2:00PM Water Cooler 4/1/2019

Readers, thanks to your rapid and generous response, last Friday’s mini-fundraiser for Water Cooler reached its goal of 300 donations in a little over 24 hours. So thank you very much, and I’m a happy camper! But in case you were away for weekend, or like to wait until the first of the month for such things, or have been procrastinating (not that there’s anything wrong with that) you can still join us and participate via Lambert’s Water Cooler Tip Jar, which shows how to give via credit card, debit card, PayPal, or even a check in the US mail. And this will be my last nudge, I promise!

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this is a little disjointed because of the volume of material I had. I’ll do better tomorrow! –lambert


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

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

Our Famously Free Press

The Financial Times to ‘experiment’ with taking its newsroom to the big stage The Drum.


Abrams (D): “Stacey Abrams builds massive political network ahead of 2020 decision” [Politico]. “Stacey Abrams is set to reveal soon whether she’ll run for president or senator or something else. At the reception for Abrams hosted by Boxer, held at a five-star Beverly Hills hotel in late February, local Democratic leaders and entertainment industry donors heard her talk about her work against voter suppression and about her brother’s struggle with addiction. After the event, she was mobbed by attendees.” • Joining Neera’s team seems to be working out very well for Abrams.

Trump (R) (1): “Trump’s Circus Maximus” [Maureen Dowd, New York Times]. Reporting from Trump’s Michigan rally: “It’s not clear why, on a night when his aides promised high energy, he seemed to lose altitude. Did he miss having Mueller as a foil? Did he know in his heart that he was guilty of some of those sins? Is he tired of rallies even before the 2020 race gets well underway? Does he know that his ‘No Collusion’ headline will not change the minds of all those Americans who disdain him? Or is he being a sore winner again? Maybe Trump, like America, is just tired of winning.” • The new talking point seems to be that Trump is “tired”; I’ve seen this in a few other places on my travels.

Trump (R) (2): “Trump unleashes on critics in fiery glimpse of 2020 campaign” [The Hill]. From the same rally: “Trump was supremely confident about his odds of reelection on his current trajectory, portraying his presidency thus far as one of fulfilled promises. ‘Now I’ve done more than I ever promised I was going to do, so the debates should be very easy.’ ‘It should be easy, don’t you agree?’ he added. ‘It should be easy.'” • Step one would be to keep anybody involved with the Benghazi omnishambles very far away from whatever payback Trump has in mind for RussiaGate.

Trump (R) (3): “Trump’s Unfulfilled Rust Belt Renaissance Poses Risks for 2020” [Bloomberg]. From the same rally: “Donald Trump landed in the White House by winning three Rust Belt states Democrats had carried in previous elections — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — and his re-election could hinge on whether he can hold them. It won’t be easy. On the eve of the 2016 vote, Trump vowed at a raucous late-night rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to bring transformative change. ‘Michigan stands at the crossroads of history,’ he said. ‘If we win Michigan, we will win this historic election and then we will truly be able to do all of the things we want to do.'”

Weld (R): “Bill Weld Is Taking On The Trump Monster Because Some Republican Has To” [HuffPo]. “Weld denies that he is running merely to sabotage Trump’s re-election. He explains repeatedly — in interviews, in panel discussions, to a domestic violence workshop — that he is running for president in order to be president. ‘You run to win until you don’t win,’ he says. Whatever Weld’s motivation, if Trump can be beaten anywhere — or at least, humiliated — New Hampshire seems to be the likeliest place. Open primaries, rebellious voters and Trump’s continuing weakness in the polls may let Weld perform unexpectedly well — putting Trump on the defensive at the very start of the primary season.”


“Shocked Vladimir Putin Slowly Realizing He Didn’t Conspire With Trump Campaign” [The Onion]. “Man, it seemed so legit. I can’t believe I let myself get conned like this. I spent so much time emailing back and forth with DonaldTrump46@hotmail.com about compromising the democratic voting process, and now it turns out it was all fake?”


“AOC’s Organizing App Is Spreading to Democratic Socialist Campaigns” [Bloomberg]. “[The app designers] were frustrated by what struck them as the outdated methods for canvassing supporters: get a list of registered voters and knock on doors, hoping to catch them at home. The whole nature of the enterprise seemed off.Ocasio-Cortez’s Bronx-Queens district is filled with busy working-classand young people, who move often, don’t spend tons of time at home, and rarely answer their phone. Her campaign—and her only hope of victory—was built around bringing underrepresented people into the system. Instead of taking a list and going off to find or call the people on it, DeGroot and Sussan thought it would make a lot more sense to go to places where large numbers of likely supporters gather—bars, churches, subway platforms—and be able to match them to the list right there.” • Sanders campaign, pay attention!

Realignment and Legitimacy

So much for the Christianists of the Bush adminisration:

The DSA Dog Caucus:

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, February 2019: “February wasn’t so great but January definitely was as retail sales in February missed expectations entirely while the prior month got big upward revisions” [Econoday]. “Though January was stronger than February and not consistent with increasing momentum, retail’s early results this year should keep up hopes for a solid consumer contribution to first-quarter GDP. Early indications on March, which itself will have challenging adjustment issues tied to this year’s late Easter (April 21), have been mixed with Redbook same-store sales opening the month on the defensive before recovering.” And: “Retail Sales Decline In February 2019” [Econintersect]. “There was a significant upward adjustment of last month’s data. The real test of strength is the rolling averages which declined…. There is almost no growth in employment in this sector.”

Business Inventories, January 2019: “Inventories are rising at a much faster pace than sales which may very well be an emerging red flag for the economy” [Econoday]. “There’s every indication to suspect that the inventory build underway is not wanted and that slowing in production and in employment growth may be rising risks for the economy.”

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index, March 2019: “visible but still slight slowing from February” [Econoday]. “This sample has been reporting the lowest rate of composite growth since the summer of 2017 and an easing in new order growth to a 5-month low isn’t pointing to acceleration going into the second quarter…. The manufacturing sector, because of exports, is a barometer for global demand and the slowing in this report, as well the slowing trend for the ISM report that follows at 10:00 a.m. ET later this morning, are not positives for the general outlook.”

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, March 2019: “Solid growth despite slowing growth for exports is the indication from ISM’s manufacturing sample” [Econoday]. “This report has definitely cooled from late last year…. But the current rate is still very solid and though exports are not a strength, weakness here doesn’t appear severe enough right now to derail the nation’s factory sector. Underscoring the breadth of health is that 16 of 18 industries reported composite growth in the month.”

Construction Spending, February 19, 2019: “Public spending continues to hold up construction” [Econoday]. “Today’s report is mixed with strength narrowed to public spending and with spending on single-family homes still a negative for the housing outlook.”

Banks: “Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan steps down” [Reuters]. “The move amounted to an admission that the board erred three years ago by appointing another insider after the previous CEO, John Stumpf, resigned following revelations that Wells Fargo had opened potentially millions of unauthorized consumer accounts. Prior to becoming CEO, Sloan served as chief operating officer and head of the wholesale bank…. On the call, analysts tried unsuccessfully to get a direct answer to whether regulators had given Sloan the final push, or even whether the bank had been surprised by the most recent criticism from the Comptroller of the Currency.” • Oops.

Commodities: “Aramco Unveils Financial Secrets of World’s Most Profitable Firm” [Bloomberg]. “The first official glimpse of Saudi Aramco’s financial performance confirms the state-run oil giant can generate profit like no other company on Earth: net income last year was $111.1 billion, easily outstripping U.S. behemoths including Apple Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp…. While the prospectus revealed the richest company on the planet, it also showed how reliant Aramco is on high oil and natural gas prices. In 2016, when the price of Brent crude plunged to average $45 a barrel and OPEC cut production, the company struggled to break even. Net income for the full year was just $13 billion and free cash flow a tiny $2 billion.”

The Bezzle: “Is Poland Spring Water Really From a Spring? ‘Not One Drop,’ Says a Lawsuit” [New York Times]. “[T]he class-action lawsuit contends that Nestlé Waters’s marketing and sales of what it advertises as ‘100% Natural Spring Water’ has been ‘a colossal fraud perpetrated against American consumers.’… ‘Not one drop’ of Poland Spring water actually qualifies as spring water, the lawsuit says. It is common groundwater that has been illegally mislabeled in order to ‘reap massive undue sales.’ The result is that Poland Spring water has become ‘the dominant brand in a market in which it does not even belong,’ the suit says.” • Indeed. Everybody’s known this for years. And the town is letting Nestlé suck up Maine’s groundwater and sell it out of state for a pittance, too.

The Bezzle: “Lyft, Uber, Pinterest: Are internet unicorns really worth billions?” [BBC]. Well, “worth” is just a word…

Transportation: “Wow Air ceases operations, leaving passengers stranded” [CNN]. “Icelandic budget carrier Wow Air has ceased operations and canceled its flights, leaving passengers stranded on both sides of the Atlantic…. It’s the latest in a string of airlines to suffer problems as the aviation industry is buffeted by fierce competition and shifting business models. Primera Air ceased operations in October 2018. In February, German airline Germania filed for bankruptcy and British airline Flybmi stopped flying.”

Concentration: “Food and Power: Addressing Monopolization in America’s Food System” (PDF) [Open Markets Institute]. “concentrated power has many negative consequences, particularly for farmers, farm workers, and for rural communities that depend on agriculture to drive their economies. For example, because of spreading agribusiness monopoly, the prices farmers pay for inputs such as seed and fertilizer continue to rise rapidly. At the same time, growing concentration among meat processors, grain traders, food processors, and retailers is responsible for driving down the prices farmers and farm workers receive for their labor. Largely because of these factors, a farm crisis is building across America on a scale not seen since the 1980s. Monopoly also affects the quality of our food and agriculture’s environmental footprint, making it a concern for both food producers and consumers, both in rural and urban areas. This brief documents the degree of concentration found in different agriculture-related sectors of the economy and lays out solutions for policymakers.” • I’m not sure any market is very truly open.

Mr. Market: “Dow jumps back above 26,000 as China data eases global growth worries” [MarketWatch]. “The hotter-than-expected U.S. data followed the Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers index, which rose to 50.8 in March from 49.9 in February, rebounding to expansionary territory for the first time in four months. Gains for the private gauge came on the heels of China’s official manufacturing PMI released on Sunday, which rose to a six-month high of 50.5 in March from 49.2 in February.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “Opinion: This is the real reason why the U.S. economy isn’t in recession danger now” [MarketWatch]. “The yield curve is first and foremost predicting the outlook for Fed policy rather than the next recession. My research has confirmed this conclusion, as does a recent Fed study…. Hence our conclusion that it is credit crunches that cause recessions, not inverted yield curves and not aging expansions.” • Readers may wish to assess this!

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Earthquakes. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 178. Still below the 180 floor. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?” [Scientific American]. “Because so much exposed soil across the planet is used for farming, the critical question is whether scientists can find ways to store more carbon while also increasing agricultural yields. David Johnson of New Mexico State University thinks they can. The recipe, he says, is to tip the soil’s fungal-to-bacterial ratio strongly toward the fungi. He has shown how that can be done. Yet it is not clear if techniques can be scaled up economically on large commercial farms everywhere…. In all this work, Johnson maintains that as the ratio of fungi to bacteria increases, the soil biome becomes more efficient in utilizing carbon and other nutrients and that the soil therefore releases less CO2 to the atmosphere. The jury is still out, however. Although peer-reviewed soil science literature contains some confirmation, other findings in submerged, forested and subarctic soils—admittedly different circumstances—failed to confirm the relation.”

“Dozens Of Nonnative Marine Species Have Invaded The Galapagos Islands” [NPR]. “[S]cientists have discovered that dozens of exotic species have invaded the Galapagos — underwater…. Ruiz says they found exotic species clinging to pilings, docks and mangrove roots. The researchers hung plastic plates underwater and all sorts of alien invertebrates latched on…. It’s hard to tell where the invaders came from, [marine biologist Gregory Ruiz] says. But rising tourism in the Galapagos means more boats, docks and pilings — transportation and homes for invasives, wherever their initial source was…. Ironically, he adds, the author of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, may have contributed to the alteration of the Galapagos. Darwin’s ship, the HMS Beagle, sailed there in 1835 after visiting what is now Brazil, Argentina, Chile and several other places — bringing with it, in most likelihood, alien invaders.”

“The Worst Disease Ever Recorded” [The Atlantic]. “[Ben Scheele’s team from the Australian National University] estimates that the [Bd—Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in full—]fungus has caused the decline of 501 amphibian species—about 6.5 percent of the known total. Of these, 90 have been wiped out entirely. Another 124 have fallen by more than 90 percent, and their odds of recovery are slim. Never in recorded history has a single disease burned down so much of the tree of life. “It rewrote our understanding of what disease could do to wildlife,” Scheele says….. In the new study, Scheele’s team compares the modern world to Pangaea—the single, epic supercontinent that existed at the dawn of the dinosaurs. It has long split up, but humans have effectively re-created it. For wildlife diseases, all the world is once again a single connected mass, easily traversed. For that reason, new fungal diseases seem to be emerging at an ever-increasing pace.” • More invaders.

“The Surprisingly Little-Known History of White Rice in Korea” [Food52]. “Korea was always a largely agricultural country. According to R. Malcom Keir, by the beginning of Japan’s occupation, 75 percent of Korea’s population was engaged in farming, with 94 percent of the arable land devoted specifically to rice fields. The Japanese catalogued over 1,400 varieties of rice indigenous to Korea at this time, but by the end of the occupation, virtually none of them would remain.”

“Comprehensive Plant List” [Wild Seed Project (CI)]. “Wild Seed Project’s recommended NATIVE PLANTS for Maine Landscapes. All species are adaptable to landscape and garden situations and once established, make lovely low-maintenance plantings. Species with an * are tolerant of tough urban and roadside conditions such as infertile soil and salt spray. A # indicates an American plant native south or west of Maine.” • This is a terrific list! And when you say “low maintenance,” you’re singing my song!

Police State Watch

“Women Describe How A Columbus Vice Cop Pressured Them to Trade Sex for Rent” [The Appeal]. “Danielle [not her real name] had fallen behind on rent on her Columbus, Ohio, apartment a few years ago. She wasn’t working at the time, and her boyfriend was away from home, living in a residential drug treatment program. She asked her landlord if there were any jobs she could do to defray the cost of rent. ‘I started doing things like painting,’ she said, picking up trash outside of different apartment complexes that he owned. Danielle said she was painting the kitchen in one of the other homes her landlord owned when he arrived. He stood close to her and asked, ‘Have you ever considered, like, sending nude photos?”” • Spoiler alert: The landlord was a cop.

Health Care

“Nordic-style ventilation could reduce hospital-acquired infections” [PLOS One]. • If I understand this correctly, it makes no sense to mix fresh air with potentially contaminated air. Rather, fresh air should replace potentially contaminated air, drawn out through vents high up on the walls. HVAC mavens, please correct!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Court Rules Against City, Millions of Dollars Of Wealth Restored” [Kings County Politics]. “In a sweeping decision, Kings County Supreme Court Judge Mark Partnow yesterday ruled that the City of New York violated the U. S. Consitution in the seizure of six central Brooklyn properties, and ordered the city to give them back to their owners, restoring millions of dollars of intergenerational wealth in the black and Latino community.” • As it turns out, however, the “intergenerational wealth” belongs to landlords, not unproblematic from some political standpoints.

Guillotine Watch

“Barbra Streisand says Michael Jackson’s accusers were ‘thrilled to be there’ and his ‘sexual needs were his sexual needs'” [New York Daily News]. • Oh.

“The bizarre story of the L.A. dad who exposed the college admissions scandal” [Los Angeles Times]. “[Morrie Tobin was] the suspected ringleader of a stock scam that defrauded investors of millions of dollars…. [A raid by federal agents] Tobin’s very comfortable life. Faced with the prospect of years in prison and a seven-figure fine, the businessman flew to Boston to meet with the federal prosecutors handling the case. They offered him a standard deal.” • But Tobin gave up Rudy Meredith, the Yale soccer coach he bribed on behalf of his daughter, which is how the Feds found ringleader Rick Singer, and skated. Nice people!

“Forget Bribery. The Real Scam Is Pretending That Degrees Have Value.” [Bloomberg]. “As long as Ivy League alumni occupy positions of power, academic credentials will remain costly and scarce. Ongoing credential inflation is not evidence of a bubble about to burst, but a reflection of how successful the elites are at convincing the greater populace that degrees are valuable.” • Because nobody’s bribing coaches to get into MIT or CalTech, right?

Class Warfare

“‘Those Who Obeyed the Rules Were Favored by Evolution'” [Der Spiegel]. “We humans exhibit a number of biological characteristics that are more typical of pets than of wild animals, including a very low rate of face-to-face aggression. The reason that I attribute our peaceableness to our having been domesticated is because we share with our pets and farm animals some of these other characteristics, which we now call a domestication syndrome….. if you look at our skeleton, you will find a lot of peculiarities that are characteristic of pets. Four of them stand out compared to our ancestors: a shorter face; smaller teeth; reduced sex differences, with males becoming more female-like; and, finally, a smaller brain. This latest development is particularly fascinating. In fact, the evolution of humans is naturally characterized by a continuous increase in brain size. But it turns out this trend has reversed in the last 30,000 years.” • So, very smart pets. But whose “companion animal” are we?

“The case for capitalism” [Financial Times]. “Iversen and Soskice insist both views are wrong: democracy and the advanced market economy are symbiotic. This combination has, they argue in Democracy and Prosperity, proved astonishingly successful over the past century and, in all probability, will continue to be so. Their thought-provoking thesis has three core elements. First, the state is central… Second, in an advanced economy, the educated and the aspirational are a large and highly politically engaged element in the population. … Finally, the skills on which advanced businesses (and so advanced economies) depend are embedded in networks of people who live in specific locations. Companies are, as a result, quite immobile. Only the less skilled parts of their operations are footloose….. These arguments have radical implications. They imply that capital is far less footloose than some suppose: core activities are geographically specific, with each advanced democracy gaining from the skills of the others, via globalisation.” • As moving our industrial base to China proves! Oh, wait….

“Sears cutting life insurance benefits for up to 90,000 retirees: report” [The Hill]. “The move comes months after a U.S. bankruptcy court approved Sears’s request to pay as much as $25.3 million in bonuses to the company’s top executives and high-ranking employees in December. The company had filed for bankruptcy months before.”

“The US Military Is Creating the Future of Employee Monitoring” [Defense One]. “The U.S. military has the hardest job in human resources: evaluating hundreds of thousands of people for their ability to protect the nation’s secrets. Central to that task is a question at the heart of all labor relations: how do you know when to extend trust or take it away? The office of the Defense Security Service, or DSS, believes artificial intelligence and machine learning can help. Its new pilot project aims to sift and apply massive amounts of data on people who hold or are seeking security clearances. The goal is not just to detect employees who have betrayed their trust, but to predict which ones might — allowing problems to be resolved with calm conversation [lol] rather than punishment. If the pilot proves successful, it could provide a model for the future of corporate HR.” • Sounds like pre-crime?

News of the Wired

“Hidden flaws in common piece of lab kit could botch experiments” [Nature]. “The rapidly whirling magnets used to stir mixtures in laboratories the world over can carry contaminants that confound experimental results. Stirring bars — little magnetic beads coated in plastic — are often used for months or years…. The rapidly whirling magnets used to stir mixtures in laboratories the world over can carry contaminants that confound experimental results. Stirring bars — little magnetic beads coated in plastic — are often used for months or years.” • Yikes!

“Duffel Blog guide to safe for work porn sites” [Duffel Blog]. “[W]e can point you in the right direction to enjoy some good-enough-for-now porn at sites the filter software doesn’t block!” For example: “Workout and diet sites. You’ve got a job that requires you to be fit and healthy, so it’s only logical that you’d be allowed to visit sites for exercise programs like Crossfit, P90X, and the like. Many of these sites don’t just have pictures of hotties doing exercises in very little clothing, but also feature message boards where users can post before/after pics.” • News you can use (and also the kernel for a zeitgeist feature on pr0nification).

“The DMV Reviewed Thousands of Hilarious Vanity Plate Applications Last Year. These Are Our Favorites” [Los Angeles Magazine]. “As one of the most diverse states in the Union, California contains an expansive lexicon of offensive, lewd, and inappropriate words and cultural references. (Californians speak at least 220 languages—that’s 220 different ways to say ‘poop.’) But armed with Google Translate, Wikipedia, and Urban Dictionary, the DMV’s sentries gamely manage to weed out profanity in multiple languages, coded Nazi symbolism, and obscure internet acronyms.” • Reporting based on a public records request from the California DMV!

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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 (WS):

Via: “This year’s Texas Bluebonnet & Wildflower Report predicted ‘roadsides in bloom much earlier than normal and much earlier than fields.’ The ‘bloom-line’ was predicted to reach San Antonio (roughly the same latitude as Big Bend) by mid-March or earlier.” And I guess it’s OK to break the rules about a level horizon, too, sometimes.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Katy

    The Financial Times to ‘experiment’ with taking its newsroom to the big stage The Drum.

    Um, why don’t they also try to “experiment” with broadening their readership by not charging $585 per year for a subscription?

    1. RMO

      It’s April 1st right? It’s a joke, right?

      Of course if someone had told me about “Hamilton” on April 1st I would have asked the same question, so…

  2. Isotope_C14

    “Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?”

    I must hand it to Lambert, Yves and the others at NC. Ya’ll are spot-on when focusing on the issues. I suspect if we had better elementary school education, that we would be in a better place now. Most of our lawyer/management class has no idea what a bacteria is I suspect.

    I beg of all readers, to try this experiment, you don’t need to use newspaper and egg-yolk, just a small amount of uncooked rice will do the trick, like less than an American TBSP. Too much, and it will just gas out.


    Once a Winogradsky column is “up and running” you will be amazed to see the organism colors. Purple, red, green, and all stable at their micro-oxygen environment.

    Seeing the relationships of the organisms in 3D is mind-boggling. It also does not smell bad, and looks wonderful in a windowsill.

      1. Isotope_C14

        Simple little experiments like this evoke wonder in even old people.

        So sad capitalist education takes that all away from you by the time you are 10 or so.

        It never really worked on me, for some reason. I suspect it is because I believe pretty much nothing I hear, and must visually or experience proof.

  3. Stormcrow

    Ray McGovern-On VIPS Truth-Telling about Russiagate
    Good summary about who got it right from the beginning

    The highly relevant technical evidence that has accumulated since summer 2017 shows VIPS to have been operating in the best tradition of intelligence analysis in placing trust in the most accomplished, objective, and reliable specialists with proven records in the precise areas at issue.


    1. Wukchumni

      One thing i’m surprised never took off in the USA with our penchant for making profits on damn near everything, was privately held license plates being sold for some very serious money, as in Hong Kong.

      Ours is more of a novelty market, with high marks given to the cryptic & creative.

      HONG KONG — A vehicle license plate in Hong Kong sold at auction for 18.1 million Hong Kong dollars on Sunday, or $2.3 million, the highest price ever paid in the city. The plate carries the number 28, which in Cantonese sounds similar to a phrase for “easy money.”

      The new owner of the plate was not immediately clear. The bidder, who also snatched the license plate 232 for $174,000, said he was representing another party, whom he did not name, according to Oriental Daily News, a Hong Kong newspaper.

      The city introduced bidding for coveted license plate numbers in 1973, with the money going to charity. The most desired plates, which include the numbers 2 through 10 (1 is reserved for the police commissioner) and combinations of auspicious digits, are owned by some of the city’s richest and most prominent people.


      1. John k

        So I assume the plate, and the car it’s attached to, won’t park on the street without an armed guard.

      2. ChrisPacific

        In Rhode Island, which used to be famous for government corruption (not sure if it still is) low numbered license plates were highly coveted. If you saw somebody driving around with one it was usually an indication that they were ‘connected.’

        1. remmer

          It’s the same in Delaware. Or at least it used to be, when I visited relatives there.

  4. Carolinian

    Good to see Water Cooler embracing evolutionary psychology. My work here is done…

  5. Amfortas the hippie

    we’re around 110 miles(as the crow flies) north-northwest of san antonio.
    bluebonnets started the show second week in march–the scrambled eggs, gentian, henbit, and such were, as usual, much earlier—and all of it, trees included, are approximately 2 weeks earlier than “normal”.
    last fall’s 30″ rains have had an effect. grass is high, too…and now the primrose, guara, and winecups are coming out. galliarda and coreopsis will finish out, into july, depending. Then everything turns beige again.
    this is the best time(now to june, really) to be in the Texas Hill Country.
    we get lots of flower people…older RV-ers, the doctor-lawyer kind of biker gangs, and wives of hunters who were made to tough it out during deer season….this influx of lookyloos from the big city also tends to deplete our stocks of antivenin…there’s rattlesnakes in all them flowers, people,lol.

    1. Janie

      Used to go to a really good BBQ joint in Llano, with big cookers on the patio and a line down the street. Beautiful country. Good times.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “the Other” Cooper’s.
        original’s in Mason, but has changed hands a few times, and ain’t the same.
        I’m pretty snooty about BBQ, and prefer my own,lol.
        but there is a beer joint in Castell that has pretty good stuff.

  6. John k

    The me too era might take down Biden, front page on la times, lots of cases.
    This is not at all like the roll out for Clinton, msm not enchanted, and this means either dnc not either or that they expect him to bomb anyway on this or other issues. Kamala and or Beto? Don’t seem credible, and she says she supports m4a, not endearing to msm, and imo Beto too vague to rise in a progressive era.

    So no third way leader, meaning that lot will split the Clinton vote until one of them does better than the others in primaries. This means Bernie will be the clear leader going into them… warren not moving, tulsi dead last. Of course msm will attack Bernie… maybe me too? Socialist no traction, commie won’t work either. Getting my hopes up…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      HRC didn’t have any competition until she did. The lack of legislative work, the limits of state government in this era of federal mandates, and the decline of Team Blue (1,000 legislative seats lost) limited to

      Elites of the duopoly loved Mittens, probably because he made them feel intelligent, but when Obama lost to Romney, I think the perception was the White House was destined to be Team Blue for a while. With HRC lining up so many donor areas previously the exclusive domain of the GOP, there was no way she would be ousted.

      We joke about the coronation, but Team Blue, msm, and perma-government elites were checking boxes on forms and were more concerned with jockeying for position in the inevitable Clinton Administration 2.0. As a candidate, she was such an aberration who can’t be replicated. This is pet theory of mine, but HRC’s importance to the pre-Title IX generation as a female voice not focused on “women’s” areas. She was in charge of the 90’s healthcare reform effort, not a blue ribbon commission to increase theoretical access at a later date. Biden might have the same “centrist” backers who have never assessed the Clintons’ strengths and weaknesses, but he doesn’t have any of Hillary’s selling points.

      1. Wukchumni

        Mormons & Evangs don’t really see eye to eye, a 200 year old cult versus a 2,000 year old model. That was Mitt’s undoing.

        1. Pat

          I actually think Mitt’s undoing was that he was no big change from Obama and gave no one a reason to switch, but that’s me. Mind you the two people who seemed to capture the public’s interest in 2016 were the biggest changes from the status quo of the Obama/Romney/Bush/Clinton parties so I don’t know that I am that far off.

          1. Wukchumni

            Trump figured out that the Evangs were his salvation, as did Devin Nunes here, where in a year where GOP Californians became a quite endangered species last November, he won easily by 5 points. Same gig with Kevin McCarthy.

    2. JohnnyGL

      I wonder if this is why Stacey Abrams is warming up in the bullpen? She seems very sharp in interviews and doesn’t have the messy track record of Kamala Harris (who I’d agree isn’t catching on, much like Beto).

      I’d agree Biden’s a paper tiger (a lot of the political, media, and donor class, weirdly, seem to agree on this….while he’s still leading EVERY poll).

      1. jrs

        But does she have much of a track record at all? She talks a good game, if that was the only qualification may as well the mayor of South Bend since he talks consistently left (real comparable job experience are being a governor, senator etc. not some low level state or local office of a small municipality).

        So what about actual track record? I understand wanting various people in the debates, but actually handing inexperienced people the presidency itself, I don’t know, it’s not working well …

        1. John k

          What, exactly, was Obama’s track record?
          He made it because of lofty speeches plus promises of hope and change. Hope was dying by 2012, remained comatose on the couch when Hillary ran for his third term on a platform of never ever, same as before, and bankers Uber alles.
          She knew for a fact she couldn’t lose, bill hand picked her opponent.

          1. jsn

            Ds seem insistent on running the Obama “empty vessel” play again: Butegig, Beto and now Abrams.

            With whom she’s associating, insincerity must be the only thing she’s sincere about!

            I hope she proves me wrong.

    3. Louis Fyne

      Memes of actual wire photos of Creepy Joe have been floating around for years. Guess the media finally couldn’t handwave the creepiness away.

      Absolutely no way I would touch acquaintances (or their kids) like Joe did. Nor would I tolerate it from others. This is (IMO) well beyond standard European cheek-pecking.

      Your mileage may vary.

      1. Wukchumni

        Is even the slightest of pecks on a perfect stranger by a politician, painfully peculiar presently?

        #Veep Too

    4. cm

      This morning I listened to NPR defend Biden, claiming some of the stuff was doctored video. I have to laugh, as all of the damning Biden video is from C-SPAN. Is NPR claiming C-SPAN is Russian???

  7. Arizona Slim

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lambert, for urging the Sanders campaign to pay attention to AOC’s organizing app.

    I’m saying this as someone who volunteered for Bernie’s campaign back in 2015-16. Back then, we volunteers were exhorted to phone bank, phone bank, and phone bank some more.

    And I couldn’t see what good it was doing. I can remember many minutes going by before anyone would pick up the phone, and most of those people quickly hung up once they realized it was a campaign call.

    Ditto for canvassing. When Sanders finally got a campaign office here, I heard that the canvassing wasn’t going too well. Reason: A lot of Tucsonans won’t come to the door unless they’re expecting a visitor.

    1. Wukchumni

      I heard that the canvassing wasn’t going too well. Reason: A lot of Tucsonans won’t come to the door unless they’re expecting a visitor.

      Isn’t that partly because of the odd Az law where if you get a moving violation by camera enforcement, you have to be served it personally, thus many got in the practice of not opening the door?

      1. Carolinian

        I was under the impression that AZ did away with the cameras after one of the minders was shot and killed. What I’ve been told….could be wrong.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Actually, the reason is much more prosaic: Tucson has a high crime rate.

          There have been a number of cases where someone has opened the door to a home invader, or in less violent instances, a scammer.

          1. Wukchumni

            How unfortunate, our only home invaders are the legions of robocallers, all with a local number somehow and often with a subcontinent accent.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      Phone banking. “Do unto others…” I hate being cold called by anyone for any reason with the white heat of a thousand suns. I’m not going to do that unto others.

    3. fajensen

      Reason: A lot of Tucsonans won’t come to the door unless they’re expecting a visitor.

      In these times, nothing good ever comes to ones door unannounced or on the phone or via email nor physical letter!

      Even My Flatcoated Retriever, this breed being the most useless guard dog ever because they really like all people, learned to always snarl at the mere sight of the burglar alarm door-to-door sales people. Probably because she could sense I was annoyed by them, them being the worst pestilence by far.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A lot of Tucsonans won’t come to the door unless they’re expecting a visitor.

      Hell yeah. And I never pick up the phone unless I recognize the number. I’m one of The Unpollables™!

  8. Tim

    I’m not a perma bull by any stretch of the imagination, and I concur with this assessment too:
    “The yield curve is first and foremost predicting the outlook for Fed policy rather than the next recession. My research has confirmed this conclusion, as does a recent Fed study…. Hence our conclusion that it is credit crunches that cause recessions, not inverted yield curves and not aging expansions.”

    1. prx

      wouldn’t you expect a linkage between the shape of the yield curve and credit creation?

  9. prodigalson

    On the DSS and AI/ML topic. Every decade or so the DoD gloms onto a new tech and believes it will solve “all the problems!.”

    It never does.

    So the flavor for this decade is AI/ML which is being pumped and pushed across the board as the miracle cure for every potential ill. Senior DoD leadership seem to be listening exclusively to industry sales pitches and marketing promises over actual proven capability.

    Problems like the alien logic behind AI decision making, non-reapatiblity, garbage-in-garbage-out, that data can be gamed and skewed, biases and flawed assumptions while designing algos, etc. Plus the wisdom of doubling down on data dependency when potential peer adversaries have been building to counter that approach also goes unnoticed.

    You can go on Linkedin and sign up for some DoD tech feeds and you’ll see it’s being pushed relentlessly.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      The reason the Pentagon exists is to exist. Thus it is very focused on new tech because it is fashionable and looks good in PowerPoint. Few people grasp the depth and extent of corruption in the MIC because the MSM is no longer allowed to cover it. With 74% approval ratings the military would have no problem setting up a time-travel command if it wanted to.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      I’m reminded of what my mentor, a man who worked for several Fortune 500 companies as a consultant after spending time in Vietnam with the Army Corps of Engineers, told me as we were getting ready to “Surge” in 2005 (remember that horse shit?):

      “The purpose of the war in Vietnam was to have a war in Vietnam. Johnson sat on the board of KBR while they ‘administered’ (for a fee, of course) the bases we built with taxpayer money in the first place.”

  10. Tim

    “Nordic-style ventilation could reduce hospital-acquired infections” [PLOS One]. • If I understand this correctly, it makes no sense to mix fresh air with potentially contaminated air. Rather, fresh air should replace potentially contaminated air, drawn out through vents high up on the walls. HVAC mavens, please correct!

    Mechanical/Aerospace engineer here. This is how aircraft HVAC system performance is defined. The air replenishment rate. How many seconds or minutes it takes for the system to replace the air inside the passenger compartment. Presumably this is for health reasons of having so many people in a small space. The goal is not to blow around a bunch of crappy air, but to indeed exchange it while maintaining a healthy temperature and humidity.

    1. fajensen

      I think the summary of the article messes up the “Nordic” part. What we have here is that we always replace all the air, using a system with balanced ventilation, where the flow going out is always the same as the flow going in. We never mix the “waste” air with the “fresh” air, that is a big no-no in HVAC systems, the intake and exhaust vents are kept well separated, often on different walls on a corner of the houses.

      The old houses, which uses natural ventilation, also separate the exhaust and the intake. There are some clever designs where 2-3 layers of window panes form a heat-exchanger. There is a slit left open at the bottom of the innermost and outermost pane for the incoming air. The centre pane has one at the top. The cold air goes in at the bottom slit, raises to the top, then travels down and emerge at the bottom, taking the heat-loss of the window panes with it back into the house. The exhaust vents will be in a top-corner of each room. It is a reasonably energy efficient system, if left as designed*.

      Between the incoming and outgoing flows, there is a cross-flow heat-exchanger. This removes the heat from the “waste” air and transfers it to the “fresh” air with reasonable efficiency. More and more often they will use a heat-pump for better efficiency, control and as a part of the heating system with the possibility of cooling (it can get what we call hot here in the summer, 30-35 centigrades for weeks and then people can’t sleep).

      Inside offices, the outgoing and incoming vents are installed in the ceilings of each room. So we do mix the air inside of each room. In homes the exhaust vents are in the bathrooms and kitchen, the injection is in all the other rooms. The thinking is to be keeping the smelly and/or humid air close to the exhaust vents so it doesn’t offend the entire house. Maybe this is the “Nordic system of not mixing the bad air with the fresh” although all the hotel rooms I have ever stayed in was ventilated this way!?

      The article seems to have gotten the idea that one can pump in cold air at the bottom and then it won’t mix with the stale air while getting heated and rising to the top, carrying the germs with it.

      I think that is a very theoretical approach and I doubt that would work in practice because the floor-ceiling temperature differences in a decent building, that is not also housing a forge or metal smelter, are only 1-3 degrees. Even without the ventilation running (or it would fell like there was a lot of draft in there). Open doors, the space heaters, people moving about, will also stir up the air.

      All the clean-rooms, I have seen has the exhausts at the bottom, via a perforated, raised, floor. The injection of cold air is via long “fabric tubes” in the ceiling to get a really smooth flow from top-to-bottom. The thinking is that the dirt is sucked away as soon as it is raised, then it doesn’t have to traverse the entire room where it maybe will stick to something. In a hospital, a perforated raised floor, would probably not be very practical since all of the blood splatter (and other organic stuff) would end up stuck in there.

      Sadly, ignorant people too stingy to pay for an experienced architect, will buy these houses, replace those old “leaky” windows with modern “energy efficient ones” and then everything will suddenly rot within a year or two. One must be very careful with the assessment before buying an old Scandinavian house where someone modified the insulation or the ventilation. The people who designed and built these homes at the time, they knew very well what they were doing and they were not stupid either.

  11. JerryDenim

    Inverted yield curves, Market Watch-

    “Hence our conclusion that it is credit crunches that cause recessions, not inverted yield curves and not aging expansions”

    A bit out of my depth here, but sure, makes total sense, concerning yield curves, but how does Yardeni wave away the debt component of the old expansion/business cycle explanation of recessions? Can ZIRP alone levitate an economy forever? I doubt it. Expansion, connotates credit expansion, which means growing private and business debt. Easy money usually goes hand in hand with foolish investments. Investors hungry for yields pile into silly unproductive schemes like lemmings. The growing debt and low cost of borrowing temporary hides the inefficiencies. That debt carries a service cost and as long as that mass of debt grows, so does the cost of the debt. Fed tightening may be the match that explodes the powder keg of debt, but I’m not sure I’m ready to completely throw out the idea of a business cycle or a good-times expansion period having a lifespan. Superstitions surrounding inverted yield curves may be just that, but it seems to me at some point there has to be some failures and bankruptcies to purge the buildup of debt and stupid business schemes predicated on easy credit and Ponzi finance. Otherwise everything just stagnates under the crushing debt load.

    1. marku52

      Yes. How can debt grow 5% PA while GDP grows 2%, and wages not at all?

      “If a thing can’t continue, it won’t”

      Stein’s Law.

      1. John k

        Curve inverts when fed raises short rates… timed investors, thinking it was low rates that enabled spec and ponzi finance to occur, begin smelling recession from layoffs bankruptcies as debt can’t be rolled over any more. Fracking, Uber, Lyft, etc. timid ones hold their longer bonds tight, begin selling equities to buy more.
        It all blows over for a while if it turns out debt can be rolled over…

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          “Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works.”
          – John Stuart Mill, 1868

          But all of this presupposes we still have “banking”, “money”, and “investment markets”. Which we don’t.

          1. Banking: Banks can now emit unlimited credit, if it goes sour it gets swept into a dark hole called “central bank balance sheets”. Next stop: QE by the Central Bank of Mars, to bail out all of the Earthbound CBs.

          2. Money: A medium that can reliably store labor so it can be transported across space and time. Post-1971 we no longer have this, in its place we have debt. See #1 above.

          3. Investment markets: Where claims to discounted enterprise cash flows can be divided and owned by others. The price of these claims should be determined by free market actors. Instead the quantity of the claims is manipulated by company treasurers using free “money” and “credit” (see #1 and #2 above) to reduce their supply. Until 1982 stock buybacks like this were illegal because they were viewed as just another stock price manipulation scheme.

          So some very recent dates are implicated: 1971 (when money died); 1982 (when stocks died); and 2003 (when credit died).

    2. djrichard

      “Hence our conclusion that it is credit crunches that cause recessions, not inverted yield curves and not aging expansions”

      Credit crunches don’t happen until the yield curve inverts. Metaphorically that’s the Fed Reserve taking the punch bowl away, as indicated by when they raise their rate above the 10Y yield. After that, the Fed Reserve simply lets time do its magic. So there’s no need to predict the future Fed Reserve rate. Once it’s eclipsed for any duration, it’s a forgone conclusion. See https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=nufE

      That said, what’s different this time around is the Fed Reserve paused before eclipsing the 10Y yield. Of course it was just a matter of time before the 10Y yield would drop below it (as there’s nothing really interfering with that trend line down since 1982). But I think it happened a lot faster than most folks were thinking. Of course today the 10Y yield is up over 10 basis points to the point where we’re probably no longer inverted. What happens if it vacillates between inversion and non inversion like that? This is kind new territory, as previous vacillations have been due to changes in the Fed Funds rate, not the 10Y yield gyrations.

      But again, it’s just a matter of time before the 10Y yield drops below the current Fed Funds rate. And if the Fed Reserve doesn’t drop their rate, then it will be just a matter of time before we have a credit crunch / recession.

      If the Fed Reserve does drop their rate to stave this off then I think there will be huge political capital that will have to be paid. Because normally the Fed Reserve has a narrative they can hide behind. For instance, they didn’t lower their rates until after the dot com bubble burst and after the housing bubble burst. So everybody thinks of the Fed Reserve as being the hero and that the bubbles bursting were natural cycles coming to an end. Where in reality there’s nothing natural about it – as long as the Fed Funds rate is below the 10Y yield then “laisse le bon temps rouler”.

      Reducing the Fed Funds rate to be the hero (after the party is over) is one thing. Reducing it to keep the party going is quite another.

    3. notabanker

      Been getting bombarded with 0% same as cash consumer credit and bank credit card offers in the last two weeks. Both online and in the mail. Things are slowing down.

        1. fajensen

          1) Got my mortgage negotiated down to 1% hardly without any work. In return, I had to save monthly into a fund based investment to “increase my engagement with the bank”.

          2) “They” are increasingly offering credit-cards which are not in fact credit-cards but rather a debit-card which is linked to a current account with an overdraft facility. Even major brand names like American Express are “wired” this way in Sweden. This appears to be a Swedish fetish which is spreading, my son got several of these in Denmark.

          I figure it is deemed to solve the credit card fraud problem because this thing being a debit-card in drag, the money goes away immediately with each transaction and if there is fraud, then it is in the end on the head of the card-holder to somehow claw it back (whereas with a real credit card, the money only goes out after the cardholder approves the transaction on the ledger and pays the issuer. So, with a credit-card, the risk is on the vendor and the vendor also gets paid about 3 months after the sale).

          Probably CC-fraud is really endemic, now margins are growing too thin to cover it and vendors are getting pissed off with holding the bad end of the stick, while CC-issuers rake in a neat 4% transaction fee on all CC-sales for the service of paying late?

  12. Ford Prefect

    Re: Rise of “No Religion”

    It appears the WASPs just got profoundly bored at church as the rise of “no religion” is virtually the mirror image of mainline Protestants.

    There are more evangelicals than at the time of Nixon, although less than the Age of Reagan. This is the religious base targeted by the GOP over the past 40 years.

    Catholics have had a small decline which may increase as the moral bankruptcy of the various sex scandals continue to make headlines. But centuries of families being Catholic provides a lot of inertia

    1. PKMKII

      Mainline Protestantism lacks the insular furor of the evangelicals, the “Make the elders happy” inertia of Catholicism, and the camaraderie born out of suffering in Judaism and Black Protestantism, to retain followers. Think of Eddie Izzard’s sketch about how being raised Church of England gives you nothing to complain about.

      I wonder what to make of the data showing that from the early 70’s to the early eighties, the data for Evangelicals and Black Protestants are mirror images of each other. Was there an early migration from black churches to the ascendant Evangelicals, before the latter went masks off on white identity politics?

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I think the flow was from mainline Protestant to Evangelicals. There are few institutions in the U. S. more segregated than Protestant churches on Sunday.

        The overall story is decline in identification since ’72 except for “Other Religions” and Evangelicals, but even the Evangelicals have been on the decline since the 90s. I would interpret this as a flow from Mainline to Evangelical to No Religion within family groups and across generations. To explain, grandma was a Lutheran, her daughter went to Willow Creek and the grandson says “no thanks” to Christianity. The same thing is probably going on with Catholics, but immigration might slow the drop just as it has probably contributed to that small increase in “Other Religions.”

        Christianity didn’t survive the 60s in the United States just as it didn’t survive World War II in Europe. It has taken a while to show up clearly, but that chart demonstrates it quite nicely. A religion so fundamentally patriarchal is just not going to fly in our culture. The attempt of some Mainline churches to change that by ordaining women and changing liturgical language and translation norms appears to have failed miserably. It was just one thing fueling the movement to the Evangelicals in combination with that “furor” you noted. That anger against cultural change also seems to have failed at keeping the Evangelicals from declining in identification these past 30 years.

        The problem is that nothing has taken its place. Whether we like it or not, religion is one thing that holds human communities together (while it may also incite them to attack the Different). Our society shows all the signs of coming apart at the seams because it’s been put under great stress by income and wealth inequality and a justified loss of faith in political institutions. There’s not much left holding it together other than Nuremburg rallies at the Super Bowl with the most superest, hugist flag ever and phone hypnosis.

        1. Mike

          HMP, I must concur. Adding only that it seems to me a more right-wing atheism is growing, one skeptical of a deity, but not at all skeptical of government, media, or the MIC as currently constituted. Faith has been transferred. The closed-mindedness of modern “atheists” to understanding the conspiratorial nature of modern government (i.e., the need to keep secrets from the public) leads them to believe much of what was said to them about 9-11, the Iraq war buildup, as well as Russiagate. Evidence dismissed, pre-wrapped arguments unfolded.

        2. JBird4049

          The decline in religious beliefs in Europe was hasten by the various churches direct connections to the the government. The official church, whatever it was, became politicized and discredited.

          In the United States, the separation of church and state protected organized religion because it did not become enmeshed into the government. It was a short term loss of power, but a long term gain in credibility needed for survival as the various churches focused on religion, on metaphysics, and not on just getting someone in power.

          As the First World War fatally wounded the European powers, and the Second World War finished them off, it killed the age of optimism, of hope, and yes religion especially the official religions of the now discredited and fallen empires.

          Unfortunately, the despair and growing nihilism caused by Europe’s political suicide also created such movements as Dadaism and the rejection of all organized metaphysics and political ideologies. The rejection happened mostly wholesale and not with any organized, methodical, and thoughtful reason or even feeling, but wholesale rejection without any consideration of searching for and keeping what still might be true of the past.

          This is why the fanatical belief in strains of political ideologies and science as well. Religion might have made a comeback, if the various political powers had not feared its potential strength. Just as organizations as the CIA neutered the Civil Rights Movement, or the various nonprofits like the Red Cross have become merely grifting operations run by neoliberal acolytes, so too have the various churches.

          Organized anything, be it religious, charitable, political, or even social outside of the mainstream power elites are threatening. So just look at the Black Misleadership Class and the various churches and even Jewish synagogues that were all involved in civil rights, fighting poverty, and general reforms that did not agree with the campaign for neoliberalism’s money worship to replace leftism, liberalism, and conservatism, or for the continuation of the power structure.

          From the Red Cross building less than ten houses in Haiti after the earthquake to the Prosperity Theology of some Protestant churches, or the Catholic Churches little pedophilia problem, the reputations of all institutions are in decline.

          Going from LBJ, MLK, and Malcolm X to our current “leadership” as well as the general systemic collapse of all the social organizations for which America was famous for centuries in the past 40-50 years is a serious problem. It is destroying society, but it is great for keeping some in wealth, privilege, and power.

          I could easily be wrong, but I believe religion in general, and organized religion in particular, would be much stronger in American society along with all of our other institutions, public and private, if the campaign for money worship and Neoliberalism had not been so successful. Neoliberalism might destroy the very world its creators had hoped to save as the founders were all survivors of the collapse of the First World War and started to put the project together in the Second World War to prevent wars. A replacement for the Bretton Woods System and Keynesianism. Worshiping Mammon and science as a replacement for the past is just messed up.

    2. jrs

      It’s a problem in some ways, those who are left identifying as religious are the real crazies (evangelicals waiting for the rapture, and they have probably also gotten crazier over time).

      If non-religious were a majority it likely wouldn’t be a problem. However, they still aren’t. And so the decline of better religious traditions is a real social and political problem in the present. There’s no appeal to any better christian traditions with them, they are lost to the right and it’s cruel views, when they aren’t wishing for the end of the world.

  13. Summer

    Re:The Real Scam is Pretending Degrees have value

    “The developed world’s concept of wealth is having something that others don’t have.”

    Can enjoy their food
    Only if others are hungry
    Can enjoy their shelter
    Only if others are cold
    Can enjoy their old age
    If you don’t grow old

    1. Carolinian

      Credentials have replaced that “breeding” that the Brit aristocracy used to go on about. Or maybe it’s the same thing. But back then education for women, even aristocratic ones, was considered superfluous. More recently Queen Elizabeth supposedly complained that her lack of education left her under equipped to converse with famous scientists and the like. She was only taught how to be future queen.

  14. Wukchumni

    I was raised with no religion-which is not to say my parents were agnostic or atheists, they just didn’t belong to any mystical bowing league. Heaven was right here on this good Earth, not in some supposed afterlife.

    I always knew there were a bunch of people like me, but were likely previously afraid to speak up. The hypocrisy of holier than thou types made it easy for us to come out of the shadows, and not be afraid of public opinion that heretofore castigated those that didn’t believe in moralistic fairy tales.

    1. Roy G.

      This. It was always easier to just keep quiet around the churchy folks. I always preferred the term agnostic as ‘aetheist’ is a pet way for them to put you down as being forever cursed by ‘not believing in God,’ while agnostic has the much more to the point of, ‘ not believing your interpretation of God.’

      1. Wukchumni

        A lot of the dogma admiration was on account of the Soviet Union not needing a leash, it’s amazing that it took so long for it to fade.

        1. witters

          God: “necessarily existing being.”

          (So the reason the world exists, instead of not existing.)

          Up to you what you do with that.

          1. Plenue

            That’s not remotely convincing. You can’t just define god into existence. Evidence, please.

            1. JBird4049

              That is the problem. Defining God can be like defining existence. God does not have to exist, but some think that the lack of concrete proof means he does not exist, and truly the belief in God could be a fantasy. It is a rational belief, but then why do we exist? What is existence or reality? What is the first cause?

              1. Plenue

                Who knows? Judging by quantum experiments, there very well may be no first cause and things can and do just appear and disappear for no reason.

                ‘God’ is not a satisfying explanation, because then the question becomes ‘what caused god?’ to which the answers are nothing but special pleading. If you’re just going to throw up your hands and say ‘magic’, you’ve given up on honest inquiry.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      As someone who is the only member of my family to escape from the religious cult I was born into, let me say that the deferential silence directly enables the predators that hunt in the fertile fields of religion.

      I would not be free (or would have been freed much later than I was) were it not for a very angry person in the early 1990s who wasn’t afraid to offend people.

    1. Watt4Bob

      This is a cursory look, so I will not engage in argument.


      There’s an awful lot of squares in her chart, and I searched the text, not one mention of all the squares.

      Squares describe the 90 degree angles between the different planets, you can see them highlighted in red on her chart, and as red squares populating the grid at the bottom.

      Squares are traditionaly thought of as sybolising ‘difficult’ or ‘tense‘ relationships between the affected planets.

      From Complete Horoscope;

      The classical astrology meaning of a square is that the powers involved are in conflict, so that they cause trouble for one another. So, both sides of the square are disturbed by the aspect between them. This complication can be destructive, but also constructive, the kind of hardship that leads to success for the person who persists.

      What’s more, AOC has her squares lined up in two Grand Squares in Cardinal signs. A grand Square is when those regular 90 degree squares are aligned so as to form an actual square geometrical shape (since one of the corners contains two planets, the Grand Square is ‘double’);

      From Dr.Standley;

      A Grand Cross is four planets in square aspect, including 2 oppositions (a complete fourth harmonic syndrome). This is an intense and often stressful structure needing a focus for its considerable energy into specific purposes and constructive action. Usually a Grand Cross occurs all in one quadruplicity or mode. If in Cardinal signs, the outlet for the energy is action

      I’m not pushing astrology, or claiming to be an expert, but the lack of any mention of the preponderance of square aspects in AOC’s chart is remarkable.

      And not one word about that double Grand Square in Cardinal Signs, (those Red Squares nearly jump off the page) making her a Woman of Action!

      That is a very powerful chart.

  15. ChrisFromGeorgia

    On the Sears story – cutting life insurance for retirees after giving huge bonuses to C-level execs (a classic example of “failing up” if ever there were one.)

    At one point in time I seem to recall that the PBGC had some real teeth, I remember my Dad coming home early from work saying that the small factory he worked at the time (80’s) had been literally padlocked by the PBGC. It did open back up but only after the owners agreed to fund the pension plan properly.

    What is to stop the PBGC from grabbing some of the better Sears stores and selling them off to the highest bidder to do a similar move here? I know that the usual bezzles regulatory capture endemic to our culture may have spread into the PBGC, but perhaps someone with insight knows the laws here?

    1. Wukchumni

      Then: Sears is where America shops

      Now: Sears is where America stops paying retirees life insurance

  16. Pat

    So the NY State government officials might see a pay raise after twenty years. The legislature may even be fair as it would limit outside income and apparently eliminate stipend for committee work (although we’ll see one if it passes and as recommended). The more annoying one is a done deal and is for the governor where he would go from being the fourth highest paid governor to being the first, from $179,000 to $200,000 now, $225,000 next year, and $250,000 the year after that. There are also increases for the Lt. Governor.

    Considering how spare most raises for the majority of Americans over the last twenty years, and how little perks come with their jobs, the over 45% raise for the Governor is….well… But hey with increased internet sales taxes, congestion prices and various other hits that are supposed to help our transit system, but seem likely to just be used as a means of limiting the state’s contribution to the MTA, why would they consider that large a raise to be problematic.

  17. Cal2


    Good work folks!

    Costco has reportedly decided to stop selling Roundup weedkiller after a federal jury in San Francisco awarded more than $80 million to 70-year-old California man, Edwin Hardeman, who was diagnosed with cancer after spraying the herbicide on his property for decades.

    According to the founder of Moms Across America, Zen Honeycutt, Costco will no longer carry Roundup or other glyphosate-based herbicides in their spring shipments.

    Moms Across America founder Zen Honeycutt, whose petition calling for Costco to stop selling Roundup has more than 150,000 signatures on Change.org

    Honeycutt’s group is now petitioning Home Depot and Lowe’s to pull Roundup from their shelves as well.

    Bayer – which acquired the Roundup brand in its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto in June of last year, plans to appeal last week’s verdict, and “vigorously defend” its product, according to Bloomberg. Since the transaction, Bayer has lost over 40% of its value according to Bloomberg.”
    Somewhere Bayer executive, or executives, are learning how to tie slipknot nooses…


    Tulsi Gabbard, the only presidential candidate to advocate for banning pesticides and Roundup.


    If you haven’t already, send her a check for as little as a dollar to get her in the Democratic debates.


    1. Summer

      I hear it phrased like this:

      “I’m not relgious. I’m spiritual.”

      Or some variation.

  18. Grant

    “Iversen and Soskice insist both views are wrong: democracy and the advanced market economy are symbiotic. This combination has, they argue in Democracy and Prosperity, proved astonishingly successful over the past century and, in all probability, will continue to be so.”

    This is an astonishing claim. How many coups did the capitalist government’s support? Authoritarian regimes? Corrupt, barely functioning democracies that work more for Western capital and financial interests than they do for their own domestic populations? Colonialism? Imperialism? When Angus Maddison shows that China’s share of worldwide GDP declined from about a third of worldwide GDP in the early to mid-19th century to about 5% as of 1949, did the British have anything to do with that? Japan? When western observers went into Dacca, they were awed by its industrial potential. Did the British do anything to potential rivals in India, Bangladesh and Egypt? What policies have the IMF and the WTO forced on poor countries? Are capitalist countries not at least a bit scared by the potential of poor countries to create their own industries and enterprises, which could displace the exports from the rich countries? Were they radically different than the policies the rich countries used to develop? When it comes to consumption of natural resources; the top 20% or so of worldwide population consumes over 80% of all resources. If that is the case, are there enough resources for the rest of the world to be anything but poor? Regarding carbon emissions, how much are the capitalist countries responsible for spitting carbon into the atmosphere versus poor countries, and who is most vulnerable to the negative impacts of those emissions? And what do those authors say about China being responsible for the overwhelming majority of those lifted out of poverty worldwide in recent decades? We can argue over what to call China’s economic system, but whatever you call it, it is pretty far away from what we would call traditional capitalism, even after the market reforms.

    1. djrichard

      I think it’s a function of what we treat as authority in our lives. We’re obedient to democracy. We’re obedient to capitalism. And we’re obedient to our sovereign (which engages in the wars of volition you describe).

      And where they’re in conflict, well we let the authorities figure that out. And once they do, “hey what do you know, nobody said we’re no longer a democracy. So we must still be a democracy”. And “how dare those evil doers hate us for our freedoms!” LoL.

      You can even be a fascist country and still slap a label on it as being democratic without blanching a la this article that Lambert linked to just the other day: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-supermanagerial-reich

  19. Roy G.

    No Religion was first only because Neoliberal Capitalism wasn’t included as a category.Modern places of worship are Malls and opulent private property structures. Consumption standing in as religious devotion, wealth and status symbols standing in as signifiers of godlinesss and virtue, and of course the fundamentalist belief in markets and the capitalist system.

    Of course, ordinary people don’t see it that way, but I suspect future sociologists will see this as self-evident.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Thank you for this because it gets to the heart of what religion actually is. It’s not a belief in some set of dogmas–it involves how we set up our lives, the values we hold, the myths we live by and so on. Our religion is consumerism and the deification of the ego. We are a radically materialist culture even those who consider themselves religious will put materialism and even hedonism before God.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        James Fowler took Piaget, Kohlberg’s stages of moral development and Erikson’s psychosocial stages and wrote Stages of Faith. As you note, this “faith” is not acceptance of some religious dogma but a worldview, a lens through which the world is observed. Fowler sees it as part of human development, and given the bases upon which he relies, it has stages.

        Here’s a decent description of Fowler’s six stages of faith.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      The malls are about as empty as the Protestant churches, and it’s not because of the economy exclusively. Kids don’t go to the mall like they used to. People shop online, especially the young. In our metropolitan area, a couple of high end, Disneyfied “village” shopping areas are still doing alright, but the old-fashioned malls are closing stores one after another, and the foot traffic is dwindling fast.

      I’d agree with you about the Market God, though. That’s the real religion of America and has been for some time.

    3. djrichard

      Kind of the inverse of the protestant ending to the lord’s prayer, “for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory”. So instead of giving that up to God we get some of that for ourselves. But we have to do it by sacrificing ourselves to institutions, the ones that have the kingdom, power and glory, so that we can get it vicariously through them.

      All that is required is our obedience. Which I think feeds into the other article linked by Lambert today. The one about humans being very smart pets.

    4. WheresOurTeddy

      as someone raised religious but now emancipated, I can confirm your view 100%.

      American Christians are Christians 1 out of 7 days of the week and Capitalists 7 out of 7.

  20. Wyoming

    Because nobody’s bribing coaches to get into MIT or CalTech, right?

    You do realize that those 2 schools do not offer athletic scholarships. So the answer to your question is, “That’s correct. They are not.”

    My brother obtained multiple degrees from MIT and he told me that while he often met kids of wealthy or famous people who were attending Harvard/Radcliff who were clearly not smart enough to earn their way into those schools that he never met anyone at MIT who was not seriously intelligent.

    1. Wukchumni

      CalTech does have a bit of a sporting legacy…

      The Great Rose Bowl Hoax was a prank at the 1961 Rose Bowl, an annual American college football bowl game. That year, the Washington Huskies were pitted against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. At halftime, the Huskies led 17–0, and their cheerleaders took the field to lead the spectators in the stands in a card stunt, a routine involving flip-cards depicting various images for the audience to raise. However, a number of students from the California Institute of Technology managed to alter the card stunt shown during the halftime break, by making the Washington fans inadvertently spell out CALTECH.


    2. John k

      Probably it’s not these grads running Boeing. And I also wonder about silly valley tech.

    3. Liberal Mole

      Coaches at MIT can only hand in a list of applicants they would like Admissions to admit. That’s it, they get no further input. So maybe you could bribe a coach to put your psuedo-athlete at the top of their list, but it still isn’t a guarantee to get in.

    4. Sanxi

      No Ivy League school offer athletic scholarships, but they do have sports programs and they do factor that into admissions. Did MIT factor it, I received undergrad & grad degrees and I’d say maybe. I played hockey. I also went to Harvard & Michigan. I wouldn’t compare any of them or any student as to IQ. At MIT I learned to count cards & pick locks so there’s that. One tends to find what one is looking for.

  21. Y11

    So, very smart pets. But whose “companion animal” are we?

    The very study this sort of messaging tends to put front and center of late — the Soviet fox domestication project — itself puts the lie to this whole line of thinking. The genetic changes associated with domestication were identified and they correspond to the genetic condition known as Williams syndrome in humans. They do not appear in normal humans.

    (Though I’m guessing whovever’s pushing this rubbish might like that to change…)

    1. Oregoncharles

      from the link: ” the human version of WBSCR17 is located near the sequence that is deleted in people with Williams syndrome.” “Near” – sounds like a near miss to me.

      Human adaptation to culture is more along the lines of neoteny (sp?), retention of child-like traits, which is also associated with domestication:

      “Neoteny, also called juvenilization, is the delaying or slowing of the physiological development of an organism, typically an animal. Neoteny is found in modern humans. In progenesis, sexual development is accelerated. en.wikipedia.org”

      1. 1001

        “When the researchers analyzed DNA from 16 of the dogs and eight of the wolves, the behavioral differences turned out to be correlated with variations in three genes — the WBSCR17 gene highlighted in the 2010 study, and two additional genes from within the canine equivalent of the Williams syndrome region.

        Neoteny is ubiquitous in evolutionary history, it’s not just associated with domestication.

        I seriously detest the unspoken assumption that niceness = submissiveness. Everything we know about early humans suggests they were radically egalitarian.

      2. Y11

        “When the researchers analyzed DNA from 16 of the dogs and eight of the wolves, the behavioral differences turned out to be correlated with variations in three genes — the WBSCR17 gene highlighted in the 2010 study, and two additional genes from within the canine equivalent of the Williams syndrome region.

        Neoteny is ubiquitous in evolutionary history, it’s not just seen in domestication.

        I seriously detest the unspoken assumption that niceness = submissiveness, everything we know about early humans suggests they were radically egalitarian.

  22. Allegorio

    “”No religion” is for the first time ever the most common religious orientation in America. I remember when America’s religiosity was seen as part of what made it exceptional among Western democracies.”

    Now it seems that “No morality” is what makes America exceptional. Jacob Frank would be proud.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      ah yes, because religion = morality and without it, why would anyone ever be anything but selfish and evil? I’m always taken aback by people who think that this argument illustrates anything other than the fact that the person who espouses it is outing themselves as someone who cannot be trusted to act morally in the absence of swift punishment.

      1. Allegorio

        Chill….. I wasn’t equating religion with morality, but better a morality based on an all seeing God holding you to the straight and narrow, than no morality at all. Not saying that atheists cannot be moral, but there is no denying that morality is a fundamental part of religion even if childishly implemented. Too many people in this highly “scientific” and competitive society have abandoned morality along with religion, as in every man for himself, social Darwinism, rampant materialism. Religion, which I am not advocating but observing, is also about social solidarity and community, as opposed to the atomized current social order. Morality transcends mere ethics. Morality is the mandate to do good and not merely to avoid evil, as in mere ethics. Morality demands more of a person than “enlightened self-interest”, whether one believes in a “religion” or not.

    2. anon y'mouse

      one does not need religion to have morality. in fact, you can be highly religious and seriously morally damaged.

      try Ethics for a change.

      (you are coincidentally correct about the U.S. being “no morality”, though. or should one say, the morality of social darwinism because our religion is Money & the Getting Thereof)

  23. Grant

    I am reading a pretty interesting recently published book from Verso, “People’s Republic of Walmart: How the World’s Largest Corporations are Laying the Foundation for Socialism”, and a small section of the book talks about Lambert, the CEO of Sears. Lambert is an Ayn Rand loving libertarian type that wanted to unleash his ideas and prove that they could work. They seem to have not worked well. I realize the situation with Sears was complex, but his ideas certainly didn’t seem to make a worsening situation any better.


    1. Summer

      Sears – “where America shops”

      I get hints of Bezos and Amazon in that story.
      Just hints.

  24. Huey Long

    HVAC Maven here:

    Displacement ventilation strategies have been a part of the ASHRAE 170 standard for healthcare ventilation going back to 2013…

    Newly constructed healthcare facilities are very picky about their A/C. The fertility clinic in my 1969 vintage hi-rise commercial office building doesn’t use central plant air conditioning supplied by the building. They capped off the ducts coming off of the main and spent a ton of money installing their own custom system.

  25. Oregoncharles

    “”No religion” is for the first time ever the most common religious orientation in America.”
    The meteoric rise started suddenly in about 1992. What happened then? I should remember, but I don’t.

    Catholic membership shows a slow, steady decline – not the drop you’d expect from the scandals; and mainline Protestant plummeted. As someone else suggested, they just got bored with it.

  26. Oregoncharles

    ” reduced sex differences, with males becoming more female-like; ”
    I’ve seen this claim before, but I think it’s hooey. Humans may not have the dramatic color differences that some birds do, but the sexes are dramatically dimorphic in almost every surface characteristic. Start with beards and breasts; then there’s everything from size to skin texture. On top of that, when our physical dimorphism is disguised by clothing, we adopt dimorphic clothing and hairstyles, so evidently the difference is important to us. (Of course, there are also people who game or reverse it – usually by using the same cultural dimorphism.)

    And as for “whose companion animals are we?”: each others’. Domesticated animals are adapted to living with people. So are people, even more so.

    Incidentally, by this definition rats and house mice are domesticated animals, along with others we consider pests.

    1. False Solace

      Cool but your opinion is unsupported by evidence. Humans exhibit much less sexual dimorphism than other primates. For example gorillas, where the males routinely weigh twice as much as females. By comparison, American men weigh 16% more than American women. Much less of a difference.

    2. Y11

      That definition is fine in a dictionary sense, but the kind of domestication seen in dogs and livestock, which is what people usually seem to have in mind when they use the term in this context, seems to be of a rather specific character. By such a broad definition humans being domestic is a tautology (save for the unsurprising implication that humans are social) rather than a factual claim about human nature.

      I don’t think rats or mice are domestic in the same sense that dogs and livestock are. (Even cats seem a bit iffy…)

  27. chuck roast

    “Opinion: This is the real reason why the U.S. economy isn’t in recession danger now”

    One thing Yardini likes to do is parse curves. That’s his business, and it is way above my pay-grade. Here are a few of his curves that I have had bookmarked for a couple of years. I look at the curves now and then. You can find them here: http://www.yardeni.com/pub/commoditypricesglobal.pdf
    I think, “There is a lot going on here. These things must have meaning!” But damned if I can figure them out.

    But you can do it with the help of The Oracle of Delphi… “she sits on a tripod and inhales the light hydrocarbon gasses that escape from a chasm on the porous earth. After falling into a trance, she mutters words incomprehensible to mere mortals. These words are then interpreted by the priests of the sanctuary in a common language and delivered to those who had requested them….”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnaeIAEp2pU

    Nah, I don’t mean to goof on the guy. I’m just having fun. What he seems to be saying is that when the Fed raises interest rates, or is perceived to be raising interest rates a liquidity problem occurs in the private sector (cue Homer again) and the inverted curves are simply an indicator of the liquidity problem.

  28. False Solace

    Re: The Surprisingly Little-Known History of White Rice in Korea

    Very jarring use of the term “genetic engineering” in this article to refer to traditional techniques of hybridization. Humans have been using hybridization and selective breeding for thousands of years. This has nothing to do with actual genetic engineering and has none of the yet-to-be-determined-side-effects-due-to-intentionally-scanty-research (and it seems like all new tech these days has horrific side effects). I see many commenters on the article pointing out the error, and others arguing pedantically about it. I hope this isn’t the latest round in the ongoing abuse of language to serve commercial interests. In this case, using Orwellian definitions of words to manipulate people into supporting an extremely profitable but rather sketchy technology which crowds out freely available traditional ones.

  29. steve

    RE: Nordic-style ventilation

    I’ve got 25 yrs in Hospital HVAC control, monitoring and design.
    The article is focused on the room air currents and is a little unclear, perhaps due to the European perspective, but regardless, in the U.S. isolation rooms come in two flavors, positive pressure rooms for patients vulnerable to infections and negative pressure rooms for patients suspected or confirmed to be infectious.

    All air removed from a negative pressure room is required to be exhausted to the outside. Supply air is usually a mix of returned air from elsewhere and outside air. This is balanced to achieve a negative pressure referenced to outside the room at point of entry and specified Air Changes per Hour. Consideration of specific flow patterns in the room are often neglected, which is something the article addresses.

    Your general population hospital room’s supply air is a mix of recirculated (return air) and outside air. All outside air would be nice, but the energy requirements would be astronomical.

    As an aside, hospital HVAC systems are often neglected and rarely operating to spec. It takes a highly skilled maintenance staff to properly maintain and operate these systems and that is becoming an anomaly these days.

    1. fajensen

      Your general population hospital room’s supply air is a mix of recirculated (return air) and outside air. All outside air would be nice, but the energy requirements would be astronomical.


      In the Nordic countries mixing of the intake and the exhaust air is not done since maybe the 1970’s, there was just too many health-problems and mold-poisoning scandals caused by those systems. In ventilation systems installed after about 1980, there will be cross-flow heat exchangers or heat-pumps to transfer the heat from the incoming to the outgoing side. In most new buildings, the heat-pumps are the norm.

  30. ChrisPacific

    In other news, Zuckerberg has figured out whose fault it is that social media has turned toxic! It’s ours, for not regulating them better.

  31. RWood

    So, “Benghazi omnishambles” —

    Don’t tell me! Don’t tell me!
    (FDR voice) Does that chant start with a four-letter word using just two letters?

    Maga-nut may need help here!

  32. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the Incredible Shrinking Human Brain of the last 30,000 years, the question is asked: ” but whose companion are we?”

    In a sense, we are eachothers’s companion and not in a good way. When “eachother” reaches the thousands and then the millions, traditional high-skill low-impact hunter-gathering becomes no longer possible. Humans have to specialize and then ultra-specialize in what they do so as to interlock their narrow producing or servicing with every other neo-human’s narrow producing or servicing specialty.

    So whose companion are we? We are the companion of the Great Hive itself. Man has been downsizing its brain in order to be able to take the pain of living like the social insects. We are all 2nd rate inferior bootleg-knockoff copies of our Cro-Manderthal ancestors.

  33. penguin

    When living in NYC this is what my local candidates have done forever and a day:

    “it would make a lot more sense to go to places where large numbers of likely supporters gather—bars, churches, subway platforms—and be able to match them to the list right there.”

  34. VietnamVet

    “The case for capitalism”
    On the 50th anniversary of making it through basic training in April, on the way home from the V.A. in D.C., I was shocked to see a homeless man and his Hooch on the grass between K St. NW and the sidewalk next to North Capitol Street. I was middle aged before I saw the first homeless encampment under a bridge next to the railroad tracks in Seattle. The steady march of America into Purgatory since Ronald Reagan’s neoliberal capitalist counter revolt is undeniable. I really question the stability of the USA. It isn’t hyperbole to say the top 10% will kill the rest of us if it makes them richer. The aristocracy’s denial of this truth is stupendous.

    1. Wukchumni

      Santa Monica (home of the homeless) was about the only venue to see down and out denizens in the City of Angels when we slid under the wire past the guard towers and made good our escape 15 years ago, but now Hoovervilles are cheek by jowl with suburbia all over SoCal, despite quite the NHIMBY vibe, in terms of officially having them as residents by building structures to live nearby, er no thanks.

    2. Summer

      What they have only has value to them if you don’t have it. That’s the depth of the psychosis. It could very well extend to how they value life.

  35. The Rev Kev

    “Hidden flaws in common piece of lab kit could botch experiments”

    We have seen this before – with the Hubble Space telescope when it went into orbit. The device to tune the mirror was out of whack and consequently, the mirror itself was out of whack. It required a very expensive mission to correct this mistake but it had the same root cause as that lab kit.


  36. djrichard

    “‘Those Who Obeyed the Rules Were Favored by Evolution’” [Der Spiegel]. …

    DER SPIEGEL: If anyone who strives for power is killed, does that mean there are no chiefs in communities of hunters and gatherers?

    Wrangham: Yes, hunter-gatherers are very egalitarian in their relationships among men.”

    Interesting to compare to The Golden Bough by Frazer where the idea is for the existing priest king to be dethroned by the new claimant (the new religion). How does that work when the priest king is viewed as an aberration to be corrected so that the equilibrium can be rebalanced back to equality? Maybe it doesn’t; maybe The Golden Bough is more representative of “evolved” societies that have relentless political campaigns to keep churning the waters compared to the “primitive” ones that just simply want to have a peaceful life.

    Made me think too of Trump being our alpha chimpanzee in office. So far he hasn’t perpetrated the violence that that other alpha chimp (GWB) has perpetrated. But what about the beta males that occupy that office? Maybe they’re not perpetrating overt violence like the chimps in office do, but still engage in benign neglect of the rest of the population. And then let the rest of the population turn on itself – a form of self-violence. [And sometimes they show their bonafides too through overt violence on foreign entities. So the beta-males over there can be “liberated”?]

    more …

    Wrangham: Yeah. Isn’t that fascinating? And even the fact that the Declaration of Independence only mentions men, but not women, corresponds to the situation in communities of hunters and gatherers. Egalitarianism among them only applies to men. Women, on the other hand, are dominated by men.

    Maybe the beta-males in DC view everybody who doesn’t have power as the equivalent to women in the hunter-gatherer tribes. To be ignored. Or as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy put it “harmless”. Obviously we need to upgrade our entry to “mostly harmless”.

    1. JBird4049

      There are leaders, even strong ones, in hunter gathers and similar societies, but their power is not absolute. It is more like first among equals with the ability to be voted out at anytime. Unlike now when a president is sometimes viewed as godlike.

  37. Lee

    “Barbra Streisand says Michael Jackson’s accusers were ‘thrilled to be there’ and his ‘sexual needs were his sexual needs’” [New York Daily News]. • Oh.

    I guess it’s finally safe for me to say this: I never liked Barbra Streisand.

    This is more my style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0f5ZG9LG6k

  38. SerenityNow

    I flew WOW last week–probably one of their final flights. After a delay getting out of continental Europe, many people on the plane missed connecting flights to the US from Iceland and were put up in a hostel near Keflavik airport (no shared rooms, fortunately). Information was scarce and the airline communicated only by email–it also had no dedicated employees at its hub airport their in Iceland. Wise were those who opted not to take a second night of delay in exchange for another free stay in the hostel and a complimentary round trip ticket on WOW! Many of us escaped back to North America on whatever flight was available.

  39. richard

    Hey, I don’t know if this got covered over in the links, but tulsi was in LA last weekend and J.dore had her on his show. I think she is awesome and makes all kinds of sense, except for her caveat/distinction of being “a hawk on terrorism” which I don’t get:
    There is no military response to an act of terrorism that won’t itself be an act of imperialism. You can either respond “legally” to terrorism, or you can choose to devour your own soul.
    Those last two sentences are an apt summary of the last 2 decades of us foreign policy. She was here for all that, plus she’s from hawaii, so I think she gets imperialism.
    But she can’t name it; that word is forbidden still.
    Anyway, I highly suggest a watch. Peace.

  40. Janie

    Spring in the Hill Country is lovely. When we full-timed with the 5th wheel, we spent spring in the area from New Braunfels to Llano, after seeing relatives in Dallas area. Relatives ware great, but how nice to leave the metropolitan area.

  41. dk

    “‘Those Who Obeyed the Rules Were Favored by Evolution’” [Der Spiegel].

    … a smaller brain. This latest development is particularly fascinating. In fact, the evolution of humans is naturally characterized by a continuous increase in brain size. But it turns out this trend has reversed in the last 30,000 years.”

    We collectivized our intelligence, and started recording stuff (on walls, clay tablets, papyrus, etc.), significantly reducing our need to individually remember every little thing accurately. Of course, this also increases learning things by rote, if one isn’t careful (we haven’t been careful these last few thousand years). And the problem with rote learning is, of course, that one doesn’t actually know how things work, one just knows what to do with them, sort of.

    Information is really difficult to preserve, all media erode, and the context that generated the information changes as well. It’s a problem for every species, how to pass forward a legacy of information.

  42. eg

    “I’m not sure any market is very truly open.”


    Markets are constructed — they are not some natural phenomena outside of human control.

    “Open markets” and “free trade” are slogans, not actually existing arrangements.

  43. XXYY

    Because nobody’s bribing coaches to get into MIT or CalTech, right?

    Degrees from these schools do have value, but at least at Caltech they don’t have guaranteed “slots” for sportsball players, so the Singer approach will not work.

    I was actually at Caltech with my son for a campus tour, and during the Q&A a family behind us piped up asking about sports scholarships at the school. Everyone tried with varying degrees of success not to laugh, including the tour guide, who patiently explained that Caltech was not that kind of school.

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