Links 4/17/19

Notre Dame

Rebuilding Notre Dame New Republic

Notre-Dame saved within vital half hour BBC

Incendie de Notre-Dame de Paris : ce qui a été perdu et ce qui a été sauvé Le Monde

Notre-Dame n’était pas assurée : contre qui l’Etat peut-il donc se retourner ? Le Parisien

In Notre Dame fire, echoes of the 1837 blaze that destroyed Russia’s Winter Palace The Conversation

Consider the Golden Mole LRB (Richard Smith)

Why this owl raised a duckling as its own National Geographic (David L). Super cute photo!


Phuket ‘Seasteaders’ told to pack up and go home Thaiger (furzy). Someone needs to tell them Neal Stephenson was not giving lifestyle advice.

A.I. Is Changing Insurance New York Times

Thawing Permafrost Emitting Higher Levels of Potent Greenhouse Gas Than Previously Thought: Study Common Dreams

Early ocean plastic litter traced to 1960s BBC (David L). We now have vintage garbage?

A 3D-printed heart with blood vessels has been made using human tissue MIT Technology Review (David L)


Trump Stirs Alarm That He May Be Giving China a New Trade Weapon Bloomberg

China battles the US in the artificial intelligence arms race Financial Times (David L)

New US policy on seized property in Cuba threatens EU ties DW


Exclusive: Grassroots Conservative chairmen planning no-confidence vote in Theresa May ‘within weeks’ Telegraph

The UK teeters on the verge of a Brexit breakdown Financial Times

Amid Euphoria in Sudan, a Delicate Dance Over Who Will Lead: Soldiers or Civilians? New York Times

New Cold War

Is Russian ‘Meddling’ an Attack on America? – RAI with Stephen Cohen Real News


Targeting Hizbullah – TTG Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Trump vetoes measure ending US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen The Hill (Kevin W)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The woman who blew open the Cambridge Analytica scandal says Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are ‘handmaidens to authoritarianism’ Business Insider (David L)

You have the right to always remain silent Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Journalism’s Assange problem The Conversation. This would be more credible if journalists weren’t typically serving as stenographers to the powerful.

Trump Transition

GOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback The Hill

ICE Deports Spouse of U.S. Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Daily Beast (resilc)

Trump Tax Code: These Companies Made Billions, Paid No Taxes Rolling Stone (resilc)

The Republican Party Is Making America Great Again—for Plutocrats and Well-Heeled Thieves Esquire

The mental rigours of being US president BBC

T-Mobile-Sprint Deal Runs Into Resistance From DOJ Antitrust Staff Wall Street Journal

The Dangerous Bullying of Ilhan Omar New Yorker (furzy)

Health Care

As Single-Payer Gains Traction, Industry Launches Attack Ads TruthOut (RR)

Lethal Plans: When Seniors Turn To Suicide In Long-Term Care Kaiser Health News


Dems see lane to Buttigieg victory The Hill v. The Memo: Sanders becomes Dem frontrunner The Hill

Wall Street and finance executives place first bets on 2020 Democrats CNBC (UserFriendly)

Fox Draws Nearly 2.6 Million Viewers for Bernie Sanders Town Hall Bloomberg

Bernie Sanders raises most 2020 campaign cash in North Carolina Charlotte Observer (martha r)

Beto Talks About the Costs of War The Nation (resilc)

Paradise, Calif., Water Is Contaminated But Residents Are Moving Back Anyway NPR (David L)

‘Great Example’ of Local Organizing as Maine AFL-CIO Signs Onto #GreenNewDeal Common Dreams (martha r)

Insiders describe a world of chaos and waste at Panasonic’s massive battery-making operation for Tesla Business Insider (Kevin W)

Jack Dorsey Is Captain of the Twittanic at TED 2019 Wired (Kevin W)

Trump May Regret His Fed Takeover Attempt John Mauldin

Goldman Sachs is cutting nearly 100 jobs amid tumbling profits Business Insider (Kevin W)

Five Lies Our Culture Tells David Brooks, New York Times (resilc). Brooks makes sense again. Something must be in the water…

Delaware court clarifies stance on ‘efficient markets hypothesis’ Financial Times (David L)

Class Warfare

OSEC Criticizes CFPB for Proposed Gutting of Payday Lending Rule Occupy the SEC

Driver dead in app cab crash Telegraph India (J-LS)

Antidote du jour. David D: “Seen in my neighborhood”:

A bonus, from guurst:

And yet another bonus, from Walter B, sent by his daughter in 2017:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. jhallc

      Thanks for the correct ink. I was very happy to see that the article focused on my state Rep. Lori Trahan.
      From the article:
      “This lack of support for Medicare for All may have been what prompted the Partnership’s decision to approach her. In the face of this pressure Rep. Trahan went another way. Rather than become a surrogate for the private health industry in fighting the policy, she became the 107th co-sponsor of the House version of Medicare for All in the current Congress. (There are now 108, as Elijah Cummings has since co-sponsored as well.)”

      I had contacted her office last month to voice my concern that she had not co-sponsored Rep. Jayapal’s M4A bill. I have hope for her now and will send her a thank you for supporting M4A.

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      The membership of PAHCF only tells part of the story. A key member of PAHCF is the Health Leadership Council, which is comprised of just about every healthcare company doing business in the country. So make no mistake, the forces aligned against Medicare 4 All are well-funded, deeply entrenched in D.C., and desperate.


    3. tongorad

      There seems to be an organized gas-lighting/misinformation campaign against everyone getting health care (surprise!). As pointed out by Jimmy Dore recently, Fox’s Brett Baier tried to pull a gotcha on Bernie Sanders by hoping that the Town Hall audience would signal that they wanted to keep their employer-based insurance…despite the click-bait title, this clip is a must see imo:
      Bernie’s Glorious Victory Moment On Fox News
      I found it interesting how Baier’s gambit was similar to a Beto talking point:

      In Iowa, Beto O’Rourke works to find his footing on health care – “It responds to the fact that so many Americans have said, ‘I like my employer-based insurance. I want to keep it. I like the network I’m in. I like the doctor that I see,'” O’Rourke said.

      Is their a finishing school for these, um, people?

  1. John A

    RE Wow! Check out this $47 BILLION Underwater Coastal Highway project in Norway!
    Norway lead the world in rock tunnel engineering and looks amazing. However a sad reflection on how times change and the dominance of road transport and travel.
    Historically, the sea route was the main link between north and south Norway. The Gulf Stream ensured the coast was not ice bound either. Nowadays sadly, the coastal express ships are more or less a tourist cruise line. Even though Norway is the Tesla capital of Europe thanks to political incentives free parking, no congestion charge, grants etc., cannot help feeling nostalgia for the sea route and wonder if it mr market will kill it altogether.

    1. Jerry B

      Thanks John! I feel the same way when I see new brand new road construction in the US or anywhere. My response is what about mass transit? My wife and I were recently in Appleton, Wi as we are thinking of relocating there to get away from the high housing costs of the Chicago Metro area.

      Appleton has a two highways, 441 and 41, that basically form a square around the city. In my alternative universe I would build a light rail system that runs along side the highway with buses at the main arterial roads that can take people to jobs or shopping, i..e essentially a grid. But alas no, Appleton like everywhere else is cars, cars, everywhere cars.

      Lastly, in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago they are building a new four lane road called the Longmeadow Parkway. This is being done to alleviate traffic and shorten commute times. The new road is cutting right through a lot of natural open land areas. From an environmental and nature perspective it is a disgusting site to behold. Again what about mass transit? Also what’s going to happen in 20-50 years when the oil/gas runs out or is too expensive? By then the new road will be a relic of a bygone era with weeds sticking out like a scene from the movie I am Legend.

      The lack of any planning or long term perspective in the US ( and probably other countries too) is pathetic. Lewis Mumford is rolling over in his grave.

        1. John A

          Not quite sure what you mean by mass transit here. Norway is a very, very long and thin country, full of fjords and mountains, full of snow and ice over half the year. That is why the sea route was the main route. Not sure anyone would seriously suggest a daily commute between Oslo and Trondheim. Or what else do you mean?

          1. Jerry B

            ===However a sad reflection on how times change and the dominance of road transport and travel====

            dearieme and John—-First, I apologize for being metaphorical. I have to remember that many people on blogs are conditioned by the nature of blogs to take things literally. Whereas my natural inclination is to speak in metaphors. I do this because to me nothing is absolute. Everything is in context. I am a very “symbolic” person. I use words and numbers as symbols and not as if I am under oath in a court of law where every word is gospel.

            My points were that to borrow John’s statement above we have to much dominance of road transport and not enough alternatives i.e sea, mass transit etc. etc..!! IMO transport by sea can be “mass” transit as well instead of one person driving a car using up oil and environmental costs.

            Also, unless I misunderstood, the article is about making a highway linking Oslo and Trondheim. So while I am not implying a daily commute, the fact that a “highway” is being built which implies one person driving one fossil fuel consuming and fossil fuel spewing car the length of the highway seems environmentally unfriendly.

            According to the video much of the “highway” will be underground/underwater. If a highway can be built underground/underwater why not a train???

            Again our misunderstanding is on me. I was being too “conceptual”, and probably lacking an understanding of the challenges of building a underground rail the length of Norway. But as I said above, if a highway can be built why not a subway?

            1. John A

              Hi Jerry,
              Sorry, my reply was to Dearie Me, I did not notice you were being quoted.
              Your sentiments are absolutely in line with mine. As it is today, you can drive from Oslo to Trondheim and beyond by road. However, the journey is interrupted by numerous fjord crossings by ferry. Basically this new highway will speed things up. But to what purpose? To bring more crapified consumer goods to rural and in many cases, relatively isolated communities faster? Already Norway has a big problem with foreign truck drivers from the warmer parts of Eastern Europe who struggle in the snow and ice and let their truck slide off the road.
              There has been talk on and off of a Norwegian ‘silican fjord’. As it is today, many people travel by air around Norway. I just think it is sad that Norway (which is a corruption of ‘North Way’, ie the sea route) is falling to the road lobby, even if Norwegians are big adopters of electric vehicles and losing the romance of the original North Way by sea.

      1. Adam Eran

        From Jane Jacobs’ Life and Death of the Great American City: “Modern planning is positively neurotic in ignoring what does work and embracing what doesn’t…It’s a form of advanced superstition, like [19th century] medicine that believed bleeding patients would cure them.” (OK, this is pretty close, but I didn’t go look up the *exact* quote)

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I wonder how much roadway $47 BILLION would build in the U.S. I wonder whether it would suffice to fill the potholes in the roads in a few of our cities — after all the ‘costs’ are added in.

  2. Steve H.

    > Five Lies Our Culture Tells

    “We’ve taken the lies of hyper-individualism and we’ve made them the unspoken assumptions that govern how we live.”

    Thatcher: “there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”

    Dīvide et imperā.

    Nowak: b/c > 1 + (n/m)

    Taken with two grains of salt (simplification and assumption), the ideology of homo economicus increases the number of groups in the pool (m), and drives down the ROI necessary to facilitate cooperation. It is in the interest of an elite cohort (n) to increase the number of groups dividing the population. Best if everyone’s in it for themselves.

    1. dearieme

      Oh balls. What Thatcher said was:

      I think we have been through a period when too many people have been given to understand that when they have a problem it is government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant. I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They are casting their problems on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no governments can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours. People have got their entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There is no such thing as an entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

      1. pretzelattack

        a couple of things
        how do individuals cope with, say brexit? or global warming–at least thatcher recognized that was a problem, probably due to her background in science.

      2. Steve H.

        Exactly. “It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.” She is denying that there is any group selection, no cooperative behavior beyond ourselves, our family, our neighbors or the people we meet. Assad Sr was more direct when he asserted you need ten percent of a population on your side to run a police state.

        “People have got their entitlements [b] too much in mind, without the obligations [c].” The range of benefits within the narrow networks she is describing are very limited, orders of magnitude less than what is available to elite groups in large populations. (The ROI needed for behaving as a cooperative in very large groups (a large percent of population) is so high, that only low-cost behaviors get selected for. Common courtesy, or voting every four years.)

        “And no governments can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first.” That’s pretty much what W told New Orleans after Katrina. And O told homeowners while foaming the runways. I do not believe that is the case.

          1. Cal2

            Background; The chain-smoking slob
            ‘Ayn Rand’ relied on Medicare as she was dying of lung cancer.

            Here’s a sixth lie:

            Parents of soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces, like David Brooks, are impartial journalists reporting on the U.S. and reflecting the true opinions of Americans.

        1. VietnamVet

          Assad Senior should know. The West is a little murkier. The Plutocrats did a counter revolt starting in 1980 and set up a separate global extractive economic system and bought out the western democracies. Their handmaidens then gutted the Unions and ended taxation of the wealthy. Since then it has been a race to the bottom for the middle class. The Deep State, Corporate Media, and the Republican and Democratic Parties are the 10%. Surveillance, Propaganda and Co-opting are intended to keep the 90% passive. But the 10% have a problem. They have to believe their own propaganda. They are totally detached from reality. Mayor Pete is a great example of this. The current angst is grounded in this cognitive dissonance.

          1. Procopius

            I would actually say, much to my own surprise, that the counterrevolution started in 1973. That’s when the government started deregulating things and made a decision to destroy the labor movement (through Volcker).

      3. a different chris

        >And no governments can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first.

        That’s a Sarah Palin level of gobbly-gook, as filtered thru a fine upper-class Brit accent. It doesn’t mean anything — we know that government can’t do something thru cats or oranges.

      4. zagonostra

        Empirically speaking there is no such thing as an “individual,” it is “society” that is the objective reality. Where can you find an individual that didn’t come from a family/community/society?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Even Caspar Hauser had some connection.

          Werner Herzog gave that film the title, Everyone For Himself And God Against All.

      5. Raulb

        This is crude US libertarianism and neoliberalism designed to justify inequity and wealth as the ‘natural state’.

        Feudalism used a priestly class and the ‘divine right’ of kings to do this, neoliberalism uses ‘individualism’. But feudalism also placed a responsibility of kings towards their subjects for some legitimacy, Neoliberal thatcher does not even want that responsibility as head of government, just the power please, but to do what? Neoliberalism returns us to the jungle, a regression in thinking and civilization with the superficial trappings of civilization.

        Why even have government, individuals can form self supporting collectives and live off the land like their ancestors, you don’t need some expensive super structure called government. The problem is there is no land for individuals unless you have an inheritance and people are thus already born into the superstructure. And if there is equality from day one in this superstructure you can talk about individualism but if things are unequal from day one with people born in different circumstances then its a fraud.

        For instance did the UK have land reform, was the land divided equitably among the population in the transition from feudalism to democracy? No? Then what individualism? Capitalism was designed to favour the nobility who already had land and wealth hence ‘capital’ism so to do nothing to deliver equality over generations of capitalism and in 1980 to declare you are not even going to try, but talk about individualism and meritocracy is the biggest con that only idiots and simpletons can fall for.

        Its curious the right wing are happy to throw everyone, the concept of governance and society under the bus in the economic context but then cry about lower marriage and ‘birth rates’ – the direct consequences of their economic polices – and affect concern for ‘society’. Aren’t these the same people who don’t care about society? This is how stupid right wingers are.

        Neoliberalism, US libertarianism, Hayek and all the ideologues are a completely non serious mockery of humanity, human history, society and economics because the end game if people are not able to survive and procreate is the end of your society, and all this to service the insatiable greed of a few. If the only operational incentive in your society is greed you are going to have the greediest most inhumane society and this the future our stupid generation has created.

      6. lambert strether

        > there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.

        “Safety culture” in the aircraft industry — now of course under assault by Thatcher’s neoliberal heirs, like everything else — not only gives the lie to Thatcher’s claim analytically, but pragmatically, since it’s foundational to multibillion-dollar industries in manufacturing and transport.

        1. Steve H.

          > “Safety culture” in the aircraft industry

          That would be an example of a strong-selection group. ‘Society’ may imply weak bonds, but there sure are ‘societies’. There may be a sweet spot of a Dunbar group with a “need to fire ~15% of their customers”, banishment as negative reinforcement, and as long as they’re picked off one-by-one the ROI is great.

          Could a signed waiver fix the problem of flying sardine cans?

          “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my uncle, not screaming in terror like his passengers.”

    2. coboarts

      Nothing here that wasn’t being yelled out during the 60s when the cultural institutions of family, church, small town communities, etc. were being destroyed. The destruction has only continued and picked up the pace. And, of course, it couldn’t be a conspiracy – not if you’re part of the main stream with your feet on the ground, and completely unaware that the ground is being pulled from underneath you. And I’m not so sure that Lewis Mumford would appreciate the rapidly concentrating mega-cities. It used to take a communist revolution to decry year one. Now it is being claimed as a privilege by those who have no awareness of history and why those institutions were necessary. We live in a very sick society, and we’re being treated to the full onslaught of our own insanity, at speed.

  3. BillK

    Re: Is Russian ‘Meddling’ an Attack on America?

    As Cohen says – There was no “Attack”.

    Is USA ‘Meddling’ an Attack on almost every other country in the World?

    1. Mike

      The most important statement was made by Paul Jay when stating the “exoneration” of Trump left this bigger issue on the table, and that Mueller reinforced it. As I said in previous post, it does not matter if Trump was cleared, since he could jump on this bedrock of Russian meddling to bring down his REAL enemies – media, whistleblowers, investigators, and the Left ultimately. Nothing to celebrate here, and those celebrating are coming across as Trump supporters when they are not (they will be smeared by the establishment press as such until the cows come home).

      Further, the news of Omidyar and the Intercept closing the Snowden data by way of “ownership” could be construed as an under-the-table operation of intelligence to take back those documents, thus keeping the public from ever seeing them and maybe defending the Intercept from punishment. Question – could Russia gain some favor with the US by removing Snowden’s protection a la Ecuador? Could that take “Russiagate” off the table? How stupid is the media, or are they bought enough to not worry?

      Weak-kneed opposition, no matter by nations, candidates, or renegades, will end up being treated as “fellow travelers”, so no joy in this as it chips away at any opposition possible, and we can all see it now, if eyes are open.

    2. pjay

      On the subject of “Russian meddling,” Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have published their latest memorandum at Consortium News in anticipation of the Mueller report. It is a good updated overview of their evidence and argument and even more strongly worded than usual. Well worth a read. They also remind us of this:

      “You may be unaware that in March 2017 lawyers for Assange and the Justice Department (acting on behalf of the CIA) reportedly were very close to an agreement under which Assange would agree to discuss “technical evidence ruling out certain parties” in the leak of the DNC emails” and agree to redact some classified CIA information, in exchange for limited immunity. According to the investigative reporter John Solomon of The Hill, Sen. Mark Warner, D,VA, Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, learned of the incipient deal and told then-FBI Director Comey, who ordered an abrupt “stand down” and an end to the discussions with Assange.”

      “Why did Comey and Warner put the kibosh on receiving “technical evidence ruling out certain parties [read Russia]? We won’t insult you with the obvious answer…. But is it too late to follow up somehow on Assange’s offer? Might he or his associates be still willing to provide “technical evidence” showing, at least, who was not the culprit?”

      My guess is that it is too late. But it is an interesting question.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Let the first nation, having a stake, and capable, but without any meddling sin, cast the first stone.

    4. RWood

      Gore Vidal: Truman bequeathed us the National Security State, ‘perpetual war for perpetual peace’

  4. Krystyn Walentka

    “Lethal Plans: When Seniors Turn To Suicide In Long-Term Care Kaiser Health News”:

    Last night a friend called to tell me their 17 year old child attempted suicide by taking a bunch of prescribed pills (sleep, pain) and drinking wine. Great student, going ivy league, athlete, etc. They asked me, since I have experience with such things, what they should do. I told them to throw all their tons of money at the child’s mental health and make it the only priority. I asked if the child said anything and they said (he/she) will not talk to them.

    But the article reveals as well that there is psychological dysfunction, in the young and the old, that instead of fighting and tearing sh^t down and changing things, they have this depressive response. I am wondering if there is a problem that people do not know how to listen anymore, and as a result the vulnerable, young and old, just do not talk. Or maybe people just do not care, which I feel, and have seen, is more true. Everyone is busy with bullsh^t, staring at computers and phones and working just to keep up or in the promise of some future financial security/independence.

    And I am wondering if any of you all notice this trend of children who cannot express themselves, or do not care to. I was a high school teacher, so I have seen this change. Something weird is going on.

    1. juneau

      I have seen it once or twice recently. I don’t want to blame any individual, but I have noticed that some young people who were most vocal, hysterical and overwhelmed post-election have become strangely silent. It follows Seligman’s classic learned helplessness model of depression where dogs who don’t have control over shocks given to them are vocal then become completely passive. They fought and cried and raged and now accept what has happened. And the fight seems gone from them.

      1. Krystyn Walentka

        The link to voting is interesting, because most people are told that voting matters. So when they vote, and their team loses, well, voting does not matter. And so they are like “WTF”, and they have no idea what to do because all they were taught to do was vote. This is why I like the DSA and how they promote action, but I have found my local DSA struggles for this very reason.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          I think a lot of kids these days don’t learn the connection between their actions and outcomes, positive or negative. I make my guys do chores (pick up dog poop, walk dogs, clean rooms, must read for at least 30 mins per day, etc.). And a lot of my friends are appalled that they have to do things like pick up the dog poop. You want these big dogs running around? Help take care of them! You want to play a sport? Practice and take care of your equipment! You want dinner? Set and clear the table! I quit using high school babysitters because they were so passive I didn’t feel comfortable leaving them in charge.

          1. newcatty

            Hmmm…some of your friends are appalled that your guys ( guess that means boys) have to pick up dog poop? Tell , if not them, then who? You? Or the “yard man or gardener”? I realize that you probably mean that reading 30 minutes a day is something you require they do for their own benefit. Its a good idea. Thought it a little strange that you fit it in with the category of “chores”. Maybe you don’t use that term when listing the daily work. It is great that your children have the learned experience of being responsible for their choices and privileges in their lives. Having big dogs(which have to be fed big amounts of paid for food, vet care, etc.) is a privilege. Many kids and families litreally can not afford a pet. They are struggling to feed the humans in the household. Playing a sport is also a privilege. Indeed there are youth affiliated sports that are not like club sports, but there are still costs. Same with school sports. Again, It is just really difficult for those of us who have no worries about our daily bread to really understand the numbers of low income or poor people struggling in this country. I count myself as those who have no worries about housing, food security or affording my pet cats. I know of many single moms who do struggle and put their kids’ welfare first. Every day is a struggle. Every cent is spent for the benefit of their kids. If just making kids “learn connections between actions and outcomes” could be the solution to the increase in teenagers attempting suicide, and often succeeding, then that would be a neat and tidy outcome. Teens are experiencing serious alienation, despair and depression. The pressure to be successful is intense. Competition is intense. Their world is crumbling around them: climate change alone is a Spector of collapse. Parents are dancing as fast as they can to keep the jig up. Many kids have broken parents, so who is the parent? (This is not taking into account the number of kids abused or neglected in this county ). I think that the examples of kids feeling helpless and not wanting to talk about it is the tragic outcome.

        2. JohnnyGL

          It should be appreciated what a monumental task the DSA is setting out for themselves.

          It’s a massive pushback against a cultural change for the last several decades, at least, where we’re constantly told by political/media elites “Don’t ask us in the govt to do anything for you, we owe you nothing. But pay your taxes, obey our laws and vote for us again. But don’t ask for anything in return”

          Business elites say the only thing you can do to effect change is move to a new neighborhood/city or change jobs or start a business, or maybe if you want to give back, there’s some carefully chosen non-profits that we partner with that know they can’t go too far.

          Demobilizing average citizens, or at least carefully directing and managing how they get organized has been a long term elite project.

          It’s very much in contrast with America’s history of social cohesion and grooming of social capital, going as far back as De Tocqueville and documented in the book “Bowling Alone”.

          I do hope the pushback gathers strength.

          1. Cal2

            “It’s very much in contrast with America’s history of social cohesion…”

            For better or worse, fragmenting natural or trust communities started with the civil rights movement, forced integration and the internal division of families through welfare policy. Its maximum expression was in the Hart-Celler Act

            Two differing interpretations of that:



            1. Harold

              No. It started with huge tax subsidies for the oil companies, who boosted road building & getting rid of public transit. Government subsidies of of segregated lily-white, suburban housing developments and car communities. Building of segregated , low income housing, such as those in Chicago and then failure to maintain them. Block-busting and white flight. And the passage of Taft-Hartley over Truman’s veto, crippling unionization. It all was very much a government creation all right a government dominated by a minority of greedy, right-wing bigots.

              1. Cal2

                “public transit and Government subsidies of of segregated lily-white, suburban housing developments and car communities. Building of segregated , low income housing, such as those in Chicago and then failure to maintain them. Block-busting and white flight.”

                Those were all part of social cohesion, rather than divisions.
                If you are against white flight, then you must for for its opposite; gentrification?

                Your last sentence is emotionalism and contributes little to the conversation. Agree about Taft-Harley.

                Pretzel, “for better or worse.”

            2. pretzelattack

              i think race riots and lynchings indicate that social cohesion wasn’t all that before the civil rights movement. also segregated schools, bathrooms, poll taxes…

              1. JBird4049

                Segregation was the violent, legally sanctioned, centuries long separation of blacks from everyone else; the social cohesion within the different societies was not generally destroyed then.

                Social cohesion across the whole of American society now is being degraded and then removed.

          2. Svante Arrhenius

            An entitled, parasitic minority, feeding off hard working taxpayers. Dead-eyed super preditors who produce nothing & take without remorse; devoid of ethics, morals or conviction. Driven in limousines, served caviar and champagne on private jets. A souless horde of miscreants without shame or fear of repercussions, since they make the laws, feed upon our subjugation


        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Election outcomes.

          “When they vote, and their team loses..”

          Elections are multple-choice exercises. But life is more complex than that.

          Moreover, life goes on; while elections or election cycles are marked with a beginning and an end.

          Maybe there is no such a thing as your team winning/losing, nor ‘it’s over now, wait till 2024.’

      2. hemeantwell

        Seligman’s model applied to this situation is terribly reductionistic and brings information loss that we shouldn’t take on.

        A crucial question is the extent to which, for some, post-election reactions were premised on the underlying notion that protest would essentially conjure up good authorities to wage war against the bad. Very different from taking power yourself, which is the task Dem party fecklessness has revealed to be necessary. For some such a task is more or less quantitatively overwhelming, e.g. “I just don’t have the time, my family needs me.” For others it implies challenging authority in a way that’s hard for them to manage, it just doesn’t feel right. I have no idea how these and other stances are distributed through the population. But Seligman’s theory is simply blinding to these really-existing features of mass consciousness.

    2. Savonarola

      It seems to me to be a response to differing socialization. They don’t talk in general! They type. Or they find pictures that describe their emotions and post them on instagram. Or they listen to music and let that speak for them. I think to some extent it is the difference between people who were socialized to deal directly, face to face, with other people and a generation that now conducts much of its social life through a screen.

      But I also think that the set of expectations endemic in being the child you describe make it impossible to voice the problem at the root of the despair. “This isn’t what I want,” when it is all you have been trained for and all your parents have focused their money and energy on to date, feels impossible to actually admit. It might seem even impossible to articulate, going against the prevalent culture to that extent, for a “good” child. I wish them all the best.

    3. a different chris

      >Great student, going ivy league, athlete, etc.

      Uh, yeah — do you see what you just did there? What is he/she like as a person? What makes them smile? Do sad movies make them cry?

      Not picking on you, just the opposite: we all have this problem, especially when it comes to our relationship with the youngsters. I find Europe, at least what I’m starting to call “Olde Europe”, to be so much better where three generations can be found frequenting the same pubs.

      1. Krystyn Walentka

        Oh, I was describing as other would describe him/her, not as I would. As in he/she was taught to follow the rules, etc. and it would all be good.

      2. kareninca

        I have a neighbor who has two boys who have psychological problems. When I describe them to a third party I say that they are very good to their rescued dog, and nice to old ladies in our condo complex. I guess it is true that they are good students and have hobbies but that does not cross my mind as a way to describe them. It’s funny how people describe other people.

        Also not picking on Krystyn. I wonder how the parents would describe the kid in Krystyn’s case; that would tell one a lot. I’m afraid that my neighbor does focus on her sons’ “achievements” and I don’t think that helps.

    4. Jef

      They can throw all the money in the world at their “mental health” but that doesn’t change the fact that young people today have the internet…they no longer live in the united states of amnesia, the land where everyone lies to themselves everyday claiming things aren’t so bad, things will get better, the US is a benevolent force for good in the world. They see everything going to hell in a handbasket, the “adults” doing nothing to address any of it but insist that the young people of today just need to knuckle down get to work becoming a “success” at something.

      I had a restaurant a couple years back, Soup Shop, 8 or 9 hand made soups a day. Located between the university, a middle school, and a highschool. I had a great rep with the young and many would sit at the counter at off hours and talk. Adults like to depict them as clueless, lazy, directionless, but the youth of today have a much better handle on the real world than most adults I talk to.

      Same thing is true with mass shooters which is suicide for the most part. They have no agency and they can see clearly that the system is failing not only them but all life on the planet.

      Adults pretend that none of this is true and a few adjustments to system will make everything ok.

      1. RWood


        It may be that when we no longer know what to do
        we have come to our real work,
        and that when we no longer know which way to go,
        we have begun our real journey.
        The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
        The impeded stream is the one that sings.
        ― Wendell Berry

        and this:

        Our worth is determined, the painter attempts to show us, not by what we do in life, but by what we do with what life gives us. It is the ferocity and steadfastness of the struggle that exalt us, especially when we comprehend that victory is ultimately impossible. This wisdom would be echoed by Albert Camus almost a century after Delacroix when he wrote that life required us to “être à la hauteur de son désespoir”—rise up to the level of our despair.

        Chris Hedges

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I agree with your assertion “… the youth of today have a much better handle on the real world than most adults I talk to.” My son is in my state’s mental health system. He has been helped by the anti-psychotic medicines he receives so there is some organic component to his illness. But I believe that like many others — perhaps most — of the mentally ill he was born with a tendency toward mental illness in response to certain triggers. I also believe our society has been well-crafted to trigger mental illness in those susceptible to it.

        I look at the present world and track the directions toward the future and wonder how most of today’s adults might fare if they were to look clearly toward what is to come. Each year the future prospects for our youth diminish, jobs grow fewer, more tenuous and ‘unpleasant’, incomes fall, costs rise, and all too many of our young are compelled to return home by their financial circumstance. For young men this economy presents especially harsh realities.

        Now shift to the old and I believe they too “have a much better handle on the real world” as they are compelled to face their own much harsher realities. The link spent considerable energy suggesting all suicides of the old were a result of depression as a mental health issue and that we must all work hard to assure that the old soldier on to their natural death. It didn’t have much to say about possible reasons for depression like pain, extreme loneliness, or the crushing financial costs to continue to soldier on — assuming they have the money to pay for their medicines and care.

        The link also contained all sorts of 1-800-Suicide-Help hot-lines. What can someone say on a suicide hot-line to ‘make it all better’? … “The check is in the mail?”

        1. Krystyn Walentka

          I can tell you from my experience and my research, most cases of mental illness are environmental. The genes make us more susceptible. Look at the cases of people with undiagnosed celaic who are in psychiatric hospitals being treated as psychotic, and cured one they were diagnosed and stopped eating gluten.

          And as I said before, the effect of EMF radiation on calcium ion channels which are implicated in many psychiatric diseases…just add it to the list.

    5. Aleric

      In the past year, a teenaged niece and nephew have both attempted suicide, one very seriously. They don’t like to talk about it, my impression is of a stream of constant bullying via social media (mostly the fringe apps that are rarely used by adults). I don’t know the solution, cutting off social media for teens these days means cutting off their social life.

      1. Aleric

        The other side is the instant connectivity between all authority figures (parents/teachers/coaches/etc) leading to a life of complete passivity and control within the adult sphere. There is no space to be a teenager, to screw up in a relatively safe fashion with a small group of friends. No wonder they don’t want to talk, there’s no privacy, everything they say either feeds into a control/punishment loop, or Lord of the Flies mockery.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Blaming social media and fringe apps seems like a too-easy repetition of a current news meme about youth. I see them buried in their phones but I believe they might not be so thoroughly occupied if better options were available.

        My limited experience with those around me who were depressed was that they felt they couldn’t talk with their family or friends because their family or friends or lack of friends was an integral part of the problems they faced. But they also refused to seek outside help and under current laws I know of no way to compel them. Besides I am not impressed with the kinds of help available — and when I looked for it to present as an option I discovered real help isn’t as easy to find as I thought it should be after all the public announcements of concern.

        Once a person does attempt suicide or speak openly of committing suicide you can get ‘help’ in most states — but coercive ‘help’ that falls far short of the real need.

    6. Summer

      “Last night a friend called to tell me their 17 year old child attempted suicide by taking a bunch of prescribed pills (sleep, pain) and drinking wine. Great student, going ivy league, athlete, etc.”

      I think of the high schooler (senior, 18) in the news today for her trip thru Denver with a gun.
      She was still in school and apparently checked off enough boxes in people’s heads that she was still well-enough to carry on there.
      I guess what I’m getting at are the superficial cues we’ve adopted to signal “everything is alright.”

    7. Mike

      Krystyn, it would seem to me to be the endemic cultural basis for the USA, and underneath that is our twisted interpretation of capitalism as it relates to individual freedom, vs. responsibility. We have put a gigantic onus on people who cannot, for some reason or another, come up with “the answer” to life’s most pressing issues. Whether it is personal, economic, familial, social status, class, rising or falling expectations and results, we cannot be sure the right mix of self-help and social support will be available to us.

      Capitalists who have arrived within this system have such support structure, and are worshiped because the system reports that as “individual ruggedness”. The rest of us must achieve that within or through outside support that is acceptable to our watchdogs.

      In short, this is not a failure of Americans, but a failure of normal individuals trapped in a system pushing them too far out on the lone branch. It is lucky more have not responded similarly.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thank you for pointing out that elegant turn of phrase: “…pushing them too far out on the lone branch”. I have added it to my collection for later uses.

  5. Summer

    Re: You Have The Right To Always Remain Silent

    “Let’s cut to the chase. Julian Assange is not a US citizen, he’s an Australian. WikiLeaks is not a US-based media organization. If the US government gets Assange extradited, prosecuted and incarcerated, it will legitimize its right to go after anyone, anyhow, anywhere, anytime.”

    Remember how some loved to tell others who point out the USAs continuing domestic and global wicked violence to leave the country if they didn’t “love” it?

    You can honestly say there is not one country in this world of the USA’s vision of post-world war II “order” that will not be destroyed by it if they do not wake up.

        1. RWood

          The James O’Keefe Attorney General
          Release of the Mueller Report Marks William Barr’s Date With History; Odds Are He’ll Screw It Up

          By David Cay Johnston, DCReport Editor-in-Chief

          David Cay Johnston

          In 1989 [William Barr] wrote a memo titled “Authority of the FBI to Override Customary or Other International Law in the Course of Extraterritorial Law Enforcement Activities.” At the time Barr was the deputy attorney general, though he would soon begin his first stint as attorney general.

          Ron Ostrow, the Los Angeles Times veteran Justice Department reporter, explained the memo when he broke the story. He wrote that the memo said FBI agents have “authority to apprehend fugitives from U.S. law in foreign countries and return them to the United States without first obtaining the foreign state’s consent.”

          Barr’s memo “reversed a ruling dating back to the Carter Administration that had denied the FBI such authority to take unilateral action overseas,” Ostrow wrote. “The Carter ruling even had warned that federal agents could face kidnapping charges abroad if they used such tactics.”

    1. Ford Prefect

      I have appreciation for Wikileaks and their importance in keeping things out in the open. Things like the Pentagon Paper releases were vitally important back in the day. However, I have been concerned over the years about their complete lack of filtering information, as it seemed they would simply release just about anything they would get their hands on, regardless of its potential impacts.

      1. Procopius

        They claimed at the time to be “filtering” their releases for things like the names of agents and collaborators, to avoid endangering people who had been trying to do good. Didn’t you ever read their press releases? Often there were people demanding they speed up the process. I thought it was a bad idea for them to announce they had revealing material and then delay its release. That led to things like the case where they said for a couple of months that they were on the verge of releasing a shocking scandal from one of the biggest banks, only to have to announce that the whole set of files had been deleted by the guy (I forget his name) who was basically Assange’s partner and equal. Heavens, that’s a long time ago.

  6. Sam Adams

    Re: The woman who blew open the Cambridge Analytica scandal says Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are ‘handmaidens to authoritarianism’

    I wonder if they said the same about the printing press and Gutenberg.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Neither of those two built the colloquial Internet. They built platforms which have narrowed outlets and destroyed competitors. They have nothing going in common with Guttenberg or the printing press.

      1. pjay

        Not to mention the key point in Cadwalladr’s attack: that they provided client data to Cambridge Analytica that was used to inform and assist the Trump campaign. As they provide client data to other organizations for commercial or “security” reasons. Yes, her valid point was that their actions and motives were quite the opposite from those of Guttenberg.

        1. pjay


          “Her talk condemned Facebook and Twitter for providing a platform for hate speech and misinformation — a decision, she said, that likely fueled the outcomes of the UK and US elections.”

          She also seems to blame them for duping deplorables to support Brexit and Trump. This is the “liberal” BS argument that leads to calls for the “responsibility to protect” these dupes from “misinformation.” So *not* valid.

          Well, it was a TED talk; I should have suspected something.

    2. Monty

      I think I saw this on a recent SAT test.
      Zuckerberg is to Gutenberg as poison is to ____ Florentine Steak _____

    3. WJ

      Who is “they”?

      There was no freedom of the press in any 16th – century European nation-states. All printed materials (and even texts written for performance like stage plays) were in England, for example, subject to approval by official licensers. Printing material without such a license could end in the author’s or printer’s losing a hand or worse by way of punishment.

      So really, Zuckerberg and Dorsey are the equivalent of the royal licensers–establishment approved censors of unruly or “offensive” or seditious discourse–and not of the new technologies such licensers were invented to control.

    4. Harrold

      Back in 370BC, Socrates lamented the use of the written word as a detriment to society:

      “For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory.

      Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them.

      You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.”


      (Phaedrus 274c-275b)

      1. Acacia

        This was part of Plato’s attack on rhetoric (I.e., the sophists). Readers will note that although Socrates here laments the written word, the Phaedrus was, nevertheless, a written dialog.

        1. witters

          Well, one can hardly blame Socrates for Plato’s writing. And while written, notice we have dialogue.

      2. Procopius

        An alternative opinion, attributed to Confucius, possibly apocryphally, “The best memory is not as good as the palest ink.”

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Notre-Dame fire: Cathedral saved within crucial half hour”

    Macron went all ambitious and said that they will have the place up and running again in 5 years. I guess that that means to make the deadline that he will be using steel I-beams in the roof instead of oaken timbers. Just to make it look authentic, they will cover in plastic made to look just like oak timbers. Hey there’s a deadline to meet. Why 5 years? Because Paris is due to hold the 2024 Summer Olympics, that is why. And you know that to meet this deadline, that some horrible decisions will be made.
    I was just reading that there is an odd source of information about the Cathedral in existence. There are 3D laser maps of every detail of Notre Dame made by an art historian in connection with a video game called Assassin’s Creed. Seriously! And these 3D maps are “accurate to within five millimeters.” More on this story at-

    I tried to get a sense of just how old this Cathedral is and I came up with something. Suppose you could fire up “Doc” Brown’s DeLorean and go to the era that they built this thing but went across the Channel to England first as at least there they speak English which will be easier for your travels, right? Wrong. This period is so far back that you would be hard pressed to make yourself understood. Here is a video clip to show you how the language has evolved so advance to about the 1:30 mark to see how long ago this era was. This was a very long time ago-

    1. BillK

      Apparently Macron said Notre-Dame cathedral will be rebuilt “even more beautifully”.

      I heard that Euro-Disney might be getting involved…….. :)

      1. DonCoyote

        So, mouse ear hats on the gargoyles? Avengers-themed stained glass windows? The product placement possibilities are endless…

        1. The Rev Kev

          A McDonalds at the front of the Cathedral? The big golden ‘M’ arch could then be interpreted as standing for McDonalds or Macron according to your taste.

      2. Roger Smith

        I also heard in passing that Apple and Facebook wanted in on the action. Apparently the burning Gothic spires of one of, if not the most well known cathedrals or broader icons of reverence in the world was a message that fell on deaf, dumb, greedy ears.

      3. nonw

        Apparently Macron said Notre-Dame cathedral will be rebuilt “even more beautifully”.

        It will be the best cathedral, the best. Bigly.

      4. MJ

        I wonder if the megadonors will be offered naming rights:

        — The LVMH Group Nave

        — The Bernard Arnault Apse

        — The Pinault Spire

        1. flora

          Good read. However, the west’s nightly news broadcasts are not a one-to-one mapping of public sentiment. Very, very many in the west are dismayed by what happened at Bamiyan, Palmyra, and Babylon. The corporate media is not a reliable reflection of public sentiment. imo.

        2. Lambert Strether

          > The rector of Notre-Dame refused to charge for a ticket to enter the cathedral – as it happens, for example, at the Duomo in Milan. Notre-Dame basically survives on donations – which pay the salaries of only 70 employees who need not only to supervise the masses of tourists but also to organize eight masses a day.

          So Notre Dame is run like a church. I was wondering about that. I would bet the congregation is not large, either. No wonder fixing the roof was a problem.

    2. David

      Macron was all set up to make a big announcement on live TV at the end of the Great Debate with all sorts of allegedly important measures at just about the time the fire was getting a hold. At first he thought of delaying the announcement until later in the evening but eventually realized that Notre Dame was a bigger story than he was. The promise to rebuild the cathedral in five years was presumably designed to get the spotlight back onto him, although I don’t think anyone takes it seriously. Meanwhile malicious tongues have been saying that the wealthy who have promised to contribute to the rebuilding costs will enjoy generous tax privileges as a result.

      1. KevinD

        I wonder if all those billionaires who contributed after the Grenville fire will also enjoy tax benefits…

        1. barrisj

          Also this, via The Automatic Earth:


          SOME OF THE wood that burned in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on Monday was put in place in the year 1160. The beams and exterior of the roof over the nave, the long main section of the building, date from between 1220 and 1240. Nearly a millennium ago it was forest; today, after a catastrophe that cuts to the heart of French culture and human history, it’s ash.

          “It was one of the oldest—until today—surviving roofs of that kind,” says Robert Bork, an architectural historian at the University of Iowa. “It’s incomparable.”
          As a landmark, Notre Dame lives on in uncountable drawings, paintings, and photographs, not to mention the memories of people who visited, worshipped, and listened to music amid its incomparable acoustics. But because it survived largely intact into the digital era, Notre Dame lives on in the virtual world, too—and that may make its restoration all the more complete. For the last half-decade or so, an architectural historian named Andrew Tallon worked with laser scanners to capture the entirety of the cathedral’s interior and exterior in meticulous 3D point clouds. His billion points of light revealed a living structure; the magnificent flying buttresses had indeed held the walls true, but the Gallery of Kings, statues on the western facade, were a foot out of plumb, Tallon told National Geographic in 2015.

          As for what happens next, no one seems sure yet. In a statement, Macron insisted the cathedral would be rebuilt. And even if France finds the money to do so, what exactly will that entail? An exact copy, perhaps using Tallon’s scans? Something different? “This has not ever happened before in my lifetime, so I don’t have a paradigm to go to,” Bork says. “

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Out of plumb…

            Similarly imperfect is the dome of hagia sophia (a musuem now)…laser scanning showed various sized lumps in the shape of that roof.

            And the Parthenon has been extensively scanned too, as it continues to be under renovation. Presumbaly scanning is routine all over the world. (I believe the Imperial Palace in Beijing went through the same before the Olympics, and presumably scanning was done then too).

          2. The Rev Kev

            I read that some people were trying to sell timbers from Notre Dame on eBay before they were yanked down.

        2. pricklyone

          “The result is over a billion points in the “point cloud.” The final computer-generated images reconstruct the cathedral down to the smallest detail, including its tiny defects, with a precision of about five millimeters (0.1 inches).”
          Perhaps they meant .5 mm?

    3. nippersdad

      I have been wondering about the resistance to using such modern materials as steel I-beams for reconstruction of the cathedral roof. Shouldn’t the objective be to rebuild it such that it can withstand another eight hundred years without such threats as roof fires?

      Seems like if one wanted a tour of medieval attics one could still walk down the block and see the one at Ste. Chappelle and not have to cut down an old growth forest to recreate one.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I seem to remember that Oxford owns a forest of oaks grown specifically to replace beams in its own old buildings; I wonder if Notre Dame has the same arrangement?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          They planted them in the 14th Century to replace the roof of New College in the 19th Century. It was replaced in the late 19th Century, but Stewart Brand who wrote about this said that he could find no evidence they were replanted.

          New College, Oxford, is of rather late foundation, hence the name. It was founded around the late 14th century. It has, like other colleges, a great dining hall with big oak beams across the top. These might be two feet square and forty-five feet long.

          A century ago, so I am told, some busy entomologist went up into the roof of the dining hall with a penknife and poked at the beams and found that they were full of beetles. This was reported to the College Council, who met in some dismay, because they had no idea where they would get beams of that calibre nowadays.

          One of the Junior Fellows stuck his neck out and suggested that there might be some oak on College lands. These colleges are endowed with pieces of land scattered across the country. So they called in the College Forester, who of course had not been near the college itself for some years, and asked about oaks. And he pulled his forelock and said, “Well sirs, we was wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.”

          Upon further inquiry it was discovered that when the College was founded, a grove of oaks has been planted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they became beetly, because oak beams always become beetly in the end. This plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next for five hundred years. “You don’t cut them oaks. Them’s for the College Hall.”

        2. nippersdad

          I sincerely doubt it. Something I was thinking about: those French billionaires prolly own all kinds of forests but I note that they are only willing to part with their money.

          Smart people.

    4. oliverks

      I wonder if the French will rebuild ND exactly like it was.

      I could be way off base here, but when they extend or change buildings the French often adapt and change to reflect the new and the old. I think they are very good at doing that, from La Defense, to the Louvre, even the Georges Pompidou. They blend well with their environment.

      What has been lost is a shame, as the building was spectacular. Yet it is possible they will imagine a new vision that will inspire and be respectful for what remains.

      1. nippersdad

        That is exactly what I have been hoping for as well. They do a very good job of blending the old with the new, and this is something that could be so much more than just a rote recreation.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Some they just demolish.

        The Bastile, for example.

        It’s no longer possible to storm it…no chance at another hugely symbolic feat.

        1. nippersdad

          The Gilets Jaunes could always hang Macron from the Colonne de Juillet* en route to creation of their Sixth Republic and still have a hugely symbolic feat without any demolition necessary. They have the kind of history in which they no longer even need Bastilles to make a statement; just the real estate they elect to use could do it for them.

          Location, location, location.

          *For when random Italian lamp posts just won’t do.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > I wonder if the French will rebuild ND exactly like it was.

        The Low King of the Dwarves, Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant:

        “This, milord, is my family’s axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation . . . but is this not the nine hundred-year-old axe of my family? And because it has changed gently over time, it is still a pretty good axe, y’know. Pretty good.”

      4. PlutoniumKun

        The French are admirably pragmatic when it comes to historic buildings, they have to be as they have so many of them. They are unafraid to change them radically, but they have architects and craftsmen skilled enough to do this without destroying the indefinable qualities that makes a building seem just right for its context. Every time I go to France I find myself admiring how they seem to be able to keep their towns and cities modern and functional without destroying their historic essence (ok, there are some exceptions, like Les Halles), but in general they get these things right.

        Most medieval church roofs are not original – at some stage they either burn or go rotten. Chartres lost its roof in a fire in the 19th Century and was ‘temporarily’ replaced with a roof thats still there.

    5. boz

      Thank you, Rev – That’s incredible.

      I was saying to mrs boz that I hoped someone had already gone around Notre Dame and extensively imaged it.

      I don’t care much for violent video games, but you have to acknowledge the serious craftsmanship and artistic rigour that goes in.

      And examples like these literally become treasure.

      1. Tom Bradford

        I don’t care much for hack-and-slash video games either but I must confess to playing, and loving, Assasin’s Creed: Origins and Assassin’s Creed: Oddysey on the PS4 Pro and a 4k tv to immerse myself in the incredible and, as far as I know authentic down to ridiculously tiny detailed, recreation of Ancient Egypt and Greece in which the games are set.

        One of the many problems with the rebuilding of Notre Dame is going to be what exactly is going to be rebuilt? Do you just replicate what was there the night before the fire or take to opportunity to strip away some of the accretions of the ages that might not accord with the original builders’ ‘vision’?

        The most widely accepted global standards are part of the 1964 Charter of Venice. Here’s what it says about restoration:

        “Its aim is to preserve and reveal the aesthetic and historic value of the monument and is based on respect for original material and authentic documents. It must stop at the point where conjecture begins, and in this case moreover any extra work which is indispensable must be distinct from the architectural composition and must bear a contemporary stamp.”

        And on replacing lost elements:

        “Replacements of missing parts must integrate harmoniously with the whole, but at the same time must be distinguishable from the original so that restoration does not falsify the artistic or historic evidence”

        The spire, for example, only goes back to the mid-19th Century and reflects the ‘thinking’ of the time rather than the vision of the builders and offended many at the time, and replaced the original spire which ‘disappeared’ in the chaos of 1786-92. So do you restore the original spire or rebuild the ‘modern’ one?


        1. vidimi

          the spire only dates back to the 19th century but it replaced a similar spire that was much older. i think a spire was always part of the design.

    6. coboarts

      Great link TRK. Travelling around the British Isles in the late 70s, on a “working holiday,” it took me a day or two to begin to get the local dialect after about each 50 mile bounce. It took a little longer in Scotland, but it was sure worth it!

    7. ewmayer

      Re. Notre Dame branding opportunities – Rumor has it that a certain major university in South Bend, IN, USA has offered a large sum of money to reconstruct one of the roseate windows, with the caveat that the new stained glass feature a cartoon image of a fighting Irishman. Whether this fits in with DisneyCorp’s plans for the future building remains unclear.

      And inquiring minds want to know – will this fire tragedy affect the football team’s Fall schedule?

    8. rd

      Timber, especially old-growth timber, is an interesting building material that cuts both ways.

      Timber is flammable, so will catch fire. Large timber structural elements are very different from the 2×4 and 2×6 construction we are used to. The large timber has a small surface area to volume ratio compared to the smaller lumber yard pieces, so the outside catches fire quickly but burning through the large timber elements is a slow process, unlike a 2×4. Also, the old-growth timber is very dense and has much less air inside the wood compared to the softwood lumber, or even much of the hardwood lumber, we are used to. The outer surface chars and makes it difficult to burn the center of the timber beam or column because air can’t get to the inner wood, so burning through the large wood pieces is slow going.

      Timber is also a very good insulator and the wood itself does not change its structural strength and stiffness when heated to the same extent as plastic and steel. So the heat from the burning surface takes time to penetrate to the center of the element and weakens it only slowly. If the inner element isn’t burning, then it still retains a lot of strength and stiffness. This is why it took a long time for the roof elements to collapse, despite having a heavy lead roof sheathing. As a result, they did not have a big bonfire of wood on the floor of the cathedral that could have done serious damage to the base of the stone walls and columns. Large timber structures can be ok to insure for fire because of the slow structural collapse potential.

      In a steel building, while the steel itself does not burn, the other burning elements (carpets, furniture, walls, etc.) create a lot of heat that then softens the steel and the steel loses strength and stiffness. The steel is a poor insulator, so the heat on the outside of the steel element quickly makes its way throughout the steel element, even a distance away from the source of the heat and quickly weakens the structure. From there, collapse can occur quickly as we saw on 9/11.

      So, the problem with rebuilding the timber structure is if they could obtain the quality of wood they would have had for building the original structure. Lower quality wood will have less strength and stiffness and less resistance to fire damage.

      Replacing the timber structure with modern materials would require ensuring that fire would not be possible, because collapse might actually occur faster than we saw with the timber structure. So covering a steel structure with plastic or a wood veneer would need to be thought through very carefully as it may not be much better in practice.

      1. ewmayer

        If they can source the needed high-quality large beams without cutting down someone’s old-growth forest, I could support that, as long as they included some kind of – well-disguised if possible – modern sprinkler system. It’s not clear to me whether one would need sprinklers on the outside or inside of such a roof, or both.

        Maybe some kind of wood-clad steel hybrid is a possibility. Or steel frame with wooden exterior beneath it, and non-leaden sheeting on the outside.

        It may prove that they need some kind of steel reinforcement anyway, if the stone outer structure has been compromised by the fire. There is still a long structural assessment process that needs to happen, all this here is premature speculation (which of course it would be irresponsible not to engage in, as the saying goes :).

    9. John k

      They didn’t have steel beams in 1160, if they did, they would have used them. Stronger, better in earthquakes, only begin to lose strength at 800 f. Far superior… and don’t require cutting down old forests.
      Will be better, stronger, and longer lasting with steel tucked away and out of sight.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They have to be extremely careful in how they did it. Greek restorers used iron rods to reinforce the columns of the Parthenon in Athens back in the 1920s but found out long after that the rusting iron was damaging the marble of the columns more than if they had just left them alone. They are now using rods of titanium to replace them with as they do not corrode.

      2. vidimi

        as far as environmental impact goes, i am almost sure that a tonne of steel is more damaging than a tonne of timber

  8. Expat2uruguay

    Driver dead and app cab crash. — What the heck is an app cab? The article didn’t clarify.

    1. Expat2uruguay

      Google search reveals that cab apps in India are only used for booking tracking and paying, and are not used to drive the car at all. So I don’t understand why our attention is drawn to this story about a driver falling asleep and then crashing. Is there some context that am I missing?

      1. Martine

        I think the article shows another instance of how “externalities” work on the ground. It reports that perverse incentives may have lead to the crash and that the app doesn’t even vet the autos for safety features. No airbags.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

          An app cab is an Ola or an Uber– in this case, an Ola. The money quote:

          “App cabs often speed down VIP Road in the late or early hours taking advantage of slack police vigil and sparse traffic to complete a required number of trips to become eligible for incentives.”

          Drivers often drive 15+ hrs per day to qualify for these incentives.

          That sometimes leads them to doze off when driving — as the police suspected happened here.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We focus not on the drivers, but on the app, or the system the drivers work under.

          It’s the same with focusing on the education system versus the parents who are in the news these days.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        It’s because the apps incentivize them to work super long hours (as in be driving very sleep deprived) by offering bonuses which are hard to hit because all the other apps drivers are trying to get them too.

  9. Summer

    Re: Five Lies Our Culture Tells…David Brooks.

    His entire ode to community is premised on this point:

    “By planting themselves in one neighborhood, one organization or one mission, they earn trust. They have the freedom to make a lasting difference. It’s the chains we choose that set us free.”

    “planting themselves”

    He has to be talking about a “right” to stay but clearly most of us can’t decide just to “plant” ourselves in a place or a job. There is no “right to work” except in the most cynical, vile legal term.
    He should be very concerned about the displacement of people – in this country. Where is that article?

    1. Tree Frog

      “chains we choose…set us free” is poetic to the point of double-think: freedom through captivity.

      The motivation for his double-thinking may be reflected in this: “We talk a lot about the political revolution we need. The cultural revolution is more important.” This seems a jab at Sanders and those who seek to escape the chains of neoliberalism. “Swap the goggles”, he seems to be saying, “and everything will be fine”. No thanks. I want the revolution.

      1. Carla

        We gotta change THE rules, and WHO rules. Until then, transformative change in a positive direction is impossible.

    2. Chris Smith

      Wake me when Brooks admits (he already knows this in his blackened heart) that his vision of community is incompatible with modern neoliberal capitalism.

      1. Pat

        He doesn’t say it directly, but at a recent talk he attacked some of the basic tenets of neoliberalism starting with meritocracy. It was more measured than much of what we see here, but a good 90% of what he said would still fit right in here. The other ten per cent was more religious based.

        And frankly I didn’t get the sinking feeling of still doesn’t get it about Brooks, that II got after listening to Abrams. (Good on voter suppression, but…)

    3. Chris Cosmos

      Place is important to community because it brings us into physical contact with others which is a full-spectrum means of communication. Virtual life cannot even come close to replacing that. Temporary relationships come closer but there is no sense of true friendship when it has not been tested over time. We seem content with shallow relationships, sadly. It is now clear that the growth in depression and drug addiction is a direct result of social isolation and the idea that we are “individuals” and that’s enough.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      “By planting themselves in one neighborhood, one organization or one mission, they earn trust. They have the freedom to make a lasting difference. It’s the chains we choose that set us free.”

      As ‘a different chris’ points out in a comment to Yves announcement of escape from NYC:
      “But you’re supposed to move and move and move and movemovemove to that always better job… and your sig-other must work too, it’s the American way! and thus at least one of you winds up commuting 45min one-way on a good day…”

      Perhaps Brooks live in a different America — one where the hungry should eat cake.

    5. Roy G

      He can’t see that far down from the Upper West Side Penthouses he has planted himself in.

  10. Jason Boxman

    There’s a startup here in Cambridge, MA that does vehicle tracking for insurance companies, and interviewing at that company was disturbing enough. The medical surveillance is downright chilling.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Also, as the Times article discusses, all of this stuff simply entrenches existing privilege, but shrouds it in an AI blackbox. And it’s magic, so no one can easily deduce the factors of discrimination at play. As Lambert keeps highlighting, this creeping “code as law” is ceding the social contract to corporate control with plausible deniability beneath the shield of progress. This is “innovative”, so it must be good!

      Is every generation always perched on the precipice of utter ruin, or am I just lucky that way?

        1. Lambert Strether

          > the Markov chain gang

          The powers that be
          That force us to live like we do
          Bring me to my knees
          When I see what they’ve done to you
          But I’ll die as I stand here today
          Knowing that deep in my heart
          They’ll fall to ruin one day
          For making us part

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I am afraid your generation and especially the next one are oh so lucky in oh so many ways.

    2. Craig H.

      Do the people who run the med industry have an estimate for how much tobacco, alcohol, and sugar each of us purchase?

      (I am sure the answer to that one is yes. What would really interest me is how much money they spend in a futile attempt to make a reliable estimate.)

      Timothy Dalton would rather fight than let you know what substances he ingests and always pays with cash but with facial recognition he has to send his factotum to buy his medication.

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        The med industry is ably assisted by your supermarket. “Are you a club member?” so you enter your “secret” number and everyone knows just what and who you eat, drink, think, copulate. It is the same with every product that you hand over your identity to purchase.
        For the sake of your identity, stop doing this nonsencical and voluntary submission to your corporation. Perhaps it is time to rethink much of the orders you are given?

        1. Craig H.

          Do you think VISA puts a tally mark in an NSA database next to the name every time somebody buys a pack of cigarettes with their credit card?

          If I were a recreational gambler I would put a big bet on it.

          I presume it actually goes way farther than that.

          1. Brian (another one they call)

            My comment wasn’t meant as sarcastic Craig, and as I looked back, I wanted to apologize for any implication.
            I am bugged by how often I read stories here at NC and elsewhere that show the depth of the spying and manipulation to keep us in line are more extreme than I can believe. That when together, we share something that demonstrates it, collectively we still find it hard to grasp how we share the fate of having been turned into the “less equal than others” types of farm animal. We want to feel better about our servitude.
            I am monetized. (repeat until it becomes distasteful)

          2. Harrold

            Visa is not nearly that competent. I was just recently able to add to their mobile app both of my Visa cards.

          1. Procopius

            I think that’s part of it, but I think the fees charged on each transaction are more important. Actually, the fees are the bigger reason I oppose banning cash. I will never patronize any enterprise that refuses cash. Yes, I have alternatives to Amazon. Keep an eye on India, how well it’s working there.

  11. Martine

    Re Trump Tax Code: These Companies Made Billions, Paid No Taxes

    The article doesn’t support its claim. In order to do so it would need to compare tax bills year over year.

      1. Martine

        If your point is that they should have paid taxes, I agree. But we know that they haven’t paid anything or much for years, so I would like to see them support their claim that this is a new situation due to Trump’s tax plan with some actual information. You know, journalism.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In some recent years (maybe today still), the goal was to have more inflation (nice try, to ignore raging inflation in stocks and housing). To suppress inflation, with respect to that goal, would be to fight a wrong war.

      Can a zero-taxing paying corporation claim it was a conscientious objector in the wrong war to suppress inflation (every taxed dolllar is a set back for the higher-inflation struggle)?

  12. The Rev Kev

    “A.I. Is Changing Insurance”

    OK, we have a lot of bad examples of algorithms and surveillance and justly so. I do not think though that insurance companies are really using artificial intelligence. If they did, they may find that the AI would be making some really interesting decisions. So just imagine that Acme Insurance takes delivery of their brand-new AI which they nickname the “Green Queen” and which has been found to be flawlessly accurate. So they let it look over their database of all their policies as well as all sort of information and reports on the internet.
    After mulling it around for awhile, it then makes a series of decisions. I can see it now. All coastal properties have their insurance premiums go way up, especially in regions subject to storms and the like. If it is a rich property, it is assessed even more as they can afford more. Those on high ground find their insurance premiums go way down. Oil companies that send their products by train have their premiums go through the roof. Insurance policies on nuclear plants are cancelled as being pointless. Cars like the Tesla that have a shoddy manufacturing process pay more for the increased risks. Yes, such an AI might make some very interesting decisions.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Point well-taken, but just for the record, private insurers refused to write policies for nuclear power plants; they are insured by the federal government, another of the many subsidies the industry has received over the decades.

    2. Chris

      Thay would be interesting but I doubt we’d see those kinds of results.

      AI in this context refers to an expert system really. And you you have train it with data. Depending on how you did that, they could just as easily make coastal mansions the baseline case that charged the least per square foot, and smaller homes more expensive because adjusting those claims requires more effort with a lower chance of significant subrogation possibilities.

      That’s all assuming people stay out of the process of course. They could just as easily interfere with the training or carve out exclusions where the client’s risk is adjusted or managed outside of that system. “AI for thee and not for me.”

  13. jfleni

    RE: New US policy on seized property in Cuba threatens EU ties.

    All they have to do is furiously import Boeing’s junk airliners before they fly into the ground! What a deal!

  14. Isotope_C14

    “Thawing Permafrost Emitting Higher Levels of Potent Greenhouse Gas Than Previously Thought: Study Common Dreams”

    “They found that in just one month of 2013, emissions of nitrous oxide in the region reached what was previously believed to be the yearly total.”

    Seems that every headline is worse than previously thought.

    Perhaps we could stop this capitalism baloney and start immediately shutting down consumerism and make everyone’s job “to sequester carbon” and other GHG’s.

    Decommissioning the nuke plants, would be a fantastic plan so that if we don’t create Venus 2.0, that some life could evolve here once again, a few million years from now.

    I’m just in awe that the school kids in Europe go on strike, but their parents don’t, and just keep walking our species into the abyss.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      For me the amazing thing is not so much the melting of the permafrost–that has been predicted for a very long time, but the fact that after thirty years of this issue being laid out there’s so little interest. One friend of mine honestly believes, like Trump, it is a scam to install a authoritarian world government on all of us. At any rate, the American public, on the whole, simply does not care about this or just want to change the subject.

      Unless a President who advocates for truly dealing with the crisis (all Presidents since Reagan have taken zero interest in the issue other than waving arms around at it like Clinton and Obama) is elected next year the game is probably over unless someone can come up with a techno-fix.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      “Perhaps we could stop this capitalism baloney and start immediately shutting down consumerism and make everyone’s job “to sequester carbon” and other GHG’s.”

      But that would gore a herd of sacred cows.

  15. jfleni

    RE: As Single-Payer Gains Traction, Industry Launches Attack Ads.

    It won’t do them any good as the hoi-peloi screams,
    “Medicare for all! A pox on them”!

  16. WJ

    Dems see lane to Buttigieg victory The Hill v. The Memo: Sanders becomes Dem frontrunner The Hill

    The first article reads like a press release submitted by the attendees of those “undisclosed” private Manhattan dinners reported on by the Times yesterday.

    The second article is willfully ignorant of the fact that Sanders’ supporters are not the typical “Democratic base” but represent an enormous widening of the voter pool among the young and independent voters specifically. What the article presents as “radical” are policy proposals with upwards of 60% cross party support!! The typical “Democratic base” is often not as enthused about Sanders–because they skew older and older voters are more pessimistic about his electability because they still watch cable news–or outright hostile to him ( Daily Kos, etc) because they are self-interestedly beholden to myths about the “heroes” of the Democratic Party like Obama etc.

    Both articles suggest a lot of behind the scenes “cooperation” is going on between CAP-Clintonites and the DC Press.

      1. WJ


        And only goes to show how invaluable Wikileaks is to actual citizens because it is not like the corporate press are themselves going to report their undisclosed off-the-record messaging meetings with establishment politicians and donors.

        And how correct and salutary the reminder reposted by Yves about what freedom of the press actually means–the freedom of an activity, not that of a self-credentialed special class of people.

        And why this same bought-and-paid-for “press” hates Assange so much. He not only is doing *real* journalism–thereby helping citizens to realize that the “press” is not–but his journalism has revealed the “press”‘ own voluntary participation in the obfuscatory propaganda of the oligarchic establishment and the police state.

        They are themselves implicated in his revelations about the murderous corruption of the American elite, and they know it.

    1. Jen

      Wait, isn’t Joe Biden the savior? If they think Buttigieg has a lane to victory, seems like either a) they’ve already given up on Biden if he is running or, b) he isn’t running.

      The Marcon of south bend will be in Plymouth NH on Saturday for an event. I’m tempted to go check it out just to see who shows up and how they react.

      1. nippersdad

        To paraphrase Lambert: Biden has form; let the implosion begin!

        I, personally, don’t think that he was ever seen as a contender; he has already blown several chances at the Presidency and makes for a better placeholder than he would a serious prospect.

        I feel like Biden’s Hamlet on the Potomac schtick has been very useful to the PTB insofar as that while he vacillates they can save their cash until another Obama has been identified. Finding a new Dalai Lama takes time, and he has proven a perfect excuse for holding fire lest they spend billions on yet another squib.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I think the obstacle to another Obama is Obama was less about Obama than the same forces that drove the Sanders candidacy. Obama started way ahead of Sanders, and HRC did a few things better than she did previously. The candidate Obama’s support didn’t come from Tim Kaine’s endorsement but from not being a Clinton.

          If HRC had a good history of fighting for progressive causes, she would be a former President. I like Liz Warren, but she sat out and missed the force that made Obama President and could have made Sanders President. It’s why she can’t gain momentum.

          Tsongas and Moonbeam made Bill Clinton look like Trotsky in 1992.

          1. rd

            Sanders is focused on healthcare which every American is experiencing, often in negative very visible ways. Liz Warren’s theme has been financial transgressions which are poorly understood by people who don’t even realize they are being ripped off.

            So, in the battle of the septegenarians, I think Sanders will be the hands down winner inside the Democratic party. Is there anybody in the Democratic party under the age of 70 who can articulate a simple theme to solve a major problem for all Americans? if so, they can go toe to toe with Sanders.

      2. WJ

        I think the plan is to sell Buttigieg hard as the candidate most likely to win delegates from Sanders across the early primaries and delay Biden’s entrance into the race as long as possible before Super Tuesday (or whatever). Since Biden won’t “announce” till then, he can rely on name recognition (and no negative coverage) to win enough delegates in the South to make him a player, and will then be infused with enough donor money to enable him (it is hoped) to win a few more delegates here and there on the way to the convention.

        Buttigieg’s *actual* prospects for winning the nomination are slim to none, but his being able to present himself as a “contender” is critical for the longer play involving Biden to work out.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          I agree with you on Buttigieg and your basic reasoning on this is good–that is how the operatives think–but I don’t think they have much faith in Biden. Also, let’s be clear here–their main goal is to maintain the Democratic Party as it is, pro-corporate, pro-national security state, and aggressively anti-socialist and whether their team wins the Presidency or not is less important. Therefore I think some of those people will fall back on Buttigieg even if he is unlikely to win if Biden implodes as I believe he will. At any rate it doesn’t matter unless someone left of center wins the nomination. That person will win the general.

        2. nippersdad

          It is simply inconceivable to me that he would pole vault into the Primaries after South Carolina, bellweather that it is for the Southern black vote, or Nevada, and the implications it would have for the Latino vote, in order to get to delegate rich states like California.

          For lack of a better term (and speaking as a Southerner), the barely concealed inferiority complex that has ensured our continuous Republican governance would immediately come into play, and Super Tuesday here in the South would be a bloodbath for him. Sanders would clean up as Mayor Pete is just a little bit too, er, cosmopolitan for the common tastes down here.

          That may work for DNC strategists, but they need to start thinking about the world we actually live in.

          1. Pat

            Perhaps they are still using the geniuses who designed Clinton’s campaign, between trying for moderate Republicans and ignoring the rust belt…

            Mind you, similar to that time they do think the fix is in.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The typcial “Democratic base” is

      1. Low inforamtion? (They still watch cable news). That sounds familiar (from 2016).

      2. hostile because they are self-interestedly beholden to myths about heroes.

      Are we interested in how they will respond to the above, or are they hopeless?

      1. WJ

        Let me preface this by acknowledging that the “Democratic base” as used by the media is not a natural kind but a more or less useful construct depending on how it’s understood and used.

        That said, lots of “base” voters that fall into the low information category can and should be won by Sanders the more they are exposed to his message. I include in this category older black and Latino/a voters and older white voters not captured by cable news and/or the Times.

        The “beholden to myths” subsection of the base is composed of largely white middle aged professionals who are emotionally attached to the idea of the Obama presidency and (what would have been) the HRC Presidency and who have actively and willfully misinformed themselves about the true dynamic at play in the 2016 election, have swallowed Russiagate whole, are convinced that “Bernie bros” names a real and not invented phenomenon, etc. I don’t think this part of the base is ever going to be won by Sanders; I also think it is the “loudest” part of the base but also the smallest, and that its opinions enjoy disproportionate airings relative to their real political effects.

  17. The Rev Kev


    So is that what happened to that plane in the TV series Manifest?

    That deer in the Antidote du jour may look cute but I have just heard of one killing a man and critically injuring his wife today down in Victoria. And it was their pet-

    1. Brian (another one they call)

      Here in Oregon, we often have news stories about randy bucks attacking couples (men/women) during mating season. One guy got gored a couple years back. They smell something that resembles the female deer and start pointing horns around.

    2. Angie Neer

      I think that antidote deer looks pretty menacing, sticking its tongue out as it violates norms.

  18. DonCoyote

    “The woman who blew open the Cambridge Analytica scandal” indeed.

    As was reported in NC over two years ago, no.

    Some tidbits from Investors

    According to various news accounts, a professor at Cambridge University built a Facebook app around 2014 that involved a personality quiz. About 270,000 users of the app agreed to share some of their Facebook information, as well as data from people on their friends list. As a result, tens of millions ended up part of this data-mining operation.

    In 2012, the Obama campaign encouraged supporters to download an Obama 2012 Facebook app that, when activated, let the campaign collect Facebook data both on users and their friends.

    According to a July 2012 MIT Technology Review article, when you installed the app, “it said it would grab information about my friends: their birth dates, locations, and ‘likes.’ ”

    The campaign boasted that more than a million people downloaded the app, which, given an average friend-list size of 190, means that as many as 190 million had at least some of their Facebook data vacuumed up by the Obama campaign — without their knowledge or consent.

    If anything, Facebook made it easy for Obama to do so. A former campaign director, Carol Davidsen, tweeted that “Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.”

    This Facebook treasure trove gave Obama an unprecedented ability to reach out to nonsupporters. More important, the campaign could deliver carefully targeted campaign messages disguised as messages from friends to millions of Facebook users.

    1) Cambridge Analytica’s claim of 5K data points on every American is almost certainly BS, if it relies primarily on this FB survey data (there is no reason it needs to, but again, 275K people with 190 friends each, is only gonna get you so far).

    2) Obama in 2012 did the same thing (to >1 million), with two important distinctions: a) They did at least explicitly tell you they were grabbing your friends’ data; b) They pretended to be your friends in targeted message spreading.

    I’ve already gone long, so let me just say, as always, evaluate your sources carefully. Facebook and the like have much to answer for, but they didn’t “break democracy” by swaying elections with stealthy data death stars.

    1. pjay

      Thanks for posting this. I defended Cadwalladr in a comment above based on the privacy issue (e.g. criticism of FB for providing client data to Cambridge Analytica, a valid argument). Then your comment led me to re-read the article, and I realized that she *also* criticized FB and Twitter for “swaying elections” — i.e. convincing poor dolts to vote against their interests for Brexit and Trump. The latter argument is flawed for the reasons you give here, and also dangerous to the extent that it justifies “protecting” us ignorant slobs from “misinformation.” The NC article by Bart is also good. Thanks for leading me to “evaluate my sources” more carefully.

  19. Summer


    “They were just trying to help their kids and were manipulated into criminal activity. That is far from a bulletproof defense, given the wiretapped records and payments prosecutors have outlined in court papers.

    But some legal experts say it’s a start.

    “These are parents trying to help their kids. Yes, it is parenting on steroids,” said Lara Yeretsian, a criminal defense attorney who was part of the legal team for both Scott Peterson and Michael Jackson.”

    It really was the expected defense.
    However, they aren’t being prosecuted for caring about their sons and daughters, but for the effects of their actions on other parents, sons and daughters and the education system.

    1. Brian (another one they call)

      I particularly enjoyed the remark by Loughlin that she didn’t know how to explain what she did to her daughter and that she just wouldn’t understand. The daughter is of college age, and couldn’t understand. This is a pretty good indication that she is unfil for higher education to begin with. It appears to indicate Loughlin is a mental midget with the IQ of a fencepost. I can see how it is going to be her defense. “I’m pretty stupid but don’t punish me for trying to get my progeny into a school where I then have to bribe their instructors to pass them through every course they will ever take”
      Idiocracy welcome here!

      1. Oregoncharles

        One of her daughters has been quite publicly vocal about “not understanding” – as in “you ruined my life.”
        Granted, 18 yr olds frequently feel that way, but rarely with so much reason.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it likr what Jean Valjean did in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables?

      That is, it is more about the system, in this case, the education system (or the credentialism system), than the individuals in it?

      Without bread (organic or otherwise), it was death, then; without some credential (elite or otherwise), it could be a slow, prolonged death, or earlier death.

      In Jean Valjean’s case, it was about him caring for his family, and the effects we look at were not of his actions on the system, but of the system on him.

      Can we make the same argument, or not, here? Anyone?

      1. rd

        I don’t think Lori Loughlin’s kids were starving.

        I think it is more about bafflement about why children should not be able to get into designer universities, much like buying them a designer dress or a hand-made Swiss watch.

        Gucci et al have probably missed a major marketing opportunity by not having actual designer universities with a big designer logo on the front gate.

    1. rd

      I was utterly baffled a few years ago when the NDP won in Alberta. That was almost like having the sun go down in the morning.

      Alberta is still land-locked for getting their product to market.

      The last part of the article is interesting where Alberta is threatening to use the Russian approach of shutting off energy supply to BC if BC doesn’t play nice on the pipeline.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Fox Draws Nearly 2.6 Million Viewers for Bernie Sanders Town Hall”

    The irony is too sweet. About two years ago CNN, MSNBC and Fox News were refusing to cover Sanders. In fact, they actually televised an empty stage where Trump was supposed to be giving a speech, but was running late, while totally ignoring a speech that Sanders was giving at the same time. And now Sanders is going on Fox News and Fox gets massive ratings. Are CNN & MSNBC covering Sanders at all? It is not enough that Tucker Carlson has been talking truth to power lately but that they are giving major air time to Sanders himself on Fox. Is it because they hate liberals so much that they know that this will infuriate and send ballistic the democrats and their liberal friends? I wouldn’t put it past them. And they get the bonus of massive ratings to boot.

    1. katiebird

      My mom has MSNBC on all the time lately they talk about Buttigieg pretty much all the time. Also Mueller Report of course.

      1. polecat

        I still don’t understand why people STILL have T V & cable …

        Come On … go ahead and back away from the blaring GLASS TIT and brick that umbilicus right outta the WALL !!
        Once the foggyness subsides, you’ll never look back.

      2. Anonylisa

        I’m not the only one with this phenomenon! My mom has it on all day every day. I can’t seem to break it to her that she is the mirror image of the rabid FOX watchers she constantly decries!

      1. aletheia33

        i noticed he stayed standing.
        i thought it looked good for someone his age–demonstrating his stamina and liveliness without having to even mention it.
        and it’s dramatic to watch him FIGHT THE ENEMY standing up like he’s in a boxing ring.
        (even as he articulates the meaning of social cooperation.)
        i think he must have incredible energy to stand up like that for that long at his age.
        my 87yo partner is about 10 years younger physically than 87, but standing up for long periods has not been among his impressive physical capacities for some years.
        of course, everyone is individual, and strengths vary widely.
        …plus, i imagine the adrenaline flow during the performance he gave at that exciting, historic Fox town hall would be “through the roof.” that may override all the other physical factors.

    2. zagonostra

      What was truly sweet was watching is the hands going up in support for switching from an employer provided healthcare insurance to M4A, talk about a quick pivot, hosts knew they screwed up…Progressive YouTube channels like Jimmy Dore, Kyle Kulinski, and others were having a field day analyzing the town hall.

      It’s fascinating/depressing watching the establishment foist little Mayor Pete and other ersatz faux progressives ..hope people can cut through the propaganda and see that the only way to get M4A is Bernie or Tulsi Gabbard, the latter having the additional benefit of speaking up against the rendition of Assange, Venezuela coup, and the run-away MIC>

      1. rd

        This is the part that baffles Washington. Most of the population wants a major change in healthcare and Bernie Sanders has been on a winning message, as the town hall showed. However the donor base is opposed to it, so the politicians are simply spinning in circles as we observed in the numerous attempts to repeal Obamacare.

        Very few people are against repealing Obamacare, because it is not particularly good. But it is far better for the previously uninsured and many others than the offered GOP replacement plans that have not been remotely coherent. So the politicians keep getting swept on to the rocks every time they approach healthcare because they can’t figure out something that both the population and healthcare industry are in favor of.

    3. Chris Cosmos

      I think Fox is trying to mine a hidden demographic, i.e., the internet viewers who are part alt-right, part paleo-conservative anti authoritarian types, part libertarian civil liberty champions, part Chomsky real left, part anarchist left, part a pragmatic center, who are tired of the hysterical propaganda (Breaking!!) in the mainstream media. Carlson is a serious figure who knows very well that the youth in America are highly dissatisfied, restless, and looking to fall somewhere between and among the dots I created above. Fox knows its normal demographic is dying out and it knows it can compartmentalize each show (I only watch Tucker on youtube) and it also knows that the uptight post-boomer (in the over 30 crowd) generations are pretty much into following orders as long as they can listen to their metal music in private and remember the 80s or whatever or worse, listen to NPR.

      The only way out of the mess we have created for ourselves in the USA is through a blend of unlikely allies plus a pissed-off working class which certainly would consider Sanders so that we have room to think in new ways.

      1. jonhoops

        “Tucker Carlson grew up outside of San Diego, where his father was a news anchor and would-be politician, and his step-mother was heiress to the Swanson frozen foods fortune.”

        This is all you need to know about Tucker Carlson. Beware of rich boarding school twats wearing bowties.

  21. Summer

    Re: “Hundreds of Denver Schools Are Closed as F.B.I. Seeks Woman ‘Infatuated’ With Columbine”…NY Times today (earlier)

    A high schooler (18) travels alone from Miami to Denver to wander around alone looking for a gun and a school to shoot up?

    1. Roger Smith

      This reminded me of the article (I believe it was Johnstone’s) about Pitch Perfect 3 being a military sponsored and co-written film, as well as a history of other film interventions.


  22. Berglo

    My wife (a graphic designer) is convinced that pic of the leopard in the bonus antidote is a fake. Anyone have any idea what the Tweet says, or if it’s a real photo?

    1. nippersmom

      According to Google translate (I know, but this seems plausible) the caption reads as follows:
      The Far Eastern leopard inverted coloration was first recorded on the Land of the Leopard. According to specialists, the identified female is an individual from the offspring of the black leopard, which was recorded in the spring of last year.

      1. Anon

        Yes, anyone who’s halfway proficient with Photoshop could do much better. The pic is laughable.

  23. chuck roast

    Thank you for, “Consider the Golden Mole.”

    “So they burrow and breed and hunt, live and die under the African sun, unaware of their beauty, unknowingly shining.”

    That’s why NC is my blog.

  24. John Beech

    Paradise, Calif., Water Is Contaminated But Residents Are Moving Back Anyway NPR (David L)

    Exactly the kind of article I’d expect from clueless coastal author, e.g. those loving in big cities who have no idea how the rest of America lives. The assumption you open a tap and clean potable water comes out doesn’t reflect reality. At least not in the heartland where wells, shallow or deep, are how most homeowners get by. And this comes with the responsibility for keeping it flowing. So guess who worries about the pump, the pressure tank, the check-valves, the lines ‘plus’ treatment. And treatment runs the gamut from simple thing like iron and sulfur, to organism, chemicals (usually from fertilizers), and even material due to septic tanks not perking correctly and making its way horizontally to the well. In addition to treatment, there’s filtration, which may be sand, involve activated carbon, crushed coconut shells, plus endless cartridges of all sorts. Oh, and for potable water often you resort to RO (reverse osmosis), which isn’t free. And if the well runs dry, then you haul water in.

    Left wingers are all about Flint and their water problems but they don’t have a clue about the rest of us. This article was a joke! As if it was written by a recently ‘woke’ 22 year old scandalized you can’t just turn on the tap like they do in their city. I live 12 miles from downtown Orlando, FL and I have to deal with a well and all the accoutrements for keeping it flowing and drinkable, so imagine for a minute what it must be like in bumfuck Egypt USA!

    Yup, life in the heartland . . . slow internet, shitty water, little hope for improving either.

    1. Oregoncharles

      You make our water (iron, H2S) sound good. We have a filter and water softener to reduce the iron, but got along without for many years.
      However, it’s still a lot cheaper than city water; which in our town, tastes of the river. I’ll take our mineral water. Some people pay extra for that stuff.

      Florida, Oregon. Evidently water problems are not restricted to the heartland.

  25. djrichard

    Re: Five Lies Our Culture Tells…David Brooks.

    We talk a lot about the political revolution we need. The cultural revolution is more important.

    To be honest, I think a cultural revolution of the degree needed is beyond our ken.

    It’s one thing to analyze and deconstruct our culture. It’s a different thing to construct something else in its stead.

    For instance, I suspect the “primitive” oceanic potlatch societies don’t have the shortcomings that Brooks is getting at. But they operate according to such a different premise (e.g. “I give so that you may give” – see “The Gift” by Mauss) that they might as well be alien cultures from a different planet. Maybe they would take pity on us and help us to rid ourselves of our affliction of human authority (“I give the gift of obedience to your authority so that you may give the gift of redeeming me”.)

    1. eg

      The Canadian government ruthlessly suppressed the potlatch as part of its disgraceful record of paternalism towards First Nations peoples.

      The mercantile impetus behind the potlatch ban was obscured behind high-minded, muscular Christian rhetoric.

      Not among our finest moments.

    2. Procopius

      According to the book Nonzero by David Feldman, the potlatch societies were dense, rich, and authoritarian. They had social organization that could produce complex economic capital assets (fish traps) and had thriving commerce across hundreds of miles, but were “big man” societies, with hereditary chieftains (subject to replacement by more competent underlings) and a large base of exploited peasants. The peasants were the actual source of the wealth that was given away or destroyed. Really interesting stuff. Wish I could find more in the same vein.

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