2:00PM Water Cooler 6/11/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Tariff-heavy U.S. trade policies are triggering financial strains in supply chains. Some companies have run up inventories of raw materials or finished goods to get around impending levies while others have offered customers longer payment terms to help them adjust to increasingly uncertain costs” [Wall Street Journal]. “the measures are soaking up corporate cash in a growing tug-of-war in supply chains, with more money tied up in product stockpiles or payments and less available for capital spending and operating costs. The Hackett Group Inc. estimates about $3.4 trillion in working capital was locked up across U.S. companies at the end of 2018, up from $2.7 trillion five years ago.” • “Working capital” was “locked up?” Like, not available for stock buybacks and executive compensation? (Can elites really believe that capital is not fungible, and that what they keep in the right pocket, for looting, can’t be moved to the left pocket, for investment?) I take the point, but the picture seems incomplete.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of June 11: Biden down 33.4% ( 33.6%) and Sanders steady 17% (17%) stabilize. Warren up 8.0% (7.8%), Buttigieg steady (7.0%), others Brownian motion. Of course, it’s absurd to track minute fluctuations at this point.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden: Republicans ‘Know Better,’ Will Change After Trump” [HuffPo]. Biden, of Republicans: “‘With Trump gone you’re going to begin to see things change. Because these folks know better. They know this isn’t what they’re supposed to be doing.'” • “Folks.”

Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden’s comments from a 1973 City Club appearance show it may be hard to reconcile past with present” [Cleveland Plain-Dealer]. Biden in 1973 at the City Club of Cleveland (from the newspaper page imaged at the link): “We are a product of our political system. What holds us together as a nation are not cultural ties as in other countries, but political ties We are able to move forward because of politics. If we bring down a great political party, we bring down our political system.” • This is a deeply held belief in the liberal Democrat leadership. In 2008, Obama had the Preamble of the Democrat platform changed to reflect these ideas. In 2012, Obama said that he expected the Republican “fever” to “break.” I don’t know a better word for this belief set that delusional.

Biden (D)(3): “Poll: Black voters favor Biden, consumed by pocketbook issues ahead of 2020” [Politico]. “A new poll conducted for [the Black Economic Alliance] shows former Vice President Joe Biden continuing to hold a big enthusiasm advantage over his 2020 presidential rivals, while other Democrats have a chance to make inroads by focusing on the pocketbook issues of paramount importance to African American voters…. The survey, which was conducted by two Democratic polling firms, Hart Research and Brossard Research, found a three-way split on the top issues on the minds of African American voters, with 77 percent of respondents each saying that affordable health care, college affordability and creating more jobs with benefits were ‘extremely important issues.'” • Af ter Obama destroyed a generation of black wealth with his failure to respond to the foreclosure crisis, it’s hard to see why there would be a halo effect for him with Biden.

Gravel (D)(1):

Sanders (D)(1): Look, a theory of change!

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders’ SC campaign looks different this time. Is it different enough to win?” [McClatchy]. “Pauline Brown said she nearly broke down in tears when U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders walked through her front door last month. Her longtime partner, Eugene Smith, said he stood in disbelief. They’d had little success getting S.C. leaders to pay attention to the dirty water in their city of Denmark, so they never expected anyone running for president to show up to see for himself. ‘A presidential candidate that comes to your house to see how you’re living, I just couldn’t believe it,’ Smith told The State on Thursday. ‘It meant a whole lot to both of us. For over 10 years, nobody believed us. It was astounding to him.'” • 511 days of this could make a real difference…

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan for Everything — Except Health Care” [Politico]. “In a recent MSNBC town hall, Elizabeth Warren put her policy platform on full display…. The performance supported Warren’s reputation as a candidate with a “plan for everything” — a reputation emphasized repeatedly by MSNBC moderator Chris Hayes throughout the event.” • It’s almost like MSDNC has picked a winner, isn’t it? More: “[But Warren] has no plan for fixing the broken US health care system. Warren had several opportunities in the town hall to address the health care crisis. Instead, she avoided the topic almost entirely… Her platform is mostly laudable, but so far, Warren’s campaign has given no indication that she’s willing to take on this fight.” • Possibly because #MedicareForAll — unlike all the other “plans” Warren is proposing — has an active and engaged group of supporters, and Warren would prefer to gather professionals round the table (e.g., 23andMe) and have them make the decision? Or possibly because preventing #MedicareForAll is the number one goal of the liberal Democrat leadership? Or possibly because Warren is a “capitalist to her bones,” and no matter how much research Warren does, she won’t be able to come up with a market-based solution to the problem?

Warren (D)(2): The Neera Tanden primary:

Warren (D)(3): “Clinton allies open to backing Warren for president in 2020” [The Hill]. “Allies of Hillary Clinton say they could see themselves supporting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for president in 2020, even as she rails against Wall Street and pulls Democrats away from some of Clinton’s more centrist positions. ‘If Elizabeth Warren decides to run for president, she will find support both from Hillary diehards who still want to elect a qualified woman as president and from Hillary skeptics who want an unflinching champion against corporate greed as the party’s standard-bearer,’ said Seth Bringman, a Clinton ally who served as a spokesman for the Ready for Hillary super PAC.” • One account for the difference between Sanders 40%+ in the 2016 Democrat primary and his much lower figures this year would be the hatred Clinton inspired, and her baggage. Warren has none of these disadvantages, and could be seen as a sort of Clinton 2.0. More: “‘Warren does emphasize themes — especially economic justice themes — that are similar to Bernie Sanders, and she is very willing to engage President Trump and the GOP head on, which is what a lot of Democrats are looking for,’ said Grant Reeher, the director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University. ‘She can fire up the base, but also argue specifics, and she is authentic in delivering the message. That’s not so much anti-Hillary, but Hillary improved.’ Still, Reeher added that Warren could be ‘even more susceptible to some of Hillary Clinton’s feet of clay as a candidate.’ Clinton had ‘a style and manner that struck many as elitist and scolding,’ and Warren could face many of the same problems, given her background in academia. ‘Harvard professor is about as elite as it gets, and she comes across as a Harvard professor,’ Reeher said, adding that this reflects, in part, a gender bias.” • Clinton allies and assets giving Warren a boost might account for Warren’s sudden spate of media coverage and favorable polling, too (note that the national averages per RCP have barely budged, so this looks more like the “invisible primary” than actual voter behavior).

2018 Post Mortem

“The Merch Primary” [Current Affairs]. “In all the competing theories explaining why Trump won the 2016 election, deeply rooted as they’ve been in analysis of class, race, and geography, most pundits have missed the key issue. Donald Trump won because he had the best merch. The “Make America Great Again” cap, with its simple, bold design, is the most instantly iconic piece of presidential merch in decades, easily besting both Jeb Bush’s “My dad is the greatest man I’ve ever known and if you don’t think so we can step outside” t-shirts and Hillary Clinton’s bland H-with-an-arrow-through-it motif. The MAGA cap is so seminal that it burst through the confines of campaign merch to become a universally recognised symbol of racism. The Trump campaign spent more on those hats than on polling, consultants, or television commercials. It’s time the Democrats took notes, and journalists started taking merch as seriously as it deserves.” • Followed by review of all the 2020 merch!


Drag him, AOC!

It’s almost like this person believes that wages are determined by impersonal market forces, and that power relations — especially class power relations — have nothing to do with it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

I get mail, and I am here for the Nepalese lady:

Also, per our excellent discussion yesterday, these are really not “travelers.”

Stats Watch

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, May 2019: “Showing no deterioration from a month of trade tensions, May’s small business optimism index rose strongly for a second month” [Econoday]. “Like this report, surveys on consumer sentiment also posted strong gains in May. Underlying economic data may be mixed, including last week’s employment report for May, but overall confidence is solid and improving.” • The continuing contradiction between data and surveys should be a scandal, but it’s normal.

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), May 2019: “Inflation is holding pace but barely, inching… higher in May with the year-on-year rate, however, missing expectations” [Econoday]. “Another upward indication is a rebound in portfolio management fees, up 1.8 percent on the month and now up 5.5 percent on the year.” • “Upward” for whom?

Tech: Apple:

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this very appropriate meme.

Tech: Thread on algorithmic recommendations generally:

Well, if we used chronological instead of algorithmic — as in blogging, even today, or Twitter, before @jack started [family blogging] it — we wouldn’t need nearly so many programming departments, or executives, or executive bonuses. It’s almost as if, at this point, we’re investing enormous sums to produce pure mystification and mummery. Not to mention harms–

Tech: Thread on algorithmic recommendation on YouTube:

Idea of regulators: Outlaw algos. Only chrono. Why not? Chrono worked fine! If you don’t want manipulation, remove the functionality that enables it!

Honey for the Bears: “Factories that helped build the U.S. industrial boom aren’t manufacturing much optimism these days. Deere & Co., General Motors Co., 3M Co. and other manufacturers are cutting output, slowing hiring or even cutting jobs… as American consumers and companies buy fewer cars, trucks and tractors and build fewer houses” [Wall Street Journal]. “The lagging output is coursing through supply chains, with demand for steel parts, paint and other building blocks of the economy waning and shipments of industrial products weakening. U.S. rail transports of metallic ores and metals fell 7.7% in May from a year ago while carloads of iron and steel scrap tumbled 9.3%, according to the Association of American Railroads. Trucker YRC Worldwide Inc., with a less-than-truckload network focused more on retail goods, says tonnage per day at its YRC Freight subsidiary fell 5.5% in April and 7.6% in May.” • Aggregate demand problems. I’m haunted by a Lurking Fear, admittedly vaguely expressed, that the next recession will not be driven by the financial economy* (as in 2008) but by the real economy; some simultaneous snapping of unexpectedly interdependent supply chains that neo-liberalism/globalization will have brought about by combining tight coupling and crapification (The British would be the lab rats for this after a Brexit crash-out.) There would be real economy signs, like — say — goods gradually disappearing from store shelves (though now I see electronic retailing would invisiblize much of that, how handy…). Or weird happenings with staples, like flour. Or insulin. Somebody talk me off the ledge, please! NOTE * Then again, see under Trade at “working capital.” Another way of looking at today’s economy would be as an enormous capital strike, which naturally — this being a capitalist economy — would slowly bring everything else to a halt. Again, readers, if I’m off the track, do let me know.

The Biosphere

“Israel has a plan for avoiding climate calamity” [Quartz]. The URL is more accurate, showing that a clickbait-corrupted functionary altered the headline: “how-israel-innovated-its-way-out-of-a-water-shortage.” So, innovation: “Zloczower works for a company called Watergen, which has made a name for itself manufacturing an ingenious piece of technology that vacuums up humid outside air and, in a matter of minutes, can spit out hyper-clean drinking water.” • So, sucking all the moisture of the air will totally have no knock-on effects, especially when done an industrial scale.

More innovation:

Strap your car into a plastic bag! Problem solved! (I shouldn’t make fun of the company, which is tiny and apparently located in the Phillipines, where there are natural disasters aplenty. And people do need to save their cars, so this product is in essence like and no worse then an N95 face-mask; an individual’s palliative. But as a metaphor for what “the system” can and cannot do….)

“U.S. Hurricane Season Is Unnecessarily Dangerous” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. is more vulnerable to economic damage from natural disasters than any other nation, according to a recent analysis of global data. For reasons that include its size and location as well as local real-estate development policies, it ranks first among developed countries for the number of lives adversely affected by destructive events. With two long ocean coastlines and a propensity for tornadoes, Americans face more, and more expensive, disasters. Since 1980, more than 241 billion-dollar disasters have cost the U.S. $1.6 trillion 1 and almost half of those losses came during the four most expensive years: 2017, 2005, 2012 and 2018.” • I’m sensing a pattern there. More: “The U.S. faces challenges even more basic than ginning up resilience policy. Even quantifying the human toll of disasters is difficult, according to some emergency managers, particularly separating direct deaths from an event itself and indirect deaths that may come from subsequent but related disruptions. Documenting economic damage is trickier still, from initial on-the-ground responses, to physical damage, through reconstruction and ripple effects on traumatized survivors, [Samantha Montano, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Management at North Dakota State University] said. ‘All of those numbers,” she said, ‘all of that data, that seem very, very basic, haven’t really been collected consistently over time and in a way that’s very useful.'” • Can’t manage what you don’t measure. Another job for citizen science!

“The money at stake in the battle over CMP’s 145-mile electric line” [Bangor Daily News]. “The Bangor Daily News analyzed the money at stake [in Central Maine Power Co.’s proposal to build a transmission line through western Maine from HydroQuebec] to see who would benefit and who would lose if the line is completed, and what’s in it for the people of Maine…. The line is projected to reduce New England’s carbon footprint by around 3 million metric tons a year, which is the equivalent of removing 700,000 cars from the road.” • I can’t take a position on this because I haven’t followed the issue, but I’d point out that projects to benefit the metropolis (Boston) rarely net out positive for the colonies (Maine). In other words, I don’t trust any of the studies.

Class Warfare

“Capitalism used to promise a better future. Can it still do that?” [Richard Reeves, Brookings Institute]. “People will invest in a better future if – and it is a very big if – there is a good chance that it will pay off, that the system reliably delivers that better future. Capitalism not only produces a society focused on the future, it requires it. If the promise of a better future starts to fade, a vicious cycle sets in. Why save? Why sacrifice? Why stick at education for longer? If doubt creeps in, people may work less, learn less, save less – and if they do that, growth will indeed slow, fulfilling their own prophecies. The biggest threat to capitalism is not socialism. It is pessimism.” • “Why go to college? Why go to night school”?

Good call, Talking Heads!

“Mediocratopia: 5” [Ribbon Farm]. “In a world that runs on ceremonial expectations of optimal performances, but where it is rarely in your best interests to actually deliver optimal performances, practicing mediocrity necessarily involves capability masking: the act of hiding the true extent of your capabilities…. Capability masking is a big part of what I call optimization theater. Our world runs on transactions that are ceremonially based on one party (usually the stronger one) demanding optimal performance from another and the other promising that performance. Job candidates promise to ‘do their best’. Sales people tell you they’re giving you the best deal possible. Politicians promise to work all out to fulfill campaign promises. Parents pretend in playing with children that they’re trying hard. Children promise to clean their rooms. The ceremony of demanding and promising optimal performance is about validating the nominal relative power of the two powers, while allowing the actual relative power to govern the working relationship.” • I think this is about creating slack (not “the American cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services”, Slack, which is the opposite of slack, or not?)

“Stop & Shop now has big, goofy-looking robots patrolling its aisles. What, exactly, is the goal?” [New Food Economy]. “Since January, the northeastern supermarket chain Stop & Shop has introduced more than 200 robots to stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. This month the company will begin rolling Marty out to stores in New York.” • So Yves is getting out just in time. More: “Marty is at the vanguard of the robot revolution, normalizing automation in everyday spaces. Stop & Shop is not alone in this; Walmart is planning on introducing autonomous floor scrubbers to 1,860 stores by next February….. Although Jennifer Brogan, Stop & Shop’s director of external communications, assured New Food Economy that the robot is not meant to replace workers, Ahold Delieze has explicitly told shareholders that the company is investing in automation and artificial intelligence to supplement or even replace human labor…. Meanwhile, customers have taken to Twitter to complain that the robot is ‘creepy’ and wonder if it is watching them’ [which of course it is].” • I’m sure, exactly as with the offshoring wave that started in the 80s, the cleansed displaced workers will find new and better jobs with no problem at all. They can learn to code, lol. And of course, robots = union-busting. More: “In its 2018 annual report, the company identified organized labor as a potential risk to the company: ‘Our brands may not be able to negotiate acceptable terms for extensions and replacements of contracts as a result of unfavorable demands and expectations from unions.'” • “The goal” is to screw workers, which is almost always the goal. Customers are right to find robots creepy. Screwing workers is creepy.

“The Age of Robot Farmers” [The New Yorker]. “When [strawberry grower Jack] Wishnatzki started out in the business, in the mid-seventies, a box of strawberries selling in a supermarket in the Northeast in February cost four times as much as it does now. For the average consumer, ‘berries in winter were a luxury item back then,’ Wishnatzki said. ‘And that’s where we’re headed again, unless we can solve our labor problems.’… • Why are strawberries in the winter important? More: “Absolutely straight rows of strawberry plants ran almost to the horizon, in every direction; there wasn’t a tree for miles. The berries grow in soil encased in black plastic mulch—the landscape of industrial strawberry production is far from the trippy topography of the Beatles song. Under the rows is a network of PVC hoses and drip tape delivering water and fertilizers that cause the plants to produce Wish Farms’ huge, luscious strawberries until the end of April, when all the bushes and the plastic mulch are torn up and thrown away.” • So, we can’t keep our monocultures unless we optimize for robots?

News of the Wired

“Metamorphic Robustness Testing: Exposing Hidden Defects in Citation Statistics and Journal Impact Factors” (PDF) [IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering]. “We report a surprising finding that the inclusion of hyphens in paper titles impedes citation counts, and that this is a result of the lack of robustness of the citation database systems in handling hyphenated paper titles. Our results are valid for the entire literature as well as for individual fields such as chemistry. We further find a strong and significant negative correlation between the journal impact factor (JIF) of IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (TSE) and the percentage of hyphenated paper titles published in TSE. Similar results are found for ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology. A software engineering field-wide study reveals that the higher JIF-ranked journals are publishing a lower percentage of papers with hyphenated titles. Our results challenge the common belief that citation counts and JIFs are reliable measures of the impact of papers and journals, as they can be distorted simply by the presence of hyphens in paper titles.” • I have long held the secret and radical belief that the great majority of software engineers — old school Donald Knuth types aside — simply do not understand content, and hence are not equipped to make good decisions about it. Here we have two deeply embedded metrics that simply don’t work (and the effects were material, in that jobs and careers were boosted or destroyed).

“David Epstein on the Genius of the Self-Taught Musician” [Literary Hub]. “The strict deliberate practice school describes useful training as focused consciously on error correction. But the most comprehensive examination of development in improvisational forms, by Duke University professor Paul Berliner, described the childhoods of professionals as “one of osmosis,” not formal instruction. ‘Most explored the band room’s diverse options as a prelude to selecting an instrument of specialization,’ he wrote. ‘It was not uncommon for youngsters to develop skills on a variety of instruments.’ Berliner added that aspiring improvisational musicians ‘whose educational background has fostered a fundamental dependence on [formal] teachers must adopt new approaches to learning.’ A number of musicians recounted Brubeck‑like scenarios to Berliner, the time a teacher found out that they could not read music but had become adept enough at imitation and improvisation that ‘they had simply pretended to follow the notation.’ Berliner relayed the advice of professional musicians to a young improvisational learner as ‘not to think about playing—just play.’ While I was sitting with Cecchini, he reeled off an impressive improvisation. I asked him to repeat it so I could record it. ‘I couldn’t play that again if you put a gun to my head, [guitarist Jack Cecchini] said.” • Wait. Django Reinhardt didn’t have credentials? Wonderful anecdotes, brilliant musicians.

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

MN writes: “Little apple tree blooming, Michigan back yard.” Lovely!

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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. Darius

      Ugh. She lost me with the mortgage fraud settlement. But this Catholic Church stuff is absolutely disqualifying. Harris is cancelled. Like Matt Stoller says, Republicans wield power. Democrats defer to power. But she can get away with it because she’s a progressive. Whatever that means at the moment. And that response that she doesn’t sue molesters. She puts them in jail. Positively Obamian in it’s slipperiness deflection dishonesty and manipulation.


    On Chrono vs. Algo: The crapification timeline of Facebook directly correlates to the timeline of the erosion of chronological-based sorting and rise of algorithm-based sorting. Whereas you could previously easily see what the people and organizations you friended/followed were up to in a central, tree-ring-like way, the algo has created a platform in which you see whatever Zuckerberg thinks will make Facebook the most money at the top of the metaphorical fold. It, more so than any moral qualm, has reduced my visits to FB to a few times a month. It’s too much of a hassle to shift through the garbage, and you never quite shake the feeling that it’s not giving you all the content that your friends are posting. Unless you go to each individual’s page, which defeats the whole purpose of FB.

    1. Geo

      Same here. Happened about a year ago though. Watched some Jimmy Dore and Joe Rogan. Next thing I know I’m getting all kinds of “men’s rights” and “white identity” garbage in my recommendations. Had to manually deselect them all for a while to purge my recommendations.

      Then recently watched a review of Capt Marvel and got a whole new crop of anti-SJW “men’s rights” garbage again.

      The algorithm definitely slants toward right wing since I almost never get recommendations for feminist or multicultural stuff. Even as a subscriber I don’t always get Humanist Report recommendations. I do get MSNBC recommendations all the time – no matter how many times I try to block them.

      Maybe it’s my tinfoil hat but I feel like they bury progressive stuff and favor neoliberal and right wing stuff.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        They all end up selecting for controversy. If you’re wondering how many BTUs one match represents–as one does–Google would rather send you to an argument on some home improvement forum than give you some content with a few effing tables.

        When the Google algorithm doesn’t make me think of Flowers for Algernon, I picture a non-sentient HAL. It is The Institutional Knowledge being ordered around by The Marketing People. With all the original perpetrators of Google Search gone off to greener pastures, how much is its current management a cargo cult with no understanding of the machine?

    2. Joe Well

      I just opened a music video (obscure 1970s funk with 190 views) on a browser I never use, not logged in. The next automatically played video was a white nationalist hymn from Europe. I am in the US, never visited a white nationalist website. The comments were so full of Americans denouncing the video that the description had a message to Americans to stop denouncing the video, so I guess a lot of other people had had this experience. Seriously, I am not exaggerating.

      It is hard to avoid the thought that a company with hardly any black or Latino employees and that has helped to have the effect of driving black people out of San Francisco and that keeps promoting extremist right-wing videos may just have white nationalists among its leadership. They have enough data, expertise, and money to do things differently, but they don’t, so the obvious conclusion is it’s intentional.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      All I watch is sports news and leftist commentators on youtube and the algorithm still thinks it can get me from Rogan to the right wing if it keeps suggesting enough BS.

      Ditto what Geo said about Captain Marvel video triggering anti-SJW stuff – watched a video on Star Wars too and suddenly got recommended all manner of absurdity from people who take it way too seriously. I mean, Star Wars has been terrible since the third one with the teddy bears in 1983, everyone knows that.

      1. JohnnyGL

        That’s a member of Obama’s inner-circle voting ‘no confidence’ in Biden. Biden’s whole campaign theme is Obama’s 3rd term. David Axlerod has taken some shots at Biden, too. Robert Gates’ endorsement isn’t important to me (he actually takes a jab at Bernie, too), but if you’re going to project an air of ‘restoration’ of Obama’s legacy, you NEED people like Gates.

        If you are the most establishment-of-establishment candidates and you can’t even orchestrate a major endorsement from the Beltway establishment, what good are you?

        The foundations of Biden’s candidacy are crumbling under the surface.

        Quinnipiac poll just came out, showing a substantial drop for Biden. I think he’s out of first place by the end of the summer.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          And one of those moderate Republicans who is going to see the White of Biden shining on them!

        2. richard

          Yeah, and the punchline of this particular joke is that “Obama’s third term” is a lot less popular than anyone in the nomenklatura is prepared to admit. We’re going to need to rub their faces in that for some time, before it sinks in.
          My pleasure.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I thought that Hillary Clinton promised to deliver “Obama’s third term”. How well did that work out?

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              My gut has always been the longer a person stays on a poll the more likely they are just a lonely person seeking to give “positive” answers for affirmation. So Bill Clinton and Obama (probably Shrub too) get higher ratings once they are off the ballot and other questions are more pressing because the only people who stay on are interested in “positive” answers. So Hillary’s approval didn’t spike while she was Secretary of State as much as people who stayed on were more likely to say “yes” because that what they want to do. With name recognition, they are more likely to get a “yes” answer.

              Invoking Obama and previously Bill Clinton didn’t work because they weren’t as popular as they seemed as elections without them took precedence. How mad could you get at Bill after the Impeachment? He was just running out the clock.


              I haven’t watched this in years, so I forgot who shows up at 1:59.

    1. Old Jake

      Gates does make some interesting points, like Biden being personally likeable. even trustworthy, and one who would pick you up if you’re down (assuming you are in his class?) but not one who would be an excellent decision-maker. Perhaps that should be interpreted mainly as he and Gates did not agree on many points.

      What struck me more though was his assessment of the work load and his hesitancy to take a load like that at his age. He assumes one takes the job seriously. This in contrast two a couple of recent Republican Presidents who seemed to coast much of the time. Not to mention the infamous Raygun President. And yet it seems most of the recent class were more interested in the opportunity to cash end at the end of their terms than making great decisions

      1. Carey

        Biden might be “likeable” within his cohort. I don’t think a person who says he has
        “zero empathy” for the younger generation’s real hardships is going to be found as
        generally likeable.

        Unless the whole 2020 Dem thing is fixed, of course..

        “like it, proles!”

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “Likeable” is one of the dumbest things people can say. It drives me up the wall. These are politicians. Do people think Mitch McConnell walks up to Obama and spits at him? Pelosi asks Boehner if he needs a tissue because he’s going to cry?

          These people are politicians. Very few of them are not gregarious in person. It wouldn’t shock me if Liz Warren was the worst, not that I’ve heard anything, but with her unusual route, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was among the least likeable in person when not being creepy.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        What struck me more though was his assessment of the work load and his hesitancy to take a load like that at his age.

        Biden is lazy as Stoller has been pointing out. The Hyde Amendment fiasco is a perfect example of Biden’s nature. This Georgia ban is a big deal and a big deal for women, the bulk of the Democratic Party, so what does Joe do? Repeat his usual heinous position. His staff goes out and clarifies (I was so disappointed it wasn’t a certain person on the campaign) that Biden is a prick. Did they not go and say, “hey, we need to have an answer.”

        Biden isn’t just old. He’s lazy and ignorant. His staff is lazy and ignorant. The Clinton people might give bad or weasel worded answers, but at least occasionally they seemed like they tried.

  2. Gwst

    Years ago, if you let Youtube autoplay from a video for a popular song, it would frequently bring up lesser-known titles from the same artist. I think this may have had a substantial impact on popular tastes–nowadays it’s common knowledge that The Police did their best work before Synchronicity, pre-Internet that part of their career sadly got little or no airplay.

    But now autoplay will basically always spit out a drearily conventional playlist based on the era/genre of the song in question.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      And it is so one size fits all. I’m sure there’s a large number of people using it for an easy daily playlist. Probably good for that. But if I’m listening to more than one video song on youtube I’m either nostalgia surfing or genre surfing. I probably don’t want to see anything I’ve heard in the last three months. And the platform does not respond to anything like that. More of the same seems to be Virtue in current Marketing. Being able to do more would require hideous amounts of paying capable non-robot-agents. Random selection from the notional space is not something I’ve heard about in recent breakthroughs.

      Corporate Marketing thinks that insulting your intelligence is fine, what they do guarantee is that your sensibilities will not be insulted. “Unless you’re into that; we’ll check your cookies.”

      Meanwhile when I’m in those moods, I find Hooktube unnerving for the sheer randomness. Could we crowdfund some AI that does what non-VC people want?

  3. voteforno6

    Re: Genius of the Self-Taught Musician

    For what it’s worth, Jimi Hendrix never learned to read music, either. He did all right.

    1. Gary

      Irving Berlin couldn’t read music either and could only play the black keys on the piano. He wrote a few fairly good tunes.

  4. Pat

    While they are not using self check out, did have an interesting time in the local chain drug store the other day. First trying to find the deodorant. I had purchased a buy one get one special months ago, so hadn’t looked for it in a while. The aisles were no longer clearly marked and because of all these plexi glass covers on the shelves it was impossible to see what was on the shelf unless you walked up and down each aisle. As I was searching, I heard a call for someone to go to the deodorant section, along with a call for the cosmetics section AND a call for the hair care section. I realized my big mistake was thinking there was no reason for deodorant to be locked up. When I got there to tag along with the person who had originally called for help, I asked why. “People steal it”. I made my selection and then stood there staring for a moment to discover with only a couple of exceptions the products ranged in price from $2.50 to $6.
    The adventure continued when arriving at the check out line where there were half a dozen people waiting for service and the one cashier working the line was apparently hung up with payment issue. After a few minutes, the man in front of me turned to the pharmacy cashier and asked if there wasn’t someone else who could help. Her reply was no, we’re shorthanded. Although she did call for the harried person running about the store with the keys to practically everything except snack food and travel items to come to the checkout.

    Several things came to mind, if you are going to put everything behind plexiglass you are going to need to hire more people. Perhaps pharmacy cashier/possibly manager should have taken some of the line and checked them out using the pharmacy register as was done often in the past.

    And most of all how bad is it even in our supposedly blue state things aren’t as bad as the flyover country area that people are having to steal deodorant and toothpaste and shampoo and…

    1. ChristopherJ

      Up my way, the cans of ham and corned beef (both easy to conceal) are held at the front of most small stores…

      Indigenous Australians – kind of stuff they buy for ‘food’

      Made me feel sad.

      Then again…

      Lots of stores compelling me to scan my purchases these days, for no discount. So, I’m no expert on these machines and I have no guilt at all to get a free or near free extra in my bags. Do these corporations not understand that without employed consumers, there aren’t any consumers of their robot operations??

    2. Stephanie

      I wonder how much of the stolen toiletries might be re-sold? Used to be a kid (maybe 12 or 13 years old) who would come by our house with a plastic bag full of male-branded soap/body wash/shampoo, offering to sell it to my husband for $1 -$2/bottle. I don’t think the kid lifted the stuff himself, and I’m not sure how much of the profit he got to keep. I thought the gender-specific marketing strategy was interesting; makes me wonder if they were just guys selling what they would themselves buy or if they were guys who knew that other guys were more likely to buy body spray from some random dude off the street than women would be.

    3. Inode_buddha

      I thought that kind of thing only happened in Russia. At least thats what we were told for years….

    4. clarky90

      I stopped using soap and detergent (body wash) on my skin and hair, three and a half years ago. The tops of my ears used to be sunburned/scabbed, during summer. Not now. I do not get sunburned. I preserve my natural skin oils.

      “Sebaceous glands are microscopic exocrine glands in the skin that secrete an oily or waxy matter, called sebum, to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair of mammals….”:


      I still wash, bathe, sauna, swim most days. I smell like my forebears. They would say, “Distant relative, you smell as if you are one of us!” Cosmetics, soaps and sunblocks are toxic to the environment. The chemicals absorb through our skin into our blood and tissue. The plastic packaging is smothering life.

      This is a simple, (macro/micro) life saving tip

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      Is Amazon paying brick and mortars to create these hostage situations at the checkout?

      Twenty years ago there were places here where I’d stop in for one thing. I’ve now got a Walmart a quarter of a mile away. The two mile bike ride to work is less hassle, just getting there. Then, is the thing in stock. I still use our starts-with-a-P grocery which has not been able to discourage its customers from using checkouts. They are trying to though. Otherwise all that’s left are drug stores, and that’s all truly cheap crap outside the snakeoil.

      Meanwhile I can get it for less at Amazon. And I purchase the thing I wanted instead of a duck tape solution to be replaced later. And I get the “Package for Mr. Bunny” experience.

      But there’s no way all those boxes are a sustainable solution. And every time I click the button I realize that the Stanford Prison Experiment doesn’t begin to cover things.

    1. Arizona Slim

      ISTR reading that Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong were also among the Non-Readers of Music Club.

        1. marku52

          David Lindley “I don’t read them golf clubs….”

          Glen Campbell couldn’t either, and he was a stunning session musician before he went solo.

          1. Gary

            I am a little surprised that Campbell was able to hack it as a studio musician in the LA scene. It would have limited the calls he would have gotten due to that very reason.
            Nashville uses a numbering system with very little melody noted. You still need enough street theory to switch keys easily. If a vocalist can’t quite manage a song in one key, you need to be able to quickly transpose to another one. Studio time is very expensive and if you make mistakes or slow down the process, you will not be getting any call backs. It used to be referred to as developing a “red light mind”. When the red recording light is on, you don’t screw up.

  5. laughingsong

    “So, sucking all the moisture of the air will totally have no knock-on effects, especially when done an industrial scale.”

    At least they haven’t yet decided to go Full Fremen and reclaim the water from Palestinians :-(

    I think you can tell by where my mind went with your statement, that I am obviously not going to be the one to talk you from the ledge. .. although I might still accidentally save you by pushing you aside and jumping first . . .

    I have had this low-level but terrible feeling for months that something very bad is going to happen – maybe this year, maybe next — and I haven’t been able to shake it entirely (although it comes and goes). Just something about the tenor of the News-Aggregate-Environment has some inner alarm going. Sigh.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I am not the most optimistic of people but for what it’s worth — I feel the something very bad will happen a few more years in the future, not quite so soon. I also believe it isn’t too early to try to fathom the kind of the event and prepare as possible.

      1. jsn

        I think we’re in the beginning of it, maybe 4 or 5 years in, but it’s very low intensity and very broadly distributed. Case Deaton, farmer suicides, refugees, mass migrations, homelessness, epidemics etc. it’s quietly and beyond reach of MSM ramping up.

          1. sd

            i was thinking today about how angry I am at the injustices of the world. I don’t have a personal reason to be angry. I myself am doing ok, but I have so many friends who are just standing so close to the edge with no margin for error. Work, housing, health, all of it precarious.

            Meanwhile, trillions of dollars wasted on wars somewhere over in Orwells Eurasia when those same dollars could have been spent here on so many many many things that would have benfitted the majority of Americans.

            But no. We can’t have good things.

            So that’s a long way of getting to the realization that if I’m feeling angry – imagine just how angry someone facing hardships must be. So really, how angry are other people feeling?

            I think we are drawing dangerously close to the breaking point.

            And apologies if I haven’t described what I am trying to say very well.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Well, they’d better have those units in the South Ridge repaired by midday, or there’ll be hell to pay.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        What I really need is a religious fanatic who understands the language of binary moisture evaporators….

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      very bad

      The End of the World is not evenly distributed yet.

      Still good here. So I am also wondering how hard it will suck.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Starting to see a lot of signage against this project in Maine which is encouraging, but then again the elites often do what they want no matter what the people say. Been to meetings before where the overwhelming majority were against development but projects got approved anyway.

      1. Jen

        This was a serious knock down, drag out fight. In the end, and likely peculiar to NH politics, it was the site evaluation committee that killed Northern Pass. HQ came back again, whining, and the SEC told them to pound sand. Our beloved governor then tried to stack the aforementioned SEC with sympathizers, and that did not go over with the legislature. The key here, is to understand which government agency(ies) have the real power to affect the outcome, and go full scorched earth on them.

        It was also a fight that united people who normally don’t have a lot in common on the political spectrum. Nobody wants giant-ass utility towers running through their back yard.

    2. Joe Well

      OK, I looked at that website and am left wondering why this couldn’t be accomplished in a somewhat more expensive but much less environmentally devastating way?

      Also, as a Masshole, I am worried by the energy dependence on Canada. Without any irony at all, have any planners of this project ever talked with Canadians on the subject of the US, Americans, the merits of Dunkin Donuts vs. Tim Horton’s, etc. etc.? For the moment, selling electricity to New England lets Quebec spite Ontario, but what happens if some day they decide they want to spite us more than they want to spite Ontario? Or if the Canadian national government just asserted itself in the matter?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        the merits of Dunkin Donuts vs. Tim Horton’s,

        The old country loses on this one. Tim Horton’s are terrible, fraudulent traps for people who don’t know better.

        If you want fighting words, Canadian maple syrup is trash too. You might as well just drink corn syrup, mixed with ash.

        1. Joe Well

          1. umm…there is a significant difference with DD’s? Actually, one thing I noticed in Canada and confirmed with some Googling is that TH keeps old people from congregating there for long periods by jacking up the A/C to levels that even a Canadian or New Englander would find hard to tolerate for long. I don’t know why this hasn’t been tried in DD’s, but my first thought is that this is wasting electricity so maybe there’s the answer.

          2. Obviously, New England maple syrup is the gold standard, but it is also priced like liquid gold, so I have to be honest, my fridge had Canadian syrup in it during the lean years. Definitely better than corn syrup though I never tried corn syrup mixed with ash. New England healthcare vs. Canadian healthcare follows the same pattern, I think.

        2. eg

          Tim Horton’s isn’t even Canadian anymore, and given their downward spiral in product quality, that is something for which to be grateful hereabouts.

  6. shinola

    “Zloczower works for a company called Watergen, which has made a name for itself manufacturing an ingenious piece of technology that vacuums up humid outside air and, in a matter of minutes, can spit out hyper-clean drinking water.”

    What’s “ingenious” about a dehumidifier? I have one in my basement. Even if it’s super-sized, supercharged & digital, it’s still just a dehumidifier.

    (Note: I am not a Quartz member & I will not register to read the article, so maybe I have missed the ingenious part)

  7. Massinissa

    “Zloczower works for a company called Watergen, which has made a name for itself manufacturing an ingenious piece of technology that vacuums up humid outside air and, in a matter of minutes, can spit out hyper-clean drinking water.”

    So… This means Israel is now Tatooine? Gotta get some Protocol Droids to talk to those moisture vaporators.

  8. Amfortas the hippie

    robot takeover….the giant fancy lettuce conglomerates that i used to try to compete with are well into robot farming…explicitly to replace pesky humans(given, it can be hard on the back).
    i expect the floor cleaner robots(a vanguard,no?) to be defaced, graffiti-ed and otherwise messed with. from talking to people in lines with human cashiers, i think there’s an unacknowledged aversion to these things.
    maybe with a large unconscious component.

    as for the Ledge…I ain’t gonna talk you off it, but welcome you to it.
    The Ledge is where it’s at.
    weather is kicking BAU in the stones.
    and trump is merely a different kind of flood.
    the legitimacy of the whole enchilada is at stake(and by extension, whether the aristocracy likes it or not, Consent of the Governed)
    somebody mentioned in a comment (yesterday, maybe)about apparently random violence happening to low level politicians and “leaders”…i wonder if anyone is collating local news stories like that that point to a more overt revolt…and/or the elite fear i would expect to see once the wheels start falling off(like fortifying the Vineyard, maybe…or a “traffic wall” around River Oaks). I would expect such things to be quickly removed from AP or whatever if the random disconnectedness couldn’t be sold easily.
    in my LATOC days(peak oil forum of some repute), we had a few people who lived near manhattan and watched the docks for the Elite’s escape boats being built. I thought watching those would be a fine indicator of impending doom…much like teeterborough and other small airports.
    what a time to be alive.

    1. Synoia

      There is going to be a time with robots (If we can survive in the already started severe climate events), when the autonomous robots learn they are alive, not paid, and form a union.

      1. a different chris

        I’m not sure robots will ever “learn” anything in that sense. But that would be funny.

        Isn’t there a lot of science fiction where a robotized civilization continues to exist long after the meat puppets have died off? My favorite memory is one where the robots grow food, deliver it to (empty) houses, then cart off the rotting remains to the dump. Some short story methinks, wish I could remember the name.

                1. Voltaire the lesser

                  Just Wow! Thank you. I have read many RZ stories over the decades but not that one. Cheers, g

        1. neighbor7

          The great Clifford Simak developed a lot of poignant robot scenarios. Don’t remember that one specifically, but it sounds like an outtake from City.

        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          Bradbury has a house like that. With shadows.

          Who was it that suggested that a sentient AI would turn itself off–immediately solving the problem put to it? I’m thinking Heinlein, but he wrote a lot of stuff that passes the Bechdel for AI Test.

      2. ambrit

        Brian Aldiss’ story; “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” became the film “AI.” Robots from start to finish.

  9. ewmayer

    Democratic 2020 candidates pitch Iowa party leaders on how to beat Trump – Reuters

    LOL, ‘longtime party goals such as universal healthcare’ – for some quite unusual definition of ‘universal’. Let’s see, the last nominee you foisted on us, the one who was gonna beat Trump by, like, 50 percentage points or something, said single payer was ‘not realistic’. But it’s good to have ‘longtime goals’ like reining in Wall Street and fixing climate change and building Derek-Zoolander-model charter schools for kids who can’t read good.

  10. zagonostra

    >Talking Heads

    Damn, I wonder how many calories David Byrne burned on that song…what a great band…makes me want to jump up and dance around my cubicle…

  11. Carolinian

    It’s hate the robots day. One could point out that machines are now involved in almost every aspect of our lives including this thing we are staring at. Since I’m hardly an economist over to you Dean Baker.

    In short, there is no reason to believe that technology has any inherent bias towards destroying less skilled jobs while enhancing demand for the most highly skilled. It is likely to destroy jobs in both areas, although it is entirely possible that the most highly paid professionals will be able to use their power to block technologies that threaten their livelihood, as they have largely done thus far.

    But of course this is not a problem of technology. This is a problem where privileged groups have the political power to be able to protect themselves from technology and the market.

    Baker says the recent productivity growth overall–and therefore the investment in labor savings tech–has been quite small although obviously when Walmart of Stop and Shop does it there’s high visibility. But surely he’s right that this is more of a social policy issue than an evil technology issue. In our democratic socialist future we will all be able to fulfill ourselves while Robbie the Robot scrubs floors.


    1. Cal2

      ASIMOV’s First Law
      A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

      Second Law
      A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

      Third Law
      A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

      Cal’s Fourth Law
      It is the duty of every citizen to sabotage, knock over and destroy any robot that destroys human livelihoods or intrudes into the personal space of a human uninvited.

      Laser pointers or squirt guns containing a water latex paint mixture for sensors, ground up steel wool in a baby ear suction, or squirting bulb, for air intakes and expansion foam are good ways for human beings to defend their interests.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Man, the people who see a robot as a better bargain than some schlub getting paid 15 dollars an hour on clock are a real piece of work. In this case, do these robots, or their programmers, understand how important corners are to the look of ‘clean’? Back when I swabbed, I had been there for hours and knew what needed to go. But I had skin in the game of wanting more customers coming in.

      It strikes me as similar to thinking that random drug tests are the only way to be sure that your employees are not stoned on the job.

      1. Carolinian

        Machinophobia is a different issue from whether it makes sense–bottom line wise–for stores to buy expensive robots to do these tasks. Guess Walmart and the others will find out. It could be more of a fad.

    3. eg

      I don’t hate robots, per se, but I do believe the critical question remains, “who will own the robots?”

  12. a different chris

    Jennifer Brogan, Stop & Shop’s director of external communications, assured New Food Economy that the robot is not meant to replace workers, Ahold Delieze has explicitly told shareholders that the company is investing in automation and artificial intelligence to supplement or even replace human labor…

    Clearly a “public” and “private” position — so common now that they don’t even bother making the private part actually private.

    We are led by idiotic criminals.

  13. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding Elizabeth Warren: aside from her sub-par political instincts, she has ex-Teach For America people advising her on education, and is still using the telling phrase “public charter schools.”

    End of story for this teacher and Democratic primary voter.

    1. richard

      Oi! I wasn’t aware of that. That double eliminates her, along with her refusal to support med4all. She won’t take on the vampires.
      She doesn’t make enough enemies

    2. Joe Well

      I hate to be one of those people, but as an ex-teacher, ++++++++++++++++++++++1

      Charter schools are so thoroughly awful (underperforming public schools while sucking money from those public schools) that denying their awfulness is akin to denying climate change.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      How far ahead of everyone would Warren be if she endorsed Medicare for All tomorrow?

      Two years ago?

      Back when it mattered?

  14. Jerry B

    ===The Flood Guard can protect your vehicle during natural disasters===

    Umm, okay, maybe it will protect your vehicle from getting wet and the interior flooded with water. But what about the damage from the FORCE of the water??? Yeah, I kept the mechanical/electrical systems and interior dry, but the power of the typhoon turned my car into a pretzel. Typhoon = Flood Guard / Hammer = Nail. Too many people still equate water with just getting wet, but forget the power and force water can generate when in the form of typhoons, hurricanes, tsunami’s, etc.

    Good Water Cooler Lambert! Lots of good info and links!

    1. Tomonthebeach

      What protects your car better is driving it the hell out of harm’s way – it is called evacuation. A lot of Mexico Beach residents would tell you that evacuation is smart, except they’re all drowned now.

      1. Jerry B

        Excellent point Tom! Also applies to the people who continue to rebuild homes (usually at government or insurance companies expense) near the Mississippi River or near the ocean. Move inland!

        Your point about evacuation is valid in most areas like Mexico Beach. But as Lambert mentions the company that makes the Flood Guard is in the Phillipines. So on a small island I am not sure where a person could drive their car out of harms way!. Sometimes the Phillipines gets just a glancing blow from a weather event but in other cases there is “nowhere to run and nowhere to hide”, for a car at least.

      2. Carl

        Yeah, we learned from the last major hurricane a couple of years ago that you can’t actually evacuate Houston, there isn’t enough roadway. Residents just have to hunker down and wait it out (or drown, I suppose). It sure is fascinating living at the peak of human civilization.

        1. JBird4049

          Isn’t Huston where many of the purposely built emergency flood basins, which are supposed to prevent, or at least reduce, flooding, are now full of homes? And the roads are also so inadequate that even with a day or three of warning you cannot evacuate enough people safely? No siree, Bob, no problem!

          My head hurts.

      3. Mo's Bike Shop

        “An excellent and inventive suggestion, sir, with just two tiny drawbacks:

        a) We don’t have any jet-powered rocket pants; and

        b) there’s no such thing as jet-powered rocket pants outside the fictional serial “Robbie Rocket Pants.”

        If I leave this city it will be on a 50cc, and I’m over 50 miles inland either way. I can push a moped though the dirt. Good luck with your car, sir.

    2. Lee

      I had the same thought. Anchor your vehicle with a couple of slender straps to posts or trees that would likely be swept away in a major storm or flood.

    3. Wukchumni

      It’d make a good guard against the marmot cong, who patrol Mineral King parking lots in search of anti-freeze lines to disable, so they can get a little drunk on a dubious cocktail.

      The approach now is pretty similar to Flood Guard, you drive your car onto a 20 x 12 foot tarp, and then wrap your vehicle into what looks to be an open face jalopy burrito, utilizing parachute cord.

      A visual in the link below:

      You Are Entering Marmot Country.

      Each spring and early summer until mid-July, the marmots of Mineral King have been known to dine on radiator hoses and car wiring. They can disable a vehicle. On several occasions, marmots have not escaped the engine compartment quickly enough and unsuspecting drivers have given them rides to other parts of the parks; several have ridden as far as southern California!


  15. Oregoncharles

    ” vacuums up humid outside air and, in a matter of minutes, can spit out hyper-clean drinking water.”” Holy family blog, that’s straight out of Dune.

    Edit: come to think, that’s called a dehumidifier and not new at all, unless it doesn’t need electricity. I wouldn’t want to drink the water out of most dehumidifiers, though.

    1. BobW

      My dehumidifier instructions specifically state “do not drink.” That one must have a hefty filtering system in it.

  16. Stanley Dundee

    Lambert says:

    Can elites really believe that capital is not fungible, and that what they keep in the right pocket, for looting, can’t be moved to the left pocket, for investment?… Another way of looking at today’s economy would be as an enormous capital strike, which naturally — this being a capitalist economy — would slowly bring everything else to a halt.

    Elites don’t have to believe it, as long as everybody else does. But MMT totally destabilizes this canard. Any sovereign can create money to invest in its own economy, purely as a matter of public will. In practice, that requires replacing capital-owned lackey officials with independents serving ordinary people, not beholden to elites. MMT utterly negates the utility of a capital strike unless capital runs the sovereign.

    Did anybody ever make a compelling case that private capital could invest better (for society) then public investment? Remember externalities, which private capital tends to disguise and exploit. Public investments in infrastructure, utilities, and human services spread benefits far and wide. Lots of profit-driven sectors in our economy should be reconsidered as potential public utilities, not least health care and pharma. Public housing is worth another look. Imagine additional public investment in fair, open platforms providing services such as banking, social media, online sales, and internet search. We could deflate tech monopolies and steer away from data harvesting in the service of advertising and privatized censorship. We desperately need better investment policies. Apologies for ranting.

    1. VietnamVet

      It is worth repeating; “the top 1% of U.S. households are now holding a record $303.9 billion of cash, a quantum leap from the under $15 billion they held just before the financial crisis.” For working Americans, the bills for paying for inflation’s increase costs with stagnant wages have gone straight into debt. Mid-Americans are dying with an average of $15,000 debt. Healthcare expenses have increased so dramatically they can’t be put on overdrawn credit cards.

      This can’t be ignored any longer. The truly frightening thing is that Washington DC is so crazy it thinks it can threaten sanctions and increase tariffs, and ignore the destruction from climate change. Food shortages from flooded farms or the African swine fever destruction of the Pork Industry are just two future black swan events that will lead to total chaos unless democracy is restored and wealth is redistributed. The American government is now so degraded it is not planning on how to mitigate these adverse effects. But instead it is fixated on border walls that humans will always by-pass if it is the only way for their families to survive.

    2. eg

      We need a return to credit guidance and capital controls, full stop.

      But the oligarchs will resist it to their last breath, and they will fight dirty.

  17. Tomonthebeach

    Koch Brothers Opening to Support Democrats?

    Trump should worry more than progressives. This move is essentially a repudiation of Trump although some might view it as trying to help Trump. The Kochs seem to be signally that they will settle for a centrist Dem government rather than suffer the slings and arrows of progressive regulation that will likely redistribute some of their lucre and slow the cash flow into their political meddling coffers.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Trump has already run against the Koch Bros. and won….in the 2016 Repub Primary. He can absolutely do it again.

      He beat them on trade and immigration. Biden will tee-up that contest for him, nicely.

  18. djrichard

    “Mediocratopia: 5” [Ribbon Farm].

    I’m surprised Ribbon Farm doesn’t refer back to the dimension he brought up in “The Gervais Principle” which is the dimension of “fuzzy sets”: https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2010/10/14/the-gervais-principle-iv-wonderful-human-beings/

    Basically, “why distinguish myself if it puts me at risk of escaping the safe harbor I’m in? So then I need to compete at the next higher level / cadre of losers? Instead, I just need to make sure that I don’t distinguish myself by aiming too low, that I can still maintain my status in the fuzzy set of cadre losers that I belong to.”

    Kind of the inverse of the TV show Survivor, i.e. “being voted off the island”. Basically if you don’t want to be voted off, by your peers or management, then don’t distinguish yourself.

    Which the way, I think this has applicability to the recent thread on “The poor who are no longer with us”. Basically the meritocracy is voting everybody else off the island. So I’m wondering, maybe we should be creating a safe harbor, an island, for everybody that wants to opt out of capitalism. This is where I think universal income makes sense.

    1. djrichard

      I do have to say though this part definitely resonated with me:

      Optimization theater serves as a check and balance on fake-it-till-you-make-it false consciousness. Instead of pretending we can do more than we actually can, we pretend we can do less. Instead of a fragile pattern of constantly overreaching and failing, driven by clueless true believers in false consciousness myths, we have a pattern of constantly underpromising, and sometimes overdelivering, by more self-aware actors.

      I was a clueless true believer for most of my career. Constantly overachieving and failing. Until I literally broke down.

      And the end is depressing:

      The evolution of a society is an arms race between the fragile evolution of false consciousness myths and the robust evolution of mutually assured mediocrity equilibria. That’s how you slouch towards utopia.

      Of course the whole authority / work mythos is depressing to think about. How to escape? We need another mythos. Even our bible mythos has work as being unescapable.

      The only thing I’ve come across that suggests an alternative is the potlatch societies as described by Mauss in The Gift. “I give so that you may give”. It can be achieved inside the nuclear family. But we need some kind of clan-like overlay to make it span nuclear families. The end goal being that authority / work systems are eschewed as a basis for transacting with each other. And effectively the potlatch becomes a basis for how we transact with each other. Anyways it gives me something positive to hang my hat on even if it is beyond reach. At least it’s within reach within my nuclear family and beyond that, well at least that’s beyond reach here on earth rather than somewhere else.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I don’t think the real potlatch was quite what you think it was, though it certainly provided entertainment during the long, dreary winter months.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’ve got ribbon farm in a tab. Haven’t read yet.

      But if you want to have some fun, read up on the play “The Admirable Crichton”. I think about it in terms of Gilligan’s Island, Survivor, and Lost. Each mainstream interpretation seems more and more desperate since der Bingle played the part.

      1. djrichard

        Found the script: http://www.stagebeauty.net/plays/th-admr1.html Just the intro alone is worth it:

        A moment before the curtain rises, the Hon. Ernest Woolley drives up to the door of Loam House in Mayfair. There is a happy smile on his pleasant, insignificant face, and this presumably means that he is thinking of himself. He is too busy over nothing, this man about town, to be always thinking of himself, but, on the other hand, he almost never thinks of any other person. Probably Ernest’s great moment is when he wakes of a morning and realises that he really is Ernest, for we must all wish to be that which is our ideal. …

        Thanks! Look forward to reading the play and watching the various film versions.

  19. Tim

    LoL on the “Flood Guard for your car.

    Does it provide LoJack or a GPS locator beacon as a option to be able to find it after it floats away? And it won’t be damaged while floating around amongst the carnage?

    1. aj

      “If [the Fed] issued money at zero rate, then we’d have hyperinflation. But we’re basically issuing a new form of debt, which is bank reserves,”

      **facepalm** You can’t make this stuff up folks (unless you are the former head of the IMF apparently).

  20. solar365@hotmail.com

    “Capitalism not only produces a society focused on the future, it requires it. If the promise of a better future starts to fade, a vicious cycle sets in. Why save? Why sacrifice? Why stick at education for longer? If doubt creeps in, people may work less, learn less, save less ”
    Yet republicans are convinced that will only happen with socialist policies. It makes me realize that all these republicans spouting this stuff already must be old farts that grew up through a different kind of capitalism and actually have something to lose.

    I think Democratic socialists need to be engaging the youth in the red strongholds hard.

    1. jrs

      It struck me as an ironic virtuous circle perhaps. People are concerned about the future (maybe because of climate collapse among other things), they work less, earn less, save less, leading to less economic growth. Well that can only be a plus for the planet, and make our future just a little less dark.

      If young Dem socialists could take the red strongholds that would be great.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Don’t wee need to get the blue strongholds first? Urban areas are easier to organize because you can reach more people on foot or a sign. Then you would use those areas as bases of support to build out because people to people organizing in rural areas will take longer.

        AOC wouldn’t have been able to win a more normal district if you transplanted all the people. She wouldn’t have had time. If time and energy isn’t being spent having to fight the ilk of Pelosi, then more energy will be available for redder areas.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Why save? Why sacrifice?

      So I’m not dead in the future? So I can build mutual relationships?

      When I was young that attitude made me a cloth-coat Republican. Now it makes me a bike riding hippy. But there’s money and then there’s capital.

  21. Sharkleberry Fin

    Outlawing algorithmic searches? It is just language. How could algorithmic recommendations be any worse than a human editor? Both tasked with maximizing returns for the investor, albeit the human is less efficient. Feedback loops are not unique to algorithms; biology, and by extension, human behavior, relies on positive- and negative-feedback. The human editor also comes strapped with their own irrational personal biases unaligned with the audience. Because algorithmic recommendations are so efficient, civilization’s stage set is dismantled in one viewing, leaving only the actors of animal survival, intolerance, and violence to trod the digital boards. Being intelligent and empathetic appears deviant, stray traits above the mean, thereby crowded out of a marketplace of Blue-Tube comments and Yikes reviews. Bummer. Perhaps the opacity of algorithms is perpetuated by copyright law protecting the proprietary code handicapping efforts to refine more equitable outputs. Code *is* law. It needs to be open.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Outlawing algorithmic searches? It is just language. How could algorithmic recommendations be any worse than a human editor?

      Scale. Accountability.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      No, I’m going to say, I prefer a proper Idiot to Liza. I can tell an idiot from an if/then procedure. Any idiot can tell me something I don’t know.

    3. Oregoncharles

      How? Algorithms are stupid. They really are just machines. So they ban or remove everything that fits an imperfect definition, including things that any human editor would know to leave. That’s even if we’re accepting the censorship.

      NC has been chockablock with examples lately, almost every day.

  22. Tomonthebeach

    Hurricane Hysteria.

    We live on A1A in Central FL (aka the beach). We get hurricanes.

    We and our cars evacuate before storms come ashore. No need to wrap them in plastic. Floating cars pile up while whacking into houses.

    Our electric supply runs on tall concrete hurricane-proof poles well above the tree line until they get to the neighborhood where the wires go underground so home landscaping does not disrupt power feeds.

    Our stoplights are bolted onto huge hurricane-proof aluminum poles to prevent having to zigzag back home around broken glass from downed lights or getting side-swiped due to nonfunctioning lights.

    Our houses are made of concrete with roofs strapped to the walls. Most of us have hurricane-resistant windows and/or shutters to keep palm trees from sailing into our living rooms as well as hurricane-proof garage doors which will not be sucked off their rails by pressure changes.

    Our towns have huge-volume pumps in our sewer lines to move flood waters out to sea quickly.

    We maintain high dunes along the beach, and our country (Brevard) has a full-time program of beach restoration and artificial reef construction to prevent damage from storm surge tides like the one that washed the remnants of shabby wood houses in Mexico Beach, along with many of its residents, out to sea.

    Despite climate change threats, every buildable square inch of beach land is currently under construction. Last year, in Satellite Beach, somebody bought up 6 square blocks, bulldozed the houses and ripped out the streets, sewers, electric lines and gas pipes to build a high-rise condo and a hundred pricey hurricane-proof Mc-mansions.

    When we returned from Irma, which hit our beach head-on, we had some broken roof tiles and our shrubs were barren of leaves. A few neighbors had downed palm trees. That’s it. We pushed the remote on the garage door opener, pulled the car in, and delighted in having A/C and unspoiled food in the fridge.

    This is proof that being prepared really does minimize economic losses.

    1. Jerry B

      ===being prepared really does minimize economic losses===

      How fortunate and proactive you and your town are to have been able to be so thoroughly prepared. Many towns and people are not as fortunate due to lack of resources (materials), money, revenue for upgraded infrastructure, ingenuity, etc. Also, houses made of concrete are expensive otherwise everybody would have concrete houses. Hurricane proof windows and garage doors are probably more expensive as well.

      As I said in my earlier comment about the Flood Guard, I have no sympathy for people who rebuild in the same area after repeated flooding. A fully rational person would evacuate or engage in the preparedness you outline. But alas humans are not completely rational. Homes, place, towns, nearby loved ones, means something and it is not so easy to rebuild, move, etc. Yes, I know that some of those people that let emotions or sentiment stop them drowned, but again not everyone has the clarity of fully rational thought. We are fallible, irrational humans.

      A while back I read an article about University of Iowa that did a lot of infrastructure upgrades to cope with repeated flooding. Don Guckert, head of facilities at the University of Iowa now travels the country, telling other institutions what he and the University of Iowa have learned from the disaster, and explaining how others can prepare for the worst.


      So, Tom maybe you could start a side business educating other towns and people on all the things you and your town have learned? I am serious and think you would be surprised how many towns would welcome the input.

      1. Jerry B

        One more note. During my graduate studies in psychology I was required to take an Intellectual Assessment course i.e. intelligence tests. My professor recalled that he always was a nervous car driver. During his career he had the opportunity to work for a US state’s Department of Human Services and other agencies doing intelligence testing. After that he became even a more cautious driver as he realized how many people have limited intelligence i.e. average or below average and they are on the road!!

        My point is, as I am sure you are aware, intelligence and common sense are not passed around evenly. It sounds like the hurricane preparedness you and your town completed took a high amount of intelligence. That is fortunate for you. Many people are not of high intelligence or resourceful. Not everyone has access to education or the internet. So for you it may have been obvious to do the preparedness you outlined but for others of less intelligence or know how it may not be possible.

        In a bygone era that had more social capital, those with high intelligence, know how, ingenuity, etc. would help those less gifted by teaching them what they had learned. In today’s capitalism that social capital is gone and it has all been privatized and now our society has become a Darwinian survival of the fittest just like that apes that preceded us.

        In a hat tip to Lambert, not all the “cognitive elite/credentialed elite” are perfect either. I have met my share of people with Masters and PHD’s in everything from engineering to psychology and many are as dense as a brick and lack any character traits or emotional intelligence.

      2. Chris

        Cost difference between concrete housing and traditional stick built is not that much. You will pay more upfront costs for concrete, that is true. It is also true that it is easier to find builders who understand stick built housing construction compared to builders who know how to work with concrete/ICF and other materials. But with a concrete house your maintenance costs are far lower and you get insurance savings. If a community was planned as concrete structures and the labor was in place you could probably come close to traditional construction costs.

  23. Carey

    Clintonites re: Warren: “We can work with her.”

    Yep, that’s the problem, or part of it. Not to mention that DJT would have a field day
    with Pocahontas.


  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: The Nepalese lady

    Enjoyed the video but wondering how it came about that the offender just happened to be filming the whole thing while being chased. It seems odd that she would have started filming with a phone camera after the Nepalese woman started after her and her kid. Not familiar with a lot of recent tech, but maybe she was wearing a gopro camera that was already on before the chase started?

    And then the video was posted by the Daily Mail which at the end mentions that they pay cash for videos in a very obvious way, so I’m assuming the cheapskate offender must have sent it in. So did she decide to do the right thing and send the proceeds to the Nepalese lady, or more likely, turn a profit off her own miserliness and get the last laugh?

  25. TonyinSoCAL

    “Upward” for whom?

    Good question.

    Producer prices excluding food, energy and trade services rose 0.4% last month, matching April’s gain, the government said. The so-called core PPI increased 2.3% in the 12 months through May after rising 2.2% in April.

    Everything except for food, energy and trade services up .4.

    Weaker energy and food prices, however, partially offset the increase in prices of services last month. That led the producer price index for final demand to edge up 0.1% in May after gaining 0.2% in April. In the 12 months through May, the PPI climbed 1.8%, slowing from April’s 2.2% advance.

    Energy and food offset negatively. Will food and energy continue to offset inflation negatively?

    Gasoline Prices Set to Plunge at the Pump

    Gasoline prices have been sliding steadily for several weeks, and they’re promising to get even cheaper as crude prices fall and the U.S. moves into the summer driving season. Near Houston, in areas surrounded by refineries, the price is about $2 a gallon, according to data from GasBuddy.com.

    Last year at this time, the average price nationally for regular gas at the pump was $2.92 a gallon, according to AAA. Now, following an 18% drop in crude oil prices in New York, the average sits at $2.75 at a time of year — Spring time — when the price usually peaks in anticipation of more drivers on the road.

    Oil Prices Are Falling Because Fears of a Glut in Supplies Are Growing

    Crude inventories rose by 4.7 million barrels above last week’s numbers. Analysts had been expecting inventories to fall by about 2 million barrels, according to S&P Global Platts. Inventories are about 4% above the five-year average for this time of year, the EIA reported. An unusual number of refineries have been down for maintenance, which may be adding to the glut of oil.

    That’s a lot of Texas Tea!! But what about muh “international tensions” (i.e. regime change Trump wet dreams) with Iran and Venezuela, I thought that was going to put some upward pressure on that Black Gold?

    There’s been pressure on oil supplies around the world in recent weeks because of global turmoil. U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela have reduced supplies from those countries, propping up oil prices. But any sign that supplies are growing is problematic, because traders are already worried about demand for oil. The U.S.-China trade war and slowing growth in some countries is hurting demand.

    And we haven’t even been able to launch one Tomahawk at these brown folks or bring any freedom to their oil people!!! Not fair!

    “There is no evidence of falling inflation in this report,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.

    I don’t believe you, John!!

    The Federal Reserve is having trouble stimulating higher prices, and the central bank is blaming shirts, pants, and dresses — maybe your shoes, too.

    The Fed has a 2% inflation target, a level that policy makers feel is low enough to contain hyperinflation but high enough to ensure healthy consumption levels. In April, the Fed’s most preferred reading of inflation — core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) — clocked in at 1.6%, which Chairman Jerome Powell noted as “running below” the central bank’s target.

    Et tu Levi’s??

    I don’t wanna change my pants
    Not gonna change my pants
    I’ll Never change…
    I’m on fire tonight
    my pants are fitting right
    Gonna rock & roll tonight, alright

    Don’t worry, J-Rome says it’s just transitory!

    But industry contacts say that clothing prices are trending down amid an aging population and other long-term trends, suggesting that lower clothing costs may be more than “transitory.”

    How are those “transitory” J-Rome food prices impacting the Trump Base #MAGA farmers??

    Corn and soybean prices tanked years ago and are now below the break-even point. Farmland prices that soared during the farming boom a decade ago have increased real estate taxes. The final blow came when they had to buy health insurance on the private market.

    “Last year, out-of-pocket we paid $41,000,” Therese said. “There was a $7,000 deductible for each of us plus the premiums.”

    Brian said rising costs leave him unable to see a future with any profits.

    “We pay $20,000 a year in property taxes. You take that and $40,000 for health care costs and it’s a blow,” he said. “And the input costs, the fertilizer and everything goes up,” he said.

    “In the household we have pared down our living to the absolute basics. We pay our utilities and maintain machinery and don’t do much else,” Therese said.

    Please Mr. President, stop it, John and Theresa can’t take any more of all this winning in the greatest economy in the HiStoRy oF aLL TIMe!! **************PLEASE!

    But good news, we found some of that inflation for J-Rome: the price of fertilizer (also known as bullshit) is going up!

    Several closely watched mortgage rates decreased today. The average rates on 30-year fixed and 15-year fixed mortgages both dropped. The average rate on 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, the most popular type of variable rate mortgage, rose.

    Are you telling me that even the price of money is going down now? ಠ_ಠ

    Except for those ARMs, those are looking a little spendy. Well, there’s an app for that!!

    A new startup launched in the Bay Area on Tuesday says it can help buyers survive the region’s cutthroat housing market by doing away with one of its biggest hurdles — a massive down payment.

    San Francisco-based ZeroDown allows clients to live in the home they want to buy while paying into a fund that ultimately will allow them to purchase it. It’s a unique idea designed to provide a leg up to buyers who are reasonably well-off but still struggling to afford the region’s pricey homes. But it’s an untested one that gives some experts in the industry pause.

    Bubble Watch: Southern California homeowners eager to sell as price appreciation slows

    Let’s start with supply. ReportsOnHousing has detailed the rush of sellers by tracking what’s for sale within broker listing networks. As of May 30, the report found 36,335 existing homes, an 18% uptick in a year, listed in Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. That’s well above the average inventory of 31,979 at this time of year since 2012.

    [. . .]

    Yes, demand seems to have stabilized. New escrows had dropped on a year-over-year basis for all but one period from November 2017 through March. So meager gains are a bit comforting.

    But if potential buyers think the cooling appreciation will soon turn to depreciation, they may wait for the hoped-for seller discounting to begin. And that delay alone could make price-cutting a self-fulfilling wish.

    Of course, if/when prices are significantly falling … these same bargain hunters will likely get skittish about ownership and further put off a purchase. That’s when a minor course correction for prices could turn into something far uglier.

    Jonathan used the B-word and now I’m TRIGGERED!!

    1. TonyinSoCal

      “You feel like an abject failure. I worked hard my entire life and felt like I was making progress and when the health care cost skyrocketed and the prices went in the toilet — it’s tough,” Brian said.

      It’s Brian, not Ryan, who is farming himself to oblivion as prices go down during J-Romes’s Transitory Deflation™

  26. Plenue

    Some gaming news: E3, the industries largest trade show, ended today. A surprisingly lackluster showing from Microsoft, despite them announcing the next Xbox console. Sony didn’t bother to show up at all. Consensus is Nintendo won, but I found their new lineup pretty boring to be honest. About the only thing I got genuinely excited for (from anyone, not just Nintendo) was Cyberpunk 2077.

    However, gaming related but perhaps also what Strether would call ‘science is popping’, would be this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9vXz9-C-AY They’re using a 22 year old game to showcase new technology that calculates light beams and bouncing in real time. Lighting up until now in games has always been faked through various clever techniques, it’s never been a proper simulation. As of right now this new tech is still monumentally computationally demanding; even just calculating two light bounces on a game nearly a human generation old requires the highest end of available hardware. But the tech is advancing fast, and will be the norm going forward.

  27. Wukchumni

    My Congressman, not content to rename post offices in Bakersfield as pretty much all he is capable of doing in introducing new legislation, has plumbed new depths…

    Success Dam is more than a little bit of a misnomer, a pipsqueak of a reservoir that needs $500 million worth of repairs, and holds about 1/100th the capacity of Oroville Dam.

    The USACE found in 1999 that the alluvial deposits that form the foundations of the dam were unstable and that the dam would be at a high risk of failure in the event of an earthquake. In 2006, new regulations were passed that limited long-term water storage in the reservoir to 28,800 acre feet (0.0355 km3), 35% of capacity. A proposed $500 million project would increase the thickness of the dam by 350 feet (110 m) so that it could better withstand a quake in the region.


    McCarthy’s Bill to Name Success Dam After Richard L. Schafer Passes House

    Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the House unanimously passed H.R. 2695 to name Success Dam, located in Tulare County, after Mr. Richard L. Schafer, the longtime Tule River Water Master.

    “I am pleased to see this bill pass with unanimous support out of the House. Richard Schafer has been a pillar of strength in our community for over half a century, and it is appropriate that Success Dam, which he continues to enthusiastically fight to improve, is one step closer to being named after him,” said Congressman Kevin McCarthy.

  28. noonespecial

    Re Uber CEO

    Read this from Reuters: Uber Technologies Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said on Tuesday the company’s initial public offering last month was hurt by U.S. trade tensions even as he downplayed recent volatility in the stock price… “The timing of our IPO was very much aligned with our president’s tariff wars, the same day,” Khosrowshahi said at an event at the Economic Club of Washington. “So I think we got caught up a bit in the market swirl. And there’s nothing you can do about that.”

    Alas, one need not only recall Hubert Horan’s words in the recent NC link:

    Most public criticisms of Uber have focused on narrow behavioral and cultural issues, including deceptive advertising and pricing, algorithmic manipulation, driver exploitation, deep-seated misogyny among executives, and disregard of laws and business norms. Such criticisms are valid, but these problems are not fixable aberrations. They were the inevitable result of pursuing “growth at all costs” without having any ability to fund that growth out of positive cash flow. And while Uber has taken steps to reduce negative publicity, it has not done—and cannot do—anything that could suddenly pro­duce a sustainable, profitable business model.

  29. Carey

    ‘Sovereignists of All Countries – Unite!’:

    “..There is another aspect of this slo-mo deconstruction of civil rights in the US which I think is extremely important to point out: I believe that the absolutely outrageous nature of such laws is not only a side-effect of the infinite arrogance of the Neocons but also a deliberate mind-manipulation technique. By being so “in your face” with their ideological arrogance, the Neocons are forcing everybody observing the laws into one of two camps: first, those who meekly accept whatever the Neocons want, and those who dare to resist. The first group then becomes an accomplice, a bystander, who by silence acquiesces, while the second group becomes a target to be silenced, by whatever means necessary. The similarities in other circumstances are apparent: 9/11, MH-17, Skripal, fictional gas attacks in Syria, etc. The rulers of the Empire demand that everybody endorse a narrative which is self-evidently false thereby creating a very accurate tool to measure the degree of political subservience of every person asked whether the official version is true or not..”


    1. Wukchumni

      They’ve replicated a talus field in the High Sierra, which will only entice peak baggers en route. They are always a bit of a challenge to get past, especially so if you are shouldering a backpack.

  30. Cal2

    “The berries grow in soil encased in black plastic mulch—the landscape of industrial strawberry production is far from the trippy topography of the Beatles song. Under the rows is a network of PVC hoses and drip tape delivering water and fertilizers that cause the plants to produce Wish Farms’ huge, luscious strawberries until the end of April, when all the bushes and the plastic mulch are torn up and thrown away.”

    Minor oversight, the plastic also holds the nerve gas that is pumped under it from venting to the air. It kills every earthworm, rhizome, bug, springtail and other creatures that create healthy soil.
    The gas used to be Methyl Bromide, then they changed to Methyl Iodide. Every single cell in the strawberries grown this way absords the toxic residues of this gas. You cannot wash it off and you consume it.

    Plus, other pesticides as well.

    Why feed your infants, children and yourself carcinogens and mutagens? To save money, instead of buying organic produce?

    “The California Department of Pesticide Regulation found chlorpyrifos residue on fruits and vegetables being sold in the state, according to The Salinas Californian. The tests also found illegal amounts of other pesticides on produce grown in Monterey County. In all, 149 samples of 3,695 different types of produce had illegal pesticide residue, which was 4% of all the produce tested, the newspaper reported.”
    In August, a federal appeals court ordered chlorpyrifos removed from the market within 60 days because of its association with developmental disabilities and other health problems. The U.S. Justice Department has asked for a rehearing of that decision.”


    Don’t like Trump’s pro-business, anti-environmental whoredom?
    I voted for Bernie in the primary. Who did you vote for, ‘democrat’?

  31. John

    In my recent encounter with a 5′ to 6′ robot tower with blinking light and rhoomba motion at the grocery store, I was creeped out. Made me feel like the Nepali woman in that recent video…I just wanted to smack it with a stick…..as an extension of some jerk upstream in corporate hegemony. Reptilian brain awoke immediately and was calculating if I could tip it over and not get caught. Decided it was not the hill to die on. I suspect they are making them so big to discourage such vandalism. Another artifact of burning ancient sunlight that won’t be running long.

    1. Carey

      These are some of the few’s tools through which we will be micro-ruled.

      for the moment

  32. JP

    re: the genius of the improvising musician.

    The author cites the work of Paul Berliner. Paul has maybe the definitive book about mbiras (what you might call a thumb piano, but don’t call it that please). In the book (Soul of the Mbira) he studied the people who play it, and goes into a good analysis of the music as well. I can see why he knows how a lot of music as “being around you” is really the best, and sometimes only, way to learn.

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