Links 4/7/19

Why some animals dress up, start fires and have sex just for fun NY Post

Operation Columba London Review of Books. In praise of pigeons.

Skyscrapers are killing up to 1bn birds a year in US, scientists estimate Guardian

A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy NYT (The Rev Kev)

Octopus farming will soon be the norm. Marine scientists say this isn’t a good thing Quartz (Re silC)

Rhino poacher trampled to death by elephant; remains eaten by lions Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Dr. Kevin)

Waste Watch

ALDI says all packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025 TreeHugger

Earth’s carbon dioxide levels highest in 3 million years, study says USA Today (TP)

A Future Without Fossil Fuels? New York Review of Books. Bill McKibben.

How Climate Change Is Fuelling the U.S. Border Crisis New Yorker Part one of a three-part series.


Brexit: the leader speaks

Amid Brexit Chaos, Theresa May’s Conservative Party Implodes Der Spiegel

France’s role casts a long shadow, 25 years after the Rwandan genocide France24

Gilets Jaunes

French ‘Gilets Jaunes’ march for the 21st consecutive week as Macron wraps up nationwide debate Euronews

Israel PM vows to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected BBC (The Rev Kev)

Turkey says ‘irresponsible’ Netanyahu cannot change West Bank status Reuters


Libya – From Ghaddafi To Hafter Moon of Alabama (The Rev Kev)

GNA head accuses Haftar of ‘betrayal’, vows to end Tripoli push Al Jazeera


Why India Has Had a Heated Year at the World Trade Organisation The Wire

India election: Modi, Gandhi and the Chinese dragon in the room SCMP

Class Warfare

Was Ending the Draft a Grave Mistake? Truthdig Major Danny Sjursen

Facing opioid and foster-care crisis, Spokane’s Rising Strong seeks to keep families together Seattle Times

“Blindfold” Off: New York Overhauls Pretrial Evidence Rules Marshall Project

How Neoliberalism Reinvented Democracy Jacobin

From Pre-K On, US Schools Privilege the Already Privileged TruthOut

Varsity Blues

Suspended Co-Chair Of Biglaw Firm Charged In College Admissions Scandal Will Plead Guilty Above the Law

Some wealthy parents cut deals, others fight on in college admissions scandal. A look at what’s next LA Times

737 Max

With mounting legal complaints, Boeing’s crisis goes from bad to worse Business Standard

Boeing MAX production cut signals long grounding Leeham News (Carey)

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

“Assange Is Not A Journalist!” Yes He Is, Idiot. Caitlin Johnston

Ecuador denies WikiLeaks claim it plans to release Julian Assange The Hill

Julian Assange: Socialists and Liberals Must Now Choose Their Side. Craig Murray

Hey Google, sorry you lost your ethics council, so we made one for you MIT Technology Review


Barack Obama warns against a “circular firing squad” over ideological purity in politics Vox (The Rev Kev)

With the most diverse presidential field ever, black voters ponder the best odds against Trump WaPo (UserFriendly)

American Politburo? Petrified of young blood, US elites would do well to read SOVIET history RT (The Rev Kev)

Is Pete Buttigieg a Transformational Candidate?  New York magazine. Andrew Sullivan.

Sanders, O’Rourke face off in Iowa; other hopefuls in NH, NV AP

Here’s a Trump campaign strategy Democrats are eager to embrace Politico

Trump Transition

Trump is finally Trumpifying the Fed The Week

How Rachel Maddow Turned Into Infowars American Conservative

U.S. to Designate Iranian Guard Corps a Foreign Terror Group WSJ

‘Shameful’: Trump Admin Revokes ICC Prosecutor’s Visa Over Probe of Potential US War Crimes in Afghanistan Common Dreams

Trump administration nearly doubles H-2B guest visa program, which brings many Mexican workers San Francisco Chronicle

U.S. government says it could take two years to identify families separated at border Reuters

Antidote du Jour (via)


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. AC

      I don’t understand why the rest of the EU doesn’t just push the UK into a hard Brexit. The EU could relocate most of the City of London’s financial business to France/Germany/Holland. Trade deals could be made e.g. Canada. After an adjustment period the border issues will adapt. Ireland should be united. The UK already has its own currency.

      1. TheMog

        The border issue is actually a pretty big one – keep in mind that the open border between NI and ROI is part of the Good Friday agreement, so a crash-out with an immediate hard border would be a problem for the ROI, which is a signatory of the Good Friday Agreement. The fact that the current sorry excuse for an impersonation of government in the UK doesn’t give two hoots about the Good Friday agreement doesn’t mean the ROI doesn’t, and as the UK has been surprised to find out, the EU appears to stand more with the remaining members than the “they need us more than we need them” mob. The EU is much more treaty and rules based than the UK is on its own (different legal histories), so willingly violating a treaty is problematic at least when it comes to the letter of the law (not necessarily when it comes to the spirit).

        The EU does appear to be mightily tired of the UK by now so I suspect that they’re also using the additional runway to prep for the fallout from a no-deal Brexit. There is a ton of subtle problems that would suddenly arise when a no-deal Brexit becomes reality, and those need to be planned for. Silly stuff like aircraft certifications as the market share of the British low-cost airlines is very high in the EU and they rely on the equivalence of the UK CAA certification with their EU counterparts, which goes the way of the dodo on a crash-out. Lots more examples like this.

        1. Lee

          The fact that the current sorry excuse for an impersonation of government in the UK doesn’t give two hoots about the Good Friday agreement doesn’t mean the ROI doesn’t, and as the UK has been surprised to find out….

          Does the UK’s disinterest extend to not sending troops should their be violent unrest in NI? In the event of clashes at the NI/ROI border involving military personnel, would the EU become involved on the side of the ROI? Will there be blood?

          1. Anonymous2

            I think if there is any violence that it will most probably be restricted pretty much to the British side of the border.

        2. AC

          I thought my post would lead to a host of negative comments. Maybe we are so over it with Brexit.

          1. Lee

            Sorry to disappoint.

            I have the impression that immigration inundation and fear of more of the same was a principal driver of pro-Brexit voter sentiment. The UK was a favored destination of new EU member, job-seeking migrants, primarily from eastern Europe, because the UK offered the best opportunities for work. Given this their concern is not completely unwarranted. Add to this the over a million refugees from the middle east and Africa, mostly in Germany that could become citizens with access to all EU nations, their worries in this regard have been exacerbated.

            What is particularly puzzling to me is the support and leadership from the posh wing of the pro-Brexit movement, whose economic interests would seem better served by continued immigration thus putting downward pressure of wages. Also, it is my understanding that the EU competition rules limit public ownership of enterprises, which if the UK were free of, would favor leftist policies. What is going on over there?

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Just change the label on the side of the plane and change the personage at the door and that cartoon could be used to describe many of today’s problems and the ‘solutions’ our ‘leaders’ and Elite promote to us.

    3. Doggrotter

      Rev Kev !&*?@
      You could have put a warning on the cartoon.
      For example, as one of the people screaming at the windows,
      the very least I would have expected would have been “BRACE BRACE BRACE”

  1. Samuel Conner

    Don’t have time to read:

    “Barack Obama warns against a “circular firing squad” over ideological purity in politics”

    but my intuition is that I don’t need to — I suspect that BHO is upset that progressives are starting to shoot back at the “liberals,” so the firing squad is no long just one half of the circle shooting at the other half.

    1. Brindle

      Surprise…Neera is on board with Obama’s framing of progressive policies. “rigidity” is a code word for a policy that might actually benefit the majority of citizens.

      Neera Tanden
      Obama says he worries about ‘rigidity’ among liberal Democrats – The Washington Post

    2. The Rev Kev

      Obama was also ‘advocating for patience and incremental change’. Hillary did the same back in 2016 while she denied that America had any serious problems. Look how well that viewpoint worked out for her. When you need vital, radical changes, ‘incrementalism’ just doesn’t hack it anymore.

      1. OIFVet

        Perhaps if Obama was made to feel the “fierce urgency of now” his patience for “incremental change” will be severely tested, and found wanting. But then again, he was so handsomely rewarded for keeping the bankers safe from the pitchforks and torches, that no spawn of his will ever feel fierce urgency for anything that money can buy.

      2. Pat

        Please, the only reason Clinton AND Obama even recognized that America had problems in 2008 was because Edwards kept bringing up the two Americas. And the Change Obama did run on was really vague, that Clinton couldn’t even manage to handle that much bait for the bait and switch was another reason the Dems should never have let have the nomination in 2016 (although we are back to Obama’s weak to non existent legacy so there you are).
        I do have to admit that the god awful Sarah Palin (or her writers) had a way with words.People in 2016 answered her question: “How’s that hopey changey thing working out for you?”. People in 2019 are still saying “It Isn’t!”

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        Platform wise which was forced on HRC, she was not terrible. The problem is it was forced and her larger narrative was to tell everyone to shut up and clap at the coronation. Her real message was promising people would feel good vicariously through Hillary.

        Obama, though as Pat notes was largely forced left by Edwards, promised “hope” and “change.” The phrasing and rhetoric was meant to make a significant emotional appeal.

        Neither Obama or HRC ran on incremental change as a narrative. Even in 2012, Obama pushed that line about being free in his second term to be a good president.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            There will be multiple narratives, but “shut up serfs, rejoice for Hillary will will get her due” was the main narrative the campaign would push when they did their monthly campaign relaunches. Inevitability and “in it to win it” were always about the coronation. Incremental ism runs counter to her same arguments that she and Sanders were too peas in a pod. The main narrative was still “shut up serfs, the restoration is here (wink, wink).”

            Mark Rich and the revolving door of Bill’s administration and then the entire Bush Administration allowed Obama’s change narrative really resonate. Anything else he said was inconsequential.

          2. Wombat

            “A progressive who gets things done”

            “When I was Senator of NY, I went down to Wall Street and told them , ‘Knock it Off!’”

            1. Epynonymous

              Progressive is the key word.

              For twenty years , the DNC wouldn’t let progressives in the debate because ‘they wouldn’t have a chance to win anyways.’

              Now we have two who might win, so every candidate is ‘eligible’ to debate.

              Let the circular firing squad commence.

              1. Wombat

                Hillary Clinton called herself that “progressive who gets stuff done” in 2016… the term is becoming meaningless. Then again pairing the word with terms like “pragmatic”… pragmatic progressive… at least lets you know to steer clear.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama’s own legacy is at sake. Right now it amounts to excuses about “Republicans were mean”, something that only occurred in 2009 to 2017, and outright myths. Even the doofus candidates are largely running on a litany of vague support for policies that aren’t new ideas but serve to indict the Obama Administration as feckless at best.

      There is no genuine defense for his presidency. He’s not that old, and Sanders, not an Obama lackey, is the candidate of young people. LBJ fired a guy for putting out a press release because the release didn’t refer to Johnson as LBJ. FDR, JFK, LBJ. With Obama, there are a gaggle of Democrats running, and I don’t think it’s lost at Obama that the closest thing to a candidate running as his successor is the mayor of medium sized city known for gentrification and driving poor people out of their homes.

      1. Pat

        Preach it, brother. I don’t use feckless often enough for him.

        I keep telling people, if you want to know everything you need to know about Obama check out his library – particularly the design AND the fight with the community about where he wants it and what he wants to take away from them for his own glorification.

        1. OIFVet

          Not a library, a “presidential center,” a blight on a very nice public space, a barrier on the path of migratory birds to the nearby Wooded Island sanctuary (not even a quarter mile away as the crow flies), a trojan horse for the gentrification of nearby Woodlawn and South Shore communities. And in a possibly subversive move by the architects, a mausoleum for the hope and change delusions, seeing how the architecture bears a striking resemblance to the mausoleum at nearby Oak Woods Cemetery. Kind of fitting.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  I don’t think his actual records will be kept there so there would be no point having a research library on site. Which makes the whole edifice a monument more than a Presidential Library. Those from Chicago should be expected to learn to tug their forelock as they walk by the place.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I don’t like “fake” for Obama. He is shallow, his current statements aren’t terribly removed from his introduction to the country in his 2004 DNC speech which is noticeable because he diagnoses the problems with the country of one of our attitude such as divisions of red states and blues states.

              We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States.

              Lets consider the problems with this. This belittles the dangerous efforts of the radical religious right by suggesting the lack of overt religious expression represents a problem of communication. The massive spying apparatus is compared to one particular egregious and comical spying effort. Then he couples coaching little league with “gay friends in the red states” which completely ignores efforts being put into place by the radical right. As we continue to grapple with record wealth inequality, he does this when about the only cohesive narrative attached to the Democratic ticket is the “Two Americas” narrative of Edwards.

              Obama wasn’t fake. People just didn’t pay attention. He was always open about who he was. He believes in an aristocracy and believes most people just need a 15 minutes conflict resolution as long as the powerful position is protected first.

              1. pretzelattack

                he was a fake when he pretended to be concerned enough about working people to put on his comfortable shoes and walk a picket line with them, or pretended to want justice for the war criminals; there are lots of examples of obama being all things to all people.

                1. Oh

                  Grifter who got away with his cons – there are still many in his country (the ones with 0bama 2008 bumper stickers) who’re totally unaware that they were befrauded.

                  1. Michael Fiorillo

                    To paraphrase Twain (?), it’s easier to con someone than to convince them they’ve been conned.

                    Russiagate Trutherism is a case in point.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              It should be cancelled and banned. Maybe the new Mayor will want to do that.

              Or maybe the new Mayor will spend her term auditioning for a chance to make the Big Tubmans just like Obama.

              I suppose Chicago will just have to wait and see.

      2. human

        “Republicans were mean”, something that only occurred in 2009 to 2017, “

        ’09 – ’11 he had a Democrat controlled House AND Senate. No excuses.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          But Republicans were mean for the first time ever. No one could have predicted besides the literate. Obama was the President with so many problems he “inherited” by choosing to run for a job. He can’t be held accountable. He lifted a car out of a ditch. Like Spock! The he was so humble. He gave himself a B+. He really should have had a new letter to signify how mean Republicans were.

          1. polecat

            He ain’t no Vulcan !! He be a Ferengi in a Federation Suit !
            ….. and he’s too deeply spaced in the Benjamin$ .. to the nines ! .. to care about anyone but him and his !

        2. todde

          No, they’ve come up with excuses.

          Bernie wasn’t/isn’t really a democrat, and there is another independent that isn’t a democrat either.

          You have to understand, We have failed the democrat party, again. When will we ever learn?

        3. WheresOurTeddy

          if only they had 67 safe senate seats, then you’d see what they could really do!

          Meanwhile, sentient turtle person Mitch McConnell gets what he wants in good times and bad like a legislative McGuyver. The contrast is stark.

      3. Hepativore

        Notice how whenever Obama talks about “compromise” it always involves moving to the right and promoting interventionist foreign policy and privatization for domestic issues.

        Both Obama and the Democrats at large do not seem to mind “purity” when it comes to refusing to promote or work with Democrats who are not sufficiently neoliberal or corporatist. The recent rule put into place by the DCCC shows that the Democrats will gladly blacklist those who challenge the status quo.

        In other words, “purity” is only a problem if it challenges the Democratic party leadership by refusing to be corporate puppets for wealthly donors.

        1. polecat

          “You still don’t know what your dealing with Bernie .. the Ds defensiveness is matched only by their hostility. No feelings of remorse, or morality … only survival ! .. the perfect Clintonoid conglomeration !!
          I can’t say what your chances are in the primaries … but you do have my sympathies ..”

        2. bassmule

          “Purity” means “Don’t insist on candidates whose policies might inconvenience the rich.”

        1. pretzelattack

          since lbj and the kennedys hated each other, i’m not sure how that would have influenced his attitude to obama.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Someone thought he was. Or would become such. Someone felt threatened enough to have JFK assassinated.

            1. Michael Fiorillo

              True, but people also thought Obama was a Kenyan Socialist, or that Saddam had WMDs.

              Don’t get me wrong: Kennedy looks pretty good these days, especially when you compare his communication skills – far superior to those of Clinton and Obama – to the current trash neap on both sides of the political aisle, but the reality of his presidency never came close to matching the mythology.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        I gather that the new Mayor-to-be of Chicago is not a member of the Axis of Rahmobama. Does this mean that Chicago has a political opening and a possibility of cancelling the Obama Presidential Center and taking back the stolen land and giving it back to the Park and the People the stolen land was stolen from?

        Is anyone thinking about that?

        We can’t destroy Obama’s now-and-future money, but perhaps we can destroy his image and his legacy and his happiness.

        1. OIFVet

          There is a zero possibility of Lightfoot making a move against Obama’s Mausoleum. For better or for worse, Obama is still highly popular amongst blacks and liberals in Chicago.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Obama popular among liberals is understandable. He is one of them. He is one who got rich.

            If the Chicago blacks really like Obama, then let them get what they ask for. Let them keep getting it and getting it. No minority should be exempt from the effects of its own self-administered Darwin test.

    4. Whoamolly

      The Progressive half of the “circular firing squad” may be tired of standing against the wall.

      1. tegnost

        I’m with you, the whole circular firing squad thing signifies that they’re worried we’re going to start shooting back. That ship of course sailed in 2016 as trump is president. The current circular firing squad is defending biden, probably on face the nation right now, don’t have a tv to check since the public airways are now a privatized profit center. I have to admit it makes me feel funny expanding firearms metaphors to describe the actions of the party who hates guns (because that’s what they are most afraid of?). The elite dems are simply reagan republicans (privatization and law and order), and they are up against ryan or walker republicans (fleecing social security, crushing unions) And the ryan/walker republicans are indeed horrible people so how could us mopes even think of voting for them? Well I’ll tell you, the elite dems sheepskin has slipped revealing the wolves who are wearing them.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          It all assumes we have some vestige of accountability, of people or institutions. We don’t. BO presided over the biggest loss of wealth for African-Americans and Latinos in history, a giant shove down the ladder rungs. He enshrined the worst of Bush’s GWOT privacy destructions into law. He took single payer for ACA off the table on Day One. Have a quick glance at Libya today to see how his foreign policies worked out: tanks from the rebel army headed into Tripoli, a sieve of desperate refugees landing in Europe. How’s the water taste in Flint MI today? Isn’t it great that he pretended to take a sip.

          I’d be all for a circular firing squad if we could select the participants. In the inner ring: BO, Hilary, Bubba, DiFi, Pelosi, Schumer, Lopez. Outer ring: Wasserman-Schultz, Beto, Harris, Brock. If Krugman and the entire staffs at MSNBC and CNN wanted to stay in the line of fire in the periphery that would be good too.

        2. Lambert Strether

          > I’m with you, the whole circular firing squad thing signifies that they’re worried we’re going to start shooting back.

          Same deal with “Bernie, control your followers!” If these people are annoyed, Sanders and his followers are doing something right.

    5. Whoamolly

      My final disillusionment with BHO came when I watched Trump start packing all levels of the court system with young, right wing judges.

      The once-in-a-lifetime number of vacancies Trump inherited were a legacy of BHO inaction.

      By comparison, Trump’s energy and drive make BHO look like a photogenic caretaker.

      Rant /off

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        And you would think that a former constitutional law professor would have understood the importance of filling judicial vacancies asap.

          1. Chris Cosmos

            Thank you! That’s it in a nutshell. I would add one thing–he was a PR master even better than Bill Clinton–pretty much a total con-artist in alsmost every detail. The advantage he had was a tightly controlled media. While the US media had always been pretty favorable to the National Security State all deep criticism of, for example, the massive corruption inside the Pentagon evaporated completely with Obama. He managed to unite all the major elements of the elite in pushing him as their figurehead. With Trump they all panicked and now the panic has begun to disappear as Trump is not becoming part of the swamp.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                How many of Obama’s black worshippers would have cried “Raycizzum!” at anyone who would have tried pointing this out to them?

          2. Svante Arrhenius

            Yeah: First, the banks came for our tax money. But we said nothing, since he wasn’t Shrub. Then they came for working folks’ homes. We said nothing, since they were in default. Then, they indentured, imprisoned or shot Black folks. But we said nothing, because we’re not racists. Then they forced RomneyCare Too down our throats… forking us to the FIRE Sector sharks circling far below. But by then, everybody was fighting ISIL, incarcerated or buying opioids and 223 rounds? Thank GOD he wasn’t frigging Trump though!


        1. timbers

          Put another way, Obama understand the importance of not filling those judicial vacancies.

      2. urblintz

        There were recently two very good articles posted here at NC, one about Trump’s placement of conservative judges, and the other, about charter schools. It was not surprising that the comments (including mine I admit) immediately pointed to the Democratic failures regarding both. The Democrats have been approving conservative, corporate judges and appointing the likes of Arne (“Howdy Doody”) Duncan (look at the pictures: ) for decades. Betsy DeVos got nothing on Duncan in terms of feckless self-promotion and anti-democratic neo-liberalism. And every Democrat in the Senate voted for Anton Scalia.

        1. Oh

          I always felt that the DimRats made a big fuss but approved Alito, Roberts et al just like they allowed Thomas to get in. The filibuster was a great excuse for them.

    6. DJG

      Samuel Conner: Indeed. The “circular firing squad” means that the Obama + Rahm austerity wing of the party are worried that that left is no longer allowing itself to be set up as a bunch of clay pigeons.

      I’m sure that Obama considered the Lightfoot/Preckwinkle race in Chicago to be a circular firing squad. After all, neither of them is wholeheartedly an austerity Bill&Hill Democrat.

      For your sake, though, I read the Andrew Sullivan rambling on Mayor Pete (with Sullivan’s use of the adjective “swingy” for the Midwest). As we all know, the anodyne Eisenhower Republican Mayor Pete, whose religious faith consists of converting from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism (an ethnic step up!), is our way out of the circular firing squad–with the added bonus of showing that gay people can be pretty darn boring and don’t have cloven feet. So, yes, Mayor Pete is the white Obama–untested, uncommitted, talky, Christian-oid, a wonderful pool in which the Democratic Fan Club can admire its own perfection.

      And we see how that worked out the last time.

      1. human

        “Christian-oid.” Funny you should mention that. For me, Obama showed his true colors when he turned his back on Reverend Wright.

        1. Donald

          Bingo. Most people I knew were too caught up in the Obama mystique at the time, but I read his two speeches on Wright and it was obvious he was throwing the left under the bus, not just Wright.

      2. Darthbobber

        Maybe we’ll see something like the 13 Tzameti process for candidate selection. Now there’s a circular firing squad.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > Mayor Pete is the white Obama–untested, uncommitted, talky, Christian-oid, a wonderful pool in which the Democratic Fan Club can admire its own perfection.

        And hasn’t even won a state-wide race. Not even once. What an incredibly weak bench (also thanks to Obama).

      4. Michael Fiorillo

        Didn’t know about Mayor Pete’s religious and class status upgrade. As a gay man, it’s an understandable and valid thing for him to do, given the RC Church’s doctrines regarding sexuality, but I’m curious to see how he plays that off abortion as a political issue.

        Still, as someone who was cellmates with Jesus Christ for almost five years at an Episcopalian elementary school, all I can say is, Oy, Vey…

    7. Geo

      Coming from the guy whose chief of staff called progressive activists “family-blogging re-blog-ed” and whose actions toward that activist base coined the term “hippie punching” by a journalist during a call with Axelrod, a whose stuardship over the party lost over a thousand seats nationwide, it’s a little hard to find any concern for his thoughts on the “purity” of the base.

      As others said, one half of the circular firing squad was sick of not firing back. Now they are.

      1. Carey

        The “Rahm” and Geithner picks told me all I need to know, early on.

        At least I can say I never voted for him, never bought what he was selling.


        1. John k

          Way smarter than me. I thought he was great and inspiring when I first voted for him, then thought he would do better in second term plus anyway lesser evil.
          Finally realized I was a progressive in his second term and he, and certainly Hillary, were not…
          And then Bernie came along… devastated when he lost…
          And desperately hopeful once again.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I voted for him the first time, to spare myself 8 years of President McCain and then 8 years of President Palin after that.

    8. Jeremy Grimm

      Unless something changes radically — a change beyond my wildest imaginings — whatever Obama writes or speaks either makes my eyes blurr over or causes me to loudly sing “LaLaLa …La”. I can’t afford the heartburn and nausea.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Boeing MAX production cut signals long grounding”

    Those Ethiopian pilots have been getting a flogging because of their relative lack of experience as compared to US pilots and I have seen the same on TV but a little while ago something clicked. I wondered to myself why it was Ethiopian Airlines came to be flying the 737 MAX which led to the crash and then I remembered a major strategy of Boeing. The main selling point for Boeing for this plane was to tell airlines that the plane performed virtually the same as the original 737 and that no additional training would be needed thus saving big bucks. If you flew the old 737, then you would be able to fly the new 737 MAX no problem. Well we have the body count to refute that point but I wondered if Ethiopian Airlines flew the 737 previously and when I checked, found that the 737 MX was the third variant of the 737 that that airline has flow. Bingo. So Boeing must have gone to Ethiopian and said you fly this plane already but the newer version will be more fuel efficient and profitable. It won’t matter how many hours your pilots have on this bird as the new 737 MX will be just the same. And when those Ethiopian pilots found themselves with a bucking bronco of a plane with a kamikaze desire to hit the deck and too little altitude below them, any experience that they had with the 737 was of no use to them at all. So I think that we should give those pilots a bit of a break.

    1. jsn


      In the neoliberal world it’s always the ignorants fault for Beijing ignorant.

      The fundamental neoliberal motive of making profit by externalizing any cost deregulated regulators fail to force on neoliberal institutions is never the cause, greed in this worldview is a benevolent force of nature.

      Boeing, the Sacklers, the Healthcare Denial industry, the MIC and the banisters, how far can this perversity go?

    2. JerryDenim

      I posted on this yesterday, but after reading the Ethiopian Transport Ministry’s intitial report I disagree. In their defense both of the pilots seemed conscientious and professional, but woefully unprepared to hand fly a jet with malfunctioning instrumentation and runaway nose-down trim. The primary fault lies with Ethiopian Airlines since they hired and trained both pilots from scratch so to speak. They were both zero-time cadet academy hires with no flight experience outside the airline, so any pilot deficiencies could have only been the fault of Ethiopian airlines. Ethiopian flight 610 looks to be another victim of automation or automation dependency. Letting your airplane fly you into the ground at 500 knots with the thrust set at full takeoff power without ever once touching the thrust levers or attempting to slow the airplane is 1.) inexcusable for any person calling themselves a pilot and (2.) a tell-tale sign of a pilot (perhaps systems manager is the more appropriate term) habituated to using auto-thrust functions for all thrust and speed changes.
      (3.) More altitude would not have saved Ethiopian 302, the abnormally high speeds created by nose down trim and continuous take-off thrust compounded the trim difficulties and eventually made even manual trim adjustment impossible due to the control surface forces being much greater than which the aircraft was designed to withstand. In other words the pilots’compete and utter failure to regulate their airspeed and aircraft energy state created a negative feedback loop with the trim malfunction which became unbreakable after a certain speed was reached. They reached that point of no return well before they hit the ground so I doubt more altitude or time would have helped. Those guys were approaching supersonic before they crashed. More altitude would have just just meant the plane might have disintegrated instead of hitting the ground intact.

      “..any experience that they had with the 737 was of no use to them at all” Again I disagree any experience hand flying the 737 would have been a really big help to them. Basic knowledge of trim runaway procedures, basic speed/energy management, nose-low unusual attitude recovery technique, all of these things were applicable to the older generation of 737’s and they were applicable to the Max. When the automatic stablizer cutouts were switched off the Max essentially became a regular 737 again but with manual trim functions only. Too much is being made of the Max’s faulty MCAS system. The 737 Max, still had two engines, two wings, a tail, thrust levers etc. It could still be flown by pilots that were willing and able to fly it. It could not be flown by bewildered, confused systems managers that refused to take responsibility for manually managing the aircraft’s thrust. I don’t know of any commercial aircraft that you can count on trimming once you exceed Vmo by two-hundred knots. That’s why airplanes have maximum airspeeds. Speeds in excess of what aiplanes are designed for can cause systems to fail, malfunction and behave erratically, that’s not just the Max, that’s any aircraft.

      The pilots themselves may deserve a break but someone must be held accountable for their lack of hand flying skills and over reliance on automation even as faulty automation attempted to kill them. Their inability to recognize and adjust accordingly for their high speed and high energy state is also a testament to their incompetence.

      Sorry, but scalps are called for. Boeing has to answer for its sins but the entire industry has an automation problem. The crisis is most accute in these booming developing world economies with extremely fast-growing, young airlines.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not sure if you read the article linked yesterday but I will give it here-

        Sure the pilots are ultimately responsible for their ship but look what they were going through. Not much time for analysis and as for trying to understand why the procedures that Boeing recommended – the ones that they did not remove from their manual that is – did not work was not helping either.
        And as for ‘More altitude would not have saved Ethiopian 302’ – is it not true that pilots said that the three most useless things to a pilot are runway behind them, altitude above them, and a 1/10 of a second ago? This took place at 1,000 feet. I bet that it would have been a different story if it had taken place at 10,000 feet.
        By now they would have pilots run this scenario in simulators using the parameters stated in the black boxes. I am very much interested in how pilots dealt with the conditions mentioned in the article. Of course those pilots needed more instruction but this could just as easily have been a Southwest flight out of Houston or Los Angeles you know. It was just luck that it didn’t.

        1. cm

          By now they would have pilots run this scenario in simulators using the parameters stated in the black boxes.

          What simulators? :

          American Airlines and Southwest Airlines union representatives say their pilots have not been provided with a flight simulator for Boeing’s new 737 Max 8 airplanes, which have now crashed twice in less than six months. Capt. Dennis Tajer, spokesperson for the American Airlines pilots union, called the approval of pilots flying the plane without first training on simulators “unfortunate.”

          Tajer said pilots for American Airlines, which has 24 of Boeing’s new planes in operation, are given a 56-minute video as training to fly the new aircraft.

          While the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has not mandated simulator training in order to fly a 737 Max 8, Tajer said when things go wrong, pilots need to be able to react quickly — which is much more difficult without the muscle memory they get from simulator training.

          1. GF

            Is part of the automated takeoff software regime to keep the engines at take off thrust until reaching xxxx feet in altitude?

            1. 737 Pilot

              If the autothrottles are engaged, they will maintain the takeoff thrust (usually not full takeoff power) until a new climb mode is selected, usually around 1000′ above the field. What the throttles do next depends on the mode selected.

              Technically, on the 737 the autothrottles go into “Hold” before the aircraft even lifts off the runway (around 80 knots or so). In Hold, the throttles can be moved by the pilot, but the automation will not move them until a new climb mode is selected. If no new mode is selected, then the throttles stay right where they are unless the pilot intervenes. The fact that the power setting never changed from takeoff to impact suggests that 1) the pilots failed to properly engage another climb mode (but they shouldn’t have been using the automation anyway!), and neither pilot reached up and reduced the power setting. Another sign that this crew was completely overwhelmed by the events.

        2. Mike

          “Unsafe at any speed” was the title of Ralph Nader’s 1965 book about the US automobile industry cutting corners on safety that made his reputation. Nader’s niece was killed on the Ethiopian flight, and her family have filed the first lawsuit against Boeing. The Chevy Corvair design was one problem – cost-cutting requiring unusual fix causing crashes.

          1. JerryDenim

            “Nader’s niece was killed on the Ethiopian flight”

            Holy shit. I knew Ralph Nader was involved but I had no idea it was so personal. Man that is bad news for Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines.

            1. Craig H.

              She was his sister’s granddaughter. So grand-niece or great-niece depending on your kinship jargon; but yeah, close blood relation.

              Boeing has themselves a big bear by the tail here. He might be working full time on this. For Ralph full time is around seventy hours a week. Lucky for them he doesn’t have as many allies as he did before November 2000.

                1. Michael Fiorillo

                  And as we travel down the memory lane of homicidal corporate malfeasance, let’s also not forget the Ford Pinto, which erupted into flames when rear-ended.

                  If I remember correctly, the company knew the design was faulty, but made a conscious decision to forego remedies, on the assumption that any potential legal costs would be less than the upfront costs of design and production changes.

                  This may get very bad for Boeing, with serious knock-on effects elsewhere.

                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    Hopefully it gets bad for the individual perpetrators who hide under the rock labeled “Boeing”.

        3. anon in so cal

          Speaking of 1000 feet:

          I used to fly a lot on Mexicana Airlines, which has been out of business for years, through no fault of its own. It was a great airline was an excellent safety record, no complaints. But it had an idiosyncratic way of landing. The jet would descend to a low altitude, seemingly low enough to glide in to the landing strip and land. Instead, at the last minute, we’d steeply bank, then make a 180 degree turn at very low altitude, then land. I’ve never experienced this on any other airline. Typically, jets seem to make these turns at a significantly higher altitude.
          Nothing bad ever occurred. But it was sometimes unnerving.

      2. flora

        Thanks for your comment here and yesterday. Valuable information.

        I’m not a pilot but I wonder if anything could be done when a big jet is at only 1000′ elevation and goes crazy. Which makes me wonder: should the Max with the known faulty MCAS sytem have that system turned ‘OFF’ during take off and landing, and only turned on when the jet is above a certain altitude. Pure speculation on my part having to do with the idea that greater altitude gives more time to correct an error. ( Of course, this speculation that greater altitude gives more time to correct assumes, as you say, the pilots know how/have trained to manually correct in this flight situation. )

        1. Epynonymous

          As I understand it, the new plane has one sensor (not two like before) and only when that fails, does the software ‘go nuts’. E.g pitches the plane down, which will re engage the software *even if* ‘auto pilot’ is manually disengaged.

          1. jsn

            Two sensors, not like three before. With three, when one fails the other two can out vote it and override. With two, when one fails you just get a fail signal since there’s no basis for an automated selection of which device is correct.

      3. Phil

        This kind of reminds me of the SUV-rollover scandal. Ford (and all the other automakers) were pushing SUVs on the car-buying public because they were so much more profitable for the automakers to build. They didn’t remind people that vehicles with a high center of gravity and a solid rear axle are not going to handle like sedans, and that driving styles would have to be adjusted to ensure safety. Instead they managed to focus the narrative on the tires, so Bridgestone ended up getting thrown under the bus. It really was a masterpiece of narrative control, as Caitlin Johnstone would say.

        1. GF

          More profitable is right. I read last week (can’t locate the link right now) that the profit on Ford’s SUVs and pickup trucks is more that the total cost of the Ford Fiesta, which is the car that Ford sells the most of.

      4. Janie

        My husband, general aviation pilot with 3,000 hours, twin and instrument rated, learned to fly in the ’60s at Glendale Airport, CA. Stick and rudder, rag and tube. He and his contemporaries, plus the WW II pilots, regularly deplored the dependence on electronics by new pilots at EAA get-togethers.

        That dependence is found in lots of areas that are not life-threatening. Example; when I hired accounting clerks, I tried to hire only those who knew a debit from a credit and not those who only knew how to use the keyboard. “If you are crediting accounts receivable for those checks, what’s being debited”? It got harder as time went by.

      5. John k

        Eventually made even manual trim impossible…
        How long is eventually? Seconds? I can imagine speed is climbing very fast as the pilots are desperately trying to get the nose back up, and knowing they don’t have much time to accomplish that useful situation before going underground.
        If the engines were completely cut off they would anyway be accelerating down on account of gravity. No doubt lawyers will be calculating just how long they had to get the nose up before manual control was lost with and without engines at full power… The most important thing was to get the nose up, nothing else would save them.
        I see this as criminal negligence on Boeing’s part, decision makers should go to jail regardless of how much blame is ultimately attached to the pilots.

      6. Johan Telstad

        There seem to be a lot of people who think they would have handled it perfectly, but I don’t think it is as easy as you think it is.

        Have a look at Juan Browne’s take:

        The main problem that people ignore is that MCAS activation does not present as a runaway trim situation. Remember, in a 737 the trim wheel spins for short periods almost all the time.

        And, whatever errors the pilots made, they was aboard a plane that tried to kill them and had little time to find the right solution before the trim wheel became impossible to move manually, as the AD procedure required.

        The throttle setting is difficult to understand. They might have been reluctant because throttling down would pull the nose further down.

        Also, the PF activating the left autopilot is hard to comprehend.

        The pilots weren’t perfect, but damn, this system really is particularly stupid.

        1. Johan Telstad

          I just realized that you said just about the same thing.

          Sorry, not a professional here.

    3. 737 Pilot

      One of the issues that should be addressed in the aftermath of the MAX accidents is a creeping divergence between how pilots are being trained for normal operations (particularly in countries without a deep pool of aviation experience) vs the piloting skills that are required for highly abnormal situations.

      The Captain on ET302 had a reasonable amount of experience on the 737 as well as the MAX subtype. However, one of the first actions he took when the aircraft exhibited abnormal behavior (stick shaker at liftoff) was to attempted the engage the autopilot at 400 feet. He attempt at least two more times to engage the A/P while working the problem. The autothrottles (separate but related to the autopilot system) remained engaged. The First Officer said nothing regarding the Captain’s actions. This action in itself is a strong indication of a training and/or culture problem.


      Besides the stick shaker, one of the other things that occurs with a faulty AOA is unreliable airspeed and altitude readings on the failed side – in this case, the Captain’s instruments. Use of the autopilot and autothrottle with unreliable airspeed is specifically precluded on the 737, yet the Captain attempted to engage the autopilot multiple times. Nor did he disengage the autothrottle. Changing the configuration (i.e. retracting the flaps) is also precluded until the aircraft state is stabilized. Sadly, since MCAS does not activate with the flaps extended, if the crew had correctly dealt with the first problem that presented itself (failed AOA accompanied by stick shaker and unreliable airspeed), they likely would have never retracted the flaps and the MCAS system would never have activated.

      So, why did this crew not follow the correct procedure? When under duress, it is a very typical human behavior to fall back onto ingrained habit patterns. If your habit pattern during takeoff is to engage the A/P and retract flaps according to the normal schedule (generally passing 1000 feet above the ground), then you are very likely to do this without much thought.

      As aircraft automation has increased, pilot training has slowly morphed from emphasizing basic piloting skills (setting specific attitudes, power settings, cross-checking performance) to systems management (engage the autopilot, enter in the desired flight parameters, and let the automation do the work) . Particularly at foreign carriers that don’t have a deep background in aviation, there is a lot of emphasis on the pilots following a set script and relying on the automation. Apparently, there are some airlines where not using the automation most of the time is frowned upon. Heavy reliance on automation and scripted actions simplifies the training process and narrows the skill set that you need from your flight crews.

      This approach works fine until it doesn’t.

      Let me be clear that I am not blaming the flight crew. They were a product of their training environment. The problem lies, in part, with a training environment in which a systems management approach pushed aside greater emphasis on basic piloting skills.

      The reason for this is the usual suspect – money. Training pilots is expensive, and without an obvious need there will be a tendency to strip out all but the minimum requirements. More stringent standards would also decrease the pool of available pilots which in return would drive up the cost of flight crew labor. Finally, by deemphasizing the need for more pilot training, the manufacturer can more easily market their product to airlines can’t draw on a large pool of experienced pilots.

      None of this excuses Boeing’s negligence in the MCAS design architecture or the FAA’s lack of diligence. Nor are other airlines immune from this minimalist training philosophy. I have been greatly concerned by the recent trend at my own airline to minimize training costs. Sadly, it usually take an accident or two to reverse the trend.

      1. VietnamVet

        Thanks for your and JerryDenim’s comments. Experienced pilots in Seattle on a Max Simulator with foreknowledge of what would happen had 40 seconds to do the right thing to save the aircraft. This is criminal. All air accidents are a chain of events if broken would not occur. None of the corporate media reports include details about the switching on and off the autopilot, engine remaining at takeoff thrust, or yoke release techniques that allows manual trim of the horizontal stabilizer. They only mention software which can be fixed with an update.

        The November 2018 FAA Airworthiness Directive after the Lion Air crash was woefully inadequate. A single sensor automatic control system that allows the horizontal stabilizer to move to the full nose down position is fatal. Pilot and co-pilot training working together is needed. Boeing will lose a lot of money. But they gladly spent billions to open a second 787 assembly line in South Carolina to bust PNW Unions. The pilots who didn’t get training to fly a dangerous aircraft were one cause in the chain of events. The ultimate villain is the neoliberal ruling class’s arrogance and contempt of workers. This is clear across the board from Boeing to Comcast to Uber. Autonomous vehicles and Artificial Intelligence will be deadly; directly by bad coding and design or indirectly by low pay and loss of jobs.

      2. JerryDenim

        Thanks for your insight 737 pilot. I’m an Airbus guy currently but I agree with all of your observations.

        I’m not directly blaming the pilots of Ethiopian 302 either, but rather their airline who trained them as cadets and hired them as line pilots. The Captain of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 went straight from being a nineteen year old cadet to being a long haul, wide body autopilot baby sitter so I don’t find it surprising his first instincts were to engage the automation on an airplane with malfunctioning automation during a very critical phase of flight. Law of primacy right? Only an absolute automation junkie could fly an airplane into the ground at 500 knots without ever once laying a hand on the thrust levers which were still set at takeoff power. I wrote this yesterday:

        After reviewing the Captain Getachew’s flight experience all of my worst suspicions were confirmed. Very low time pilot with a very weak grasp of rudimentary flying skills that was thrust into the left seat of a modern, wide body, long haul jet before he had paid his dues and honed his craft. His nascent and barely practiced hand flying skills withered on the vine of autopilot and auto-thrust while cruising around the world at flight level 390, on 15 hour long flights. He had very few opportunities to practice his hand flying during the first several years of his career and by the time he upgraded from long-haul First Officer to Captain on the 737 it was too late. The die was cast. As we found out with the Colgan crash pilots taking advantage of airline pay-to-train programs are often lacking in important skills that are drilled into more experienced pilots who matriculate up the career food chain in a more conventional fashion. Sometimes pilots, if certain fundamental skills or characteristics are lacking, (stall recovery, pitch-power-trim management, risk aversion, judgement) are simply selected out of the workplace/gene pool in a very Darwinian way, if they adhere to the traditional career progression ladder. Marvin Renslow for instance would have figured out how to do a proper stall recovery and would have had it drilled into the reptilian part of his brain had he chose to build flight time as a primary flight instructor, or he simply would have died as a flight instructor attempting to teach stalls to one other unlucky victim, but he would not have killed a plane load of passengers. Sadly the traditional pilot progression ladder, of instructor, then night cargo, followed by charter, a corporate gig or maybe turboprop regional or small regional turbojet before landing in the right seat of a large, modern airliner seems to be vanishing in the United States and already gone or nonexistent elsewhere. The Captain, the crew and all of the passengers onboard Ethiopian 302 appear to be yet more victims of low-time pilots with weak skills leap-frogging their way into very large complex aircraft before they’ve mastered the basics, and yet another prime example of automation enfeebling human skills and ability. Autothrust strikes again.

        One reason I’ve been such a nag here about the human factors components of these recent twin 737 disasters and not solely focusing on the 737 Max MCAS angle is because I, as you do, share concerns about our industry-wide addiction to automation and airline managements’ increasing propensity to cut corners and train by CBT and memo instead of by simulator. Sure basic piloting skills could be taught in a simulator but hiring pilots with flight time seems more cost effective. It would seem airlines could pay for CFI’s with airline aspirations to instruct underprivileged teenagers cheaper than they could train basic stick skills in a simulator but that’s outside the box thinking for sure. My good friend who is a check airman on the 737 Max at low cost European carrier told me the other day that the typical new hire at his airline has 25 hours of PIC! I nearly spit my coffee. Apparently young Europeans pay for some sort of JA non-flying safety pilot rating which enables them to baby sit the autopilots of wide body Gulf carrier aircraft at cruise. After a few years of this they come back to Europe and seek employment as flying first officers at low cost carriers. My friend said they need 200 hours or more of OE before they can pass their IOE. Wow. Different model than what I’ve known for sure.

        1. dcrane

          Interestingly, I have yet to hear of a 737 MAX crew successfully handling MCAS-driven mis-trim caused by faulty flight data, other than the flight before the fatal Lion flight (and they had a third set of pilot-eyes on board). So while it may be true that poor pilot training contributed to these crashes, one can also argue that we don’t yet have any evidence that those pilots performed unusually poorly.

          1. JerryDenim

            The DFDR of the Ethiopian 610 crash isn’t enough evidence for you? Take-off to impact without touching the thrust levers? Pilots failing to control speed during a pitch mis-trim emergency. You don’t consider that unusual? What standard are we measuring by? Asiana 214 or something where the pilots know how to hand fly a plane in perfect VMC conditions? Poor vs. Unusually Poor? Sounds like hair splitting to me. I never said the 737 Max MCAS mis-trim scenario wasn’t a tricky situation demanding prompt action from a competent flight crew, I just said it wasn’t a death sentence if the pilots were up to the task of flying the plane and prioritizing aircraft control and energy management. A couple of hundred airplanes flying for less than two years and you say you need two real world examples of successful pilot resolved MCAS mis-trim outcomes to prove the first documented example wasn’t a fluke.

            No comment. Believe what you want. I believe the facts and events speak for themselves if you are familiar with airline flying procedures. I am not alone. The 737 Max is unsafe and flawed, but that doesn’t mean flight 302 was destined to end in tragedy.

            1. dcrane

              Yes, failure to regulate the speed was apparently a poor move on their part. I’m just noting that if indeed these planes crashed because the pilots involved were much less effective than usual, it’s a bit of a coincidence if these are also the only times that pilots have encountered severe mis-trim caused by MCAS.

              My comment isn’t intended to weigh in one way or another on whether Boeing or the pilots or their training airlines are more at fault. I’m just interested to find out if there are cases in which pilots have had this happen to them and flew out of it OK.

          2. Bill Smith

            Not sure how close these examples are but:

            The first four reports involve the aspect of the 737 Max software most in the news: its MCAS program that automatically lowers the nose of the plane, even if the pilot does not want the plane to descend. In these cases, it is worth noting, these U.S.-carrier pilots disabled or overrode automated systems and took control of the plane themselves.


            1. dcrane

              Thanks….yes I saw the articles about those some time ago. It’s not clear that any of them involved MCAS. The first two narratives, for example, specifically mention the plane nosing down after the autopilot was turned on. But MCAS operates only with the autopilot off (supposedly).

            2. JerryDenim

              Thank you. Fantastic article. You can see very similar concerns among the pilots as the ones 737 pilot and I listed here. Inadequate documentation, and penny-pinching behavior by airlines. What I called “train by bulletin and CBT” (computer slide show viewed at home) You can also see the US pilots had completely different instincts and control philosophy from the 29 year old Ethiopian cadet, wonder Captain. The US 737 Max Captain in the first incident report is contrite and apologetic for turning the autopilot on below 10,000 feet (!) which he acknowledges he normally doesn’t do in the 737 Max because of the “MCAS” threat. All of the US pilots in all of the MCAS trim anomalies immediately take manual control of the airplane at the first sign of trouble whereas the Ethiopian Captain desperately attempts to turn on the autopilot at 400 feet even as the stall warning stick shaker is going off. This may seem trivial to non-pilots but it’s not. It’s everything. Lack of hand flying skills and over reliance on automation works just fine until you have an emergency malfunction or one day when you simply get confused about what the automation mode is actually doing like the crew of Asiana 214. That Captain didn’t “misjudge” the landing, he stalled his airplane on short final because he thought the auto thrust was still providing speed management. (It wasn’t) None of the US based MCAS incidents in the Atlantic article seemed as severe as what flight 302 had to deal with but it doesn’t seem like any of the US crews had trouble maintaining aircraft control, hand flying and managing speed. That last part, speed management, was what killed the Ethiopians and rendered their manual trim useless. So like I said, 737 MCAS trim system- super dangerous flaw, should have never been in the air, but hardly a death sentence as long as there is a competent crew on the flight deck.

      3. JerryDenim

        Check out this FAA safety alert from 2017-

        I thought this part was especially salient to the Ethiopian crash:

        An air carrier’s training policy should incorporate the following:
        • All curricula should be designed in accordance with the philosophy that manual flight is the
        foundation upon which other technical flying skills are built. Therefore, the primacy of manual flight should be emphasized throughout all flight training syllabi, while recognizing that manual flight operations involve more than motor skills
        • All curricula should include training and proficiency assessment of manual flight operations.
        • Potential training scenarios for manual flight operations, in addition to the new part 121 training
        requirements, could include the following:

        1. Out of trim conditions – how to recover

      4. 737 Pilot

        This comment lifted from another aviation forum speaks to another important point:

        There certainly were a number of crossroads at which catastrophe could have been avoided on ET302, especially up to the point of flap retraction and a bit, and from a Human Factors perspective it is extremely interesting to learn why certain choices were made. We all know that the company culture of an airline and also the culture of countries/regions greatly influence how we behave, both as people and as pilots. This has nothing to do with the “supremacy of the Western pilot” or however some may want to phrase it in these times of identity politics.

        But when countries ban unions, when people are fired for having opposing views to those of their superiors, when airlines ban handflying within the autopilot envelope and mandate autolands, when airlines have the captain always be the Pilot Flying, when one thousand airline flying hours may entail only a dozen or two actual take-offs and landings…. If you become financially penalized or limited in your career advancement due to non-compliance with said policies, you know there are issues that need to be addressed. I don’t think it should be perceived as offensive to ask if any of these or other factors were important when it comes to understanding why a seemingly experienced captain would try to engage the autopilot at 400’AGL while the stickshaker is going off? And why choose the onside autopilot? Why clean up? Regardless of any NNC memory/recall items or checklists, why not establish a known and safe pitch/thrust setting and fly the aircraft? Does everything boil down to “the startle effect” when at first the stick shaker goes off and then later the AP trips off at the same time they clean up? These are not unreasonable questions to ask.

        It is a sad fact that whoever is left holding the matches when the house burns down will be looked at with much scrutiny – even by his friends.

        1. JerryDenim

          Amen brother, excellent points all. I’ve touched on many of them here myself. Also excellent point about cleaning up with the stick shaker going off. I didn’t stop to think about that unorthodox decision. Why would you want to reduce lift if you were really worried about stalling? I also didn’t notice the part of the report where the captain tried to engage the autopilot on climbout while the shaker was going off until I heard you mention it today. When I reread the Ethiopians report they state the captain called for autopilot engagement at 400 RA, but the shaker was going off around 100 RA or lower. Holy smokes. So strange to me, and against everything I’ve ever been trained to do, but I guess I can see it if he was uncomfortable hand flying and desperate to relinquish control as it seems he was throughout the short flight. He must have been counting the inches to 400 RA which was probably the company minimum for autopilot engagement, but he selectively ignores all industry standard best practices stating autopilot should never be engaged during an unfolding and undiagnosed emergency situation since it can mask issues and hide aircraft mis-trim until control forces build up with the autopilot kicking off suddenly and violently leading to a potential loss of control or unusual attitudes. Maybe they don’t train that concept at Ethiopian. I don’t know. I really didn’t pore over the report with a super critical eye, I was just looking for the glaringly obvious screw-ups it would be hard to devise excuses for. All of the little stuff that may or may have not proven critical to the outcome of flight 302 taken together as a whole, cumulativey, does paint an even more unflattering picture of the pilots’ skill level, but I’m sure I would make more than a few small mistakes myself in a very frightening emergency like the one the pilots of Ethiopian 302 encountered. Even though I’ve been told by layperson commenters here that I’m being too harsh on the Ethiopian pilots, I will state again for the record that I will never let an airplane fly me into the ground at 500 knots with full power set unless I’ve been lashed to my seat and my arms have been chopped off. Go ahead and call me a racist if you want but at least that much must be said. It’s a sad day when professionals can’t even make objective statements of fact regarding another professional’s actions without being accused of bigotry by laypersons with no idea of what they are taking about, but what are you going to do? Shut up? Commend wrong-headed flying that displays a lack of basic knowledge and skill? Good luck out there and don’t forget to turn off the autopilot and auto-thrust once in a while! My prediction is the FAA will start requiring us to log 3 hand flown departutes, and arrival procedures culminating in an approach to landing in the past 90 days to stay current, just like with landings. I give it another one to two years but I think this Ethiopian and Lion Air crash may speed it along.

          Best to you…

    4. marku52

      What if the first crash had occurred inside the US?

      After the flight recorder was recovered, and the MCAS system was implicated, can you imagine that the Max wouldn’t have been grounded right away with a groundswell of congressional concern?

      But instead, it was just a bunch of Brown People, so, “No worries, we’re making money here, move along.”

      Along with slamming the skill and experience of the Brown Pilots.

      Well according to Bjorn at Leeham, the “relevant experience” is flying a poorly trimmed fighter jet at high speed and low altitude.

      Not an experience many pilots, US or otherwise, are likely to have. Bjorn does, which makes him a great read

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I believe they are using the term “intersex” for a reason.

      My understanding is “trans” refers to views on personal identity other than the gender at birth, so unless he knew, I’m not sure “trans” is appropriate. I have no idea, but I noticed this term, interest, when I read this late last night. Which isn’t to diminish his gender status or identity, but it’s feasible was always simply one of the guys.

      1. DJG

        NotTim: Agreed. Yep, intersex means that Pulaski was born with genitals that may not have looked male or female–some of it is an accident of birth, some may stem from chromosomes, some may have been hormonal.

        For various reasons, maybe plausibly male genitals, maybe the need for an heir at a time of high infant mortality, maybe his mother’s decision, the family raised Pulaski as a male. The article doesn’t get into DNA–mainly the pelvis, which isn’t completely persuasive. So we don’t know what the midwife, the mother, and the person who washed and prepared Pulaski for burial saw. They never told, evidently.

  3. Carolinian

    Great article on pigeons including this

    Recent studies have suggested that they navigate using human structures as well as natural ones: they follow roads and canals, and have been observed going round roundabouts before taking the appropriate exit.

    Where I live we have Mourning Doves rather than Rock Doves and they will quickly eat down your bird feeder if the hawks don’t get them and leave nothing but a pile of feathers. At any rate thanks for the link.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Thanks for your comment — glad to see someone else shares my obsession with birds.

      1. tegnost

        Oh I think there’s lots of appreciation for the birdies., didn’t need to look up todays bird, yellow eyes and feet, pointy wings, long tail…how great would it be to have those tools at your disposal? Went to sleep last night listening to the warble of a long eared owl, and woke up to gobbling eagles, and the woodpeckers kindly inform me which trees to watch out for…

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I live in Sydney and it’s a little like living inside an aviary, at first light we get Kookaburras, laughing at all of humanity in a way that always brings a smile. Then we get flocks of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, screeching through the neighborhood like badly-behaved street gangs. Then it’s Rainbow Lorikeets, whistling through the branches like fighter pilots, an orgy of color. Channel-billed Cuckoos from Papua New Guinea show up and get harassed by Noisy Miners. High up you’ll see White-Bellied Sea Eagles and flocks of Sacred Ibis soaring. Brush Turkeys scratching the leaves, redefining clumsiness that evolves where there’s a lack of predators. On the water it’s Australian Gannets plunging in, and Blue Penguins peeping along. I marvel at my great good fortune every day.

      2. Judith

        This morning at the nearby NWR, I was watching a pair of wood ducks. A northern harrier circled round and attacked the wood ducks. They scrambled frantically in the water and were able to escape. The northern harrier was then mobbed by a red-winged blackbird and flew away. The wood ducks in this area (boston suburbs) have been in glorious abundance over the last few weeks.

    2. Craig H.

      The most celebrated, and familiar, of these is the racing homer, a breed selected for its unrivalled navigational abilities. Once their enclosure, or loft, has been imprinted on them – something that happens when a bird is around six weeks old – homing pigeons will return to it for the rest of their lives, even after many years away. They can fly thousands of miles and cross oceans in order to get home. One of the longest homing flights ever recorded was made by a bird owned by the Duke of Wellington, which was liberated from Ichaboe Island, off the coast of Namibia, on 1 June 1845. It took 55 days to fly the 5400 miles back to Nine Elms, where it was found dead in a gutter a mile from its loft.

      If you never read another word written by Rupert Sheldrake his dope on pigeon behavior is very very very close to must read.

    3. Oregoncharles

      We seem to have jays (BOTH Stellars and Scrub) instead of either pigeons or crows, but we definitely have mourning doves. I hear them rather than see them – a truly remarkable call, extremely loud, almost like a bell ringing.

      That’s certainly a falcon, though I couldn’t swear it’s a peregrine (chief predator of pigeons!). The Willamette Valley is a wintering ground for birds of prey from further north, and we have wildlife refuges both north and south, so we see lots of birds of prey. Marsh hawks/Norther Harriers and sparrow hawks (right name escapes me) are the most reliable. Once saw a White Tailed Kite, escaped from California. Now, that’s an amazing looking bird – all white, with the flattened head and perpetual scowl of a kite.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Kestrel, that’s the word I wanted. Much more romantic than “sparrowhawk.”

        There’s a beautiful poem about it by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

        The Windhover
        To Christ Our Lord

        I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
        dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
        Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
        High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
        In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
        As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
        Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
        Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing.

        Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
        Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
        Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

        No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
        Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
        Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.
        Nice picture of the bird at the top.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Hey, hey hey. That is the only democracy in the Middle East that you are talking about there. /s Maybe Ayelet Shaked views democracy in the same way that Erdogan views it – as a train that when you reach your destination, you get off. Her Wikipedia page shows that she is influenced by Ayn Rand but I have come across mention of her before. She’s damaged goods. Anyway, if you are going to be making a Greater Israel omelette, you do have to crack some Palestinian eggs. Even Trump himself gets mixed up about the whole thing. He just gave a speech at a Republican Jewish conference and confused them with Israelis and also referred to Netanyahu as “your Prime Minister” which must have been awkward, especially in light of the dual-loyalties issue.

      1. John Wright

        When someone trots out that “only democracy in the middle east” in conversation, I ask “and how does that benefit the typical American? Please tell me how?”

        The statement is also no longer true as Iraq and Iran are democracies AFAIK, despite the USA/UK removing the Iranian democracy in the 1950’s.

      2. Geo

        To be fair, Trump didn’t say they have dual loyalties, he did they have singular loyalty… to a foreign nation.

        Not really better, but different. :)

  4. Todde

    Everything in America priviledges the already priviledged.

    Government schools included.

    1. Robert Valiant

      And it’s a feature, not a bug.

      You know, I was recently admonished not to use the term “government schools” lest I reveal that I am in truth a right-wing public school privatizing minion of Betsy Devos. I ignored the directive.

      1. todde

        Yes. I found it odd that describing schools as ‘prison’ didn’t get a response, but putting ‘government’ in front of it earned a rebuke.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          Yes. I found it odd that describing schools as ‘prison’ didn’t get a response, but putting ‘government’ in front of it earned a rebuke.

          Because using the term.prison for schools is such an obvious hyperbole that no one felt the need to respond to it. Are you upset that no one nibbled at your obvious bait?

          1. Todde

            Nope. I didnt imagine anyone would take it personally at all.

            It was an attack on how we approach education. Since i threw both sides under the bus i didnt consider it a political statement.

            But I dont have to go and fight political battles over this so i wasn’t really concerned about how my verbiage would affect the political angle of it all.

            Was it a drive by quip, and beneath this site?


      2. Chris Cosmos

        If government schools actually cared about educating young people I would favor them–but they aren’t and this can easily be proven by studying developmental psychology, learning theory, cognitive science, social science and so on.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          If not government schools then what?

          Maybe the real problem is the way many years of Neoliberal thought and principles of management have been so destructively applied to the processes of teaching and learning.

          1. Robert Valiant

            Tough question; I don’t have an answer.

            Our public schools reflect the values of our existing government. There are conceivable other governments and values that would produce other kinds of public schools. I am convinced that public schools cannot be significantly changed outside of significant governmental and societal change. Public schools are tools of the state, and they’re currently purposed to create credulous, insatiable consumers, because that’s what global capitalism demands.

          2. Chris Cosmos

            Ivan Illich in his book Deschooling Society suggested that “schools” should be areas to gather socially and where those that want to lean something can meet with those who want to teach. The internet is beginning to provide that both formally and informally–but I think, for true education, you need the full spectrum encounter with teachers. Our system is based on coercion–we believe that unless people are forced to learn they won’t learn. Certainly if they have been beaten down all their lives with nasty and/or culture they might be reluctant to learn–but my experiences that everyone wants to learn and live life to its fullest. We know enough today to deal with almost every learning styles including, those on the autism spectrum. The public school system can’t deal with real learning and teaching because everything has to fit into a spreadsheet cell.

            1. todde

              Ah, so, much like my post yesterday:

              Charter schools or public schools, it’s still prison for kids.

              that was my attempt to convey “Our system is based on coercion–we believe that unless people are forced to learn they won’t learn. “

        2. tegnost

          where do you go to do this studying thing you’re talking about? Private school? What if you don’t have any money, where do you study?

          1. todde

            a book, they are free at the Library.

            and when you read a book without an instructor, it’s just you and the author.

            There are also more than 1 ‘textbook’ for each subject. You can learn a lot from each one.

            You can also spend as much time as you want trying to figure out the subject, instead of a school bell arbitrarily interrupting your learning.

            I learned to read from my sister, before I reached kindergarten.

              1. todde

                from my mother, you know, the one who didn’t have a 5th grade education.

                you start with learning letters, then you learn their sounds, and then you learn how different letters put together sound, and then you are reading !!!!!

                I taught my kids how to read. But i didn’t do it the correct way, so the school had to re-teach them.

                Now my youngest is in high school, and when she struggles with larger, harder words, I have to tell her to sound it out.

                You know, the exact opposite of how the school taught her to read.

                1. todde

                  “c”-“an” can
                  “b” -“an” ban
                  “t” – “an” tan
                  “m”-“an” man
                  “f” “an” fan

                  you don’t need 4 years of college and a certificate from the State Board of Education to do this.

                  1. todde

                    my kids were taught to memorize these words by the school system, instead of sounding them out.

                    and they are dumber for it.

                    1. Richard

                      As a person who teaches reading to 7 and 8 year olds in public schools, I can give you a little information about literacy instruction.
                      There is no one way to teach emergent readers, because they come to primary grades with such a wide range of existing skills. Many children already know how to decode words fluently, but need instruction on creating meaning. They don’t yet “know” that’s the point of reading. Other students meet me with a strong comprehension set as well; for these students I might provide various writing extensions (in 2nd grade), but I essentially just get out of the way. Some students may need more repetition of vowel sound patterns, the phonics teaching (sounding out) you are referring to. This is by no means easy for anyone, as the english language has 5 vowels that make 17 different sounds. Students with dyslexia especially struggle in this regard, and benefit from linguistic instruction that helps them hear the different sounds, feel how their mouth, teeth and tongue move to make the sounds, so they can first distinguish them. This is a first step for reading that many children accomplish in pre-K; if it’s missing no one is going to able to “sound out” anything. After this phonemic awareness comes the phonics instruction.
                      I have barely even begun to express the variations in types of readers, and ways of reading. We all have different tastes and habits for one thing, and there so many strategies we use when reading, or ways of reading, especially when we’re just starting. We might rely on sight words (words we’ve memorized) or use phonics, or use clues from illustrations or context. We also use our memory, words we’ve maybe encountered before but never used. It’s a kitchen sink approach when you read, and though I teach discreet skills, I want students to understand that “they are the boss of their own reading”, and they get to/need to decide when to apply which skills. This is where executive functioning comes in, which can present another challenge for young readers.
                      I hope I have given you some sense of what it’s like to teach reading. It’s the most difficult thing I do, also my favorite. There is no clear consensus on “how to teach reading”, mostly because it is so complex and internal. I personally suspect it is more art than science. But that said, there are many clear best practices, and there is a ton to know. I have absolutely needed a lot of training and education to do this, and without it my students would suffer.
                      I get you’ve had bad experiences with public schools.
                      “Government schools” pisses me off. Say what you want, I won’t clutch my pearls, but it still pisses me off and here’s why. I don’t work for the government; I work for the families that attend my school. I work for the public, directly. They get to see me every day, complain to my face (or not :)). “Government school” sounds like something devos would say, what you say to delegitimize a public service right before you try to privatize it.
                      I work at a public school.

                    2. todde

                      Please don’t let that change your opinion of me. Whatever you thought about me before continue on.

                      I would hope no one here is thinking about me at all.

                2. drumlin woodchuckles

                  I learned to read at my publigovernment school. I am old enough that the publigovernment schoolteachers’s mission was to teach kids how to read.

                  Later, after intellectual pollution from the schools of education, the mission of the publigovernment schools became to immunize children against reading. ” Look-and-say” was part of that anti-literacy counter-reading program, as was ” whole word” and other fads coming from the Academic Edukakocracy.

                  Rudolph Flesch wrote about that in his day in the book Why Johnny Can’t Read. Essentially it was because the schools had adopted the new mission of immunizing Johnny against ever being able to read. Ever.


                  But as I say, when I went to publigoverschool, the publigoverschool I went to was not yet transformed into one of those “War on Reading” schools that Rudolf Flesch was writing about.

        3. richard

          That’s a pretty provocative statement. I think you’d better easily prove that Chris. I work at a public school, and that isn’t my experience at all.

          1. Chris Cosmos

            For the average student maybe public schools are better than nothing. But ideas like school start times, different styles of learning, the fact homework doesn’t help but hinders, subjects taught at school–why algebra and geometry but not logic, why not art, theater, music proven to help children learn. Why the emphasis on testing and teaching to the test–proven to be ineffectual? Why the emphasis on grades? Doesn’t work for many if most kids. Why the lack of character education, e.g., taking care of the schools from food prep to IT that middle and high school students are fully capable of and why the coercion of forcing children to take subjects they aren’t prepared for. How about moving children into trades that aren’t intellectuals–you’re not doing much in high schools as it is in training young people to think based on logic and evidence–and on and on and on and on–I don’t have time to go into everything.

            1. Yves Smith

              If you look at education in American in the late 1800s and early 1900s, in states that produced very high literacy rates, such as Iowa, they did test. I agree that teaching to the test is a poor practice, but you want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And then geometry and algebra were important in daily life (construction and repair, working out simultaneous equations, which can often come in real world commerce). And they are foundational for higher mathematics and therefore the sciences while logic is not. However, basic critical thinking skills could and should be woven into a lot of course work. Most schools do or at least did have art classes; even my blue-collar high school in Escanaba, Michigan had theater and speech classes in high school, as well as a chorus class. Music sadly is mainly an after-school activity due to the need to have an instrument or instruments in the household for practice.

            2. richard

              Many of the ideas you talk about here: later start times, reducing/eliminating homework, increasing fine arts education, social/emotional education (character), are being implemented in my school and in public schools across seattle. Seattle is all I know, but I can say that these ideas are, no offense, mostly commonplace in the area where I work.
              All seattle public schools offer regular art classes. Our school has regular (daily) music as well, though that is not the norm. Every seattle public school offers instrumental music 4th grade and up, different kinds of band and choir starting in middle school. Every public school teacher (in the US? I would hope, but certainly every teacher I’ve ever met) is trained to differentiate for learning styles and background knowledge and a dozen other things. This is a central, key practice.
              Sorry, but I get frustrated with generalizations about public ed. Let’s put it this way: much of what you say doesn’t match the area I’m familar with.
              I love the idea of teaching logic! I’m trying to build interest in the idea of starting a logic/argumentation class at my school, which is a K-8. I see it as a self defense class for our kids as they prepare to interact with adult media.

    2. tegnost

      I’m not that privileged and I got a lot out of gov schools including, but not limited to, the ability to read and figure out the area of a triangle.

      1. todde

        My mother didn’t graduate the 5th grade. Went to work during the Great Depression.

        She could speak two languages, owned and operated a business, was an election judge, and she also could read (2 languages) and figure out the area of a triangle.

        When my mother sold the business to a bunch of college educated people, one of whom was my old algebra teacher in High School, the business failed in 3 years.

        It appears you can learn a lot outside of the government school system also.

        I was taught Accounting in High School and College. I learned it from my dad doing the liquor store’s books.

        I am not here to bash schools. But I am also not here to defend it.

        1. todde

          It would appear as far as an education goes, you were short changed since a dirt poor farming family gave their kids a better education than the government schools did.

          It does keep children out of the workforce and feeds them thru the free lunch program, but these aren’t educational benefits.

          I will also say that those dirt poor farmers I grew up listening to as a child knew more about monetary systems and international trade than the MBAs I deal with now do.

          1. pretzelattack

            is this generally true of dirt poor farming families? and are “government schools” generally less effective at delivering an education than charter schools?

            1. todde

              I say burn down every charter school there is.

              My point is: There are other ways to do this besides the Market and the Government way of doing things.

              We’ve educated children way before either the Market or Government existed.

            2. todde

              I don’t think my family was exceptional in any way.

              Maybe I am wrong and everybody else is waiting on the government to teach their kids the things they need to know in order to have a decent life.

              and if that makes me ‘libertarian’ then I will be ‘libertarian’.

            3. BobW

              I don’t know about charter schools, but my family put us through Lutheran schools in the 60s. It was a real stretch for a one paycheck family, but it could be done back then. My father was a gas company dispatcher, so not wealthy by any measure. Detroit public schools were a train wreck even that long ago. My feelings are anti-charter, but I can see why parents would want to do the best for their kids. It’s asking a lot to sacrifice children on the altar of policy.

          2. ChrisPacific

            Yes, there are other models, and the one you’ve described is one. But any alternative would need to scale, and would also need to work for children with learning disabilities or behavioral challenges, as well as providing for kids whose parents were dealing with personal challenges, drug addiction, generally weren’t the most responsible to begin with etc. You’d also need to decide the degree to which you wanted to standardize the curriculum, agree on assessment and/or enforcement mechanisms, and all that kind of thing.

            You will no doubt argue that many of those problems exist with the public education system, and I’d agree – but whether the correct solution is to fix the existing system and make it better or to replace it with something else is an important question. And if your answer is to replace it with something else then it needs to be held to the same standard and answer the same questions that the public system does.

            Or you might take the hardcore right-wing libertarian view, and assert that it will all work perfectly with no oversight or regulation required, and if it doesn’t then that’s the fault of the parents. That depends on whether you are comfortable ceding authority over children to the point where they fail through no fault of their own in cases where the parents are unwilling or unable to educate them, or whether you think society has a responsibility to offer children an opportunity to succeed even in those cases. Since you’ve used “privileges the already privileged” as a critique I’m assuming you wouldn’t be in favor of this one, since it would probably do that even more than any of the alternatives.

            1. todde

              anybody who is more concerned with their tax dollar or political ideology than their children is a special kind of monster.

    3. Kilgore Trout

      As a retired public school teacher in a blue collar district, who has long regularly argued against and opposed libertarians here in NH, where we have the “Free State” [sic] movement, those who routinely use the phrase , “government schools”, do so to promote their privatizing agenda aimed at diminishment of government at all levels. Whether intentionally or not, encouraging its wider use does not serve true education reform or progressive interests. It just muddies the water, and it frames the debate in ways that diminish the good work public school teachers do, often in spite of neoliberal efforts at “reform” (like Common Core, NCLB–aka “no child left untested”, etc.).

      1. Geo

        Well said. Every public school teacher I know puts their heart and soul into doing the best they can for the kids.

        On a related note: My mother, a lifelong grade school teacher, was brought in as a principle for a small parochial school that was on the verge of bankruptcy after the previous one had been stealing from it and running it into the ground. Her solution was to take the financial books into the teachers lounge and opening it up told them, “You need things to do this job but we don’t currently have the money. Let’s find it.”

        They spent a few weeks going through the books cutting what wasn’t needed and funding what was. No administrators around because they’d all been fired after the prior fiasco. Within two years the school was flourishing.

        Let teachers do their job and schools will succeed. Let admins pilfer and burden them with bs and it becomes what it is today – a mess.

    4. pretzelattack

      well then, no need to single out the schools. the reason that got worse is because of scams like charter schools.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The link you point to appears to contain what appears to be a PR announcement for Case Western Reserve University. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing … but after following these kinds of announcements from NASA Tech Briefs for a few years [too many of the Tech Brief announcements are just echoes of PR from university research centers] I have yet to see further indications anywhere that any of the big advances announced have lead to anything. I know that’s often true of journal articles also, but they tend to be much more restrained in their optimism than the PR announcements. So I can be hopeful but …

      1. abynormal

        ✓ …i raised an eyebrow at trial level. FDA is still a real market maker and with CDC patents we’ll make sure NO one gets a cure…think back the AIDS fiasco of our cell manipulation/lie. We learned…

    1. ambrit

      I’ve noticed that rent levels are “downwardly sticky.” Going up is fairly easy. Going down is almost impossible.
      I’ve mentioned before my exposure to a lady store owner’s ‘rent extraction’ experiences with her location’s out of town managers. Even with multiple vacancies in the strip mall her store is in, her rent continues to go up, like clockwork. It points to the existence of a financial artifact I like to refer to as a COBRA. (Cost Of Business Rental Adjustment.)
      As long as short term thinkers manage real estate rental properties, this counter-intuitive dynamic will continue.

      1. jsn

        Here in NY, more and more commercial and residential real estate has been bought up by REIT’s that are up to the hilt in debt.

        When they make the purchases they assume certain income streams that support the debt the use to make it. If they rent anything for less than that assumption they have to ante up new capital to plug the leveraged hole reduced revenue imposes on the REIT.

        With money still cheap, extend and pretend goes much longer than I ever dreamed it would and vacant property with “for rent” signs avoids having to book the loss!

        1. chuck roast

          I am thinking that there is a real problem with the way multi-family and commercial real estate mortgages are structured. And this structure leads to inexorable rent rises.

          Most commercial and multi-family mortgages are 5-year balloons with a relatively low interest rate. There is no payoff for the mortgagor over the 5-year period…all he has to do is service the mortgage. The payoff comes after the 5-year period when the balloon comes due. It’s relatively easy to find “the greater fool” who is going to be the next real estate magnate. The greater fool gets his own 5-year balloon in order to buy the property. The original mortgagor takes the payoff in the form of a sizable capital gain and becomes “the greater fool” for his next bigger and better multi-family or commercial project. Rents go up because the new-fool has to service his new mortgage.

          It would be nice if the greater genius-boy than me would write succinctly and convincingly about this phenomenon. Of course there will always be real estate greed-bags, but it seems to me that putting a stop to these exploitative balloons could slow down rising rents.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Why some animals dress up, start fires and have sex just for fun”: ‘Australian birds of prey will pick up burning sticks from a bushfire and drop them in a dry grassy area to ignite a blaze — then await the dinner bell as small animals flee.’

    Yep, sounds about right. It’s not enough that the local wildlife will try to kill you if given the chance. Some of them even try to burn their prey to death.

  6. pjay

    Re ‘How Rachel Maddow Turned Into Infowars’

    NC readers have seen many anti-Maddow rants by now, but this is a good one and worth a few minutes read. I also think the title is effective and quite appropriate.

    What I fear is that this episode will be allowed to slowly fade away without (1) journalists being called to account (by anyone but us), and more seriously (2) any investigation into the role of the intelligence community in a coup attempt. Regarding the latter, Consortium News reposted a very good article by Daniel Lazere from 2018 that discusses the British side of the Russiagate operation, naming names and linking them (also mentions Clapper and Brennan and their roles). Hoping against hope that this is looked at in more detail.

    1. Carolinian

      Let’s save a little scorn for the infotainment addicted folk who lapped up Maddow’s stuff week after week. Media talking heads find it easy to play on American ignorance about the rest of the world because we are so very incurious, on the whole. Although in fairness things don’t seem to be much better in, say, England. Our US bad media disease is spreading like the flu (or maybe we caught it from them).

      Thank goodness for sites like this one…..

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      one wonders if the Rhodes Scholar part of her screams out in intellectual agony knowing she’s a propagandist, but then one remembers $10m a year helps the imperial medicine go down

      1. urblintz

        “It is difficult to get a [man] to understand something when his salary depends on [him] not understanding it” Upton Sinclair

      2. Darthbobber

        About as much as the Rhodes Scholar part of Bill Clinton ever interfered with proceeding the line of maximum personal benefit. But given what Cecil Rhodes was like, he’s have no complaint.

      3. The Rev Kev

        You guys should read the list of Rhodes Scholars. You can see a few familiar names and I have spotted three Australian Prime Ministers as well as a near Prime Minister on it-

        You do wonder if when they are at Oxford, that if showing good promise, whether they are approached by certain groups to see “if they get it”.

        1. Carey

          Thanks for pointing this out.

          ‘Rhodes Scholar’™ = one happy to do the Few’s bidding.

  7. SoldierSvejk

    Not a pay-walled version of this:
    This should really work out well:
    “Iran warned Saturday that it could respond in kind, listing the US military as a terror group.
    “If the Revolutionary Guards are placed on America’s list of terrorist groups, we will put that country’s military on the terror blacklist next to Daesh [Islamic State],” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the head of the Iranian parliament’s national security committee, tweeted.
    In 2017 IRGC chief Mohammad Ali Jafari had said such action by Washington would lead the Guards to “consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.”

    1. JBird4049

      “Iran warned Saturday that it could respond in kind, listing the US military as a terror group.

      Yes, we already have a number of Americans who would have been prosecuted at Nuremberg, people like Bloody Gina; so listing our military as a terrorist organizations would be par for the course as our military is still the same evil acts now as it did almost two decades ago especially the routine murders of people merely suspected of being terrorists, but not seen doing any terrorism.

      1. The Rev Kev

        This is actually a bit of a worry. I think that it is a first for the US to declare a country’s military a terrorist organization. But in doing so, it might open up the possibility for the US to attack any Iranians in places like Syria or any other country as they are “terrorists”. It’s like a license to attack but there would always be consequences for such actions. The Israelis killed an Hezbollah commander so as payback they attacked an Israeli convoy and killed a coupla of their troops.

    2. rd

      The Trump Administration continues to prove to Kim Jong-un that the only way to be viewed seriously by the US is to have nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. If you have those, you can have personal summits with the President of the United States. If you don’t, then you get treated like Iraq, Iran, and Libya. I think it is pretty clear which diplomatic model Kim Jong-un plans to follow.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “How Rachel Maddow Turned Into Infowars”

    This is kinda sad when you think about it. She put her entire integrity & character and vested it into the whole Trump witch hunt. And now that it fizzled, what does she have left? Instead of attacking Trump on the very real issues of tax breaks for the wealthy and stacking the courts, she went off the edge into a fantasy that had no basis in fact. Maybe she did not care as she was supposed to be making $30,000 a day trying to bring down Trump. And now due to her efforts as well as the main stream media, she has entirely discredited what most people call laughingly ‘the news’. Right at the time America slowly gears itself up to go into election mode when a trustworthy media is vitally needed.
    Maddow said “There are three things I do to stay sane: I exercise, I sleep – I’m a good sleeper – and I fish.” It’s not working-

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Maddow, even before Trump, was/is clearly aiming here act to the particularly radically ignorant on the fashionable left. I think, however, the comparison with Alex Jones is waaaaaay off. First, Jones was more or less on the right side of the RussiaRussiaRussia issue. Second, Jones is not on the side of any main part of the ruling elites while Maddow represents, at minimum, the Democratic Party and the mainstream of the “intelligence community” and many others in the oligarchy. Third, Jones is at least entertaining while Maddow is boring and very annoying–even before all this crap was going down I couldn’t stand her delivery, her smirks and mannerisms–at least Jones goes batshit crazy almost out of nowhere–he’s more fun to watch for sure and nowadays in our insane political milieu amusing counts for a lot.

      1. pjay

        I agree with just about everything you say here. But I still like the Infowars comparison because liberals will immediately understand Alex Jones = con man/charlatan/ideologue. MSNBC bothers me a lot more than Fox these days for some of the same reasons you mention. But if the Jones/Maddow comparison can get under a liberal’s skin, then great.

    2. ewmayer

      “She put her entire integrity & character…”

      Using the words “integrity & character” Ms Madcow reminds me of the episode in the first season of Seinfeld where Jerry and George pitch The Show About Nothing to the NBC execs, one of whom has a few suggestions for making it more audience-salable, and George, having quickly forgotten how lucky they are for even getting their idea looked at, launches into a loud huffy rant to effect of “well I for one will not compromise my artistic integrity” and storms out. To which Jerry, when he finally corrals George a little while later, replies, “you’re not artistic and you have no integrity!”

    3. John k

      The sooner we all realize how not dependable msm is, the better. I hope that at least some that assumed all that agreement among msm must be true are beginning to get their news somewhere else.
      WMD in Iraq, russiagate…

  9. jfleni

    RE: A Cure for Excessive Wealth Disorder.

    At least start by using LINUX where possible and appropriate!
    It works well and is used by all the real experts; Billy boy has foolish eye candy and expensive billionaire money-grubbing;
    and don’t forget linux IS F R E E !

      1. ewmayer

        True, Windows does have a remarkable record for minimizing its users’ time-wastage. And nearly virus-proof! /s

        OTOH with Linux any time you waste will not be enriching the likes of Gates.

      2. Mark Alexander

        My experience is the opposite.

        When I look at the amount of time our library wastes on trying to keep its Windows machines updated and secure, it makes me a bit crazy. The stupid machines spend hours installing updates when you try to shut them down or start them up. Then one of our volunteers spends hours updating them after disabling some add-on that is supposed to keep them from being tampered with by patrons. Then when the machines are actually operational, they run terribly slowly due to all the silly Norton antivirus crap.

        If I ran this library I’d be installing Linux Mint and have patrons use the temporary guest account that has few privileges and is wiped after every logout.

        I have gotten several people and one small business to switch and I spend very little time doing tech support after installation. And installation goes pretty well these days, especially on older machines.

    1. JCC

      I couldn’t agree more. I walked away from Windows in the home back in the late nineties, 100% Linux for years, and never regretted it.

      Work is different, but at least I’m a Linux Admin, so I don’t have to deal with MS much except for time cards and email.

  10. Skk

    Re: The increase in H2B visa numbers by Trump.
    O where is today’s equivalent of Cesar Chavez to organize against this? And the Catholic Church’s position ? They opposed the original increases in 52-64. I shall watch developments here.

    1. JBird4049

      The American unions were still a thing and the Catholic Church was not enmeshed in its own series of scandals when the United Farm Workers Union (UFW was power. Trump’s trumpyness is also being used as cover for actions such as this. Like OMG did you see his tweet/speech/gaff while evilness like increasing those business friendly union busting visas is done.

      Why it is almost like that was the plan from the beginning. Getting the Clown President in office and use him to hide their actions.

      1. jsn

        “Zaphod invented the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. He was voted “Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Known Universe” seven consecutive times. He’s been described as “the best Bang since the Big One” by Eccentrica Gallumbits, and as “one hoopy frood” by others. In the seventh episode of the original radio series, the narrator describes Beeblebrox as being the “owner of the hippest place in the universe” (his own left cranium), as voted on in a poll of the readers of the fictional magazine Playbeing.

        He was briefly the President of the Galaxy (a role that involves no power whatsoever, and merely requires the incumbent to attract attention so no one wonders who’s really in charge, a role for which Zaphod was perfectly suited). He is the only man to have survived the Total Perspective Vortex, though it was established (in the books and first two radio series) that he survived only because he was in an Electronically Synthesised Universe created especially for him, thus making him the most important being in that universe and thus uniquely equipped to survive its version of the Vortex. His brain-care specialist, Gag Halfrunt, also said, “Vell, Zaphod’s just zis guy, you know?” He used his position as President of the Galaxy to steal the Heart of Gold, a spaceship taking advantage of Infinite Improbability Drive, at its unveiling.”
        wiki on Zaphod Beeblebrox

        1. rd

          Brave New World, 1984, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy have become the go-to textbooks to understand our modern times.

            1. JBird4049

              And satire has morph into factual description.

              Welp, at least A Modest Proposal is satirical, and not suggestive, or God help us, descriptive.

              I bet that some politicos might want to suggest it as a means to replace SNAP.

      2. skk

        I remember the UK steel workers strike when Maggie was on the warpath in 1980. I lived and worked close by to the steel mills in N.E. England. No security nuthin’ I just walked thru to the staff canteen claiming I was a reporter ( which I was …for a now long defunct commie fortnightly ) and spend a hour or two understanding the workers position.
        Ahh the follies of youth… But doing is learning and the next 12 years of ever increasing sophistication in understanding by doing was … full of highs and lows.

        40 years later, since Oxnard, where Chavez did his initial organizing in ’62, is close by, maybe I’ll mosey down to La Colonia area and see what I hear regarding this.. And yeah, boxing is still strong there – Fernando Vargas, Roberto Garcia, Miguel Angel Garcia, Victor Ortíz, and Brandon Rios so the wiki says.

        In England the place to start engaging with the working class males was in the pub or the workingmen’s club.

        Here, In fact, I think I’ll start my engaging with the male working class at the boxing club ! Now that’s a thought indeed ! Let’s see.

    2. ewmayer

      Ha, I’m picturing a Trump ignoramus-tweet along the following lines:

      Look, I loved Julio Cesar Chavez for his boxing skills, he was probably the greatest Mexican fighter since Roberto Duran – but he’s no immigration expert!

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I remember the times before all the screening began. When I was in high school one of my teachers used to go to the airport with his wife to watch the planes coming and going from an observation area inside the terminal while they both imagined fine vacations and travel they might someday be able to enjoy together. I remember when people dressed up to fly just like they once did for train travel. I still remember some of the beautiful women and the beautiful stylings of their clothes in the airport at New Orleans.

      1. urblintz

        My career as a classical musician, which took me to many wonderful places around the world, stalled around the same time I came to hate the necessary evil of flying. The metal detectors and bag searches that were creeping in well before 9/11 (the model was Ben Gurion airport “security”) were bad enough but once TSA was formed I avoided flying all together. The Acela corridor became my venue transport as I kept things close to home in NYC. Had I known then that flying had such a huge carbon footprint I might have stopped sooner and do take some refuge in the fact that limiting my career may have helped, at least a little, the environment. Then again I never loved flying and can not imagine a job that required weekly or daily flights, which in the 80’s were plentiful. What a grind…

    2. Wukchumni

      I always wanted to pull this stunt, and needed an excuse for 15 friends to go to dinner, so here’s the setup of what went down before the turn of the century…

      My wife & I are flying from Reno to LAX, and our meeting committee @ the airport is armed with flashy cameras, a number of microphones and they’ve all went full paparazzi on us as we got off the plane, rushing over to take hundreds of flashbulb photos of us (there was no film in the cameras) and thrust microphones in our face asking loudly “How did your meeting go with the President?” or “Did you know that the decision you made would have such repercussions for Americans?”, and the fun part was there were about 100 people waiting @ the gate for other people getting off the flight, and everybody got so interested in us, asking our friends “Who are they?
      followed by a friend proclaiming “He’s the leader of a small but very influential country” and we’re watching people grabbing for their cameras, as they don’t want to miss this obviously important event. It was a fun thing to do, and people are so gullible, they’ll believe anything as long as you are convincing enough.

      We picked up our luggage and then all went out for snappy cocktails & dinner @ the weird looking ‘space age’ restaurant @ LAX.

  11. DJG

    From the NYTimes article about Candida auris, an exact description of evolution in action:

    Dr. Chiller theorizes that C. auris may have benefited from the heavy use of fungicides. His idea is that C. auris actually has existed for thousands of years, hidden in the world’s crevices, a not particularly aggressive bug. But as azoles began destroying more prevalent fungi, an opportunity arrived for C. auris to enter the breach, a germ that had the ability to readily resist fungicides now suitable for a world in which fungi less able to resist are under attack.

    Remember this the next time you hear someone “not believing” in evolution. Belief makes no difference. That is something that fungi already know.

    And remember this the next time you are feeling vaxx-skeptical. We haven’t seen many deaths from “childhood diseases.” Yet. I await all the caterwauling when the anti-vaxx crowd realizes that it is their own child whose life has been wrecked by measles. Or that the just desserts of anti-vaxx is that old trick: Mumps-induced sterility in an adult male.

    Maybe nature isn’t all bloody tooth and claw. What if it is quiet and subtle–fungi evolving in a woman’s ear, hibernating spores in the ground reawakening hungrily.

  12. Cal2

    “ALDI says all packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025”

    They better install bins in each store to collect and take responsibility for the recyclable material then. With the thousands of recycling programs in the U.S. that do or don’t accept certain materials, there’s no way it will work otherwise.

    Bring any un-recyclable plastic back to a large corporate store and leave it at the customer service desk. We do that at Costco with for example, those wasteful clear sleeves that tiny objects like thumb drives are packaged in.
    “We can’t recycle this” they say.
    “We can’t either. Send it back to the manufacturer.”

    They probably landfill it, but it will drive them toward selling better packaged products.

    1. a different chris

      Aldi, sigh, the people that wrap large stickers all over bananas if they don’t put them in full plastic bag. Well OK.

  13. Plenue

    Why has no one pointed out that no one with ‘Butt’ in their name will ever be President?

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        and next up is a Jewish descendant of Holocaust survivors from working class 1940s Brooklyn named Bernard

        There is no template anymore

      2. Plenue

        Ah, point.

        But Obama had a combination of charisma (well, so they say…) and not being Bush. All the candidates now have the boon of not being Trump, but other than that Buttigieg is a void.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Keep pronouncing the name Buttigig. Make it an object of ridicule and maybe it will attrit and degrade Buttigig’s image enough to prevent Buttigig from reaching flying speed.

  14. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “A Future Without Fossil Fuels?” — I think Bill McKibben is more than a little bit over-optimistic about solar and wind power as replacements for fossil fuels. Much of the discussion echoes thinking by Gail Tverberg at Our Finite World.

    I thought this link might discuss another little problem. Fossil fuels are the source of much more than stored, compressed, highly portable, usable energy. Some of the fractions from refining fossil fuels show up in all kinds of products we take for granted. I don’t know for sure but suspect some fractions may provide precursors for many of the drugs we use. Tar is used in Macadam and roofing. Plastics do serve some useful purposes. I don’t know enough to elaborate all the impacts of a world without fossil fuels, and I have no idea how many of the impacts could be dealt with by substitutes. Fossil fuels are finite. As far as anyone knows it could be millions of years or even never before they are replaced through whatever process created them. We are burning fossil fuels as fast as we possibly can and by many reports we have successfully burned nearly half of all the petroleum on Earth. Pretend there are no problems with increasing levels of CO2 and Methane in our atmosphere … Peak Oil, Peak Fossil Fuels presents what should be a disturbing problem in its own right. Or to make a little rhyme: What feast awaits the Prodigal Son when all the fatted calves are gone?

    1. Olga

      Actually, I think your comment misses the point (although I agree that the tone is a bit optimistic). As BM points out correctly, humanity has shifted from one fuel to another before – so the drive toward a different-fuel future is not unprecedented. He also states that such transitions take time – and our shift to renewables will be a long one (the GreenDeal’s 2030 deadline is wildly unrealistic). But that is not a reason not to start planning such a transition. In fact, it is already occurring. For example, planned power projects in the conservative Texas (granted, many won’t become reality, but the scale still tells a story) total 84GW of renewables, and only about 3GW of nat-gas. If nothing else, economics will force change (recently, one jurisdiction secured electricity supply from a solar+storage project at 2.2c/kWh – which is amazingly low).
      And I think BM refers to oil being used for other purposes, which may remain – but we’d need a lot less of it. The issue is not so much whether oil is finite – the main problem today is that we have mostly drilled the easily “gettable” oil; the rest (and there still may be an enormous supply of it) is increasingly more difficult, expensive, and would come with untold environmental destruction. A similar case for coal.
      A transition away from fossil fuels must occur, given the state of our planet. The technology is there – and will continue to improve. It’d be nice to have a national consensus in the US, so it can take place in a planned, orderly way (for example, just consider that a power plant is often the biggest source of property tax revenue in many places – and a national plan could address such issues). But given the state of our public discourse and “money=power” political process, I doubt we’ll see anything planned or orderly anytime soon.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Yes we must transition from fossil fuels. But no I don’t think it is a simple matter of making price comparisons on cost per Watt. That kind of thinking ignores the substantial problems in repairing and reworking the Grid. I believe the transition must be made soon — sooner than 2030 — and no it will not be simple, or easy, and it will require major changes in the way we live. And I too “doubt we’ll see anything planned or orderly anytime soon.” I think as Bender would say — “We’re bone.”

        Perhaps I my comment wasn’t clear. Forget for a moment about CO2 and Climate Chaos — my point is that we were given a great gift in the fossil fuels somehow stored in the Earth. We are using that gift up as fast as we possibly and we have no REAL plan B for when we use it up. We are like the Prodigal Son wasting his inheritance — but there are no more fatted calves after our inheritance of fossil fuels is gone.

        1. rd

          Cost per watt is a suitable mechanism as long as it includes full life-cycle costs along with societal impact costs due to pollution etc. That is a very different calculation than marginal cost to produce.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Cost per watt is fine — once you adjust them “properly” — if you are expecting some Market solution for the problems — which I do not.

            Beside this, most cost per watt figures for solar and wind power leave out several costs. Solar and wind power are intermittent power sources. The Grid must supply electricity balanced with the loads placed on it. To balance the changes in power output from solar and wind as the sun and wind power available for changes, the utility companies must fire coal or gas furnaces to take up the slack. In some cases nuclear and hydroelectric power can help with the load balancing. Federal law requires the utility companies to buy solar and wind electricity and allow the large solar and wind power providers access to the Grid. The rate the utility companies must pay does not account for the costs of maintaining the Grid, which fall on the utility companies, and do not include imputed costs for balancing the load. As far as I know the utility companies also incur the any costs for storing power from intermittent sources, and again the costs are not reflected in the cost per watt figures for solar and wind power. In short, I am very skeptical of the cost per watt figures quoted for solar and wind power sources and consequently I believe the happy predictions for a fossil-fuel free future are misleading. We will indeed have a fossil-fuel free future, but I don’t believe it will be a happy one.

            1. Olga

              Two words – energy storage.
              Used to be called the holy grail of electric industry. One cannot miss this development. Supply/demand must be balanced, but we now have technologies to do that – and with greater use, they’ll be perfected. So the entire comment about intermittency becomes irrelevant. We can deal with intermittency – not saying it will be easy, nor that it can be done quickly. But it must be done, and we now have enough knowledge to start moving in that direction.
              Last Sun., CAISO was posting 19GW demand, with 63% provided by renewables in late afternoon.
              And the last sentence: “We will indeed have a fossil-fuel free future, but I don’t believe it will be a happy one.” Really? Methinks – better unhappy than dead.
              Don’t mean to be mean – but really… the energy world is undergoing a tremendous change – and we just need to wake up and make the best use of it.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps blue-zone units and levels of government could begin such blue-zone planning for blue-zones within their own blue-zone areas of jurisdiction.

        ” Blue Zones run better without Red Zone energy”.

        Since the Red Zone officeholders still exercise total all-encompassing veto power against such planning at the United States level.

    2. Susan the other`

      Yes. We are looking at choices that we humans will have to implement; we’ll have to make them work. I used to avoid the NYRB because it was so overly intellectual and slid past reality with lotsa nauseating philosophy – but this McKibben piece was very refreshing. I don’t think he is overly optimistic. Tech transitions go slowly at first too, and then suddenly. Somehow I always feel cheated when these overviews of new tech leave out hydro. And thermal. Hydro for a warmer, wetter world. From rice to aquaculture to taking a free ride on gravity. Where are our visionaries anyway? I want a mobilus strip pipeline for water to run past turbines perpetually. Or fashioning energy factories along rivers or capturing the energy of the tides. Where is the suspension-bridge frequency energy generator inspired by the Tacoma Bridge – now there is some untapped stuff. I think we are just getting started – and the question was the right one, is there enough time?

      1. heresy101

        While your untapped stuff will likely not come to fruition, except maybe for thorium reactors by the Koreans & Chinese.

        A likely large source of renewable energy is floating wind farms based on the example:

        The next generation of turbines (12 MW each vs 6 MW) is being developed now and expected to begin installation around 2022. 400 of the 12 MW turbines would generate as much energy as a nuclear plant, that is now too expensive to build.

      2. witters

        I don’t mind you finding Bill McKibben “refreshing” – though as one who has read Bill for decades in the course of my work, I can only say enjoy it while it lasts. But “lotsa nauseating philosophy” is gratuitously self–revealing.

        1. Susan the other`

          Sorry to reveal myself so openly. Just looking for the word that describes that brain-dead helpless feeling just before I vomit. ;-)

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Ten per cent of the fossil carbon that gets used gets used to into physical things. The other ninety percent gets used for fuel. If we still made all the physical things out of fossil carbon that we make out of fossil carbon now, and reduced fossil carbon’s use for FUEL down to zero; we would still be using nine times less fossil carbon than what we use now.

      1. Oregoncharles

        And landfilled plastic is sequestered carbon; so is reused or long-term plastic. Assuming it isn’t on its way to the ocean.

        I recently went to a discussion of ways to keep plastics out of the ocean, including recycling. Just about the time the Chinese cracked down on our “recycling.” One oceanographer figuratively threw up his hands and suggested putting it in the landfill – our grandchildren will mine it, and wonder what we were thinking.

        Unfortunately, the landfill uses great quantities of plastic sheeting to cover all the trash. It also collects the methane the dump produces and burns it to generate electricity.

        Jeremy Grimm mentions the use of asphalt in roads; one possible substitute would be recycled plastic with sand or gravel in it. One problem: the stuff that wears off would be “microplastic.” It could also be used for flooring or siding; wear would be a lot slower. It’s used now for decking, with sawdust rather than sand filler.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        If only ten per cent of fossil fuels can be used to make physical things we will still eventually use up that fraction of fossil fuels we extract from the ground, and it will eventually run out. That fraction is as finite as the whole and we are also using those fractions of fossil fuels up as fast as we can making products that end up in landfills or our oceans. We remain a Prodigal Son wasting a precious inheritance, because for today the Market says it is “efficient”.

        [As far as I know, you cannot easily or without costs convert one fraction of petroleum for uses in place of another fraction — that is you cannot easily or without costs convert the naphtha fraction of petroleum to diesel or vice versa, or gasoline to diesel or vice versa. I don’t know enough yet about coal or natural gas.]

        1. a different chris

          Man you are so stuck on this. You are basically talking about plastics.

          1) We ridiculously overuse plastic products, the same as we seem to overuse everything. Again, Aldi wrapping bananas.
          2) So we address #1, doing the equivalent of negawatts but I can’t come up with as cute a name.
          3) Then the remaining uses can be divvied up into “have to use plastics” (heart valves?) to “was just using them because they are cheap”.

          So your 10 percent of fossil fuel use horizon starts asymptotically approaching the cooling of the Sun. Again, if we simply make the effort.

    1. ambrit

      Oh, good catch that.
      I’m wondering if those AfriCom “units” were procuring underages from the Libyan slave markets for Epstein’s ‘Lolita Express?’ Such would be perfectly understandable Neoliberal Personnel Policy.

  15. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Earth’s carbon dioxide levels highest in 3 million years, study says” —
    There is another announcement of this research paper at –“First successful model simulation of the past 3 million years of climate change” []. “In a paper published today in Science Advances (Williet et al., 2019), we were able to reproduce the natural climate variability of the whole Quaternary with an Earth system model of intermediate complexity.”
    “The model simulations provide a self-consistent reconstruction of CO2, climate and ice sheets constrained by available observations, i.e. oxygen isotopes and reconstructions of sea surface temperature. The fact that the model can reproduce the main features of the observed climate history gives us confidence in our general understanding of how the climate system works and provides some constraints on the contribution of external forcings and internal feedbacks to climate variability.”

    The very last sentence of Williet’s guest post at RealClimate is as chilling as the feeling of chills from heat exhaustion …
    “In the context of future climate change, our results imply that a failure to significantly reduce CO2 emissions to comply with the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming well below 2°C will not only bring Earth’s climate away from Holocene-like conditions, but also push it beyond climatic conditions experienced during the entire current geological period.” This statement comes from the guest post by Matteo Willeit, who is also the chief author of research paper.

  16. CarlH

    From the Andrew Sullivan piece on Mayor Pete:

    “Like Obama, he has a living faith and it points in a progressive direction”.

    That made me nauseous. What the family blog is a “living faith”? Why can’t these people talk like humans?

    1. notabanker

      You know, it’s the “it” factor. Not to be confused with “is”, because depending on what the definition of “is” is, it could be a good thing or a bad thing.

    2. wsa

      Is he talking to us (‘us’ broadly conceived)? Whenever Sullivan’s name comes up I am puzzled anew that he is still able to get a platform. His talent for being wrong is really remarkable. But then I recall that he’s usually wrong in ways the Villagers find congenial.

      If nothing else, this article shows that Buttigieg is the candidate for the Obama partisan.

      1. Big River Bandido

        If nothing else, this article shows that Buttigieg is the candidate for the Obama partisan

        this week.

    3. chuck roast

      An ‘Obama living faith’ would be just like a Bill/Donald living faith…that you can play in foursomes with all the Superior people.

    4. Lambert Strether

      > What the family blog is a “living faith”?

      A living is the sort of faith that allows you to throw your long-time pastor under the bus for political gain. Why do you ask?

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    I just bought a physical hard-copy ink-on-paper book called Burn: Using Fire To Cool The Earth. One of the two co-authors is named Albert Bates. Albert Bates has already written several books on biochar. I will offer a link even though the link is to the electronic version.
    (I don’t know if it is a free download or a pay download and here at the public library, I don’t have time to find out.)

    The book goes over various emerging versions of pyrolitic combustion of cellulosic material to get the flammable gases off and burn them for energy, leaving the hard carbon behind to use as biochar. It also goes into versions which capture some of the offgasing volatile gases withOUT burning them to use as chemical feedstocks or products-in-themselves. Once again using the left-behind hard-carbon as biochar. The book presents many interesting technologies and makes many interesting cases and suggestions.

    Just because Bill McKibben hasn’t heard of this book doesn’t mean that we don’t have to hear of it. Rather than offer another link, why don’t I just copy-paste the expanded blurb on the Googlesite about the contents of this book:

    “Albert Bates, Kathleen Draper
    Chelsea Green Publishing, 2019 – Biomass energy – 288 pages
    0 Reviews

    An 800-CEO-READ “Editor’s Choice” March 2019

    How We Can Harness Carbon to Help Solve the Climate Crisis

    In order to rescue ourselves from climate catastrophe, we need to radically alter how humans live on Earth. We have to go from spending carbon to banking it. We have to put back the trees, wetlands, and corals. We have to regrow the soil and turn back the desert. We have to save whales, wombats, and wolves. We have to reverse the flow of greenhouse gases and send them in exactly the opposite direction: down, not up. We have to flip the carbon cycle and run it backwards. For such a revolutionary transformation we’ll need civilization 2.0.

    A secret unlocked by the ancients of the Amazon for its ability to transform impoverished tropical soils into terra preta–fertile black earths–points the way. The indigenous custom of converting organic materials into long lasting carbon has enjoyed a reawakening in recent decades as the quest for more sustainable farming methods has grown. Yet the benefits of this carbonized material, now called biochar, extend far beyond the soil. Pyrolyzing carbon has the power to restore a natural balance by unmining the coal and undrilling the oil and gas. Employed to its full potential, it can run the carbon cycle in reverse and remake Earth as a garden planet.

    Burn looks beyond renewable biomass or carbon capture energy systems to offer a bigger and bolder vision for the next phase of human progress, moving carbon from wasted sources:

    into soils and agricultural systems to rebalance the carbon, nitrogen, and related cycles; enhance nutrient density in food; rebuild topsoil; and condition urban and agricultural lands to withstand flooding and drought

    to cleanse water by carbon filtration and trophic cascades within the world’s rivers, oceans, and wetlands

    to shift urban infrastructures such as buildings, roads, bridges, and ports, incorporating drawdown materials and components, replacing steel, concrete, polymers, and composites with biological carbon

    to drive economic reorganization by incentivizing carbon drawdown

    Fully developed, this approach costs nothing–to the contrary, it can save companies money or provide new revenue streams. It contains the seeds of a new, circular economy in which energy, natural resources, and human ingenuity enter a virtuous cycle of improvement. Burn offers bold new solutions to climate change that can begin right now.”

    And here is a link to a site giving a description of this book and the issues it tries to address which is a little too big to copy paste here. So I will offer the link instead.

    Biochar units, CHAB units, Eprida units, etc. are small and localizable enough that blue-zones can use these technologies without having to get red-zone approval or permission. The only issue then is would these methods “pay” within the blue-zones? If they would, then they can be rolled out within the blue-zones, leaving the red-zones to ignore them or pay attention and catch up or do whatever they like.

    If the blue-zones could de-fossilize their energy portfolios enough to exterminate significant coal, oil and gas industry sectors throughout the red-zones, perhaps the red-zone people might decide to pay attention and try to catch up.

    1. Oregoncharles

      The forest soils here are full of “biochar,” because forest fires are a regular feature of the ecology. That’s true even of the former prairie in the valley, because the Indians burned it regularly. Granted, we grow some astonishingly large trees, and rather quickly, but the valley floor soils are not particularly fertile.

      I wonder if biochar actually works that way outside the tropics. Still, using the offgases and burying the charcoal (by hand?) is an option, and better than just burning wood to ash.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have long wondered whether this is true for the unburned grass-remnants left behind after every prairie fire in Great Prairieana. I wonder if this is true wherEVer there is a fire ecology.

        Perhaps we should call this natural bio-char by the name “ecochar”.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Fans and partisans of biochar claim that it works just as much this way in the temperates as in the tropics. Companies like this Missouri-based company called Terra Char sell biochar on the basis that it can perform these bio-services in the soil above and beyond being just a way to hide inert carbon from the active carbon cycle.

        If the kind of earthworms who are used to make commercial quantities of vermicompost didn’t mind ingesting fine-ground biochar mixed with their worm-food, and if such worm-ingested biochar became inoculated with all kinds of soil-relevant microbes from inside the body of the earthworm, then the biochar would have its bio-active value increased by passing through the earthworm. The companies which make quantities of vermicompost now could upgrade to making vermicharpost.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Intuitively, this is correct. Permaculturalists are big fans of biochar.

      That said, has anybody put any numbers to this? How much carbon would be saved, under whatever scenario the book recommends.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have just begun skim-reading the book. It contains a lot more than blurbs could explain in themselves.

        The field is still new. Some people are studying some aspects of bio-charring to see what the numbers are. Some bussinesses are being formed to sell biochar itself, or re-condensed volatile biomass-gasses, etc. Material in the book also suggests other studies which could be conducted.

        Whatever the numbers might end up being, any biochar derived from pyrolitically-burned biomass is carbon taken out of the air it came from and kept out of the air it came from. Any little bit is a little bit better than nothing, but how big must all the little bits taken together be in order to make a carbon-skydraining difference? The book names a lot of these separate researchers and embryonic bussiness, so the reader could follow up and study those researches and bussinesses in their own words and data.

        Intuitively it seems to me that the Rural Electric Co-Operatives still surviving below the awareness-radar of an evolved society which is too hip, cool and groovy to even know that Rural Electric Co-Operatives still exist . . . are in a unique position to look into setting up biomass-charring plants for some power to feed into their little grids and some biochar to sell or give back to the farmers in their area who provided the biomass to begin with. If farmers could make more money selling charable biomass to REA Co-Ops to make into electricity and biochar than what those same farmers could make growing sh*tcorn and sh*tsoy for Big Feedlot, perhaps those farmers ( or some of them) might be interested in a steady income from growing and selling charable power-yielding biomass to REA Co-Ops. The “economics” of power and biochar from biomass could work itself out in these little microcosms away from the leering attention of Big Media, Big Brother, Big Wet Blanket, etc.

  18. todde

    Did everyone here learn to read at school?

    maybe I am just old, born to ‘old’ parents and I am out of touch

    1. todde

      My sister went on to become a teacher, she was pretty proud of herself for teaching me. She wasn’t out of high school when she did.

      I vaguely remember sitting at the kitchen table with her.

      we need to break out of the charter school- public school debate. How about we start considering an option ‘c’.

    2. marym

      I learned in public school kindergarten with the same method you describe your mother using for the consonants, followed by first the five “long” vowel sounds, then five short, and the general approach of “sounding out.”

    3. Pat

      Yes nd no. I knew my letters and numbers before school, and my parents did read to me a lot, but did not really read before school althoughthat did give me a heads start.

      But, and this is a big but, I was lucky enough to be in a small school where the first and second graders we’re together. I learnt to read, write and do math at the second grade level during first grade because I was able to follow along. Never got bored enough to stop paying attention. And it was very old school regarding teaching methods. (Something equally split between the school and my age.)

      1. todde

        I also learned in a small multi grade classroom when I was younger.

        Hence my smaller, neighborhood schools instead of large schools.

    4. Oregoncharles

      I did, in the 50s. There’s a school named after my 1st Grade teacher; I even remember her name.

    5. petal

      In my specific kindie class(there were 4 classes in the kindergarten, small and poor rural district, about 1/4th minority at the time) back in ’83, my friend and I were the only ones who could read coming in. Everyone else in my specific class didn’t know how to read. They had to start out learning their letters. My friend and I were kind of shunted off to the side. Our mothers had taught us, neither of us had older siblings. Our moms were non-trad students at a local university and knew each other from there. My mother was 32 when I was born and my father was 44(I was a child of second marriage for both). I have a colleague originally from China who said she wasn’t going to teach her kids to read before entering kindie because it’s the teacher’s job. I encouraged her to not do that.

    6. Lambert Strether

      I learned to read in school, kinda, but I had dyslexia, so the idea that words were a sequence of letters, instead of a collection, was hard for me to get my head around. So my father actually taught me to read, using Dr. Seuss books, and both parents read to me a lot. And I ended up more or less reading the town library.

  19. ewmayer

    “Here’s a Trump campaign strategy Democrats are eager to embrace | Politico” — Lemme guess, actually *visit* Deplorables Country and pretend you care? Because in 2016, those crucial “white racist bigot” voters in the key rust belt states who switched from voting for Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016 were presented with what amounts to the following choice – where the candidate names have been redacted to protect the guilty:

    Candidate ‘TJD’: thoroughly unlikable elitist, but who did actually make multiple visits and put effort into pretending to care;

    Candidate ‘CRH’: thoroughly unlikable elitist, who couldn’t even be bothered to show up.

    IOW, the bar in 2020 is *incredibly* low for Team D, so it’s hilarious in a pathetic sort of way to see them contorting themselves into limbo-dancerdom in their efforts to squeeze under it, rather than leap over it.

  20. chuck roast

    I liked the Was Ending the Draft a Grave Mistake article.

    I “separated,” as they used to say, three months after Tonkin Gulf. So, the draft for me was a kaleidoscope of friends, acquaintances and total strangers agonizing over their collective futures. Yeah, it was colorful, but as many of you know it was not a pretty picture. Nevertheless, I believe that the Vietnam War and the associated draft sharpened the focus of a generation of young people and shortened what seemed to be an interminable war. Moreover, the draftees I met and lived with enriched my life. The blue-pill lottery made the draft more democratic. Every draft-age American male was tuned in to the black-and-white the nite they drew the blue pills.

    Anyway, by now paying enlisted personnel a living wage and giving them a free year of college after “separation,” we again have a pre-blue-pill military filled with the marginally economic.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “GNA head accuses Haftar of ‘betrayal’, vows to end Tripoli push”

    I like that phrase – ‘Libya’s internationally recognized government’. I think that this is the same government-in-a-box that was shipped to Libya after the west destroyed it. They were confined to a military base as they had no standing initially and still have no military forces of their own to this day. Of course the G7 and the UN are calling for a ceasefire as their lot are losing. Hafter has open support from France, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia as it promise to unite Libya once again under a single government, stop any more migrants flowing to Europe and get oil flowing once again to the world market whose sale will be used to rebuild Libya. The US Marines have pulled out of the area so it must be moving to endgame now. So, after the destruction of Libya, hundreds of thousands of African & Arabic emigrants swarming into Europe from that wrecked country and the deaths of god knows how many thousands, Libya will once again be a country under the leadership of a strongman – just as it was under Qaddafi.

  22. ewmayer

    LOL, just clicked on the TV to see if anything semi-worthwhile was on, happened to start on CBS (result of having watched a bit of men’s NCAA basketball semis last night), and land right inmidst of billionaire hedge fundie Ray Dalio waxing philosophic about the manifest dangers of ever-growing wealth inequality to an Eric-Holder-lookaloke-contest-winner “reporter” on 60 Minutes. Hey Ray, how about you first give away 99% of your own inequitable wealth to demonstrate your commitment to the cause? I realize living on a mere $200 million is gonna be tough, might get you in trouble with your local HOA, etc. But look e.g. at Buddha, who was the son of an oligarch and became an enlightened mendicant. You could be, like, the Buddha of Wall Street, dude!

    1. Lambert Strether

      > Hey Ray, how about you first give away 99% of your own inequitable wealth

      Remember that study I posted on wealthy slave-owners — they lost all their capital after the Civil War, but rebuilt in less than a generation because of their networks (which included the KKK, of course).

      I think the Bearded One would agree, then, that it’s Dalio’s social relations that are at issue; not his cash. Those are the relations that must be, er, disrupted.

  23. BobW

    Black Adder appropriate for Libya:

    “There hasn’t been a war run this badly since Olaf the hairy, King of all the Vikings, ordered 80,000 battle helmets with the horns on the inside.”

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