Links 3/1/19

Dear patient readers,

There has been an upsurge of readers using the term “ad hominem” and treating it as a cudgel. “Ad hominem” does not mean being caustic about crappy reasoning or dubious evidence. An ad hominem attack is when the personal assault is a premise of the argument, like calling Sanders supporters Bernie Bros or depicting people who want a Green New Deal as children who want rainbows and unicorns. The critical distinction is that an ad hominem argument is meant to avoid discussing an issue on its merits.

People sometimes include caustic personal attacks with arguments about the positions their opponents have taken. Even a personal attack is NOT ad hominem if it is decoration and not the basis for rebutting what someone has said. For instance, many readers loved a recent Caitlin Johnstone dig about Diane Feinstein:

Feinstein is 85 and looks like she’s held together by nothing but formaldehyde, contempt for the working class, and a wig.

But Johnstone didn’t argue that Feinstein was off base because she has too much plastic surgery and a bad rug (which would be ad hom) but because she is a politician who represents only a narrow slice of her constituency, and is so rich she is removed from most voters. This was the balance of the para and the next para:

She is also worth an estimated 94 million dollars and married to a billionaire, and when she took office in 1992 news networks were running segments about the internet that looked like this:

So it is quite believable that she has been so pervasively cocooned within an elitist beltway echo chamber that she hadn’t the faintest inkling how ordinary people have been communicating with each other online for years, nor the curiosity to find out. But what does that tell you about the kind of life US senators live, and how distant they are from the citizenry whose interests they’re meant to be advancing?

In other words, Johnstone is tying Feinstein’s actions (her dogged support of the military-surveillance complex, her pandering to the young climate change activists, and then switching into the fallback of trying to coopt one with the offer of an internship) as predictable given how she is situated.

So we reluctantly moderating all comments that use “ad hominem” and freeing only those that use the term properly. So please go look at Wikipedia if you need a refresher. We are serious about the standards of discourse. And don’t test us by trying to evade this notice by using “ad hom” or some other variant. We will rip the comment out even if the usage was correct for trying to evade our policy and put offenders in moderation.

US: Family pug seized by town over unpaid debts and sold on eBay BBC

André Previn dies at the age of 89 BBC. EM: “Link to YouTube of the now-legendary ‘Andrew Preview’ sketch described in the Beeb obit;

Booker prize: Silicon Valley billionaire takes over as new sponsor Guardian (J-LS). Lovely.

What is the ‘Book of Changes’? Big Think (David L)

The Monster Pell Has Been Caged At Last Caitlin Johnstone. Chuck L: “The Cardinal Pell case is personal for Caitlin.”

University of California boycotts publishing giant Elsevier over journal costs and open access Science Magazine (David L)

$200 Million Dollars a Year Could Reverse Climate Change, Says Wave Energy Pioneer BBC

Breakdowns in Air Quality Environmental Integrity (resilc)

Americans Are Literally Flushing Canada’s Forests Down the Toilet Motherboard (resilc)

US Bars Lithium-ion Batteries From Passenger Aircraft Cargo CNET

Department of Energy moves forward with controversial test reactor Science Magazine (David L)

What the hell is a blockchain phone—and do I need one? MIT Technology Review (David L)


Mother discovers, then destroys Chinese high school student’s handwriting robot Boing Boing

North Korea

Trump Sticks To Sanctions – U.S., North Korea Summit Fails – Updated Moon of Alabama. NKorea wanted the US to stick to its previously agreed sequence of steps..which the US had effectively repudiated as soon as the ink was dry by demanding NK disarm without the US performing its side first, per its commitment. So the formalization of the retrade via the summit not going anywhere is no surprise. What is a surprise is that Trump chose to make that obvious.

Trump defends Kim over US student’s death BBC. Kim not knowing is plausible, but that does not absolve him of responsibility.

Kim Jong-un executes two North Korea officials ‘using anti-aircraft gun’ Independent

House Dems Offer Resolution Calling for End to Korean War Antiwar (resilc)

Kashmir, Korea, Venezuela, Iran: hot, cold, hybrid war Asia Times (J-LS)

Pakistan to Release Captured Indian Pilot, Easing Tensions Wall Street Journal


Speculation mounts that May is planning a surprise vote on her deal next Wednesday Telegraph. If I read the opening section (all I can access) correctly, it is premised on Cox effectively saying that the UK being able to go to an arbiter is tantamount to approval by the arbiter. Help me. This would really be “Everything is like CalPERS,” in this case, Matt Jacobs style lawyering being adopted in the UK.

Labour could let May’s Brexit deal pass in return for second referendum Guardian. Gah, a new unicorn.

Labour insiders cast doubt on second referendum shift Financial Times

GIBRALTAR ROW: Britain BLASTS Brussels and Spain over airport LAND GRAB Express

Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould: The scandal that could unseat Canada’s PM BBC. Above the fold.

New Cold War

No gas? No votes. Subsidy cuts imperil Ukraine leader’s reelection bid Reuters


It’s D-Day for Netanyahu as He Braces for Possible Indictment Bloomberg (resilc)

Netanyahu, unfazed by indictment, vows to be prime minister for years Jerusalem Post (resilc)

Iraqis Get Trial Date In Abu Ghraib Torture Lawsuit Against CACI Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Sell nuclear plants to the Saudis? Are you kidding? The Hill

Iran Exporting Biopharmaceuticals to 17 Countries IFP News

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

China is rushing facial and voice recognition tech for pigs. Here’s why. Boing Boing

JOHN KIRIAKOU: Neither Rain, Sleet, nor Snow Will Stop the Post Office From Spying on You ConsortiumNews (UserFriendly). One approach to this issue: my accountant has his mailing address as the return address on his pre-printed envelopes for clients.

Police in Canada Are Tracking People’s ‘Negative’ Behavior In a ‘Risk’ Database Motherboard (resilc)

From Bill B:

Good Morning New York Times,

Paul Mozur’s column, “Limiting Your Digital Footprints in a Surveillance State,” creates the impression that users can defend their privacy with a mobile app like Signal. Despite the reality that applications like Signal are, in fact, a beacon to security services that you’re doing something interesting which merits their attention.

Since 2011 domestic security spending in China has rivaled the military’s budget. Journalists may view Chinese authorities as somewhat incompetent, but the unravelling of Central Intelligence Agency operations in China from 2010 to 2012 offers a compelling counterexample. One C.I.A. source was killed in public. Right in front of his colleagues. This should serve as a potent reminder that in high risk scenarios Mozur’s approach borders on professional negligence.

The Russian military has recently banned smartphones. Thus highlighting an inconvenient truth: you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Meeting security objectives often entails sacrificing the convenience of technology.

Trump Transition

House panel seeks interview with Trump Organization exec after Cohen testimony The Hill

Trump: Cohen’s Testimony Cleared Me of Russian Collusion Daily Beast

Ivanka Trump’s blindness to her own privilege is rooted in a widely shared belief Quartz

The Michael Cohen Hearing Just Exploded With a Back-and-Forth About ‘a Racist Act’ Esquire

Republicans Sink Further Into Trump’s Cesspool New York Times. Resilc: “Nixon has still loved by 20+% at the end:

Senate Confirms Former Coal Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler To Lead EPA CNN. While you were busy being distracted by Cohen…


Exclusive: Inside Joe Biden’s campaign in waiting The Hill

As Biden weighs 2020 bid, Democrats ask: ‘Does he meet the moment?‘ Reuters. Resilc: “Go away and take the DNC geriatric squad with you.”

Puerto Rico emerges as 2020 campaign hotspot Politico. UserFriendly:

Oh boy. Love how they play Bernie’s support for DC statehood vs support for PR’s right to self determination as hypocrisy. I’m sure if it was even remotely feasible for DC to become it’s own country he’d support a plebacide there too.

Senator Sanders urges FDA to allow older versions of $375K drug Reuters (EM)

Musk Warns of Loss as Tesla Shuts Stores, Cuts Model 3 Cost Bloomberg

Tesla finally launches base Model 3 for $35,000 with shorter range and new interior Electrek. Shorter range? After we just found out that electric cars burn through their charge super fast when it’s cold outside? Good luck with that in the northern half of the US.

A Tesla Burned to a Crisp on a Vermont Lake. We Walked Out There and Found It. Popular Mechanics

Uber and Lyft to offer shares to drivers as part of IPOs Financial Times. Hoo boy.

Class Warfare

US Companies Put Record Number of Robots To Work in 2018 Reuters

Automation Is Coming for the Oil Jobs, Too Gizmodo

Anti-Amazon Fever Is Spreading, and Big Tech Companies Should Be Worried Vice (UserFriendly)

Prominent New Yorkers Are Trying To Get Amazon To Bring Back HQ2 CNET

Contingency Plans to Address the Bus Driver Shortage Pittsford School. Adam s:

I got the above message from our district today. While this may be a real issue for financially constrained communities, if you Google Pittsford, NY you’ll quickly realize it’s one of the most affluent communities in NYS north of West Chester County.

While I suspect it’s a blatant lie to strike fear into the town folks so that the pending tax increase (not yet announced) becomes community demanded to save the kids and the school. The fact is that the general concept as presented is crap! There are dozens of schools with bus drivers within 10 miles of us. If the wealthiest district can’t BUY those drivers away then something is wrong. The truth is that there is NOT a shortage of bus drivers for Pittsford, there is a shortage of willingness to pay for bus drivers in Pittsford.

Antidote du jour (crittermom):

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. allan

    “The Monster Pell Has Been Caged At Last”

    And those who chose to associate with him are monsters, too. From last May:

    Endangered EPA chief Scott Pruitt secretly dined in Rome with Catholic cardinal who is the most senior cleric
    ever to stand trial over allegations of child sex abuse
    [Daily Mail]

    Embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has another decision to answer for: dining at the Vatican last year with a Catholic cardinal who was under investigation
    for multiple allegations of child sex abuse.

    Cardinal George Pell ate with Pruitt, top EPA policy adviser Samantha Dravis and EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson on June 7, 2017, according to documents obtained by the Sierra Club, a progressive
    environmental group, through a Freedom Of Information Act demand.

    Leonard Leo, a lawyer with the conservative Federalist Society, also attended the dinner. Leo has been instrumental in vetting and choosing federal court nominees for the Trump administration, including Supreme Court Justice[s] Neil Gorsuch [and Brett Kavanaugh after the article was written]…

    Only the best people.

    1. edmondo

      There’s a senate seat up for election in Alabama in 2020. Maybe they were trying to recruit Cardinal Pell to run against Roy Moore in the primary?

    2. marieann

      That was a really sad post, it had me in tears. I keep thinking I cannot get more upset about these monsters and they keep upping their evil.

      I hope this is the the scandal that finishes it, but I won’t hold my breath

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        A descent into human depravity & yet another example reminding me of this :

        “I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never by conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil, struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.”
        ― Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

        1. Harry

          Did he write that before or after the Red Army had its 3 days without orders in Berlin?

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            Afterwards, as he was a frontline journalist with the Red Army & the book was based on thousands of interviews, from all participants that he came across including extermination camp staff. It has been a long time since I read the book & I cannot recall if the event you mention is included, but Vasily was generally very critical of much of the Soviet system, which is likely why he died before it was finally published in the 80’s.

            If you are referring to the rape of German women, then there is plenty of evidence if you care to look of similar if not as extensive behaviour from the Allies, not to mention the same accompanied by mass slaughter by the SS in places like Belarus.

            One of the main points of the work, is that war brings out the worst in all participants.

          2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            A longer reply disappeared so I will just state that Vasily would apply the above to mankind in general. Written post-war, but not published due to a ban imposed by the Soviet authorities till after his death in the eighties.

            1. Unna

              ― Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

              This is one of the greatest books I ever read. Thanks for reminding me of it again.

              1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                I am thinking of reading it again, but it almost feels as though I have to brace myself. The descent into the gas chamber chapter, is I think the most powerful & terrible thing that I have ever read – likely due to his interviews of those who operated them & the fact that his Mother made that journey into hell.

        2. Lukas Bauer

          Evil does not win by making it so that everyone stops being kind.

          Evil wins by making it so that everyone stops breathing, no matter how kind they may have been in life.

          And that is a goal that it can (and most likely will) achieve quite handily.

          First everyone suffers, innocent or not, with many kind people successfully adding to the suffering despite good intentions, then everybody dies, the end.

          Evil has to win only once.

    3. boz

      The CJ piece was important. Thanks for sharing.

      It is important for everyone to read, but particularly for faithful Catholics.

      The hypocrisy and hubris is very uncomfortable to have to process, and a lot of Catholics unfortunately choose not to struggle with the cognitive dissonance and simply hunker down.

      The RCC can be a force for good in the world, and many priests and religious do pour themselves out totally and wholly in the service of others.

      The terrible reality is that so many people have been driven away from the church and from Jesus because of the moral failure by so many in the hierarchy, with the apparent acquiescence of those in the pews.

      A great debt is owed by Catholics to all those reporting on and shining a light on the moral failure within the Church.

      That extends even to those who call for forcible disestablishment and dissolution, because it leaves no excuse for ignorance in the pews.

      1. Unna


        You’re a good guy and so I don’t know how you’re dealing with this. I can’t imagine the pain. The fate of the RCC most likely rests with people of good will like you.

        Regards, and why don’t you comment here more often?

        1. boz

          Thank you Unna

          It’s wonderful to be invited in – NC is a great community where one can have civil debate.

          Many contributors are much better informed than me, so I try to comment only when I have something useful to offer!

          Regards to you too!

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    I’m sorry, but if Bernie supports plebacide, I’m done with him. While there’s little doubt that plebacide is the secret policy of the 1%, I thought Bernie was better than that. ;)

    1. dcblogger

      Bernie is going to win us single payer healthcare. Speaking only for myself, that is my only issue.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        He’d better get with the House then, cuz the new Jayapal legislation is an improvement on his.

        And if you want him to win, then it’s gotta be our, not my, issue. As in other aspects of inequality matter, even if you personally happen to be in the sweet spot.

        I am, of course, a Bernie gal ;-)

      2. willf

        He’s making a joke on the typo pleba-cide vs. plebiscite. Doubtful that Sanders is in favor of killing the plebs.

    2. ewmayer

      Hmmm, plebacide sounds suspiciously like a new Monsanto product. “It’s like Roundup, but it’s to control the proles who threaten to sprout like weeds in our elite garden!”

  3. notabanker

    “Tesla pioneered direct-to-consumer sales”

    In 2002 I ordered a brand new Ford Explorer (yes I can be an idiot) online. It was driven to my driveway, I signed the papers and took the keys. I must be the Magellan of car buyers.

    1. toshiro_mifune

      Saturn also offered web purchasing in the late 90’s. I mean, the reporter could have still used the (completely wrong) quote and noted Tesla wasn’t the first to offer web sales of new cars. Sloppy reporting

      1. RMO

        Saturn did offer web ordering but the cars were still sold through dealerships. The manufacturer selling direct to the consumer is the unusual part about Tesla’s business, not the internet based element. In many states it is against the law for the manufacturer to sell direct. I woudn’t be surprised if notabanker’s purchase was over the web but also through a dealer for this reason.

        Many dealers seem reluctant to do any business online – even getting a price quote is frequently a pain in the rear and as for having it delivered to your house, they seem to really not want to do that. Considering how much extra money a lot of dealers squeeze out of buyers in the sales office through double talk and just wearing the customer down until they give in and go for the corrosion proofing/fabric protection/paint protection/ and financial-doubletalk-revenue-enhancement-wallet-lightening-option this doesn’t surprise me. I’ve been lucky enough to find a Honda/Nissan dealer close by that doesn’t make buying a prolonged torture and even provides excellent service work at a reasonable price, but dealers such as that are rare as rocking-horse manure.

        1. Jen

          I’ve been out of the game for a while as I only buy a car every 8-10 years, so the game may have changed. That said, I bought my last car, in 2008 by contacting the internet sales manager of a dealership. They delivered it to my door for a nominal fee, and even with that it was still $1500 cheaper than the local honda dealer.

          I’ve done the same thing for the last 2 cars I bought. Test drove at the local dealer because they’re insanely expensive, contacted 3-4 dealers within a range that I’m willing to travel towards the end of the month when they’re trying to make their sales quota, told them what I was looking for and that I’d be selecting from the 3-4 dealers I was contacting on who gave me the best price. The advantage to the dealer in this situation is they aren’t spending any time on me. Yeah, they won’t make any money on an upsell, but they can literally spend 5 minutes on this sale.

          If I could find a way to avoid the test drive, I’d have the perfect buying experience.

  4. notabanker

    The BBC link description to the family pug say US, but the report is from a town in Germany.

    1. prodigalson

      Sometimes the Germans are too logical and efficient for their own good.

      “If the dog is the highest value item, then we will seize and auction the dog!”

      1. notabanker

        To be fair, they drew the line at the wheelchair. The dog was the penultimate thing of value.

        1. heyteach

          They would have taken that wheelchair if the family owned it, but it belonged to some charity. Lovely people, those Germans.

  5. Charles Leseau

    The average American goes through about three rolls of toilet paper a week

    WTFamily blog? Really? I don’t use anything close to that.

    1. Summer

      Did they mean “average American family”? But even that strikes me as off even if one has some abitrary definition of “average.”

      That is wild. What are they eating? Or are they using it for other purposes?

      1. Wukchumni

        When kids used to do such things, we TP’d the same house 3 weekends in a row…

        The first one was a piece of cake, and by no means were they expecting a reprise a week later, but by the last weekend they must’ve been wary, as cleaning it out of the trees is a major pain in the arse, but we prevailed anyhow.

        Another fun prank @ night was to roll out a length of TP across the street somewhere neighborhood-adjacent and twirl it up so it looked like a rope, and have around 3 people on each side of the street waiting for a car to come by, and then the 6 would lift the ‘rope’ up well before the car made it to the 2-ply barrier, and the reactions were awfully funny to a budding juvenile delinquent, might be a bit terrifying if said sextet tried it on me today though.

      2. Off The Street

        Four squares
        No more, no less
        If everybody is paper hogs
        We’ll have to go back to catalogs.

        Sign by a toilet back in the day. Oldsters recall the days of the wishbook from Sears, Penney’s and Monkey Wards. Those tomes allowed people in remote areas to shop at home, and kept kids amused for hours learning about strange new products and fun toys, too.

        1. Wukchumni

          I keep a copy of War & Peace handy in case I need a piece of 1-ply when rushing to a conclusion.

    2. Craig H.

      This is why the chicoms monitor your toilet paper usage. When given an inch we homo sapiens grab a mile.

      Pity the poor fellow whose social credit score is barely treading water and he eats a meal which sabotages his bowel integrity.

      The wikipedia page on psylium omits its value for good citizenship.

      I like this brand myself:

      $9.84 for 114 teaspoons. I have not collected the data to find out if it pays for itself in toilet paper and water savings independent of the reduced environmental impact but it just might.

      1. Cal2

        Hear about the facial recognition paper dispensers in China? I kid you not:

        Prevented oldsters from grabbing everything all at once. Facial recognition software only allowed X paper to be dispensed per day. Of course it all failed immediately being Chinese quality.

        Saw this on the excellent series, ADVCHINA, which is a youtube series about young guys who ride around China with HD cameras on their helmets and talk about social issues at the same time.

    3. crittermom

      Nor do I.
      Does that mean we’re not as ‘full of it’ as others? *moan*
      Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

      Good article, however.
      I’d use bamboo or another fast-growing replacement TP if it were readily available & somewhat equally affordable.

      I honestly had no idea we were flushing so much of Canada’s forest down the toilet. Damn!
      Maybe we should be making better use of all that junk mail? (Kidding, as paper cuts are painful)

      Should be another addition to the GND, by encouraging demanding manufacturers go greener with TP, as well.

      1. jrs

        toilet paper made out of 100% recycled material IS widely available I’ve found, but hey big city in Cali here, but Target, TJ, sometimes even the drug store has it.

        It varies in price as some brands cost more than others, so shop around (or even online if you really can’t find it elsewhere – is that green? probably even with shipping, but who knows), but the article gives some brands.

        I almost think the problem is people are obsessed with super soft tiolet paper. But that’s complete silliness unless one has a medical reason.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Yes, 100% recycled TP is what we’ve used for many years. We buy it by the case – which takes quite a while to use up, but I’ve never worked out the rate. It’s soft enough for our purposes.

          Kind of a lefty, university town, though; don’t know about availability in the boonies.

    4. ewmayer

      “Really? I don’t use anything close to that.”

      Yes, and we’ve been meaning to have a word with you about that, “Mr. Racing Stripes”. :)

    5. Janie

      Japanese use bidet-type toilet seats. Toto sells them in USA. There are many other brands, including one from Costco. They heat the water and provide a dryer. The best part – the seats are heated. Don’t know how we managed without ’em.

        1. Skip Intro

          And the once the sitting version of gait tracking is perfected, the AI will be able to tie the thick flow of data it already sends to the cloud to individual users. Surveillance capitalism FTW!

  6. zagonostra


    When the topic of “socializing” healthcare comes up in a public debate I often hear politician refer to the Canadian system, but I never hear reference to the healthcare system of Israel. There isn’t a country that receives more money from the U.S. and I don’t see anyone pointing to them and saying what a failure is “socialism.”

    The Israeli healthcare system is based on the National Health Insurance Law of 1995, which mandates all citizens resident in the country to join one of four official health insurance organizations, known as Kupat Holim (קופת חולים – “Sick Funds”) which are run as not-for-profit organizations and are prohibited by law from denying any Israeli resident membership

    As I drive to work in the morning and hear uninformed callers spout nonsense on CSPAN Trumpisms ad infinitum I quickly reach for USB for relief…when will enough people shout “shut-up and talk about things that matter.”

  7. The Rev Kev

    “The Monster Pell Has Been Caged At Last”

    I have heard of the “Ellis Defence” but had not heard of the “Melbourne Response” but to think that Pell was directly responsible for both vile tactics was beyond the pale. He was not just some churchy but went all the way up and was number three in the hierarchy in the Vatican. Everything that he touched was vile and it is only now that the case is over that the Court ordered silence has been lifted off this case and all the details are coming out. Would you believe that his defence lawyer came out and said that one of his offenses was “no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating”? He has backpedaled that comment but it will tag him the rest of his days – the ******. I can understand, but not forgive, ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott offering a character reference to Pell as he is a Jesuit trained Catholic but not ex-Prime Minister John Howard – the man who helped drag Australia to the right. This sounds more like the elite protecting one of their own. That is not to be forgiven and neither is Pell. He will now have a long time to consider his fall from grace in a world growing more intolerant of child rape as he rots in his prison cell. And he will not be the last to be called to account for his actions. The Vatican is now on notice that their positions will no longer protect them.

    1. norm de plume

      ‘Would you believe that his defence lawyer came out and said that one of his offenses was “no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating”?’

      My jaw met the floor when I read that. Quite apart from the lawyerly insensitivity of the logic and the offensiveness of the phrase itself in context, I could not believe that Richter would engage in a discussion of the relative awfulness of the alleged acts if he is employed to argue that they did not occur. Why would you try to mitigate something you contend didn’t happen?

      But I am uncomfortable with the Pell conviction. The reasons are admirably summarised by veteran Age crime reporter John Silvester.

      I am old enough to remember the court of public opinion’s rush to judgement in the Lindy Chamberlain case. I was a young, unthinking part of that court at the time, nodding sagely as people in pubs or living rooms concurred with the media’s demonisation of an innocent woman. Then I read Evil Angels. I still feel shame every time I think of it. And the prosecution there actually had physical evidence, which in the event turned out to be risibly flawed, but there was at least an evidentiary nail to hang the case on.

      Perhaps in our modern legal culture we have fetishised ‘evidence’ at the expense of more ancient traditions of judgement based on testimony and opinion. Certain police forces all over the world have capitalised on this by fixing the ‘evidence’ in order to convict. Perhaps all we can really do in cases like this (with no corpse or paper trail remaining) is to randomly select a representative dozen of us to listen to arguments from both sides and make a decision on our behalf, accepting that, as with trials for other transgressions, the odd baby may be thrown out with all that bathwater.

      I think Pell is guilty of a lot of things; it is surely provable that he helped paedophiles under his aegis to avoid prosecution, and intimidated alleged victims. He may be an offender himself. But half a lifetime of watching true crime has me oriented toward corroborated evidence as the litmus. Then I read a piece like Caitlin Johnstone’s and I am ready to sign petitions to demand summary justice be dealt to any priest or monk or soccer coach or teacher accused of such crimes. Once I settle down however, that suspicion of my own emotion and an awareness of the ‘madness of crowds’ human penchant for scapegoating sets in and casts doubt on my initial, outrage-driven reaction. I suppose that tension, between our moral sense of what is right or wrong and our ethical sense of how best to arrive at sound judgement, is an eternal feature of the law, but cases like this bring into sharp relief.

      When I was in high school (Xn Brothers) there was a point at which my school headmaster, my school chaplain, my parish priest and our Lord Mayor were all (later convicted) paedophiles. I managed to deflect two approaches myself – one hesitant and one not hesitant at all – but I knew several families upon which these people wreaked an awful havoc. So far as I’m concerned they could lock them all up and throw away the key… but only after the appropriate ‘due process’.

      1. Unna

        From the Age article:

        “He (Pell) denied the allegations, with the jury believing the testimony of one of the boys that he was molested in the crowded church.

        “Pell was also convicted in relation to the second boy, although that alleged victim had previously denied ever being molested, did not make a complaint and was not interviewed by police or examined in court (he died in 2014).

        “Which means Pell was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt on the uncorroborated evidence of one witness, without forensic evidence, a pattern of behaviour or a confession.”

        Sorry, but Pell was convicted with the eye witness testimony of a boy, now an adult, who himself was molested by Pell and who was present and watched (as I understand the facts) as Pell also molested the other boy who is now dead. And the boys were not molested in a “crowed church” but in a private and restricted area where they weren’t supposed be and were found there by Pell who used their “sinful and disobedient” infraction as his excuse to molest them.

        Bottom Line: The jury as the trier of fact chose to believe the witness. No corroboration is necessary. And that’s enough evidence, by the way, to convict a defendant of a capital offence and have him executed.

    2. ChristopherJ

      Well said, bro. The CJ piece is a must read today.

      Time aussies turned their backs on scum like John Howard; what a toxic legacy he laid down for us, eh?

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    Thanks for the “Book of Changes” link. Carl Jung, Alan Watts and the I Ching, a book older than the oldest parts of the Hebrew Bible. Very interesting stuff.

    And for the garden-minded, you can grow your own yarrow stalks (Achillea millefolium) and make your neighborhood bees happy.

    1. dk

      When I was 10, someone gave me a copy of the Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the I Ching. I read it cover to cover, and it had an effect on my view of the world. It is often presented as a book of divination, fortune-telling. It is better understood as an analytic tool for strategic decision and action. More than just a listing of the 64 conditions (expressed by the distinct hexagramic configurations), the I Ching maps the transitions between these states, by giving four, not two, potential weights to each line/position. A line can be static (yin or yang) or changing (from yang to yin or from yin to yang). The number of possible hexagramic expressions is 4096 (64²). An examination of condition must include observation of transition.

      An attempt was made to corrupt the material; once one grasps the form of the range, this kind of jumps right out. The commentaries, written by Confucius, implement the basis for patriarchy, the selection of authority on basis of gender alone. An example in the commentary on K’un, The Receptive (most closely expressing Yin), discussed in contrast to Ch’ien, The Creative (expressing Yang):

      In itself of course the Receptive is just as important as the Creative, but the attribute of devotion defines the place occupied by this primal power in relation to the Creative. For the Receptive must be activated and led by the Creative; then it is productive of good. Only when it abandons this position and tries to stand as an equal side by side with the Creative, does it become evil.

      This is nonsense, Confucius misconstrues yang as being prior to yin; they are not separate or different, they are aspects, not things. It is the foundation of Confucianism, an attempt to yoke human affairs to a static rule set favoring some over others, distributing favor rather than benefit. But the Taoist world-view doesn’t acknowledge absolute good, or evil at all. Benefit and frustration are subjective manifestations of movement variation; individual life may have its requirements and preferences, but to observe the absolute forces and constraints of the existing we must be prepared to acknowledge and face non-existence and accept the limits of our individuality as beneficial, since the individual wouldn’t exist without them. Considering a condition to be evil in and of itself doesn’t benefit the strategic analysis of inevitable constraints, the binding forces/effects of the physical reality which encompass existence and non-existence for an individual. And the universe itself is an individual as well.

      Presenting an extensive list of additional translations and readings, Russell Cottrell observes:

      One important observation from the use of the Zhouyi in ancient context is that “Shang practice seems to have gradually changed from inquiring by divination, to charging or commanding with declarative statements, as if using the divination ritual to communicate desires to the ancestors or spirits.” Divination ended up being not a request for a weather report, so to speak, but rather an attempt to influence the weather. For example:

      Que Bian had Yu Da divine for the master: “Having had great chest pains and heart tremors, would that he not on this account have any great harm.” He prognosticated and it was auspicious.

      Also, in ancient times there is no record of changing lines or transformed hexagrams. The hexagrams were originally represented by six numeric digits, not combinations of trigrams or even two kinds of lines. “Divinations resulted in the indication of just one line of one hexagram, with the prognostication based on that line’s line statement in the Zhouyi.”

      Russell Cottrell’s Virtual Yarrow Stalks I Ching:

      An online version of W/B can be found here:

      For alternate (and more incisive) commentary by Wang Bi, a Taoist sage, over that of Confucius:

      1. ewmayer

        I’ve always found it more than a bit bizarre that the Confucians treat the male aspect, with its undeniable bent toward destructive violence, as the uniquely “creative” of the pair, when the most fundamentally creative act, that of creating a new life, is, aside from the initial moment of conception, unique to the female. Astonishingly disingenuous reasoning. I am also puzzled by the traditional association of the female yin with “earth, dark and cold”, especially the last of those. Earth? OK, as a fertile substrate for new life that makes sense, creative Confucian male meets earthy female, “plows through her beanfield” and plants his seed, etc. Dark? Well, it is dark inside the womb and under the earth where the seeds sprout and take root. But “cold”, seriously? The first sensation experienced by any living mammalian creature is probably the warmth of its mother, from inside the womb. The well-worn meme of life as one giant seeking-to-return-to-the-womb can be viewed as an eternal longing for said warmth.

        And one can easily make an argument that those 3 aspects should be associated with the male and his violent tendencies: Cain slew his brother Abel, whose body then became cold and was buried in the dark earth.

        1. dk

          Confucius had some kind of confrontation with a powerful Queen early in his career, and became generally opposed to women operating in the power structure of the court.

          The there was the incident of his meeting the Queen of Wei. The Queen of Wei was a woman of notoriously loose morals, but she was more powerful than the king himself, being the real ruler of the kingdom. The Queen had ousted the crown prince and made her own son the heir-apparent to the throne, and had done many other things that Confucian principles could not countenance. Nevertheless, because Confucius had a few old friends and good disciples in Wei, he decided to try his luck as an official in that country. He therefore accepted the invitation of the Queen and went to see the Queen instead of the king. He did what every politician would do.

          According to the Shi-ki, the Queen saw him and took him for a ride through the streets. The King and Queen were sitting together and parading the streets in a highly un-Confucian fashion, with her favorite eunuch sitting as the first driver, and Confucius as the second driver. Confucius had good sense enough to observe that the street people were looking at the beautiful young queen rather than at himself. It was after this ride that he made the now famous remark that ‘people worship beauty more than they worship virtue’. And he promptly left the country after that public insult to wander on in search of other worthy rulers.

          – Lin Yutang (1930)

          Although the above may be apocryphal, Confucius’s relationships with women were certainly complex. See also the 2010 Chinese “biographical drama” film Confucius with Chow Yun‑fat (Confucius) and Zhou Xun (Nanzi), and quite good imo, certainly a richer picture of the generally severe sage. A bit sappy but less so than Lin Yutang’s screed is sarcastic.

          I have to say, women are just as dangerous as men, they just approach things differently, fail differently. It’s fine. The whetstone of evolution is telling us that ideal strategy lies somewhere between these two, in the tension between them along with their sum. We may be stuck with each other but… we can make it work if we want to. Feel the yarrow stalk jump in the fingers, and be guided; if there is no purpose left in a life… the universe still has one. One could do worse than that.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like the Bible with different parts (thus, some are oldest), it’s the same with I Ching, the oldest parts of which, per Wikipedia (I Ching entry), date to the 10th or 9th century BC.

      Not sure how that (the oldest parts of I Ching, not the whole book) with the oldest parts of the Bible.

      1. Plenue

        There are no Biblical manuscripts older than the third century BC (and that dating is dubious). The Tanakh claims to recount events going back thousands of years, but the only thing there is actual evidence for is that some form of proto-Deuteronomy dates back to the seventh century BC reign of King Josiah, when the ‘Book of the Law’ was ‘discovered’ during a Temple renovation.

        Looks like the oldest I Ching copy is a fragmentary one from around the third century BC, the Chujian Zhouyi currently at the Shangai Museum.

        I also feel compelled to note that the Hindu Vedas weren’t written down until at least the fourth century AD. ‘Ancient wisdom’ is seldom as ancient as it likes to present itself.

  9. a different chris

    >Shorter range? After we just found out that electric cars burn through their charge super fast when it’s cold outside?

    Eh. FIrst off, we can never seem to change our models. Remember the nearest “fuel station” for an electric car is your driveway. So you need enough charge to get to work and back, and the ability to replenish that charge overnight. This is a different model which everybody pretends not to get. I guess some never eat at home, but most of us do most of the time. Now your car can “eat” at home, too.

    So if I have 200 best-case miles of range, and I am 35 miles from work, I can drop to 100 miles of range and still no issue, again assuming I can replace the lost electrons (they aren’t really lost, they just moved from a higher to a lower potential energy!) overnight.*

    Rent a car when you need to go farther, which not only removes range anxiety but removes all the other anxieties too. Car breaks down, it’s SEP and those somebodies will bring you another one. Don’t buy an electric vehicle if you are the Avon Lady.

    *Yes this also implies that we are way overbuying batteries. We will see what the Chinese market does. The first-time-in-the-family car owners may not have as many preconceptions as Americans do.

    1. edmondo

      The theory that we all have “driveways” is just one of the assumptions that will be the downfall of electric cars.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, right. Somebody brings you another one when you are stranded on the Interstate in snow, as happens even in ALABAMA. People had 4 hour drives for what normally would have been 30 minute drives due to ~”3 of snow and no road clearing equipment. Many people had to sleep in their offices that night due to the gridlock on the Interstate. It was <30 degrees (yes, this happens several times a winter in A).

      And when you get that sort of weather, you often get the power lines knocked out. That happens regularly at my mother's house, which is in a high income area (historically one of the 10 wealthiest communities in the US, and still in the top 100).

      You can't syphon a gallon of gas from a truck or car to get you to a gas station. With an EV, you are stuck in your car which will run out of juice and you will be at risk of dying of hypothermia.

      No thanks, not in a cold climate.

      1. Off The Street

        One of my favorite songs by Bonnie Raitt is Angel from Montgomery.
        She sings beautiful a line about make me an angel that flies from Montgomery

        Haven’t had the pleasure to visit that fair city, perhaps someday when not in the winter.

            1. Off The Street

              My bad on the omission due to ambiguous writing. I even saw him perform with Jerry Jeff Walker so no excuses.

              1. Carey

                Lucky! I never saw him live, just know the recordings.

                There’s a fire at the junction
                Why do you do the things you do
                There’s a fire at the junction
                Why do you do the things you do
                I was praying for mercy
                And all he ever sent me was you

                woe is me

    3. Late Introvert

      Ice ruts 12 inches deep on my street for the last 2 weeks. A shitty EV would have just been in the way this whole time. You are not conversant with the real world. Get out more.

  10. Lee

    Now that’s a town without pity.

    The town said selling the family’s beloved dog, Edda, was a last resort because authorities were unable to find anything else of worth to take. Edda, who is a rare black pug, was sold online for $854. Ahlen’s treasurer, Dirk Schlebes, is quoted as saying the seizure was legal and only happened after other nonessential household goods had been taken, German news agency dpa reported Thursday. German media also reported that Ahlen officials initially wanted to seize the wheelchair of a disabled resident, but settled on the pedigree pug instead. The family had allegedly failed to pay its debts to the town, including a dog tax.

    1. Massinissa

      DOG tax? Do most places have those? Not a dog owner, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never had to pay a cat tax or a bird tax.

      1. Randy

        Dog tax, dog license, same thing but they don’t take your car for failing to license it. They just issue a citation increasing the car tax so you stay current in your payments thus avoiding interest and penalties.

      2. Lee

        It’s universal so far as I know in the San Francisco bay area. It’s about $45 per year in my town. Licenses are contingent upon proof of rabies vaccinations and monies support our local animal shelter.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’d have a variable dog tax, with Chihuahuas & Pit Bulls being the most expensive breeds levied. Any sort of Lab (with the exception of meth labs) will not be taxed, in fact they get a stipend just for being them.

      3. vidimi

        if they don’t, they ought to. here in paris, a lot of poopers are not scoopers. wish they’d fine the sh*t out of them.

      4. polecat

        Thank Dog there isn’t a bee tax where I live. X no. of $$ x 20,000 or more would push me into bankruptcy territory. THAT would leave quite a sting !

        1. Skip Intro

          I think it is not so much a dog tax as a dog license, which is much like a fish license, or a bee license (which is reduced for a half-bee):

          Fish License (Monty Python)

          Customer: Hello, I would like to buy a fish license, please.

          Shopkeeper: A what?

          C: A license for my pet fish, Eric.

          S: How did you know my name was Eric?

          C: No no no, my fish’s name is Eric, Eric the fish. He’s an halibut.

          S: What?

          C: He is…an…halibut.

          S: You’ve got a pet halibut?

          C: Yes. I chose him out of thousands. I didn’t like the others, they were all too flat.

          S: You must be a looney.

          C: I am not a looney! Why should I be tied with the epithet looney merely because I have a pet halibut? I’ve heard tell that Sir Gerald Nabardo has a pet prawn called Simon and you wouldn’t call him a looney; furthermore, Dawn Pailthorpe, the lady show-jumper, had a clam, called Stafford, after the late Chancellor, Allan Bullock has two pikes, both called Chris, and Marcel Proust had an haddock! So, if you’re calling the author of ‘A la recherche du temps perdu’ a looney, I shall have to ask you to step outside!

          S: Alright, alright, alright. A license.

          C: Yes.

          S: For a fish.

          C: Yes.

          S: You are a looney.

          C: Look, it’s a bleeding pet, isn’t it? I’ve got a license for me pet dog Eric, and I’ve got a license for me pet cat Eric…

          S: You don’t need a license for your cat.

          C: I bleeding well do and I got one. He can’t be called Eric without it–

          S: There’s no such thing as a bloody cat license.

          C: Yes there is!

          S: Isn’t!

          C: Is!

          S: Isn’t!

          C: I bleeding got one, look! What’s that then?

          S: This is a dog license with the word ‘dog’ crossed out and ‘cat’ written in in crayon.

          C: The man didn’t have the right form.

          S: What man?

          C: The man from the cat detector van.

          S: The looney detector van, you mean.

          C: Look, it’s people like you what cause unrest.

          S: What cat detector van?

          C: The cat detector van from the Ministry of Housinge.

          S: Housinge?

          C: It was spelt like that on the van. I’m very observant!. I never seen so many bleeding aerials. The man said that their equipment could pinpoint a purr at four hundred yards! And Eric, being such a happy cat, was a piece of cake.

          S: How much did you pay for this?

          C: Sixty quid, and eight for the fruit-bat.

          S: What fruit-bat?

          C: Eric the fruit-bat.

          S: Are all your pets called Eric?

          C: There’s nothing so odd about that: Kemal Ataturk had an entire menagerie called Abdul!

          S: No he didn’t!

          C: Did!

          S: Didn’t!

          C: Did, did, did, did, did and did!

          S: Oh, all right.

          C: Spoken like a gentleman, sir. Now, are you going to give me a fish license?

          S: I promise you that there is no such thing. You don’t need one.

          C: In that case, give me a bee license.

  11. trhys

    “ad hominem”

    I applaud you for your focus on the commentariat.

    I read this blog every day and one of the main reasons is the reasoned and civil input from the commentariat.

    1. Chris Hargens

      Another term from rhetoric/logic that’s used incorrectly — “begs the question.” I heard it misused three times last week.

            1. nycTerrierist

              Chiming in with my personal pet peeve:

              “could care less” when what is meant is: “couldn’t care less”!

              1. eg

                Almost as bad as “the proof is in the pudding>”

                NO! “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”


                1. CanCyn

                  I hate in or wth regards to… you should only use a ‘regards’ in a salutation. Otherwise it is ‘in regard to’ or ‘with regard to’.
                  Also ++ for the NC commentariat and Yves and the crew’s vast amount of work over the years keeping it so civil. Truly a wonder of the web.
                  Regards, CanCyn ?

              2. Synapsid


                I’ve long suspected that “I could care less” began as a question–“I could care less?”–and likely in New York City.

            2. ewmayer

              Let’s use that in a sentence: ‘Thanks to his immense breath-holding ability, he became known as the Master Bater.’

            1. pretzelattack

              cats regard that as entrapment.
              i hate the use of “dominate” for “dominant”. but “impactful” is right up there.

      1. Angie Neer

        Chris, I’m a detail-obsessed language snob, probably like many readers here. But I’ve stopped letting “begs the question” bother me. When I see it being used in the “incorrect” way dozens of times a week, and in the “correct” way perhaps once a year, its meaning has changed, plain and simple.

        OK, I lied. It does bother me that its rhetorical meaning has been lost, except to certain audiences. But I’ve had to concede that language changes, and that’s life.

      2. Janie

        “Decimate” as a synonym for utterly destroy is my pet peeve. Think that battle is long since lost, though.

  12. Skip Intro

    Puerto Rico emerges as 2020 campaign hotspot Politico. UserFriendly:

    Oh boy. Love how they play Bernie’s support for DC statehood vs support for PR’s right to self determination as hypocrisy. I’m sure if it was even remotely feasible for DC to become it’s own country he’d support a plebacide there too.

    While I hope and assume Plebacide a typo, I can’t be sure when the context is Puerto Rico. It is a pretty sweet coinage/ Freudian slip if not, though I would be inclined to spell it Plebicide .

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What would be inconsistent, if not hypocritical, would be to not support Guam self-determination (in 2017, the US voted against one such resolution at the UN, according guampdn dot com) as well.

      Will this also be a 2020 campaign hotspot?

  13. Amfortas the hippie

    this is my favorite resource for logical fallacy:

    doesn’t have gish gallop, last i looked, but that’s more of a tactic than faulty reasoning.
    so far, my boys alone among the kids out here have any idea at all about this topic. They apparently don’t teach it(save sort of in speech class)…which means it’s up to us.
    maybe one of the most important things we can evangelise about, given our terminal slide into hysterical ignorance and general hypothalamic disorder.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What is the opposite of ad hominem?

      Perhaps argument by appealing to authority. And that is also a logical fallacy.

      Also on the opposite end, sort of, is the cult of personality. Here, logic is thrown out, more or less. So, it is not, strictly speaking, a logical fallacy (as logic is not there), and thus, not strictly ‘on the opposite end.’

      “I have seen enough saviors…and savioresses.”

      1. Wukchumni

        Nobody seems to object to traipsing through somebody else’s mind field, when tearing them apart, funny that.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When it’s ideas (in anyone”s mind field) vs ideas (in the same or other mind fields), without the personality cult, it is a fair fight, I believe.

    2. neighbor7

      I read this book in junior high and still remember most of its statistical cautions.
      Another basic tool kit for cutting through thickets of faulty and deceptive reasoning.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Kim Jong-un executes two North Korea officials ‘using anti-aircraft gun'”

    Well, being shot with an anti-aircraft gun would certainly be painless if somewhat spectacular. The article does not make clear or not whether they were actually blown from those guns which has a bit of tradition behind it. For those who do not mind a bit of gore, there is a page about this-

    1. vidimi

      before i even opened the link i said to myself, “bet this is from a south korean journal based on unnamed sources”. sure enough, that’s pretty much exactly what the opening paragraph said. the north koreans may be executing people with anti-aircraft guns for falling asleep, but this story seems totally made up by propagandists.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You could be right there. I remember before the invasion of Iraq that a story was floated by the Bush regime that Saddam Hussein had a giant paper shredder installed and he would feed his enemies into this shredder whenever he wanted.

          1. polecat

            “like a Bond villian”

            I thought this was SOP for how the State depicts various and cartoon ‘bad guys’, for serious consumption by the lowly mopes.

      2. Carlito Riego

        The article dates back from 2016, why is it coming out now ?

        Here is a Diplomat article about these ‘ghost executions’ of officials (and this ‘doze off incident’ in particular):

        North Korea is probably executing people with AA guns: there are several satellite imagery showing execution grounds, there are even pictures and a gory GIF if you look for them , though they might (might) be from Syria, another place excelling in disgusting, expensive, but effective (from a marketing point of view) ways dealing death.

        Mortar fire was also reportedly used.

        Hard to tell bullshit from here, but North Korean regime is definitely brutal to its own people.

        1. vidimi

          that telegraph article quotes similar, maybe even the same, sources as the independent article in the links. not saying it isn’t true, just not convincing. a second made up story doesn’t corroborate a first made up story.

          again, there’s a lot of brutal state-run murder going on, some of it certainly in north korea, but this looks to me like an attempt to demonise a potential enemy, adn the west is always on the lookout for demons.

          1. Wukchumni

            It’s really only a matter of time before we get a mass murderer deploying a 88mm ack ack purchased from an army-navy store in Hamburg, with a Glock for backup.

          2. Carolinian

            A few years back it was said that he killed his uncle this same way after a power struggle. Meanwhile the WW1 Germans are spearing babies on bayonets according to wayback machine. Without proof all such reports should be ignored.

            1. Jeff W

              Right — that was Kim Jong-un’s uncle (Kim’s father’s sister’s husband), Jang Song Thaek, who was executed, allegedly by anti-aircraft guns, in December, 2013. The more grisley current report has Jang being forced to watch as colleagues were killed by anti-aircraft guns first as well as other reports of a high-ranking police official being burnt alive with a flame-thrower, and a politician along with his mistress being torn apart by a pack of dogs. (Back in 2014, some reports had it that it was his uncle who was killed by the dogs.)

              I’m not sure how new these revelations are or why that 2016 piece appeared in today’s links but the current story, if it is that, is prompted by, reportedly, eyewitness accounts told to North Korean defector Kang Cheol-Hwan.

              1. Carolinian

                So recycled execution method or recycled propaganda? Being the Hermit Kingdom and all is it easier to make up stuff or should the reports be believed?

        2. Eclair

          ” …. but North Korean regime is definitely brutal to its own people.”

          Certainly it is. North Korea kills its culpable citizens quickly and spectacularly. Whereas the US regime specializes in the long slow method.

          Vernon Madison was convicted of killing a police officer in 1985. Bad stuff. He has been held in solitary confinement for 33 years, has had two strokes, which have left him with impaired brain function. He has dementia and allegedly cannot remember his crime. He is, of course, poor and black.

        3. Procopius

          I can remember the photos published during the JFK days as “evidence” of Soviet missiles being delivered to Cuba. Are the pictures you have seen of “execution grounds” clearer than those? What, exactly, distinguishes an “execution ground” from a vacant lot so you can tell the difference?

          1. Carlito Riego

            As far as I know there were soviet missiles in Cuba. There was bad readings of Tulou houses in China, mistakenly thought to be missile silos. Maybe you’re referring to them ?

            The US government produced forward bad intelligence and probably cooked some evidences in 2002-2003 to invade Iraq, but other countries with independent intelligence capacities were quick to debunk these ‘facts’, as well as some US intelligence officers.

            Atrocities do actually happen in North Korea and I’m not seeing anyone saying the contrary (not that DPRK is of much interest to the rest of the world or has many ‘friends’).

            You seem to be more able than me at analysing satellite imagery so I invite you to Google it and see for yourself.

    2. bronco

      If I ever need to get executed and they let me choose I want the AA gun. Seems like even if they missed it would be quick. No burial to pay for just hose some gunk off of a wall or whatever.

    3. rjs

      that is a two and a half year old story. i’m trying to understand why it was posted here today. its almost as if someone is trying to start a “Kim the monster” bandwagon in light of the Trump summit failure, which doesn’t make sense..

  15. bob

    Re- Tesla on Lake

    In NYS you face a fine of over $1k a day for everyday your motor vehicle remains under water if it falls through the ice, snowmobiles being the most common victim.

    Does VT have a similar law?

  16. Foaming the runway for TSLAQ


    Oh SEC, how he’s playing you . . .

    For those unaware of the closed conference call last night that shared material info which was also not shared in an 8K this morning:

    “Please do not publish the recording or transcripts of this call. Finally, any statements made today related to our future business or results are forward looking statements and actual results could differ materially due to factors mentioned in our most recent 10-K.”

    The transcript will be in Twitter later today apparently.

    It seems the best of NC may want to weigh in as he/they are playing the SEC, NTSB, NHTSA, FTC and other acronyms who so far are not . . .

  17. Tomonthebeach

    I have not seen any ad hominem attacks on this site, but granted I do not read every comment. I often attract such attacks when commenting on right-wing sites or when attacked on liberal sites like PBS by ALt-right trolls. Psychologically-speaking, they seem to be the norm for people whose worldview is distinctively binary – i.e., blind to nuance. Ad hominems are usually our first childhood experience in playground discourse nicely mocked by the PeeWee Herman character. “I know you are but what am I?”

    Clearly arguing with binary thinkers is as productive as conversing with a statue. Statues by nature do not change their minds, although sometimes their locations change. Thus this libtard, commie, fag, traitor, asshole, stupid dork, imbecile, moron concurs that argumentum ad hominem (argument to the man – sorry too many years of Latin) has no place in civil discourse.

  18. whine country

    Yves – Your comment to me complaining on Lambert’s clear violation of you AH policy was way out of line.

    Lambert Strether
    February 26, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Armchair diagnosis is jejune.
    Reply ↓

    If my comment that Trump may do something that demonstrated he was “mentally ill”, is a term never used by professionals, please explain this article which was posted on the net. In the article linked below, the editor chose to use the term in describing the diagnoses suggested by three professional psychiatrists WITHOUT AN EXAMINATION. Are you suggesting that their letter to Obama was seen to be jejune?

    One need not be a licensed professional to suggest that another person is mentally ill or that Trump has said or done things to indicate there is a likelihood that he is. Indeed, the term mentally ill is commonly recognized as a term used in the vernacular by those who are not licensed professionals.

    I stand by my “armchair diagnosis” that Trump is a random phenomenon who never expected to become president but was as surprised as anyone when it happened. I can’t imagine how he could enjoy fulfilling the office in comparison to what his life was like before he was elected. And, unlike Obama, Trump is much closer to the end of his life than his prime years. To willingly submit to another term at his age could only be caused by some failing in his mental circuitry in my opinion. The way he has been treated by millions of people and certainly the establishment in the “swamp” makes me wonder how he could willingly submit to four more years of torment like we have seen. I say that he took on running for President on a dare and and now, as I suggested, is suffering from “Be careful what you wish for”.

    Although I may be an armchair contributor, the possibility that I did not choose my words wisely does not make my opinion unsound and make my comment juvenile, immature, childish or lacking in knowledge and experience. If it was indeed unsuitable for your audience then this is the last you will hear from me. Except, of course, if the inconceivable happens and Trump, in a moment of sanity, decides not to run for a second term.

    1. bob

      “Are you suggesting that their letter to Obama was seen to be jejune?”

      I will not only suggest that, I will flat out say it! “DADDY, He’s being mean to me!!”

      We know have 2 cohorts of children running things. “Doctors” who are able to diagnose someone without ever meeting them, and a prez who is a professional temper-tantrum thrower.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        That kind of armchair diagnosis is frowned on in the field, although I admit I indulged in it by looking up the DSM-V personality disorders Eliz Holmes appears to qualify for. I would never stand by this as a valid diagnosis however, nor write a public letter. At the time, that letter was seen by most as a fairly breathtaking breach of professional standards.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      This was not an ad hominem attack. Lambert was criticizing your line of argument, and not you as a person. Ditto my comment. So you persist in making an incorrect use of the term “ad hominem” where you still can’t be bothered, despite my clear instructions at the top, to figure out what the term means and use it properly.

      You were ALSO told that trying to evade the moderation of “ad hominem” was a rules violation and would lead to you being put in moderation, yet you did that too by using “AH”. And you take an argument from another thread into this one, yet another violation of our site Policies.

      This is not a chat room. Commenting is a privilege, not a right. We have rules and you have made clear you aren’t willing to respect them. Your comment is what Lambert calls a reader assisted suicide note, and we are only to happy to oblige.

  19. Wukchumni

    I had qualms with the physical description of DiFi, thought it was very cadavalier, I mean formaldehyde, really?

    1. Lee

      Agreed, the problem with DiFi is not that she’s old, it’s that she supports policies that prevent others from doing so. And of course this sword slices and dices in various directions and is being hypocritically deployed against Sanders by a lot of people who hope RBG lives forever.

      1. Carolinian

        the problem with DiFi is not that she’s old

        Maybe, but maybe that is the problem. The Caitlin column was really saying that someone who doesn’t have a clue about the internet shouldn’t be giving young people lectures on how to run their future. Johnstone’s verbal flourishes were a bit over the top but then politicians are supposed to have thick skins.

        1. Wukchumni

          Is DiFi above or below the universally accepted “Ted Stevens Line” in terms of a highly powered politician knowing didily squat about the internet?

          1. polecat

            It’s All about those inter-tubes ..
            I mean, the defining question is – what do you what from life !

  20. Summer

    Re: Blockchain Phone

    Hey, guys…this time it’s “secure.”

    If I were more criminal minded, people with these phones would be my marks.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Kinda links right in with Bill Black’s letter to the NYT about the reporter in China attracting attention to himself by using various phone tech.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “No gas? No votes. Subsidy cuts imperil Ukraine leader’s reelection bid”

    If Ukrainians were hoping to be distracted by the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel-Aviv in May they can forget it. There will be none sent as any contestants must sign a contract that they will never tour Russia and spout the party line against Russia while in Israel. As ‘most Ukrainian singers, musicians, TV and radio spokespeople depend largely on income generated from tours to Russia’ that leaves basically – nobody.

    That leaves them with the Ukrainian elections for entertainment which, last I heard, was between Petro Poroshenko, a gas-Princess (Yulia Tymoshenko) and a Comedian (Volodymyr Zelensky).

    1. polecat

      So it’s the Chocolate King vs Princess Laia-Tard vs the Fool …. is that right ??

      I know it might sound phoolish, but I know who I’d vote for ..

          1. Unna

            I can but Poro’s chocolate, Roshen Candy, in the Russian grocery store on Calgary. It’s not bad. Probably the best thing about him….

            You can also but Kvass there which is a must to watch the Victory Day parade. Those uniforms!

  22. Ptb

    Re: low cost/ low range Tesla model

    Comparable range and price to Nissan Leaf

    It would get their auto production volume up so that’s good. Otoh, the 25k and 35k price points together imply that about 2/3 of 35k car price is batteries. Prob. that is the profitable part.

    (Lack of) dealership / service network, national charger network, inventory financing, corp. overhead- these now to be supported by lower margin cars. Interesting to see how many they sell.

    Also i’m curious about how much leasing Tesla does, who finances it, and how it works with revenue recognition.

  23. Summer

    Re: Uber / Lyft
    “Some of the drivers who are most active or have worked for the companies the longest will get a chance to buy shares at the opening IPO price. It’s not clear, though, how many will get to participate.”

    At the opening IPO price…

    1. Arizona Slim

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t these two companies have turnover that rivals McDonalds?

    2. Eclair

      Ah, Workers, we have you digging your own graves, but we will allow you to buy your own shovel!

      I guess that counts as Plebicide?

  24. Tertium Squid

    I’m sure if it was even remotely feasible for DC to become it’s own country he’d support a plebacide there too.

    Plebacide is my new favorite word.

  25. ChiGal in Carolina

    Question for the commentariat:

    Does anyone know of a reliable source on the alleged health threat posed by 5G, as in the radiation it emits? I had not heard of this but apparently in places in Oregon where they have begun installing the cells on existing light poles, people are up in arms.

    Thanks for sharing any thoughts on this!

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Thanks, so the jury is out on whether there are real health risks. These cells (which are likely not yet in use) apparently appeared in certain neighborhoods with no advance warning or discussion of advisable precautions.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Wikipedia tends to be pro business. I haven’t read this closely but it has scientists among its signatories but tone is pretty histrionic:

          Another link, again not sure of the reasoning:

          IMHO this is nuts for a completely different reason: huge infrastructure required, a ton more energy required, when we need to be in energy conservation mode. This is a big boondoggle to force unnecessary upgrades on cell users.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Time, power, distance.

            Higher frequencies means more data per time unit. However, for the same power level, a higher frequency signal will degrade quicker (it won’t be coherent for as great a distance).

            Meaning – the cell companies will either have to really jack up the power levels or put cell towers everywhere, at even higher concentrations than they are now. As the higher frequencies don’t penetrate very well, they will probably co-exist with 4G towers, where customers use 5G when outdoors or in a car and drop to 4G speeds indoors.

            Edit: Or in Yves case, use a landline indoors, as she has 19th century tin ceilings (as I recall).

            The discussions of whether the given frequency spectrum is dangerous is as muddied as a 1960s tobacco study. Still, one can boil water and sear meat with ’em, so there is something going on.

            Note that AT&T made the ITU change the definition of 4G when AT&T rolled out a tarted-up 3G and called it 4G. Don’t really know if what they are erecting in Oregon is truly 5G.

              1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

                If the “tin ceilings” jibe is true please can I have a photo?

                Since moving to Australia, I’ve got quite a thing for tin. Whenever visiting country towns I regularly check out old shops etc for their tin ceilings. More and more are being revealed as the awful lowered ceilings of the 70’s are ripped out (caffs especially).


          2. PlutoniumKun

            Another motivation seems to be to hamstring competition from fibre optics. I’ve seen a suspicious number of articles lately on the topic of governments extending high speed fibre optic connections to rural areas arguing that ‘with 5G, it won’t be necessary, and the private sector can do it for free’.

          3. Judith

            IIRC, Verizon will no longer support 3G after 2019. AT&T claims (the last time I looked) that they will support 3G until 2022. Planned obsolescence.

      1. jsn

        The Hypocritic Oath: “Do harm until you can no longer suppress the evidence.”

        How much of GDP relies on this I wonder?

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Laws a mercy! This was not on my radar at all. Truly we are lemmings, with our IoT allowing us the convenience of rushing off a cliff in the comfort of our own homes.

        Thanks all for your thoughts.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          there’s a group in Llano, Texas that still meets periodically regarding this:

          obscuring the health effects of EMF is rather old news…as is people getting upset/freaked out about it.
          I recently noticed the warning signs on the fence around an urban cell tower in the parking lot at the hotel…nothing like specifics, but worded quite urgently.
          what would we do if it turns out it cooks brains for reals?
          stop using the tech?
          demand that they rebuild the landlines?
          smoke signals?

    1. Jeff

      I can’t find a reference or link anymore, but somewhere in the early 00s, the big re-insurance companies stopped insuring mobile telephone companies for this radiation risk. As for leaded petrol, asbestos, tobacco or climate change, it takes about 50 years before the problem is universally recognised, so the jury is still out.

    2. acf

      The FCC has imposed rules making it nearly impossible for towns to limit companies’ ability to install 5G, and because they need to be densely installed, it’s a very big deal.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Ugh…the list of regulatory rollbacks makes me want to smack Pai’s best face forward at the top of the page.

    3. Crusty Engineer

      Something usually missing from discussions of cell phone use: Electromagnetic propagation means that signal strength falls away on an inverse square law: doubling the distance from a source decreases the field strength to a quarter. That means that any risk from radiation with cellular networks comes not from cell towers, where signal strengths on the ground would be measure in nano-watts, but rather from the device that you are holding to your ear.

      If you wish to minimise the risks of cell phone usage, the answer is simple: Dont use a cell phone.

      1. polecat

        Sure, simply quit communicating, is that your saying … ??

        Having a cell phone device is like having to use computers and the internet … it’s a must-have for just about everything !! It’s nearly impossible not to ! As Yves has mentioned, she has no copper landline to fall back on as an optionlast, as it must be for many others. I’m thinking more and more that we’d be better off without all this wonderous tech gadgetry, as it’s become apparent how destructive much of it is to society and the environment. Just look how much more sedentary people are .. or that many have succumbed to digitally induced ADD, non-stop fear and psychosis as a result of the use of such technologies and their glorius apps. What comes after 5g .. ?? ….. 6g ? 10g ? , and how much more powerful will those devices be … and hence, the bio/pysiological effects on humans/non-humans, should ‘new-n-improved’ continue its relentless march onward ?

        1. adrena

          What truly saddens me is the image of someone holding a baby or a small child in their arms while looking at a cell phone.

          So much crucial human interaction is lost.

          1. Carey

            Yes. What affect does having to compete with a smart!phone for a parent’s attention have on a child’s development?
            A very big deal, IMO.

    4. Stewart

      I personally get spikes of pain driving past the poles-with-grey-cylinder-antenna someone added last year, along Hwy97 N. WA state.
      I doubt it is 5G, just 4G or whatever band the local internet provider is using. There are so many.
      I suffer from EMFIS (Electro Magnetic Field Intolerance Syndrome) so the concern is very real.
      Anyone who scoffs simply does not know anyone who does feel it, or affected by EMR. Walk in our shoes and read the science before judging.

  26. Philip

    Re: Contingency Plans to Address the Bus Driver Shortage Pittsford School

    brought to mind this essay by Steve Salaita on living behind the wheel of a Big Yellow Bus. You may recall Steve’s trials and tribulations over the past few years. Grab a fresh cupper and enjoy.

  27. ChiGal in Carolina

    Amazing antidote, crittermom, he has a bit of the insouciance of Bugs in that shot. I can almost see the arched eyebrow. And sky so blue!

    Thanks for the gift!

  28. Katy

    Neither Rain, Sleet, nor Snow Will Stop the Post Office From Spying on You

    A while back I was expecting several USPS packages over the course of a few days. The USPS website asked me if I would like to have emails that inform me on the day the packages arrive. I signed up for this service. It is called “Informed delivery daily digest.” Now, every morning, I receive an email containing black and white photographs of every piece of mail that will be delivered to my house on that day. And it’s not just my mail, it’s my boyfriend’s mail, and any piece of mail that is incorrectly addressed to our house.

    It is super creepy.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      So clearly, even if you unsubscribe, those pictures will still exist; you just won’t see them. That IS totally creepy: the post office takes a photographic inventory of every piece of mail we receive. Wonder how long they store it…

    2. The Rev Kev

      Not a new story this. Read about this several years ago but yes, the whole thing is creepy. As these are images, can you imagine the server farms necessary to story them all, the power required to keep them going, the personnel and equipment needed to service all this gear, and the fact that there would be a constant demand for more and more storage for even more images? I would hate to think of all the money required to finance this but so long as it is keeping people ‘safe’ I guess people will have to accept it. /sarc

        1. petal

          I think it was a “oooo right here right here” move on the leopard’s part to guide the hand to his itchy spot. My dogs do something similar.

        2. willf

          I think he may have been telling his rescuers that his ears are itchy. They may need to inspect them for mites or infections.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Cats love having their ears scrunched, even with no mites. At least ours did. they can’t very well do that for themselves.

    1. Lee

      Our cat playfully and softly bites the hand that scratches her. I wonder how well that charming behavior scales up.

  29. Wukchumni

    I’d mentioned in the insect rapture, that if anything there were more ants as far as I was concerned, and its all relatives.

    Starting around May every year, the great ant invasion begins here in the Sierra foothills. Everything must be kept scrupulously clean, a couple drops of Dr. Pepper on the counter could attract hundreds coming and going with the liquid quarry. The show comes to an end in the fall and you never see them again, so why did a 100 just show up early today?

    1. Lee

      Could be a LRRP. Avoid colonization, lay your land mines and dig your tiger pits before it’s too late. Actually, I hear they don’t like dish soap. But always spare a few to send home with bad news to report.

      1. Wukchumni

        We lay a barrier of diatomaceous earth (the killing kind-not the swimming pool flavor) around the perimeter of the house in the spring, and it’s an iMaginot Line of sorts, that keeps them on the outside looking in.

    2. polecat

      Like clockwork, on the first really warm, and often humid, day of the year, the carpenter ant royalty makes for the skies .. The result is oodles of winged, and unwinged potential mates amassed .. everywhere !! .. with polecat collecting as many as will be had, for rapid, and appreciative disposal to a chicken’s receptive gullet.
      .. all in a circle, er, spiral .. of life-n-death-n-life kind of way ….

  30. Another Scott

    I liked the link to the Elsevier story. It is also an important reminder that college affordability goes far deeper than simply getting the government to pay for it. We need to get these costs under control, especially when much of the research for those papers is funded by the government at either the federal or state level.

  31. elissa3

    “Uber and Lyft to offer shares. . . ” provoked a chuckle. I admit that I didn’t try to breach the FT paywall, but isn’t this like asking the slaves to buy their own chains?

    1. Skip Intro

      They may be able to ‘give’ the shares to the employees at IPO, helping get those shares ‘bought’ at opening. The employees will be taxed on that income at the opening price, and IF the price takes off, they will benefit. If not, or they are not savvy enough to get out at a good time, they not be getting such a great deal. Depending on their tax rate and the share price, they may even lose money.

  32. Tomonthebeach

    University of California boycotts publishing giant Elsevier over journal costs

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I stopped getting paper journals years ago. PDFs are much easier to file and find, and no trees give their lives for science. Yet, you either pay out of pocket if not an academic, or your institution pays – a lot. I am on the editorial board and review for several medical journals. Yet if I submit to them, they want me to pay them (but I get a discount)!

    There is no arguing that like Big Pharma, journal publication is an extortion racket . As my last employer, NIH, does not grant emeritus status to retiring staff, unlike my academic colleagues, I lose my free access to journals. The Association for Psychological Science and the Academy of Management allow free member online-access to all their journals – all others pay Sage or Elsevier cash. Even JAMA now offers open-access articles to nonmembers, but demands a much larger payment from the authors’ institutions.

    I think it is high time for professional associations to cut the cord to big publishers and publish all their reports OPEN ACCESS.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      amen to that!
      free access to journals was probably my favorite thing about the web when i discovered it(circa, 1999).

  33. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    JOHN KIRIAKOU: Neither Rain, Sleet, nor Snow Will Stop the Post Office From Spying on You ConsortiumNews (UserFriendly)

    How does it impact the postal bank idea?

    Banks are even worse, and the impact on that idea is minimal?

    We re-think that idea?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Banks hand your data to credit agencies. Banks even sell credit card transaction detail (political campaigns buy this data on big spenders).

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      It’s called a bindi, not a dot. You might better have said, American, not Asian. Honestly, I don’t take offense easily, but sometimes your blinders really show, Wuk.

  34. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Russian military has recently banned smartphones. Thus highlighting an inconvenient truth: you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Meeting security objectives often entails sacrificing the convenience of technology.


    Russia doesn’t trust 4G, much less 5G, then.

    Are they banning Huawei there?

    1. Alex

      No, they are not. In fact the r&d centre of Huawei in Moscow is doing rather well because of western sanctions. Out of the three main mobile operators two are using Huawei equipment.

      I guess there is not much of a choice, it’s either buying western or Chinese hardware. Russians have been making their own electronics for key military purposes but communication equipment is a completely different thing.

  35. Jack Gavin

    I need help in understanding why a sentence beginning with the words “Mummified gerontocrat” is not the beginning of an ad hominem attack.

    1. ewmayer

      I thought Yves laid it out quite clearly:

      “Ad hominem” does not mean being caustic about crappy reasoning or dubious evidence. An ad hominem attack is when the personal assault is a premise of the argument, like calling Sanders supporters Bernie Bros or depicting people who want a Green New Deal as children who want rainbows and unicorns. The critical distinction is that an ad hominem argument is meant to avoid discussing an issue on its merits.

      People sometimes include caustic personal attacks with arguments about the positions their opponents have taken. Even a personal attack is NOT ad hominem if it is decoration and not the basis for rebutting what someone has said.

      So in your example, it depends: if “Mummified gerontocrat” is used in lieu of an actual argument-on-the-merits, it’s ad hominem. If it’s used as a colorful – and possibly tendentious – descriptor in conjunction with an actual reasoned argument, it’s not. Now clearly, it’s not a simple black and white issue – if such biasing wording is used to try to bolster a weak argument-on-the-merits, for instance. But in case of Feinstein, it was used as a colorful way of conveying elite and old-guard out-of-touchness. Besides Caitlin Johnstone, Matt Taibbi is another journalist who springs to mind as a master user of such descriptions-in-support-of-an-argument. And of course Taibbi’s journalistic hero is Hunter S. Thompson, the inventor of gonzo, which my dictionary defines as “of or associated with journalistic writing of an exaggerated, subjective, and fictionalized style.”

      1. Oregoncharles

        To approach it a little differently: an ad hominem attempts to discredit the argument based on the personal characteristics of the source. But the two are logically separate. For instance, both Goebbels and Hitler are regularly quoted on certain topics – like propaganda – in which they were actually experts. Their moral failings are irrelevant.

        Ad hominem points may be grounds for suspicion; eg, if the suspect in a crime says that someone else did it. And a person’s record is frequently germane, if the person is the issue. But the suspect may be right about who did it – suspicion is not proof. Even paranoids can have real enemies.

        I believe that personal attacks are against the rules – they spoil the forum very quickly. But, for instance, moral judgments may be justified. Better to attach them to the argument than to the person. Anyway, we’re on the internet; on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog – even if you are one. Mostly, all we have is electrons.

  36. Joe Well

    Guys, check out this house. It is, umm, breathtaking. Architects have built a new model American home that is a McMansion monstrosity. NY Times opinion by the resident design critic.

    The author proposes that the model American home should be an apartment in a condo. She says that the McMansion trend is being driven by the housing construction industry.

    I thought this was fascinating in light of the housing crisis which was discussed in a post yesterday and the Green New Deal which get talked a lot about here.

  37. ewmayer

    “There has been an upsurge of readers using the term “ad hominem” and treating it as a cudgel” — I’m really more of an “add homonym” kind of person myself. (And I just scored 2 more!)

  38. Savita

    The Express article

    It’s a bit like not buying self-help books with an exclamation mark in the title.
    Bit hard to rely on a newspaper that uses a headline with not one but THREE words in ALL CAPITALS for effect. And that’s discounting the ‘GIBRALTAR ROW’ making FIVE WORDS of ELEVEN in CAPITALS

  39. Unna

    So Canadians can still make “caustic” comments about Trudeau without breaking the rules so long as they combine the comment with a valid criticism. Well then….

  40. Oregoncharles

    “Rescued Leopard Loves Head Scritches ”
    this is something of a theme in Youtube animal videos. Apparently people are really good at scratching – far better than most animals can manage for themselves, besides monkeys. It’s one of the benefits of being a pet.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe Trump can have some minor party leader in Canada, like from Bloc Québécois, declare himself to be Prime Minister of Canada and take over with full US support in exchange for half of Canada’s Athabasca oil sands. If Venezuela is in America’s back yard, then obviously Canada is in America’s front yard then and is of vital importance to America’s security.

      1. Unna

        Not the Bloc. Maybe Québec Solidaire. Then at least Canada will get a socialist government. And the Yanks can keep the Athabasca tar sands for all they’ll be worth in the future.

Comments are closed.