Links 4/18/19

Notre Dame

Why Notre-Dame Was a Tinderbox New York Times

And that’s why Britain should stay in the EU! Cringiest hot takes after Notre Dame fire RT (Chuck L)

Bald eagles are littering Seattle backyards with landfill trash TreeHugger (resilc)

Deer kills man, injures woman near Wangaratta in north-east Victoria (YY)

Elusive molecule, first in Universe, detected in space PhysOrg

Would life be happier without Google? I spent a week finding out Guardian. Martha r: “More interesting than one might expect.”

Untold History of AI: Algorithmic Bias Was Born in the 1980s Spectrum IEEE (David L)

Bad Bots Now Make Up 20 Percent of Web Traffic ZDNet

There is no garbage patch in the Southern Indian Ocean, so where is the rubbish? (Kevin W)

Brain functions in pigs restored hours after death Financial Times

Arsenic in Some Bottled Water Brands at Unsafe Levels, Consumer Reports Says Consumer Reports (David L)

Men’s beards carry more germs than dog fur, according to science MedicalXpress

The Truth About Dentistry Atlantic. There are dental quacks. And a general dentist doing root canals is another red flag….if you are told you need one, go to an endodontist, who should do tests on whether the root is viable. One of my cleaning women had one do five root canals in short succession, and in no way were they warranted. And ironically, what made non-dental medicine more scientific in the US was….drumroll…insurance. Insurers didn’t want to pay doctors for treatments that were ineffective or not warranted. However, I beg to differ on their take on checkups. “Checkups” include cleaning plaque. If you have post;fluoride era teeth, less is probably OK. But if you pre-fluoridation teeth, and/or have a fair number of fillings, you need more frequent checkups. First, those fillings will eventually lead to future fillings. Save for gold, they don’t have the same density as teeth and also respond to heat and cold differently than teeth. That means you will eventually get decay, and that decay could well form in spots that are shadowed on X-rays, meaning they could become large or symptomatic before the dentist will find them.

Researchers develop new platform that recreates cancer in a dish to quickly determine the best bacterial therapy PhysOrg (Chuck L)


U.S., China Aim for Early-May Announcement on Trade Deal Bloomberg

Xi Jinping’s intolerance of dissent within government heightens the risk of Chinese policy mistakes South China Morning Post (furzy)

China’s Belt and Road Won’t Be a Path to Power Bloomberg (resilc)

Ten years after China’s renminbi went global, what keeps it from really challenging the US dollar as a reserve currency? South China Morning Post (furzy). Repeat after me: you have to run sustained current account deficits, so it is widely held overseas, and you have to have deep and clean enough capital markets so that people who are willing to hold your currency are also willing to invest.

North Korea

North Korea tests new tactical guided weapon, state media reports (Kevin W). Wow, do they love jerking our chains.

Satellite Images Indicate North Korea is Making Radioactive Bomb Fuel Daily Beast (resilc)

Japan starts its kabuki performance with Trump Asia Times (Kevin W)


Brexit Party surges into the LEAD in the race for the European Elections: Nigel Farage’s brand new group storms ahead of the Tories AND Labour after a top pollster predicted it could win its first election Daily Mail. The EU is gonna be sorry it didn’t listen to Macron. Just because he’s a twerp doesn’t mean he’s always wrong.

Brexit’s Surprising Side-Effect: Stiffer Bitcoin Regulations CNN

Pelosi: No US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace deal The Hill. Mentioned by PlutoniumKun as pointedly ignored (as of yesterday) in UK press.

Sadiq Khan accused by rank and file police of ‘aggravating’ Extinction Rebellion protests Telegraph


VIDEO: How the Pentagon and CIA Push Venezuela Regime-Change Propaganda in Video Games Grayzone Proejct (YY)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook says it ‘unintentionally uploaded’ 1.5 million people’s email contacts without their consent Business Insider (David L)

Microsoft Turned Down Facial-Recognition Sales On Human Rights Concerns Reuters

The new digital divide is between people who opt out of algorithms and people who don’t PhysOrg (Chuck L)


Biosensor ‘bandage’ collects and analyzes sweat PhysOrg. Chuck L: “Will the users of these “bandages” have to sign a consent form for the release of their biometric data?”

Trump Transition

Washington in frenzy over release of Mueller report The Hill

Prosecutors Charge Health Professionals in Opioids Sting Wall Street Journal

Judge finalizes $25 million settlement for ‘victims of Donald Trump’s fraudulent university‘ ABC (furzy)

Elizabeth Warren praises Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for ‘Time 100’ list of most influential people Boston (furzy)


The 2020 Race Is Going Just Like Bernie Sanders Wanted Atlantic (resilc)

Why Bernie Sanders Is Smeared by the Press Rolling Stone (resilc)

O’Rourke family sues government to lower taxes on shopping center Politico

Maybe Rich Liberals Don’t Hate Sanders Because They Fear He Can’t Win, But Because They’re Rich,” FAIR Bill B:

If you look at the Living section of the New York Times, you’ll see that it’s geared towards people who own a second house in the Hamptons. So when they refer to “some democrats” in this piece, they mean “high net value democratic donors.”

Bernie Sanders ‘Raises the Bar Even Further’ on Climate With Vow to Ban Fracking, All New Fossil Fuel Projects Common Dreams (martha r)

Wisconsin Republicans Are Yucking It Up About AOC’s Green New Deal While Trade Wars Crush Dairy Farmers Esquire (resilc)

Lawyering While Black: Cop Detains Attorney in Courthouse, Accuses Him of Impersonating a Lawyer The Root (Robert H). Wowsers.


Active shooter drills are scaring kids and may not protect them. Some schools are taking a new approach. NBC (furzy)

Traders wake up to cost of coffee crisis Financial Times

Review units of Samsung’s folding phone are breaking, and it’s a potential fiasco that threatens the company’s fragile reputation Business Insider (Kevin W)

Lyft Investors Sue Over Slump, Claiming IPO Was Overhyped Bloomberg (David L)

Pinterest prices IPO at $19, valuing social media company at $10 billion CNBC

First Japan-Built Airliner in 50 Years Takes on Boeing and Airbus Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population Guardian (resilc)

The Student-Debt Crisis Hits Hardest at Historically Black Colleges Wall Street Journal

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Brain functions in pigs restored hours after death”

    History will record that the great Zombie wars of the 2020s first started with a zombie pig.

      1. urblintz

        I should apologize to the porcine nation, the most common sobriquet for which, through no fault of pigs everywhere, has come to exist in common usage as a perjorative. John McCain wishes he had the intelligence of pigs, well established as some one of our smartest animal friends! Sorry pigs for my ill considered misappropriation.

      1. urblintz

        As I implied in my second comment above, Congress wishes it had the intelligence of pigs. Pigs are smart. Perhaps there’s more hope in transplanting the revived pig brains into the empty craniums of our doltish leaders!

        1. wilroncanada

          Someone once said that said leaders are not fit to live with pigs; I say they are.

          1. Chris

            The next evolution in this series of work will prove that a headless chicken is the equivalent of an acting congresscritter in terms of mental capacity :)

    1. anon in so cal

      “Pigs are actually considered the fifth-most intelligent animal in the world—even more intelligent than dogs—and are capable of playing video games with more focus and success than chimps!

      They also have excellent object-location memory. If they find grub in one spot, they’ll remember to look there next time. Pigs possess a sophisticated sense of direction too. They can find their way home from huge distances away.

      Just last year, a five-month-old pig named Amy was dubbed the “top dog” in her canine agility class. Read the story here.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        Pigs are also anatomically the animal most similar to humans. That is why when testing new rifles, they shot pigs with them to get an idea of what it would be like with the effects of shooting a human.

      2. hunkerdown

        One human origins theory posits that apes and pigs crossbred to create us, based on which animal contains all of the features that differentiate humans from apes.

    2. polecat

      Rise of the ‘Pigoons’ ?? … I just knew the brainiacs in one of those Corps science compounds would do something stupid … like swapping some human neocortex tissue intio a 4-legs-good organ donor, but what I didn’t realize, was that they’d crib notes from a sci fi novel to achieve it …
      Whats next ? .. liobams ?? .. or, HeyZeus forbid .. Crakers !!

      ….. with my most humble apologies to Margaret A …..

  2. voteforno6

    Re: Pelosi & Brexit

    I’m certainly no fan of Nancy Pelosi, but I can’t really disagree with what she said about Brexit and Ireland. That just goes to show just how badly this is being bungled by the British political establishment, that even Nancy Pelosi is talking more sense about this than they are.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The same thing happened back in the 1990’s when the Good Friday Agreement was negotiated. The British hugely underestimated the political power of the Irish diaspora – the Irish government at the time worked very hard to get individual congressmen and senators ‘on side’ using Irish American contacts and ensuring they were briefed the ‘right’ way. This was central to ensuring that while officially neutral, the US government at the time had been fed a very strong narrative from the Irish perspective, negating the size of the British diplomatic corps in Washington, who simply assumed US politicians would do as they were told and likewise assumed that the Clintons were natural Anglophiles (they are, but they also knew their political base isn’t).

      The Irish government has now effectively won themselves the power to block the UK in Europe, and now in the US too – Polosi didn’t come out with her statements on her own initiative – its the result of two years of intensive lobbying by the Irish government. So much for the Brexiteers ‘winning back sovereignty’.

      1. Sanxi

        Do you have one fact to support any of that? As far as opinion piece go I find it underwhelming.

          1. Tom Doak

            Wow, it’s almost like the intelligence community was trying to influence policy, even back then!

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Well, the FT has stated that Ireland is now in the driving seat for trade negotiations if that’s what you mean. As for what I wrote about the GFA, that was extensively reported at the time and there are several bookshelves full of history and analysis books written since then, including books by direct participants. I can’t claim to have read all of them, but I have read quite a few, and they all agree on the general point of Ireland exercising far greater soft power in the US than the UK in the period. The fact that Pelosi is saying what she is today is proof enough of this.

    2. Mirdif

      The most funny thing is that a soft border makes a UK-US trade deal unlikely. Meanwhile a hard border does the same. Schrodinger’s border!

      1. larry

        For the border to be a Schroedinger one, it would have to be both hard and soft simultaneously. Which is not what you have decribed nor what is going on.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          There are a number of houses split in two along the border, very convenient for the owners when it comes to smuggling. I guess the occupants are Schroedingers citizens….

          1. coboarts

            I spent several weeks in Dublin in ’79. In fact, I attended in Phoenix Park when Pope John Paul came. I saw him fly in, in a green jet liner with a green fighter escort. I had been tasked by a friend in Willenhall with delivering a pack full of condoms to Belfast. I, sadly, had to return them when I got back to The Black Country. I had fallen in love with Ireland and with England, and I couldn’t bare to see the troubles up north. I’ve often seen Dali’s painting “The Persistence of Memory” as a metaphor for the scourge of the planet, the long racial memories of past atrocities for which we ALL can be called to account. I wish something could be done about that, the world over, and I wish nothing but my best to all my friends and inhabitants of the British Isles. I don’t think a mash up of mixed cultures is going to be the solution, as they are only being used to fragment and destabilize proud cultural traditions. With all the world’s problems, I do so wish for peace and prosperity for everyone. But, like my favorite Tarot card, I’m just a fool.

        2. Mirdif

          Than you for the correction. However, I’m rather amused that that is what you took away from my post.

          Anyway, I’m sure the ERG would indeed like a border that was soft and hard at the same time but for different purposes.

          1. larry

            I am sure they would. But wanting won’t lead to getting. As they are fantasists, maybe they can (make) believe that they can get something indistinguishable from this. Francois, for instance, is unable to tell the difference between All As are B and All Bs are A (when on Politics Live with Will Self). So, maybe he can convince himself that a quantum version of Brexit is realizable. Even when it isn’t.

      2. rd

        I think Schrodinger’s cat had a 50/50 chance of being alive which is a far higher probability than a successful Brexit.

        1. Sanxi

          No it was both at the same time dead or alive, it only had a fixed reality based on being observed. And only that because how Schrodinger set up the thought experiment, he was trying to simply what was going with electrons. But to the matter it all depends on how ones defines Brexit. I use Richard North’s. His base case is that it will take forty years to complete. I have argued with him that climate unbalance may make that moot, nonetheless that is his argument.

    3. AC

      Nancy should stay in her wheelhouse. The House has no vote in a proposed treaty. The people have voted in the UK. She doesn’t like it. Of course she, as a corporate Democrat, loves the undemocratic EU. Ireland and NI can work out their respective interests by themselves. It may be better, per MMT, for Ireland to unite and have their own currency.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Wowsers, I suggest you Google the word “projection”.

        Making shit up is against our written site Policies. We take a dim view of individuals who misinform readers. You are accumulating troll points.

        The House most assuredly would have to approve any US-UK trade pact:

        Trade agreements in the U.S. are implemented through a legislative process involving both the House and Senate. (Note that, in stark contrast, treaties must only be approved by the Senate—with a two-thirds majority—and do not involve the House.)…

        In order to facilitate the passage of trade agreements, Congress has delegated (temporary) Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to the President. TPA (also known as “fast-track authority”), is a mechanism whereby the Congress defines U.S. negotiating objectives and establishes a consultation process with the Executive Branch as it negotiates trade agreements. Congress delegates negotiating activities to the Executive Branch through TPA. Most importantly, TPA traditionally commits the Congress to vote “yes” or “no” on final agreements, but without any possibility of amendment.

      2. a different chris

        May be better? Of course it would be better, and thus would be done in a logical world. But we have a world run by people, and people – especially religious people – don’t do logic even when you really think it’s time.

        So it’s never gonna happen. At least not for another generational* turnover or probably two, which is long after Brexit.

        *and with our betters living longer and longer, like Ms. Pelosi, the time horizon for change keeps getting stretched out. All the a-holes today will be here for another 15 years, and then their protege a-holes will be here for at least 20 after that. We are so screwed.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    First Japan-Built Airliner in 50 Years Takes on Boeing and Airbus Bloomberg

    It just goes to show just how hard it is to build modern airliners. The Japanese have been subcontracting to Boeing for many years and have invested billions, but are still struggling to get a good competitive aircraft onto the market. Its unfortunate that Embraer and Bombadier have struggled – the former have been making good regional airliners for some years, but it seems they’ve struggled economically (probably for reasons other than their engineering), and the Canadians keep shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to aviation.

    The Chinese have been trying to develop a jet airliner for half a century and their Comac (with help from Bombadier and Airbus) seems pretty poor, no airlines outside of China seems to want to touch it. The Russians have a longer history of building decent aircraft and the new Sukhoi Superjet 100 looks like it will be a formidable competitor, which is probably one reason Trump is so keen on extending sanctions to aerospace. If I was to make a bet, I’d say that the Russians will win this particular race if anyone is to dislodge the Boeing/Airbus duopoly. They simply have a longer history and a wider technological base, especially when it comes to developing engines, and crucially, they can make them a lot cheaper than the Japanese or even the Chinese (the latter are suffering from a shortage of engineers, Airbus say its now cheaper to build in France than China). A lot of countries nervous of US sanctions may decide an all-Russian airliner is a good hedging bet.

    1. vidimi

      whenever canada has attempted to build a jet, the americans were there to squash it. it started with the avro arrow and continues to today.

      1. JEHR

        Our newest stamps celebrate the Avro-Arrow. “. . . the assembly line, tooling, plans and existing airframes and engines were ordered to be destroyed”. . . . “Although nearly everything connected to the CF-105 and Orenda Iroquois programs was destroyed, the cockpit and nose gear of RL-206, the first Mk 2 Arrow, and two outer panels of RL-203’s wings were saved and are on display at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, alongside an Iroquois engine.”

        It was a wonderful aircraft. Now we make Canada Arms for the Space Station!

        1. The Rev Kev

          Was just reading your link to the Avro. That’s a pretty bad story that. It’s like Canada did a Brexit on its aircraft industry.

        1. jonhoops

          Not so hard to build a jet company when you have an endless supply of cost plus US military contracts. I find it funny when the US complains about the subsidies Airbus gets.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is the future brighter for train travel than air?

      Will countries seek to dominate high speed rail? (The US has a lot of catch up to do there).

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Four hours seems to be the optimal travel distance for high speed rail to be competitive for HSR – in other words, if a point to point journey between cities can be done within 4 hours, most people will opt for a train over flight (all other things being equal). This means that realistically HSR will only substantially displace airlines for cities within around 700 miles or so of each other.

        The other (and in my opinion, more civilized) option, sadly falling out of favour these days, are slower overnight sleeper trains. Likewise, there used to be a drive on, drive off railway system in Europe, which has also fallen out of favour.

        So yes, HSR is a good alternative, but its notable of course that China has a fantastic HSR network but is also buying up as many aircraft as it can. So the solution to too much air travel can’t be found just with trains – it has to be to actively discourage it.

        The French invested heavily in HSR back from the 1970’s onwards specifically because they believed that by doing this they could make Paris the focal point of the European railway network. To a partial extent they succeeded, although its a moot point as to whether it was worth it. But there is no doubt that France benefits from its TGV system, all the cities connected seem to have gotten a boost so long as they are within that magic 4 hours from Paris.

        Its political for other reasons too – the Spanish built their system because their railways developed regionally, with multiple different gauges, meaning even quite straightforward trips meant several changes. They made sure of course that the system converged on Madrid, and not on Barcelona.

        1. David

          I think I’m right in saying that there are now no major French cities more than four hours from Paris by TGV. Marseille which is pretty much the furthest (about 750 km) is reachable in under three and a half hours. The first TGV line ever was between Paris and Lyon (about 450 km) and it effectively slaughtered the air links. You do the journey today in about two hours.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Paris-Lyon on the TGV is notably fast even if you are used to other high-speed trains. But if you need to cross the Alps to Italy, the same train gets slow very quickly. The fast train, Freccia Rossa I think, between Milan and Rome I’ve seen over 300 km/h on, but again when it hits the mountains, it gets slow. Planes’ advantage gets huge when there are mountains between A and B.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              It basically comes down to HSR being pretty bad at taking corners. And even worse when the transition curve is both vertical and horizontal (i.e taking a corner while going up or downhill). Its extremely difficult and expensive to drive a straight line through mountains, there is almost always a point where you have to compromise, so this slows down the maximum speed. The Japanese are doing the new Tokyo to Osaka super high speed line the hard way – it will be mindblowingly expensive, but maybe worth it because there are few metropolises in the world with the size and relative location that makes such an investment worthwhile.

              Europe is handicapped by having an arc of mountain ranges blocking the major urban centres everywhere except the north France/Benelux/western Germany region (which already has an excellent network). China was able to build so fast largely because of favourable topography – they’ve slowed down their construction dramatically now they need to penetrate the western highlands to link across Sichuan and Guangxi to get to SE Asia, etc. Much of the US has very favourable topography and geology which makes its failure to develop a network all the more disappointing.

              The one advantage the US would have if it did finally decide to build a network (probably with President AOC in charge) is that it can look at the mistakes other countries have made and do it better… well, you’d hope so. A Japanese maglev Shinkansen on the East Coast 320mph) would be amazing.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Student debt at historically black colleges–

    Remember how Bernie’s free public college plan was criticized in 2016 for its potential effect on historically black colleges?

    How about folding reparations and free college into a plan that includes historically black colleges into the free college plan whether they are public institutions or not? No, that would not satisfy the demand for reparations completely nor should it. No, it would not be practical to weed out every student at a historically black college whose claim to reparations for slavery or discrimination was less than strong. No, it might not be trivial to determine which colleges belong in the “historically black” category.

    But it might serve as an example of a reasonable way to combine concrete material benefits with reparations.

    1. bronco

      There are not going to be any reparations regardless of jawboning that might happen , its never going to happen

    2. Plissken

      I’ve never understood why a segregated college is a good thing, but a segregated K-12 system is a bad thing. It seems hypocritical.

      1. Summer

        Indeed. If you pump up credentialism without pumping up K-12 it’s just more of the same old transfers upwards.

  5. Wukchumni

    In my myriad of heretofore forbidden fruit, there are many rare varieties of apples to tempt for, and here’s the saga of how the Husk Sweet orb came to be…

    “There’s another one, just up the side of the hill.” My wife, Suzanne, had spied yet another wild apple tree on our property, just one of a couple of dozen we had discovered on our afternoon hike. “This one’s full of beautiful dark red apples!”, she exclaimed with surprise. “Yeah, but are they going to be edible?”, I wondered.

    It was late October 1985, just weeks after we had signed the final purchase agreement with our Ashe County real estate agent, giving us possession of our new mountain land high above the banks of Big Horse Creek. We had driven up from our home outside Raleigh for an extended weekend of camping and exploration of this “wild”, new land. Using new topo maps and an old survey plat map given to us by our real estate lady, we had spent most of the morning hiking the perimeter of the 75+ acres we now owned. It was a beautiful fall morning, crisp and cold, with a clear, clean sky so agonizingly blue it almost hurt your eyes to stare at it. Being late autumn, most of the trees had shed their leaves, but there were still scattered patches of yellow, orange and russet all along the rocky hillside, lending a bit of dying color to the graying, slowly winterizing landscape.

    Most of the trees were of bearing age but did not have fruit, having already dropped their apples earlier in the season. However, a half-dozen or more were laden with fresh fall apples of all sizes and shapes, dazzling us with color and temptations of flavor. We sampled every ripe apple we encountered. To say we were disappointed would be a huge understatement. Nearly every apple we bit into was a “spitter” – one bite and you spit it out in revulsion! One tree’s fruit was so acrid and bitter it made my mouth feel it had been turned inside out! Another tree had small, reddish-green apples so intensely sour it was impossible to chew.

    And so it went with every new apple we found. One bite, spit. Bite and spit. Repeat ad nauseum. This all changed dramatically when we found the tree with the beautiful dark red apples. After spotting the tree, we picked our way uphill through the brambles to collect a couple for tasting. The apples were large, somewhat misshapen, with smooth, dark red skin. Plucking a nice-looking fruit from a lower branch, I rubbed it vigorously on my shirt sleeve for a moment to bring out a beautiful red sheen, then took a deep bite. Immediately I knew this beauty was an apple of the highest quality! It was very juicy with a crisp, firm texture that gave way with a solid, satisfying crunch. But it was the flavor, oh the flavor, that captured my attention!

    1. diptherio

      There’s a guy up in my neck of the woods who’s been propogating rare apple varieties for some years now. Pretty sure he’s got over 50 varieties going. Most all of them you’ve never heard of, and many of them are amazing. The Whitney Crabapple is my favorite.

      1. Wukchumni

        I have around 50 varieties, and what makes it fun, is they’re all around the same price $25-30, no matter if it’s a Colorado Orange apple (there might be a few dozen trees in existence of this one) or a Gala (in spectacular bloom now) or a Gloria Mundi. (thought to be the biggest apple in the world)

          1. Wukchumni

            I don’t have a Baldwin, it’s one of 90% of the apple trees out there that aren’t cool with the 100 days of 100 degrees, our summers bring.

            The Husk Sweet on the other hand, thrives on it.

    2. doug

      Yes, husk sweet grows at the coast in NC as well as the mtns. Quite a find. Ron and Sue are great folks.

    3. lordkoos

      My father used to go out of his way to buy apples from a guy who had a place about 5 miles out of town who had a small orchard with a few hard-to-find varieties in it. Dad like tart apples and would buy a box of Northern Spy apples from him every year.

    4. Phacops

      We, up in N. Michigan are lucky to have a lot of heirloom varieties. Check out the Christmas Cove website . They have everything from sheepsnose to black krim. Cider makers have been taking advantage of the great flavor profiles of such heirlooms.

      My favorites are the yellow transparent which comes in during August, or the northern spy.

      Amazing all the varieties available! Also, some of the nice modern varieties are changing how growers do business. SweTango has a woody stem and tender skin so have to be harvested by cutting. To have the highest quality growers are paying the pickers an hourly wage rather than by weight or volume.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Why Notre-Dame Was a Tinderbox”

    Can somebody tell the New York Times to stop. Just…please…stop. Graphic heavy articles like this may look like the New York Times is on top of things but I have found far, far more insightful observations on the timbers of Notre Dame in comments posted here. If they want to pretend that they are still relevant, how about doing a story on the problems of fighting a fire in a skyscraper with several thousand people inside. Or maybe do a story called “Why California Is a Tinderbox”. That way they won’t embarrass themselves so bad.

    1. Off The Street

      The New York Times is repositioning the paper from birdcage liner to fire-starter material due to the tragic decline in domesticated birds. How they navigate the carbon-offset obstacle remains to be seen, perhaps through landfill credits. ;/

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        I wouldn’t mind if it became relevant again. But I won’t hold my breath.

  7. Ignim Brites

    “Bernie Sanders ‘Raises the Bar Even Further’ on Climate With Vow to Ban Fracking, All New Fossil Fuel Projects”. Isn’t fracking pretty big in Pennsylvania?

    1. Expat2uruguay

      I don’t know, fracking being “big” could mean it’s a big concern. isn’t it true that few people are employed or benefit from fracking, yet the dangers effect large groups of people?

      1. jsn

        The one paid to frack are more easily mobilized to vote than those hurt and impoverished by it. I hope Bernie’s ground game is accounting for this: effective outreach could turn the tide and this hurt have heretofore been sacrificed by team D.

        1. a different chris

          Yeah but they are all like from Texas. Ok that’s an exaggeration but the numbers of Pennsylvanians employed are generally small. It’s shop-owners and the like that benefit from feeding the people brought in, repairing their trucks, etc.

          So we have
          1) few people employed
          2) they are predominantly from out-of-state
          3) but they spend a ton of money in state

          We’ll see, is all I can say.

          1. Svante Arrhenius

            Well, my southern/ foreign national coworkers certainly loved: Amish pork, “the girls” and the 2nd highest Unemployment Insurance checks for half of each year. The infamous 19 fracked gas & ethane pipelines (just beginning to fail) were Obama’s “all of the above” legacy. Now, crews of four are replacing crews of 12-24 on ACP and the like. $23/hr 1099, instead of the $609/day & $191 per-diem, W4 gigs are the norm. Once Shell’s Ethane cracker, ah, er turns “the Paris o’ Appalachia” into just another cancer alley Mordor and “Hell with the lid off” fills with Trump’s wet-brained inbred hordes we shall indeed see? Pittsburgh has the highest percentage of immigrants with University educations; frequently, advanced degreed in engineering. Should be fun at the 31 pretty great microbreweries?

          2. cyclist

            Yup. Pass through Susquehanna Co. PA and notice the heavy duty pickups with TX, AR or OK plates. They aren’t tourists.

            1. SimonGirty

              Tried to sell a friend my old Hyundai, when his new RAM 3500 fell apart (driving from Regina, SK to Little Rock, mid-winter) but he had insufficient funds (he has worked 84hr weeks since 2012!) He’s finished that gig and drove his quarter million mile Prius home to CA. He gave the 1099 PA gig to our (Texas tea-bagger) pal with a sick wife who has NO medical insurance… status fucking quo!

        2. Phenix

          The pro fracking vote will not turn the tide in PA. He needs to win in NE PA and Erie/Pittsburgh. The rest of the state is sparsely populated. SEPA where I am from will turn out. White women hate Trump and millennials will come out. Bernie will win easily in PA.

          The wild card is Philly’s black vote and based on my work (warehouse) he has and /or will win them over.

    2. Svante Arrhenius

      Yep, MSNBCs own Ed Rendell was governer when Katrina took out Shell’s MARS and other Gulf platforms, enabling Slick-water Fracking’s becoming one of the century’s biggest Ponzi schemes. Marcellus plays involved a new technology and PA’s kleptocrats knew this meant blow-outs, dumping, spills and migration of return water laden with radium and carcinogenic toxins. Rendell’s solutions included hiring law enforcemen, PR and Israeli spook firms to cover-up, lie about, silence dissent; while the state silenced whistleblowers, arrested protesters (and investigating journalists) and forbade municipalities from banning wells going into school playgrounds, cemeteries, public parks & greenways, reservoirs… Pennsyltucky ain’t exactly new to drilling, look up Pithole and Drake’s Well? I just donated to Senator Sander’s and hope you will too.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          What are some search engines which are NOT disappearing all material questioning fracking?
          If there are any such search engines, they should be named by name so that can be up-patronised and rewarded.

      1. Hopelb

        Here in Pittsburgh, the water is contaminated with radioactive particulates, and the old pipes are leeching lead. I am not sure if the lead problem is due to the proprietory fracking chemicals or due to the private French company that temporarily took over our municipal water and then hightailed it out of town. To reduce the lead, the city is adding an additive, one which has yet to be studied for efficacy, with the hope it will prevent lead leeching from the pipes.
        Bernie should make it clear that there will be a jobs program to transition fracking workers, perhaps to weatherizing. Ewg. Org has a searchable list of water quality.

        1. Svante Arrhenius

          Much of the story has already been SEOd down Google’s memory hole, or removed as fake news by Energy In Depth and media/ political allies. When the DNC/ DCCC put one of the worst frak puppets up as Senatorial candidate (to crush the DSA’s candidate, by losing the election) somehow the Post-Gazette lost all the spectacular reporting they’d done, before PA media realized who owned them, what their job was.

          1. JBird4049

            I think that realizing just how serious lead (among other things) poisoning from the drinking water of much of the people in this country would break the minds of too many.

            “Why only those countries have those kinds of water pollution! And can’t be one of them, can we?”

            Also it takes money and taxes. A gigantic amount of money and taxes to fix.

            1. Svante Arrhenius

              Lead, you can remove with a two stage filter (if you can afford these, remove dissolved solids before they’re clogged, bathe your family without allergic reactions, etc, etc.) Pennsylvania churls set off the ALEC laws, forbidding doctors and medical facilities even disclosing WHAT your children, your dairy cattle, YOU have been exposed to. And every news cycle; the six remaining media conglomerates the lefty blog agreggators, meta-search engines are dissappearing more and more of the facts. In Pennsylvania, particularly Pittsburgh, this has been BOTH parties. But the Democrats dragged in the big K Street guns? Get out!

          2. a different chris

            Even the green Inside Climate News can’t quite get their hands around it:

            Drinking water from the Beaver Run Reservoir is always tested and treated before it’s sent to customers.

            And if it fails the test, we don’t send it to the customers, I suppose? Ok, but um, this isn’t some luxury good, if you turn off people’s water then what? How do you even “flush out” an entire, middle-of-nowhere, reservoir? What will flushing it out contaminate?

            1. Svante Arrhenius

              “Let Cincinnati worry about it” doesn’t work, when it’s upstream, anyway. Meanwhile, most all of Pittsburgh’s 131 communities get water from what, the frigging Mon, Yough or Allegheny? I’d told the guys from Texas and Mississippi, working in friggin McKeesport to buy five stage filters… then live off Peak Organic Ale anyway. Use Scotch to brush with. Maybe bathe at that cooling tower, clogged with “fracking brine” circa 2009.

              1. JBird4049

                This is a form of insanity. Most people regardless of class depend on municipal water providers. The average person cannot live beyond three days without water. In poor health or hot weather a day.

                Hell, the need for water for farming and drinking is probably why we have civilization itself. So our present leadership is more concerned about money than in doing the single most important thing that any civilization does in the past seven thousand years.

                If that doesn’t show how insane our current system has become, I don’t want to find out what would.

                1. SimonGirty

                  You are, of course, talking about dead eyed descendants of knuckle-dragging monsters who wiped out a small city with a wall of polluted water, dragging steam locomotives, homes, schools, and at least 2,200 of their own swetashops’ employees into a firey hell of writhing death… because they could not even be bothered to fix the dam to the lake to their heavenly mountain retreat?

                  Now, Johnstown is Trump central! They, do not CARE what they do. We are a cost of doing business, liability an expense.

  8. allan

    What Has Bill Barr Done to Earn the Benefit of the Doubt? [Just Security]

    … Barr has both a body of writings that suggest he has prejudged matters under his purview as Attorney General and significant conflicts of interest. …

    For any Department of Justice employee other than the Attorney General, this record would have surely constituted, among other things, “circumstances that would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the facts to question [the] employee’s impartiality.” A standing regulation and DOJ policy would generally result in such an employee not being able to participate in the Special Counsel’s investigation. However, that policy oversight mechanism does not apply to the Attorney General, who has no supervisor within the Department of Justice and thus determines when his own recusal is required. Unlike prior occupants of the job of Attorney General, including Jeff Sessions, Barr also steadfastly refused to say in advance that he would accept the recommendation of Department ethics officials if they advised him to recuse. …

    In summary, Barr has a record of helping another U.S. president cover up an uncomfortable investigation, he has publicly announced views undermining the Mueller investigation, his direct interactions with the president concerning the Mueller investigation present a clear conflict of interest, his consideration of whether to recuse himself was conclusory and corrosive of trust in the Justice Department, and his handling of the Mueller report to date has been misleading and reportedly frustrating to the people who conducted the investigation. The American people need an Attorney General in whom they can repose their trust, particularly when the President’s conduct is in question. Has Bill Barr earned that trust? If he hasn’t, we really can’t afford to give it to him for free.

    From 2 weeks ago. Even more germane today.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Noam Chomsky has called the Republican Party the “most dangerous organization in world history”. If this is true, and Dr. Chomsky makes a convincing case, then Trump and Mitch McConnell should be considered two of the most dangerous people in world history. Trump nominated Bill Barr. McConnell hustled his appointment through. That is how I frame Bill Barr.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Mueller specialty is set ups (entrapment) while Barr does the cover ups. So they even each other out ;)

      1. allan

        What that thread inadvertently makes clear is that Barr’s June, 2018 memo,
        written as a private citizen employed by Big Law, was a job application.

        And when you’ve lost Chris Wallace …

        Michael M. Grynbaum @grynbaum 7:02 AM – 18 Apr 2019

        Chris Wallace on Fox: “The Attorney General seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the Attorney General, talking about his motives, his emotions… Really, as I say, making a case for the president.”

        Sounds legit.

        The good news is that external CD-ROM sales on Ebay are popping.

        1. integer

          Surprisingly, Chris Wallace is a registered Democrat, though he appears to be more of a bipartisan establishment and intel community supporter than anything.

          1. pretzelattack

            and that demographic tends to believe in the whole russiagate narrative, contradictions and all.

    2. integer

      Along with releasing a redacted version of the Mueller report to the public, Barr said he will provide a version that has “all redactions removed, except those relating to Grand Jury information”, to some bipartisan congressional committees. It’s hard to see how he could possibly be any more transparent on this issue.

    3. pjay

      The idea that there are “good guys” and “bad guys” in this spectacle is laughable. What we get to see is the WWF entertainment version of what behind the scenes is a Game of Thrones battle among elite factions. Look at the Just Security masthead – they represent the Establishment. This doesn’t mean what they say about Barr is false; it’s not. But they leave out the other half of the story about the FBI, DOJ, Mueller, etc. And of course *everyone* will leave out the CIA and foreign intelligence conspirators. And everyone will probably end up agreeing that “Russian meddling” took place. Who benefits from that?

      Chomsky’s quote about the Republican Party is nonsensical. Some “Republicans” are despicably evil (Dick Cheney anyone?). So are some Democrats (let’s compare the destructive influence of the Clintons on our political economy vs., say, Bob Dole). Partisan cat-fights to keep us perpetually distracted. Einstein’s definition of insanity comes to mind.

        1. pjay

          I had actually seen that DN clip before. You are right that much of this discussion considers negative examples from both parties. So much so that for me, it undermines Chomsky’s statement about the Republican Party being “the most dangerous organization in human history” that comes at the beginning and end of this clip.

          Clinton basically continued GHW Bush’s policies (foreign and domestic) and actually went much further toward financial deregulation at the end of his term. If it wasn’t for Lewinsky and impeachment he might have started privatizing Social Security as well. It was the same with Obama after Bush II. Which is more “dangerous”: carrying out destructive policies blatantly and openly, or hiding them with misleading rhetoric under cover of “liberal” media propaganda? I’ll agree that there are probably a few more decent politicians (by my standards) in the Democratic party today. But overall, dismantling the New Deal and nurturing an imperialist MIC has been a bipartisan two-party two step for a long time.

  9. larry

    Brexit: In the Guardian today is a piece entitled “How the Irish backstop emerged as May’s Brexit nemesis” by Carroll and O’Carroll. The sequel is out tomorrow. The first author is the Guardian’s Irish correspondent, while the second is the newspaper’s Brexit correspondent, which is how the newpaper identifies them. It provides an interesting history, which is not how everyone has described it. It is more detailed than some, however.

      1. David

        It’s also true that the Irish had the advantage of a clear national interest, clear objectives and a plausible way of achieving them, none of which the UK had. (I haven’t had much to do with the Irish foreign service but it has a pretty solid reputation). Whilst the UK could certainly have done better, the fact is that the most brilliant negotiators in the world can’t do much to help a government that doesn’t know what it wants and can’t agree how to proceed. There’s actually quite a lot of experience of smallish countries doing well out of negotiations when they identify their key interests and concentrate hard on them.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, small countries don’t have the luxury of appointing mediocrities to foreign policy or diplomatic posts, its a matter of survival for them. The alternative is spending far more on their militaries.

          But yes of course the key issue with Brexit is not the ‘boots on the ground’ but their masters. Although I think the rot is spread from top to bottom. A few high quality individuals (and I’m sure there are more than a few still in Whitehall), can’t make up for a rotten system.

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘The alternative is spending far more on their militaries.’
            What you say rings true. Even James “Mad Dog” Matthis once fought against cuts to the US State Department budget on the grounds that if they did that, then they would have to spend more on bullets for him in the Pentagon.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    The Truth About Dentistry Atlantic.

    This, sadly, is true everywhere. A big problem with dentistry is that there are lots of solo practitioners with very little oversight. Since they don’t proscribe drugs, you don’t have the ‘gatekeeper’ role of the pharmacy to act as a check.

    I was told by a now long retired dentist that in the early days of the NHS (1950’s) in the UK, tooth fillings were considered a major operation – it would take hours to drill using a metal tip. Diamond tipped drills turned it into a very simply and quick operation – but the UK Dental body had already negotiated a very high ‘per filling’ rate with the NHS. The result was dentists filling every dent and hollow they could find on every patients tooth. He said they raked in money for two years until the new contract could be imposed.

    The one thing I like about my dentist is that he hasn’t recommended any work on my teeth in over five years, so I’d trust him if he did say I needed something. When I ask him about things I’ve read online about dental health (such as the ayurvedic use of oils as mouthwash) he usually says do what you want, just make sure that before and after you use salty water as a mouthwash. He insists salt water is as good as any known product – I’ve checked it up and he’s probably right. Cheap too of course.

    1. JEHR

      I had a gold bridge made for a missing tooth while we were living in Germany. It lasted for 35 years without any problems. (The gold became too thin with wear and tear.) I had that bridge replaced and it lasted 19 years. I now have a third bridge and my dentist told me it would probably not last as long as the last one did. I also had an implant in another part of my lower jaw and within a short period of time it became infected and I lost a good portion of the bone near and around that tooth. I guess you win some and you lose some.

    2. Sanxi

      Dentists in the US can prescribe any controlled substance they want in office or by RX. Facts as Yves would say, know the facts.

    3. anon in so cal

      Legitimate medical websites, such as the Mayo Clinic, recommend use of salt water over over-the-counter, branded solutions.

      Our dentist sounds like yours. For example, he advises against using an expensive electric toothbrush, even as the dental hygienists advocate their use.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Please elaborate — why does your dentist advise against using an electric toothbrush?

        1. Harold

          6 mos after buying an electric toothbrush my (mild) gum condition, that I had ever since being pregnant, went away. I thought maybe coincidence but dentist said if after seven years the only thing you did differently was to use an electric toothbrush (for two min. as recommended) then it was probably the toothbrush.
          He inherited his practice from my former dentist, a professor from NYU, whom I liked a lot because he used to tell me the estimated life-span of each kind of filling as he worked. None are permanent, I learned. Silver amalgam fillings last an average of 8 years he said. Gold a lot longer (I forget how long). He also warned me that root canals sometimes aren’t effective. A percentage of them can painfully “blow up” (his words) years later, i.e., there is some infection in the gum under the tooth (now dead from having its root removed) that creates swelling & gasses — again. The only way to get rid of it is to clean it out and expose it to air, so they go in from above in a surgical procedure called an “apical”. These things should be performed under anesthesia by a qualified endodontist, needless to say. (Wouldn’t you know, it happened to me a few years ago). There are no guarantees in this life.

      2. neo-realist

        I’m curious as well. Have been using an electric toothbrush for a little over 20 years with way more success than the manual–more brushes per second w/ minimal gum recession.


          Same here! My teeth [gums?] just plain feel better after I use my electric toothbrush — just as they do when I floss regularly [which is supposed to be unnecessary and overrated?????]. My teeth [gums] also feel better after my bi-yearly cleaning.

          Brine for a finish after brushing does sound like a nice addition to my routine.

          The Atlantic article linked to was very long on anecdotal lede but more than vague about what represented best practice.

    4. marieann

      I had a problem with a dentist who didn’t do enough. I had a tooth pain for nearly 2 years and she kept saying it was fine, when I finally changed dentists I was sent to an Endodontist for a root canal but it had be pulled out as it was cracked all the way to the root.

      I am really afraid of dental work so I tend not to insist on procedures. I go for cleaning every 6 months as my teeth as terribly sensitive and I like to keep the scraping down to a minimum.

      I make my own toothpaste and my dentist is fine with it, she just told me to add some Tea Tree oil for the anti fungal properties.

      1. ckimball

        I used a honey, crushed garlic cloves and warm-hot water solution on a swollen gum and tooth. The infection went away. I’m not exactly advocating. I’m saying, in a pinch it relieved pain and I think that the antibacterial properties of the honey and lemon worked.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “First Japan-Built Airliner in 50 Years Takes on Boeing and Airbus”

    Ummm, I think that I might give those Mitsubishi Regional Jets a bit of a miss at the moment if I had to use one. I am not yet convinced that they have mastered all aspects of aircraft manufacture just yet. The reasons for my doubts is that some of Japan’s F-35 fighters have also been assembled by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. That F-35 that went down the other day? That was the first jet assembled by Mitsubishi and of five of Japan’s F-35 jets that have made seven emergency landings since their introduction, four of them were assembled by Mitsubishi. Not a confidence builder that.

    1. David

      My recollection is that pretty much all the US aircraft bought by the Japanese have been manufactured under licence and the quality is at least as good as the original. The Japanese do, of course have a long history as aircraft producers, like the Russians’ but, significantly’ unlike the Chinese.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Mitsubishi is a major subcontractor to Boeing – they are the world leaders in making large carbon fibre castings (basically because their pressure vessels are bigger). Fuji and Kawasaki heavy industries are also very much involved – between them they pretty much make all the physically large components (body and wings) of the Dreamliner.

        For whatever reason, the Japanese dropped the ball on aviation in the post war years. As is well known, Mitsubishi made aircraft as good as anyone in the world in 1941, the Zero was a masterpiece of high tech minimalism. I assume it was down to a desire to avoid anything with the taint of militarism.

        But Boeing opened a door to them in the 1990’s by opting for outsourcing, and the Japanese are not known for refusing an open door. However, they aren’t infallible – Mitsubishi’s attempts at military aircraft have been risible and highly expensive for the Japanese taxpayer. I suspect that while the Japanese will no doubt make excellent alternatives to Airbus and Boeing, they’ll struggle with cost against the economies of scale of Airbus and cheaper manufacturing by Embraer and Sukhoi. They also lack a big domestic market, unlike the Chinese and Russians.

    2. Yikes

      Spent 6 months in Yokohama as a child while my father was looking cost of ownership issues with Japanese Seaplanes(yeah, that long ago) for USCG. Everytime they flew the airplane back to base, the Japanese Mechanics would swarm the airplane, till my father finally took it to an “unscheduled” landing at another Naval base, and found the engines were a huge mess.

      A mentor was involved with IAEA Paris team (China based) on inspection of Fukushima 2 years before the meltdown, if anything, “beating down the nail that sticks up” was even worse. Japan’s rail system is an outlier which managed to beat the culture due to extreme demands. I can’t see any chance for such a system of safety like the rail roads being created in Japan for aviation. Frankly the Chinese have a better chance because they are not afraid to spend money to get somewhere.

  12. ChiGal in Carolina

    The new digital divide. From the article:

    Opting out from algorithmic curation is a luxury – and could one day be a symbol of affluence available to only a select few.

    Maybe; I know it costs me to avoid buying from Amazon and I decline any sort of joining or registering or even reviewing purchases despite the come-on of special discounts.

    But for now it seems to me the difference is a “wealth” of knowledge only, and it’s not that I understand algos, I just don’t want to provide them with my data.

    1. Summer

      Just when you thought people could be taught to do better, it’s getting turned over entities that literally have thousands of years of prejudice fed into it like “facts.”

      GIGO now more than ever because what has always been a rush to make money now comes across like a desperation. The surveillance capitalism reeks of desperation of the never secure and never satisfied. No way it ends well.

      1. flora

        Not to mention for example, ‘free’ newspaper online access granted to readers willing to ‘answer a few questions about’ themselves. How many of those answers are lies? ;)

    2. a different chris

      >I know it costs me to avoid buying from Amazon

      Maybe, but first I’ve found a lower prices a lot elsewhere.

      Secondly, haven’t there been studies that people spend the same amount at Walmart as they did before at a “more expensive” place, they simply get more junk? I strongly believe that I save money overall by just not going there, just like I avoid Walmart.

  13. aj

    RE: “Men’s beards carry more germs than dog fur, according to science”

    Any time a headline contains “according to science” I’m pretty sure it’s BS.

      1. fajensen

        Dog saliva has antibacterial properties.

        How-Ever, I’d give it an hour or better two with the dog kept inside the before trusting science. There is this thing about the inititial conditions of the tests:

        My flat-coat will glefully eat anything “available from natures off-colour-but-mostly-brown buffet” provided that it is throughly rotten and/or totally disgusting and she absolutely have the nose to find ‘the stuff’ at up to about one km’s distance!

        Water too, BTW. Water is the only thing she runs away over, she comes back once she is properly soaked or totally covered in nasty slime, because the water quality is obviously of little concern and probably the scientists didn’t consider that particular state of the dog fur!?

    1. diptherio

      “We caught up with Science this week over lunch at the University cafeteria and asked it a few questions about facial hair….”

      1. aj

        Mr Jim Science–a factory line worker in Cleveland Ohio–is unsure why people keep asking his opinion about random topics. “They just come in here like ‘Mr Science which do you thing is dirtier, beards or dogs?’ I’m like ‘Hmmm, let me test some of the fellas around here.’ Now where to find some dogs?”

    2. ChrisS

      +1 on “according to science” as a red flag – referring to “science” as a unified institution is almost always pernicious, imo, elevating shoddy work and discrediting good science by association

  14. Geo

    Lyft Investors Sue Over Slump, Claiming IPO Was Overhyped

    Those investors should have read NC and WolfStreet instead of whatever tech hagiography they’ve been reading.

    1. fajensen

      Haha, those lawyers can spot a mark from a good distance too!

      I did not read the Lyft prospectus, but, if it is similar to the Uber one, then it must be a rather fine example of the Nigerian Sucker Filter. The Uber one literally goes on for many pages on how very likely it is that the investors will lose their shirts and the many different, not mutually exclusive, paths that will make it will happen.

  15. Brindle


    Among Dems Marianne Williamson isn’t my first choice or even second but it’s good that she is in the race. Hope she qualifies for “debates”.

    @ marwilliamson

    —“Our democracy isn’t “broken”; it’s corrupted. “Broken” would mean it’s a simple as “fixing” it; corrupted means we have to face our national shadow: how short term corporate profits have replaced democracy and love as our society’s bottom line.”—

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I think Williamson is a good addition to this bunch of candidates. Compared to the Republican candidates of 2016 these candidates are a marvel. I think seeing these people interact on the stages will be enlightening to all of us. Anyway, Williamson presents a highly moral perspective which has been missing from public discourse other than as stupid propaganda that is clearly insincere from most politicians. That’s not to say I’m entirely in agreement with her. Still it is important to make the distinction between corrupt and broken. Most of our public and private institutions are, from a societal point of view, systemically corrupt. The health care, education, military, justice systems to name just a few are systemically corrupt and exist to exist. Health care exists to make profits for hustlers primarily. Our overt and covert wars exist primarily to use up ordinance and enrich contractors and secondarily to meet some strategic interest of the state–security of the American people plays no role at all.

      All American institutions need to be avoided, ignored, to the degree we can do so as we make our own arrangements underneath tables, within cracks, and through community networking–any other form of “reform” is not possible except in one way which is to make such cracks as there are bigger and bring in a moral perspective to convince people involved in large institutions to cease and desist their contributions to the System. No candidate will speak in that way at this time but some people have brought this view forward like Morris Berman and Chris Hedges.

      All this requires, as Williamson suggests, a willingness to face the darkness within ourselves and our society. Indeed the outer manifestation of American cruelty to “wogs” abroad and wogs (the poor) internally has to be faced both in the contemporary sense and within history.

      Williamson offers us a perspective of meaning

    2. John H

      I think Williamson has the potential to make an impact in the race, to drive the debate and frame the issues in a deeper, more meaningful way. Certainly after 2016, anything is possible.

      I really want her voice on the debate stage. I gave to her for that purpose.

      Warren talks policy tweaks and stuff that I think goes over a lot of regular folks’ heads. Marianne Williamson is talking basic underpinnings of ideology, and she is a skilled communicator in this arena. She is one to watch IMO, and not to be underestimated.

  16. vlade

    Brexit party winning is entirely possible. It will make good headlines (good = good clickbait and everything), unfortunately.

    Because the reality at the moment looks like between LD, TIG, SNP, Greens and Plaid Cymru will get about the same number of votes as Farage + UKIP. Talk about fracturing the vote…

    So it’s far from “Farage wins” – but Farage getting most votes will most certainly be a better clickbait.

    TBH, I’m more concerned with the number of votes UKIP gets, as now it pretty much looks like the the good old BNP took it over..

    1. Redlife2017

      Corbyn is acutely aware of this issue. Labour is going to go all out – I have no idea how that will end up working considering that there is going to be emphasis about this being a big tent party vote (i.e. we have Leavers and Remainers, we aren’t racist, etc.). But paid and volunteer organising is going to be balls to the wall starting next week. Now that we have our slates…

      1. Clive

        The county and borough elections on the 2nd are going to be absolutely fascinating. I’ll confine myself to my borough because there’s going to be so much local variation.

        Source dataset:

        As an overview, this is Brexit heartlands — anything with a mere whiff of Remain-eyness will struggle. Keep in view that outside the shires where I am, such as metropolitan London for example, things would be the exact opposite.

        In many wards, Labour has thrown in the towel. They are only contesting seats where the candidate is well established and can rely on name recognition and local reputation. Because Liberal Democrat is a dirty word (well, two dirty words) here, the former Liberal Democratic candidates have split off from the party and formed a new group in my town (“Andover Alliance”). It was either that, or be completely wiped out. The Conservative party would otherwise be given a free run as they’d seem the only party to support Brexit. The ex-Liberal Democrats are purposefully campaigning strictly on local issues and have no opinion and no policy on national matters. This is a clever way of retaining their seats in a Brexit area whilst still offering notional

        My ward (“Winton”) will be a straight fight between these ex-Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out, it’ll effectively be a pro-Brexit vote (Conservative) and a pro-Remain (or don’t care) vote for the Alliance. Outside my town, it’s a more recognisable competition between Conservatives and formal Liberal Democrat but, again, Labour are not even bothering to stand in a lot of wards.

        The long and the short of it is, then, a realignment is already underway. You get a Remain candidate or a Leave one. Labour, still trying to be all things to all voters, apparently recognised they’ll simply get squeezed out in this mostly right wing area with, at best, only some last vestiges of centrism. Liberal Democrat or former Liberal Democrats who want to avoid Brexit on the doorstep totally will pick up anyone’s vote where the voter either hates the Conservatives or hates Leave (or, of course, both).

        My ward is sufficiently urban to have even a small hope of attracting some Remain votes. In others, it’s a stand off between Conservatives and UKIP or former UKIP’ers standing as independents but on a Leave ticket. Lucky voters in “Blackwater” (pg. 10) ward have the delightful prospect of actually being able to vote for “Mr. Brexit” who has, I’m guessing, actually changed his name so as to appear on ballots as, literally, the Brexit candidate. Which shows what the politics are like round here, if nothing else.

        Even ten years ago, when I first moved here, you got a nice, easy to follow choice of Liberal, Labour and Conservative. Now, it’s a right old mish mash. Anyone hoping for a return to traditional politics as usual is in for a bit of a disappointment.

        1. polecat

          “a right old mish mash” couldn’t be a more apt phrase of the times .. devided by empire, of course … although, if one considers the likely multiple consequences, intended or otherwise ( yes, I know we’re talking Brexit here, however, looking beyond ..) .. well then, it becomes a real monster mash, as the even bigger playas hoisting nukes get in on the action.

          Buckle up and have some sheet plastic & duck tape … and seeds handy. Brexit/No Brexit is just a warm-up .. with multiple conflicts in multiple demensions !

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Is it decided what voting method they use this time? The last time it was STV for Northern Ireland, the d’Hondt system for England Wales and Scotland. If I’m not mistaken, the d’Hondt system would give a big advantage to the Brexit Party if Tory voters stay at home as the Remainer parties votes will be too splintered.

  17. integer

    The D party establishment desperately want to get their hands on the unredacted Mueller report so they can tell their credulous base – who will only ever see the redacted version – that the redacted sections contain important info that supports their bs collusion and obstruction narratives. They appear to be very concerned about losing control of the narrative – Nadler held a press conference yesterday in which he claimed that by holding a press conference before releasing the report, Barr was trying to “bake in” a Trump-friendly narrative about the contents of the Mueller report. Perhaps, after spending two years doing everything they could to “bake in” the Russiagate narrative, with a huge amount of assistance from their friends in the liberal media establishment and the intel community, they are beginning to worry that the walls are closing in on them.

    Michael Tracey recently interviewed George Papadopoulos, and it’s really something. People who have been watching the Russiagate conspiracy theory unravel will be familiar with the contours of his story, but his descriptions of the sequences of events that led to his meetings with Mifsud, Downer, and Halper, along with what transpired in the meetings themselves, paints a detailed picture of what was going on. He was basically living in a spook-infested version of The Truman Show. Interestingly, Papadopoulos claims that after Mifsud told him about “the Russians” having Clinton’s emails, he never told anyone, including the Trump campaign, the UK-based Australian diplomat (Downer), and Halper, until he was questioned by the FBI. It’s a very long interview but really worth listening to IMO, especially the first hour.

    Anyway, it’s a big day in the Russiagate saga today, and I’m looking forward to watching Barr’s press conference, reading the report, and seeing the media go into overdrive. Will this be the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, for Russiagate? I expect it’s the latter.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Russiagate has gone too far to stop now. The notion that the Russians were hacking our election in ’16 and is central to our new national Narrative and has become common currency as an “fact” and will remain so no matter what evidence to the contrary there is. Those of us who understand the hows and whys of this current version of the Dreyfus Affair will be continually coloring outside the lines as we used to say in Washington.

      1. integer

        Yes, the Russian meddling and hacking narrative appears to have been successfully inserted into the officially sanctioned reality matrix. I suppose the Internet Research Agency social media stuff has at least some basis in reality, but when the amateur-hour clickbait they were posting is juxtaposed with the seriousness with which it has been treated by Mueller and other purportedly serious people in government and the MSM, well, all one can do is laugh. The claims of Russian hacking, on the other hand, are nothing but a bunch of ideologically motivated intel agency assertions. In other words, total bs.

        Anyway, here is a link to the Mueller report.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Fun fact. Unbeknownst to Penny Marshall at the start of filming, Madonna was the top softball player in Florida coming out of high school, and besides her scenes, Madonna is often performing the more acrobatic catches of players on different teams in the movie just in different wigs despite the extras being collegiate softball players. Madonna was simply better.

      Except for the first scene of this movie, it’s absolutely fantastic. I was late to the theater when I saw this movie and missed the opening scene. Years later, I sat down to watch the movie and it’s entirety and was gobsmacked by how awful the beginning is. I had no idea.

      1. JCC

        NTG, Madonna grew up in Michigan, leaving Michigan for NYC when she was 20. And, according to an article at ESPN’s web site – and other sites giving background on the movie – she knew little about playing softball ( ). But as her coach said, “She had great potential.”

        But you are absolutely right, it’s a great baseball movie.

    2. Yikes

      When Sanders stopped campaigning for himself and his ideas, and started campaigning for Clinton, his crowd numbers dropped. Clinton’s team didn’t get it, and blamed Sanders for not trying. Sanders’s clear pro-public policy positions drew the crowds, not his personality. That’s why I don’t think he would have been much more of a help to Clinton’s campaign even if he had gone on board as VP.

      1. Cal2

        If after the debates, Sanders vowed to make Tulsi his vice president, or vice versa,
        Sanders will defeat Trump and win the presidency.

        She’s 38, an athlete, an army major, a true progressive and could, in say a period of 16 years of a Sanders/Gabbard cycle of presidencies, resurrect America’s true values and reverse what is reversible in our national decline.

        If anyone doubts her guts, bonifides and policy positions, see this:

        Gabbard Campaign Video Slams Trump For Making US “The Prostitute Of Saudi Arabia.”

      2. Kurt Sperry

        To borrow a phrase from Nancy Pelosi, a glass of water could have beat Trump in 2016. The Ds offered up a glass of vinegar and lost.

        1. polecat

          Uhhh .. luke-warm spit maybe. But water .. no ! unless we’re talkin toxic fraked water ..

  18. Tom

    From the life without google article: “I am reminded how big a role serendipitous discovery used to play in pre-Google research”

    For me, the happiness of real bookstores is finding what you’re not looking for. A turn down a different aisle out of curiously, perusing random books.

    Google searches are good for somethings, but not finding new ideas. I’m very thankful that the folks at NC are good “readers”. I rely on the links each day to find valuable perspectives on many topics I don’t think I could have found myself. I think sanely navigating this google world still requires having communities and people we trust to curate and filter.

    I don’t remember the exact moment I found NC, but after the 2008 financial crises I tried to get a real understanding of how the modern financial economy worked. Google gave me stock sites, market watches, “wise men” and so much conventional thinking. Almost all seemed utter bs. After months of reading everything I could, i kept returning to this obscure little site called Naked Capitalism. The biggest lesson of my life is how hard it is to find real information and thinking …

    1. JEHR

      You are describing the way I found NC too–the best website for finance and good additional links also.

  19. Lee

    Lawyering While Black: Cop Detains Attorney in Courthouse, Accuses Him of Impersonating a Lawyer The Root (Robert H). Wowsers.

    Back in the day (~1971}, Berkeley’s then mayor, Warren Widener, got arrested for jogging while black. “I’m the mayor! I’m the mayor!” he protested to no avail til he was in the police station and was recognized by the chief of police.

    I tried to find a news account of this event but my cursory search did not produce the result I sought. But I did find a link to a long, detailed article by Sol Stein from the New York Times archive describing the heady days when we street fightin’ men and women decided to turn our hands to taking over the Berkeley city council and other electoral projects. We got mixed result.

    When radicals are elected to the hated system—

    1. Lightningclap

      Yes, that’s just the time when my elementary school was re-named from “Lincoln” to “Malcolm X”. A few teachers were radicals and this was a good thing.

  20. NotTimothyGeithner

    Wow, I watched a few minutes of MSDNC just now, and I knew Maddow had gone off the deep end but this is just unhinged. They’ll probably start accusing people of being Reptiloids by tomorrow at this rate.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Maddow is a modern day Goebbles, in short, a master at her art. Part of her appeal is her radical egotism and high self-regard to an almost intoxicating degree. If you can be totally confident in what you are saying no matter how absurd you win over most people, I’ve found from personal experience. When you know what cues people respond to whether you are a comedian, a preacher, a salesperson, a garden-variety con artist you can win most people over.

        1. MichaelSF

          In a series of comic crime novels (Dortmunder by Donald Westlake) a common ploy used when casing a place is to have a clipboard with you (and maybe a set of overalls). Anyone with a clipboard who is looking around must be legit.

          1. Procopius

            A couple of days ago I saw an example of “how to hack passwords.” In a workplace, perhaps one which already has a bulletin board, put up a sheet with a heading, “Help in getting your password changed.” Have a table with columns: “username”, “old password”, “new password.” Maybe also ask for name or location of PC usually used. Maybe write in a couple of phony usernames and passwords to increase confidence. Amazing. These things actually work, too.

  21. nippersmom

    The 2020 Race Is Going Just Like Bernie Sanders Wanted:
    Some of the tale, though, comes closer to solipsistic embellishment, like when Sanders says in his stump speech that “a funny thing happened over the last four years” and ticks through Democrats supporting investment in infrastructure, prioritizing climate change, and reforming the criminal-justice system—all of which were top focuses for Barack Obama.

    These may have been “top focuses” of Obama’s campaign; they certainly weren’t focuses- “top” or otherwise- of his presidency.

    1. Svante Arrhenius

      I’d posted Fair’s great piece about how the 9.9% Liberals (at least subliminally perceive they) benefit from our stale kleptocracy, since many here have acknowledged this for-EVER. I wasn’t in Pittsburgh, Youngstown or Bethlehem to hear the locals, but a number are already hoping “at least Bernie, AOC, Carmen, Gravel, Nina & Tulsi SPEAK the obvious, forbidden truth, even if the media does everything in their power to silence it?” So, why are we still dubious and skeptical? Old age? Drugs?

  22. a different chris

    >Deer kills man, injures woman near Wangaratta

    Man as there aren’t enough deadly animals in Australia you have to worry about deer for chrissake?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      With the benefit of hindsight, it’s probably not wise to keep any male creature that weighs as much as you do or more as a pet without having it neutered, and adjust the weight # downward if it has sharp teeth and strong jaws. I have a funny feeling the aggressive behavior had to do with rutting.

      1. voteforno6

        I have a funny feeling the aggressive behavior had to do with rutting.

        That’s the way it works with people, too.

      2. Lee

        Definitely adjust the weight downward as most species are stronger, pound for pound, than we puny humans.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        I was told when I was hiking around Banff NP in Canada that most deaths around there from animals are from elk, not bears or wolves (the deer in that story is apparently an elk). Whether its a tall story or not I was told that many tourists approach them from the front, thinking that the only danger is from a back kick, like a horse. But elk defend themselves from threats (mostly wolves), by standing their ground and kicking forward, and apparently they have a surprisingly strong kick that can kill, especially if the person falls. Their antlers are primarily for dealing with males of their own species, not predators.

        So it is possible that the deer had been triggered inadvertently and went into ‘defend from wolf’ mode, although its surprising that someone who owned one wouldn’t be aware of any danger.

        1. Prodigalson

          Ditto for moose. Had a moose kick our fool of a dog years back, lucky it didn’t break his jaw/skull or kill him. I don’t remember him ever running up on a moose after that though.

        2. Lee

          In Yellowstone I saw an elk, gravid and limping, clock a big but young and inexperienced wolf. He dropped, she limped off and when he came round, he shook his head and walked gingerly off in the opposite direction. On several occasions I’ve seen two or more elk stand their ground against individual wolves and fend them off.

        3. polecat

          Don’t forget the mountain goats … they can be mighty gnarly in their own right !! A hiker clambering up an Olympic National Park trial was gored by an aggressive male goat .. and who consequently died from his injuries .. because the goat thought HE own the the trail rights, not the human !
          There WERE prior posted warnings NOT to approach said animal, who was known to frequent the locale. His wife tried to sue the Park Service for wrongful death, but lost.

          1. wilroncanada

            I guess the goat didn’t read the signs.
            I’ve hit deer twice while driving early in the morning to the ferry terminal on Salt Spring Island. The second, just a brush when it jumped out of a ditch while driving a motorhome. the first, headon driving a sledge–Valiant slant six. threw it across the road, no damage to the car, two men driving the other way jumped out of their car and started right away to process it for meat.

            1. Lee

              I had a Plymouth Valiant slant six back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. One of the best Detroit ever came up with.

              1. VietnamVet

                A yellow Valiant was my first car paid for with money I had couldn’t spend in Vietnam. My Detroit cars went really downhill after that until I switched over to Honda in 1991 and have stayed with them ever since.

      4. Off The Street

        Those words echo through single-parent households in suburbs across this fair land. :p

    2. Lee

      Which Animal Kills the Most Humans in the US per Year? It’s Not What You Think.

      Deer – 200 [human deaths per year in North America]

      The animal that causes the most human deaths every year? Deer. We’re not even kidding, here.

      Deer sometimes leap blindly into roadways causing tens of thousands of traffic accidents annually. These accidents cause an estimated 200 deaths every year, numerous injuries, hefty medical bills, and totaled cars aplenty. Read about one possible strategy (along with hunting season) that scientists are suggesting to deal with the problem.

      And the sharks have been taking the blame all along.

      Bambi will phk you up.

      1. Wukchumni

        Nobody’s ever been killed by a black bear or mountain lion in Sequoia National Park, but deer have at least one human stenciled on their hind quarters, a tourist way back when.

        1. Lee

          Funny how herbivores (for instance, the hippo in Africa) tend to take out more of us than the carnivores. We must not be that tasty.

          1. Wukchumni

            Sometimes i’ll run into cattle on the road here, and to ward them off, i’ll yell out politely “T-Bone”, or “Salisbury Steak”, or “Filet Mignon”, or “Porterhouse” and if need be “Ground Chuck”.

    3. JEHR

      Some people in our province enclose small numbers of deer behind wire and occasionally there is a death amongst the owners. It is now illegal to pen wild deer here.

  23. Grumpy Engineer

    Bernie Sanders ‘Raises the Bar Even Further’ on Climate With Vow to Ban Fracking

    Ergh. Bernie Sanders needs to be careful of the “law of unintended consequences”. Right now, running combined-cycle gas turbines is the cheapest way to produce power, especially on windless nights when renewables provide no contribution. Because of this, utilities run their gas turbines in preference to their coal-fired stations during periods of moderate electrical demand. It’s why coal consumption has fallen sharply in the US over the past decade.

    If fracking is banned, natural gas prices will almost certainly revert (sharply upward) to their historical norms, making gas-fired turbines the most expensive way to generate power. During periods of moderate electrical demand, coal would become the preferred fuel for economic reasons. This means twice the CO2 emissions per kWh delivered, along with an increase in air pollution and more material in the ash-retention ponds.

    Without alternatives to the coal alternative, a fracking ban could easily do more harm than good.

    1. Hepativore

      I missed the post on nuclear energy last week because I was so busy, and I do not want to necro-post. The fact of the matter is, that I think this highlights the need for nuclear energy even more, not to mention an expansion of breeder-type reactors and spent-fuel recycling. This is the only real alternative to baseload needs like coal as neither wind, nor solar energy would ever be able to deliver the energy needed even if with 100% efficiency not to mention how intermittent these energy sources are. In many cases, it seems like they are just a roundabout way to burn natural gas during peak hours, which is of course a fossil fuel.

      Another advantage with nuclear energy is that some reactor types have an operating temperature that is high enough for it to be a useful source of process heat for things like making synthetic fuels, heat for industrial processes, and also for cheap district-style heating in urban centers.

      There was a very old post on DailyKos from 2006 from an engineer by the name of NNadir. This was from before DailyKos went off of the Clintonite deep end, but it talks about using nuclear energy to synthesize hydrogen from water or for making dimethyl ether for automobile use.

      The process of approving and constructing new reactor sites in a timely and efficient fashion was going full-steam in the US before the 1970’s and we can certainly do it again if we streamline and rework the process since it was redone in the 1970’s. If you look at a country like France, they rely on nuclear energy for 80% of its demand, and sells its surplus energy to the surrounding countries in Europe like Germany.

      1. John k

        Too late. Cheap storage plus expansion of solar will provide cheap power, already cheaper than new gas plants.
        Plus can already provide hydrogen when the sun shines.
        My career was spent on the design of fusion and fission plants, plus spent fuel shipping plants… that time is over.
        France has done well, standardized plants and streamlined applications, plus citizens sold on idea they have no fossil resources. Doubt they replace the old ones.
        Did you know that a tract of our desert 50 miles square, at 10% efficiency, is enough to generate all the electric power the us uses? Storage has been the only missing link…
        Recent wholesale bid in Texas, including storage, is .022/kwhr. It’s here now.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Didn’t we used to have a legislative ban on exporting US natural gas to anywhere outside of America? If so, we could re-legislate that ban back into existence. That way, banning fracking wouldn’t drive up the price of American gas as fast on its own as banning fracking on top of the current legal permission the Gas Lords have to export as much American gas out of America as they possibly can, to create a price-spiking shortage anyway.

  24. timbers

    Just read the comedian running for President of Ukraine is leading with 72%.

    The money we taxpayers shelled out there for regime change worked out well, no? And that’s before looking at the size of Ukraine’s economy before / after our regime change.

  25. Summer

    Re: “England / Land ownership
    “Half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population, according to new data shared with the Guardian that seeks to penetrate the secrecy that has traditionally surrounded land ownership.

    The findings, described as “astonishingly unequal”, suggest that about 25,000 landowners – typically members of the aristocracy and corporations – have control of half of the country.”

    Finding somewhere to “plant yourself” could get tricky.

    1. Craig H.

      The Guardian article is interesting but it did not emphasise what most interests me and had one egregious error.


      Shrubsole, who works as a campaigner for the environmental charity Friends of the Earth, estimates that “a handful of newly moneyed industrialists, oligarchs and City bankers” own around 17% of England.

      The handful who own 17% is more significant to me than the 25 000 who own 50%. Also WTF is a handful? It is not a number. It is an amount that fits into a human hand so this sentence is false. I thought before I looked up the dictionary definition that five or fewer would be there but it’s not. What is the number?


      Several large grouse moor estates and Beeswax Dyson Farming, a farm owned by pro-Brexit businessman James Dyson, are also high on the list.

      What do the handful who own (17% of) the place intend with regard to Brexit? That is what is going to happen.

    2. Yikes

      Post-Brexit you can expect that concentration to get very extreme very fast. My guess is there are a lot of banks just waiting to pull the trigger on businesses they eased into over extending themselves, just so they can do a load of Mitt Romney.

    3. Cal2

      “As these estates have not been sold on the open market, their ownership does not need to be recorded at the Land Registry, the public body responsible for keeping a database of land and property in England and Wales.”

      So what’s to keep someone from squatting on the land and saying, “This land has been in my family for generations” if someone tries to evict them?

      1. Tom Bradford

        The reason is that the Land Registry was only created in 1862 and has only been gradually extending its ‘sphere of influence’ so that much of the country. Much of the country was still outside its purview even after WW2. Moreover its act of registering ownership is only triggered by the first transfer of a parcel by sale after the date the land is bought into its purview. So any land held under trust or by a corporate body since before that date is still ‘unregistered’. However squatting to claim ownership would be defeated by the true owner’s production of the original, if now ancient, title deeds to the land under the original, pre-Registration process

  26. Aron Blue

    Re: The Guardian writer who went without google for a week. I am a musician and, er adventurer I guess, for lack of a better term. In 2017, I traveled across the country by train to many unfamiliar cities with only a flip phone. I went to a lot of libraries (and saw first hand the homeless crisis— I’m looking at you, Austin.) At no point did I feel the kind of helplessness or inability to get around that this writer does, and in his own city! I am more and more convinced that people of the upper middle class, the thought leaders of the middlebrow are getting really stupid, like in almost a not be able to feed yourself way.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I am more and more convinced that people of the upper middle class, the thought leaders of the middlebrow are getting really stupid, like in almost a not be able to feed yourself way.

      Wendell Berry would agree with you:

      In this state of total consumerism – which is to say a state of helpless dependence on things and services and ideas and motives that we have forgotten how to provide ourselves – all meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth is broken. We do not understand the earth in terms either of what it offers us or of what it requires of us, and I think it is the rule that people inevitably destroy what they do not understand. Most of us are not directly responsible for strip mining and extractive agriculture and other forms of environmental abuse. But we are guilty nevertheless, for we connive in them by our ignorance. We are ignorantly dependent on them. We do not know enough about them; we do not have a particular enough sense of their danger. Most of us, for example, not only do not know how to produce the best food in the best way – we don’t know how to produce any kind in any way. Our model citizen is a sophisticate who before puberty understands how to produce a baby, but who at the age of thirty will not know how to produce a potato. And for this condition we have elaborate rationalizations, instructing us that dependence for everything on somebody else is efficient and economical and a scientific miracle. I say, instead, that it is madness, mass produced. A man who understands the weather only in terms of golf is participating in a chronic public insanity that either he or his descendants will be bound to realize as suffering. I believe that the death of the world is breeding in such minds much more certainly and much faster than in any political capital or atomic arsenal.

      1. Aron Blue

        Thanks for replying – I certainly agree with the Wendell Berry quote, but that was last generation. He was worried about people not being able to grow food – I’m talking about not being able to find the grocery store.

      2. Bazarov

        This quote is rather romantic. I remember reading something very much like it in Emerson’s “Power,” wherein he writes that the civilization that moves to far from “nature” becomes over-refined and effete, having all the civil institutions to project power but lacking the vitality (which comes from nature) to do so.

        Berry’s passage seems to me a projection of the rugged individualist mindset, with us since Emerson at least, onto political economy. I find it rather unconvincing.

        The world is not coming to an end because I don’t know how to grow a potato and have not communed with nature enough, etc. etc. My grandfather, for example, loved the outdoors, grew a huge garden every season, hunted and fished—but he was, in his career, a member of the post-war international corporate managerial aristocracy that preyed on developing nations by establishing factories, exploiting cheap labor, polluting the local environment, and supporting the corrupt local elites that would do corporate bidding for a sizable enough bribe.

        He was also an avid supporter of fossil fuel extraction and a believer that imposing on nature as we see fit was not only desirable but more or less our spiritual destiny. He believed in European/American superiority and, in a sense, was an active agent in American empire building.

        Grandpa could grow a mean potato. I ate many of them over dinner. I loved him, but let me tell you, he was much more “insane” than the young urban sophisticates I mingle with today, who–though they can’t grow a potato–are sincerely committed to political transformation necessary to overcome environmental collapse. Moreover, they’re deeply opposed to neoliberal/romantic “rugged individualism,” deeply opposed to American empire, and are enthusiastic about socialist values like human solidarity.

    2. Cal2

      “I traveled across the country by train to many unfamiliar cities with only a flip phone.”

      Damn!, Lewis and Clark, The Mountain Men, Pizarro, Marco Polo live again…

      Aron, Just imagine a national grid going down for a week. No cell service, no GPS, no internet, cell phone batteries expired, no water pressure, no gas pumped–well then, that would indeed be a test of modern day Western man and Woman, or Homo Electronicus.

      1. Aron Blue

        Yeah, I’m not saying it was such a test of mettle or what have you. I was afraid it would come off that way because Internet. Why don’t you imagine your pretend world first and get back to me. I’ll be in the real world not getting lost without Google.

    3. Lynne

      I found the article terribly sad, especially this part of his conclusion on the benefits of google:

      I am glad to be relieved of the obligation of social interaction just to access a bit of information, because people are not always helpful, patient or fun to talk to.

      Because everyone else has value only if they are helpful or fun for him to talk to at all times? No wonder society has fallen apart.

      1. Carey


        I walk quite a bit, and even someone as introverted as me is amazed at
        the difficulty of those under around forty with the most cursory social
        interactions: acknowledging their presence by eye contact, or heaven
        forbid, a wave, you’d think they’d seen a ghost! Without their screen
        they seem defenseless, and this seems to be the norm now.

    4. polecat

      So maybe it’s They who will become the ‘Eloi’, instead of us knuckle-dragging mopes ! Who knew ?

      And in no time at all, we’ll have ready-made bomb shelters for when future times get lean, and we have to eat !

      It’s All Good.

    5. Summer

      “I am more and more convinced that people of the upper middle class, the thought leaders of the middlebrow are getting really stupid, like in almost a not be able to feed yourself way.”

      Being constantly served is a sign of high status. It’s hard to do things when you can’t fet your mind off of what people think of you doing them.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “VIDEO: How the Pentagon and CIA Push Venezuela Regime-Change Propaganda in Video Games”

    In a lot of ways, some of these games have been hijacked by the Pentagon and other interests. Those who played games like “America’s Army” probably had their games analyzed to see what sort of recruits that they might make if they joined up. One feature of these games is how you can enable a mode to switch sides so if you were fighting WW2 Nazis in one game, you could take up the role of the Nazis in the next. Trouble arose in one game during the Iraq occupation when it was realized that games set in an Iraq style country, that you could take on the role of Iraqi insurgents fighting American troops. They had to disable that game mode for that game pretty quick.
    Other times these game designers went out of their way to be offensive. Back in 2009 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the player would be an undercover CIA agent who takes part in butchering civilians at Moscow airport ( to gain trust from a terrorist group. Good thing that it wasn’t LaGuardia Airport or there might have been trouble. Call of Duty has a game set in Paris leading to a lot of destruction. Truth be told, if this happened it would be more like this-

    You want to know a Call of Duty game that you will never see? One where the battle is set in Washington DC with fights and shoot-out in the Senate, the White House, the Pentagon, out on the Mall and at CIA Headquarters. You could have American troops battling American mercenaries & operatives hired by a group of billionaires who have hijacked the workings of the US government. Another unit would be fighting a similar group that is dug in on Wall Street and you would have rifle and grenade fights in the Stock Market floor and at the Big Banks. Now that would be a game that a lot of people would like to play. And that is precisely why you will never be able to ever see it developed.

    1. Cal2

      “…Another unit would be fighting a similar group that is dug in on Wall Street and you would have rifle and grenade fights in the Stock Market floor and at the Big Banks.”

      Fantasy and not realistic. The stockbrokers and hedge fund money-mensches would be holed up in the Hamptons with their servants and bug-out bags in their Buggati. Kochroaches and Wall Street DemoRats always scurry for a hiding place at the first sign of trouble.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I thought about that but to quote Mark Blyth; “The Hamptons are not a defensible position”. I checked a map once and he is right.

      2. Procopius

        As Mark Blyth pointed out, “The Hamptons are not a defensible position. Low-lying beaches cannot be defended against a determined invader.”

    2. Plenue

      Western war games often revolve around a flavor of the month formula, with the villains being whoever is on the Approved Enemy List™ in the public consciousness at the time. Though while on the whole the Call of Duty (and Battlefield) franchises are jingoistic, militarist propaganda, there is frequently some degree of nuance. The Modern Warfare trilogy has you killing Russians, but in the context of a Russian civil war, so you’re both killing ‘ultra-nationalist’ ‘bad Russians’ while fighting alongside ‘government loyalist’ ‘good Russians’. Modern Warfare 2 even has you briefly play a bodyguard of the Russian president protecting him on his way to negotiate peace with the US (you fail, your character dying and the Russian leader being assassinated by the real villains).

      The actual villains are a Russian who really explicitly bears a grudge against the west for raping the former Soviet Union in the 90s, and ‘international separatists’ from an unnamed ‘oil rich’ middle-eastern country, who start the story by overthrowing their western puppet president, literally named al-Assad, to an audio backdrop of the separatist leader giving a speech, in Arabic, about how the nation has lain prostrate to the west for long enough.

      Modern Warfare 1 is actually pretty subversive. It was released in 2007, and if nothing else is a condemnation of American style war making, with the US sending in a full Marine task force only to get it nuked by the Saddam stand in. The actual heroes of the story of British SAS.

      Meanwhile the Battlefield franchise has the US and Russia again fighting each other while being manipulated by a third party. One of the heroes is a Spetsnaz soldier who attempts (and fails, because shock value) to prevent Paris from getting nuked by terrorists. He even has a whole tie in novel dedicated to him. Also the plot involves the US invading Iran for…some reason.

      Battlefield 4 switches the foe to a rogue Chinese general (rogue so you get to kill Chinese, but only ‘bad’ Chinese.

  28. s.n.

    For those following the Epstein case:
    New Jeffrey Epstein accuser goes public; defamation lawsuit targets Dershowitz
    among the more eye-catching extracts:

    Farmer did not say when she saw Dershowitz or if she saw him in the presence of any young girls. But the lawsuit points to at least one witness — former Palm Beach house manager Alfredo Rodriguez — who has alleged he did see Dershowitz in the presence of young girls and women at Epstein’s waterfront mansion. Rodriguez was prosecuted by the FBI for obstructing justice when he tried to sell Epstein’s “little black book’’ listing the hedge fund manager’s friends, business associates, celebrity guests and a long list of female masseuses. Rodriguez died in prison.

    In recent months, Dershowitz has stepped up allegations that Giuffre’s accusations against him are part of an extortion plot to blackmail an Ohio billionaire. The billionaire is identified in the lawsuit as Les Wexner, the CEO of the Limited Brands, which includes Victoria’s Secret, who was Epstein’s top financial client.

  29. Yikes

    …. so it is widely held overseas, and you have to have deep and clean enough capital markets so that people who are willing to hold your currency are also willing to invest….

    Two out of three isn’t bad, and if we can reword “clean” to “fixed” so that the 99% slave class will always bail out the 1% ruling class, the the USA really does meet all three. or So Bill Black would probably put it.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The US, believe it or not, still has better capital markets than the rest of the world. Required financial disclosures are higher and more frequent. And the SEC goes after insider traders….in fact, that’s about all it does, but that features into the “clean capital markets” bit.

      See this piece. The guy who wrote it had been a proprietary trader before he went into academia:

  30. Paul O

    The MMT ‘battle’ is heating up. I found it interesting that Lars posted this

    If the response from Palley is genuine – I assume it is – then I find it quite amazing. Point 4 in particular. I have been following the debate reasonably closely for most of a decade, Mitchell is polemic and confrontational – I am ok with that personally – but Palley just seems to dive of the deep end.

    Do I sense real fear?

    1. skippy

      Persoanly …. so many comments of late should be supported by background audio –

      I mean even Ralph Musgrave has made an appearance, saw him recently over at TJN having a flap about taxes and then at Lars – final protective line – WRT MMT E.g. MMT is anti tax.

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non moral description of national accountancy have so much moral baggage thrown at it or demands that it assume a moral stance… all by those that wrap themselves in some ex ante moralistic platitudes and then self award themselves authority over it.

  31. allan

    Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt says tech companies can regulate themselves [Yahoo News]

    Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in a new interview rejected the notion that Capitol Hill has a role to play in regulating big tech companies, breaking with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent willingness to work with lawmakers.

    “The problem is if you write a rule, inevitably, you fix the solution on a specific solution, but the technology moves so quickly,” Schmidt says.

    “It’s generally better to let the tech companies do these things,” …

    … with notably rare exceptions.

  32. barrisj

    Re: restoration of Notre-Dame…all of the French plutocrats trying to one-up each other in donating huge sums to the State for off-setting rebuilding costs didn’t mention that their “gifts” carry a substantial tax reduction, to be made up by everyone else. The implication is that “patriotism” should be rewarded, rather than selflessly given, which in France currently means no reinstatement of the wealth tax, eliminated by Macron in a classic “trickle-down” stimulus move. Read the story here:

    As Rich Lavish Cash on Notre-Dame, Many Ask: What About the Needy?

    PARIS — The pledges came in quick succession.

    François-Henri Pinault, France’s second-richest man, put up an eye-popping 100 million euros to rebuild Notre-Dame, just as firefighters were dousing the last flames at the cathedral early Tuesday morning. Not to be outdone, Bernard Arnault, France’s wealthiest scion and a fierce rival to Mr. Pinault and to his father, François Pinault, upped the ante with a 200-million-euro gift a few hours later.

    By Wednesday, the government had welcomed some 850 million euros — more than $960 million — offered in the patriotic name of salvaging the cultural treasure, as money from wealthy French families, French companies and international corporations poured in.

    But the spectacle of billionaires trying to one-up one another quickly intensified resentments over inequality that have flared during the Yellow Vest movement, just as President Emmanuel Macron was looking to transform the calamity into a new era of national unity. There were accusations that the wildly rich were trying to wash their reputations during a time of national tragedy.
    The firestorm began when Jean-Jacques Aillagon, a former culture minister and now adviser to Mr. Pinault’s father, went on Twitter after Mr. Pinault announced his gift Tuesday to suggest that corporate contributions to Notre-Dame’s restoration be given a 90 percent tax deduction, rather than the 60 percent that corporations normally get for charitable contributions.

    “That’s when the whole thing exploded,” said Pierre Haski, a commentator for France-Inter, the public radio station. “That produced outrage, that this act of generosity turns into fiscal advantage.”

    The reaction was so intense that Mr. Aillagon went on the radio Wednesday morning to retract his suggestion. The Pinault family then announced that they would seek no tax deduction at all for the gift.

    The ghost of Marie Antoinette continues to hover over a neoliberal France.

    1. KevinD

      As a former practicing architect, I find the Notre Dame fire as shocking and depressing as anyone.

      However, as far as horrific catastrophes go, the Grenville fire was way beyond Notre Dame. 72 people died.
      Don’t recall the billionaire class scrambling to help on that one.

      1. Clive

        And as the son of an electrical engineer, I’m also shocked and depressed if, as is currently being reported, the fire is as a result of an electrical fault.

        There are no electrical “accidents”. The science and practical management of electrical distribution has been known for a century. If it was an electricity-caused fire, it was as a result of one or more of poor materials, poor design, poor installation, poor safety culture, poor inspection regime, poor site management or poor operator training. Cost or value engineering is almost always the reason for these lax conditions arising. “We’ve no money to do things properly … but plenty of money to fix them after a catastrophe”.

        1. skippy

          Dear Clive Sir …

          One cannot past through the eye of needle by doing things well without expectations of glory … humbly discharging ones duties … only one knowing it was done correctly.

          Conversely, amassing great wealth presents the opportunity to portray the savor of a cultural icon and all the good will that serves in perpetuity of its name.

          For myself I had a great week mechanically stripping an old weatherboard Queenslander back to bare wood, bit like the time travel show mentioned. Strange how the original and subsequent early work was done well and proper, same can not be said of the latter work.

  33. oliverks

    Re Untold History of AI: Algorithmic Bias

    I am not sure this is only an AI problem. For years I have been complaining that the SAT is clearly biased. May be it has changed now, but I believe the SAT use to test questions on exams.

    The way a new question was selected was on the basis of how well it match the expected performance of the students. In other words if a particular student would get 75% of the questions correct, then those students should get this question correct 75% of the time.

    If you put a test question on an exam where students who would normally get 50% of the question right, but they got this question right 90% of the time, and students who normally get 90% of the questions right got it right 50% of the time, then it was a bad question and discarded. But was it really?

    Or was it perhaps a question that allowed other students to shine?

  34. JBird4049

    Facebook says it ‘unintentionally uploaded’ 1.5 million people’s email contacts without their consent Business Insider (David L)

    Of course, they didn’t wittingly unintentionally upload all those contacts.

    This is not Brasil, 1984, or even Baron Munchausen territory. What is some satire that covers baloney like this? I could use another good laugh.

  35. The Heretic

    I love Bernie Sanders, and I want him to be president. But he has to win in order to enact presidential level change. An outright ban on new fossil fuel projects, could be a little too much , and severely antagonize the red states.

    An aggressive policy to adapt to climate change is warranted… but it must be done in an way that does not antagonizes the 30% population that support the fossil fuel industry or need its employment, unless something just as good is clearly offered. I don’t care for the 1% oligarchs or the lieutenants among the 5% who richly benefit…

    1. jrs

      The problem is it is what is necessary. So if what is necessary is politically impossible …

      Kudos to Bernie for being brave at any rate.

      (a larger number of people probably work in healthcare than fossil fuel if that’s the metric, that someone might lose a job. But I don’t know non-extinction, and lessening collapse to the extent it is possible, and saving as many people and other species as can be saved, is the metric I think).

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        People targeted for jobicide by down-carbonization policies might well decide that if they are to be consigned to starve and die under Bill Clinton’s ” bridge to the Twenty First Century” . . . that they want everyone else to starve and die with them under the bridge. I know I would.

        If you want support from frackworkers for a ban-fracking policy, you need to have a pre-prepared policy ready to put into place to give those disemployed frackworkers exactly the same number of new jobs at exactly as much pay and benefits and etc. as the frackjobs payed. Otherwise they will vote against you to save their lives in the immediate now, and if they are a significant plurality in the several fracker states, then those several states’s Electoral Votes may go to your Worthy Opponent.
        That is the political problem with crafting a fossil-jobicide policy without a fossil-job replacement policy to go with it.

  36. kareninca

    There are dental quacks, for certain. But there are also dental professionals who are too diffident. I have a periodontist who is from Sweden; he is very smart and a very kind person (you can guess which people in his waiting room are not able to pay his high rates). But he knows what he doesn’t know; that he can’t predict or determine certain things before actually going in or know if they’ll work until after the fact. So we had to wait until his 80 y.o. dental hygienist – an exceedingly smart woman who has been doing this for 50+ years – told him that I had to have multiple gum surgeries to prevent additional bone loss (I already have a lot of bone loss). So he’s doing as she instructed – two of four surgeries done now – and lo and behold the inflammation is gone from those sectors.

    So that is the problem when it isn’t really a science yet. The temperament and capacity for reason and greed or lack thereof of the practitioners can guide treatment more than you’d hope.

    1. Harold

      The same is true for all medicine, I think. But even though there is a lot of uncertainty, they do know a lot.

  37. ewmayer

    o “Ten years after China’s renminbi went global, what keeps it from really challenging the US dollar as a reserve currency? | South China Morning Post (furzy). Repeat after me: you have to run sustained current account deficits, so it is widely held overseas…” — Wolf Richter challenged this line of reasoning in a recent post:

    And a special word about the theory that the US, as the country with “the” global reserve currency, “must have” a large trade deficit with the rest of the world. This “must have” is clearly not the case because the Eurozone – with the second largest reserve currency – has a large trade surplus with the rest of the world, showing that a major reserve currency can be backed by a big trade surplus. Japan also has a large trade surplus.

    But there is another way of looking at this: The fact that the dollar is the largest reserve currency and largest international funding currency allows the US to easily fund those massive trade deficits, which has made the trade deficits possible over the past two decades. This may not always be the case in the future, but so far so good, as they say.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The fact that there have been efforts to displace the dollar as reserve currency, such as the the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report in 2010 recommending the development of a world reserve currency, does not mean those efforts are getting much of anywhere. The fact that the euro and now the RMB have been designated as reserve currencies does not mean they are held in foreign banks or by foreign central banks in at the level needed for them to assume that function. In other words, the “reserve currency” designation is more aspirational than factual.

      The dollar is roughly 62% of global currency reserves…..down from its level of 66% as of 2005 but up from its level of 47% as of 1990 and 58% as of 1980.

      1. John k

        I wonder what the dollar amount is of individual holdings, whether in banks or mattresses, and including residents of nations using the dollar as currency, vs holdings of central banks.
        Seems in either case growth in the various accounts funds the trade deficit.

  38. flora

    re:Why Bernie Sanders Is Smeared by the Press – Rolling Stone

    I agree with Taibbi’s reasoning. Attack the messenger and ignore the message.

    An interesting mirror image of this circle-the-wagons to defend the status quo is the way the press and the Dems and a lot of GOP makes all the bad in the Trump admin all about Trump – Trump bad – instead of the fact that a lot of the current admins policies are continuation of the policies of both parties for the past 25 years. They’re more interested in attacking Trump via his policies (and O’s, and W’s and C’s policies in many cases) than attacking the policies, regardless of who is in office.

    1. John k

      Simple; they like trumps policies, which always draws dem support… just don’t like the guy. They’d be so much happier if it was Clinton pushing the same policies.

    2. dcrane

      An interesting mirror image of this circle-the-wagons to defend the status quo is the way the press and the Dems and a lot of GOP makes all the bad in the Trump admin all about Trump – Trump bad – instead of the fact that a lot of the current admins policies are continuation of the policies of both parties for the past 25 years.

      Absolutely agree – an essential point.

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