Links 2/6/19

Dear patient readers,

I had to waste time tonight looking for a replacement for my GE microwave which died with my dinner locked in it. The locking a a big feature on these stupid microwaves so it’s not as if I can pry the door open. And this microwave sits in a small space over the stove…and I can’t get a microwave in the same form factor as the old one (12″H x 10″D x 24″W), which is also frustrating, since the old one fit that space very well. So I need to settle on a compromise and get a new hanging rack and bribe the super + a handyman to install it (this is a two person job thanks to the space being difficult). Grr. Crapification plus a tax on my time since the old one only lasted four years while its predecessor lived to be nearly 20.

Plus drama on the managing mother long distance front….all interpersonal stuff but still…

Year of the Pig 2019: 1959, 2007, 1971, 1995, 1983 Chinese Zodiac Pig. Resilc: “So appropriate for the State of the Union speech.”

Colorado runner kills mountain lion in self-defense MPR (Chuck L)

The Sierra Nevada Has Received 8 Feet of Snow (and Counting) Since Saturday Adventure Reports (David L)

Even groundwater is contaminated with microplastics TreeHugger

Lightsource BP to build U.S. university solar project Reuters. EM: “The ‘BP’ indeed stands for British Petroleum, which acquired a 43 percent stake in Lightsource in 2017.”

Twitter is down at of 8:15 PM!!! WTF!!

Dark fiber lays groundwork for long-distance earthquake detection and groundwater mapping PhysOrg. Chuck L: “A multidimensional breakthrough in seismometry, including lower cost.”

Crypto exchange in limbo after founder dies with password Naked Security (Glenn F)

IBM Completes Blockchain Trial Tracking a 28-Ton Shipment of Oranges Coindesk

Texas Man Dies After Exploding E-Cigarette Sends Shrapnel Into His Neck Popular Mechanics (resilc)

The World’s Biggest Spice Company is Using AI To Find New Flavors CNN

Scans show women’s brains remain youthful as male brains wind down MPR (Chuck L)

Potential treatment for eye cancer using tumor-killing virus The Conersation

Call for retraction of 400 scientific papers amid fears organs came from Chinese prisoners Guardian (Dr. Kevin)


Jaw-Jaw: How Chinese Sharp Power Takes Aim at American Democracy War on the Rocks (resilc)

US Warns European Allies Not To Use Chinese Gear For 5G Networks Reuters

How to fight China’s financial abuses: Crack down on anonymous companies Washington Examiner. Getting all sorts of odd bedfellows for Richard Smith’s long fight against shell companies and dodgy corporate registries. The UK got sort of serious due to RussiaRussia! and now some in the US are worked up about China.


Stop Looking for Meaning in Brexit New Republic (resilc)

Theresa May angers eurosceptics by saying she is ‘not proposing’ to replace the Irish backstop, but merely ‘change’ it Independent

UK union leaders ‘at war’ over Brexit Financial Times

We all want Brexit closure – but May’s deal won’t supply it Tony Blair Guardian. From Clive:

The Good:

He’s finally got it that Continuity Remain is Just Another Bloody Unicorn. If Remain had assembled itself around this kind of positioning two years ago, we wouldn’t be in the current mess because the Ultras wouldn’t have the excuse that Remain was threatening to “undo the will of the people blah blah blah”.

The Bad:

It’s hard to see how a softer Brexit / EEA+EFTA / BINO+gradualism / whatever etc. can be worked through at this late stage and with the ever-present suspicion in Leave that it’s all just a Remain ploy.

The Ugly:

The second referendum nonsense refuses to die so he stops short of telling his rump of Blairite MPs to quit with the we-have-to-destroy-the-village-to-save-it parliamentary gridlocking and start cutting a deal.

And vlade:

Good grief. Are you telling us that Blair is now the most sensible UK politician? (I assume when you say “stops short”, it means he tacitly implies it to them, which is more than Sturgeon). What have come to?

Chaos, incompetence, decline: Brexit and the British government RTE (PlutoniumKun)

Cabinet Office voices concern over Interserve rescue deal Guardian. Richard Smith: “The next Carillion.”

Germany reveals plan to stop foreign takeovers DW


Experts Warn Ousting Maduro Without Violence Is Unlikely Antiwar (resilc)

In Venezuela, US Forgets What Century It Is Consortiumnews (UserFriendly)

New Cold War

OPEC Pursues Formal Pact With Russia Wall Street Journal

Russian Navy has new weapon that makes targets hallucinate, vomit: report The Hill (UserFriendly)


Baghdad: Calls to Expel US Troops from Iraq after Trump said They spy on Iran Juan Cole

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

DuckDuckGo Warns that Google Does Not Respect ‘Do Not Track’ Browser Setting SEJ

‘Face Surveillance Is a Uniquely Dangerous Technology’ FAIR

Chrome Can Tell You if Your Passwords Have Been Compromised engadget

Sheriff’s use of courtroom camera to view juror’s notebook, lawyer’s notes sparks dismissal of criminal case Seattle Times (Dr. Kevin). Lotta “dog ate my homework” claims from the sheriff.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Is this the Trump Doctrine? Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

SOTU. Seems to have been a damp squib….

Trump Asks Americans to Transcend Their Differences and ‘Choose Greatness’ and Democrats’ State of the Union Message: GOP Has Left Middle Class Adrift Bloomberg. Help me. “Dare to be great” versus Dems trying to make the fallen state of the middle class a one-party affair. where were they, for instance, when Obama failed to intervene and allow 9 million foreclosures to happen, when a very high percentage were preventable and mortgage modifications would have been a win for investors too?

Fact-checking the State of the Union: What’s true, what’s false and what needs context in Trump’s address NBC (furzy)

Trump Transition

GOP senators think Trump would win vote on emergency declaration The Hill

We may finally see Trump’s tax returns, and Republicans are panicking Washington Post (David L). Repeat after me: tax returns are not a Rosetta stone. They won’t show who he borrowed from, nor will they show co-investors. The might show (as we expect was the case with Romney, he hid tax returns that could have shown this) that he had a Swiss bank account and participated in the amnesty.

pulling the rope Freddie Boer (UserFriendly)

2020 moderates have a credibility problem The Week (UserFriendly)

America’s new antitrust agenda Financial Times (David L)

The Democratic Party’s Most ‘Electable’ 2020 Candidate Isn’t Running New York Magazine (resilc)

Dem presidential field looks smaller than expected The Hill

Ralph Northam’s demise can’t be blamed on social media or the left. Slate

Loud booms in downtown L.A.? That was a U.S. Army training exercise Los Angeles Times (resilc)

Fake News

Flip the Script: Drugmakers Blame Middlemen for Price Increases Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

Tech Is Splitting the U.S. Work Force in Two New York Times. Resilc: “This is news?”

Automation Is No Threat, But Mainstream Economics and Neoliberalism Are – Part I Ellis Winningham (UserFriendly)

Unemployment is low only because ‘involuntary’ part-time work is high Business Insider (resilc)

Obstacles to full employment Stumbling and Mumbling (UserFriendly)

Monopolies are the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’ when it comes to analyzing US inequality, investment researchers argue Business Insider (David L)

Antidote du jour. O4amuse: “Barrett contemplates a rare snow day near the Oregon coast.”

And an anti-antidote, courtesy Richard Smith:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Wukchumni

    >The Sierra Nevada Has Received 8 Feet of Snow (and Counting) Since Saturday
    Last year @ this time, we were skiing on 6 inches of packed powder man-made snow @ Mammoth and all of the area in the forest and not on ski runs was pretty much bare.

    The Sierra can really unload, my favorite historic storm coming in late April in 1880, which is decidedly freaky in terms of timing, as it’s pretty much game over on winter snow, come April 1. In drought years, the refrain is always the same in hoping for a ‘March Miracle’, but to expect anything in April is just never mentioned.

    In the Sierra Nevada snow accumulations were off the charts. An amazing 194” (over 16 feet!) of snow fell at the railway depot Norden on April 20-23 at an elevation of about 7500’. If this figure was true, it would constitute the greatest single-storm snowfall on record for the contiguous U.S. The snow was so heavy it collapsed snow sheds over the railway near Summit (Donner Pass area). Summit depot itself recorded 298” (almost 25 feet) of snow during the month of April 1880, Emigrant Gap totaled 201”, and Truckee 124”. It is not clear how much of these totals were generated during the storm itself but it is likely a majority of the monthly snow totals were derived from the April 19-23 event. There were reports of Sierra streams disappearing as snow slides filled streambeds at higher elevations.

      1. Wukchumni

        The winter of 1968-69 was memorable-a veritable shitlode of snow in the Sierra, and the ground in L.A. could really take no more rain @ a point, and my mom had bought me these brown wing-tip shoes, and being only 7 years old, I knew they were the uncoolest part of my fledgling wardrobe, by a wide margin.

        When walking barefoot on bare ground, you’d sink almost a foot, when I had my eureka! moment, and went and got those dreaded zapatos and laced one up and not the other, and sauntered over to the ‘quickmud’ and went in with both feet, but only left with one shoe on-the other potentially an archaeological find in 2069.

        Problem solved.

        Yeah, not so much. My mom bought me a new pair of brown wing-tips, and I suffered until I grew out of them.

    1. JCC

      The southeast area of the Sierras (Mojave to Olancha) is full of snow. It is what I thought the Sierras always looked like every winter before I moved out here 8-1/2 years ago (based on old photos and paintings).

      This is the first year I’ve seen it through my 9 winters here, and it looks beautiful.

      1. Wukchumni

        The southeast area of the Sierras (Mojave to Olancha) is full of snow.

        A dozen years ago we had gone on a kayak trip on the Colorado River and then spent a night @ Valley of Fire state park, and awakened to snow in the higher climes, maybe 500 feet above us, which was fun. And then we all started driving back towards SoCal on interstate 15, and they shut it down maybe around stateline-too much snow-not enough snow removal equipment, and we all had to scramble and get motel rooms in Jean, Nv. as nobody was going anywhere, and as a number of people were going to miss a day of work, they had to call and say “I’m stuck in Las Vegas on account of a snowstorm…”

        The next day we split the back way through Amboy, and the Joshua Trees along the way were all adorned in white, beautiful!

        It snowed a few hundred feet above us yesterday and then the snowline retreated upward a thousand feet over the course of the day as things heated up, in kind of a halo effect that would have made for a good time lapse video.

    2. Unna

      “packed powder man-made snow” Powder & man-made snow? Powder, yes! But isn’t man-made snow a sign of the Apocalypse?

      1. Wukchumni

        You don’t want to piss off Ullr…

        Within the winter skiing community of Europe the Old Norse god “Ullr” is considered the Guardian Patron Saint of Skiers (German Schutzpatron der Skifahrer). An Ullr medallion or Ullr ski medal, depicting the Scandinavian god Ullr on skis holding a bow and arrow, is widely worn as a talisman by both recreational and professional skiers as well as ski patrols in Europe and elsewhere. The town of Breckenridge, Colorado hosts a week-long festival called “Ullr Fest” each year in January, featuring numerous events designed to win his favor in an effort to bring snow to the historic ski town. Breck Ullr Fest was first held in 1963.

        1. Unna

          I always have due regard for the pagan gods.

          But isn’t man-made snow a euphemism for that bullet proof translucent hard stuff you get at the bottom of a run on a bad snow year through which you can see green grass even in February? Just asking.

          And now somebody is going to accuse me of making the Perfect the enemy of the Good.

          Maybe better to just stay in the bar….

          1. Wukchumni

            Skiing is going to have a hard time going forward as warming of the earth kicks in and they can’t even make bogus snow on account of the overnight temps not being able to keep it frozen. This happened repeatedly in 2014-2015 during the worst year of the drought, and not only was there scant snow @ ski resorts, but nothing could be made either.

            Yeah, it’s not the best snow you’ve ever skied on, but it beats 6 inches of airdrift.

            1. Unna

              You’re right. You gotta have cold cold cold to make passable man-made snow. It’s tragic the old ski experience may be coming to an end and I think global warming has had ski areas truly worried now for a while. Low interest rates and low snow fall contributed to many of them turning themselves into four season, real estate cum shopping and “night life” destination spots.

              And so now what? Someday they’ll be golfing (?!) on Ivanka’s 9,000 foot high slope side championship course because otherwise its 115F in the valley and you can’t breathe the air down there anyway.

              I’ll admit, I may be a bit of a traditionalist, but try clattering over that stuff in an old style Telemark set up with leather boots. Almost enough to make you think about switching to bondage boards (but never quite…): Free your heal, free your mind. Rather be doing wide graceful telemark turns down the front of the mountain in powder when its so cold the moisture in the air forms glittering ice crystals in the bright sun and with this running through my head:

              Oh, the days….

              1. Wukchumni

                I freed my heels & switched to a Randonee setup a dozen years ago and it’s fun to earn your turns in the backcountry with usually mixed snow conditions. They are the same resort skis I use.

                I’d like to be in the lower photo of this webcam, coming down the trees on the mountain on your right, after having skinned up about 3,000 feet, with one glorious run to where I began…


    3. polecat

      So it seems that this winter came in like a lamb, and will leave like a lion !
      It looks increasingly likely we’ll get upwards of a foot of snow here on the North Olympic Peninsula from the next storm this Fri.-Sat. …. with more, off and on, through the next week. That may not seem like a lot, but it could make for a bit of havoc here* … Today I’m going to stock up of food items while the streets are still drivable !
      Glad I don’t live in the greater Seattle concurbation …

      * I’m sure the local kids will be in heaven though.

    4. JerryDenim

      Im excited to drive up there tonight. Disappointed work obligations kept me away yesterday and today. The back-end of the 4 day storm was very cold and supposedly dropped nice light, dry, fluffy powder. Very different than the typical wet, heavy “Sierra Concrete” that is typically associated with really big storms there. Mammoth is calling the storm totals at the top of the mountain 132 inches, or eleven feet! The top and back of the mountain are still closed as of this posting, so I’m hoping to lay some very deep first tracks tomorrow!

  2. Wukchumni

    It’s no fun when the President pretty much never veers off of reciting somebody else’s thoughts, and becomes a news reader for 40 minutes. Did we always rely on having a dozen human props in the audience to give props too, though?

    Let’s take the wayback machine and watch JFK’s final SOTU (in color!) in 1963:

    It’s very much the flip-side to last night’s proceedings, full of dense optimistic detail which JFK occasionally has to look to his notes on, but he knows what he’s talking about and can do it extemporaneously.

    One odd thing, is there are virtually no women in the assembled audience.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that link Wuk but dammit I had to go check to see how many women there would have been there. Turns out that there were only twenty-

      I have to admit I was thinking of the difference too between the modern SOTU and one back from the 60s. Too much Kabuki theatre here, especially like those women who wore white to honour the Suffragette movement but truth be told would have sold them out in a New York minute. I would have been more impressed if they had gone out of their way to add blue collars to those white jackets. At least they did not turn up in scarlet robes and white bonnets.
      What really concerns me was those USA chants and how they were used. You could see the staged choreography but is that what people really want from their elected representatives? It only serves to reinforce groupthink and you can see how Sanders felt being on the outer in the second USA chant in the video below. I can only imagine what a Jack Kennedy would have thought of this performance-

        1. Carey

          “Look at all the shiny rich folks! USA! USA! USA!”

          There are vastly many more non-shiny, non-rich citizens who aren’t quite so sanguine.

          What a country™

          1. Wukchumni

            “Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

            “True patriotism, it seems to me, is based on tolerance and a large measure of humility.”

            “Every man has a right to be heard; but no man has the right to strangle democracy with a single set of vocal cords.”

            Adlai Stevenson

            1. berit

              Thank you for the Adlai Stevenseon quote, Wukchumni! And other comments and links. I got lost in Yosemite pictures and video in the early hours, instead of shoveling more newfallen snow here at the southern coast of Norway. We are techincally well equipped for the job of clearing roads, but men need to rest once in a while, so my shovels are ready and waiting.

      1. polecat

        Like a troop of Evy Trinkets all lined up in a row, minus the flowing, sparkling attire … except they’re not backing up a Snow … but they ARE pushing to maintain a snow-jobs act !

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We are all Kabuki players.

        Some are just really good at making it look natural and un-Kabuki.

        The rest of us actors, the 99% of us, are not that good, and can be…boring.

    2. mrsyk

      Stick to the script! And the mandatory applause at every pause. Ugh. What a circus. Of course, Stacey Abrams was an epic disappointment as well. Platitudes and homey anecdotes. Substance not in it.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Bill and the other 1980’s New Democrats were adaptable. After all, Tsongas and Moonbeam made Big Dog look like Trotsky in 1992, but the cult leaders have been replaced by the believers. Mook’s obsession with Big Data (which in theory could be useful), but one actually has to understand more than “its a lot of numbers.” That doofus O’Rourke still clearly believes AOC is a performance he can copy, missing the point she’s genuine and as a joke I saw on twitter, he would probably take a “gap” year if he became President.

        Now, they will prove the Kool-Aid will take them to Altair IV.

        1. ambrit

          Oh boy. Are you ever right. All logical carbon based lifeforms know that you need technological help, such as the C 57D, or other FTL craft.
          Even the augmented Dr. Morbius couldn’t brew up that strong a batch of Kool Aid.

          1. Big Tap

            Mook’s use of big data didn’t work out like he thought it would. The algorithm named Ada the campaign used was not accurate. “Shattered” has been covered here at NC before.


      2. lyman alpha blob

        Did you catch her saying, I believe more than once, that she didn’t want the president to fail?!?!?!

        So this is supposed to be “Resistance”? You demonize the president for months on end as a fascist, racist, corrupt businessman, etc, etc – he’s everything you are ostensibly against – but you don’t want him to fail?!?! Jesus H stockholm syndrome Xrist!!!! [The H is for Hearst ;) ]

        Again, Trump is extremely lucky in his enemies.

        1. Odysseus

          I don’t want the President to fail either. I want him to stop promoting failing policies, and start promoting ones which will succeed.

          Of course, that’s not going to happen, so failure is what we get. But it’s not what I want.

    3. integer

      I didn’t watch all of the JFK SOTU speech you linked to so can’t be sure, but I’m guessing that back then SOTU audiences refrained from spontaneously erupting into chants of “USA! USA!” WRT to Trump’s SOTU speech, if nothing else viewers got to witness Pelosi inventing what has now been dubbed the “f*ck you clap“. It was also nice to see that Pence’s software has undergone a significant upgrade; he is looking more and more lifelike with every public appearance.

        1. polecat

          Was he shown sipping that white $h!t that all Walen ‘artificial persons’ imbibe in to supposedly maintain adequate ‘functional’ capabilities??

            1. polecat

              I’m tryin to better my tinsy tiny speck of it, ambrit … one bit of biome at a time … Gaia willing ..

      1. Susan the Other

        One of the Fox nitwits referred to it (seriously) as “the Grandeur of it all.” Unbelievable. It gets more disgraceful every year. Because so many layers of denial have accumulated like glaciers. Did anybody notice that the Donald snubbed Kavanaugh last nite? And Mitch the Merciless wasn’t even clapping. I thought Nancy actually looked human for a change. But it won’t last. I agree with Woody Allen – they should just put in a salad bar… actually an all-you-can-eat chili and cornbread bar would be better. Maybe a keg or two. I give up.

        1. integer

          I thought Nancy actually looked human for a change.

          Well, anyone looks human if they’re sitting next to Pence. I was going to write that scowling, which is what Pelosi spent the majority of the SOTU doing, is a uniquely human behaviour, but then I found this picture of a scowling hedgehog.

            1. newcatty

              Pelosi…as we watched the spectacle I kept thinking hmmm… What’s the difference between the timed scowling and the smirks? Fine line there.

    4. Carolinian

      Trump gave a speech? Musta missed it. Did he point to Guaido in the balcony so all the critters could stand up and applaud?

      And one could point out that the JFK “best and the brightest thing” didn’t work out so well in the end. But he did have better hair.

    5. jrs

      Trump came across as completely pathetic and lost mouthing stuff he could care less about for the most part. The rebuttal was decent though. Do I trust in any of them all that much? No, but the rebuttal was fairly well done and less boring, so maybe it at least gets closer to JFK’s rhetoric. And my heavens was the state of the union boring, people say the superbowl was boring but it can’t have been worse than that … could it?

      Nancy Pelosi wanted to save us from dying of boredom? Well got to give some credit to her for that I guess.

      1. wilroncanada

        Are you intimating it was 13 to 3 for Abrams in superbore redux? Didn’t watch. In Canada we have our own teleprompter politicians.

    6. Annotherone

      ” reciting somebody else’s thoughts, and becomes a news reader for 40 minutes.” (Wukchumni)
      Yes, indeed, but not a good or even mediochre news reader! I wasn’t sure if it was my feeling half asleep during SOTU, when I couldn’t follow Trump’s reading style – never pausing properly between different threads and points – it was all run-on in the style one might expect of a child just learning to read, with no understanding of content.
      I’ve just read a piece a Alternet where it’s reported that Rick Santorum complained about the same thing -so maybe I was less drowsy than I suspected:

      “….This was probably the worst-delivered speech I’ve heard Donald Trump give. He ran over his lines, he mixed up the language, he didn’t deliver his punchlines. He — he would deliver a line, and go to the next issue, and I don’t think he even realized he was moving on to the next issue. Someone didn’t do a good job of breaking his speech so he knew what to do. That was a problem.”

      1. jrs

        school choice came right after funding childhood cancer, I thought it was a deliberate slurring of one into the other, with no pause. But again yes that probably gives him too much credit, to even assume he was being a bit more cleverly devious. Because mostly there was no clever or anything else.

        1. MichaelSF

          school choice came right after funding childhood cancer

          I suspect there’s lots of good money to be made by giving children cancer.

      2. Lambert Strether

        “Someone didn’t do a good job of breaking his speech so he knew what to do. That was a problem.”’

        Weak staffing has been a problem for Trump from campaign days ’til the present. Not enough personnel, and (except in a few areas like trade and judicial nominations) not competent. If competence matters, of course.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Cabinet Office voices concern over Interserve rescue deal”

    Wait a minute, wait a minute. First Carillion and now Interserve? Whatever happened to the theory that private companies are much more efficient at running things than government departments? Wasn’t that the point of privatizing all those government functions?

    1. David

      Not really. It was to make short-term savings by selling off resources to the private sector who would then rent them back or charge for the outsourced services. This gave you revenues (and so apparent savings) in the early years, against higher costs in the long term. This is the long term.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Kinda like how a corporation will lease a newly-built highway off the government and extract tolls over that twenty years but will scrimp on maintenance in the last years so when it goes back to the government it needs a total rebuild.

        1. Lambert Strether

          What they’re going to do with the privatized dorms in my university town. Once the crapshacks deteriorate enough, the town can take them over. Same thing with wind power, IIRC. “After 20 years, the town will own its own windmill!”

          1. ambrit

            I’ve often speculated that mini-efficiency apartments is the eventual fate of all those motels we build. That is already happening with some older motels around here. The ones near to the University are being renovated first. Just like the hotel to condo conversions we saw in Miami Beach back when.
            The Beach can soon boast it’s own tidal generators, downtown!
            A Venice like pattern of canals next to buildings is not too difficult to imagine in South Florida. The Beach and islands were ‘reclaimed’ land to begin with.

      2. Pat

        If it worked in Britain liked it was used here, you cannot forget the advantage of immediately getting rid of employees with rights and benefits. During the formation of Homeland Security here a great deal of time and effort was spent to make sure there were no unions, and one of the solutions was to enable the use of contractors in a space where that would seem to be contradictory. Since Interserve appears to have been the supplier of low on the totem pole but essential to function workers…

      3. Chris Cosmos

        It was beyond short term savings and I was there to see the re-inventing govt nonsense unfold. Both parties wanted tempo things: 1) have a way to appear to be saving money; and 2) to create a great way for an entire class of consultants to make money and pave the way to dramatically corrupt the government bureaucracy and enrich a whole class of toadies. In addition, while this did not make government smaller it also made it less effective thus bringing up questions of why we need government which is the gift that keeps on giving.

  4. Roger Smith

    Google Takes Its First Steps Toward Killing the URL [Wired]

    Google, Internet Titan of censorship wants to introduce its own scheme for how we access websites… what could go wrong? Sounds smart! After all, we can’t depend on people to know what they are doing when they use the internet. They might click on a fake link, or learn about how they are controlled by a fascist, totalitarian entity within their own government!

      1. JTMcPhee

        “Move fast and break things.” And an interesting book with that in the title:

        Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy

        Taplin speaks from the inside of the 10% space.

  5. Roger Smith

    Sorry to hear about your Microwave Yves, but look on the bright side. Now you can order Amazon items and call for your Uber/Lyft while you heat up your Hungry-Man Frozen dinner. Need to set the mood? No problem, just install firmware update 3.11 and you can connect your Microwave to your Phillips smart bulbs and pick the perfect setting for any dining event.

    1. David

      A really modern microwave would have calculated when it was going to die, declined to accept your dinner, gone on line to search for a replacement, and had the replacement already purchased, Ubered and waiting for you ….

      1. Roger Smith

        Haha! Touche.

        Wait… I’ve got it! Companies move back to creating long lasting, well built items BUT… they are all subscription based.

        1. Shonde

          My microwaves were lasting on average 3 years. I finally did an extended warranty when I purchased a more expensive model thinking that would help extend the life..
          The next one quit working during the extended warranty. Got a good tech (thank goodness) who told me that I was killing the microwaves by opening the door without hitting pause or cancel. Apparently the microwaves have a fit when you do that and eventually the sensor goes to sensor heaven.
          Cross my fingers, no trouble since. Hope this helps.

          1. Carolinian

            I had a GE microwave–bought around the time they decided to be a finance company rather than an appliance company–and it corroded out in about a year. That was my last GE purchase.

            1. Wukchumni

              A friend makes and sells corn bags, which are fabric and supply much relief to various body parts, when heated in the microwave for 3 minutes & can be used repeatedly-just pop it back in, and it’s a nice little cottage industry she’s carved out for herself.

              Her offline beat is little art/gift shows all over the central and northern parts of the state, and a few months ago she came back from one in Willits, Ca., a burb of 5,000, and related that she’d never run into such anti-microwave feeling in a town before. It was as if every other would-be customer asked how it worked, and the mention of a microwave, was an instant no sale. She barely broke even on a long torturous weekend.

            2. ambrit

              I recently saw an old Amana Radar Range at a local thrift store. (1960’s vintage!) The ‘volunteer’ backroom tech and I had fun getting it running again. (Hint: There are solid state fuses in the guts of most microwaves. Similar to old style auto fuses. They can be replaced. You have to take the back of the unit off to get to it.) The other main point of failure is in the control module, usually comprising the ‘control pad’ on front. I had to replace one last year on our middle aged unit. Phyllis still won’t use a microwave heating unit.
              Good luck with it.

              1. Wukchumni

                Used to have a microwave only to be utilized on numismatic endeavors, for when you combine metal, chemicals, and 45 seconds of high heat, you could improve the look on the surface, or get rid of copper spots on Au coins, but there was no way you wanted to heat a burrito in it, strictly off limits to food.

    2. nycTerrierist

      Modest suggestion to Yves, who I thank for this wonderful forum, with sympathy for your
      wasted time (and dinner!), and with all due respect:

      consider going microwave-free?

      there’s always the stove, or even a toaster-oven.

      (cowers under desk)

      1. Whoamolly

        Re: Microwaves locking dinner inside

        Truly Awful design. Ours is 20 plus years and does not have such a “safety?” feature.

        Consumer reports these two over counter units highly. No idea if they lock dinner inside.
        Kitchen Aid

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            But avoid their power tools, in the Makita or Milwaukee versus Bosch battle the outcome is never in doubt.

            I love a tool that never lets me down and my Makita cordless drill, now battered and painted and all bruised up, owes me nothing

      2. Unna

        Confession: I’ve never owned a microwave, only encounter them when we travel, and actually don’t know how to use one. (Hear laughter….) But I am told they’re great for warming up cold coffee, but then, why wouldn’t you just use the stove for that? I’m sure people cook with them, they give classes on “microwave cooking”, but how they do that, I don’t know. Toaster ovens can actually be quite useful.

        1. ewmayer

          “why wouldn’t you just use the stove for that?”

          You can’t put a partially-full mug on the stove for rewarming; you have to transfer the liquid to some kind of stove-safe pot, warm, pour back into mug, wash pot. Roughly 10x the work and time of simply popping the mug into the microwave for 30 seconds.

          Besides quick in-situ heating/rewarming, microwaves are absolutely fabulous for cooking certain foods that take a long time on the stove or in the oven. Baked potatoes and corn on the cob are my 2 favorite such – in each case if I have multiples to cook I pile ’em in the microwave, heat 2-3 minutes per fist-sized potato or ear of corn (still in its leafy wrapper is best), then transfer the pile to an old folded-up fleece jacket, roll it up and let sit for 20-30mins longer to let the latent heat finish cooking the insides. And again, no PITA cookpot and messy liquid transfers and pot-washing needed.

          Also great for busy households, one person can use the stove for ‘real’ cooking while another can use the microwave for small stuff, rather than jockeying for stove-burners.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        I am very time constrained and there are many times I am reheating food. I would burn it if I reheated it some other way, + more time.

        1. Conrad

          Is there no US equivalent to NZs Consumer Guarantees Act? Here consumers can enforce a guarantee if acceptable quality that includes a guarantee that consumer goods are reasonably durable. Kitchen appliances should last 10 years or so. So for example when our seven year old oven started playing up we just rang the store we bought it from and they sent a repair guy round to sort it out.

        2. newcatty

          Understand your points :Yves. We had a microwave when in a home that came with the over the stove model. It was part of a “kitchen package update”. Rarely used it. Fast forward: never bought one for an any other house we lived in since then. We are with the toaster oven people. We have become smart (hee, hee) in how we use it. For heating any food that needs it, we use the little aluminum pan that came with our model. Don’t like cooking anything in aluminum ( use that for our berets), so use parchment paper as a liner. Works great as long as you don’t go over 400 degrees on the “bake” setting. The paper will burn. Pretty darn fast, too. But, no, can’t reheat coffee. For us, it’s OK, cause just keep our old, cheap pot going…

    3. Lambert Strether

      > you can connect your Microwave to your Phillips smart bulbs

      I’m trying to imagine what Yves would say when the Internet of Sh*t Microwave starts doing a system upgrade while she’s waiting for dinner.

  6. bruce wilder

    The Business Insider article, Monopolies are the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’ . . ., repeats the “market concentration” meme.

    Am I surprised to see Stiglitz and the Roosevelt Institute name-dropped? The money quote, so to speak, is from the authors of “a 2018 book”, The Myth of Capitalism, written by the founder of an investment research provider and his business manager — Predictably: “Tepper and Hearn are not advocating for radical change, they wrote, but for a return to real capitalism.”

    The mind-numbing quality of the market concentration argument from the academic economics specialty known as “industrial organization” is to be combined with the unworkable antitrust legal doctrines used to sink the FTC into irrelevance forty years ago amid cheerleading for a “return to real capitalism”.

    I suppose this article is a symptom of anxiety among the finance capitalists, that someone might begin thinking seriously and critically about economic structures and what public policy might do to remedy acute problems. So, naturally, let us trot out some rubbish ideas with which to preemptively occupy the mindspace. Might work. Probably will work, actually.

  7. katiebird

    I am thinking of you and your mom, Yves. I am very lucky to live in the same town as my 94 year old mom. It makes a huge difference. I wish there was something I (we) could do to help….

    1. Wukchumni

      We feel so fortunate my soon to be 94 year old mom is in capable hands @ her assisted living place, and true to form, she’s become the leader of the pack of elders, by being voted the presidency in the small, but important electoral college there. (and also carried the popular vote)

      Color me so not surprised, as she’s been president of the womens’ club, and volunteered all over the place back in her days of high mobility.

      My sisters and I are scattered widely across the west, but we do our best to visit as much as possible in her lair.

      Sadly, I must report that one of the clan there has passed on, Bob Williams was 98 and sharp as a tack mentally.

      He told me that he went to Philadelphia the day after Pearl Harbor to enlist in the navy, but there being so many that wanted to enlist, it took him 17 days to get in.

      If you enlisted in the navy in Philly and your last name started with the letters S-Z, you became a Seabee.

      So Bob spent the entire war all over the South Pacific, building airstrips and infrastructure after the battles had been won.

      Robert Williams, who helped create the modern-day Santa Fe Springs as its second city manager — he served for 18 years — has died at the age of 98.

      Williams died on Jan. 5 of complications from pneumonia. He also worked as city manager in Pico Rivera for three years following his time in Santa Fe Springs, and city treasurer for Los Angeles. He began his career as an administrative assistant for Montebello from 1950-52.

  8. David

    Good collection of Brexit links today. The New Republic article says a lot of what I have been saying about contingency, misunderstanding and sheer stupidity, though it does set up a rather artificial distinction: in practice, you always have an interaction between deep structural factors and contingent factors in any crisis. But it’s a good reminder that, if any of the main players a few years ago had really known what they were doing and why, and had a coherent policy, we wouldn’t be in this mess now. But if you begin with a series of improvised panic solutions and go on from there ….
    I have to say I’m allergic to anything with Tiny Blur’s name on it, but since vlade and Clive seemed to think there was something to it, I gave the article a look. Yes, it’s actually not bad, and whoever wrote it does at least understand that there comes a point when you can no longer cover up fundamental disagreements with words. Such is the woeful state of commentary on Brexit, that this actually counts as a key insight on the part of whoever wrote the piece, and all credit to Blair for letting it appear under his name.
    The RTE piece on the other hand, whilst it makes some good points, continues the “imperial nostalgia” meme, which is inaccurate and unhelpful, and should really be binned.

    1. Anonymous2

      Yes. I see Tusk has now taken the gloves off, saying there is a special place in hell for those who promoted Brexit without a sketch of a plan how to implement it.

      I think the EU have given up on the UK, having decided that crash-out is going to happen.

      1. vlade

        You know, the funny things is that the UK is still at EU’s mercy even with no deal, as there’s just absolutely zero chance of the legislative changes required even for no-deal to happen before March 29. Unless we abolish parliament and go back to full blown Monarchy (which would still require an act, but it could be short and sweet).

        1. Brian (another one they call)

          this may not be a revelation but the UK is not united, it is a monarchy where the queen can put the kibosh on any legislation, there is no constitution, there are no laws for treason and no one in government ever goes to jail for crimes against the people. (sound familiar?)
          Since collapse is inevitable for all of these bloated industries for the hogtying and fleecing of humanity via laws, abuse, regulation, austerity and starvation, the future is going to rock the world.
          May I have some plastic with that gruel?

        2. notabanker

          I lived in the UK only for a few years so will admit to being slightly above naive when it comes to these things, but I find the Monarch’s role in all of this much under-discussed / marginalized. This is a defining moment and I have a hard time rationalizing a ceremonial figurehead sitting idle in Buckingham Palace while the UK goes into full meltdown. OTOH, bizarre seems to be the only common description for Brexit.

        3. Lambert Strether

          It’s interesting to think of Parliament not being able to pass legislation, not because of a political lockup, but because there’s just too much to pass given the legislative calendar, as a legitimacy crisis issue. It’s like Pelosi’s “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” (even in context). The UK’s Constitutional order depends on a legislature that can’t pass legislation. (Also, imagine the Easter eggs….)

      2. Clive

        While I’m very sympathetic to Tusk — I’d have let rip months ago, gawd ‘elp us, he’s had to endure Davis, Raab, May, Fox, Corbyn, trying to pick a flea off my mother in law’s cat is preferable — ending up allowing Arlene Foster to seem to be making herself statesman-like is an own goal (she didn’t take Tusk’s bait, did her “if they go low, we’ll go high” act which I must try to get a video clip of from somewhere, it’s a a priceless thing to see done when it’s her that’s doing it). Certainly in terms of a U.K. domestic audience.

          1. Clive

            The Belfast Telegraph captures the moment for posterity!

   (the speaker icon needs to be clicked to get the sound as it is off by default)

            Quoting C. S. Lewis! You could not make it up. That’s the DUP making nice for the international viewers.

            Also has Foster’s winged monkey Sammy Wilson giving it some agro for domestic audiences.

            Oh my! Anyhow, that’s the DUP in typical horses-for-courses action for those wishing to get a flavour of things here.

            (the Belfast Telegraph is a moderate (-ish) republican leaning outlet, just to put it in context for non-NI / U.K. readers)

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I think you meant to say that the Belfast Telegraph is a moderate(ish) Unionist leaning outfit…

              1. Clive

                I think it’s mainly nationalist hence the leader on Sinn Féin shellacking May over her incomprehensible back stop flip flop but does some occasional unionist pieces just to show it’s not part of the fringe. Then again, it went through an Alliance phase few years ago so maybe it tried for genuine neutrality but gave up trying for centrism when Alliance couldn’t even work out what it was for and where it stood on anything.

                It is hard to keep up though, I’ve spent a happy couple of days trying to guess what the UUP think — before coming to the conclusion they haven’t worked it out themselves yet, either. I’d be admitted to the home for the bewildered if I attempted to delve into the SDLP. There is a limit…

                1. makedoanmend

                  Historically, it has been the main Unionist oriented news paper. It is still the newspaper of record for the more middle and upper class Unionist. They would be most amused at the appellation of a Republican or nationalist leaning outlet.

                  I do suppose, given how much Brexit will hurt the local economy (especially in a crash-out scenario), that the Telegraph is currently making more conciliatory gestures to parties like the SDLP and Sinn Féin. Who knows what the future holds?

                  Also, one has to realise that the Unionist population isn’t as monolithic in viewpoint right now. For example, the UFU (Ulster Farmers Union) who are nice folks but previously rather staunch in their unionism, have come out in favour of the EU-UK Withdraw Treaty; much to the chagrin of the DUP.

                  1. Clive

                    Same with the Belfast Newsletter which is definitely definitely unionist, fairly moderate (but in no way making any Telegraph-style flirtation with becoming anything even remotely centrist — I should really have said the Telegraph was now quasi-phantom-nationalist-ey in a kind-of struggling with its ideological compass way where Brexit is concerned).

                    Pre-Brexit, Newsletter was against anything with the merest hint of green tinges. Now, you see more than a few nods to perhaps what a border poll might look like, how many might actually consider a Republic passport and so on.

                    So that’s something at least — Brexit is shifting the ossified tectonic plates of NI politics as they can’t stand still in the face of the obvious distortions. Back on the mainland, even the Daily Mail could now on occasions — I cannot actually believe I’m about to write this — almost, almost fit in with the moderate Brexit faction of Labour. Rabid hard Brexit’eering had, apparently, its commercial boundaries.

                    That said, I can say the above (entirely truthfully) about moderating historic entrenched positions and some political equivalent of gender fluidity while simultaneously also say, again, with validity, everything is just as polarised and intractable as ever in NI. Such is the curio that is politics in the North. I remember once there was a pseudo periodic table of finance blogs, which was a very good illustrative device. I’d love to do one for the NI political parties, splinter groups and unofficial outlying rocky outcrops. Well, I’d find it interesting to do, anyway. Quite how I’d resolve the on-again off-again SDLP / Fianna Fáil not-quite-merger-merger, though, goodness only knows.

                    1. Lambert Strether

                      > pseudo periodic table of finance blogs

                      NC is, naturally, classed as Rocket Science.

                      That might be a post-worthy device, but my thought would be UK media, including NI, which would overlap at least partially with the political groupings. Over to you….

        1. newcatty

          Clive, as an American, I am reminded of our former oh so cool First Lady, the wife of our former president. Michelle said , in her most pithy and uplifting speech ever to the faithful. “When they go low, we go high!” It was priceless, too. Then she topped it off( not sure about timing) by hugging G.W. Believe she called him her partner in crime. They don’t even try to hide in plain sight, anymore. Then made everybody smile at Saint McCain’s funeral, as her new buddy gave her a cough drop. So thoughtful, as They were all shoulder to, and other body parts, shoulder on the pew of dishonor.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The inability of people to put 2 + 2 together in the face of so much very visual evidence is astounding.

            Michele Obama + George Bush + John McCain in a menage a trois lovefest.

            Um maybe it’s just me but I do remember when George Bush was the epitome of a despicable and laughable neo-con war starter, and when McCain was simply the most frightening far right Neanderthal Arizona Republican war lover.

            So to see Michele gushing and pawing them both really lays bare for all to see just what the Obama Era actually was.

            As Caitlin Johnstone ably points out, pics of Michele and Bush hugging are just one thing: war propaganda. The Iraq War, that hideous, worst-foreign-policy-decision-in-US-history-that-cost-hundreds-of-billions-and-killed millions is slowly whitewashed and normalized in the minds of our overworked and distracted populace.

            Thanks, Obama.

      3. Marlin

        I don’t follow the conclusion. At this moment, I think, the best way to avoid no-deal is for the EU to get tough. The problem with the sweet talk was, that the UK politicians got the impression the backstop is renegotiable. That is a very reasonable conclusion from the previous willingness of the EU side to continue the negotiation. The WA has only the three points of exit payment, where the UK probably would accept an even higher payment if the backstop wasn’t there, the treatment of citizens, where currently no better deal for the EU seems available, and the backstop. So, if the backstop is non-negotiable, why pretending to continue with negotiations?

        1. makedoanmend

          The Belfast Telegraph is certainly not a Republican leaning news outlet – very, very far from it. It has certainly moderated its Unionist-centred viewpoint since the peace process, but no one from Ireland is in any doubt that it’s editorial policy is still firmly unionist oriented; as is its right as a private newspaper.

          As for Tusk, he didn’t say anything that hasn’t been said on this site before: >>> i.e. that Brexit is fiasco because there was absolutely no plans in place before Article 50 was activated – neither by the Tory government who has carried out the negotiations nor by Labour’s Corbyn who called for Article 50 to be activated.

          From the Guardian news site:

          “Donald Tusk, the European council president, has said there was a “special place in hell” for politicians who promoted Brexit “without even a sketch of a plan”, while he reiterated the EU’s refusal to renegotiate the withdrawal treaty…”

          Unlike the plethora of insults actually launched at the EU and EU officials by Tory party members, the inclusion of a truthful statement seems to be upsetting to Brexiters and the DUP.

          If I were them, I would be more concerned about what people across the Atlantic are thinking, as the UK will soon be entering into negotations on trade with the USA and others.

          From the Washington Post 31/1/2019
          “The Collective Madness Behind Britain’s Brexit Plan”

          “Britain is one of the richest and most advanced democracies in the world. It is currently locked in a room, babbling away to itself hysterically while threatening to blow its own kneecaps off. This is what nationalist populism does to a country.”

          1. a different chris

            To be somewhat fair to these idiots, wasn’t A50 itself designed so you couldn’t actually have a well-fleshed out plan? You literally couldn’t talk to any other country, thus you wound up in your own echo chamber and… well idiots tend to dominate that type of discourse.

            Doesn’t excuse the intervening 2 years of course.

            1. makedoanmend

              True about future trade agreements, for sure. I was thinking more about plans of how they would deal with issues with regard to the EU negotiations before the negotiations started. When D. Davis was the lead negotiator, the impression is that for an entire year there no hurry and little actual background work had been done on the issues from the UK side. It was always the EU who seemed to ferret out what the Tories wanted and formalised the so-called ‘red lines’ of the Tories. Finally, Barnier was able to outline what relationship the UK indicated it wanted, such as a Canada style deal and so on. After that, hilarity definitely did not ensue.

            2. vlade

              No. You could have made a plan, or a few plans of what you’re aiming for. You _could_ talk to all the other countries all you wanted, just not officially. Unofficially, you could bounced ideas left right and centre.

              But, like Corbyn did, calling for an immediate A50 activation w/o having even a clue what the required result should look like (because, if nothing else, you need to adjust domestic laws – a tons of them – deciding which and how you’ll change etc. etc.) , is just totally, utterly, incomprehensible idiocy [ and here’s your “what could have Labour done differently?” spelled in 30 foot letters – hold May to a plan. Not the way, but a plan. It did zilch]. It’s beyond dumb. May compounded it, because she actually had 9 months to think it through – although if she wasn’t being hampered by the court case, she might have had called it even earlier. She’s dumb enough. The UK was saddled with the two dumbest leaders of the two major parties it could have, at the worst time possible.

              Not-triggering A50 was THE lever the UK had. Imagine if the UK triggered just _after_ EP elections, early into the budgetting process! There would have been a lot the UK could then use as a leverage. Now, it has nothing.

              1. ChrisPacific

                Your mention of domestic law adjustment made me wonder how the UK is doing on that front (remember the argument for Henry VIII powers so they could all get done in time?).

                Not well seems to be the answer. Amusingly, the refusal to allow extraordinary powers hasn’t amounted to much because MPs have been overwhelmed by the volume of legislation and are simply rubber stamping it:

                In practice, though, most receive scant attention because of the sheer volume of changes. One tome weighs in at 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds). An amendment on product safety comes in at 619 pages.

                Opposition Labour Party Chief Whip Nick Brown is running a team to assess the statutory instruments and staff are wading through the “astonishing” pile of paperwork, according to Labour’s economy spokesman, John McDonnell. “We’re finding ministers don’t understand the statutory instruments put forward by their departments,” he told reporters.

                Note the traditional omission of the EU perspective: the article notes that Article 50 “may need to be extended.” Someone will have to inform the EU of the situation. See to it, Jeeves. What do you mean, they have to agree?

      4. PlutoniumKun

        It now seems his comment was entirely deliberate.

        European Council President Donald Tusk has said that the EU27 will make no new offer in the Brexit negotiations.

        He was speaking at joint press conference with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Brussels.

        Mr Tusk said: “I’ve been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely.”

        Following Mr Tusk’s remarks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was picked up on a microphone suggesting to Mr Tusk that: “They’ll give you terrible trouble in the British press for that.”

        Mr Tusk replied, “I know.”

    2. DJG

      David: I’m not so sure.

      There is quite a difference in tone and purpose in two pieces on Brexit: Stop Looking for Meaning, by someone who is an insider and faux Englishman, as opposed to the RTE view from another university professor in Ulster that chaos and incompetence matter. Maybe being in Ulster matters, too, as opposed to the delights of southeastern England.

      The insider’s view: Hey, crap happens. Lots of people will be hurt, but let’s not think about necessity or other big words. Contingency and chance are easy to write about at Cambridge. For the privileged, economic status buffers them from chance and contingency.

      The RTE view: Incompetence matters. It is a kind of choice. And here are the results. This is corruption.

      As someone who has witnessed the looting of Chicago, I’ll support Neal from Ulster.

      1. David

        Yes, as I said I thought both made valid points in their very different ways, and I think that the points of view, being both partial, are not incompatible. My comment was that the RTE piece was giving more credence to an argument which I believe to be quite false, that somehow imperial nostalgia is behind all this chaos. That’s not true by my own observation over many decades. The size of the Indian Civil Service in the 19th century is frankly irrelevant, for example. The real problem since the beginning with the UK’s relations with the EU has been the obsession with maintaining and protecting the foreign and security policy link with the US. De Gaulle understood that this is what would happen, which is why he was so opposed to Britain joining in the first place.

    3. Clive

      We do, finally, seem to be getting a noticeable improvement in the quality of debate. For a start, there’s a whole shared vocabulary (cakeism, unicorns) which obviously stupid ERG type nonsense can be easily and readily dismissed by.

      And while I don’t credit it to any sudden intellectualism increase, merely an inevitable consequence of the limited amount of time left, implausible so-called solutions like a second referendum, elections, renegotiations and so on get quashed with a quick “and how long is all that going to take then?” interrogative.

      Plus the population is fed up with politicians just talking rubbish to get their faces on the TV. We’ve all spent far to many hours trying to follow the debate wasted listening to idiots. Give us the facts, give us them succinctly, spare us the ritual denunciations and tell us how we’re supposed to get to there, wherever you think we should go, from here.

      But is it all too little, too late? The U.K. establishment as a whole needs a big slap in the face bringing realism and compromise. And a recognition that the EU27 isn’t going to disappear — some coherent ongoing relationship is going to have to be agreed and that means not annoying the neighbours and generally pee’ing everyone off. I see no evidence of any of these things. As vlade rightly said, if Tony Blair — yes, that Tony Blair — is the adult in the room, it’s all a bit grim. Plus the U.K. parliament is still running out of days to get anything done, let alone anything good.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Brexit: this rabbit sees the same projecting behaviors as in a married couple’s divorce.

        Note that I was in favor of some kind of Brexit but not this…insanity.

        But that’s what couples who divorce say at about the point where the hammer is about to fall.

        It’s as if, at a global-strategic level a couple’s emotional detachment were projected onto national and supranational entities.

        The UK is having a mid-life crisis and the affair it started with (whom?) to destroy the stable, satisfying, but not always happy marriage will fall apart in six months.

        (maybe I’m just projecting)

        1. vlade

          no, it’s not even an affair it started. It’s hoping to start an affair, believing that because it was the top dog in the college, it still gets Scarlet Johansson now despite being a balding past-middle-age guy with a beer belly, just like a majority of the chaps in the club.

    4. Avidremainer

      I don’t say that imperial nostalgia is the be all and end all of Brexit but it should not be dismissed out of hand. I remember having to explain to a colleague that colonialism was not as rosy as she thought. Her father was a colonial official in Malaysia and then Kenya. Her experience and mine were chalk and cheese. The difference between the subject and the ruled.
      There are still plenty of Brits alive who ruled the roost all over the place and all view it with great affection. We have just had a TV series on BBC 1 about the Aden emergency of the ’60s. Well you can’t keep on harking about WW2.

  9. Ptb

    Yea microwaves made after about 2005, and nearly all electronics made in early 2000s are total crap. It may be fixable, believe it or not. If it was in a tight space, the digital circuitry may have died from steam/moisture & related corrosion shorting smth. If this is the case and youre feeling adventurous (or have teenage relatives who are) , a water wash + gentle oven dry of the pcb + may revive it. If the power supply or power circuitry blew, different stuff to look at – probably a more exotic service than handyman etc.

    1. Dogstar

      Google the name and model number with brief description of problem, chances are someone else had the same issue and a possible fix.

        1. Lemmy Caution

          Agreed Youtube can be invaluable when you need a visual how-to guide for a tricky fix.

          The thing is, did the manufacturer cut DYI-ers off at the pass by making it nearly impossible to disassemble a device so it can be worked on?

          I ran into that problem recently when I set out to replace a bad cooling fan for my laptop. A new fan cost only $12 bucks, but the amount of time I spent trying to find and unscrew all the tiny, hidden screws, carefully release all the plastic tabs from their holding slots and unplug and remove all the components that were in the way (incuding the hard drive!) was frustrating. When I was finally able to access the fan, it took no more than 1 minute to replace the old one and fasten the new one into place.

          Could it be that ease of repair is not at the top of the priority list for all manufacturers?

          1. ptb

            yeah that’s the worst. I don’t even try w/ laptops anymore, not worth it.
            kitchen / bathroom / outdoor stuff is way more forgiving tho.

            1. Mark Alexander

              Laptops can be pretty daunting (my wife’s 2008 MacBook scares me). This is one reason why I stick with old ThinkPads (circa 2009 or earlier). The Hardware Maintenance manuals for these things are excellent, and they’re not too difficult to work on either — unless you’re doing something really serious like replacing the motherboard or LCD. Even then, if you go slowly and don’t lose the screws you can fix just about anything.

              Alas, ThinkPads are undergoing crapification to make them harder to work on. On my older ones, I can replace RAM in five minutes or less (the longer time for models where I have to remove the keyboard). I understand that some newer models are terrible this way: you have to remove the motherboard to get to the RAM, i.e., you practically have to take the whole family-blogging thing apart.

        2. Bugs Bunny

          Lots of videos but none for my expensive Dyson DC 05 that still runs perfectly but whose suction tubes all broke apart. Bought a Miele to replace it.

          No one ever complains about Miele.

  10. woof

    Cripto Exchange in Limbo After Founder Dies With Password.

    Could this be one of those situations where the dog ate my homework?

    1. Procopius

      I’ve tried looking it up and can’t find it, but IIRC, the owner “died” in some weird overseas location. Somalia, or Kazakhstan, or something. I have a suspicion it would be easy to purchase a death certificate in a place like that. You “used to” be able to buy all kinds of forged documents on Khao San Road in Bangkok. I thought block chain was supposed to make this kind of thing impossible? It’s a strange story. Apparently the company has had delays paying out for several months now, and people who say they had hundreds of thousands of dollars of crypto on deposit never suspected there might be a problem. It does seem odd that there are no details available about Gerry Cotten’s death — where did he die, what did he die from, were memorial ceremonies held, were his remains returned to the U.S.? Coincidentally, right now Doonesbury is running the story line of Duke “closing” Club Scud in Kuwait by torching it to collect the insurance money.

      1. Christy

        Ahem. You tried looking it up?

        You have made it obvious you never read the article, but are only reacting to the headline.
        (Please see #2 in violations under Policies)

        It clearly states in the third paragraph, “Gerry Cotten, the 30-year-old founder of the Vancouver-based exchange, passed away in India on 9 December 2018 due to complications from Crohn’s disease.”

        Informed statements rather than guesses, come from reading the article first.
        This is the reason we want you to read it before commenting.

        This article is quite informative & answers all your questions, leaving your comment void of information or use, other than proving your guilt of responding before reading.

      2. Lambert Strether

        >I’ve tried looking it up and can’t find it, but IIRC, the owner “died” in some weird overseas location. Somalia, or Kazakhstan, or something.

        QuadrigaCX’s owner died in India. While opening an orphanage. From NC two days ago. Some might consider the orphanage part over-egging the pudding.

  11. Another Scott

    RE: Civic Literacy

    After decades of cutting classes like civics to make room for more standardized testing, emphasizing liberal arts and social sciences for STEM and business classes, our neoliberal overlords are now clamoring for civic requirements, naturally accompanied by a test. The unstated implication is likely true: that the gutting of civil society, including the elimination of civics classes, did contribute to the election of Donald Trump. However, such an education would also lead most people to conclude that Hilary Clinton (and her husband) was also unfit for the presidency.

    Maybe instead of lecturing us about it, they would read about the reason for public education, going back Horace Mann and read his thoughts on the matter. Hint: it’s not about preparing people for jobs.

    1. Lee

      Back when dinosaurs walked the earth (early 1960s) we had to pass what was called the constitution test to advance from the 8th grade. It covered not only the mechanisms of the federal government such as how a bill becomes law but the local levels of government as well such as the difference between strong and weak mayoral systems. Appropriate to the grade level it was pretty rudimentary but I wonder how many adults could pass this test today.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From above:

      High school citizenship tests will surely help address the problem of 65 year olds passing around falsified news about MS-13 or whatever on Facebook, a platform designed by thousands of scientists and engineers to manipulate them.

      Probably everyone has to re-take that test every 4 or 5 years.

      1. The Rev Kev

        What happens on that test if you were given a choice of who got to make a war – the President or the Senate – and you chose the President? Only on a paper test would you be wrong.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > a platform designed by thousands of scientists and engineers to manipulate them.

        Sounds like the right people are being educated to do the right thing. What’s the issue, here?

  12. cocomaan

    What is with the Democrats and their creepy optics?

    First it was Chuck and Nancy’s Boris and Natasha routine, now it’s Stacey Abram’s audience of ghost people suspended in the blackness of the back of a dimly-lit Quonset hut.

    Democrats don’t seem to be trying anymore to appear approachable. The Abram’s response made me think, “Yes, we only see people as vague demographic data points and not as individuals. That is, except if you are anointed by party leadership. Learn to love it.”

    Hell, the sweaty Joe Kennedy response looked more human than this. At least he was talking to a crowd of real people.

    1. cocomaan

      Contrast the blurring of the public with Trump’s trotting out of more human interest stories than I remember in any SOTU – young and old and ancient people – and it paints a really stark picture.

      1. bronco

        Why did they think the JJ’s landlords annoying wife was the perfect choice for this? I havent seen good times in 40 years but I recognized her instantly.

      1. newcatty

        As much as I thought the acting was great in The Americans series, I also thought it’s timing was interesting… Went from Boris and Natasha to “Elizabeth” and whatever his “American” name was as the girl and boy next door.

    2. Skip Intro

      It looks a lot like Stacy has ‘matte lines’, as if she were shot on a greenscreen then composited over a generic audience, probably from another event (with a thinner speaker). So those ghosts weren’t even there, and they were just blurred to give the appearance of a very tight depth of field on focussed on the speaker, and to make identifying them more difficult I suppose.

      Fake News!!!

      1. o4amuse

        Agreed. I watched the camera zoom in on Stacy and the background field did not change in proportion. And the fringing that set her apart from the other image? Very sloppy tech work. Did they really think this would fool us? And why was she denied the customary background of American Flags?

      2. Lambert Strether

        > shot on a greenscreen then composited over a generic audience,

        Normally I hate digital analysis, but since we know the provenance of this video (correct?), it’s interesting. Thank you!

    3. jrs

      I don’t know. I listened to it on the radio. She blew Trump away in rhetoric on a listening device with no visuals – ha, which is to say she gave the better speech. But I don’t think that was hard to do as Trump’s speech was mostly a real groaner.

    4. Cal2

      Yeah, I noticed that too. She claims to represent “all people”, I counted maybe one, perhaps two obviously white males in the grand stand behind her. Is that the percentage of white male voters she is expecting to obtain for her “resistance”?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From above:

        Stacy Abrams is now on the board at CAP (Center for American Progress). They’re a stink tank funded by PGE, Walmart, the UAE, etc.)

        CAP does great progressive work like undermining Medicare For All and promoting fracking.

        Representing all people, just not medicare for all…unless Stacy is different from Stacey.

  13. allan

    Tennessee Republicans look at axing subpoena power from Nashville’s police oversight board [Tennessean]

    Tennessee Republican lawmakers are pursuing legislation that would let Nashville’s new police oversight board remain but strip away its most significant power — the ability to compel witnesses during the review of complaints.

    The 11-member community oversight board is moving forward after the Metro Council last week elected the individuals who will make up the new panel tasked with overseeing the actions of Nashville police.

    But a threat from leaders of the Republican-dominated legislature — which has a history of intervening in the affairs of Democratic-dominated Nashville — hangs over their upcoming work. …

    So, in NC terms, cosmopolitan Nashville is a colony of the hinterlands.
    Local governance is best for me but not for thee.

  14. makedoanmend

    I’ve found the RTÉ (Raidió Telefís Éireann) coverage of Brexit over the years to have been very helpful. What is interesting about the RTÉ piece in today’s link is that there now seems to be a post-mortem of sorts already taking place – hence the reference to the difference between the UK as a former empire and the operations of the existing UK Tory government after 40+ years of neoliberal ideological manipulation of its institutions. The following quote is the summation of the article and hardly too controversial:

    “…Regardless of your support or opposition to Brexit it is hard to characterise the UK government’s handling of this EU withdrawal as anything other than a chaotic, divisive, disorganised fudge. At a time when Britain needs pragmatism, competence and expertise more than ever, these traits seem to be in short supply.”

    The entire article is well worth a read in order to gain a historical perspective, even if that perspective is given by a writer from a former colony.

    On a more humorous note, the following is a link to a German news satire site which covers their take on Brexit, but also is not immune to taking the mickey out of themselves and their own government. Along with Jonathan Pie of youtube fame from the UK, these two ‘shows’ have provided some light relief from the almost daily and turgid grind that Brexit has become in the MSM.*

    Brexit: Deal or No deal? (English subtitles)

    *it goes without saying that NC has been the only place/site that provides significant insights into the ongoing process in real time, and provides further insights into the possible ramifications

      1. makedoanmend

        Thanks notabanker – that was one long, long rant – but very, very good. It elides, somewhat, with what the RTÉ article tries to convey about one strand of the UK’s Brexit attitude and approach.

        After the vote to leave the EU, I thought it might be interesting and possibly good for the UK and the EU both, but in different ways. In my naiveté, though, I was sure that the UK must have some sort of long term plan or at the very least a deep pool of bureaucratic talent to quickly draft some plans. I especially was lulled by the quickness with which Article 50 was activated. Who does so without a plan or with the means to carry out research to make coherent recommendations for negotiations?

        However, I suppose the following quote highlight’s another strand that is informing Brexit UK:

        “”…The British ruling class, groomed at Eton College and Oxbridge College to be the sort of spoiled, pig-headed homunculi one needs to run an empire, has always had the same contempt for the working poor that it had for its colonial subjects. The lower orders, too, should know their place, and that place is in the servants’ quarters, grateful and silent

        …It is hard to overestimate how devastating Cameron’s austerity plan was, or how fast it happened. Before Tory austerity, almost nobody in Britain had to use food banks. Now two million families rely on them. Around 14 million people—a fifth of the population—now live in poverty, in the world’s fifth-largest economy…”

        Patrick Cockburn has another tale, similar to your article:

        FEBRUARY 5, 2019
        A Plague of Rats: How Years of Austerity Prompted Many Britons to Vote for Brexit

        1. notabanker

          Re: After the vote
          I was living in South London at the time and will never forget the tube ride into work that morning. It was like everyone’s favorite Uncle died on the same day. Shocking and somber all at the same time, with just a touch of anger. I can’t remember a word being spoken.

          Also remember either the day of, or day before the vote there was massive flooding in Pimlico. Whole blocks were wiped out. I got stuck over there because the tube stations were flooded and had a long walk home in the rain. Most certainly had to effect the vote, at least in that part of London.

          The vote result didn’t really surprise me, it was going to be close either way. It also did not surprise me that the Tories / conservatives were clueless enough to take that chance. There is a certain ambiguous carelessness with that lot that things are just going to move in their favor because that’s just the way it works. It’s a shame really. I loved living in the UK and found the differences between it and America fascinating. The sense of ancient history embedded in the culture is something most Americans just cannot fathom. Yet, here we are. Plus ca change…, I guess.

          Thanks for the Cockburn link. A tale that could probably be told all over the country.

    1. Irrational

      That is hilarious – ignoring the overall appalling context – as the Eurotunnel was financed with quite a chunk of subsidised European money.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Russian Navy has new weapon that makes targets hallucinate, vomit: report”

    I’m calling this out as Russian Fake news to hide the true nature of their weapon. Inside sources tell me that Russian agents stole a secret document from WW2 which was buried underneath a Berkshire memorial. What the weapons does is to project a holographic screen which displays the infamous “Killer Joke” from WW2-

    1. Wukchumni

      Don’t tell me the Russkies have developed a psilocybin warhead, with a mushroom shaped charge?

      “Russian Navy has new weapon that makes targets hallucinate, vomit: report”

      1. Craig H.

        It’s peyote that makes you puke. Psilocybin causes diarrhea. Ayahuasca does both. Side effects!

        LSD does neither but forget about doing anything useful for 48 hours.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’ve never technicolor yawned, but @ about 27 minutes in, felt a toadstool’s leg kicking in my stomach.

          1. Wukchumni

            Look what’s popping up…

            DENVER — Denver voters will decide in May whether to decriminalize so-called magic mushrooms containing the hallucinogenic drug psilocybin (sy-loh-SY’-bin).

            KMGH-TV reported Friday that city elections officials determined that proponents gathered enough valid petition signatures to put the proposal on the May 7 municipal election ballot.

            If it passes, it’s believed Denver would be the first U.S. city to decriminalize the drug.

            However, it would still be illegal under federal law. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency classifies psilocybin in the same category as heroin and LSD.

            The DEA also puts marijuana in that category. Colorado, nine other states and Washington, D.C., allow marijuana use by adults, and the federal government has not moved to shut them down.


    2. Skip Intro

      Great minds think… that headline was just too good a setup to pass up. I look forward to the rest of the commentariats’ contributions…

      p.s. Lambert, are we to understand that your (would be) dinner is entombed indefinitely? While sad, it seems like an opportunity for a scientifically interesting time-lapse series.

        1. Lambert Strether

          At this point, the only cooking I do is hamburg on the grill (sorry, vegans) in the summer. That’s the only kind of cooking I can do where the cost of ingredients + the travel time to buy them + cooking time + cleanup time doesn’t outweigh going to a restaurant with cheap food (where I also don’t have to work). Sorry! We all have our systems…

    3. ewmayer

      “Russian Navy has new weapon that makes targets hallucinate, vomit: report | The Hill” — Lending new meaning to the term “mushroom cloud”.

      Or maybe the Deplorable Rooskies managed to plant some moles among the USN food service … “yah, vun shit-on-a-shingle with extra Norovirus coming up, courtesy of comrade Ivan, American sailor-man…”

  16. Skip Intro

    Russian Navy has new weapon that makes targets hallucinate, vomit
    Those russkies are insidious. Turns out the weapon is the print version of the NYT.

    1. polecat

      And here I thought they were making reference to a dulled Biden Bomb ..
      That would induce me to vomit … copiously !

      1. wilroncanada

        Our politicians have been hit by it for many years: the members of parliament hallucinate, causing most of the citizens to barf.

  17. Synoia

    Chrome Can Tell You if Your Passwords Have Been Compromised

    Of course it can. By monitoring and recording all your logins in Google’s cloud.

    “We know who you are, what you do, and …”

    1984 was supposed to be a warning, not a road map.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Call for retraction of 400 scientific papers amid fears organs came from Chinese prisoners”

    Does that mean that all those westerners who benefited from all these organs should be expected to give them up? Bah! More China bashing from what I can see. Not that they don’t deserve it at times. Why was has there not been more made of the illegal market of organs from Kosovo? Or, as rumour has it, the Ukraine. I guess that it is because those countries are on ‘our’ side.

    1. integer

      Don’t forget about Hollywood’s favorite real-life heroes, the White Helmets:

      UN Presentation Reveals US, UK-backed White Helmets as ‘Organ Traders, Terrorists & Looters’ 21st Century Wire

      Many local residents interviewed for the research spoke about people “rescued” by the White Helmets ending up dead, with their internal organs missing. One of the witnesses interviewed was a former member of Ahrar al-Sham, who testified that his commander Shadi Kadik, also known as Abu Adel Al-Halabi (of Aleppo), acknowledged the organ harvesting. The total number of cases involving organ theft is “at least several hundred” in Aleppo alone, Grigoriev testified.

    2. David

      In other news, the Guardian has called for advice that Vitamin C combats scurvy to be withdrawn, after it was discovered by historians that the crews first issued with lemon juice in the 18th Century to combat the scourge were not unionised, and that some even carried slaves.
      The story is pretty incoherent, and seems unsure whether it’s talking about prisoners executed for murder etc, or “prisoners of conscience” – an unexplained term in the story but historically referring to people imprisoned for their political views. Amnesty international says there are about ten in China at the moment. I’m not sure the arithmetic adds up therefore – looks like bad sub-editing. More pertinently, Amnesty itself doesn’t know how many executions take place in China each year, but “thinks” it might be more than a thousand, though we don’t know on what basis. 85,000 transplants are mentioned in the study, that’s most unlikely to be the total number.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It says it’s about calling for retraction of 400 papers. The authors of those presumably are not all Chinese, and it would seem that it’s less about bashing Chiina and more about those scientists.

      Moreover, the other issue is what do we humans do with knowledge gained in this fashion, or from say, victims of HIroshima bombing, or the experiments done in Manchuria, etc.

      If such knowledge can save lives today, do we use that knowledge, knowing its origin?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Experiments in Manchuria? You must be talking abut Unit 731. Did you know that they got their hands on some Americans for their experiments such as live vivisections? They were given a free pass for their ‘research’ and after the war a lot of those doctors went high up the civilian Japanese medical establishment.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There was a movie made in Hong Kong in the 80’s (I think) about that unit and there were (I recall, if correctly) Soviet POW’s, or maybe they were Americans.

          1. The Rev Kev

            There have been a few films made about this unit. Check out their Wikipedia page to get a feel for their crimes and the listed films-


            And there were Americans that became part of their work-


            I don’t say stuff like this very often but since they were into live vivisections, they should have been subjected to live cremations.

  19. Chris Cosmos

    Concerning monopolies and inequality I don’t believe there is much if any interest in “doing” anything about it. Americans, as a rule, don’t care that much about inequality because of the theology of American Exceptionalism which states that any working class chump can become rich if they just work hard enough and cheat with style. Of course the US is, by international standards, among the least mobile societies in the developed world but theology is theology and myth and meaning ALWAYS trump empirical fact–this I’ve found out through experience much to my chagrin.

    This has remained pretty constant as my link shows. It has been the chattering classes that had concern for these things–at one time the “liberal class” as Hedges has termed it has brought a senses of moral purpose to American society vying for power with the business class whose main interest is personal gain. Today that liberal class has gradually melted away in the labyrinth of bullshit that is NPR and the NYT. This class that dominated the mainstream Democratic Party is exclusively interested in virtue signaling at best. That leaves a disempowered working class that passively accepts without complain any and all horrors the ruling class imposes on them at work buoyed by the fading American Dream which can be achieved by some of them. This is not my imagination–this is something I’ve discussed with people. None of them talk about a union or workers banding together. They might complain and take delight in the fact the know the score but passivity and fatalism reign. For many, where I live in the South, religion is a constant comfort.

    1. Grant

      “Concerning monopolies and inequality I don’t believe there is much if any interest in “doing” anything about it.”

      I don’t think the polling shows this. What is shows has been documented in many studies, which is that there is a huge gap between what people want on policy versus what the state actually does. This is why Carter himself said that the US is essentially an oligarchy, and readers of this blog know the multitude of ways in which the international economy has been set up to undermine democracy, working people, the poor, the environment, the ability of governments to control capital, etc. When people are asked about what types of outcomes they prefer, most choose equitable outcomes. I remember one study that gave data on inequality in the US versus, I think, Sweden, and most thought that the US had the lower inequality that was found in Sweden and preferred it to what exists here. Our democracy is broken, and the two parties that have rigged this system are horrible and internally undemocratic (the Democrats are worse in many ways it seems). What we have is a crisis of democracy, within the political system, workplaces, the economy at large. But this seems to be damn near universal, which is a big factor in the growth of the far right. The left predicted we would get to this point. I think of the WTO protests in Seattle and remember the critiques the left was giving at the time of the WTO, deals like NAFTA and the particular ways the international economy was being set up. The left was entirely correct. It knew we would get to this point, and it offered alternatives. Since all of that has so spectacularly failed all but the rich and corporate interests in the West (largely at least), those alternatives are now part of our discourse. Do we have enough time, given the environmental crisis and how corrupt and opposed to change those in charge of systems like ours are? We will see.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Let me put it another way. Everyone is for equality, mom and apple pie but most people when push comes to shove only care about those people they know and certainly not about the other. Also most people do not trust the government to do anything right. Also people prefer the status quo, i.e. they do not want major change or major disruptions. Also myth always trumps reality so no amount of statistics is going to change anyone’s mind about anything except those if us who are nerds. In short, as long as we maintain the culture of radical materialism and radical ignorance there is no hope for democratic change. Only the oligarchs have agency sonthe ball is in their court.

        1. Grant

          I get where you are coming from. I, personally, think that people have just been given crappy choices. Up until recently, what exactly was offered that would actually address inequality? Some of the few serious ideas, like strengthening unions, has always had broad popular support. Outright worker ownership is even popular. But who among those with power offered anything at all. The right, obviously not. WTO and NAFTA Clinton? Obama? Signs a free trade deal with Colombia, the deadliest place in the world for union organizers, does nothing at all for unions here, agrees with the international economic system that has completely taken all power away from working people and democracies, supported school privatization that takes power away from teachers unions and supported the TPP (which was negotiated in almost complete secrecy, outside of the hundreds of “corporate advisers” that had full access to the agreement). I support pretty radical changes, but if I didn’t follow these things closely, what that the political system offers could I vote for that would lessen inequality? If you look at polling now, these ideas are starting to emerge with people that have actual power and they are popular. I think that people want the ends, they just haven’t offered any good means to reach those ends. We should keep in mind that a large percentage of the country simply doesn’t vote or take part in this political system, in large part because it offers them very little. People also realize that the status quo is simply not working, so I think that they are open to new ideas. The unknown is always a bit frightening, but so is the prospect of going forward with the ideas and institutions the neoliberals have created, and the environmental crisis is THE unknown that requires radical changes whether we like it or not. So, we on the left should get serious about alternatives and not shy away from the radical changes needed.

  20. crittermom

    >”Unemployment is low only because ‘involuntary’ part-time work is high”

    This should be mandatory reading by politicians in both countries.
    The workers, no doubt, are already fully aware of this. No doubt all of us here on NC are fully awake & aware of such circumstances, as well.

    It’s like when a lifelong girlfriend (& big Trump supporter) was spouting to me how Trump had brought the unemployment rate to ‘record lows’, to which I replied that many were working at least 2, if not 3 low-paying crappy jobs to survive.

    I related how many I see delivering pizzas, running the wheels off their own vehicles.

    Her reply? “Well, see there. At least they’re working!” (Yes, we’ve grown far, far apart over the years)

    This article should also be required for people such as her, too, but her contaminated brain can no longer comprehend such logic. I’ve tried, but in fact, we talk very little now (she lives out of state).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From above SOTU links:

      where were they, for instance, when Obama failed to intervene and allow 9 million foreclosures

      Compared with Obama years, the current low unemployment says that there is now more ‘involuntary part time work.’

      That is not perfect, nor very good, but it’s a start…versus the previous Hope and Change period.

      Should we say, ‘don’t let a long overdue start be the enemy of instantaneously perfect?’

      Will less offshoring of jobs, fewer visa workers and others from abroad, not as aggresive merchantilism from some trading partners, combine to extend this start?

  21. Matthew G. Saroff

    Re, “Russian Navy has new weapon that makes targets hallucinate, vomit,” what are they doing, broadcasting Trump’s State of the Union speech?

    1. James O'Keefe

      Funny, Matthew.

      Sadly, this weapon will get hyped by military contractors so that they can make one at ten times the price with $100 million for R&D. Considering that it sends light it might work if Greenpeace decides to board the declining number of Russian Navy ships or in a dispute with the Ukranian Navy, but has limited usefulness.

      I expect the counter measure for US Navy sailors is some set of goggles that reduce enough of the light wavelengths that it is less effective. It won’t affect radar, and having multiple thermal imagers could be another counter measure. It looks more effective as a tank defensive measure.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wouldn’t that work for some people, while energizing some others, or boring and perhaps curing not a few insomniacs?

  22. Wukchumni

    Colorado runner kills mountain lion in self-defense MPR
    Another human that turned themselves into prey, and what a story of survival, mano y mountain lion.

    Nobody runs or rides a mountain bike in Sequoia NP, so there’s never been an attack in 129 years. (hopes he hasn’t jinxed himself by writing that)

    1. Cal2

      That runner is one tough dude.

      If you have ever wrassled with a ten pound cat writhing, clawing and biting in your arms, just imagine overpowering one that weighs eight times as much, the length of its claws, teeth and the exponential strength it would have.

  23. Wukchumni

    The only thing better than finding a USB stick in a Leopard Seal’s stool, would be if it had the password for that $190 million worth of crypto on it, yeah that’s the ticket.

  24. GF

    Is This the Trump Doctrine.
    “PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [W]e spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.”

    The article states that the incredible base at Tanf is in Syria (readily seen on Google Earth) yet in the interview quoted in the piece says Trump is saying it is in Iraq and the reporter doesn’t seem to know that it is in Syria either. The base location is nearly 750 miles from Iran so how does that give us “eyes” on Iran and why is the Iraqi leadership so upset if the base isn’t even in their country? Seems we will forever be in Syria now.

    1. Skip Intro

      I can’t believe they’re talking about Al Tanf:
      Did the POTUS actually visit a base in Syria?
      Why did the Iraq tell the US to leave if the base was in Syria?

      The transcript is ambiguous, with Iraq implied. Weird.

    2. Jeff

      Trump made that statement at an American base in Iraq. While al Tanf is indeed an (illegal) American base in Syria, Trump never went there.
      Please recall that Bush W (iirc) signed a decree to free Americans from the International Court of Justice in La Hague, if needed. So I don’t know what force will make America leave Syria. Not the Syrian army, not the Russians, not the US president. Perhaps the American people, but I don’t count on them.

  25. crittermom

    >”Colorado runner kills mountain lion in self-defense”

    I believe most people think these big cats eat rabbits & such.
    In fact, their main meal is mule deer, which are larger than many humans.

    Wikipedia:(Mule deer)
    Adult bucks normally weigh 55–150 kg (121–331 lb), averaging around 92 kg (203 lb), although trophy specimens may weigh up to 210 kg (460 lb). Does (female deer) are rather smaller and typically weigh from 43 to 90 kg (95 to 198 lb), with an average of around 68 kg (150 lb).[10][11][12][13]

    A friend was elk hunting when he noted tracks revealing he was being followed by one. (Hunters will go off their trail & circle back sometimes to see if they’re being followed, & he was).

    His awareness was heightened then, so he sensed when it was suddenly behind him as he stopped to spot elk. He turned around & grabbed his pistol, which scared it away before it could attack. (Most hunters carry both their rifle & a pistol, for this reason).

    It’s quite amazing the man in this story was able to not only survive the attack but to kill the lion, as well.
    Not everyone has been so fortunate, but it’s usually small children who are the victims, which is why it’s SO important they stay right by the adults when hiking & not run ahead. (Running triggers the ‘predator-prey’ instinct, as well)

    Note the ages of those killed.

    Most adults survive the attacks, which are not really all that common.

    1. Ignacio

      Those mule deers are so agile! I remember once driving in Arizona a big mule deer crossed the road. On the other side there was a high fence, more or less the height of an adult. Jumped it so easily!!

  26. PlutoniumKun

    Lightsource BP to build U.S. university solar project Reuters. EM: “The ‘BP’ indeed stands for British Petroleum, which acquired a 43 percent stake in Lightsource in 2017.”

    This is actually quite interesting because around 10 years or so ago BP made a big fuss about diversifying into solar energy, insisting they were an ‘energy’ company, not an oil company. They then quietly sold off or abandoned their solar investments. It seems they now recognise their error and have no doubt spent big to get themselves back into the sector.

  27. Grant

    I am getting a little tired of the articles within the media portraying things in entirely ideological tones. Like, in regards to healthcare, it is “progressives” versus “moderates” (what exactly is a progressive or a moderate?). But the battle is largely not ideological in nature at all. Working people across the US didn’t read Marx’s Theories of Surplus Value and are now on the march. It is clearly a class issue. Working and middle class Republicans are very much open to single payer. If you look at polling, there is confusion, but the confusion is in part because there is so little national leadership on the issue. For example, polls often ask, would you support single payer if it raised taxes? A more accurate question would be, would you support single payer if it raised taxes, but the taxes were more than offset but a reduction in out of pocket expenditures? There are questions about private insurance, but of course, no information is given on private insurance or the ways in which private insurance and a complex multi-payer market are inherently inefficient. So, questions about eliminating private insurance should come after, at least, some information is given on the role of private insurance companies and this multi-payer system being inherently inefficient. and after numbers are given on overhead within traditional Medicare and overhead in single payer systems versus private insurance in the US. Asking questions without providing good, background information requires the person to answer the questions based on the knowledge they have at the time. Again, outside of some like Sanders that lead on the issue, how many Democrats are actually explaining these things? Even despite this, working people across the ideological spectrum support single payer. The public parts of the healthcare system (Medicare, Medicaid and the VA system) are all more popular than private insurance. A recent Rand study found that care within VA facilities often exceeds the care veterans get in private facilities, and that is with thousands of open positions within the VA that the government refuses to fill. Traditional Medicare also has an overhead of about 2%, versus the roughly 20% for private insurance, which was much worse before the ACA, and Medicare is barred from using its economies of scale to bargain down the price of drugs, which the VA is not. As much as a third of overall expenditures in this system go towards managing the complexity of the system. A 2010 WHO study found that private insurance systems around the world have an administrative overhead about three times higher than public systems, and there are of course other types of inefficiencies within private systems. The media and the leaders of the two dominant parties don’t give people this information.

    So, people are asked these questions with little national leadership, with limited knowledge of the complex issue, with the leaders in both of these parties and the media opposed to single payer, and yet it has wide, broad support. Is it ideological in nature? Of course not, it is a class issue, and it is a reflection of the failure of the ACA, and the larger problems in what came before the ACA and what the right is now offering. The media, however, doesn’t do class, so it has to be presented as the ideological left versus the “adults in the room”. The adults led us here, and they are corrupt people with no vision, alternatives or solutions. These issues are largely class based issues. Who in modern America has the luxury of really voting based entirely on ideology?

    The “moderates” are in trouble because they have had power for decades now and things have clearly gotten worse for most people because of their policies. Their bullshit propaganda no longer works since the reality of their policies is too front and center. Not many people want to maintain this rotten system as is, and even less people want the same old losers in charge of the thing.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      First, you state the situation clearly. I remember during the Obamacare debate no major politician or media outlet was willing to examine facts at all. There was no comparison with the rest of the world, so intelligent discussion on anything other than the horse race. Thus the obama-nation of the ACA was passed with a lot of praise from NPR liberals.

      Nearly all major industries including HC are basically rackets at almost every level including most doctors offices now. Only money counts. While there are responsible people interested in our welfare in that industry they don’t set policies. Everything in our political economy is about power and the ability to help friends and punish enemies. The nir powerful you are the more powerful you become unless you f*ck with some people or groups that are more potent. With the death of labor unions came the death of liberal democracy. Thus we have a choice to vote for two right-wing parties who reflect our tribal differences and appear to clash pro-wrestling style but have little true differences in terms of policy.

      1. Grant


        Pelosi, around the time of the ACA was getting voted on, said something to the effect of, let’s pass this, then read the monstrosity. They aren’t serious thinkers at all, they aren’t interested in doing what is best for the country. In fact, I think of them controlling the Democratic Party in ways that Bill Black talks about corrupt people controlling banks, control fraud and all of that. With the ACA, they got most of their input from lobbyists (who largely wrote the bill), and just went with it. I have heard neoliberals point to a Swiss style system as an alternative to single payer, but the idea to me is beyond naïve. For one, a system like that is extremely complex, the complexity would result in large system-wide inefficiencies, and it would open itself (like the ACA) to a wide range of legal challenges. We have a judicial system filled with right wing ideologues, and you create a complex, Swiss-style system, they will have a field day picking it apart. If it were to work in actuality as it does in theory, it would require lots of power to be given to the government in regards to things like price controls. So, we are to once again go through a long, drawn out process, one that is aimed at putting in place an extremely complex system, with no support from the right wing at all, and for what? A system that is far more inefficient than single payer and one that would be open to a wide range of legal challenges, and one that would not get any more right wing support than single payer. Single payer could be a simple expansion of an already existing (popular and efficient) program, and it is as simple as a national healthcare system could be. It is like this with every issue, we have huge challenges, huge problems that need solving, and those leading the Democratic Party simply have no solutions, no alternatives, and cannot and will not rise to the challenge. Sherrod Brown is horrible on this issue, and to me, that is a deal breaker. But, I do think that if it were time to vote on single payer and it could pass, that he would vote for it. I don’t have that faith in Booker, Pelosi or Harris. I think on a wide range of issues, they are less than worthless. They can’t even be counted on to follow social movements and to vote on something that they essentially lay at their feet.

    2. Ray Phenicie

      In response to Grant
      Thank you for pointing out the issues that center around inadequate discussion on important topics due to the ideological blinders so many writers, journalists, pundits and enthusiasts wear on a daily basis. I pray that I can take off my own blinders.

      However, I did wish to point out an important consideration:

      A more accurate question would be, would you support single payer if it raised taxes, but the taxes were more than offset but a reduction in out of pocket expenditures.

      This is not the correct approach when looking at how the U. S. tax system functions; at the Federal level, taxes are not actually used to fund Congressional appropriations. Congress can merely write out the amount to be spent, and make provisions for appropriation shortfalls, without referencing in any way, the amount of taxes collected. To discover how are money system works in regards to macroeconomic policy you may wish to peruse Professor Randall Wray’s series of lectures on the topic. Modern Money Theory (MMT), if it were actually followed by Congress, would open up a vast area of fiscal space. Passing on public debt to our children? Fuggetaboutit!!!
      I’m not certain why political leaders like Bernie Sanders have not talked about MMT openly as he had Stephanie Kelton, the blogger (and University Professor) at New Economic Perspectives, as his advisor for several years.

      However, your assessment of the national healthcare system does give a keen sense of many of the problems this topic is fraught with. But there are others I’d wish more M4A activists would spend time on; sometimes enthusiasts are not too swell on answering questions about their own areas of interest as they usually rebuff critics with a barrage of readily accessible facts and figures. Before M4A is enacted, the monopolists within that sector will need to be forced to fold up their tents. If that is not done, Congress ends up funding huge price inefficiencies. No matter who is paying, wrong pricing will cause a misallocation of resources. Here’s an article that is about the best on the topic of monopolies in the area of medical care.

      Finally, Medicare itself has to be reformed as to how it functions and as to what it covers and does not cover. I’ll merely state that Medicare does not cover a lot of services that many private insurance plans do cover. Just one example will serve the last time I checked: insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors. Those two items are of vital importance for many people’s lives; in addition while those supplies are a bit pricey for most people to cover, they generally run under $2,000. There’s no good reason why Medicare does not cover them.

      1. Grant

        Thanks for the thoughtful response. I am very much aware of MMT, and I am someone that greatly appreciates its insights. I should have been clearer on why I said what I said, given that this site is a proponent of MMT and its readers already knowledgeable about MMT’s insights. If you look at many of the single payer bills and ideas out there, many of them try to fund the system in a relatively revenue neutral way, they try their best to have it create as little deficits as possible. So, it is true that taxes don’t really fund most spending, but the politicians try to have the spending from single payer matched by about the same amount of taxes coming in. Given that constraint, which even Sanders accepts that general framework (I don’t see tons of evidence that he uses MMT’s insights, but maybe I am missing something), and tries to show that the program could result in, at the most, relatively small deficits. Single payer can be paid for in such a way that actually reduces overall medical spending, so less money would be needed to be devoted to paying for healthcare society wide. Since the reduction in spending would come from efficiency improvements in the system, that would be a good thing. A good portion of the waste comes from managing the complexity of the system and economic rent.

        Thanks for the article too. It brings to mind the big differences between what was HR 676 and Bernie’s “single payer” bill. Bernie’s bill would allow for single payer expenditures to go to for-profit healthcare providers, whereas what was HR 676 would only go towards non-profit providers. Personally, I would like a much larger role for public hospitals in the delivery of healthcare services, and for the system to more resemble the NHS systems in the UK (although the British NHS far less than the others, since the right there has progressively privatized the British NHS more than the other systems). Just another complexity to deal with.

        I agree too on the services covered. Many of the bills expand coverage, and would actually cover things that Medicare in Canada doesn’t, like dental care.

  28. Spring Texan

    Have you looked for a youtube video on the locked door problem? I too was about to possibly replace a microwave where the door wouldn’t close, someone pointed me to youtube videos which (I’m not handy!) I forwarded to my handyman who fixed it in 10 minutes with a putty knife and a drill with a tiny bit – cheap! He said the youtube videos were super-helpful.

    Not the same problem but perhaps worth a try.

    1. integer

      It’s a long shot, but this link might help. It lists 7 possible causes, from most to least likely, of a microwave door that won’t open. Also, it appears one can order the relevant parts by microwave model number.

  29. Ray Phenicie

    Hey Yves:
    About the microwave: agreed about the low quality on small appliances-I’ve had terrible experiences in that corner of my life. The latest from two years ago:
    My microwave oven of longstanding service (9 yrs) had started showing a burn area after about 5 yrs. around the latch on the inside part of the frame. Didn’t consider it much of a problem.

    Zoom forward to sometime in February 2017 when I am awakened in the wee hours of the AM to the sound of the microwave running full tilt (it most definitely was off before I went to bed). The exterior was quite warm and the button for stopping on the control panel did not respond. The thing even kept running after I opened the door. I grabbed the cord and yanked it from the wall socket. The interior of the oven was hot. Of course I had it hauled it to the dumpster the next day.

    Can’t imagine what would have happened if I had been asleep with my earplugs in as I often am or if I had been out of town as sometimes happens too.

    The cost per item for things like this may be small ( the microwave was, admittedly, the low end of the chain) but as a nation of consumers we’re spending billions on low quality small appliances. I can’t say there’s really a reliable way of knowing whether a purchased item is a quality build or not. Price is not always a good indicator. Haven’t found Consumer’s Reports useful. So as to not place a hex on them (not superstitious much, me? No!) I won’t mention the name of a two small electronics items I’ve had for over five years now that are working fine even after heavy usage. But on the whole the small appliance front (including electronics) is a disaster area. Another reason for doing with less. I haven’t replaced the microwave; I have a toaster oven with a convection setting that works fine to reheat food.

      1. Light a Candle

        “Indian giver” is a disrespectful and derogatory term.

        The English language has had a lot of them.

  30. Cuibono

    Russian Navy has new weapon that makes targets hallucinate, vomit:
    Dont tell me they will broadcast Fox News?

      1. newcatty

        Ahhh, it’s out now. Those insidious Russians infiltrated Fox News. That explains the delusions of its loyal viewers.

  31. Wukchumni

    Texas Man Dies After Exploding E-Cigarette Sends Shrapnel Into His Neck Popular Mechanics
    Remember when it was pretty common for people to light up a coffin nail in bed, and then they fell asleep until they were engulfed in flames, that is. A nasty way to go out.

    You never hear that anymore, heck the smokers I know don’t even do it in their own homes now.

    1. newcatty

      Yeah, smokers I have inadvertently been in proximity, where some bars/restaurants allow smoking on the patio spaces, in locales that are not totally smoke free per regs, are happy to smoke coffin nails at leisure. Not cool. Smoke travels to my space. Not only is it gross, i really am allergic to it. One person said to me once, that if drinking alcohol is legal, so should tobacco. I just sat quietly and thought, OK. My drinking a glass of wine or a beer is not interfering with your pleasure of being able to dine outside . If I got obnoxious or rowdy, then I would be interfering in other’s space.

  32. anonymouse

    Though there are other possibilities, the seal scat video looks like Tomales Bay, behind Point Reyes, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

      1. anonymouse

        Missed that, thank you very much. I don’t twit.

        Sure looks like California, though. Rather inviting, no?

        1. MichaelSF

          When I got off the plane in Auckland from San Francisco I wondered if it had turned back at the half-way point by mistake. The North Island looks a lot like Northern California.

  33. Oregoncharles

    From “pulling the rope”: ” You don’t pick some arbitrary point on the righthand side of the line and say, “let’s shoot for that target.” Because if you do that you’re limited your ability to haul the rope as hard as you possibly can. Democrats have never understood this. They chase the center, thinking that this will make them more popular and give them more power. ”
    No, they do that because that’s where they think the money is. And because they’re really pretty right-wing and don’t mind being pulled to the right. Ka-ching!

  34. The Rev Kev

    “The world’s biggest spice company is using AI to find new flavors”

    New flavours? I have one. For those in the know, how about Vegemite-flavoured ice cream.

  35. Ping

    I can’t find the link subject about bears supposedly flourishing in population as evidenced by a cattle rancher seeing them more often.

    That’s because they have migrated losing a food source. presents scientific information how Game and Fish and agencies manipulate wildlife research for trophy hunting and other special interests to remove protections.

    For those who “care” it is one of the best sites around spreading scientific information to protect the populations that are on targeted for trophy hunting, land development etc.

    See below. These folks are dedicated heroes:

    NEW BLOG :
    Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
    By Louisa Willcox

    I found the stories of the sky bears to be fascinating and provocative. Special thanks go to David for his keen editorial skills. I hope you enjoy!

    “Heart of the Grizzly Bear Nation”
    Talk by Dr. David Mattson
    David’s wonderful talk, “Heart of the Grizzly Bear Nation” is now on the Grizzly Times YouTube channel!

    In this powerful presentation, David offers a critique of how government officials have managed and researched grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE), and articulates an alternative vision of robust recovery for this bear population.

    Government officials claim that the population is both growing and spreading out geographically. But David explains that claims of population growth are exaggerated, and that increases in distribution are more plausibly driven by loss of key natural foods in the core of the ecosystem, combined with increases in anthropogenic foods on the periphery.

    David concludes that we still have a chance to recover the Great Bear, if we let grizzlies live in more places and connect populations.


    · Wyoming Agitates to Delist Yellowstone Grizzly Bears, Again
    A joint resolution calling for the “swift delisting” of Yellowstone grizzly bears is working its way through the 2019 Wyoming legislative session, remaining alive through two readings in the House thus far. The text relies on a litany of bear-human conflicts, including the recent tragic fatality of Mark Uptain, as well as, bear management costs which are considered excessive.

    While the bill, if passed, would have no authority over the federal government, it would send yet another political signal that Wyoming aims to undo Judge Christensen’s rule that “forced the state of Wyoming to cancel the carefully planned and much anticipated grizzly bear hunt that would have positively contributed to the state’s management of the GYE grizzly bear population.” Turning the debate around in Wyoming will be a challenge.

    · Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting in Jackson
    One big step in that direction was a January 12 th rally in Jackson by opponents to trophy hunting. The event was organized by Wyoming Wildlife Advocates. Wildlife biologist and retired filmmaker Franz Camenzind offered this, “I agree with the philosophy and mission completely. Killing for fun, it’s just not right. I think it’s time we move on. It’s an evolutionary step, and evolution’s not fun, but it goes on.” Right on.

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