2:00PM Water Cooler 5/23/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“How This Trade War Will Remake the World” [Bloomberg]. “President Donald Trump has long said the goal of his trade policy is simply to get better deals for Americans. But as the trade war intensifies, it seems increasingly likely that his policies will lead to something more: a lasting break with China and a new alignment of global power…. As China and the U.S. form two opposing economic and geopolitical coalitions, the rest of the world will be forced to choose. Maybe the European Union can form a third unaligned pole, as France and Germany’s membership in the EU (and the U.K.’s absence from it) provides them with the negotiating power to avoid falling under the Chinese or American sphere of influence. Of course, in some ways this type of multipolar alignment would be a return to the past. The dual-superpower world that existed for much of the second half of the 20th century was always an exception, and the era of American supremacy that began after the collapse of the Soviet Union was never going to last. Until recently, however, a new kind of bipolar arrangement seemed possible: a kind of competitive partnership between China and the U.S., with the EU playing a supporting role. The events of the last few weeks have left that looking increasingly unlikely.”

“How The Left Should Think About Trade” [Current Affairs]. “Rich states should demand, as a condition of trade agreements, adjustments in wages, taxes, and regulations to reduce or eliminate disparities in the treatment of rich workers and poor workers. It’s one thing if we import stuff from a foreign state because that state has real productive advantages in making the stuff. It’s quite another if we’re importing stuff from a foreign state because that state is treating its workers like meat…. This is what a socialist trade policy looks like—not unadulterated protectionism, but trade deals that put workers first by creating strong international minimum standards on wages, taxes, and regulations. This must be led by the USA and EU, because only they command enough market share to successfully push governments in poor countries to adopt more humane and sustainable models of development.” • I’d like to see this argument fleshed out for China. Obviously, forty years of bipartisan conventional wisdom that capital in China would automagically produce a liberal democracy was insanely stupid; if we had strengthened unions in China, we might be looking at a different world today. Whether that’s remotely possible now, I don’t know. The world may have moved on.


“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). Biden (38.3% 34.7%) and Sanders (18.8% 17.7%) both drop, Warren, Harris, Buttigieg up, as of May 23.

* * *


Biden (D)(1):

From alert reader RM in response to my request for interesting short clips.

Sanders (D)(1): “The Trailer: Why the 2016 Sanders voter is still up for grabs” [WaPo]. “A majority of Democrats who picked Sanders [in Iowa] in 2016 are, at the moment, up for grabs. The 23-candidate pileup in Iowa is partly a reflection of that, with plenty of hopefuls who believe they can build a base that includes some former Sanders voters…. The old Sanders coalition did not consist of only what he would call “progressive” voters, a fact that poses some challenges in 2020. As the only credible challenger to Clinton, Sanders stitched together a network of left-wing voters, independents and even some conservatives that allowed him to run in every primary…. According to exit polls from Iowa, just 33 percent of caucusgoers wanted a president with “more liberal” polices than President Barack Obama; Sanders won those voters by 55 points. He was boosted into a tie with Clinton because a smaller share of voters, the 7 percent who wanted a “less liberal” president than Obama, also backed Sanders, by a 50-to-43 margin. Given a binary choice, conservatives who disliked Clinton opted for the democratic socialist.” • Context matters, as we saw with Beto v. Cruz vs. Beto v. anybody else.

“Inside the 2020 Democrats’ survival strategies” [Politico]. “The 23 candidates chasing the Democratic presidential nomination are piling up events and plowing resources into the four early-nominating states, telegraphing which states they’re prioritizing and which ones they’re writing off.” On Iowa: “As the adage goes, Iowa doesn’t always pick the winners, but it almost always picks the losers. That’s likely to be truer in 2020 than ever before.”

“Are The Democratic Debates Already A Mess?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “This is a recurring problem for parties. They try to solve a lot of these problems informally by limiting who runs.But when these conversations break down like they did in 2016, the formal solutions — like trying to come up with a fair threshold for inclusion in a debate with so many candidates — show why those problems were being solved informally: It’s a mess.”


“Pelosi: Trump ‘crying out’ for impeachment” [The Hill]. “‘There’s no question: the White House is just crying out for impeachment. That’s why he flipped yesterday, because he was just hoping,’ Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol…. ‘I think what really got to him was that these court cases and the fact that the House Democratic Caucus is not on a path to impeachment, and that’s where he wants us to be,’ she said. ‘And when he saw that that was not happening, that — again, with the coverup, which he understands is true — just struck a cord [sic].'” • So Trump is saying “Please throw me in the briar patch!” Because that would distract the Democrats from delivering… what?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A Country Divided: The Onion Takes An In-Depth Look At How State Boundaries Work” [The Onion]. • The Times-style cover is the joke.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of May 18, 2018: “Initial unemployment claims remain low but not quite as low as April which will limit expectations for the May employment report” [Econoday]. “however low claims data are, they’re not as low as they were during the historic lows of April, and it’s this comparison that points to an easing of strength, however moderate, in this month’s labor market.”

Purchasing Managers’ Index Composite (Flash), May 2018: “In what offers an initial glimpse into the early effects of the US-China trade breakdown is sweeping slowing in the flash PMIs for May, all three of which came in well under Econoday’s consensus range” [Econoday]. “Manufacturing is the most immediately impacted by trade issues… Key here is outright contraction, that is a sub-50 reading, for new orders. This is an unwelcome first since August 2009 and the last recession. Demand sank for both domestic and foreign orders, while growth slowed for output, employment and pre-production inventories…. Headlines in today’s report do remain above 50 but only marginally to indicate a falling number of respondents reporting composite growth relative to a rising number reporting monthly contraction.”

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, May 2019: “Tenth district manufacturing activity continued to moderate to a sluggish growth pace in May” [Econoday]. “The weakness in today’s Kansas City survey contrasts with the strength reported last week in the Philadelphia and Empire State reports but confirms today’s weaker-than-expected PMI manufacturing flash report.”

New Home Sales, April 2019: “Low mortgage rates are having their predictable and very welcome effect on home sales — driving them significantly higher” [Econoday]. “Much of the data in April’s report are headfakes, indicating slowing following, however, significant strength in prior months. The housing sector, lifted now by the possibility of re-acceleration in prices, is shaping up to be a major positive of the 2019 economy and a possible offset to what perhaps is becoming a slowing year for consumer and business spending.”

Shipping: “Conditions for fleets are deteriorating and it will get bloody” [Freight Waves]. “Starting earlier this month, it appeared that the spring surge might deliver quality results in the second quarter. Volumes had been moving up since early April, showing a muted, but promising trend for the quarter. That all changed on May 9. On that day, the U.S. accelerated tariffs on Chinese imports, forcing importers to reconsider their supply chains. Port volumes have been driving the freight market for the past year, but that appears to be over….. Starting earlier this month, it appeared that the spring surge might deliver quality results in the second quarter. Volumes had been moving up since early April, showing a muted, but promising trend for the quarter. That all changed on May 9. On that day, the U.S. accelerated tariffs on Chinese imports, forcing importers to reconsider their supply chains. Port volumes have been driving the freight market for the past year, but that appears to be over.”

The Bezzle: “Zuck’s New Scam” [The Baffler]. “A better understanding of privacy will not be limited to design concepts generated by highly profitable social media platforms. It needs to encompass how privacy is an essential component of our agency as human beings. Agency, to be explored and expressed fully, requires that we have space outside the influence of capitalism—to have freedom from market forces seeking to manipulate our unconscious. Privacy demands that human emotions like shame, joy, guilt, and desire be explored without someone seeking to profit from the process without us noticing.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla Plunges as Analyst Delivery Warning Adds to Week of Losses” [Bloomberg]. “Loup Ventures co-founder Gene Munster wrote in a note that Tesla will probably miss its 2019 delivery target range as sales shrink in China amid a trade war between the two countries. The analyst cut his estimate for Tesla’s full-year global car sales by about 10% to 310,000 vehicles, versus the minimum 360,000-unit target the manufacturer set in March….. Compounding woes for the company, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, who earlier this week said that Tesla stock could plunge to as low as $10 in a worst-case scenario, held a private call with investors Wednesday in which he said the company is ‘seen more as a distressed credit and restructuring story.'” • Ouch!

Tech: “Apple needs its new services to succeed because the existing ones will slow considerably: Bernstein” [MarketWatch]. “Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote Thursday that Apple Inc. needs to succeed with its new services offerings given that he predicts the company’s existing services business could start showing growth of less than 10% in the next three or four years. ‘Services growth is critical in driving Apple’s overall top line, as well as potentially stabilizing overall company gross margins, which have fallen in each of the last five years,’ he wrote. ‘Given that Apple’s installed base should be relatively flat going forward, services growth will likely depend entirely on additional [average revenue per user] expansion, whether through new offerings or increased monetization of existing businesses.'” • A flat user base…

Transportation: “Hands off the wheel” [Tucson Weekly (RH)]. “[Technology company] TuSimple’s trucks are currently driving at level four, known as “high automation,” in which the vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions, but only under certain conditions, such as only on specific routes. According to [Vivian Sun, senior director of business development at TuSimple], complete level five is not necessary at this time for TuSimple… [Mathieu Joerger, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at UA. His] research focuses on using aircraft navigation safety standards to ensure the safety of autonomous vehicles. Safety is one of the most emphasized benefits of autonomous vehicles. And while Joerger said there are many benefits to automation, he also believes safely taking humans out of vehicles is a huge challenge….. Human drivers cause traffic fatalities roughly once per 100 million miles of driving, whereas the aircraft safety standards Joerger works with cannot accept crashes even in one out of one billion landings.”

Infrastructure: “Any optimism left over from Infrastructure Week didn’t last long” [Wall Street Journal]. “Business groups that have raised hopes for a $2 trillion package for highways, ports and bridges lamented the sudden end to the talks, with a road builders’ group saying ‘political theatrics won the day.’ But the collapse was also a reminder of the big hurdles that any infrastructure deal already faced before Wednesday’s events. Neither side has offered a clear proposal to pay for a $2 trillion plan, and Republican lawmakers are unlikely to support one. Republicans and Democrats also remain divided on big questions over the direction of federal dollars.” • So it was all kayfabe on both sides. Sheesh.

Mr. Market: “Dow tumbles 300 points as investors brace for a protracted U.S.-China trade standoff” [Bloomberg]. “Trade talks can only continue when the U.S. adjusts its ‘wrong actions,’ Gao Feng, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce, reportedly said Thursday in a briefing, according to translated remarks. He added that the U.S. crackdown on China companies is threatening the ‘global industrial and supply chain.'” • They do.

The Biosphere

“Global Climate Revolt Escalates: 1,351+ Strikes in 110 Countries Planned for Friday” [EcoWatch]. Greta Thunberg:

“8,000 Amazon employees asked the company to do more on climate change. Shareholders just said no.” [Amazon]. “Amazon shareholders just voted down a proposal backed by more than 7,500 Amazon employees asking Jeff Bezos to create a comprehensive climate-change plan for the company. But just because the proposal didn’t get through this time doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. While the push may have failed, that it existed in the first place shows the increased pressure corporations are under to act on global warming and take their role in it seriously. It also signals that tech workers, historically hesitant to speak out, are becoming more willing to serve as corporate activists and weigh in on the moral and ethical decisions of the firms that employ them.”

“Global change drives modern plankton communities away from the pre-industrial state” [Nature]. “However, despite evidence for ongoing change, it remains unknown whether marine ecosystems have entered an Anthropocene6 state beyond the natural decadal to centennial variability. This is because most observational time series lack a long-term baseline, and the few time series that extend back into the pre-industrial era have limited spatial coverage. Here we use the unique potential of the sedimentary record of planktonic foraminifera—ubiquitous marine zooplankton—to provide a global pre-industrial baseline for the composition of modern species communities…. These observations not only confirm the existing evidence for changes in marine zooplankton communities in historical times, but also demonstrate that Anthropocene communities of a globally distributed zooplankton group systematically differ from their unperturbed pre-industrial state.”

Class Warfare

“Understanding alt-Right obsessions” [Unherd]. On Jack London: “Jack London had a fascist strain. The American author was a socialist, sure – but one who, as Orwell noted, was ‘temperamentally… very different from the majority of Marxists’. He worshipped the natural world, as well as the physical strength of ‘alpha’ males, and he was deeply impressed by the Social Darwinist writers of his day. This element, detectable in his later body of work, feels like a first cast of the ideological tendencies of today’s Alt-Right – with their narrative that men have grown weak and ‘beta’ under the tempering influence of a feminised society.”

News of the Wired

“Closing in on what motivates motivation” [Nature]. “As well as providing evidence for the textbook view that a spike in the activity of dopamine neurons is accompanied by dopamine release, albeit not in all target regions, the unexpected observation of dopamine release in the absence of activity of dopamine neurons provides a new depth of understanding of dopamine signalling in the brain. Like the ramping up of dopamine, this is bound to provide the motivation for more work.” • And — I hate to say it — more funding. Just think what Silicon Valley could do if dopamine’s brain pathways were fully mapped out!

* * *
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 plants (KS):

A lovely pool in the Pacific NW temperate rain forest!

* * *
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click this donate button:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post on by .

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. Cal2

    “As the only credible challenger to Clinton, Sanders stitched together a network of left-wing voters, independents and even some conservatives..”

    Conservatives are the key to Bernie winning the nomination and the presidency.
    White Alpha Males, “whether you like it or not”… The guys and gals that voted for Trump because they hated the Democrats, are probably in the main, disgusted with his lack of carrying out his promises.
    These are the voters that Bernie needs to appeal to. How?


    45 million potential voters. That’s a lot.
    Financial intersts trump ideology. When the conservative student loan debtors are made aware of Biden’s role in dooming their financial future, they will seek an alternate. If Bernie focuses on student debt relief, he will harvest their votes.

    Along with focusing on National Healthcare, he needs to not alienate the conservatives by parroting SJW nonsense, talking reparations, racism or more importantly, shackling himself to an alienating special interest disaster like Kamala Harris, as Gore did with Lieberman.

    1. ACF

      Yes I was struck by “As the only credible challenger to Clinton, Sanders stitched together a network of left-wing voters, independents and even some conservatives that allowed him to run in every primary” too, but for a slightly different reason. Now that people think he’s not a threat, they’re willing to acknowledge that he attracted people besides committed Democrats, which bodes well for electability. And I think there’s a problem with trying to analyze people wanting policies more or less liberal than Obama as applying to Sanders’ substantive proposals. It’s not obvious that Medicare for All is “liberal” to the average voter, nor is it obvious that a living wage is, or taxing the rich fairly is, etc. What the commentariat labels things isn’t necessarily how voters label things.

      Also, while I believe it’s true that policy was the biggest driver of Bernie support, I think people underestimate the importance of his credibility. People believed he meant what he said b/c he has a consistent track record. I don’t think any of Beto/Butt/Harris/Biden has that kind of credibility.

      I’m not handicapping what’s going to happen, just, I think a lot of the analysis is theoretical and not necessarily well-grounded in the actual electorate’s preferences. And as much as voter interest in 2020 is way up, I don’t think that means a huge swath of people are paying close attention yet.

      It’s just too early.

      1. ambrit

        Your use of “..taxing the rich fairly…” caught my eye.
        Bugger “..taxing the rich fairly.” ‘They,’ through the political system ‘they’ prefer and support, haver taxed the poor very unfairly for decades now. It is high time to advance the proposal to tax the rich till they scream and beg for mercy.

        1. oaf

          …Taxing the rich *fairly* would involve sterilization, and guillotines…sounds like employment ops in the GND!!!

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Soylent green made from the ultra-rich is so much more flavorful, all that ultra-high quality fat marbling, the minerals from the just-flown-in-from-Chile asparagus, the subtle terroir of the Veuve Cliquot champagne they imbibe…

        2. rowlf

          It is high time to advance the proposal to tax the rich till they scream and beg for mercy.

          Howabout until they all travel to Mars? Or until they request Eisenhower era tax policies?

          1. ambrit

            “Eisenhower era tax policies…”
            Good catch. An older, more sedate Rupublicanism. Take care of the Nation first. The rest will follow suit.

          2. John A

            Surely, taxing the rich at all would be the best way to start.
            As that rich old New York woman once said some years ago, ‘taxes are for the poor people’.

    2. Eureka Springs

      In the Trump vs. Hillary race Trump said more things which made common sense than Hillary. Trump is also a scrappy fighter. Hillary was just an arrogant, hopeless, despicably boring aristocrat.

      A Sanders Gabbard duo will be able to speak on policy with common sense and integrity that Trump can no longer fool people with out of one side of his mouth. If Sanders will get scrappy in the junk yard dog fight, I mean debate with Trump, it’s in the bag.

      V.P. Gabbard on the ticket is key here for both men and women in the category mentioned above. I wish they would join forces right now. Why wait?

      The problem is the Dem party.

    3. dearieme

      “If Bernie focuses on student debt relief, he will harvest their votes.” What could be more socialist than taxing the poor to subsidise college graduates?

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Are you arguing that our current federal tax system is regressive, or that the tax system the Bernie would suggest paying for student loan relief is going to be regressive?

        $150 billion over ten years is a drop in the bucket for the federal budget.

        1. Tvc15

          I’d like to add corrupt to the list of adjectives in Eureka Springs apt description of Clinton.

          I’m all in for a Sanders/Gabbard ticket, but I think we are just setting ourselves up for the proverbial Lucy pulling the football back from Charlie Brown. I think we’ll see a redux of 2016…hope I’m wrong.

          1. Eureka Springs

            I think so as well. But if (big giant if) they join and make it past the D party into the oval… talk about ‘clarifying’ on a systemic level once and for all.

      2. Cal2

        Agreed, I’m talking about making the banks eat their bad loans, via allowing student loan bankruptcy, where warranted and deserved, at a loss to the bank stockholders, not a taxpayer bailout.

        Thank you for illuminating this detail, which is very important.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        Some of the poor are college graduates – that they can’t pay off their loans is why they’re poor. Also, as we well know, taxes don’t fund spending to begin with.

      4. Epynonymous

        It’s not about the potential failings of socialism.

        Its about banks creating ‘unbankruptable’ debts enforced by government monopoly.

        Just like conservative harumphing on medical care. Another monopoly, granted corporations by a corrupted government.

        It’s not ‘socialism’, meaning the lower classes call the shots that’s the problem, but ‘fascism’ -the rule of monied monopolists that poses the problem.

        Until provided an alternative solution, I remain unconvinced.

        “Snowflake is a conservative epithet meant to ridicule the very idea of empathy.”
        -John Cleese

      5. Massinissa

        “What could be more socialist than taxing the poor to subsidise college graduates?”

        Among other things, taxation does NOT fund federal spending. Its a hedge against inflation.

        Postscript: Oops, Lyman Alpha Bob said this already. Going to leave this here anyway.

      6. pretzelattack

        are you saying the poor wouldn’t agree to this, if it gave them a realistic shot at a college degree with a chance of getting a decent job? do you think giving poor people a shot at a college education somehow oppresses them?

    4. skk

      45 million White Alpha Males in the USA ? Surely not. So, what are the characteristics of Alpha then ? Obesity and Alphahood don’t go together. Yet 37% of Whites are obese. And the man himself too. As regards his supporters, there’s quite a correlation between fatness-proportions and Trumpism. see https://imgur.com/7tvQKq1 ( which is a scatter plot of obesity-proportions in a population and proportion of Trump voters)

      45 million White Obese Males. Yeah I’ll give you that.

      1. ewmayer

        “Obesity and Alphahood don’t go together.” — You’ve apparently not spent much time in the Pacific islands, nor watched much Sumo wrestling.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        As a man born in the 1980s who is physically fit and relies on no one financially, simply being independent, thinking for yourself, and not overtly propagandized makes you an Alpha male in this time period. People are flummoxed by me in my rural area and I enjoy it immensely.

        Were I born in the 1930s, I might be in the 50th percentile of masculinity. Being born in the early 1980s? I’m a one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind, the bar is so low. Many men in my age cohort can’t form complete thoughts, much less elucidate a coherent worldview that reflects reality other than the few repetitive stimuli that hit them constantly. It’s why talk radio is still viable. I’ve converted a few of the older guys in the warehouse to Sanders 2020 but it’s a tough slog for the arrogant young ones who are anything above “destitute”. I try to give them books but all they do is eat the covers…

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          As a fellow 80s baby, i agree.

          My childhood friends mostly drank the kool aid, bought real estate, that sort of thing.

      3. Alfred

        Purely anecdotal — but the under-40 male Trump enthusiasts among my acquaintances are almost to a one more physically fit than average. I’d guess that’s because they can pay for gym memberships, enjoy work-sponsored medical benefits, have the leisure time for regular exercise, and can afford better balanced diets. I suspect that they are more likely to drink good wine in limited amounts than cheap beer in much larger ones, with differential effects on the waistline. My perception is that American obesity indexes malnutrition, not ‘alpha-betics’ (or, at this point, educational achievement); also that American malnutrition arises from attempts to stave off hunger with cheap rather than healthy eating. There is one Trumpism of privilege, aimed at the preservation of personal advantage, and among the other Trumpisms quite an opposite one of desperation. No?

  2. lyman alpha blob

    I was late to the party for yesterday’s water cooler but thought this was hilarious –

    “Exclusive: Facebook will not allow marijuana sales on its platform” [MarketWatch]. “Overall, Facebook executives and staff determined that because cannabis laws around the world vary widely and are unstable, it would be impossible to roll out a feasible, global policy on pot sales. The company also said that, partially because of regulatory uncertainty, it would be ‘operationally difficult’ to implement policies — for example, determining who is a legitimate operator and who is not, across hundreds of jurisdictions.”

    Zuckerberg is pretty full of himself if he thinks anyone in their right mind would buy weed off Fleecebook in the first place. There is the surveillance aspect and it being federally illegal and all – but I’m sure Zuckerberg would never tell the Feds who’s placing orders, or that law enforcement would ever pose as a dealer…

    And call me old fashioned, but the only way I can see someone ordering weed from a stranger on the internet is if what they really wanted was an extremely overpriced bag of oregano.

    1. Summer

      “And call me old fashioned, but the only way I can see someone ordering weed from a stranger on the internet is if what they really wanted was an extremely overpriced bag of oregeno.”

      They’re on Facebook. That already puts a person in sucker vicinity.

    1. Grant

      The far right, which the media here calls the opposition, has little popular support. It is possible that Maduro can lose but it wouldn’t be to Guaido or anyone like him. My guess is that they would rally around someone less right wing and then if that person was elected they would dismantle most of the social programs and privatize everything in sight. It would be like the 1990 elections in Nicaragua, or in Eastern Europe after the fall of the USSR when a number of left win parties won majorities in elections. The US will let them vote, maybe ease off the horrible sanctions and would then threaten the country to choose correctly or the economic war and destabalization would kick in again. If an election were to happen, the NED, USAID, the CIA, and the rest would flood the country with money. If Maduro were to win, the far right would do what it does every time. It would question the election and do mass violence, and it wouldn’t matter how many international observers were there to monitor the elections. Maduro should be negotiating the terms of Guaido’s surrender. The dude’s clearly guilty of treason, but I get not wanting to make him into a martyr.

      1. Wukchumni

        Now, you listen here: ‘e’s not the Messiah like Che, ‘e’s a very naughty boy! Now, go away!

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Maduro should be negotiating the terms of Guaido’s surrender

        For the leader of a totalitarian regime, Maduro is certainly doing a very poor job of having Greedo committing suicide by jumping out the window of an upper floor of the National Police building. For example.

        1. ambrit

          Don’t be giving the “Opposition” ideas now. They are desperate enough at this point to manufacture a ‘martyr’ for the regime change cause.

  3. Synoia

    Human drivers cause traffic fatalities roughly once per 100 million miles of driving, whereas the aircraft safety standards Joerger works with cannot accept crashes even in one out of one billion landings.”

    Because airplane operations are tightly controlled by Government.
    If trucks and cars were so tightly controlled, what would the accident rate become?

      1. Eureka Springs

        one out of one billion landings

        So if you crash on take off or mid flight, that’s like an air mulligan?

    1. ewmayer

      Perhaps this is simply the lawyerly-parsing difference between “acceptable” and “actual”, but I saw that number and the “ye olde skeptickal statistician” part of my brain insisted I dig up the relevant stats. From this link, “The number of fatal hull-loss accidents per year is given. The figures include corporate jet and military transport accidents.”
      Lumping approach and landing accidents together, we have a total of 236 such accidents in the 20 years from 1999-2018, inclusive. Statista.com says the annual number of such flights has averaged around 30 million over that timespan, so we have roughly 600 million flights, thus around one fatal hull-loss accident on approach or landing per 3 million flights. Still low, but 300x larger than the ludicrous “1 in a billion” number trotted out in the above article. You’re welcome.

  4. Off The Street

    After Jack London’s de-personing, or de-being, is complete, which dogs will be next through guilt by association?
    And here I enjoyed reading about that dog and his adventures when I was a kid, shows you what I knew. I bet there is a cat involved. /s

    1. Wukchumni

      I made the mistake of taking Jack along on my first High Sierra Trail walk about 30 years ago, and it was pretty cold, and reading “To Build A Fire” seemed to lower the temperature outside by about 5 degrees. But I got even by using said pages of the tome, to build a fire. I had about 40 miles to go, and thought i’d better get rid of excess weight. The only time i’ve ever burned a book.

        1. Wukchumni

          John Oakhurst is a nom de reservation I use on occasion when waiting for a table @ a restaurant.

          I think I prefer The Luck of Roaring Camp, to the Outcasts, but both are wonderful works.

          1. John A

            Did you know that ‘hurst’ is an old Saxon term for forest ‘clearing’?
            Just throwing it in. Where I live, a lot of villages are suffixed with hurst, that’s the only reason I know this piece of trivia.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Yikes. I wouldn’t even dream of reading that story unless I was somewhere warm (I’m assuming you didn’t know what you were in for).

    2. Carolinian

      I didn’t even follow the link. Jack London was a very great writer.

      Of course we’ll have to get rid of Kipling too (less of a loss) and a whole host of Western literature when the purge starts. Perhaps expert textual analysis can determine motives and who will be on the enemies list and those held back from the reputational gulag.

      1. jrs

        It was an interesting short read, I first though, well, nothing wrong with love of nature, and admiration for physical courage is natural if your dream is violent revolution to overthrow capitalism (and it was for much of the left then). But the article was more about his contempt for the lower classes of different races.

        It was probably more showing that he followed the prejudices of his time than anything much larger. To be a social darwinist in the 21st century is of course to be a vicious fool, but I’m not sure things were entirely seen that way then.

        1. Summer

          “To be a social darwinist in the 21st century is of course to be a vicious fool, but I’m not sure things were entirely seen that way then…”

          There wouldn’t be this neoliberalism without Social Darwinism also being the underlying belief system of the current establishment and all of its apologists.

          1. barefoot charley

            Jack London was an all-but-orphan urchin hustler who made great without edumacation, just by reading and writing and living.

            The burnt-out skeleton of his Xanadu above the Valley of the Moon in Sonoma symbolizes that for all his socialist understandings, he was game to become a Great Man. Also a disillusioned one. Like me, he retreated from underprivileged advocacy to privileged farming. I can’t blame him. Following the Game of Thrones analysis the other day that life stories can either be sociological or psychological, London’s story was sociological: he lived the idealism and cynicism of the 20th Century turning. He was not one thing.

          2. ambrit

            Complete agreement from me on that point. If not formally worked out in a personal philosophy, then informally agreed to as due to following the “Rules” of one’s perceived class. That’s why so many ‘sub-1%’ers follow along blindly. They suffer from followers syndrome. Heaven forbid that someone convinces them that the system is rigged so that almost no one from the ‘lower stratas’ can gain admittance to the pinnacle. Then H— really would break out upon the Earth.

        2. JBird4049

          To be a social darwinist in the 21st century is of course to be a vicious fool, but I’m not sure things were entirely seen that way then.

          Over a century ago would have been unusual if an American or European was not a racist, although being a social Darwinist was possibly a coin toss or at least a dice roll.

          Many white suffragettes were racists, which caused a problem with the many black suffragettes. Some racists were mostly supporters of equality, or at least less inequality, between the sexes.

          Being a supporter of the full equality of the races and /or sexes would have been a fringe position, which is one of the things used against the Abolitionist John Brown; he treat blacks just as whites, even having them dine with his family as a matter of course. Why only crazy people do that!

          It was a difference of degrees. Most anti-slavery advocates and even most Abolitionists (note that the two were not strictly the same. The former was moderate and the latter was extremist.) did not believe in equality. They just believe in the humanity of everyone regardless of color and one does not treat a human being as a thing like a chair or horse.

          One of the charges used against communists, and later socialists, was their tendency to believe in full equality like that crazy John Brown although there were plenty of racist socialists like Jack London. Although I did not know that he was a Social Darwinist. Being a racist and socialist was not really strange, but a social Darwinist and a socialist I am pretty sure was.

            1. Wukchumni

              I feel confident that 999 out of 1,000 American schoolchildren have never heard of John Brown, unless they’re Ravens fans.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Reminds of the exchange between Zhuangzi and Huizi:

                “You are not a fish, how do you know, how can you be confident, what it has or has not heard of, 99.9% or otherwise?”

              2. Riverboat Grambler

                I graduated in 2007 from a rural school of 800 and we read about Jon Brown in the basic, non-AP history classes in middle school.

                Anecdotal but there you go.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    How many people know that the name of the commander of the detachments of militia, soldiers, and US Marines that were put together to take back Harpers Ferry was Robert E. Lee?

                    1. ambrit

                      I did, and also “knew” that his seconds in command were Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan. /s

                1. ambrit

                  Sorry. That song isn’t gleeful enough for today’s ‘hip’ and ‘woke’ (ie. aspirationally upwardly mobile) students.

            2. urblintz

              Churchill thought the same of Cromwell:

              “Winston Churchill, in his History of the English Speaking Peoples, was… scathing, describing “Cromwell’s record” in Ireland as “a lasting bane”:

              “By an uncompleted process of terror, by an iniquitous land settlement, by the virtual proscription of the Catholic religion, by the bloody deeds already described, he cut new gulfs between the nations and the creeds. “Hell or Connaught” were the terms he thrust upon the native inhabitants, and they for their part, across three hundred years, have used as their keenest expression of hatred “The Curse of Cromwell on you.” … Upon all of us there still lies “the curse of Cromwell”.

              Dare it be suggested that one who advocates and puts into practice what Churchill dubs a “process of terror” can be called a “terrorist”? Isn’t the very definition of terrorism the pursuit of one’s political ambitions through the adoption of a “process of terror”? If so, might we not add the accusation of terrorism to those of ethnic cleansing and “something very nearly approaching genocide”? ”


            3. skk

              Frederick Douglass certainly did :

              “His zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely superior to mine. Mine was a taper light, his was the burning sun. Mine was bounded by time, his stretched away to the silent shores of eternity. I could speak for the slave. John Brown could fight for the slave. I could live for the slave. John Brown could die for the slave.”

              And that he was a white man who did this, who killed white people to free black people – it causes confusion amongst those wedded to racial categories, or sharply drawn social categories in analysis in all senses. Prof. David Blight of Yale in one of his Civil War lectures says:

              In my first years of teaching in a big urban high school in Flint, Michigan, I taught lots of young black people who thought John Brown was black. They had been taught that he was black, sometimes in churches. There’s a church in Springfield, Massachusetts, that John Brown went to, attended — they say he was a member — it’s called the John Brown Church and there’s some people there you still have to convince that he was white.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Blight’s lectures are terrific (podcast here). Ulysses S. Grant on Brown:

                I have often heard my father speak of John Brown, particularly since the events at Harper’s Ferry. Brown was a boy when they lived in the same house, but he knew him afterwards, and regarded him as a man of great purity of character, of high moral and physical courage, but a fanatic and extremist in whatever he advocated. It was certainly the act of an insane man to attempt the invasion of the South, and the overthrow of slavery, with less than twenty men.

            4. Swamp Yankee

              John Brown was a hero. All who hate slavery sing his praises.

              With love from Thaddeus Stevens and Sen. Sumner!

            5. pricklyone

              If, of course, the definition of terrorist is using your opponents methods against him…

            6. JBird4049

              It is true that the Abolitionist John Brown was a murderer. I think one needs to look at the times he was in as well as the increasing violence over the system of slavery that was in some ways worse than the Romans’. It does not necessarily make his actions right, but it might explain them.

              May I suggest reading about pre-Civil War Bloody/Bleeding Kansas and the Border Ruffians who imposed a pro-slavery government in Missouri and conducted a guerrilla war along the Kansas-Missouri border against the anti-slavery Jayhawkers fighting for the government of the Free State of Kansas?

              Also the decades long campaign against any anti-slavery sympathizers in the South with the usual escalating campaign of words, beatings, burning of businesses especially newspapers, and when that all failed murder. The years just before war just got bloodier each month with each side getting increasingly more arms and the militia to use them against each other.

              The actual Civil War just made everything official.

      2. Cal2


        “If they are a prohibited read,
        then their descendants and admirers
        are a prohibited vote.”

        e.g. Kamala

        Identity politics is a bitch.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          It’s Jack London today is it? Assume we’ll work our way through Jackson Pollack, Caravaggio, Picasso. Certainly Raymond Chandler. Wm Shakespeare. Robert Byron.

          Or else just wake me when The Bonfire of the Vanities has died out. Savonarola would be proud.

      3. rowlf

        How does the Christian Bible handle the topic of slavery? If I remember correctly it had a lot of how-to sections and was very popular in the late unpleasantness. Will it survive the purge?

    3. JBird4049

      While the cultural erasing of people in the modern West is really not good, being like the eraser of people from history in the Soviet Union or the damnatio memoriae in the Roman Republic and Empire, what concerns me is the erasing of the complexity of people and societies it looks as if people do not want to accept that the past is a different country where they do things different than we do or worse, do not want to accept mixing of good and evil in everyone and in every society.

      Everything is reduced to a flat, dull lie.

      1. Carolinian

        From People of the Abyss

        And as their minds are made rotten, so are their bodies made rotten by bad sanitation, over-crowding, and underfeeding. When a father and mother live with three or four children in a room where the children take turn about in sitting up to drive the rats away from the sleepers, when those children never have enough to eat and are preyed upon and made miserable and weak by swarming vermin, the sort of men and women the survivors will make can readily be imagined

        Is that racist and patronizing or an accurate social critique? Meanwhile the not totally dissimilar Hillbilly Elegy is popular among our own elite and feminist hero HIllary talks about deplorables.

        But the main thing is that his writing was only a bit about his politics and he was a great writer. Art has its own standards of value.

        1. Harold

          Jacob Reis’s How the Other Half Lives was ostensibly defense of the Jews, but by today’s standards anti-Semitic, or rather, uncomprehending. He said the Jews were ideal immigrants to America because they had no culture and no history, if I recall correctly.

          My Jewish grandmother was given a different “English-sounding” names by her first grade teacher. Her name was Eva, and the teacher changed it to Evelyn.

          Naturally they absorbed this attitude about themselves. It was the common wisdom in which they swam. They wanted to be American above all else, without knowing quite what it was. Those who thought differently were outliers.

          English speakers at that time and place took it as a given that European civilization was the pinnacle of human cultural development toward which all others must aspire and that the Lamp of Progress had been passed directly from Athens, to Italy, to Great Britain & America in the great Imperial relay race. As John Addington Symonds wrote:

          Such is the Lampadephoria, or torch-race, of the nations. Greece stretches forth her hand to Italy; Italy consigns the fire to Northern Europe; the people of the North pass on the flame to America, to India, and the Australasian isles. — The Renaissance in Italy(1875–86), Volume 2.

          1. Jessica

            Sarah Smarsh’s “Heartland” is an excellent alternative to Hillbilly Elegy. Full of heart, no condescension.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A mixture of good and evil in everyone.

        Everyone, including Biden, Beto, Harris, Gabbard, Trump, de Blasio, et al.

        Sometimes, we forget.

    4. zagonostra

      I became familiar with and read Jack London’s “Iron Heel” just this year. It is amazing how little has changed since it was written ~110 years later. His term for the oligarchs/1%’s that he coined as “Iron Heel” is as apt a description then as it is now.

      His description of local papers and police kowtowing to monied interest rings just as true now as it did back then. The tools and instruments of dominance have become more sophisticated technologically but he human impulses that created the greed and avarice have in no way moderated or has the “iron heel” become any more enlightened.

  5. Summer

    RE:”Agency, to be explored and expressed fully, requires that we have space outside the influence of capitalism—to have freedom from market forces seeking to manipulate our unconscious. Privacy demands that human emotions like shame, joy, guilt, and desire be explored without someone seeking to profit from the process without us noticing.”

    Just wanted to repest that.
    It’s so beautiful, sane, and intelligent that I wish it could fit on a T-shirt.

  6. Savedbyirony

    Not into GoT but is anyone else here watching the BBC series “Years and Years”? I think it might strike a cord with some readers here.

    1. ewmayer

      Not watched, will add to “check this out” list – thanks. I’ve after-the-fact watched first few GoT seasons n cheap 2nd-hand DVD sets, but gotta say, I found the similarly violent and great-character-driven but more-historically-based History Channel series “Vikings” much more to my liking. No napalm-dropping dragons and flameproof nekkid hawties in that, though.

      1. Carolinian

        Jon Schwarz at the Intercept said that Game of Thrones–the show–was an upper and middle class America fever dream because only they could afford to subscribe to HBO. He obviously never heard of DVDs being available free at libraries not to mention file sharing, legal and otherwise. Since it was HBO, sex, nudity and violence were de rigeur (check out their ongoing Westworld project) and there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of that in the books. Here’s guessing the History Channel series somewhat more sedate.

        Gonna miss those dragons. Drogon is still out there somewhere.

        1. ewmayer

          Vikings has little nudity but no lack of sex, and the violence is much more realistically gory. “Sedate” is not a word that comes to my mind thinking about it. :)

          The season 1 DVD set is worth it just for the classic “did you see the look on his face?” scene. (Said line and accompanying pantomime by actor Gustaf Skarsgård, son of legendary Swedish actor Stellan, playing the character of Floki the eccentric boatbuilder.)

            1. ewmayer

              Failing that, you could always go the used-DVD route like I did – right now I see S1 DVD set for $4.20 on the Amazon-reseller market, so ~$8 with shipping. $1 per episode, basically, but unlike streaming, you *own* the episodes, and the S1 DVD set has tons of extras, to boot. But yah, if your local library has it, that’s the best option, for sure.

  7. marym

    As McDonald’s shareholders conduct their annual meeting on Thursday, many of the fast-food chain’s workers are going out on strike…In a press release, the campaign said the strikes also mark the launch of Fight for $15 2020, “a worker-led effort to push candidates to embrace unions as the best way to tackle inequality and fight racism.”

    Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, and Jay Inslee are joining workers on picket lines. Bernie Sanders emailed supporters on Wednesday, urging them to go to picket lines to support workers, and streamed a video town hall with McDonald’s workers on Facebook. Claire Sandberg, the national organizing director for the Sanders campaign, told New York in a statement, “As Bernie says, this is not just a campaign, it’s a movement. We’re building the largest volunteer army in the nation not just to win the Democratic nomination, but also to mobilize people to show up in key fights where people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line…


    Sanders did this last week too, for a University of California workers strike.

    1. Cal2

      How long should one wait to try and restart their car after it overheats
      in a McDonald’s drive through lane? Does lifting the hood help it cool off?

      On the other hand:
      ““a worker-led effort to push candidates to embrace unions as the best way to tackle inequality and fight racism.”

      Sign in the employee break room at movie theater where I worked in high school.
      “Our union encourages the promotion of women and minorities.”

      That seemed kind of racist to the whites who worked a minimum wage job there and had never been promoted. “Say, just where did all those Trump voters come from?”

      1. pricklyone

        How many minority kids worked there? How many were promoted over you or your friends?
        I don’t know how old you are, but in my little town in the 1960’s and’70s the answer would likely be ZERO on both counts.
        You worked in a theater that was union, and made minimum wage?
        That union wasn’t encouraging much of any type of activity, was it?

        I had a girlfriend who was in one of the retail unions. I was in the boilermaker/shipfitter union.
        She paid more in dues than I did, by a fair margin, and made just over minimum wage.
        It might as well have been a Chamber of Commerce branch org.

      2. Mo Bee

        Sign in the employee break room at movie theater where I worked in high school.
        “Our union encourages the promotion of women and minorities.”

        That seemed kind of racist to the whites who worked a minimum wage job there and had never been promoted. “Say, just where did all those Trump voters come from?”

        Oh please. Do not confuse organized challenges to structural inequity, including racism and sexism in workplaces, with your feelings being hurt or the presumably narrow worldview we all (hopefully?) grew out of as teenagers being challenged.

        Also, prejudice and racism are different things. The latter requires power over, and unions supporting members that might not get a fair shake otherwise is neither.

        I am interested in supporting organized movie theaters, though. Any left?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, and Jay Inslee are joining workers on picket lines

      Good for them! Although they weren’t exactly the first to show up, were they?

      1. polecat

        I coulda swearn with my own eyes that I saw a ‘Beyond Meat-heads’ patty in Jay’s launch box !

  8. Eureka Springs

    Stunningly beautiful photo. I’ve always loved photographing reflections. I don’t know why this photo reminded me of lost cenotes in Yucatan.

    1. Angie Neer

      Agreed, a beautiful photo. Thanks to KS. I live in a region where that type of scenery is all around, but I never get tired of it.

  9. RopeADope

    Biden (D)(1):

    Of course Biden thinks that. Biden’s efforts to increase prison populations have enabled the GOP to wield unearned power through prison gerrymandering. How many popular vote Dem presidential candidates have lost because of Biden’s 20+ year effort to jail people? Trust me, Mitch McConnell really does love how Biden set the American experiment on fire and looks forward to some more Biden gasoline.

  10. Pelham

    “It’s one thing if we import stuff from a foreign state because that state has real productive advantages in making the stuff. It’s quite another if we’re importing stuff from a foreign state because that state is treating its workers like meat”

    Why is it necessarily OK to import stuff due to another state’s “real productive advantages”? Unless it’s some trivial product and we have sustained full employment, shouldn’t we strive to equal or better what other nations can do?

    1. ewmayer

      Some productive advantages are obvious – e.g. when thinking of lumber, Pacific Northwest compared to, say, Ethiopia. Or in oil production, the Middle East compared to just about anywhere else on the globe. Others derive from crititcal masses of highly-educated and/or skilled workers, usually tied to a country’s educational and societal-value system. And other derive from governmental-regulatory regimes – for instance western companies offshoring manufacturing and pollution to sh*thole countries in order to exploit environmental and labor-law arbitrage, or countries which set themselves up as tax havens. There is a whole lot of complexity hiding behind the simplistic “real productive advantages” phrase.

  11. Wukchumni

    Couldn’t watch the whole Biden video, as the narrator has a rotten potty mouth, and doesn’t seem to know any interesting alternative slurs that would’ve made it more captivating.

    1. Geo

      The #resistance is rejoicing. Depressing. I hope you’re right and the draconian indictments make extradition unlikely.

    2. WJ

      I doubt it. The US can just assure the U.K. that they will not pursue capital punishment but *merely* life seclusion in the Colorado Supermax.

      I don’t see extradition being denied absent a change in the British government and political climate more generally.

      The propaganda has been eroding rational thought concerning Assange for over a decade now and a casual glance at twitter convinces me it has worked.

      You thought Americans were powerless over their government before? Just wait till there’s a successful legal precedent for prosecution under Espionage Act.

  12. Sharkleberry Fin

    The man who writes “The Yellow Peril” [1904], under the absurd pen name “London”, Jack London, buys into flimsy ideas of racial dominance? The late-stage alcoholism and morphine was not enough to ameliorate spasms of shame born from poverty of London’s youth. One would think, the bogus-ness of eugenics would be self-evident to rugged man of the frontier familiar with the art of animal husbandry and horse racing. For example, successful racing stallions are not the offspring of mares from a racing lineage. Two racing phenotypes sire grotesque stallions with massive cardiopulmonary systems balanced on brittle toothpick legs prone to fracture, after which winning a race becomes all but impossible. Defeat. Which brings me back to London and his attitude toward local revolution, oblivious to the nightmare of the WWI just on the horizon, where a Serbian revolutionary action [and a petulant aristocrat going back for seconds] puts in motion a conflict killing one in four European military age males. Answering Jack London’s “Iron Heel”, Orwell’s “1984” disenchanted this naïveté with Winston’s revelation that Goldstein’s revolution was a complicit pretext for the state to justify itself and eliminate civil liberties.

    1. ewmayer

      “successful racing stallions are not the offspring of mares from a racing lineage, etc.” — Secretariat would beg to differ. Any other counterfactuals you’d like to share?

      1. Wukchumni

        Friends own a champion thoroughbred named Goldencents, and if you want your mare to get it on with barefoot walks in the paddock, the right mood music, etc., it’ll be $20k please.

        1. pricklyone

          I made a spreadsheet for my YL to track descendants of one fairly famous horse.
          She had become quite the fan, and decided to follow all the offspring of this one horse.
          I have tens of notebooks full of the names (from pre-spreadsheet work, and notes)
          There are THOUSANDS of names over a couple decades alone.
          And she was adding tens more every week.
          I wonder where he thinks racehorse breeders get their mares?

  13. Expat2uruguay

    Re: Global Climate Revolt Escalates: 1,351+ Strikes in 110 Countries Planned for Friday” [EcoWatch]. Greta Thunberg

    As much as I support Extinction Rebellion and other planet saving movements, this headline is Ridiculous. The difference between 1351 protest now and 1325 protests two months ago is less than 2%…. 2% is not an escalation! That’s just not the right word to describe the math. I guess I’m just being grumpy

  14. Tim

    “Just think what Silicon Valley could do if dopamine’s brain pathways were fully mapped out!”

    They could kill the host by turning everybody into zombies that don’t see any point in being productive members of society.

  15. Sharkleberry Fin

    The dopamine molecule must be assembled from limited amino acids, resulting in pressure to produce the bare minimum to instigate behavior with potential benefits. – Now consider Silicon Valley: why is Silicon Valley on the map at all? The aerospace defense industry. ICBM’s. Nuclear deterrence. The bivouac of the white male suburban engineer. – Incoming sensory information suggesting threats increase the levels of dopamine in the brain. Signal noise is mistaken for significant information upon which consciousness is focused. Vigilance. The false positives do not result in immediate fatal mistakes. Co-morbid pathologies associated with elevated levels of dopamine: anxiety, paranoia, and schizophrenia. Conspiratorial beliefs. Is history personal or statistical? In other words, are the elite plotting to dominate you and everyone else or is there just a chaotic noise? Facebook. Elections. America politics could be the people presenting symptoms associated with harnessing dopamine for increases in productivity, voter participation, likes, and purchases. Silicon Valley glows when salvation and death are friending one another on Facebook.

  16. TonyinSoCAL

    “The housing sector, lifted now by the possibility of re-acceleration in prices, is shaping up to be a major positive of the 2019 economy and a possible offset to what perhaps is becoming a slowing year for consumer and business spending.”

    I’ll have three of whatever they are smoking at Econoday please.

    Inventories are rising.

    Fed’s stance fails to raise housing outlook.

    Southern California builders, swamped with unsold homes, cut construction to 3-year low

    Total sales are down 4.4% year-over-year and two of the four major U.S. regions saw a slight dip in sales.”

    Sales are down on existing homes, even as interest rates decline.

  17. The Rev Kev

    Sounds like some people want to drop Jack London’s works because what? He was not politically woke enough? Maybe we should ban the work of others that thought about social darwinism – people like H.G. Wells and Stanley Kubrick and some of the Royal family. Personally this whole thing about social darwinism is a crock that always suits those in power. Having said that, people are entitled to their mistakes. They are just not entitled to their own facts.
    But this article was all about understanding alt-Right obsessions but it should be paralleled with understanding alt-Left obsessions.They are after all the two sides of the same coin. And I regret to say, that at the moment, the alt-Right do hold the moral high ground in some respects. As an example, they are not that big into censorship whereas the alt-Left are. And the alt-Left do think that they have righteousness on their side like that guy who threw the milkshake on Nigel Farage. The alt-Right just branded him as a “soy-boy” just by his looks. My, what interesting times we live in.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sounds like some people want to drop Jack London’s works

      Who said that? That seems to be the conclusion a lot of people are leaping to, but I’m not saying that, and the article isn’t saying that. I’m not saying don’t read T.S. Eliot (anti-semitism), or Kipling (racism, imperialism), Wodehouse (Nazi broadcasts*), or not to listen to Wagner. However, I’m an old-fashioned critic, and I like to combine a close reading of the text with understanding of how the author’s life may have affected their work. I am a big fan of chiaroscuro in the visual arts, so I have no trouble with artists who have dark sides.

      Also, “some people”? Really?

      NOTE * According to Orwell, Wodehouse did the broadcasts from an extreme lack of guile, but there they are in any case, if one is sufficiently woke.

    2. Darthbobber

      Don’t think they were suggesting London not be read. Also think their interpretation of some of his work was just wrong. People of the Abyss comes down pretty clearly on the side of social and economic causation for the portrayed wretchedness. Not inherent inferiority. And the Iron Heel itself really makes that quite explicit. Various takes on social Darwinism were in the intellectual water, practically part of the creed of late 19th century liberalism. The Atlantic, the Nation, and Harper’s were chock full of it at the time. London’s concern with hyper-macho posing was probably on a par with Teddy roosevelt’s. And was part of the reason for their popularity.

      These attitudes were scarcely confined to protofascists in their era, and their prevalence among huge swath of the populace then really does very little to explain the concerns of rightist already or otherwise today.

      Having said that, I think the weaknesses in the Iron Heel especially are pretty evident. The utterly mechanistic variant of Marxism, the cartoonishness of the protagonist and his adoring girlfriend, some other things that sometimes makes me wonder if it wasn’t the Atlas Shrugged of the left.

      I see him as having commonalities with Sorel, another person whose work has features that people generally associate with the left cheek by jowl with ones that generally get pigeonholed as fascist.

    1. Wukchumni

      Since 2013, a team led by Margot Kushel, director of the university’s Center for Vulnerable Populations, has followed a group of about 350 older homeless adults in Oakland, California, to determine why this group ages in hyper-speed. Although the participants’ average age is 57, they experience strokes, falls, visual impairment and urinary incontinence at rates typical of US residents in their late 70s and 80s.

      Researchers have known for decades that physical and mental health problems are prevalent among the homeless (see ‘Declining health’). But there was little systematic research on the progression and causes of their ailments in 2013, when Kushel launched a study on the life trajectories of older homeless adults in the Bay Area. Since then, 42 of the initial 350 participants have died — mainly from cancer, heart attacks and diabetes.

      I’m the average age of a homeless person in Oakland and i’m glad there’s no there there for me, and isn’t that something, 12% of the participants in the study dead within 6 years!

  18. chuck roast

    You know, I like Benjamin Studebaker a lot. I was introduced to him through the links here on NC. His writings on thoughts and views of young people and politics are particularly interesting. But, this piece on “How the Left Should Think About Trade” in Current Affairs is totally sophomoric.

    I surfed the site a bit, and this is what I got…”If Christopher Hitchens and Willy Wonka had edited a magazine together, it might have resembled Current Affairs.” They said it, not me.

    Allow me to point out that the US and EU have a long, long colonial and neo-colonial history not of free trade, but of violently crushing labor unions; supporting agricultural monocultures; natural resource stripping; creating environmental wastelands; imposing debt slavery and servitude; aiding vicious, narrow oligarchies and outright violent regime change.

    The next time Benjamin launches into a description to leftish solutions to (cough) free-trade, perhaps he should begin in a fashion that is not completely a-historical. And when he finally understands what he is about he should type one-handed. He can hold a switch-blade in the other hand. That will help him come to grips (no pun intended) with the extreme difficulty in what he is about.

    1. Bernalkid

      The Stude is a mile wide and an inch deep. Reagan foreign policy was not happy time.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > with the extreme difficulty in what he is about.

      Fair enough. Who else on the left has given this a shot? (And I don’t mean think tanks.)

  19. Joe Well

    One of the commentariat once said they lived in a van on the West Coast of the US, partly to simplify their lives. I wonder if they have any opinions on this:

    To chase out low-waged workers, Mountain View is banning overnight RV and van parking

    summary by Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing:

    Mountain View — home to some of Silicon Valley’s most profitable companies, including Google — is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, thanks to the sky-high wages commanded by techies, who have gone on to bid up all the real-estate in the region.

    The problem is that these high-tech “campuses” rely on an army of low-waged, contracted out cleaners, gardeners, cooks, baristas, etc, and these people struggle to find housing within commuting distance of the city. Many of them have solved the problem by moving into RVs that they park overnight on Mountain View’s streets.

    While the city once welcomed these “wheel-estate” participants, the mood of the electorate has grown increasingly toxic (notably, some Mountain Viewers chanted “Build a wall” at a city council meeting, in opposition of any measures to accommodate homeless people in the city).

    The city council has now voted to ban overnight parking by vehicles taller than 6 feet, which goes into effect in 2020.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Many of them have solved the problem by moving into RVs that they park overnight on Mountain View’s streets.

      As the picture in the article shows, the good people of Mountain View have expropriated or at least rendered far less valuable the primary asset of its servant class. One more reason California is a model for the rest of us.

  20. VietnamVet

    The NTSB has released their report on Amtrak’s DuPont Crash that killed three rail enthusiasts. The Seattle Times is on it; “NTSB ‘amazed at the amount of failure’ by agencies”:

    The tragedy is that this will be buried in the PNW local news. It is a symptom of our times, take the money and ignore the consequences. Sound Transit didn’t rebuild the curve for the higher speed, no curve sign a mile ahead, this was the engineer’s first trip operating a new engine on a new route and was distracted for 20 seconds, the conductor didn’t call signs and signals, and the Talgo equipment was given a waiver in 1999. What could go wrong, did go wrong. Depending on markets to self-regulate and the loss of oversight by competent safety officials is the ultimate cause.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “How The Left Should Think About Trade”: ‘ if we had strengthened unions in China, we might be looking at a different world today. Whether that’s remotely possible now, I don’t know. The world may have moved on.’

    That horse has long bolted. Any union organizer in China today would find their social credit score drop like a rock. Besides, these day union strengthening is a destabilizing tactic used by the west against governments that they do not like and those governments now know it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Assuming Airbus can ramp up production or China has bootstrapped its own industry sufficiently. Those are both pretty heroic assumptions.

        Very good point on the social credit score and union organizing, however. I wonder if they’d sell us that technology…

  22. richard

    Hey, I’m an alert reader today!
    I had a stray thought today about Biden, and the split in the dem party. It seems to me that what will really tear the party asunder is the fight over imperialism. If the anti-war left can actually find a foothold, there will be guaranteed fireworks, direct conflict with red-baiting imperialists. The social left can always pretend to find compromise with libs, a million different worthless variations on med4all, for example. They allow libs to say “oh, we’re all talking about and fighting for the same thing here”.
    But on matters of empire, libs are more dug in, defending increasingly indefensible positions (sorry for the war metaphor, sort of). They’ve become reactionary and lizard brainy, with rusha, and assad, and every other boogyman “excusing” the totally real nightmares they inflict on others.
    I know that my positing of distinct “anti-war” and “social” lefts is somewhat dodgy, as many people have strong feelings in both areas, and indeed a consistent moral position would demand it. It just seems to me that it’s way harder for libs to fake compromise on u.s. exceptionalism. That will probably end up meaning something.

    1. John k

      Could be. Maybe explains why tulsi isn’t moving up… though not clear she is opposed more fervently than Bernie.

  23. Plenue

    Strether has asked for more links related to video games. The problem for me is that while there’s always interesting things going on in the video game world, as there is in film and television, I have trouble finding anything relevant to the interests of this site.

    That said, there’s been lots of talk of China lately, and so it may be of relevance, or at least interest, that today the much anticipated (at least by certain people) Total War: Three Kingdoms was released. It’s extremely good from what I’ve played so far.


    1. ChrisPacific

      I’m amazed how long that franchise has lasted. I played ‘Shogun’ and no others after that. I guess I should give it another look sometime.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Since the gaming universe is so vast, it’s hard to see how it would not impinge on “the interests of this site.”

      Is there no publication or site that critiques games — creation, production, social impact, crapification — as opposed to simply doing product reviews or otherwise servicing the industry? GamerGate, for example, seems like a relatively narrow phenomenon, but perhaps that was only mainstream framing, and I don’t have good filters/discounts for the topic area).

      1. skippy

        Cough … games are what the adolescent play to prepare for adulthood in animal species.

        1. The Rev Kev

          We never give up playing games as we grow older. It is just some games are more sophisticated than others whether you are talking about amateur sports games or office politics. Check out the 1964 book by Eric Berne called “Games People Play” to see the ones in common usage. Video games are just a different form of play is all. Would have been good to have them around as a kid.

          1. skippy

            I’m talking about basic behavioral conditioning in all animals, remnants of which can exist post adulthood.

            That’s not to say the hat studies done WRT Team Fortress did not advance the skins and upgrades cash flows approach. In the early Half Life TF Death Match or CT days some built their own map to gain achievement levels, high level players would ping each other to keep the legacy players with networks on the top shelf.

            Best bit is these servers were set up as corporations with a CEO, CFO, et al ….

            1. The Rev Kev

              Ah, sort of like how business software coders are given massive workloads and virtually all their lives are spent at the office until they are burned up or somehow manage to survive. Or how in war soldiers go through actual camps but in combat are treated like expendable assets, especially when they finish their service. Or how people that work in Amazon work their guts out and are monitored second by second to the point that they have to keep pee packs strapped to their legs. There seems to be a lot of that going around.

              1. skippy

                “Australians certainly do, it seems, following the release of figures from the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) showing that in the 2018 calendar year, we spent $4.029b (yes, billion) dollars on video gaming and hardware.”

                “Sales of console accessories, such as controllers, were reportedly up by 18.7 per cent as well.

                Another growth area was in microtransactions and in-game purchases — including cosmetic items, DLC and season passes — which research firm Teslyte said had grown 190 per cent year on year, much of it driven by the phenomenally popular Battle Royale game Fortnite.

                Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said there were double-digit growth numbers across download, mobile and subscription purchases.

                “The standout was the digital in-game extras market which grew by almost 200 per cent, driven by Fortnite, which continues to be a social phenomenon,” he said.

                Given the vast sums of money spent on gaming in Australia, Mr Curry said IGEA would like to see the re-elected government appreciate the gaming industry was an integral part of the wider screen industry and allow it access to support programs like refundable tax offsets.

                “It is imperative that these innovative and creative Australian-based tech companies can compete on a level playing field globally with many other jurisdictions offering support,” he said.

                “Australian games developers should be able to take advantage, culturally and economically, of the global growth of this wildly popular entertainment medium.””


                Knew the Valve guys back in the day, they have changed. Not that in the early NC days I spoke of a retired Army psychologist that was talking about the negative aspects of FPS games on youth publicly on TV. Strangely not 2 years later he rejoined and did a 180 on that perspective with a rank upgrade.

        2. ambrit

          One of the primary evolutionary advances of the human species has been it’s extension of the ‘childhood’ of it’s offspring. Socially, is there a point of diminishing returns?
          Oh, and we ain’t aminalz? /s (I get your subtle kidding there.)

          1. John A

            Another evolutionary ‘advance’ of the human species is lifelong milk drinking, as opposed to only in infancy.

            1. eg

              That’s a mutation, and one not all that widely distributed globally.

              If you can drink milk as an adult, you’re a mutant (like me).

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I’m not sure what kind of gaming links to look for, but here goes — an old link —
      Hikikomori: Why are so many Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms?
      5 July 2013 [https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-23182523]

      The World Health Organization added gaming disorder to the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11):
      Gaming disorder September 2018 [https://www.who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en/]

      A search at PMC library at Nationals Institute of Health
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/?term=video+game returned 20150 hits

  24. Summer

    RE: “Given that Apple’s installed base should be relatively flat going forward, services growth will likely depend entirely on additional [average revenue per user] expansion, whether through new offerings or increased monetization of existing businesses.’” • A flat user base…

    They still have their side business of renting and selling over priced housing in the Bay Area to each other.
    People would be wise to keep their “smart city” dreams out of their town or they’ll mostly be living in tent cities.

      1. The Rev Kev

        A senior public servant was asked about this report and said:
        “Well, if you ask me for a straight answer, then I shall say that, as far as we can see, looking at it by and large, taking one thing with another in terms of the average of departments, then in the final analysis it is probably true to say, that at the end of the day, in general terms, you would probably find that, not to put too fine a point on it, there probably wasn’t very much in it one way or the other as far as one can see, at this stage.”

Comments are closed.