2:00PM Water Cooler 5/8/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Yes, there will be a US-China trade deal” [Asia Times]. “Economic reformers in Beijing have long been frustrated with the state-owned enterprises, which constitute a formidable political constituency opposed to internal economic transformation. Trump may be doing Xi Jinping a favor by giving him a political rationale to cut subsidies to SOE’s, something which he wants to do in any case…. America’s intensive diplomatic efforts to exclude the Chinese firm from the global rollout of 5G failed only because Huawei has a better product, and even close American allies such as the UK fear being left behind. The lesson that Beijing will have taken from the Huawei affair is that China’s prestige, power and economic growth depend on its most innovative companies, not on stagnant state-owned enterprises. In short, what we observe is entirely consistent with the rational self-interest of Trump and Xi, and the logic of their self-interest dictates a trade deal. The scenario requires a swoon in equity prices, and the market graciously obliged today.”


“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.

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “”This Is Do-or-Die”: Joe Biden’s “Electability” Argument Is How Democrats Lose Elections” [Vanity Fair]. “Since Vietnam, every time a Democrat has won the presidency, it’s because Democrats voted with their hearts in a primary and closed ranks around the candidate who inspired them, promising an obvious break from the past and an inspiring vision that blossomed in the general election. Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton. Barack Obama. All were young outsiders who tethered their message to the culture of the time. When Democrats have picked nominees cautiously and strategically—falling in line—the results have been devastating, as Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton made plain.” • So, being Democrats…

Biden (D)(2): Where are the crowds?

Buttigieg: “How Pete Buttigieg became the new toast of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest donors” [Vox]. “‘If he came in and pitched a startup at Founders Fund,’ said Cyan Banister, a venture capitalist there, ‘he would be in the A-player category of founders.'” • People keep thinking Buttigieg negatives are positives.

* De Blasio (D)(1): “Critics say Bill de Blasio’s presidential aspirations are delusional. Can he prove them wrong?” [Yahoo News]. • lol no.

Sanders (D)(1): Uber strike:

I just don’t understand why all the candidates aren’t doing this…

Sanders (D)(2): A new UFCW bargaining unit:

I just don’t understand why all the candidates aren’t doing this…

Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders campaign unveils plan to prevent sexism among staff” [Guardian]. • I just don’t understand why all the candidates aren’t doing this…

Sanders (D)(4): “Bernie Sanders: Medicare for All will save Americans from health care crisis” [USA Today]. “Medicare is the country’s most popular and cost-effective health care program. Americans who are covered by Medicare report significantly higher satisfaction rates than those with private insurance. That is not surprising: Unlike private insurance, Medicare does not threaten to bankrupt people in order to enrich greedy CEOs. Instead, it guarantees coverage. Now here’s more good news: By expanding that coverage to everyone, we will save Americans money. Under a Medicare for All system, we will no longer be paying those exorbitant CEO compensation packages, or the absurdly high administrative costs in the private insurance system. We will also be able to negotiate lower drug prices.” • It’s good that Sanders understands he has to make the case that #MedicareForAll saves money. But he’s got to change his bill to get rid of ACOs, if he wants to do that!

Sanders (D)(5): “The Long Shot” [Matt Karp, The Nation]. “Such deep roots in third-party struggle make Sanders a black swan not only among today’s Democratic elite but across American political history. To find an influential national figure with such an extensive background outside the two-party system, you have to return to Debs and the Socialists in the early 20th century or, perhaps, Salmon Chase and the antislavery radicals who helped found the Republican Party before the Civil War. Like the political abolitionists of that era, Sanders has spent his life working to find a party to advance his cause, rather than finding a cause that can advance his party. Nor has that cause wavered very much in half a century. Interviewed by United Press International at the start of his first Liberty Union Party campaign in 1972, he produced a paragraph that could be pasted into a tweet today: ‘If we wanted to, we could have decent housing and free medical care and jobs for everyone…. It won’t happen because the wealth and money lies in the hands of a few people who are not concerned with the welfare of others.'” • But can Bernie speak Norwegian?

Warren (D)(1):

Warren (D)(2):

“The Electability Trap” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “I know I just walked through a bunch of poll numbers, but that’s not what Democratic voters are doing right now. While political pros and cable TV talkers are debating the ‘electability’ game, they are mostly making it more than it really is. The debate over ‘electability’ at this stage of the game is still based on what happened in the last one. A lot of Democrats look at Biden and think he would’ve won in 2016 and as such see him as the safest choice for 2020. If however, Biden starts to look like a risky bet (he stumbles in a debate, bumbles on the trail, etc) the rationale on which is campaign is based collapses. The winner of the 2020 primary will be the candidate who can prove he/she is best suited for the unique challenges of the upcoming campaign, not the one who is still fighting over what they should do the same/differently from 2016.” • Too sensible!

2016 Post Mortem

“Hillary Clinton Said Russia Infiltrated All Florida Election Systems. A State Official Disputes That” [Time]. Not only a state official; the Mueller report itself. “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report said that Russian spies attempted to hack into many of Florida’s local election systems, succeeding in penetrating ‘at least one’ county government network. But Mueller did not say any more than that. At Tuesday’s TIME 100 Summit, Hillary Clinton went much further, claiming that the government had said that every Florida county election system was hacked during the 2016 election.” • This is the sort of detail that you’d expect a good-faith advocate to get right. It takes real chutzpah to inflate “one” to “all,” although, to be fair, that sort of thing is pardonable in a warmonger.


“America in denial: Gabor Maté on the psychology of Russiagate (Interview transcript)” [Grayzone Project] (interviewed by his son, Aaron Maté). “So I really believe that really this Russiagate narrative was, on the part of a lot of people, a sign of genuine upset at something genuinely upsetting. But rather than dealing with the upset, it was an easier way to in a sense draw off the energy of it in to some kind of a believable and comforting narrative. It’s much more comforting to believe that some enemy is doing this to us than to look at what does it say about us as a society. I mean there was a massive denial of the actual dynamics in American society that led to the election of this traumatized and traumatizing individual as President, number one.” • In general, I resist purely psychological explanations. (For example, the “brunch” meme mocking Clinton irredentists includes a psychological element (denial) but a class element, too, since not a lot of working class people do brunch.) But Maté sounds calm and humane. Well worth a read (especially for the part where he explains Trump’s trauma, visited upon him by his horrible father, Fred.

Could the New York Times have coined “short-fingered vulgarian”? No:

Our Famously Free Press

George McClellan probably would have gone into data journalism:

Health Care

This is just bizarre:

I suppose by “make money” is meant “raise campaign contributions. So that’s the worldview of the Obama and Clinton staffers running PFAHCF! But we don’t want to “make money” off the health insurance industry. We want to abolish it!!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why you should care about the Nate Silver vs. Nassim Taleb Twitter war” [Toward Data Science]. Long and a bit dated, but I thought these two concepts were interesting: “Predictions have two types of uncertainty; aleatory and epistemic. Aleatory uncertainty is concerned with the fundamental system (probability of rolling a six on a standard die). Epistemic uncertainty is concerned with the uncertainty of the system (how many sides does a die have? And what is the probability of rolling a six?). With the latter, you have to guess the game and the outcome; like an election! Bespoke models, like FiveThirtyEight’s, only report to the public aleatory uncertainty as it concerns their statistical outputs (inference by Monte Carlo in this case). The trouble is that epistemic uncertainty is very difficult (sometimes impossible) to estimate.” • I would say that in a legitimacy crisis, epistemic uncertainty would bulk large; I barely know Taleb’s work, so I don’t know if he takes this issue up.

Stats Watch

Consumer Credit, March 2019: “Consumer credit came in below expectations” [Econoday]. “The March decline in revolving credit and the slowdown in credit card debt growth during the first quarter suggests the consumer is becoming more frugal, which is a plus for household wealth but a drag on consumer spending.”

JOLTS, March 2019: “Imbalances between openings and hires deepened sharply in March” [Econoday]. “Job openings surged… at the same time that hires fell. The gap between the two stands at a new record…. Though workers may not be shifting among employers, scarcity in the labor market is indicated in this report by the comparison of openings vs hires and was underscored very strongly in last week’s employment report by…. dip in the unemployment rate to a 49-year low at 3.6 percent. Full employment, a theoretical flashpoint for stress, would appear to be here.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of May 3, 2019: “After slipping through late April, mortgage applications for home purchases rose” solidly [Econoday].

Real Estate: “Long Island City’s Amazon effect” [Axios]. “When Amazon announced its retreat from Queens amid a backlash from local activists, Long Island City seemed to have lost 25,000 new jobs and billions of dollars in investment. Instead, two months later, the neighborhood is experiencing a boom: Other companies have grabbed much of the 1.5-million-square-foot, all-glass building that was to be the beachhead of Amazon’s Queens expansion, and interest has surged in nearby commercial real estate.” • Lol, no effect at all. Remember all the pissing and moaning?

The Bezzle:

Prosecution futures!

Tech: “AirPods Are a Tragedy” [Vice]. “For roughly 18 months, AirPods play music, or podcasts, or make phone calls. Then the lithium-ion batteries will stop holding much of a charge, and the AirPods will slowly become unusable. They can’t be repaired because they’re glued together. They can’t be thrown out, or else the lithium-ion battery may start a fire in the garbage compactor. They can’t be easily recycled, because there’s no safe way to separate the lithium-ion battery from the plastic shell. Instead, the AirPods sit in your drawer forever…. AirPods are a symbol of wealth. They’re physical manifestations of a global economic system that allows some people to buy and easily lose $160 headphones, and leaves other people at risk of death to produce those products. If AirPods are anything, they’re future fossils of capitalism.” • Well worth a read, especially if you want to understand product design at Apple (ugh).

Mr. Market: “Global Stock Sell-Off Exposes Stretched Valuations” [Bloomberg]. The conclusion: ” I figure the reaction has been mild because most investors still think Trump is unlikely to go through with his threat at the end of this week. I agree. As everyone had worked out from months of examining the situation, it’s in the interests of neither the U.S. nor China to press on into a full-blown trade war. My own guesstimate (and it is no more than that) is that the market is pricing the risk of Trump going through with his threats at not much more than 20 percent. If the brinkmanship is taken too far, there is a lot further for the markets to fall. For now, the sell-off has been unremarkable. And it has not been unhealthy.”

The Biosphere

“The breakdown of biodegradable plastic, broken down” [Anthropocene]. “[A] new study shows that even after being buried in the soil or immersed in seawater for three years, plastic bags marketed as biodegradable can still carry a full load of groceries without breaking… The study suggests that there’s no simple technological solution to the problem of single-use plastic. Instead, the solution is a human one that basically boils down to an ethic of care. That means, as individuals, choosing and reusing durable items rather than throwaway ones when possible, and taking care to discard items appropriately. And collectively, it means designing disposable products and waste management systems that help individuals follow through.” • Hmm.

“This global map of manure could help save farming as we know it” [Science]. “To grow the world’s wheat, corn, and beans, farmers need phosphorus—an essential nutrient that comes from bird and bat droppings and rock deposits. But the global supply of easily mineable phosphorus is dwindling; to stave off the coming drought, scientists are exploring an alternative: recycling animal manure for its phosphorus content. Now, they’ve come up with the world’s first map of this underappreciated resource, which shows that most manure is exactly where farmers need it—in their own backyards..” • If they can be induced to recycle it, and apparently the process for that is too expensive “for small family farms, which supply most food in parts of Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.”

“Losing Marine Stratocumulus Clouds Could Create a Mega-Hothouse Climate” [Weather Underground] (original). “The theorized breakup of the marine stratocumulus decks is because of a disrupted balance between heating from above and cooling at the cloud top. Because they are so bright and thick, marine stratocumulus are highly reflective clouds, sending much more energy into space than is radiated their way by the carbon dioxide that sits above them. As CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, though, it sends more and more energy toward the top of the marine stratocumulus. Eventually, this leads to a breakdown of the fine-scale upward and downward motions that sustain the cloud deck…. The last time earth was so warm was during the hottest part of the Eocene era, 50 million years ago, when tropical vegetation grew in Alaska and Greenland. Since the real atmosphere is far more complicated than their idealized model, and the modeling was not done on a global scale, their results should be viewed as highly experimental until more research with better models is performed.”

“Climate Change, Climate Policy, and Economic Growth” (slide deck) [NBER].

Health Care

“A Watered-Down Medicare for All Won’t Work. Just Ask Ireland.” [The New Republic]. “Beto O’Rourke, for his part, has gone from endorsing Medicare for All to endorsing the misleadingly named Medicare for America, a public option policy borne of several years of research from the Center for American Progress. With his support, it has quickly become the most popular moderate plan du jour…. It would put more Americans on a Medicare program, but the rest would still be required to purchase health insurance, either through their employers or privately. The plan would also introduce more government regulation to health care giants that charge wildly inflated prices for services and medication. This might sound like an improvement, but in fact, a comparable system already exists, in the Republic of Ireland, where it’s created a crisis of care…. Hundreds of thousands fall through the cracks in Ireland’s system, too wealthy to get comprehensive benefits from the public system, but too poor to pay for private insurance entirely out of pocket.” • Exactly like ObamaCare (see the six-part series, “ObamaCare’s Relentless Creation of Second-Class Citizens“). Liberals just can’t help creating complex eligibility requirements that end up sending some people to Happyville, and others to Pain City, randomly. Well worth a read.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“The Tenants Fighting Back Against Facial Recognition Technology” [CityLab]. “Last year, residents of Atlantic Plaza Towers, a rent-stabilized apartment building in Brooklyn, found out that their landlord was planning to replace the key fob entry system with facial recognition technology. The goal, ostensibly, was to modernize the building’s security system… Last week, lawyers representing 134 concerned residents of the building filed an objection with the state housing regulator. It is the first visible opposition in New York City to the deployment of such technology in the residential realm.”

Police State Watch

“GEO Group’s Own Shareholders Concerned About Human Rights in the Company’s Prisons” [Miami New Times]. “Activists regularly protest outside GEO Group’s facilities, which include prisons and immigration detention centers. White-supremacist groups send the company thank-you packages. Meanwhile, people are dying inside GEO facilities — one immigration detainee in California died last month at the age of 27. Now even the company’s own shareholders say they’re concerned. GEO, a Boca Raton-based company now considered the largest private, for-profit prison firm in America, held an annual shareholder meeting today — and a majority of shareholders passed a resolution demanding that GEO better report human rights policies and violations to investors.” • GEO Group uses prison labor, awfully close to being a human rights violation in and of itself.


“”I always knew this would happen’: STEM families shocked, but not surprised, by school shooting” [Colorado Independent]. “‘I always knew. I live close to Columbine. I always knew this would happen,’ [8th-grader Gianni] told me. ‘It’s bound to happen sooner or later.'” • Other children felt the same way. What a world.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Huge Racial Disparities Found in Deaths Linked to Pregnancy” [New York Times]. “African-American, Native American and Alaska Native women die of pregnancy-related causes at a rate about three times higher than those of white women, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. The racial disparity has persisted, even grown, for years despite frequent calls to improve access to medical care for women of color. Sixty percent of all pregnancy-related deaths can be prevented with better health care, communication and support, as well as access to stable housing and transportation, the researchers concluded.”

Class Warfare

“Worker ‘used device to block webcam at home'” [Asia Times]. “An employer has accused his domestic worker of buying and hiding a device to interfere with a web-camera at his home…. such devices can easily be found on Taobao.com, a Chinese shopping website. The gadget that blocks WiFi signals is promoted as a device to “get your children off internet addiction” and sells for around 118 Chinese yuan (US$17).” • Those maids aren’t dumb…

News of the Wired

“Reducing Crime Through Environmental Design: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment of Street Lighting in New York City” [NBER]. “Through a unique public partnership in New York City, temporary streetlights were randomly allocated to public housing developments from March through August 2016. We find evidence that communities that were assigned more lighting experienced sizable reductions in crime. After accounting for potential spatial spillovers, we find that the provision of street lights led, at a minimum, to a 36 percent reduction in nighttime outdoor index crimes.” • Anecdotally, downtown Philly got a lot safer after they replaced those horrid tall, streamlined aluminum harsh orange-lit streetlights with old-fashioned, warm streetlights, close to the ground.

News you can use:

I’ve never encountered “my guy” in the wild. My entry for furious, incandescent rage would be “champ.” Otherwise, the scale seems pretty accurate to me!

“Archaeologists find richest cache of ancient mind-altering drugs in South America” [Science]. “[T]he 1000-year-old bag contains the most varied combination of psychoactive compounds found at a South American site, including cocaine and the primary ingredients in a hallucinogenic tea called ayahuasca. The contents suggest the users were well versed in the psychoactive properties of the substances, and also that they sourced their goods from well-established trade routes. ‘Whoever had this bag of amazing goodies … would have had to travel great distances to acquire those plants,’ says Melanie Miller, lead author of a new study on the discovery and a bioarchaeologist at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. ‘[Either that], or they had really extensive exchange networks.'” • “Amazing goodies”!

* * *

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 (Angie Neer):

Angie Neer writes: “Here in the NW the blossoms are already being rained off the cherries.”

* * *

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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

    45 million Americans with student loans. 22% of them in default. 99% fail to qualify for student loan forgiveness, per standalone on N.C. today.

    Biden’s to blame for them never being able to discharge those loans.
    That’s one large group of people, who when informed of who is behind their plight, can and probably will vote against Biden.

    Do you think Trump would mention that in his campaign ads in the fall of 2020?

    Joe Biden has been on the job for +-50 years but now he wants to “Fix Things”?

    1. flora

      Love the way his campaign sign reads “Bid – n” at a distance. Gives extra punch to the joke about politicians for sale.

      1. Cal2

        Impoverished student debtors are just Biden’ their time until they die,
        the only way to discharge the loans, unless their parents co-signed.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      So? He has no sympathy for the younger generation. NONE. GIVE ME A BREAK.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      About the Mexican tomatoes . . . . NAFTA was designed to have low priced Mexican tomatoes (for example) exterminating the American tomato growing economy at the same time as NAFTA was designed to have low priced Midwest-American corn exterminating the Mexican corn growing economy. In both cases a differential cost-price arbitrage racket is engineered into existence for a designated upper-class group of ag-racketeers to work that racket.

      The long-term answer is to abolish NAFTA with NOTHING taking its place. Mexico, Canada, and America could all re-protectionize their SEParate NATional agricultures and each achieve their own SEPARATE FOOD SECURITY and SOVEREIGNTY. Agricultural trade would hopefully approach almost ZERO between the three countries.

  2. Wukchumni

    “”I always knew this would happen’: STEM families shocked, but not surprised, by school shooting” [Colorado Independent]. “‘I always knew. I live close to Columbine. I always knew this would happen,’ [8th-grader Gianni] told me. ‘It’s bound to happen sooner or later.’” • Other children felt the same way. What a world.
    All the soul searching of what was wrong with us as a culture in the immediate wake of Columbine, is now pretty much reduced to a “been there-done that again’ routine. An odd normalcy in our cylinderella story.

  3. Seth Miller

    Re: Big Brother is Watching You

    The Atlantic Plaza case is not the only one. Yesterday, in a case that my firm (Collins, Dobkin & Miller LLP) co-counseled with Ween & Kozek, our clients’ landlord backed off of the use of the “Latch” app as the way to get into our clients’ loft building, and agreed to re-issue plain mechanical keys. Here’s the link; https://www.cnet.com/news/tenants-win-rights-to-physical-keys-over-smart-locks-from-landlords/

    The New York City Building Code requires that the entry door have a cylinder that is operated by the tenant’s key. Full stop. A system that instead has the key send information over the internet to a server that “verifies” the tenant’s “credentials” is blatantly illegal.

    1. Seth Miller

      As Lambert likes to say, “regulatory arbitrage.” Here, it would be particularly difficult for the Department of Buildings to police the violation, since the lock looks normal, and certain kinds of electronic keys are legal, so long as they are the only thing needed to turn the cylinder. An inspector won’t know that the landlord has required the use of an “app,” and that the app is what opens the door. Our clients were organized, though, and willing to fight.

    2. polecat

      So, if a fire were to break out, said tenants would be at the mercy of some coder or algorithm to release them from a potentially awful fate …
      What the hell is wrong with landlards who think this is warrented !!!

      Do they WANT to get sued ??

  4. Eureka Springs

    But he’s got to change his bill to get rid of ACOs, if he wants to do that!

    What’s an ACO?

    1. general jinjur

      from google search
      “Accountable Care Organizations — …
      What is an ACO? ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high-quality care to their Medicare patients.”

      1. KB

        Actually, as Kip Sullivan would say, ACO’s are just HMO’s in disguise, ie. Insurance Companies.

    2. Synoia

      An Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is a healthcare organization that ties payments to quality metrics and the cost of care. ACOs in the United States are formed from a group of coordinated health-care practitioners. They use alternative payment models, normally, capitation. The organization is accountable to patients and third-party payers …

      Whose executives get paid very well?

      1. Arizona Slim

        Of course they’re paid very well. You wouldn’t expect them to ride the bus to work, now would you?

    3. jonhoops

      ACO – Accountable Care Organizations


      They are kind of like HMO’s. The Jayapal M4A bill gets rid of them because they make it harder or impossible to control costs. Bernie’s bill still has them, which undercuts the cost cutting ability that will be available.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I call those things Ear Sticks. And, IMHO, they look stupid.

        Me? I bought a phone with a headphone jack. Because I think that headphones are much more comfortable than, oh, Ear Sticks.

      2. Cal2

        Lambert, you forgot something important;
        Now that there is no headphone jack for people to use their expensive Dr. Dre headphones, people feel perfectly entitled to play their “music” out loud in line at the grocery store, walking down the sidewalk, or sitting next to you on a park bench.

        What’s a poor person to do? I mean they gotta have their music. Funny, how it’s never Classical, but is always some variety of Hip Hop.

        And, this lack of a headphone jack of course allows them to blast their very important incoming cell phone conversations out to the people sitting next to them in a theater.

  5. prodigalson

    Why is “electability” even still a thing? The last election showed that “electability” and the high school antics of the press corp king/queenmaking is a dead letter. If the old rules were in effect then either Jeb! or Hillary would be president right now. Our political elites are increasingly acting like larouchies holding placards and saying that this year is the year for sure. The world’s moved on and they just fundamentally don’t seem to get that. Or maybe talking their book is all they have left.

    1. Carolinian

      But isn’t electability exactly why Hillary lost? Her husband was the politician in the family. Some of us condemned her horrible performance as Sec State but dubious whether most of America even knew she was horrible (thanks to our skin deep press corps). Saying “deplorables” and her other political missteps got her.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’ll be bold and “deplorables” was irrelevant. If it was relevant, it was a reminder of neoliberal policies championed by the DLC. GOTV efforts take enthusiasm. Bill Clinton and Clintonesque politics isn’t based around building enthusiasm, and over a state, a lack of enthusiasm means registrations don’t get checked, people don’t plan their work schedule, rides to the polls aren’t planned, etc. Yes, the sports fans among politicos don’t care about this, but I don’t think any amount of Clinton missteps can make up for the Iraq War, Libya, butchering health care, NAFTA, warehousing of black men, etc.

        Obama could thrash McCain despite Obama’s own missteps because he could once upon a time generate enthusiasm without the various lodestones about his neck. Biden isn’t offering enthusiasm but an easy answer to the sports viewer politico. He’s been VP so he must be able to win the White House or replicate Obama’s success without addressing what was key to Obama’s success.

        1. Carolinian

          But all those things you talk about were issues in the primary more than the general.

          There’s also that theory that the taller candidate in any presidential election wins. This is partly a joke (but maybe true?) but also a comment on how shallow our elections tend to be absent some national crisis.

          Clearly Bernie needs to start spending more time in the back of the bus, telling off color jokes, giving the press members nicknames. A media barbecue at his Vermont hacienda probably couldn’t hurt. If he follows this advice he’s a shoo-in.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Those issues meant people wouldn’t do the GOTV work for Hillary and the Democrats. Hillary supporters didn’t do the work for their candidate. Though they focused on driving turnout in blue cities in safe states, they didn’t do very well in blue cities in swing states.

            Would you knock doors for Warren or Biden? Sanders or Hillary? Would you let an unknown Hillary field organizer live rent free at your house? What about an unknown Obama 2008 one at your apartment?

            This is how you win. Hillary spent millions of dollars trying to browbeat people in safe states into not voting for Jill Stein. I did field work for a long time, and I can tell you this, Hillary supporters are the kinds of people who are really good at making sure their friends vote but aren’t suited to reaching out to likely Democratic voters, the ones you can guess just by appearance. The people who get out and register voters in August give a damn about stuff. They didn’t do it for Hillary. When they did, they sat sullenly at their tables. People who don’t care about Iraq. They don’t care enough to GOTV.

            1. Carolinian

              I defer to your greater experience while still suspecting that at the end of the day it revolves around much more superficial considerations–i.e.is this the person we want on our TV screens every day for the next four years. The truth is that much of the rabid opposition to Trump has nothing to do with issues and is more about being repelled by his personality. Russiagate was always just an excuse based on the premise: whatever gets rid of this guy is a good thing. Trump can even be right on some issue and they will attack him for it. Infotainment television feeds into this process of making our elections as trivial as possible. Both parties seems to like it that way just fine.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                55 million people will vote for a corpse with a D stamped onto its forehead. Without what was effectively token voting for the first woman in safe states, this is what HRC did.

                2 billion dollars, universal name recognition, total establishment loyalty doesn’t lead to Team Blue victories. Its tempting to say it was sexism. John Kerry and Al Gore had less money than HRC, but name recognition and doofus campaigns make them good enough to lose.

                Sanders did so well in 2016 because people were willing to talk about him because he wasn’t getting it in the msm. He wasn’t being talked about because he’s a cult like figure. It was because he was good on those issues.

              2. drumlin woodchuckles

                It is not just distaste for Trump’s distasteful self and distasteful personality. It is also deep rage and hate specifically over the Clinton Voters’ shattered faith that Senator Her-Turn would break the Tiffany Glass Ceiling and make proud all those cultists who had subsumed their personalities into her own. They feel that Trump is the Evil Pretender put on a Stolen Throne . . . the Throne which rightfully belongs to Her Royal Herness , Queen Hillary of Clinton.

                1. Procopius

                  Just so. You can see it in the fiery venom which they spew at Sanders’ supporters. According to polls at the time, most of us voted for Hillary. They not only refuse to believe that, they believe we are all conspiring to defeat the Democratic nominee and bring the party to ruin. And their intellectual development is really open to question. I saw one comment recently about how Trump loves his master, “pooty poot-poot.” That kind of thing is very common on some blogs.

          2. richard

            That sounds fdr! Unfortunately, no amount of wooing will get state media organs to play nice at this point. Bernie will have to welcome msm hatred as well

        2. John k

          Key to Obama’s success…
          Obama succeeded by believably promising progressive and anti war (change from bush) but delivered the same neolib policies as bush. And we, certainly including me, didn’t notice hr took a record amount from banks. Or, after inauguration, populated his admin with Wall Street.
          Didn’t wake up until addicted to nc.

    2. barrisj

      More Beltway chatter…MSM sees a crowded Dem field of prez candidates, so how best to do the sorting? Why,, “electability”, of course. An “old face” establishment candidate easier to handicap than 20 “new faces”, plus Bernie. A “platform” of tired centrist slogans always less controversial than an array of detailed proposals, and enhances – wait for it – “electability”. Self-referential twaddle.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Comcast has its own agenda. Its news is dependent on self identified liberals, and given their age, they probably remember when the media seemed less like FoxNews. Obviously, they can’t push Biden on his merits, that might be a bridge too far for MSDNC zombies.

      As far as “electability”, its useful because its meaningless and can’t be tacked down, belonging to the realm of faith. For most people, this is enough. After all, Joe Biden has been a Senator for a long time and was Vice President, after all Obama must have had a reason. The security of a Senate seat or trying to explain that Obama might have picked a safe state Senator who wouldn’t be missed in the Senate requires a bit of critical thinking. Because Biden has been around long enough, his supporters can just point to a nebulous record. Yes, you can point to the Thomas hearings, but who doesn’t have a mistake in 50 years? Yeah, but that was a different time, what has he done recently? A few gaffes. He’s little touchy. He’s from a different generation. No thinking is required, and if Biden can be dragged across the finish line, its appealing to HRC supporters because they can blame sexism for Hillary losing as Biden is basically Hillary without the positive attributes.

      In case of total disaster, Biden’s defeat can always be blamed on the KGB. Biden was electable, but Putin didn’t let us have an election.

      As far as electability goes, Aziz Azari’s character, Tom Haverford, from Parks and Rec changed his name from Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani to be more appealing in politics. How was he supposed to know some guy named “Barack Hussein Obama” would be President?

      1. Eureka Springs

        The day Biden officially announced he went straight to a fundraiser by:

        Biden has pledged that his 2020 campaign won’t take in any direct donations from lobbyists. But on the first night of his official candidacy, Biden hit the suburbs of Philadelphia to attend a $2,800 per person fundraiser at the home of David L. Cohen, the executive vice president and chief of lobbying for Comcast.

    4. Rostale

      I pretty much consider “electability” to be the political establishment telling the voters what they are and are not allowed to have.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Exactly. You manufacture consent by managing expectations around electability.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The only way for Citizens to withdraw their consent in this electoral arena would be to withdraw their acceptance from the concept of “electable”. Many millions of people would have to make their many millions of separate individual decisions that ” I don’t care about electable any more. I want what I want and I will accept losing by voting for what I want ahead of time.”

    1. Wukchumni

      I find that I use dude when speaking, but rarely writing. Only spoken with friends or those i’m acquainted with, rarely with a stranger.

      Similar to the too often used ‘you know’, seen emanating out of professional athletes mouths in the post game presser, in between whatever else they’re attempting to convey about their play. You never see that one in print, you know?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s all (mouth and throat) muscle memory.

        You do it often and long enough, it becomes automatic…at least in my case.

    2. barrisj

      Must agree here…”dude” is almost always used in put-down mode, and fairly drips with sarcasm, as does “bro”. At least this has been my experience when commenting on blogs.

      1. Greg

        As a kiwi, bro is usually a stranger and is perfectly peasant, dude is a friend, chief is a stranger in a working context or senior to me… these rules are cultural context specific i think.

        1. RWood

          In carceration country, “boss” when superior addressed so by CO’s later translated as
          “sorry sob”

  6. Jerry B

    ===In general, I resist psychological explanations====

    Care to elaborate Lambert??? Please provide a good argument for why you resist psychological explanations. If your view is resisting psychological explanations to the exclusion of others such as genes, biology, culture, etc. then we agree.

    At our core humans are nothing if not based on genetic, biological, neurobiological, psychoanalytic, and psychological foundations/motives. I am not saying that genes-biology-psychology explains everything but they have to be considered a factor (along with culture and socialization) in most everything humans do. I am also including behaviorism under the psychology umbrella. i.e humans can be pretty stimulus-response prone.

    In previous comments I have mentioned the Adam Curtis documentary, Century of the Self. Most of the beginning of the Century of the Self focuses on the work of psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Anna Freud, and PR consultant Edward Bernays. In episode one, Curtis says, “This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.


    I am a fan of Gabor Mate’s work. He is, as Lambert mentions, one of the more humane writers I have come across. His books, Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder and In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction are excellent perspectives on ADD, and Addiction.

      1. Jerry B

        ==But we sure do get a lot of purely psychological explanation!===

        Yep. And full disclosure, as someone with graduate degrees in psychology it would be understandable for me to be biased towards purely psychological explanations, but as my comment above shows I see many other influences as well.

        But as my reference to Century of the Self shows, we need to be aware of “genetic-psychological-biological” explanations/forces within us because it seems judging by the documentary that the powers that be are using genetic-biological-psychological explanations to control and manipulate us!!

          1. errwood

            whoops! have to clean my short-term memory chip.
            Missed seeing the authoritative post.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Good comment–that hit me truly as a person who deals often with psychological issues in my professional life, my social encounters, my close relationships and so on. In fact, in one way or the other, how our psyche functions is critical not only in the personal sense but in how society and its ever-changing mores emerges/evolves. Psychology and the fairly rich principles that have been discovered and well-articulated by many people including Gabor Mate.

      We can’t conceive of a rational explanation, for example, of Washington’s policies without delving into psychological motivations of the individuals, what methods they use to achieve cohesion, and so on.

      1. Jerry B

        Thanks Chris!

        ===We can’t conceive of a rational explanation, for example, of Washington’s policies without delving into psychological motivations of the individuals===

        Not just the psychological motivations of individuals but as Century of the Self and Edward Bernays work mentions it is also crowd and mass psychology. IMO, in a simplistic sense, politics is just Applied Crowd and Mass Psychology writ large. The author Doris Lessing wrote a book called Prisons We Choose to Live Inside which discusses crowd psychology as well.

          1. zagonostra

            Also worth reading:

            Gustav Le Bon who is the best writer on the subject, even though his work is somewhat dated (I notice in the amazon link the blurb mentions him). Much of his writing on the subject of crowds is used in Freud’s “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.”

            In the U.S. a rarely mentioned sociologist by the name of Robert Ezra Park wrote his doctoral dissertation (originally in German) and which was subsequently published as “The Crowd and the Public, and Other Essays” is very good and terse.

            There is good material on the subject to be found in the works of Herbert Blumer (symbolic interventionist) and my graduate professor, the late Stanford M. Lyman author of “The Sociology of the Absurd” and “The Drama of Social Reality.”

          2. Jerry B

            Thanks nyc! I had not heard of Moscovici. I will try to find the book in my local library system.

    2. Nat

      “The Century of the Self” is a fantastic documentary that I second your recommendation of.

      1. Craig H.

        The century of the self is entertaining as hell.

        It is not a documentary.

        In my edition of Gleitman’s Psychology textbook (5) Freud is a curio, not a source. Little better than Phrenology which also once had intellectual cred.

    3. hemeantwell

      Much of what Gabor Mate says by way of a psychological analysis is ok. But occasionally he fumbles into superficial observations that don’t do anything to allay the worry that introducing a psychological level of analysis encourages psychologistic reduction. E.g.

      Number two, America, if you can judge by its TV shows, is very much addicted to the good guy/bad guy scenario.

      This loses track of the fact that US elites have done a consistently effective job of fostering an exceptionalist, virtuous-victim America view of international relations. American exceptionalism does not bubble up from below. Most nations carry out this kind of system-supportive propaganda, but the US, precisely because it has been globally involved in so many conflicts for so many years, has had to develop a permanent war culture. That people might draw on this macrotendency in their daily lives — and it’s not just about current war potential, but also derivative from cultural deformations wrought by past wars, both external and internal — is not surprising. And that the people who write TV scripts would draw on these patterns isn’t either.

      Black and white thinking is part of a broader phenomenon, nationalistic pseudostupidity. When the whistle blows, critical and discerning thinking at a mass level is suddenly felt to be dangerous, threatening the necessary unity of the nation as it marshals its resources for war. It has been disgusting to see the Dems cultivate this kind of hindbrain politics, particularly after the way they completely blew disarmament-oriented options following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  7. Mark Gisleson

    Not very pleased with that Science article that explained how manure has to be treated before applying it to the soil.

    I spent more time shoveling manure as a kid than I ever did working in politics or doing social media (and that’s saying something). But we put it straight into the manure spreader and dad would take it directly out to the fields. Which apparently was not as helpful as we thought.

    Kinda feeling down now, like I wasted the best part of my childhood.

    1. Lee

      Kinda feeling down now, like I wasted the best part of my childhood.

      My stepfather got so tired of a childhood spent shoveling shit on a farm that he lied about his age to get into the army to fight Nazis. Now, in my own old age, I do it in my garden as a form of recreation and self realization. It’s a funny old world.

    2. Mayo Peat

      From what I gather, manure is directly applied to fields in the fall or winter, not in growing seasons. It has to “season” for a while otherwise it will burn up the plants. I’m guessing you did this after harvest time?

      1. polecat

        Yes.. the microbes, worms, and fungi need time to do their magic ! I wait a year for my scrumptious compost to ‘mellow’ .. before applying to our plants. So far, no burnt plantings. ‘:)

        1. Bob Haugen

          Yeah, I’m wondering about this:
          > apparently the process for that is too expensive “for small family farms, which supply most food in parts of Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.”

          Pile it up for a year. The magic microbes are already in there. I do understand that most farmers don’t pile it up and compost it, but I’ve worked on a farm that did, and it wasn’t that hard. Mostly piled up by a skid-steer loader. But yeah, if you don’t have such a machine, lotsa shit-shoveling…

          What am I missing?

      2. a different chris

        Yes that’s what people generally do, and I suspect – can’t imagine why – that underlying this article is still a Monsanto or somebody who want’s to “do something” rather than let Mother Nature have all the fun (and profits).


        >farmers must break it down with bacteria

        Yeah, and wherever would we find those?

        1. Oregoncharles

          It can actually be used to produce considerable quantities of (really) natural gas. Not sure how common that is.

          I agree with your suspicions. There’s a regimen for using manure safely; it’s been part of organic farming for ages. The premise of the article strikes me as dubious.

          Of course, the trickiest is human manure, because of the disease issues. That might call for tighter procedures – but still very natural.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          i read that too brief article and said…”it’s called frelling compost, ya morons!”
          Peak phosphorus is gonna be a big deal, sooner or later.
          cant grow things without it.
          manure is essential to farming, whether monsatan can monetise it or not.
          now for my perennial refrain when the subject is soil, manure, etc:
          dowpont(!) is totally evil…their “persistent herbicides”…which go unscathed through the gut of ruminants and then the composting process…render manure poisonous.
          i easily convinced my local feedstore to stop carrying those substances…but the local ag extension guy promotes them incessantly…and the (hard core repub) bidness guy who bought the feed store a couple of years ago scoffs at my warnings(“damned hippie”), and started carrying them again.
          no safe manure=no non-fossil phosphorus=eventual starvation.
          dowpont won’t allow a soil test(proprietary knowledge)

          end rant. (this is a particularly strong disturbance in the Force, for me. my apologies)

          1. The Rev Kev

            No need to apologize. This sort of stuff needs to be called out. Do people even remember that in the 19th century, sailing ships would go to places like Nauru and Peru in the Pacific to get cargoes of guano – bird poop – for fertilizer?


            1. polecat

              We get our’s from the (4) hens .. works great for a suburban farmstead such as ours … but that’s predicated on polecat scraping up neodinosaur sh!t daily from the ‘chook yard’ .. and weekly from the ‘poop pit’ inside the coop. Not hard if done regularly … something I suspect many wouldn’t have the inclination (yuck! factor) nor the patience ( OMG !! MOAR POOP .. MAKE THEM STOPPPPP !!!) to be consistant.
              At least I DO something positive with it .. can’t say the same for people who, say, let their dogs poop wherever they like, only to move on with nary a thought as to pick up/disposal. Not too many medieval tanneries in our time and space, which, in the case of canines, would be a good thing .. but no, can’t have meatsacks-on-the -hoof (Too much CARBON – Nooooo !) .. or actual genuine leather (BAD ANIMAL CONSUMERS MUST DIE !)
              So no .. Only Fido running free and frisky like the surrogate human child it was born to be, as a companion to the latte-swilling dinks, soccer moms, or vegitarian-onlys living in THEIR version of Early 21st century nirvana.

              Sorry for the rant

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                luckily, my two closest neighbors keep horses…and one even stables them in a barn that his front end loader can access(a remarkable innovation…idk why more folks out here didn’t think of that before they built the “new barn”,lol. it’s as if there’s some religious need to put the stable in the most inaccessible place they can find)
                they accept my numerous idiosyncrasies, like aversion to certain herbicides, and are happy to give me all the horse$%it i can haul off…but it’s not enough for my current usage(only 3 horses, total…and they’re pastured half the time)
                i give them all the eggs and veggies they want, and keep an eye out for coyotes and cattle in distress.
                i’ve considered getting some meat rabbits…primarily for the poop, which is like gold…but dislike messing with them.
                geese(about 30 of them(!!)) are all but useless for these purposes…wandering all over. more of a constant, general fertilising regime.
                chickens’ leavings are very “hot”…from the ammonia, due to peculiarities of their digestion/anatomy.
                just add a lot more leaves than you normally would, and leave it sit a lot longer to mellow.

        3. hunkerdown

          Not much to be found in the manure of antibiotically-saturated CAFO animals, I bet.

      3. Jeotsu

        Much also depends on the species form which the manure originates. Different levels of digestion produce different products.

        Another issue that doesn’t get discussed enough is the use of anthelminthics (wormer/drench). These are products that kill the internal worms in cattle, sheep, horses, camelids, etc. The problem is gastrointestinal nematodes are close relatives to the other nematodes (including earthworms) in the soil. So heavy treatment of the grazing stock can end up producing lots of manure which is toxic to the earthworms.

        Good gazing/pasture management can reduce the need for drenches, but the problem is that these drenches have been used a “magic bullet” (like antibiotics) to increase intensification. Unsurprisingly this has led to drench-resistant worms.

        For a long time there were only 3 broad “families” of drenches, invents from the ~60’s through the 80’s (the 80’s discovery, the macrocyclic lactone family, were found in an organism in the turf of a Japanese golf course. It’s discovery earned a medicine Nobel a few years ago, for how Ivermectin revolutionized parasite treatment of people in Africa). Just back in 2011 a new, fourth family of drench was released (sold here under the “Zolvix” brand name). It was heralded as a great new biochemical approach which made it safe, effective, and near-impossible for the worms to develop resistance to it.

        So what happened? Within 3 years we had the first fully-Zolvix-resistant worms. Poor practice, as always, squanders what could have been a great tool for animal health and productivity.

    3. wilroncanada

      Just think of the IH (International Harvester) ad:
      We stand behind everything we sell…except our manure spreaders.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Amish are recapturing and recycling their animals’ manure-phosphorus without any highly technical “struvite extraction”, are they not?

  8. barefoot charley

    The father/son Mate’ chat is good stuff. Yo Obamaniacs projecting US crimes onto RussiaRussia, “Would you rather be illusioned or disillusioned?”

    Feel the pain, Breathe. Understand what happened.

  9. EGrise

    I haven’t encountered “my guy” in the wild either – IME when it gets to that point the language switches to profanity, typically one of the “****head” variants.

    …or perhaps I hang out in the wrong places.

  10. Tim

    I’m surprised you missed the fabulous article on Sanders from CNN. I’m not being sarcastic it’s a great article.
    Of course the only natural response of the powers that be at CNN is they waited to post it over on the far right once news of the shooting surfaced, to ensure nobody notices it, and of course it’s already off the front page, so if you blinked you missed it.

    But rest assured you can see the following article today: How Joe Biden is eating into Bernie Sanders’ coalition

  11. JacobiteInTraining

    In the grand scheme of things, this is small potatoes…but…in the context of waste, recycling, and junk:

    “…as individuals, choosing and reusing durable items rather than throwaway ones when possible, and taking care to discard items appropriately….”

    I have heard people calling those yards (and vacant lots, and other places) that have piles of ”junk” stored upon them, as ‘folk gardens’, or usually much worse. Of course, its typically done in a more pejorative manner, as in ‘those damn deplorable hoarders messing up the property values’, but in the keeping things of all kinds, is the providing of raw materials for who knows what in the future. At no cost.

    The family farm back in Oregon has a barn & outbuildings-full (and a house full) of random items like that. Junk, metal parts, pieces, stuff, things mechanical and electrical, you name it from circa 1914 to the present. In some way or another just about *all* of it can be re-used, fixed, re-purposed, cannibalized for parts, melted down, pounded into shape….and if not now, who knows at what point the unused stuff *will* provide some critical thing that otherwise one would not have..or would need to buy.

    I get rid of toxic stuff properly on my own mountain retreat, but the bric-a-brac of daily life that is, or might someday be, useful? I keep it in a tarp-covered pile, mostly out of sight, but ready to be dug through if/when I need to find that special something that will make something *else* go again.

    Someday, when the jackpot has ended supply chains and ubiquitous manufacturing….the hoarders and junk-keepers will be wealthy beyond belief.

    1. Oregoncharles

      In McPhee’s “Coming into the Country,” about Alaska, he calls that “Alaskan.” It’s typical behavior there, because it cost every bit as much to haul stuff away as it does to bring it, and the supply chain is dicey at best. He says when you see those “useful someday” collections in the 48, those are Alaskans who never moved.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        Ooooh, good comment. And, that reminds me…it is time to read Coming into the Country again. Thanks…LOVE that book. Well, love everything he ever wrote but that one above all!

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      i’ve always sort of assumed that i inherited that gene via the great depression. especially from the poorer of my grandads.
      much of our windows and cornices and inner walls and such is from “junk” that has been part of other houses and barns and whatnot(often many) that my mom and i have been collectively lugging around and storing for better than 70 years.
      my iron mine(big pile of metal pipe/mysterious 150 year old mangled farm machinery) is an endless source of whatever chingadera might fit/work right there….or a sword, froe,hinge,brace,etc,etc.
      i’ve actually been paid to run off with some of all that,lol.
      and y’all know about my love affair with the landfill.
      folks throw away the darnedest things.
      i suspect this might be a dying art form, and that’s sad…for the reason you mention: global supply lines are inherently fragile.

      1. NotReallyHere

        My mom would never throw anything out. She would even keep old string, appliance parts, even old nails, cos you never know.

        And when the shed she kept it all in filled up, she would have my dad build another one.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I stand with striking Uber and Lyft drivers today. The greed has got to end.


    What does Sanders think about boycotting them?

    Go with traditional taxis?

    More than just striking, is it the business model itself?

    1. McDee

      Traditional taxis would be great, if there were any left. Here in New Mexico the cab companies in Albuquerque and Santa Fe are all out of business. I take the bus or walk whenever possible and drive when its not. I put Uber/Lyft right there with Amazon, Walmart, Whole Foods etc. Don’t feed the beast.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        There are still traditional taxis where I live, and that is what I use. I have not yet used an Uber or a Lyft even once yet. Nor will I so long as taxis exist.

    2. John

      It’s not necessary the greed of Uber/Lyft that’s dictating driver’s pay … It’s that the business model is unprofitable.

  13. Jason Boxman

    AirPods almost sound like cigarette buds, which I frequently see people flick onto the street in Boston. I imagine back when the upper classes smoked, they engaged in the same dismissive behavior.

    Happy Wednesday!

  14. Sharkleberry Fin

    The first issue of Warren advocacy I encountered was her campaign against passage of BAPCPA [Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005], that among other things, weakened bankruptcy protections for individuals, becoming the poster child for the adage, “Pass laws against it so you can get away with it.” [Note: modify the placement of *and* conjunction, the appropriate title becomes “Bankruptcy Abuse *and* Prevention of Consumer Protection Act”.] BAPCPA is almost a religious sect, “Our Lady of Perpetual Debt Collection”, based in medieval Delaware, believing discharging credit card debt is a spiritual matter, so the judiciary should have no ability to adjudicate such relief. — You will be hearing more about this law because if you think Joe Biden has made one irredeemable craven Senate vote, the vote for BAPCPA would be it. This is Biden’s Achilles tendon: it’s bigger than the “heel”, anatomically correct, crippling, and it just so happens, Warren has been studying that piece of the cadaver her whole career.

  15. Summer

    RE: “How Pete Buttigieg became the new toast of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest donors”
    Inside the tech network that is trying to turn a small-town mayor into a fundraising dynamo.

    Lots of big time fundraising going on.

    What are the rules again about what happens to the money once the campaigns are over?
    I’m looking at that too when I see all of these “candidates” in the race.

    1. Oregoncharles

      A lot of them are really running for VP, or trying to position themselves for future elections.

      Remember, it’s still the Republicans’ turn, even if Trump does look vulnerable. I assume the more experienced ones know that.

  16. allan

    Bill Barr’s Actions on the Mueller Report: A Response to Jack Goldsmith by Robert Litt

    Jack Goldsmith’s defense of Attorney General Barr’s handling of the Mueller report is typically thoughtful but ultimately unpersuasive. While certain aspects of Barr’s behavior could be defensible if they stood alone, taken as a whole his course of conduct—what he said, how he said it and what he didn’t say—shows that Barr is not merely “defen[ding] the presidency” institutionally, as Goldsmith argues, but defending this particular president politically. I want to highlight a few points that undercut the argument that Barr has been acting in good faith. …

    Yes, Lawfare, but Litt is no more DS than Goldsmith is.

  17. Elizabeth

    Lambert – thank you for the interview with Gabor Mate’ by his son Aaron – I never made the connection that they’re related. Gabor has a way of explaining human feelings in an articulate and powerfully simple language. I wish every American could listen to this interview – especially the denialists in the Dem Party – Hillary, too. My sanity is reaffirmed, so thank you.

    FYI – the other day I saw a huge billboard in North Iowa for Tulsi Gabbard – I was pleasantly surprised at seeing this, as I had no idea she had a following here – there’s never any media attention given to her.

  18. Oregoncharles

    ??? ” Now, they’ve come up with the world’s first map of this underappreciated resource, which shows that most manure is exactly where farmers need it—in their own backyards..” • If they can be induced to recycle it, and apparently the process for that is too expensive “for small family farms,”

    This is bizarre. Small family farms are precisely the ones who’ve been using manure, spreading it with a tractor or a wheelbarrow. The real problem is when it’s at CAFOs, piled up a long way from any possible use. Or in a stinky lagoon – I pass one every time I go to Salem. That is, however, surrounded with farm fields, so it may ultimately get used.

    1. wilroncanada

      In lagoons? Does that make it a sh**hole county?
      I can smell the aroma at this time of year when traveling north or south on the Island Highway, Vancouver Island. Don’t mind it at all. Used to shovel it myself when we had goats years ago. The only thing we need now is rain to wash it into the ground. Summer drought starting already?

      1. Oregoncharles

        Ironically, it’s in a pretty ritzy area, right outside the state Capitol.

        Dry as heck here – yes, I’m afraid it’s early this year.

  19. ChrisPacific

    I have seen a few articles now on how Biden has been unimpressive in interview settings, even friendly ones where he was given softball questions. This is one example.

    Asked why he was a candidate of the future, and not the past, he spent a long time talking about his work in the Senate in the 1990s before saying it would not be long until people are “flying across America in a matter of less than an hour and a half”.

    The one thing they all have in common is that they are from non-US media sources (the above is from the Sydney Morning Herald). The topic seems to be off-limits at present in the US media, or at least I haven’t seen it mentioned yet. Does anyone have sightings from US sources?

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Long Island City’s Amazon effect”

    My prediction here is that next year you will still hear about how the loss of Amazon devastated that whole neighbourhood because it’s all AOC’s fault. Won’t matter if that becomes the wealthiest neighborhood in America, the politicians and their media enablers will hammer the theme that denying Amazon their bag of goodies made that region poor. It’s what they do.

  21. Summer

    Re: Biosphere
    “That means, as individuals, choosing and reusing durable items rather than throwaway ones when possible, and taking care to discard items appropriately. And collectively, it means designing disposable products and waste management systems that help individuals follow through…”

    Oh, ok. Everything will be fine if more disposable junk is produced. The corps can continue to crank it out and let us worry about the disposal. The gov’ts can rake it in on the fines if we don’t dispose of all our new disposables correctly.

    But I’m glad to know that despite the headlines and alarm along the lines of; “EXTINCTION” and “IT’S ALL OVER IN 15 YEARS IF WE DON’T ACT NOW” that there is plenty of time to worry about how somebody is going to get rich or stay rich in order to “SAVE THE WORLD.” Apparently, it’s not that much of an emergency if that’s the major worry.
    I can relax.

  22. Summer

    “A Watered-Down Medicare for All Won’t Work. Just Ask Ireland.” [The New Republic]. “

    It looks like they did ask. And said “Cool. A great graft model.”

  23. JohnnyGL


    This is actually very good from AOC at a recent town hall event. The guy was kind of a clown, but she let him talk. She even told the staff to put the microphone back on so he could talk.

    If one wanted to get nit-picky, you could say she didn’t debate him as skillfully as she could have, but that’s almost beside the point.

  24. Tomonthebeach

    “…the market is pricing the risk of Trump going through with his threats at not much more than 20 percent.”

    What does it say about the United States that the stock market is handicapping the whimsy of its president?

  25. skk

    There ought to be some way of continuing a conversation to the next day. I don’t get to the WaterCooler posts to 6 / 7 pm Pacific – by which time its too late, no ?

    Anyway – excellent post “Why you should care about the Nate Silver vs. Nassim Taleb Twitter war” [Toward Data Science]

    I tend to use a different terminology – data uncertainty( aleatoric ) and model uncertainty ( aka Epistemic uncertainty) and. In notation form is P(θ |D ) versus P(D|θ)

    We normally focus with “does the data fit “the model” and calculate and report how well it fits. That’s all very well. but what if the model was really not what reality is.

    So one takes on board the other aspect – how well does the “model” fit the data !which is known as model uncertainty. And Bayesian approaches to this are quite fruitful.
    There is another new approach – GAN – generative Adversarial networks – its only been around since 2011 – that shows enormous promise is solving this model uncertainty problem – in some areas at least.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The large number of posts and huge number of words make letting a conversation mature over days very difficult. Thread follows thread in quick succession . . . too fast to keep up with or even keep track of.

      Here is a way that might work. If someone sees a conversation starting that they hope will last for several days at least , they might write down the name, time and date of the post in whose comments it got started.
      Then they can find that post at a later time and go to the relevant subthread and add something to it. And ‘
      THEHH . . ehhn . . . they can go to the very newest comments thread and write a comment saying something like “sorry to interrupt, but I have left a comment to the old sub-thread which can be found in the comments here at this link.” And then give the link. Anyone who wants to read the comment and maybe reply can find their way back to it to read it and maybe reply.

    2. ChrisPacific

      Taleb can be a bit of a blowhard sometimes, but I think he has put his finger on the thing that’s always bothered me about Nate Silver (viz. that it’s never made clear exactly what he is measuring or what his decision criteria are).

      The funny thing is that I think Silver understands it himself (there was a mea culpa after the election when he admitted that he had allowed himself to become more of a pundit than a statistician) but it seems to have only been a temporary moment of self-awareness. The lure of being an Expert can be quite seductive, I guess.

      One of Taleb’s long running points has been that we habitually overestimate the accuracy and applicability of our models (one of the consequences is not accounting for tail risk sufficiently). I am inclined to agree and I think there is a case to be made for Silver as exhibit A. Not that his models aren’t good (they are) but he has some blind spots around their limitations.

  26. ewmayer

    “Why you should care about the Nate Silver vs. Nassim Taleb Twitter war … Predictions have two types of uncertainty; aleatory and epistemic.” — Couldn’t they just have said “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”?

  27. skippy

    Gotta say Trump tweet sure makes the whole savvy investor – market fundamentals thingy look good.

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