2:00PM Water Cooler 2/14/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is a bit short. I am having a complexified day. –lambert

Trade

“U.S. trade team ‘soldiering on’ in China ahead of high-stakes Xi meeting” [Roll Call]. “U.S. officials on the ground in China for high-stakes trade talks are “soldiering on” and will get facetime with Chinese President Xi Jinping, something a top aide to President Donald Trump calls a positive sign as a key deadline approaches…. The talks come ahead of a March 1 deadline for an agreement. If none is reached, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods are set to balloon from 10 percent to 25 percent. But Trump on Tuesday signaled he might be willing to extend that deadline.”

Politics

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

2020

Biden: “Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race” [The Hill]. “‘It’s pretty clear he’s jumping in,’ said one source with direct knowledge of the would-be campaign’s moves, adding that Biden is ’95 percent there.’ …’Here are the facts: He’s coming off a great midterm,’ said Robert Wolf, the Democratic mega-donor who confirmed he spoke to Biden on a 25-minute call on Wednesday. ‘He has been the most popular surrogate during the midterms and one of the only surrogates that can play in all 50 states, and that has given him a lot of confidence that he can do well in a national election,’ Wolf said. ‘He can campaign everywhere and that’s certainly what many people would say is an incredible strength for him.'” • I tend to think Biden will jump in, because that’s about the stupidest thing the liberal Democrat establishment can possibly allow to happen.

Booker: “Booker will ‘be looking to women first’ when selecting VP running mate” [CNN]. “‘If you got the nomination, would you commit to choosing a woman as your vice president?’ MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked Booker during an interview on ‘The Rachel Maddow Show.’ ‘We have such a great field of leaders. I think that you will rarely see a Democratic ticket anymore without gender diversity, race diversity. I think it’s something that we should have. So I’m not going to box myself in. But should I become it, you know I’ll be looking to women first,’ Booker responded.” • Dance, Cory, dance! Nevertheless, Booker reminds me of Jarred in The Big Short: “‘How come you don’t hate this guy? He’s everything you taught us not to trust.’ ‘I can’t hate him. He is so transparent in his self-interest that I kinda respect him. Would I buy a car from him? No.'”

Harris: “Black Critics of Harris and Booker Say They’re Not ‘Bots'” [The Intercept]. • Joy Reid doing the Joy Reid thing.

Harris: “Kamala Harris Is Accused of Lying About Listening to Tupac. Here’s What Happened.” [New York Times]. “‘What does Kamala Harris listen to?’ asked D.J. Envy, another one of the show’s hosts. Before Ms. Harris answered the question, Charlamagne tha God interjected, asking her to say what she listened to while she smoked in college. Everyone laughed, before D.J. Envy appeared to return to his original question. ‘Was it Snoop?’ he asked. ‘Oh yeah, definitely Snoop,’ Ms. Harris said. ‘Tupac for sure.’ Chaos ensued. The viral tweet pointed out that Snoop Dogg and Tupac did not debut until Ms. Harris had left college. Then music blogs and conservative outlets begin to write up the exchange. However, several of them omitted the fact that D.J. Envy had asked Ms. Harris more generally about her music opinions, a key portion in the exchange that makes it unclear whose question Ms. Harris was responding to.” • The headline, at the very best, oversells the story. Surely this was not Harris’s first radio interview?

Schultz: “Howard Schultz’s CNN town hall revealed the emptiness of elite centrism” [Vox]. “The CNN town hall from former Starbucks CEO and potential 2020 candidate Howard Schultz on Tuesday was revelatory…. His policy answers were exercises in vacuity, less showcases for a potential president and more giant televised sucking sounds.” • When you’ve lost Vox…

“How long can Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke afford to wait ahead of the Iowa caucuses?” [Des Moines Register]. “Former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke led the field in a December Iowa Poll, but none has formally announced their intentions yet. ‘I think those are the big three that everyone’s waiting for,’ said Jeremy Dumkrieger, chairman of the Woodbury County Democrats… Enthusiasm building around the Democrats already running risks leaving behind candidates who are still flirting with potential runs.” Enthusiasm building? Really? Am I too cynical, here?

UPDATE “Democrats demand detailed plans for defeating Trump in 2020” [McClatchy]. ” But in a sprawling presidential field in which the contenders generally agree on policy, painting a clear picture of how they would beat Trump will be necessary to lock down critical endorsements and to help voters unpack what “electability” means in their own minds. In practice, that could mean anything from offering memorable pushback to a Trump policy, to sketching out a path to victory in the general election, according to national Democrats and early-state activists. But one thing that’s clear: the candidates will, eventually, have to talk about Trump on the trail.” • Surely tying Trump to Russia is a winning strategy? I just can’t understand why none of the candidates are hammering on it!

2019

“Why Pelosi, Schumer and Hoyer Must Apologize to Rep. Omar” [John Halle]. “Congresswoman Omar stated an obvious and uncontroversial truth and has nothing to apologize for.” • A Kinsley Gaffe, as I said.

UPDATE “The Democrats’ total capitulation on the border” [The Week]. “Details of the deal are still trickling in but it seems clear that after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged not to give Trump even a “dollar” for his wall, Democrats agreed to hand him $1.375 billion to build a 55-mile long barrier in the Rio Grande Valley. They’re trying to spin this as mere ‘pedestrian fencing.’ Trump, who is never shy of staring a gift horse in the mouth, is saying it’s not enough. But it’s pretty clear that Democrats gave in.” • Wall bad, smart wall good, fence OK, bollards OK…

UPDATE It’s all about the benjamins. 🎶

UPDATE Neera Tanden natsec apparatchik says “neocon” is an anti-semitic trope:

“Serious professional mistake.” Yes, some consider Abrams’s methods unsound.

UPDATE Logrolling in our time, and there’s plenty more where this came from:

Elliott Abrams is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

UPDATE Sanders proxy weighs in:

I care about Omar on policy, not identity (I mean, Condaleeza Rice ticks at least one of Omar’s idpol boxes, but the thought of what Rice would have to say on Abrams makes me shudder.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats Move To Staunch Attrition” [New York Jewish Week]. ” Ann Lewis, former political director of the Democratic National Committee and co-chair of the new group, [the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMI),] told us on Tuesday that “what was missing in recent years was a partisan, pro-Israel Democratic organization that could work at the grassroots and grass-top level by being active, smart and effective” in supporting candidates who value the Washington-Jerusalem bond…. She asserted that DMI is “independent in every way,” though several prominent Jewish Democrats said it was an open secret that the group was conceived and initiated by AIPAC, the official pro-Israel lobby. Several of the DMI’s board members, including its president, Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, and co-chairs Todd Richman and Lewis, have long been associated with AIPAC.” • Grifters gotta rebrand, I guess.

“Howard Dean to lead new Democratic voter data exchange” [CBS]. “In an interview with The Associated Press, Dean confirmed that he’s signed on to lead a planned data exchange hammered out by DNC officials, state party leaders and Democratic consultants. The agreement still requires the expected approval from state party leaders gathering Wednesday in Washington, but it would end more than 18 months of internal party wrangling that has dogged DNC Chairman Tom Perez amid fights over money and control. The arrangement would allow the national party, state parties and independent political action groups on the left to share voter data in real time during campaigns. That means, for example, that a field worker for a congressional campaign in Iowa and another for an independent political action committee knocking on doors in Florida could update a master voter file essentially as they work.” • “Allow”? Or require?

“Why Does the Democratic Party Refuse to Address Poverty?” [The Nation]. • I know! I know! [raises hand] Because the Democrats are the party of credentialed professionals, who tend not to be poor! Appalling DNC shenanigans.

“Chuck Schumer’s general counsel, once a Goldman Sachs lobbyist, won’t disclose the names of 95% of his former clients” [Boing Boing]. “Mark Patterson is Chuck Schumer’s general counsel; he used to be a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, and he had 20 important clients, 19 of whom he has declined to name on his financial disclosure statements. Schumer has foot-dragged and fumbled his way through two years during which he was supposed to be putting an end to the revolving door between lobbying and government oversight. Patterson’s opacity doesn’t bode well for the future of the fight to get money out of politics.” • It’s all about the benjamins. 🎶

UPDATE “The Utterly Bizarre Life of Lyndon LaRouche” [The Intercept]. Fascinating article about a genuinely crazy albeit high-functioning person, especially if you care about the post-SDS, pre-DSA left. Here’s a tidbit: “Things were looking good for LaRouche until 1986, when the federal government launched a series of cases against his organization that eventually resulted in prison time for the cult leader and several of his associates. The case, which was led by none other than a federal prosecutor named Robert Mueller, revolved around various sorts of fraud, from unlicensed credit card transactions to soliciting loans from his followers.” • Who knew?

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, December 2018: “[A]n unexpectedly weak verdict for December holiday sales. Retail sales fell… for the sharpest monthly decline of the expansion, since September 2009 and the last recession” [Econoday]. “Aside from autos, the only other major component that was not in the minus column was building materials…. These results may reflect consumer edginess going into the government shutdown but they contrast very starkly with strength in the labor market.” • So maybe the strength in the labor market picture is just wrong; that’s certainly what rising auto loan defaults would suggest, since people need to drive to work, and the loan on the car gets paid first. If possible. And: “Retail sales was significantly slower according to US Census headline data. There is almost no year-over-year growth when one inflation adjusts the data” [Econintersect].

Business Inventories, November 2018: “Business inventories edged… lower [Econoday]. “In a special warning, growth in year-on-year total inventories, which trailed growth in year-on-year sales through last year, is now ahead of sales… The signs of global slowing that had eluded the U.S. may now be appearing, first in consumer spending and secondly in inventories.”

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), January 2019: “Inflation headlines are subdued, whether at the consumer level as in Wednesday’s CPI report or at the producer level in today’s PPI-FD report” [Econoday]. “Producer prices are watched for signs of early inflation pressure and, due to energy and its central place in the price chain, the indications are perhaps a little on the disinflationary side.” And: “Energy prices decline was the major reason for the decline” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of February 9, 2019: “Initial claims are moving higher to indicate possible moderation in labor market strength” [Econoday]. “Prior swelling from Federal employees and related contractors may be inflating the readings in this report but they do, nevertheless, hint at month-to-month slowing for labor data. Still, levels remain historically lower and the overall message is positive.” And: “This was higher than the consensus forecast” [Calculated Risk].

Shipping: “LA area Port Traffic in January; Imports Up YoY, Exports Down” [Calculated Risk]. “Usually imports peak in the July to October period as retailers import goods for the Christmas holiday, and then decline sharply and bottom in February or March depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year (February 5th this year). In general imports have been increasing, and exports have mostly moved sideways over the last 8 years.”

Retail: “Update on plans for New York City headquarters” (press release) [Amazon]. “After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens … There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams…. We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.” • Weird. So if there was an actual business requirement for the Queens HQ, why not re-open the search?

Retail: “Amazon says it will not build a headquarters in New York after mounting opposition” [CNBC]. “Local and state leaders had voiced significant opposition after New York City and state had offered the company performance-based incentives amounting to nearly $3 billion. These leaders were not privy to the details of the deal until after Amazon had made its decision. Cuomo said the deal would still bring in $27 billion in revenue in exchange for the incentive package and called the opposition to Amazon ‘governmental malpractice.'” • So Bezos won’t be able to take selfies from his taxpayer-subsidized helipad. That’s a shame.

Retail: “Amazon Pulls Out of Planned New York City Headquarters” [New York Times]. “State Sen. Michael Gianaris, a vocal critic who was chosen for a state board with the power to veto the deal, said the decision revealed Amazon’s unwillingness to work with the Queens community it had wanted to join. ‘Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,’ said Mr. Gianaris, a Democrat, whose neighborhood includes Long Island City. ‘The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions.’ ‘Even by their own words,’ he added pointing to their statement, ‘Amazon admits they will grow their presence in New York without their promised subsidies. So what was all this really about?'” • The view of the city from the helipad?

Tech: The Internet of Sh*t:

Sounds like more California design. In California, if the heat goes out, you don’t typically lose your pipes.

The Biosphere

“Inside the Push to Legalize Magic Mushrooms for Depression and PTSD” [Wired]. “[P]sychedelic drug use.. may legally exempt him under the federal Right To Try Act for terminally ill patients, signed by President Trump last May.” • A rare bit of sanity, since you can’t patent mushrooms. I don’t think. More: “They cite a small but growing body of research suggesting psychedelic drugs can, in fact, be medically beneficial with low potential for addiction or abuse. Some small studies suggest that psilocybin can alleviate obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, end-of-life anxiety, addiction, cluster headaches, and, yes, relieve pain. There’s also growing evidence that ingesting the drug can promote optimism and prosocial and mystical worldviews, and nurture well-being. In just a few years, pockets of psilocybin-legal jurisdictions could appear, following the similar path that medical marijuana took to mainstream acceptance.” • See Michael Pollan’s wonderful Botany of Desire for why plants, if listened to, might be smarter than the entire pharmaceutical industry.

Police State Watch

“Police Are Outsourcing Policy To A Secretive Private Company” [The Appeal (DK)]. “Lexipol [is] a California-based company that says it provides policies for approximately 3,400 police, fire, and correctional agencies in 35 states. It has grown rapidly over the last 15 years and saturated California, where its clients include more than 90 percent of law enforcement agencies. It’s impossible to know just how far Lexipol’s reach has spread as the company declines to provide a list of clients, saying that it is proprietary information. But according to an analysis published last year in the Texas Law Review, ‘although there are other private, nonprofit, and government entities that draft police policies, Lexipol is now a dominant force in police policymaking across the country.’ As a result, a large portion of American police policy is now being drafted by a little-known private company with no public oversight.” • I wonder where they stand on civil forfeiture and law enforcement for profit generally.

Our Famously Free Press

“Union: Los Angeles Times management wants ‘unfettered’ control over staffers’ book projects” [WaPo]. “”If we have a book idea related to our work, even if fictional, the company wants unfettered power to claim control over whether it gets written, who owns the copyright and what we might get paid for it,’ [the Newspaper Guild letter] continues. ‘The company also wants to claim the film rights to such books even if the company grants permission for the book to be written, on unpaid leave, for an outside publisher.’ The company’s proposal comes amid negotiations over the first newsroom collective-bargaining agreement in the history of the Los Angeles Times.”

Health Care

“Americans Cross Border Into Mexico To Buy Insulin At A Fraction Of U.S. Cost” [Kaiser Health News]. “On one trip to the pharmacy last year, Fenner was told that a three-month supply of insulin would cost her $3,700. That same supply would cost only about $600 in Mexico. The U.S. government estimates that close to 1 million people in California alone cross to Mexico annually for health care, including to buy prescription drugs. And between 150,000 and 320,000 Americans list health care as a reason for traveling abroad each year. Cost savings is the most commonly cited reason.”

“Private health insurance exists in Europe and Canada. Here’s how it works.” [Sarak Kliff, Vox]. “When you look out at the rest of the world — at the dozens of countries that run universal health care systems — you find that every universal health plan relies, in some form or another, on private insurance.” • “In some form or antoher” is doing a lot of work, there.

“In Medicare For All Battle, Insurers Tout Democratic Allies” [Forbes]. “All Democrats running or talking about running for President have talked about Medicare expansion beyond those who are 65 years of age and older but the role of Medicare Advantage and private insurers among presidential candidates is less clear… There were some notable names of Democrats who didn’t sign the letters supporting Medicare Advantage. Senators who didn’t sign the Jan. 31 letter supporting Medicare Advantage included Democrats Cory Booker or New Jersey; Sherrod Brown of Ohio; Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.”

Guillotine Watch

“Whose facade is it, anyway?” [Curbed]. “In a routine that defined 2017, T spent a bright, warm May morning at a chemotherapy treatment at the Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion, then came home to recuperate on the couch next to her living room windows. Outside, a woman was bouncing around on the sidewalk in front of the colorful trio of homes. Laughing and shouting art direction to her photographer across the street, she was an arm’s length from T’s seafoam green shutters and thin window glass. When we came by for dinner that evening, T told us about the photoshoot, the commotion, and how, eventually, she’d pulled herself up and peered out the front door to give this girl and her friend ‘a look,’ which seemed to scare them off. The three of us giggled over it. A couple weeks later, a family friend sent us an Instagram post. Travel blogger Michelle Halpern—a 30-something “matcha-obsessed Libra” with roughly 30,000 Instagram followers as of August 2017—was caught mid-skip just outside T’s living room on Rainbow Row, mugging to the camera.” • Read the whole thing. It’s insufferable.

Class Warfare

“The case of the reviewer who said cite me or I won’t recommend acceptance of your work” [Retraction Watch]. “A case was recently brought to the journal’s attention regarding a reviewer who had requested a large number of citations to their own papers as part of their review. After investigation of their most recent reviews, we found that in every review this reviewer requested an average of 35 citations be added, approximately 90% of which were to their own papers and the remainder to papers that both cited them extensively and mentioned them by name in the title. The reviewer’s phrasing strongly suggested that inclusion of these citations would influence their recommendation to the editor to accept or reject the paper.” • Maybe this should have gone under Guillotine Watch, too.

News of the Wired

“Marvin Gaye’s Lost Album Gets Release Date Decades After Being Shelved” [Vibe]. “Motown is set to debut a previously unreleased Marvin Gaye album next month, days ahead of what would have been the late soul legend’s 80th birthday. You’re the Man, an album that Gaye recorded more than four decades ago, will officially be released on March 29…. The ‘socially conscious’ project was originally recorded as a follow-up to Gaye’s 1971 platinum LP, What’s Going On. Gaye decided to shelve the album because the lead single didn’t do as well as he expected, and his political views didn’t mesh with that of Motown label boss, Berry Gordy.”

Urban planning (1):

I’ll say it’s dramatic.

Urban planning (2):

Snow is good for detecting traffic patterns.

Fun with cranes:

Make up your own metaphors!

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

I had a terrible time finding a rose for Valentine’s day, because images of gaudy, monocultural, commercially-grown roses dominated everything. Finally, I found these New England Beach roses, covered in ice (and since beach roses are tough, they’ll come back in the spring). And a Valentine’s Day reminder: Much of politics seems to suggest that there is too much love in the world. That’s not true!

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About Lambert Strether

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

162 comments

  1. Fiery Hunt

    Is it just me or does that snow/traffic animation actually suggest putting the crosswalk where the traffic flow is most? Dumb, de dumb, dumb! Slowing traffic without any real benefit as the improvements could happen with the current layout…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desire_path

    It applies to more than just foot paths…

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      I find the “let’s add park benches right next to a busy thoroughfare, so that people can sit out in the noise and pollution of car traffic” to be anything but “pedestrian friendly”. It’s the kind of stupidity one has come to expect from bureaucrats; all for the sake of appearances, but no substance behind it.

      Reply
    2. Pat

      Yes it did. I would also point out that in many places snow lowers traffic density as people try to avoid driving so it might end up causing even more congestion in that spot that suddenly requires a sharp turn by most of the traffic.

      Reply
  2. allan

    Senate confirms William Barr as attorney general [AP]

    … The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm him, mostly along party lines. …

    Three Democrats — Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — joined Republicans in voting to confirm Barr. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of South Carolina voted against him, citing concerns about Barr’s views on surveillance, among other issues.

    Joe’s with us on everything but the Constitution. And the wall. And …

    Manchin, Jones and fashionista Sinema get a pass from Schumer and Co.,
    while Omar gets dumped upon for telling the truth.
    To quote a great man, I didn’t leave my party, my party left me.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Sinema ran one of the worst campaigns I’ve ever seen. And, in Arizona, that’s saying a lot.

      For the record, I didn’t vote for her or Martha McSally.

      Reply
      1. Wyoming

        Arizona

        I live mid-state AZ in rabid tea party libertarian crazy country and watched Sinema work what I considered to be an extremely intelligent campaign. Getting elected to the Senate as a bisexual Democrat in AZ can hardly be considered the work of an incompetent even if one doesn’t like her politics.

        So why do you think she ran a campaign which could be strongly criticized.

        Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      Eh, who cares about Cabinet positions? Everyone knows the reason to vote for Democrats is The Supreme Court.

      /s

      Reply
  3. Duke of Prunes

    I think the Ecobee story is hysteria. When the internet connectivity is lost, the only function the ecobee loses is the ability to set it via the phone or Alexa. It still follows its programmed schedule, and you can walk up to it and change it. I don’t know why that guy’s panties are in such a bunch. I normally run mine with the wifi turned off.

    I’m very critical of smart technology (hence the commonly off-line ecobee being my only smart device), but let’s focus on real problems, not made up ones.

    Reply
      1. Duke of Prunes

        Not to be too pedantic, but it was 14 degrees outside and “freezing” in his house, not 14 degrees in his house. On to your question:

        I agree it sounds unlikely. Then again, people (including myself) have been known to do silly things – especially when tired and cold. If this were a design flaw, why is only this person complaining? I searched the usual places – reddit and ecobee forums – and didn’t find anyone else complaining of similar problems in this time frame – granted, I didn’t spent a lot of time on this, but I did see that ecobee has been rolling these upgrades out at least since at least December, and the most common complaint seems to be about “holes” in the data the thermostats reports while the server is down.

        Also, I have 2 ecobees which I typically run with the wifi turned off and have never experienced a similar problem… and I live where it’s very cold outside (lately 14 has been warm).

        I agree that running scheduled maintenance during the coldest part of most of their customers’ year was probably not the brightest idea. However, I also think there’s possibly a problem here beyond the server going down. It could have been a fault with the thermostat or furnace, and an ill timed coincidence. I’ve had a thermostat and furnance break before they were “smart”.

        Finally, if it were some issue with connectivity, the solution is to walk to the thermostat, tap it a couple times, and the heat kicks on (oh the humanity! /s). There is no requirement for a server connection to adjust the heat (except by phone).

        BTW, I hope this isn’t coming across as argumentative. This blog is excellent and I’m generally in awe of the quality information found here.

        Reply
    1. ambrit

      Dumb question here. (I’m ‘famous’ for them.) Where does the programming for this device reside? In the house server, or in the cloud? That, to this untutored cretin would be of paramount importance.
      And, to cock a snook at technophiles everywhere, how ‘secure’ is the individual’s ability to disconnect these devices from the Outside World anyway? Turning off the wi-fi sounds great, until you start reading about the ability of ‘outside actors’ to remotely turn this ‘connectivity’ on and off at will.
      I see a great potential for a business devoted to “jailbreaking” house cybernetics from the net in general.

      Reply
        1. ambrit

          Ah. So, the control function is ‘in the house.’
          As for “user error”; (Snark alert, not at you Mr Fyne, just in general,) the old Hal 9000 ‘human error’ excuse!
          The future sounds suspiciously like the past. (Zoiks! 2001 is the past now!)
          Sorry Dave: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD9YqdWwwdw
          To continue my clueless commentary, do the house thermostats still have backup battery power today? A power failure is my main theory about this at present.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            when i was a high school freshman(circa 1985?), the high school(north of Houston) made a deal where the thermostats would reside in Atlanta.
            so it would be cold in Georgia, but hot in se Texas, and we’d cook.
            The stated reason for this(I asked) was as a cost saving measure…”efficiency”…which made as much sense then as now.
            much of the IoT knickknackery reminds me of that experience.
            I want my fridge to keep things cold…not be self aware.

            as for heat…if we get back from chemo in san antone when it’s cold, she sits in the heated car for a bit, while i light the fires. soon, “her” fire is a roaring, and she comes in and manages that one.
            Takes about an hour or so to heat up the whole place.
            but so long as i have dry sticks for kindling, there’s no external points of failure to worry about(power, propane, computerised doodads, sentient thermostats).

            Reply
            1. Enquiring Mind

              Home Depot at one time had regionalized HVAC settings, as an expense management item. The store managers didn’t have the luxury of changing that then. The policy caused a few customer complaints, including mine after experiencing a downright hot big box interior.

              Los Angeles can have 40 degree differences in the city, given that it stretches from the temperate or balmy San Pedro and Westside up to the sweaty San Fernando Valley. Dictating AC or heat settings (cue violins for our recent coldish snap /s) without greater awareness of customer comfort, let alone employee health, seemed a bit cruel. Lowes and other competitors appeared to have more humane policies.

              Reply
      1. Phil in KC

        Problem with modern life: instruction manuals for everything from garage door openers to coffee makers to thermostats, all of which are over-engineered, having too many bells and whistles.

        I look for the simplest version of just about anything these days. Fewer things to go wrong. Why does my cofeemaker need to know what day, month, and year it is?

        Reply
        1. Craig H.

          It needs to know the date and time because the google and facebook and palantir and NSA algorithms creating the model Phil in KC need that data.

          Reply
        2. alethiea33

          right on. a friend just pointed out to me that turning the dial on an old-style kitchen timer is faster and easier than punching in numbers on even a simple battery-dependent one.

          and i am noticing that living car-free and relying on my still-working body to get myself and my groceries etc. around has freed me of many burdens associated with car-owning and -using that i had not even been aware i was carrying. among them, all the forms of stress that car ownership brings. i had not realized there were so many.

          and the exercise has been great for my health, especially through the brutal new england winter, when i have often given up on exercise walking in february and not resumed it until april or may. not having a choice, i find myself enjoying the crisp frigid beauty of the landscape and appreciating the clothes that keep me warm enough to enjoy it.

          not to mention the $$ i am not spending to run a car, with which i was able to buy some of those warm clothes.

          i am lucky enough to live close enough to my town’s center to be able to walk to most of the places i need to go. friends have offered to step in as needed. but i find i very often prefer to just walk, not ride. carrying stuff becomes a problem to be reckoned with and carefully thought through, a process that in itself can be fun, in part because as it stimulates a feeling of resourcefulness that is quite satisfying.

          maybe people who go on camping trips experience something like that. and many people’s favorite recreation is to go live in the woods for awhile with minimal stuff.

          i have the luxury of now being semi-retired, and working at home, so i do not face a daily commute. but still i notice how much more freedom i might have if my town had a decent bus service. it has one, but it’s pretty minimal, and ridership is poor, because everybody who can feels they must have their own car.

          anyway–noticing how much i enjoy relying on my own body to do the things that need done, i wonder if the sacrifices required to save the planet, which people will only submit to if made to do so by their governments, might turn out in practice to be more bearable than we think. and maybe it is the pressure on people to work too much in soul- and body-destroying jobs and to do too much in their off-work time that is the problem/source of our dependency on all our oil-fueled machines, more than a “true desire of the soul” to live as we do, constantly serving these machines in fact.

          Reply
          1. Fiery Hunt

            Preach it, sister!…(or brother…no assumptions here. :)

            Getting simple is truly eye-opening.

            Reminds me…I need to go fishing.

            Reply
          2. Phil in KC

            The farther along I get in the journey of life, the more I understand how very little is needed to live a rich, full life. Younger kids know this too. They have to be very carefully taught to want more stuff, and more complicated lives.

            Reply
          3. Oregoncharles

            Yeah, I grew up with wind-up timers, too. But electronic ones have one big advantage: they keep beeping until you turn them off – or about 3 minutes. Mechanical timers go “bing” and they’re done; miss it, and your food is burnt.

            That said, I agree with you in general and use mostly manual tools. A few are powered, like the chain saw, but those are reserved for the toughest jobs.

            Reply
          4. Vickie

            If cities and towns would use small passenger vans instead of expensive big buses and pick up passengers at their doorstep, coordinated by cell phones, people might be inclined to use public transportation if it took them where they wanted to go!

            Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I think there could be a bussiness going even further in physically stripping the digital chip-cooties physically out of the physical appliance, and re-engineering/re-building the controls to be pure analog.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Sweet. A Retro-Fit Corporation.
          So many of the “perfected” versions of basic machinery and consumer hardware are probably in the public domain now.
          “Forward, into the Past!”

          Reply
  4. Mark Gisleson

    The DMRegister loves to bigfoot the Iowa Caucuses. They make boatloads of money from it and work very hard at establishing themselves as the referees. This started with James Flansburg and David Yepsen but the Register’s political coverage has taken an interesting turn.

    Almost all their political staff are now females, but the senior writer worked under Yepsen and has a similar writing style that can be used to “impartially” trash disfavored candidates.

    They will have an opinion about EVERYTHING involving candidates and potential candidates. Several staff are tweeting regularly. Been gone from Iowa too long to know what the other serious media options are, but everyone reads and reacts to the Register’s coverage. Most of the speculation about it is trying to figure out which campaign is using which reporter.

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      I have to agree with you. The Register has such a long tradition of “influence” that its board undoubtedly sees itself as a player in national politics. I think this is far less the case since the Cowles sold the paper to Gannett in the 80s…to say nothing of the decline in competence and cachet of journalism and newspapers in general.

      No doubt when the 2020 circus starts, the zombie idea of ethanol subsidies will again cause eyes to roll. No worries, though; it’ll die its predictable death once again, the morning after the caucuses.

      Reply
      1. Mark Gisleson

        The Dean of Iowa Reporters, Caucus-wise, was David Yepsen. He apprenticed under James Flansburg. In 1982, they hit Democratic nominee Roxanne Conlin with a huge GOTCHA! Her husband made a living conducting real estate seminars on how to avoid paying taxes. They paid no state taxes the year before she ran, but at the state convention she railed against tax loopholes.

        Flansburg and Yepsen concluded this was rank hypocrisy and mentioned her taxes in over 80 articles published in the Register between June and November of 1982. The runnerup media-wise was the Cedar Rapids Gazette who ran the story 30 some times, usually only to reference how the Register was pounding on it.

        They’ve never changed in that respect. Once they label a politician, there is no redemption, only constant reminders of their disapproval.

        Sorry to go on. I really dislike that newspaper. Full disclosure: The candidate had to step between me and Yepsen on one occasion and that was probably a very good thing. But the real bottom line is that instead of Iowa getting their first woman governor, they got Terry Branstad who they had to send to China to get out of the Governor’s mansion.

        Reply
        1. Late Introvert

          I know, I grew up in Des Moines and cut my teeth on the Register in it’s pre-Gannett days. You are so right, those glorious Iowa Dems are so capable, and once they get into office do such great work, it’s such a shame they didn’t get their share of the spoils instead of Bumstead.

          It’s no secret that the caucuses are rigged. The Register is a bit player.

          Reply
  5. Brooklin Bridge

    If the house on the left is the “old” then “criminal transformation” would be more appropriate. Just the slight arch on the window sashes alone, never mind the gorgeous trim,… Sigh. The new, “dramatic transformation,” (vinyl siding, vinyl windows, or some such I assume – all character mindlessly removed) reminds me of an old boss in a painting company I worked for long long ago when we would ask him if this or that was to be painted. One time, it was a hair pin stuck between two floor boards we were varnishing that we couldn’t get out. The reply was always the same, “If it doesn’t move, paint it.” Classy!

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Full agreement here. That left image reminds me of New Orleans shotgun “shacks” and Camelback cottages. Pure delight in the details. The monstrosity on the right looks like a Katrina Cottage. Smooth and ‘faceless.’ Thinking more about it, the Katrina Cottages had much more “character” than the ‘thing’ on the right.
      I once helped a master carpenter I knew, (I also needed the work,) renovate an approximately 1820’s bargeboard cottage in the Riverbend section of New Orleans. The new owner had piles of money and wasn’t afraid to spend it. We practically stripped that structure down to the original surfaces. Yes, there were lots and lots of things like your “hairpin in a crack” to be removed. Still and all, what a beauty after we got through! No d— vinyl siding for that baby!

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not full agreement…yet.
        ,
        What happened to the satelite dish? That absence in the new building seems to be an improvement.

        And the security fencing/gate is gone. Seems…well, more inviting, to good or bad people passing by. Perhaps a bold statment that the new era is safe for local residents there.

        Is it more energy efficient? Rooftop solar panels in the back? A small windmill in the yard? Better insulation?

        Are we too judgmental based on outer appearance alone? Do we dig deeper to appreciate any inner beauty?

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Not to be snarky, because I usually agree with your outlook on things, but….
          I have found from my “adventures in construction” that the degree of “character” on the outside of a dwelling usually corresponds to the degree of “character” to be found on the inside of the dwelling. Victorian ‘gingerbread’ on the outside would usually advertise small, discrete ‘charms’ of detail inside. ‘Charms’ such as built in cabinets, and hall benches at the entrance way, plus carving on railings and mouldings. In a well built Victorian, or even a Craftsman style house, a sense of aesthetics is to be discovered. Modern day ‘modernist’ or, more accurately, minimalist house and apartment designs do not so much promote the peace of mind attendant to contemplative decor, but a soulless bareness.
          If, as many here profess, a house should be a “place to live” and not an investment, then that space should look lived in, and be inviting to the dwellers of same.
          Yoiks! Phyl tells me it’s time to do the ‘Smothered Chicken’ for din-dins.
          Later MLTPB.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Actually I agree with you, minus my onw nitpicking and my own green virtue-signalling…the new one is like a new smartphone, whereas the old one is like one of those old phones from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              The poor chicken was duly smothered and partly eaten. (A prayer in thanks to the spirit of the bird. More “primitive” peoples have a better grasp on the interconnectedness of ‘things’ in our phenomenal world, I think.) It will be dinner tomorrow as well.
              As to some of your points…
              I’ll lay dollars to donuts that the vinyl siding is over a layer of sheet insulation. The cheap way to add insulation. The vinyl also needs no repainting every few years. So, cheap in more ways than one.
              I fully agree about the ‘missing’ satellite dish. Hopefully, the house is in a region with real broadband wiring available. The less microwave energy zipping around the area, the better for one and all. Ideally, the denizens will eschew panoptical telecommunications altogether. (Pipe dreams, I fear.)
              The front fencing and the ‘security’ cages on the windows could be remnants of an earlier “Time of Troubles.” Strangely enough, if done well, such ironmongery can add a cachet to a place. An ‘Every (Wo)man’s Home is His/Her Castle’ esthetic. The front fence and gate also serve to deleniate the front of the house from the street. This is, to my way of thinking, a psychological support for the denizens. It allows the dwellers to at least imagine that they can choose when to be insular and when to be social. Self determination of a basic sort.
              The rooftop solar would be a natural, irregardless of the external appearance of the building. I personally would love to see windmill generators on top of houses built to look like turrets.
              “Are we too judgmental, based on outer appearance alone?” You will get an unequivocal yes from me in reply to that question.
              I’ll not naysay you MLTPB. At least you have virtues to ‘signal’ about. I run into way too many people in my daily peregrinations who display stunted virtue, at best.
              Be well. Find the centre.

              Reply
      2. Hopelb

        Agree! I like the one on the left with it’s slightly arched windows and ornamental eaves work and it’s turquoise color. I thought high color and Victorians was a thing? (Due to their compensating for sexual repression?) Possibly, only on Martha’s Vineyard are people permitted to be loud with their chintzy woodwork and with their colors?

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Oh, yeah. I remember wandering around many New Orleans neighborhoods back in the 1970’s and wondering at the architecture. Plus, back then, there were few really “dangerous” ‘hoods’ in N’Awlins. (The really ‘bad’ one I remember was on the West Bank.)
          As Mr. Becnel mentions below, New Orleans is now falling prey to the homogenization of America. That is really sad.

          Reply
          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            It’s a long way from that. Yes, there are throngs of young, bearded hipsters (and their vegan girlfriends) in Marigny and Bywater. St. Claude Ave is scarily safe at night, and I had to ask for file when I got a bowl of gumbo at Lamas’ St. Roch Market at Christmas (they didn’t have any). However, ‘the homogenization of America’ is not evident. Greater NOLA remains ineffably weird from Covington down to Belle Chasse.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Ye gads! Ask for file? That’s sort of amazing. And St. Roch at that!
              Having lived in Covington, I’ll second that ‘ineffably weird’ call for the Northshore. But, I’ll ask about the poorer parts of town. The Irish Channel was walkable and okay back then. Whiteys Pool Hall was a regular Friday night excursion for us back then. (I sort of knew a youngish woman who was putting herself through college by pool sharking . She was up front about it. Very good, taught me a lot about pool. “Hey. Put five bucks on the table and I’ll show you how some shots are done best.” Well worth the money. Saved me from the clutches of other ‘sharks’ later on.)
              I guess I’m trying to say that “hipsters” can be found ‘cosmopolizing’ any slightly offbeat urban area nationwide. It’s the basic working class parts of town that give it it’s character.
              Such as, is Buster’s still in business? It was down by Basin Street.
              Oh well. Chalk this rambling rant up to another senescent geezer contemplating the inexorability of entropy.
              Phyllis says that the best seafood gumbo she ever had, and regularly, was served at the lunch counter in the Maison Blanche department store on Canal. It was a Friday dish, this being in Catholic New Orleans. She’d go there during her lunch hour from work. She says that she could only afford to go there once or twice a month.
              On a related front, I notice that nothing is getting done about the grand “circle the city with bigger levees” project. It was supposed to go on up through the Rigolets to Slidell, with water locks at the Rigolets Pass to isolate Lake Pontchartrain during big storms. Have the Powers decided that sea level rise will soon moot the levee expansion plans? That’s what I suspect.
              Many of the big businesses have quietly moved their staffs and facilities up to St. Tammany Parish over the last decade.

              Reply
    2. pretzelattack

      jesus, he turned a house full of character and history into something that looks like it came out of a box. i’d hate to see what what he would have done if he weren’t so “passionate”.

      Reply
    3. BoulderMike

      Agree 100%, and funny, I had the same boss. I worked for a crew in Detroit in the late 1970’s where the owner bought HUD houses for, I believe, $10 and “whitewashed” them for resale. We were told the exact same thing. Everything was painted, and I mean, everything. Being young and newer I always was assigned to work with a guy named Henry in the basements. We literally painted everything, floor, walls, ceiling, pipes, water heater, ….. And I am sure it didn’t help my health as we used white, oil based paint and the basements were boarded in with no ventilation. At lunch I was already so high that I don’t much remember the afternoons. I am not 100% sure, but I always wonder if there was a relationship between that and some health issues I had later in life.

      Reply
    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Exactly. Here in New Orleans theyre remodeling beautiful old shotgun houses with CHARACTER into garbage McShotguns with no RAZZLE-DAZZLE.

      Developers keep trying to make downtown, uptown, and Mid City into Denver, Seattle, and Portland.

      Jog Off District Donuts and gentrified poor neighborhoods.

      Reply
    5. Watt4Bob

      “If it doesn’t move, paint it.”

      Your boss must have been a Navy man.

      Your quote is half of an old Navy saying;

      “If it moves, salute it, if it doesn’t move paint it.”

      Reply
    6. Craig H.

      Hopefully the big fence and the burglar bars will prove to be obsolete. I estimate 50-50 chance the first renovation the new owners do will be bringing back the big fence and the burglar bars. The people who spent the money installing them weren’t doing it for the aesthetics!

      Reply
  6. Carolinian

    So if there was an actual business requirement for the Queens HQ, why not re-open the search?

    For that matter what’s the business case for a Virginia HQ?…same day delivery of bribes, er, campaign contributions? Those who think Amazon has always been a well oiled machine need to read The Everything Store. Bezos can be quite erratic and not just when it comes to photography.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      1. Bezos’s private jet can at Reagan-National Airport. And from DCA it’s a short drive to his DC home.

      2. Lots of empty corner offices for DC’s revolving doors to fill

      That’s all the business case one needs.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Sounds more like a political case than a business case but then when it comes to taxes and AWS it’s sort of the same thing?

        Also don’t forget that most important Versailles perk: cocktail weenies.

        Reply
      2. voteforno6

        I’m not sure if private jets are allowed to land at National Airport…they’re rather restrictive on who can fly in there. He might be stuck flying into and out of Dulles along with all the regular rich people and CIA rendition flights.

        Reply
    2. Kokuanani

      I live in suburban MD outside of DC. I was bummed to see Amazon choosing to locate in VA, but now I’m terrified it will chose a passed-over site in near-by MD [White Flint].

      Traffic & house prices are already horrid here, and we don’t need Bezos’ help in making them worse.

      Reply
      1. Bullwinkle

        Relax. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. And if Amazon doesn’t get the humongus cloud contract with the Pentagon that’s to be awarded in April, I don’t think Crystal City VA has anything to worry about either.

        Reply
  7. notabanker

    Re: the Curbed article. After clicking on the post in question, it looks like the IG Influencer is now getting exposed to a whole new brand of influencing.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Okay, show of hands: Who wants to photobomb one of these “influencers” while they’re doing a photo shoot?

      Reply
  8. Louis Fyne

    –How long can Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke afford to wait ahead of the Iowa caucuses?” [Des Moines Register]. —

    Nothing against Iowans but in my opinion, candidates would be better off ditching the caucus all together and focusing on a primary, whether NH or SC. The Iowa caucus is more about who won’t be a nominee versus who will be a nominee.

    Heck, if California was serious about being more influential…it should move ahead its primary to right behind NH.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      edit: i forgot California moved its primary to Super Tuesday, March something.

      If you want to be cynical like me, Iowans are concerned that candidates (especially those strapped for cash) will skip the Iowa Caucus to focus on NH and Super Tuesday.

      Hence the “If you’re not here, you’re missing out” astroturfing from Des Moines. Nothing personal, but the federal ethanol mandate grinds my gears. thanks Iowa. your mileage will vary.

      Reply
      1. notabanker

        There are bizarre rules for how many bonus delegates are awarded to each state based on when they start their process and when they primary, later being more bonus delegates. For Iowa it makes sense to go early because they can be more influential in shaping vs the extra delegates at the convention. Just the oppo for Cali as the bonus delegates are calculated as percentage of their ‘base’ delegates.

        Reply
      2. Lunker Walleye

        Iowans want their fair share of the cash and won’t let go of that easily. /sarc
        We citizens do not set policy for the caucus or the ethanol mandate. Not sarcasm. I personally think the caucus is kabuki theatre and wish it would all go away and leave us alone. I’m especially ticked off since Bernie got screwed over here.

        Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Sanders coming out of Iowa and NH with commanding wins going into SC and Iowa.

      Organization wins caucuses. Obama and Sanders crushed it against HRC and her campaign of “Love Trumps hate” slogans. Sanders should be big enough to chew gum and walk at the same time.

      It does matter when people go into a room and young people back a candidate and the people on furlough from the nursing home back another. Another candidate might back out similar to Bill Clinton’s strategy in 1992, but for Sanders, he should just lock it down. It should be his.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        If it had been a fair and straight-up primary, Sanders would have cleaned up in 2016. Of the 10 most populous counties, Sanders won 7 counties which comprise over a third of the state’s population (Linn, Scott, Johnson, Black Hawk, Story, Woodbury, Pottawatamie). This doesn’t include all the rural counties he won, and there were lots of them. Clinton’s only strength was in the Des Moines metro area and suburbs (Polk and Dallas counties, which are dominated by the insurance industry) and the longtime Democrat stronghold of Dubuque (Dubuque County).

        In other words, Clinton’s strength was purely institutional. As in Michigan, where she only travelled once or twice and always to the state capital, in Iowa she concentrated on cultivating the powers-that-be in the state party establishment. Still, that was enough for her to just barely squeak through (officially, anyway). One has to wonder about those “official” IDP results, considering that Clinton lost Dubuque and Dallas County in the general election, and severely underperformed in Polk.

        Sanders’ problem in Iowa will not be with the voters; it will be with the old-school party bigshots.

        Reply
        1. Mark Gisleson

          I came back as a volunteer and worked Johnson County (because of course you would send a former officer of the Polk Co Dems to Iowa City!).

          I’ve never seen anything so lopsided. Bernie was sweeping caucuses with five and six delegates. That is almost impossible to do (it takes 86% of all delegates present).

          That the party gave the “win” to HIllary was deeply offensive.

          Reply
        2. Bob Anderson

          Nope, Sanders got a boost from the “fixed scam”. He flat lost by 10%. His debacle in Ohio was ugly and that was before Comey killed Clinton there.

          You Sanders lovers don’t get he is over. A con man he is. Much like Biden, is much to old now.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I don’t know about any other Sanders lovers, but I don’t care if Sanders is over or not. If he is running in my state’s primary, I will vote for him.

            Reply
          2. Plenue

            It’s good to see that Correct the Record didn’t just leave its peons by the wayside and made sure they continued to be employed by followup endeavors.

            Reply
    3. Big River Bandido

      Not sure why, but this comment got posted in the wrong place…re-posting it here, sorry:

      I grant that caucuses are not at all democratic, and the Iowa caucus has a history of being manipulated by the party insiders (which is, after all, the point of a caucus anyway). But on a strategic level, the Democrats will need a general election candidate who is viable in the industrial, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes states which are critical to Democrat victory, and which Hillary Clinton ignominiously lost. There’s no path to electoral victory for a Democrat in a presidential race that does not include PA, OH, MI, WI, and IA.

      The Democrats won’t be able to assess their candidates’ strengths/weaknesses in that critical region if they don’t hold a contest there very early. IOW, if the Iowa caucus is pre-empted, an early primary in WI or MI becomes a must. The insistence on a “coastal neoliberal” candidate and platform in 2016 cost the Democrats this region, and the election.

      Reply
      1. Darthbobber

        They might not be the ideal of democracy, but compared to primaries in big media markets they are at least affordable.

        Primaries can be pretty restrictive in their own right, take the arcane New York system as one example, or the creative ballot designs that hacks and ward heelers in many places come up with.

        Of course, one could hold a NATIONAL primary, on a common day, say a month or so before the party convention, which would cut out one part off the gaming.

        Reply
        1. Another Scott

          But if there were a single, national primary, I don’t think there is anyway that someone other than the establishment candidate would win. The same is true when there are a lot of them together, especially when one is a big state, like California. In my mind, Super Tuesday has always been about getting the establishment (or conservative/moderate) it’s preferred candidate.

          Reply
        2. Big River Bandido

          They might not be the ideal of democracy, but compared to primaries in big media markets they are at least affordable.

          Iowa isn’t a relatively “affordable” race to run because of the caucus system. It’s less expensive than other places because advertising costs in smaller media markets are much lower. Move to a national primary, and the winner by default will always be the establishment’s preferred candidate. All the big regional primaries have been fashioned around that purpose (although the party hacks will never openly admit that), and in large part they have produced exactly that result.

          Reply
    4. Cal2

      How many of the following people will vote for Biden when it’s made manifest that he is the main author of their not being able to discharge their useless student loans in bankruptcy?

      “According to the Federal Reserve Bank, outstanding student-loan debt reached $1.56 trillion last January. Around 45 million Americans have student-loan obligations and 7.4 million are enrolled in long-term repayment plans that stretch out for as long as a quarter of a century. As Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos admitted with shocking candor last November, only one out of four student borrowers are paying off the principal and interest on their loans.”

      Reply
  9. clarky90

    Re: “The Biosphere”

    Thriving 23-Year-Old Permaculture Food Forest – An Invitation for Wildness
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GJFL0MD9fc

    “My philosophy in life about what to do in the world, isn’t to go to a pristine area and live there and enjoy your life; it’s to find a place that’s degraded and fix it up” – Robert Guyton

    This property is 150 miles south (towards the antarctic) of me. It started as a ruin; the local rubbish dump. IMO, a practical, inexpensive antidote to biosphere despair, are food forests. I live on a rented property, but am slowly allowing it (minimal intervention, plus some coaxing), to revert to a Food-Forest. It need not be a huge undertaking. For instance; look underneath old walnut trees. There may be walnut tree seedlings. Dig them up and transplant them around your property, suburb or on random neglected spots. Cost? nothing

    There are forgotten roadside patches of land in my community, that are available for planting of trees, herbs and shrubs. We (anybody who wants to) just plant things and the City Council weed/grass cutting gangs generally cut around them, if they look like they are supposed to be there. If you look around an oldish neighborhood, it will be full of fruit and decorative trees on public land, that bygone benevolent people planted. They are long dead, but their mature trees are living, visible memorials of them!

    There are apple and plum trees all along the Rail Road tracks and country roads that grew from eaten fruit being thrown out the window! (before sterile junk food snacks)

    Reply
  10. John

    Urbanism 1: replacing 130 yo victorian facade with 70 yo modernist facade a good example of urban planning? The modernist facade will look like crap construction much sooner. Must be out of their historic district.

    Mushrooms: microdosing great for 72 yo pervasive muscle pain docs refuse to address. Supply a bit of a challenge.

    Reply
    1. Randy

      According to what I hear (read on the internet) they are real easy to grow. It just takes a little research and about $50 worth of supplies and spores.

      Reply
  11. Watt4Bob

    There is very little in my life that is as depressing as the democrat’s insistence on doing the same insane BS, over and over and over…

    But isn’t offering us Joe Biden arguably worse than HRC, and isn’t it prima fascie evidence of depraved indifference?

    The same Joe Biden rightfully called the senator from MBNA;

    MBNA hired the son of Vice President Joe Biden during the years when Biden was a Senator and was pushing for bankruptcy reform legislation supported by the company.

    Because of the close relationship between Biden and MBNA, an article in the conservative political magazine, National Review, referred to Biden as the “Senator from MBNA”.

    According to the documentary Maxed Out, MBNA was alleged to be the top contributor to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.

    That would be the legislation that makes it hard to get rid of credit card debt in bankruptcy, and IIRC, makes student loans near impossible.

    Anybody pushing Joe Biden’s band wagon is just giving the rest of us a big middle-finger salute.

    Reply
    1. Morgan Everett

      I think it’s mostly evidence that Biden is delusional about his chances. My guess is that the other candidates realize he’s a much weaker candidate than the current polling shows, where he essentially is just coasting off of second hand Obama glow among Democratic voters. He has mountains of baggage, his unfavorable numbers are going to go up the second he jumps in.

      Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      I wouldn’t get too down about this, Watt4Bob. The coverage and the polls you read may be breathless for Biden.

      But the voters aren’t.

      Reply
    3. Massinissa

      I want Biden to run: It might keep Michael Bloomberg from entering.

      Biden will fizzle out fast. I’m worried Bloomberg might spend his way to victory.

      Reply
  12. allan

    A Class Warfare / Guillotine Watch / Trump Transition trifecta:

    Amazon in Its Prime: Doubles Profits, Pays $0 in Federal Income Taxes
    [ITEP]

    Amazon, the ubiquitous purveyor of two-day delivery of just about everything, nearly doubled its profits to $11.2 billion in 2018 from $5.6 billion the previous year and, once again, didn’t pay a single cent of federal income taxes.

    The company’s newest corporate filing reveals that, far from paying the statutory 21 percent income tax rate on its U.S. income in 2018, Amazon reported a federal income tax rebate of $129 million. For those who don’t have a pocket calculator handy, that works out to a tax rate of negative 1 percent. The fine print of Amazon’s income tax disclosure shows that this achievement is partly due to various unspecified “tax credits” as well as a tax break for executive stock options.

    This isn’t the first year that the cyber-retailing giant has avoided federal taxes. Last year, the company paid no federal corporate income taxes on $5.6 billion in U.S. income. …

    The TCJA paying for itself, one negative effective corporate tax rate at a time. We’ll make it up on volume.

    Reply
  13. DJG

    I get e-blasts from Toni. These supposedly are the latest poll results, although the primary isn’t until 26 February:

    Toni Preckwinkle: 12.7%
    William Daley: 12.1%
    Gery Chico: 9.3%
    Willie Wilson: 9.0%

    Fun times when democracy breakst out. And yet, and Saint Tammany of Tainted Elections preserve us, another Daley. The one who used to be Obama’s chief of staff. I guess that the Presidential Ziggurat may be built after all.

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      Well. The fix appears to be in, yet again.

      You can destroy the man (Emanuel), but not the machine that put him there.

      Reply
  14. Unna

    Re: Elliott Abrams from the movie Apocalypse Now (1979):

    “Walt Kurtz was one of the most outstanding officers
    this country has ever produced.
    He was brilliant.
    He was outstanding in every way,
    and he was a good man, too.
    A humanitarian man,
    a man of wit and humor.
    He joined
    the Special Forces.
    And after that, his…
    ideas, methods
    became…
    unsound.
    Unsound.”

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      But will Trump “terminate….terminate with extreme prejudice” the nomination? (I’ve watched that movie a zillion times). I also like Lambert’s Manchurian Abrams.

      Reply
    2. Lemmy Caution

      The Abrams Twitter thread linked above includes this video clip of investigative journalist Allan Nairn accusing Abrams of war crimes back in the early 90s on the Charlie Rose show. Highlights include Abram’s manical laugh in response to the war crimes accusation.

      Reply
      1. richard

        This might be a good place to link to K. Kulinski’s take on the omar/abrams q and a. He has an interesting point about Ilhan’s background making her the perfect person to be denouncing abrams behavior, and what that says about identity politics.
        Here is the young man!

        Reply
  15. Summer

    Re: Marvin Gaye’s Lost Album Gets Release Date Decades After Being Shelved” [Vibe]

    Really enjoy Gaye’s music.
    His estate is out of control with lawsuits.
    It will be interesting if they give songwriting credits to all the musicians (since many of these same musicians never received it while Gaye’s estate sues often over their contributions).

    Reply
    1. chuck roast

      Sooth yourself while we wait.

      Check out Marvin’s fabulous Anthology album. The triple album with the red, race-track cover. Motown 791 I believe. With Tammy Terrell and Mary Wells for good measure.

      One of the great records of all time.

      Reply
  16. farmboy

    from AgriPulse news “Speaking on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says President Trump told him he would sign the government funding bill and simultaneously declare a national emergency at the Southern border.”

    Reply
    1. allan

      Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

      Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.
      6:36 AM – 20 Nov 2014

      A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but clearly not of the Party of Small Government™.

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s good news.

      it sets a precedent for declaring a national emergency when it comes to Global Warming.

      In fact, a global emergency.

      “A per person quota for airline miles, weighted by the number of fellow passengers on board with you. Exceptions must be requested.”

      That could be one example.

      Reply
      1. farmboy

        Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution. Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal.”

        Reply
        1. Phil In KC

          Except that Global Climate Change is a crisis! Still, the legislation that permits the President these sweeping powers is bad law, and should be repealed. Same with the Bush-era AUMF against terrorism. Congress, do your job!

          Reply
  17. Brindle

    From center-right Dem lockstep reactions it looks like the the Red Queen was played….

    “Elliott Abrams is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe they should send him on a whistle-stop tour of places like Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua to prove how popular he is down there because of his services.

      Reply
  18. Big River Bandido

    I grant that caucuses are not at all democratic, and the Iowa caucus has a history of being manipulated by the party insiders (which is, after all, the point of a caucus anyway). But on a strategic level, the Democrats will need a general election candidate who is viable in the industrial, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes states which are critical to Democrat victory, and which Hillary Clinton ignominiously lost. There’s no path to electoral victory for a Democrat in a presidential race that does not include PA, OH, MI, WI, and IA.

    The Democrats won’t be able to assess their candidates’ strengths/weaknesses in that critical region if they don’t hold a contest there very early. IOW, if the Iowa caucus is pre-empted, an early primary in WI or MI becomes a must. The insistence on a “coastal neoliberal” candidate and platform in 2016 cost the Democrats this region, and the election.

    Reply
    1. richard

      I’ve lived in caucus state all my voting life (WA), and I’m not sure I agree with your assessment that they’re “not at all democratic”. I don’t know Iowa from Hades, but in wa the presidential primary causcuses have not seemed dominated by party insiders. Jackson did very well here in ‘88, and sanders destroyed clinton. I don’t really get what’s undemocratic about it. Is it that the process is more extended/time consuming, and that’s a barrier? In washington you don’t have to stay for the whole caucus. You can vote for a candidate and leave. What am I missing here BRB?

      Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s possible, indeed with frequent occurence, that a sovereign currency issuer always pays for itself, even while the people go without (many benefits).

      The correlation, much less causation, between that and the people’s happiness has been shown to be low.

      Reply
  19. NotTimothyGeithner

    Since LaRouche was a free man, I can assume he was not a troubled Muslim teenager, or else Mueller would have had him.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      my introduction to numerous economic concepts(capital controls!) was due to la rouchites hanging around street corners in the Montrose area of Houston, handing out still wet newsletters and harassing passerby.
      don’t know why they were there…maybe had a temple nearby…
      he’s definitely an interesting character.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’ll admit. I’m all for a North American Union! Though some of that stuff could scale in the U.S. We should take that and abolish the states and replace them with more practical regional authorities.

        I don’t know where they came from. I would probably see them once or twice a year all the way through undergrad. I definitely took their lit.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt_vV5sIi8Y

        The relevant part starts around 0:40 seconds.

        Reply
  20. Geo

    Patient readers, this is a bit short. I am having a complexified day. –lambert

    This is a short post? This is yet another thorough and great rundown for the day! I wish I had standards as high as yours. My daily output in comparison to this “short” day makes me seem like a lazy bum. :)

    Reply
  21. Hameloose Cannon

    Here at Ecobee Automated Customer Assailants, it is our wisdom to conduct network maintenance in the middle of the night, when our product is of most utility, and our customer is at their most vulnerable. Perhaps…”Les choses sont contre nous” [“Things are against us”]. Our universe suffers from Resistentialism. Your thermostat only appears out to get you because as a creature of Earth [the only alien planet one will ever know], one feels anxiety about death. Please pay no attention to the fact a furnace’s far simpler heat exchanger mechanism can fail, distributing throughout the home a mean lethal dosage of carbon monoxide. Perhaps one should ask if one’s furnace intends to murder you in one’s sleep, as would a common thug. Does one’s furnace know Francaise? Ecobee doesn’t think so.

    Reply
  22. Amfortas the hippie

    re: the Nation art. on “poverty? what poverty?”
    this….maybe more than any of the numerous demparty failures… really shaves my goat.
    I remember being poor and near homeless in austin during billary’s reign(bad luck.I always had at least one job)…and listening in shock as they….and much of the party…parroted the gop-speak on poverty in america.
    Frelling bootstraps and piss on my head.
    That was my first inkling of what has only grown since…they only pretend to be on our side.
    Fie!

    Reply
  23. Lupemax

    Howard Dean should go back to being an MD and working to really help people instead of being the corrupt dem shill he has become. He should be out there fighting BIGPHARMA/sick care insurance monopolies to keep drug prices low and instituting improved medicare for all Americans. They must be paying him an awful lot to be as corrupt as he is or maybe he just doesn’t care anymore, like so many in the dem party. Or, maybe he just doesn’t like being in Vermont anymore.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      When Lambert asked about thoughts about field work the other day, I was reminded of a Howard Dean interview on The Daily Show, and I started to watch an appearance of Dean’s from about when it might have been. At least Part I wasn’t what I was looking for. Watching the clip I became sick. Dean kept harping about the Democratic Party’s promise to balance the budget and restore morality. Were we all stoned? Was I stoned and just simply don’t remember the decision process to get high and then subsequent euphoria?

      I suspect he’s a true believer.

      Reply
    2. Big Tap

      Speaking of Howard Dean he says he was not a lobbyist but sure acted like one. He stood with Big Pharma, for instance and an Iranian extremist group. One of his ‘accomplishments’ was recommending an extension on the exclusivity period of patent time, and profitability, of a certain type of drugs. Howard Dean now will try to get the left’s donor lists which will be their to detriment if he succeeds. He’s on the dark side now and was an opponent of Bernie Sanders in 2016.

      https://theintercept.com/2016/01/21/howard-dean-despite-denials-has-long-sad-history-of-selling-himself-on-k-street/

      Reply
  24. Darthbobber

    The Laroucheies were all over the part of Germany I was stationed in after the 1976 election. Their literature held that Gerald Ford had won the election, but was denied by a rather extensive cabal involving the Brit’s (of course), the Rockefeller, and many many more. Concentration camps for the political opponents of the Carter administration were also being built, and would be filling up soon, brought to you by the trilateral commission, the usual Brritish, the Rockefeller, and Leonard Woodcock of the UAW.

    One thing the article seemed to leave out Was The Fusion Energy Foundation, which actually brought considerable money into the Larouche coffers over the years, and sucked in a number of people who should have known better.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_Energy_Foundation

    Reply
    1. s.n.

      Here in Denmark they still managed to run a candidate or two for EU Parliament elections (I think it was) just a year or two ago. Their vehicle is the “Schiller Foundation” or something like that. They’ve been fielding candidates for at least a decade, maybe two, and occasionally have leafletters and literature tables with detailed policy papers on fusion power, EU agricultural subsidies & similar esoterica. My vague memory of chatting with one once was that the leafletters were not locals and spoke American English.

      Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      This isn’t unusual in China – lots of Chinese (men in particular, as they need a home to marry) get gifts and loans from family – both direct and wider family networks. Its seen as an investment in the next generation. The question, of course, is how much of this money is savings, and how much is leveraged to some degree or other.

      When you see this happening with a Chinese guy outside China, its almost certainly money laundering, often with the quiet collaboration of the western bank that provides the mortgage.

      Reply
  25. Darthbobber

    Neoconservative to join the ever-expanding list of proclaimed anti-Semitic slurs that have literally no direct connection to the issue at all. Now we’re playing the Kevin Bacon game. The CAP is more openly tied to these people every time you turn around.

    By the time the cynics are through manipulating charges of anti-Semitism for their own purposes they may well have leeched the term of all meaning. Which will only make life easier for those pushing the real thing.

    Reply
  26. ChrisAtRU

    #IlhanGate

    After observing and engaging with people online about #IlhanGate, I found a common retort to be “but AIPAC does not contribute to (political) campaigns”.

    I found this article from #TheNation to be a perfect articulation of why the aforementioned distinction is near meaningless.

    Reply
  27. The Rev Kev

    “Booker will ‘be looking to women first’ when selecting VP running mate”

    Wait – I have an idea for a candidate as VP. How about Rachel Maddow! Think about it. All the identity tick boxes she could tick.

    She is a woman – tick! Clintonites can get behind her.
    She is a lesbian – tick! Great for getting the diversity mob behind her.
    She is a Rhodes Scholar – Tick! Nice not to have an idiot in the White House.
    She hates Russia – tick! Nuff’ said.
    She is a Media Star – tick! So the media will get behind her.
    She is considered a leftie! – tick! I did say ‘considered’.

    Sound good?

    Reply
    1. integer

      She is a Rhodes Scholar – Tick! Nice not to have an idiot in the White House.

      Tony Abbott is a Rhodes Scholar. Interestingly, the creation of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Royal Institute of International Affairs (aka Chatham House) can be traced directly back to Cecil Rhodes.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Come to think of it, Bob Hawke was a Rhodes scholar as well. Starting to look askew at this scholarship program.

        Reply
  28. carl

    Re: Psychedelics
    Michael Pollen’s How to Change Your Mind is recommended. The results of the studies of administering psilocybin on terminal cancer patients suffering from depression were compelling enough to cause the FDA (!) to approve further controlled trials.

    Reply
  29. Darthbobber

    Still February of 2019, and already the alleged juggernaut candidate Harris has the NYT having to do damage control and Reid and Co. already reduced to trying to portray any blacks who criticize her as either Russian bots or dupes thereof. Given Harris’s difficulty in coming off as authentically anything in particular, and the clumsiness of even the idpol efforts thus far, this may wear thin fairly quickly. I also loved her playing to a stereotype of the entirety of Jamaica consisting exclusively of prodigious ganja sucking Rastas.

    Reply
  30. Bob Anderson

    One thing NC is gonna have to come to grips with about the 2016 primaries is: The Democratic neo-liberal vote was not unified. This was a large reason why Sanders was able to make a play as a protest vote and that won’t be there this time. Make no doubt, this time, they will want to unify in 2020.

    Frankly, I am amazed nobody noticed how unhealthy H.Clinton looked in 2016 compared to 2008, when she was much more vibrant. A clue for this board. I got ties all over the Democratic Machine. Including how election night was likely to shape up, which my sources nailed in terms of outcomes(and the 2nd Comey letter was the final back breaker in that regard).

    Reply
      1. pjay

        I have read three of Bob’s comments so far. Each one demonstrates that he is does not know what he is talking about — or he is just trolling. It may well be that he “got ties all over the Democratic Machine,” since the “Machine” is oblivious as well.

        Reply
    1. integer

      Frankly, I am amazed nobody noticed how unhealthy H.Clinton looked in 2016 compared to 2008, when she was much more vibrant. A clue for this board. I got ties all over the Democratic Machine.

      Actually, Clinton’s (lack of) health received a lot of attention at NC during the 2016 election. Off the top of my head I remember lengthy discussions concerning her strange blue glasses (anti-seizure?), back brace, fainting at the 9/11 memorial, fragile demeanor, and minimal campaign schedule. As for your “clue for this board”; thanks for that, it provides a perfect explanation for the smugness.

      Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      Right. They weren’t unified when they were all backing the same candidate, but will be vastly more so now that they’ve got a veritable clown microbus full. As to “ties all over the Democratic machine”, claims to this effect mean nothing.

      “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

      Reply
    3. flora

      So I’m guessing you noticed the charcoal-black and purple matching his-and-hers outfits the C’s wore during the concession speech also exactly matched the colors on The Hamilton Project homepage at the same time, where the background was charcoal-black and the portrait of Hamilton was a light purple line drawing. It was almost like the C’s were wearing jockeys’ colors. (The Hamilton Project website replaced that homepage within a few days of Clinton’s loss.)

      Reply
  31. RMO

    “Democrats demand detailed plans for defeating Trump in 2020”

    Let me guess: when the time comes it will be “For every blue collar voter we lose in X we will pick up two moderate Republicans in Y. And you can repeat that across the country”

    Well, unless someone with actual policies and ideas that are good for the country and the world such as Sanders wages a successful insurrection that is.

    Reply
  32. Hamford

    Thought experiment – What if the primary schedule was randomized and released only 2 weeks before primary season starts?

    – The candidates would have to use game theory to decide where to put their ground game in ahead of time.
    – Maybe ethanol and corn subsidies would go away.
    – The southern wall would not be so formidable.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      I like. Probably need to give them 3 weeks. However: don’t tell them that, let’s all follow AOC’s lead in how you negotiate, and tell them 5 days. Make em sweat. :)

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      No, the pimaries are the problem. Get rid of them. Ranked Choice Voting is a very effective way to choose among multiple options. If we use it, we need only one round of votes; the instant runoff will yield someone with a majority of sorts.

      The parties can pick their own way to choose nominees. They can even have the power to put people on the ballot – as long as there are other ways, too. The campaign season would be vastly shorter – and, most important, cheaper and more democratic. Lower case “d”.

      At least in Oregon, primaries mean that everybody pays for the “major” parties to choose their candidates – even though they aren’t very major any more. So I pay for them, but they don’t pay for the Greens to pick ours. It’s open, explicit discrimination. Get rid of primaries. Everybody hates the perpetual campaigns – except the “consultants”.

      Reply
  33. Alfred

    Re: “Whose facade is it anyway?” Just the other day on NC we were discussing how neoliberalism is normalising hostility. Here, from Curbed, we have a case in point. The public space of a city sidewalk has been privatized for the private gain of an entrepreneur in the influencing business. Said entrepreneur, whose sole purpose of being in (viz., going to) Savannah was to profit personally from the investments of its residents, exhibits hostility toward such residents as a class. The denizens of Instagram cheer the hostility. We of NC are not surprised, though I dare say we are all appalled by seeing how much violence it takes to turn background into foreground, creativity into desire. Point a camera these days, you point a weapon, and then you use it. Innocent people, as usual, get hurt. Occasionally they die. In this tawdry tale of Rainbow Row, freedom has been showcased; regulation by etiquette, ridiculed. Controversy ensued. Money was made. Stock turned over on enviable margins. The free marketeers won big. Photography has always been disreputable. Now that it is indistinguishable from advertising, whose modus operandi has always been stealing our attention, we can see it at last for what it really is. It is worse than porn. It is nothing but theft.

    Reply
  34. allan

    Ronna & Quecca & Ronto & Quecto: Metric prefixes sought for extreme numbers [Science]

    Abstract: Fresh from redefining the kilogram and other fundamental measures, the guardians of the metric system have set their sights on another upgrade: new prefixes for outrageously large and small numbers. A proposal lodged with the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris recommends new names—ronna and quecca—as prefixes for 10^{27} and 10^{30}, respectively. They would be joined by their microscopic counterparts, ronto for 10^{-27}, and quecto for 10^{-30}. If approved, the new terms could be formally introduced in 2022. They would be the first prefixes added since 1991. The planned update responds to the massive growth in global data storage, which by the early 2030s is forecast to reach 1 yottabyte (1024)—the top of the existing scale. Without new prefixes, computer scientists will have no way to officially talk about what comes next. At the other end of the scale, quantum physicists have measured atomic forces as small as 42 yoctonewtons. Much smaller and they run out of metrological road.

    Which calls for an appropriate video interlude.

    Reply
  35. Acacia

    Hmm.. somebody here recently mentioned the note-taking app Joplin. I wanted to belatedly thank them for this pointer, but a search of “Joplin” doesn’t seem to turn up the comment. I tried a couple of other things and the search function on the site seems a bit wonky.

    Reply
    1. integer

      The comment you are looking for came up as the first result at DuckDuckGo using “site:nakedcapitalism.com “Joplin””, although DDG only returned a link to the relevant page, not the individual comment. Anyway, here is a link to the comment, by one Mark Alexander.

      Reply
      1. Acacia

        Hey, thanks much for that. I meant the site search engine via the search box on the right-hand side of this page, but it’s cool to know that “site:” now works with DDG (it didn’t used to).

        Reply
  36. Octopii

    Ecobee is actually based in Canada, so they know something about pipes freezing. When the thermostat doesn’t have a network connection or the cloud server is down, you can just walk right up to it and adjust it as needed. Or if you don’t walk up and adjust it, it will follow your schedule as normal. The complainypants Twitter user appears to be an idiot. My own Ecobee is the first generation model bought back in 2009. It’s been good. No server issues or lost heat.

    Reply
    1. pricklyone

      Yeah Ecobee rep and others told him that on the thread about 500 times.
      Somehow, “his house” prevents him from walking up and setting the dial to his preferred temp. Maybe his thermostat is mounted on the ceiling?
      It all starts to come clear later, when he starts talking about his woodburner, etc. that this T-stat was not suitable for his situation. It did what he had programmed it to do, no more, no less.

      I agree with the general sentiment here about Internet connected doo-hickeys, but this was his fault alone, both in his choice of DIY options for a wood heated house, and his trying to make a story out of his own error.
      He doesn’t seem to understand his own gadgets, or wood heat, either…
      I think he was just pissed that he couldn’t turn up the heat from his phone, while under the covers.

      Reply
    2. pricklyone

      If you really want a giggle, read his Twitter sig. He was a ‘Chief Technology Officer”, and a founder of an MIT Media Lab project.
      He admits much later in the thread that the device maintained its programmed settings. He just couldn’t change the settings from his phone when he wanted to, because of server downtime.
      If his kids were cold, it was because he failed to program the ‘morning bump’ time correctly.
      When he says ‘freezing’, he means ‘uncomfortably chilly’, I suspect.
      Why does anyone need to constantly play with thermostat, anyway, via internet or otherwise?
      The whole point of a thermostat, especially a setback type, is to set and forget.
      Solutions in search of a problem. I don’t need a t-stat to learn my habits, with “AI”. I tell it my habits when I set it.
      Mine is a 7 day programmable bought in mid 1990s. Replaced a “round Honeywell”, which is still around here somewhere, if the $12 cheapy dies on me :)

      Reply
    1. Liberal Mole

      The idiots think we don’t know how to deal with spam. I’ve only contributed to Sanders and a few others, and somehow I get requests from politicians I’ve never heard of.

      Reply

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