2:00PM Water Cooler 3/19/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

My day has been slightly less dynamic than yesterday (which I seem to have confused with today, always a bad sign). I will toss out some business- and biosphere-related red meat for your delectation now, finish my post on the 737 debacle, and return to add material on domestic politics. –lambert


“U.S. heavy equipment makers feeling pain from tariffs, disputes: report” [Reuters]. “U.S. makers of bulldozers and other heavy equipment are raising prices, losing sales and in some cases beginning to trim workers in response to the Trump administration’s protracted trade disputes with various countries, according to a new report [from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers]…. Scott Hazelton, a co-author of the report, said tariffs will increase the cost of producing off-road equipment in the U.S. between 6 percent to 7 percent over the period…. The study notes heavy equipment makers are particularly exposed to higher steel prices. Accounting for all steel used – both directly by these manufacturers and the parts they buy from others – the material represents 18.5 percent of the cost of a farm machine and 25.8 percent for mining machines.”


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

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune



French aristocrats would just throw a few coins out their coach windows to the peasants, so clearly Biden is an improvement.

Buttigieg: “Buttigieg says campaign gained enough donors to be on debate stage” [The Hill]. “Buttigieg, who is exploring a White House bid but has not officially announced a campaign, announced Saturday that his team had received more than 76,000 individual donations, passing the 65,000 individual threshold set by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).”

O’Rourke (1): “Iowa Democrats dig beneath the Beto O’Rourke hype” [Financial Times]. “[W]hile he captivates many with his soaring rhetoric — drawing comparisons to Barack Obama — Mr O’Rourke has started to face the kind of scrutiny that was absent in his Senate race. During his three days in Iowa, he faced questions about why he was not coming up with detailed policies.” • More: “Asked about the crisis in Venezuela, he said he would not order military intervention, saying Washington’s policy in Latin America over the decades had helped sparked the flow of migrants to the US. ‘I do not believe that military intervention will make things better in Venezuela or anywhere in the western hemisphere,’ he said, adding that the US had overthrown governments such as Guatemala’s. ‘We are still seeing asylum seekers and refugees leaving Guatemala more than a half century since then.'” • Good for O’Rourke, unless he changes his mind, as he did with #MedicareForAll, which, amazingly, the FT fails to mention.

O’Rourke (2): “Despite crowds, Beto campaign gets a rocky rollout” [Politico]. “‘For all the fanfare, the band was playing a pretty flat tune,’ Dave Nagle, a former congressman and Iowa state Democratic Party chairman, said after watching O’Rourke address a large rally from the bed of a red Ford Ranger in Waterloo, Iowa. ‘There’s just no substance to it.'” • Oops. O’Rourke isn’t going to get a second chance to introduce himself…

O’Rourke (3): “Beto O’Rourke’s early campaign: Upbeat sentiments absent many specifics” [WaPo]. “[O’Rourke’s] operating without a campaign manager and with an often-exhausted skeleton staff, driving himself from Iowa to New Hampshire in a rented minivan and appearing at dozens of hastily organized events.” • That’s odd. Doesn’t he have any money?

O’Rourke (4): A squeeing fan boi:

You’re never gonna be on the Supreme Court, Larry, not even if it’s packed.

Sanders (1): “Bernie Sanders Holding Weekend Rallies in SD, LA, SF” [NBC Los Angeles]. • With itinerary.

Sanders (2): “Sanders campaign: Announces national staff hires [WisPolitics]. Includes Briahna Joy Gray (The Intercept, National Press Secretary), and David Sirota (Senior Communications Adviser & Speechwriter). Both of those are interesting, but I think this is the critical appointment:

Claire Sandberg, National Organizing Director

laire Sandberg joins Bernie 2020 as National Organizing Director. In 2016 she was the Bernie campaign’s Distributed Organizing Director. The Bernie 2016 distributed program empowered volunteers to make over 85 million phone calls, send 10 million peer to peer text messages, and host over 80,000 individual events.

If I’m right, and Sanders is building a third stratefic asset, independent canvassing, to go along with his strategic assets of an independent media operation and an independent list, Sandberg would be in charge of that. California, here we come!

Sanders (3): “Bernie Sanders’ Staff Forms First-Ever Union For Presidential Campaign Workers” [HuffPo]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has become the first major party presidential campaign to unionize. The campaign announced Friday that it had voluntarily recognized a bargaining unit organized with the United Food and Commercial Workers…. Other Democratic contenders have been mostly silent, with none but Castro saying they would support a union when McClatchy polled candidates and likely candidates in late January.” • Notably, the Sanders campaign did not recognize the Campaign Workers Guild, composed of former Sanders staffers, which kicked off the unionization drive within the industry.

Warren: “My Housing Plan for America” [Team Warren, Medium]. “My bill makes historic federal investments to increase housing supply. It invests $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab units that will be affordable to lower-income families. A big chunk of that investment leverages private dollars so that taxpayers get the most bang for their buck. By building millions of new units, my plan will reduce the cost of rent for everyone. An independent analysis from Mark Zandi, the Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, found that my plan would reduce rental costs by 10% over the next ten years. And because my plan invests in housing construction and rehabilitation, the Moody’s analysis also finds that it would create 1.5 million new jobs.” • Not sure about the “leveraging private dollars” part. That said, give credit: Warren’s in there punching on policy; this is a real bill, with a companion bill introduced in the House.

Stats Watch

Factory Orders, January 2019: “Factory orders slowed into year-end and didn’t show any momentum in January” [Econoday]. “But there is good news in today’s report, actually a repeat of good news in last week’s advance report on the durables side of this report. Capital goods orders (nondefense ex-aircraft), which are themselves an advance barometer for business investment, snapped out of the doldrums.” • Important under capitalism! But: “The data in this series is noisy so I would rely on the unadjusted 3 month rolling averages which declined” [Econintersect].

Banking: “Excluded by banks, minorities in California became their own lenders” [Los Angeles Times]. “In Cambodia, “tontine” is the name given to a rotating savings and credit association, or ROSCA, an ancient practice that has different versions all over the world. The general concept is that by contributing to a monthly pool that pays a lump sum to a single member, people can make and receive loans as well as earn interest on savings…. In Los Angeles, diverse neighborhoods probably wouldn’t exist today without ROSCAs, which are most often run by women. When banks wouldn’t lend to minorities, the kye helped Koreatown business owners cluster in central Los Angeles. The hui helped finance Chinatown, and tanomoshis helped start some of Little Tokyo’s early businesses. There are also Latino tandas or cundinas, Filipino paluwagans and Ethiopian ekubs, and in South Los Angeles, family investment teams were formed after the L.A. riots to help black people buy property.” • Let’s encourage them!

Finance: “Canada’s Biggest Pension Fund Mulls Opening First China Office” [Bloomberg]. “Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which manages around C$368.5 billion ($277 billion), is considering opening its first office in China as it seeks greater exposure to the world’s second-largest economy…… ‘As we’re also growing our portfolio in China, which is around 10 percent of our total fund, it makes a lot of sense for us to consider expanding our footprint there,’ said Kim, adding that one of the firm’s key investment themes is China’s rising middle class and its burgeoning consumer consumption story.” • Mr. Counter-suggestible says they’re going in just when it’s time to get out, but if he were any good at investing that would be the business he’s in. Readers? Sensible move for a pension fund?

The Bezzle: “SEC says it’s ‘stunning’ that Elon Musk never complied with order to get tweets approved” [Los Angeles Times]. “The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it’s “stunning” that Elon Musk didn’t seek pre-approval of any of his tweets about Tesla Inc. in the months since he was ordered by a judge to do so…. The agency on Monday reiterated its request that the judge find Musk in contempt of court, saying it has learned that Tesla’s chief executive “had not sought pre-approval for a single one of the numerous tweets about Tesla he published in the months since the court-ordered pre-approval policy went into effect.” The agency emphasized that Tesla production forecasts have long been significant to market participants who follow the company.” • It’s simple. Elites have impunity.

Tech: “Facebook says service hindered by lack of local news” [Associated Press]. • After Facebook killed hundreds of news rooms with their bogus “pivot to video.” Chutzpah!

Tech: “Electronic Arts took a huge gamble by paying the world’s most popular gamer $1 million to play its new game for a day. Here’s why it was worth every penny” [Business Insider]. “The most popular new game of 2019 arrived as a complete surprise; Electronic Arts released ‘Apex Legends’ on the same day it was announced, February 4th, with no advance marketing….. Skipping the pre-release ad blitz was a gamble, but the makers of ‘Apex Legends; had a secret weapon: EA and developer Respawn Entertainment partnered with a group of popular professional gamers to help promote ‘Apex Legends’ directly to their massive online followings during the first two days of the launch.” • Even if generations don’t have political agency, culture still matters; and gaming is something I confess I know nothing about (and at some point that’s going to be bad).

Tech: “With streaming move, Google eyes future of gaming” [Phys.org]. “Google is looking to transform internet-age game play, with an expected launch of a streaming service which uses the tech giant’s power in the internet cloud. Video games are following television and music into the cloud, with console-quality play on its way to being a streaming service as easy to access as Netflix or Spotify.” • The Cloud is about the least Jackpot-ready technology I can imagine.

UPDATE Mr. Market: “How Investors Should Navigate Globalization’s Decline” [Barron’s]. “‘[R]eshoring’ by U.S. companies is on the rise. More jobs were gained through reshoring than lost to offshoring in 2016, for the first time since 1970, says the nonprofit Reshoring Initiative. In 2017, employers announced decisions to bring a record 82,250 jobs back, up from just 3,221 in 2010. Preliminary numbers for 2018 show that reshoring announcements slowed last year, to 53,420—possibly a result of ‘uncertainty from the trade wars, dysfunction in Washington, and the dollar being up a little bit,’ says the nonprofit’s founder, Harry Moser. But he calls the trend powerful and persistent. ‘It’s not just a trickle here or there.’ … A manufacturing boom benefits local economies, which opens other investment opportunities. ‘Therefore,’ [Robert Horrocks, chief investment officer for Matthews Asia] asserts, ‘the best way of investing is to invest in local businesses with a strong competitive moat that can feed off the increased purchasing power from the new industrial workforce.'” • Assuming it’s not all robots.

UPDATE Supply Chain: “The Software That Shapes Workers’ Lives” [The New Yorker]. “Could [Supply Chain Management (S.C.M.)] software include a “workers’-rights” component—a counterpart to PP/DS, incorporating data on working conditions? Technically, it’s possible. sap could begin asking for input about worker welfare. But a component like that would be at cross-purposes with almost every other function of the system. On some level, it might even undermine the purpose of having a system in the first place. Supply chains create efficiency in part through the distribution of responsibility. If a supervisor at a toy factory objects to the production plan she’s received, her boss can wield, in his defense, a PP/DS plan sent to him by someone else, who worked with data produced by yet another person. It will turn out that no one in particular is responsible for the pressures placed on the factory. They flow from the system—a system designed to be flexible in some ways and rigid in others.”

Rapture Index: Closes up one on global turmoil. No kidding. “The Killers in New Zealand has updated this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 177. Returning to 180? Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“Houston chemical fire: Huge flames seen engulfing plant in Deer Park” [BBC]. “The fire has been burning since Monday in the Houston area and could continue for another 48 hours, officials say. The tanks contain the chemicals naphtha and xylene which are used in gasoline and solvents…. A total of eight tanks have caught fire with blazes at two brought under control by emergency services.”

“Timetable for Deer Park fire indefinite after blaze intensifies overnight” [Houston Chronicle]. “Most of the chemicals identified in the fire are used in the production of gasoline, and short-term exposure to their fumes can cause dizziness, fatigue or headaches…. Air quality readings are still well below hazardous levels as of 2:30 a.m., the company said. No injuries have been reported.” • And for a look at air quality–

Many videos of Houston’s Deer Park Chemical fire. Thread:

No way breathing that stuff is good, no matter what the air quality readings say.

* * *

Tectonics in the tropics trigger Earth’s ice ages [Science Daily]. “Each of the last three major ice ages were preceded by tropical ‘arc-continent collisions’ — tectonic pileups that occurred near the Earth’s equator, in which oceanic plates rode up over continental plates, exposing tens of thousands of kilometers of oceanic rock to a tropical environment. …[T]he heat and humidity of the tropics likely triggered a chemical reaction between the rocks and the atmosphere. Specifically, the rocks’ calcium and magnesium reacted with atmospheric carbon dioxide, pulling the gas out of the atmosphere and permanently sequestering it in the form of carbonates such as limestone. Over time… this weathering process, occurring over millions of square kilometers, could pull enough carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to cool temperatures globally and ultimately set off an ice age. ‘We think that arc-continent collisions at low latitudes are the trigger for global cooling,’ says Oliver Jagoutz, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. ‘This could occur over 1-5 million square kilometers, which sounds like a lot. But in reality, it’s a very thin strip of Earth, sitting in the right location, that can change the global climate.'” • Fascinating! No way to speed it up, I suppose…

“Superbugs have colonized the International Space Station—but there’s a silver lining” [Phys.org]. “‘Spaceflight can turn harmless bacteria into potential pathogens,’ says senior study author Prof. Elisabeth Grohmann of Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin. ‘Just as stress hormones leave astronauts vulnerable to infection, the bacteria they carry become hardier—developing thick protective coatings and resistance to antibiotics—and more vigorous, multiplying and metabolizing faster.'” The scientists developed an effective silver anti-microbial coating, but: “Nevertheless, all bacterial isolates were able to form immunity-evading slimy coatings, and most were resistant to at least three antibiotics. They were also able to share the genes responsible.” • Probably all over the Nostromo….

“Iowa’s Real Population” [Chris Jones, University of Iowa]. Iowa hogs, dairy cattle, beef cattle, laying chickens, and turkeys “generate the waste equivalent to that produced by about 134 million people, which would place Iowa as the 10th most populous country in the world, right below Russia and right above Mexico… Managing the waste from these animals is possibly our state’s most challenging environmental problem.” • A issue for the candidates criss-crossing Iowa right now.

“How PG&E Ignored California Fire Risks in Favor of Profits” [New York Times]. “The commission’s safety and enforcement division found in 2012 that PG&E’s gas and transmission revenues exceeded what it was authorized to collect by $224 million in the decade leading up to the explosion. But capital spending fell $93 million short of its authorized budget between 1997 and 2000. PG&E also spent millions less on operations and maintenance than it was supposed to. ‘There was very much a focus on the bottom line over everything: ‘What are the earnings we can report this quarter?’ said Mike Florio, a utilities commissioner from 2011 through 2016. “And things really got squeezed on the maintenance side.” • And the same for the grid. California holds a primary too, I am told.

“‘It’s Probably Over for Us’: Record Flooding Pummels Midwest When Farmers Can Least Afford It” [New York Times]. “Farms filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy protection rose by 19 percent last year across the Midwest, the highest level in a decade, according to data compiled by the American Farm Bureau. Now, many of those farmers have lost their livestock and livelihoods…. Farm experts said it was too early to quantify the full economic toll of the floods, but Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, said the disaster could cost the state’s livestock sector $400 million. Farm groups said it would take months or years to recover, and that residents across the region would need emergency federal aid.” • Nebraska flooding finally makes “the news.” Intuitively… Maybe we should just pay them all to take care of prairie grasses, which would help solve our greenhouse gas probems?

Police State Watch

“Puzzling number of men tied to Ferguson protests have died” [Associated Press]. “Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose. Six deaths, all involving men with connections to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play.” • I dunno. Torched cars twice?

“Jury deadlocks on 3 counts against cop who shot at autistic man, acquits on misdemeanor” [Miami Herald]. “Testifying in his own defense, North Miami Police Officer Jonathon Aledda insisted he honestly mistook an autistic man holding a silver toy truck for a gunman holding another man hostage. The soft-spoken officer said he had no choice but to fire three bullets, accidentally hitting Charles Kinsey, the sup”posed hostage. One sole juror did not believe Aledda,” leading to a mistrial. More: “After the decision, in the hallway outside the fourth-floor courtroom, jury foreperson Mario Alberto Lopez walked up to Aledda and shook his hand. ‘My apologies for not being able to clear you today,’ Lopez told him. The foreperson, with three other jurors, stuck around with Aledda and his supporters.” • Seems legit.

Health Care

“Health systems consider returning to financing derivatives as a result of 2017 tax law” [Modern Health Care]. “Advance refunding—issuing a tax-exempt bond to refund an existing one—used to be a not-for-profit hospital’s screwdriver, a tried and true instrument for managing debt found in just about every chief financial officer’s toolbox. Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act disallowed that strategy at the beginning of 2018—a change many are still working to reverse—financial advisers, bankers and lawyers predict this year some not-for-profit health systems will consider a portfolio of alternative maneuvers they may not have thought about before. That would include so-called Cinderella bonds, multistep derivatives and plain old vanilla swaps.” • Shouldn’t all this simply be done away with?

Guillotine Watch

“We Asked 20 Elite-College Admissions Deans About the Bribery Scandal. Here’s What They Said.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]. Lol:

It’s almost like the professional class doesn’t see a reason it should be accountable for anything!

“Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan got a pay raise to $18.4 million as problems mount, shares tumble” [CNBC]. “Sloan, 58, took over the fourth-biggest U.S. bank in October 2016. Charged with cleaning up the fake-accounts scandal that claimed his predecessor, Sloan has struggled to satisfy regulators’ demands to overhaul the sprawling institution. Last year, thanks to ‘widespread consumer abuses,’ the Federal Reserve capped the bank’s asset growth after the bank found more problems with customer dealings.” • Can’t we just kill it with fire?

Class Warfare

“University of Akron offers buy-out to 47 percent of faculty” [Cleveland Plain-Dealer]. “The University of Akron offered a buy-out to about 47 percent of faculty on Monday in an effort to balance its budget. Taking a ‘voluntary separation or retirement’ offer would pay a faculty member 100 percent of 2019-20 base pay, split into two installments. … The offer is to full-time permanent (non-visiting) faculty who are not in what the university calls a ‘Strategic Investment Area.’ No law school, polymer science, or engineering faculty can take the offer.” • “Strategic Investment Area.” Sounds like an MBA came up with that one.

Not to be outdone:

“Chapter 3 – The Road of Social Development and Solidarity with the Poor” [Grassroots Economics Organization]. “The idea – spread so widely by neoliberalism – that the wealth possessed by each person is the amount they have been able to generate with their own labor, their business, and their individual initiative is completely erroneous. The truth is quite different: our standard of living, the social class of which we form part, the opportunities which life offers us, fundamentally depend on the quantity and type of donations which we have received in our infancy and youth. It is crucial to recognize that the flow of donations is in all probability the most decisive element in the social distribution of wealth.” • This seems to me to rephrase Graeber’s idea of “everyday communism,” but “donations” are a sharper analytical tool because you can see them as flows (though, say, the social reproduction of labor).

“NYC Brokers Say Pied-a-Terre Tax Is ‘Class Warfare’ on the Rich” [Bloomberg]. “‘The very rich really hate taxes,” said Barry Hersh, a New York University real estate professor and former property developer. ‘It will have a psychological effect and will be a lower number of sales. But is it 1 percent less, or 2 percent? I don’t know.'” • Good. Rich people who buy condos they don’t live in are destroying street retail in Manhattan. Soak them.

“the history and politics of white identity” [pandemonium]. “Identity politics is one of the defining – and one of the most divisive – issues of our age. And no identity is more contested or fought over than white identity…. The political context of the emergence of white identity is that of the rise of populism, of politicians such as Donald Trump in America and of Victor Orban and Matteo Salvini in Europe, of growing hostility to immigration and of the rise of nativism…. In much of the debate around these changes, the politics of identity is seen primarily a politics of the left, the politics of minority and oppressed groups. White identity is viewed as a latecomer on the scene, an attempt by whites to replicate the success of minority groups. I want to turn this perception on its head. The origins of the politics of identity lie not on the left but on the reactionary right. Radical forms of identity politics were the ones late on the scene. Now, contemporary white identity is reclaiming its original reactionary heritage.” • Very interesting.

News of the Wired

“June’s Memorial Service” [Caitlin Johnstone, Medium]. “About a week later, everyone who knew her received a very simple invitation to her afternoon memorial service in the mail, with the address to a local community center. On it, in large print, were the instructions: ‘PLEASE WEAR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO WEAR AND BRING WHATEVER YOU WANT TO BRING.'” • Unexpectedly touching. And not such a bad idea, either.


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

LO writes: “Snap peas: my current favorite vegetable for home gardening, as delicious as they are easy to grow here in coastal California. Plant around the first of the year in a furrow scratched into untilled soil! Eat peas in vast quantity starting in April.” Very encouraging!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Kurt Sperry

    TL:DR version for 737 Max debacle-

    Pilots: Sometimes after takeoff the plane tries to fly into the ground killing everyone.

    Boeing/FAA: Oh, that. Yeah when that happens just turn the new safety software off. Did we forget to mention that?

    1. Louis Fyne

      one more TL:DR. Instead of the cost of creating a new airframe, let’s slap on some bigger engines to an extant airframe not designed to be “Max’ed” out and let software take care of the rest.

      what can go wrong?

    2. Synoia

      The engine nacelles of the 737 Max are flat on the bottom, and rounded on the top, the perfect design to produce lift.

      The flight characteristics of a plane are based partly on the relative positions of center of lift and center of gravity.

      The MAX appears to have ” nose up” behavior when engine power drops.

      That means the center of lift is in front of the center of gravity. Probably caused by lift generated by the engine nacelles which are well ahead of the wing.

      That is: the plane tries to stall when in flight . This is very undesirable behavior, as at some limit it is unrecoverable.

      The default behaviour for a plane must be nose down on reduction of speed, to gain speed, then the pilot controls how fast the plane descends with a combination of engine power, drag and lift.

      Boeing have engineered then nose down behavior of the 737 Max through automation (software). If the pilots knew of the plan’s nose up on speed reduction behavior, they’d refuse to fly it.

      The root cause is Boeing’s desire to get to market quickly to squash the competition airbus, and modifying the 737 was expedient. Boeing was too clever by half.

      1. Bill Smith

        What did the 6 or so flight crews that complained about the same issue in the US do? Turn the system off?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I believe that is what they did do, yes (via Boeing’s weirdly complex method for doing this, which I cannot describe, but isn’t just pushing a button).

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The engine nacelles of the 737 Max are flat on the bottom, and rounded on the top, the perfect design to produce lift.

        Well stated. (In a way, then, Boeing did redesign the wing; just badly).

  2. dcblogger

    prediction: Ilhan Omar’s 1st quarter fundraising report will stun elite Washington. They are about to find out how very unpopular AIPAC is.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Being unpopular is one thing (when it comes to doing what should or should not be done), let’s hope that compilers are not inspired to put together questionable lists of people as dual citizens because of their names, one of which was linked and discussed here on 3-12-2019, or lists of foreign born politicians.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ilhan Omar throws a lot of support for Palestinians and rightly so. Unfortunately for the Palestinians themselves, during the Syrian war they threw all their support behind the jihadists in Syria. That means that they were aligned with, among others, the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey in this war which means that they are now on the losing side. The Palestinians can forget any idea of support from Syria in the coming years but Omar still seems to be doubling down in her attack on the Syrians.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m not sure MoA is correct on this.

        IIRC — and to be fair, I avoid Syria because the disinformation on all sides was too intense for me to process — way back before the real omnishambles began, there was an actual democratic push with non-violent demonstrations, organic to Syria. It may be that’s what Omar’s rather generic tweet was referring to.

        How about we don’t throw her under the bus instantly?

        NOTE Repeating talking points includes repeatin actual phraseology, in my book, so I’m gonna need receipts; that’s why talking points (and hash tags) go viral. Conceptual similarity is not enough. After all, even AIPAC could say it’s raining, and be correct. It does happen.

        1. pjay

          I won’t throw Omar under the bus yet. But her tweet (and Tlaib’s) on the anniversary of Syria’s “Arab spring” protests fit right in with a bunch of anti-Assad “we will not forget” stuff appearing in the MSM at that time.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “disinformation on all sides was too intense for me to process.” There is always propaganda on all sides in any conflict. But the story seems pretty clear these days. Syria’s security forces could be brutal, especially to those suspected of Muslim Brotherhood sympathies. This had been true for decades. They “tortured some folks” for us in the early “war on terror.” No need to white-wash them. Some Sunnis, especially in certain areas of the country, hated the Assad regime, and I’m sure some had reason to. Also, the 2011 protests were in part authentic, and over very real issues. No argument there either.

          But I think the evidence is pretty clear that the “uprising” was hijacked from the very beginning by jihadists backed by the usual suspects (Turkey, the Gulf states, etc. — and Western intelligence). And the propaganda war in the West struck me as almost completely one-sided. The stuff in the media painting Assad as a vicious sadist torturing tens of thousands to death, etc. was ridiculous and a lot of that info has been traced to intelligence assets and their friendly NGOs — cheerfully reported by our friendly media.

          I think Rev Kev might be right on the Omar tweet. Early on, the current Gray Zone folks — Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, Rania Khalek — pushed the “demon Assad” story. I think this may have been because of their close work with the Palestinians. But they later reversed themselves when a lot of the story about the early Assad massacres of innocents proved to be false or exaggerated propaganda. Some on the left still don’t trust them because of this. They never really explained themselves to my satisfaction, but I got the feeling that they began to discover some of the information they were getting was one-sided.

          I think Assad’s security forces are guilty of crimes against humanity, just as I think Maduro has made a number of bad decisions in Venezuela. But the ridiculous propaganda war against them to justify regime change seems equally transparent to me. I’m puzzled by your reticence.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          The Intelligence/Military/Other people at Sic Semper Tyrannis know a lot about disinformation.
          If they have used it themselves about Syria, then I am truly lost. If they have torn down more disinformation than they have used, then I am more informed than not by their posts and threads.

          Colonel Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis has noted Omar’s support for various flavors of Sunni Jihadi scum and he suspects her to be a “Muslim Penetrant” under Congressional cover into our government. He wrote that he suspects the FBI might be studying her for that and strongly hopes that they are.

          1. pjay

            Lang and other contributors at Sic Semper Tyrannis are often informative, but like any site they are also limited by their own ideological blinders. Knowing these helps me decide which statements are more likely to be accurate. I don’t think they engage in active disinformation, but Lang himself has a number of blind spots reflecting his traditional conservative beliefs and military background.

            I also think you may have misinterpreted Lang’s comment on Omar. Here is what he said:

            “She spent four years of her childhood in a Somali refugee camp in Kenya. She seems to have acquired there a deep antipathy to the US as a country. She seems to regard herself as a Muslim penetrant in the US government, a penetrant who will automatically, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have a great deal of access to US Government secrets. She is openly supportive of various jihadi movements and the Maduro government of Venezuela. How can we know what she will communicate outside the government and to whom?”

            Lang provides no evidence of her “deep antipathy to the US” or being “openly supportive of various jihadi movements.” She seems to support the Maduro government against US intervention as I do. He says she “seems to regard *herself* as a Muslim penetrant,” but what does he mean by that? A spy? Or someone who provides a critical perspective on US policy from her experience as a Muslim refugee? Unless Lang has provided evidence elsewhere, he seems to suspect her solely because she is a young uppity Muslim woman who is insufficiently respectful of US policy or institutions.

            That said, I was not a fan of her tweet on Syria. It could reflect her support for the Palestinians, some other sectarian bias, or just an honest belief in human rights and the mainstream Syria narrative (like a lot of liberals). I hope it was not something else.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Thanks. Your reading of that particular SST post is more careful than my re-reading of it was. Indeed, the question might be asked as to which particular Jihadi groups she has supported in particular. And on what evidence.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > prediction: Ilhan Omar’s 1st quarter fundraising report will stun elite Washington

      I keep watching her Twitter numbers; everytime I look, they’ve popped by 50K or so.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    Err..shouldn’t the title be “We Asked 18 Elite College Admission Deans and Randomly West Point and the Naval Academy.”?

    1. ambrit

      Since the graduates of West Point and Annapolis end up running the military, which presently holds the distinction of being an American political ‘Third Rail’, I most definitely would include them as members of the ‘elites.’ I’m surprised that the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs wasn’t included.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The admissions process is a tad different at the service academies. Asking their athletic department about active duty soldiers is a bit off without any kind of clarification.

        There could always be donations to a Congressman, but the process of the athletic teams is a bit different.

      1. Plenue

        It does seem odd lumping ‘actually useful colleges’ in with ‘government schools for training murderers’.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The selection process is wildly different. The spots are selected through their appointment process. They don’t let kids in because they are real good at football or synchronized water polo.

        David Robinson wasn’t 7’1″ when he began the process of getting an appointment to the Naval Academy.

      1. Louis Fyne

        lucky. and you all get to start your peppers and tomatoes a lot sooner than the rest of the county.

        1. polecat

          I’m planting potatoes (fingerlings saved from last year’s harvest), Walla Walla onions from seed, and carrots from seed as well this weekend if it doesn’t rain… Will do broccoli rab from starts, and leeks as well (the flower heads of which is a draw to all sorts of bees and wasps — the bumbles especially love them !)

        2. LAliam

          Only year 4 at gardening, but this was a first for me. Winter has been so mild here in south Louisiana that all of my peppers and my indeterminate tomatoes have never stopped producing. I’ve been picking them all winter. They’re a bit smaller than normal, but still quite tasty and are showing no signs of stopping. The tomatoes especially have begun blooming profusely as the weather warms.

          Okra is hanging on but the pods grow slowly and fail before they reach harvest size. Cool nights I guess. Eggplant, squash, melons, and the rest never made it.

          Meanwhile, the strawberries have decided to end all hunger throughout the world in memory of their withered compatriots. Plentiful is an understatement. It’s truly absurd.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Wowie Zowie! Your tomatoes and peppers are growing/ producing right through the winter?

            In the habitat of their ancestors, the ancestors of these plants were perennial. Tomatoes are thought of as a “vine”, but that is not strictly correct. Strictly speaking, they are a “rambler”. They outgrow their own stems’ self-support strength and fall over sideways and randomly grow along the ground. Have you noticed how they grow roots whereever their stems lie on the ground for long enough? That could be encouraged in your conditions to just let them ramble around like snakes, growing at the front and dying off at the “back”.

            You could also experiment with cutting back the stems of a few to about a foot above ground level and seeing if they grow new stems from the legacy roots. Perennialism in place.

  4. Carla

    “June’s Memorial Service” was about the best one I ever went to. Thanks, Caitlin Johnstone, for inviting me.

    1. Another Scott

      As our newest supreme court justice has shown, lying to congress isn’t a crime if you’re important enough.
      Maybe that’s where the colleges and parents think they can get away with the bribes to get their kids in.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Citizenship and dual citizenship.

      From Integer, post here on 3-12-19:

      This week I received the information I sought, in the form of a telephone call from a legal officer of the Library of Congress. After reminding me that Congress (and the CRS by its connection with Congress) is exempt from FOIA requests, he verbally confirmed my suspicion that CRS does not currently collect dual citizenship data.

      Without transparency on dual citizenship, Americans remain in the dark, free to speculate on which representatives may have divided loyalties. Current entries on the Internet reveal a wide range of such speculation. The lack of transparency is dangerous, for it erodes trust in government, creating credibility doubts where there should be none and allowing some conflicts to continue undetected, without question or debate.

      Not collecting dual citizenship date, currently.

      Seeking to collect them, and presumably citizenship data, on politicians…only.

      According to Wikipedia on Multiple Citizenship, the question of citizenship is up to the nation, and not to the individual:

      Colloquial speech refers to people “holding” multiple citizenship but, technically, each nation makes a claim that a particular person is considered its national.

      Does it make foregin born politicians particularly vulnerable, if the birth nation is not ready to let go?

      1. marym

        What document(s) would be FOIA’d to prove to those who “speculate widely on the internet” that someone was not a citizen of a particular country?

        Has the speculation been any wider than accusing Congresspersons who are Jewish of being dual citizens? Since support of US politicians for Israel is far more widespread than just among those who may be Jewish, what may one speculate is the purpose of directing the speculation in this manner?

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Greenwald is one of those journalists that when I run up against someone who doesn’t like him, I say “he has all the right enemies as far as I’m concerned”

      1. Tom

        Liking him isn’t so important. I find him pretty hard to like but I am glad he does what he does.

  5. allan

    How Wall Street Buys Ivy League Access [Inside Higher Ed]

    … Over the last 30 years, however, something big has changed in the ties between prestigious universities and the nation’s rich and powerful: Wall Street financiers have attained even greater dominance as alumni, donors and governing board members. …

    While virtually absent from the list in 1982, private equity and hedge fund managers had come to make up 20 percent of the noninheriting members of the list of the wealthiest Americans by 2017, rivaled only by the billionaires of high tech.

    I also coded which universities had conferred degrees to each of the Forbes 400 superrich. This revealed that the nation’s wealthiest financiers are much more likely to have Ivy League ties than other economic elites. For 2017, 58 percent of private equity and hedge fund managers had Ivy League degrees, according to my research. Just 30 percent of those from outside finance had an Ivy League degree.

    My analysis of the Forbes data adds quantitative evidence to recent qualitative research by Rivera, Megan Tobias Neely and a team of researchers working with Amy J. Binder. These sociologists have shown how elite private universities foster shared identities, trust and social networks that provide advantages to their alumni in ways that have helped keep the top echelons of finance closed to women, people of color and those without degrees from the most prestigious private universities.

    For example, when Yale alumnus and hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer learned that his fellow Yalie David Swensen had been appointed to lead the university’s endowment, he reached out and asked him to invest Yale endowment capital in his upstart Farallon Capital. Two years later, Swensen provided Farallon with $300 million, a third of the firm’s total investment capital. …

    But, but … Impeachment!!!.

    Read the whole thing, but make sure you can take a shower afterwards.

    1. Summer

      “These sociologists have shown how elite private universities foster shared identities, trust and social networks that provide advantages to their alumni in ways that have helped keep the top echelons of finance closed to women, people of color and those without degrees from the most prestigious private universities.”

      It’s a process of diminishing returns in every aspect for the world (intellectually, spiritually, etc)…except financially for a slect few.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > These sociologists have shown how elite private universities foster shared identities, trust and social networks that provide advantages to their alumni in ways that have helped keep the top echelons of finance closed to women, people of color and those without degrees from the most prestigious private universities.

      Great stuff, until it veers off into identitarianism here. Private equity would still be parasitic and a net loss to society even if the “top echelons of finance” matched the general population for [x] race [x] gender etc.

  6. dcrane

    Is it really true that the “official” Bernie Sanders presidential campaign website (berniesanders.com) contains no pathway to information on his policies and ideas, unless one signs up with an email address? I can’t find any links on the front page other than the Store, a link for Spanish, and a link about Jobs with the campaign. This is disappointing. And today I received an email from the campaign (as a repeat donor) asking me to fill in a survey….thinking that I would pass on this criticism, I clicked on the link to see that the survey is no more than the typical request for money masked as a survey, with only radio buttons for predetermined issues and nowhere for me to write anything directly to them. The “survey” even asks for my email again!

    Seems to me that Sanders should have a website that broadcasts his ideas without requiring people’s email for access. This looks bad.

    Am I just missing the way in, or going to the wrong site?

    1. nippersmom

      The site still appears to be largely under construction, which I agree is a bad situation. His people should have had the site pretty much ready to go when he announced, much less weeks later.

      1. Arizona Slim

        ISTR that the 2015-16 site was much deeper in the policy realm. This version seems like a giant fundraising machine.

        1. nippersmom

          None of the sections have been installed yet. There’s a button for a policy page, but nothing there except placeholders. His site team is really falling down on the job, imo.

      2. David Carl Grimes

        I want to buy a Bernie Hat but there are no hats for sale in the Bernie store. All they have are a few t-shirts, some stickers, magnets, and mugs plus Bernie’s book. A t-shirt can be hidden under a jacket. A hat is more visible. Maybe Bernie doesn’t want to compete with Trump’s MAGA hats?

        1. Shonde

          And I wanted a T-shirt to wear around town but could not find any info on the material. Everything except 100% cotton makes me itch. Yes, a hat would be nice too. I could see a fedora for Bernie.

        2. ocop

          My car magnet order (both of the ones from 2015/2016 were stolen at the same airport at different times) had to be canceled yesterday (a month later) because the site was ‘having issues’ the day I ordered.

          The whole democratic field seems to be starting earlier this year, with non-stellar organizational results. Tulsi’s rollout was a mess too (and her store sucks even more than Bernie’s). The good news is that it will be a while before political non-junkies tune in.

          Although in my heart of hearts I hope the biggest botched rollout award is won when the underlying details of Beto’s record fundraising numbers boomerang back after the first FEC filing. But that may just be wishful thinking.

    2. Tyrannocaster

      I noticed that several weeks ago. I figured by now it had changed. It’s disappointing – it makes him look like Kamala, who has been rightly criticized for the lack of specifics on her site.

      Or Beto.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      I have been a bit annoyed at the incessant demand for dollars. Immediately after responding with a donation to an email appeal to maximize donations before the FEC filing deadline for example, I received a text request based on the same appeal. I just ignored it. And I have given before this round, on the day he announced.

      I agree quite often there is no place to go after you click the button saying you will sign the email or take the survey or be one of the million but to donate more dollars.

      Not cool.

      1. curlydan

        I was getting annoying texts from Bernie’s people who had my number from years ago, so finally I wrote back, “I am a hardcore Bernie support, but please stop texting me”. Silence finally!

      2. Carey

        I unsubscribed from the Sanders campaign’s emails, for now.
        Way too many; it feels too much like a shakedown.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Maybe the people that put together his website are the same people that did the website for Obamacare.

  7. Lee

    “Superbugs have colonized the International Space Station—but there’s a silver lining” [Phys.org].

    If nukes and global climate change don’t get us the microbes will. Damn you, little phkrs!

    How do we know whether or not any of these bugs have survived reentry and are now replicating and gene sharing with the microbes already among us? Perhaps the newer strains of flu aren’t emanating from pigs and chickens after all but are descending from space? I propose that all space travel be one way trips.

    1. a different chris

      This! I propose that once we get some decent space stations, they get manned only by 75 yr olds and up. When we croak they can fire us out the hatch (or earlier, if they are too whiny). The low gravity will be an asset, not a problem.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Flu is a virus, not a bacterium. So flu will probably continue improving itself right here on earth.

      The superbacteria make me think that maybe we should develop and use vaccines against getting infected in the first place by all the emerging super-duperbugs for which there will be no cure and no treatment.

  8. Cal2

    “How PG&E Ignored California Fire Risks in Favor of Profits”

    All PG&E ratepayers pay a surcharge on our bills for tree maintenance. PG&E hires low bid contractors to trim trees away from power lines. Whenever “savings” are made by delaying, or not doing the work, the tree trimming money not spent is divided between the contractors and PG&E CEOs.

    ‘There’s something rotten in Denmark’, replace with “California”

    “Karen Clopton, the former chief administrative law judge at California’s powerful utility regulator said Tuesday she was fired for cooperating with investigators looking into collusion between regulators and executives from Pacific Gas & Electric.”

    “Clopton alleges her dismissal was retaliation for cooperating with investigators looking into the commission’s actions and for telling her subordinates to do the same. She says she objected to the appointment of an administrative law judge with alleged ties to PG&E and told commissioners not to interfere with the assignment of specific judges to cases.”


    1. Cal2

      Follow up in case readers forget:

      PG&E and the Causes of the Wine Country Fires
      Posted on November 16, 2017 by Lambert Strether

      “Last month, I looked at PG&E and Northern California fires collectively known as the Wine Country fires, and related past Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) fires to inadequate tree-trimming (“vegetation management”) and concluded:

      In Puerto Rico, lack of tree trimming caused by an austerity regime imposed by the Obama administration acting on behalf of Wall Street caused the complete collapse of Puerto Rico’s grid. In California, a pattern of lack of tree trimming caused by the profit motive led to collapsed power lines and fires in the Sierra Blaze, the Pendola Fire, the Butte Fire, and quite possibly the Wine Country. If the relation between the PUC and PG&E is as cozy as the San Bruno Pipeline Explosion and Clopton’s whistleblower suit suggest, the truth of the matter may be hard to come by. But maybe we’ll get lucky!

      One way to get lucky is, of course, through a lawsuit, of which there is now a “wave” against PG&E. And yes, the suits — the litigation, not the litigants — are focusing on tree-trimming. From Law.com:

      A coalition of plaintiffs firms has sued Pacific Gas & Electric claiming the utility company’s lackluster maintenance of power lines, poles, and the brush beneath them played a major role in sparking the wildfires that ravaged Northern California’s wine country last month….”

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Before PUHCA was repealed and the utilities were somewhat deregulated, did PG & E behave just this badly? If not, then should perhaps the act repealing PUHCA be itself repealed and we go back to status quo ante, with a re-legalized PUHCA and forcibly re-PUHCAfied utilities? Thereby being able to fore PG & E to maintain its facilities and nearby trees?

      1. JBird4049

        I don’t know about just how badly PG&E acted under the Public Utilities Commission, but the PUC was always corrupt as far as I know. PG&E always has had a certain… smell around it; perhaps taking out from under control public control just allowed to bloom like the lovely corpse flower it is.

        The rolling blackouts we used to enjoy under Eron was due to the same fabulous deregulation also I believe. The glories of the Free Market. Neoliberalism, a gift to somebody, just not to Californians

  9. Tim

    “Fascinating! No way to speed it up, I suppose…”

    In the same way we dam up canyons in San Diego to make reservoirs, perhaps we dam up some offshore portions of ocean crescent shaped shorelines (like the Bay of Banderas).

    Draining and filling the dammed areas could throttle the provided effect.
    Once we get our hundred years problem under control the dams could be demolished.

    1. Synoia

      No need to demolish the Dams. Dams are temporary structures, because the weigh of water behind the dam deforms the earth, and eventually the dam collapses.

      Damn engineers.

      1. Wukchumni

        Our National Parks our are in house ambassadors that fortunately are failed capitalists for the most part, as precious little is for sale.

      2. Lee

        Last time I stayed at Yosemite it was as if my tent were pitched in the middle of a French village. It was quite nice. I’ve never been to France so France came to me for a week. Every national park I’ve visited has been full of people from all over the world—as cosmopolitan as any major city in the world all bound together by a shared love of a relict portion of wilder natural word.

        1. Wukchumni

          In the summer & fall when I ride the free shuttle bus in Sequoia NP, English is strictly a secondary language, and you’ll hear half a dozen lingua francas going at once.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      We could also pay farmers like Gabe Brown to do Gabe Brown-style farming all over the prairie zone, thus building up soil-carbon and getting food besides.

      How could we also pay farmers like Gabe Brown to farm like Gabe Brown? We could pay the prices for food to all the Gabe Brown-style farmers that Gabe Brown’s customers currently pay to Gabe Brown.

  10. prx

    Canadian pensions tend to be more sophisticated investors than their American counterparts as a result of higher comp, greater centralization of the system

    Still probably too into private investments, but they’re not as dumb as calpers

    1. Summer

      “Canadian pensions tend to be more sophisticated investors…”

      What kinds of protections do investors have in Canada vs USA?

      You’re only as sophisticated as the information available to you….

      1. prx

        the institutional pensions (referencing CCPIB specifically in the links), not pensioners or individuals

        1. Summer

          Same applies to institutions…only as sophisticated as the information available to them.

  11. kareninca

    Here in CA, taxes are very unpleasant this year for many people. I hear the same thing from a middle-class part of CT.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        we spent every damned penny of the EITC-enhanced tax refund in the local economy.
        Thus once again proving that demand side economics is worth looking in to.

  12. Summer

    “Our history has been — and we will probably stick to it — to let journalists do what they do well and let us support them and let them do their work,” she said.

    We’ll see as the next big election ramps up…

    1. nippersmom

      That’s a step in the right direction! Now he needs to get his team to update his “issues” page and include that position.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sanders was the driver behind getting the Senate’s anti-Yemen bill passed. I’m hard to think of a liberal Democrat who’s into stopping wars instead of starting them…

  13. Pogonip

    Lambert, I’m suddenly getting huge ads on NC. Right now there’s a car taking up most of the bottom third of the screen.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        the one that runs on my older iphone.
        its a noticeable change, and probably has nothing to do with y’all.
        way beyond me, nasty box of not-wires….

  14. Summer

    RE: “SEC says it’s ‘stunning’ that Elon Musk never complied with order to get tweets approved”

    Yep, well on the way to reforming capitalism.
    All it needs is some regulation and some tweeks here and there….yeah. What on earth could be wrong?

      1. Summer

        If Elon Musk turned out to be a serial killer, that would be his sentence…house arrest with full twitter access.

  15. JohnnySacks

    “SEC says it’s ‘stunning’ that Elon Musk never complied with order to get tweets approved”

    Musk knows he’s not in the same class of criminal as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs – no rubber stamps for him.

    Seriously? No Martha Stewart chumps to go after and burn at the stake?

    1. pjay

      Thanks for the MOA link. The clownish antics of Abrams et al would be hilarious if not for the fact that real human suffering is the result — and these antics *never end*! Same crew, same M.O., over and over. Perhaps enough stupidity will poke a few holes in the media “coverage,” but I’m not holding my breath.

  16. Kurtismayfield

    RE: EA paying “influencer” $1,000,000 to play their game.

    I have never been a fan of watching someone play a video game, but there are a lot of people who do .. and sponsor them via Patreon. I would think that if the person that I am sponsoring is taking in money from a gaming company to help promote their game, my trust in their opinions is going to decrease. Especially a company like EA who is considered one of the worst companies in America.

    If you haven’t been playing close attention, “it’s not just over the Mass Effect 3 ending,” writes Usher, “it’s over Origin, it’s over Project $10, it’s over early server closings, it’s about DLC charity abuse, it’s over them gutting studios like Pandemic, Westwood, Origin Studios and Bright Light, it’s over the lawsuits, it’s over the nickel-and-diming with Day-1 DLC, and everything else in between. If you didn’t any of that then you’re informed enough to say why people shouldn’t have voted for EA.”

    But I am not a fan of watching people play video games.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      FWIW, those older, more experienced gamers are moving from Fortnite to Apex Legends, esp PC gamers like my roommate.

      Apex wont outlast fortnite tho. Its too much fun and more original. Apex smells like a money grab riding on Fortnites battle royale mode which originated with PUBG.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Agreed. I like watching gamers but the one I liked the most went over to Apex Legends which I find boring. It’s kinda like a cross between a battle royale game and Call of Duty so like you said, will not outlast fortnite. I still check out too the PUBG WTF channel though for a laugh.

  17. John Beech

    The 737 MAX situation is a bit more complicated because of the players involved. I am a private pilot and friends with many commercial pilots. One explained the following (lightly edited for clarity), which may help explain what’s going on ‘and’ why;

    Only three times have the FAA grounded big jets. The DC10, B787, and now the B737 MAX. As a B787 pilot I kept asking my Boeing tech reps about the lithium battery issue. Their response was to ask for the data and how the flight went. But, I always wondered why our airline never seemed to have an airplane burn up at the gate. Note, all of the batteries are the same and the lithium battery issues were only with foreign airlines.

    Finally, one tech rep said . . . the 787 battery issues were principally with Japanese carriers and it always happened following overnights (where they kept ground power applied all night). We all know what happens with unattended GPUs (ground power units); basically they’ll sometimes just up and quit. However, foreign maintenance instead of restarting the specialized charge cycle would simply charge the battery itself with ground power instead of replacing the battery as required by the AMM (the book).

    He continued with’ Boeing knew the 787 battery system needed improvement, but they did not want to embarrass the Japanese. At heart there’s a cultural issue at play. Those with experience know the Japanese as a whole tend to not complain if, for example, the food isn’t warm or the service is sub-standard ‘but’ you also won’t ever see them again. Basically, if you embarrass them you’ll lose them as a customer (and these airlines have been long-time customers of Boeing). The point being Boeing knows all there is to know about kid glove handling of customers.

    Fast forward to today and it looks like Boeing may have already lost LionAir as a customer. Insiders believe LionAir is dumping their big Boeing order to save face. Can/should Boeing just come out and take blame for poor information exchange? Or maybe say out loud regarding MCAS, “Your pilots should have been able to figure this out on their own just like American pilots have when faced with a failure by switching off the system and hand flying the plane!”

    Anyway, Boeing has a substantial number of orders on the books and I bet there is more going on here than we know. Boeing just isn’t going to come out and say, ‘your pilots’ stink. Instead, they’ll wait for the regulators and investigators to say it – letting the FAA and NTSB be the bad guys lets Boeing save face. Look, everybody knows what’s going on but the press won’t give it a break, which plays into European hands (Airbus) as well as China’s (Comac) thus putting American jobs at risk.

    1. Carolinian

      Please see the Seattle Times story linked yesterday which explains that the MCAS is a critical system (can destroy the plane) and therefore should have been linked to both stall sensors for redundancy and not just one. Anyway you slice it Boeing is at fault here, not just bad pilots.

    2. notabanker

      This I’m an American pilot and the problem is foreigners propaganda really pisses me off.

    3. a different chris

      >Boeing knew the 787 battery system needed improvement, but they did not want to embarrass the Japanese

      And how family-blogging stupid is that? People die when you do things wrong with an airplane. But heaven forbid Airbus gets those orders.. from this monolithic Japanese airline industry you seem to be claiming exists.

      >At heart there’s a cultural issue at play.

      Yeah there is no way White Westerners can be separated from their pocketbooks, is the cultural issue here. I don’t think this will play out the way your quotee thinks it will.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Your pilots should have been able to figure this out on their own just like American pilots have

      I think this is a silly comment:

      1) Boeing should know its customers. Apparently it doesn’t. In longer form–

      2) Airline expansion in Asia is enormous (not just China, everywhere). Many of the carriers (like Lion Air and Air Asia) are optimized for new fliers who want to fly cheaply; and they’ve been set up and are run by highly aggressive entrepreneurial types (cowboys, as I have said). Boeing needs to be optimizing its designs for the people who actually fly its planes, and not just say “be like Americans, you stupid foreigners.” That’s arrogant and provincial, and if Boeing is very unlucky, somebody’s going to eat their lunch over it. (Not, I think, the Chinese, who are in their own way also arrogant and provincial; just with a very large province.)

      Your Japanese example proves my point; if their tendencies and practices are that well known, why not design for them in the first place?

      1. John Beech

        Please, remember those weren’t my words but were those of someone who knows a hell of lot more than you and me, my pal, a 787 captain for a major American carrier flying into Japan regularly.

        Also, designing for the Japanese or 3rd world nationals isn’t the issue. This is an American product, and the leader in the world of aviation. In no way do i think it’s fair to place all the blame on them.

        Fly by wire has been a hallmark of Airbus for quite a while and these are Boeing’s first forays with in it commercial aviation (do you remember the Air France Airbus that went down in the mid Atlantic after three sensors failed). In that case, the pilot and co-pilot were doing opposite things at the same time (one had his sidestick controller pushed forward and the other had it pulled full aft). They basically rode an airworthy airplane nose high – from 30k feet – in a fully stalled condition all the way down to the ocean!

        MCAS on the B737 MAX is some of the same automagic as Airbus uses. But the point being, the rules and regulations are said to be written in blood. did they make pilots aware of it prior to LionAir? Arguably not well enough. However, ‘after’ the LionAir crash, the system went into high gear to get the word out – there was no intent of being high handed and leave 3rd world pilots hanging out to dry . . . that’s not how it works. In communications with several 737 MAX captains, I know for a fact there wasn’t a single 737 MAX captain ‘worldwide’ unaware of what went wrong with LionAir ‘and’ who also groked the procedure to disconnect the system – none. Bottom line? It’s a tragic accident, and not crapification.

        The point being, since the data regarding MCAS was widely disseminated, it was on the captains involved to know their system’s foibles ‘and’ know what to do. ‘This’ is the point the 787 captain I was quoting wss making. Did the recent crash involve a panicked captain? Not for me to say. I’ve read reports his voice was panicked. Thing is, they were ‘very’ close to the ground when it happened. Me? I would have been probably been somewhat panicked, too. I once an the engine of the Bonanza dry at about 1000′ feet and in the few seconds it took me to realize I needed to switch tanks, I put a pretty good pucker in the leather seat, I promise!

        Re: 787 and lithium batteries and Japanese . . . once again we have a brand new system (lots of first with the 787) and everybody is learning. Until then, no airplane had ever had the need to so much battery capacity. Lithium was a world first on that airplane. Those things are too complex to nkow everything in advabce at our present state of knowledge.

        By the way, here’s an interesting fact . . . the 787 is so much larger than a 737 MAX that the fuselage diameter of the 737 is roughly the same same as the engines of the 787.Put another way, that’s one big mother!

        Anyway, it took months to figure out what was going on with the lithium batteries but now it’s all sorted. And for what it’s worth, insider opinion is the Japanese are the most diligent maintenance wise of all the airlines every bit as good as the USA, maybe even more anal and detail oriented about everything. Once again, the lithium batter issue sucked but didn’t cost lives. It just took time to figure out what needed sorting and better explaining. Please remember when discussing third world pilots, they all come her for training. Not just the Chinese and Indonesians but even the Europeans do it here. I know because my check pilot for the the Bonanza worked for Lufthansa training in Phoenix!

        Finally, it’s easy for non-pilots to criticize something they think they’re qualified to opine on. Me? I’m not sure it’s really wise to be engaged in spreading what amounts to manlinformed gossip. Especially because we’re to a certain degree informs the opinion of the air traveling public, e.g. unknowing citizens. What’s really bad about it is we’re possibly hurting America’s national champion aircraft manufacturer. By some lights, it seems disloyal . . . especially considering Comac and Airbus are the beneficiaries.

        And it’s worth noting while the former has no track record yet, and the latter’s is worse! when the Europeans and the Chinese put the kibosh on 737 MAX flights, that was political, nothing more, nothing less.

  18. Isotope_C14

    Probably all over the Nostromo….

    Lambert, you need to get on Jimmy Dore or something, you’ve got some serious skills in the comedy realm, you wouldn’t happen to be Hillary Clingon on Twitter would you?

    Donation sent.

    1. Isotope_C14

      Admittedly, I should have done it with your white-walker statement regarding obsidian and our ancient ancestors, but at the moment I did get a little distracted.

      Perhaps the next NC Meetup should be at a comedy club with Lambert/Dore/Elwood?

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Lambert and the NC Commentariat need to create a show like ‘Around the Horn’ on Espn but replace Sports with Political Economics, etc.

        Lambert beats dore et al cuz he understands Dune.

  19. Henry Moon Pie

    Calling Mary Shelley–

    The U. S. and our esteemed buds, the KSA, are blocking attempts by twelve nations to regulate geoengineering.

    The world’s two biggest oil producers reportedly led opposition against plans to examine the risks of climate-manipulating technology such as sucking carbon out of the air, reflective mirrors in space, seeding the oceans and injecting particulates into the atmosphere.

    Deeper analysis of the risks had been proposed by Switzerland and 12 other countries as a first step towards stronger oversight of potentially world-altering experiments that would have implications for food supply, biodiversity, global inequality and security. Some have been tried, but as yet none deployed at a scale that would affect the climate.

    I doubt our rulers are suicidal, so it must be their extraordinary arrogance, cupidity and ultimately, stupidity that produces their behavior.

    Do the scientists and engineers working on these Musketeer projects have any moral responsibility? Do they have any humility? To date, the scientific community has brought us some terrible things (like nukes and bioweapons) and some seemingly good stuff that turned out to be almost as bad as the terrible things (internal combustion engine and industrial farming). It’s great that they alerted us that anthropocentric climate damage is real but they might also acknowledge that they are partly responsible and should not be trusted to provide quick, technological fixes.

    Humanity needs to be in sackcloth and ashes now, not undertaking even grander projects with tragic, unforeseen consequences an all but guaranteed outcome.

    1. Isotope_C14

      I think to some degree, you expect the scientists and engineers to be somehow enlightened, wise, and full of foresight. The fact of the matter is that the crappification of everything on the planet includes engineers and scientists.

      Remember, “Professors” are people that are good at getting grant money. As long as they do that, they can still teach, which to the majority of them is a chore, not a pleasurable experience.

      Their graduate students, are either:

      A.) Good at getting grant money (and move upwards in academia)


      B.) A technical expert on measuring tree-bark length and width, and will never contribute anything meaningful without supervisory direction (A scientific lathe operator)

      If only we had “councils of the wise” like, cough, Joe Rogan said, which is impressive on 20 levels, we wouldn’t be in this idiocracy environment…

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      “..To date, the scientific community has brought us some terrible things (like nukes and bioweapons) …”
      …and on Purpose, no less!
      with a frelling will!
      Never see Einstein/Russel levels of repentance from that front any more.

      My favorites are the cobalt weapons.
      to someone in charge, that sounded like a good idea, at the time.

    3. Summer

      That’s the feedback loop that will be the death of humans: deregulation.
      They are always prepared to sacrifice others for their glory. “I’ll be great, so what if some people have to die.”

      It’s always about “the future” without addressing the extreme f ups of now. It’s always about “the future” to avoid the consequences of past actions.

      It’s like the Theranos story. Elizabeth Holmes could have had a perfectly legit company that may have hung around long enough to bring her fantasy project to life. She had wealthy, established connections and highly educated staff….but NOOOOOOOOOO….
      Some people are just sociopaths. And that is rewarded. So we see it constantly replicated.

  20. notabanker


    Half a million kilo’s of antibiotics to be sprayed on citrus trees in FLA, and there are no scaled tests to prove it works (and probaby doesn’t) and no scaled tests to know what harm it does. At best they eek out a few more growing seasons. Half the acreage in production has already been abandoned. Up to 90% of the trees are infected. Enjoy those Florida oranges while you can still get them.

  21. Hameloose Cannon

    My fear is that an average undecided American voter is accustomed to having emotions manipulated by a phalanx of marketing strategies. If something doesn’t nudge the gooey frontal lobe regulating emotional responses to ideas of kinship [or rage], did it happen? Given the full Getty image catalogue of human experience is available to even the tablets of the most humble direct mailing marketeer, a campaign best come mawkish, at least up to Midwestern Lutheran levels.

    So, when Bernie Sanders, on NPR, continues regretting not explaining “socialism” better, which is basically dishonest, saying, “should’a dumbed-it down” more for the intellectual desert that is the electorate Bedouin of Amphetaburg or Hookworm County, and trying to drag a proud yet incapacitated America to the fount of socialism. He is mistaken. Bernie, grab a bucket and bring liquid social policy to America. In other words, stop saying “socialism”. From now on, call it “Next-Gen American Capitalism 3.0 ™”; the trademark is for [paradoxical] authenticity. The Marx-Engels Proletariat doesn’t exist in 2019 USA. Not even the Lumpen. Rather than deprived intellectually of the true nature of our condition, we are drowning beneath a riptide of information about doom, pulled out to an incoherent sea. The presidency is more spiritual, more “Leader of a Panhellenic Cult” than “Chairman of the Presidium”.

  22. PlutoniumKun

    Fascinating! No way to speed it up, I suppose…

    There is an easy way to speed up that process – mine the minerals (olivine mostly) and either mix it in with fertiliser (it will lower the pH which is generally a good thing), or dump it off shore and allow natural wave action to break it up and speed up the sequestration. I’ve seen estimates that one large olivine mine in Norway could supply enough minerals if dumped off-shore to sequester around 5% of annual CO2 emissions (basically the emissions of Norway the UK and Ireland).

    Its one of the few forms of carbon sequestration that is reasonably risk free as the process is quite well understood and there is no known likely negative feedback – in fact, the feedbacks are likely to be positive as it would aid de-acidification of oceans and soil.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If olivine is the magnesium iron silicate the wiki claims it is, then unless the Mg remained utterly unavailable into the soil, it would be better to not mix it into soil to unbalance the catiion balances with too much magnesium.

      Many Midwestern soils are already magnesium-excessive and farmers are in some cases warned to make sure any “lime” they apply for calcium inputting is strictly high-calcium lime and not dolomite-derived, because dolomite is calcium-magnesium carbonate, which is putting too much more magnesium into an already magnesium over-rich soil.

      Or so I have read.

      But applying it to oceans seems like an interesting idea, though.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Its one of the few forms of carbon sequestration that is reasonably risk free as the process is quite well understood and there is no known likely negative feedback – in fact, the feedbacks are likely to be positive as it would aid de-acidification of oceans and soil.

      Can’t charge for it, though (unlike BECCS, which has cash flow)…

      Adding, I had no idea that I’d toss off a one-liner and have an excellent study come back in response. I should make more jokes, I suppose.

  23. Summer

    Re: University of Akron / Areas of Strategic investment

    Yes, it sounds like MBA and finance jargo. Just like every other non-semsical thing in the workplace. Whether teacher, inventor, or artist everything is on bankers metrics. There is the attempt to quantify the way a finance or sales job is quantified (it’s why performance reviews end up being gobbledy-gook-BS)….for their own job security more than anything else.

  24. Geo

    “‘The very rich really hate taxes,” said Barry Hersh, a New York University real estate professor and former property developer.

    Does he think the rest of enjoy taxes?

    Biden gives a homeless woman “whatever was in my pocket”

    Wonder is she could have avoided homelessness with proper bankruptcy laws?

    1. integer

      I’m just hoping he didn’t make the homeless woman put her hand into his pocket to retrieve the contents.

  25. dearieme

    “A total of eight tanks have caught fire”: bad design or bad operation? Or just foreign pilots?

  26. edmondo

    “Buttigieg, who is exploring a White House bid but has not officially announced a campaign, announced Saturday that his team had received more than 76,000 individual donations, passing the 65,000 individual threshold set by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).”

    65,000 seems like such a random number to be a threshold. I guess that’s one donation for every super-delegate who gets a second ballot vote?

  27. Amfortas the hippie

    on the reuters art on heavy equipment:
    should i expect dozers to become cheaper to rent?
    they’re currently rather exorbitant.
    as is buying one outright.
    (or an ordinary tractor, for that matter)
    I still don’t see how rampant globilisation is an unmitigated good.

  28. John

    John Kennedy announced for his run for the presidency on January 2, 1960. I remembered the month and year but after 59 years the day escaped me. Looking at the top of the computer screen I note that today is March 19, 2019. I am a Water Cooler regular but I skip to categories: Brexit and Politics. Oh, I scan politics for anything not related to the the Race for the White House. I shall check in again in six months.Perhaps the field will have been winnowed by then. After that another six months and there I shall be in March 2020 five months before the actual nominations and seven months and two weeks before the election. Brexit has been going round and round for … I forget how many years. At some point there will be huge headlines and a resolution of some sort.

    A college classmate of mine was a network correspondent back in the 1970s. He had the unenviable task of standing in the cold and wet … it always seemed to be cold and wet… outside the gate of the place in Paris where the talks about ending the Vietnam war were being held. (I think I remember that correctly.) As with Brexit and 2020, he had each day to find new ways of saying nothing new. reminds me of the line from South Pacific, “From tedium to apathy with an occasional side trip to monotony.”

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If people are ready to believe that ” Lee Harvey Oswald” did not torch two cars with black lives matter activists in them at two separate points in time . . . acting alone . . . then maybe people will be ready to believe that “Lee Harvey Oswald” did not shoot Kennedy all by himself . . . acting alone.

      1. JBird4049

        I almost sent AP article in, but it seems a little too tinfoilish to me, and doing some more thinking, I should have. I should sooner believe that Oswald acted alone than the Ferguson Police did not have anything to do with those deaths.

        It is an awful thing to write, but I can always point out the Chicago Police Department’s many examples of torture, false arrests, murders, framing, and just all around bad behavior. It is just murdering people for public protests seems like a Rubicon that the modern police had not crossed. Hopefully they still haven’t.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It doesn’t have to be police. It could be the assassination arm of one of any number of intelligence or other agencies. All the police would have to do is give the deeperly-hidden government operatives information on whom to kill.

    2. Janie

      The tedium to monotony line is from “Mr. Roberts”, Henry Fonda to a naive Jack Lemmon. My favorite movie of all time.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I scan politics for anything not related to the the Race for the White House.

      I love the human pageant. I really do. “Greatest reflection on human nature” — so true!

  29. allan

    The next episode of Star Trek: Late Stage Capitalism.

    The Trouble with Tribillionaires:

    Murdoch billionaires set to multiply after Disney completes $100bn Fox deal [Sydney Morning Herald]

    Disney’s $US71 billion ($100 billion) takeover of a swath of 21st Century Fox’s assets isn’t just remaking the media landscape. It’s reshaping the fortune of one of the industry’s most powerful dynasties.

    Over more than half a century, Rupert Murdoch built a media empire, and he’s now worth $US19.3 billion. But the $US12 billion of proceeds from the Disney deal are set to be distributed to his six children – Prudence, Elisabeth, Lachlan, James, Grace, Helen and Chloe. That will make them billionaires in their own right while cutting the elder Murdoch’s fortune to $US7.3 billion, according to calculations by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. …

    As in the original, can we just use the transporter to send them to a Klingon vessel?

      1. Baby Gerald

        Business Insider had an article about this Palmer Report and its fake newsiness:

        ‘People want it to be true’: Inside the growing influence of a mysterious anti-Trump website

        Seems that the gist of the operation is to report some nonsense (like we see in the smears about Sanders), cite unreliable sources like wild-eyed Louise Mensch, get people who want to believe it to repeat and cite the nonsense (like senators) and then watch the nonsense spread around and be treated as actual truth. Then, when an outlet like Business Insider calls them out on it, Palmer unleashes his trolls to counter the claims with more nonsense. It’s fake news in a nutshell. Yet this guy still has his blue-check Twitter account and FB page.

  30. Joe Well

    Elizabeth Warren, senator representing Greater Boston, home to the third highest residential rents on earth, wants to reduce rents by 10% over a period of years.

    And I am supposed to brave the winter weather to go to a rally for her?

    I think we should occupy neighborhoods with restrictive zoning (tent cities, bongos, etc) until it becomes clear their property values aren’t going up anymore and now is the time to let the developers in.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Elizabeth Warren, senator representing Greater Boston, home to the third highest residential rents on earth, wants to reduce rents by 10% over a period of years.

      That again is the problem I have with Warren; she never proposes solutions comparable to the scale of the problems she outlines so well. This keeps happening.

  31. The Rev Kev

    Billboards in space? Why stop there? The author Robert Heinlein mentioned in one of his stories a scheme to send rockets to the moon to spray a non-reflective substance in trails across the moon surface to spell out words. Thus you could look at the moon and see the words “Drink Coke!” for example. People would love that idea that loved the free market.

    1. Basil Pesto

      ALTHOUGH, talking of bad, it would be remiss if I didn’t mention that google have announced a new gaming console – they are outside of the traditional big three of sony, microsoft and nintendo so it’s an interesting development. Their approach to the space is a bit different too. germane links here, in increasingly technical order




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