on unemployment in the flyover territory. The Dims won’t focus on the real causes either.

          1. RopeADope

            Whenever I want to find out why Trump is doing something I just go read the INET working paper by Thomas Ferguson et al. to find the donor group.

            “Industrial Structure and Party Competition in an Age of
            Hunger Games: Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election”

            In a recent Trump rant I recall him letting the cat out of the bag about how all the steel was good for business.

        2. UserFriendly

          As for Trump, he doesn’t care about brown people and probably doesn’t have a clue. This aspect of immigration to the U.S. won’t reach Trump’s orbit.

          I have specifically tweeted about this to multiple news/media people on the anti-immigration right. Cricketts.

      2. David(1)

        What was her role?

        According to the article you linked, the US didn’t plan or execute the coup. The crime was that the US didn’t cut aid to Honduras.

        “She’s Baldly Lying”: Dana Frank Responds to Hillary Clinton’s Defense of Her Role in Honduras Coup

        …because Section 7008 of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for that year very clearly says that if it’s a coup significantly involving the military, the U.S. has to immediately suspend all aid. So she—they decided to have this interpretation that it was a coup, but not a military coup. So, she, Hillary Clinton—and Obama, for that matter, I want to make clear—in violation of U.S. law, that very clearly said if there’s a coup, they have to cut the military aid and that—all other aid to the country, she violated the law, decided, well, it wasn’t a military coup, when of course it was.

        So the US didn’t cut aid to Honduras and that “destabilized” the country?

          1. David(1)

            Honduran Political Crisis, June 2009-January 2010

            The Honduran National Congress ratified the ouster soon after the military forced Zelaya from the country. The Congress accepted a letter of resignation allegedly signed by the exiled president, which Zelaya immediately declared to be fraudulent. It then passed a decree that disapproved of Zelaya’s conduct for “repeated violations against the Constitution and laws of the Republic and nonobservance of the resolutions and rulings of the judicial organs,” removed Zelaya from office, and named Roberto Micheletti—the President of Congress and the next in line constitutionally—the President of Honduras for the remainder of Zelaya’s term, which ended on January 27, 2010…

            On November 29, 2009, Honduras held general elections to fill nearly 3,000 posts nationwide, including the presidency and all 128 seats in the unicameral National Congress…The PL won just 45 seats in Congress, down from 62 in 2005. A number of analysts have interpreted the vote as a clear rejection of the PL, which Hondurans saw as responsible for the country’s political crisis as a result of Zelaya and Micheletti both belonging to the party. A poll taken prior to the election found that 63% of Hondurans thought the election would help end the country’s political crisis.

            What this has to do with caravans…migrations flows didn’t surge until 2014 (Source).

            1. Massinissa

              You do realize that destabilization has long term consequences, right? Just because it took a few years, doesn’t mean there is no relation.

              1. David(1)

                In a way, that is my point. To point to one event, a coup, and say that this is the reason for the increased immigration from Honduras is a bit…simple. A “coup” which was supported by the legislature, the courts, and, soon after, the electorate. If US regime change efforts are that effective, why is Trump still in office?

                Also, the “blame the US” meme assumes that the population of these countries lack agency. Honduras has had 12 constitutions since 1838 and 26 amendments to the current constitution since 1984 (Source). The country is a mess. IMO, the local oligarchs like it that way.

    1. crittermom

      I couldn’t agree more. Fabulous photo!

      Gotta love Diptherio’s puppies, too. I just wanna hug each one of ’em. Awww…
      (How many in all, Diptherio?)

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Toyota Is Thrilled Ford And GM Are Giving Up On Traditional Cars”

    Thanks for that link Martha r. This is rather ominous this. Heard a long time how American docks were full of small Japanese cars before the oil crisis back in the 1970s in semi-storage. Then, when the price of gas shot up, they went like hot-cakes. If Ford and GM are bailing out of the production of even sedans, what happens down the track if gas prices go up in America? How many people will be in the market for a truck or an SUV when faced with astronomical gas prices? They will probably downsize to something small and economical which means something from overseas. Won’t help the balance of payments that. And Ford & GM? They will be in some serious strife. Maybe they will have their hand out for another bailout. Not sure what will happen then. By rights the Government should say, OK, you will get a bailout. But first you have to sack the incompetent managers that got your companies into such a mess in the first place. And you had better get back in the game with small cars again.

    1. Pat

      I always tell the story my aunt used to tell of how the academics from the school of mines she worked at had predicted the end of the dominance of the American car manufacturers. They warned them repeatedly for years leading up to the oil crisis, that said crisis was almost inevitable. And noted that since people would not be able to afford their cars when gas became too expensive, they should have a small fuel efficient car either in production or ready to go into production. They were either ignored, told they didn’t know what they were talking about, or in a couple of cases almost insulted and told people would never buy those foreign cars.
      Funny how that worked out.

      1. Wukchumni

        The reliability of a 60’s or 70’s car wasn’t that good either, if you got 100k out of it, that’d be as common as a human being a hundred.

        Another factor is that people that buy cars now tend to drive them for much longer than back in the day, thus no churn of product for big auto.

        It wasn’t uncommon to turn in your 2 year old Olds for a new Buick that was distinctly different, as opposed to the jellybeans on the road currently that more or less all look the same.

        1. Synapsid


          A Rambler American turned the corner in front of me yesterday. I still haven’t recovered.

          And it was blue.

    2. Carl

      It’s not technically SUVs that people are buying instead of sedans, it’s CUVs, car-based SUV-like vehicles that are smaller than a traditional truck frame SUV. That’s not to refute your assertions, because of course the US public reacts to cheap gas by buying large vehicles, which has happened time and time again. Then when the price of fuel shoots up, SUVs get shunned again.

    3. Lemmy Caution

      There’s not always that much difference in mpg between sedans and SUVs.

      For example, a 2018 Toyota Avalon V6 auto gets 24 combined miles per gallon, while a 2018 Toyota Highlander V6 auto gets 22 combined mpg. According to, the annual difference in fuel cost is $100.

      So what does the Avalon buyer get for an extra $8 in fuel cost per month? More flexibility to accomodate cargo and people, a higher seating position and all-wheel drive.

      1. a different chris

        Yeah but the real-world mpg seems to skew much higher than that. But I can’t defend that with anything but anecdote, so take it for what it’s worth.

      2. Robert Valiant

        From a “green” perspective, simply choosing your Avalon over your Highlander nets a 9% decrease in emissions. Low hanging fruit?

      3. PlutoniumKun

        I’m a bit sceptical about some of the quoted figures, I think the car companies are under a lot of pressure to ‘demonstrate’ that the CUVs (basically, small cars on steriods) are not much worse than sedans, etc.

        I don’t own a car, but I hire very frequently for work, so I get to try lots of different types. My hire company mostly uses German cars from the VW group, and a huge number of these are variations on the same basic chassis and engine (for example, the Golf and Tiguan are nearly identical internally). I find the difference in fuel consumption very noticeable, especially with fast highway driving (maybe because of the aerodynamic difference), although not so much if its urban and mountain (perhaps because weight matters more with this). I’ve driven Audi A5’s which used significantly less fuel than small mid sized CUV’s from the VW group (they all use more or less the same components).

        So in my view if you do a lot of fairly high speed cruising driving, you are spending a lot more on fuel for the funky oversized body.

        I have to say I also think that the extra size and practicality of the CUV is as much about perception as reality. I usually load up my mountain bike in the back when I can (don’t tell my hire company), and I find it as easy to get it into the back of a Golf or similar hatchback as superficially much larger CUV/SUV type cars. I think the higher axle height and bulked out body curves is intended to give a perception of size that isn’t always reflected in the interiors.

    4. cnchal

      GM and Ford have nothing to worry about.

      If you can look a late model Toyota, Lexus or Honda in the grill and not throw up in your mouth, you are a hero. It is no wonder that car sales suck.

      @ Carl

      You are right about the CUV name for what is actually a tall car. I see lots of elderly people in them and the reason they like them is ease of getting in and out compared to a car and the higher seating position has it’s advantages when driving in dense traffic and negotiating parking lots.

      1. Craig H.

        Is a modern CUV any taller than an average sedan was before, say, 1955?

        I don’t believe my Subaru Forester is taller than this ’39 LaSalle although the woman standing next to it might be short.

        The four wheel drive on my [whatever-it’s-supposed-to-be-called] works swell.

        1. Carolinian

          The diff is that in 1939 nobody cared about aerodynamics except as an Art Deco styling point. Those crossovers get worse mileage (4 mpg on average) from shoving the higher profile through the air. Elsewhere in NC today there’s talk about the green new deal but American car buyers don’t seem to be showing much concern about AGW except insofar as it affects them when paying for gas. Where I live gas was recently $1.65 per gallon.

          1. Robert Valiant

            Another difference is that the floor on the LaSalle sits on top of the frame, like nearly every car of the era. Had to wait for the post war Hudsons, and “Step Down” styling before roof lines were lowered.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        If you’ve ever taken apart a first generation VW Bug, you’ll notice that it is a piece of junk – but a piece of junk that is so incredibly logically constructed that it could foreseeably be kept on the road for as long as someone keeps making replacement parts – and if gasoline continues to be available to fill the (under the hood) tank.

        1. Carolinian

          I owned one long ago. The heater never worked and it wasn’t exactly a sports car but they do last (not for me).

          1. Wukchumni

            A couple years ago i’m forcing go juice into my jalopy and what drives up on the other side of the pumps, but a minty tan colored VW in absolutely perfect condition, and i’m smitten by something that would’ve been commonplace in 1971, when it was built.

            I walk over and ask the owner about it, and she tells me she bought it for $3,500 from a proverbial little old lady that drove it a total of 36,000+ miles

            It was a real Sleeper moment, ha!

              1. ambrit

                The drill in “importing” those Mexican VWs was to pry the VIN plate off of an older VW in the junkyard and ‘attach’ it to your import model. Most of the time, that worked since most cars in the junkyard back then weren’t wrecked bad enough for the insurance companies to report them as “deceased.” If the local tag office tells you that your VW was ‘inactive’ for some time, spin them a tale about ‘refurbishing’ it in your garage.

          2. polecat

            I drove mine to Marrrrs and back … more than once mind you … when I was a youngin. Elon’s got nothin on me !

            Valves were adjusted, and the livin was easy cheap ..

        2. turtle

          No kidding. It’s amazing to realize that the whole body of the car can be easily replaced. As far as I know, just disconnect a few things, lift it and off you go with a body separate from the entire chassis and drivetrain (engine, transmission, suspension, axle, wheels, etc). I watched this being done one. Just one person on each corner of the car and up you go. This is why they were so popular for buggies, replicas, and other conversions. Very cool car.

        1. Wukchumni

          They used to have these fly and drive programs on buying cars in Europe and driving on vacation for awhile while there, and my aunt’s family does that and has a marvelous 6 weeks holiday with a VW bug, flies back to Calgary and go to meet it in Vancouver where a ship brought it from Germany for them. They drive a few miles from the port, the thing catches fire and is a total loss, nobody got hurt though.

          1. LifelongLib

            My parents did that with a 1955 bug and a 1970 microbus. Both lasted 30+ years. The bug had the battery under the rear seat, and once when a heavy friend was riding with us the battery shorted out. The car filled with smoke as I pulled to the curb and tried not to panic. Luckily no fire, just some charring under the seat. We switched places and drove home.

    5. KPC

      Not vaguely mysterious.
      GM cannot fund its pension plan and that is hardly news. That was known long long ago.
      So, I would think the PBGC is in line…finally.
      GM Europe (Opal and Vauxhall) are now the hands of Peugeot.
      If you would look around, we need far far fewer cars so I would think there is consolidation of the market place.
      I think the USA car companies lost it the last and final time in the 1970s, if I recall correctly?
      So, I believe China has some new tech like in NIO? Google is your friend that likely will be imported into USA… . And if ya cannot make it, ya hafta pay for it… and not with printed money… .
      If I get it correctly, I think your current president has a pretty good grasp of these principles whether or not I happen to like the man… .
      Same gig with the computer tech…China did NOT steal the tech, they bought it.

    6. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t own a car but if I did my choice would be a smallish older car with few telematics. I really love the Smart cars but they are so tiny as to be impractical.

  4. Pat

    Leapt ahead to the antidote to confirm my hope. It is a Freya puppies update. Yeah!!!

    And gotta agree with their human Diptherio, they are even cuter than the last update. Adorable.

  5. notabanker

    Stowaway bird: Mynah’s are prolific in Singapore. They can be trained to speak in captivity and are generally friendly to humans. We had them in our courtyard and I would talk to them frequently. They would give quizzical looks back and respond with their calls. Fantastic little birds.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “A nation ‘bored of Brexit’ risks sleepwalking into disaster”

    I wouldn’t be too hard on the Brits. The past two years there has been nothing but confusion and double-talk on the part of the Government. It is like they are trying to muddle through Brexit. It is no wonder that they are tuning out. Meanwhile, in another quantum reality, as soon as Brexit was voted, the Government immediately started making decisions and formulated detailed plans in consultation with local authorities. The input from all British industries was also sought and unemployment went down as the Government recruited staff to deal with the consequences of Brexit. Specifically, the Government engaged with the British people themselves and enlisted their thoughts and ideas. But as I said, this was in another quantum reality.

  7. Wukchumni

    Any word on beverages served in the White House to the Clemson tide?

    …and yes, i’m thinking specifically in regards to Brawndo

    1. petal

      The thirst mutilator! It’s got electrolytes! I wonder if they water the White House plants with it. Anyone checked their growth lately?

      1. polecat

        You talkin about the white haus vegie garden ?? Maybe someone can text the pres .. suggesting that he have installed a golden pitchfork sculpture in what is in all likelihood now fallow ‘land’.

    2. Carolinian

      WASHINGTON (AP) — The scent of burgers, fries, and victory wafted through the stately White House on Monday as President Donald Trump saluted college football’s Clemson Tigers for winning the national championship.

      Trump said he even paid for their meal of “American fast food” because of the partial government shutdown. He did not disclose the tab.

      And it’s the Clemson Tigers. I know that because several neighbors are sporting blow up Tiger mascots on their lawns.

    3. tegnost

      not sure about the drink choices, but…
      “I had a choice, do we have no food for you because we have a shutdown or do we give you some little quick salads that the first lady will make along with the second lady, they’ll make some salads,” Trump said. “And I said you guys aren’t into salads.”

      1. Carolinian

        “The second lady”–LOL. Remember when Trump and family were on 60 Minutes after the election and Ivanka said she would of course be staying in NY to run the real estate business? Good times.

  8. David

    Further to today’s excellent set of Brexit links, can I suggest that non-UK (and non-European) readers pay attention over the next week or so, at least? You’re about to see the unfolding of a political crisis the like of which happens in the Western world once a generation, if that. The combination of an essentially insoluble problem, an incompetent government, an enfeebled civil service, a bitterly divided political system, and government by convention and precedent rather than constitution, has produced a situation in which almost any outcome, including the most extreme, is possible. The effects on the British political system (and whether, indeed, it survives at all) are the real issue here, not Brexit, no matter how important that objectively is. Whilst I think the “sleepwalking” idea from the Grauniad is overstated, a more dangerous, related, worry is that Britain has had hundreds of years of political stability, and people assume that such stability (itself preceded by violence and revolution) will just go on forever. It may, but it also might not. And whereas in France, Spain or Germany, say, violent changes of political system are understood and lived with, that’s not the case in Britain. So watch this space.

    1. flora

      Somewhat related to ‘boredom over Brexit’: it is the banality of the evil of neoliberalism that is its most destructive aspect, imo.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      You could well be right about this. It really is very close to the endgame as far as Parliament is concerned. Its complete gridlock and there are no mechanisms whatever that I can see to solve it. Britain will crash out without the ability to organise mitigation and no functioning government. When Belgium had a political crisis like this a few years ago, at least it had a fully functional public service that kept things moving. May is unable to rule. If she resigns and goes, its impossible to see the Tories agreeing on a new PM and getting 100% behind him/her. And the signs are than an election will produce an even more unstable parliament.

      I seriously have no idea how this can turn out. As you say, the most deeply worrying thing is that so many in the UK have a cosy assumption that no matter how bad things get, somehow, things will muddle through. They’ve never experienced a genuine collapse unlike many continental countries.

    3. tegnost

      Thanks for the tip to pay more attention in the upcoming days, and many thanks to all the european commenters for their manifold insights. As it has long since seemed the case, I’ll highlight this one line which seems to appropriately capture the scene…
      a more dangerous, related, worry is that Britain has had hundreds of years of political stability, and people assume that such stability (itself preceded by violence and revolution) will just go on forever.

      1. Joey

        From Alistair Horne’s The Price of Glory:
        “[France’s overconfidence in fortification after Verdun] is not without its parallel in today’s Micawberish Briton, who secretly reassures himself that, because of the Battle of Britain in 1940, there is bound to be another miracle somewhere round the corner that will save Britain from economic disaster, without any undue personal effort on his part.”

      1. Anonymous2

        By a huge margin 432 to 202. Worse than even the worst projections.

        Read David’s excellent comments above for a sense of where this leaves the UK. In the most almighty mess.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        And by a whopping 230 majority. Thats crushing – I think May thought if it could be held to 100 or so she might force it through on a second go.

        She may have to resign now. Even more chaos.

        1. vlade

          If May resigns, that will increase the odds of no-deal Brexit a lot. Tories will tear themselves apart, and Corbyn will not support any government that will not promise immediate GE – which Tories will be too busy to fight amongst themselves to pay attention to (and which is unlikely to solve anything anyways IMO – even if Corbyn wins, so what for the UK – except if Corbyn wants to preside over disaster-socialism attempt. Which IMO would be likely a disaster for socialist cause for years to come)

          In theory, the parliament could create a transitional “national unity government”, that would ask for A50 delay, and table partial revocation of leaving-the-eu act (to remove the hard-coded date). But again, what then? Corbyn wants GE, so Labour’s support (short of massive uprising of Labour’s MPs – which TBH, is not entirely impossible, as Corbyn is more and more at odds with Labour membership, including some Momentum people) would be based on that – see above.

          Chaos ensues.

        2. David

          I have a horrible feeling that May will try to turn this to her advantage. Rather than resigning she will go back to Europe and say “look, I told you. See what you made me do. I need a better deal”. I think she is sufficiently unbalanced to do that.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Tony Connolly on RTE news just said that privately the Irish government and EU are happy it was such a big defeat. If it was narrow, this would put the pressure on over the backstop. as its so large, there is clearly no point to agree to any concessions.

            I think they’ll shrug their shoulders and grant a few months extension, but there is obviously no way they will renegotiate anything significant.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            She has 21 days. She can ignore the motions that Bercow allowed that call for a plan in 3 days, So yes, the poor EU Council members have another round of May getting in their faces.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Could be worse. It could be a Prime Minister Boris Johnson getting in their faces. That could happen yet.

            2. vlade

              She said she would have a statement on Monday even though as you say, the motion passed was not legally binding.

      3. David

        By a majority of 230. Worse than the most pessimistic predictions I have seen. Catastrophe. Corbyn has already put down a no-confidence motion. Tusk has suggested delaying Art 50 timetable.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. proposes to allow drone operation at night, over people”

    Hardly ever see these things where I live so a question. Are these things noisy or quite as they go overhead? If noisy, they may fall afoul of noise reduction laws – especially of a night. If quiet, then not a problem.

      1. polecat

        Until one (or more Terminator droids) lands on your roof …

        .. my imagination runs pretty wild these days … not hard to do considering all the ill-conceived technologies being developed.

      2. LifelongLib

        At night a few weeks ago I saw a pair of lights in the sky, red and green like a conventional aircraft but they weren’t moving. Then they moved and I heard the electric motor sound a drone makes. It dropped out of sight quickly and I haven’t seen anything like it since.

  10. Wukchumni

    GOP leaders strip Steve King of committee assignments The Hill

    It’s official then, crass is no longer King, as currency.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      If he’s guilty, then he’s incredibly stupid – the risks of bringing any quantity of drugs into China are enormous. Apart from anything else, it would be much easier to get the materials to make meth in China rather than import it (in China, the vast majority of illegal products, from fake Rolex’s to synthetic drugs are made my semi-literate peasants in villages who invariably have no idea what they are making – the ringleaders keep far away from the product itself).

      But from my understanding, the Canadians are signalling strongly that they think he is either innocent, or has not had a fair trial, and this is a blatent retaliation for the Hauwai arrest.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Most of us don’t know, but the timing is a reminder to be open about many possibilities.

          1. Wukchumni

            Unfortunate cookie saying:

            “Most of us don’t know, but the timing is a reminder to be open about many possibilities.”

            Unlucky number: 0

              1. polecat

                It depends what you mean by ‘food’ ..

                There are some things the Chinese consume that I might find rather questionably .. uh .. edible.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  You get that food-or-not competition from fast food places in general.

                  So, to exceptionize itself, we have thse (from Wikipedia, Manchu Han Imperial Banquet) among other tasty dishes:

                  Snowy Palm – bear claw with sturgeon[1]
                  Golden Eyes and Burning Brain – bean curd simmered in chicken, duck and cuckoo brains
                  Monkey King and Shark – goat brain
                  Monkey brain
                  Egg tart
                  Wensi Tofu
                  Dezhou braised chicken
                  Peking duck
                  Shark fin soup
                  Edible bird’s nest
                  Dried Sea Cucumbers

                  And when it is offered by the emperor, you can’t just refuse.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I personally know someone caught with meth who had the amount they found on him increased to dealing levels in the evidence room. They just changed the #s by 10X. And even then it was under a pound.

      So he might have been that stupid, but I’ve never even heard of meth trafficking in that amount. How do you get 500 lbs in absent a container??? From what I can see, 50 lbs a cycle is the highest you see out of a fab, and the US is the biggest source, although there are also fabs in SE Asia.

      So the # is so large as to strain credulity. He’d still be plenty guilty, I imagine, if he was trafficking 10 lbs.

  11. Carolinian

    Good Taibbi on “Bulwark”

    So, longtime Democratic Party advisers are once again triangulating against their party’s own progressive wing, which was the core strategy of the original “Third Way” Democrats in the early Nineties. Party leaders now want to kick out populist, antiwar liberals in the same way Frum once wanted to excommunicate antiwar conservatives.

    This overlaps nicely with neocons’ efforts to stake out the same turf between Trump and Sanders.

    This is becoming a little like watching two people pretending not to be attracted to one another even though everyone knows they make each other horny. I’d say the Bulwark neocons and their Democratic allies need to get a room, except they already have MSNBC (as noted by recently resigned reporter William Arkin, who complained the network had become a forum for a “single war party”).

    Uh, right on. Clearly “war and peace Tulsi needs to be expelled from the Dems sooner rather than later. Being a girl she lacks sufficient amounts of that toxic (fake) masculinity so exemplified by Kristol and the other laptop bombardiers. The Gillette ad wasn’t wrong, it just had the wrong targets.

  12. diptherio

    U.S. Now Says All Online Gambling Illegal, Not Just Sports Bets Bloomberg

    So I guess day-trading is out….right?

    1. KPC

      Bingo. And I so hope…365 sells of some client every year that have to be reported on the tax return… . And then would whine about the bill – the investment advisor was Citi.

  13. diptherio

    That Sheldon Adelson sure does believe in the free market! [/sarc]

    A coalition backed by billionaire casino executive Sheldon Adelson lobbied the Justice Department in 2017 to reconsider its 2011 decision that cleared the way for states to allow online gambling.

    Competition?!? Nooooo!

    Not that I’m a fan of gambling (I know more than one person seriously addicted), but this is just too funny coming from Adelson.

    1. a different chris

      I’m not even bothering to go to the link but he’s POTUS. The most powerful man – especially if he homies up to the CIA/FBI/DOD like Obama and everybody else – in the most powerful country in the world.

      If I was Putin and actually had something on him, I would be shaking in my boots. I wouldn’t be able to poop. I would find a million ways to re-assure him that “what happened in Moscow stays in Moscow”. I would not view it as a cudgel or an advantage but something I wish I had never even heard about.

      And, on top of that, there is the whole Underware Gnomes thing going on.
      1) Have dirt on Trump!
      2) ???
      3) Russia rules the world!

      Putin knows that there is no conceivable working #2 regardless of the truth of #1.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Ivanka Trump to Help Select Nominee for World Bank President”

    Reading her Wikipedia entry does not give one full confidence on her capabilities. It almost sounds like that she started at the top – and worked her way up from there. I guess that she is there to keep an eye on her father’s wishes and to make sure that there is no end-run around Trump to give him a candidate that he does not want. Thing is, his choice will probably be someone that will try to wreck the World Bank from the inside. Not saying that is a completely bad thing but still, it will likely be chaotic for a very long time to come as far as the World Bank and its international work is concerned. As they say in Star Wars – “I have a bad feeling about this”

    1. nippersdad

      I have been surprised at how little stir the idea of nepotism in the United States Presidency has had. It is so very third world dictatoresque that the blithe acceptance of it seems discordant to me.

      1. Craig H.

        It may have begun with John Quincy Adams. If it had been nipped in the bud we would have been spared two Bushes and the narrow escape of a second Clinton. Three Bushes if Jeb-Florida counts.

        In the multinational corp I used to work for nepotism was like kryptonite. People told their kids “don’t even interview here.”

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Shrub, Jeb!, and HRC make this difficult argument for the nominal left and the GOP in a country of 275 to 300+ million depending on the year. Gore and the Kennedys too for that matter.

        HRC accomplished little as Senator and based her first run on that, and her second run she tended to ignore SoS record. Since 1948, much of State’s old responsibilities fall under other cabinet positions. Without having lived with Bill in the White House, what was her point? Its the source of her celebrity and name recognition, so I would classify it as nepotism. The debate about nepotism was basically ceded by Team Blue in 2000 anyway.

        What are Trump’s other options? Alan Greenspan would be the bipartisan wet dream, but can Ivanka do worse?

        1. nippersdad

          You certainly have a point about Bobby Kennedy in his brother’s admin and Hillary wrt her Husband, but are those examples as outrageous as unofficially using your daughters and son-in-laws for jobs that they are patently unfit for? The Gores, Bushs and Adams (AFAIK) were sequential and had some rationale for their being there, here we have the whole family in on it at the same time!

          Understandably, Hillary famously didn’t want to bake cookies and her background showed it. Can one say the same for Ivanka? Maybe I just don’t know enough about her.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Is Ivanka independent and what is her role? Phones exist, so it’s not like she’s on her own. Caesar’s wife is a PR aspect, a good one but still public relations. Ivanka might be fit for this in theory as a representative of the President. Who can better serve his wishes?

            The opportunity to make hay was missed and put aside by too many to be brought up. Trump’s large sons are obvious clods, but here we are. This is why we need a second party not composed of inbred personalities and loyalty cults.

      3. WJ

        The discussion of nepotism imo would quickly lead to discussion of oligarchy which is why the former is never critically explored by corporate press and punditry.

        1. Craig H.

          The mafia is also very big on nepotism and probably for many of the same reasons. I am very cynical.

  15. cm

    The Navy Times article is a must read. I’m sure there’s celebrations in the Chinese & Russian navies right now:

    A scathing internal Navy probe into the 2017 collision that drowned seven sailors on the guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald details a far longer list of problems plaguing the vessel, its crew and superior commands than the service has publicly admitted.

    Obtained by Navy Times, the “dual-purpose investigation” was overseen by Rear Adm. Brian Fort and submitted 41 days after the June 17, 2017, tragedy.

    It was kept secret from the public in part because it was designed to prep the Navy for potential lawsuits in the aftermath of the accident.

    Unsparingly, Fort and his team of investigators outlined critical lapses by bridge watchstanders on the night of the collision with the Philippine-flagged container vessel ACX Crystal in a bustling maritime corridor off the coast of Japan.

    Their report documents the routine, almost casual, violations of standing orders on a Fitz bridge that often lacked skippers and executive officers, even during potentially dangerous voyages at night through busy waterways.

    1. thepanzer

      I doubt there’s much celebrating. Especially for Navy components in other countries. More likely “for the grace of God go I” and sympathy, plus lessons learned to be applied to their own ops. Drowning in the darkness isn’t something a sailor wishes on another sailor.

      Our elites have no clue what reality is, much less the personal carnage they cause, sans a draft that puts billionare’s kids at risk of drowning in the dark. Until then they don’t have to care.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The psychopaths who become billionaires see their kids as commodities. A paraplegic cared for by a staff or empty chair would just be one more asset. The draft didn’t stop Korea or Vietnam.

        1. thepanzer

          Valid point, sociopaths gotta sociopath. Perhaps a billioniare battalion shipped to the front lines? One dreams.

      2. David J.

        Drowning in the darkness isn’t something a sailor wishes on another sailor.


        This happened 42 years ago; by the time all the bodies were recovered the death toll was 49. I was on another ship in that squadron. Naturally, we were shocked to the core. As a classic example of reactive “after the horse got out of the barn” remedies, thereafter everyone riding a liberty boat had to wear a life-jacket, rather than just leave them in a pile in a corner. Was life-jacket wearing a rule that existed prior to the accident? I honesty don’t know; I do know that in the aftermath of that tragedy no one complained about putting on a grimy flotation device over their clean civvies.

        The appalling aspect of the Fitzgerald accident is the entire chain of corner-cutting which borders on malfeasance. No refresher training coming out of dry-dock? And, from the second article quoted above, it sounds like ongoing training was grossly neglected, too. Also, did they not set “sea and anchor detail” for transiting a busy waterway? That was pretty standard in my time and was composed of a crew which included not only well-trained sailors for various watch duties, but also, by its very nature, an acknowledgement of the importance of the challenges of that particular moment in driving a ship.

        I’m both sad and angry about this. Sad because I’m reminded of the distant past; angry because a series of really bad decisions led, almost inexorably, to the result it did. And I view this as an horrific example of what really ails our society in so many ways–a desire to cut corners, quite often as a cost-cutting move, in order to “maximize efficiency.” The failure to build in a proper “cost of operations” wherein paying for the absolute need for training, etc… is one of the banes of our time.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Found another link from that story about the state of the ship’s gear. Between that and the state of the crew, that ship should never have left port but should have had a complete equipment overhaul while the crew updated their training and qualifications. I blame the temp of operations that keeps piling on tasks for these ships to fulfill without referencing their actual status. Can’t be just the Navy. You must have Army & Marine battalions and Air Force squadrons being run into the ground with all that they are expected to do. Here is that link by the way-

  16. Summer

    Re: Gillette

    If there is toxic masculinity, surely there has to be toxic femininity.
    The concepts of masculinity and femininity were developed together. If one is toxic what does that say about the other?

    1. Eclair

      Yes, Summer! It is the ‘helpless,’ manipulative blonde, with cosmetically altered lips, perky nose, and huge breasts; tummy-tucked and face-lifted and shaved into hundreds of generic Barbie-doll simulacrums of a woman.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps that explains why men deserve women, and vice verse – that is, fighting fire with fire.

      In the coming Chinese world order, it will also be known as ‘curing poison by using poison.’

      See this from Quora:

      Does the Chinese prescription of using poison to cure poison (以毒攻毒) really work in reality or is it just fairy tale?
      5 Answers
      Meichia Wang
      Meichia Wang, studied Traditional Chinese Medicine
      Answered Oct 4, 2018
      Yes, it works and we use this concept in modern medicine as well.

      First, know that “poison” in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) isn’t limited to substances that can cause illness or death (ie. snake venom, heavy metals, etc), but may also mean an excess accumulation of something to make us sick (ie. stagnant blood creating “toxins”, toxic accumulations that cause purulent/oozing skin conditions or dysentery, etc.). Meaning that the TCM definition of poison is different from WM (Western Medicine).

      Next, let’s talk about amount and dosage. Almost anything to an incorrect dosage will become a poison/toxin. You can be poisoned by oxygen or water. Almonds (and many seeds and nuts) contain cyanide, and depending on the variety (bitter, sweet, wild), the amount of cyanide will vary. But you won’t hear of an almond poisoning, and the chances that you’ll become poisoned by almonds are slim to none because the amount they carry is insignificant. But what if the cyanide in almonds contribute to their medicinal properties according to TCM? Who’s to say it can’t be a factor? And just because a substance has the potential to be “poisonous” (ie. water), doesn’t mean we can’t use it.

      Dosage is vital when it comes to herbal rememdies, esp toxic herbs. It can render the ingredient useless or make it “poisonous” (have side effects) even if it isn’t inherently a toxic ingredient. Essentially, for toxic ingredients (herbs, insects/animals, and metals), we’re seeking it’s toxic effect to use medicinally. Ie, mint: the pungent properties that makes mint…well, minty, is the plant’s natural defense mechanism. But that’s what we seek when we ingest mint for medicinal purposes. Many times overdose and abuse of a plant happens due to poor understanding of how herbal medicine works, and you’ll get instances of things like the banning of ephedra (ma huang) when people OD, nicotine/opium addiction, etc.

      So now let’s understand how to use herbs and “poisons” to our advantage. Let’s forget about herbal formulas (which are typically well-rounded and balanced to counteract side-effects), stick to single herbs, and use the WM understanding of poison to try and keep things simple. If one gets a snake bite or stung by a bee, wasp, scorpion, or centipede, the single herb of choice would be Ban Bian Lian (Chinese Lobelia), which can/should be used internally and externally. Lobelia is considered a toxic plant due to the alkaloid lobeline, and when taken in excessive amounts will cause poisoning. Yet we use it for it’s effect to clear hot, painful, red, swellings, induce urination, and treat venom/toxins. Is it bc of it’s poisonous component? It’s possible; I can’t tell you 100%. But this is just one example. There are also instances where herbs/formulas are used to treat poison that aren’t inherently poisonous, but can be toxic to excess amounts.

      I hope this makes some sense to you.

    1. Hepativore

      The problem with Tulsi Gabbard is that her ambiguous stance on torture in a “ticking time bomb” scenario raises several red flags. I think that Sanders would be the better choice, but I do not know whom he would choose as a running mate.

      My problem with Sanders is that he preemptively apologized in the face of unwarranted allegations of sexual harassment in his campaign team leveled at him by the New York Times. Because of this, he has just given pundits and his political opponents more ammunition to attack him with as they are going to use his response to the New York Times smear as an admission of guilt.

      Bernie Sanders better learn fast that he should not feel the trolls.

    2. Summer

      A lot of candidates make sense if you believe in the notion that there are such things as “good wars” vs “bad wars.” Or “stupid wars” vs “smart wars.”

      Haven’t seen one war that “solved” anything.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      It’s true, and the usual suspects are already going after her for (a) her anti-LGBTQ stance of 14 years ago, because her support of all LGBTQ rights legislation since then is meaningless and nobody ever changes their position on something in 14 years; and (b) her apparent close relationship with right-wing Hindu organizations, from whom she has received large donations. Right now, the latter seems more problematic than the former.

      I do wonder, though, if the Democrat establishment is developing a female version of the sexual-harassment stuff they’re throwing at Bernie and anyone else deemed unacceptable. Frankly, as a survivor, I’m thoroughly disgusted with the way they’ve co-opted MeToo for use as a political bludgeon, but I’m apparently in the minority.

  17. flora

    re: New CalPERS Board Member Has Serious Concerns About Private Equity Plan – Chief Investment Officer

    Very good. First Brown and now Perez. One step at a time.

  18. cripes

    Has it occurred to anyone that Trumps build-the-wall-government-shutdown is a perfect opportunity to put the “disaster” into government services, disrupting basic functions, putting workers at risk of default and debt, delegitimatizing the commons and sucking up all the air in the room for pressing problems that need policy solutions?

    The Wall is a nothing-burger that he forgot about until Rush Limbaugh et al reminded him. Even if Trump is clueless, there are plenty of others ready to take advantage of this phony crisis to accelerate the tear-down of the commons, whether from ideological convictions or political expediency.

    As much as I sympathize with the plight of federal workers, many of whom aren’t highly paid, it’s both patronizing to them and insulting to the chronically poor to put them at the front of the line for charity services, coaching them to hold garage sales and baby-sitting, etc. Local charities are rushing about to offer them everything from cash assistance, utilities and food pantries with only proof of federal employment, while the destitute and homeless have to produce reams of “qualifying” documents and wait and wait…

    Why aren’t state unemployment benefits being offered to them like anyone else severed from their paychecks? When they receive backpay after the shutdown ends, the state could claw back payments like they normally do in similar circumstances. Isn’t that the purpose of unemployment insurance?

    I’ll bet the MIC, congress and all the elite government satrapys aren’t missing any meals, or paychecks.

  19. chuck roast

    So, if the calculator on my flip-phone works correctly, it tells me that
    the starting pay for a TSA person is approximately $25,000 / 52 / 40 = $12 an hour. I’ll look at those poor schlubs a little differently now.

    If my old-man were still alive he would say, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!”

    1. Olga

      I try to be nice to those guys (and gals), since it’s clear those are hard, entry-level jobs. They’ve mostly been nice back.

    2. anon

      When those poor schlubs stop sticking their nitrile gloved hands down my pants because I was “randomly chosen”, I’ll start feeling sorry for them.

      1. nippersdad

        In light of this:

        Maybe it is time for more of this:

        The times they are a changing. I have to say, I haven’t been on a plane in years, but when people were doing this I swore that I too would strip in a heartbeat if anyone wanted to stick their hands down my pants. That’s just, y’know, ewwww. The creepy things we are being trained to think of as normal these days.

        “Trained” being the operative word.

  20. coloradoblue

    For a deep and thorough understanding of the rise of Japan’s auto makers (focusing on Nissan) and the decline of the American (focusing on Ford) take a look at David Halberstam’s brilliant The Reckoning.

  21. Jim A.

    Re The TSA and the shutdown.
    The relatively low pay is why the TSA is going to be the breaking point in a protracted shutdown. Although the benefits are better than average these days, it isn’t a good enough job for many people to continue to show up because they will get paid someday. Contrast that with say air traffic controllers, most of whom would have real difficulty making the same amount anywhere else. THEY have more motivation to keep showing up.

  22. cripes

    I’m just shocked, shocked I tell you, that they didn’t hire an outside contractor at 50,000 per worker per year so the workers could get 25,000 per year and no benefits.

    1. katiebird

      I think that’s how it was before 9/11.
      Federalizing and professionalizing the screener workforce

      On 9/11, there were fewer than 20,000 airport screeners, many of them poorly-trained, minimum-wage contract workers who were hired by the airlines. Immediately, they became scapegoats for the attacks, and for the apparent ease with which the hijackers were able to board planes with box-cutters. One of the very first responses from the government was to kick the airlines off the security beat, and to put the government in charge—that’s what gave us the TSA.

  23. Summer
    “A PG&E executive who resigned one day before the California utility company announced it plans to file for bankruptcy is set to receive $2.5m in severance payment.

    PG&E announced CEO Geisha William’s resignation on Sunday night, one day before the company declared its intention to file for bankruptcy by 29 January. Despite the company’s uncertain future, Williams would receive the severance payment as well as her accrued pension benefits, “the same as any employee of the company”, Matt Nauman, a PG&E spokesman, clarified on Monday.”

    Meritocracy: All the merit that you can negotiate through connections.

  24. precariat

    Re: Greenwald’s Intercept article on Trump being investigated

    Greenwald equates FBI’s investigation of Trump with the targeting of
    Henry Wallace. This is wrong. Trump is not Wallace. If the FBI did cross a constitutional line and it should be held accountable for it; but Trump, the so-called business man, has not only refused to give up his corporate activities, but his companies and proxies have dealings with Russia and the Russian state (and Israel and Saudi Arabia and their proxies for that matter). This is corruption and motive for whatever may be “collusion.”

    But apparently this is business as ususal for the Establishment class in New York and Washington, so confronting Trump on corruption would be to attack how they and their patrons, especially, do business. Cue the neo Red Scare and hysterical accusations of treason for failing to adhere to the neoliberal, globalist foreign policy groupthink.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There is zero evidence of Trump doing anything more than exploration of opportunities in Russia that got nowhere. Stop this nonsense.

      1. He officiated at a Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

      2. He formed a legal entity in Russia that has never been used.

      3. He failed around on a possible RE development in Moscow. Never serious. Never acquired any land to do the development. Aaron Mate lambasted the bumbling around of Trump’s ex-con Felix Sater on this one:

      4. Well before the Presidential election. Trump did sell condos to “Russians,” specifically his Soho Millennium project. Every residential real estate developer in Manhattan has sold to Russian investors. In either 2014 or 2015, 70% of all real estate sales in Brooklyn were to Russians. Please tell me how selling real estate to someone (where they give you cash and you part ways after the deal) leads to influence after the fact. Further tell me if any of these buyers had major connections to Putin.

      1. James Graham

        This Republican oldster, having pocketed a few thou by selling American medical products to the Soviet Union, agrees.

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