2:00PM Water Cooler 5/6/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“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 up 20, everybody else down.

“*” = New candidate.

* * *

Festival of Biden:

Biden (D)(1): “Biden Thinks Trump Is the Problem, Not All Republicans. Other Democrats Disagree” [New York Times]. “Mr. Biden’s singular focus on the president as the source of the nation’s ills, while extending an olive branch to Republicans, has exposed a significant fault line in the Democratic primary.

Biden (D)(2): If you’re a “moderate,” raising money from “your friends across the aisle” is jake with the angels:

Biden (D)(3): Democrats, like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, see the president as a symptom of something deeper, both in a Republican Party overtaken by Trumpism and a nation cleaved by partisanship. Simply ousting Mr. Trump, they tell voters, is not enough. It’s a debate that goes beyond the policy differences separating a moderate like Mr. Biden from an insurgent like Mr. Sanders, elevating questions about whether the old rules of inside-the-Beltway governance still apply. And it has thrown into stark relief one of the fundamental questions facing the Democratic electorate: Do Democrats want a bipartisan deal-maker promising a return to normalcy, or a partisan warrior offering more transformative change?” • Whatever “normalcy” might mean. Flat wages for 4o years? The industrialized world’s worst health care system? Declining life expectancy? Declining birth rates? That’s the “new normal.” And for most of the population at this point, that’s also the old normal.

Biden (D)(4): “The Case for Thinking Joe Biden Can’t Be Stopped” [New York Magazine]. Interesting: “[I]t just might be later than it looks. Donald Trump’s presidency has inspired a level of sustained public interest in politics and political media without precedent in the modern era. Around this time in 2015, 22 percent of voters told CNN they were “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in the next year’s presidential election; that figure is now 45 percent. In April 2015, the major cable networks weren’t scoring huge ratings wins by airing presidential town halls.” • So [checks counter] 547 days might not be as long as we think.

Biden (D)(5): “Biden Surge Fueled by Democratic Angst Over Who Can Beat Trump” [Bloomberg]. “Biden, who has taken an early lead in the polls, was asked Saturday in a television interview in South Carolina why his third presidential campaign would be different from his failed bids in 1988 and 2008. He answered with two words: ‘President Trump.'” • Biden is correct; Beto would’t have done nearly as well in his Senate run if he hadn’t been running against the widely loathed Ted Cruz.

Biden (D)(6): Holy moley, this is serious!

Martin needs to get back to work and finish his novel.

O’Rourke (D)(1): “Beto O’Rourke Blew It” [Daily Beast]. “Beto O’Rourke has flamed out. It’s not just me saying it. Polls have shown him slipping for weeks and on Wednesday Quinnipiac confirmed the worst. The one-time wonder Beto O’Rourke is at 5 percent, behind every other first-tier candidate. You can thank, or blame, women who make up almost 58 percent of the primary electorate for Beto’s decline. Disproportionately, they don’t like him. According to my unscientific poll asking every woman I see, Beto reminds them of the worst boyfriend they ever had: self-involved, convinced of his own charm, chronically late if he shows up at all, worth a meal or two but definitely not marriage material. When he should be home with the kids or taking out the trash, he’s jamming with his garage band or skateboarding at Whataburger.” • Ouch.

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders never had this before: A campaign machine that’s crushing it” [Los Angeles Times]. “The Sanders campaign has evolved from an unruly movement four years ago into a highly disciplined, highly structured, proactive machine that is the envy of the Washington establishment. An operation spawned from antipathy toward corporate America now functions with the precision, focus and outsized bank account of, well, corporate America. ‘They are much better able to harness all the organic energy this time,” said Ro Khanna, the Silicon Valley congressman who co-chairs the campaign. “There is an infrastructure that wasn’t there before. There are department heads watching every dollar, coordinating messaging, targeting effectively.’ It is an operation, he said, that functions very much like the one political strategist and former Uber executive David Plouffe set up when he managed Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. The February day Sanders launched his 2020 bid, the campaign was prepared when some 4,000 volunteers immediately emerged. Aides put them to work. They sent 1.3 million texts to other potential donors and volunteers. The campaign that limped into California the last time now may be better equipped there than anyone. There was no Iowa team in place at this point in the 2016 race; Sanders now has among the largest of all the Democratic presidential contenders.” • Sanders supporters should, in fact, be worried by articles like this. The press loves to pull the wings off flies, and a puff piece like this is a set-up for later narratives of failure. Also, “Not me, us” is the slogan. “Not me, campaign operatives with a budget at last!” is not the slogan.

Sanders (D)(2): “Sanders calls for breaking up big agriculture monopolies” [Seattle Times]. “‘I think a farmer that produces the food we eat may be almost as important as some crook on Wall Street who destroys the economy,’ Sanders said during a campaign event in Osage, a town of fewer than 4,000 people. ‘Those of us who come from rural America have nothing to be ashamed about, and the time is long overdue for us to stand up and fight for our way of life.’ …. During his Sunday speech, Sanders outlined the dire circumstances confronting rural America — population decline, school and hospital closures and rising addiction and suicide rates in many rural counties nationwide — as the impetus for his policy. His plan includes a number of antitrust proposals, including breaking up existing agriculture monopolies and placing a moratorium on future mergers by big agriculture companies. He would also ban ‘vertically integrated’ agribusinesses — companies that control multiple levels of production and processing of a product. One of his competitors in the Democratic race, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, included several of those antitrust planks in the agriculture policy she released in March. But Sanders’ policy is more expansive than just targeting major agriculture corporations — he’s also proposing greater government involvement in setting price controls and managing supply and demand of agriculture commodities.” • I wonder what the new anti-trust people think…

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign, ‘Based on Ideas,’ Bets on Iowa” [New York Times]. “Ms. Smith is one of about 50 paid staff members Ms. Warren’s campaign already has on the ground in Iowa, far more than any other Democratic candidate is known to have hired in the state. The growing Warren juggernaut reflects a bet that rapidly hiring a large staff of organizers will give the senator an advantage over her rivals who are ramping up their efforts at a slower pace… The strategy does not come cheap. Ms. Warren’s campaign spent more than $5 million over the first three months of the year, the most in the field, according to Federal Election Commission records. Her payroll included about 160 people during that period, far more than any other Democrat’s. Her team says its staff has grown even larger since then, to more than 200 people, over half of whom are based in early-voting states​.” • Big risk.

Warren (D)(2): So divisive:

“Democrats challenging Trump scramble to hire foreign policy aides” [Politico]. “Several foreign policy thinkers told POLITICO they had already been approached by three or more campaigns, or people affiliated with campaigns, to gauge their interest. With relatively few of the Democratic candidates having significant foreign policy experience, these advisers are especially desirable hires. ‘The process at this stage is kind of like a mix between a pickup basketball game and Afghan tribal politics,’ said Brian Katulis, a foreign affairs analyst with the Center for American Progress, who has yet to commit to a candidate.” • CAP may not have committed to a candidate, but there is at least one candidate they will never commit to.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Bill and Hillary Clinton preach to a pure blue choir in Seattle” [Seattle Times (tegnost)]. “On the way out of the theater, Diana Alhatlani, of Renton, turned to her friend Heidi Sky, of Seattle, and asked: ‘Don’t you feel better? I do. It’s like going to the spa.’ ‘I think it’s good to have the pep talk,’ Sky said. ‘It keeps you on the path. You have to stay positive.'” • Oy.

“Ticket prices are slashed for Bill and Hillary Clinton’s speaking tour with seats in LA being sold for just $2” [Daily Mail]. “Prices for Bill and Hillary Clinton’s 13-city tour have taken a plunge as the pair near the end of a string of dates for their speaking engagements. The event billed as ‘An Evening with President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’ continued at the LA Forum in Inglewood, California Saturday night and tickets were listed for as little as $2. Seats in the Lower Bowl 131 section were available on Vivid Seats while the same website was offering admission for the best section – center in front of the stage – for $92.” • $2 won’t get you very far in a spa. So I guess this is a bargain.

“The Clintons are getting into podcasting” [CNN]. “Clinton, along with his daughter Chelsea Clinton and through The Clinton Foundation, launched a podcast on Thursday titled, ‘Why Am I Telling You This,’ a nod to a phrase that the former president often uses to connect stories he tells in speeches.” • Tone-deaf, as usual. I mean, we know why. See above.

And in great contrast:

Go out there and serve the working class!

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

Commodities: “Your Cell Phone Is Spreading Ebola” [Foreign Policy]. “North Kivu, the main area of infection, has been a war zone since 1994…. Though that war officially ended in 2003, fighting never stopped in North Kivu and today involves an estimated 120 groups that range from sophisticated, well-armed armies to ragtag bands of self-proclaimed ‘liberators’ that operate as criminal gangs (for which the international health care responders’ foreign funds are a lucrative target)…. Conflict seems to have deepened in North Kivu alongside the spectacular global growth in the mobile phones market, which has made the locally plentiful black stones of columbite-tantalite, or coltan, potentially more valuable than Congo’s gold, diamonds, uranium, and other minerals and gems. (The mineral trade brings as much as $1.4 billion per year.)… Coltan is labeled a ‘conflict mineral,’ which, like ‘blood diamonds,’ is meant to be shunned….. scrutiny of corporate practices in purchasing coltan and other conflict minerals reveals low levels of genuine compliance. Given that about 80 percent of the global supply of coltan lies in North Kivu soils, it is hard to understand how the electronics industry could continue its worldwide expansion without buying conflict minerals, though perhaps through a series of untraceable shell companies located outside of Congo.” • Hmm.

The Bezzle: “A 30-mph e-bike to compete with cars in cities? Investors just bet $20 million on it” [TechCrunch]. ” Bond Mobility, a three-year-old Palo Alto, Calif. and Zurich, Switzerland-based startup… says its ‘high-performance’ dockless electric bikes will leave e-scooters in the dust… Though Bond’s bikes are only available for now in Zurich and Bern, Switzerland, they are coming to the U.S. soon, says the company, and a loophole in California law may help. To wit, any motor bike that can’t go more than 30 miles per hour can be rented with just a car license in the Golden State. Some states are even more lax when it comes to motorized vehicles.” So, a startup premised on regulatory arbitrage. How innovative. More: ” According to a recent McKinsey study, more than a quarter of the world’s population lives in cities with more than one million inhabitants, and vehicle speeds in many of these places now average 9 miles per hour, making alternatives highly appealing. In fact, it says, by 2030, the micromobility market in expected to reach $200 billion to $300 billion in the United States, $100 billion to $150 billion in Europe and $30 billion to $50 billion in China.” • Not sure I’m getting this. “Micromobility is big in Asia, in the form of motorcycles that go wherever they like, including between and around lines of traffic, and on sidewalks. It’s exciting and dynamic, but maybe the absence of that sort of thing in the United States and Europe is exactly why McKinsey thinks the market is so large?

Tech: “A Disaster Is Unfolding in Consumer Tech” [OneZero]. “In a sense, the Galaxy Fold won’t be much worse for consumers than any other smartphone — provided it actually works — but it certainly distills all of these problems in one convenient package. An expensive, faulty screen that only Samsung will be able to reliably fix for the first couple of years and an unclear path forward for third-party shops. If you buy this, you’ll want to get comfortable in Samsung’s world, because you’re taking a long-term lease there.” • Sounds like Samsung has learned a lot from Apple!

Tech: “Huawei Overtakes Apple to Become Second Biggest Smartphone Maker” [Bloomberg]. “The networking giant, shrugging off a barrage of accusations that it aids Chinese espionage (which it’s repeatedly denied), grew shipments 50 percent from a year earlier, research firm IDC estimates. It was the only name in the top 4 that managed to expand volumes as the overall market slid for the sixth consecutive quarter.” • Wow! Ya know, I look at those new Huawei phones with the Leica lenses, and I feel a twinge of desire I’ve never felt for an iPhone, not for a moment…

Tech (I suppose): “Beyond Meat’s Value Soars to $3.8 Billion in Year’s Top U.S. IPO” [Bloomberg]. “Beyond Meat Inc. piled on the market value, serving up the year’s best first day for a U.S. initial public offering. The maker of vegan beef and sausage substitutes soared, rising as much as 192 percent from its IPO price of $25 share…. [Chief Executive Officer Ethan Brown] said he wants to eventually lower the price of the company’s products, which currently can cost twice as much as standard ground beef. Beyond Meat wants to sell its products for less than animal protein in the next five years, he said.” • 

The Biosphere

“New database: Water sources in 43 states contain potentially unsafe chemical levels” [McClatchy]. “More than 610 drinking water sources in 43 states contain potentially unsafe levels of chemical compounds that have been linked to birth defects, cancers, infertility, and reduced immune responses in children, according to a new database compiled by the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University. Using Pentagon data released last year and recently obtained public water utility reports, the researchers now estimate that more than 19 million people are exposed to water contaminated with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.” • We published a Michigan story on on this study late last month, but now it’s gone national

“The Green New Deal Costs Less Than Doing Nothing” [The New Republic]. “[T]he Democrats aren’t doing enough [lol] to hammer home how expensive the Republican alternative to the Green New Deal really is. Here’s how much it will cost America to do nothing about the climate crisis.” Lots of studies, then: “The Republican plan to do nothing, then, means America would be double-charged for its inaction: The country would lose trillions in missed opportunities for growth, and many trillions more due to a growing catastrophe. Passing a Green New Deal, or something like it, may sound expensive up front, but Republicans should see it for what it is: a sound investment that will generate the greatest returns imaginable—a livable planet.”

“Just 20 minutes of contact with nature will lower stress hormone levels, reveals new study” [Science Daily] (original). “‘We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,’ says Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research. ‘Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.'” • Sadly, n = 36. But my anecdotal evidence supports this! And I don’t have a lawn–

“Lawns are the No. 1 irrigated ‘crop’ in America. They need to die” [Grist]. “But, on balance, lawns are awful for the planet. Our addiction to lawns means that grass is the single largest irrigated agricultural “crop” in America, more than corn, wheat, and fruit orchards combined. A NASA-led study in 2005 found that there were 63,000 square miles of turf grass in the United States, covering an area larger than Georgia. Keeping all that grass alive can consume about 50-75 percent of a residence’s water.

Lawnmowers suck up gas and pollute the air: Every year, U.S. homeowners spill some 17 million gallons of gas while filling up mowers. We use tens of millions of pounds of chemical fertilizer and pesticides on our lawns. All this effort, of course, isn’t cheap. Americans spend more than $36 billion every year on lawn care, four-and-a-half times more than the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency. American lawns have so, so much potential — and right now, it’s going to waste. It’s time to culturally stigmatize the classic over-watered, over-fertilized, over-mowed American lawn — a symbol of excess that’s persisted for far too long.

” • I’m doing my best!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“A New Civil War Museum Speaks Truths in the Former Capital of the Confederacy” [Smithsonian]. • My hackles rise whenever I hear about “innovative” museum displays, but these sound exciting and revealing. Have any of our Richmond-adjacent readers gone to this museum?

Game of Thrones

“The only way ‘Game of Thrones’ can end” [Alyssa Rosenberg, WaPo]. Spoiler: “A happy ending for Martin’s characters, and for the occupants of the world torn by warring kings where we’ve spent so long, might be to walk away from the Iron Throne entirely and allow a new kind of government to push forth hopeful shoots in its place.”

Easter eggs:

Including this one (which I found in the above video and captured myself, because I couldn’t believe it):

Hence the memage (Reddit):

Who the heck did the showrunners hire to check for bloopers? The MCAS quality control team?

Guillotine Watch

Paging @deray:

Class Warfare

“AFL-CIO Largest Union in US just posted this in support of the Uber strike” [Uber People]. This tweet:

The most neoliberal game show EVAH:

“San Francisco residents use parking spots as makeshift offices: report” [FOX]. “San Francisco real estate has gotten so expensive some people are now paying $2.25 an hour to occupy a parking spot in order to set up makeshift offices to work remotely. Victor Pontis began what he calls the ‘WePark’ movement as a way to re-imagine how to use parking spaces. He traded in his usual workspaces of apartments, libraries and cafes for city streets. His temporary office cost him the $2.25 an hour required by the city’s parking meters…. On April 25, nearly 30 people joined Pontis to work near City Hall.” • Snow Crash territory.

“Stop & Shop Workers Vote to Ratify Contract—Although Benefits Will Shrink for New Part-Timers” [In These Times]. “When the strike ended, there was plenty for the UFCW to celebrate. Stop & Shop gave up its push to force employees’ spouses to take any health insurance offered by their own employer. The union also said Stop & Shop “kept healthcare affordable” with “low deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.” The new contracts also hold the line on all sick time, personal days and paid holidays for current and future employees—Stop & Shop had wanted to reduce paid holidays and sick days for future employees. But the company got some of what it wanted as well. New part-time workers won’t see time-and-a-half pay on Sundays and holidays, as current employees do. Instead, they’ll get a premium (e.g., an extra $1.50 per hour the first year) that will grow to a time-and-a-half rate after three years of employment. And then there’s this: The new contracts significantly reduce pension benefits for new part-time hires.” • So, two-tier. Goddammit. (This post gives a redirect error in some browsers.)

“Don’t let industry write the rules for AI” [Nature]. “Inside an algorithmic black box, societal biases are rendered invisible and unaccountable. When designed for profit-making alone, algorithms necessarily diverge from the public interest — information asymmetries, bargaining power and externalities pervade these markets.” • That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

News of the Wired

“A black hole bigger than the sun is pulling on the fabric of space and time” [Business Insider]. “Black holes are generally known for pulling in any item that crosses their path using their gravitational force. But, it’s usually only material objects even if that is from nearby stars and planets. The V404 Cygni black hole, on the other hand, seems to be dragging in space itself according to a team of researchers from the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) using the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA).” • Hopefully there’s a limit…

We posted the original study on who bullshits the most, but here’s a handy chart:

“Web annotation tool Hypothesis hits a milestone” [Nature]. “The team behind Hypothesis, an open-source software tool that allows people to annotate web pages, announced in March that its users had collectively posted more than 5 million comments across the scholarly web since the tool was launched in 2011. That’s up from about 220,000 total comments in 2015 (see ‘Comment counts’). The company has grown from 26,000 registered users to 215,000 over the same period.” • I’m a big fan of annotation tools, so I’m happy to read this (though 215,000 is a lot of scholars, I guess, but not a very large user base by global standards).

* * *

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

Chuck Roast writes: “Here are a couple of Camperdown Elms.”

* * *

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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. Tyrannocaster

    “Not me, campaign operatives with a budge at last”

    No idea what that means.

    1. roxy

      I think the “t” was left off the end. And since “budge” is a word, no help from autocorrect, or whatever you call that thing that thinks it knows what I’m saying.

    2. Christopher Fay

      The intent of the story is to note the Sanders’ campaign has a foundation now with personnel who have a budget to spend. Dollars are important to some journalists. However the theme of the Sanders’ campaign is not me, us.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Budgie was a great band. Never Turn Your Back On A Friend is a great album. First 5 albums are all good, really.

  2. Quentin

    On that Economist bullshit meter: all Five Eyes lead the pack, evidently the Anglo-American sphere is most prone to bullshitting while demanding the world to pay tribute, i.e. the Mother Country and four of its most successful former colonies. What is the secret of their dominance? Or is the Economist itself a leading bullshitter?

    1. barefoot charley

      Yes it is. The Economist was one of the first and sorriest victims of neoliberalism. Until the mid 80s it was a reliable source of perspective from around the world, often from stringers with extremely various backgrounds who said what they saw. Once There Was No Alternative, Economist stories wrote themselves just like NYT’s do, and there was no more reason to read it.

      By now I assume science has advanced, and they read themselves too.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Once There Was No Alternative, Economist stories wrote themselves just like NYT’s do, and there was no more reason to read it.

        Yep. C. Northcote Parkinson was first published in the Economist. I don’t think that would happen today.

    2. wilroncanada

      The Economist didn’t get any farther into Canada then Newfoundland. When they couldn’t understand what half the Newfoundlanders were saying they put all of them into the positive bullshit side.

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Lot of Bullshitters in Louisiana.

      My parents used to say i talked alotta bullshit, but theyre starting to come around.

  3. Cal2

    Of course people are using parking places for office space.
    Fewer and fewer people are parking in downtown San Francisco because of the costs of parking, fines, 36,000 car burglaries per year~grand total of SIX arrests in a year, no word on convictions.

    Here’s the fine schedule:

    Here’s a map of car break ins:

    They went to combine it with the tracking map of piles human feces, but the map was nothing but solid dots downtown, so they gave it up. San Franciscans who can escape the city often shop in Marin County, across the Golden Gate bridge. Gas and bridge toll equals an hour and a half of parking in the city. Downsides, lots of weekend traffic and little diversity.

    1. Cal2

      Meant to say “fewer are parking in downtown to Shop”.. One can circle for 20 minutes or more looking for a meter usually.

      As usual, Fox gets it wrong. Parking in San Francisco is not 2.25 an hour. It can be as high as EIGHT DOLLARS an hour.

      “The program will vary rates by block and by hour to reflect the popularity of neighborhoods, and peak and off hours, based on data collected from the wirelessly connected parking meters. Every three months, the prices will be readjusted based on the occupancy levels observed in the previous quarter. Blocks that consistently have more than 80% occupancy will get a $0.25 hourly price bump; blocks within 60-80% will stay the same; and those under 60% will drop $0.25, with a minimum meter charge of $0.50 per hour and a maximum of $8.”

      “A study by Washington-based traffic data company INRIX earlier this year found that San Franciscans spent an average of 82 hours stuck in traffic in 2016, making the city’s congestion the fourth worst in the world among 1,064 cities across five continents.”


      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With self-driving cars, the sleep deprived can finally catch up, by being stuck in traffic, no?

        And hopefully, those self-driving cars are powered by fog energy (plenty of that in Baghdad by the Bay)

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The program will vary rates by block and by hour to reflect the popularity of neighborhoods, and peak and off hours, based on data collected from the wirelessly connected parking meters

        I don’t know why they don’t do dynamic pricing for apartments. This monthly lease thing is so old.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Looks like a very entitled group of people to me. Instead of using a public park where they might be able to enjoy themselves while they work, they choose to use spots that deliberately take away spaces for people trying to park their cars because of work, family, etc. Are they really saying ‘I can’t afford to run a car so I will take away something from those that still can’.

      1. kareninca

        A parking space is safer than a park in SF. You can see if there are needles on the ground in the parking space, but you can’t easily in the park. Same with poop. I don’t think public parks in SF are as you think they are.

  4. JohnnyGL

    Quick anecdotal confirmation from a couple of informal chats with employees at Stop & Shop. They agreed that new hires got shafted on vacation time, time-and-half pay on Sundays, and starting wages, too. I remarked, “that’s how UAW slowly killed itself” and workers seemed to agree.

    Also, anecdotally, the strike seemed like it was absolutely crippling the stores, with traffic down by more than 50% (I saw higher numbers in media), and lots of specialized departments (fish, bakery) were closed entirely for the duration.

    Union top brass may not have realized how strong a position they were in. Or maybe they did, and sold out, anyway?

    1. Joe Well

      My one experience in a union was that the generational divide was strong. The typical anti-young ageism was rampant among the career union leaders who brushed off the complaints of those of us in our 20s-30s. I have no idea if that was the case with Stop & Shop but it seems to be the case just about everywhere that Americans over a certain age don’t think anyone in the 20s-30s should have what they had at that age (job security, housing security, freedom from debt, a retirement plan, overall financial security) and the young aren’t nearly militant enough, or not militant at all, just a lot of grumbling.

      1. JohnnyGL

        The strike looked like a crushing victory. Sales were WAY down. The points above are probably true. I’ve seen some anecdotal evidence of it here and there. But those factors would be the kind of thing that would kill a strike decision or cause a union dissolution. Neither of those things happened, the union WON. It looked more like union leadership snatching a kind of longer term defeat from the jaws of victory. They seem happy with only losing a little bit in the short term.

    2. Summer

      That has been the story of union negotiations for the last 40 years and the number 1 readon people have a hard tine looking toward them as a “solution” to anything.

      1. Procopius

        When I was in high school we learned a little bit about the history of the American labor movement. It was a suburb of Detroit, after all. I can not look back and understand that John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers made what he saw as a short term win, higher wages and benefits for fewer workers. I don’t think he foresaw the decline unto death of coal mining, but that makes his decision a pretty good choice, I think.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      In 1976 after the International union settled (badly) a five-month strike by rubberworkers, my local went on strike because we had leverage (Firestone’s only tractor tire plant).

      It took one day for the company to get a local judge to hit us with a $10,000 a day fine if we stayed off the job. Our attorney was still in the hallway when the decision was announced. There was no way the order was legal, but we were dead broke and had no money for fines (five-month strikes will do that to you).

      Last I heard, labor law hadn’t gotten any better since 1976. It’s hard to appreciate how thoroughly the deck is stacked against workers, even unionized workers.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Nope, MA courts are generally sort of labor-friendly, or at least not hostile.

        Media called it a union victory too.

        This was more like Obama’s crushing win in 2008 where he immediately helped rehabilitate his opponent.

    4. Another Scott

      In Massachusetts, time-and-a-half pay used to be required for all retail employees on Sundays until it was repealed as part of the “grand bargain” last year. This part of the legislation was hidden because the legislature knew that workers and unions wouldn’t like it. I also disliked how the legislation had workers, rather than employers bare the cost of the new paid time off through a tax.


      1. JohnnyGL

        Thanks for that.

        Usual behavior by team dem….give the electorate what it desperately wants…but only part of it, and more slowly.

    5. El Justo

      This may already be common knowledge, but UFCW has had (at least) two tiers in many of their stores for a while. I worked at Target for over 8 years- no union, obviously- and was looking forward to having some representation when I started at King Soopers almost 10 years ago. New hires had different pay/raise structures and benefits. There were negotiations right before I quit, and they were considering making a THIRD tier. I was gone before the union vote on whether to strike.

  5. Phenix

    HOA and local governments enforce lawn culture even if it is reinforced by commercial interests. I’ve risked a fine to let dandelions flower in my yard.
    I’ve also gone with a corded lawnmower after spilling gas on my hand. I was just over it and have enjoyed mowing while no breathing in fumes.
    I also have over 200 sq ft of raised beds. I plan to double that if I do not move but that is still not enough to feed a person. You need approximately 700 sq ft per person in a hybrid square foot method.

    1. polecat

      We have sooo many .. it might as well be officially proclaimed Dandeloin Month !! Our bees find them attractive, so I leave them in the ground until our PNW version of ‘Summer’ commences. And thank HeyZeus that we do not fall within the perview of a Hellish Orc-like ASSimilation !

      1. Phenix

        Bees need dandelions in early spring since they are one of the first flowers. I’ve never eaten the leaves/greens. I give them to my rabbits.

        I do not live in a HOA but my local government decided to include weeds in their code. Now I get a complaint every year from my round up loving neighbors.
        I can not complain about their use of a carcinogen.

    2. Darius

      Set the mower on highest mowing height. Leave the clippings behind. Don’t rake up the leaves. Mow over them to chop them up and leave them in place. The soil will be healthier. The grass will be healthier, and it will out-compete more of the weeds, so the HOA police or the neighbors may have less to complain about. Mowing high doesn’t mean mowing less. You still have to present a kept up look to keep them at bay. Also, don’t waste water or fertilizer on it. Reseed in the fall with grass adapted to your area if you feel the need.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        These are all good ideas.

        I wonder if it would be possible to break up the lawn a bit by adding paths, and maybe a patio or pergola, and then plants that are low-to-the-ground. Get rid of that billiard table look, create more niches. Perhaps an approach of “nominal kemptness” might make it past the HOA…

        You’d think there would be some sort of NGO challenging restrictive and anti-Green covenants….

    3. heresy101

      While we don’t have a lawn to mow, I have replaced my hedge trimmer, weed wacker, chain saw, and leaf blower with battery tools (interchangeable battery) from EGO from one of the large home stores (this is not a commercial) . They also make a battery powered lawnmower so you don’t have to drag a cord. The only gas tool that we have is the wood chipper.

      On another subject for those with gardens and raised beds, not using your garbage disposal can give you a lot of great compost.
      We have a little green bucket under the kitchen sink where all green/food waste goes until it is taken out to the composter. The composter is a barrel that spins a foot off the ground. What I can’t figure out is how the worms get in there! There was a bundle of worms the size of my fist the other day.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’ve risked a fine to let dandelions flower in my yard.

      I grew up believing that dandelions were a sign of neglect. Since one function of my garden is diplomacy with the town, I still “weed” them (and as my soil got better, they became enormous, so it takes a garden trowel to dig them up!

      1. Procopius

        My mother found that an apple corer worked very well and was less work than a garden trowel.

    5. eg

      My lot is small, so a little Gardena reel mower (the kind with the curved blades between two large wheels) does the trick. But I dream of the day when I can replace ALL of my grass with a leafy groundcover like periwinkle — need the kids to outgrow use of the lawn first. I already did this on one strip where my cherry tree roots broke the surface and rendered it unmowable. It’s hardy, drought resistant, and tenacious — maybe a little too tenacious if you have nearby flower beds!

  6. Phemfrog

    While i agree philosophically with your statement about lawns, i find it difficult to live that way here in the Texas suburbs. My biggest problem is trees. My yard is very shady and i have had immense difficulty growing anything productive like fruit or veggies. To get more sun would require cutting down a 125+ year old oak tree, which is worse than keeping a lawn.

    my home has been fitted with water saving appliances and faucets and toilets. But when i go into businesses or commercial buildings, they undo all my savings with a single multi-stall toilet facility! i will continue to do my part, but this is disheartening.

    third problem i have is this. of all the water used in Texas, only 25% goes to municipal use (which INCLUDES all metered connections in a city, business, govt., or private…about 50% of municipal water goes to residential). 65% of state water goes to agriculture, which is terribly inefficient. 10% to industry. so if i (and everyone in town) scrimp and save and let my lawn die during those 3 summer months, the most we can save is 12%. instead, i focus on getting the HOA to be more efficient watering our green belts and fixing broken sprinklers (as their watered space VASTLY outsizes my little lawn). i can have a lot more impact there.


    Oh, and mowing my lawn requires only about 1 gallon of gas per month. the SUVs everyone around here drive burn that in a day.

    So to sum it up, if i want a house with no lawn, i have to move. then someone else will just take my old house with lawn and nothing will change. Im thinking of going to a human-powered mower in the back for exercise.

    instead, i use only organic fertilizer and no pesticides, i weed manually. i also let some weeds be. they mow down just fine.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I certainly appreciate your efforts, you’re doing more than I am.

      But I take your remarks above as a reminder that there isn’t an individual solution to climate change. There HAS to be major political change if we’re going to avoid the worst possible results.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s very true, but I don’t think gardens are individual solutions, because the garden affects and improves everything around it: Visually, aurally, olafactorily, and in terms of animals above ground (birds), on the ground (mice), and below the ground (worms), as well as pollinators, besides vegetable and flower gifts for neighbors. A garden is not an individual solution at all, even if it is (often) situated on private property.

        1. polecat

          My little honeyproducers have made a bee-line straight for the neighbor’s blooming apple tree, which will, with the weather god’s blessing , produce an abundance of fruit ! Of course, the bees are no doubt flying hither and yon for several miles .. foraging, to the benefit of other local environs …

        2. JohnnyGL

          So, with respect to Lambert’s comment about gardening — Perhaps gardening is an individual solution, but not to climate change? :)

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            It is an individual solution too, but it’s more than an individual solution, as I tried to suggest. Harboring pollinators, as polecat points out, helps everybody. And so with worms, which don’t stop burrowing at the property line.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      There is a discipline called xeriscaping, that’s meant for dry areas. I wouldn’t down your trees, I’d try to find shade tolerant plants. Here is a post on permaculture in Texas. That may help.

      Honestly, I just take a lot of pleasure from sitting in my garden. There’s so much going on!

      Oh, I just thought. When I started, I thought of vegetables and beds. I didn’t think of three dimensions, and so didn’t think of canopy. You have your canopy already! The question is how to use it, not get rid of it….

      1. polecat

        We have a vacant lot bewteen us and the house on tne other side .. it is covered in various native trees, shrub, herbs, forbs, and some grasses .. which I knock down to lessen the fire hazard .. I consider it ‘barrowed scenery’, which helps give a feeling of greater expansion to our surrounds, flora wise .. as well as for the avians and deer, and other fauna. I wish is that it never be sold and developed !

      2. JohnnyGL

        Jack Spirko’s got great podcasts and videos and is in Texas. He’s easy to find online.

    3. Oregoncharles

      In a place like Texas, shade is golden. Cutting your trees would probably double your air conditioning use.

      I’m not familiar with plants suitable for your area, but if you can grow grass you can grow other things in that shade, that might be more rewarding for you – and maybe less resource consumptive. Try researching shade gardening for your area – there might even be food plants that will do well there. Some berries, for instance. Might be a fun project.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > if you can grow grass you can grow other things in that shade

        With the single expection of trees like Norway Maples!

        The roots of Norway maples grow very close to the ground surface, starving other plants of moisture. For example, lawn grass (and even weeds) will usually not grow well beneath a Norway maple, but English Ivy, with its minimal rooting needs, may thrive. In addition, the dense canopy of Norway maples can inhibit understory growth. Some have suggested Norway maples may also release chemicals to discourage undergrowth, although this claim is controversial

        Cutting down my Norway maple was one of the best decisions I ever made. There was nothing but dead soil beneath it when it was alive; not even grass would grow! When I cut it down, I ended up with a lovely garden area.

        Presumably, since the commenter has a lawn, their tree is not like mine was. But the possibility exists…

  7. Angie Neer

    Guillotine Patagonia ad: gross. I wish I could unsee that. I know grisly murder, torture and dismemberment are now staples of popular entertainment (fun for the whole family!), but that’s why I’m here reading NC instead of watching TV.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Violent rhetoric has been rising lately in the political media. Reddit, r/chapotraphouse, r/themueller, r/The_Donald, Facebook, Centrist MSM- i feel like im seeing the 1840s/50s in action.

      The politicians like John C Calhoun openly called for Civil War because hes a big fn whiny baby who couldn’t win the presidency.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Actually, as we say, John C Calhoun called for Civil War because he was an elected representative of the Slave Power, and believed in expanding that Power, and as slavery as a system of political economy. He was a very “smart” and very horrible human being, and many of his ideas live on today.

  8. fellow minnesotan

    A two-fer this weekend: Went to NC Meet-Up in Mpls on Thurs (thanks Yves for trekking out to the Midwest!), then went to a Sanders event on Sunday in Iowa. Sanders & Co had a full house er, show barn (it was at a county fairgrounds) at maybe 125 or so(?) on Sunday at 11am in a 3.6k town. In speaking with attendees, Sanders was a much, much bigger draw than a Warren event in the same town the day before (so not sure Warren’s Iowa $ is doing much good…).
    Walking away from the event, however, my wife’s assessment–which I agreed with– was that it feels like the people that might have gone Sanders in 2016, had he been the Dem nominee, and instead went Trump, are unlikely to switch from Trump in 2020. Trump has been too “good enough” for many people to re-evaluate their choice–and Sanders is the only potential dem that could inspire such shifting. If anyone else in the current Dem field gets the nomination, I’d easily favor Trump in the general– in Iowa, at least, but can’t imagine the dynamic is much different in a place like Wisconsin. No one in rural America is inspired to die on Joe Biden’s hill.

    1. Joe Well

      In all seriousness, why would you favor Trump over Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Booty-judge or even Joe Biden? Or do you mean you’d favor his odds?

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Didn’t go to the meetup but I’m also from MN (IA originally). If it’s not Bernie, Warren or Gabbard, I doubt I’ll vote. I refuse to keep doing something that doesn’t work, and choosing between bad choices no longer works for me.

        But, if the Democrats go with a Biden and ratchet up the lies to where I can’t stand it (stalling on min wage, pushing for war w/Iran, something less than Medicare4All), then I would definitely have to consider voting for Trump. Not because I want more Trump, but because voting for him may prove to be the only way of killing off the Clinton’s Frankenstein version of the Democratic party (Clinton head but diverse body parts and union-made sutures).

        1. jrs

          Is that theory falsifiable? If Trump wins 4 more years and the Dems are as bad as ever, do we still hold the theory that if only we keep voting for Republicans that Dems will improve? Can the theory be proven false? What would it take?

          Because it seems the theory was they were already supposed to have improved due to Trump winning, and while there is some hope out there (primarily due to Bernie and his movement and maybe some other activists as well, and having almost nothing to due with Trump), there is still a fair amount of evidence that overall they haven’t improved.

          I don’t think I could bring myself to vote for Biden either (some of the others maybe, if it mattered – aka a swing state), but neither could I vote for Trump.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Centrist Dems don’t think they’re the problem. They just think HRC blew it in 2016. Obama agrees, Biden’s running a campaign that appears premised on the same thing.

            If you watch the behavior of the leadership, it was interesting. After the Jon Ossoff ‘flip the 6th GA’ debacle, Chuck Schumer and Pelosi started looking wobbly and hugging Bernie a lot harder. After they won VA and NJ gov races, they felt MUCH better. Then, after limiting a lot of primary challengers in 2018 midterms, and winning the House back with their favored blue-dog-ish type candidates, they think they’ve got their groove back. They still do.

            1. Tomonthebeach

              Biden’s centrism seems to be based on the assumption that all voters want is a Trump who behaves civilly, does not tweet like a dumb canary, has a moral compass, and listens to people he put in leadership positions.

              He remains fine with grabbing women, burying college kids in debt, shafting unions, and keeping the MIC at 100% capacity.

              Based on that logic, Biden is what Ann Coulter might call a DINO (Democrat in name only – or old fart – probably both).

        2. Summer

          “If it’s not Bernie, Warren or Gabbard, I doubt I’ll vote. I refuse to keep doing something that doesn’t work, and choosing between bad choices no longer works for me.”

          If any of them win, that makes them the head of the Democratic Party.

          What are they going to do about winning back the Senate?
          That’s where the legislation will go to die.

          1. Procopius

            “… choosing between bad choices no longer works for me.”

            I feel that. I’m also tired of voting Republican. I voted for Hillary because I thought Trump was going to be worse than he’s turned out to be, but I really didn’t want to because I’m sure if she was President we’d be at war with either Russia or Iran by now. Hell, even Obama admits he’s a moderate Republican.

      2. Cal2

        Because by continuing to reward the Republican-lite corporate democrats with votes,
        there’s no reason to reform the Democratic Party to nominate winning candidates.
        Rephrased, Sanders, plus we think, Tulsi Gabbard as Vice-President, would defeat Trump and be a great team and would reflect real Democratic values.

        Buttgig, Warren, Biden or Harris would lose to Trump, thus forestalling the reformation of the Democratic Party. Worse, were they to win, then we’d have four more years of apathetic uninvolved Democrats and people just staying home on election day in the all important mid term elections.

        J… J….. Jo…….., Joe………, Joke! (Biden, not you.)

      3. fellow minnesotan

        sorry– I didn’t mean to imply I’d personally favor Trump, as in vote for him. I’d favor his odds. Should have been more precise in my language.

    2. jrs

      apparently a “good enough” politician translates into: “the business cycle is on the up-swing”. Or is it: “the middle class got a short term tax break but only the rich will keep it” Ok, but not sure we’re ever going to get anything decent if that’s all that’s required, and that business cycle upswing won’t last forever either (probably going on longer than usual as wages have been decimated in the last decade or so).

    3. zagonostra

      Spoke with a friend this past weekend in Central PA and she thinks that Sanders might be leaning too much to the Left to win. I asked her what she meant by that and it all boiled down to his identifying as a “Democratic Socialist.”

      This is troubling to hear because unlike myself and most NC readers, the vast majority of the populace doesn’t get much into the details, lacks an historical context, and gets their news from the MSM.

      I just hope enough people can break out of the mind-forged manacles that keeps them staring at the shadows dancing on the cave wall…

  9. Brindle


    Biden hopes to be annointed the nominee after winning South Carolina primary on Sat. Feb,29, one week after the Nevada caucuses–which should be a 3-way battle between Biden, Harris and Sanders. Harry Reid will use his large influence there to tip scales for Biden. The MSM pundit class will down-grade the likely Biden defeats in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.as “not being representative”. Biden does not want the race to be still be up in the air when Super Tuesday take place on March 3. where Harris and Sanders are strong in CA and Texas does not seem like a Biden kind of state.

    Anyway just an off the top of my head take on how the Beltway pundit class sees the early Dem primaries. I am hopeing the S.S. Biden hits that iceberg.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Biden already asked Harry Reid to endorse him. Begging off using the excuse that he never endorses candidates prior to the Nevada caucuses, Reid refused.

  10. Carolinian

    Pat Lang highlighted this WaPo story about Sanders April appearance in my town. They are digging at Bernie’s supposed lack of baby kissing and back slapping skills in favor of giving speeches.


    Since I was there and wrote about it here will just repeat that he did seem a bit disgruntled– some wires may have gotten crossed and he was there to give a speech and leave whereas the event was billed more as a Q and A townhall–not that the WaPo would jump to conclusions on limited evidence of course.

    1. Carolinian

      Just to add that the crowd reaction to Bernie at this black church event was extremely enthusiastic. And while I didn’t take a head count, my impression was that the majority of the audience was easily African American rather than young, white Bernie supporters. While in town he was also endorsed by several local black politicians. To call the event a flop for failing to please a Clyburn supporter (Clyburn has already spoken warmly of Biden) would be very much spin if not fake news.

  11. Louis Fyne

    anyone eat a Beyond Meat product? Is it worth its dot-com valuation? Guess we’ll all know in 5 years.

    IMO “Morningstar” veggie burgers are good. But those are from Kellogg and I guess Kellogg isn’t hip enough for Wall Street.

    Burger King has a good veggie burger as well (IMO). your mileage may vary.

    1. jonhoops

      The Beyond Meat Burger tastes pretty close to the real thing, I think the new Impossible burger is slightly better. The first versions of both were passable but the new iteration is much closer. The Beyond sausages are pretty good, with condiments you would have a hard time telling them from the real thing.

      Morningstar et al are definitely “veggie burgers” , Beyond and Impossible are “ersatz meat” and do a better job at fooling the palate.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You will find some unbelievably tasty dishes at many mom and pop Chinese vegetarian restuarants.

        The imitation meat alternatives probably have been around since Buddhism first arrived in China.
        Strictly speaking, as Buddhist discipline goes, it implies a lingering attachment to meat, though. It’s equivalent to saying, you can’t have carnal knowledge, but there are ways you can get around it…

      2. Goyo Marquez

        Had a fake meat taco at Del Taco the other day, I didn’t care for it but my college age daughter thought it tasted like the real thing.

      3. El Justo

        As a consistent veggie burger eater for the last 14 years, I can confidently say that the Beyond Meat burgers easily surpass the rest of them: Boca (which I never liked), Morningstar, and even Quorn (which are not bad). My wife really likes them too, and she’s not even vegetarian. I’d say they taste like the real thing, but as the Mrs. likes to say: “what do you know? You haven’t had a real burger in 14 years!”
        I had an Impossible burger once, in a restaurant, and it was good, but I personally prefer the Beyond Meat. Unfortunately, the only place I can currently find them is Whole Foods.

    2. El Justo

      As a consistent veggie burger eater for the last 14 years, I can confidently say that the Beyond Meat burgers easily surpass the rest of them: Boca (which I never liked), Morningstar, and even Quorn (which are not bad). My wife really likes them too, and she’s not even vegetarian. I’d say they taste like the real thing, but as the Mrs. likes to say: “what do you know? You haven’t had a real burger in 14 years!”
      I had an Impossible burger once, in a restaurant, and it was good, but I personally prefer the Beyond Meat. Unfortunately, the only place I can currently find them is Whole Foods.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    From the Seattle Times piece on the Clintons, Bubba refers to the Trump administration –

    Said Bill Clinton: “These people, they don’t believe the same set of rules apply to them that apply to everyone else.”

    with absolutely no sense of irony.

      1. Cal2

        “Ticket prices are slashed for Bill and Hillary Clinton’s speaking tour with seats in LA being sold for just $2”’

        Wow, a movie is ten dollars, you could heckle the Clintons for 1/5th of that?

    1. Carolinian

      He forgot to take his irony tablets.

      So do Bill and Hill stroll onstage holding hands or is it more like Dan Ackroyd versus Jane Curtin in the SNL version of Point/Counterpoint? That latter would be worth two bucks.

  13. lyman alpha blob

    But Sanders’ policy is more expansive than just targeting major agriculture corporations — he’s also proposing greater government involvement in setting price controls and managing supply and demand of agriculture commodities.

    Hear hear!!! And not a moment too soon. I have never been able to fathom why my family who works their asses off on their dairy farm doesn’t get to set their own price for the milk they produce but are at the mercy of the distributors. And even when the distributor is a “farmer owned” coop, they still have pretty much no say. It makes no logical sense at all but it’s been that way forever. Things were better when the New England Dairy Compact was still in existence but that went the way of the dodo a decade or two ago at the behest of agriculture corporations.

    1. Carey

      We are headed for a certain Perestroika, though I’m not sure what form it will take.

      imagine the possibilities

  14. dearieme

    electric bikes: mine is speed-limited to about 15 mph, the British limit. But if I’d winked at the salesman and told him it was for off-road uses only he might have removed the governor.

    1. Angie Neer

      The U.S. limit for e-bikes (at least here in WA, I’m not sure if it’s a state or federal thing) is 20 mph, and even as an e-bike commuter, I’m fine with regulating anything faster than that as a motor vehicle.

      One day I had to wait a while at the e-bike shop for a repair, and I watched a number of prospective customers come in, browse, and talk to the staff. A huge gender divide: men always asked how fast it would go, and women usually asked how far it would go (though most customers were men, or couples with a dominant male, so the sample size for women is small). When told that the speed limit is 20, most guys then asked how they could bypass that. The staff refrained from offering advice, but alluded to Google.

    2. Tom_Doak

      There’s a reason bicycles, golf carts, and certain other forms of transport are limited / speed governed to 15 or 17 MPH. According to a friend of mine who’s a neurosurgeon, 17 MPH is the speed at which you are likely to fracture your skull in an accident if you’re not wearing a helmet. It’s based on evolution: 17 MPH is also about as fast as all but a few humans can run, so the thickness of your skull evolved to protect you from a head-on collision without technology.

      1. Procopius

        A friend of mine, who had been a doctor in Hong Kong, commented that he would never ride on one of the motorcycle taxis that are common in Bangkok (they’re actually more motor bikes than motorcycles).

  15. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “The Green New Deal Costs Less Than Doing Nothing”

    I get that people try to frame things in terms of costs and markets and jobs this way because of the capitalist system we’re stuck in and they feel that’s the only way anyone important enough to do anything will listen, but it hasn’t worked and it won’t work so can we please try something different? “Market based solutions” are not going to fix anything. You wouldn’t hire a vampire in an attempt to reduce blood less

  16. lyman alpha blob

    RE: A black hole bigger than the sun is pulling on the fabric of space and time

    That’s the type of headline you get when you put a scientific article in a business publication.

    The fact that a black hole is bigger than the sun is not at all surprising since the sun and any other stars of similar mass are incapable of forming black holes to begin with. They will become red giants, slough off their gaseous coats, and settle down to become white dwarfs. Stars must have much larger masses to evolve into black holes, so in other words pretty much all black holes are substantially more massive (not “bigger”) than the sun. There are other kinds posited, but I’ll leave the discussion of microscopic black holes to someone more knowledgeable than myself.

    Also –

    In V404 Cygni’s case, the excessive speed of the wobble brings Einstein’s general theory of relativity into play which states that massive objects like black holes can distort space and time itself.

    – is true, but according to Einstein every object distorts space and time – that’s what gravity is. Black holes simply distort space and time a lot more.

    Please don’t let the business flunkies write the science pieces.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      As you may have noticed, I tend to link to Science and Nature, and to original studies wherever I can. Perhaps this excerpt is what I should have quoted instead:

      Since the V404 Cygni black hole didn’t follow the same rules as conventional blackholes, the ICRAR team has to combine 103 images of the black hole, each around 70 seconds long, in order to observe the phenomenon.

      I am aware that all objects distort space and time. What I found different about this story was that the black hole was said to be sucking in not material, or light, but the fabric of space-time itself. I hoped to get some astronomer or astronomer-adjacent commentary on that.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yes that part is very interesting but not quite as much as the sensational headline and headers would lead you to believe. One of the headers does say it’s dragging in space itself but I don’t think the Business Insider author understood things correctly. From the link to the NRAO website:

        In V404 Cygni, the black hole’s spin axis is misaligned from the plane of its orbit with the companion star. That causes the frame-dragging effect to warp the inner part of the disk, then pull the warped portion around with it. Since the jets originate from either the inner disk or the black hole, this changes the jet orientation, producing the wobbling observed with the VLBA.

        It’s pulling a warped portion of space around, not in, to cause the wobble. That’s a lot less scary.

        Anyway, I do love the science and nature links too – please keep them coming!

    1. Tom Stone

      I became fully radicalized by the US Healthcare System when I spent my life savings caring for my father during his last 18 months of life.
      My own health issues are serious enough that I’m considering all of my alternatives, what constitutes an adequate quality of life is the question.

      1. polecat

        My medical ‘alternative’ regarding serious medical issues is to find a mountain meadow to wander from this world .. to the Great Beyond !

        One could do worse ….

    2. Summer

      Lots of stories about people dying and leaving their family in poverty due to health bills or people “letting go” (to be diplomatic) rather than break the family.

      Lots of us are having these kinds of conversations with family and friends beforehand.

      Sadly, it might be the only way out of this mess as long as there is no mandate to buy health insurance:
      No one continues to pay for “deathcare”.

      1. Robert Valiant

        We can’t even have proper assisted suicide facilities, like in Soylent Green.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Beto O’Rourke Blew It”

    John Michael Greer mentioned a story about Beto where somebody asked him about “food deserts” – places where there are no supermarkets for poorer people to shop at because apparently people in that area do not need to buy food. His solution? There ought to be a sustainable organic farm-to-table restaurant in each of those areas. I will quote Greer here where he says “so O’Rourke’s suggestion amounts to saying that the best solution to the problem of inadequate food for the poor is to give salary class people more options for fine dining.” You can’t make this stuff up.


    Working address for that “A New Civil War Museum Speaks Truths in the Former Capital of the Confederacy” by the way, is at-


  18. verifyfirst

    I remember Biden coming to Michigan in 2018 to endorse and campaign with Republican Fred Upton. How is that not treason to a Pelosi type Dem who desperately wanted the House back?

    As for the Clinton’s, their Detroit show was emceed by Ben Stiller, who with no apparent sense of irony testified the week after in Congress about the dire straits of Syrian refugees…. in Libya.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      How is that not treason to a Pelosi type Dem who desperately wanted the House back?

      Pelosi just wants enough to justify her celebrity and a large office. She doesn’t want to be as irrelevant as Gephardt, but I would imagine a Team Blue Senate majority and a House minority would work for her as long as her leadership was safe.

      As to her followers, we are almost at the point where we have to accept people who still believe in Pelosi are beyond help.

  19. Roady

    ‘Don’t you feel better? I do. It’s like going to the spa.’ Or like getting taken to the cleaners.

  20. anon in so cal

    (Sorry if this was already posted):

    Colombia journalism hosts some of those afflicted with TDS:

    “There’s a panel tomorrow at Columbia on the lessons of journalism in the era of Trump/Russia featuring Marcy Wheeler, who turned in a source to the FBI and claimed she had explosive evidence of collusion, as well as Ben Smith of BuzzFeed. Sounds really fun. See you there!”


    1. Procopius

      Funny, they all seem to say they have evidence, but then they never show it. I was very disappointed in Marcy. Early in Russiagate she claimed she did NOT have any evidence, but she believed in the Russian hacking because of things her friends in the intelligence community told her. Then she became a full-fledged convert. I do not believe all this evidence cannot be cleaned to protect sources and methods, but it is never shown. It’s just flat statements, “There’s abundant evidence available to anyone … ” Marcy, after all, is probably the greatest expert on illegal surveillance and surveillance law available to the general public. She’s smart and hard-working and tenacious. What a loss.

  21. Oregoncharles

    Very, very old Camperdown elms – probably in Britain.

    I’ve cared for one; the top made a sort of basket. The growth habit is quite strange.

  22. bakerman

    Just a few comments about lawns.
    My neighbor placed artificial turf on his front lawn. Well, if we did that where would the two squirrels living in our tree bury the nuts they store for winter.
    And the birds find worms after it rains in our front lawn.
    We recycle our lawn clipping into the green lawn waste container. Though I can’t really say where it gos afterwards.
    Oh, and the neighborhood dogs pee on our lawn. They are happy to find out who our dogs are and our dogs like to know their doggy neighbors too. They know more than I know about some of my neighbors.
    Heck, I can’t grow wheat or corn in my front yard. To small to harvest with a John Deere tractor. Plus I would get a call from some county enforcement and compliance department.

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