Links 1/29/19

Dear patient readers,

I am having one of those “I hate technology” days, due to losing about two hours before factoring in the drain of getting stressed. My inbox stopped accepting new e-mails! I reboot, no change in behavior, then call my mail service (yes, I pay people since they also host my antique consulting website, which I keep around since it has an achieve of my pre-2007 articles).

Customer support guy takes about 45 minutes to discover that the not getting mail is due to their side not accepting the handshake from my mail program (Apple’s because they changed their settings so it longer accepts the version of SSL my version of is running. It had kicked in on the inbox and was set to go live pretty shortly on outbound mail.

Oh, and they said they sent a message to all customers 10 days ago. I searched and the last message from them was September 10. Customer support guy looks at my settings and says my account was not set up to get “system messages”. Wellie, I didn’t do that!

Now in theory, I could upgrade, but that would require upgrading my OS, and I have an old program to which I am very attached that will probably not survive the upgrade (my Mac guy is running the same version of the OS I am on most of his machines for precisely the same reason, so this isn’t an unreasonable practice). Mac guy first recommended Google Business, from which I understandably recoiled, and then Mozilla’s Thunderbird, which I looked at for five minutes and got depressed. All I want is a mail client! I don’t want a calendar, or contacts, or chat, or search the web. Even though I don’t have to use it, all this feature bloat clutters up the interface and reduces the screen real estate devoted to mail functions.

The other options are to change my mail program or get a new mail service. But all of those take time and I have no time and also have low tolerance for frustration. I hate learning new software in general and in particular if I am forced to abandon perfectly fine tools that served my needs well. Learning new software is stressful and a tax on my time. If I’m going to learn something, I’d rather it be a language or some period of history I don’t know well, not what amounts to makework to get me back to where I had been. And before you tell me this isn’t a big deal, remember that I am so chronically time stressed that ten minutes is a lot of time for me.

However, this proved to be one of the rare times when complaining got me somewhere. The tech support guy went to bat for me and got his boss to authorize making tweaks so my mail works again. He said he has no idea how long this would continue, so I still need to Do Something, but at least not with a gun to my head.

But I did have a nice development today. Reader JK send me a bottle of Helicidine, as well as some Ricola cough drops. And even though I am largely over my bug, I ams still hacking off and on (something that is normally totally alien to me), so this was very much appreciated.

Lambert here: The “old program” to which Yves is “very attached” is a Rolodex-like program that does not use fielded data. Each Rolodex “card” is a tiny document of free-form text. The user interface is, in essence, a search box that returns the results of a text search on those documents (you can select the full document or just its “title” line). Aside from speed and simplicity, the text-based approach is nice because it’s extremely likely that any malware scanning Yves’ for her address book will be looking for software with fields like “Name.”

Since this Rolodex-like program is simple, effective, fast, secure, and should be cheap, it may not have survived in our current software environment, where software that is crapified with complexity, dysfunction, slowness, lack of security, and high costs has become the norm.

And yet there is hope. Such an application should be dead simple to write. Perhaps it exists, but not in the “Personal Organizer” space, where the fielded data paradigm is dominant. Can readers suggest anything? NOTE I can think of approaches involving the command line, or a local server like MAMP running MySQL, but for Yves’s sake, it really needs to be a normal Mac app. And not EMACS, either.

Trevor the Duck: Niue mourns ‘world’s loneliest duck’ BBC (David L)

U.S. Midwest braces for record-breaking cold blast Reuters

Warming Seas May Increase Frequency of Extreme Storms Jet Propulsion Laboratory (David L)

The Natural Materials That Could Replace Environmentally Harmful Plastics BBC

Preparing for the D-Day of technological change will be vital Financial Times (David L)

Microsoft Project Manager Says Mozilla Should Get Down From Its ‘Philosophical Ivory Tower,’ Cease Firefox Development ZDNet. Hope Mozilla told MSoft to pound sand.

A cure for cancer? Israeli scientists say they think they found one Jerusalem Post (David L)

Extreme weather and geopolitics major drivers of increasing ‘food shocks’ PhysOrg

Tripping Brains Reveal How the Drug Creates the Psychedelic Experience Inverse (David L)


US Accuses Huawei of Stealing Trade Secrets, Defrauding Banks Bloomberg. The T-Mobile suit looks silly, unless the DoJ hopes to use discovery to depose ex Huawei people and document what I gather they allege in the filings, a practice of paying employees for IP theft. That might lead to an amended filing or new suit with more impressive allegations.

Huawei Is Blocked in US, But Its Chips Power Cameras Everywhere Bloomberg

The Chilling Thing Nvidia Just Said about China & Tech Wolf Richter

Inside China’s High-Tech Dystopia YouTube (resilc)

A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhones Won’t Be ‘Assembled in U.S.A.’ New York Times


Rahul Gandhi Scoops Modi on Promise of Minimum Income Guarantee, BJP Hits Out The Wire (J-LS)


From Politico’s morning European newsletter:

COMMONS TAKEOVER. Today’s Brexit debate in the House of Commons is scheduled to last six hours, with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May closing out proceedings before MPs start voting at around 7 p.m. Brussels time. (Charlie Cooper has this guide to watching it like a pro.) And that’s when we leave the realm of the foreseeable.

What’s happening today: Votes on amendments to the government’s Brexit deal may or may not give us a better sense of where to from here. Which amendments will be voted on? That’s for Speaker John Bercow to decide and to communicate today. Which, if any, amendments will the government will back? That, we can help you with.

‘ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION’: Theresa May’s government will whip its MPs to vote in favor of an amendment calling for the Irish backstop to be “replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border.” No. 10 will support the amendment put forward by Chairman of the backbench Conservative 1922 committee Graham Brady, Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis said following a meeting between Theresa May and her MPs Monday afternoon. Charlie has more from London.

No hurry at all: What might this alternative be? “We don’t need to hammer out those details before tomorrow. All we have to do is agree that we will find better, alternative arrangements to ensure there is no hard border [in Ireland],” Brady wrote in the Daily Mail Monday. Surely there’s enough brain power in Brexit Britain to come up with that magical solution within 59 days?

Rock, meet hard place: The problem is that voting the backstop out of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement would put the kibosh on the entire deal with the EU. The real question, as it has been since June 2016, is this: Are MPs aware that their potential to scare the EU to death by walking away from the table is limited?

The second-most-interesting amendment, politically … is the one spearheaded by Brexit softies Labour MP Yvette Cooper and the Conservatives’ Nick Boles. It could effectively put MPs in control of Brexit business and extend the Article 50 negotiation period beyond March 29 — if the government doesn’t have a deal with the EU approved by February 26.

Regular readers know well that May’s backstop gambit is either yet more cakeism after the EU has said, “Time for a diet!” or a nasty little trick to keep No. 10 in control as May runs the clock out. Yvette Cooper wants to tell the EU how long the UK extension will be. Good luck with that, even before getting to Clive, David and other readers underscoring that MPs cannot deal with the EU, only the Government can, and MPs cannot assume the role of the Government, they can only keep tossing them out till they get one they can abide.

Brexit: Theresa May in fresh crisis after anti-EU Tories reject ‘plan B’ to rescue her deal ahead of Commons vote Independent

Brexit: Tories unite to back compromise giving May extra time Guardian (vlade). A new unicorn! Spare me! No way will the EU accept this, Impossible to negotiate a FTA in this time, and the EU won’t take the backstop out of play given that. More fundamentally, the EU has said it is not negotiating the Withdrawal Agreement any more, that the only way for the UK to get a different deal is to drop one of its red lines so that it can occupy a different position on “Barnier’s ladder”. This is not that.

EU BLAST FOR UK ‘LOSERS’ EU negotiator accuses UK of ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’ in Brexit vote — and insists Brussels will not give in on Irish backstop The Sun. As we said…


Fears US could invade Venezuela as ‘5,000 troops to Colombia’ note spotted on John Bolton’s pad and he warns ‘all options on table’ The Sun (resilc)

Sanctions Are Wars Against Peoples Moon of Alabama

Pope fears ‘bloodbath’ in Venezuela Agence France-Presse (resilc)


Report: Saudi Arabia Has Systematically Helped Saudi Felons To Flee The United States Jonathan Turley (Chuck L)

Opinion: Western intervention in Afghanistan is a failure DW

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Japanese Government Will Hack Citizens’ IoT Devices Bruce Schneier

Is Surveillance the Future of Service? Business of Fashion. J-LS: “Scary: note you needn’t sign onto an app, or even have a smartphone, for retailers to monitor you in some of these ways when you enter their stores.”

Google’s Sidewalk Labs Plans to Package and Sell Location Data on Millions of Cellphones Intercept

Online Piracy Can Be Good For Business, Researchers Find Vice

Adversarial AI: Cybersecurity battles are coming ZDNet

Court’s Biometrics Ruling Poses Billion Dollar Risk to Facebook, Google Fortune (David L)

Trump Transition

U.S. Government Seen as Most Corrupt in Seven Years Bloomberg. Quelle surprise! But “in seven years” isn’t saying all that much…..

Acting AG: Mueller probe is ‘close to being completed’ The Hill

A solution to climate change that Democrats (and Republicans) can rally behind The Hill. UserFriendly: “Shoot me.”

The Democrats Are Climate Deniers Jacobin (Anthonly L)

Mean as a Snake’: When President Trump Met the Real Mitch McConnell Politico. UserFriendly:

Seriously it took an in person meet for this author to piece together that McConnell gives zero fucks about anything besides staying in power? If he thought forcing every US citizen to get gay married, and have an abortion would keep him in the majority leaders chair he’d officiate the weddings and perform the abortions himself.

PG&E Files for Bankruptcy Following California Wildfires Wall Street Journal. It appears the Journal broke this story. I don’t see anything yet on Bloomberg or the LA Times site.

Auditing Is Too Important to Be Left to the Auditors! CLS Law and Blue Sky Blog (Adrien)

Just two hacker groups may have stolen $1 billion in cryptocurrency MIT Technology Review

Amtrak’s New York-to-D.C. Fixes Leave Biggest Worries Unresolved Bloomberg (resilc)

Worrying signals from the US housing market Financial Times

Guillotine Watch

Davos 2019: No more heroes for the global elite Financial Times

Why elite philanthro-capitalists do more harm than good

Class Warfare

The Fleecing of Millennials New York Times. Resilc: “Blah blah blah cut medicare and social security. NEVER cut the empire and war machine.”

The Robot Revolution Will Be Worse For Men Recode

Antidote du jour. William B: “Trailcam pic from my niece taken at the Little Wolf River near Iola, Wisconsin.”

And a bonus video. I bet I posted this one before, but I love this bird. If I had a critter that was that enthusiastic about my singing, I’d perform for him every day.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Brexit

    Brexit: Tories unite to back compromise giving May extra time Guardian (vlade). A new unicorn! Spare me! No way will the EU accept this, Impossible to negotiate a FTA in this time, and the EU won’t take the backstop out of play given that. More fundamentally, the EU has said it is not negotiating the Withdrawal Agreement any more, that the only way for the UK to get a different deal is to drop one of its red lines so that it can occupy a different position on “Barnier’s ladder”. This is not that.

    A new article up in the Guardian comprehensively explains why the new ‘compromise’ (i.e. compromise within the Tory Party) proposal will not fly.

    There is considerable excitement in the Conservative party on Tuesday morning. It looks like a deal has been reached on Brexit. There’s just one problem, that, from what we can gather of the so-called “Malthouse compromise”, it stands no chance of being acceptable to the EU.

    The backstop is a firm red line for the commission, and there are numerous reasons why it will not be changed. The EU will demonstrate that its word cannot be trusted if it reverses. It is a guarantee promised to a member state, and to prioritise the interests of a soon-to-be third country over a member state would be devastating to the EU’s credibility. It has consistently rejected the view that technology solutions could replace a border. Finally, the EU does not trust the UK not to backslide from a vague no-border commitment, based on the fact that so many in the UK have downplayed the issue.

    The interim free trade agreement, to be tabled immediately, would not help avoid border checks. Even without tariffs there is no full free trade outside of a customs union, for rules of origin must be checked to ensure the product is eligible for a zero tariff, for example to stop a Chinese product being rebadged and passed off as a UK product. The agreement also envisages UK regulations differing from those in the EU


    And the chances of the EU accepting an interim free trade agreement, drawn up in a matter of days or weeks, are close to zero. The EU typically takes upwards of five years to reach such agreements, in large part to make sure it is a good deal that will benefit the whole economy and has widespread support among member states. The UK would be wise to take the time needed in order to achieve this, not least because sensitive questions, such as which food standards and other regulations we should follow, are bound to be controversial.

    There is a mistaken belief that the prime minister will be strengthened by a unified Conservative party position. However such a position has to be realistic, and one that directly attacks the most fundamental red line of the European commission is not. It is almost as if the commission suggested the UK abandoned its commitment to end freedom of movement. On the contrary, this compromise is likely to infuriate the EU and member states, who will see in it a continued failure of the UK to grapple with the choices brought by Brexit, and a rerun of ideas already rejected.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Something bothers me here. The EU is willing to go to the mat for the backstop, supposedly to protect Ireland’s interests; but if, as a result, there is a hard Brexit, the EU will then insist that Ireland set up a hard border – or perhaps it will set up enforcement provisions BETWEEN Ireland and the other 26 (if I have that count right). There’s a contradiction, at least from Ireland’s point of view.

      As we’ve long since established on here, the hard reality behind the contradiction is that there IS no real solution to the Irish border, within the rules. I still suspect that Brexit will be cancelled, not least because of this problem, to say nothing of the inadequate preparation.

      1. Procopius

        This invites the question, will the EU allow cancelling the exit. Is there a provision in Article 50 for undoing a notification of nullification? We’ve seen that leaving the Union is a difficult, lengthy, and time-consuming process and the costs do not only fall on the party that wants to leave. Aren’t they going to say, “Wait a minute, you are leaving the Union two months from now. You’ve had three years and hundreds of hours of negotiation to decide to cancel this, and we’ve spent thousands of man hours and hundreds of thousands of Euros arguing over details, which you have not done in good faith, and now you expect us to just forget about the whole thing? I don’t think so.” It’s true it would be to the Union’s benefit to do so because a no-deal Brexit is going to cause huge costs in the European Union, too, but either way I think this is going to be very, very bad for the whole damned world.

        1. Oregoncharles

          FWIW, Barnier has said they would accept a reversal. Waiting to the last minute would be piling it on a little thick, though.

          It isn’t just the economic damage to the EU; it’s the precedent. There are quite strong centrifugal tendencies lately.

  2. Mark Alexander

    I am curious about why five minutes with Thunderbird was depressing. I don’t use it myself, but I set it up on Linux for my wife, who was previously using Mail on a 2008-era Mac. It seems to do the job, and has been quite reliable for the last three or so years. I don’t see clutter from extra useless features, but then, I haven’t looked too closely.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Same here. I have been using Thunderbird for more years than I can remember. They did a major update once which left a display panel appear for calendar events to the right but one click later it disappeared. It has a clean interface and I have never – knock on wood – had a problem with it. Might be worth another look sometime.
      I also use Firefox as it is so flexible in the add-ons that make life better on the net so that Microsoft dude can take his opinions and put them where the sun doesn’t shine. I do not know if it occurred to him that if every browser on the net was using the same engine, then that means that the net is only one flaw away from being inaccessible.

      1. Carl

        Oh, MS is still trying to promote their newest version of Internet Explorer (now named Edge, haha), despite being consistently rejected and outflanked by Google, Opera, Firefox. It’s like their odious search engine, Bing, which still staggers around the internet like a zombie, occasionally snaring the unwary or tech illiterate.

      2. Ignacio

        I use Firefox and eM client to manage my hotmail account. eM client works more or less…. Anyway If I open my mail account using Firefox browser, uBlock identifies and blocks 796 applications/solicitations in Outlook. For comparison, in NC only blocks 21 and less that 20 in average spanish sites. The browser warns that there is one page that is making the browser work slowly, it is obviously the MS page. Now I understand why the MS guy hates Firefox.

    2. flora

      Thunderbird on a Mac is fine. The catch is in importing existing Apple Mail address books and email inboxes/folders into Thunderbird. Do-able manually but requires some fiddling.

      Yves or Lambert,
      ” The “old program” to which Yves is “very attached” is a Rolodex-like program that does not use fielded data. ”

      What’s the name of that “old program”?

        1. Lambert Strether

          There seems to be a DMG file.

          Do any readers use this?

          UPDATE Adding, out of curiosity, I downloaded and installed it. It works. It’s pretty neat! This is interesting, especially for an Address Book use case:

          If you enable encryption (Preferences > Notes > Security) you can even store passwords and other sensitive information without giving a second thought to computer forensics laboratories.

      1. Jonhoops

        My guess is S-Book by Simson L. Garfinkle since Yves was originally a NeXT user.

        The source for it is available if someone wanted to try compile it for a more modern version of OSX. It probably broke when they made the jump to 64bit. Since the last version was for OSX 10.4

          1. Keith

            I thought you were talking about iData, a card based database program. Anyway, I’ve also used SBook for a long time till I was forced to upgrade my Mac. I switched first to Little Secrets and then to Codebook because it worked on both Mac OS and iOS. Both programs allowed me to import my notes from SBook.

        1. simon lewis

          Interesting !

          I’ve started trying to compile in Xcode 10.1 on Mojave.

          It is very old code, a mixture of Objective-C and C++, and lots of things have changed since it was originally written so it may take a while !

      2. Cal2

        Re Yves’ letter. Updates are horrible.
        An invisible controlling Moloch that controls your life and over which you have no control unless you have dedicated your life to that technological priesthood.

        Apple’s Walled Garden has its equivalent in
        the Iron Maiden of updates that kills one in different places.

    3. David

      As always, it depends what you want to do. I gave up using Thunderbird for Mac because it wasn’t being updated enough, and was too limited. I have many email accounts and so I needed a way of sorting and filing emails to avoid confusion. Like most people with fairly advanced requirements I used a paid-for program. In my case it was Postbox, which has advanced filtering capabilities, but others have had very good results with Airmail. Neither have calendars or contacts lists. But again, if you have only one account, and use it for one main purpose, then there are other and much simpler alternatives. In most cases, the learning curve is not very steep, and modern email programs will save you a lot of time later. Using Postbox, for example, means that my inbox has hardly anything in it, and that non-essential emails get deleted after a period of time automatically. But again, it depends what you want to do. There’s no email program which suits everyone.

      1. Dawn

        There’s an email discussion on Hackernews this morning (apparently Gmail went down for some people), and at about 8:00a EST, someone asked for suggestions for alternatives. One commenter says Thunderbird is receiving new love, and another describes an Emacs setup that flew straight over my head – maybe you can find an idea here:

      2. Kurt Sperry

        “I gave up using Thunderbird for Mac because it wasn’t being updated enough”

        I doubt I’ll ever complain about a program not “being updated enough” and cannot remember once thinking “I’m sure glad my software updated and changed on me!”. The opposite is what inevitably annoys me.

        1. Oh

          Agree! Most of the updates are for trivial reasons. Apple is famous for that. For example, it wants you to update the OS even if the update applies to iPhone Xr even if you’re using iPhone 7. There’s no way to decline it either.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        I have multiple accounts but I don’t filter. I just search when I need to (which is often). Filtering takes time and isn’t any value added for me.

        1. Oregoncharles

          On Thunderbird, Filter works much better than search, at least if you remember the approximate address. But I’m a dunce with this stuff.

    4. flaesq

      Yves, the Tbird clutter is on by default but it’s easy to ditch by unchecking View / Layout / Folder pane and Layout / the folder, and then View / Today Pane / Show Today Pane. Then you’d only see your inbox and icons for doing things with inbox messages and writing new messages.

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      As I said, it has tons of features I do not want that not only will make routine dealing with it frustrating, but clearly take up real estate in the viewer window, like this calendar garbage. I run on a 13″ laptop. I want as much of my mail client for viewing mail, not other garbage I don’t want.

      Plus I don’t want my mail trying to act like a contact list etc. As indicated, I have a “stupid” contact list so as to impede snooping, plus it’s very simple to enter data and it does what I need done. More integration facilitates snooping and is no value added to me. Bad enough that tTPTB can see my Web browsing.

      1. RMO

        I run a 13″ Macbook too and only use Thunderbird for email… I didn’t even realize it had a Calendar function until you mentioned this and I searched for it – there are no windows or toolbar buttons for it whatsoever in my installation of it. I went to Thunderbird because I want a POP email client and Apple Mail was defeating my every effort to make it work as one. Transferring the address book between Mail and Thunderbird is a pain but other than that I’ve found it easy to use – and it sounds like you don’t want to keep contacts in the email program itself anyways. Bonus: I don’t have to search out a piece of third-party software to keep it from forwarding all attachments inline as I did with Mail.

        If you don’t like Thunderbird and can’t go to a newer OS and Mail when you’re current setup stops working again I think you’re up a certain creek and lacking a paddle. Infuriating but that’s the “joy” of computer technology these days.

    6. H. Alexander Ivey

      I get what Yves is saying. I’ve looked at Thunderbird and that was my first impression too: way too many ‘features’ that I didn’t want. Her comments echo mine. And my desire echo her’s: I just want a mail program, not a everything-and-the-kitchen-sink program.

      And due to her inspirational declaration about not upgrading her hardware, I’ve taken precautions about how I too can maintain a stable, strong, and efficient for me, digital work space.

  3. Gary

    For a personal organizer, I’ve been using Evernote that way. It’s really flexible, so I can use it as a free-form database. No training to use required.

    1. Thomas Jennings

      Evernote is awful. Bloated and unreliable with lots of “features” that do not fit her use case.

      Notational Velocity, nvalt, Simplenote or Standard Notes would probably all work for Yves needs.

      These all function as simple note taking apps with a full text search and dead simple user interface. They are basically a big free form text box with a “table of contents” that lists all of your notes. Standard Notes has some added features like encryption, web access, etc. Simplenote also has web access.

  4. amfortas the hippie

    reckon microsoft can moralise whennit gets its own house in order. my new lsptop is in the shop due to a bad audio driver that causes lag. i fix it, then win10 sez “oh it appears that youve disabled our shitty driver”,and unilaterally reinstalls it. lol.
    bad driver is from an uneanted update…,installed at 2am without a by your leave.
    me: “who the hell do they think they sre!?”
    its ss if im only renting the laptop.
    for browsers, ill stick with the fox, thank you vrry much

    1. aletheia33

      yves, just to say i really feel for you. i could have written much of what you wrote here describing the “frustration” (and i admit in my case, RAGE!). the overcomplification and crapification of the new versions of the basic email and word processing programs i’ve used successfully for two decades or so is right now a significant stress in my one-person business. no question it is pushing my earnings downward.

      it’s not just that they add stuff you don’t need, that they set it up to MAKE YOU WORK TO NOT USE that stuff, distracting you and hogging human and machine processing time; it’s that they also take away processes that worked. learning new software that no longer does what you relied on it to do and makes work hours more difficult is demoralizing to a whole new level. all reports from friends who work in various sectors is that this scenario is across the board severely stressing everybody who uses a computer at work. in addition, i admit that as i age, i am finding it more difficult to get my head around the new versions i’ve just acquired.

      i don’t have the option of paying people to find ways to keep me using what has always worked well. if i could even find someone. and that’s another shift: in my rural area we had a wonderful apple dealer service person. she serviced all the apple systems in a nearby city of 30K people. she would listen. she had no interest in/need for selling me anything. she would tell me what apple products i did not need and when not to buy a new mac. she ended up buying out the dealership and now has retired and shut it down. the new apple dealer is in a losing game i am sure, too squeezed by apple to provide much attention or help.

      there are no words for the feeling of being ripped off at this level, just trying to run a tiny business using a computer. paying more, for something that now bites you. i know that so many people are facing this and far, far worse every day and i am relatively lucky. nonetheless, it is clear that even two or five years ago, the day-to-day situation was not this tough, just for the people earning their livings as office employees or small business owners.

      end of rant. good luck with it yves and i hope you feel better very soon.

  5. David

    Interesting that the Guardian headline in the link has now changed to “Brexit: EU dismisses Tory compromise plan as unworkable.” That didn’t take long.
    As I choked on my (gluten-free) cereal this morning, while looking at the original Guardian story, I reflected that this development is only the logical end-product of a political process which has been obsessed with the purely UK dimension of Brexit, as though the EU27 were just bystanders, waiting patiently to learn what the UK was prepared to accept. It’s one way in which a crisis typically develops at the very end: internal differences become so obsessively dominant, that the whole purpose of (in this case) the negotiations becomes a secondary issue. Indeed, it’s now clear that Brexit was not, ultimately, an issue between the UK and the EU, but an internal issue within the UK. I don’t mean by that that, as some commentators have suggested, Brexit is an issue which fundamentally divides the country. On its own, successive polls have shown that it’s really not a priority for most people. But it served as a detonator for a whole series of unresolved issues to do with power and wealth in the country, which are now about to explode.

        1. Anonymous2

          And much of what is going on now is blame avoidance so that when everything goes pear shaped people can say ‘if only people had voted for my amendment /deal this would not have happened ‘?

  6. Skip Intro

    The rolodex program sounds functionally very similar to the ‘code snippet’ manager category of applications. On the Mac, I have been using Code Collector Pro, which holds a collection of text data snippets, with a category tree with whatever categories you want. If the rolodex app is not getting updates, then it would be advisable to start looking around for a replacement, while you can still run the old app.

  7. Todde

    Those are some odd auditor reforms.

    Knock yourselves out but those wont seem to change much.

    Lawsuits are always a good motivator

    1. whine country

      Lawsuits were a MUCH better motivator when professionals (CPA’s in this case) were not allowed to operate as corporations. Lived through that era and the transition. It turned the professions into nothing more than bottom line types where risk is managed like all corporations. If you make enough, paying fines is just a cost of doing bidness. BTW brokerage houses were among those that couldn’t incorporate back in the day. How’s that working out. The FREE market means you are free to do pretty much anything you want as long as your income exceeds your expenses, which includes government fines. And as long as the gubment refuses to prosecute any but token individuals you’ve constructed the perfect control fraud environment. Long as they leave the individuals alone to prosper. Elephant in the room, ya think? Nah, tinkering around the edges is the answer. The longer I live, the more I’m surprised that people are surprised.

    2. whine country

      While we’re on the subject of CPAs I should mention that I’m so old that I did a lot of tax work when there was a 70% tax rate. There’s a couple of actual facts that might shed light on the subject. First, the rate for earned income was only 50%, so there’s that. If you actually did something besides sit around and watch your investments grow, you only had to pay at a 50% rate. So the 70% only really applies to the real fat cats. Also, where do you think us CPA’s were making the big bucks from before becoming audit whores? If you guess, from the fat cat’s tax planning you get a gold star. What actually happened (as opposed to what economists tell us theoretically happens) is that Congress finds a whole lot of places where the fat cats can place their money and get deducts for it. What that means is that Mr. Fat Cat puts up $.30 on the dollar and Uncle Sam puts up $.70 on the dollar and, if the fat cat is smart and has a good CPA, the money turns out to be an investment that makes the fat cat fatter. There were also credits that were offered for sale by Uncle Sam. If you bough new machinery & equipment (pretty much anything but real estate actually) you got a 15% tax credit. So,in many cases, Uncle Sam gave you the down payment and you kind of leased the equipment and got more deducts and made more money. There also was a tax credit for just hiring more people in your company. Anyway, as most of the money started being made by people who just want to sit at computers and figure out how to take it from people who actually do stuff, the incentives didn’t work out anymore. We don’t want to invest in actual plants equipment anymore so you don’t need incentives. One more thing that I do recall from those bad old days is that we never seemed to have a shortage of Fat Cats. We did however have a robust middle class though, along with a lot of quality products that were affordable to most (including housing). Just saying. When you think about this remember what Ronald Reagan said about economists: They see things that happen in the real world and then set out to prove it’s theoretically impossible. It’s theoretically impossible to have a 70% tax rate so get over it. Just saying.

  8. Steve H.

    > Reader JK send me a bottle of Helicidine

    From “Bowling Alone” :

    “Nearly two out of five members of such [small] groups reported that other members had helped them out when someone was sick”

    “CHAPTER 9: Against the Tide? Small Groups, Social Movements, and the Net” is ringing a lot of bells. For one, the understanding that the commentariat is functioning as a small group. A comment section is normally weak ties, people can leave without obligation (even if missed, ie Rabid Ghandi). The NC commentariat has provided emotional and now material support.

    That seems to be beyond contributions. Lambert’s been querying for the environmental movement, but this book was published in 2000 and was writing on the wall. “By 1990, … the environmental movement counted more than ten thousand organizations nationwide.” “Unfortunately, in the main this ebullient growth swelled the mailing lists of what we earlier termed “tertiary” organizations – that is, organizations in which “membership” is essentially an honorific rhetorical device for fundraising.” “only 8 percent described themselves as “active”” “More than 60 percent of us claim that we often make a special effort to recycle”

    That last one got me, the phrase ‘special effort’ indicates that, cognitively, people are doing something. But there’s a tax on time scrubbing the fat off a piece of plastic. Of particular note was the lack of local chapters, donations funnel to DC landlords.

    In reflection, we know there are many more readers than commenters here (see ‘8%’ above). It is a semi-walled garden, Yves’ salon. There’s a feedback loop there, understandings gained here culled attention on lesser sites. A fair amount of activism, particularly gardeners. Yves is a functional agent who has caused change. But I am no longer able to engage in polite light discourse on pol-econ matters, ‘taxes dont fund government’ comes off like ‘jet fuel cant melt steel’ at the dinner table. So my options for really engaging with this material have become very limited. O well, I took the red pill…

    One thing clear: the meetups are critically important. Face-to-face is a real benefit.

    1. RabidGandhi

      I’m still lurking here, just too time constrained to comment, but thanks so much for thinking of me :)

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, good to know you are still around, I’d love to know more of your take on Venezuela when you have some spare time.

          1. polecat

            That reminds me. Whatever happened to fresno dan .. ?? Haven’t seen his comments for some time .. ‘:[
            Hope he’s doing ok.

        1. ambrit

          Agreed. Los Nortenyos need ‘on the ground’ reporting about El Sur in general. Such as, what do the ‘Street level’ people there think of the Return of Elliot Abrams?
          Be well.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      So my options for really engaging with this material have become very limited.

      If you have a dollar, you can amaze your guests with what the dollar actually says, “the full faith and credit of the United States.” Once upon a time, the dollars were backed by specie and said so. Then you should point out U.S. dollars is the only item you can pay your federal taxes in. You can’t take them chickens. If offer a different and credible currency, its converted by a bank and paid in dollars.

      The value of the U.S. dollar is its useful for a whole continent. Its just a bit of cloth, but if you try to cheat the IRS, watch out.

      “Monopoly on violence” is the poly sci term, but the Federales are supreme. They don’t negotiate. Virginia and Idaho can print currency they will accept as taxes, but the IRS doesn’t take Richmond Rubles and Rhode Island Rials. Disney dollars work in Disney stores, but they don’t work with the IRS. Only currency backed “by the full faith and credit of the United States” which is also “legal tender for all debts public and private.” Anywhere the IRS is the man is anywhere where the “fiat” currency runs. If I owed you a chicken, no U.S. court is ever going to make me produce a chicken just the estimated value of a chicken. I could even pay for it in pennies.

      Though in my personal experience, people who are worried about the “national debt” are usually just Republicans who don’t like Country Pop or are more libertine than the average Republican. They call themselves “Centrists.”

      1. Summer

        “Though in my personal experience, people who are worried about the “national debt” are usually just Republicans who don’t like Country Pop…”

        Too funny…

        1. John k

          People who say they’re worried about the debt mostly want to cut S.s so they can fund one of the wars.

    3. Oh

      … the environmental movement counted more than ten thousand organizations nationwide.” “Unfortunately, in the main this ebullient growth swelled the mailing lists of what we earlier termed “tertiary” organizations – that is, organizations in which “membership” is essentially an honorific rhetorical device for fundraising.” “only 8 percent described themselves as “active”

      Naomi Klein in her book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate – Aug 4, 2015” examines large environmental non profits and shows many of them to be non compliant to their stated goals but compliant to political pressure. IMNSHO, the only worthy organization to contribute to is Green Peace.

  9. Wukchumni

    We’re a couple years into this masquerade and how has it effected relationships?

    Had a conversation with a neighbor who told me he’s not on speaking terms with another neighbor whose so far to the right of right, he appears to be a vanishing edge pool even when you’re standing next to him.

    It wasn’t as of there was some instant MAGAmorphisis politically, the shunner is pretty liberal and the shunnee a long time loyal Fox news devotee, who have both been in the hood a couple decades, and never let politics be the means to divide them, until recently.

    What have you experienced?

    1. aletheia33

      i heard of this from a group member, did not witness it myself, so could be more legend than exactly accurate.

      local to me: a regular weekly spiritually focused meeting of very diverse (including politically, presumably; by group guidelines, politics was never discussed) people that had been going on for a very long time, years, seemed to be a quite socially stable group, and open to members coming in and out. one day, a person (in a momentary careless lapse from the no-politics guideline) mentioned they were going to vote for trump in the upcoming 2016 election.

      the group never met again.

      1. amfortas the hippie

        from my habitual, random, and ad hoc feed store symposia, formerly outspoken obama hating tea people have lost their taste for political discourse. one admitted embarassment st the installation of trump. its like now that the veil is rent and trampled, theyre blinded by the actually existing american sociopol mileau… back on their heels, waiting for the mud to settle. they dont know where thy fit into now moribund d vs r

    2. ambrit

      Lately, I have noticed that “average” people I meet when I’m ‘out and about’ will turn away and do a d—ed good impression of avoidance behaviour whenever the subject of American Politics is raised. It has become noticeable.
      As an example: in the “olde dayes” I could ‘talk back’ to the Faux News talking heads on the waiting room TV screen and get pitying looks from other denizens of the waiting room. As in, a little girl saying: “Mommy. Look at the poor ‘crazy’ man.” Now I get fearful looks and people physically move away from me. Now the little girl is saying: “Mommy! Look at that Crazy Man!”
      The very subject of politics has become toxic.
      I might add that Naked Capitalism is one of the last remaining venues of “Civilized Discourse” in our culture.

      1. amfortas the hippie

        +10 on nc as hotbed of erudite civility.
        the few dems i know irl, all relatives, have taken the delusional mantle from the tea.
        its strange, and i couldnt have predicted it.
        from what ive seen so far of kamala love fest, i dont relish the dem primary.

        …and btw, “kamala”was the halucinogenic cancer drug in battlestar galactica.
        universe is hilarious

        1. ambrit

          So many possible psyops memes available to skewer Harris. A poster with her as a Cylon Commander for starters. Or, best, her as a human mimic machine, as in the Battlestar Galactica reboot.
          The Meta dimension of this is the degree to which the Democrat Party has begun ‘living’ in a delusional world.

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      Similar. During the 2016 election I was able to speak sensibly about the candidates with some older cousins and mining colleagues…… for the first time since I began to vote. They were rabid Clinton haters, but detested Trump (they voted for him anyway because of the new minted R after his name). They had rather suddenly become lucid about the poor quality of our choices. (And they had finally stopped insinuating that Obama was a Kenyan Muslim who was going to take away their guns and turn ‘Merka into a PC police state).

      However, I lost the ability to discuss the race with a number of long time parishioners & colleagues in my very liberal Protestant church and at the local university. Many middle-aged, educated people in these 2 cohorts became irrationally vituperative about the election, how it should have gone, and, eventually, whom they believe “stole” it.

      It was as if our political environment were held inside a large flat-bottomed basin half full of sewage. It had been tipped to the right for a generation, and all the smelly brown water pooled in the depths on the right side of the basin, naturally. And then, it suddenly tipped to the left. And people I’d thought to be inherently too smart to get mired in the muck…. they were all up to their necks in sewage. And they liked it that way, and claimed nothing had changed…… because they still had their feet on the floor.

    4. todde

      lots of my friends argue politics some hate trump others love him.

      They call each other names and get pretty adamate about it.

      I know of none who would alter a relationship over it.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      Many topics can drive wedges into our social interactions. I believe many people have lost the capacity for discussion. A discussion requires a dialog which in turn requires both listening and speaking. Too much of the speaking is repetition and variation of talking points the media have wrapped us in. But the art of listening has suffered more. Part of listening is simply allowing another to speak. A discussion also requires hearing and contemplating what is said.

    6. Janie

      I know some people in a high school graduation class from 1941 who had regular lunch get-togethers and nearly broke up over The Shrub; now the dwindling group is completely done in by the Trump Clinton thing. Some had been besties since grade school.

    7. jrs

      yes relationships are supposed to trump (ahem) politics. But I don’t know, if someone’s politics is a defense of the existing medical system and you can’t afford to see a doctor with a growing suspicious lump, it’s not supposed to matter. What does wanting to stay alive really matter?

      If someone defends the judges Trump appoints and you read the ruling allowing age discrimination and have been looking for work for years since 50, it’s not supposed to matter. What does being cast out of society utterly matter anyway?

      Etc. etc. etc. People play MEAN these days because the game has become REALLY REALLY MEAN. Life and “go die” mean. So other people’s politics can be seen as a threat on one’s life, it’s not a soft world, it’s not a secure and safely middle class world, there’s little safety net and it’s a mean mean neoliberal world out there, with the vast majority never far from disaster. And that’s why politics is a mean game.

    8. Jen

      I live in the home town of Governor Tom “Nuke the hippies” Thompson. My neighbors are an interesting mix, economically and politically. Both next door neighbors are Trump supporters, and that not withstanding, lovely people. There’s an enclave of “don’t tread on me/live free or die” folk up the street. Couple of hard core Berners, and a Hillary supporter who asked the guy across the street to take down his Trump sign so as not to offend guests who were coming to her house for a wedding. He gave her some fairly precise instructions as to what to do with his sign, and then mowed his field so her guests could park there.

      I practice golden retriever diplomacy. I have two of the irrepressible dorks, and they care naught for politics. If someone wants to give them some love, they’re in. My neighbors probably have made some assumptions about me, and I them. Last year a bunch of the LFOD group were hanging out in their driveway after a successful turkey hunt. My dogs immediately fixed on the dog lover in the group and were soon basking in attention. One of the hunters was girl, probably about 10. I asked her if she got a bird, and she had. “Good for you!” I told her. She beamed. There were a couple of guys in that group who were less than friendly previously, but since then, they’ve always smiled, waved and stopped for a chat when they see me out and about.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        cancer brings folks together, too, i’ve found.
        the majority of the minority who vote around here, vote straight ticket R(maybe 20% of population, which overlays well onto the percentage that are over 70, white and relatively comfortable)
        The majority non-voter pop(including irregulars) are just plain old small c conservatives.
        Them being embarrassed by trumpy is cool with me…makes for a better townie experience, since they avoid politics, mostly.
        it’s still the irregular and non’s who work for a living(loading feed is hard) who ask about the Bernie sticker, and want to hear more, almost 4 years on.
        D and R are history out here…not getting new true believers.
        withering away.
        because what’s the point?

    1. larry

      Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result as the def of insanity. Attrib to Einstein. She may be this but she may also have those other traits you mentioned. I think she has a complicated pathology though I can’t quite put my finger on just what it might be.

  10. brook trout

    The antidote du jour fits nicely with the climate change article bemoaning the changing winters in the Upper Midwest. Would be interesting to know when the picture was taken, since there appears to be very little snow pack there–see the well head to the left in the picture. There can’t be more than a couple of inches of snow there.

      1. Joey

        Both scientists exhibit selective inference, jumping enthusiastically to the best-case outcome. Not only does association not imply causation, but what you find in a study is rarely the only pathway in biological systems.

        Cancer cure less impressive, lots of promises ‘even cancer can’t evolve quick enough’ and no rational reason to believe anything universally toxic to all cancer cells wouldn’t harm non-cancer cells (why chemo harms mucosa).

        Alzheimer study more rational until the lead author jumps to “ultimate cause” claim. Neurodegenerative diseases appear to have a final common pathway with multiple points of entry- head injury, infection being inflammatory risks, Downs and other genetic risks etc etc

        1. Joey

          Kudos in order for identifying a potential mechanism for the long-known link between gingivitis and heightened Alzheimer risk. That’s the take.

    1. polecat

      So, in light of the above … what does Mother Gaia do with regard to HER severe case of terminal ‘cancer’ … ??

      1. Oh

        Mother Gaia is going to react violently. I hope she picks the robber barons to get the thrust of the first wave of her fury.

      2. John k

        Earth mother will be just fine. We, and a number of other species, have cause for concern. But in just a million years or so there will be others to amuse mother.

  11. zagonostra

    > The fleecing of Millennials: “Why is this happening? The main reason is a lack of economic dynamism. ”

    … the country’s biggest economic problems aren’t about hordes of greedy old people profiting off the young. They’re about an economy that showers much of its bounty on the already affluent, at the expense of most Americans — and of our future. The young pay the biggest price for these inequities.

    Gawd almighty…the casuistry of this article. How about mentioning the ruling elite’s endless trillions spent on the military, rigged elections that stifle the electorates will, and only knows one word “more.” Your right Mr. David Leonhardt, It’s not “hordes of greedy old people.” it’s a small, small group of the .001 percent that have it rigged this way by design and not by some magical drift (“dynamism)” of the “market.”

    The most progressive, change-causing generation in any epoch is usually the young, bind them in shackles of debt early in their lives and you’re assured a smooth continuation of the status quo.

    1. Mrs Smith

      OK, I just read the “fleecing of millennials” piece in the NYTimes, and 1. according to their chart, I’m GenX, not a BB, which is right; and 2. blaming people who vote, for voting in their own interest is some messed up shirt. If Millennials had been voting for the last 16 years, maybe some of this gerrymandering GOP corruption bullshit wouldn’t be unfixable now. The oldest ones have been able to vote for over 20 years.

      1. Joe Well

        These “generations” have so little sociological or historical basis it’s absurd. The Baby Boomers are initially demarcated by WWII but there is no magic line for Gen X Y or Z. Another way of dividing people.

        However, given the effort to suppress young people’s votes, I won’t put all the blame on young non voters.

        1. Anon

          Young people struggling to get ahead in an economy that’s based on deception (Wells Fargo, Google, MSM, Congress) should not be asked to lead the nation. They are just learning the system and confirming to themselves that it Doesn’t Work (for anyone but elites). It has been said that the youthful are right in what they oppose and wrong in what they propose; that’s no longer true. See: AOC; smart and ready to lead!

          It was the youthful vote that brought Bernie Sanders to the forefront of political discussion. (He might have won the Primary if it hadn’t been stacked against him by the “elders”.)

          Millennials are a diverse group, but as a whole they are better educated and more accepting of others than the Boomer generation. (Just listen to Tom Brokaw go off the rails.) They are the future of America; don’t spit on your end of life caregivers.

      1. RMO

        I remember a big push here in Canada in the 90s to get younger people to believe that the older generations were robbing them blind with government pension and health care costs. You came across it in all the major media outlets. The think tanks behind it were trying to privatize the Canada Pension Plan and the provincial health insurance. Fortunately it didn’t get too far, though damage was done.

  12. Carl

    RE: the DW article. Seriously, that’s an opinion? At this point, sounds like facts to me. Would anyone outside the Blob argue with this?

    1. David

      Yes, wake me up when somebody with any chops publishes an article entitled “Western policy in Afghanistan a Success: Exclusive”.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve got a catchy headline for said article not coming out anytime soon…

        “Afghanistan & Deliver”

    2. RUKidding

      The Taliban have not been defeated; on the contrary, they will be part of a political power-sharing deal, with the blessing of the United States. This means that, after decades of fighting, they have emerged stronger than they were during the late 1990s, when they ruled Kabul but were ostracized on the international stage. That these radicals, who are responsible for endless terror attacks, will now gain a pivotal position in Afghan politics thanks to the US is scandalous. Once again, US President Donald Trump and his aides have broken a foreign policy taboo.

      My only quibble with this part of the article is the claim that the Taliban is responsible for “endless terrorist attacks.” I’d like some clarification on that. What is the definition of terrorist attacks and against whom?

      The Taliban are pretty despicable, esp in regard to how women are treated. Recall Laura Bush’s bold claim that Team USA USA was going in to save de wimmin folks (my wording). Yeah, what happened with that? I understand that it’s now mostly worse for Afghani women than it ever was. USA! USA! USA!

      Of course, it was always always a fool’s errand, to say the least, to start a War on Afghanistan – the graveyard of empires. But while the Seal Team allegedly had Usama bin Laden on their sights in the Tora Bora hills in Oct 2001, GW Bush called off their planned attack and capture of bin Laden, and the rest is history.

      I have a friend who worked in Afghanistan about 10 years ago now. She is a naturalized US citizen from Afghanistan. Worked for the NSA as a translator. Got some sort of NGO job. Wanted to go back to Afghanistan to figure out if there was some way she could help there. No way, she said. Place was an absolute MESS. Lots of building going on – your tax dollar$ at work (please don’t lecture me about MMT) – but once buildings hastily thrown up, nothing further happened. IOW: empty. No glass in the windows, no power, no anything… She said it was a hopeless situation, lot of graft, crime and corruption. She made good money on her one year sojourn (at least someone I know and respect made some money out this clusterfeck), threw up her hands and left in disgust.

      This has been a 17 year monumental waste of time, money, etc, with attendant loss of lives all around. And when we leave, which we will, the only ones who will benefit will be the .01% who’ve sucked at the US Govt tittie and got THEIRS and how!!!!! But eff all you peasants and peons who want to collect your social security checks and get some medicare because we can’t afford that anymore.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        But this is the point of US wars. Corruption. The hustlers found that war is indeed a racket. There is no interest on the part of the military industrial complex in anything other than making money. I know that most in the military believe they are doing the right thing but Americans today are experts at pulling the wool over their own eyes–this is why propaganda works so well in US society. Eight years ago I left Washington the stench was too much for me.

      2. a different chris

        >But while the Seal Team allegedly had Usama bin Laden on their sights in the Tora Bora hills in Oct 2001, GW Bush called off their planned attack and capture of bin Laden, and the rest is history.

        History comprised of a certain listing of places and people. But I go back and forth on the “Great Man” (of course Great not necessarily being a positive in this case) theory of history. Yes we know what Bush was, an idiot, and what OBL was, a religious wackjob… but weren’t the forces in play more endemic than that? Would we be nothing but happy campers across the globe Gore had won and OBL was vaporized?

        I suspect not.

        1. RUKidding

          Who knows. Speculation of that sort is not that accurate.

          However, if Gore had won, perhaps 9/11 would have been avoided altogether. After all, Clinton did provide GW Bush/Cheney with the necessary information, and they chose to “ignore” it.

          And yes, then, the rest is history. Cheney wanted to make gobs ‘n stacks ‘n piles of money, and that’s what happened. Then Betsy DeVos’ brother, Eric Prince, got in on that sweet sweet payola, and here we are.

      3. RMO

        RUKidding: “radicals, who are responsible for endless terror attacks, will now gain a pivotal position in Afghan politics thanks to the US is scandalous. Once again, US President Donald Trump and his aides have broken a foreign policy taboo.”

        Yep, right past the WTF? stage to OFFS! here! The CIA directly funded the Taliban’s attacks against the Afghan government fellow citizens with the intent of causing the USSR to intervene. The US helped bring hell to Afghanistan back then and was happy to aid the Taliban in doing so for years. Once the USSR pulled out and disintegrated they just let Afghanistan twist in the wind… until the latest was when they invaded Afghanistan themselves… because a Saudi Arabian who planned the 9/11 attacks was living there and Bush/Cheney were way more interested in getting a glorious war rolling than they were in bringing the actual perpetrators of that mass murder to some sort of justice… And now after more than a decade and a half of bloody stalemate we’re supposed to be scandalized that the US may be about to recognize reality for once! Sure the Taliban are horrible but the US and NATO haven’t been able to make things any better in all these years.

    1. johnnygl

      I’m not quite sure stoller’s got this right.

      I don’t think she’s cackling out of the joy of roughing up poor, unstable single parents. I think she’s got an air of smugness about herself. She’s proud that she’s willing to ‘go there’ and thinks she’s going to make a positive change in her district.

      Before, when i’d heard she went hard after truancy, i’d assumed it was a cynical political move. Seeing this string of clips makes me think she really believes she’s finding a solution to the problems that ail society. Listen to what she says…she’s making the case for her approach.

      There was at least one defender of hers saying she used it as a mechanism to help single parents. So, we’re to believe that single parents must be prosecuted in order to be helped? Really? We’re going to say that with a straight face?

      I haven’t seen a ton of Harris, but i’ve never seen her defend M4A or any other policy of hers that she flagrantly cribbed from Bernie with the same self-righteousness shown when she defends prosecuting truancy.

      This is really the poisonous clintonite politics of the 90’s returning with a vengence. ‘Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ type stuff. But harris sees ’causes’ rooted in things like truancy…not chronic poverty, broken families, failed predatory institutions.

      Harris is much more problematic than i’d realized. She’s clintonite redux. No wonder they share campaign staffing and donors.

      1. RUKidding

        I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

        I live in CA and have known about Harris’ horrible “practices” for a while now. She manages to fool a lot of the limousine liberals & those addicted to NPR, which includes too many of my friends, who think I’m totally CRAZY for not absolutely LOVING Harris.

        Harris has really gone on the “tough on crime” thing with a vengeance, and this is just one example of that. While there’s a tiny part of me that sort of “gets” why she did the truancy threat – because I have friends who work in inner city public schools, and it IS a mess, and often teachers and administrators have a really tough time enforcing any sort of rules – it’s just wrong-headed and a bad way to allegedly “solve” the problem.

        There are so many issues that Harris simply ignores in her zeal to inflict pain on people in order to make them obey.

        I didn’t vote for her for Senator, and I do not want to vote for her to be POTUS.

        And if nothing else, she is not “seasoned” enough for me to be running for POTUS anyway.

        UGH. More neoliberal awfulness inflicted on the peons by these sham grifters.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          Harris seems to be the one “they” want. But her problem is that she comes off as obnoxious and not in the entertaining way Trump is obnoxious. I think the NPR crowd will go to Biden who his almost as good a bullshitter as Obama.

        2. wilroncanada

          Yes. “Tough on Crime!” She was REALLY tough on Mnuchin’s crime, wasn’t she!

      2. Roger Smith

        What is really scary from these clips is that, unlike Clinton who gives no cares about what other people think, ‘she knows better, now move’, Harris appears to be a vile narcissist like Obama is who actually believes her bathroom smells great.

        1. DanB

          I have the same reaction to her self-righteousness. As we used to say in Detroit, “She ‘thanks’ her S**t don’t ‘stank'”.

        1. JohnnyGL

          Great clip….highlights include…

          1) heckler yelling, “you arrogant billionaire, you’re going to re-elect trump”
          2) pushback on Harris’s defense of M4A (let’s see if she walks back her defense, I want her to be tested and I want her to pass that test)
          3) Q: “you can’t beat the system” A: “I can beat the system”

          This is hilarious, Schultz is something special.

        2. pjay

          I’ve got to admit that was a pretty good response. Color me skeptical, but I’m willing to at least listen to politicians who speak plainly. Does she have a history on this issue?

        3. Lambert Strether

          Harris talks a good game on #MedicareForAll and endorsed S1804, but she’s a newcomer. I think she will reluctantly endorse whatever watered-down, pissant version the liberal Democrats in the House come up with, as “a step toward” yadda yadda yadda. A revolving hero, taking a stand on principle, but sadly, the party just wasn’t ready yadda yadda yadda.

      3. Skip Intro

        She explicitly said she was going to spend political capital, and emphasized that her reelection was a consideration in the decision.

      4. Lambert Strether

        > Harris is much more problematic than i’d realized. She’s clintonite redux. No wonder they share campaign staffing and donors.

        As I keep saying, the liberal Democrat establishment moved the center of gravity for the party toward the conservatives (and never mind the outlier “voices” like AOC, a lucky break for the left that should never have happened).

        Running a cop for President — a cop for everybody but the Mnuchins of this world, of course — is who and what they are.

        Bonus points for being able to “restore order” if there’s another Occupy/Black Lives Matter eruption on her watch, too. It’s important to keep the discourse civil, which Harris will do with any stick that comes to hand.

    2. Carolinian

      Yesterday’s Robert Caro link on the hidden LBJ (i.e. Lyndon was a serial womanizer–go figure) brought to mind all the stories about what an a’hole Johnson was. Nobody is just one thing, but it does seem the US presidency has a tendency to attract aspirants who should never ever be president. Perhaps the only solution is to make the office much less powerful which seems to have been the intention of the founding fathers to begin with. Harris sounds like she fits the mold.

    3. Roger Smith

      This video further down that thread is worse than the first.

      Harris discusses threatening a homeless woman with three children, who currently works two jobs to support them… being homeless, by sending two burly prosecutors to let her know she’d be thrown in jail if he kids skipped class. What the hell world is this???? The obvious question smacking this entitled moron in the face is, “why is a woman working two jobs homeless!?”. In this fine bastion of liberal goodness that is California no doubt… (that is what the postcards told me at least).

      She actually charged this woman! But claims it “helped” them to define her as someone who needed help. So after a bunch of administrative bloat, psychological suffering, they dropped the charges. Well thank you Ms. Harris. You saved them. Start shooting people. Once we get them to the hospital, we might better define what services they actually need in their lives. Sounds like a good approach.

      This so abhorrent. Harris is vile scum. Why do these people never get what they deserve?

      1. pjay

        Thanks for all of these comments. They highlight what I think is a very important point. Not all of these people are total frauds who just say whatever they think will sell. They *actually believe* a lot of what they are saying — which makes them even more dangerous in many ways. I think this is especially true of the “10 percenters” in the Professional-Managerial Class who come to perceive their credential and connection-based achievements as demonstrating “meritocracy”. It worked for them, and their worlds are full of people who reinforce this belief. Both Trump and the Clinton/Harris types are oblivious to the realities of the non-privileged. But I don’t think Trump really believes anything with certainty. The “smart ones” in the “resistance”, however, *know* how the world works. And they know the deplorables are too dense to understand what’s good for them, and the world.

      2. todde

        when I was in school the school was going to sue my parents for lack of federal funding due to my truancy.

        how is truancy handeld in civilized countries?

    4. Phacops

      What took me aback in that thread were the replies supporting Harris. The authors of that tone-deaf support just did not see that her attitude towards the powerless is 180 degrees different from her not insubstantial discretion towards economically powerful criminals. I hate such willful ignorance and it speaks to an acceptance of corruption by Harris.

      But then, I think we have a systemic problem that we, in America, rarely associate with those not in our economic class. And so, unless highlighted by NC or other outlets paying attention, those abusive ideas by people in power rarely get attention. Luckily my spouse volunteers as a CASA for children in the foster system and we both help with children under probation, so we are exposed to what I consider as more toward the average than we are. One quickly learns that the working poor in America have different skill sets to navigate through life and a political and economic system that cares little for them.

    5. cripes


      My first thought was Kamala had the same nasty cackle that Hillary had at the expense of the murdered Khaddafi.

      Schadenfreude is the ugliest of human emotions

      Liberals indeed.

  13. Olga

    Opinion: Western intervention in Afghanistan is a failure DW
    Ya thank? That was my first thought – and last.
    For a less west-centered view, here is the indispensable Mr. Bhadrakumar:
    “Dramatic news is filtering in from Qatar where the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and his delegation were huddled together with the representatives of the Taliban for four consecutive days since Monday. The duration of the talks unmistakably signifies that complex negotiations have taken place. Things are moving almost entirely in the direction I had indicated in my earlier blog US officials converge on Pakistan seeking peace.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe it is a good idea to get out of Afghanistan before it is too late. Just today I came across an ancient Hindu prayer that says, “Lord Shiva, save us from the claw of the tiger, the fang of the cobra, and the vengeance of the (Pashtun) Afghan”.

  14. Alex V

    I’m always blown away at how expensive infrastructure is in the US, the alleged land of private business efficiency.

    $4.52 billion to rebuild the 2.4 km Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel.

    Stockholm just finished building a new 6 km long tunnel under the city, including going under a body of water for less than $2 billion, plus two new commuter stations

    1. RUKidding

      Sweden is a much smaller country, so they probably have less grifters in on the graft and corruption of public works projects like this.

      Not snark.

      1. fajensen

        Yup. They have only three: Skanska, Peab and “Moderaterne”.

        Of course nobody in Sweden talks about “Nya Karolinska Sjukhuset”, bad for The Brand as it were.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      To be fair, Stockholm has excellent geology for drilling (nice and dry and hard – but not too hard). So far as I know the Baltimore tunnel goes through soft wet geology requiring lined supporting walls – these can be very expensive to replace once they start leaking.

      But yes, continental Europe does these things far cheaper than the US (and UK). There are lots of reasons for it, but I think primarily its about how the contracts are arranged. Put in simplest terms, most European countries have long term strategies in place for infrastructure with tight lists of trusted contractors. This allows contractors to invest in plant and maintain permanent staff and long term sub-contractors whose skill levels increase year by year.

      In contrast, the one-off contract culture in the English speaking worlds leads to a huge wastage as each construction contract requires a massive gearing up, and then when its finished mass layoffs and a dispersion of the designers and crews, meaning all that hard won knowledge is immediately lost.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, PK.

        I am very interested in what you wrote as I travel widely and notice the differences in infrastructure, even as far afield as Mauritius where one can readily compare Chinese, French and Indian contractors.

        I am also interested as HS2 will soon carve up my home county, Buckinghamshire, and have come across some stat that, per mile / KM, France can build roads, railways etc. for less than the UK.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          As an example, I have personal experience of the the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (the St. Pancras to Channel Tunnel High Speed line). During the design stage (late ’90’s) the staff from the UK/US partners (Halcrow, Bechtel, Arups and a few others) were recruited specifically for the project, and nearly all were ex road or oil and gas engineers. The French engineering partner, Systeme, was part of French Railways, and all staff were ‘lifers’ in railway construction. Quite simply, they knew far, far more about how to build quickly and cheaply than even the best of the UK/US engineers, because they’d been doing it longer.

          A particular illustration of the issues was that on two occasions the project was stalled – on both occasions the UK/US contractors had no option but to let go many of the engineers, then re-hire them later, often on very expensive contracts as they had no choice but to pay top money as the learning curve was too high to bring in inexperienced engineers half way through the project. The French engineers simply worked through the lulls or were temporarily transferred to other railway jobs in France.

          The French also did it the smart way by building the ‘easy’ lines first – the first wave of TGV’s just shot across the central plains of France. This allowed them to build up a lot of engineering knowhow before they had to tackle the really difficult southern lines.

          Also, the construction contractors are often on rolling contracts, so they can specialise. When the contracts for the CTRL were issued, many of the contractors were ‘virgins’ to railway construction – they often had very different ideas of what should be done than the design teams – it led to a hugely expensive and difficult process in trying to reconcile the design with the construction contractors opinions on the best way to do things.

          There are plenty of examples of this – the Madrid underground for example was built for a fraction of the price of UK and US subways, primarily because they undertook it as a 20 year rolling project with government design teams and private contractors working in partnership. Its hard to underestimate the savings this produces – each successive contract will be cheaper and quicker as knowledge is built up. And buying rolling stock and fixed plant is much cheaper when you commit to long term orders.

          I’ve no direct experience of Asian construction, but I’ve often been aghast at the speed and efficiency of what they do – but they are definitely more ruthless about design issues – few environmental or safety considerations get much of a look-in, and a lot is financed through land use – hence those mega office and retail developments wrapping around every station. In China they do what 19th Century railroad companies did – simply extend lines out to virgin lands buy it all up (usually corruptly), and use the land development costs to fund the line. There is, though, an enormous amount of corruption in Asian transport planning, you can often see this in the way the routes are chosen to maximise land values, not facilitate the public. Even in (relatively) corruption free Taiwan you can see this with their High Speed Line – many of the stations are far from existing city centres.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Easy lines first…

            I wonder if that was the approach used here in CA, where the first segment now sits in the central valley.

            As for route and station choices in Asia, many stops along the old Tokai-do, that were beautifully depicted by Hiroshige, were bypassed when rail lines were put during the Meiji period, and today, have some of the best preserved teahouses, ryokans, etc from the era.

          2. Alex Cox

            As I recall we brits were very weak on health and safety. Several fatalities building the Tunnel on the British end; none on the French.

            Off topic, has Yves considered a web-based email service? Fastmail is very good. I have used them for almost two decades (they were previously called Operamail, a spin-off from the Opera browser project) with no problems. You have to pay for it! But it is well worth it.

          3. The Rev Kev

            Thanks for that PK. It really clarifies how things should be done if you want to get good engineering done.

          4. Lambert Strether

            > I’ve no direct experience of Asian construction

            Thailand is both building an absolutely enormous 26-platform railway station with four floors that will be a hub not merely for Thailand but Southeast Asia. They are also rapidly building out their elevated rail system. (Hopefully all this is on high ground, but ocean rise is far away, and real estate deals — of course a major factor — are very close).

            As a trains fan, I’m ecstatic, but the contrast between this and our supposedly First World public works projects couldn’t be greater; contrast the vile and degrading JFK, let alone our utter inability to build a tunnel under the Hudson for which we know failure is only a matter of time, and which will take down the entire Northeast Corridor when it goes. There are times when I think the elites have decided the country is a tear-down. Jackpot!

      2. ambrit

        One of my Dad’s first engineering related jobs when we got to America was with a company that was building the Miami East West expressway. Dad ended up working on the entrance and exit ramps ‘team.’ Dad’s specialty was high pressure and temperature piping. To design a traffic artery.
        Some of the on off ramps of the finished Miami East West expressway were, and might still be, some of the most accident prone bits of motorway in Florida. Because of land acquisition problems, many of the on off ramps are too tightly curved for ‘normal’ speed driving. When it rains, (in Florida, mind you,) watch out!

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      One of Adam Tooze’s blog entries discusses the problems of construction in the US.
      “America’s Political Economy: the Inefficiency of Construction and the politics of Infrastructure”

  15. Wukchumni

    U.S. Midwest braces for record-breaking cold blast Reuters

    I’ve been winter camping in the Sierra snow a bunch of times with friends-utilizing a Black Diamond Megamid tent with no bottom floor, where you essentially dig out an igloo of sorts, albeit in reverse-and the the tent goes over the ‘basement’ supported by ski poles.

    You want to shovel out sleeping ledges and pat the snow down, and a couple other ledges for the ‘kitchen’ and another for storing your gear. Being a weather wimpy Californian, 15 degrees in a sheltered setting overnight seems akin to Siberia or not far from it, I couldn’t imagine what -15 or -50 would be like.

    Stay toasty out there!

    1. Lunker Walleye

      Not much chance of digging a hole in the ground here where soil temps are less than 20 degrees F. High tomorrow will be -5 F. But by the weekend we will have mid forties. “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.”

      1. todde

        my friends dad is getting buried tomorrow.

        I believe they had to heat up the ground to dig the hole.

      2. Craig H.

        The forecast high for tomorrow in Minneapolis is -14.

        That’s degrees fahrenheit. It would be -26 for all you Euros.


        The warmest long underwear is purportedly Merino wool. I don’t know anything about the wool but it is a handsome sheep.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Report: Saudi Arabia Has Systematically Helped Saudi Felons To Flee The United States”

    This is getting to be an old tradition by now. Americans will remember how after 9/11 all commercial aircraft were grounded for days after the attack. Planes taking off were intercepted by military fighters and forced to land. No one was flying. Except the 142 Saudis on six charter flights and 160 Saudis on 55 flights other immediately after 9/11 — making a total of about 300 people who left with the apparent approval of the Bush administration. Some of these people, such as radical members of the Bin Laden family, were about to be interrogated by the FBI who screamed blue murder when these suspects were flown out of the country. Here is a long article talking about this giving first hand accounts-

    But guess what? Snopes says that this is a false story and as they are one of the new fact checkers for the internet, we know that they must be right-

    1. Cal2

      “Who will check the Checkers?” I can’t remember how to say that in Latin.
      ‘Fact checking’ website Snopes on verge of collapse after founder is accused of fraud, lies, and putting prostitutes and his honeymoon on expenses (and it hasn’t told its readers THOSE facts)

      ‘Fact-checking’ website Snopes is asking its users for help in a GoFundMe saying an ‘outside vendor’ is ‘holding it hostage’
      But the site which claims to be ‘transparent’ and to tell people the facts they need to know hasn’t told those donating everything that is going on
      In fact it is at the center of a bitter legal battle with its CEO being accused of fraud, lies, conspiracy and putting prostitutes and his honeymoon on expenses
      David Mikkelson set up company which owns in 2003 with then wife Barbara but she sold her 50 per cent stake during bitter divorce
      Owners of company which provided it with tech and advertising services bought her stake but have now fallen out with Mikkelson and call him a fraudster
      Case could see judge order site closed – despite it being chosen by Facebook to arbitrate on fake news”

  17. timbers

    Watch this video. The utter joy Kamala Harris takes in using power against the powerless is something to behold.

    Someone should ask Kamala why she is not as eager to use her stick on the rich and corporations as she is on lower income people?

    Agree this is not good, yet IMO Kamala does not come off as immediately perceivably bad – like “irredeemable deplorables” bad – so IMO this will not be as instantly bad for her. It may require more fleshing out, like pointing out she didn’t treat people equally before the law and selectively enforced laws against the low income and looked the other way for the rich and privileged.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The bots are fairly frantic trying to defend Harris. My guess is they were blind sided as their defenses could be lifted verbatim from a GOP confab.

      Blind sided is too kind as its more a sign of simply not doing any kind of research on their candidate.

      1. polecat

        What diff does a cog in the Purple-Bruise Party make ?? There is essentially NO appreciable difference with regard to co-teamR, or co-teamB .. so Why discuss as if there is ? Why play by their game !

        I buy absolutely none of it !

  18. Darius

    Climate change can be addressed only in the context of real material benefits. Rebranding austerity as climate change remedies will ensure a fried planet. It also won’t assault the citadels of power that are driving the problem.

    I suppose the Green New Deal is one possible helpful measure. Getting rid of corporate agricultural subsidies and actually encouraging small family farms is another. Any of this would have tone accompanied by a jobs guarantee. Even moderate unemployment would kill a climate change program.

    A lot more thought has to go into redistributing power and money to address climate change.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      What exactly is wrong with sacrifice? Social science tells us that altruism and a sense of meaning along with social cohesion is central to human happiness and well being. Hedonism is a blind alley leading nowhere but isolation and addiction unless it is shared. The problem of climate change is deeply moral. We know how to come close to eliminating the worst of this rolling disaster but we don’t want to change our lives because, collectively we are too deeply traumatized to think clearly. So we can mouth such stupidities that we would die for our children but, at the same time, condemn them to a likely positive feedback loop that would make human life on Earth a new kind of Hell.

      1. jsn

        Social sacrifice only works where there is a broad perception of fairness, the perception that sacrifice is broadly shared. There is no such perception in any society I’m currently aware of.

        Social science also tells us that trust decays where fraud and deception is rewarded. Gilet Jaunes was born of a rapacious elite, after fraudulently promulgating “austerity” as a growth and recovery strategy, then condescending to offer yet more “sacrifices” from the French poor.

        Such sacrifice will fare equally well throughout the neoliberal world as neoliberalism ensures that only the weak make sacrifices and the weak increasingly have nothing left go give.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          Exactly right. My hope is that more people understand this dynamic. The System must be bypassed, ignored, resisted, before serious and necessary change can happen. Reform efforts are futile at this time because the rules of doing business are rigged.

    2. Kris

      Why not do both both – i.e., taking seriously and planning for the (likely violent) redistribution of power that will need to happen for climate change to be addressed, and, for those able to do so, living the sacrifice if only to show that it is possible to do so? I’m talking about the top 30-40% – which includes an awful lot of liberals worried about climate change – who can afford to downsize, turn the thermostat to 55, and seriously reduce their demand and consumption of resources and energy. The more examples we have of being able to live a relatively good quality of life with far less consumption, the better. And it goes toward addressing the fairness part, too.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > Climate change can be addressed only in the context of real material benefits. Rebranding austerity as climate change remedies will ensure a fried planet. It also won’t assault the citadels of power that are driving the problem.

      I agree.

  19. Big River Bandido

    Amtrak. Wow.

    The infrastructure of the entire system is collapsing, but they’re still hyping up the new station platforms, seat cushions and restrooms on the trains. Great. The only way Washington will get serious is if several dozen plutocrats get marooned or killed on the Acela.

    1. Procopius

      I’m looking forward to the headlines when the tunnel collapses. “Nobody could have seen this coming!!!” “But it was unaffordable — there was just no way we could have paid for it.” Yeah, right. It’s going to cost a heck of a lot more then than it would have ten years ago. And it’s going to happen. Probably within my lifetime, which I don’t expect to be that much longer.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “No more heroes for the global elite as Davos 2019 fails to deliver”

    One German pundit enthused: “I would love (Sebastian Kurz) to be chancellor of Germany, but we have had unfortunate experiences with Austrians in the past.”

    A Czech humorist said once that it pays to follow tradition like the British do. Normally when getting citizenship, the new subject is supposed to take an oath to his new country. In Hitler’s case, it was the country that swore an oath to the new subject.

    1. Wukchumni

      We had an arty ex-pat Austrian leader here for a spell, and nothing untoward happened, no exterminator was he.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Kev.

      At my German employer’s fractious AGM a year ago, one irate punter asked the chairman, an Austrian, if he understood German or wanted to be spoken to in Austrian or Bavarian.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ooh, that was a nasty hit that. For American readers, Bavaria is sort of like what the deep south is for the US. If the chairman had been asked if he wanted to be spoken in Swiss German, probably the jackets would be coming off at that stage.

  21. DiModica's Dumb Steer


    I recently decided to move whatever I could of my digital life away from Google (I haven’t done everything, as it’s a far more annoying process if you’re fully bought-in).

    I was using Google Keep (Notes) a bunch, basically as a collection of digital post-it notes, and decided I’d rather not have Goog data mining all of my scratchpad ramblings. I turned to an app called Standard Notes.

    It’s cross platform (Win, Mac, Linux, Web, iOS, Android), and can be used solely offline, or with an online syncing capacity. Their funding model is sustainable (which is one of their core tenets), with an emphasis on simplicity. It can do complex formatting, or just plain text. Pretty easy to import and export, from my experience. There have only been a few hiccups (a data duplication bug…no actual data loss), and you can set up automated backups.

    Maybe it’ll work for you, and maybe not, but it’s an option.

    1. Oh

      I’m moving away from any unencrpted e-mail, especially gmail. I’ll check out standard note but I feel there’s a catch somewhere especially for the free version.

  22. John

    If Howard Schultz doesn’t think most people would favor a 70 % marginal tax rate, then he doesn’t know much. The top tax rate was above 70 % for over one-half of my lifetime and the country prospered even through three wars and a number of recessions. He and Michael Dell should get together and share misinformation.

    I also like Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax proposal.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I don’t think there is any chance of tax rates that high or even close to it. The rich would oppose it and the propaganda organs (the new and even more potent Mighty Wurlitzer) would grind out perpetual melodies of woe. Besides many of us so distrust government that any infusion of cash would be seen as just making things worse.

    2. rd

      What if they threw a tax cut party and nobody came?

      A survey just came out saying that the corporate tax cut had minimal impact on capex or hiring plans. So we gave all that money to corporations so they could fatten up their after tax earnings and to the top 1% so they could squirrel it away in bank and brokerage accounts, as well as art. Our children and grand-children will get the bill.

      BTW – the chapter on “The Federal Income Tax: Its History and Peculiarities” in John Brooks’ “Business Adventures” from the ’60s is essential reading in this marginal tax rate discussion as it discusses how the wealthy laughed at those high tax rates.

      So I personally think that the solution is to make income income, taxed at the same rates regardless of type and source. So wages, dividends, interest, and capital gains are taxed all the same. Allow for inflation adjustment of the cost basis for capital gains held longer than 2 years to encourage long-term investing. Then use a progressive income tax rate with the top rate about 45-50%. Dramatically reduce the use of trusts to shelter estates after death. Take a hard look at depreciation etc. in real estate investing.

      1. Procopius

        Our children and grand-children will get the bill.

        Well, I guess I got the bill for World War II, so I must have suffered that terrible burden. I was eight years old in 1945, when the national debt was 114%. of GDP. Oh, poor me, my life has been so damaged by the huge debt I’ve had to pay off /sarc.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Inside China’s High-Tech Dystopia”

    Is this Ashlee Vance’s first trip overseas? Maybe the title should be “Bloomberg Reporter Shocked That Other Countries Do Stuff Different”. A factory is automating which will get rid of most of its workers. Must be the only country in the world that is happening in. And more or less saying to a young woman why she is using her own country’s products when she could be using Silicon Valley’s offerings. Wince.
    Did he feel naughty when he found Google and Amazon on his VPN. I thought I heard a sigh. Jeez. Is China a bit of a high-tech dystopia? Absolutely. Is the west a bit of a high-tech dystopia as well? Yep. So what is the difference? So where we in the west say ‘Will you have fries with your surveillance’ the Chinese will say ‘Will you have rice with your surveillance’. Two sides of the same surveillance coin.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sometimes, we say to ourselves, we are all sinners, so, who are we to judge.

      Other times, we say, ‘but I only failed to stop at the stop sign, whereas you got the government to bail out your too big to fail bank.’

      Here, the difference between the two deeds matters.

      So, which is it? Do we worry about better (i.e. more efficient and/or comprehensive) surveillance, even while we are already under surveillance?

      1. Cal2

        What’s wrong with you?
        Don’t you know the future of America is the
        SUrvice Economy?

        One more reason to boycott the robot ATMS that record your face, go into a bank that employs human beings, withdraw cash and spend it for Privacy, Freedom and Democracy.

        1. ambrit

          Just wait till the banks start charging ‘service fees’ for using a live teller.
          I was told last year by a teller at the bank I use that I could carry out a transaction I wanted her help with on my iPhone. She was somewhat nonplussed when I told her that I didn’t use smart phones, iPhones, iPads, tablets, or any sort of mobile device. What really got her goat was when I mentioned that I don’t even carry around our ‘dumbphone’ most of the time.
          As it is, banks now charge monthly ‘service fees’ for accounts that fall below certain cash limits. Penalizing precisely those who can afford the imposts the least.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Telstra, our major telecommunications company in Oz, use to charge you $2 if you paid cash to pay their bills.

    2. djrichard

      From the video clip:

      “It’s already started tracking behavior as part of a plan to rank citizens and measure how good and obedient they are”.

      There was a post up here on NC the other day about the social contract. If memory serves, it didn’t really speak to the other side (our side) of that social contract, which in a nutshell is our obedience.

      Want to keep your job? Be obedient.

      Capitalism requires it even outside of the corporate environment. Want to keep your clients? Be obedient.

      Want to avoid being shot by police even if you’re not a threat? Be obedient.

      Chinese citizen and want to stay on the right side of the authorities there? Be obedient.

      Want to be on the right side of history during election time? Don’t read fake news. Listen only to official propaganda, not unsanctioned propaganda. Be obedient.

      Want to avoid having your country regime changed by the US? Be obedient to US interests.

      If you ever go to Mission Concepción in San Antonio, they have a nice 20 minute video for visitors providing an overview of how the native americans chose to adjust (or not) to the Spanish colonization there. Some saw adoption of the Western church as a pathway to squaring themselves to being obedient with the new Spanish conquistadors. But after 70 years or so they gave up and drifted away. They couldn’t reconcile their obedience. Wish I had copied that video with my cell phone when I was there – it was an eye opener.

      Contrast say to where the Yellow Vests are at the moment. Presumably they don’t want to drift away – can they? But they don’t want to signal their obedience in the mean time either. Interesting “area of sovereignty” that they’re occupying at the moment. When they become obedient again, the media will rejoice that their message is still in tact: their message being obedience. In the mean time, the media will despise them.

  24. John Zelnicker

    Yves – I’ve been using Opera Mail ever since Netscape Navigator folded. It was originally a part of the Opera browser, but they separated the two several years ago. It has a simple contact list, which I only use for email addresses. It doesn’t appear to be intended to be your main contact list. There are no other features to get in your way.

    Perhaps one of your tech people can assess it’s potential for you.

  25. Lee

    PG&E Files for Bankruptcy Following California Wildfires Wall Street Journal. It appears the Journal broke this story. I don’t see anything yet on Bloomberg or the LA Times site.

    This story is being broadcast on our local SF bay area PBS radio station KQED. At 9am left coast time, the local live program Forum will discuss the matter in depth.

    As PG&E Bankruptcy Nears, Effects Loom Large
    PG&E is expected to file for bankruptcy protection as early as Tuesday, as the utility faces more than $30 billion in potential wildfire liabilities. We’ll discuss what bankruptcy could mean for ratepayers, employees, investors and fire victims.

    Allowing for my faulty recollection, this is what I heard on the radio: Currently, PG&E has $91 Billion in assets and $71 Billion in liabilities. However, they only have only $397 Million in operating cash, which they deem insufficient to provide services.

    1. polecat

      “only have $397 Million in operating cash”

      Hence the bridge loans from the usual cast of bankster miscreaants .. who will snap up all the assets should PG&E ‘stumble’ … again .. which, if recent history is a guide, they will.

      1. Cal2

        “Sorry if your house burned down, your animals died or you possibly even lost a relative or two because of our cost savings in power line maintenance.”

        “Hopefully our media buys, TV ads and use of lots of regular folks we hire to pretend to be our employees will make you feel better about our company.”

        “We are now bankrupt, and like any business that’s just trying to survive, we have reorganized our debts and unfortunately can’t pay damages.”

        “Our CEO’s bonuses? Oh, that’s a contract and we have to honor that.”

      2. Skip Intro

        I thought PG&E already stripped its assets (i.e. generating facilities) off a while ago, so that they were a distribution company only, with lots of infrastructure they could cut corners on without risking any actual assets of their own.

        1. ocop

          I believe they sold some (as required by CAs chaotic transition to a “market” system) but still have hydro assets, some renewables, a soon-to-be-closed nuke and probably some thermal.

          Even beyond the generation assets the electric and gas transmission and distribution infrastructure is worth many, many billions of dollars.

  26. Alex V

    Regarding auditors…. my company has a few from one of the Big Four going over our books at the moment and what struck me was how young they are, so probably fresh out of school and not battle hardened.

    Not sure if it’s just me being cynical, but I could see the value in having the cheapest, impressionable, and most inexperienced kids doing audits if you’re trying to ignore or hide accounting fraud.

    1. Roger Smith

      “Text Fearless to….”

      What does that even mean? #what #Howdoyousocialmedia

      I bet the struggling poor families were fearless when Harris’ goon squads were knocking on doors and filing bogus charges on them for kids not going to school.

    2. Chris Cosmos

      This poorly written article says, essentially that we should endorse her because she is “black” (racism endures in the notion that anyone with some African ancestry is automatically black).

      1. Anon

        That is an interesting observation.

        The term “black” in the US is used differently than in other countries. And Kamala appears to focus her upbringing on her mother, who was dark-skinned Indian (an immigrant from India). Her father, Jamaican immigrant, is not prominent in her Bio, since he and her mother divorced when she was seven years old. Both parents received good educational opportunity. Her mother was a PhD. and cancer researcher and her father is purportedly a professor at Stanford University (though he doesn’t appear in their website faculty listing).

        So not only does Kamala have limited African American heritage, she has limited experience with real “black” culture in the US. (Hobnobbing with Willie Brown is not getting “real”.) Maybe that’s why it was so easy to “kick down”.

        1. Oh

          Sounds a lot like the First “Black” President we had in the previous two terms. Kenyan Dad who disappeared from his life, White Mom who brought him part time and a White Grandma with connections! Went to an expensive school in Honolulu with plenty of Pakalolo for parttaking with friends.

    3. zagonostra

      If you read the comments in that RS piece, you’ll not see many readers biting on this rotten apple…it’s like the 9/11 article/interview in TruthDig this week, the comments speak volumes on just how disconnected the writer/magazine/web site is from those who read it (NC excepted of course).

  27. Lee

    Yeah, she’s a real…..Sorry, the only words that come immediately to mind are too offensive, even for me. The sadistic pleasure she obviously displays is truly creepy.

    She is a cliche. Let us not forget, the carceral state has enjoyed considerable support from the black misleadership class.

    1. pjay

      Thank you for these. Both articles are very informative. Also very depressing, as once again the depths of our hybrid warfare resources are exposed.

  28. Xquacy


    Email Service : Mailfence
    Gmail like, Supports IMAP, Alias’s, Calendar, Contacts, everything! You probably do not have to relearn anything since the interface is almost identical to gmail and quite intuitive.

    Organizer (As already suggested by Dimodica) : Standard notes

  29. allan

    File under Barcode is Law:

    GOP state lawmaker wins Iowa election after state legislature rejects 29 absentee ballots
    [The Hill]

    The Iowa Legislature on Monday handed a seat to a state GOP lawmaker after voting to reject 29 absentee mail ballots in a closely-contested race, according to The Associated Press.

    The news service noted that the incumbent Republican, Rep. Michael Bergan, had won the northeast Iowa seat by nine votes.

    The result led to a challenge from his Democratic opponent, which by law required the House to decide whether the absentee mail ballots in question would be opened and counted.

    The AP noted that the 29 mailed absentee ballots were sent to election officials on time, according to a U.S. Postal Service scan of a barcode on the envelopes. But House Republicans contended that a state law mandated that those barcodes could not be used to validate the ballots.

    According to Iowa law, mailed absentee ballots are required to have postmarks confirming they were sent a day prior to an election. The 29 ballots in question did not have a postmark.

    The Republicans in the Legislature argued that a postal routing barcode was not an intelligent mail barcode under Iowa law and that the ballots should be rejected because of it. …

  30. Matthew G. Saroff

    While I agree that the headline, “A solution to climate change that Democrats (and Republicans) can rally behind,” sucks, the proposal, a carbon tax, is probably the best policy option, particularly if it is implemented as VATs are, so that imports are subject to the tax as well.

    I do not like the tax being refundable, but it is probably the most politically viable proposal, though, as Washington State showed, environmental groups hate it because they don’t get lucrative contracts out of it.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s essential that it be “refundable,” or it lands on the backs of the poor. This way, it transfers income downward.

      It would make sense to skim off a percentage for environmental projects, either energy conservation or research.

  31. Synoia

    Huawei Is Blocked in US, But Its Chips Power Cameras Everywhere

    It’s related to what China is doing on its own territory: using surveillance cameras to construct a massive, Orwellian state, Representative Mike Gallagher, a Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said in an interview.

    The US is has not constructed an Orwellian state? No FANG selling data to the USG?

  32. Down2Long

    Kamela Harris jailing parents of truant kids is one “progressive” solution to truancy.

    Here in Los Angeles where every city function is rigged to fill city coffers for our fat retirement packages after 20 years service, the liberal City Council passed an ordinance that fined parents $250 for the first time a child is late to class, $500 for the second offense.

    Never mind the kid might be a teenager helping get their younger siblinga ready to school because Mom left at 4 am on the bus to take care of some rich family’s kids in Beverly Hills.

    I just got charged $15,000 for a city contractor to do brush clearance on lots I had already cleares, and which had passed for the last 15 years. There is no independent arbiter. Fire inspector says you’re in violation, calls in a no bid crew. Applies the bill to your property taxes.

    Robert Scheer, my patron saint lefty thinks Los Angeles has become like Russia where the proles are milked dry to support the elite’s dachas, with the city employees (read nepotism) making 3 times what people make in the private sector.

    I volunteer as a poll worker. Our poll was at City College. Took literally a day of footwork to find out who would let us in to set up our polling station. They just had a huge buyout, so no one knew anything, including the president’s office, and no one seemed motivated to help. Finally found a helpful oldtime maintenance person who helped me out. We got to talking about City waste and the high costs of credits for students.

    Turns out he makes $36 an hour for maintenance, before benefits. Look, I am not a republican, but that is three times (ateast) what maintenance peoplw in the private sector make.

    And to cover those costs, the per unit charge at Los Angeles City College is unaffordable for many.

    I want the majority of my taxes and fees to go to education, but very soon 1/3 of the city budget will be going to paying retirements.

    And don’t even get me started on how you can’t get your plans approved at the Los Angeles Building and Safety department without being able to figure out who is looking for a bribe. I had a plan check guy, wouldn’t approve my plans because he “didn’t like” my licensed engineer and architect. Took a year, another $5k. Came back with a new set of plans. He was furious with me, just started stamping while snapping at me “why’d you get new plans?” Suddenly it dawned on me that he was mad because I hadn’t given him the $5k. I said “You should’ve told me you wanted a “mordida” (bribe.) He was of Guatemalan origin. I just wasn’t paying atttention. As it was the building had sat so long vacant I lost it to foreclosure.

    Or when the City Rent Control department made me kick a tenant out so they could make fines. The unit had been registered with rent control for 40 years, inspected every 3 years. Word came down the city wanted fines, so any anamoly was treated as a violation (i.e. a building that was on the record as a duplex, but had been converted to a tripmex in the distant past.)

    So the city made me kick the $500 a month tenant out, take out the kitchen, and leave the unit vacant. Turns out it had been converted in 1942 during the war when housing was short.

    No matter. The city got $6k in fines from me, the tenant finally found a new place for $1500 a month, and everyone but the city lost. The city wouldn’t even let me give him the 60 day notice mandated by state law. They only would give me 30. The guy worked for Los Angeles County Children’s services. Not rich.

    Beware the “progressive” wolves in sheeps clothing. I love Bernie, but a lot of “progressives” are just looking out for themselves.

    I long for Chicago where everyone is upfront about bribes and you can at least get stuff done.

    Many bureaucrats here are just like the oligarch’s – thinking only of their own personal enrichment. And they hace more direct control of our lives than even the oligarchs. It’s dispiriting.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Thank you for your post it is really, really important for people to understand that US society at every level and her I include all levels of government and the corporate sector are deeply corrupt and unreformable. The System is systemically corrupt and it is more than bribery it is all about networks of back scratching. This is why nothing can get done other than more war, sanctions, court gossip and sordid plots between various factions within the Imperial Court. So much if the discourse on ignores the issue of corruption.

      1. Cal2

        Re Robert Scheer and “L.A. like Russia”. When I worked there in the 1990s the number of Mercedes parked in city employee parking lots attested to that.

        If you think it’s only L.A., you haven’t spent any time at San Francisco City Hall.
        On what toxic ground do political toadstools like Kamala grow?

        The California state government is becoming the equivalent of your post. Just read up on the power grab of Gavin Newsom. His withholding of recently approved gas taxes to certain communities to force the developers’ dream of building mandatory low-income housing and the addition of health care funding for adult illegals to their already covered children, an example.

        The apparatchiks have graduated from L.A. and S.F. to Sacramento. They are ready to exercise their power there. CALPERS is an example.

        I think your 3X wage comparison of janitors is flawed.
        The mostly black, private employer, Janitors’ Union was very powerful in L.A. It helped their members gain a middle class life with good wages and benefits.
        “Downtown”, meaning the high rise operators in buildings that sprang up on Bunker Hill, once the poor veterans and lower classes had been driven out, and the buildings erected, didn’t want to pay for expensive janitors. Their salvation? Immigrants who worked very cheaply and destroyed the Janitors Union driving down wages.

        1. RMO

          “I think your 3X wage comparison of janitors is flawed”

          What struck me is that, if true the implied “normal” $12/hour is abusively low. Even full-time that doesn’t come close to being a living wage – and that applies to places where health car and housing are cheap let alone LA.

          1. Cal2

            “Just doing jobs that Americans won’t do”…
            at the prevailing wages proffered because of their presence.

            You want a union? Higher wages? You’re going to withhold your labor? 20 million replacements waiting to apply.

  33. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

    Can’t edit my prior comment, so I’m tacking this on as a new one.

    Forgot to mention in my prior plug for Standard Notes, but your notes are encrypted locally, regardless of whether you choose to employ their sync (requires that you choose a pass phrase). The devs are big on security.

    It struck me as odd that I wouldn’t have initially mentioned it, but then I remembered – a software product without security at the forefront is less than worthless…it’s harmful. I have no issues paying for software I find useful, but there are plenty of paid options out there that treat security as an afterthought and think of your data as a commodity to be strip-mined and possibly sold to advertisers (Hence why I stay away from the admittedly more feature-rich Evernote).

  34. c1ue

    Yves: install VMware player, set up a virtual machine for the OS needed for your email server.
    Also regarding any internet company: look up “pen register”

  35. Summer

    Re: The Fleecing of Millennials

    Yeah, I just checked out a couple of documentaries about that subject. Case study was the Fyre Festival (that wasn’t).
    The Hulu and Netflix docs.

    They are going to need SS and Medicare more than Instagram posts.

  36. rd

    FYI – how traffic engineers want to use 5G:

    BTW – I swear by zinc lozenges (e.g. Cold-Eeze) at the beginning of a cold to reduce duration and symptoms. Clinical trials have shown that they are reasonably effective at this. They are most effective if you start immediately when you start thinking you have any cold symptoms. At this time of the year, I carry some when traveling and suck on them after airplane rides to try to cut off infection at the pass before it gets started. Doesn’t do anything for flu though.

  37. John H

    Computer woes are the worst. Apple allows you to run OSX in a Virtual Machine via Parallels or Fusion. You most likely can upgrade your OS and run your obsolete app inside a VM running the old version of OSX that you’re currently using. I’d expect that trick to be inside the skillset of most professional Apple support engineers.

  38. lordkoos

    Yves, Mozilla Thunderbird is actually pretty good. You can set it up any way you like, and don’t have to use (or see) the calendar functions at all if you don’t wish to use them (I don’t). I’ve found it to be easy to use.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I’ve used Thunderbird for quite a while and like it. I don’t use the extras or notice them, but our resident IT guy just pointed out the calendar, with only a minimum of sarcasm, so I may start using it. Like Yves, I resist learning new systems, but not because my time is so tight. Don’t know how Thunderbird would work on Mac, though.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The being so busy legitimates my tendencies. Even when I had more time, I didn’t like learning new software. Only exception was Improv (a much better than Excel spreadsheet) and that’s because it had a terrific manual.

  39. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The robot revolution will be worse for men.

    Is that before or after taking into account the many fun and exotic activities men are looking forward to be doing with female robots?

  40. Oregoncharles

    From “The Natural Materials That Could Replace Environmentally Harmful Plastics”: “Almost by accident, he created “Biostone”: a mixture of sand (incidentally, one of Earth’s most abundant resources)”

    Strange as it may seem, there are serious, if somewhat local, shortages of sand, serious enough that beaches have been stripped – for sand that should not be used in buildings. And there is local resistance to steadily growing sand mines – this has happened around here, a valley floor where it should be abundant. So it’s an “abundant resource” that we’re already over-using.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Human folly.

      We used to think that we could dump trash anywhere.

      Then, one day, it dawned on us that, by over consumption, we were looking at running out of places to dump trash.

      The same with dumping things into the ocean. We initially though, when humans numbered so many and were not that smart at exploting Nature, that we could just do that. The seas seemed immense, almost infinitely, until they stopped looking so.

      So, more technology solutions don’t or shouldn’t fool us into complacency, though we don’t seem to learn.

      Humility and less consumption – i.e. working on improving ourselves from within – may be the way to go forward.

        1. ambrit

          Vampyres and other Traditionalists.
          As a clue to how the elites might want this to play out, consider that until a century ago, infant mortality and women dying in childbirth were major methods of keeping population numbers down. Now, if we could just restrict ‘improved’ ‘superior’ medicine to the “Deserving” populations… Oh, wait. That’s what’s happening now. (For some definition of ‘Deserving.’ Oh. That definition was promulgated years ago by the resort to monetary based Capitalism.)

  41. Oregoncharles

    “Google’s Sidewalk Labs Plans to Package and Sell Location Data on Millions of Cellphones”

    IOW, from Google and our cell-phone providers: “Trust us. We would never misuse all that data on you, and of course, neither would the NSA.”

  42. Oregoncharles

    “A solution to climate change that Democrats (and Republicans) can rally behind The Hill. UserFriendly: “Shoot me.””
    Really? What is the objection to fee-and-dividend? It appears to be the only effective solution in a capitalist or market economy – and the communist economies were, if anything, worse for the environment.

  43. Light a Candle

    Kamala Harris’ gleeful videos of terrorizing families for truancy are revolting. She especially reveals her *complete* lack of empathy and humanity with her remarks about the homeless mother working two jobs.

    Kamala could not be more of a contrast to Bernie Sanders who respects ordinary people and understands the challenges facing them. She is very reminiscent of Hillary Clinton though.

  44. Duck1

    Trevor the duck, sad but don’t overlook it:

    During his short but happy life on Niue, Trevor lived in a large puddle.

    “There are no rivers, streams or lakes here, so Trevor chose to live in a puddle,” Ms Findlay told the BBC.

    And though he has seen as the world’s loneliest duck, it seemed he was anything but lonely.

    Trevor’s puddle was regularly checked on by concerned locals and even the island’s fire brigade, who would fill it up if water levels got too low.

  45. mikef

    re: Is Surveillance the Future of Service?
    the book: “The aisles have eyes” – JosephTurow, which came out over two years ago, foretold much of this – he spent a lot of time at technical conferences as part of his research
    for an excellent, well annotated and researched look at surveillance and the ( real history of the ) Internet – ‘Surveillance Valley’, Yasha Levine

  46. cripes

    “The unusually frigid weather is attributed to a sudden warming far above the North Pole. A blast of warm air from misplaced Moroccan heat last month made the normally super chilly air temperatures above the North Pole rapidly increase. That split the polar vortex into pieces, which then started to wander, said Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research. ”



    1. ambrit

      Welcome to the “New World Weather Order.” NWWO for short.
      However, it is pertinent to observe that the last few thousand years, in which the human “civilization” we live in has arisen, has been historically very temperate. The “new” chaotic weather is a reversion to mean for the last million years or so.

Comments are closed.