Links 5/18/19

Buildings in Switzerland Have Cat Ladders to Help Felines Survey Their Kingdom Below My Modern Met

Air Pollution and Noncommunicable Diseases CHEST Journal. This is very nasty. The original is written in English, and well worth a read. Here is a summary in the Guardian.

Bankrupt Coal Company Funded Climate Change Denialism The Intercept

Aliso Canyon Gas Leak Caused by ‘Microbial Corrosion,’ Report Finds NBC Los Angeles

Funds survey the wreckage of a debt-fuelled energy bust FT

Ask Slashdot: Are the Big Players In Tech Even Competing With Each Other? Slashdot (DK).

Google to Refund Advertisers After Suit Over Fraud Scheme WSJ. “Google said it wasn’t in a position to return money that had already flowed from its buying tool to third-party online ad marketplaces where publishers were selling ad space.” Shorter: “We don’t know where your money went, so we can’t return what we owe you.” Oh.

Platform follies:

Children describe technology that gives them a sense of ambiguity as ‘creepy’ Science Daily. So developers of dark patterns are doing creepy things.

Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing 737 Max Simulators Are in High Demand. They Are Flawed NYT (DK).

Ethiopian Airlines calls criticism of its pilots an effort to ‘divert public attention’ from Boeing 737 MAX flaws Seattle Times


Ministers threaten to bring down the Government rather than accept Boris as PM as poll shows him streets ahead of leadership rivals to beat Corbyn Daily Mail

Brexit: The EU looks on in ‘suspended disbelief’ RTE

‘I’ve become very isolated’: the aftermath of near-doomed QF72 Sidney Morning Herald


Trump muddies position on Iran, but tensions are easing FT

Iran and the US, a tale of two presidents Le Monde Diplomatique

How Many Damn F*cking Times Do I Have to Explain This? Power of Narrative. From an old-school blogger who saw it as it happened.

‘New York Times’ Rehires Judith Miller To Cover Escalating Iran Tensions The Onion

CONFIRMED: Chemical Weapons Assessment Contradicting Official Syria Narrative Is Authentic Caitlin Johnstone (CL).


U.S. working on options to pressure Cuba and Russia out of Venezuela McClatchy

Why Venezuela’s Government and Opposition Are Finally Coming to the Negotiating Table Time. Not clear what the overlap between a government and a cabal would be.

Defending Chavez’s Project Today: A Conversation with Elias Jaua Venezuelanalysis

Code Pink used the Venezuelan Embassy as an anti-Trump prop. Now the show is over. WaPo. From the very first sentence: “Code Pink activists are all about the visuals — those pink pussy hats…” This is so, so bad. Rancid all the way through.

Revisiting the evidence: Impact of the 2017 sanctions on Venezuela Brookings Institution


Exclusive: U.S. may scale back Huawei trade restrictions to help existing customers Reuters

China Has Already Lost the Trade War The American Conservative

Brutal interventions in Sanpower’s debt workout show why China’s deleveraging campaign has long ways to go South China Morning Post

Ear to Ear: China’s Farming Authority Warns of Corn-Eating Pest Sixth Tone

African swine fever keeps spreading in Asia, threatening food security Science


Why Priority Should Be Given To Modernising Foodgrain Storage Swarajya

New Cold War

Transcript: Russia Without Putin Sean’s Russia Blog

Euro-Atlantic Relations in an Era of New US Isolationism Valdai Discussion Club

Trump Transition

Donald Trump eases tariffs for allies as he focuses on China FT

Propaganda Intensifies Trade War With China Moon of Alabama

Time to Pull US Nuclear Weapons Out of Turkey Defense One

Key House Democrat says he doesn’t anticipate contempt votes this month CNN. Don’t want to offend those suburban Republicans!


DNC Finance Chair Affirms Neutrality In Response To Concerns From Bernie Sanders Allies (lol) HuffPo

The Trailer: What to make of the campaign of former senator Mike Gravel WaPo (UserFriendly).

Why Bill Clinton Has Tony Robbins on Speed Dial Inc. and but Leaked Records Reveal Tony Robbins Berated Abuse Victims, And Former Followers Accuse Him Of Sexual Advances Buzzfeed

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Google uses Gmail to track a history of things you buy — and it’s hard to delete CNBC

Secret tracking device found in Navy email to Navy Times amid leak investigation raises legal, ethical questions Military Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

McMaster Uses Worn Vietnam Trope to Accuse Americans of Defeatism The American Conservative

Class Warfare

Why capitalists hope you have a short memory The Week

Free Expression on College Campuses (PDF) Knight Foundation. n = 4,407.

The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones Scientific American. Worth a read even if you’re not a GoT fan.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. Epynonymous

    If you search ‘streets ahead’, you’ll find an urban dictionary post that it’s a mock-cool phrase from the tv show ‘Community.’

    I’m partial to the phrase, so I’m glad to see it in use.

    Re: Tracking of defense atty by the military, Pres. Trump has all but pardoned him. It might not be about the ‘leak’ (what leaked? we aren’t told, really…) but creating a reason to dismiss charges?

  2. Wukchumni

    ZOLFO SPRINGS, Fla. — A pernicious disease is eating away at Roy Petteway’s orange trees. The bacterial infection, transmitted by a tiny winged insect from China, has evaded all efforts to contain it, decimating Florida’s citrus industry and forcing scores of growers out of business.

    In a last-ditch attempt to slow the infection, Mr. Petteway revved up his industrial sprayer one recent afternoon and doused the trees with a novel pesticide: antibiotics used to treat syphilis, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections and a number of other illnesses in humans.

    “These bactericides give us hope,” said Mr. Petteway’s son, R. Roy, 33, as he watched his father treat the family’s trees, some of them 50 years old. “Because right now, it’s like we’re doing the doggy paddle without a life preserver and swallowing water.”

    Since 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency has allowed Florida citrus farmers to use the drugs, streptomycin and oxytetracycline, on an emergency basis, but the agency is now significantly expanding their permitted use across 764,000 acres in California, Texas and other citrus-producing states. The agency approved the expanded use despite strenuous objections from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which warn that the heavy use of antimicrobial drugs in agriculture could spur germs to mutate so they become resistant to the drugs, threatening the lives of millions of people.

    The E.P.A. has proposed allowing as much as 650,000 pounds of streptomycin to be sprayed on citrus crops each year. By comparison, Americans annually use 14,000 pounds of aminoglycosides, the class of antibiotics that includes streptomycin.

    The E.P.A. acknowledged that the volume of spraying could soar if the scourge reaches California’s commercial orange groves. More than 1,000 trees in the Los Angeles basin, most of them in residential backyards, have been infected so far this year, a doubling from the same period last year.

    We live just above the citrus belt, which extends nearly non stop to Bakersfield along the foothills, and because the trees are cut on a bias in the upper canopy to resemble a flat-top haircut, the look is that of an enormous green table that extends as far as the eye can see. The farmers are cognizant that HLB will wreck all of their work, but it hasn’t happened yet, so keep on keeping on is plan A.

    In fact I see new citrus orchards with hundreds of thousands of trees recently planted in the past few years, and I think to myself, you’ve got a tiny assassin who’s really good at what they do, and you’re rolling the dice that in 7 to 10 years when the little trees mature into being able to deliver their bounty in quantity, why wouldn’t you plant something else?

    1. lordkoos

      The widespread use of antibiotics on livestock destined for the dinner table has resulted in many bacteria becoming resistant to these drugs… would not the widespread use of antibiotics being sprayed on a crop be likely to have unforeseen consequences as well?

      And talking about the food supply, the swine flu piece notes that “Ultimately, containing ASF will probably require a long and challenging restructuring of the hog industry so that only operators large enough to invest in biosecurity remain..” Looks to be gift to big Ag and a big loss for small farmers.

      1. DK

        I assume it’s a rhetorical question and an obvious Betteridge’s Law candidate, but the consequences would hardly be unforeseen.

    2. Harry

      Isnt this a really quick way to breed antibiotic resistant bacteria? Is this really the best way to deal with this problem?

      1. Oregoncharles

        I assume they’ve tried copper, the old standby for bacterial plant diseases. (Can lead to soil accumulation in arid areas.)

        Pear trees are often sprayed with antibiotics for fire blight – fortunately not a problem here.

        The one advantage is that there are unlikely to be human pathogens on trees. Pigs are a nother matter.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “‘I’ve become very isolated’: the aftermath of near-doomed QF72”

    The passengers and crew of QF72 were extremely lucky to have Kevin ‘Sully’ Sullivan as the pilot. Qantas pilots are world class but Sullivan was not only a ex-F-14 Tomcat aviator but he had attended Top Gun as well and was able to use his military training to land that craft safely.
    As to how he got here, in 1983 he was in an exchange pilot program with the Royal Australian Air force and three years later joined Qantas and has been here ever since. He retired three years ago.
    He has made the solid point that because of incidents like this, that pilots should be trained what to do when their controls go rogue as has happened several times over the years. Just as an addition, not long after QF72 another flight had the identical problem happen to them – QF71 – but were able to take corrective action based on what had been learned from the first flight.

    1. JerryDenim

      Any idea what those “corrective actions” were? I tried looking around the internet for information on QF72 but didn’t find much, especially in the crew actions department.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          From that source:

          There was a limitation in the algorithm used by the A330/A340 flight control primary computers for processing angle of attack (AOA) data. This limitation meant that, in a very specific situation, multiple AOA spikes from only one of the three air data inertial reference units could result in a nose-down elevator command. [Significant safety issue]

          Sounds similar!

          1. rowlf

            There are several options for ADIRU manufacturer an airline can order when spec’ing out an aircraft, which means not all A330s use the same part. Also, since QF72 several updates have been made or mandated through Airworthiness Directives on ADIRUs, Primary flight control computers and air data sensors. I can think of two rounds of chasing aircraft to replace PRIM firmware cards in the last ten years. (A pain in the butt since the success of implementation is Bell curve like on a fleet but there is that one Moby Dick airplane that has to be chased to close the fleet campaign)

            The industry is at the point where trend monitoring of air data sensors (and other airframe systems) is becoming practical due to aircraft system architecture, transmission, computing and storage capabilities. The goal is to identify degradation before a flight deck effect. Fault messages take about five minutes to display on ground monitoring systems but full flight data after a flight can take up to eight for signal analysis and pattern identification. The goal is to get FFD analysis under two hours for diagnostic use not just prognostic use.

    2. Lee

      One thing is certain: the computers blocked my control inputs. For a pilot, loss of control is the ultimate threat. It’s our job to control the aircraft, and if computers and their software, by design, can remove that functionality from the pilot, then nothing good is going to come out of that.

      Not a fan of flying, I hate the feeling of some stranger up in the cockpit being in control. But I take some comfort in that at least he or she is a fellow flesh and blood mortal that has the same stake as me in getting us safely to our destination.

      It is bad enough that the benefits of civilization require that we must rely upon the good intentions of strangers for the necessities and amenities of life. Those connections are fraught and attenuated quite enough without the intermediation of a decision-making automaton.

      1. Wukchumni

        Why do commercial airline pilots wear what amounts to a military uniform…

        Would you feel even more ill at ease if they were wearing a polo shirt & khaki dockers?

        1. Lee

          Ship captains too. I suppose it derives from the historical association of aircraft and ships with the military and signifies their expertise and absolute authority over the vessel and all those on it. No time for arguing, consensus building, and voting by a bunch of amateurs on a sinking craft.

        2. The Rev Kev

          I’d be a bit lurky if my pilot was dressed as a hipster. A uniform shows that at least he is making an effort.

        3. JDM

          Flight and cabin crews wear what they are told to wear by their employers. I suspect some of them wouldn’t mind dressing down.

  4. jfleni

    RE: Bankrupt Coal Company Funded Climate Change Denialism.

    What else is new? Those who are not with us are AGAINST us!

  5. Carolinian

    Re the nonsense of the Game of Thrones article.

    The appeal of a show that routinely kills major characters signals a different kind of storytelling, where a single charismatic and/or powerful individual, along with his or her internal dynamics, doesn’t carry the whole narrative and explanatory burden.

    An alternative theory would be that George R.R. Martin never had a narrative plan, sociological or otherwise, and that’s why he couldn’t finish the story. The show’s anarchic, character killing perversity (not to mention abundant sex and violence) is indeed what has made it so popular, but it was always more in the nature of, to use the title of a long ago novel, ODTAA (one damn thing after another).

    The HBO producers charged with bringing this multimillion dollar project to a conclusion are indeed screenwriting 101 and very different from Martin, but a conclusion they shall give us. They should be applauded for the effort.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I saw a theory the main problem (besides the laziness of episode 3; not Arya that worked) was caused by cutting a major plot and character. Besides the books, stressing Dany is more mad and cruel than the TV show, this other character might give her extra motivation as the denizens of King’s Landing may have already been liberated from Cersei.

      1. Carolinian

        Cutting which character? I see the books as more the creation of an imaginary world for us to play in and in this they succeed, often brilliantly. So in that sense it was never about story and you could even make up your own (a popular new pastime apparently). But the TV showrunners didn’t have the luxury of not worrying where all this is going and had to tie Martin’s various threads into a semi-coherent ending. That said, I guarantee you they spent a lot more time worrying about how the show looks than on narrative fine points. IMO the show should be celebrated for how well it has done, not how poorly. It took an extra year to create all those special effects.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The fake Targaryean, raised to be the perfect king by Varys and friends for the little people. The theory is he liberates KL after Cersei’s shenanigans. Show wise, he probably takes KL after Jamie goes North, solving Cersei’s little brother problem.

          The basic gist is Jon and Sansa control the loyalty of the same kingdoms they have on screen with that little dweeb Robin under Sansa’s thumb. Dorne is withdrawing. Euron is running amok. Highgarden hates everyone. The areas around KL are pleased with the new guy, basically blonde Jon but not actually a T. Dany has survivors of her two foreign armies, one dragon, and needs Jon’s total loyalty to nominally be in charge of the northern kingdoms. The bells aren’t a surrender but welcoming Dany home to see her “nephew” the rightful king. Bran is chilling.

          1. Kurtismayfield

            Dorne and the Storm lands would have supported this other character that was cut, this is where the books cut off.. he lands in the south among allies of his tutor. So there would be three competing claims, and Dany’s claim would look the weakest (female, no chance of an heir).. but she would have dragons.

            This being cut from the show takes a leg out of the tripod of the story.

    2. The Rev Kev

      That Game of Thrones article reminded me of something. Lots of people seem to have their knickers in a twist about Daenerys burning down a whole city needlessly in the media and even here on NC. Have only ever seen the first few episodes and a few clips on YouTube but if people may remember, this was foreordained. Take a look at the following clip from about the 1:20 mark and you will see that this was what she was always about-

      1. Riverboat Grambler

        Foreshadowing is not character development; yes everyone knows they have hinted many times that she likes to do the burny-burn, but they have also shown her be merciful just as often. I understand she could have gone either way and I have no problem with her getting the Bad End but IMO they did not quite lay the groundwork for a spontaneous city-nuking just because she occasionally executed her enemies with dragonfire and really, really hated slavers.

      2. Donald

        It’s not what she was always about. She was always complicated. She could easily burn down KK in her efforts to get to Cersei, but what she did was methodically murder massive numbers of innocent people, people Cersei cared nothing about.

        Jamie also said he cared nothing about the people, even though his backstory is that he willingly lost his reputation to save KL from being burned but the Mad King.

        The Scientific American article has it right. I don’t blame Weiss and Benioff for simplifying the story and until the last two seasons in some ways I think they improved it. But the past two seasons have been a train wreck when it came to logic. Even season 6 had some pretty ridiculous plot developments. For all his flaws, Martin would have Dany’s evolution into Hitleress on a dragon much more believable.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Even season 6 had some pretty ridiculous plot developments

          For example, characters who were able to move from point A to point B with no intervening lapse of time, as if they were just piece on a board.

          1. ambrit

            I believe that Heinlein used exactly that plot device in one of his later novels. I remember the line, “We are up against an author here. Anything could happen next.” It was part of an ensemble where plot devices from several popular science fictions were melded together, such as a Dr. Who villain with a Frederick Pohl character and, seriously, a Buck Rogers plot situation.
            Heinlein’s later work was all over the place.

      3. Oregoncharles

        The Romans burned the capital city of the Gauls after a rebellion. About 20,000 dead. This may be the reason they didn’t build wooden cities in the past, if they could help it.

          1. ambrit

            Come on now. We have the benefit of at least a millennium’s worth of technical advances to play with today.
            Killing used to be hard work. Now, it’s almost a hobby.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The Mongols burnt a city and massacred the inhabitants after the city resisted, but then surrendered.

          To encourage the others, I would imagine.

          1. ambrit

            Since the Mongols were primarily pastoralists, I have seen it proposed that they viewed the subject populations as livestock. Thus, mass killings could be mentally reconciled as “culling the herd.” An apt metaphor for today’s “Jackpot Instrumentality.”

    3. Morgan Everett

      Find the idea that Martin had no narrative plan to be unlikely. He’s a producer on the show. Having writer’s block is not the same thing as not knowing what your plot is.

        1. Morgan Everett

          Haha, that’s no doubt encouraging to those who are aggravated at how the show is ending (at least for those who pay attention to both the books and the show). Still doubt that he doesn’t know how his story ends though. He states in the article that he gave the showrunners his rough outline for the story. I think old age just caught up to him, and are why his writing pace has slowed to a crawl since the 3rd book.

    4. a different chris

      I suspect they both have their problems – Martin has wrapped himself around his own axle, but the criticisms of D&D seem dead on, too.

      Martin tried to write a “realistic” – yeah, I know, dragons and Walkers – set of tomes. But the problem with realism is that life is, as you say, ODTAA and doesn’t really end. WWI didn’t stop things. WWII didn’t stop things. It just goes on and on and on and on and Martin has probably subconsciously realized that his story is too realistic, and thus it doesn’t have an end and thus the writing block as he tries to come up with one.

      1. Donald

        This is right. Both the show and the books have problems small and large. Until the past two seasons I actually preferred the show.

        One of Martin’s minor flaws is the use of the ridiculous cliffhanger. I remember when Arya runs towards the castle during the Red Wedding, the Hound charges up on a horse and hits her on the head with an axe. Many chapters later you find out that he hit her with the flat part, just to knock her out. Very plausible— an enormous man with the fine self control needed to hit a small girl in the head with an axe without killing her.

        A minor flaw, but I remember rolling my eyes at that one.

    5. Anon

      Lukewarm fan of GoT. Read the books before HBO picked up rights. Clever writing, but Martin could never seem to wrap up any subplots except by killing off someone.

      Folks, its just fiction! Move along if you don’t like it anymore. Lots a great fiction still on the shelves.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its not just fiction. Its widespread fiction. We once lived in an era of 3 channels and have moved to 300 channels and streaming. On one hand, we have homogenization, and on other hand, we have less shared experiences from a cultural perspective.

        The comics aren’t a shared experience, so when anything breaks through especially with a more organic growth than having no choice because its Disney, fighting about it becomes necessary.

        I don’t care for Harry Potter (they are kind of fun), but its popularity isn’t a sign of a cultural wasteland as much as so many options. Its become what is shared by everyone. After all, Henry VII claimed descent for King Arthur despite probably knowing Arthur was fiction. Like with Camelot, we see Arthur and his knights pop up in different forms. With an expanding sense of “whiteness”, Arthur and his knights welcome a Nordic Prince (usually the enemy) to the Round Table (in 1937). Not only does he join the Table, he is the epitome of Truth, Justice, and the American Way despite being Jewish and from Krypton (1938).

        Not everything makes it, and some stories will be forgotten. If we don’t talk about, how will we know?

        1. ambrit

          I got the Prince Valiant reference, but Superman? Jewish? How would one circumcise a super being with plain old terrestrial tools? His tool was Kryptonian.

    6. lordkoos

      I have never watched GoT and have never been tempted to, as from what I’ve gathetred, it appears to be an R-rated Lord of the Rings, with tits and ass.

      My feeling is that that mass entertainment produced in the USA since 9/11 has taken a dark turn, as it reflects the zeitgeist of our time. Maybe it’s just my own projection or my age, but a lot of TV and movies are dark these days, and the comedies seem blacker as well.

      1. Wukchumni

        When I was a kid and well into my adult years, we had lots of tv shows featuring the military that were comedies, McHale’s Navy, Gomer Pile-USMC, F-Troop, Hogan’s Heroes, M*A*S*H, et al.

        …have there been any good humor attempts allowed since 9/11?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          There is no draft. Certain military settings aren’t relevant. John Cleese said (I’m paraphrasing) that all humor is about pointing out inflexible situations or people. “The Life of Brian” wasn’t about Jesus because if Jesus slipped on a banana peel Jesus would say, “WHO AM I? The son of God.”

          There isn’t humor even a cathartic humor for the masses in Iraq. The Iraq War is bad. With Vietnam, we can kind of pretend it was a mistake building on other mistakes. Then we have had numerous problems with the VA.

          MASH is the only one dealing with an active war. Then there is what the military will offer as advisors. Hollywood loves that stuff. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the MASH movie lately, but its a little more crass and not in a good way than I remember.

          “The Men who stare at Goats”, and there is a Netflix movie with Brad PItt about occupying Afghanistan that was tolerable.

            1. ambrit

              I understand that ‘Remote Viewing’ is seriously regarded in certain Pentagonian Circles. Five eyes. One for each point of the Pentagram.

        2. neo-realist

          Those tv comedies, unlike what’s allowed today by our media magnates, made fun of the military in highlighting cowardice, profiteering, and incompetence.

          There has been quite a bit of pollyanna good humor tv comedy since 9/11 – Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, The Goldbergs. Got to keep the masses distracted and manipulated into believing things are just fine.

          1. lordkoos

            I think one of the funniest shows out there at the moment is At Home With Amy Sedaris. That girl is just funny.

        3. ewmayer

          Speaking of McHale’s Navy, Tim Conway died this past week, aged 85. I celebrated his life by watching a uTube clip of his classic Carol Burnett & Friends sketch “The Dentist” with Harvey Korman. The Old Man sketches and Mr. Tudball ones were also classic. “Now, Mrs. Who-wiggins…”

        4. Janie

          Our three children were not allowed to watch Hogan’ s Heroes. Their dad said it trivialized the reality of POW camps. One night Stalag 17 was on, and as a special treat the kids got to stay up and watch it. They had a very sensible dad.

          1. Wukchumni

            My father was in occupied Prague for 6 years before and until the war was over, and when Hogan’s Heroes would come on, he would make a brief appearance in the living room and scold us by saying something along the lines of “they weren’t that dumb, you know” shake his head in disgust, and leave the room.

      2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I accept the criticisms but I enjoyed many aspects of the show especially early on. The fact that almost anyone could get topped was refreshing when with much output, it is pretty obvious the 7th cavalry will turn up at the last minute, which always lasts about five. This was abandoned to a certain extent when the magnificent seven headed North, with the equivalent of a Star Trek Redshirt leading the way, before Dany turned up last minute to save the day.

        The difficulty of being an honest & good ruler is well shown I think through the person of Ned Stark & the problem of being born into the position of always being on the guard against the likes of the Macbeth’s. Queen Lizzie one like many others was born into a position of having to kill or be killed, signing around 26,000 execution warrants during her lifetime. The Red wedding is based on a real Scottish incident during a time when their Kings were lucky to last a year. I also prefer the fact that unlike LOTR’s the goodies & baddies are not just painted in black & white, but have varying levels of greyness like real people.

        Incidentally, here in Northern Ireland there are a couple of hundred or so men who have grown their hair & beards to ensure that they are always called back as extras for battle scenes. According to a health & safety man I know they give it all they have got & have a very tough time standing around in cold muddy fields for many the hour.

        1. Stephen V.

          Man I hope the pay is better for “Background ” –I’m told we don’t call them extras anymore –in N. Ireland. I had some clients who did a day of True Detective (12 hour “day”) as background for about $100. Peeps that spoke just one line got $1700 /day !

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            I don’t know their rate, but apparently those I describe above are what might be described here as mad hoors who appear to actually like it. I do know that extras are treated as the lowest of the low & I have seen many of them standing all day at the Titanic Studios for what would likely be a few minutes of action & possible verbal abuse.

            Whatever the merits of the show it has so far provided nine years of good employment for many tradesmen, who lost out after 2008 due to the loss of the building work both in the North & South. It is I believe about 50/50 mix in regards to the sectarian divide & despite the fact that many have had UVF / IRA involvement, they all get on pretty well even at the Wraps where they all get very very drunk.

            English filmworkers who mostly work on the technical side have nothing but praise for Belfast which has a thriving nightlife & is vastly less expensive than London where the film studios they usually work in are located. A sculptor friend of mine tried working in London & despite the £1600 per week London rate returned with very little after paying for an exorbitantly priced broom cupboard.

              1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                Thank you for that which I had missed – it hits the nail on the head.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        I yearn for the simpler days of Ralph Kramden. One of these days, Alice…

        Where are the optimistic films with Bronson? Why aren’t we getting cheery pieces about Vietnam veterans returning to the U.S. and running afoul of local law enforcement?

        Not that I dismiss the idea, but I always think about darkness in the context of Reagan’s “Morning in America.” The other side is certain stories can be told whereas once Puritanical constraints were on those stories too. I think we should be wary of the false optimism.

        Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow…oh to be in a more optimistic age…

        1. Oregoncharles

          We tried watching the Honeymooners (Ralph and Alice), couldn’t stand it precisely because of the threats, even though she’s obviously unimpressed. Times have changed.

      4. Plenue

        There’s something extremely tiresome about every fantasy story being compared to Lord of the Rings. A Song of Ice and Fire is not ‘LotR with tits’. In many ways it’s an anti-LotR.

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I have never watched GoT and have never been tempted to, as from what I’ve gathetred, it appears to be an R-rated Lord of the Rings, with tits and ass.

        GoT, kinda, except the Eye and Mouth of Sauron are inside the house (i.e., inside us all). The (Christian-like) framework of good vs. evil (and sacrifice/redemption (and even the irony of felix culpa (“the Ring is mine”*))) is all absent.

        GoT and LoTR do share the common characteristic of gorgeous travel writing for an imagined world, however. I feel I know both landscapes, and if I were dropped down in either world, I would know where I was.

        NOTE * Plot twist!

    7. Lee

      Perhaps the story will conclude with the ruling class contenders hacking and burning each other to to bits, pieces and ash, and the iron throne will end up on the scrap heap of history. It will turn out that the dragons have laid eggs but they will have evolved to be more like Puff the magic dragon whose powers will be turned toward providing concrete material benefits to humans and free rides to peasant kids on holidays. Always the optimist, me.

    8. Tom Bradford

      I’ve read the first couple of books and only watched the first few episodes of season 1 to see what the fuss was about, and haven’t bothered with any more.

      However what the article seems to me to be saying in a convoluted, pretentious, over-educated manner, is that instead of writing the usual, and usually romantised, novel about one of the Henrys, a Richard, Elizabeth I or Mary, Queen of Scots, Martin wrote a novel in the form of a history of a period, such as the Medieval period, in which characters come and go while the world changes around them due to events to which they are as subject as everyone else – ie in the Medieval period plagues, the development of firearms, collision with new cultures, the development of new thinking, &tc.

      It’s a difficult feat and from what I’ve little I’ve read and seen Martin has managed it well but it’s really nothing more than Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ written as fiction and with a lot more gore and sex than Gibbon considered necessary for his classic.

      1. Plenue

        There was nothing convoluted about the article. And you manage to contradict yourself within the same sentence at the end there, maintaining Martin’s goal is both a ‘difficult feat’ and also ‘nothing more’ (than a thing it actually isn’t remotely like at all, but okay).

        I do love the idea of someone who uses ‘&tc’ accusing someone else of being pretentious though.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > really nothing more than Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ written as fiction

        Lotta labor in that…

        I think this is also just wrong; although I have not read Gibbon, my sense is that he blames the fall of the Roman Empire on the rise of Christianity. There is no equivalent dynamic in GoT.

        1. ambrit

          If that blonde chick and her dragons aren’t a metaphor for Christianity, I don’t know what is. Same basic mytho-poetic dynamic throughout.

    9. Plenue

      I didn’t find it a nonsense article at all. It gives a name and clear explanation to fundamentally different approaches to storytelling that I’ve long had some loose conception of in my mind, but could never adequately explain in clear terms.

      The two versions of the story, book and TV show, turn out to have been appropriately named. The books aren’t called Game of Thrones, they’re called A Song of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones is the title of the first book) The overarching plot of the books is that a world-class threat to everyone is drawing near, but most of humanity is involved in comparatively petty power struggles. The point is that the games of thrones don’t matter, because when the hordes of ice zombies finally arrive there won’t be any thrones left, and none of the petty politics and rivalries will matter. It’s a sociological story where events are greater than any protagonist. Characters can and do die, but the story and world just keep on turning.

      Whereas Game of Thrones the show literally resolves the apocalyptic threat in a single episode just so it can get back to the human power rivalries. The epoch changing conflict of Ice and Fire that the source material is named after and that the narrative has spent years building toward is treated as an annoyance to be quickly concluded so the story can get back to the human conflicts the hack writers think are the actual point of the story. This may genuinely be one of the worst adaptations of anything ever created.

      I’ve finally gotten around to watching the final season. It really is terrible. It keeps ‘resolving’ plot threads with ‘epic battles’, all of which are varying degrees of asinine, to the point that there are military history channels on YouTube making videos where they fix the engagements to be less, well, stupid.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It keeps ‘resolving’ plot threads with ‘epic battles’, all of which are varying degrees of asinine, to the point that there are military history channels on YouTube making videos where they fix the engagements to be less, well, stupid.

        Yep. Dany’s up in the air flying a dragon, and somehow gets ambushed by a naval fleet? Huh? And I’ve seen plenty of other examples. Less CGI*, more plausibility, please.

        NOTE * Although gawd knows whose face Arya is going to wear when she whacks whoever in the finalé. That’s gonna be quite a reveal.

    10. shtove

      From what little I’ve seen of the show, it never grabbed me. And from what little I read of the article – sociological, psychological, technological – I wasn’t moved any nearer to, or further from, that grabbing.

    11. Plenue

      “They should be applauded for the effort.”

      No they shouldn’t. It’s not just this final season, the show has actually been terrible since it overtook the books and basically became highly produced (bad) fan fiction.

    12. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The HBO producers charged with bringing this multimillion dollar project to a conclusion are indeed screenwriting 101 and very different from Martin, but a conclusion they shall give us. They should be applauded for the effort.

      It’s strictly business….

  6. pjay

    Re: ‘How Many Damn F*cking Times Do I Have to Explain This?’ – Power of Narrative.

    Thank you for posting this. Excellent points and examples. This “old school blogger” nicely expresses the frustration of us old school observers of the liberal media as we watch history repeat itself over and over.

    1. Eclair

      Silber, along with Greenwald and Riverbend, kept me sane in the period before our invasion of Iraq. And, his reminder that, regarding ‘intelligence,’ Ray McGovern’s dictum: “Generally speaking, 80 percent of the information one needs to form judgments on key intelligence targets or issues is available in open media,” holds.

      I took to reading Information Almanac (my spouse had been amassing the print format versions for decades), with all those nifty statistics by country. They listed everything about a country: population, life expectancy, electricity production, GDP, mineral and fossil fuel production, literacy levels, size of the military. Iraq was a gnat and the US, an elephant.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Riverbend’s blog had an update from 2013, but has she posted anywhere else since then?

        1. jo6pac

          Not that I have seen. There is an email address on the site for her and she use to answer it when possible.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I hope that she is OK. I use to read her all the time. I think that she and her family escaped to Syria but that was before the war. One thing is for sure. She is no Bana al-Abed.

      2. Off The Street

        Open media, a laudable goal that requires constant attention to maintain the letter and spirit of the First Amendment in the face of malign actors like the Project for a New American Century gang.

        1. RMO

          I’ve found that research on the CIA World Factbook site can often show that the “approved narrative” on many issues is flat out wrong. For example I was accused of being a Gaddafi lover by another commenter on Juan Cole’s site many years back when I said that Libya was far worse off after the U.S./NATO intervention than it ever was under Gaddafi – all the information I used to come to that conclusion and back up that statement came from the CIA.

          It’s almost like the DC elite are so sure that the media will reliably say what those in power want and that the majority of us are too lazy – or overwhelmed and exhausted – to look up things for ourselves that they don’t care at all that facts which contradict the fantasy they have constructed are readily available…

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Riverbend

        I remember Riverbend but I’m a lot more suspicious now of mysterious social media presences that pop up in war zones and disappear than I was then…

    2. Brindle

      Silber links to an Obama speech from 2007. “the ultimate good”…”best hope on earth”—these are code words/ phrases used to signal continuing U.S. sponsored violence around the globe. Curious to know when the CIA first took notice of Obama.

      –“I reject the notion that the American moment has passed. I dismiss the cynics who say that this new century cannot be another when, in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, we lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good.

      I still believe that America is the last, best hope of Earth. We just have to show the world why this is so. This President may occupy the White House, but for the last six years the position of leader of the free world has remained open. And it’s time to fill that role once more.”–

        1. Light a Candle

          Yep, there are lots of indications that Obama’s Mom was CIA.

          Interesting that his grandparents brought him and his sister up (different dads) and how little media coverage there was of his mom and sister.

          His grandparents had interesting ties to the establishment too.

    3. wilroncanada

      I knew, before going more than a couple of sentences, it was Arthur Silber.
      Always original.
      I hope both his health and his bank account have improved.
      Another blogger living on the edge of homelessness.
      He won’t suck up to the establishment.

    4. Darthbobber

      Apparently no amount of repetition suffices. For my entire adult lifetime the intelligence establishment has been producing justifications on demand for every imperial adventure that needs to be sold. And their record of mendacity is well-nigh unbroken by even rare lapses into candor.

      And each tie around their output is treated as gospel.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This “old school blogger” nicely expresses the frustration of us old school observers of the liberal media as we watch history repeat itself over and over.

      Power of Narrative is worth bookmarking.

    1. Craig H.


      This should be a major news headline all around the world, but of course it is not. As of this writing the mass media have remained deathly silent about the document despite its enormous relevance to an international headline story last year which occupied many days of air time.

      My recollection is we had a cruise missile attack on Syria for retaliation and the newspapers said the evidence might be shaky but Ivanka saw dead children on her television and pleaded with Daddy to blow shit up or something equally ridiculous. Thanks be to the Great Big Model Railroader up in the Sky the missiles didn’t hurt any Russians. The only significant question is are the people running the operation: (a.) complete anus holes; (b.) drooling idiots; (c.) both (a.) and (b.). I can’t make up my mind but most days I go for both.

      1. Schmoe

        I don’t recall any pundit other than Tucker Carlson saying that evidence against Assad’s alleged chemical attacks was shaky, no matter how nonsensical they were.

        Similar to recent media analyses showing that 100% of opinion pieces and discussions on Maduro since January have been pro regime change, I have never seen anyone on any MSM outlet speaking on behalf of Syria’s Christians or Alawites. And that is over eight years of fighting.

        In light of this new evidence that the Douma attack was likely faked, I anxiously await 60 Minutes’ retraction of its horrendous segment that was broadcast ~ 9 months ago.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Boeing 737 Max Simulators Are in High Demand. They Are Flawed”

    I guess that the takeaway from this article is that as of yet, no pilot has been able to simulate what those Lion Air or the Ethiopian Airlines pilots actually experienced in their cockpits. At best, they have only been able to program in a less stressful milder version of what those pilots went through. I wait with keen interest for when those Simulators can duplicate the experience for real and have some regular crews go through there. In fact, got just the pilots in mind. Those two U.S. pilots, Don McGregor and Vaughn Cordle, who wrote up a report blaming the pilots on behalf of Boeing institutional investors. I’ll bring the popcorn.

    1. Carolinian

      Boeing’s whole reason for adding the MCAS was to pretend new simulators wouldn’t be needed as inflight differences would be ironed out by the automation. Now that the cat is out of the bag you wonder why they are “fixing” the MCAS rather than simply getting rid of it. Still pretending?

    2. Edward

      The CEO’s probably wish there was a simulator to practice escaping accountability for their misdeeds.

      On the crashes, however, it may be too early to simulate them; we may not know exactly what went wrong or other details until the investigations are complete.

      1. Carolinian

        From the Seattle Times Ethiopian pilots article

        Begashaw also pointed out that “However, it’s very unfortunate that the B737 Max 8 simulator was not configured to simulate the MCAS operation by the aircraft manufacturer.”

        In other words there was a simulator and this airline had it but Boeing in their secretive way didn’t even add the MCAS. Since simulators are designed to train for fault conditions then a test involving a bad AOA would also have exposed the problems with the MCAS. More lawsuit material….

        1. Edward

          Boeing’s conduct has been horrendous. Not telling pilots about MCAS or simulating it?!!

      1. ambrit

        Sure, that’s when dealing with human cognitive functionality.
        With Boeing, we’re dealing with a class of entity called ‘Corporation.’ Now that’s a truly “alien” species, with similarly “alien” thinking processes. I know, I know, a corporation does not have ‘agency.’ Or does it? Perhaps the AI crowd have been looking in the wrong place and AI has already arisen, in the Corporate World.
        (Just a little ‘tiddly’ after having to replace the water pump on the car. Said pump is run by the timing belt, so, it’s 130,000 miles on the odometer and I replaced all the usual suspects. Now the bloody car is out of ‘time.’ Tomorrow begins another Adventure in Mechanical Maintenance!)
        Be happy during that brutal Antipodial Winter!

  8. PlutoniumKun


    Ministers threaten to bring down the Government rather than accept Boris as PM as poll shows him streets ahead of leadership rivals to beat Corbyn Daily Mail

    Brexit: The EU looks on in ‘suspended disbelief’ RTE

    Being all Brexited out, i’ve not been following UK internal politics much recently, but reading a few things yesterday, it does seem like Boris Johnson is in pole position to be PM by October. I’d assumed up to now that he has far too many powerful enemies in the Cabinet to succeed. But it does seem that the grassroots enthusiasm for him may well push him to the front. So it seems like the worst British PM ever will be succeeded by someone, amazingly, even worse. Its astonishing to think that such an obvious narcissist and bullshitter could ever get near power, but there you go.

    If he does (and if he doesn’t, it seems like Raab is the alternative, and he’s almost as bad), then a no-deal seems a high probability – and even worse, a no-deal with a someone in charge who simply doesn’t care what happens now that he has his hands on power.

    1. Stephen V.

      But at least old Boris seems to have his real hair and doesn’t look like Alfred E. Neuman but that Russian name…/s

    2. Michael

      “”Its astonishing to think that such an obvious narcissist and bullshitter could ever get near power…””

      Does he play the sax?

        1. wilroncanada

          No he can’t harmonize; only plays the Melania, but says he would like to get some practice on the ivanka.

    3. Tom Bradford

      Its astonishing to think that such an obvious narcissist and bullshitter could ever get near power, but there you go.

      That particular glass ceiling was broken by the US a couple of years ago.

    4. shtove

      The Tony Connelly article struck me as an exercise in thinking out loud. Hmm.

      We’re at the mercy of events, so I’ll cast my vote for the Labour candidate next week and hope I wake up next morning with a less qualified sigh of relief than in June 2017.

  9. Carolinian

    Re the Onion and Judy Miller–the NYT kept on her Iraq era partner, Michael Gordon, so it’s no joke. Our only hope is that Trump seems more interested in threatening to blow up countries than in actually doing it. WaPo and their NY rivals must find this frustrating.

    1. Robert McGregor

      Trump bounces from storyline to storyline like different episodes of a TV show. He really doesn’t want to be President, but prefers the role of “TV Star.” He vastly prefers living his version of “performance art” to the difficult life of “presidential decision and action.” He’s a talented TV producer, and he knows he doesn’t want to be involved in a “real war” TV show. Where’s the fun and ego gratification in being blamed for blood and guts debacles day after day? He doesn’t have the same sadistic urges as say, H. Clinton, Bolton, and Pompeo.

        1. Carolinian

          Escobar: it’s all a bluff.

          Yet no one in war-cheerleading US corporate media talks about the quadrillion derivative crisis that will gut the global economy if there’s an attack on Iran (I addressed it here.) Shutting down the Strait of Hormuz will bring down the 2.5 quadrillion world derivative market, largely wiping out the economies of all Western nations.[…]

          The bottom line: the neocon threat of war against Iran is a bluff.

          Iranian Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi described it as a “theatrical” and “useless” attempt to “magnify the shadow of war.”

          IRGC commander of aerospace force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizade famously said, “a US battleship with 6,000 personnel in the vicinity (Persian Gulf) with 40-50 jets onboard used to be a threat to us. Today it is a target.”


          1. crittermom

            I read the link you provided and it could make sense–if we didn’t have Trump and Bolton at the helm. Trump is unpredictable and has proven he really has no idea what he’s doing as POTUS, and apparently not as a businessman, either.

            I saw a skit recently with Jay Leno saying (paraphrasing) ‘Trump had booze, steak, and casino businesses that all failed. How can you not make money with those three?’

            Today I received an email from Tulsi saying we must not go to war with Iran, and asking me to sign my objection.

            Less than two weeks ago I watched a long, long train full of nothing but tan military tanks roll through town, which made my gut twist.

            While I’d like to believe it’s all a bluff, I personally feel it would be hard to find more than one ‘common sense’ cell between Trump’s and Bolton’s brains.
            And even then I’d be hard-pressed to determine which one possessed it.

            Scary times. That knot is still in my stomach…

            1. shtove

              Ouch. My local Royal Marines base has been particularly busy lately. This is in an area of the UK where people still defer to the local knights and squires. You don’t know it’s a bluff until it’s called.

            2. Carolinian

              I’m not that worried about it although the strategy seems to be to get Iran to attack first and provide an excuse. Escobar and others think Iran is too smart to do that and that the Iranians think Trump is bluffing too. Also Russia is likely to try to stop any conflict from escalating and Trump isn’t going to mess with Russia (other than sanctions), whatever his minions may be doing.

              As I said above: hope that’s right…..

          2. wilroncanada

            He, along with the US establishment in general, are using war threats to keep the rest of the poodles in line. Iran and Venezuela are trading oil, outside the US dollar system, and that can’t be tolerated. So the US is going to continue trying, without actually invading, to starve them to death economically. The only road left to “regime change”. The covert services and the mercenary spy and assassination operators will be working overtime.

            They still may succeed, unless Russia and China can checkmate them, or some hitherto servile nations (or the EU) develop a backbone.

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The bottom line: the neocon threat of war against Iran is a bluff.

            The troops are a bluff. The materiél takes months to position (as we saw for Iraq) and that hasn’t started. (The press might not see it, but locals would notice US-based rail movements, as a very alert NC commenter, who I would hat tip if I could remember their handle, pointed out).

            So we can’t take and hold ground. That leaves the air and sea. What does victory look like? Nobody can say.

            NOTE * Speculating freely, I’m inclined to believe that the attack on the stern of an oil tanker was Iran (and not an Israeli operation, say). But I think they were sending a message about vulnerability, not setting a match to the tinder. All the players understood, hence no panic.

      1. Tom Bradford

        On the other hand a shooting war would nicely draw the attention of the media away from “domestic embarrassments”, the demands of ‘patriotism’ would muffle critics of the administration and I fear the image of his strutting on the deck of an aircraft carrier declaring ‘victory’ would be irresistible to his vast vanity, as well as guaranteeing his re-election if the Pentagon can pull it off in time.

        1. crittermom

          “… the image of his strutting on the deck of an aircraft carrier…”

          I’d bake an apple pie for any sailor who knocked him overboard. ;-)

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the image of his strutting on the deck of an aircraft carrier declaring ‘victory’ would be irresistible to his vast vanity, as well as guaranteeing his re-election if the Pentagon can pull it off in time.

          It worked for Bush. But Bush could also put in ground troops. Trump can’t.

      2. marym

        Though he hasn’t started any new shooting wars, by many other measures there’s no lack of sadistic urges.

        He hired Pompeo, Bolton, Abrams, Haspel, Miller, and Barr whose positions on war, death squads, regime change, arms trafficking, torture, surveillance, white supremacy, and executive power were known. He hasn’t withdrawn from Obama-era conflicts or arms deals. He has policies to harm nearly every demographic group in this country. He holds hate rallies regularly to celebrate these policies.

        He’s encouraged cops to treat people roughly, pardoned Arpaio and just recently an Army officer convicted of murdering a prisoner. If today’s news is anything other than a trial balloon that will receive adequate push-back, he will take yet another grim step in sanctioning cruelty.

        The New York Times @nytimes
        12:59 PM – 18 May 2019

        Breaking News: President Trump is showing signs he will pardon several servicemen accused of war crimes. He asked for paperwork to be prepared by Memorial Day

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          All this is true. Nevertheless, routine imperial mindfuckery and degradation is by no means unique to Trump — Obama famously looked forward and not back on torture, thereby enabling not only Haspel, but Brennan’s lucrative new career as a talking head — and is different from a honest-to-gawd shooting war by orders of magnitude.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > He’s a talented TV producer, and he knows he doesn’t want to be involved in a “real war” TV show.

        So far, despite all the hysteria:

        1) We are not at war with Russia (even by proxy)

        2) Syria is off the boil

        3) Bolton got a chance to strut his stuff in Venezuela and blew it, so excellent

        4) Iran is now off the boil

        5) North Korea is no worse than it was

        6) Afghanistan is no worse than it was (no surge)

        I’m reluctant to give Trump credit for what could be a series of happy accidents + lack of operational capability by the military, but if you cut away the bombast and look at the record, it’s not so bad. Remember that Clinton wanted to set up a no-fly zone in Syria, a recipe for open conflict with Russia, as the generals said at the time. And of course liberal Democrats are making the running on RussiaRussiaRussia warmongering…

  10. Edward

    On “Air Pollution and Noncommunicable Diseases ” the back story here, I think, is that the government has done far less then it could or should to investigate the effects of industrialization on human health. This study should have happened years ago. The late Alexander Coburn wrote a column about this topic once, and he noted that cancer rates have increased about 30-fold in the past hundred years. Why is that?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      I thought the increase in cancer was attributable to longer life spans and the ability to treat or cure previously incurable disease, such as TB.

      1. a different chris

        I used to believe that once but now I think it’s one of those “just-so” stories.

        Why does a body function fine for, say 60 years, and then suddenly develop of all things cancer? Old things tend to wear out, with dissipating energy levels, not generate some virulent add-ons. It’s like my old car suddenly sprouting a super-charger that pokes thru the hood and quickly roasts the bottom end (because I wouldn’t be able to not have fun with it, of course!)

          1. Edward

            I think aging is an unsolved problem. Why do we age? There are some theories but we don’t really know. Cancer cells are immortal, by the way.

      2. Edward

        Then the increase in cancer should be clustered among the elderly. A 30-fold increase seems like a lot to explain away that way. Your concern could be addressed by making a comparison among age groups although this would not be perfect; the immune system fights cancer. Living to an old age probably means having a stronger immune system, on average, and this effect might be more pronounced a hundred years ago then today.

        Anyway, I do know that cancers tend to be concentrated in poor areas with environmental problems. Given that U.S. lifespans are decreasing, then according to your thesis, cancer rates should be declining too. Of course, many factors influence life span, and you probably need to control for those factors to make a good comparison.

      3. Oregoncharles

        @ Bugs,
        No, the rates AT A GIVEN AGE have increased greatly. The culprit is perfectly obvious, which is why the research mostly hasn’t been done. Who wants to know THAT?

        Similarly with the plague of autism (still increasing), I think.

    2. kgw

      Several years ago, Michael Parenti described having a “media moment” while watching a BBC doc about the increasing rates of asthma in young people. Parenti himself dealt with asthma growing up, so had a particular interest in its etiology. At the end of the doc, despite having visited many neighborhoods in densely populated cities, with industry embedded in the poorer neighborhoods, the narrative was at a loss to explain this spread.

      He remembered staring at the screen blankly, as if having a “senior moment,” and realized it was a media moment…?

    3. Cal2

      “…cancer rates have increased about 30-fold in the past hundred years. Why is that?”

      Edward, How about pesticides, none of which existed before 75 years ago?

      Stack and pack housing, to “fight climate change”, don’t you know, built right next to freeways.

      “For more than a decade, California air quality officials have warned against building homes within 500 feet of freeways. And with good reason: People there suffer higher rates of asthma, heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and pre-term births. Recent research has added more health risks to the list, including childhood obesity, autism and dementia. The city issued building permits for 4,300 homes near freeways in 2015 — more than in any year over the last decade — and signed off on an additional 3,000 units last year.”

      “Public funds, including millions of dollars from California’s cap-and-trade program to cut greenhouse gas emissions, are going to developers to build new homes in freeway pollution hot spots.”

      The Democratic Development Finance Immigration and Overpopulation Complex has no shame.

      1. Edward

        I don’t think people who drive around in cars appreciate how bad car pollution is. When I was a student in Austin, I walked or biked around and by 5:00 the air was a cesspool of car exhaust. I don’t think the noxious air was as noticeable in a car. For a while I tried wearing a respirator but it gave me a headache and I eventually gave up using it.

        One measure that could reduce automobile use is the establishment of car coops. This is done in Germany. There is a business version of this that has been used in Seattle, I think.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Propaganda Intensifies Trade War With China Moon of Alabama

    China Has Already Lost the Trade War The American Conservative

    Interesting contrasts between two well informed observers. MoA echoes Chas Freeman in saying that Trumps strategic haphazardness will mean China will come out on top, Whalen thinks China’s overdependence on exports will mean they will have to capitulate.

    I think its a bit of both. Trumps actions come (probably by accident) at a good time, when the Chinese model is under a lot of internal strain. There seems little doubt that China will have to concede a lot – Trump simply, at the moment, has too many hands he can play. But strategically, Trump is busy undermining American’s strength internationally – everyone now knows that the US is now not a reliable ally, and nobody wants to get caught in the grass when two elephants fight. Trumps strategic myopia will in the long term strengthen China as they gradually reduce their vulnerability to trade and strategic US and European imports.

    1. Robert Valiant

      Trump loses if Walmart loses; I think it’s that simple.

      I suspect that high, high prices at Walmart are one of the few possible catalysts that will get the American working class out into the streets with their guns.

      1. Wukchumni

        The proles on the right politically that have been persuaded that taxes are the most evil thing ever, won’t even realize that they’ve been victims of a tariffist attack.

        1. Carolinian

          Walmart was always about price. It’s their whole thing.

          But other stores will have to go up too, more vulnerable without Walmart’s leverage.

      2. Charger01

        No. They will bear the burden of 2-20% increases on consumables or do without. If you don’t believe me, I would point to prescription drugs use/rationing as the example of what will occur.

        1. Robert Valiant

          I don’t believe you or I have ever seen high prices at Walmart. So no, I don’t necessarily believe you. Americans are taught from the cradle that they are consumers above all else. I might forgo my high blood pressure medicine, but go without a giant package of Cheeze-its, or a brand new $50 vacuum cleaner? No way. Now, we Walmart shoppers may be able to eat the cost increases and still keep our credit card payments current, but if so, Walmart still wins. That is my contention: Trump success depends on Walmart success. The consumers will have to keep consuming.

          1. Wukchumni

            ‘Consumption’ was an old school way of saying you had Tuberculous, i.e wasting away.

            1. Robert Valiant

              Same definition today, just collectively experienced and slower (until it’s fast, I suppose).

              1. ambrit

                With the return of TB, expect a return of TB jokes. “Everything that is old is new again.”

        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Young people dont use prescription drugs. Poor ones at least.

          There WILL mos def be a riot. Walmart is one of the few affordable escapes for consumer advocates.

      3. lordkoos

        If they get out into the streets with their guns that’s not going to end well. But then it’s probably not going to end well in any case…

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Trump muddies position on Iran, but tensions are easing”

    The article’s main point is that ‘Calls grow for Washington and Tehran to set up hotline to prevent accidental conflict’. This is an excellent idea this, maybe even vital. But it won’t happen. The reason is that for about twenty years now official Washington has decreed that any contacts with a country that it is in opposition with is a ‘privilege’ that Washington can withdraw without notice as punishment for ‘bad behaviour’. And who here thinks that Bolton or Pompeo would not fiercely oppose it in any case. After all, ‘accidental conflict’ is their friend.

    1. a different chris

      Yes that is the Hillary Clinton -although she is just one in a long line – juvenile theory of “if you do something I consider wrong I will stop speaking to you”.

      The best parents/friends/mentors, well you can’t get them to shut up if you go off path. Communication is one thing humans are really, really good at when they try.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      My reading of this was that Trump is leery of communicating through The Blob, and with good reason, since factions in The Blob are attempting to remove him from office (Remember the hysteria when he met alone with Putin?)

      If the Iranians are clever, as I think they are, they will open up a back-channel. New rugs for the White House, as it were…

  13. chuck roast

    Air Pollution and Noncommunicable Diseases

    “(Air pollution) can cause, complicate, or exacerbate many adverse health conditions. Tissue damage may result directly from pollutant toxicity because fine and ultrafine particles can gain access to organs, or indirectly through systemic inflammatory processes.”

    I just heard from an old friend who told me that her sister, around age 63, has completely lost her mind as well as her bodily functions and now resides in a nursing home. She worked in an Intel fabrication plant for decades, and donned the usual protective clothing. As it was described to me, the protective clothing was to protect the computer chips from damage due to human elements such as dandruff, hair, etc. I’m guessing that her protective clothing didn’t do much to mitigate the toxic fumes of the production process. But that’s just anecdotal.

    1. mle detroit

      This certainly needs to be carefully looked at by epidemiologists. A health scare might motivate people to want emissions of all kinds reduced. (CO2, I’m looking at you.) Justice, apparently, or creation care, or our grandchildren, don’t seem to be enough.

      My sister in 1991 moved to a suburban house several hundred yards from the old Maryland Route 200 that was slated to become a multi-lane toll highway. Construction on the new highway, the Intercounty Connector (ICC) began in late 2007 and ended in early 2011. She was outside almost every day, throwing frisbies for her beloved German Shepherds. In 2012 she developed symptoms of motor Parkinson’s Disease, never seen in our family before; in 2014, dementia set in. She died in early 2017 at the age of 67. Her siblings and the great majority of our family predecessors, except for two who smoked, have lived into their mid-late seventies or longer.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        reckon it would make little difference, without zombie movie effects.
        around here, people have been exposed to all manner of ag chemicals for generations…more generally, and more acutely, the further down the income/immigrant status one is.
        cancer rate is higher than counties that share our aquifer and general environmental quality, but have never had field crops.
        (there was also a long term gasoline leak into the water table, which precipitated the modernisation of the city water supply, in a wave like motion, from rich hill to creekside barrio)
        you can slap warning labels on the agchem, point and yell about it all day, but they’ll still forget to wear their masks and gloves…if they even have them. There are even required applicator classes at the library…surely the necessary information has filtered out into our whole not very large population…
        but it’s background noise.
        if the fieldhand asks for protective gear, what will the land rich cash poor rancher think?
        (i inadvertently tested this,working the peanut harvest one year. but i was aware of labor law, and of the dangers of dust and chemicals. bosses did not like my tone,lol)
        they’re more likely to blame their cancers on Ojo or flouride in the water than the chemicals they’ve been soaked in their whole lives.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Farmers around our way often have sheds devoted to chemicals and who knows what is in them. Farmers never throw anything away so you might even have DDT in there stacked in a corner. This became a major issue back in 2011 when major floods ripped through the region and washed a lot of those chemicals into all those flood waters. After the flood I took fotos of a small spot where the vegetation was rapidly dying with no explanation except perhaps maybe some of those chemical containers were broken open there.

          1. wilroncanada

            Back in the early 1970s, when we were looking to buy our first house, one place we looked was in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver. We couldn’t believe how quickly the houses built right beside the highway were being snapped up because, the realtors said, commute times would be a couple of minutes’ less.
            Now, when we travel into Victoria, the muni of Langford, whose aim is to build, build, build, is permitting house construction booms all along the edge of the highway.
            What’s to learn?

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            there’s 2 spots on our place, in gullys, where previous people pulled their truck or whatever astride the gully, like a redneck highlift, to change their oil.
            I suppose i’m just thankful they only used those 2 spots.
            this behaviour is from age old ignorance, but the “Green Revolution”(tm)….ie: prolific use of chemicals with no regard for their side effects, etc…has numerous non-obvious complications like this. as I’ve said before, it took little old me to chew out the county judge to stop the routine spraying of diesel along the dirt county roads as weed killer.

  14. Bugs Bunny

    Re: Google uses Gmail to track a history of things you buy — and it’s hard to delete CNBC

    I’d recommend that anyone here who uses Gmail as an address for e-commerce sites check out their history here:

    I’ve only got a few items, most are apps for Android phones that I’ve had. However, there’s one purchase of a “Naturalizer Davi Sandal Women” from Nordstrom in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA from 2018 that I couldn’t figure out (Mrs. Bunny doesn’t shop at Nordstrom) so I checked through all my mails and bank statements to no avail. I then tried to remove the “purchase” from the tool and I clicked the link that’s supposed to go to the original email receipt and it just went to my inbox.

    I then realized that someone likely gave a “fake” email address to Nordstrom and that address just happened to be mine.

    I also just realized that the many inverted commas in my comment mean that I am either having a breakdown or that weird stuff is going on.

    1. ambrit

      BB, you’re just now noticing the pandemic of “inverted commas” in the communication stream??? Time to call in the CDC (Centre for Discourse Control.)?

    2. Jason Boxman

      They’re getting better at picking up my purchases. Not much in past years, but many of the things I bought online this year. Anything from Ebay, Apple, Amazon, and something from Square, meaning real life stuff is getting sucked in as well.

    3. shtove

      That article reminded me to check up on information held by Google – for legacy reasons, I still have a gmail account and files stored on Google cloud. And I use an Android phone (no apps). They report no information in their records, no purchases. But I’m in the UK, and did go through their information ditching process a few years ago. Who knows?

  15. Summer

    Re:Children describe technology that gives them a sense of ambiguity as ‘creepy’

    “Kids want to understand how technology works and what information a device is collecting. For example, when a child asked a digital voice assistant if it would kill him in his sleep and it said, “I can’t answer that,” the child was concerned.”

    For crying out loud, that’s what HAL9000 said in 2001 Space Odessy before it started killing people.
    File under: You can’t make this sh- – up.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Code Pink used the Venezuelan Embassy as an anti-Trump prop. Now the show is over. ”

    Who here thinks that the Washington Post’s motto – ‘Democracy dies in Darkness’ – is actually a mission statement? They could not even have a professional write this article but a person who ‘writes about homeless shelters, gun control, high heels, high school choirs, the politics of parenting, jails, abortion clinics, mayors, modern families, strip clubs and gas…’ No wonder the article was so smarmy and condescending. Someone like Caitlin Johnstone would have her on toast.

    1. richard

      I choked back a little bile when I read her bio as well. The perfect pile of unreflective self-regard, ignorant of the world around her. I’m not sure she knows she’s a liar.
      The article is a perfect pile as well.

    2. Edward

      This article sounds like 100% innuendo, 0% substance, which is about par for U.S. journalism these days.

      1. Cal2

        Just look at it as endless blather designed to create pockets where ads can appear on your monitor.

        “Ad field Journalism”

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: U.S. may scale back Huawei trade restrictions to help existing customers”

    This sounds like the time that Obama was imposing all those sanctions on the Russians but then stopped all the ones to do with delivery of Russian rocket engines as the US had nothing to replace the ones needed by both NASA and the Pentagon with.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The rocket issue was a bit of a quirk due to the ISS, but opponents of “free trade” predicted these kinds of problems.

    1. neo-realist

      Bernie should speak of this program with every speech to Black Americans on the campaign trail; he should challenge his fellow democratic candidates to come up with equal or better education programs in debates if education ever comes up.

    2. richard

      As a teacher, who believes unions should never endorse anyone , I endorse the hell out of this m&^%$%F&*
      Bernie or bust!!!!!

  18. Socal Rhino

    Re Game of thrones, the Marvel movie universe, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden

    The theme I see is collective action vs. extraordinary individuals. The Starks stories tell the same story Bernie is telling, that it’s not about a single figure, it’s about groups deciding to institute change, and how hard that is, and the futility of isolated action regardless of any nobility of intension. The Wire seems an apt comparison. In movies, maybe Iron Man vs. a John Sayles movie.

  19. dcblogger

    Deutsche Welle had a documentary on their YouTube channel War Waste. They pulled it, presumably under pressure from US. It detailed the lasting contamination of Agent Orange in SE Asia and depleted uranium in Iraq. All the surface area where those bombs dropped are contaminated, and will be for thousands of years. Every time there is a wind storm that contamination will spread. The Roman Empire is remembered for its language, writers, aqueducts, and roads, the British Empire is remembered for its language and railroads, the American Empire will be remembered for Agent Orange, depleted uranium, and plastic.

    1. Wukchumni

      Just imagine all of the Planet of the Apes like ‘Forbidden Zones’ in the future that will terrify the Hoi Eloi ?

  20. DK

    Re: U.S. working on options to pressure Cuba and Russia out of Venezuela McClatchy

    “We want every country that’s interfering in Venezuela to cease doing that,” Pompeo said in a joint press conference.

    I almost had a spit-take moment when I read this. You just can’t make this stuff up.

    1. Wukchumni

      After a long illness, irony passed away in it’s sleep.

      In lieu of flowers or hosannas @ the wake, a donation vis a vis your taxes, is requested.

      1. shtove

        After a long illness, irony passed away in its sleep.

        Irony: “But I was only pretending to sleep!”
        Sincerity: “Too late, babe. Too late. Now what about this bill?”

    2. Synoia

      Except the US, because the US is exceptional.

      I’m appears that “US is exceptional” is used not in the sense of “being better than others”, but as an excuse to state “rules don’t apply to us.”

      In which case the question becomes: “Who put you in charge of the world?”

      1. rowlf

        Why doesn’t the whole world sanction the US?

        I like the Russian reaction to sanctions: reduce military spending, improve infrastructure, become self-sufficient.

  21. DJG

    The parasitism of the military-industrial complex, Boeing, those “scandal-free” Obama years, and the death of the economy (and keep in mind the How Many Times post by Arthur Silber up top today):

    Lambert Strether posted this article a day or so ago. I’m going to repost a link, in part because I’m a subcriber to the paper Harper’s magazine, so you may be able to get through:

    Note the scandals in the Pacific. Note the way that the parasite has eaten Boeing–I had yet to make the connection that Muilenberg is definitely not Boeing-trained. Note the study at the end about how the parasite ate the host. No wonder we can’t get a Green New Deal. We may have to dismantle the military to get there.

    Bonus points: Can anyone who reads Harper’s tell me how to make way through the burblings by presidential candidate Marianne Williamson’s cover article? She seems to believe that she has refuted Marx. She makes only one good point: The powerful keep ignoring the populace. Being a high-toned theistic writer, with Obama as a fan, she drags in in the divine–we must all appeal to the Better Methodists of Our Nature. But is there some there there?

    1. neighbor7

      Harper’s cover story, just for the record and the context, is by Marilynne Robinson, a Pultizer Prize novelist and essayist, not Marianne Williamson, the presidential candidate.

  22. JerryDenim

    Thanks for the story about the 2008 Qantas flight 72 Lambert. I made a comment early in the twin Max disaster coverage here that the Airbus 320/30/40/50 family of aircraft have automated stall protection modes that make the 737 Max MCAS system look like a kitten. (The recovery mode and aircraft actions, not the incredibly stupid architecture and system design) Part of Captain Sullivan’s PTSD was likely caused by his total inability to stop his aircraft from diving. In a modern Airbus the pilot controls the airplane through a small side-stick that is not physically connected to anything. The side stick is connected to the airplane’s computers through electric wires and that’s it. This is what’s commonly known as “fly by wire”. If the computers malfunction and want to take you for a ‘ride’ there is no “fighting”. Brute force and control inputs count for nothing.

    In short, automation is dangerous in more ways than one. Not only does it degrade pilot hand flying skills and mask the shortcomings of weak pilots but it can also fail spectacularly and kill everyone onboard. This is why airline pilots must maintain their ability to hand fly their aircraft and why airplane manufacturers should only be designing and marketing airplanes that let pilots quickly and easily assume full manual control at the first sign of automation trouble.

    However reliable they appear, modern airliners are highly complex machines with a mind boggling number of moving parts, computers, software and components that will inevitably fail at some point. More automation, as in the Airbus philosophy of ‘take all authority away from the pilots and give it to the airplane’ cannot be the answer to the recent Boeing crashes because highly automated Airbus aircraft have given us plenty of scares and disasters over the years. The aviation industry should not be allowed to rely on automation as a solution to a pilot skill crisis or a pilot shortage. Make the cheap bastards (airline executives) pay to train their pilots well and then let the pilots actually fly the planes. Doubling down on more automation in the cockpit is painting an entire industry into a corner, but I suspect this is intentional. Like Uber and Lyft I believe both airline executives and the management of large aircraft manufacturers see human pilots as temporary inconveniences to be replaced by machines in the near future.

    1. Synoia

      Sod’s Law (UK), Murphy’s Law(US) – with apologies for the Ethnic Slur.

      Anything that can go wrong, will, and at the worst possible moment.

      And the $64 question for complex systems:

      How do you test that?

      1. polecat

        You don’t … what you DO is slow down, buildout better landbased commuter rail (forget the hyped-up bullet-train panacea) and trolley/light-rail mass-transit systems in and between towns and cities … and bring back moderately priced water transportation, via old-school steamer, or, for the more adventurous, sailing ships .. or a combination of the two, and greater ferry services where applicable.
        What it really comes down to is societies, either by choice or by necessity, having to slow the f#ck down … and get off the hyperspeed ‘progressive’ treadmill !!
        ‘Regression for saner living’…..

        1. chuck roast

          Polecat-you may want to think a little more critically about commuter rail. I was a the principle on a half-billion dollar CR in the mountains. It was promoted as traffic mitigation and work trips. It was nothing of the kind. Hundreds and hundreds of new parking spaces for the distant suburbanites, and best of all…for the yet-to-be-suburbanites.
          I tried to convince my colleagues that the project and similar commuter rail projects were mostly developer scams to turn greenfields into 40 acre housing developments. They were giving it some thought.

    2. JDM

      Couldn’t agree more. We’re a long way off from pilotless planes, yet there doesn’t seem to be much appetite to address the “children of the magenta” issue.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Like Uber and Lyft I believe both airline executives and the management of large aircraft manufacturers see human pilots as temporary inconveniences to be replaced by machines in the near future.

      I agree. We’ll need aircraft after the jackpot, must be the elite thinking. It won’t work, but that’ what they’re thinking.

  23. Oregoncharles

    “Air Pollution and Noncommunicable Diseases”

    Personal testimony: I have a very persistent, dry hack cough, and my eyes are persistently slightly inflamed. My doctor ascribes both to air pollution. I know, Oregon, but the Willamette Valley is a basin with a lot of cars and cities in it (granted, not compared to California). The smog is sometimes very visible. Even our “clean” ocean breezes come from China, carrying detectable Chinese pollution, to say nothing of Fukushima.

    TINE – There Is No Escape.

    1. newcatty

      Oregoncharles, sorry to hear this. I know that you are probably aware of some natural, herbal remedies for these conditions. When I have an allergy “attack” at beginning of our spring season, they help. But, I don’t have to take them for prolonged period…Maybe, a holistic practitioner could be of help. My thoughts have been that the argument for the harmful effects of air pollution, from smog( no matter it’s sources, not just cars and other vehicles) should be emphasized as to why governments should prioritize eliminating air pollution: on our health. The emphasis on climate change is crucial, but the pounding home of how people’s health is badly eroded would make the case much more immediate and, for some, understandable. Of, course, then we can add pollution of water resources to that point. And so on…

      1. Oregoncharles

        Thanks. I should have said that these are minor, nuisance-level problems, or my doctor wouldn’t have been so dismissive. He’d already checked for more serious problems. I plan to start seeing a more alternative-oriented doctor, so will ask again about those problems. The remedies I’ve tried had little effect.

        And yes, good point about air pollution’s other effects.

        1. wilroncanada

          We too live in a valley on southern Vancouver Island that, especially in summer, has air inversions which pushes all the local air pollution into people’s lungs. We have a paper mill, local logging, including of municipal land, with accompanying slash burning, and homeowners with old wood stoves. We were also affected the past two years by the forest fires both in BC and from Washington State.
          None of which help personal health.
          It didn’t help to be brought up downwind from steel mills in Hamilton ON, and to burn coal in household stoves.

          1. Wukchumni

            Sequoia NP and environs has the worst air quality of any of the NP’s, pollution from the SF Bay and Central Valley makes it’s way east and runs into a wall of granite @ about 9,000 feet. When you’re above that level in the back of beyond, what you’re looking at down under resembles a dirty snow globe, chock full of particulates.

            Oddly though, the air here in the foothills doesn’t seem all that bad when in the thick of it, nor do I ever feel any adverse effects.

            Must have been inoculated by all those years of truly awful L.A. smog in the 60’s & 70’s.

            1. Oregoncharles

              I went through LA one day about that time; it was a memorable experience. The air was pearly and pink, the sun was red at noon. Beautiful, if it hadn’t been so sinister. I’ve seen Portland that way, too. Fortunately, my time in either city was relatively brief – but the valley has its own drawbacks.

    1. Donald

      I guess I should have supplied a quote from the interview ——-

      I wanted to ——

      Are you shocked to learn that there was anti-American sentiment?

      My point was I wanted to know if you had heard that.

      I don’t remember, no. Of course there was anti-American sentiment there. This was a war being funded by the United States against the people of Nicaragua. People were being killed in that war.

      Do you think if you had heard that directly, you would have stayed at the rally?

      I think Sydney, with all due respect, you don’t understand a word that I’m saying.

      Do you believe you had an accurate view of President Ortega at the time? I’m wondering if you’re ——

      This was not about Ortega. Do you understand? I don’t know if you do or not. Do you know that the United States overthrew the government of Chile way back? Do you happen to know that? Do you? I’m asking you a simple question.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Wow, that’s very direct. A must read for anyone who thinks Sanders has gone soft on opposing war and imperialism. He really wiped the floor with that interviewer, it reminded me of Noam Chomsky’s comment to a BBC interviewer who was flailing around at some of Chomsky’s replies and said ‘I don’t understand’, and Chomsky said ‘if you did understand, you wouldn’t be in your job’. (quoting from memory here).

      One thing I’ve noticed about Sanders and foreign policy issues is that he is very reluctant to engage on topics unless he is very familiar with the details, which may account for his reluctance to challenge Russiagate and related issues.

  24. crittermom

    >”DNC Finance Chair Affirms Neutrality…”

    Ha! Pleeeze.
    Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice…(and I’m seething mad).

    The fact that Chris Korge has been chosen pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
    And we’re expected to believe this election will be handled differently? With ‘neutrality’? Ha!

    Maybe Korge considered Bernie Sanders an Independent when he said, “I have worked tirelessly to help the Democratic Party, and have been proud to support a wide array of Democratic candidates”.

    *Damn. Where are my hip-waders?*

    For you gardeners out there, I would advise you to refrain from using any of this “we’ll be neutral” manure on your garden. It’s obviously toxic, full of hot air, with no redeeming qualities.

  25. Carey

    ‘Germany votes to define BDS as anti-Semitic’:

    “..The German parliament – known as the Bundestag – this afternoon voted to accept a motion defining BDS as anti-Semitic. The motion, “Resist the BDS Movement – Fighting Antisemitism,” was sponsored by the Bundestag’s two largest parties – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian-Democratic Union and the Social Democrat party – as well as the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party..”

    1. Oregoncharles

      The US Green Party supports BDS. Apparently we’ve grown apart. I’m still saddened and embarrassed.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The German Greens used to be very pro-BDS, but came under enormous pressure over it, from both left and right. I think only Die Linke has maintained support, and even this is lukewarm. For pretty obvious reasons, this is a super sensitive subject in Germany, it seems its been used successfully by pro-Israeli supporters to marginalise the whole BDS movement, and this is happening to different degrees throughout Europe.

  26. JBird4049

    McMaster Uses Worn Vietnam Trope to Accuse Americans of Defeatism The American Conservative

    Lets see. That war ended in ’75 so 18 years would be ’57. Since the first American “advisors” were in 1950 that still leaves another eight years before we surpass that war; the First and Second Word Wars were, if we used the Japanese Empire’s invasion of China in ’37 as the start were fought over a combined 12 years and that means we have been fighting six years longer than the two most destructive wars in history.

    I am so conflicted. We are are either too short or too long…

    I don’t know…Maybe we shouldn’t have been there in the first place? But that might be defeatist!!!

    So lets keep supporting the same corrupt elites that we had supported in Vietnam and do in Afghanistan and keep giving them more money to steal while killing all their reformers enemies. That’s how you win a permawar!

    This kinda explains the hordes of Californian homeless. Disposable people, disposable countries, disposal worlds. But saying so is so defeatist, a blasphemous statement on Neoliberalism.

    So we keep the Kabuki Theater of Reality going, transforming the Golden State into Fools Gold, same great looks, and no reality. Keep fighting that war!

    1. Olga

      It’s worse. Truman funded the French war against the Vietnamese, pretty much since 1945 (until Frenchies ultimate defeat in 1954). So it was 30 years of laying waste to a far-away country.

      1. rowlf

        That is wild considering FDR didn’t want the French anywhere near Indochina and had directed that the French have no support. Who convinced Truman to screw up the Middle East and Southeast Asia?

          1. rowlf

            Eisenhower should have executed both of them when they interfered with Khrushchev’s attempt to tone down the Cold War. (or sent them to manage a weather station in Greenland)

            1. ambrit

              That is probably the genesis of Eisenhower’s famous “Military Industrial Complex” speech. He knew but might not have been able to do anything about it. Where was he going to find his killers? The CIA had already pretty much sewn that function up for themselves. Carry out an order to kill your own bosses?
              It’s a shame Eisenhower couldn’t have asked Churchill to inveigle MI-6 to do it. But then, everybody was “in bed” with everybody else back then.

    2. Edward

      Here is my theory about why the U.S. keeps losing its wars; the military is run by venal, unimaginative, probably not very bright politicians who left the “reality-based” community long ago.

      1. rowlf

        The Brown-shoe army could win wars. The modern US military likes to manage wars.

        Truman committees are no longer viewed as Patriotic.

  27. ChristopherJ

    In news downunder, the unlosable election has been ‘lost’ by the Australian Labor Party. It looks like the Liberal National will retain power in the house of representatives, but with a very slim majority and possibly the need for indep support. Tony Abbott has been deposed, as has Karen Phelps (is it?) – but with indep lib-lite candidates. Peter Dutton retains his seat (the home affairs monster), as does the tarnished Barnaby Joyce, both outcomes are almost unbelievable, that Australians could actually vote these creeps back in.

    Cannot believe it, and find it hard to identify with my fellow Australians. Here in the MSM, say Channel 9/10 or Cairns only (Murdoch) newspaper, the journos just demonised the ALP and lied shamelessly about the LNP government’s non achievements.. So, I understand that some of them might have bought the meme that Labor were risky. Yet, have they had their heads in the sand for the last 6 years, seen the ongoing destruction of the environment, the liveabiliy of our cities?

    Me and others were hoping for change. Is that what it is now, we are so beaten down now, so scared of the future that we cannot allow change? The left is dead in this country, progressive thinking too, and the working class is too divided to coalesce and become a voting bloc.

    Another 3 years of a Scott Morrison government is almost too much for me and lovey to bear. Time to move countries

    1. Kfish

      Sorry mate, but as another left-leaning Aussie you can’t blame Murdoch for this one. The LNP has openly hated poor and gay people, loved landlords, bribed their mates and hated the environment for the last few years. Australians knew exactly what they were voting for, and they said ‘[family blog] the future’ to avoid their taxes maybe going up.

    2. The Rev Kev

      The election was Labour’s to lose so they promptly lost it. The Coalition came out with the same old memes of how Labour can’t run the economy and would leave your children with debt and Labour came back with – nothing. I could make up a few ads myself to attack this but Labour remained silent on these attack so probably people wondered if it might be true. Who put together Labour’s campaign? The DNC? So now we have three more years of Scott Morrison – the climate change denying, coal plant loving, happy clapper. And one of the main aims of the Coalition is to push Australia to be a more right-wing conservative people because when it gets to election time, guess which party will be there awaiting their votes. Time will tell if Labour learns its lessons from this fiasco.

      1. JBird4049

        Time will tell if Labour learns its lessons from this fiasco.

        I know even less about Australian politics than I do British, but I would be concerned about what lessons are learned.

        Because of the last national elections, the DNC has learned that its true enemies are the anti-neoliberal reformers, instead of trying to win the upcoming federal elections, it is trying to crush them; it’s fifty-fifty that President Trump will do another term.

        Is the goal of the party to win elections so that they can govern for the general welfare or is it to maintain the grift by blocking reforms?

  28. Oregoncharles

    From “Free Expression on College Campuses”: “Students are divided over whether it’s more important to promote an inclusive
    society that welcomes diverse groups or to protect the extremes of free speech,
    even if those protections come at the expense of inclusivity. ”

    No wonder they’re “divided” – that’s an outrageous false alternative. Free speech exists precisely to promote “inclusivity.” If you won’t let someone speak, you’re sure as heck excluding them – and there’s nothing to protect other groups from the same treatment.

    This is just a lame excuse for censorship, pretending that “diverse groups” are fragile flowers so that they can silence people they don’t like. That isn’t how it works, and it’s shocking to find “liberal” student groups doing this sort of thing. Evidently, what we thought was a ratchet is really a cycle. Once again, liberal rhetoric is being used to disguise reactionary actions. The saving grace is that it’s a fairly small but noisy minority.

    1. ambrit

      True all the way down.
      A blatant example of the “Big Lie” in action.
      Cynic though I am, even I find it hard to grasp just how outrageously Reactionary the present political culture has become. A real ‘Fascist’ would be a relief to see and hear. At least then a true debate could be framed and run.
      There Is No Alternative has become the kiss of death strategy today.

  29. Plenue

    One thing I find interesting about the Game of Thrones debacle is that it seems like basically everyone agrees how terrible this final season is. It’s a full-blown audience rebellion. This rather proves elitist notions that we’re living in an ‘idiocracy’ where people only care about spectacle and not substance wrong. Because from a production value standpoint the show is at least as good as its ever been, if not better, occasional weird screw-ups with cups of coffee (actually tea, apparently) aside. The acting, the directing, the music, the set and costume design, the fight choreography, the quality of the special effects and so on, all of that is extremely well done. What isn’t well done is the writing. The core of the show has become atrocious, and people definitely notice.

    1. Carolinian

      Highest HBO ratings ever? The most pirated TV show in history? They are crying all the way to the bank.

      And doubtless most of the audience have not read the books and are not invested in the story the way people around here are. So I question your “universal rejection” claim. Indeed I have read the books and think the show is great.

      Also there’s a misunderstanding of what the show is trying to do. Martin produced an imaginary world. The producers and talented directors and cinematographers are out to give us cinema rather than a mere TV show. The ambitiousness of the show is what makes it really stand out. It is, and almost always has been, visually stunning.

      1. Massinissa

        ” Indeed I have read the books and think the show is great.”

        Have you seen the latest season? That’s the one people are saying went off the rails. If you havn’t seen the latest season yet, then no offence, but you can’t really understand why this is happening without having seen the context.

        The show WAS good, but the audience is revolting over this season in particular, not the show as a whole.

        1. Carolinian

          Yes I’ve seen all the shows up to now and have no problem with how they are ending it. Plotwise I’d say last season was worse and the Dany/Jon hookup was particularly unconvincing.

          But if you don’t like the ending then blame Martin for not finishing it. He always had that chance until they ran out of books. The series’ turn instead to big set piece battles has worked because some of those shows have been terrific. The adapters turned to their strength and that has always been in the realm of production values.

          One of the links here said a few seasons ago an interviewer asked Benioff about the story’s themes and he replied “themes?” They are making a show, and make take the source material a lot less seriously than the hardcore fans do.

          1. Plenue

            “One of the links here said a few seasons ago an interviewer asked Benioff about the story’s themes and he replied “themes?” They are making a show, and make take the source material a lot less seriously than the hardcore fans do.”

            Because the producers literally don’t understand the story or characters they’re writing for. There’s a short behind the scenes segment they attach to each episode. The one for episode three has Benioff talking about how the Winterfell battle is the culmination of ‘one of the key story lines’. This is what they think of the titular ‘Ice and Fire’, and ‘Winter is Coming’: it’s ‘a’ plot line. One to be wrapped up so they can move on to wrapping up the game of thrones. They don’t understand the material they’re working with on a very basic, fundamental level.

            And none of the big set piece battles in the last three seasons have been good. They’ve been visually impressive, but the content of them has all been awful and nonsensical. The Battle of Winterfell may be the most asinine engagement ever put to film. That battle must have taken months of effort to put together and film. The fact that at no point did anyone even suggest “ay, crapheads, shouldn’t we, like, put the catapults on the other side of the fire trench?”, or if anyone did they were ignored, says nothing good about the production staff.

      2. Donald

        I loved the show and thought they improved on Martin in many respects, until the past two seasons, especially this last one. It is entirely about spectacle now. And this is a widespread even if not universal feeling. The show has become crapified.

  30. Olga

    Transcript: Russia Without Putin Sean’s Russia Blog
    I thought it’d be interesting… but should have known better. Yet another Brit, who clearly imbibed large doses of russo-phobia, while growing up, now pretending to be a serious analyst of all things Russian. Fat chance…. but to be fair, there are a few points that resemble accuracy. Overall, however, he still approaches Russia as some bizarre/alien beast, not quite fit to be bordering the righteous Europe. His description (Wood, that is) of the Ukrainian situation is beyond laughable. And, of course, no mention of the nasty stuff the west has thrown Russia’s way – so there is no context for Russian actions. Catchy title, but just another biased and useless drivel, wrapped in a cloak of seriousness.

  31. The Rev Kev

    Re the Snow Leopard in the Antidote du jour. To my eye it looks small and thought that perhaps it was just young. Then again other images of these cats that have appeared here previously also looked on the small side. Did a bit of digging and found that they are in fact smaller than regular leopards. Wikipedia says that snow leopards weigh between 22 and 55 kg (49 and 121 lb) while with regular leopards, males weigh 37–90 kg (82–198 lb) and females weigh 28–60 kg (62–132 lb). Must be something to do with living in a colder climate.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Actually, Arctic animals tend to be large, because it reduces relative heat loss. Tibet is a high-altitude desert; except for a few valley oases, the pickings are pretty slim. That seems a more likely explanation of their smaller size.

  32. Wukchumni

    A couple of our cats shimmy up a 6×6 inch 10 foot tall post onto the roof and then shimmy down after they’ve gotten high-its quite a sight, but they’re spry and only 6. Might have to get a Swiss cat ladder for when they get all middle aged on me.

  33. GF

    From AOC’s Twitter at 1:00 PM EDT
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
    ‏Verified account @AOC
    38m38 minutes ago

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Retweeted deray

    Every Morehouse Class of 2019 student is getting their student debt load paid off by their commencement speaker.

    This could be the start of what’s known in Econ as a ‘natural experiment.’ Follow these students & compare their life choices w their peers over the next 10-15 years.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added,
    Verified account @deray
    Billionaire Robert F. Smith to pay off Morehouse grads’ student debt. (The gift has been estimated at $40 million.)
    313 replies 2,883 retweets 14,273 likes

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