2:00PM Water Cooler 5/24/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, you will be happy to know I regained control over my iPad, and moved my production work onto ProtonMail — leaving my send-mail-to-myself workflow otherwise the same (with one exception: I have the ProtonMail app on my iPad, synched with the desktop, so I get a notification bong when the mail I send arrives, confirming that my mail isn’t being held up because some damn algo thinks I’m a spammer*). This at least makes me no longer dependent on Yahoo, with its horrible practice of asking me to authenticate myself and change my password, always at the worst possible time, which I swear is a dark pattern to get me to authorize their new terms of service, which is always the end-point of the authentication process. If ProtonMail works out, I may change everything over to it, but for now, my current email address is still the one to use for correspondence. –lambert

NOTE * Why not simply copy and paste URLs into the app? For starters, tapping my way through sending mail is quicker and easier than copying and pasting on iOS, which is insanely cumbersome, one more reason Tim Cook is a moron if he thinks the iPad will ever be a professional tool without serious UI/UX work.

But enough of this epic. I am sure, readers, that you are heartily tired of it!

* * *


“New China Tariffs Increase Costs to U.S. Households” [Liberty Street Economics]. “Our recent study found that the 2018 tariffs imposed an annual cost of $419 for the typical household. This cost comprises two components: the first, an added tax burden faced by consumers, and the second, a deadweight or efficiency loss…. [A] tariff-induced shift in supply chains is therefore called a deadweight or efficiency loss. Economic theory tells us that deadweight losses tend to rise more than proportionally as tariffs rise because importers are induced to shift to ever more expensive sources of supply as the tariffs rise. The deadweight efficiency loss arises regardless of whether consumers switch to more expensive foreign sources or to a more expensive domestic source. As a result of this expenditure switching, we estimate that the annualized deadweight loss increases from $132 to $620 per household, bringing the total annual cost of the new round of tariffs to the typical household to $831. In sum, according to our estimates, these higher tariffs are likely to create large economic distortions and reduce U.S. tariff revenues.” • Somebody who knows more about economics than I do will have to tell me if “deadweight loss” is handwaving or not. What I note is the assumption that a global supply chain is somehow not, in and of itself, a “large economic distortion.” I also note the implicit assumption that consumer welfare is the highest good for trade policy (much as in concentration policy). Really?


“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): “How Joe Biden’s Policies Made the Opioid Crisis Harder to Treat” [Politico]. • Opioids… So that’s why the sunglasses!

Buttigeig (D)(1): “Exclusive Interview with 2020 Presidential Candidate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg” [Our Daily Planet]. On climate change: “We need to have the conversation be about what’s happening on the ground instead of these kinds of theories that people poke holes in because the time has come and gone to debate whether this is real. The other thing I think we need to do is shift and frame the narrative to have it be less about whether this is happening or not and have it be over who’s got a better plan. Because if they have a problem with our plan, they should propose a better one. Somebody who has no plan at all, who doesn’t think we need one is going increasingly to be left behind and it’s another example of how just the terms of the debate need to change.” • I had to check the About page to make sure this was a publication for adults.

Sanders (D)(1): Alert reader Alice Marshall throws this over the transom: “I tweeted this criticism of Bernie’s healthcare bill”:


The response from Bernie people was uniformly supportive. There was no:

  • Bernie is smarter than you
  • or don’t be a purity troll
  • or emoprog
  • or any of the other insults that Obama people trafficked in.

Bernie supporter are single payer supporters. It is not a cult, it is a political movement.

A single anecdote, to be sure. But suggestive!

“What the polls can’t tell you about the coming campaign” [Matt Bai, Yahoo News]. “With this many candidates, though, the horse race conceit doesn’t really fit. The best metaphor I can think of is a reality show competition, like ‘The Voice’ or ‘American Idol.’ Slowly but steadily, candidates will start to face elimination, either because they have no momentum or no money, or both. And the question isn’t who can amass an insurmountable lead, as in a horse race, but rather which contestants can build a solid enough base of support to avoid elimination and move on to the next round.” • That’s a useful corrective. If only there were some precedent for a reality show candidate actually winning….


AOC shining more light. Thread:

DK comments: “Drawing back the curtain on Congressional staffer role is HUGE. Appointed staffers are the proxies and extensions of our own elected reps, their conduct and decisions are broadly consequential, often critical to success/failure of legislation, inquiry and investigation (as here), the rep’s positions and policy formations.” • Remember, though, that Big Pharma has defense in depth. This is only a hearing. It’s not enough to be heard.


“An ‘obvious trap’? Democrats weigh political cost of impeachment” [Roll Call]. “After last fall’s historic midterm gains, Democrats control 31 seats in districts President Donald Trump carried in 2016, and they need to win them again next year to keep their majority. It’s hard to find any Democratic strategist involved in competitive House races who thinks impeachment would help that effort. Democrats have talked repeatedly about how health care and the economy helped them win in 2018, and how that’s their winning message heading into 2020. But while he wasn’t on the ballot, Trump was a powerful backdrop last fall, and many Democrats flipped GOP seats by offering to be a check on the executive branch.” • Well, if they can’t be a check, they can at least simulate being a check. Best of both worlds!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats Cozy Up to Wall Street While Shunning Corporate Cash” [Bloomberg]. “The mayor of South Bend, Ind., the senators from California and Minnesota, and the ex-vice president are among the Democratic presidential candidates disavowing corporate cash, lobbyist checks, or the super PAC system. They’re trying to outdo each other with promises to finance their campaigns with grassroots contributions. But while they play down the role of money and influence, longtime Wall Street donors who have both say little has changed. ‘I’ve talked to about half of them, and I have not run into a single one who said, ‘Hey, you worked at Goldman Sachs, I can’t take your money,” says Heyman, who helped elect Barack Obama by collecting checks from friends, and later became his ambassador to Canada. ‘I’ve not heard that—ever.'” • “Became” his ambassador. Ka-ching…

“Why I Love the D.S.A.” [Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs]. “One thing that makes the DSA somewhat exciting is that it’s a “big tent” of the left, and so all the issues that the left had differences of opinion on get hashed out within the organization. Should we be more “centralized” or “decentralized”? How can the labor movement and the environmental movement keep from being in tension? How can “class politics” and “identity politics” be reconciled? What kinds of compromises are necessary and useful, and what kinds are capitulation? DSA members range from those who are simply to the left of the Democratic Party establishment to hardcore Marxists and anarchists, and so there are real internal tensions. That may make the thing sound like a mess, and to some degree it always will be. But I think in the Trump era, there is a determination among most on the left that we can’t let our differences lead to the same tendencies that tore apart prior left movements—we can’t become a circular firing squad.”

“‘Mind control’: The secret UK government blueprints shaping post-terror planning” [Middle East Eye]. “A number of the people involved in the advance planning of ‘controlled spontaneity’ clearly have some misgivings about the way in which emergency planning for the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks is being combined with propaganda techniques that are intended to influence the responses of the public.” • Yikes. This is, of course, the UK. Nevertheless [genuflects], Obama did do away with the Smith-Mundt Act.

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, April 2019: “There’s no Boeing-related catastrophe yet but manufacturing is indeed slumping, confirmed by a broadly weak durable goods report for April” [Econoday]. “The big 737 fallout, if there will be one, has yet to hit but what is hitting is generally sliding demand for manufactured goods in what reflects generally weak global demand. But it’s the decline in capital goods that headlines April, pointing to lack of momentum for business investment going into May and the breakdown of US-China trade talks.”

Real Estate: “Southern California builders, swamped with unsold homes, cut construction to 3-year low” [Orange County Register (TonyinSoCAL)]. “Southern California builders, stuck with the largest supply of unsold homes in seven years, have slashed construction to the slowest pace since 2016. First-quarter data from MetroStudy shows 3,750 new homes went unsold in the four counties covered by the Southern California News Group — an increase of 688 units in a year or 22% and up 37% vs. the five-year average. It was builders’ largest inventory of unsold units since 2012’s first quarter.” • Well, heck. Who needs a home when you’ve got an RV?

Retail: “It’s a Good Thing That Shopping on Your Phone Is the Worst” [OneZero]. “According to research on consumers’ mobile shopping behavior, there are two types of purchases people tend to make on their mobile devices: ‘hedonic purchases‘ and ‘habitual purchases.’ A hedonic purchase could be a pair of stylish shoes that you buy on a whim from an Instagram ad — something you want very much, not something that you need. A habitual purchase is the sort of product a consumer buys regularly, like house supplies or beauty products, that are a part of the person’s regimen already…. Ying Zhu, an assistant professor of management at the University of British Columbia, has studied how consumers differentiate their purchases depending on the device. In her 2017 research, she found [that] different devices may encourage different types of thinking. Smartphones, she says, ‘enhance your experiential thinking mode. You’ll be drawn towards hedonic products like ice cream and chocolate.’ But because of how we typically use desktop computers — it’s where we do much of our day-to-day work — we approach their use in a ‘rational’ thinking mode. And when that’s the case, you’re more capable of asking questions and making comparisons…. Zhu notes that as we grow more and more dependent on mobile, we could end up transitioning our rational thinking from desktop to mobile out of necessity. We’ll be doing more work and completing more tasks on our phones, so that mode of thought will follow. Or we could lose access to that rational thinking mode, making it harder for us to make thoughtful purchases that require more than a split-second decision. In other words, we’ll be dumber about things we need to think about before buying.” • I think I know how this movie is going to end…

The Bezzle: A VC dude asks a good question:

The Biosphere

One more for #WorldBeeDay:

“The smallest McDonald’s in the world is a…bee hive?” [It’s Nice That]. “After Pornhub decided in its infinite wisdom that the best way of raising awareness of the 70 or so species of bee set to perish in the near future was to invite hardcore adult entertainment stars like Will Pounder and Domino Presley to voice bee-themed, pollen-probing short films, several Swedish branches of McDonald’s have found themselves playing home to fully functioning beehives. … Six french fry-flinging franchises across the country now find themselves in possession of the so-called McHives. Designed by Nicklas Nilsson – a set and costume designer who has previously worked with the likes of David Bowie and film director Roy Andersson – was recruited by the world’s number one fast food restaurant to aid with its ongoing sustainability drive. The bees, we are told by a representative at [Scandinavian agency NORD DDB], ‘enter the hive through the main entrance and the restaurant also has a McDrive and seating outdoors.'” • I suppose this is good…

* * *

“Climate change: sea level rise could displace millions of people within two generations” [The Conversation]. “Structured Expert Judgement is a method from a study one of us published in 2013. Experts give their judgement on a hard-to-model problem and their judgements are combined in a way that takes into account how good they are at assessing their own uncertainty. This provides a rational consensus…. We gathered together 22 experts in the US and UK in 2018 and combined their judgements. The results are sobering. Rather than a shrinking in the uncertainty of future ice sheet behaviour over the last six years, it has grown. If the global temperature increase stays below 2°C, the experts’ best estimate of the average contribution of the ice sheets to sea level was 26cm. They concluded, however, that there is a 5% chance that the contribution could be as much as 80cm.” • Hmm. Tail risk? I don’t know how to assess the “Structured Expert Judgement” methodology, however. Readers?

“Why Carbon Credits For Forest Preservation May Be Worse Than Nothing” [Pro Publica]. “I looked at projects going back two decades and spanning the globe and pulled together findings from academic researchers in far-flung forest villages, studies published in obscure journals, foreign government reports and dense technical documents. I enlisted a satellite imagery analysis firm to see how much of the forest remained in a preservation project that started selling credits in 2013. Four years later, only half the project areas were forested. In case after case, I found that carbon credits hadn’t offset the amount of pollution they were supposed to, or they had brought gains that were quickly reversed or that couldn’t be accurately measured to begin with. Ultimately, the polluters got a guilt-free pass to keep emitting CO₂, but the forest preservation that was supposed to balance the ledger either never came or didn’t last.” • Because markets.

“Shade” [Places Journal]. Taking for granted that shade is good: “There are nearly 1,900 official bus shelters in Los Angeles city limits, but only a handful within two miles of Tony’s Barber Shop [on an exposed stretch of Figueroa Street near the Pasadena Freeway]. Who decides where the shade goes? You might imagine that transit planners call the shots — strategically placing shelters outside grocery stores and doctors’ offices on high-frequency routes, according to community need — but Los Angeles, like many cities, has outsourced the job. The first thousand shelters were installed in the 1980s by billboard companies in exchange for the right to sell ad space, and they tended to show up in wealthy areas where ad revenue surpassed maintenance costs. In 2001, the mayor signed a deal to double the number of shelters and give public officials greater control over their placement. The new vendor agreed to install and maintain shelters throughout the city and offset its losses with freestanding ad kiosks in lucrative areas. But when politically savvy constituents complained about the coming spate of advertising, the city withheld permits, and the deal broke down. As the contract nears its end, the vendor, Outfront/Decaux, has installed only about 650 new shelters, roughly half of the projected number.” • Because markets.

“Springs are arriving earlier, but New England’s woodland wildflowers are slow to catch on” [Yale Climate Connections]. “In New England’s forests, wildflowers are some of the first signs of spring – often blooming before trees leaf out and shade the forest floor. [As we have seen! –lambert] Heberling: ‘This high light period before the trees leaf out is really critical for how these wildflowers grow.’ That’s Mason Heberling, assistant curator of botany at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He says that as the climate warms, this critical period is getting shorter. He worked with Boston University scientists who studied tree and flower leaf-out dates in Concord, Massachusetts. They found that, compared to 160 years ago, the trees now produce leaves about two weeks earlier. But wildflowers are only leafing out about one week earlier than before. Heberling: ‘Essentially wildflowers have one week less of high light before they’re shaded out by the overstory.'” • So, smaller and less colorful wildflowers — although no doubt adaptation is taking place.

“DNA from 10,000 year old chewing gum reveals the secrets of Stone Age Scandinavians” [Phys.org]. “Scientists have recovered DNA that is nearly 10,000 years old from gum that was chewed by people in Scandinavia during the Mesolithic—or Stone Age—period. This gum was used as glue to make tools—the chewing is believed to have helped make it more pliable and sticky…. Two of the three individuals whose genomes were successfully sequenced were female. There has been a perception among some archaeologists that females in prehistory were relegated to a purely domestic role and had little to do with “masculine” tasks such as making tools…. If females were making tools, were they also using them to hunt? What was the life of a Mesolithic child in Scandinavia like? Did Mesolithic people chew gum for recreational, hygienic and medicinal reasons, as other cultures did?”

Guillotine Watch

“School Made Six-year-old Girl Do ‘Cafeteria Walk Of Shame,’ Return Lunch, Because She Didn’t Have Enough Money” [Newsweek]. “Dwight Howard said his granddaughter Anya Howard was ‘lunch shamed’ and urged Southwest Elementary School in Greenwood, Indiana, to review its cafeteria policies. Last Friday, Anya had a tray of hot foot but was forced to return it because she did not have the $2.25 in her account needed to pay for it. She then went to the back of the line to wait for an alternative lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She said that she was ‘sad’ because she was laughed at.” • Unsurprisingly, the Harkonnens have become educators. NOTE Howard would have used EZ School Pay to pay for her lunch, according to the Greenwood School site, from Harris School Solutions. Presumably, EZ School Pay is budgeted for by the School Committee, and doesn’t just take a cut from Anya’s $2.50. Idea: Get rid of the whole system and make lunch free. As it should be.

“Rich Uber Passengers Can Now Demand Silence From Their ‘Contractor’ Drivers Through the App” [Jalopnik]. “Last night, the company announced an ‘enhanced Uber Black experience,’ referring to the company’s luxury car service. This will include an option to tell your driver to change the temperature, help you with luggage, or more pointedly, to just shut the f*ck up. Of course, that’s not how Uber describes it. The company bills it as a ‘Quiet Mode’ riders can select before getting into the car, so that ‘if you need to respond to emails or are in the mood for a nap, make your trip a quieter one with just one tap.’ The product page adds that ‘if you’re in the mood to chat, that’s an option too.’ No one will select this. But in some ways it’s just as bad as the Shut The F*ck Up Mode. It also creates an unfair expectation for someone who is not being paid to be your therapist or whatever. This is the core hypocrisy of the contract labor market. The purveyors of the gig economy reserve the right to ask its workers to do pretty much anything to please the customer but insist on paying them as if their job description is vanishingly narrow.” • Putting quotes around “Contractor” in the headline is a nice touch. Kudos, Jalopnik!

Neoliberal Epidemics

“The devastating biological consequences of homelessness” [Nature]. “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.” • Everything’s going according to plan!

Class Warfare

“An RV Camp Sprang Up Outside Google’s Headquarters. Now Mountain View Wants to Ban It” [Bloomberg]. ” Thousands of people live in RVs across San Francisco and the broader Bay Area because they can’t afford to rent or buy homes. In December, Mountain View police logged almost 300 RVs that appeared to be used as primary residences. Palo Alto, Berkeley and other Bay Area towns have similar numbers. Some Silicon Valley towns have cracked down in recent months, creating an even more uncertain future for RV residents. At a March city council meeting, Mountain View voted to ban RVs from parking overnight on public streets. The ban hasn’t taken effect yet, but soon, the town’s van dwellers will need to go elsewhere.” • They have jobs, too, in Silicon Valley. You’d think that a Democrat one-party state like California — “optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward” — wouldn’t be treating a large part of its working class like garbage. Live and learn.


See the genuinely frightening Into Thin Air for the problems here.

News you can use:

Above chart from Harrison, Marissa & M. Hughes, Susan & Jordan Gott, Adam. (2019). Sex Differences in Serial Killers. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. From the abstract: “Using the mass media method to collect archival data, we obtained information about 55 [Male Serial Killers (MSKs)] and 55 [Female Serial Killers (FSKs)] (matched for age of first murder) who committed their crimes in the United States from 1856 to 2009. We found that MSKs more frequently act as “hunters,” stalking and killing targeted strangers in dispersed areas, while FSKs more frequently are “gatherers,” killing those who are around them and familiar to them and gaining profit from their crimes.” • Oh. (No data visible on absolute numbers by sex.)

News of the Wired

“Landmark Algorithm Breaks 30-Year Impasse” [Quanta]. “Last month, László Babai, of the University of Chicago, announced that he had come up with a new algorithm for the ‘graph isomorphism’ problem, one of the most tantalizing mysteries in computer science. The new algorithm appears to be vastly more efficient than the previous best algorithm, which had held the record for more than 30 years….” • This is really neat. Now we can determine whether all the CT string diagrams are the same diagram with different labels, or whether they are really different. And ditto for subgraphs of Zuck’s social graph…

Why we love the Post Office. Thread:

* * *
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):

Bleeding hearts from the Pacific Northwest’s temperate rainforest. Nice use of depth of field.

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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. Cal2

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

    Nothing that “immigration reform” couldn’t address,
    along with some federally guaranteed loans for “equity.”

    1. taunger

      Can they get “resiliency loans?” Might be necessary in that part these days … I swore off moving the the SW a decade ago, seems others might have caught on.

    2. jrs

      well we quite literally have a housing shortage right now (at least in the large urban areas there is definitely a housing shortage). So there literally isn’t enough housing for people now. It’s not just a problem of unaffordable housing but insufficient housing.

      But the people who need housing can’t get even the housing that is available because it’s priced beyond their budget maybe.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is it a case of ‘if you build (any, or more of them), they will come?”

        Alternatively, one choice is to ban (that word again) new projects like Apple’s new HQ in already densely built-up regions? So that, that corpoation might have to look at Stockton, Visalia, or at the borderline areas next to, say, Nevada? Then, Nevadans can get to work (more) on housing affordability.

        1. Synoia

          or at the borderline areas next to, say, Nevada?

          Sadly there is no water allotment there. Water supply or entitlement defines where one can build and live in CA.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            How are we going to conquer Mars (and beyond), if we just let this little water thing stop our brightest tech minds from relocating there?

            1. clarky90

              George Soros BANNED from the Philippines!

              Victoria Nuland, US midwife to Maidan-2014, denied visa to Russia

              Re; The laws of unintended consequences

              IMO, neo-con/lib globalism was intended to transform the Earth into a sparsely populated, eco-playground for the famous and rich; unfettered private jets…… Spending their lives, “giving back”, crossing off “to do lists”; (1) climb Everest, (2) eat caviar (3) put solar panels on the summer-house (4) have meaningful “conversations” about ethics……

              Ruled by an i-totalitarian political system, that oversees……the help.

              But, what about the converse? A simultaneous awakening of “the help”? What if every place on this connected Earth, perceived “Our” 00.01% as, pariahs……….?

              MARS welcomes them!

      2. Oregoncharles

        Do you have numbers for the shortage of housing? Because the numbers of homeless people quoted below seem small compared to the size of their respective cities. Just on those numbers, it looks like a solvable problem, if the will were there.

        Granted, the same could be said for my city – though the big problem isn’t the homeless, which we have, but commuters who can’t afford to live where they work.

      3. Pespi

        The balance of this unsold housing is in the endless sprawling into nowhere suburbs of major cities.

        It’s too far from the Dynamic Urban Core as one might say.

    3. Glen

      Free market, drop prices, etc?

      No, well, I’m shocked, shocked, that we are not letting the invisible hand, blah, blah, blah…

    4. ewmayer

      But, but, but, just yesterday in 2pmwc the nice totally non-shill people at Econoday told us that “Low mortgage rates are having their predictable and very welcome effect on home sales — driving them significantly higher”. Probably California is just too small a market to act as a national barometer of any kind … yeah, that’s the ticket… (I note it was the same TonyinSoCAL who pointed out the ludicrousness of that Econoday hype yesterday in comments – hat tip!)

      1. JBird4049

        There has been a growing housing crisis in city of San Francisco since the 1980s with around 12,000 homeless in San Francisco. IIRC, in the LA metro it’s around 40,000. For entire state, who knows? Just how can these builders not have enough business? Just wait until the current housing bubble burst with in the next year. They will stop building completely even through there will still be a housing shortage.

  2. Wukchumni

    I’ve climbed maybe 45 peaks in the Sierra Nevada and even the most congested of them-Mt Whitney, is crowded yet clean.

    You’ll not run into the mess you see on Mt Everest, just a lot of people typically well spaced out en route.

    Climb a lesser known peak, and the odds are good you’ll not see anybody aside from whose in your party on the mountain.

    The highlight aside from a glorious view is a peak register and it might be rolled up paper in a film canister (remember those?) or something more elaborate, and an easy one like Eagle Scout Peak needs a new register every 5-10 years, while the more difficult peaks have ancient registers, the best of which i’ve ever seen was on Black Kaweah from the early 1920’s. It was a who’s who of famous climbers in the Sierra…

    Somebody made off with it in 2010, no doubt after my signature.


    1. The Rev Kev

      There are enough dead bodies left up there that they are used as route markers for climbers. Trying to retrieve them is hellishly difficult at those altitudes.

    2. Off The Street

      Mountain ethos ain’t what it used to be. Antediluvian climbers like yours truly tried to observe some protocols and barely lived to tell the tales. Descending off a crowded summit first, to get ahead of an hour-long rappel bottleneck, only served to make our party targets for less considerate folk who kicked off all manner of rocks through sheer carelessness.

      It was irritating at first, with little pebbles pinging off helmets. The last straw was the triggered slide that resulted in 200 pound boulders careening my direction 1/4 mile downslope with nary a warning except from my climbing partner. Boulders get moving pretty fast due to that ol’ gravity. I was once spry and able to dodge one that would’ve otherwise distributed my remains, so moved on to different mountains.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      We did run this in May 14, but nonetheless, yikes. This was my favorite piece of Newspeak:

      The utility also plans to set up dozens of so-called “resiliency centers,” Johnson said by telephone, where backup generators can be brought in to run essential services. An initial pilot center is being built near Calistoga, he said.


      1. Cal2

        PG&E’s board of directors. These are the people that, as bonuses, split the money you are forced to pay on your utility bill for tree trimming and maintenance with the tree contractors when “savings” are made or delayed. Not even 1,000 power line caused deaths, yet, in California from this profitable scheme.


        Adios Geisha Jimenez Williams!

        So, what are we getting?

        March 28, 2019
        “I am troubled to learn that PG&E is primed to reconstitute its board with hedge fund financiers, out-of-state executives and others with little or no experience in California,” [California Governor] Newsom said.

        Here they are:

        We need reverse condemnation, seize it by eminent domain and make it publicly owned power.

        How about some CEO clawbacks? A.G. Kamala never considered that.

    2. Wukchumni

      Around 300 million residents in California rely exclusively upon electric pumps to keep them nourished, and most have deep enough roots to be able to last a week or 2 without water, but if there’s a prolonged blackout, bye bye fruit & nut trees.

        1. Wukchumni

          Chalk up another milestone for the California almond industry as bearing acreage is now at least one million acres.

          Total 2016 acreage of almonds, which includes trees less than three years old also known as “non-bearing,” is estimated at over 1.24 million acres, a 7 percent boost from the 2015 revised figure of 1.16 million acres.

          Bearing acreage in 2016 was 940,000.


          Typically there are between 100 and 200 almond trees planted per acre, so with 1.24 million acres in almonds alone, that’s between 125 and 250 million almond trees by their lonesome.

          I might’ve underestimated by using 300 million, ha!

    3. Chris Hargens

      I’ve been get heads-up emails from PG&E, subject line: Important Reminder: Prepare for power outages and help us reach you.
      “Dear Valued Customer:

      Given the growing threat of extreme weather, we want all of our customers to be prepared for power outages. If extreme fire danger conditions threaten a portion of the electric system serving your community, it will be necessary for us to turn off electricity in the interest of public safety. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff.” I guess I should buy some ice, just in case…

      1. MichaelSF

        Keep any excess space in your freezer full of containers of frozen water. That should give you not only some reserve cooling (and maybe lower the amount of run-time on the compressor) but also a few gallons of extra drinking water in emergencies.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I use half-gallons of ice (milk jugs) in our cooler when we camp or picnic. No melt water all over the bottom, and you have icewater when it melts. Then we keep them in the freezer. But your advice is a good reminder: I need to put more in, for the purpose you describe.

    4. Procopius

      I keep confusing Jackpot with Robert E. Heinlein’s The Year of the Jackpot, which ended with nuclear war and the sun going nova. I guess the more recent Jackpot has a less abrupt ending.

  3. none

    The article about Babai’s graph isomorphism algorithm is from 2015. Some problems with the proof turned up later and Babai fixed them, but I think formal review is not yet complete.

  4. Wukchumni

    Housing bubble part deux was more comprehensive than the first one in that the powers that be managed to make a house in Denver or Seattle worth as much one in SoCal.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but can you name any common used item typically owned by a consumer, that goes up in value like houses did?

    Good luck!

      1. Wukchumni

        Oh yes, the all important 2,600 sq feet under which a garage mahal sits…

        When you look on Zillow it assigns a value to each and every home on the basis of size largely, and they have no idea if the inside is a pigsty or worse.

        It’d be like giving values to automobiles based on what they look like on the outside, with scant other variables aside from the year it was made.

        1. Socal Rhino

          Yes and no. $/sq ft varies a lot between zip codes, less so within and within tracts, due to similarities in location and lot size. Zillow like other RE estimates mainly use recent comparable sales, so sales trends also impact price estimates. Wolf Richter used this a week or so back to explain the disproportionate impact offshore buyers (e.g. people wishing to place their cash within our financial system) can have on a market.

          Finally, the “value” is established when escrow closes, not when Zillow lists their estimate.

          But i agree on what i think your larger point is, the asset inflation driving prices up beyond the reach of more and more.

      2. Kurtismayfield

        The value isn’t the land, it is the zip code. Change the zip code = schools model and real estate values go pop.

  5. nippersmom

    Thank you for the twitter thread on Mr. Floyd’s retirement. Lovely to see him so appreciated by the community he served.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Id like say thanks as well.

      My Grandpa, Daniel Becnel, worked and retired as a US Postman after retiring from the Navy after WW2.


  6. Cat Burglar

    The Mount Everest photograph is a mountaineering nightmare.

    The second and third highest peaks in the world, K2 and Kangchenjunga, are much more beautiful, and they have no lines.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      If the people who climbed Mt. Everest had been the type of people that settle for #2 or #3, they would never have reached the level of people who climb Mt. Everest.

      1. Wukchumni

        Mt Everest is nothing compared to K2, from an ability standpoint. It’s not called the Savage Mountain just for grins.

        300 people have stood on it’s summit, versus around 6,000 for Mt Everest.

      2. Tomonthebeach

        Watching the Mt. Everest queue struck me as both funny and pathetic. Most of the members in the line are 1%ers who are keeping up with the Jones’s bucklist. None of my friends who have seen combat have any interest in Mt. Everest. It makes me wonder if this is some sort of macho self-assurance ritual.

        People die every year climbing a stupid mountain that few of us will ever see in real life (due to cost and remoteness). What is dumber, dying while climbing a mountain to indulge one’s hubris, or dying in wars to ensure rich people get richer?

        1. Wombat

          The death rate on the 2nd highest peak (K2) is 25%. Most of the deaths are out of the climber’s control (avalanches, climbing under unavoidable cornices), which makes me wonder….

          What is crazier… Paying 100k to join other elite packaged adventure seekers in a long, assisted line, or embarking on a challenge with a quarter chance of dying?

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The Bhutanese have a good approach to this. They’ve simply banned climbing the highest mountains. They keep them sacred and free of junk and dead bodies.

      They also promote trekking as an alternative industry, this has created far more jobs for a greater variety of local people.

  7. Steve H.

    > Structured Expert Judgement

    On a quick pass, a method developed by Roger M. Cooke, which uses an interview process to calibrate a veracity rating for individuals within their field of expertise. Avoids some types of statistical artifacts (possibly including long tail issues).

    Looks like a lot a front-end work.

  8. nippersmom

    “School Made Six-year-old Girl Do ‘Cafeteria Walk Of Shame,’ Return Lunch, Because She Didn’t Have Enough Money” [Newsweek].
    Bernie Sanders shared this story on his Facebook page with this comment: It’s simple: all students must have access to healthy school meals. No child should go hungry or be shamed for not being able to pay. As a nation we must provide year-round, free universal school meals for our children.

    1. cm

      As a nation we must provide year-round, free universal school meals for our children.

      How about year-round schooling as well, like our First-World betters do?

      1. Arizona Slim

        And how about school gardens at every school? Where kids can learn how to grow their own food — and consume it in the cafeteria.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Saw that in a documentary about education in France (it was organic too).

          My suggestion – junk the football program and use the field for growing vegetables.

          And ban cheerleading. Focusing on inner beauty is likely more rewarding, instead of being incited by external events.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The home work assignment, or rather, the yard work assignment was to grow radicchio.

              “Sorry, kid. I will give you an incomplete grade. Try again next semester.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This story is likely related to the one, in links, about 40% of Americans not being able to cover a $400 emergency.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Bernie and Lambert are right on about the need for school lunch to be free.

      We receive notices all the time that our kid owes in their lunch account, to which I ask, how in the hell did my kid get a lunch “account”?!? I’m dumbfounded that these school administrators think small children can understand the concept of credit and how to use it properly. They just want some french toast. I forget which circle of hell Dante put the usurers in, but hopefully that is where the administrators who came up with this absurd system will end up.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Thank you lab. Similarly, my uncle (bipolar, early dementia) went into nursing home (finally).

        After about a month, I was asked to clear up Uncle’s petty cash account…

        By then it was up to $600, all spent on iced coffees, pop, and cigarettes at local shops.

        I tried to explain that there was no account and that I hadn’t authorised them to give him money, so they’d given him their money, not mine. He’d been very cunning, but still had to pay up in the end.

        Account closed

        1. ambrit

          Yes. With dementia, you should have power of attorney, and thus final say on any disbursement of funds. This sounds like a system designed to be abused.

      2. richard

        That would be awesome. The K-8 where I teach has a small (1st grade) gardening program. I want us to do much more.
        That lunch debt is even a thing, and that any kid has to worry about money for food is sick in the head. We’ve had a student or two treated poorly at our school for lunch debt. There have been a couple times a kid in my class who usually eats home lunch forgets it one day, and I have to go down there and hassle with the man with the cash register (god forbid I don’t have $5 in my wallet). Lambert, I’m with you. Get the f*&^ing cash register out of our public school.
        Yikes, this is in the wrong place! I meant to respond to arizona slim above.
        but I liked your comment too lyman!

    4. Off The Street

      Marge, we need to talk to you about a policy violation. You were seen paying for a child’s lunch, in strict violation of Article 4 in the Kinsley Manual. In accordance with our zero tolerance policy we have no choice but to suspend you without pay.

      Variations on the above probably aren’t too far-fetched. :(

  9. Chris Cosmos

    Re Buttigeig: I prefer, as a matter of style, Secretary Rumsfeld’s more crafty and poetic prose to B’s rather grad-school type speech. Children would never put up with that kind of bullshit. But this is where we are. Let’s hope the Democratic primary season doesn’t degenerate into the clown-car marathon that was last season’s Republican primary.

    1. jrs

      What he said was ok, but most people who care whatsoever about the issue ignore climate change denialists already, whether they encounter them as trolls in comment sections or as Republicans in congress. We have ahem … moved on. They aren’t worth the time of day (well ok if they happened to be my rep I might write them anyway, but for the most part).

      So I went and checked if Buttigieg even has a policy proposal on climate change as Buttiegieg finally got a policy page. Ok it was a blurb. For GND (but that’s super vague now), for tax and dividend (but there is a actual house bill for that, does he support it?). Well he’s no Jay Inslee with pages of proposals on climate change, that’s for sure.

      Then the next question I have is about whether Buttigieg takes fossil fuel money. Well apparently at least he has pledged not to which beats Biden, Harris and Booker. But I think some can sneak in the backdoor anyway, it’s very hard to track the money it seems (best democracy money can buy and all)


      So voting for him remains mostly buying a pig in a poke.

  10. Craig H.

    > “The smallest McDonald’s in the world is a…bee hive?”

    I tried to load the beehive spiel from My Dinner with Andre but the copyright bots thwarted my lame butt.

    Anyway I like Andre’s better. BZZZZzzzz….

  11. Wukchumni

    We’ve had the strangest winter part 2, the past couple of weeks and that’s not all…

    Fiddlenecks are the first wildflower to show up in January, by March vast carpets of gold blanket the region, quite beautiful.

    By April they are so done, gone.

    Today, I was applying some fertilizer to fruit trees and noticed a few dozen Fiddlenecks that are in their early stages of flowering, round 2.

    Mother Nature must be mixed up…

    1. Isotope_C14

      I’m no where near as smart as Issac Newton, but I’d wonder if perhaps the bacteria and other microorganisms in the soil are sending mixed messages to the roots of your wildflowers.

  12. anon y'mouse

    interested in serial killers, Lambert?

    are you thinking that the category of people who control our economic system and “kill” people impersonally, from afar should be in that category?

    similar to how white collar crime is barely on the radar, yet causes a wider path of destruction than interpersonal crime (and yet fail to suffer the consequences of the average armed robber in the streets), i do sometimes wonder why certain people are not classed as serial killers.

    i guess the only thing you can say about the category as it stands is “they get their own hands dirty”. sorry, grim humour.

    1. Summer

      The perfect world for a serial killer is one where everything and everyone is commodified and objectified.
      They blend in easily. They have behaviors that are rewarded – until they kill the “wrong” person or just so many that they would embarrass law enforcement.

    2. Summer

      Really, think about how often you hear “They seemed so normal.”
      That’s not a testament to their “skills,” that is a indictment on the entire society.

  13. Summer

    “Rich Uber Passengers Can Now Demand Silence From Their ‘Contractor’ Drivers Through the App” [Jalopnik]

    “The product page adds that ‘if you’re in the mood to chat, that’s an option too.’ No one will select this. But in some ways it’s just as bad as the Shut The F*ck Up Mode. It also creates an unfair expectation for someone who is not being paid to be your therapist or whatever….”

    Why end the utter stupidity here? They have apps for therapists. Why not require them to drive you around upon request?

    1. Wukchumni

      Down under, one sits next to the driver in the front seat of a taxi (or at least that’s how it used to go) and it’d be awkward to have a STFU mode under such circumstances.

    2. Summer

      It could be like that scene from Chinatown:

      “She;s my driver.”
      “She’s my therapist.”

  14. Fern

    I don’t understand this type of soft promotion of Buttigieg.  Along with any discussion of his generic Democratic positions on climate change, abortion or racial and sexual discrimination, I’d like to see very pointed questions about why he has been praised by neocons such as Jennifer Rubin and why he was promoted for DNC chair by an AIPAC-connected clique when he was only 35 years old and had no national experience whatsoever.    About why he fired the popular black police chief who was under attack by a cabal of white police officers widely thought to be racist.  About why he said “all lives matter”, and how he could have possibly claimed ignorance as an excuse.  About why he constantly triangulates on foreign policy while signaling support for interventionism. About why he said that Obama shouldn’t have commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence and why he is a hard-liner on whistleblowers. About why, as a superdelegate in 2016, he voted for Hillary Clinton when Sanders won the 2016 Indiana primary.  

    The left-leaning blogs have done a reasonably good job exposing the politics of Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Booker and Biden, but have have completely fallen down regarding Buttigieg, who could well be the worst of the sorry lot.  It looks like the DNC has finally found the winning strategy — pick a candidate with no national experience or even decision-making experience but who has quietly assured them that he can be relied upon to support the  corporate and military/intelligence agenda and use that candidate to whittle away at Sanders’ support.

    1. Tyrannocaster

      Excellent summation! Think I’ll save that one for later use as a reference. Thanks.

  15. RMO

    Jalopnik sometimes seems like a site created by people who can’t write for people who can’t read but they do put out some really entertaining articles fairly regularly and a few important ones every now and then. They seem to be one of the few sites that have ever questioned Uber/Lyft – outside the thorough investigation done here on NC of course. Their coverage of Goodyear’s flawed RV tire has been good too. The sort of thing that I once would have expected to come from the mainstream media’s investigative journalism wing.

    I was semi-banned from the comments for nearly two years there, just got back in again recently. Geez, I didn’t actually SAY that the executives of a certain large German automobile company had questionable intimate lives, I simply POSTULATED that they MAY have romantic preferences that involved the participation of certain barnyard denizens…

    The Postal Carrier piece reminds me a little of the experience my wife and I have with delivering the two local, free weekly newspapers in our neighborhood. It’s only 150 houses but we’ve got to know the neighborhood and the neighbors so much better during the first year of doing it that we did in the previous years of living here. A lot of people, particularly the older ones really appreciate getting the paper and the regular exercise is great too. A good thing because it sure doesn’t pay much!

  16. Left in Wisconsin

    “New China Tariffs Increase Costs to U.S. Households” [Liberty Street Economics]

    On the specific question of whether “deadweight loss” is just handwaving, I would say yes. It’s part of the area under the curve in a standard supply-demand graph when something changes to move off S-D equilibrium. Unlike a price change, it doesn’t correspond to anything a normal person would consciously experience. (In the model, that person would, given higher prices on tariffed items, substitute with the purchase of something else, but that thing would be of lesser “value” that the original good that they are no longer going to purchase because the price went up. That’s the deadweight loss.)

    Which gets to the larger point – it’s all handwaving. The study uses a basic equilibrium trade model to estimate the cost of Trump’s tariff. Shockingly, they find that tariffs raise prices. Since the whole point of a tariff is to compensate for “artificially” low import prices or at least to encourage domestic production that would otherwise be non-competitive with the imports, that should come as no surprise to anyone. There is actually an interesting chart in the paper on washing machine prices that shows them declining by about 25% from 2012-2018 pre-tariff and then increasing by about 10% after the tariffs were imposed. But of course that price decline is seen as completely unproblematic.

    To (mainstream) economists, who prefer to assume that only conscious government (or trade union) action drives economic activity off equilibrium, tariffs are by definition a bad thing. This “study” tries to put a number on how bad. (And, yes, it is likely to be widely promoted.)

    And, yes, all of the other idiocies of mainstream trade theory – that it’s countries, not companies who trade; that existing rates and levels of profits are equilibrium levels and so of course deserved and not to be tampered with; etc. etc. – are taken for granted.

  17. Summer

    I found more about what “universal credit” is in Britain:


    “The United Nations expert whose warning of deepening poverty in Britain was this week dismissed as “barely believable” by ministers, has said the government’s denial is as worrying as the poverty itself.

    Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published his final report on the state of Britain on Wednesday. In it he accused the government of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population”. Ministers responded that it was “a completely inaccurate picture of our approach to tackling poverty” and instead claimed the UK was among the happiest countries in the world….

    …But far from backing down, Alston, who describes his politics as progressive and left-of-centre, has pushed his argument harder.

    “I think breaking rocks has some similarity to the 35 hours of job search [required per week to receive universal credit] for people who have been out of work for months or years,” he said. “They have to go through the motions but it is completely useless. That seems to me to be very similar to the approach in the old-style workhouse. The underlying mentality is that we are going to make the place sufficiently unpleasant that you really won’t want to be here.”

    Some of the Britains officials are complaining that they only spend 11 days in the country for the report (as if they had never been there before).

    I guess the UN left the City of London out of the report and got to the REAL..

    1. jrs

      I read a fair amount from unemployed Brits when I was unemployed. It did seem a ridiculous system indeed. However I was *jealous* because there is literally NO safety net in the U.S. for those who have been unemployed for months or years. Unemployment ends after 6 months in the U.S. now. Then if you can’t get a job you have no income at all. I’d rather jump through ten thousand completely ridiculous hoops if it meant money for survival, anything, anything over NOTHING AT ALL! So the U.S. is such a @#$#hole country that everything starts looking good in comparison.

      Of course even if it is a marginally better safety net, no doubt economic conditions are likely much worse there now with Brexit. So there is that.

    2. MichaelSF

      “They have to go through the motions but it is completely useless.”

      Like the Soviet-era joke “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work”.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      I, Daniel Blake directed by Ken Loach

      An excellent movie now on Netflix, follows a working class Brit who has a serious health event (don’t recall what) and the doc says he can’t work so he applies for govt bennies and needless to say systematic immiseration sounds about right.

      It is Kafkaesque at times but leavened by the closely observed humanity of the lead, who refuses to let the bastards strip him of his dignity.

      Ken Loach has been chronicling the class struggle in England for decades now, a great director of small films.

      1. anonymous

        The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Loach /Laverty, 2006) Ireland the 1920s. There’s an amazing scene that shows the culture of what we call the military industrial complex. Two men who, up to this point, are in a principled struggle for an independent Ireland, a Republic, realize in the hallway of a makeshift courtroom — what is otherwise a rural schoolhouse — that there is money to be made with guns and power to be had in both. The ends and the means become unrecognizable; and all the viscious violence that went before can now be used to justify whatever name you want to give it.

  18. TonyinSoCAL

    New York Fed GDP “Nowcast” stands at 1.4% for Q2 2019

    Et tu J.P.??

    J.P. Morgan economists said they now see much slower second-quarter growth of just 1%, down from their prior forecast of 2.25% and way off the 3.2% reported in the first quarter.

    “The April durable goods report was bad, particularly the details relating to capital goods orders and shipments. Coming on the heels of last week’s crummy April retail sales report, it suggests second quarter activity growth is sharply downshifting from the first quarter pace,” the economists wrote.

    But I thought…

    The “blockbuster” economic growth in the first quarter is “absolutely” sustainable, Kevin Hassett, an economic advisor to President Donald Trump, said Friday on CNBC.

    “Incomes are growing at a very high rate and consumption has not been,” he said. “Our expectation is that the shelves are being filled but they’re going be emptied out and production isn’t going to go down the way it normally does when you get an inventory spike.”

    That was some world-class level BS, Kev. Your boss would be proud!

    1. ewmayer

      Kevin Asshat was a world-class BSer long before he came into The Donald’s orbit – who could forget that immortal Irving-Fisheresque 1999 opus, Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market?

      (Now see, given the year that came out, he really shoulda gone with “Nasdaq 5000”. He could also do an updated version pumping Bitcoin, with a snappy title like “Hodl Fast: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Resurgence of Bitcoin to $1 Million”).

  19. The Rev Kev

    “MASSIVE sex differences in serial killers.”

    You would think so. After all, it says that women kill for money and men kill for sex. But if you pull back a bit and say that the main motivations for serial killers is money and sex, then that is the primary motivation for most of the population. Seriously. Think about the main motivations for people living in our society and I think that you will find that to a very large degree, that they are motivated by either sex or money.

  20. marym

    NBC News 05/24/2019: Trump bypasses Congress to push through arms sales to Saudis, UAE

    The Trump administration on Friday cited a national security “emergency” allegedly caused by Iran to bypass Congress and rush through arms sales worth billions of dollars to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East allies, in a move that drew condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

    Citing a rarely used provision of arms control law, the administration informed lawmakers it was declaring a national security emergency, allowing it to go ahead with the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        On the policy, I don’t see how it’s different from previous administrations.

        On the process, I don’t like the use of emergency powers at all, but you can bet the next liberal Democrats administration will normalize it.

  21. JBird4049

    Taking for granted that shade is good: “There are nearly 1,900 official bus shelters in Los Angeles city limits, but only a handful within two miles of Tony’s Barber Shop [on an exposed stretch of Figueroa Street near the Pasadena Freeway]. Who decides where the shade goes?

    In my experience it is the rain and wind especially at night that is worse. Although the sun can be uncomfortable as well. People seem to believe that it’s always warm and sunny in California. That might be (mostly) true in LA, but the rainy season can last three months straight in the Bay Area and those empty concrete patios leaves one wide open to that damn cold wind that can come when it is not raining at night or just before dawn while waiting for the bus to work.

    And really, bus stops rarely get the love, but when they do it is usually is, although not always, the better areas that get those glorious shelters.

  22. Rob’t Post

    It seems to that pricing sulphuric emissions to fight acid rain back in the 80’s was a very successful approach to that problem. Why not use a similar approach to carbon emissions? When you combine that approach with Buttigieg’s proposal to rebate the income back to individuals, I think it could lead to much quicker results than just praying for an energy breakthrough sometime in the future. I’m just not that sure that we have enough time to worry about rocking the boat and no matter what we do, that boat will be rocked.

  23. Dwight

    Abolition of Smith-Mundt has resulted in VOA’s Polygraph.info appearing on the Google News fact check panel. I don’t think covert USG propaganda aimed at U.S. persons began with abolition of Smith-Mundt. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we saw propaganda aimed at influencing public response to the attacks. Given that Project for New American Century was saying that public support for their policies would require a new Pearl Harbor, it would not be surprising if contingency planning for a terrorist attack included a propaganda response. None of which is to say 9/11 was or was not an “inside job.”

  24. Dwight

    In a way, using a terrorist event for political goals is itself terrorism, even if one didn’t carry out the attack. Not to mention the invitation of terrorist attacks, for example by setting chemical weapons use as a “red line” for military intervention. All of this is morally murky at best, and reprehensible if not illegal in my opinion.

Comments are closed.