2:00PM Water Cooler 5/14/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this Water Cooler is far too light, partly because (as I explained yesterday) my workflow went up in smoke, and partly because I’ve spent time tinkering with my tablets instead of writing and thinking. I hope to be back to something like normality tomorrow. –lambert

Technical Update: Thank you, readers, for all your suggestions (and sympathy). I think the approach that has the most merit is using a “synch” feature between a mailer’s app on the iPad, and the browser-based mail on the the laptop. Unfortunately, since I now must “verify” my identity with Apple, which can take as much as a week, I can’t install any of those apps for now. Sort of amazing I spend a thousand bucks on a machine but don’t really own it. I wonder how long it will take for Apple’s approach to filter out to the Internet of Things, not to mention robot cars.


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

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


“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (RCP average of five polls). Sanders (16.3%) claws back 1.6% from Biden (39.8%), others status quo.

“*” = New candidate.

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “What Joe Biden Is Teaching Democrats About Democrats” [Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine]. “The conclusion that Biden could not lead the post-Obama Democratic Party is the product of misplaced assumptions about the speed of its transformation. Yes, the party has moved left, but not nearly as far or as fast as everybody seemed to believe. Counterintuitively, House Democrats’ triumph in the midterms may have pushed their center of gravity to the right: The 40 seats Democrats gained were overwhelmingly located in moderate or Republican-leaning districts.” • I’ve been using that “center of gravity” metaphor for some time. And who ran for those 40 seats was very, very carefully calibrated, too.

Biden (D)(2): “‘A dream ticket’: Black lawmakers pitch Biden-Harris to beat Trump” [Politico]. “Some black lawmakers are agonizing over whether to back Biden or two members of the close-knit caucus — Sens. Harris and Cory Booker — who also are vying for the White House, according to interviews with a dozen CBC members. But with the former vice president jumping out to a huge, if early, lead in the polls, several CBC members are warming to the idea of a Biden-Harris ticket to take on President Donald Trump…. Democrats also are desperate to boost black turnout in 2020, blaming the drop-off from Barack Obama’s wins as one reason for Hillary Clinton’s defeat.”

* Bullock (D)(1): “Democrat Steve Bullock Won a Red State in 2016. Can He Beat Trump in 2020?” [Politico]. “‘You look at this field, and there’s only one that’s won in a Trump state when Trump was on the ballot, or won statewide in a Trump state, period,’ [Steve Bullock, the Democratic governor of Montana] told me.”

De Blasio (D)(2): “De Blasio’s Trump Tower Event Derailed by ‘You Suck’ Chants” [New York Magazine]. ” If the speech to put Trump “on notice” was any indication, the campaign rollout could have some remaining bugs. The noise of the protesters, amplified by the lobby’s marble finish, was so loud the mayor had to leave his lectern and have reporters come closer so he could hear their questions…. Perhaps next time, assuming it ever reliably stops raining, de Blasio could hold the event outside Trump Tower as he’d intended, where he would have to deal with only the usual hellscape of Midtown noise.” • Advance work counts!

O’Rourke (D)(1): “Beto’s Long History of Failing Upward” [Politico]. “Celebrating defeat is unusual for a politician, and doing so makes O’Rourke notably different from the rest of the unwieldy field of Democrats running for president. In contrast to the 20 or so other 2020 candidates—all of them in various ways overachievers who tout the litanies of their successes—O’Rourke instead presents his loss to Cruz as a prominent selling point. More than his ownership of a small business. More than his six years on the city council in his native El Paso. More than his next six years as a back-bench House member in Congress. His near-miss against a prominent Republican in a red state was such a high-quality failure, so epically heroic, he seems to suggest, that it should be considered something of a victory. And he’s not wrong to do it…. There’s a reason his biography doesn’t feature much in the campaign. For O’Rourke, the phenomenon on display in that race—failure without negative effects, and with perhaps even some kind of personal boost—is a feature of his life and career. That biography is marked as much by meandering, missteps and moments of melancholic searching as by résumé-boosting victories and honors.” • Ouch.

Sanders (D)(1): “On the Trail With Bernie Sanders 2.0” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. “For Sanders to win, all his voters have to do is overthrow basically the entire political system, which would be ridiculous except that all the other options may be worse: Trump is no solution, and a seemingly mighty traditional Democrat fell short last time.” • The term “revolution” is serious, then.

“Which 2020 Presidential Campaigns Have Unionized?” [Front Page Politics]. • Castro, Sanders, Swalwell. What’s wrong with the rest of ’em? Don’t they like unions? Where’s “Joe” on this?

2016 Post Mortem

“An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 Presidential Election” [New York Times]. • Fun!

Realignment and Legitmacy

“How DNC Chair Tom Perez plans to avoid the chaos of the GOP’s 2016 debates” (interview) [Vox]. “There was a strongly held view among them that the primary debate calendar was set with an eye toward helping one candidate over another, and the reality is, whether that was perception or reality, it absolutely impacted people’s sense coming out of the convention, of unity. ” • “Them”? Who would “they” be? I mean, besides “not us.”

“Sunrise Movement Plans Climate Action for Second Democratic Debate” [The Intercept].

On July 30, the scheduled date for the second Democratic presidential debate, Sunrise hopes to bring tens of thousands of young people to Detroit to present all the Democratic contenders with three demands:

• Sign the no fossil fuel money pledge.

• Commit to making the Green New Deal a day one priority if elected president.

• Plledge support for a presidential debate on climate change, so voters can hear where candidates stand on the issues.

“Liberal Relieved He Never Has To Introspect Again After Assembling All The Correct Opinions” [The Onion (RH)]. • Mighty woke…

Stats Watch

Import and Export Prices, April 2019: “Forecasters missed by a mile as import prices… and export prices… showed much less pressure than expected, in fact at or well underneath low estimates. [Econintersect]. “[T]he data that we’ve seen for April, whether continued weakness in portfolio management fees or apparel or airfares or import prices, all point to continued sub-par readings for core prices and with that a greater likelihood that, however distant, the next move for rate policy will be down not up.”

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, April 2019: “April was a strong month for the small business optimism index” [Econoday]. “Whether the breakdown of trade talks and the ratcheting higher of US and Chinese bilateral tariffs effects the sample will be an issue for the May report.”

Marketing: “My Afternoon With ‘Curvy Wife Guy'” [New York Magazine]. Includes this nugget: “When Tripp’s Instagram post went viral in 2017, he had about 20,000 followers. Now he has 115,000. (Sarah has 460,000.) They’re influencers, which means their business is attention. The more eyes they can get on their posts, the more they can attract sponsorships or advertising within them. For a single sponsored Instagram post, the couple can charge as much as $20,000, and ‘that’s just in terms of a single post. If we’re throwing in blog posts, other types of syndicated content into their video content and all that stuff, it [they figure] gets bigger.'” • This “influencer” racket…

The Bezzle: “Uber’s Day One Flop Shows a New Silicon Valley Stock Exchange May Have a Point” [Bloomberg]. “Around the same time as Uber’s first trade at the New York Stock Exchange, the Long Term Stock Exchange got permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission to set up shop. Created by Eric Ries, a guru for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, LTSE is designed to pull the stock market out of its short-term mindset through a set of rules meant to coax companies out of strategic near-sightedness.” • As if Uber would be profitable in the long-term, either.

Tech: “Adobe warns Creative Cloud users with older apps of legal problems” [Engadget]. “In a response to a customer complaint on Twitter, the AdobeCare account said users can only download the two most recent variants of CC apps going forward.” • Which sounds great, as long a the products aren’t crapified.

The Biosphere

“Why coal ash and tailings dam disasters occur” [Science]. “There are about 1000 operating ash ponds in the United States (4), and coal consumption patterns suggest that there may be more than 9000 worldwide…. Failure of the containment structure around mine tailings and coal ash is often followed by a fast-moving mudflow, which can run downstream for several miles, with catastrophic consequences. This liquefaction of the impounded materials may suggest to regulators and the public that the problem lies with the impounded materials themselves. However, in the absence of internal collapse or induced shear (for example, as a result of a seismic event), liquefaction and outflow of ponded ash and tailings occur after the dam has failed. Thus, liquefaction does not cause the failure, but rather the disaster that follows.”

“America’s Achilles’ Heel: the Mississippi River’s Old River Control Structure” [Weather Underground]. “America has an Achilles’ heel. It lies on a quiet, unpopulated stretch of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, 45 miles upstream from Baton Rouge. Rising up from the flat, wooded west flood plain of the Mississippi River are four massive concrete and steel structures that would make a pharaoh envious: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ greatest work, the two billion-dollar Old River Control Structure (ORCS). The ORCS saw its second highest flood on record in March 2019, and flood levels have risen again this week to their fifth highest level on record. While the structure is built to handle the unusual stress this year’s floods have subjected it to, there is reason for concern for its long-term survival, since failure of the Old RIver Control Structure would be a catastrophe with global impact.”

“California May Go Dark This Summer, and Most Aren’t Ready” [Bloomberg]. “Six of the 10 most destructive wildfires in California history have come in the last 18 months, killing 123 people, and often shutting down large sections of the state’s electrical grid.” • So the answer is to shut down power entirely…

“Major Oil Companies Bankroll Paris Accord Bill Opponents By 3-to-1 Margin” [MapLight] and “Green New Deal Opponents Score 24 Times More Campaign Cash From Big Oil Companies” [MapLight].

Class Warfare

“Race, class, crisis: the discourse of racial disparity and its analytical discontents” (PDF) [Adolph Reed, Merlin Chowkwanyun Socialist Register]. From 2012, still highly germane:

The discourse of racial disparity is, when all is said and done, a class discourse. Even the best of the studies analyzing the racial impact of the crisis, for example, in focusing on racial disparity in subprime mortgage markets and foreclosure rates, sidestep a chance to interrogate the very limitations of the hegemonic commitment to homeownership altogether. More generally, automatic adoption of the racial disparities approach avoids having to conduct the detailed work that would situate ascriptive status within the neoliberal regime of accumulation that mitigates its influence. Repetitiously noting the existence of segregated neighbourhoods and how they decrease property value (real and perceived) and increase the likelihood of subprime mortgage is to identify a result, albeit one that is surely repellent. It does not tell us with much exactitude what institutions, policies, actuarial models, and systems of valuation produce those results, or more generally, what sociologist Mara Loveman describes as the ‘extent a particular essentializing vocabulary is related to particular forms of social closure and with what consequences’. It substitutes in its place pietistic hand-wringing and feigned surprise over results that can hardly be surprising.

That’s a fun passage from the conclusion, but the entire piece is good. (Also a nice plug for Gretchen Morgensen.)

“How College Kids Feel About the College Admissions Scandal” [New York Magazine]. Heidy, 19- Tufts University: “I always figured people around me with connections get into the school of their dreams because of their privilege, so the scandal just reinforced my views about higher education. I can’t say I’m surprised. Rich people love flaunting what they have and proving their status. It’s frustrating that rich people’s kid who don’t even want the education, and who are already going to be successful because of their connections, take opportunities away from people who genuinely want to study and who don’t have as many opportunities to succeed. Educating rich people who don’t want to study is a waste of resources, and I understand that colleges need money brought in to sustain themselves, but the bottom line is that our system is so unfair and broken.” • “I understand….” It is interesting to speculate that free college would be good not only for the students, but for such remaining academic institutions that wish to retain or regain their integrity.

“Washington DC’s weird weed economy means pot is free and stickers cost $80” [Quartz]. “If you want to acquire weed in the city, and you aren’t able to grow your own, your only (legal) option is an essentially unregulated gray market. ‘In this odd legal limbo, a gifting economy—in which people exchange weed for t-shirts or other items—has flourished, DCist reports. As one weed delivery service notes: ‘Everything is strictly Initiative 71 compliant, meaning ALL MARIJUANA COMES FOR FREE. The only thing we sell are stickers and vintage baseball cards.’ You have to pay for the vintage baseball cards (or a drawstring backpack or cold-press juice), but there’s no charge for the dope. A single sticker might cost $80. … City authorities don’t love this baroque marketplace. They can’t collect tax dollars from marijuana sales, regulate what’s being sold, or keep an eye on vendors.” • “Anyone can create money. The problem lies in getting it accepted.” –Hyman Minsky

News of the Wired

“Rare Bruce Lee interview footage unearthed from before martial arts legend became famous” [South China Morning Post]. • Rare footage.

“Killer Rabbits in Medieval Manuscripts: Why So Many Drawings in the Margins Depict Bunnies Going Bad” [Open Culture]. “[There is a] particular type of humorous marginalia, known as drollery… This enjoyment of the ‘world turned upside down’ produced the drollery genre of ‘the rabbit’s revenge,’ one ‘often used to show the cowardice or stupidity of the person illustrated. We see this in the Middle English nickname Stickhare, a name for cowards’— and in all the drawings of ‘tough hunters cowering in the face of rabbits with big sticks.'” • (!)

Music (1): “…”

Music (2): Every so often, I remark that “everything’s going according to plan!” Turns out there’s a Russian punk rock song of that title:

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant:

* * *
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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Summer

    RE: “Uber’s Day One Flop Shows a New Silicon Valley Stock Exchange May Have a Point…”
    “As if Uber would be profitable in the long-term, either….”

    There are short cons and long cons.

  2. Cal2

    “What Joe Biden Is Teaching Democrats About Democrats”
    You and your family can get really rich very quickly.

    This is Not the Ukraine Gas Deal.

    “Hunter Biden and his partners created several LLCs involved in multibillion-dollar private equity deals with Chinese government-owned entities.
    The primary operation was Rosemont Seneca Partners – an investment firm founded in 2009 and controlled by Hunter Biden, John Kerry’s stepson Chris Heinz, and Heniz’s longtime associate Devon Archer. The trio began making deals “through a series of overlapping entities” under Rosemont.
    In less than a year, Hunter Biden and Archer met with top Chinese officials in China, and partnered with the Thornton Group – a Massachusetts-based consultancy headed by James Bulger – son of famed mob hitman James “Whitey” Bulger.
    According to the Thornton Group’s Chinese-language website, Chinese executives “extended their warm welcome” to the “Thornton Group, with its US partner Rosemont Seneca chairman Hunter Biden (second son of the now Vice President Joe Biden…”

    “The timing of this meeting was also notable. It occurred just hours before Hunter Biden’s father, the vice president, met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington as part of the Nuclear Security Summit,” according to Schweizer.”


    If Biden runs with Kamala Harris, the Trump bumper sticker factory will run out of supplies.

    1. Pavel

      Nice work if you can get it.

      I used to think nobody could be as greedy and corrupt as the Clinton clan. It looks like the Bidens are trying to give them a run for their money.

      BTW, remember all those stories about Joe Biden taking the Amtrak home every day after work? Well Hunter Biden just happened to serve on the Board of Directors of Amtrak from 2006 to 2009. What a small world.

      1. Carolinian

        Biden was greedy and (allegedly) corrupt back when the Clintons were still in Arkansas being greedy and corrupt. He’s much more experienced and ready on day one should he become prez.

        1. RopeADope

          When Biden says that his crime bill is not responsible for mass incarceration people should remember that Delaware was one of the very first states to pass a 3-strikes law, right behind Ted Cruz’s Texas. Who knows, maybe there are old news articles on microfilm somewhere about Biden’s 1972 Senate run and the prison lobby in DE.

    2. dearieme

      I say, I say, I say, what’s the difference between Chelsea Clinton and Hunter Biden?

      People assume that Chelsea’s corrupt.

    3. Chaco

      Whitey Bulger had one son that died as a child. James Bulger is not his child. I didn’t think James Bulger is his nephew either. But the hell with the facts as long as the story sounds good.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        New York Post:

        Less than a year after opening Rosemont Seneca’s doors, Hunter Biden and Archer were in China meeting with top Chinese officials. To assist in their new venture, they partnered with a Massachusetts-based consultancy called the Thornton Group, headed by James Bulger, son of former Massachusetts state Sen. Billy Bulger. James Bulger has the dubious honor of being named after his uncle, the notorious mob hitman James “Whitey” Bulger.

        One reason we never link to Zero Hedge. That said, the Bulgers are one of the seamier clans in the Massachusetts local oligarchy.

      1. jrs

        well trump has over 40% approval …

        So there is only one conclusion: people like bad things, and hate good things!!!

        or they are ignorant, heavily propagandized, and in echo chambers, that also works. Maybe the ignorance will improve over time.

    1. Wukchumni

      Not that i’ve been looking, but the only retail store with a “We Accept Bitcoin” sign in the front window i’ve ever seen, was the Self-Serve Dog Wash, in Mammoth, Ca.

    2. urblintz

      That’s a mighty rich purchase for a 7-11. Bitcoin heading up toward $8000… how high will it go this time?

    3. Angie Neer

      Are you referring to the plastic novelty coins I see in the impulse-buy racks these days? I’ve heard of people trying to auction those off.

      1. Summer

        I just saw a sign in the 7-11 window… Buy Bitcoin…something about Bitcoin of America…

        Maybe they have it right by the lottery tickets.

        1. human

          I service bitcoin ATMs. You can buy or sell any amount. Over a certain dollar value you are encouraged to phone in and speak with a broker.

        2. urblintz

          I saw a bitcoin machine at a gas station in Gulfport, FL. I assume it takes all major credit cards…

    1. Craig H.

      Every time I go hiking I see rabbits. The second they see me they scoot. Three seconds absolute tops.

      I barely have time to ask “What’s up Doc?”

      1. Lee

        Wild rabbits have the good sense to scoot. The rabbits that went after Napoleon’s shooting party were domesticated and rushed the shooting line because they were hungry and expected the people to feed them. Twas a bunny day. ; )

      1. Lee

        What happened to Fresno Dan? I know the question has been asked before but if it was ever answered I missed it.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I don’t think it was; it’s a weird feeling to have someone just evaporate.

          I know I wish him well, wherever he and his bunny slippers are…

    2. eg

      “What’s ‘e gonna do? Nibble me bum?”

      (with apologies to Monty Python’s Holy Grail and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch scene)

  3. Cal2

    “What Joe Biden Is Teaching Democrats About Democrats”
    You and your family can get really rich very quickly.

    This is Not the Ukraine Gas Deal
    “Hunter Biden and his partners created several LLCs involved in multibillion-dollar private equity deals with Chinese government-owned entities.
    The primary operation was Rosemont Seneca Partners – an investment firm founded in 2009 and controlled by Hunter Biden, John Kerry’s stepson Chris Heinz, and Heniz’s longtime associate Devon Archer. The trio began making deals “through a series of overlapping entities” under Rosemont.
    In less than a year, Hunter Biden and Archer met with top Chinese officials in China, and partnered with the Thornton Group – a Massachusetts-based consultancy headed by James Bulger – son of famed mob hitman James “Whitey” Bulger.
    According to the Thornton Group’s Chinese-language website, Chinese executives “extended their warm welcome” to the “Thornton Group, with its US partner Rosemont Seneca chairman Hunter Biden (second son of the now Vice President Joe Biden.”
    Officially, the China meets were to “explore the possibility of commercial cooperation and opportunity,” however details of the meeting were not published to the English-language version of the website.
    “The timing of this meeting was also notable. It occurred just hours before Hunter Biden’s father, the vice president, met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington as part of the Nuclear Security Summit,” according to Schweizer.”


    If Biden runs with Kamala Harris, the Trump bumper sticker plant will run overtime from demand.

    If the Democrats actually want to win, they will nominate Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard.

    1. Geo

      If the Democrats actually want to win, they will nominate Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard.

      Depends on how you define “Democrats”. Bernie isn’t a Democrat and Tulsi stepped down then spoke out against the DNC. They are heretics. Them winning would be a loss for the Democrat’s institutional power structure. Having Trump in office is a boon for their fundraising and fear mongering.

      If you define “Democrats” as the people who vote Democratic then you’re spot on. :)

    2. Summer

      “If Biden runs with Kamala Harris, the Trump bumper sticker plant will run overtime from demand.”

      But this kind of thing is where they intersect with “Trump World.”
      It means calling out the movers and shakers and bribers behind the scenes. They all mingle with the same crowd. You scratch my corruption and I’ll scratch yours.

      They’ll keep it about identity politics amd personality, as usual, and as much as possible.

    3. sd

      Thornton Group > James Bulger
      Rosemont Seneca > Hunter Biden


      Russiagate > Robert Mueller
      FBI > Robert Mueller
      FBI Informant > Whitey Bulger….

      It’s [family blog] stuff like this that makes it increasingly difficult to get up the will to vote.

  4. Rob Urie

    Modern metal draws from more musical sources than any other genre. More death metal please.

    1. Geo

      Have you heard the most recent Crippled Black Phoenix album? They’ve been an amazing band for years but this new one draws from so many inspirations and evolves over the entire album with new surprises in each track.

    2. ewmayer

      I miss how the old Beavis and Butt-Head episodes on MTV covered all the various rock and pop genres … the DVD versions of the eps. don’t have the ragging-on-music-videos bits, alas. So one of their favorite metal bands was Crowbar , fronted by a 300lb bald lead singer growling/shouting (‘grouting’?) out the lyrics in the way every death-metal band does anymore. One song had the growled-out agonized breakup lyrics “I gave my heart and soul to yewwwwww…”, to which Beavis commented, “It is a love song so divine”, and Butt-Head added “Whoa! Crowbar says he gave his heart and soul to some chick. That must’ve been, like, fifty pounds of meat!”

      1. turtle

        Oh my, yes, the parts where they commented on the music videos were some of the funniest parts of that show. There are apparently some DVD sets that do have at least some of the music videos. Thanks for reminding me that I should get a set.

  5. Summer

    Re:”O’Rourke (D)(1): “Beto’s Long History of Failing Upward” [Politico].

    Keep this unmitigated BS up and we’ll be looking at Elizabeth Holmes’s Presidential campaign.

    1. ambrit

      We ‘cwaazy’ tin foil hat wearers ask each other; where did the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch really come from? Was it stored in the same place as the Mandylon, and the Spear of Longinius? Or was it unearthed from amongst the Pre-Human ruins of Baalbek, and moved to antioch later? Were there more? and what about those ‘mysterious’ radiation levels on the slopes of Mount Tabor?
      So many questions, so little margin for ‘Error’ to proliferate.
      Those fanciful bunnies are an early form of hypertext.

  6. Hepativore

    While I like the idea of free college for everyone, would not employers respond by only considering degrees from a select few institutions as being “valid” with all of the new graduates? They might also start tacking on the post-graduation credentials even more so than they do now. Does anyone have an idea of how to stop the larger problem of runaway credentialism by employers?

    1. Geo

      Employers already value certain colleges over others. Coincidentally the ones that hold more sway cost more. There’s a reason the recent scandal of rich parents bribing colleges for admittance of their kids weren’t for community colleges or middle of the road regional universities.

    2. jrs

      I think they would respond by somewhat dismissing bachelors and only preferentially hiring candidates with masters degrees, and often times adding masters degrees to their job requirements.

      Because I *ALREADY* see it. In spades. So many people with a degree going back to graduate school (and that people with experience to boot), because a bachelors no longer means very much. It’s almost become a minimum credential, the new high school diploma. And free college will accelerate it. We really need to have a conversation with the credentialed class pushing this all: is it really their intent that everyone should spend much of their life in school? Because that’s really not what everyone wants to do just to keep up with runaway credentialism.

      But how to stop the problem with employers? I have no idea. Maybe just try to guarantee a decent life for all, not just the high achievers (healthcare, extremely affordable housing etc. etc. – basics of life readily affordable to all). And maybe the credentialed arms race could take a breather. Because there really is more to life, but in a society with so many losers and so few winners it tends to be this way.

      1. JohnnyGL

        “But how to stop the problem with employers? I have no idea.”

        Tight labor markets. Need Job Guarantee to put a floor under wages, plus loose fiscal policy (spending, like on the GND, not tax cuts).

        Spending makes companies invest and hire people. Tax cuts just hand companies money and don’t make them do anything. If the feds are awarding contracts and the companies engaged need to hire they can’t be as picky in who they hire. They just have to hurry and get it done.

        I’ve been in the workforce for almost 2 decades and I’ve noticed the expectations rise/fall for a given job, depending on the state of the labor market. If you’re hiring in a recession, you expect a superstar candidate. If you’re hiring when things are booming, those expectations get adjusted down, sharply.

    3. Summer

      And you would never know. HR gets an algorithm that throws out any resumes that doesn’t have a college listed from a pre-approved list. That could be as long or as short as they wanted it to be.
      So easy to avoid accountability these days….

      1. jrs

        It’s also of course not illegal. It’s not like it’s a legally protected category, so one can discriminate on which college job applicants went to all they want, as long as they don’t go near any discrimination that is illegal. I’ve seen ads looking for specific colleges though it seems much more the exception than the rule at this point.

        1. Summer

          You mean as long as they keep a few HBCUs, female and religious schools (just a couple of examples) on the list they are covered?

    4. JohnnyGL

      The goal of free college isn’t to get more people with degrees, necessarily, though that might be the case in some skill-specific field.

      The goal is to stop the institutionalized looting of the balance sheets of 18 year old kids.

      The runaway credentialism you rightfully decry results from individuals trying to out-compete one another in soft labor markets.

      If there’s 10 people competing for 3 good jobs and 5 crappy ones, those 10 people are looking for ways to get noticed and land the interview for a chance at one of those 3 good jobs.

      Employers offering those 3 good jobs only require a bachelor’s degree, but regularly see people with graduate degrees applying, showing up for interviews and doing well at the job, that just becomes the the standard expectations for the employer.

      If the labor market tightens up…employers who really need to hire have to start looking deeper into the available labor pool for someone with ‘potential’ that they can train to do the job.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Getting graduate degrees when undergraduate ones would do (credential inflation) means

        1. balance sheet issue for those without free college
        2. additional years wasted, with or without free college. Humans only have so many years*.

        A more rational educational requirement would

        1. allow fewer who would need to waste years getting a graduate or undergraduate degree
        2. let those who would otherwise need to attend college to escape the balance sheet issue by not going to college.

        *not only do humans have only so many years, but some years are more precious than others (for example, the age-9 year could be a lot more fun than the age-32 year, or the age-19 year could be more enjoyalbe than the age-78 year…perhaps).

    5. dcblogger

      a job guarantee would alter the entire landscape of employment, which is why employers do not like it. it is all about power.

    6. turtle

      No, I think you may be making some mistaken assumptions (or perhaps I am). I don’t believe that “free college” will be “for all” as well. It doesn’t seem likely at all, at least in our lifetimes. I believe that most countries that offer free higher education offer it only to a (small?) portion of the population, and that by necessity that comes with very strong admission and ongoing performance criteria so that the “investment” part of the story can be justified. Because of this and other factors, I think that free college would actually have the opposite effect of what you imagine. College degrees would become even more valuable to employers than they are now.

      1. marym

        Bernie Sanders: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/download/collegeforallsummary/?inline=file
        “This legislation would provide $47 billion per year to states to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities.”

        Elizabeth Warren: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/23/elizabeth-warren-proposes-free-college-and-eliminating-student-debt.html
        “Warren proposes eliminating tuition and fees at all two-year and four-year public universities through a federal partnership with states to “split the costs of tuition and fees and ensure that states maintain their current levels of funding on need-based financial aid and academic instruction.” ”

        Many countries offer free or minimal tuition today, as did public colleges and universities in the US in the past. https://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2016/feb/09/bernie-s/was-college-once-free-united-states-and-it-oversea/

        1. turtle

          I haven’t read the articles you linked yet. The quotes you posted don’t contradict anything I wrote in my post. Does anything else in those articles contradict my assumptions (i.e. that yes, college would be free, but that there would still be criteria to get in, possibly tighter than currently)?

          1. marym

            I’ve not seen any discussion of further restrictions to academic admission criteria as part of reducing or eliminating tuition. My own assumption would be that the goal is to expand opportunities, not reduce them, but that’s purely an assumption, not based on detailed knowledge of the subject.

            1. turtle

              Unfortunately this is one of those details that politicians usually don’t discuss when they propose or support policies.

              Even if enrollment numbers were kept at their current levels after switching to full public funding (what I believe is the most likely scenario), I firmly believe that the side-effect of free tuition would be that many more people would apply (now that they wouldn’t need to automatically dismiss the idea due to cost). With a significantly higher number of applicants, the average GPA for admission would go up, among other things.

              The other possibilities would be a) the number of slots in public universities are increased from their current levels (seems unlikely as it will be a very tough sell to publicly finance even the current levels), or b) the number of slots are decreased due to insufficient funds to pay for current levels (also seems somewhat unlikely because there would probably be an uproar about it).

              Also keep in mind that the current public university infrastructure already seems to be bursting at the seams, at least at the one where I work. Any significant increase in enrollment would involve additional expenses like building new buildings and hiring additional faculty and staff, at least if the current way of doing things is maintained. I would love it if along with full public funding came a massive reduction (elimination?) of athletics programs and other luxuries to allow for more of the money to go towards actual education, but I don’t think that would be popular.

              So in short this is the order of likelihood that I see:

              1. Enrollment availability maintained at current level.
              10. Enrollment availability is reduced.
              1000. Enrollment availability is increased.

  7. Synapsid

    The creatures in the Medieval manuscripts look more like hares than rabbits and hares have a more belligerent reputation.

        1. Wukchumni

          If said bunnies could score some chronic, corresponding with resultant munchies, how hard would it be to get Doritos, instead of carrots?

        2. ambrit

          How many John Deere hubcaps will those drug crazed lepus’s steal to support their carrotine habit?
          This is a moral hazard.
          Time to call in the BNDH. (Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Hares)

      1. ChristopherJ

        probably pretty tasty, but the dope bit is, well…

        Need to heat up the buds to change the chemistry

        Given how much a plant is worth, what’s the security like on these farms?

  8. Plenue

    >Beto’s Long History of Failing Upward [Politico]

    He looks like one of the maneating giants from Attack on Titan in the art they have for him on this article.

  9. Summer

    RE: Old River Control Structure
    “While the structure is built to handle the unusual stress this year’s floods have subjected it to, there is reason for concern for its long-term survival, since failure of the Old RIver Control Structure would be a catastrophe with global impact.”

    That’s probably been the case since at least 2001…

    1. ambrit

      It almost went back during the 1973 Mississippi river flood. I got this from an observer of the actual events.
      It’s not a matter of if, but when.

          1. ambrit

            Just a little squib from the Baton Rouge Advocate.
            Baton Rouge, being just south of the ORCS, has a lot to lose when the river changes course. The old channel of the Mississippi would silt up over time, closing off the ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Both New Orleans and Baton Rouge are home to major oil refineries and chemical complexes. Between the two metropoli are some huge grain silos that handle major portions of the Midwest grain export trade. Etc. Etc.
            Now, to be fair, the entire river wouldn’t change course. There would be a residual flow down the present ‘main channel.’ Just not enough of a flow to continue “business as usual.”
            ORCS 1973: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/environment/article_d5a29f26-06a9-11e8-abde-8b9660c81021.html

  10. Katy

    Tech: “Adobe warns Creative Cloud users with older apps of legal problems” [Engadget]

    Adobe finally figured out that offering perpetual licenses of software versions is for suckers. Software as a Service (SaaS) is the only way to keep up with the Joneses in our rentier economy.

    I use Adobe Illustrator in my job, and so far I haven’t found the Cloud version to be any less good than the last perpetual license version. Fortunately, my employer pays for it, not me.

    1. Geo

      The Adobe conundrum is a real pain the the rear. There really is no other good option for my line of work so they can do whatever they want and all I can to is take it.

      There are options for aspects of the workflow (Resolve for video, Corel for photos and graphics, Logic or ProTools for sound) but none that integrat or are as thorough as Adobe – and all clients use Adobe.

      Sadly, for the foreseeable future, my only response to Adobe’s boot upon my throat will be to croak out, “Yes sir, whatever you say, sir!”

    2. Smedley DeFunko

      Hanging tough with Pre-cloud CS6 and an ’09 cheesegrater tower. Does everything I need for print graphics. Nervous about going beyond Yosemite for an OS as it might “break” CS6. Retirement on the horizon, so no Adobe Cloud for moi.

      2012 MacBook Pro for audio w/Logic. Last of the self serviceable MacBooks.

  11. zagonostra

    >Biden take down

    Lee Camp’s round-up of Biden foibles/deplorables in below link can be found in many alternative mediascapes. When will the MSM come to terms with what we know the Republicans will have a field-day with?

    If Dems select Biden as their nominee, it’s third party for me…


    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The msm is more a reflection of Biden than the mainstream. The msm loves Biden and his ilk as long as they are in the club. Within five years, they will be having a grand time reminiscing about the horrid things Trump called them as they are that desperate for attention as they race to polish that turd at Trump’s funeral.

      Its overlooked, but Biden doesn’t ask anyone to think. As far as less than “woke” attitudes, its who the MSM is. Take a Matt Lauer for example. They all knew. The media elites don’t care. The Iraq War was good for ratings.

      1. Carolinian

        Not thinking is a MSM specialty. The main thing is to look good on camera. Even newspaper reporters spend a lot of time on TV these days and are fashionably stubbled (the men) or reasonably comely if female.

        The above applies to political reporters of course. Some real news still gets through.

        1. MichaelSF

          As Don Henley sang:

          Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here
          I just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear
          Come and whisper in my ear
          Give us dirty laundry

          We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blond
          Who comes on at five
          She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
          It’s interesting when people die
          Give us dirty laundry

  12. Geo


    Joe Biden: GOP Will Have An ‘Epiphany’ And ‘Fundamentally Change’ After Trump


    If after eight years of watching how the GOP blocked everything Obama did, after watching them block the Merrick Garland nomination, after watching the GOP under Bush lie us into wars and cripple the economy, after watching the GOP spend years trying to impeach Clinton for anything they could find… if after all this he thinks they will be cooperative and the only thing wrong with the GOP is Trump?!? Biden is either a complete and total idiot or he’s a conman himself. Or both.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Eight years? Yeah…Jeffords left the GOP over Cheney announcing how things would be. “Moderate Republians” such as Chuck Hagel, Snowe, and Collins polished up their jackboots. Then there would be the Clinton years. The swift boating of Kerry. Ronald Reagan. Nixon.

      Its important to recognize Biden hasn’t simply missed recent history. He has been an enabler and supporter of the party of Strom Thurmond.

      1. Geo

        Very good points! Thanks. Guess I’m showing both my age and my level of recent historical knowledge (or lack of) with my comment. :)

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          There was a whole “Obama has been attacked like nothing we’ve ever seen” excuse to justify Obama doing nothing starting in 2009. Its important to recognize this was total bs.


          Three years ago conservative firebrand Ann Coulter riled up the Conservative Political Action Conference when she called then Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a “faggot.”

          With Obama, the GOP reverted to their natural enjoyment of stereotypes, but they will simply make up stuff and hail those people as heroes until are of no use.


          Here is a leading member of the “woke #resistance”, Joe Scarborough, who resigned from Congress after his mistress was found dead after being murdered by her husband. He’s a family values guy. Strom Thurmond is not exception to who and what GOP is about. Joe Biden isn’t praising a guy he is friends with. He’s praising what is for all intents and purposes the successor to the second iteration of the KKK (the mass suffrage one; there are three iterations: the original terrorists; the mass party, and the current doofuses). Robert Byrd rejected this despite being born to it.. Joe Biden embraces it as a responsible part of America.

    2. JohnnyGL

      I seriously almost spit my water out laughing at that. Had to check several times to make sure it wasn’t the Onion….wow, Biden really delivering on his reputation for saying ridiculous stuff.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Here is the full quote, Biden 2019:

      [T]he thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke. You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends….

      So look, let me put it another way. If we can’t change, we’re in trouble. This nation can’t function without generating consensus.

      Obama, 2012:

      “I believe that If we’re successful in this election, when we’re successful in this election, that the fever may break, because there’s a tradition in the Republican Party of more common sense than that. My hope, my expectation, is that after the election, now that it turns out that the goal of beating Obama doesn’t make much sense because I’m not running again, that we can start getting some cooperation again,” Obama said.

      This view was also the liberal Democrat theory of change in 2008 where they rewrote the Preamble of the platform as follows:

      A great nation now demands that its leaders abandon the politics of partisan division and find creative solutions to promote the common good. A people that prizes candor, accountability, and fairness insists that a government of the people must level with them and champion the interests of all American families. A land of historic resourcefulness has lost its patience with elected officials who have failed to lead.

      It is time for a change. We can do better….

      And so, Democrats– through the most open platform process in history– are reaching out today to Republicans, Independents, and all Americans who hunger for a new direction a reason to hope. Today, at a defining moment in our history, the Democratic Party resolves to renew America’s promise.

      We are the party of inclusion and respect differences of perspective and belief. And so, even when we disagree, we will work together to move this country forward. There can be no Republican or Democratic ideas, only policies that are smart [ha] and right and fair and good for America — and those that aren’t.

      They’ve been trying this stuff — scam, delusion, ritual piety, I dunno — for 2019 – 2008 = 11 years now, and it hasn’t come to anything. So I suppose that doubling down on fail is the answer!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This seems to be a level up from that. I did indeed get a verification code. But in order to download anything from the [family bloggging] app store, even freebies, I need a current credit card and because I can’t give them the number of the old one, because I don’t [family blogging] have it any more, I need to undergo an additional level of verification.

  13. Summer

    Re: Uber
    This was written yesterday:
    “Unlike a limousine or taxi service, Uber is a platform — the employees own almost all of the assets that an old-school limo company would likely own. Assets like cars depreciate, something that the average driver probably doesn’t account for, but which saves Uber millions of dollars. Kati Sipp, a consultant who works in labor, told me previously how depreciation is a hidden cost for drivers…”

    Assuming this goes past the epic graft stage, that’s also a “hidden cost” for Uber should they ever start to get a fleet of “autonomous” vehicles.
    Cars still will depreciate and software will crapify. They will need to develop a monumental fleet of depreciating value and planned obsolescence.
    They expect to keep embattled drivers to continue to take up the slack while they hypothetically get such a fleet on the road? So do they plan to have some human drivers, using Uber (or Lyft) apps, competing for fares with the autonomous drivers as they roll out the “robot cars” until they make up the entire fleet?

    1. lakecabs

      Drivers park there cars in their driveway. Where will these autonomous vehicles park?

      Right now the drivers are not making money. Almost driving for free. How can Uber beat that?

      Getting rid of the driver would be stupid. How can you beat free?

  14. Geo

    This “influencer” racket…

    I’m my view is merely a democratization of the old celebrity spokesperson racket. How are these random “influencers” any less qualified to endorse Product X than Joe Namath was to endorse Ovaltine, Samuel L. Jackson to endorse Capital One credit cards, or for that matter, OJ Simpson to endorse Hertz?

    People often buy based on trust and for some reason they think celebrities are their friends so they trust them. Now, influencers build their brand on being likeable and relateable, yet aspirational. And they’re relatively cheap compared to traditional celebs.

    The odd part about it is how many people are becoming famous for merely being shills. Speaks volumes about the current state of our society.

    1. JohnnyGL

      The Kardashians completely re-wrote what being a celeb is all about.

      Always attract eyeballs, always push a product. Even if the product is you, yourself.

      1. Geo

        Don’t forget the original “famous for being famous” celeb: Paris Hilton. She still takes in $350K per night for her EDM DJ sets along with millions more per year off her brand.

        Pop culture is depressing.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > influencers build their brand on being likeable and relateable, yet aspirational

      So there is a clear analogy between influencers and “voices” as Adolph Reed describes them in “The Trouble with Uplift“:

      Alongside the close vetting of respectable black voices in the media mainstream there’s been a prolonged atrophy of popular political mobilization behind issues of economic equity for black Americans. Taken together, these trends have opened a shortcut path to broader public recognition for self-styled race leaders. For more than a decade, it has been common to encounter young people who enter graduate programs in order to prepare for careers as racial voices or “public intellectuals,” hoping to obtain a credential that can procure valuable space on the Huffington Post, the root.com, or MSNBC. In the quest for mediagenic legitimacy, some eager race pundits have launched organizations that are barely more than letterhead or résumé entries; these feints are likewise often accompanied by Potemkin-style protest activism, including many of the donor-driven groups aligned with Black Lives Matter, or glorified photo-ops intended to evoke mass agitation. Among this cohort of racial voices, the essential qualification for recognition seems to be inclination to declaim on the intractability of an undifferentiated, ahistorical racism as a fetter on all black Americans’ life chances across the sweep of the nation’s history. As a corollary, they’re required to insist that objection to generic racial disparities constitutes the totality of black political concerns.

  15. Wukchumni

    Upton Sinclair ran for governor of California in 1934 under pretty much a socialist banner. His platform was called E.P.I.C.
    (End Poverty In California) and both the donkey show & the pachyderms weren’t having any of that, and ganged up on him.


    Check out this anti-Sinclair propaganda Dollar. You’d just have to change the wording to Sanders, and most of it would fit today.


  16. martell

    Regarding free college and academic integrity, I thought I would share an amusing story about a place in Florida at which I used to teach. I arrived when it was in the midst of a crisis. Playboy magazine had just named it the number one party school in the country. The administration was horrified. Rightly so, as the school was outrageously expensive, and very few parents will knowingly pay that kind of money for four years of orgiastic merrymaking. Hence, deans and sub-deans (deanlets?) were charged with changing the campus culture. But none of their schemes seemed to work. Trouble was that the college had to have a certain number of “full fare and baggage” students every year just to pay the bills. Meeting the quota meant admitting students who did not meet academic entrance requirements. These were individuals who, given the wealth, connections, and ambitions of their families, should have gone Ivy, but, owing to lack of talent, motivation, or achievement, couldn’t. Some of my colleagues called this program “affirmative action for the super rich.” In any case, these students together with similarly well-off peers who’d managed to satisfy entrance requirements formed a critical mass. They made the place into something like a retirement community for the young. That said, it was a pleasant enough place to work, provided that you didn’t take it seriously. I found that if I only played at teaching, my students would happily feign learning, and we could all laugh about it afterwards.

    Not long after I left, things changed for a time. A very wealthy, elderly donor died. The administration threw a party to celebrate. Having been very aggressively courted by the college president, the deceased had left the college a huge sum, most all of which was to be used for scholarships. The result was that the “affirmative action” program was suspended, excellent students took the places formerly occupied by young “retirees,” and the campus culture changed for the better . . . until the money ran out. And then everything went back to how it was before.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for the laugh! Whew…

      I like the way the windfall was managed recklessly such that the school ended up back where they were before. I bet the administrators all gave themselves raises and hired their buddies who’d hit a rough patch in their careers.

      One might get the feeling that massive inequalities cause institutional corruption and breed a rotten culture.

  17. Sharkleberry Fin

    I am sure a union agreement among campaign workers is indeed positive development. However, there is a seam: imagine a strong network flourishes, workers step-up into leadership roles, and confidence grows. One ambitious rep, Siobhan of Sanders Cold Callers #237, is so charismatic, serves the classes so hard –Bernie is a fan– that she challenges Bernie Sanders for leadership in the Sanders campaign. There’s a vote and Siobhan wins. Bound by agreement, Sanders becomes an agent for the worker’s utopia ushered by the Siobhan Socialist Revolution. There are Siobhanistas running in Sarte’s clique. [All of Vermont’s heroes are cigarette-y and dead]. Magical Realism 2020. Dreams escalate fast. At what point should canvassers, who, as it turns out, are not being crushed to death in a flyer avalanches, and IT, whose skin is not being blasted off by exploding servers, just shut up for the greater good?

  18. ewmayer

    o “De Blasio’s Trump Tower Event Derailed by ‘You Suck’ Chants” — Couldn’t happen to a nicer shamelessly opportunistic virtue-signaling twit.

    o “How DNC Chair Tom Perez plans to avoid the chaos of the GOP’s 2016 debates” — ‘Chaos’ here seems to be a euphemism for ‘any chance of an insurgent candidate emerging as the front-runner.’ It was very interesting to observe how the GOP’s primary process in 2016 was much more democratic than that of the party whose name claims said word. I mean, avoidance of unseemly internecine debate about issues is what the political pre-nup in form of a loyalty oath is all about, isn’t it?

    o “Killer Rabbits in Medieval Manuscripts: Why So Many Drawings in the Margins Depict Bunnies Going Bad” [Open Culture]” — Wot’s ‘e do, nibble your bum? May 11th marked the 50th anniversary of the formation of Monty Python, appropriately enough.

    1. Wukchumni

      A gaggle, or dare I say a Pythonic Convergence of a dozen of us went to go see the director’s cut of Holy Grail around the turn of the century in Santa Monica, as there were an additional 18 seconds promised, and delivered.

      Though, i’m not exactly sure where art thou was?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > avoidance of unseemly internecine debate about issues

      Liberal Democrats regard drawing contrasts on issues as personal assaults. And in a way, they’re right, if you accept Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen model of industrial structures; the politician integrates the views of their donors, and hence is accountable for (has the ethos of) what their donors do.

  19. ChrisPacific

    I enjoyed the 4′ 33″ death metal cover, although most of the joke was in the title. It was still fun to watch them all carefully counting the beat, acknowledging each other at the end and so on but I confess I skipped through most of it. I think it’s probably one of those pieces that works better in a live setting.

    1. Angie Neer

      I think Cage intended that the piece was really about the sounds of the audience and performance space, so a recording wouldn’t make much sense (except perhaps in a super-ironic way). I saw the Seattle Symphony do it a while back, and it worked for me.

  20. JBird4049

    So the answer is to shut down power entirely…

    Noooo… the answer is to get those incompetent greedy grifters running PG&E to actually do all the deferred maintenance, which is reason for the fires. Not the Godawful Summer weather. If one does not do much of any maintenance for decades things start to happen.

    1. BobW

      “It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.” – Arthur C. Clarke

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If one does not do much of any maintenance for decades things start to happen.

      That’s what amazed me; they’d rather shut down the power lines than do proper tree trimming.*

      * I’m assuming that broken power lines don’t start fires unless trees are too close and that other vegetation, like ground cover, is not affected.

      NOTE There’s another industry that may not have built asssumptions about higher winds into its engineering Aircraft.

      1. JBird4049

        I am surprised, but not amazed, because although the general levels of corruption and incompetence in California’s governments has gone up and down, the public utilities and the state regulatory agencies always seem to be corrupt. Or at least since the 1930s. PUC and its successor agencies, and PG&E in particular.

        Since the previous ninety years and the exploding gas mains and fires of the past few decades with their growing amount of destroyed neighborhoods, towns and deaths have not brought any punishment why not continue? It just ensures more pay, bonuses, and dividends.

        Seriously, why not?

  21. steve

    “America’s Achilles’ Heel:…..concrete and steel structures that would make a pharaoh envious..”

    Yeah, I don’t think so.

    1. ewmayer

      Hey, look at the plus side – at least unlike the owners of a certain recent Triple Crown-winning horse, the article spelled ‘pharaoh’ right. That’s gotta be worth something, right?

    2. eg

      Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
      Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
      The lone and level sands stretch far away

  22. anon in so cal

    Los Angeles and all of California:

    Big new sign on my local LAUSD elementary school urging everyone to vote yes on Measure EE on the June ballot. Measure EE would levy a 16 cents per foot “parcel” tax on all lots throughout Los Angeles. The money would be used to reduce class size in LAUSD classrooms. This is a step toward eliminating Prop 13, which set caps on CA property tax rates of increase. If this measure passes, it would cost many homeowners quite a bit in increased property taxes. One scenario: home ownership would become too expensive for all but the very wealthy. Housing prices could fall as people are forced to sell, developers would sweep in, apartments would replace single family homes.

    This scenario is consistent with an agenda articulated by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and some individuals from some of the Centers at UCLA, which is to eliminate R-1 zoning in Los Angeles. Granny shacks used to be illegal but were made legal a year or so ago, per this agenda. Just a start.

    A newly proposed California Senate Bill 50, backed by Dem Senator Scott Wiener D-San Francisco, aims to attack R-1 zoning and single family homes throughout the entire state of California. Nearly 2/3 of CA residences are single family homes currently.

    What would California look like in 10 years? Every foot of open space developed?


  23. kareninca

    The cheapest gasoline where I live in Silicon valley is now $4.35/gallon. We have one car and only drive 7k miles a year (three adults and a dog), so it doesn’t matter to us, but it has to be pretty bad for people who need to commute. The last time it was over $4, there were lots of news articles about it. Not this time; I guess it’s normal now.

        1. JBird4049

          It is not Summer yet. Wanna bet that it will be over five dollars soon?

          Keep in mind that ⅔ of the state is rural and has no public transportation with ⅓ of Californians living there. So if it’s an hours drive to the store or gas station… in good weather and no traffic…

  24. marym

    The Guardian:

    The top British general in the US-led coalition against Isis has said there is no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria, directly contradicting US assertions used to justify a military buildup in the region.

    Hours later however, his assessment was disowned by US Central Command in an extraordinary rebuke of an allied senior officer. A spokesman insisted that the troops in Iraq and Syria were on a high level of alert due to the alleged Iranian threat. The conflicting versions of the reality on the ground added to the confusion and mixed signals in a tense part of the Middle East.


    1. The Rev Kev

      I found it significant that the Spanish withdrew their frigate, the “Méndez Núñez”, from the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group. They took one look at what they were being dragged into and said: “Nope!”. On another level, this may be Europe saying to Trump that in case of a military action, that there is no way that they will be sending their own military personnel to aid in any attack on Iran. The US will be on its own here both militarily and perhaps diplomatically as well.

  25. c_heale

    Re: Adobe. One problem is that some of the CC versions have been crapified. I know this is anecdotal, but I have a friend who is using one of their programs for filmmaking, and he is constantly complaining about not being able to do important things with their latest program (that he could do with ease with older versions). He’s been in contact with the company and he says, the forums are more useful than the advice he’s getting from the company (and neither have been able to solve his problems). I think he’s the kind of person who will jump as soon as another program comes out.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      So far, I’m OK with LightRoom, PhotoShop, and InDesign on the laptop. They are big and complex, but I can do what I want to do. But if the iOS versions are any indication, crapification is on the way.

      It would be wonderful, for example, to be able to dodge and burn with a pen on the iPad. But (a) the [familyblogging] iPad can’t be calibrated, so (b) one will need to work with the laptop version anyhow, and if both are crapified….

Comments are closed.