Links 4/6/19

What Are Cats Thinking? Slate (Robert H). My old cat Blake could definitely count to four. He would get four cat vitamins every day and he regarded them as a treat. If I was ever short, as in put down 2 because I was as the end of a bottle or he didn’t find one right away (it was apart from the other 3) he’d look for the missing vitamins, as in sniff around, and then look at me. But he never did that when he’d snarfed down all four.

Tim Schrandt of Ridgeway, Iowa | 1955 – 2019 | Obituary Matt H: “Best obituary ever. The idea that mid-westerners are dull, or deplorable, or can’t write, is proven wrong by this amazing bit of work. Iowa took pride, when I was coming up, with it’s nation’s best 99% literacy rate, and also in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.”

BMW, Daimler, and VW Colluded To Prevent Better Emissions Control Tech, EU Says arstechnica

Screen Time Has Little Impact On Teen Well-Being, Study Finds Science Daily

Alzheimer’s disease affects ‘twice as many people’ as experts thought New York Post

Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in industrialization, study finds PhysOrg (Robert M). This is wild.

China?

Hidden dangers of China’s Cybersecurity Law Asia Times (Kevin W)

North Korea

Resolving the North Korea Crisis Through the Iran Deal LobeLog. Resilc: “If a majority of citizens of USA USA don’t trust the government, why would noko?”

Brexit

Theresa May seeks to delay Brexit until end of June Financial Times. If this were anyone but May, you’d think she was losing her mind. But this is who she is.

Theresa May’s only consistency is failure Ian Dunt (guurst)

Brexit: taking the manneken Richard North

Britain Should Sabotage the European Union From Within Over Brexit Delay, U.K. Politician Suggests Newsweek (Kevin W)

UK removes words ‘European Union’ from British passports Guardian (Kevin W)

Designing the next extension – Conditional and time-limited European Policy Centre

Venezuela

US to Add 34 of Venezuelan State Oil Firm’s Vessels to Sanctions List – Pence Sputnik (Kevin W)

Is Mexico on the Brink of a Labor Revolution? New Republic (resilc)

Syraqistan

Syria leases Mediterranean port to Iran Asia Times (Kevin W)

ISIS 3.0: The More Virulent Threat LobeLog (resilc)

Saudi Arabia arrests more activists, including 2 U.S. citizens Associated Press

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

NSA Whistleblower: Government Collecting Everything You Do Empire Files, YouTube (RR). Transcript here.

Google Adding Chrome Admin Policy to Uninstall Blacklisted Extensions Bleeping Computer

Trump Transition

Trump Says U.S. Is ‘Full’ and Can’t Accommodate More Migrants Bloomberg

Trump’s right that there’s a border crisis. But he’s making it worse. NBC (furzy)

The Trump administration is streamlining visas for Mexican farm workers Quartz. Resilc: “And then drift into the underground labor market.”

Trump Attorney Demands That Treasury Withhold Tax Returns Bloomberg

Trump Suggests US, China, and Russia Reach Deal on Military Spending Antiwar (resilc)

Yet another piece of Kushner’s “Deal of the Century” Sic Semper Tyrannis. Kevin W: “That linked article at the bottom is also worth checking out, especially the last two paragraphs.”

The Tale of a ‘Deep State Target’ ConsortiumNews

The Pentagon Wins Again Rolling Stone (resilc)

When Border Patrol’s high-speed chases end in gruesome disasters ProPublica

Nafta

Mexico Beefs Up Labor Bill Amid Speaker Pelosi’s Nafta Threat Bloomberg

Mexican official rejects Democratic effort to reopen new NAFTA Roll Call. From Lori Wallach of Public Citizen:

The point is NOT that Seade is correct. The point of this story is that someone – probably USTR – has told him to get back on message J ie. recently he has been saying, as have Canadian representatives, at least with respect to the meds issues, that they would love to see that fixed. And, both have suggested that it would not take a major re-opening of the agt, but rather surgical changes. A “Protocol of Amendment” cutting pharma protections and adding improved labor and environmental terms is precisely how the Peru, Panama, Colombia pacts were changed after they had been signed when Dems took the House ion 2006 and made Bush change the pacts’ texts before agreeing to consider them

2020

Biden: ‘I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done’ The Hill

Bernie hopes to reach Trump supporters with town hall [Video] Yahoo (furzy)

“A Bit of Crazy Wouldn’t Hurt”: How Bernie Sanders Could Go Full Trump in 2020 Vanity Fair (UserFriendly)

‘The one nobody saw coming’: Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor Guardian

Jussie Smollett: City of Chicago to sue actor over alleged attack BBC

Fake News

Tips for a Post-Mueller Media from Nine Russiagate Skeptics FAIR (Chuck L)

737 Max

Ethiopian Airline Crash – Boeing Advice To 737 MAX Pilots Was Flawed – Moon of Alabama (Olga, Kevin W)

Boeing will slow 737 production by one-fifth; no layoffs planned Seattle Times

Wall Street’s biggest Tesla bear says shares are going to crater 80% to $54 Business Insider

Silicon Valley is facing an ‘exodus of young employees’ and recruiting tech talent is becoming harder, new survey reveals Business Insider (David L)

First-quarter earnings are expected to be lousy, but the stock market may not care CNBC

Trump calls for Fed U-turn to stimulate economy Financial Times

Hiring Rebounded in March, Helping Ease Downturn Jitters Wall Street Journal

Guillotine Watch

That Noise? The Rich Neighbors Digging a Basement Pool in Their $100 Million Brownstone New York Times

The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well. ProPublica (resilc)

New York home buyers shun the Gatsby lifestyle Financial Times

Class Warfare

Millennial Democrats Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Pete Buttigieg Are Ready to Face Off Against Job-Stealing Robots VICE (resilc)

Charter Schools Are All About the Kids, OK? Esquire

Used-Car Market Profits from Carmageddon Wolf Richter

The Corporations Devouring American Colleges Huffington Post (resilc)

ICE Raid on Samsung Repair Contractor CVE Shows Big Tech’s Reliance on Exploitative Labor Motherboard (resilc)

Winning the War on Poverty New York Times. Resilc: “We live in a country run by the rich, for the rich since 1492.”

Antidote du jour. Timotheus: “Hoopoe sightings in Palestinian desert.”

And a bonus (guurst(:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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255 comments

    1. Wukchumni

      When you’re away from your hair’m for a week, does it feel like a month and half for them, in cat years?

      Reply
    2. crittermom

      I was hoping for more insight into my cats from this article, but due to the unwilling test subjects apparently, there is still little scientific research.

      I think those of us who have shared our home at one time or another with both dogs & cats, from our own observations the conclusion remains: “Dogs have masters, cats have staff”.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Cats put in the work to keep the home safe. I don’t see any bats in the house. They land on the shutters, but a tuxedo cat is forgoing all kinds of fancy activities to stop the bats. Unless you are overrun by pests, I would say the cat is earning it’s keep. Think of the struggle my striped kitty has to face. Nightly she is forced to monitor a opossum. She’s ready for a fight. It’s probably like being a soldier in Kashmir.

        Reply
        1. Geo

          Your cats are good to you. I watched the other night as a moth fluttered about in the bedroom and one of my cats noticed it, watched for a minute but didn’t budge, or even twitch, and then ignored it. They both have no interest in hunting it seems. But, they’ll break into the cupboards and eat into a loaf of bread or bag of popcorn if they’re hungry.

          I’ve started affectionately calling them my rodents.

          Reply
        2. Lambert Strether

          The cat who lives under the church porch next to the house keeps my garden free of small rodents. And it’s a two-fer, because I get little gifts! (I keep a shovel next to my outdoor desk….)

          Reply
      2. Lee

        Yves’ cat could count to four. My pit bull can count to two. She does not stir in the morning when I get up to make my first cup of tea in the morning, but waits to accompany to the kitchen to be fed when I brew the second cup. She scolds with a kind of baying vocalization if I’m too slow. I get cracking. One does not disappoint a bitch who lifts her leg to pee.

        Reply
      3. richard

        With my second grade class, just beginning to dive into non-fiction text for this year, i walked through a cat article i saw on here a few days ago (about cats responding to their names). We had a spare 30 minutes, i wanted to show them how a grown-up goes through/understands a (light) scientific article.
        We also discovered that excited as we were to investigate cats, they weren’t giving us much to go on. They kind of maybe care about their name. Maybe? Because they move their head and ear?
        my plan is to read this second article with them as well, because the whole premise is that cats have frustrated scientists for years, and they might find that amusing. how droll!

        Reply
      1. Lee

        I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase, “Don’t poke the bear.” Around here it has been amended, “Don’t poke the cat lovers.”

        Reply
      2. Geo

        If cats are stupid what does that say about us cat servants who have submitted our homes and our lives catering to their whims?

        Reply
      3. Darius

        Parrots are smart. They have smaller brains than them all. Same with goldfish. Humans have smaller brains than 30,000 years ago.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Actually, that Wikipedia list showed parrots with quite high numbers – black birds, too.

          Flying takes a lot of processing.

          Reply
      4. Oregoncharles

        Interesting. Gorillas substantially more than chimps. And elephants more than any other by a wide margin, but not in the cerebral cortex.

        The brainier whales would be an interesting comparison, especially the dolphins that are about our size.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          There it is, at the bottom, neocortex numbers:

          Long-finned pilot whale 37,200,000,000 Globicephala melas: “For the first time, we show that a species of dolphin has more neocortical neurons than any mammal studied to date including humans.”
          Pilot whale spyhop.jpg

          That is over twice the number for humans.

          A theory: marine mammals operate in 3 dimensions where we operate more or less in 2; plus, they have an entire sense (sonar) that we don’t.

          Reply
      5. Plenue

        Brain size isn’t correlated to intelligence (if it were, crows wouldn’t be so smart, and sperm whales would dominate every field). Nor is number of neurons.

        Cats might be as smart as humans, and just wisely decided civilization wasn’t worth the bother.

        Reply
    3. BobW

      I saw a dog lie (as in tell an untruth) once in order to get another dog in trouble. The lying collie was crippled in one leg from being hit by a car, and we often scolded the big German Shepard for picking on him. One day when I looked out a window, the collie gave the Shepard a sidelong look, and began yipping and whining, expecting to see us come “rescue” him.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        My first cat, Winston, was super smart (he didn’t live long, sad story).

        Winston thought he was above being a cat. If you tried to get him to play, he’d often be more interested in figuring out how the trick worked instead of chasing. He would visibly try controlling his cat chasing reflexes and focus on my hand and where I was holding the toy as opposed to the moving bits meant to entice him. And he did look like he was puzzling things out.

        For instance, one day, a visitor tried playing her favorite cat game with him. She asked me to give her a tape measure, the kind that is sort of stiff aluminum. She opened it a few feet, laid it on the floor, threw her raincoat on top, and got on the side opposite Winston to wriggle it and pull it forward and back. It did make cat-enticing movements and noises.

        Winston walked around the coat to see how she was doing that.

        Reply
        1. rtah100

          We had two Bengals who had demeaning humans down to a fine art (you met them briefly, Yves). A friend given to annoying enthusiasm (think Odie from Garfield) turned up with a laser pointer turned up with his new toy, a laser pointer. He smugly announced that it drove cats mental chasing the dot. Our cats ignored the dot, watched his hand and swiped it from him. :-)

          Reply
  1. ape

    Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in industrialization, study finds PhysOrg (Robert M). This is wild.

    Okay, I went in expecting total crap, from the abstract. But in fact they do try to control for known co-variates — but unfortunately, it’s still a statistical fishing expedition. There’s no model that can predict the results, just GLMs to see whether in fact there is a difference from folks just breedin’ like folks do.

    It’s a fundamental problem of anything “science-y” which doesn’t have fundamental theoretical basis for models, but just “fit the stats models” — that as Feynmann said, it’s just too easy to fool yourself, so you will.

    Highest likelihood — totally untrue, just a statistical quirk caused by one of the almost infinite set of confounds that would look “like” evolution. However, if someone could actually model forward these consequences, their would be something of value.

    And — why does this go into Nature without forward models? I don’t care how nicely the statistics are done, it’s just cataloging until you have theory. I mean, it’s good enough for an economics journal, but not for a real scientific journal.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      I mean, it’s good enough for an economics journal, but not for a real scientific journal.

      Ape, that’s a most excellent backhanded compliment.

      Reply
    2. Lee

      Hunter-gatherers are believed to have had lower fecundity and/or higher infant mortality rates than agricultural societies and thus were largely assimilated and/or replaced by them by the simple fact of being vastly outnumbered. The article cited posits an opposite trend for the industrial revolution, conferring advantages on smaller families so that more resources were available per child. And then we have the pastoral hordes that would break out periodically from their traditional pasture lands, probably due to population pressure, to rampage and plunder the sod busters and their civilizations, occasionally even installing themselves as a new elite sitting atop the grain pile. Fascinating stuff. Are there useful analogies for our own time in this?

      Reply
      1. JEHR

        “Are there useful analogies for our own time in this?”

        Well, if I were to guess, I would say that perhaps greed and lack of empathy helped create a class of human beings that loves owning and controlling money even at the expense of other people’s living. The Financial Class is pretty much the same bunch we’ve had for many, many financial crises. It’s the money that enables the rich to stay rich generation after generation, in spite of war, pestilence and environmental catastrophes. We don’t need a scientific study to prove this: just follow the money!

        Reply
          1. JBird4049

            Oh my. 1427? Our American wealthy families are toddlers. Even the oldest wealthy families only arrived with the Dutch sometime after 1609.

            Reply
      2. Cal2

        “Are there useful analogies for our own time in this?”

        Hutus versus Tutsis in overpopulated Africa.
        Palestine and Israel, over water, offshore natural gas and Golan Heights oil.
        Rare Earths in Afghanistan.

        Religion is the usual excuse, natural resources are the cause.

        Reply
    3. a different chris

      Is the problem that, especially in medicine which has cursed us with statistical fishing expeditions, is the problem is that this work needs to be recognized as valuable but incomplete. When correlations are seen, the hard science community then knows there’s something interesting to investigate.

      But that’s all.

      And said investigation needs to find an actual, mechanical/chemical/whatever cause-and-effect before plying us with, for example, statins.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        Nothing in that article persuaded me to believe that scientists were correct in their theory.
        Maybe it was just an April 1 joke.

        Reply
      2. ape

        Yes — the problem is that the lesson of Darwin was missed.

        He’s a “hero” for spending years collecting data with no theoretical basis, when he could have, as he said, found it in his own backyard.

        Then he got the theory part — the model mechanism — not only wrong, but posited an impossible “genetic mixing” mechanism that wouldn’t have lead to the interesting evolution as seen in the data.

        Darwinism was *properly* abandoned, and then after Mendel, neo-Darwinism was invented. But scientists are taught this entire story incorrectly, since a very large portion of scientists don’t understand the scientific process, which is NOT just collecting data and doing linear regression (and because it’s a heroic story of the British Empire which tends to deform all our knowledge of 19th century science and engineering; he’s even the right class and ethnicity as opposed to Wallace).

        In fact, doing linear regression on big sets of data could meaningfully be said to be the very fundament of superstition — x does y, so 2*x does 2*y; I supplicate the landlord, he gives me a chicken, I supplicate God, he gives me a child.

        And doing non-linear regression just doubles down on the same sin, other than to point out “something funny seems to be happening here”, which is just step 1 of science; generally, it should be left at alone at the linear regression. It’s important to do properly — but it shouldn’t be seen as the high-point of science, but actually the drudgery of science that is a necessary but insufficient condition.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          He’s a “hero” for spending years collecting data with no theoretical basis, when he could have, as he said, found it in his own backyard.

          Of course, it is obvious now! It is obvious because of all efforts put in by many during several generations to change our interpretation of what we see.

          The very idea of evolution was considered heretical and had only started immediately before Charles Darwin and the very, very few adherents were considered cracked.

          Darwin convinced himself of its possibility during his voyage on the HMS Beagle. He only could do the work where he lived because of his trip.

          It took the combined efforts of geologists, proto-paleontologists, as well as the combined efforts of people like Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace as well as their supporters efforts to get the acceptance needed of the vast time, great changes of life, and plausible reasons for it.

          Since social and financial ruin was possible for advocating evolution and because an overwhelming amount of supporting evidence was needed to gain acceptance of it I am very forgiving of any errors in their work.

          The ways genetics works only became understood after another century. Actually almost two centuries if epigenetics is included.

          Reply
  2. allan

    737 MAX: the Seattle Times article in some ways buries the lede. In the middle it says

    … Every rate increase requires a synchronized step up by the entire supply chain, whether it’s a
    company supplying tens of thousands of small fasteners or one delivering dozens of whole fuselages.

    It has to be meticulously planned so that raw materials and labor are in place to handle the extra work.
    Each step up means more money coming in, which is part of each supplier’s business plan
    many months ahead. …

    and then much later, without really connecting the two, informs the reader that

    … The news of the sharp rate reduction seems to place out of reach Boeing’s publicly stated goal of increasing 737 production later this year to 57 jets per month. …

    Each vendor in the enormous MAX supply chain was expecting the production to go up in a few weeks,
    from the current 52/month up to 57, and had planned accordingly in terms of purchases and supplies.
    So, the just-announced decrease to 42/month actually constitutes a 26% cut from the levels that
    the vendors had been counting on. (This was emphasized in a post yesterday at The Air Current.)

    Let’s see whether a dose of MooreCaine directly to the Fed’s veins will be able to prevent a downturn.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Ryanair will be a big one to look out for – they buy about 50 737’s a year. Previously they’ve gotten huge discounts from Boeing by ordering when the company is in trouble (famously, they put in a huge order right after 9/11, allegedly Boeing lost millions on each plane). Ryanair sell their aircraft on after just a few years use, so if they change it will be quite a signal to other companies.

      Another problem is that if Boeing offer big discounts to keep sales up, this could impact on the second hand and leasing markets, nobody wants to be stuck with aircraft they can’t sell on.

      Whichever way you look at this, its a catastrophe for Boeing, future business books will have chapters devoted to this. The best they can hope for is that a rebranding and major mea culpa will allow them to continue sales, albeit with a very tight margin per aircraft.

      More and more it looks like Airbus’s purchase of the Bombardier C-series (now the Airbus 220) will turn out to have been very good business indeed for them. They’ll be able to squeeze the 737 at either end of the market with the A320.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        This will be one for the business book’s case studies. They could modify that old English saying “Penny Wise, Pound Foolish” to “Millions Wise, Billions Foolish” as a chapter heading. I am guessing that the root cause is letting the bean-counters & marketing droids run Boeing. It is all about the marketing, even if safety becomes an “optional extra” – for a payment.
        I saw a similar thing at work today with Lockheed. Lots of people may have heard of the F-22 fighter. Well, years ago when it was first built it was in competition with the Northrop YF-23 to see which the US Air Force would choose. In essence, the Northrop team were all engineers in their talks with the Pentagon while Lockheed employed far more marketing, salesmanship, and pizazz techniques to “sell” the plane.
        The YF-23 was probably the superior plane but the Pentagon went with Lockheed instead and the rest is history. And of course Lockheed also sold the F-35 to the Pentagon as well and we have seen how that worked out. The lesson for today then is that marketing trumps engineering – until it goes out into the field. With the 737 MAX it was literally “into the field.”

        Reply
  3. johnf

    So if I understand correctly, first Boeing didn’t fully validate the response of the 737 MCAS system to an Angle of Attack sensor failure. Then they didn’t fully validate their published work-around for the known malfunction of the system to a failure. Where is Boeing’s engineering?

    Reply
    1. human

      At 1000 feet altitude there is no room to maneuver and only seconds to act. These flights were, sadly, doomed.

      Reply
    2. Pookah Harvey

      From a Jan. 8, 2018 story in an aerospace newsletter

      Boeing has long known it’s facing an exodus of engineers and technicians from its white collar ranks as the workforce ages. (It faces a similar exodus with its touch-labor union as well.)

      The talent departure was exacerbated by Boeing itself, however. Since 2013, Boeing laid off thousands of engineers and technicians from its Washington State operations, simply cutting jobs and transferring others to lower cost working environments in right-to-work (ie, non-union) states.

      But the cuts have been too deep. Thousands of tasks on the 737 and wide-body lines have been incomplete as the airplanes rolled out the doors, LNC is told. Boeing’s had to scramble to complete the jobs on the ramps to maintain delivery schedules.

      I think that might answer your question on where is Boeing’s engineering.

      Reply
      1. barrisj

        And months after a recent round of layoffs of production workers and engineers, Boeing fell over itself trying to hire many of them back to address both 787 Dreamliner mfg. issues and ramp-up of the 737 MAX…people on the shop floor have so much better a sense of how to efficiently and effectively run a complex business such as aircraft design and assembly than bean-counters and bust-the-unions C-suite upper management. In the past decade or so Boeing has certainly validated that point, despite its soaring share price. Who says incompetence isn’t rewarded…after all, this is America!

        Reply
          1. marku52

            Well heck, the Lyfft IPO was well subscribed. WTF were those people thinking?

            Boeing buyers probably just figure its TBTF. And they’re probably right. the US can’t afford to lose it’s only commercial aviation firm. Without that the disastrous trade deficit would be much worse.

            Reply
        1. notabanker

          Happened all the time at two TBTF’s, one in the US and another in the UK. Layoffs by spreadsheet and hire a bunch of them back in as more expensive contractors when you realize things don’t get done. Not unique to Boeing or the US.

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          @barrisj: This is a fundamental argument for worker control: much better informed and almost certainly more efficient, even just from a business point of view.

          And allergic to understaffing.

          Reply
          1. Ape

            More efficient but slower to move.

            A graph with a small “rich club” (a hierarchical data structure) has a low-bandwidth, as limited by the small ruling group, but also low latency because they contact directly on almost everybody.

            An egalitarian data structure maximize bandwidth, you keep everyone moving a bit of data and computing, but the average network distance between any two nodes is maximized.

            You see this with the spread of infectious diseases: AIDS has spread much faster in sexually “conservative” ethnic groups where a few people (leaders in the community, prostitutes) have sex with many people, and the mass of the population only has sex with a few — AIDS explosion. While ethnic groups that are sexually liberal, everyone has about the same number of partners without any central nodes, have low rates of AIDS.

            Hierarchy leads to low latency. The response may be stupid, but it’s a fast stupid.

            And I think this may be the critical point for the failure of socialism — there’s reason to believe it’s more efficient, more sustainable, just smarter in general — but it’s slooooww, which leads it to getting infected by fast moving hierarchical structures (even when they pass themselves off as defenders of socialism, etc).

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether

              > Hierarchy leads to low latency. The response may be stupid, but it’s a fast stupid.

              So how to increase the latency in hierarchies* would be the question? (And I would think corruption would decrease latency even further; they don’t call it “grease” for nothing.)

              NOTE * You would look at the Federalist Papers as grappling with this problem using different terms. Frank Herbert’s “Bureau of Sabotage” in the McKie series suggests another approach.

              Reply
            2. Oregoncharles

              Interesting response. I can think of some relevant examples, like the string of worker-owned plywood mills up and down the Oregon coast. They’re all gone now.

              Still, slowness has its advantages. I’m with Lambert: how can we slow down the predators?

              Reply
      2. Ape

        Why would people take a job at Boeing as an engineer rather than trying to cash in in San Francisco?

        Because it’s a steady, long-term job with high job-security and very well defined structure (aka, no f* around with fancy development methods meant to separate the wheat). You do your 9-5 work, and as long as you don’t go really long periods being totally incompetent, you keep on doing your corner of the work and no one bothers you too much.

        So, what happens if they start playing games on that? Moving to RTW states, laying off people, trying to be fancy and think short term? Where do people go then?

        Reply
    3. Phacops

      I wonder how much of this is due to labor arbitrage? Once employees are seen as replaceable with no thought to skills developed through experience, a lot of culture in design, engineering, manufacturing, safety, and quality are lost. Add to that the outsourcing of programming to a business of people ignorant, perhaps deliberately so, of aviation safety, and a MCAS-like incident will happen unless there is diligent oversight by regulators. But then, we all know the neoliberal hatred of effective regulation cutting into profits by enforcing corporate responsibility for business decisions.

      I’ve been in the middle of corporate fights that look upon quality and quality engineering as cost centers in supposedly highly regulated pharmaceutical manufacturing. It is the mindset of MBAs who have no knowledge or interest in actual product except for short-term profits and stock price.

      Reply
    4. Jeremy Grimm

      When I was in grade school, before man-on-the-moon, Boeing and other aerospace firms were famous for building up work-forces and laying them off. As a teenager I wondered whether Boeing made some of its profits buying and selling real-estate in its cycles of hiring followed by extensive layoffs.

      As I’ve commented before, one of the documentary movies I watched documenting the moon project ended with a short comment that as soon as the LEM finished its maneuvers the first pink slips were handed out. Near where I grew up in California entire neighborhoods emptied and filled with foreclosures followed by real-estate boom prices tracking each cycle of hiring and lay-offs at the big aerospace firms in town. This was back in the good-old 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

      On my first job in engineering I hired where a sequence of lay-offs several years earlier took 4000 employees to 2000 to 800 down to less than 400. I was hired in when hiring resumed a few years later as staff levels were reaching toward 500. I worked with an electrical engineer who was one of the last engineers remaining on the B-1 bomber program at Rockwell in Los Angeles. He sat alone in a giant empty building in Los Angeles until he too was laid-off.

      No need to wonder “Where have all the engineers gone?” But engineering was a better choice for work than most other options then or now. What does that say?

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        Working military contracts like the B-1 was always known for boom/bust cycles so a commercial production line position was preferred.

        I also want to point out that how messed of a company do you have to be to get you engineers to join a union like Boeing did?

        Reply
        1. Eclair

          When my spouse joined McDonnell-Douglas back in the 70’s, he was a member of the engineers union. Somewhere along the line, I think after the ‘merger’ with Boeing, the engineers voted to ditch the union. I remember my spouse saying it was the younger, new hires, who wanted to have nothing to do with the ‘evil’ union.

          OTHO, he did benefit mightily from the ginormous rise in stock price, as well as the stock splits, as he squirreled away stock from the day he was hired. I think that qualifies us as ‘rentiers.’ Sigh.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Are you (both) retired? Retired people are supposed to “rentiers” – keeps them from competing with new workers.

            Reply
      2. VietnamVet

        The boom bust cycles were legendary. In one bust my Dad was demoted to assistant engineer and in 1974 I left for a job in DC. The billboard “Will the last person to leave Seattle turn off the lights” was a sign of the times. Since 2008, the economy has been distorted by gifting trillions of dollars to the wealthy. The money goes to where there is a possibility of a return not to the lowlifes who need it. The need for immediate profits and the end of long-term planning has corrupted America. The loss of engineering jobs or the deaths from despair and the endless wars are of absolutely no concern to the ruling elite as long as the rich get richer.

        Reply
  4. Brindle

    2020…” A Bit of Crazy…” Vanity Fair

    This piece comes off as something a beltway journo thought up at sunday brunch.
    With deep insights like:

    “Countries go through moods, and our choices for president reflect them. America’s last good-mood election year was 2000, and ever since it’s been bad, but in different ways.”

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      2000? Yikes, is the author part of generation z? Shrub’s entire campaign was “restoring honor.” It’s the only time I felt sympathy for the McCains.

      For whatever reason mom journalists loved W. I guess they enjoyed that 43 knew so many ways to call people turds.

      Reply
      1. neo-realist

        I suspect the fact that W’s dad was CIA connected insured that Sonny Boy was protected to a large extent such that those who were tough on him would risk career suicide. Also Carl Bernstein’s piece re “penetration” of the media.

        Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      “countries go through moods” as an attempted aristocratic explanation for the working class rebellion they are attempting to subvert is the most bourgeois thing I think I’ve ever heard.

      France went through one hell of a mood from 1789-1815.

      Reply
  5. Amfortas the hippie

    so david brooks had an epiphany? a road to damascus moment?
    better late than never.
    i sincerely hope his enlightenment continues.
    the comments are interesting, too…
    this kind of thing…as well as things like the article on meritocracy…make me think of my brother.
    he finished college, and works for a giant global software company in sales. pulls in 100k…
    but he feels poor, and the job is bad for him.
    when he comes up here, you can feel it in the air around him…the tenseness, the stress….makes my oversensitive vibe antennae uncomfortable.
    he works with shark people…those amoral, eat or be eaten types that would literally sell their grandmother for a buck.
    that’s not who he is, at heart…but he has to pretend to be…and that has a definite effect.
    he’s finally on a job search…but this means i can’t get him stoned,lol…which means that he cannot relax(he’s apparently forgotten how)…so he stands there and vibrates…nervously trying not to check his email…feeling in his bones that he Should Be Busy…Doing Something…
    This set of symptoms has been growing for 10+ years he’s been in this job…but it’s worse now than i’ve ever seen it.
    I worry about him.
    but I’m the crazy, dissolute one…the black sheep…with the wild ideas about eudaimonia and arete and phronesis…
    and i don’t make 100K…so what do i know.
    if i get him stinking drunk, he’ll admit, more to himself than to me, that he’s jealous…of my relationship with my wife and kids, of the crazy house i built with my own hands, for under $30K, now paid off, with the courage and fortitude that allows us to decide what happiness is….and so on…in spite of cancer and disability and relative poverty
    but then he wakes up hungover…vibrates as he checks the email and instigates the whirlwind to get his bunch packed and out the door…
    if this is representative of the “middle class”, i want no part of it…and wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
    It’s a recipe for unhappiness and despair and an early grave.
    I’ve counseled him over the years to sell the damned status symbol house, trade in the fancy cars for a beater and scale down and learn to relax and listen to the birds. But he’s unable to get out of that box.
    if you can’t squeak by on 100K, you’re doing it wrong….and after his last visit, I find myself wondering what I’ll say at his funeral.
    that he is more or less “Normal” is possibly the greatest tragedy.

    Reply
    1. JacobiteInTraining

      Man, what a trip. From your description, it is quite clear that I knew your brother….in fact…he was me.

      “…he works with shark people….that’s not who he is, at heart…but he has to pretend to be…”

      I left a similarly ridiculously high paying job at MSFT years back, because I just could not figure out how to pretend to be like that, and it most definitely has an effect. A very bad one, in ones soul when you ‘try’.

      “…which means that he cannot relax(he’s apparently forgotten how)…so he stands there and vibrates…nervously trying not to check his email…he Should Be Busy…Doing Something…”

      The job I moved to, in IT at a Health Insurance company tended to get people into that same bucket – on a beach in Hawaii? Check yer email. Do something on vacation. 2 in the morning and sleepless? Fire up the VPN and check out the Prod servers log files until you pass out again. No no no….I noped out of that vibe ASAP and it certainly had an effect on raises/promotions.

      “…he’ll admit, more to himself than to me, that he’s jealous…of my relationship with my wife and kids, of the crazy house i built with my own hands, for under $30K, now paid off, with the courage and fortitude that allows us to decide what happiness is….and so on…in spite of cancer and disability and relative poverty…”

      Yup. I was lucky enough in my parents/grandparents upbringing that the instinct to depressurize, to worship in the church of the outdoors, to build a cabin my own self…and to get ferociously stoned from time to time & walk in the mud barefoot..in the rain…and laugh joyously the whole time rapidly came to the fore and now that aspect of life takes precedence over what The State and The Corporation want me to do for *them*.

      As you say….that kind of life, connected to all the lives around you in the form of close friends and family….every year of that life is worth 10 years (or more) of the supposed ‘American Dream/Nightmare life.

      The winds are gonna be really high tonight up on the mountain, rain of around an inch predicted to pour down all through. I’ll put some food out for the critters, say hi to the resident Raven, hope the resident Owl is tucked away in a warm sheltered arm of a cedar, and will smoke a bowl in salute to you….wherever you are! :)

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’ve considered kidnapping him.
        but then i hear our redneck fishmonster cousin tried that…tried to get him shitfaced while on a 24 hour fishing frenzy at the beach.
        brothers up and dressed at 5am, checking email,lol.
        so id hafta kidnap AND take his phone, lol.
        the more i mentally explore this idea, the more it sounds like detoxing from heroin or meth or something.
        which i suppose is a more apt analogy than we’d perhaps like to consider.
        i’ve spent my working life way nearer the bottom…cook/chef in mostly mom and pop owned cafe kitchens all over the south.
        the stress environment…expectations, the whole thing…wasn’t anything like what my brother describes.
        the zeitgeist where he has worked for the last 20 years(over maybe 3 jobs in that time) is toxic…quotes from Dante and Virgil come bubbling up in my brain while we’re having coffee on the patio.
        he begins a sentence, “the people i work with….”…which i finish for him, “…are the fu*king problem…”
        I definitely understand the need and want for a bigger paycheck…but that just doesn’t look like a worthwhile trade, to me.
        he’s miserable…and can’t stop long enough to even think about how he’s miserable.
        i advocate radical change…mom has what amounts to a bed and breakfast in the front part of her house…he could sell the damned house, and move his bunch out here(we could live for about 20 years on what his house is worth)…look for work at a winery or something(it’s always better to sell stuff you believe in. wine, as opposed to corporate software)…but it’s too big a mental leap.
        perhaps after he crashes…i just hope that his eventual crash isn’t too, too dire.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          “the stress environment…expectations, the whole thing…wasn’t anything like what my brother describes.”
          And restaurant kitchens are notoriously high-stress, one deadline after another. Maybe it’s the weed.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            different kind of stress, i guess.
            i was always the calm eye of the storm for the 3 hours of lunch rush(my great talent)…and that’s the point: the rush ended, and everybody took a breath.
            global corps(e)ism never sleeps, let alone breathes.
            being always on takes it’s toll.
            and, now that i think about it, a good portion of his pay is “commission”, and therefore contingent on a bunch of variables that he has little control over(econ. downturns, bad cartilaginous purchasing managers). so i can safely say that, at 100k, he’s in the precariat, too…at which revelation, i shall now go hunt for first instar grasshoppers.
            how utterly depressing!

            Reply
        2. Sol

          I feel we understand each other, Amfortas. I’ve tried to talk sense to my father. If he needs a piece of furniture, he builds it. Started when I was a kid and my grandmother wanted a china hutch. If he needs a vehicle, he buys a hot mess with solid bones and rebuilds it. His workshop is nicer than his house, and has more valuables (the house has the necessities: a TV and the entire set of Seinfeld DVDs).

          His furniture is lovely, solidly built of actual wood and fashioned metal, and his vehicles are well-tended machines that run for years. What does the man do for a living? Engineering at a big international energy corp. High stress, top-down stupidity bordering on insanity, a recipe for blood pressure problems. He hates it. He invented a new process for a new industrial solvent, and the company “retired” him just before it was to be brought online. He reminded them that he was the only one who currently understood the process, and that they had no idea what to do without him, but nope. The suits were pretty sure one of their other meaningless cogs would figure it out.

          They wound up bringing him back as a temporary contractor when it turned out that, no, the other cogs could not figure it out.

          He does not need them. They need him. Getting either party to see this seems nigh impossible.

          It’s frustrating. I’m sorry for your brother, Amfortas.

          Reply
    2. Fiery Hunt

      Such beautiful insight, Amfortas.
      The vibrating stress infects all of us in the Coastal Metropolises. …even more if we don’t make 100K.

      It’s so hard to escape.

      Reply
    3. Lemmy Caution

      Reminds me of a comment I saw this morning on Linkedin. An employee at one of the big three had posted a map of all the dealerships he had visited in the last three months to conduct one-on-one training with personnel. It looked like a grueling schedule that must have kept him on the road constantly.

      His boss left this comment on the post: “Dude, you are a machine!”

      I guess if you can’t replace a position with AI, the next best thing is to turn the human employee into one.

      Reply
      1. Geo

        From the into to one of my favorite books by Erich Fromm “Escape From Freedom” published in 1941. He was really ahead of the curve in the impacts of the corporate system and capitalism on the social psyche.

        Escape from Freedom attempts to show, modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.

        Reply
    4. ChristopherJ

      thank you, Amfortas.

      My younger brother still has the stressy job in Canberra and he is older than me in many ways as a result, even if he could buy me several times over. I hope your brother sees sense, kidnapping won’t work, eh?

      Reply
    5. Janie

      Amfortas, I know so many people like your brother, since I lived in LA from 1970 to 1990. Pre cell phone and email, of course, but almost as bad. By and large, the Executive and Credentialled Class had no time for anything except climbing the ladder. I remember the group of parents from an expensive private school who wanted to organize a cub scout pack but didn’t have even one person volunteer to be a leader. They voted unanimously to hire UCLA students to lead the pack. The BSA representatives said absolutely not; so, sorrowfully, the parents gave up the idea.

      Reply
  6. timotheus

    “Trump calls for Fed U-turn to stimulate economy”

    Should have made Jared K president of the Fed a la Erdogan.

    Reply
  7. Pavel

    Very sweet elephants video… thank you. A welcome respite from Brexit, Biden, Trump et al.

    A shame humans aren’t so civilized!

    Reply
  8. Krystyn Walentka

    On “Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in industrialization, study finds PhysOrg “:

    No wild! The environment affects genome! Simple!

    So is this what we are seeing in Japan with its decreasing fertility rate? Does inductrialization favor, ultimately, zero population growth? Is this also nature’s way of controlling the population?

    But look at how rapid the changes in fertility can be, so is this genetic or social? Look how much fertility went up in the US during the Great Recession.

    And does this mean an Idiocracy will never appear?

    Reply
    1. Lee

      In nature, it is known that in many species developing fetuses are reabsorbed into the body of females during periods of scarcity and that fecundity increases during times of plenty. It’s a pretty basic somatic adaptation. Among humans, we have to think about it, or not, as the case may be.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Actually, women whose bodymass index falls too low stop ovulating or menstruating – sometimes even runners in top shape.

        Don’t know about existing pregnancies – African Bushwomen apparently bore children with little or no weight gain. Huge bellies may be a luxury. But I suspect the abortion rate goes up if the mother is starving.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          FWIW, I think it’s not the BMI per se but the bodyfat level, which are usually but not always correlated. Female bodybuiders and sprinters can have “normal” range BMIs but be super lean (bodybuilders have to be when they are competing).

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            That’s it – memory failed me a bit there. Thanks. Women carry maybe 10% more fat (you’ll remember the number, too), mostly subcutaneous I think, than men at a similar level of fitness. One reason they survive better in cold water or famines. The survivors of the Donner Party were predominantly female.

            Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Culture evolves, too, in response to most of the same pressures, but much faster. That’s what it’s for.

      Incidentally but relevant, the current use of “meme” is a misuse. It was intended to replace “gene” for cultural evolution – that is, it means any transmissible unit of culture, from a word to an institutional structure (how many “parliaments” are there around the world?)

      Viral “memes” are more like a pathogen.

      Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      You mean it went down, right? Very interesting chart – the post-war bulge sure is obvious, then it never really recovered after the oil crisis in the 70s. I gather it’s now below replacement, which is where it should be.

      Reply
    1. OIFVet

      Yet liberal Euros continue to wonder why the “stupids” have a real problem with the EU. I had a dinner with an English friend last night, and as the conversation drifted to Brexit and the overall future of the EU, I was struck by just how clueless she was. Apparently everybody who disagrees with her and her type (reader of the New Yorker, the NYT, the Economist, the Grauniad) is either stupid (English and Welsh leave voters), or a raging xenophobe (Eastern Europeans with the possible exception of Czechs, maybe). That latter conclusion of hers was apparently reached because the Eastern Europeans somehow failed to appreciate the nobility of Merkel inviting the world’s “tired, hungry, and poor”, even as her policies relentlessly push for the dismantling of whatever little social spending remains in Europe, particularly in the East, and then demands that Eastern Europeans accept immigrant quotas even as they cannot afford to pay for their own citizens’ basic needs. My friend could not or would not acknowledge that this, coupled with the pronounced democratic deficit now prevailing in the center of EU decision-making power, would make the Eastern Europeans feel like they are second class people in this Union. By the end of dinner I felt that this supposed liberal was (quite literally) the raging xenophobe, and that she really was living up to the worst stereotypes of the English.

      So no, I am not not at all surprised that the European Commission think that it is a swell idea to cut public spending in the face of slow growth. The neoliberal infestation of the EU continues to be its undoing, and “virtuous” liberals would rather call the victims names than face their own complicity in this.

      Reply
      1. Hepativore

        Actually, I thought that the EU was largely a neoliberal project to begin with. All it seems to do is push austerity measures that destroy the economies of its member states like Greece or protect Europe’s financial class or corporate interests at the expense of everybody else. The EU also pushed the TTP, TTIP, and most recently, the frightening Copyright Directive with articles 11 and 13 despite massive protests from citizens all across Europe.

        While the EU has done some good for Europe like allowing people to travel across its borders more easily, the fact remains that the EU is a gigantic neoliberal institution, and always has been since its inception.

        While Brexit is a mess, I cannot say that I blame the UK for wanting to leave, and it might make it easier for its citizens to root out the cancer of neoliberalism in their own government without the EU protecting it.

        Reply
        1. OIFVet

          IMO the EU wasn’t always a neoliberal project. It did force some worker protections and benefits upon it’s original members that were far ahead of anything that the US has ever had. What we are seeing now is the gradual dismantling of these protections and benefits, helped in no small part by the enlargement into Eastern Europe and the subsequent access to well-educated and cheap labor pool. So I think we can say that enlargement was indeed a neoliberal project (and a NATO/US project, for obvious reasons), but originally the EU was a lot more progressive than its current incarnation.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            im no expert eu historian, but i’m pretty sure the neoliberal infestation only hit it’s stride with maastricht(sp-2). prior to this, it remained a good idea in the finest sense.(world peace, togetherness, etc)
            but somebody left a window open, and the banksters got in.
            that’s what they have to undo…and i doubt brexit or more fascism in th east or further penury in the south will do anything toward that end.
            only the vermifuge of actual, federalised democracy…like Yannis’ most recent crusade.
            and again…I’m only peripherally aware of their problems.

            Reply
            1. OIFVet

              Thank you Witters, very interesting read. I will take a stroll to the bookstore tomorrow and pick up Slobodian’s book, too. Cheers!

              Reply
        2. Anonymous2

          I am afraid it is much more likely that the UK government will sign a trade deal with the US which will leave it a defenceless prey to US interests. It was the US Commerce Secretary who said ‘now is the time to take advantage of the UK ‘. I fear UK working class Leavers will only realise that they have been sold down the river when it is too late.

          Reply
          1. witters

            If the leavers get sold down the river, then they will join pretty much everyone else in the EU. Solidarity in Loss!

            Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Trump Suggests US, China, and Russia Reach Deal on Military Spending”

    I have no idea what such a deal could possibly look like. The Chinese and the Russians have only a handful of overseas bases together. The US has probably in excess of a thousand bases. Would that factor have to be included into military spending agreements? You would need verification by having all three countries inspect each others facilities in their home countries. The Pentagon would never agree to that. This is probably just an extension of the idea that the US, Russia & China formulate a missile deal that includes Chinese missiles this time. And that idea is only coming about because Russia now has a missile edge on the US. But why go on. This is just Trump spraying a random bunch of words out and he probably forgot about them as soon as he said them.

    Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            i have seen some of those black velvet paintings with jfk, rfk and mlk with haloes. only one of which is possibly appropriate. iirc jfk was the one who tacked right of nixon.

            jec was the one who argued americans have in inordinate fear of communism and russia. not a popular position in our democrat party then or now.

            Reply
      1. Geo

        If Russia spends a fraction on defense compared to us yet has an edge over us, also spends a fraction of what we do to “rig” the election and can flip it for their candidate, then doesn’t that mean despite our vast resources they are astonishingly smarter than us?

        The point if these article seem to be in effort to build support/funding established power structures here. To me it questions the competency of those who run things here. If these narratives are true than the level of incompetence on our side is staggering.

        Reply
        1. rowlf

          Obviously capitalism in Russia has not evolved enough to have effective war profiteering. They’re doing it wrong. They lack the Milo Minderbinder instinct.

          I’ve always pictured the Russians the last decade or so as a wildlife observer trapped up in a tree on some plains watching a group of monkeys below explore a case of grenades left behind by rebels. How can the Russians not conclude the US is nuts?

          Reply
        2. Avidremainer

          “If these narratives are true then the level of incompetence on our side is staggering.” I agree. Italy has a GDP about equal to that of Russia. Italy is a basket case, Russia is a menace. Work that one out.
          If Russia is intervening everywhere to the West’s disadvantage what are our people doing about it? You have to think that the best thing would be to sack the top three or four layers of management in the Armed Forces, Intelligence Agencies, the State Department et al because all they do is fail and allow a minnow to run rings around them.

          Reply
    1. chuck roast

      When I saw this link I just cruised right by it. All I could think was, why would any rational national leader make a ‘deal’ with the dealmaker extraordinaire!? A guy who demonstrably tosses ‘deals’ over the transom whenever it suits him, and thinks ‘contracts’ are simply legalese which permit him to pick someones pocket.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      “No further increases” – though this would lock in US superiority. This might cast some light on Trump’s proposal for greatly increased military spending (now, there’s something to fight him on): it’s a bargaining position, a threat.

      I get the impression, mostly here, that Russia’s military may be superior to the US’s, even at a vastly lower budget. If they agree, they might be willing to sign a stay-in-place agreement. Not so sure about China, which may be developing overweening ambitions.

      Reply
    3. Efmo

      Lol, maybe the idea is really to bankrupt Russia and China by making them increase their spending to more equal ours.

      Reply
  10. Amfortas the hippie

    re: Mexican labour unrest
    this snippet:”…the Trump administration’s overhaul of the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) in 2018 also included provisions that require Mexico to recognize independent unions, hold democratic union elections for contracts and leadership, and establish independent labor courts. ”

    yeah, it’s trump…and can’t be regarded as indicative of deepfelt affinity for working people,lol…but still>
    my Dog!…the frelling trump administration can demand labour Rights in Mexico(setting a precedent for the same back home, perhaps)…while the former Party of FDR cannot?
    our politics are truly broken.

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      Maybe the Mexicans will pay for the wall, to keep their nationals from returning home and demanding higher wages? /sarc

      The Midwestern floods are going to cause a shortage of grain for a couple of years, or more, depending on the recovery of U.S. farms. Food will get really expensive in Mexico, and here, since thanks to NAFTA, Mexican corn farmers were put out of business, thanks to U.S. taxpayer subsidies to the profit books of Cargill and other U.S. monopolist buyers who exported cheap corn to Mexico and beyond.

      Those Mexican corn farmers had to migrate to the Maquiladora zones, or sneak into the U.S. to survive. No mention of the number of Chinese owned factories a stone’s throw from the U.S. border.

      Edward Abbey, the great environmentalist said:
      “Stop every campesino at our southern border, give him a handgun, a good rifle, and a case of ammunition, and send him home. He will know what to do with our gifts and good wishes. The people know who their enemies are.”

      From an essay the NYT refused to print:
      http://compassrosebooks.blogspot.com/2009/10/edward-abbey-on-immigration.html

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i know quite a few former campesinos who are here(mostly legally, after much hardship and nonsense) directly due to nafta.
        one of them has a pretty big avacado orchard down there, still…but isn’t allowed to bring any of them here for sale.
        and he and his large bunch won’t go home until the cartels are gone(I’ve heard gruesome tales)

        Reply
  11. Summer

    RE: Trump says “US is full”

    Well, Trump could always quote the MSM’s favorite banksta Jamie Dimon for back up.
    Dimon said on CNBC that housing was in short supply and that it was a good thing.

    Reply
    1. Svante Arrhenius

      Once his peepz become deceased from carcinogenic windmills, MS-13, uppity jihadist congresswomen, Mexican drugs, Ilhan Omar’s ISIS training camps, Organic food, Death Panels, White Genocide®… perhaps, he’ll have SCOTUS overturn antiquated strictures against incest, or import more nubile Slovenian “artist models?” OK, I edited it?

      https://otherwords.org/russia-was-never-the-real-scandal/

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Used-Car Market Profits from Carmageddon”

    You read the first line ‘Many Americans are priced out of the new-car market’ and you sit back and think how much has changed over the decades. Being a guy with the terrible vice of nostalgia, I could not help but compare to how things were in former times in the US. Note that this was way before my time but I have seen contemporary film clips from this era and cars were really embedded into the culture. In the 1950s new car model introductions were a big thing and were launched in September & October. Dealers hid the new cars and put brown paper up at the showroom windows. They spruiked up the “First Day Unveiling” in newspaper and radio ads. On the day, the showrooms provided free food, drinks and music and people turned up for the big social event. Those days are still within living memory but we are approaching a future where personal car ownership may too be a thing of the past to our grandchildren. And now, for your enjoyment-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i8857WvWyQ

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Even if I could afford one of the new cars on offer — I don’t think I want it. I want a simple car that runs when I turn the key, gets decent gas mileage, and has no more brains than my dumb phone. Too bad it’s getting so hard to find parts for older cars and what parts I can find are priced at Pharma prices. Besides, even twenty-year-old cars are too jammed up with parts packed around the engine space to work on anything without taking half the car apart breaking off rusted bolts and finding new problems. The heavy salt tossed freely on the highways during Winter where I live does wonders in reducing the lifetime of a car. Might be nice to have a little mass-transit, some bicycle paths, and as long as I’m dreaming some gravel walkways at the side of the roads.

      Reply
      1. cnchal

        I am sure many people will find this strategy demented, but I am going to make it work. Like you, I want a simple car that gets decent mileage but it has to have a stick shift instead of an automatic and be a pleasure to drive instead of torture. I found that car seventeen years ago, bought it as a two year old, and now its close to the end with nearly 300K miles on it with the original engine, transmission, clutch, radiator, starter, alternator, PS pump. Still runs great, just too rusty to make it worth putting money into it.

        So, lucky me, I found a mint condition low mileage twin and bought it for less than the sales taxes on what some ugly new electronic crapola laden car would cost.

        The old one is going to the scrap yard, after I strip the parts off it. Spares I will likely never use but have, just in case.

        The dollar you don’t have to earn is worth a lot more than the one you do. Eclownomists can ponder that and turn purple when the peasants come up with strategies to live in a corrupt system.

        Reply
        1. AndrewJ

          After three years of taking a ‘94 Jeep ZJ from 219k to 299k, and finding that – as far as the widespread, middle-of-nowhere-auto-parts-stores availability and cheapness of parts goes – it’s not a bad option to buy another of the same model when this one finally dies, I’m curious what your vehicle of choice is? My tractor engine seems like it’ll keep going for another hundred k, but I expect other important bits to start failing soon.

          Reply
          1. Jeremy Grimm

            My vehicle of choice is either a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic, with a stick shift. I just need a little car to get me from point A to point B and carry a few groceries home if I need to.

            If there were no cars or trucks on the road I think I might also like to have a three or four-wheel vehicle build using bicycle frames with a small electric motor for hills and a simple faring to cut the wind resistance and stop the rain.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether

              > If there were no cars or trucks on the road I think I might also like to have a three or four-wheel vehicle build using bicycle frames with a small electric motor for hills and a simple faring to cut the wind resistance and stop the rain.

              That’s what I would need so I could get to the Mall in an hour or so, instead of taking four hours (basically, an entire day if I don’t shop rapidly). It would be worth it even if I couldn’t use it in the winter. And so what if it’s Third World-style transport.

              Last I checked, one such cost around $2000. That’s too much. (Motorcycles are out because I can’t afford to crash.)

              UPDATE There is a product category for a light-weight four-wheel vehicle that is not a “car” but a scaled-up “bike” or “motorbike” but I can’t come up with it, and Google is so anxious to sell me a car it’s not giving me the connections to other kinds of vehicles that I need. Dammit.

              Reply
                1. Lambert Strether

                  That level of construction, but more like a car than a tiny truck. Single seater would be fine. (Tuk tuks are apparently very polluting, too, like leaf-blowers.

                  Adding, not being able to come up with the name for this product category is really bugging me…

                  Reply
                  1. Jeremy Grimm

                    I think I know what you were thinking of — a Messerschmitt KR200. — And it fits with the current times.

                    Reply
          2. cnchal

            Gen 6 Accord

            Base model with no ABS, no sunroof, as simple as possible. Easily maintainable, doesn’t break, rides smooth, handles nice, comfortable interior, perfect driving position, and the police ignore it, so real world fast on the highway. Fifteen inch wheels and tires so it can absorb a road crater without destroying the suspension. Truly wonderful cars.

            The designers and engineers that created it were geniuses and the Americans in Ohio did a fabulous jawb building it.

            Reply
        2. Amfortas the hippie

          “The dollar you don’t have to earn is worth a lot more than the one you do. ”
          i wonder if there’s a name for this stance…which i wholeheartedly share?
          as for wanting a simple vehicle…I worry about this a lot, as my truck senesces. to the other luddite requirements, I’ll add “be able to at least temporarily fix it with baling wire”.
          i’d love to have like a 38 ford pick up. one could almost live under that hood while working on it…but it seems that parts and such are an issue….and one day, they’ll make you get a special license that only a bezos could afford.

          Reply
      2. Cal2

        Jeremy, Chchal,
        Those grain barges going south down the Mississippi to ports like New Orleans were returning empty. Then half a century ago or so, the car companies realized they could fill them with waste salt from Texas and give it to the snow states for pennies a ton.
        Mission accomplished.

        Reply
  13. Louis

    With respect to the VICE article, there is a 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidate talking about the implications of the ever increasing capabilities of AI and automation.

    Granted Andrew Yang isn’t a Millennial but he is talking this issue in a thoughtful manner whereas the rest of the field barely mentions it all or offers the usual platitudes about retraining.

    Reply
    1. willf

      The VICE article seems to be centrist propaganda.

      Starting with the headline, which conflates Buttigieg and AOC along generational lines. But when one reads the article, the differences become apparent. AOC talks about why workers don’t like to lose jobs: Capitalism, here through the process of automation, takes away their jobs, and they are left to find more menial work, or be unemployed.

      Buttigieg seems to be stuck in the 90s with his talk of retraining:

      Buttigieg, who has spoken about automation many times during his recent ascent to relevance in the 2020 primary, said he doesn’t believe companies should necessarily be penalized for embracing automation…

      Buttigieg embraced some forms of automation, including a new waste collection system, but only after creating a plan for displaced workers through which they could be certified to become drivers in the area. “We’re mindful that this particular training might be automated away as well,” he said. “But this is about making sure someone who has the readiness to work can work.”

      To this reader, that seems a far different thing than what AOC was addressing.

      There’s also a throwaway line about Bernie being “tech-hesitant”.

      All in all the story seems to fit with VICE’s growing reputation as “FOX NEWS plus Tattoos”.

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        Ask Pete how many of the steel workers around his rust belt city were retrained and retained any of their Middle Class life?
        His stint at Mckinsey means he is not a solution, but is part of the problem.

        Reply
      2. WheresOurTeddy

        anyone whose solution to wealth inequality is “more education” or “everyone go to college” and not “decent jobs you can live a life on for the working class regardless of education” does not have a solution to wealth inequality and does not care about the issue enough to be bothered to learn enough about it.

        Reply
    1. crittermom

      My, how they have grown!
      I love goats, too. Used to have one that entertained itself with a tire swing when adult (sparing the dog turmoil as it grew to outsize it). Aside from the tire swing, my goat seemed to consider itself a horse, as it hung out with the herd.

      Thanks for the update. Very cute!

      Reply
    1. Geo

      It’s so common for the fashionistas to use the poor as “inspiration” that it was even parodied in the movie Zoolander. I still remember an ad from 1998 for Diesel Jeans that showed a couple (played by high end models of course) in a messy trailer home screaming at each other – her raising a frying pan as if to attack him – while their baby cried in its high chair.

      I was young at the time but even my naive mind was astounded by the crassness of their glamorized portrayal of poverty and domestic violence.

      Reply
        1. Lemmy Caution

          Speaking of Ben Stiller, you know he is going to be the guest moderator at Bill and Hillary Clinton’s appearance in Detroit April 12th. I kid you not.
          What are they gonna call the new act? (No, not the Aristocrats — that’s already taken.)

          How about Dancing Around the Truth With the Stars?

          Suggestions?

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            You think that when the Clintons come up with some of their outrageous lies, that Stiller could teach them to distract the audience using his “Zoolander Blue Steel” technique? I can see Hillary using it now.

            Reply
  14. Howard Hawhee

    “Tim Schrandt of Ridgeway, Iowa” — Per your comment after the link (regarding the literacy and the writing ability of people from Iowa): I am 65 and I grew up in the smallest (and I suppose one of the poorest) public school districts in the state of Iowa, and it was just assumed that everyone could express themselves in writing, as a matter of course. I am always struck by the articulate, well-spoken people I encounter when I go back there every 10 years or so for a class reunion, even the class goof-off (small class, so only one of each type). I always look forward to reading the little thumbnails that everyone sends about themselves for the reunion programs (ex: under the “accomplishments” heading, one classmate wrote: “my wife still looks great”)

    Reply
      1. crittermom

        I agree. That obit is excellent! Best I’ve ever read.

        Which led me to wonder if maybe, just maybe, he had a hand in writing it before he died?
        He was obviously a man of strong character, letting others know just who he was, without apology.

        I then thought about an obit I read yesterday in my former hometown paper about a man I previously knew.
        His obit was just two sentences, with the first telling when he died, & the second saying when the service was. Absolutely nothing about the man himself. Really?

        The man had lived in that community for decades. He was tall in stature & wore a head full of thick grey curls, making him easy to spot among the crowds at local festivals.
        He had done odd jobs for years that enabled him to remain in the mountains he so loved.
        Yet his obit read like it came from someone who’d never even met him. How sad.

        Which then had me wondering if we should have a hand in writing our own obits, & pondering what I would want it to say in mine?

        Reply
        1. rowlf

          Tool and die men can be out there, having known a few. They measure their world and spend a lot if time in their heads.

          Reply
        2. PlutoniumKun

          Less of an obit, more an epitaph, but I love Spike Milligan’s choice for himself:

          ‘I told you I was sick’

          Reply
        3. ambrit

          Well, one aspect could be financial. Last year I was in the front office of the local mini-paper. One older woman was complaining about having to pay for an obituary notice in the paper for a relative.
          “But it used to be free, and longer,” complained the customer.
          “Since we were bought out by the national chain, everything now has to pay for itself,” replied the secretary behind the counter.
          In America, at least, Death has generally become a ‘profit centre.’
          As I’m finding out with Phyl’s impending ‘passing,’ there are a lot of built in rent seeking dynamics in the Death Industry. As in, needing to put in writing beforehand the desire for no embalming of the body. As in, the strict ‘ring fencing’ involved in burial sites. As in the uphill struggle to eschew the traditional funeral play acting process.
          Funerals and associated processes are for the living survivors, and the vultures who prey on the weak and bereaved survivors of the deceased.
          This man had to have had something to do with writing the obituary. Good for him. Plan ahead.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Oh damn, I’m sorry to hear that, ambrit. We’ve been rooting for you and Phyl.

            Apparently the funeral industry has also been much consolidated, so most aren’t really local any more. One more struggle, just when you don’t need it. Might give you something useful to get mad at, though.

            Hang in there. We’re thinking of you.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Thanks so much Oregoncharles.
              Among the many things this ‘experience’ has taught me, (“Are you experienced?”) is that the medicos are by and large as much in the dark about the outcomes of medical procedures and ailments as are the rest of us. They go by statistics. Each individual person is not a statistic, but a data point that informs the statistical process.
              The bottom line to this particular sub-plot of the “Pageant of Life” is that no one knows or can predict when the end will be. Phyl has so far beaten the odds provided to her by all of the medicos she has consulted on this problem. She does not give up. Indeed, I am the one who tends towards a mordant and stoic point of view. So, the question becomes, who is more the fool? To turn this issue “on it’s head,” what sort of fool is each member of the dyad? A basic Cretinous Fool, or a Holy Foole?
              I am not known for my humility. Indeed, much the opposite. However, this experience is teaching me to appreciate being humble. I’m setting the bar high, I know, but that is the way to make any worthwhile progress.
              Again, thank you.
              Stay safe and be sweet!

              Reply
            2. ambrit

              Short form: Thanks and a big hug. (I do have permission to invade your ‘personal space,’ don’t I?)

              Reply
            1. ambrit

              Neat. Thanks Lambert. I can use all the help I can get.
              For my Dad’s ‘going away party’ his “crowd” threw an Irish Wake. I only remember up to about midnight, though I am told I stayed the whole time.
              June’s Memorial sounds like a winner. Phyl would like that, she always likes to talk to different people. She’s actually ‘worse’ than me in that regard.

              Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      I’m 15 years younger than you, and grew up in one of the biggest public school districts in the state. The class reunions are much larger and we have more of each “type”. Everything else you write is true to my experience as well, including the public education. The obit itself is a gem. I feel like I know the guy. Certainly I know people like him.

      People in that part of the country know good writing — and good music. Spillville is the town where Dvorak spent two summers and composed his String Quartet no. 12 in F, op. 96 (“The American”). It’s sublime.

      There is nothing quite so ignorant as the sincerely-delivered “flyover state” or “deplorable” epithets.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Sometimes there are fantastic texts written on gravestones that make you stop and guffaw. One had on it the words “Well this sucks”. One of the best I read about said the following

      R.I.P
      Here lies my Husband, he was
      Dishonest, erratic,
      Erotic, irresistable,
      Wanton, untrustworthy
      And a liar.
      Sadly missed by his
      Everloving wife.

      Reply
    3. KFriitz

      FYI: Antonin Dvorak summered in Spillville, iowa, (site of Schrandt’s funeral service) and wrote his “American String Quartet” there in 1893.

      Reply
    4. Not Jane Smiley

      Maybe we are from the same smallest, poorest public school districts in Iowa, Howard H. There was great community pride in our tiny school and everyone in our family learned how to write a coherent sentence or two. We moved to the “big city” and we had a few terrific English teachers in the Catholic schools we went to. The obituary written in honor of Mr. Schrandt was original and entertaining.

      Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      What’s the bet they they have to rework those 737 MAX airliners so that they have an external third sensor and that all three have to be linked to their onboard computer systems. Like they should have been done originally but decided to chintz instead.

      Reply
      1. human

        Adding a third sensor is just responding to the symptons. This may still not be sufficient as it would have to be inline with the roll axis to produce a third result and would still be subject to differing directional forces as the plane yaws and pitches during normal flight, especially at take-off and landing. They need to cure the disease. The entire re-design is proved unsafe and should never have been attempted.

        I’m reminded of a documentary re The Concorde, where a pilot says that the plane was so easy to fly you could do it with only your thumb and forefinger.

        Reply
        1. Synoia

          should never have been attempted.

          Should never have been completed. Not attempted presumes precognition by the engineers, and I believe that skill is only claimed by executive management.

          Reply
        2. WobblyTelomeres

          There are engineers in Boeing very familiar with the concept of triple-mode redundancy (or triple modular redundancy), where three inputs/sensors are polled and if at least two agree, that is considered the valid value; voting. Three sensors is common in some scenarios.

          Reply
      2. VietnamVet

        I agree. To restore trust, the various systems that automatically control the horizontal stabilizer have to be integrated into a triple redundant flight control system along with adequate testing and pilot training. The 777 and 787 are fly-by-wire. Boeing knows how to do it. But neoliberal financialization crashed the two Maxes killing 346 people. Complicating the re-certification are the Trump Administration which is too incompetent to do the review, European Air Safety Authorities (the home of Airbus) and the tariff wars with China.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Can you imagine what it would be like at an airline that months ago had decided to go for the Airbus A320neo instead of Boeing’s 737 MAX? Talk about dodging a heavy caliber bullet. Southwest Airlines may be the competition but the sight of dozens of their 737MAX’s parked on the tarmac at Victorville, California must be giving the other airlines lots of food for thought.

          Reply
    2. Lambert Strether

      That’s a very good link, strong on the financial aspect:

      A 6-8 month grounding of the 737, Boeing’s cash cow which accounts for about 40% of The Boeing Co’s profits, will be devastating.

      Just how bad this could be might be revealed on Boeing’s first quarter earnings call April 24.

      Ultimately, Leeham thinks, Boeing will be fine; this is just as survivable as the 787 battery debacle. I’m not sure if Boeing knows how to operate in a world where the FAA is not a hegemon, however. But does anybody?

      Reply
  15. dcblogger

    Has Naked Capitalism run any articles on the impact of sanctions on the US economy? I can’t remember, but I could have missed it. By my count we have sanctions on 3 countries, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela. Am I missing a country? Anyway, there must be sectors of the American economy that have been injured by this, is anyone writing about that?

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      These are all small countries in GDP terms. The US has barely traded with Iran for years and not much with Russia. The Venezuela sanctions did screw up deliveries to some Gulf refineries (refineries are tuned to particular grades of oil, so even after getting substitute supply, there would be additional costs). But the official claim is this didn’t have much impact overall:

      https://www.rigzone.com/news/the_impact_of_venezuela_sanctions_on_us_refiners-07-feb-2019-158100-article/

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        World trade can get weird when the subject of sanctions comes up. When Russia took back Crimea, the US goosed Europe to put all sorts of sanctions on Russia which they did with relish. Not long after the EU nearly went into terminal shock when Russia reciprocated with extensive sanctions of their own that has cost the EU untold billions. What was weird was that while all this was going on, I read that trade between the US and Russia was actually increasing at this time. Go figure.

        Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Ah, good point, the sanctions v. companies that trade with Russia and Iran likely have as big or even bigger an impact that the direct impact on trade.

        Reply
    2. Grebo

      FATCA has made life very difficult for a number of small countries, particularly in the Caribbean. It is essentially financial sanctions on any country competing with the US in “tax haven” type services. I doubt it has much effect either way on the US economy as a whole but certain well-connected sectors will benefit.

      Reply
  16. ChiGal in Carolina

    I like the framing of Katie Halper’s FAIR article containing extended quotes on Russiagate from “evidence-based” journalists. This is a useful concept.

    At the same time, though some of the comments are what you would expect, some make good points: the report hasn’t been released yet, so the very public victory lap is a bit premature, just like all the breathless reporting that comprised Russia Russia.

    And there are some useful thoughts about what the whole Mueller investigation was actually about, maybe not collusion at all, though Trump and the corporate media conspired to make that the focus. Rather about establishing Russia as an enemy warranting continuation/expansion of the MIC (military intelligence).

    Reply
    1. urblintz

      The journalists who never bought into Russsiagate whom I read, are in no sense engaging in a “very public victory lap.” They are aghast by what their colleagues have done to journalism. I don’t think any of the journalists quoted in the FAIR piece put their egos first. Jimmy Dore might throw in a “I told you so” but, imho, that doesn’t rise to any sort of celebration. And indeed, this is not a moment for anyone to celebrate, especially since the “journalists” who became cult members are quadrupling down on crazy. It was they who were celebrating prematurely, for 2 1/2 years, instead of doing the real work of exposing the idiot Trump’s actual crimes, which have been well known for decades… and I’m not talking about Stormy Daniels or his vulgar way with women either. He should have been in jail decades ago for financial fraud. Alas, many of the Democrat’s top donors (a group which includes Trumpster Dumpster himself) should be there with him… aye, there’s the rub.

      Reply
      1. richard

        Exactly. Corporate journalists have had all the means to attack trump in the public interest for 2 and a half years, but have never done so. The tax cut for the uber rich, the loss of health coverage for 9 million usians, the many open cases of fraud and corruption in his long business/political career, all ignored for 2 and a half years. They never respond to what he does politically, only to what he says and what they think he is, what their broken brains tell them. This response is guaranteed to lose again. if that even matters to centrist dems, which is by no means clear.

        Reply
      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Yes, his real crimes are well known, and the people elected him anyway. No amount of digging on that front will get him impeached (that is their goal). Hence the collusion target.

        And interesting to consider it may never have been about collusion at all…wrong discussion, on both sides, and meanwhile here we are all ramped up to fight the Cold War again.

        Reply
  17. Susan the other`

    Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in the industrial revolution. I don’t follow their leap of logic from what appears to be reproductive choice by conscious individuals to hapless natural selection. The forces of human progress selected smaller families because they survived and were healthier? So how does this work on the molecular level? I think this is a stretch. I’d be more inclined to believe that people were smart enough to choose to have smaller families. And the natural selection which followed that decision then makes sense – those children had a better start in life. My own genealogy research revealed that my ancestors in the late 1700s and early 1800s had small families and spaced their births at least 3 years apart. I kinda don’t think natural selection did that.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Haven’t you heard? Lamarckism is making a come back in the form of epigenetics. Although, to your point, it is probably not applicable in this instance. Having only as many children as one can adequately care for is pretty basic arithmetic. Although some seem to have been absent on the day that lesson was taught.

      Reply
    2. Eclair

      ” …. my ancestors in the late 1700s and early 1800s had small families and spaced their births at least 3 years apart.”

      Susan the other, I will take a guess and conclude that your ancestors were not Catholic. Mine were. And, it was pretty much a baby every two years, if not sooner. Six, eight, ten kids would make the local priest happy. Any gap, and we go looking for the death certificates for a still-born, or other infant death. But, those thick-headed Micks made great laborers, working the construction crews for railroads, canals, and in the marble and granite quarries that supplied materials for imposing State Houses and municipal buildings.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        (Off topic, but) Speaking of Irish laborers: there’s an interesting story behind the many people in the midwest with Irish names – but not Catholic. Apparently they were descendants of Irish laborers, eg on the railroads (Indiana was a RR hub), who got out ahead of the Church. Facing a shortage of priests, the Church naturally put them where the numbers were, in the cities. It’s hard to be Catholic without a priest, so a lot of these isolated laborers either went to the nearest church or just lost interest. Plus, I suppose, they were mostly men, so tended to marry local girls if they could.

        Reply
      2. Susan the other`

        Yes my ancestors are a radical bunch of protestants, anglicans turned quakers and baptists, settling down somewhat to be presbyterians, and the cherry on top – mormons.

        Reply
        1. Susan the other`

          This research is pretty interesting, implying that population growth increases steadily and gains a better momentum if small families are the norm. But it makes so many weird assumptions and begs questions – like why is China now advocating more than one child; why are some EU countries advocating a higher birth rate; etc. I’m a firm believer that (essentially) everything is genetic – but I’d have to say that intelligence itself is genetic – and totally fallible. So never mind. This piece of research is a puzzle.

          Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      They’re assuming that those Catholic Quebecois weren’t using birth control, so the length of time to first conception is indicative of “fecundity.” It wouldn’t be any more.

      If indeed “fecundity” – ease of conception – is a biological trait, low fecundity would normally be selected against; they’re saying it turned out to be advantageous, so was selected for.

      While I like biological explanations more than most, I tend to agree with you that that’s a stretch and psychology/culture was probably a bigger factor. I would add that that, too, is subject to “natural” selection and evolves.

      The root factor was probably the end of feudalism and the challenges of the New World.

      Reply
  18. Charlie

    What are cats thinking?:

    Well, to be fair to them, two cats, including the current female, have figured out there is food on the way when I take my insulin shots. Always a funny sight to see.

    Reply
  19. JerryDenim

    Moon over Alabama- Overall a nice synopsis of the Ethiopian 737 Max crash investigation so far. Truly frightening and criminal behavior on Boeing’s part. The author overreaches a bit with this though:

    “It now turns out that the well trained and experienced pilots on the Ethiopian Airline flight did exactly what Boeing and the FAA told them to do.”

    The Ethiopian 737 Max hit the ground traveling over 500 knots indicated (!) , 40 degrees nose down (!), but with full take-off thrust! They did not do “exactly” what Boeing or the FAA told them to do. Strip away all the engineering and automation debate surrounding the mysterious and new-fangled “MCAS” system one Boeing engineer called a “kludge” and you’ve got a simple, good old fashioned trim runaway situation. The fact that the trim runaway as experienced by the crew of flight 302 was intermittent does make it harder to recognize. Also it is beyond doubt that the faulty AOA sensor unleashed an absolute shitstorm of confusing, overwhelming and contradictory information for the pilots to sort out, it’s really hard to say how any pilot would deal with that situation until it’s thrust upon them, but fundamental flying skills boil down to managing three things, pitch, power and trim. If you’re 10 degrees nose down or more, which is the textbook definition of a nose low unusual attitude with full power set, you definitely aren’t in a stall and you definitely better reduce power quickly. If you’re in this bad situation because of a trim problem that hasty speed reduction becomes all the more imperative because high airspeeds will only exacerbate trim problems and can very quickly lead to control forces that overwhelm pilot inputs and trim functions. It’s understandable that things got bad quickly for the pilots of Ethiopian 302, but instead of turning the malfunctioning automatic stab trim back on as a last ditch Hail Mary, why not start with step one of an unusual attitude nose low recovery- reduce power? Other commonly recognized and trained practices would be to deploy speed brakes. A non-standard yet good-odds gamble in an uncontrollable nose-dive would be to throw the landing gear out. Very effective drag producing device landing gear. The 737 Max simulator was demonstrated capable of maintaining level flight and even climbing with full nose-down pitch trim but only at “normal speeds” meaning less than 250 knots. Every well trained pilot understands that speed is not your friend when dealing with a mis-trimmed airplane. Once the pilots of Ethiopian 302 allowed their aircraft to exceed 300 knots, then speeds well in excess of Vmo with full thrust set, it was likely that the flight could not have been saved. A very negative feedback loop between airspeed, nose down attitude and the amplification of trim forces with airspeed had become too well established. The 737 Max was an unairworthy death-trap that should have never been certified or delivered, but calling the First Officer who had less than 300 hours “experienced” is just plain dishonest. He would have needed five times that amount of flight time to meet the minimum qualifications to interview for the same job in the United States. The 29-year old Captain with 8,000ish flight hours has been called “highly” experienced as well, but he was the youngest captain at the airline and a product of the Ethiopian Airlines cadet program. Captain Getachew was hired at age 19. This “highly” experienced captain has had one job and one job only his whole life. It doesn’t sound like he’s ever flight instructed for a living, flown part 135 night cargo in small, poorly maintained airplanes or done any other highly dangerous entry-level type aviation jobs that teach skepticism, basic fundamental flying skills, and on your feet thinking. Yeah, he had 8000 hours alright, but almost all of that was cruising in a posh, well-maintained Ethiopian Airlines new jet with all the fancy automated bells and whistles that help pilots forget how to fly. If you have a solid foundation of stick and rudder aviation experience to fall back on then the skills erosion associated with easy, uneventful, highly automated flying probably takes years to occur. If you’re a zero to two-hundred hour cadet hero it doesn’t take anytime at all because you only accumulated the bare minimum skills the airline needed to drag you through your softball SIC check ride. I don’t know if flight 302 was the captain’s first serious inflight emergency but he failed the test. I know that sounds harsh, but flying is a profession that comes with extraordinarily harsh consequences for poor on the job performance. Take-off thrust with 40 degrees nose down right up until the moment of impact? I’m not impressed.

    The Ethiopian crew was dealt a horrible hand by getting their poorly understood AOA-MCAS- nose-down runaway trim emergency right after takeoff. Had the emergency occurred in a different phase of flight with a larger altitude buffer maybe things would have played out differently, but it’s hard to speculate that they would unless the airplane was in flight-idle descent. Any other combination of unaltered cruise thrust, climb thrust or take off thrust coupled with runaway nose-down trim always ends up back at same negative feedback loop that becomes unbreakable after 300 knots or so.

    None of this is to explicitly malign foreign carriers or pilots as the Moon Over Alabama piece would have you believe. It’s skills, experience and training. That’s the only thing separating good from bad pilots. There’s nothing special in the water or anything about American genetics that make US pilots superior to foreign ones. Rather the fortunate combination of cheap AvGas, an abundance of flight schools, an abundance of credit and an unusually robust general aviation sector have aligned to create an abundant hiring pool of highly experienced pilots for US airlines for many years. Things are changing though, the cheap, experienced pilot pool is drying up and general aviation is dying. There’s a certain US airline that has been running a zero to hero cadet program of their own for a few years now. The graduates/hires are currently acting as US part 121 First Officers in large transport category jet aircraft. In a couple of years the first ones will be eligible to upgrade to Captain. Unless they receive rigorous training concerning unusual attitude recovery, upset recovery, and training emphasizing the relationship between airspeed and trim surface forces then I would expect these pilots to perform no better, and perhaps worse than Captain Getachew in a similar situation. While Getachew by all accounts seemed to be a conscientious and professional guy, he’s still not what I would call an “experienced” or “well-trained” captain.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN1RG2PP

    https://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/aero_03/textonly/fo01txt.html

    And just for fun, here’s a similar incident that was handled well by a crew, involving a Lufthansa Airbus A320 in 2014. This incident finally lead to an established pilot procedure to deal with an erroneous automated nose-down pitching action in the A320 almost a full thirty years after it was certified. This was not the first time the “Alpha Protection” mode of the A320 had caused trouble in flight. Boeing may be doing a worse job with engineering and design, but they’re not breaking any new ground with the highly automated stall protection features of the 737 Max. Airbus already went there thirty years ago, although less aggressively and with with more system redundancy.

    https://avherald.com/h?article=47d74074

    Reply
    1. GF

      This is a portion of the transcript from Democracy Now! yesterday Apr. 5, 2019. The show segment is here:
      https://www.democracynow.org/2019/4/5/profits_should_not_come_before_safety

      Here’s a statement from Frank Petre the lawyer for Samya Stumo’s (Ralph Nadar’s great neice) family who filed the first lawsuit against Boeing and and filed a claim against the FAA:

      “My name is Frank Pitre, with the law firm of Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy. …

      The history is that Boeing, 10 years ago, was facing competition, and it was facing competition from Airbus. There’s no secret. So, around 2010, Airbus was coming out with more fuel-efficient engines. Boeing saw that as a threat to their international competition for the sale of aircraft. They knew that they were behind, and they needed to get their planes out in the marketplace that could compete with Airbus quickly; ergo, the motivation.

      What they decided to do is they decided that they couldn’t wait the amount of time it would take to fully redesign an aircraft, so they took a shortcut. They used the existing airframe, and what they did is they decided to put larger engines and more fuel-efficient engines on that plane—except for a couple of problems. When you put larger engines on a plane that was that old and vintage—the plane was designed where the wings are very low to the ground. So when you put those larger engines on, you need more clearance. So what happens is, you have to move those engines forward. You’ll also have to move the landing gears forward. And when you change the position of the engines, you change the landing gear, you change the aerodynamics of the aircraft.

      Now, when that happens, you do those kinds of changes, you have to retrain pilots, because the plane behaves differently. And in this case, the plane, because of the larger engines, has a tendency to thrust upward faster and more powerfully than the originally designed 737 model.

      Well, rather than spend the time and force air carriers to take time to train their pilots and to go through more costly training, the decision was that Boeing would come up with its own software that would help have the plane behave the same way the older 737 behaved. And they did that with the design of the MCAS system. The MCAS system is an automated system that would control the tendency of the airplane to buck upward, that when it sensed the plane and the nose of the aircraft was moving up, the automatic signals would be sent to the MCAS system and the horizontal stabilizer to push the nose down. Now, that would all be done automatically without the knowledge of the pilots. And that’s critical to avoid retraining. The pilots could operate the plane the same way they operated prior iterations. The system would all take care of adjustments to the aircraft and its behavior tendencies automatically, without any need to retrain pilots.

      On October 29th of 2018, we know there was the Lion Air crash. And that’s when things began to unravel. The dangers that had been concealed about the plane’s tendencies and its aerodynamics now start to manifest themselves. At a meeting where some pilot union representatives were present, a Boeing executive was quoted as saying they didn’t pass on the differences in the plane’s tendencies and the operation of the MCAS system onto pilots, because they didn’t want to inundate them with new information.

      In November of 2018, as you know from the history, Boeing and the FAA issued, in our view, incomplete and ineffective airworthiness directives that failed to address the design problems and led people to believe that the problem could be cured by simply telling pilots to deactivate the system and everything would be fine. No need to worry, the plane was safe.

      Unfortunately, history had to repeat itself. A hundred and fifty-six people lost their lives. …

      The other piece of information that came out just a couple days ago, if we could—John?

      JOHN: Sorry.

      FRANK PITRE: —was a letter that was written by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, dated April 2nd, 2019. There’s copies here if you want it; you can read it for yourself. But it had received information from whistleblowers that the FAA was known to have inspectors who were not properly trained or qualified to do their job of oversight, and that that lack of training, lack of qualification included individuals who were involved in the 737 MAX 8. In light of that information, it was left to Boeing to police itself with respect to safety concerns about the airplane. It is reported in the Senate letter that the FAA may have been notified about the deficiencies as early as August of 2018. Once again, a failure.”

      Pretty damning stuff.

      Reply
      1. JerryDenim

        “Pretty damning stuff”

        Yup. It is. Looks like a slam dunk case and I hope Boeing executives go to jail. There seems to be a rush among anti-corporate crusaders to paint the twin 737 Max disasters in binary, absolutist terms. Boeing evil, Airlines, pilots, mechanics, executives, spotless lambs, victims. Yes Boeing is very bad, and yes, the true cost of gutting the regulatory capacity of the FAA à la Grover Norquist is finally being realized, but there are lessons to be learned in the actions and inactions of the airlines that managed to crash these two airplanes as well.

        In the case of Lion Air 610, which I’ve heard no details of the pilots’ in-flight actions, the four previous logbook write-ups for the malfunctioning AOA vane and MCAS nose-down auto trim is extremely damning. That airplane should have never left the ground after maintenance actions failed to fix the problems resulting in the second write-up. It flew twice more before the eventual and inevitable crash. As for Ethiopian 302, flying an airplane straight into the ground with full power is damning as well. As I pilot I completely acknowledge the situation was stressful, confusing and there was precious little time to act, but even at 500 knots and 40 degrees nose down the pilots never thought to reduce thrust or deploy drag devices to help them manage the airplane’s energy state? Inexcusable. There’s blame to go around and lessons to be learned in these twin tragedies. This opportunity should not be squandered.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether

          > There’s blame to go around and lessons to be learned in these twin tragedies. This opportunity should not be squandered.

          At one time, “safety culture” was robust enough to accomplish this. Still true today? Feels to me like a lot of this Boeing stuff could be filed under “Imperial Collapse Watch.”

          Reply
          1. JerryDenim

            After my last comment I grew tired of reading snippets of information from journalists and bloggers from non-aviation backgrounds. I read the Ethiopian Transport ministry’s summary of initial crash investigation findings and all of my hunches regarding the crew were confirmed. I am now prepared to double down on my previous remarks and be more precise. Ethiopian flight 302 found itself in a dangerous emergency situation due to the bad design and faulty engineering surrounding the 737 Max MCAS automatic trim system, but that’s not why flight 302 crashed. Flight 302 crashed due the pilots’ inability to perform the most rudimentary and basic of all pilot tasks. Control speed and manage the airplane’s energy state. The fact that they were aware the plane was experiencing trim difficulties makes this oversight even more inexcusable not less. It appears that neither of the young men on the flight deck of Ethiopian 302 belonged there. They lacked the requisite skills to control the aircraft. This crash appears to be yet another in an increasingly long line of modern air disasters that look to be the fault of pilot over-reliance on automation. I seriously doubt a pilot who wasn’t habituated to rely on auto-thrust for all inflight power changes would have allowed their aircraft to fly them into the ground at 500 knots with full take-off power set without ever once touching the thrust levers. It’s like a driver habituated to using cruise control for all of their speed changes letting a faulty cruise control drive their car into a concrete embankment at 150 mph without ever touching the brakes or turning off the cruise control. Reliance on automation causes a slow errosion of good hand flying skills built up over time for pilots of an older generation, but some younger pilots, like the Captain of Ethiopian flight 302 never had an opportunity to acquire a reservoir of hand flying skills as he began his career in the left seat of a modern, highly automated, long haul, wide body jet. Captain Getachew may have had 8000 hours flight time, but almost all of it was left-seat cruising at FL390 on autopilot for 15 and 16 hour blocks of flight time. A far cry from grinding out flight time one hour at time teaching landings or slow flight in a Cessna or sweating your way through six leg days hand flying a turboprop for a cargo outfit or a regional airline in the United States. In the US most pilots won’t do wide body, long-haul flying until they are at least a decade or two into their careers, more of a cherry-on-top than a entry level position. I never touched an airplane with auto-thrust until I had over 10,000 hours of flight time. Any time the airplane automation does something confusing or that I don’t like with the thrust, I immediately turn it off and resume applying the thrust manually as a matter of instinct. Those instincts were built up over many thousands of manual thrust flight hours. Something that was denied to Captain Getachew and his first officer who had a mere 300 some odd flight hours. It appears the flight crew and all of the passengers who perished on board were more victims claimed by automation and its insidious enfeebling of human skill. Yes, I hope Boeing gets theirs and yes they deserve a reckoning for their sins, but I have no doubts the new 737 Max faults can be fixed. Airplanes being machines are always going to be susceptible to experiencing failures, if pilots aren’t prepared to fly the plane or take over automated flight functions when the inevitable failures occur then why are they even on the flight deck? Furthermore do pilots who have become mere systems managers incapable of competently executing basic hand flying tasks without assistance really deserve to call themselves pilots? Over-reliance on automation is an industry wide epidemic with the booming developing world airlines being hit the hardest. The crisis of automation dependency is a much bigger crisis than a few faulty new model 737’s and will be much harder to remedy as there are no engineering solutions. Automation, as your reporting on the bogus automated car technology crisis has shown is a society-wide emerging crisis that has tentacles which reach far beyond commercial aviation. Focusing solely on Boeing’s faulty MCAS “kludge” ignores the bigger lessons of the twin disasters of Ethiopian 302 and Lion Air 610. Sure this Boeing saga is going to make for some interesting reading in business school texts ten years from now, but as a pilot I’m more interested in the automation and basic crew skill issues that seems to be at the heart of both crashes. Regardless of what angle you focus on, there’s bigger overarching issues and blame to be shared in both disasters. It’s a big story that touches lots of trends, lives and issues. You’re right to focus on it. Keep up the good work Lambert!

            Reply
            1. GF

              I’m not a pilot. Is it not true that reducing the take off thrust at a low altitude results in the plane falling to the ground as there isn’t enough of that altitude to make flight corrections as if it were at cruising altitude where it could drop a couple of thousand feet and the pilots having time to regain control?

              Reply
              1. JerryDenim

                Takeoff thrust is only required for take-offs and go-arounds. Take off thrust would be abnormal for any other phase of flight. Flying around low and clean (that is no flaps, gear up) level and stable at a comfortable airspeed would probably only require around 60% take-off power for most modern transport category jets. Airplanes, unlike helicopters never fall out of the sky for a want of power, they can all glide down without power, but nothing except a glider can maintain altitude without additional power. Airplanes will stall (wings stop producing lift) and fall out of the sky if this basic law is ignored. An unpowered or underpowered aircraft must trade altitude for lift/airspeed or risk falling out of the sky as you say.

                Reply
    2. Olga

      Perhaps the “more system redundancy” is what makes the difference between being able to recover the plane vs falling out of the sky. If Boeing had thought more about system redundancies, we might not be here talking about 737MAX.

      Reply
    1. barrisj

      Also, very large numbers of cars coming off lease…usually low mileage and heavily discounted from current model-year vehicle pricing.

      Reply
    2. kurtismayfield

      Housing, education, and health care all eat into the budgets. Plus buying a new car is just giving money to financial organizations. The dealers just push metal to make money on the financing and other programs.

      Reply
      1. Lemmy Caution

        >Plus buying a new car is just giving money to financial organizations.

        Depends on the vehicle … OEMs make out like bandits on SUVs and pickups. For example, GM makes about $17,000 in pre-tax profits on every full-size pickup it sells.

        Reply
  20. Jon Cloke

    ROLE OF EVOLUTION IN INDUSTRIAL CHANGE

    This has the faint whiff of eugenics about it, no? “moderate fecundity—and therefore greater predisposition toward child quality—generated higher reproductive success in the long run and was selected by nature in the pre-industrial period.”

    No, it wasn’t – moderate fecundity tends to be the product of more education for women and higher socioeconomic class, which is almost certainly what’s going on here. Nothing to do with evolution at all.

    If we parse the text, if these guys didn’t control for socioeconomic status (a rookie mistake) what they’re trying to say is that richer, better-educated people were the drivers of industrial growth (ya think?) because they were evolutionarily-selected to do so

    Eugenicist bullshit.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Evolution was the result, not the cause. Yes, better education, etc. may have been at least partly the cause – but were 18th-Century Catholics being educated to control births? A bit unlikely.

      I agree that the study may be mixing up biological with cultural evolution.

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I’m too lazy to hunt down and read the studies this link is based on, so I’ll go with what is stated. The only measure for fecundity mentioned in this link is the number of months after marriage before conceiving a child. From this measure the study concluded that:
      “…during the pre-industrial era, the natural selection of those who were genetically predisposed toward having fewer children was instrumental in spurring industrialization and sustained economic growth.”
      “Children who came from these families became more educated—an important trait, he says, in an era that demanded greater cognitive ability and creativity for technological advances.”
      What about the age of the husband and age of the wife when they married? What about the relative wealth of the couple? Were there any women who conceived before marriage included in this little study? And since when did the industrial revolution demand a population possessed of greater cognitive ability and creativity for technological advances? Did the better educated make better mill workers? Maybe a few of the kids from the early to conceive families failed to survive while digging coal out of one of those narrow little shafts in the coal mine.

      I caught a whiff of something from this study, so I opened the window and turned on the fan.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Good points raised here. If they went for number of months after marriage before conceiving a child, I wonder if they differentiated between those children born within the first nine months of marriage and those after. Lots of marriages took place then because the bride was pregnant as they are often today. Like you pointed out, too many factors that might have come into play not considered to make this a really good study. Drawing a long bow on its conclusions I would say.

        Reply
  21. Kurt Sperry

    NSA Whistleblower: Government Collecting Everything You Do Empire Files, YouTube (RR). Transcript here.

    Sadly, no transcript I could find available is at the link.

    Reply
    1. Christy

      Kurt,
      If you look at the article heading here on the homepage, you’ll see a sentence afterward that says “Transcript here”.
      Without clicking on the article, click on the blue highlighted “here” & it will take you to the transcript. :-)

      Reply
      1. Kurt Sperry

        Except I did that and it doesn’t contain a transcript. Since it’s so short, I’ll past the entirety of the text you will find there below-

        Transcript and Links:

        Today, the mass surveillance of all Americans by the US government and its corporate partners is a totally normalized reality. Despite its widespread acceptance, it is an outrageous, blatant violation of our constitutional rights.

        It’s difficult to ascertain how the “chilling effect” of dragnet spying has changed society in the post 9/11 world.

        However, many insiders in the intelligence community understood the dangers of these programs from the beginning.

        Edward Snowden is celebrated as a hero for bringing proof of NSA’s mass spying and bulk collection to the world.

        But years prior, Bill Binney had blown the whistle on this very same program. A 36-year NSA veteran, Bill Binney was the technical director, responsible for developing and overseeing the agency’s spying technology.

        He even developed Thin Thread, the data monitoring program that was later hijacked by the Bush administration to implement widespread warrantless surveillance.

        Mounting pressure caused Obama to pass the USA Freedom Act in 2015, which only outsourced it’s bulk acquisition to telecom companies, using the secretive FISA court as an intermediary.

        And nearly 20 years after 9/11 these unaccountable agencies are using new fears, like of Russian cyber-warfare, to grow their power and operations.

        I caught up with Binney in Vancouver, at the University of British Columbia, where he received the Allard Prize for International Integrity, to talk to him about blowing the whistle and the fight against the surveillance state today.

        Reply
        1. Christy

          As as a moderator, I looked into it further. I confess I hadn’t read the entire transcript link until you alerted me to its brevity so I went searching.

          It appears that is all that is offered of the transcript, and we are required to watch the video to hear it in its entirety.
          I, too, prefer reading to watching but in this case…

          Reply
  22. barrisj

    Another closer look at “Mayor Pete”:

    Opinion: Mayor Pete Is More Jimmy Carter Than Barack Obama
    The last time the White House was disgraced by corruption, Americans voted for a straight shooter with clear moral vision. His presidency was a failure

    In a matter of weeks Pete Buttigieg rose from relative obscurity to national prominence. A successful CNN town hall in early March launched him into the 2020 conversation, and an impressive first-quarter fundraising haul made clear he is a serious candidate. His youth, charisma, and dizzying ascent have some thinking he’s a top contender to inherit Barack Obama’s mantle.

    We worry that Jimmy Carter might be the more apt comparison. Like Buttigieg, Carter was a man of sharp intellect, a veteran, and a straight-shooting political outsider who pledged to address the country’s sense of crisis by restoring honesty and decency to an Oval Office tainted by vulgar political corruption. But Carter’s somewhat disastrous time in office proved those qualities don’t automatically translate into an effective presidency — and should serve as a cautionary tale for Buttigieg’s growing fanbase
    […]
    It’s clear that Buttigieg — and any other Democrat — would replace these appointees with less hateful people. It’s equally clear that having a president and vice president who embody hate sends a terrible message to all Americans, particularly the most vulnerable. But it’s worrying to see Buttigieg viewing the presidency as principally about sending a message of unity, rather than about wielding power to implement policies, including those that might antagonize powerful interests.
    […]
    And yes, it is great if a president is smart and sets forth a moral vision. But it’s nowhere near enough. We need candidates, including Buttigieg, to show a vision for how they will staff their administration and how they will run it. Absent concrete commitments to policies and indications of a plan to implement them, moral leadership simply doesn’t get the job done.

    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/jhauser/does-mayor-pete-understand-the-presidency

    To even postulate that there is a substantial “moral leadership” desire in America
    that would carry a suitable candidate well into the primaries is to grossly overstate a factor only barely registering with voters…”moral leadership” and three dollars would buy one a small Americano at Starbucks, and that’s about it.

    Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      there’s also the small point that people tptb don’t like get sabotaged, even if they manage to get to the presidency in the first place. see october surprise and trump, donald.

      Reply
    1. polecat

      So This is were all the non-recyclable recyclables are going, now that China et al are refusing to take it and like it !
      Plasticization the old fashion way …. bite by bite.
      Yum !

      Reply
  23. barrisj

    Raúl Ilargi is smoking-hot…here is his latest on post-Mueller, which includes a link from a writer on “The Hill” staff actually apologizing for its contributions to RussiaGate. Bonus inclusions include take-down of the Guardian’s Luke Harding for his totally bogus “Manafort visits Assange at Ecuador Embassy” shite, Bob Woodward going after the massively contrived and poorly sourced “Steele Dossier”, and a blast at notorious liars, perjurers, and RussiaGate media promoters Brennan and Clapper…choice reading for your week-end enjoyment.

    Fake News After Mueller
    Allow me to start with a question: Has anyone seen any of the main newspapers and networks who went after Donald Trump for 3 years accusing him of colluding with “the Russians”, apologize to either Trump, or to their readers and viewers, for spreading all that fake news now that Robert Mueller said none of that stuff was real, that they all just made it up?

    I’ve seen only one such apology, albeit a very good and thorough one, from Sharyl Attkisson for The Hill. But one is a very meager harvest of course. With over 500,000 articles on collusion published on the topic, as Axios said -leading to 245 million social media ‘interactions’, shouldn’t there be more apologies, if only so people can hold on to their faith in US media for a while longer?
    […]
    What we can learn from it is that we can no longer trust the media we once had confidence in. Those days are gone and they won’t be back. They’ve been lying for a long time for their 30 pieces of silver, and once your credibility is gone, it’s gone for good.

    That, by the way, is why we need Julian Assange so much, because we know he doesn’t lie. But of course that little fact has also already been buried in a big pile of fake news.

    Orwell would be delighted.

    https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2019/04/fake-news-after-mueller/

    Reply
  24. Plenue

    >Biden: ‘I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done’ The Hill

    Strether, back when the “Trump and Putin are gay lovers” meme was first going around, expressed astonishment at how liberals were taking a key plank of their identity politics and just flushing it down the toilet for easy, short sighted political gain (well, I say gain…). I guess we can add #metoo to that as well.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      I’ve given up on even looking for consistent principles from liberal Democrats; it seems like Tribalism trumps everything, unless of course there’s a chance for the benjamins, or the authority of a party elder is at stake (which I guess is a subset of tribalism). And through it all, the unquestioned belief in their right to rule, plus constant virtue signaling. And these are my people…

      Say what you want about the tenets of identity politics, Dude, at least it’s an ethos. But liberal Democrats can’t even stick to that!

      Reply
  25. barrisj

    Michael Cohen angling for sentence delay coz he has “… ability to access a computer hard drive containing more than 14 million files, some of which could help congressional committees investigating Trump.”. And then, “A memo that Cohen’s attorneys sent with a letter Thursday to top Democrats in Congress details what Cohen has told special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and the House Intelligence Committee about circumstantial evidence that the attorneys say suggests Trump was involved in or knew about a criminal conspiracy to collude with Russia to win the 2016 president election.
    (https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/trump-apos-ex-lawyer-michael-180913645.html).

    Wait, 14million files, “some of which could help Congressional committees…”. And, “circumstantial evidence…suggests Trump was involved…”. Whoa, a ton of qualifiers and conditional phraseology there that makes Cohen’s info dump about as credible as the “Steele Dossier”; however, those allusions were more than satisfactory to keep RussiaGate afloat for 2 years amongst the MSM, cablenews, and “Resistance” bloggers…fortunately, this latest – kaff, kaff – “bombshell” is getting little or no play – lessons learned, and all that.

    Reply
  26. Howard Beale IV

    Re: ICE Raid on Samsung Repair Contractor CVE Shows Big Tech’s Reliance on Exploitative Labor

    I’ve noticed over the years that User-replaceable batteries have been a rare beast-I have a Microsoft Lumia 950 where I can replace the battery, and also had a Galaxy Note 4 which had a replaceable battery-but with an iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S8+ – fuggeaboutit.

    Combine that with water-resistance that makes things that much more complicated-can a third-party certify that their repair will meet the various IP6x standards for water incursion?

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Some metaphors really are “beyond the Palin.”
        Q: What do we call a drive by character assassination on Twitter?
        A: A ‘cheep shot.’

        Reply
  27. ewmayer

    “Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in industrialization, study finds | PhysOrg”

    This (alleged) example of quite-recent Darwinian natural selection pairs nicely with the much-older one desribed in the “walking whale” article in yesterday’s Links. Both embody the the core of Darwinian evolutionary theory which, properly understood, appears almost as a “how could it be otherwise?” truism:

    Heritable traits conferring reproductive advantage spread throughout populations over time.

    Such a simple rule playing out in such myriads of ways throughout Earth’s history, and giving rise to such an amazing diversity of species and behaviors! Endlessly fascinating.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      p.s.: On the theme of “properly understood”, the New research demands rethink on Darwin’s theory of ‘fecundity selection’ link in the “Explore further” section beneath the article does not negate the “reproductive advantage” part of the above encapsulation, rather it shows that one must look beyond simple current-generational fecundity and instead consider fecundity across multiple generations. If X has fewer children than Y but more grandchildren, that sort of thing.

      Reply
  28. crittermom

    >”When Border Patrols high-speed chases…”

    I knew that there had been an increase in enforcement during this administration, but even I was surprised by the statistics and the crashes that resulted, injuring or killing innocent people.

    I had no idea the Border Patrol has basically a ‘pursue at all costs’ type of policy even on heavily traveled highways. Or residential. Or mall parking lots.

    Many other realities struck me in the article, but too numerous to mention. The article is a good read.

    More proof our govt is out of control and people, whether citizens or those who wish to be, are just predicted casualties, apparently.
    I’m left not wanting to venture any further south than where I currently reside in a border state, to hopefully avoid being an innocent victim of this policy.

    Reply
  29. allan

    Former senator Norm Coleman, chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, is leading a Passover Dayenu (it would have been enough) in which Donald Trump replaces God. “Had President Trump ONLY passed the largest tax cut in history: say it with me. DAYENU. … Had President Trump only put two conservative Supreme Court judges…Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, we would say: DAYENU. Had President Trump only appointed Nikki Haley ambassador to the UN, sending a powerful message that we will not tolerate the UN’s anti-Israel bias: DAYENU.”

    Wowsers. Three of the Ten Commandments down the drain.

    Edit: Fun fact – Coleman appears to be a $125,000/month lobbyist for Saudi Arabia.

    Reply
  30. g3

    They say competition benefits customers and that is the main + of capitalism. But me thinks corps actually don’t want competition because it cuts into profits. And they become oligopolies to maximise profits, they collude to screw customers, labor, environment etc. The very existence of trade groups lobbying disproves the notion of competition. Question : are there any lasting examples where competition benefited customers over prolonged periods without lapsing into crapification?

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      “They also said that artificial sweeteners were safe, WMDs were in Iraq and Anna Nicole married for love.”

      I think the idea of Competition is meaningless without a concept of Market — unless you’re talking about a beauty contest or something like that — best dog in show? When I took Economics long long ago the best example of a Market the professor could suggest was the grain market sometime in the 19th Century. I’m not sure when. I can only guess it must have been before railroads and big grain silos. I’ve read that Veblen was asked why he never wrote about markets. He answered that he might — except he’d never seen one.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Competition does sometimes bring out better performances in a foot race. You might think of the crowd watching the race as ‘customers’.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Nowadays, the core ‘customers’ of said race would be the bettors. With the bookies being the intermediaries, who skim a percentage as profit.

          Reply
  31. skippy

    Mark Blyth–Ricardian Equivalence, Rational Expectations and Expansionary Austerity

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijsXA1RbYco

    From his Google talk. Watch the whole thing at, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQuHS

    Despairing at ever seeing the Ricardian Equivalence zombie killed by conventional means, I’ve uploaded this in the spirit of Hugh Trevor-Roper tackling Arnold Toynbee’s theory of civilizations in the 1950s: “Scholarly criticism had failed. Those weak pellets had glanced impotently off that smooth impervious surface. Mere denunciation was useless, inaudible above the choral dithyrambs of praise. I decided that there was only one effective method. The balloon must be punctured and the gas let out. Perhaps if the worshipers could smell it, they would recognize its true character. And the puncture must be neat, scientific, where the skin was most stretched, most tender, with a sharp needle dipped in deflationary ridicule: the ridicule that kills, the ridicule which, in Shaftesbury’s phrase, is the test of truth.”

    Reply
  32. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well.” — I just finished scanning this link. I don’t owe much but I was angry at having to fill out the new tax form and walk-the-dog through a bunch of excruciating details referring me here, there, and everywhere in the IRS documents to figure out what the IRS form is referring to. It makes me very angry reading about how the wealthy, personified in the article by the billionaire Georg Schaeffler, get off without paying the taxes they owe and somehow succeed at bullying the IRS instead of vice versa. That certainly gives perspective to the IRS push to catch tax cheats getting those big bucks from exploiting the earned income credit or trying to hide tips. The courts, Congress, and IRS administration are on the side of the billionaire class and the rest of us can just go hang ourselves.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Good God. Is this the level that the public discourse has sunk to?
      We’re firmly in ‘Brave New World’ territory here.
      just take a look at the television News Program as envisioned in the film, “Network” to see that the visionaries of old were true prophets. I’ll torture this analogy even more and compare the Trump Phenomenon to the “Mad Prophet of the Airwaves” as portrayed by Peter Finch’s character in that film.
      A ‘True Conspiracy Theorist’ would surmise that Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote the original script for the film “Network,” was a time traveler, “from the future!” “I mean. It’s obvious! Everything he predicted has come to pass!”

      Reply

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