Links 1/3/19

Is habitat restoration actually killing plants in the California wildlands? PhysOrg (Robert M)

One Species Loves Our Climate-Wrecking Ways: Fire Ants! Wired (David L)

Ancient Turing Pattern Builds Feathers, Hair — and Now, Shark Skin Quanta (David L)

What Is Emergence? Quanta Magazine (David L)

Driverless cars must navigate human foibles Financial Times

The periodic tables we almost had Quartz (Kevin W)

Bill Gates says the US has lost its global leadership in nuclear power, and needs to ‘get in the game’ Business Insider (Kevin W)

‘This disease is a monster’: Furious moms blast CDC for failing to act on mystery polio-like virus which has left hundreds of kids paralyzed since 2012, killed at least two and is now expected to hit unprecedented levels in 2020 Daily Mail

Oregon Unconstitutionally Fined a Man $500 for Saying ‘I am an Engineer,’ Federal Judge Rules Vice

Sharp Drop in Australian Home Values Raises a Red Flag Bloomberg


Brexit: Manufacturers stepped up stockpiling in December, survey reveals Independent

By preparing for no deal properly, we will get the good Brexit democracy demands of us Telegraph. David Davis op-ed.

New Cold War

U.S. Citizen Held in Moscow Not Likely a Spy – Foreign Policy. Resilc: “Of course not, it is a frequent occurrence that a dishonorably discharged marine because of larceny becomes head of a major us corporation’s security that does business in Russia…”

Brazil’s Bolsonaro targets minority rights on first day in office Axios


Trump’s Syria Withdrawal is a Chance for Peace Project Syndicate (David L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Google wins lawsuit, can continue to use facial recognition tech on users without consent RT (Kevin W)

Google sat on a Chromecast bug for years, now hackers could wreak havoc Techcrunch (Kevin W)

Hacker group threatens to leak 9/11 ‘truth’ unless paid in bitcoin RT (martha r)

Imperial Collapse Watch

American Exceptionalism Is a Dangerous Myth New York Magazine. Resilc: “Just travel a bit and see how wrong this concept is.”

How women took over the military-industrial complex Politico (UserFriendly). Feminization of a field of work is almost without exception a sign of a decline in its status.

Reporter Quits NBC Citing Network’s Support For Endless War Caitlin Johnstone (chuck)

Trump Transition

#ShutdownStories: The impact of the government shutdown BBC

In shutdown, national parks transform into Wild West — heavily populated and barely supervised Washington Post (Kevin W)

Second White House meeting scheduled as shutdown drags toward week three The Hill

Donald Trump pleased Europeans are unhappy with him DW

UserFriendly: “HA!!!! Even the right wing Dems figured out paygo is HORRIBLE politics and HORRIBLE policy.”

Martha r points out it is not too late to call your Dem congresscritter (assuming you have one) and tell them “Hell no!” re Paygo, but you need to do it early today!

Bernie Sanders Isn’t Just Another White Male Candidate. His Nomination Would Be Historic. The Forward (martha r)

Ocasio-Cortez Breaks With Pelosi in Key Early Vote for Democrats Bloomberg

Progressives To Put Up Last-Minute Fight To Stop ‘Pay-Go’ Budget Rules Huffington Post (Kevin W)

Mr. Market Is Not Very Happy

Apple just warned its holiday quarter was a huge miss, and the stock is getting crushed Business Insider. After hours announcement.

Apple Makes Rare Cut to Sales Guidance Wall Street Journal

Apple is basically blaming Trump’s trade war for disappointing iPhone sales in China Recode

The specter of deflation is haunting risk markets Asia Times

Five Doom Loops Investors May Confront in 2019 Bloomberg (Dr. Kevin)

‘Flash-Crash’ Moves Hit Currency Markets Bloomberg/blockquote>

Tesla shares tumble as car deliveries disappoint Financial Times

Fracking’s Secret Problem—Oil Wells Aren’t Producing as Much as Forecast Wall Street Journal (Kevin W). Not a surprise if you’ve been paying attention. Brian C adds:

I am still of the opinion that fracking only exists as a going concern because of multiple stealth subsidies sourced from U.S. taxpayers. I also continue to believe that theses subsidies are are in place to enable execution of some national security strategy that relies on fracking as an alternate supply source. It may very well be that this strategy will prove to be both prudent and effective (only time will tell), but I am not buying that fracking was ever sensible from an unmanipulated economic basis. My theory is supported by the consistent ability of fracking to defy gravity of both finances and politics. No matter how many “fracking is viable because…” narratives are laid to waste by facts, the narratives continue to mutate and move on with help from the necessary investment fairy (i.e. other people’s money).

Class Warfare

A More Diverse Oligarchy Sardonicky (UserFriendly)

Manhattan property prices retreat as glut persists Financial Times

“Prison Reform” Is Not Enough. In 2019, Let’s Fight for Decarceration. Truthout

Antidote du jour (Robert H):

And a bonus video (Robert M). This seems a bit mean except the turtle is very efficient at getting himself back to normal.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Fracking’s Secret Problem—Oil Wells Aren’t Producing as Much as Forecast Wall Street Journal (Kevin W). Not a surprise if you’ve been paying attention

    Its not a huge surprise for anyone who’s been following analysts like Arthur Berman over the years. Geologists, as opposed to economists, have know the dangers of extrapolations from the first round of oil tests or production, as they are so often in ‘sweet spots’ that can’t be replicated as oil or gas plays are expanded. Hence production is likely to fall off much quicker than expected.

    But tight oil and gas has defied economic rationale for years now. Its hard not to come to the conclusion that the entire industry has become Too Big to Fail, so will always be bailed out by Wall Street, and ultimately the US Government. Current low prices along with seemingly significant drops of demand worldwide as the economy gets shaky will be yet another huge test for the industry. No doubt its a test that the industry will pass, and the rest of us will fail.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      We are kind-of at an edge here. Long-term trend is that the world economy will stop “expanding”; also, many countries are gradually moving away from carbon-based fuels as new technology kicks in so I can’t see much hope for the industry unless they use truly strong-arm tactics–that is fairly easy in the USA but not so much elsewhere.

    2. Asher Miller

      Far from a secret. David Hughes and Post Carbon Institute have been publishing analysis of production in the major shale plays since 2011. It’s not just fracking companies that are overestimating production potential — the Energy Information Administration publishes ever more optimistic forecasts every year, which the MSM and policymakers take to the bank. Hughes has been publishing reality checks on these each year too, which can be found here:

    3. Alex Morfesis

      Agree with Brian c that it is a national security play…but only works if used to aggressively transition to solar, wind and kinetic hydro(meaning capturing existing piped and draining water flows)…if not…it just made baker/Hughes some money…and a rewiring of the national electric grid to reduce the losses and adjust electric needs to usage requirements… Multiple plugs at the wall instead of transformers reducing output for small wattage items due to current choice between a and a…

      We have an electric grid designed for a time when horses still carried products in cites…and cars were something that might one day replace horses…

      and we still call it horsepower…

      Fracking as a stand alone could never work…it must be as part of a transition or it must be killed off before its ecological damage leaves us a few love canals…

        1. Lambert Strether

          Over the transom comes the following link to 2001’s “National Energy Policy” (PDF).” From pages 5-6:

          For example, most new gas wells drilled in the United States will require hydraulic fracturing. This is a common procedure used by producers to complete gas wells by stimulating the well’s ability to flow increased volumes of gas from the reservoir rock into the wellbore….In certain formations, it has been demonstrated that the gas flow rate may be increased as much as twenty-fold by hydraulic fracturing. Each year nearly 25,000 oil and gas wells are hydraulically fractured.

          The use of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas production from coal seams is one of the fastest-growing sources of gas production. This source will most likely face added controls, and costs to ensure that disposal (by re-injection or discharge) of production waters is done in an environmentally sensitive manner.

          Hilarity ensues at the evident code-switching. (And I certainly don’t recall any discussion of fracking in 2001, by environmental groups or anyone else. did I not get the memo?

          Looks like, as with so much else, Obama rationalized and consolidated what the Bush administration began. .

    4. john c. halasz

      Just to pile on a bit more, here’s the comment I made on a local email list where the WSJ article was posted:

      John Halasz

      Wed, Jan 2, 7:39 PM (2 days ago)

      to vce, 350-Vermont
      It’s actually worse than the WSJ article lets on. Since the fracking boom began in 2008, oil and gas frackers have made no profits and have been operating on a negative net cash flow, i.e. taking on increasing amounts of debt. The NG price dropped below the cost-of-production by the beginning of 2012 and in the summer of 2017 the price was below $2; it closed out 2018 at $3.50, which might be the break even point, but it’s winter. In 2018, oil frackers spent $1 bn more than they produced in revenues. In the 4th quarter of 2017, for the first time since basically forever, the U.S. became a net ng exporter and since then to my knowledge 2 further ng liiquefication plants have opened with a 3rd one under construction in Beaumont TX. But since the entire industry has been operating at a loss while fueled by debt, and since fracked wells deplete rapidly, requiring ever new ones, with the best “plays” , -(yes, that’s the actual industry jargon),- hit first, such that 2 or 3 replacement wells are required to keep up production, the fracking industry must constantly over-produce to keep up with their debt service payments. while constantly raising more capital for an expensive capital-intensive, (i.e. really technically inefficient) process. And even so, fracked oil and gas tends to sell at a discount of 20% or more, since they lack they infrastructure to transport their sudden over-production. (Right now some 8000 miles of pipelines are under construction in TX alone). There are further fantastical plans being mooted, such as an $11 bn plastics complex in Ohio to absorbed the unprofitable excess supply. And whereas activists tend to focus on pipelines as “fossil fuel infrastructure”, what about those combined cycle ng generating plants that are being built across the country by utilities to take advantage of (temporarily?) cheap under-priced ng?

      But what has enabled this orgy of environmentally destructive mal-investment has been the policy of the Federal Reserve since the financial crisis, with zero interest rates and quantitative easing, which squeezes down risk premiums, providing the cheap debt that has fueled the “boom”. If not for that, likely the fracking boom would have been far more limited and have stalled out. (No siree, we don’t tolerate any government subsidies, instead relying on the “free market” without any planning, guidance or regulation!) And if not for the cheap ng crowding out investment in renewables, we would likely be much further along in substituting for fossil fuel energy.

      A fairly reputable investigative financial journalist has recently published a short book on the Fed’s role in the fracking boom, ignoring the environmental issues about which she’s naively agnostic and just focusing on the balance sheets, which is her bailiwick:

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Sharp Drop in Australian Home Values Raises a Red Flag Bloomberg

    This article too in the Guardian:

    There is increasing concern from global investors that all is not well with the Australian economy. Policy is in a do-nothing phase. Entrenched low wages growth is hampering growth in household spending. This is being complemented, in a negative way, by a sharp fall in wealth as house prices drop and the share market weakens, both of which will be a negative for the economy during 2019.

    This is because householders are simply not getting the income growth nor wealth accumulation needed to allow them to keep spending at a rate that will see the economy expand at a pace that will generate upside wage and inflation momentum. Strategies aimed at reducing debt and paring back new borrowings mean, by definition, weaker economic growth over the near term.

    The rosy forecasts from the Reserve Bank of Australia and Treasury published just last month are a pipe dream. Investors know this and are selling Australian dollars and buying government bonds as a result. No credible forecaster believes the RBA’s growth and wages forecasts.

    This assessment has driven an about-face in market expectations for official interest rates.

    I’d like to hear our Aussie regulars comment on this, but it sure looks to me like the Australian economy is looking at the first stages of a nose dive.

    Thankfully of course, like the other major English speaking economies, Oz is run by a highly competent and far-seeing government and financial sector, so I’m sure any problems will be well managed and controlled.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Mwa! ha! ha! ha! ha! Said it before in comments that the Aussie real estate markets can only see realistic prices in their rear vision mirrors. They are double, triple what they should be. The governments (both parties) have aided and abetted this process and have warped laws such as our Banking Act to help this along. My guess is that they will continue to drop and by drop I mean eventually do a triple gainer off a cliff. I have no justification for saying the following but this may mean accepting some very sharp short term pain (and maybe a lot of ruined lives) but that will save having a massive coronary when the next financial crisis hits and overseas financing dries up.

      1. Wukchumni

        9.8, 9.5, 3.5, 9.9, 10, 9.5, 9.7

        Watching the fade from afar has the usual share of hopey-wishy talking heads that fulsomely fill the void where once a market needed no such flattery.

    2. bwilli123

      you could try for more on the darkside of the OZ Bubble. Unfortunately many of the articles are subscriber only but those that are open attract a reasonable number of commentators. There is also Martin North’s YouTube Channel
      for a more sober but equally dour prospect for our near future.
      In short we avoided the GFC only to launch ourselves into a delayed repeat. I think it reasonable to expect Sydney real Estate to decline 30% plus from its peak.

      1. kgw


        You said we should look out further, I guess it wouldn’t hurt us
        We don’t have to be around all these coffee shops
        Now we’ve got that percolator, never made a latte greater
        I’m saving twenty three dollars a week

        We drive to a house in Preston, we see police arrestin’
        A man with his hand in a bag
        How’s that for first impressions? This place seems depressing
        It’s a Californian bungalow in a cul-de-sac

        It’s got a lovely garden, a garage for two cars to park in
        Or a lot of room for storage if you’ve just got one
        And it’s going pretty cheap you say, well it’s a deceased estate
        Aren’t the pressed metal ceilings great?

        Then I see the handrail in the shower, a collection of those canisters for coffee tea and flour
        And a photo of a young man in a van in Vietnam
        And I can’t think of floorboards anymore, whether the front room faces south or north
        And I wonder what she bought it for

        If you’ve got a spare half a million
        You could knock it down and start rebuildin’

          1. newcatty

            We discovered Courtney Barnett performing on a “Tiny Desk” concert. Engaging and cool singer writer. The above comments on the Oz Bubble puts a new , more poignant light on the relevance of the lyrics.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The rumour down here in The Lucky Country is that the Reserve Bank is preparing Aussie QE. No brief pause to reflect on the fact that their policies of interest rates at 500-year lows *created* the bubble in the first place, no no, time to bail out the already rich instead of addressing flatlining productivity and wages. Labour bless their hearts think importing more unskilled labour with no knowledge of English is a clever solution. Meantime a la USA and Wells Fargo rampant bank crime goes completely unpunished despite a very public airing of unbelievably dirty laundry, banks billing dead people for 10 years, insurance agents selling payroll deduct funeral policies to impoverished young Aboriginals, “financial planners” steering people into super-high-fee options. Under oath they asked the bank lady in charge of the high commission products “does paying a higher fee benefit the client?” and with complete aplomb she replied “Yes it does”. She is not only not in an orange jumpsuit but is still at her post and earning a very high income indeed.

    3. ChristopherJ

      is in its final, decaying stages. So, any sensible policy responses, if there were any, aren’t being discussed. The major markets are only down 10 percent or so from peak, so panic has not set in, yet. But very much on people’s minds, with many renters cheering it on (pass the popcorn), which is sad when people are going to lose their homes…

      We are reliant on the construction sector, but we are predominantly a services economy and it’s not as large as people think. Still the sector will be hit hard, not least from the cladding scandals and the recent Opal Tower in Sydney which has major cracks in its structure. There have been numerous high profile projects already shelved (Jewel in Gold Coast). As well, the Banking Royal Commission reports in February and the banks are in for a hiding, already they’ve pulled back massively in lending and this has held back what people are prepared to pay, further depressing home prices.
      When people don’t feel as wealthy, when cash is hard to get hold of, we spend less. So, there is going to be reduced consumption, retail will find it tough, unemployment will rise, less money in economy. Will probably tip us into recession in 2019.

      Up my way, we go by plane arrivals and how much money they spend. Still, I see a very sobering period ahead for our construction sector which has been going gangbusters in recent times. There is going to be a very much reduced appetite for new dwellings going forward and this will flow into prices, but not as bad as we will see in the capital cities. Going to be an interesting year.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Oops, missed first sentence.

        That our interim PM and his LNP government…

        Have a great day, everyone

    4. Kfish

      The Australian property market has been propped up for years by tax subsidies allowing investors to write off their losses against any other form of personal income, as well as favourable tax treatment of capital gains. In the last six months, a Royal Commission has exposed exactly how fast and loose the finance sector played with lending standards to keep lending. Lending standards have tightened significantly since. Real estate is the asset class of the middle class here, and the average Aussie is leveraged to the eyeballs.

      The Liberal government are dead men walking because of a series of scandals and leadership changes putting ever more right-wing incompetents, to the point where the current PM is a ‘happy clapper’ (evangelical Christian) in a country where that denomination is mostly regarded as extremist weirdos. Bill Shorten, the opposition leader who is almost certainly going to be PM at the next election (May at the latest) has promised to curtail negative gearing which will likely crush a whole lot of marginal property investors. It’s necessary, but it’s going to be ugly simply because the building and finance industries are such a large part of the economy.

  3. flora

    re: ‘we have Joe Biden’s defenders touting his support for means-test cuts to Social Security.” -Sirota

    SS is an insurance policy of sorts. You and your employer pay in quarterly (if your employer is in the FICA system) for a payout upon a qualifying event, in this case retirement or disability. You’ve paid the premiums.

    Now imagine Biden or some other estab Dem saying that, oh, for example, car insurance payouts should be means tested upon a qualifying event, say a fender bender. ‘Yes, Mr. John Q. Public, you have paid your premiums over the years without fail, but we’ve decided you earn too much for us to make a full payout to you. Tough luck.’

    The better answer for SS is to raise the cap on the amount of earned income that can be included in the FICA tax. However, with the cap set relatively low, and with the payout based on what was paid in and for how long, the very high income people already receive proportionally less (compared to their incomes) than lower income people. It’s a great progressive program.

    1. jackiebass

      SS is already means tested indirectly. Low income earners get a bigger percentage than high income workers. I’m not wealthy but believe if people pay in they should be able to collect if they choose to. If a person doesn’t want to collect the simply don’t have to apply for the benefit. To me charging high income people more for medicare Part B is unfair. Don’t subsidize some people and punish others through SS and medicare. If you want to subsidize peoples income have a guaranteed income. If people are working they should be paid a living wage. Raise the minimum wage to facilitate this. If businesses have to raise their prices so what. Businesses like Walmart whose owners are very wealthy live off of the taxpayer.They should be operating so their workers aren’t considered living in poverty. Look at the deal Amazon just to from NY. This is shameful and shouldn’t be allowed. If you wish to practice Capitalism and have free markets, then have a business make it on their own. The good will survive and the bad will perish. That’s how it should be. If you don’t wan’t capitalism then come up with a different system. I could be wrong but I believe Neoliberalism ruined what Capitalism should be. It distorted who should benefit and by how much. At any rate something has to change for the better for all for the US to survive as a first class country for all..

      1. a different chris

        >Raise the minimum wage to facilitate this.

        And note that raising the min wage substantively will automatically drive money into SS. I’m not one who thinks that is needed (print money and direct it productively, which means *not to the military*) but the math works.

        Basically restore the middle class and a lot of things start taking care of themselves.

        1. ambrit

          Yeah, but, “restoring the middle class” means cutting down on the outsized power of the upper class. (Cue the Frederick Douglass quote.) Money is just another tool for the exercise of power.

      2. jrs

        and there is already a perfectly good (perhaps not as ideal as wealth taxes but simpler) answer to making rich people pay more, it’s called progressive income taxes. If only they didn’t become less progressive with every administration they would actually do the job.

      3. paulmeli

        FDR made the decision to take SS out of our paychecks so workers and proponents could argue that “we paid for it so we should get it” when right-wingers would inevitably try to cut or eliminate the benefit.

        FDR knew that the government didn’t “need” the money, that government neither has nor doesn’t have money because it can freely create money on demand. In that context, it makes no sense for the government to “save” tax collections and in fact if you paid your tax bill in cash the money would be shredded directly.

        The accounting is nothing more than record-keeping, has nothing at all to do with how much the government has to spend.

        When we buy into the “taxes fund something” argument, even if it may be effective in some cases, we give up the high ground in so many important instances that it undermines progressive policy making. Use of one argument eliminates the possibility of the other, both can’t be true.

        Beardsly Ruml:

        In 1945, Ruml made a famous speech to the ABA, asserting that since the end of the gold standard, “Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete”. The real purposes of taxes were: to “stabilize the purchasing power of the dollar”, to “express public policy in the distribution of wealth and of income”, “in subsidizing or in penalizing various industries and economic groups” and to “isolate and assess directly the costs of certain national benefits, such as highways and social security”. This is seen as a forerunner of functional finance or chartalism. (Wikipedia)

        The ideas behind MMT are not new. The term Chartalism was introduced in 1905 but the idea dates back to the Roman Empire.

        If we continue playing their game we will continue to be hamstrung by their rules.

        1. Jeff W

          …so workers and proponents could argue that “we paid for it so we should get it”…

          Currency users are in a different position than the currency issuer. While I’ve very often seen MMT proponents mention that to point to its implications for the currency issuer, I haven’t seen them acknowledge the asymmetry from the standpoint of the currency user.

          Currency users (i.e., anyone who pays into Social Security) are giving up something that they cannot create on demand, unlike the currency issuer, whether or not the currency issuer, in fact, needs it. I’d think that creates a legitimate claim on whatever those currency users anticipate they will get in the future. (We can argue whether we need the creation of that legitimate claim—certainly FDR thought so, judging by his actions—but that’s a separate issue.)

          It’s not an issue of “payment for” or “funding” (from anyone’s standpoint, the currency user or the issuer); it’s an issue of the currency user incurring a very real detriment in anticipation of some event. If we have currency users incurring a detriment, thereby creating legitimate claims on future events, I don’t see any problem with that being proportional (e.g., raising the cap). Again, that’s irrespective of whether the currency issuer “needs” the money at all.

  4. Louis Fyne

    What is it with DC campaign people? Who else saw E Warren partying it up on her social media account?

    The same people who encouraged E Warren to chug Michelob on cam must have graduated from the Hillary Clinton School of Marketing.

      1. Wukchumni

        I thought the optics were horribly bad, it was as if she was running for President in 1932, with a plank against prohibition, and wanted to make a statement where she stood on the matter.

        There must’ve been quite the jam session beforehand about what brand of barley soda she could be seen with. It had to be domestic, being the bottom line. No way she could be seen chugging a craft beer though, that would smack of somebody that can afford a $10 sixpack, rank elitists.

        1. Louis Fyne

          which is why the obvious, pundit-nitpicked, focus group-approved, safe choice was Sam Adams. Craft enough, affordable enough.

          Who drinks Michelob anymore? except ironically. It ain’t Miller Hi-Life and ain’t craft. In my neck of the woods, you really have to put some effort to find Michelob in the beer aisle.

          So either Warren really loves the ‘club soda of beer’ or some well-meaning but out-of-touching, condescending media person said Michelob will connect to the Bernie Bros and Deplorables.

          Sorry be obsessed with E Warren’s Michelob but as a beer lover Warren’s beer choice is fascinating and (i’d argue) a good allegory about the media/campaign folks in DC.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’ll admit to thinking myself into believing Wisconsin Löwenbräu was the Good Germans of suds, hallowed ground for an underage drinker, perhaps swayed by the bottle cap encircled aluminum foil wrap and exotic umlauts.

            Michelob was a better choice than Budweiser in the limited range of choices, but then anything was. The 1961 era bottle shape was the distinctive feature.

            You walk down the BevMo beer aisle and have hundreds of choices now, versus a dozen when I was on the verge of adulthood.

            A brewery opened here in town a year ago, and is doing great, as in many other locales scattered across the country, a real growth industry.

            But the Warren Commission decided on a JFK era veer, Camelot!

          2. Off The Street

            Upon learning about her beer choice, I wondered aloud:

            They still make Michelob? Who drinks it?

            1. Mike Mc

              A million years ago I worked on the John Anderson campaign (who?) here in Nebraska. High school friend worked on the national campaign, and was relaxing with the state campaign staff in CA or other Left Coast enclave while watching coverage on the evening news (remember that?).

              The commentator said something about Anderson’s appeal being confined to the “Brie and Chablis” crowd… which caused the gathering to erupt in laughter. You guessed it – they were all drinking Chablis and eating Brie! Sometimes the MSM gets it right I guess.

            2. Stephanie Highley

              Deplorables – aka, everyone outside the delivery areas of small breweries. Small brewery tends to = small delivery radius. In my experience in the upper midwest (MN & IA, WI’s idk as most of my experience there has been in college towns), it’s still what’s on tap in most bars outside core cities & college towns.

          3. Eclair

            I like beer, as do some Supreme Court Justices, but in moderation and I don’t usually jump vulnerable males.

            However, I don’t drink ‘craft’ beer, I drink ‘local’ beer. It’s all in the optics. I’m supporting local people and small businesses, from the hop growers (well, they are not always locally ‘local’) to the brew master to the truck driver.

            Driving through the heartland of America, as we regularly do, I always inquire about the ‘local’ brew. Sometimes, I get weird looks and end up with “We have Coors lite, honey”), but maybe I have planted a seed. “Hmmmm … local beer ….. we can make our own?”

      2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        I think her desired constituency would have been more excited about her sipping at a PBR

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          I eagerly await her M1 tank ride.

          (“Here’s the World War I flying ace looking down at the poor blighters in the trenches below.”)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Shallow people. I saw the point the other day, but one of the problems the U.S. has is simply no member of the group that brought us Iraq has paid a price for it except for HRC’s two time failed coronations. No accountability means no one has to think about what happened. In DC, it was an accountability free zone. Maybe, Joe Biden will be the next victim of his own hideous actions, and people won’t vote for him.

      Robbie Mook is now a Harvard fellow. Donna Brazille despite her whole career was still put in charge of the DNC on an interim basis in 2016. James Carville is still called a Democrat in public despite conspiring with his wife about Kerry campaign strategy.

      Seniority is another problem. Safe districts breed seniority, and so the result is the decision makers are Pelosi’s people. Their perceptions of non-safe blue districts shape the approach. The Warren escapade is similar to Kerry’s hunting trip on the eve of the election. Not only did he look like a clown (all hunters do), but he also managed to put out he needs to kill a deer to relieve stress. How effed is that? I’m sure all kinds of strategerists from districts where there is no general election and Clinton loyalists thought it was a great idea.

      Cable news is rife with these people who have never won a competitive election. He works for Tim Kaine, but consider Kaine’s 2005 Gubernatorial campaign which wasn’t a sure thing. Organizing won the race against a likeable Republican candidate who use to serve drinks before UVA football games to anyone who showed up. Kaine never once stopped talking about the need for universal, free pre-school. Of course, he cut the estate tax and failed to deliver on the pre-school promise because he didn’t have any money. Its weird how that works. His campaign manager is his chief of staff, but he’s not a household name among politicos. Isn’t he the guy (if there was one person) that swung Virginia? HRC cruised in VA, once unthinkable. Why isn’t he on tv all the time or a celebrity? He ran Warner’s campaign in 2008. He didn’t win every county, but he 68% of the vote.

      Interestingly enough, Kaine’s campaign manager, Mike Henry, worked for HRC in 2007 and proposed they skip Iowa, knowing full well they were behind in the caucus. I missed this story or don’t remember it, but in retrospect, this idea has appeal.

      I do know Mike Henry a bit, and he is better than the average politico. Why isn’t he on tv? He’s won a real race with no scandal. Though, he works for Kaine, so his values are still hideous. He’s probably too dynamic for the static blob to let him through. And so when Warren goes looking for help, the help is Clinton loyalists who came up in safe blue districts.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Makes you wonder if, having already decided who they’ll order us all to vote for, the Democrats will be sending ringers into the campaigns of the rest of the field to undermine them with bad advice. There were, after all, more than a few reports of them doing so with Sanders campaign offices at the state level, although those were mainly handled by putting the kibosh on voter recruitment and door-to-door. Which, given that was the Robby Mook Method, is also probably telling.

        Is it imaginable they actually plan to run O’Rourke in the face of Sirota’s reveal? It would certainly explain the speed with which the MSM launched its “war on Beto” campaign. Of course, despite all the impeachment noise already being made, one has to wonder whether the Dems will actually want to get rid of their easy target, used to ensure they have someone else to blame while they finish gutting the republic. I mean, let’s face it—Pence just won’t cut it as raving fascist lunatic, y’know?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Is it imaginable they actually plan to run O’Rourke in the face of Sirota’s reveal?

          1. I would say these aren’t talented people.
          2. Two, their propaganda also works on them. The best conmen believe what they say.
          3. Sanders appeal doesn’t make sense to the Clinton loyalists. To them its a trick.
          4. How they view Sanders is important. In their minds, he’s sort of HRC style candidate. Old, experienced, whatever.
          5. Who beat HRC? A celebrity candidate, with no political track record except calling HRC’s wars stupid. It happened in 2008 and 2016. I think they are trying to come up with a celebrity to beat the old candidate. Based on 2016, they never really understood how Obama beat HRC in the first place or how Dean beat the Clinton backed candidate for the DNC in 2005 (really late 04?).
          6. They’ve tried almost everyone, even that drooling Kennedy spawn.
          7. Time is running out. Beta is an attempt to create the Obama magic by people who never understood why Obama was successful. They want excitement.

          As to stupid or evil, evil breeds stupidity because evil doesn’t care about the other. Their ilk doesn’t take the time to see outside.

        2. Lambert Strether

          > the Democrats will be sending ringers into the campaigns of the rest of the field to undermine them with bad advice.

          On ringers, see on Simon Bracey-Lane here, in the Sanders campaign, 2016.

          An institution with a straight-forward platform and discipline wouldn’t need to worry about infiltration nearly so much. The strategists and consultants and apparatchiks and media* create a lot of complexity, which is not only very expensive profitable, but creates niches for infiltrators, agent provocateurs, ringers, etc. Turn everything inside out by making the platform key, ejecting those who won’t conform, and hammering it for a decade or so, and then IMNSHO you’re a lot less vulnerable. Of course today’s Big Tent Democrats can’t do that, which is a feature, not a bug… .

          NOTE * All of whom do seem to merge with the intelligence community at point or another

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Who else saw E Warren partying it up on her social media account?

      Beto, too, in the kitchen.

      AOC was cooking on Instagram and it got a lot of play. So people tried to copy her. It’s not as transferable as people think.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Mr. Market Is Not Very Happy” – Apple

    Apple’s problems may be more structural than how factors such as Trump’s tariffs may be effecting their profits. Was just watching a 2-minute video today where Steve Jobs explained that once you were a monopoly, new products don’t help you much with profitability and it is only better sales and marketing that makes the difference leading to their promotion. When the later get to run the company, then that company will find itself in the hurt box-

    And in passing, just how the hell does a German Shepherd and an Owl pal up together as shown in today’s antidote du jour?

    1. Wukchumni

      Were German Shepherds rebranded into Alsatians in Aussie during WW1, as they were in the UK?

      There was a lot of that going around in the commonwealth, a place named Berlin, Ontario was renamed Kitchener in 1916.

      The anecdote pairing would be an owl-satian

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not just rebranded as Alsatians. Their numbers were restricted for some time after because of their heritage and the excuse was that they were a vicious dog. The result was that for breeding purpose, it led to a bit of inbreeding because there were not a lot of lines available to use. That ended decades ago and more German Shepherds were imported but then the dog societies decide to “improve “the breed by having them bred with a sort of roach back which leads to hip dysplasia problems.
        As for renaming we had the same. I spent a few weeks in a town that was called Germanton back before WW1. That was considered unpatriotic in WW1 so it was renamed Holbrook after the first Aussie VC winner. It went further. I live near a town that had heaps of German emigrant farmers originally. There is a cemetery near me and most of the older stones have German writing on them. Now the only way that you would know of the original presence of Germans is by the many Germanic names of the families in the region.

        1. Eclair

          Changing names is unfortunate, but at least most of the German immigrants kept their freedom during the wars. Unlike the Japanese, who could not ‘blend in’ and who ended up in detention camps.

          As did a number of German families, with children who were US citizens, and who were held as ‘hostages’ for purposes of prisoner exchange in secret camp in Crystal City, Texas. I ran across “The Train to Crystal City” a few years ago in a used book sale. Heartbreaking stories.

    2. Louis Fyne

      there’s a hard ceiling to the number of people willing to pay the premium to be locked into the Apple ecosystem. (just being honest)

      And even (hypothetically) if those people double their income/wealth, they’re not going to spend 2x more at iTunes or on iPhones.

      Maybe Tim Cook will realize than even Apple isn’t immune from stagnant income growth in the bottom 86% of the developed world.

      1. Lynne

        It’s not just the initial cost of the hardware. It’s the constant degradation in operating systems and capability forced on an annual basis. Yes, in theory the upgrades are not required,in theory. But after a while the “productivity” apps just stop working right unless you “upgrade” so you can get more cruft like poop emojis and multi-colored emojis because we’re not supposed to be into universality anymore. After all, heaven forbid we not be able to identify users’ ethnicity by their emojis.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Judging by Youtube, there are are people, not in the US, who keep owls as house pets. It’s an odd thing to see. I can think of other scenarios, like a wildlife rescue place, but pet owl is the likeliest.

  6. Wukchumni

    In shutdown, national parks transform into Wild West — heavily populated and barely supervised Washington Post

    SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, California, January 2, 2019 – Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be fully closed effective 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2. The parks are being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns. This supersedes previous closures.

    Sequoia National Park will be closed at the Ash Mountain Entrance Station in Three Rivers, California. This closure extends through the Foothills, Giant Forest, Lodgepole, through to Lost Grove. The closure includes all concession and park partner operations. Bathroom facilities in all locations are unsanitary and unhealthy, resulting in facility closures and human waste and toilet paper accumulation. Overflowing trash receptacles have resulted in animals eating and spreading trash around. Lack of adequate parking has resulted in significant pedestrian use of the Generals Highway, creating risk of pedestrian-vehicle conflicts.

    Kings Canyon National Park will close at the Big Stump Entrance Station on Highway 180. This closure includes all areas and services within Grant Grove such as the General Grant Tree, Big Stump Picnic Area, Grant Grove Village, Azalea Campground and all concession and park partner operations. Similar conditions of overflowing trash and human waste, as well as illegal fire rings and campfires have made this area unsafe to visitors and wildlife. Highway 180 will remain accessible for through traffic only.

    It is likely these closures will remain in effect for the duration of the government shutdown.

    Friends were telling me that trash is strewn all over the place along the only artery, the Generals Highway.

    ‘Human waste’ is a nice way of saying that people just shit all over the place, once the vault toilets were topped out and could take no more, with streamers of toilet paper all over the ground outside signifying that people did their doody.

    Normally, when fully staffed, you could almost eat off of the ground, there being no trash anywhere in Sequoia NP, as who would dare despoil our national natural treasures?

    I’ve walked perhaps 3,000 miles in the backcountry of the NP, and in total over 35 years have taken out around 1 full backpack worth of trash that others left in the back of beyond, in all that time. Take it in-take it out, being not just words, but action taken by the majority of backpackers.

    Makes you wonder what the tourists thought when they saw overflowing trash cans this past week in the frontcountry, and decided that if their refuse was tossed on the ground somewhat in the general area of the receptacles, why that’d be ok.

    It’s the same story repeated in every bit of news coming out of the National Parks & Monuments that stayed open, a nation of slobs.

    1. Carolinian

      From the WaPo story it sounds like the sudden free admission has a lot to do with this–attracting visitors who are just there because it’s free. But even when the government is operating it can be an ongoing struggle against idiots. I know someone who works for the Forest Service in Arizona and they are constantly having to repair fences that have been cut so ATV owners can romp on the delicate landscape.

      1. Cal2

        Yes, but where privatized, i.e. “profitized”, parks are still open, i.e. Muir Woods National Monument.
        Concessionaires run the parking lot reservations system, including the admission tickets, run the cafe, pump the toilets and a foundation staffs the park with volunteers.
        “Law enforcement and rangers are off duty”, so far no problems.

        1. Carolinian

          parking lot reservations system

          You have to reserve a parking space? What fun (I haven’t been there in many years).

          And yes Bruce Babbit’s theme park approach to the National Parks–fully supported at the time by Gingrich and the Republicans–may encourage visitors to treat them that way. Of course the concessionaire system is a racket that goes back to the beginning.

    2. Rainbowgrasses

      Maybe we need some 32 foot tall reinforced concrete walls around the parks and monuments to keep out the illegals. Jobs program. Sarcasm Alert.

  7. bassmule

    Re: Sirota’s comments. I started to read the Daily Banter story, until I got to “Sanders lost to Clinton fair and square…”

      1. Richard

        I read the whole thing, a sadder man am I. I even read some of the comments. No fun. The reasoning hurts, and gaslighting going on.

    1. Massinissa

      Maybe someone should point out that Clinton lost to Obama ‘fair and square’ and that didn’t stop her from coming back 8 years later.

      I guess it was ‘her turn’. When does Bernie get ‘his turn’? Or any socialist, for that matter.

    1. Lee

      Yeah, but given the breed is known for its high prey drive, why is it so chummy with a bird? Particularly a bird with a prey drive of its own. Their trainer must be a critter whisperer nonpareil.

      1. Tyrannocaster

        The dog might belong to someone who rescues wildlife. I know someone who does that; interestingly, she has two Malinois. And yes, she is a good behavioralist.

      2. dog lover

        That is a Belgian Malinois, who belongs to professional animal photographer Tanja Brandt. More here:
        Brandt: “The dog is very very well educated. He is able to do every order by far. Head down, head right, stay, sit, everything… ”
        Natural friendships occur, but dogs can also be trained to accept other animals without treating them as prey. For a how-to, here’s a blog post from a local trainer on training a Belgian Malinois to accept kittens:
        Sport and working dogs can similarly be trained to ignore distractions, including animals both live and dead. Humane animal training is all about creating an environment for success, breaking behaviors down into small enough pieces that the trainee will be capable of performing the desired behavior for a reward (positive reinforcement), and then very gradually increasing the level of difficulty so that the animal remains successful. Successful animal trainers are masters at understanding competing incentives. Punishment can work, but it introduces stress and negative emotions, and the better animal trainers try to follow a humane hierarchy and use the least aversive interventions that will accomplish their goals. If you want to read more about applied behavior analysis in animal training, I’d recommend the Eileen and Dogs website, which includes a lot of information from Dr. Susan Friedman (Behaviorworks) and, unlike many other sources, does not have a paywall or course fee.

        1. Lee

          breaking behaviors down into small enough pieces that the trainee will be capable of performing the desired behavior for a reward (positive reinforcement)

          The Coppingers have a fascinating discussion of how the the natural sequence of steps in the process of hunting, killing and consuming prey is interrupted in herding dog breeds. IIRC, at least some of this has been achieved through selective breeding and is then refined through training.

          1. dog lover

            Ray Coppinger has at least one talk on the SPARCS Initiative website ( about that motor sequence and breed differences.
            I was referring to breaking down a desired behavior in order to reinforce and build each little step through training. Very simply, for example, if you want an animal to interact with a prop, first reward for even looking at it, then for approaching it, then for touching it, until you are rewarding the final behavior. In the blog with the Belgian and the kittens, the owner started by rewarding her dog for calmness at a distance from the crated kittens (kittens not running and not attainable) and gradually increased the closeness and interaction, guided by what the dog could handle successfully. She was training an alternative (calm behavior) to that stalking/chasing/killing sequence.

        2. Tyrannocaster

          I have had Tervuren for 25 years; these are the long-haired Belgian variant of the Malinois; well, more accurately, they are the mahogany colored variant, as the Groenendaal is the black variant. (TMI, maybe: there is also a curly haired version which is rare in the US called a Laekenois). Anyway, all of the Belgians are extremely intelligent, usually rather high maintenance, high reward dogs. They are absolutely not dogs you leave out in the back yard! I can think of several ways that photo could have been done, given a decent trainer.

          Not fire-and-forget dogs at all. But for the right person (underlined): wow.

      3. Oregoncharles

        My own experience is with a half-wolf who certainly had a very high prey drive. But once taught not to chase something (sister-in-law’s ducks), she didn’t; nor things like them ( a neighbor’s trespassing geese), even if (sigh) I wanted her to. she would chase the geese precisely as long as I did. OTOH, she was sudden death on possums, and even a large nutria. And a passionate chaser of deer (cows proved intimidating).

        Nor did she attak the annoying ferret we introduced into the family. Her prey drive was very biddable, as it should be with any intelligent dog.

        Evidently, in this case the dog was convinced to adopt the owl when it was little – probably because its owner introduced the owl.

    1. David

      Well, there’s an unwritten but well-understood rule that nations retaliate for expulsions, arrests etc. of alleged spies, to stop things getting out of hand. So it may be just that. On the other hand it’s perfectly possible that someone with this background would have been used by the US as a kind of glorified collector of gossip, and that the collection turned out to be more sensitive, or more incompetently handled, than expected. Or both.

  8. Steve H.

    > Feminization of a field of work is almost without exception a sign of a decline in its status.

    What fields of work have increased in status?

    Not arguing the point, but if it’s universal decline, how can you tell?

    There was a recent comment I read about teachers, that millenials got the message and aren’t entering the field. But when I grew up it was almost all women, then men started to become (somewhat) more prevalent. Same with nursing, becoming masculinized. I don’t know about status there, but work conditions are deteriorating.

    Oversimplifying, but if all professions drop in status, And a greater percentage of the workforce is women, then you get an unsound correlation. ‘CEO’ is a category/profession with a rising number of females, but compensation is rising.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. The financial services industry. Employees, as Simon Johnson documented in The Silent Coup, were paid on average on a par with workers at large in 1980. That started to rise, with the premium becoming IIRC 41% right before the crisis.

      The sales and trading side of Wall Street in particular has seen a huge increase in status.

      The most prestigious and best paid areas now, private equity and hedge fund management, are total boy’s clubs. Odds of becoming a billionaire are twice as high in asset management as tech, and “asset management” in this context means PE and hedge funds.

      2. Software programming. Used to be women’s work. Hardware was men’s work. Men pushed out women when software became lucrative. See:

      Oh, and if you doubt women’s ability to be good coders, see:

      1. Steve H.

        Thank you. I had considered programming but thought it had started out mostly male, which academia was in the 1970’s. The Smithsonian article indicates the shift happened in the 1960’s.

      2. a different chris

        I’m a male, I’ve worked in real-time software all my life, and have plenty of experience with women coders. I really, really don’t want to be sexist, but I have to say… I prefer working with women.

        “Prefer” because outright saying that women are better coders would be sexist. :)

        Seriously though it has nothing to do with physical differences, it is truly cultural. One coder can write DOOM, and it is a good game and quite impressive, but serious coding efforts take teams. And the native understanding of the type of teamwork necessary is an unexpected upside to the awful way we treat women in this society – they have to learn to stick/work together. To be careful. To not do things that lead to likely mistakes. To have each other’s back. To resolve conflicts one-on-one.

        I wish more of them knew they had this ability. Lemonade out of society’s biggest lemon.

        1. Arthur Dent

          As a civil engineer, for the past 20 years most of my teams have been predominantly young women. Until about 5 years ago, it was very easy to do because, if you didn’t object, you got the ones that “they didn’t know what to do with” so my teams were slowly stockpiled with women. They are great team members and take very well to structured learning which is the key to all young engineers advancement.

          They often came at a discount :) that you would then work to remedy with numerous glowing annual reviews.

          The biggest challenge for many of them was that they were so focused on being great team players that they didn’t participate in enough chest thumping and they could be over-shadowed by the males. But slowly the other senior engineers have been catching on and I actually have to compete to get them on my teams now which is a good thing.

      3. Dandelion

        In the early days if the typewriter, it’s use was a skill only for men, and quite a valuable one.

        And now we have female secretaries and admin staff who definitely aren’t considered skilled or high value, and have t been ever since the job of typing for someone else became feminized.

        1. Oregoncharles

          That was a long time ago – secretaries and typists were mostly women when I was growing up, and I’m old. I learned to type at a secretarial school in the early 60’s, run by a woman and full of women. Too bad I was too young to appreciate it.

          I remember my father calling an executive assistant a “secretary” because, well, female. Ultimately she became an executive; and one female hire wound up running the company. (Finance, but regional and small scale.) That was from the late 50’s to the 80’s, a bigger change than anyone much younger than 60 would believe.

          And it sounds like Wall St. has reverted. Is that because the place is so repellent that women won’t work there? Steve H. described behaviors that would be advantageous in most occupations – unless they’re dominated by total ruthlessness.

          I’m afraid Yves is right about the overall pattern, but it will depend a lot on the particulars.

      4. The Rev Kev

        You do have to wonder what would have happened if women had not been pushed out of coding all those years ago and female coders were still the norm. I suspect that there would have been much better coding for a start but have no idea how this would have played out culturally and in the way things are done in Silicon Valley. It would make a great fictional story at the very least.

    2. phaedras

      Software engineering is the only field of work that I can think of that has maintained and increased its status, but your point is compelling and does make me wonder if the narrative of dignified work is shifting in ways not yet fully understood. The phenomenon of young men dropping out of the workforce is also not well understood.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are more female politicians than years ago.

      And we might get a lady president soon, or one day. Perhaps even Hillary.

      Is the status of that particular field rising? That’s my current research topic.

    4. coboarts

      Please reference, “A More Diverse Oligarchy.”
      “They simply need to install a few more women and black and brown people at the top, and all will be status quo glorious for the oligarchy and continuously bad for the majority of people.” …

      It’s a kinder, gentler machine gun hand

      1. jrs

        Yea I see some making a big deal about an Indian (subcontinent) women installed at GM. While people lower down the totem pole lose their livelihoods and the only livelihood in the whole town. Meh screw capitalism.

    5. howard in nyc

      I started medical school in NYC in the 80s, and I first read this idea of feminization correlating with loss of status in a wonderful book that foretold lots of what happened to the medical industry. The Social Transformation of American Medicine by Paul Starr. He compared the male dominated medical field in the US and Western Europe with the more or less parity of women physicians in the Soviet Union, and the much higher social and economic status of doctors in the west compared to Russia and its neighbors.

      I saw this in action, as with rapid affirmative action (long overdue), the percentage of women entering my elite school zoomed from about 20% to over 50% in just two years. Brown/black people too, from about 6% to about 20% (that included me). (several schools put their affirmative action plans on hold, awaiting the Supremes to rule on Baake vs UC Davis, then once decided rushed their new admissions policies into place).

      At the same time, a dear friend was getting started as a trader at Morgan; not too many ladies on that trading floor. Of course the lot of a physician has steadily crapified in the decades since, and income relative to the financial industry (and hospital/insurance company administrators) has cratered. Good thing I didn’t get into this racket just for the bucks (and I am not complaining).

      I too, prefer to work with women doctors, not that I’m a misanthrope or anything (is that the right word?)

      1. Plenue

        I think the word you’re looking for is misandrist; dislike or hatred of men. Misanthrope would be dislike of humans in general.

  9. EoH

    The cv of the “dishonorably discharged marine” looks ever so much like a legend from a le Carre novel. It makes one wonder whether the discharge was part of establishing his outsider street cred, although being hired by a large corporation as its “security” guru – after the larceny claim – undoes the “outsider” bit just a tad.

    I’m almost surprised he didn’t show up as a gun enthusiast wanting to help Russia create its own Second Amendment and gun lobbying organization.

    1. Geo

      a dishonorably discharged marine because of larceny becomes head of a major us corporation’s security

      Maybe he learned that larceny isn’t illegal if you do it as a corporation? It’s a good qualifications fit for his “experience”.

  10. bwilli123

    Re: ‘Apple is basically blaming Trump’s trade war for disappointing iPhone sales in China’, is this blog post from Ben Thomson in May of 2017.
    “The fundamental issue is this: unlike the rest of the world, in China the most important layer of the smartphone stack is not the phone’s operating system. Rather, it is WeChat…There is nothing in any other country that is comparable, particularly the Facebook properties (Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp) to which WeChat is commonly compared.
    All of those are about communication or wasting time: WeChat is that, but it is also for reading news, for hailing taxis, for paying for lunch (try and pay with cash for lunch, and you’ll look like a luddite), for accessing government resources, for business. For all intents and purposes WeChat is your phone, and to a far greater extent in China than anywhere else, your phone is everything.”
    Apple’s problem is that WeChat on iphone looks and works identically on a $200 phone as it does on a $1000 one.

    1. Clive

      Apple is selling a $1000 phone which is now a mediocre O/S, a mediocre UI and at-best mediocre in terms of being a properly QA’ed end-to-end experience. I could list the numerous problems I’ve had with trying to do things which should be straightforward using native Apple apps, buggy HomeKit (which is barely a beta release) and needless brain ache caused by silly, unnecessary tweaks in each new iOS version.

      This has been going on for at least 2 years now. During which time Apple has been running on brand fumes. The only surprise is that it’s taken so long to hit the bottom line.

      As Microsoft found a decade or so ago, there’s no easy way out from this point. Most businesses which get stuck in this rut don’t make it, in the long run. Google is going the same way.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        One bit of protection Apple has with its crap phones is that they are appear to be required for dating in upper income or aspiring upper income circles.

        1. Louis Fyne

          real-life conversation overheard in 2014:

          20-something woman #1: “what kind of phone did you get?”
          20-something woman #2 (presumably friend): “an iphone, what? am i poor?”

          My a bit of my inner Henry David Thoreau died that day.

          1. Wukchumni

            For me, it was a couple hour wait getting onto a plane in LAX in 2008 and watching everybody staring @ their diminutive electronic tethers oblivious to their surroundings in a deep state of devotion, only to have the very tableau replicated in total upon arrival in the airport @ Auckland on the other end of the world.

            The idea that they resemble a mini-me version of the black monolith from 2001-A Space Odyssey, is just coincidence.

          2. Rosario

            If alive today, I imagine Thoreau may be among those without a cell phone. I like to think he may be okay with my Samsung Rugby 4 dumb phone though. Seven years on and it still works fine. This after being put through hell and back (dropped on concrete, in water, etc.). I can’t manage to shut it off anymore, but if I need to save battery I either don’t use it, or, if I’m really in a bind and it is “trickle” draining while not in use, I yank the battery out.

            WRT Yves’ comment above, fortunately I found a companion not all that concerned about the type of communication device I use. Sad to hear that is a real thing.

        2. BlueMoose

          So, as I have long tried to convey to various family members (in vain) – Apple products are pure status. I don’t begrudge the marketing work that went into this but at a technical level, as far as voice goes, the network doesn’t know or care that the RTP packets come from an Apple or a knock-off phone. In my extended family it seems like ‘Face-Time’ is their big rationale for the extra cost. I don’t get it.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > Apple products are pure status.

            It didn’t used to be that way. That Apple tossed the very concept of Human Interface Guidelines for iOS is a tragedy. One reason it’s such a mess (and the iOS attitude is gradually taking over the Mac, too).

            See “How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name” by Don Norman and Bruce Togliatti in 2015:

            Apple was known for its ease of use, for computers and applications that were understandable, powerful, and could be used without reference to any manuals. All the operations were discoverable (the power of menus), all could be undone or redone, and there was considerable feedback so you always knew what had just taken place. Users were encouraged to blossom, with greater and greater power being revealed as users became ready. Apple’s design guidelines and their principles were powerful, popular, and influential.

            This is true for me. The Mac — started with the 512KE — gave me a career (albeit temporary) in desktop publishing, and also empowered me to become a writer. Those are great gifts. But:

            [W]hen Apple moved to gestural-based interfaces with the first iPhone, followed by its tablets, it deliberately and consciously threw out many of the key Apple principles. No more discoverability, no more recoverability, just the barest remnants of feedback. Why? Not because this was to be a gestural interface, but because Apple simultaneously made a radical move toward visual simplicity and elegance at the expense of learnability, usability, and productivity. They began shipping systems that people have difficulty learning and using, getting away with it because people don’t recognize such problems until it is too late, and money has already changed hands…. Apple products deliberately hide complexity by obscuring or even removing important controls.

            Like undo. Shake the device? Really?

            This is a great rant, well worth a read for those who remember what once was and can compare it to the crapification today. If people sense a certain….. animus on my part toward Apple, this is why; they’re ruining a tool that empowered me and millions of others.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, its a huge problem for them. I always found it bewildering that Apple never saw the importance of a simple, robust entry level phone to get younger/poorer people ‘hooked’ on ios (the ‘5’ doesn’t count as its too small for most young peoples needs). Anecdotally, Chinese people love iPhones and aspire to them, but whereas in other products there are ‘gateways’ (such as cheap knockoffs), there isn’t one to the iPhone. On my occasional trips to Asia its visible year by year how niche Apple has become – Samsung has become the aspirational choice, and an easier step-up if you are using a cheap phone. And slowly, domestic Chinese phone makers are no longer seen as embarrassments to Chinese people.

      The other huge issue is Apples insistence on having a limited choice. Samsung and others throw new models at the market like confetti, waiting to see what sticks. Thats how they found out customers wanted bigger phones instead of tablets. Having a limited choice probably makes sense in the West, but customers are far more fickle in Asia.

      Apple are falling way back – I know there is a certain glee among many people at seeing them get their comeuppance, but without Apple there is even less choice for consumers except for Google free surveillance.

      1. Carolinian

        The other huge issue is Apples insistence on having a limited choice

        You can have any color you want as long as it’s black. –Henry Ford

        This undoubtedly accounts for those ubiquitous multicolor phone protectors that are used to express individuality while the choice of phone remains strictly conformist. I don’t own an iPhone, but I do know those who do and Facetime seems to be a big driver of product loyalty.

    3. djrichard

      What Tim Cook left out about China in Apple’s revenue guidance

      Decent view of the competition for market share in China. On Yahoo of all places.

      Still doesn’t give a view of what’s happening to unit sales in China. The only way Apple has a leg to stand on to whine about the impact of trade would be if unit sales in China are going down in general, across all vendors. Unless Apple is making the argument that their phone is losing market share in China as a form of political statement by consumers in China.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for the information on WeChat. Reading that, I wonder if it is or could be very effective for surveillance.

      And any inspiring state would not let that golden opportunity go to waste.

    5. David

      Whether you are an Apple user or not, it’s hard not to be depressed by the anglo-salon media coverage of excessive anglo-salon capitalist expectations, and subsequent hurt feelings, at its worst. Apparently, Apple is going to announce its second best ever quarter, which means, of course, that it is DOOMED. It now thinks its quarter will be slightly less good than originally hoped, entirely because (according to Cook) of falling demand in China, which affects all high-end phones, and won’t come as a surprise to anyone (like the NC readership) who’s been paying attention to the Chinese economy. Against this, other areas they’ve been developing because the demand for high-end phones is basically static are all showing healthy increases, so that means they are doubly DOOMED. The “Apple-is-DOOMED” story has been repeated, without fail, every quarter for as long as I can remember (fifteen years perhaps) to the point where there are entire sites devoted to mocking the stories, and long-time Apple writers fondly make best-of lists of the more ludicrous ones. (The best of course was the prophecy in 2007 that Apple was DOOMED because it was getting into an area – telecommunications – where it could not compete.)
      The problem is that most of these stories come from financial sites (who hate Apple and don’t understand technology) or technology sites (who hate Apple and don’t understand anything except technology). Even Apple enthusiast sites tend to publish this sort of garbage because they are technology oriented, and always desperate for copy they can cut and paste. This is a reasonably sober and factual treatment of the issue, probably the only one I have seen today. Both media have an obsession with market share (which Apple isn’t interested in) and cheap phones (ditto, except that there’s a thriving second-hand market in older iPhones).
      But the more important issue (whether you are an Apple user or not) is the media worship of short-term financial numbers, even if, as here, they are essentially just informed guesses. Add to that the fact that people click on links with “Apple” in them, but not, say, “Samsung”, and you have a toxic mixture of desperation for page-views with complete disregard for mundane things like accuracy. Between that and inflated egoism (“my iPhone unexpectedly ran out of battery yesterday, Apple is DOOMED”) it’s not a pretty picture. In a way, media coverage of Apple is a kind of mirror-image of the coverage of Tesla, which NC has comprehensively dismantled. It’s sad when not just the media, but our society as a whole, can work up enthusiasm for products that scarcely exist (Tesla) or don’t exist at all (Theranos) but no longer know how to cover, or even understand, companies that actually make stuff in the old-fashioned boring way.

  11. barefoot charley

    Another declining-empire feature of fracking is that it never was, and never will be, profitable, except to operators, banksters and hustlers, who will always be all-in. The gap is filled by fleeced investors as well as subsidies. My father has shoveled crazy amounts of money into dry holes and dripping scams that’ll all be “different next time.” His fellow investors are only now rebelling against such assurances, because they remember that they were promised vast riches when oil went back over $50 a barrel. Not then, not now at $47. Oilmen are the slimy historical cousins of Florida swamp salesmen of 100 years ago.

    1. a different chris

      We always joked that the oil hucksters would reliably be 1 billion ahead by July, and then lose that plus another billion by EOY.

      It’s a clown show, but clowns are truly scary when they can affect both the economy and the environment in such negative ways.

      1. barefoot charley

        The scale of Alberta’s oil-sands industrial cesspool is staggering, while the glop sells at a 20 dollar discount because it can’t be transported (not that it would make money anyway). Our groundwater poisoning across America is another legacy for the ages, as are its enormous greenhouse-gas emissions. Boy do I agree with you. Capitalism’s great breakthrough in collapse is that bankers now get rich ‘financing’ anything, regardless of how much money it will lose and how much damage it will cause. “Capitalism is above the law.”

      2. whine country

        The frackers have taken a page out of the former airline business model – Wanna make a million dollars? Start with $2 million.

    2. Wukchumni

      It’d be laughable if our entire way of life wasn’t largely dependent on depleted dinosaurs, but there you have it.

      1. Massinissa

        Actually, contrary to popular belief, ‘fossil fuels’ are actually created from condensed fossilized plant matter, not ancient animals.

        But yes, our entire way of life is dependent on plants that died hundreds of millions of years ago, and there are only so many of those…

        1. Wukchumni

          It was Big Oil CEO’s I was alluding to, not something that’s been dead and gone for around 66.6 million years.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “American exceptionalism is a dangerous myth”

    Must be part of the Job Description as President that you sign up to this belief too. I found it bizarre when Obama went to the U.S. Military Academy when he was President and came out and said: “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Exceptionalism tends to be dangerous, myth or otherwise.

      To say American Exceptionalism, alone, is a dangerous myth is, thus, itself dangerous.

      For example, French or Russian Exceptionalism can be dangerous as well.

      So, perhaps it is not implied in that headline that we should only focus on the American case, but it’s good to remind ourselves of its unversality.

    2. bruce wilder

      “American exceptionalism” is a vessel for idealism. Obama’s whole brand shtick was peddling the feel-good-about-one’s-self aspect of idealism without actually having to take out the trash or any other work to achieve any specific good in practice.

      The Intelligencer article actually takes the position that Obama’s hypocrisy “nominal commitment ” is the desirable lesser-evil policy position.

      Having a global hegemon that preaches human rights — while propping up dictators and incinerating schoolchildren — is bad. But having one that does those things while preaching nihilism is worse; not least because even a nominal commitment to liberal values can function as a constraint against their violation.

      The main argument focuses on territory familiar to NC readers: the rhetorical tic in Clintonites and Obamabots to “resist” Trump with faulty memory and false narratives, job #1 being to disguise control of government and media by corporate business and the ultra-wealthy. Overthrowing domination by a capitalist oligarchy is too hard to be credible as a political agenda. Unless the capitalist oligarchy has orange hair and the overthrow is entirely fake.

      1. knowbuddhau

        Couldn’t agree more, well said!

        “American exceptionalism” is the secular expression of the prime assumption of the biblical religions: God Loves Us Most. (Even in them, there are unorthodox, mystical paths to experiencing the goal of all the world’s other religions: putting ones self and society in accord with ones own bodily source/destination, experiencing transparency to transcendence right here, right now, for good.)

        No one person or nation has a monopoly on It. Whatever It is, It is freely, equally, and abundantly available to all. No exclusive claims, no “means test” required.

        An American and an Israeli walk into a bar. “I’m the Most Exceptional leader of the Most Exceptional nation ever, clearly it is our Manifest Destiny to rule the earth until Kingdom Come, and then some,” says the American president. “We were here first!” says the Israeli PM, “but if you stay on the reservation, I’ll mention you to the Big Man Upstairs.”

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘God Loves Us Most’

          Would you believe that in the Second World War, that German Wehrmacht soldiers had the slogan “Gott mit uns” (God with us) on their belt buckle?

        2. bruce wilder

          I think I am not quite as cynical as you are. Exceptionalism is a call to collectively be better, to act from better motives. Nation-states need that even more than individuals: a call to or from a better nature, a call to an enlightened ethic in place of selfishness and cruelty.

          What I object to here — what the article describes without rejecting exactly — are elites using the rhetoric of exceptionalism to persuade people who want their country to be better, to instead be nothing but dupes for epic corruption and cruelty.

          The article complains that Trump is realistically amoral, but still selfishly for his country in his fashion. Without the hypocrisy of being “indispensable” , without the b.s. I suppose of, say, R2P, or WMD.

          The base problem, it seems to me, is that an elite has to be idealistic, to be sincere, in pursuing a state interest while embracing some enlightened ethic of international relations for “exceptionalism” to be anything but manipulative b.s. What we have is the manipulative b.s. exclusively.

          I would prefer my country were exceptional to being dominated by reckless and irresponsible elites pursuing private interests at public expense without scruple. But, I am not going to pretend. Calling the pretense hypocrisy excuses it. But wishing we were better is not the problem; superior cynicism is no remedy. The problem is a politics dominated by reckless and irresponsible elites.

      2. witters

        “Having a global hegemon that preaches human rights — while propping up dictators and incinerating schoolchildren — is bad. But having one that does those things while preaching nihilism is worse.”

        I’ve never understood why adding hypocrisy to vice makes vice a lesser thing. How is that supposed to work? I add one evil to another and I get a lesser evil overall?

  13. Wukchumni

    A portent from the hot tub astrologer…

    There’s a crescent Moon that looked to be swallowing Jupiter, that is until the planet made a getaway after the duo did it’s best @ bearing resemblance to the Turkish Flag. Venus stayed away from the encounter, and luminesced, off in a neutral corner of the galaxy.

  14. BrianStegner

    “Trump’s Syria Withdrawal is a Chance for Peace Project Syndicate (David L)”, corrected link:

  15. BrianS

    “Trump’s Syria Withdrawal is a Chance for Peace Project Syndicate (David L)”

    Corrected link:

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that there are too many false assumptions made in this article here by Sachs such as the following-

      “Turkey could invade northern Syria to crush Kurdish forces” – and Syria could supply the Syrian-Kurds with advance weaponry such as man-pads and anti-tank guided missile from captured Jihadist stocks.

      “Israel could launch a war against Iranian forces in Syria” – and risk hundreds of Israeli deaths as they cannot use their airpower effectively because of the Russian air cover? Israeli voters hate casualties.

      “First, all foreign forces would leave Syria (including the US, Saudi-backed jihadists, Turkish-backed forces, Russian troops, and Iran-backed forces).” – What about the bases that Russia has in Syria under treaty? And where exactly do all those Jihadists go?

      “..the UNSC, and perhaps UN peacekeepers, would guarantee the Kurds’ safety.” Peacekeepers from which country exactly? Over seventy countries have been trying to help destroy Syria. Will the UN accept Chinese troops in that UN force as a neutral power?

      There are others but that is enough. I will make one prediction here. As the war winds down further, expect the US, UK & France demand that Syrians government figures that fought the war from Assad on down be surrendered to the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges – or there will be no funds for reconstruction. You read it here first.

      1. Brian

        Agreed. The article is a pipe-dream, and it apparently assumes that the remaining “genuine” ISIL terrorists would just vanish in the vacuum left by the departing foreign forces. Not likely. The Kurds, having chosen/occupied one of the poorest areas of Syria (extremely low-grade oil, which contributes an insignificant percentage of Syria’s wealth), could just as easily be granted a homeland there (the mythical “Kurdistan”), by Assad. Also not likely, even though it would be great pro-Syria/Assad PR, and might get the Turks to confine themselves to iron fisted rule over their “own” people, and out of the hair of both the Kurds and Russians. Who knows, really? I simply corrected the broken link…

        1. VietnamVet

          The Kurds have pulled back to their homeland. Stragglers, mercenaries and Marines are left. If the pullout is slowed, as per Lindsey Graham, these few thousands will be trying to pacify Sunnis who’s Caliphate was destroyed by these invaders. A complete and total horror of an occupation till they leave and Syria retakes its territory.

      2. Steve H.

        > or there will be no funds for reconstruction.

        No funds – from them. Russia’s keeping that port.

        By the way, the BRICS bank changed its name to the New Development Bank.

      3. David

        Yes, none of his scenarios are plausible: it’s as though he feels he has to offer a few crumbs of comfort to the warmongers. From what I can see, things are moving pretty quickly on the ground in ways not necessarily to the West’s advantage.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, I can’t find the link right now, but it seems the Kurds are already making agreements on the ground with Assad. It would seem likely that the Russians will lean on Assad to agree to allowing a degree of self-government, while disarming, or absorbing at least some of the Kurdish militias into the Syrian military. The Kurds really have no choice now, and I suspect war weariness (and pressure from Russia) will encourage Assad not to push too hard a bargain. If Erdogan thought he could benefit from this he may get a rude awakening – Assad is the big winner. It does make an overall peace settlement and defeat of Isis/Al-Q all the more likely thankfully.

          I think it also seems likely that the Gulf States realise their proxies are finished, so at least some of them will see little option but to stop stirring the pot and get on board with Syrian reconstruction.

          If this happened under Obamas watch they’d be queing up to give him peace prizes.

  16. Craig H.

    > Reporter Quits NBC Citing Network’s Support For Endless War

    I thought that the mission was to break through the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness

    Where did he ever get that idea? That is just crazy talk.

        1. voteforno6

          Well, they probably don’t have any NSA backdoors built into them. I’m not sure if you can make that claim about the other security products.

          1. Elizabeth Burton

            Exactly. And likely why the effort was made to persuade everyone to stop using them. Not likely.

  17. Detroit Dan

    The FT article on self-driving cars is unintentionally hilarious.

    Driverless cars must navigate human foibles

    Ford is testing self-driving pizza and taco delivery in Miami already, but the city’s high-rise dwellers do not seem keen to come down to street level to pick up a meal, especially if the robocar has had to double park round the corner. So Ford is testing the use of human delivery staff, or even drones, to solve that “final yard” problem. Miamians, it seems, don’t want to give up the joy of getting a pizza delivered right to their front door. Once again, the problem is not the technology — it’s the humans who are too lazy to get out of their nightclothes for that midnight delivery.

    1. Lee

      What is the point of pizza if it’s not brought to the door? Not that there isn’t good pizza, but around here one must go out for it. I hesitate to say where as their locations are only slightly less sacred than secret fishing spots.

      1. Wukchumni

        I think deep down, humans crave interaction with one another.

        Slowly but surely, Wal*Mart has been adding more self-checkouts, where you get to be the cashier and bagger too.

        There’s always an empty terminal waiting for us, while the old school checkouts are 3 or 4x deep often.

        1. a different chris

          I don’t crave interaction – just the opposite. And I dispute your characterization:

          1) I have no desire to do Walmart’s work for them
          2) Human cashiers can process me and the person before and after me as fast as I can just do myself.
          3) And #2 is assuming things go properly. If not you have to wave down (and often wait for) this poor cashier-without-a-register that assists us. You have a much more elaborate and pointed conversation with he/she than you ever do with the regular cashier, who you can not talk to at all if you wish.
          4) Also you get plenty of additional interaction at the self-checkout with other customers, as you all stand there and b*tch to each other about 1-3.

    2. Cal2

      Dan, Do you think the price of pizza should drop by say half, since there are no drivers and delivery types to pay, along with other personnel costs?

      When faced with robot technology in a business setting, demand a discount whenever possible before signing up or accepting the service.
      Asked to type all my details into a keyboard swiveled around on the desk when checking into a hotel, I replied, “Sure, for a 10% discount, otherwise you do it, I want to keep your job safe.”

      Insurance companies now want frequent mileage checks to be reported online to get a ‘driver discount’. Nope, I call my broker and report the numbers to them.

      “Go green, go paperless, save a stamp” X tens of millions of customers = their profits with no reduction in your prices. Get the paper sent to you for your records and more ability to challenge overcharges etc.

      When signing up for any new service, make sure there’s a telephone help number you can call to speak with someone whose native language is English. Test the number before signing up.

      Press “One for English” = I hang up.

        1. Cal2

          Boycott them, tell their competitor to whom you give custom why you are and praise them for maintaining standards.

          Think of the cost of ad campaigns to get a few tiny percentage point increase in customer base. The A.I. paperless business loses you, plus if you’re really nasty, you’ll poorly review them on Yelp, Angie’s List and in social media, thus causing them to lose as many or more customers than they would gain from their ads.

          Put it to them that way, with a smile and “I’m just trying to make things better lilt in your voice, and they’ll probably waive your extra charges.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We are all Goncharov’s Oblomov* now.

      *not to be confused with Oblamav, Obloma or Obama.

  18. Wukchumni

    I’ve had heroic losses on my apple stock, oh deer!, but am content to cost average by buying replacement shares.

  19. Cal2

    “Bill Gates wants more nuclear power”…with his Windows 10+ software controlling it?
    No thanks.

    There’s little market for his overpriced crappified control software in efficiency, solar panels or solar hot water systems. Oh, and what would a terrorist rather attack?, a nuclear power plant, or your rooftop solar panels?

    The nuclear industry is wholly-subsidized … where the taxpayers bear all of the risk if things go wrong, but the private nuclear companies get all of the profits in the good times.

    Nuclear energy is not the “clean” energy its backers proclaim. For more than 50 years, nuclear energy has been quietly polluting our air, land, water and bodies—while also contributing to Global Warming through the CO2 emissions from its construction, mining, and manufacturing operations. Every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle—mining, milling, shipping, processing, power generation, waste disposal and storage—releases greenhouse gases, radioactive particles and toxic materials that poison the air, water and land….

    Now read some revolving-door-between-regulators-and-nuclear-energy CEO propaganda:

    1. Lee

      Saw something in the not to distant past about new reactor designs such as small pellets of nuclear material suspended in liquid that achieves temperature regulation through the expansion and contraction of the fluid, thus increasing and decreasing the space and reactivity of the nuclear material. Another involved the use of nuclear waste, of which there is an unlimited supply, in some manner I cannot recall. Knowing next to nothing about such things, I was duly, or should that be unduly, impressed.

      1. Cal2

        I have wild fantasies too, but they are just that, which is what “New Reactor Designs” are as well.

        Well then, let’s test the “New Nuclear” scheme;
        Mister Market can finance it with zero taxpayer liability.
        Full liability insurance for all affected downwinders, before startup, purchased in the open market, no taxpayer funds or liability.
        A plan to create the “nuclear material” with no environmental consequences greater than say, oil or gas.
        Plus a guaranteed waste disposal scheme, fully funded, 500,000 years into the future, which is the life of the radioactive contamination.

        Once those conditions are met, A-OK, Roger, I say it’s a go!

        1. The Rev Kev

          Cannot agree more. You wonder if, without government subsidies, whether the nuclear industry has ever really made a profit or not. I have heard the nuclear industry described as a “subsidy dumpster” and only exists due to its ability to push off external costs like insurance and waste disposal to government revenue.

          1. gepay

            No, I have heard people say, that the nuclear industry exists so that the military industrial complex can easier create nuclear bombs. I can’t remember whether it was a Navy guy or a Westinghouse guy that said the design of early nuclear power plants was constricted by having to make them similar to the nuclear power plants that run the nuclear navy – cost savings.
            It is true that if the nuclear power industry had to have private liability insurance – none would be built. I haven’t looked into if that is true all over the world. There would be no TEPCO if they were liable for Fukushima. An ongoing problem. They still don’t know where the cores are. Hundreds of tons of radioactive water leaks into the Pacific Ocean every day as it has since Mar ’11. Every new design will of course have its own design flaws (unknown unknowns). You know, the ones that show up when it’s one of those days that happen when everything that could go wrong – does. Otherwise nuclear is a fine option for replacing fossil fuels. But what about the waste problem? oh we’ll figure something out We’ve only been working on it for 70 years or so.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        The world of nuclear research is full of ‘might be’ solutions that would produce power cheaply and cleanly. It sounds like you are talking about pebble bed reactors. Those, along with variations on sodium modulated reactors and various other designs are often held out as a safe, clean future power source. Its possible of course that they may well be, but despite billions poured into research they never seem to emerge. Pebble bed reactors are actually a good example – the Germans developed them, and then withdrew after an accident (they blamed the Greens for cutting funding). They sold the technology to South Africa and China – in both cases the programs were quietly dropped (the Chinese never announced this, but its clear from their broader strategy that they don’t see pebble beds as having a future). Presumably, they have all found some fundamental tech problem they can’t fix. In other words, the Germans sold them a dud.

        When it comes to these designs, most of which promote the idea of small, compact, modular designs with in-built fail safe features, I always ask the question, ‘who would benefit from these? Who has a bottomless pit of money to develop them, plus decades of experience?’ The obvious answer is the militaries of the US, Russia, China, France and Britain. And yet despite this, none of those countries have managed to improve on the crude and very expensive water cooled designs used in nuclear submarines (essentially an unchanged design since the 1950’s). Its inconceivable that those military establishments would not have developed an alternative, better design if it was available given the enormous costs and problems involved with water cooled reactors (a nuke powered submarine generally costs about 5 times as much as a diesel-electric, not counting decommissioning). So using Occams Razor, my conclusion is that modular reactors will simply not be viable for decades to come, if at all, despite all the propaganda around them.

        I’m not, by the way, anti-nuclear – climate change is such an enormous threat to humanity that I do think that workable, cost effective nuclear generation would on balance be worth it if the alternative is coal and gas. But the reality is that despite countless billions thrown at the industry, it still can’t get past dangerous, over engineered and very costly plants.

        1. Skip Intro

          Ironic that you would miss the obvious benefit of a fleet of plutonium factories to countries working on a nuclear arsenal.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Isn’t it ‘nice’ of Bill Gates to think of such wonders as fusion power and other nuclear energy wonders and and pour his money into startups pursuing various approaches. [The link talks about nuclear power in the headline but Breakthrough Energy Ventures is investing broadly across several ‘promising’ technologies.] Isn’t anyone else troubled that billionaires with venture capital are funding efforts at ‘solutions’ to ‘clean’ energy while the US government is getting ready to spend a trillion to build up our nuclear arsenals while the likes of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are handing out venture capital to startups and their smart entrepreneurs to find a way out of our Climate Chaos and Peak Oil conundrums?

      If the startups funded by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the $US1 billion fund led by a group of billionaires, including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Mukesh Ambani, and Richard Branson, are pursuing such promising ideas — where is the DoE? I also noticed in the Quartz article about Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS):
      “Breakthrough Energy Ventures won’t share how much it’s actually invested in CFS. But the firm’s meaningful contribution to the latest round of investment in the startup significantly raises CFS’s chance of raising the hundreds of millions of dollars it will need to build SPARC.”
      Other investments reported in a previous report at Business Insider were vague as to the amounts Breakthrough Energy Ventures invested in each. I can hardly wait for my chance to invest with the smart money./s

      Suppose Breakthrough Energy Ventures really is concerned to help the world address Climate Chaos and Peak Oil and suppose the Market really does come up with a ‘solution’ — as called for in the stage 3 Neoliberal script — do we really want the likes of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Mukesh Ambani, and Richard Branson holding a controlling interest?

    3. UserFriendly

      Too bad I was busy and missed this totally factually inaccurate attack on nuclear.
      Here is a harmonized meta-analysis,of the life cycle green house gas emissions of various electricity production methods. (you don’t get more of a gold standard than that). Nuclear does better than solar. Do you have any idea how much material (iron, silicon, ect) would be required to make enough solar panels to power the planet? No Obviously you don’t because big oil effectively scaremongered you into opposing nuclear and millions of people will die because of it.

  20. BoyDownTheLane

    The “turtle on its back” thing seems like a good meme for what the US (with the help of the IMF and the bankster crowd) does to other countries and increasingly to its own citizens.

    1. Massinissa

      Nah, because the turtle gets back onto its feet way more easily than austeritied citizenry or destabilized nation states can.

      1. newcatty

        Many Native American people’s in North America have the cultural and creation narrative that the North American continent is a turtle. Turtle, or Turtle Island, is surrounded by living waters. Native people’s, and others who recognize the sacredness of our Turtle Island, are spending energy and attention on keeping Turtle Island upright. Turtle Island will be kept from flipping onto her back, or drowning in the oceans and seas, or suffocating from polluted air she breathes, chocking on decimated food, or with great sadness sinking into the abyss. We can be of good Spirit.

          1. newcatty

            Thanks petal…I am no expert in the Iroquois creation story. But, I do think that many Iroquois would object to it being called “myth”.

  21. Cal2

    Dear Democrats,

    You were once our hopes and our dreams,
    now it seems that because of your schemes,
    Donald Trump is president.

    Please know that if you delay, defame,
    ditch Bernie again this time ’round,
    we stay home election day.

    Looks like they’ve already started paving the road for a corporate candidate. See yesterday’s article in the NYT about ‘sexual harassment’ among Hispanic volunteers in Bernie’s campaign somewhere out in America. If that’s Bernie’s fault, then Hillary is certainly disqualified.
    My prediction, they’ll foist Bloomberg off on us.

    1. nippersmom

      I had someone on a Real Progressives page (!) tell me other day his preferred ticket for 2020 was Bloomberg/Beto.

      They will try to foist one or the other, or both, of them off on us, and be shocked! shocked, I tell you! when we have four more years of Trump.

      1. Oregoncharles

        IMHO, Four more years is the deal between the parties, and there’s no evidence to date that it’s been cancelled.

        Nominating Bernie would cancel it, since there’s poll evidence that he would beat Trump.

  22. Wellstone's Ghost

    You have to keep the PayGo Rule in order to waive the PayGo law, its really that simple.
    Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan of the House Progressive Caucus are not sellouts despite what people seem to believe.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Those definite articles are doing too much work. Let me help them out:

      You have to keep the [Pelosi’s] PayGo Rule in order to waive the [Pelosi’s] PayGo law, its really that simple.

      Yes, the PayGo Law was passed in 2010, when the Democrats still controlled the House. What you say may be true, given some assumptions about Parliamentary arcana. But the intricately knotted up absurdity of the situation speaks for itself.

  23. JEHR

    The periodic tables article is priceless. We had to memorize it when it was much smaller but I like the idea of making different configurations out of the list of those elements.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      So, Robert Reich opposes the rule because he wants to ensure the law is applied? Because he was warning against the rule for the last two days or more.

  24. rd

    Interesting article on fungal pathogens in California in nursery grown plants. A few observations:

    1. They noted it was wildflowers etc. When I plant grasses and wildflowers for native plant restoration in large areas, I pretty much always use seed. That generally eliminates many of the pathogen issues and allows for the plants to develop at their own rate. The seed mixes have to be carefully designed with some early cool weather germinating plants and warm season ones.

    2. It sounds like they are trying to use lots of anti-fungal treatments. This is likely to be self-defeating because North American plants, including California, generally rely on mychorrizae fungi to help them grow and survive during droughts. So antifungal treatments are likely to be self-defeating in preventing the beneficial fungi from helping the plants.

  25. Oregoncharles

    “Hacker group threatens to leak 9/11 ‘truth’ unless paid in bitcoin”. Weird, and very tantalizing. Has anyone heard more about this? How real is it likely to be?

Comments are closed.