2:00PM Water Cooler 3/18/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, my day today is unduly dynamic and complexified. I will return tomorrow in full force. In the meantime, here are some conversation starters! –lambert

A clever workaround:

Genius (though you have to click to enlarge):

I saw Alien on the last long-haul I was on. Holy moly, was it terrifying (and also brilliant (and dystopian (and a corporate hellscape. It might as well have been titled Neoliberals in Space, though maybe we should leave that to Elon))). In any case, reading up on it in IMDB, I discovered that most of the truly terrifying bits had been snipped out, presumably to avoid a plane full of screaming children (and weeping adults). The chest-buster — talk about neoliberal metaphors — was in there, though. Yikes!

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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 (MG):

MW writes: “Just digging out from under 15” in a place where 1” is news.” Builds character! And the glint of the morning sun on fresh snow is one of the few things I still like about the white stuff.

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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.

157 comments

    1. Lee

      So, by getting our food to come to us, we are devolving back to a pre-consciousness state of existence. Makes sense to me. I’ve always wanted to be a pet rock.

      Reply
    1. notabanker

      Hmm. Germany said they didn’t have the capacity to take the Ethiopian flight recorders. Now glyphosate is being passed off.
      The decision to use four countries was made because no single country volunteered to take on the role alone

      Reply
          1. Harry

            Well the black box recorders thing is an obvious sh*t sandwich. Truth on the one side, Boeing orders on the other. Definite time to bunt.

            Yeah, the glyphosate thing is definitely no fun for an organization that wanted to retain its integrity or its reputation for integrity.

            Reply
            1. Carey

              WRT the latter, I wonder if we’ll see another “more study is needed” slow-walk. Maybe not, given France’s and Sweden’s
              positions on the substance. One can still hope.

              endocrine disruption gut biome destruction

              what’s not to like?

              Reply
  1. Geo

    In a continuation on the conversation in today’s links about the $6.1M first day haul by Beto here’s a link from Vice News that adds to the skepticism about the number:

    O’Rourke initially declined to release his first-day fundraising numbers, and his reluctance to share specifics about the donations has invited skepticism from his critics

    https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/qvy58m/beto-orourke-tops-the-field-in-first-day-fund-raising-but-hes-being-vague-about-it

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      Certainly it’s possible he got that much and that’s why he had the slow build up to make sure everyone he could get would suddenly insert money into his campaign. Remember his goal is to be the corporate candidate and he wants to make sure he will discourage potential donors to Biden’s run. If a lot of these rich f*cks give to Beto then Biden may not run. His ability to get money may discourage, also, people like Klobuchar and others who are running for the corporate dollar.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It seems corporate money in politics is like MMT money (but not really), and they give to both parties, and so, more candidates they like should not limit what they will spend (I think).

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Corpserate money is to politics .. what exploding face-hugging A • L • E • I • N ‘young’ are to Wayland-Yutani indentures … because once hooked, your life, what’s left of it, belongs to something else !

          Reply
      2. Geo

        Good point! Would love to have been a fly in the wall when Biden found out Obama was hooking up Beto with his team. Got a little taste of what so many in the Dem base felt after electing Obama only to get smacked down by Rahm and others for thinking their votes for Obama held any sense of loyalty from him.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          It’s also worth pointing out that the establishment really doesn’t much believe in Biden. Makes some sense they’d chase someone they thought was ‘electable’.

          What says ‘electable’ more than losing to Ted Cruz?!?!?!

          Reply
          1. neo-realist

            But, but, Bill Maher on his show, very recently, said that Biden was the best most electable democrat in the race:/, e.g., he’s the one most capable of winning the battleground states. Maybe he’s angry at Bernie for upsetting the apple cart in 2016 by degrading Clinton’s campaign.

            Reply
                1. richard

                  I’ve never laughed at anything Maher had said. He makes me think about a salon in Versailles in 1788. Comically out of touch. Well, uncomically out of touch.
                  Maher demonstrates what J. Dore has often said about comedy, that it’s all about messing with the powerful, and when it loses that power dynamic it stops being funny. I’ve never seen Maher punch up. Ever.

                  Reply
          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            What establishment? To follow on your point from earlier, the Democratic establishment is fractured.

            My guess is Beto attracts the random wealthy donors who have cash to give but aren’t necessarily linked to either a state party or long established interests. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ossified union leadership gravitates towards Biden.

            Donors are likely auditioning for an ambassadorship. Certain candidates are going to have loyalties they need to or will want to reward. With so many wealthy people in California, what is a rich Democratic leaning individual to do? They aren’t at the top of the Harris loyalty list. Obama after all moved the DNC to Chicago for reasons, not that I disagree with the move in a vacuum.

            http://nymag.com/news/politics/30634/

            Comparatively speaking, Wolf, now the CEO of UBS Americas, was a buck-raking neophyte. But his prodigious recent efforts (first for Kerry, then for House and Senate Democrats in 2006) had established him as a rising star in the fund-raising firmament. Until a few weeks earlier, the presidential horse he’d planned to ride in 2008 was former Virginia governor Mark Warner. But with Warner’s decision to forgo the race, Wolf was up for grabs—and in the sights of every Democrat in the field.

            What Wolf, 45, was looking for was a candidate who could change the tenor of our politics. “I’d like my children to soon see a president give a State of the Union address and have both parties applaud,” he tells me. But Wolf was looking, too, for a campaign where his presence would be “impactful,” for a candidate who would take his calls, listen to his ideas. He wanted to feel the love. And while Wolf refuses to speak ill of Clinton, it’s clear he doubted that, no matter how much dough he raised, he’d ever be feeling it from her.

            Can you imagine this? This guy wanted the President of the United States to take his calls. Not feeling the love from HRC was an issue for him then he has the nerve to whine about bipartisanship.

            Except for being tall, Kerry, to Warner, to Obama is such an odd. This guy isn’t interested in access as much as attention.

            Reply
            1. Chris Cosmos

              Let me briefly describe the “establishment.” It is the Washington permanent bureaucracy plus assorted consultant companies making beaucoup money from the various corrupt parts of said government. Then there are the various free-floating “made” men and women who float around Washington directing money here and there as agents of various professional organizations and consortia of various corporate interests. These are the real players within government. Many of these players like the Democratic Party, traditionally, because Democratic politicians are slick enough to gaslight their constituents to make them eat dirt and love it. The hustler class in Washington as any hustler class whether on the Street or Hollywood is always the same–they like to play the game–it’s a rush.

              Yes, there is some division now because they’ve been found out and exposed by many of us and they’re looking to strike deals they wouldn’t have struck a few years ago which is why health-care is once again in play–they expect to flim-flam the public like they did last time. So this group, which still is fairly united, are trying to find the next Obama who sounds progressive but won’t do anything but continue to follow business as usual. Right now Beto and Harris seem to be in play

              Reply
              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Is this one of those the point of having many candidates is to distract us from a coalition of people from different power centers who secretly have one chosen candidate? Did they decide this at a meeting or is it a hive mind decision?

                Reply
          3. Harry

            A Biden candidacy in the era of #MeToo makes no sense. I am amazed no one has come out again to complain about his patent “arm round the shoulders” move.

            Reply
      3. JohnnyGL

        That’s certainly plausible.

        Of course, if Biden drops….most of his supporters go to….wait for it…..BERNIE!!!!

        (polls never get it wrong, right?)

        :)

        Reply
    2. nippersmom

      I’d really like to see the breakdown of number of donors and average donation size. There’s a reason they aren’t sharing that information.

      Reply
    3. flora

      Heh. I can guess where the support comes from….

      However, a new analysis of congressional votes from the non-profit news organisation Capital & Main shows that even as O’Rourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has frequently voted against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration priorities.

      O’Rourke has voted for GOP bills that his fellow Democratic lawmakers said reinforced Republicans’ anti-tax ideology, chipped away at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), weakened Wall Street regulations, boosted the fossil fuel industry and bolstered Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

      Consumer, environmental, public health and civil rights organizations have cast legislation backed by O’Rourke as aiding big banks, undermining the fight against climate change and supporting Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. During the previous administration, Barack Obama’s White House issued statements slamming two GOP bills backed by the 46-year-old Democratic legislator.

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/20/beto-orourke-congressional-votes-analysis-capital-and-main

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Consider that O’Rourke is the fast track to the right for the Dems, even those “saddened” by his Republican bent. Hillary was the previous step, Obama her predecessor – less promise to the left as we go. Hope big money wastes its wallet on Beto – and hope Bernie keeps to his blazed trail.

        Reply
    4. nippersmom

      I just read a post elsewhere that stated $4.5M was actually leftover funds from his Senate campaign that he gave to the state party, and the party in turn donated to his Presidential campaign. We were advised to watch the FEC transactions for the first quarter when they are published (which should be next month) and we will see the evidence of the cash flow.

      Reply
    5. Phacops

      And then there is his blatantly stupid and profoundly ignorant statement about Medicare for All: “I’m no longer sure that that’s the fastest way to get there.” The neoliberal rallying cry of “no we can’t.”

      in 1965, LBJ signed HR 6675 and in 1966 coverage took effect, with Harry Truman getting the first Medicare card in recognition that during his administration he pushed for universal healthcare. I believe that bill was only about a dozen pages! Implementation was through HHS issuing guidance documents and setting up the very efficient and effective federal management.

      Compare that to the overly complex ACA which began a feeding frenzy of insurance corporations, the medical care industry, and supporting industries, none of which actually resulted in effective healthcare.

      I have not seen where the authors of modern American healthcare are qualified to shine the shoes of men like Truman or Johnson, especially a nobody like O’Rourke.

      Reply
      1. Carl

        Translation of the Beto quote: “I’d rather more folks continue to die so I can service the big donors.”

        Reply
  2. Laughingsong

    ‘ writes: “Just digging out from under 15” in a place where 1” is news.” Builds character!‘

    Gee, Lambert, I didn’t know you were actually Calvin’s Dad!
    :-)

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Good that their rooting them out but this barely scratches the surface of the infestation:

      “FBI warned of white supremacists in law enforcement 10 years ago. Has anything changed?”
      https://www.pbs.org/newshour/amp/nation/fbi-white-supremacists-in-law-enforcement

      “One in four troops sees white nationalism in the ranks”
      https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2017/10/23/military-times-poll-one-in-four-troops-sees-white-nationalism-in-the-ranks/

      Infiltrations of local governments:
      https://truthout.org/articles/white-supremacists-are-infiltrating-the-gop-from-the-ground-up/

      Reply
      1. RWood

        Somewhere on Dennis Bernstein’s Flashpoints program, during 2017, after Bernstein had read John Pilger’s then-recent “The Killing of History” about the Ken Burns “documentary” of the American Invasion of Viet Nam, and Bernstein was interviewing Pilger about this, Pilger said that there were identifiable groups and leaders of racist Viet Vets who returned to the US and who were effectual in turning the NRA into a more rightward political organization. I believe that the NRA is now headed by Oliver North.

        The nature of the most repressive (at least because the largest) racist organization extant will remain secret to those who are unable or unwilling to know history.

        http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/47871.htm

        Reply
      2. Allegorio

        This is even more ominous when Trump tweeted that the police and army were on his side. Pompeo tweeted that the threat to US security in Venezuela was not Maduro but socialism. What happens when “socialist” Senator Sanders is elected President?

        Reply
  3. Mark Gisleson

    I was still working in a tire factory when Alien came out. It and Sean Connery’s Outland were the best blue collar SF I’d ever seen. Dirt and rust in space!

    Reply
    1. Carl

      Re: Alien
      Definitely one of Ridley Scott’s better films, which he followed up with the ultimate sci-fi masterpiece, Blade Runner. Although it’s got a few groaner suspense cliches (that stupid cat, for example), the “chest-buster” scene is one of the most dramatic in modern film, on a par with the horse’s head scene in The Godfather.

      Reply
          1. Chuck T

            Therefore was a podcast a few years back the examined the film (Alien) one minute at a time per 30 minute episode. It was already my favourite film ever, but my appreciation grew 10 fold after the insights I gained from the podcast. Alien Minute it was called.

            To suggest Aliens is better is blasphemy and do say so publicly should draw ridicule and scorn.

            Reply
        1. Carl

          Cameron definitely enlarged the original in almost every way possible. It does have some excellent supporting actors and quite a few memorable lines, e.g. “I may be synthetic, but I’m not stupid…”

          Reply
    2. Rhondda

      Alien is an homage to Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires. (No actual vampires, it’s a metaphor.)

      If you’re a fan and haven’t seen Bava’s film, give yourself a gift! It’s pretty darn scary…and it has a delightful twist at the end…

      Reply
        1. Rhondda

          O deus no! You taunt me a second time, you naughty Rev. Planet of the Vampires is a good movie — thoughtful, even — and there’s no person in it whose name has “ice” in it at all. LOL

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            “Ghosts of Mars” was a crappy film anyway. I’ll have to catch up with “Planet of the Vampires”. I’ve seen a coupla Italian scifi films from this era and they weren’t bad.

            Reply
            1. RWood

              I’d say hearing the soundtrack of “Forbidden Planet” as the good doctor realizes the climax is frightening enough.
              Something of the nature of our portent.

              Reply
  4. Chris Cosmos

    I recommend viewing and thinking about rebellion as stated in this “On Contact” show hosted by Chris Hedges. I notice there’s not much interest in climate change as THE major issue of our time on the left. I fail to understand why this is considering the science and the risk we are facing which is that, as far as we know from climate science (and I’ve followed the issue for over thirty years) we are facing the end of our civilization until we act very soon. The issue, for some who comment here, is that they don’t trust the science–but here’s my problem with that–what if you’re wrong? Even if the science is very far off and they’ve missed some mechanism we haven’t discovered there that will bring the earth into a healthy (for us) homeostasis. Anyone who know anything about risk analysis should know that we have to look at the consequences of doing nothing which is basically and has been US policy since this issue came to the forefront several decades ago. We need active nonviolent rebellion to shut down the system as described in the video.

    Reply
    1. zagonostra

      “I notice there’s not much interest in climate change as THE major issue of our time on the left. I fail to understand why this…”

      Well, one reason I would posit is that it’s hard to focus the mind on decades into the future when you can’t make rent, aging parents need your help, children need your help, all your costs are going up, you’re doing everything in your power to keep you’re head above water, you work at an insecure job where you can’t stand your boss, etc…

      You need a citizenry that isn’t stretched to the breaking point so that it can focus on concerns like climate change…first thing first – get the depraved crazies out of positions of power and then press on the brakes with everything you got and turn the wheel away from the cliff…

      Reply
      1. Geo

        Agreed. Add to that the idea that our individual contributions mean so little to the bigger picture. My little compost pile, recycling, and carbon-conscious consumption has about as much impact on the situation as a mosquito against a whale. And, it’s more than obvious that the will of the people has barely any impact on legislation (as studies prove) so the feeling of impotency on the issue fuels an apathy amongst many I know.

        Reply
        1. Rhondda

          Sigh. Yes, our efforts do seem to mean so little. And it’s like what my mom calls “stringing beads without a knot.” Now that I know (thanks, NC) about the issues re recycling, especially mixed paper and plastic, having “nowhere to go” — I have doubled down on trying to be a low-waste household. Buy in bulk. Bake your own bread. Soak those beans. Etc. But family blog it! It doesn’t seem to matter if I try and limit what I bring in — the mail funnels in a gazillion adverts and beggings for moolah. All those ‘progressive’ orgs I no longer believe in still have me on their damnable lists and every day I stand here shredding ‘mixed paper’ and deciding what can be composted on site. Sigh and sigh again.

          Well, at least I have a house to stand in and a yard to compost in. Count your blessings.

          Reply
      2. Chris Cosmos

        Bull. The future? The future is now–the effects are upon us already or will be shortly not in decades. Also, the average left-winger usually does not face those kinds of pressures or only a bit. It is the leadership of the left-intellectual that I’m attacking here. As for the people who are poor–their enemy is the corporate elite and most working class people I know have some interest in the future of their children and would respond in doing something about the reptilian criminals who run the USA. Again, you either go with the science or put your head in the sand and cross your fingers. I’ve never seen such mass immorality even at the height of the conflict in Vietnam. Even the right wingers of that era would have done something if they science showed it was required.

        Reply
        1. jrs

          The average left winger does not face personal economic survival pressures? Really? Aren’t those widespread these days?

          There are degrees of course, there is being unemployed but hoping for work if they look diligently for a year (what it tends to take) and managing in the meantime, there is fear of not affording healthcare, there is not knowing how to afford a newer car if the 15 year old one gives up the ghost, and then there is not having $400 for a minor car expense, and there is unable to make rent and looking homelessness straight in the eye, and they aren’t all equally bad (generally homelessness is the worst).

          But what leftists do you mean? Academia? It’s more than half adjuncts living hand to mouth now. Those who have more privilege than that in academia have been bought and sold almost entirely, they paid for that privilege see … with their souls, don’t rock the boat.

          I think there is space to think about one’s personal survival and the world actually. Yes I do unless one’s personal situation is that dire (homelessness, death etc.). But I don’t deny people are pushed hard.

          Reply
          1. Chris Cosmos

            I’m certainly on the edge as a small business owner. Everything my wife and I had has gone into it and the returns, financially, are sparse–but we love it and feel we are providing unique and necessarily services and so on. I’ve seen real poverty in Africa and I parts of the USA–actually an hour to hour and a half from me in parts of rural South Carolina that would stun most people. And yes, our standard of living right, left, or center has gone down steadily since the 1970s. But the issue of climate can bring all classes and political points of view together because the policies required to help this problem get solved all involve cooperation, connection with community, and a more convivial lifestyle like spending less time in traffic–we need a dramatically different way of living that involves more parties, more connection more conviviality. It is capitalism’s alienation, now becoming very toxic both the environment and individuals, that is the foundation of this perverse need to consume mass quantities and to use utterly absurd technologies to get the things we need. So climate-change activism equals the class struggle against the bosses for me. Yes, life is hard–but the reason it is hard is because we refuse to share, we refuse to help our friend or our neighbor, or to take a chance and start a business to take markets away from the predatory corporations. Only through community action can we address both economic and environmental issues.

            Reply
            1. epynonymous

              I completely agree, but I’m finding it hard to speak without raising all these shibboleths (my new pocket name for these scape goats, scary facts, and other “identity politics” issues.)

              I’m thinking the issue is rooted in alot, but I’m more specifically thinking about the drive to be right and the urge to be the same.

              To try and get specific, in regards to all of the above, is global warming. You find two (and aside from the occasional “rogue individual”) and only two modes of thought.

              Can’t both bee seen as conspiracy theories, for lack of a better term.

              Reply
        2. Summer

          The way to save the people in the future would be to show the ability to save people in the here and now. Everything done that helps people facing the effects of environmental degradation now also helps those in the future.

          But the attachment to the abstract fears about the future (when this is happening now – chemicals and pollution killing) points to more troubling psychological issues. There is more about the future that scares people than climate change. Climate change is a stand in for numerous fears.

          There is not going to be some perfect environment in the future, now has to be saved more than ever.

          Reply
          1. Chris Cosmos

            Like what in the future is scarier than positive feedback loops kicking in? Maybe nuclear war…what else?

            Reply
            1. Summer

              All of that is now.

              Nuclear war can happen before the end of the day. The nukes exist now. The feedback loops exist now.

              Reply
    2. CanCyn

      Chris C @ 2:22pm. I don’t see much climate change scepticism on NC, not sure where you’re getting that. Most folks seem to understand that will, political and otherwise, is the only thing stopping us from trying to turn the ship. And most understand whether we have 10 years or 100 years, it is still a good idea to prioritize the environment and sustainability.
      Frankly, I’m at the point where I think we need some violent rebellion!

      Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        If you read my post I said that it is not THE issue on the left. It ought to be–that’s all I’m saying. And I also claim that the left-intellectuals have failed to address this issue. I mean here we are facing potentially the end of civilization and everyone here is meandering on the intricacies of Brexit?

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          I dunno. We all heard about AOC and figured (ok, I figured but tell me you weren’t surprised) that she would be all “women this” and “poor that”, which would be fair enough– yet the first and still biggest hammer she hit the establishment with was the Green New Deal.

          So not sure why you think it’s being ignored? I would say that finally it isn’t.

          Reply
        2. Bruce F

          “I mean here we are facing potentially the end of civilization and everyone here is meandering on the intricacies of Brexit?”

          This mismatch confuses (enrages?) me too. Usually I skip over the stories/comments that I consider “irrelevant”. Better for my blood pressure.

          Reply
        3. jrs

          Green New Deal attempts to make it the issue on the left and is maybe the best start. It’s a place to start to make it so (I also think carbon taxes make sense as well – so I don’t think GND is comprehensive enough, but it is broad).

          I mean it’s not going to be everyone’s issue, for instance the current homeless are still homeless climate change or not (sure there may be people made homeless by that also), so it’s not the only issue, but GND attempts at unity.

          Reply
        4. shinola

          “… we are facing potentially the end of civilization…”

          That should probably be …civilization “as we know it”. Some sort of “Mad Max” style future could very well be in store.

          Although, is destroying “civilization” as we now know it really such a bad thing?

          Reply
          1. Chris Cosmos

            Yes, it is a bad thing. Because this civilization has produced everything we need to get out of this dilemma. All the technologies are here ready to go. The people who survive the catastrophe will be the members of government, high military officers, assorted billionaires who have their underground cities to stay in. Other rich a-holes are building their own bunkers as I write this so yes, sure, this will be future dominated by psychopaths–should be interesting.

            Reply
            1. Summer

              “All the technologies are here ready to go..”

              Isn’t that a good part of how we got here?

              Just because you can, should you? Really? All right now immediately?
              People keep acting like tech exists in some vacuum and any problem can be solved with more tech…damn theconsequences.

              Reply
              1. Grebo

                I don’t believe there is any natural place on this planet where a naked, empty-headed human could survive more than a week.

                Technology is not just what we do, it is what we are. We must replace harmful tech with helpful tech. There is no other choice but extinction.

                Reply
                1. polecat

                  I think going retrograde might be in order, at least to some extent. Not everything that’s considred ‘progress’ is worth the negative ‘externalities’ .. unintended or otherwise.

                  Reply
                  1. Grebo

                    Yes, a few of us could continue at the level of the Khoisan, maybe even the Amish, and wait for the Sun to go out.

                    That is still the road to extinction, albeit a much longer one.

                    That’s not to say there aren’t some things we need to stop doing, by whatever means. But we must continue improving our technology even if we decide some of it is better left on the shelf.

                    Reply
            2. Fiery Hunt

              There isn’t a “technology ” that exists that can override human nature. People in charge of what needs to change wont allow change because it would adversely affect their status and self-image.

              Climate change is NOT THE ISSUE.

              People are.

              Hence, changing our system, economically and politically is THE ONLY ISSUE.
              Handwringing about “science” or “technology ” or Hell, even “trying to be Green” is to misunderstand the problem.

              Do what one can to live according to a more ethical and moral belief system and accept life for what it is.

              Where’s Prime Beef when we need him/her?

              Reply
            3. dcrane

              We’re all carrying the genes of the previous generations’ psychopaths (by that definition). Things make a bit more sense when that is taken into account.

              Reply
        5. pebird

          If your interest is in reducing CO2 as soon as possible, you should be rooting for a hard Brexit come March 29th.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Yes, the biggest, most immediate impact on carbon releases would be a Total Financial Collapse. Fracking, for one example, would come to a sudden stop. A lot would.

            Needless to say, this is not the most desirable way to do it. But it’s probably the most effective and the quickest – and quite likely to happen, regardless.

            Reply
          2. Chuck T

            If one subscribes to the currently held concensus that the universe is open and will some day experience heat death, then all is moot.

            Regardless, I have serious doubts that we will have achieved anywhere near the technology required to permanently sustain life off world before we kill ourselves. And I’m certain that is a good thing as our species doesn’t deserve to exist elsewhere if we can’t preserve this paradise.

            It would seem that our best case scenario is to follow the lead of the aboriginals or at minimum Amish/Mennonites (well some of their lead – Amish/Mennonite society is not a good model for equality) and ride it out on Earth for as long as possible. All things must end, but it would be nice to do so with grace.

            Reply
      2. Partyless Poster

        Now that high schoolers (who have the most to lose) are doing walkout protests, it will be interesting to see what they do when they get ignored completely.
        I’ve always thought the climate crises was very generational since with the enormity of the challenge its easier for older folk to just think they wont be around anyway.
        Young people don’t have that option, so I think its only a matter of time before there’s
        “violent rebellion”

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          The most obvious option is sabotage of carbon-releasing technology. Tricky, not to make the problem worse in the project, but shutting off pipelines would be a useful option. An indirect attack that grounds aircraft would be effective (I don’t fly a lot); haven’t those already happened a couple of times? 737 MAX, anybody? Or the IT glitch that shut down a whole airline a while ago?

          Reply
    3. Sanxi

      Sorry, you either believe in science or you don’t. No climate about it. IPCC was about that which was beyond all doubt – n=10¹⁸. As I kept saying reality is that which believes in you, when you no longer believe in it. Image the “The Road” is about a world out of balance poetry and you’ll have an idea of the now unstoppable reality we face.

      Reply
      1. Temporarily Sane

        Framing science as a belief is part of the problem. Science is not a crypto religion that one can choose to “believe in” (or not). More than anything science is a pretty reliable method of inquiry that provides a model for understanding many aspects of the universe. It is not infallible or a panacea that can magically solve our problems. There is also a lot science cannot help us with, e.g. human relationships and morality.

        It is actually quite chilling to hear self-styled voices of reason and rationality like Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett talk about how science can help us derive a “natural” moral code which can then be used to derive a “scientific” system of government. It’s like these people have never heard of cognitive biases or maybe they think they are too smart to deceive themselves. Both the Nazis and Stalinists were great believers in science and “Enlightenment values” too. People like Harris and the “race and IQ” crowd are a step away from advocating eugenics.

        As for climate change, neoliberal capitalism does not contain any built in mechanisms for grand projects if they are not geared towards private profit. The entire system has to be changed or nothing of substance will ever change. Lesser evilism, incrementalism and appeals to “science” really are just swapping deck chairs on the Titanic.

        I think the overarching problem we face is the collective inability to imagine how a country or a world without capitalism would look like and function. It is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is the end of capitalism and the result is a pathological stagnation that is giving rise to all kinds of crackpots spewing toxic nonsense they pass off as “solutions.”

        Reply
    4. makesi

      I was with a group of 8 friends, all in the labor movement or progressive legal worlds, the other night. We were talking about climate as an issue and only myself and one other person (the lawyer) said that we fully believed that it is real and a crisis. I was astounded. Everyone else basically believed it, thought campaigning on it was strategically good, and hated the fossil fuel industry with deep passion–but didn’t feel the existential threat of climate change it in their bones, so to speak. We’re all in our early to mid-thirties, and this is the first time that I’ve thought that our generation might be too old for this fight. Hope not!

      Reply
      1. marieann

        I find that when I mention in conversation about the threat of climate change everyone nods muttering “yes it’s terrible” and continues on with TV talk or shopping excitement.

        And my cohort is a lot older so there is a really good chance none of us will be around at the end.

        Your group of friends in their 30’s will be in the thick of it, with their children, one would wonder why there is not more concern

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          Long timeline I guess–the high school kids sure get it! And their elders like AOC at least do too, who put elder elders (like me) to shame. The kids are shaming the oligarchs and their enablers who don’t care what people want or the planet needs. We elderly are proven hopeless, and they still have rage if not hope. I’ll vote with ’em.

          Reply
        2. Summer

          “I find that when I mention in conversation about the threat of climate change everyone nods muttering “yes it’s terrible” and continues on with TV talk or shopping excitement.”

          When they hear it discussed on TV, for all the doom, the networks break out into a smile and cut to commericial break…cars, planes, chemical companies, oil companies.

          Consider it a conditioned response.

          Reply
        3. Jeff W

          …everyone nods muttering “yes it’s terrible” and continues on with TV talk or shopping excitement.

          Deferred adverse consequences + denial + no readily-available behavior that any one “regular” individual (or small group of individuals) can take that will reliably affect the problem

          Reply
    5. tegnost

      begging the question is a logical fallacy…
      https://grammarist.com/rhetoric/begging-the-question-fallacy/

      “The issue, for some who comment here, is that they don’t trust the science–but here’s my problem with that–what if you’re wrong?”

      here you assume the truth that some here don’t trust science. You should at least provide several examples because the word “some” implies a number greater than one, at least…

      Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        I gave my example. If you believe the science then the climate issue should pretty much crowd out other concerns. Or, these other concerns need to be seen with the issue of the environment in the background. Peace and conviviality are critical to combating environmental degradation because in order to deal with the issue we need to stop fighting among ourselves and not try to cure the alienation we feel by further cocooning ourselves into our private world. Only connection with others, only the joys of comradeship will move us further along. If, as I say, climate change is the overriding issue of our time then why is it barely mentioned here? I get it, it’s hard to think about–as someone says it’s major consequences seem to be in the future (of course that isn’t true) and so on.

        Reply
        1. tegnost

          you gave an example of a specific or cadre of climate denial commenters on NC? I missed it. Who are the people here who don’t trust the science? Your moral outrage is built on a false assumption.

          Reply
        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Unconvinced that climate is the top-level rallying issue, even if you do think it is the most pressing problem. The struggle is how to get power. To me climate worries many but in Maslow’s Reverse Hierarchy of Want it’s below health care, cost of living/wages, employment insecurity, and an end to the absolutely out-of-control wars.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think the struggle for hospitable areas and fertile places becomes more fierce with the looming climate change.

            Thus, we see the races to dominate AI and/or hypersonic weapons, among other things. Nations are reacting, and not in a good way.

            Reply
            1. RWood

              And meanwhile:

              a shady referent:
              https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-14/scientists-will-begin-geoengineering-experiment-and-try-block-sun

              but with some backup:

              It is likely that the engineering and science flights will take place in New Mexico. But we have not scheduled dates for engineering or science flights, as it is contingent on a governance process, including the appointment of an independent advisory committee, that will help us determine when and if it would be appropriate to conduct the experiment. The schedule and flight location also depend on a process that involves engineering development and balloon availability. We will update this page when we determine a definite schedule and location. You can request notification by signing up to this email link.
              (which “email link” copies as this: wtf?)
              https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfsaHg3ZFtAaG968Y3uNjj56SGO9ZuQNB4NaxH3ZgiBlcPEZQ/viewform?usp=sf_link.

              https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/keutschgroup/scopex

              Reply
    1. Geo

      Call me cynical and possibly politically incorrect but it seems to me this is brilliant messaging by Fox. From the side of optics Brazile has purple hair, is overweight and black which sets her apart from their typical females that look more conventionally attractive, and fits more with the stereotypical image the right has of the “urban” demographic they perceive as “welfare queens”.

      On the political side, Brazile has been one of the stronger forces of polarization for the Dems from her time at the DNC to her brief accusations of rigging the primaries. So, they have a Democrat that is a useful tool for damaging the Democratic Party (as if they need help on that front).

      As for why Brazile would join Fox? Doubtful it’s for the reasons Kucinich did. Most likely, after her time at CNN ended in fiasco and she pissed off the Clinton camp by saying they rigged things, thereby ending any chance of working for MSNBC, this was the only paycheck she could get.

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        whose convention, pal? and if Donna Brazile looks like a “welfare queen” to you, you really don’t get out much…

        Reply
        1. Geo

          Are you really saying the hiring of onscreen females at Fox isn’t driven by conventional beauty standards?

          Also, many the race-baiting memes in my inbox from rightwing friends of my father (he send them for me to debunk) seem to play on the image of overweight black women as “moochers” so, while you and I may not feel that way, to discount Fox News for being craven enough to push that stereotype is giving them more credit than they deserve. Name another plus-size female headliner at that Network?

          Again, this is just my theory but I fully expect Fox to pick their Democrats for the sole purpose of perpetuating rightwing narratives about them, not to offer up thoughtful debate on the validity of Democratic principles.

          Reply
      2. Big Tap

        After her book criticized Hillary Clinton this is probably her best employment option. The Clinton people still have great sway in the party and their networks weren’t going to hire her particularly CNN. She has helped unintentionally Republicans since 1988 win elections. Donna Brazile is the female Bob Shrum in that aspect.

        Reply
    1. neo-realist

      More like how would Harris play in Waukesha,Wisconsin? Dayton, OH?, Scranton, PA?, Lansing, MI? Honest to goodness battleground areas? How will her thin platitudes play?

      Reply
  5. Samuel Conner

    re: Pollinators

    The aspirational 1000 swamp milkweed seedlings project is stalled at 15 germinated (of ~500 seeds that have finished their first round of cold treatment; this is 3%, consistent with last year’s much smaller experiment with rare purple milkweed). So the first batch of seeds is back into the refrigerator to simulate another cold season. I expect that some will germinate on the 2nd round and so on.

    This is a headache for small return and this page (p.2 under “Establishment”)

    https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_asin.pdf

    asserts that multiple prolonged very hot soaks of unstratified seeds can increase the germination rate to 50%. That is very appealing.

    I’ll rig a slow cooker to a thermostatted outlet and see if I can trick a fresh batch of seeds into more whole-hearted germination.

    For any who may want to jump start the butterfly- and hummingbird-attracting plant Tithonia by germinating seeds in warm damp paper towel, check your seeds daily starting 12-16 hours after you put them in these conditions. On my first trial of this, I did not check until 2 days after starting, and nearly all the seeds had germinated — of which nearly all had proceeded to rot. On the 2nd try, about half germinated after about 20 hours and seem to be thriving with prompt transplantation to starter medium; most of the rest germinated on the 2nd day after starting. 90% viable germinated seedlings versus 2% on the first try.

    Reply
    1. katenka

      Hooray and good luck with your milkweeding, and even if fifteen plants is all you get this year, that’s nothing to sniff at! As long as milkweed doesn’t get actively poisoned/repeatedly interfered with it is, heh, fairly aggressive and good at spreading through root as well as seed. Your fifteen plants can start fifteen colonies, and they’ll also of course produce ridiculous amounts of seed.

      My experience is with common milkweed (syriaca) rather than swamp milkweed; I’m assuming they behave similarly. Anyway, there is a park right next to my community garden that had (and has) a nice little milkweed patch; the park district is really good about leaving it alone and not poisoning things in general. Three years ago I took a couple ripe pods from the patch, busted them open in the garden, and let the seeds fly wherever they wanted. The next year, we had a few milkweeds sprout. Everyone was super excited and solicitous of them! Last year, they were EVERYWHERE — everyone still loves them, and the incredible number of insects that glom onto them, but the plants are no longer a rarity, and it is fine to remove them where they are not wanted, because there is JUST SO MUCH (we have one plot the milkweed particularly loves, so we let them have it; everywhere else, it’s hit or miss). It was far fewer than fifteen plants that popped up in the first year they appeared — there were just two in spring, and then another four appeared lazily one by one over time, all the way through summer. (Every fall now, gardeners take some of our milkweed seeds and hand them around to interested friends/family. If there’s time to do so, this year I’m planning to do this in a little more organized fashion, going around the neighborhood and offering the seeds to people who happen to be nearby, whether any of the gardeners know them already or not!)

      Reply
    2. steve

      I’ve been encouraging Asclepias tuberosa in my area, it’s common here and does well, plus it’s proven to be a reliable reseeder. It is much liked by a variety of pollinators but I have two other natives, Joe Pye Weed and Mountain Mint, that beat it for first and second place in the most visited/busy category of pollinator popularity.

      Best of luck on your Milkweed endeavors.

      Reply
      1. Eureka Springs

        Tuberosa is my favorite as well. A couple of years ago a neighbors horse got loose and ate all of mine as they were beginning to bloom, down to the nub. Next year they were back in greater numbers.

        Have much seed saved for spreading this year.

        Reply
    3. Peter VE

      We have milkweed in our community garden. We leave it be around the edges, but try to keep it from taking over all the beds. It’s a vain battle: once it’s in, it’s there forever. Don’t worry if not too many seeds germinate: once one plant is established, it’ll be there a long time.

      Reply
    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      If you still have seeds to work with, or can get more seeds to work with, have you considered putting some of them on the surface of a plot of soil outside where you would like some milkweeds to be? Perhaps if the seeds lie out there all winter as they do “in nature” after being released from milkweed pods and landing somewhere, some of them might find their stratification requirement satisfied and sprout and grow in the spring.. Perhaps scatter a little bit of fine-cut plant-bits and debris over them for a little protection.

      Reply
        1. polecat

          “Because if even one those things get down here, then THIS .. all this stuff you think is Important .. well you can kiss it all goodbye !”

          Reply
  6. PKMKII

    File under Internet of FAMILY BLOG: Residents unhappy they have to use app to get into Manhattan building; sue their landlord

    But the lawyer representing the residents who’ve filed a suit against landlord Shai Bernstein says the app is a harassment tactic to force out rent-regulated tenants.

    “[It’s] an attempt to surveil the tenants by forcing them to use a electronic key system that includes GPS function that tracks their whereabouts and requires them to provide sensitive conditional personal information to use the system,” the lawyer said in a statement.

    How long before one of these systems gets hacked? At least with an old-fashioned attempted break-in, it’s pretty obvious if someone is trying to pick the building door’s lock. If you’ve hacked the smart door, well then you look like any other resident coming in via their smartphone.

    Reply
    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      Went to a friend’s house on Saturday night. He has the whole house controllable via his computer including the mouse trap! He gets notice when there is a victim, but wife has to empty the trap.

      Reply
    2. Geo

      That was actually a key plot point in the television series “Mr. Robot” – the only tv show I’m addicted to. It’s pretty brilliant on every level from technical craftsmanship and artistry to social and political commentary.

      They really showcased the danger of “smart” security and devices in that show. Of course, it’s just a tv show, but a smart one in the traditional meaning of the word.

      Reply
  7. Summer

    Re: “I saw Alien on the last long-haul I was on. Holy moly, was it terrifying (and also brilliant (and dystopian (and a corporate hellscape. It might as well have been titled Neoliberals in Space…”

    The entire series is about a dystopian corporate future. The last installment Alien: Covenent even lets you know colonization fantasies die hard.
    Commenters to the trailer on YouTube made an observation similiar to yours: Liberals In Space…

    Note:

    Reply
  8. Joe Well

    I know Lambert is a William Gibson fan. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on his upcoming, much-delayed novel which has now been pushed back to September after having been pushed back to April.

    Reply
  9. Pat

    For some of us THE issue is actual healthcare, largely because it is also urgent, we already know how to do it and we can accomplish it within the next couple of years, most of it in a matter of months. And I can think of a few other items that are urgent and need to be addressed.

    Unfortunately that there are many items that are priorities speaks volumes about what our governments priorities have been and the crime that was allowed. I am not Pooh poohing your order of priority. Just pointing out we are family blogged on multiple fronts.

    Reply
    1. IowanX

      Agreed. I was on Rt. 7 heading to Baileys Crossroads (if you know the DC area). Red light, of course, & the car in the next lane was honkin’ & wavin’, so I rolled down my window. Turns out they were happy to see the Medicare for All bumper sticker the Bernie people had mailed me awhile back! I had put it on top of my Bernie 2016 sticker.

      Reply
      1. Kokuanani

        My car still sports its “Bernie 2016” sticker. Glad to know how to get an up-dated one to accompany it. Thanks. [DC area as well.]

        Reply
  10. allan

    No matter how bad you think Susan Collins is, the DSCC is worse:

    Only challenger to Susan Collins collecting cans and bottles to fund campaign [Sun Journal]

    The only active opponent facing Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is hoping to raise money for her campaign with a can and bottle drive.

    Danielle Ravyn VanHelsing, an independent from Sangerville, said Monday she is “trying to think outside the box” for ways to fund her bid to unseat Collins in 2020.

    VanHelsing said she put out a call for supporters to collect cans and bottles to fund her campaign in part because it fits with her pro-environment agenda.

    Plus, she said, “Maine is disgusting after winter” so anything people can do to clean up is admirable. …

    Why there isn’t a viable serious candidate pounding Collins for her faux-centrism is a mystery
    whose answer is known only to DSCC chair and faux-progressive Chris Van Hollen.

    Reply
  11. BobWhite

    2 new recalls… this time injection drugs:
    (my emphasis)

    Hospira, Inc., a Pfizer company, is voluntarily recalling 8.4% Sodium Bicarbonate Injection USP, 50 mEq/50 mL (1 mEq/mL), to the Hospital/Institution level. The recall was initiated due to the presence of particulate matter, confirmed as glass.
    More here…

    And:
    Mylan Institutional LLC is conducting a voluntary nationwide recall of two lots of Levoleucovorin Injection, 250 mg/25 mL to the consumer/user level. The Levoleucovorin Injection is being recalled due to the presence of particulate matter identified as copper salts.
    More here…

    Rubber in chicken nuggets is bad, but glass in an injectable could be deadly serious…

    Reply
  12. fnx

    “in space, no one can hear you scream”

    If my memory is correct, that was the publicity for Alien when it came out and was pretty dang scary to a teenager!

    Reply
  13. Carey

    I recently got this Penguin 2011 edition of Karl Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party, with an introduction by the late Marshall Berman (one of my main reasons for buying this edition), and thought I’d mention it here:

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8805658-the-communist-manifesto

    It has introductions from seven previous 19th century editions, which are helpful to
    to me for context, and a nifty cover, too, for those who like books-in-themselves.
    No financial interest, etc.

    Reply
  14. richard

    If you’re in the mood for a laugh, get this: Amy Klobuchar credits her poor treatment of staff to Putin. Jimmy, Steph and Ron are pretty funny in this one.

    Reply

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