2:00PM Water Cooler 7/29/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


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

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

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of July 25: Biden up at 29.3% (28.6), Sanders flat at 15.0% (15.0%), Warren down at 14.5% (15.0%), Buttigieg flat at 5.0% (5.0%), Harris down 11.8% (12.2%), others Brownian motion. Harris reminds me of Clinton, in that her numbers are like a hot air balloon, which sinks unless air is pumped into it.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Biden’s Medicare Lie” [Jacobin]. “Speaking at a forum sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons in Iowa earlier this month, Joe Biden fearmongered about Medicare for All. ‘Medicare goes away as you know it,’ said Biden. Under Bernie Sanders’s plan, ‘All the Medicare you have is gone.’… It’s clever politics, but it’s a total lie. Medicare for All does exactly what it says in the name: it extends the benefits associated with Medicare to the rest of the population…. Medicare for All would effectively be a Social Security income boost of thousands of dollars per year to seniors. It accomplishes this by eliminating all co-pays, premiums, and deductibles; by covering all long-term care costs for seniors; and by capping prescription drug costs at $200 a year…. All told, the US government only pays for 65 percent of seniors’ medical spending right now. Medicare for All would make that nearly 100 percent.” • 65%? Yikes. That’s a rip-off!

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Pete Buttigieg calls white supremacy a lurking danger” [Des Moines Register]. • So maybe he should fix his police department before running for President?

Delaney (D)(1): “Delaney proposes ambitious mandatory national service plan” [CNN]. “Several 2020 candidates, including Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have proposed national service initiatives tied to college tuition or job training, but Delaney’s ambitious proposal, which would provide up to three years of free college tuition for those who participate in public service projects, is the first to mandate youth participation in service…. [I]nstead of offering voluntary service, it would be compulsory for all Americans upon high school graduation or upon turning 18. The proposal would apply only to those born after 2006, and would phase in over time, according to the campaign. The plan would provide two years of free tuition at a public college or university, and three years of tuition for those who extended their national service year to two years. Tuition could also be applied to vocational or technical training, the Delaney campaign told reporters.” • Who asked for this?

Harris (D)(1):

So, complex eligibility requirements that filter for a small number of the deserving. What’s not to like? Wierdly, the campaign site frames this program as “Investing in HBCUs And Black Entrepreneurship,” and not as a universal program at all. Does Harris even know what she ostensibly believes?

Harris (D)(2): “Kamala Harris Unveils ‘Medicare For All’ Plan That Preserves Private Insurance” [Bloomberg]. “Under her proposal, Americans could opt for Medicare Advantage, a program that allows beneficiaries to get coverage from a private insurer. Harris’s plan would put all Americans into Medicare over a 10-year transition period while allowing the participation of private insurance plans under a set of rules.” • After the student loan debt forgiveness debacle, no wonder Harris rolled this out. But Harris seems more than a little nimble in her positioning:

Harris has also put herself on the same side as Trump:

Perhaps that was the goal. Both Delaney and Harris seem to be sending messages to donors, not voters.

Sanders (D)(1): Just another Bernie Bro:

Sanders (D)(2):

Warren (D)(1): “Warren: I would’ve accepted a VP offer from Clinton” [Clinton]. From a Bloomberg long form piece, where I missed this: “Warren — who declined to launch her own presidential bid 2½ years ago despite intense efforts by progressives to draft her — even received a “full vetting” for the vice presidential slot by Clinton’s team and was interviewed at the candidate’s Whitehaven mansion in Washington, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Clinton ‘seriously weighed’ Warren as a potential running mate, the report states, and top aide Philippe Reines wrote in a memo to his boss after their meeting: ‘If a crystal ball said she wouldn’t antagonize you for four years, it’s hard to argue she isn’t the most helpful for the next four months to get you elected.’ Asked whether she would have agreed to become Clinton’s No. 2 on the ticket, Warren responded: “Yes.'” • This explains a lot. But opportunity didn’t knock…

* * *

“Democratic 2020 race up for grabs: Half of voters have changed their minds since spring, poll shows” [Politico]. “The volatility has a limit, however. The vast majority of voters who switched since April moved among the top four candidates or between them and undecided status. The mass of candidates languishing at 1% or lower hasn’t benefited.” • No Trump-like breakout figure on the Democrat side so far.

“DCCC in ‘complete chaos’ as uproar over diversity intensifies” [Politico (RH)]. “POLITICO reported last week that black and Hispanic lawmakers are furious with Bustos’ stewardship of the campaign arm. They say the upper echelon of the DCCC is bereft of diversity, and it is not doing enough to reach Latino voters and hire consultants of color. In addition, several of Bustos’ senior aides have left in the first six months of her tenure, including her chief of staff — a black woman — and her director of mail and polling director, both women.” • In other words, DCCC should become more like the Sanders campaign?


“Pelosi backers feel vindicated after tumultuous stretch” [The Hill]. “Part of Pelosi’s strategy in the first seven months of the new Congress has been to protect vulnerable centrists like O’Halleran and freshman Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Max Rose (D-N.Y.) and Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) — the so-called majority-makers — whom Republicans will be targeting in 2020 in a bid to retake the House.” • (Spanberger and Rose are MILOs; all three are Blue Dogs. We’ll see how Pelosi’s DINO strategy works out, I guess.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Ultra-Rich Are Ultra-Conservative” [Jacobin]. “Billionaires are a politically active bunch…. Between 2001 and the end of 2012, 92 percent of the country’s hundred richest billionaires (combined wealth: $2.2 trillion) contributed to a political cause…. Yet they’re also eerily quiet…. As the trio of political scientists write, ‘many or most billionaires appear to favor, and quietly work for, policies that are opposed by large majorities of Americans’.” • Well worth a read. Since it would be irresponsible not to speculate, what if the 0.1% were “eerily quiet” about being pro-Jackpot? Just thinking big, as billionaires do, and thinking bigger than relatively minor efforts like gutting Social Security.

Stats Watch

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, July 2019: “Texas manufacturing activity bounced back but not as much expected in July” [Econoday]. “The survey’s demand indicators were mixed but mostly stronger…. Today’s report shows Texas manufacturing recovering in July from June’s slide more strongly than the headline suggests, and will probably not strengthen the case for more accommodation by the Fed.”

Shipping: “Carriers across the sector are throttling back profit projections for 2019 as they wrestle with the hangover from last year’s freight boom” [Wall Street Journal]. “Freight demand isn’t far off last year’s high levels, but rates have been sinking. Measures of spot-pricing for truckload business are down by double digits from last year, and customers are cutting shipping costs rather than looking for trucks.”

The Bezzle: “California steers toward a future of self-driving cars” [CalMatters]. “The future can be glimpsed at a former Navy base near the Bay Area city of Concord, converted to the nation’s largest autonomous-vehicle proving ground where computer-driven cars are let off their leashes and are free to roam across 2,100 acres. The facility, GoMentum Station, run by the American Automobile Association, is an innovation hive where Silicon Valley marries its futuristic vision to the automobile industry’s traditional know-how. • OK… More: “But it’s a significant step from allowing testing of automated cars in protected, supervised settings to unleashing them solo on the road, which experts say remains on a far horizon. There is much to be perfected: how best to turn left in traffic, for example, a maneuver that bedevils many human drivers.” • Wait. After many billions, we don’t have an algo to turn left in traffic?

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Israel. “Israel Has been generally quiet the past few weeks.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“Coase, Hotelling and Pigou: The Incidence of o Carbon Tax and CO2 Emissions” [Geoffrey Heal, Wolfram Schlenker NBER Working Paper 26086]. “Using data from a large proprietary database of field-level oil data, we show that carbon prices even as high as 200 dollars per ton of CO2 will only reduce cumulative emissions from oil by 4% as the supply curve is very steep for high oil prices and few reserves drop out. The supply curve flattens out for lower price, and the effect of an increased carbon tax becomes larger. For example, a carbon price of 600 dollars would reduce cumulative emissions by 60%. On the flip side, a global cap and trade system that limits global extraction by a modest amount like 4% expropriates a large fraction of scarcity rents and would imply a high permit price of $200. The tax incidence varies over time: initially, about 75% of the carbon price will be passed on to consumers, but this share declines through time and even becomes negative as oil prices will drop in future years relative to a case of no carbon tax. The net present value of producer and consumer surplus decrease by roughly equal amounts, which are almost entirely offset by increased tax revenues.” •

“Even a summer heat wave can’t light up fading natural gas prices. Some of the country’s largest natural gas producers are tearing up their drilling plans…. as natural-gas futures tumble to multiyear lows just as the calendar and the climate suggest rates should be rising” [Wall Street Journal]. “Producers point to the Permian Basin in West Texas, where oil producers are unleashing vast volumes of gas as a byproduct of drilling for crude. That’s offsetting high demand from utilities that are shifting from coal to gas, and even all-time high exports to Mexico and other overseas markets. Natural gas has been so plentiful in West Texas at times this year that the price has turned negative, meaning that producers have to pay pipeline operators more to deliver gas to market than what the fuel fetches once it reaches buyers.

“Deforestation in the Amazon is shooting up, but Brazil’s president calls the data ‘a lie'” [Science]. “Deforestation is shooting up again in the Brazilian Amazon, according to satellite monitoring data. But Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, whom many blame for the uptick, has disputed the trend and attacked the credibility of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which produced the data. Bolsonaro called the numbers ‘a lie’ during a 19 July breakfast talk with journalists, and suggested INPE Director Ricardo Galvão was ‘at the service of some [nongovernmental organization].’ ‘With all the devastation you accuse us of doing and having done in the past, the Amazon would be extinguished already,’ he said.” • Hmm. “[S]ome [nongovernmental organization]”?

“Climate Change in a Coastal County: Think Global, Act Hyperlocal” [Pew Trusts Stateline]. “[T]oday, sea level rise in Dare County [North Carolina] is among the most precipitous in the nation, an average 0.18 inches a year in some parts, enough that scientists come from around the world to study the land… The resilience projects will carry the community only so far. Beach nourishment, for example, typically lasts five to seven years — though a single hurricane this fall could wipe out all the millions of dollars of new sand laid this summer. At some point, Nags Head and other Dare County communities will hit a tipping point and decide the return isn’t worth the investment. ‘I don’t know when that day is,’ said [Mayor Ben Cahoon, a Republican], the mayor. ‘But it’s out there.’ When that happens, [Reide Corbett, a coastal oceanographer and geochemist] said, communities will have to approach a final step in coastal resilience: retreat. Just move folks inland and out of danger entirely.”


“Why the ending of Game of Thrones elevated the worst of fan culture” [Vox]. “‘Curatorial fandom’ is a general term for the area of geek culture that emphasizes amassing as much canonical knowledge as possible, no matter how minute… The other side of fandom is “transformative fandom.” If curatorial fandom is about enshrining an authorial version of canon, transformative fandom is about changing it. Transformative fandom is centered on fanworks, like fanfiction, fan art, or fan critique, all of which use the source text as the jumping-off point for original interpretations. The idea of “transformative fandom” is a core concept of fanworks-based fandom because transformativity is part of the legal framework that protects fanfiction (i.e. it’s a “transformative work”)….. Bran embodies the stereotype of a fannish geek who spends his entire day sitting surfing the internet…. Bran is a human database of facts and knowledge that he acquired from ‘reading’ the history/canon presented to him through his nebulous abilities as the Three-Eyed Raven. Not only that, but his first official act as king was to essentially go gaming in search of Drogon the dragon, while Tyrion and the small council were left to run the kingdom. These characteristics and behaviors make Bran easy to read as an avatar for curatorial fandom.” • Fandom is alien territory to me, but this certainly sounds plausible.

Health Care

“Turning 26 Is A Potential Death Sentence For People With Type 1 Diabetes In America” [Buzzfeed]. “Laverty faces a health care problem unique to many millennials with Type 1 diabetes who’ve been booted off their parents’ stable health insurance. The price of insulin, the drug that keeps them alive, tripled in the US from 2002 to 2013 — and a recent study found that, from 2012 to 2016, its average annual cost increased from $3,200 to $5,900…. That’s an impossible price tag for a generation still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial crisis and saddled with massive student loan debt and increasing housing costs. Studies show that US millennials are far worse off financially than previous generations, with an average net worth below $8,000. The result is that these young adults are rationing, stockpiling, and turning to the black market for the medication they need to stay alive — incredibly risky and desperate measures that could result in long-term harm or death.” • So Obama’s much-beloved policy of letting adult children stay on their parents’ policies until the random age of 26 — why not 25? of 27? — turns out to be an ancien regime-like added layer of complexity that fails the people who need it most. Everything’s going according to plan!

People love their health insurance companies:

An ObamaCare navigator speaks:

The “When did you become radicalized by the U.S. health care non-system?” is an important archive of horror stories.

Neera’s plan (Medicare Extra):

“Judge OKs Trump’s expansion of short-term plans” [Modern Health Care]. “A federal judge on Friday ruled the Trump administration’s expansion of so-called short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans can move ahead, rejecting an insurer group’s attempt to strike down the move. The plaintiff, the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, immediately said it will appeal. The group represents not-for-profit health plans deeply invested in the Affordable Care Act exchanges…. The rule, finalized in August 2018 and in effect since early October 2018, allows up to 12 months of coverage through short-term plans. People can renew this coverage for up to 36 months. The plans don’t have to cover people with pre-existing conditions, nor are they subject to the ACA’s mandates such as coverage for the 10 essential benefits, includinge mental healthcare, maternity care and prescription drugs.”

“The Effects on Hospital Utilization of the 1966 and 2014 Health Insurance Coverage Expansions in the United States” [Annals of Internal Medicine]. From the abstract: “Past coverage expansions were associated with little or no change in society-wide hospital use; increases in groups who gained coverage were offset by reductions among others, suggesting that bed supply limited increases in use. Reducing coverage may merely shift care toward wealthier and healthier persons. Conversely, universal coverage is unlikely to cause a surge in hospital use if growth in hospital capacity is carefully constrained.”

“Blue-Collar Workers Had Greatest Insurance Gains After ACA Implementation” [Health Affairs]. From the abstract: “Analyzing national survey data, we found that workers in traditionally blue-collar industries (service jobs, farming, construction, and transportation) experienced the largest gains in health insurance after implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014. Compared to other occupations, these had lower employer-based coverage rates before the ACA. Most of the post-ACA coverage gains came from Medicaid and directly purchased nongroup insurance.”

“Health websites are notoriously misleading. So we rated their reliability” [STAT News]. “NewsGuard was co-founded last year by journalist and entrepreneur Steven Brill (known in part for his health care reporting) and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz. In rating news and information sites in the U.S., Italy, U.K., France, and Germany, it has discovered a diverse spectrum of health sites. These range from green-rated peer-reviewed medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine to hundreds of red-rated conspiracy-minded sites such as NaturalNews.com and Collective-Evolution.com…. This plague of health misinformation comes in many fevers, from the seemingly innocuous (there is no solid evidence behind the idea that Epsom salt baths heal sore muscles) to the potentially dangerous (if you take amygdalin, vitamin B17, or laetrile, different names for the same long-debunked “cancer cure” made from fruit pits, you can experience side effects that mirror the symptoms of cyanide poisoning).”

Our Famously Free Press

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette boss J.R. Block sounds like a real piece of work. Thread:

Police State Watch

“Lafayette public defender found in contempt after filming duct taping of defendant” [Acadiana Advocate]. “[Michael Gregory, a] Lafayette public defender was found in contempt of court Friday after filming a bailiff duct taping a defendant during a sentencing hearing July 18…. [Amanda Koons, a public defender in the Harris County Public Defender’s Office in Houston said] she’s never seen physical force like what occurred July 18. She said duct taping someone isn’t appropriate or humane, especially when the option to temporarily remove the defendant from the courtroom exists.” • Plus, they had the duct tape handy. I don’t imagine they drove to a hardware store to get some.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

A walking tour of Charlottesville’s monuments (mostly Confederate); thread:

Guillotine Watch


News of the Wired

Speaking of collapse:

“Another side of Samuel Beckett” [Guardian]. • A long form piece on Beckett’s life. Who knew he played cricket? Well worth a read and might expand his fan base!

“Tokyo subway’s humble duct-tape typographer” [Medium]. “Sixty-five year old Sato san wears a crisp canary yellow uniform, reflective vest and polished white helmet. His job is to guide rush hour commuters through confusing and hazardous construction areas. When Sato san realised he needed more than his megaphone to perform this duty, he took it upon himself to make some temporary signage. With a few rolls of of duct tape and a craft knife, he has elevated the humble worksite sign to an art form…. Sato san’s purpose is simple: he strives to make life better for the millions of commuters who negotiate station construction sites. His unassuming dedication to craft and service embodies the best side of the Japanese approach to work.”

“Grasshoppers invade Las Vegas thanks to Luxor hotel light beam” [Yahoo News]. • Nature’s buffet!

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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 (JN):

A lovely field of wildflowers, or weeds, take your pick.

* * *

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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. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m sure that was it. (Also, I may have had a sonic association with VDARE, which is headquartered in Virginia, confusingly named after Virginia Dare, of the lost Roanoke colony, in North Carolina).

  1. doug

    Plus, they had the duct tape handy. I don’t imagine they drove to a hardware store to get some.

    Recall bobby seal and his buds?
    maybe left over…
    and thanks sleepy. yes it is. I was wondering where dare county va was…

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Agreed. On similar lines, the Archdruid recently made some trenchant albeit idealized comments about ‘early’ feudal society:

      Feudalism is the normal reset condition after a civilization falls apart, because it’s as close as you can get in an agricultural society to the hunter-gatherer band structure our species evolved with. There was less of a gap between rich and poor in 13th-century Britain than there is in America today; what’s more, your average feudal peasant worked fewer hours per week, had more vacation days per year, and kept a larger share of the products of his or her labor than your average American employee right now. 

      A lot of people think automatically of late feudalism whenever the concept comes up. In an Anglo-Saxon village in the 8th century you’ve got the lord and lady (in Old English “loaf-warden” and “loaf-giver”) in their hall, which is basically just a big version of the ordinary peasant house; you have the lord’s warband of thegns, and then you have the ceorls or peasants.

      They all live pretty much the same, except the lord and his family and the thegns and theirs eat a little better and have nicer clothes. The ceorls grow the food, part of it goes to the lord and gets distributed by the lady, and the lord and his thegns maintain public order according to a traditional code of laws in which a simple form of trial by jury is practiced. All things considered, it’s a tolerably equitable system — a lot more so than the decaying imperial bureaucratic state it replaced, which is one of the core reasons the replacement happened.

      As stability returns, the nobility begin claiming larger and larger shares of a society’s wealth. That’s what gives kings the opportunity to crush the nobility by appealing over their heads to the common people and building mass armies.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Feudalism is the normal reset condition after a civilization falls apart, because it’s as close as you can get in an agricultural society to the hunter-gatherer band structure our species evolved with

        I’m not sure I agree with this. Mike Duncan (IIRC in a recent podcast on Russia for Revolutions* which I am too lazy to find and transcribe right now) characterizes feudalism as marked by “complex contracts.” Of course, “close as you can get” is load-bearing, but when I think “hunter-gatherer,” complex contracts about land, inheritance, marriage aren’t the first things that come to mind.

        NOTE * Adding, Duncan seems unclear what to do when the Russian Revolution series ends. I think all Duncan listeners should plead with him to do with Chinese Revolution as a grand finale!

    2. JohnnyGL

      Yeah, that was interesting. Calling it ‘dark ages’ seems pretty euro-centric. The Islamic world was just getting ramped up during that period and had a kind of ‘golden age’ from around the mid 700s to around the mid 1000s or so. I think China was doing well, too.

      I think the other criticism is that it also seems to be pro-imperialism (lamenting the loss of the Roman Empire).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps the Mayans too, though, there seemed to be plenty of fighting, to go along with powerful governments and large building projects.

        2. dearieme

          I thought it was largely bollocks. They are called the Dark Ages because the amount of information that later writers had about them had collapsed compared to the time of the Roman Empire, and also was small compared to later times.

          The points about the Moslem World and Africa are just feeble – nobody is suggesting that they had a Dark Age at the same time. Nobody is suggesting that the Eastern Roman Empire had, or China, or the civilisations of the Americas come to that.

          The discussion of the Dark Ages looks like a chip running around trying to find a shoulder to attach itself to.

      1. richard

        Here is a quote from David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5000 Years that people might find interesting, how he describes this period beginning around 600:

        “Everywhere, the age began with the collapse of empires. Eventually, new states formed, but in these states, the nexus between war, bullion and slavery was broken; conquest and acquisition for their own sake were no longer celebrated as the end of all political life. At the same time, economic life, from the conduct of international trade to the organization of local markets, came to fall increasingly under the regulation of religious authorities. One result was a widespread movement to control, or even forbid, predatory lending. Another was a return, across Eurasia, to various forms of virtual credit money.
        Granted, this is not the way we’re used to thinking of the Middle Ages. For most of us, “medieval” remains a synonym for superstition, intolerance and oppression. Yet for most of the earth’s inhabitants, it could only be seen as an extraordinary improvement over the terrors of the Axial Age.”

        (Graeber borrowed the term Axial Age from the German philosopher Karl Jaspers. Its periods are from 800 bce to 600 ad)

      2. Darthbobber

        Well, strictly speaking, it refers only to European history, so eurocentrism would be expected.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          To be fair, very few people referred to anything other than the part of the globe where they were familiar with.

          So, if the people of the Cham in the 10th century AD (another Europe centered idea, AD or BC) talked about the end of the world, they would not be referring to, say, North America.

      3. Plenue

        It’s not even right for Europe. Dark Ages is entirely a concept invented during the Renaissance. They completely manufactured the idea that the only things that mattered were antiquity and their ‘rebirth’ of antiquity, with the lengthy space in between being a barbaric middle age.

        No one can dispute that the disintegration of the Western Empire was accompanied by a decline in material complexity. But this started before Rome (or Ravenna) ‘fell’. The Empire didn’t fall so much as fracture and whither away, with lots of continuity between before and after. Polities degraded to more local levels, much of the infrastructure continued to be used for centuries, Latin continued to be used and changed on a regional basis, the Roman law system is the basis for modern law at least in the case of the Catholic Church a central government organization survived right up to the present, etc. For centuries people were claiming succession to the legacy of Rome. IIRC there’s even some evidence of direct continuity between Roman latifundia and later feudal estates.

        1. Another Scott

          It’s also a way to show the primacy of Italy and Rome over the East and Constantinople, even though the later group called themselves Romans and viewed themselves as the successors of the Roman Empire.

        2. Inode_buddha

          Furthermore, the imperial measurement system is still in use, mainly in North America. The ancient roman “unch” is remarkable similar to our own “inch” and they had 12 of them to the foot. Just for example. The Mile was a thousand paces, standardized to 5,000 feet by Agrippa in 29 BC. I could go on, metrology is a large part of my vocation… Henry Ford was a deciding force in causing the US to move to the decimal system after WW1, but the base units are still imperial.

      4. Oregoncharles

        I believe “dark” refers to the lack of records from the period, though evidently quite a bit has been found. It is Euro-centric, of course.

    3. eg

      The term never made much sense for regions outside the territories occupied by the Roman Empire at its height anyway, did it?

  2. Summer

    RE: “Delaney proposes ambitious mandatory national service plan…”

    “calling for “big transformational change,” in an attempt to “restore our sense of shared purpose.”

    “shared purpose” my a – -.
    All that saber rattling now they are worried about people wanting to defend (among other things) this raggedy mofo….

    1. Hepativore

      How about we change it so that we force people above a certain net worth, say a few million to do some sort of national service be it volunteer work or what have you to compensate for all of the advantages that they are granted through our economic and social systems in our country?

      1. sleepy

        Actually, I was thinking the program would have a feature where you could buy yourself a proxy, like the civil war draft.

        1. Summer

          Oh, the service will be tiered.
          You know that if it is “mandatory” the elite couldn’t have their spawn mixing with the pleebs.

          There will be the velevet rop entry and guest lists…just like at a Hollywood club…

      2. wilroncanada

        It might be appropriate to “draft” all people, all genders, at age 18, of parents worth more than, say, $2 million (may have to be adjusted by area depending on housing–one house only– being included in wealth–or not). They would have to go through basic training, the same training as armed forces recruits. They would then have to spend about 18 months, the rest of their time in service, doing physical labour: farming, working in processing plants like hog, cattle or poultry, or as labourers in infrastructure construction.
        No deferments for education or hangnails.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Pretty much like the Chinese Great Leap Forward – which I don’t think anyone in China considers “forward.”

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Logically, if teenagers are such a mess because they need a national service plan, don’t we need a mandatory service for John Delaney? At the age of 56, he missed the draft and didn’t choose the option of enlistment.

      Oh, look at that! John Delaney had an opportunity to be part of the shared post 9/11 experience and join the reserves. Why didn’t he want to share his Georgetown Law degree with JAG?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a mandatory service for John Delaney

        The biggest service Delaney could possibly have rendered the nation would have been to gracefully step aside in favor of Mike Gravel. But n-o-o-o-o!!!!

    3. Rod

      I wouldn’t toss the baby with the bath water of Delaney’s proposal.
      Nothing nobler-imo- than service to the public good.
      Young people I interact with daily seem to be drifting and unconnected to developing their future.
      I often say America needs a Mentoring Corps-in education: in the legal system: in the social services. Etc.
      Times have changed immensely since I was 18 and penny less and drafted into a form of ‘public service’.
      After two years away from the farm, meeting many young people like myself who were nothing like me; some national and world travel, I exited with some very chrystalised ideas about what I wanted my future to be about.
      And on top of that–it gave me the idea of being ‘vested’ in this country’s society.
      And once vested there is no consideration given to not being involved.
      It’s mine-I own this-I am responsible for fixing whatever is broken. If you want to help that would be great…
      Nothing wrong with developing methods that get us to earnest shared purposes-imo.

      1. Monty

        You’re forgetting one thing… This is 2019 America, so it wouldn’t be anything like that here and now. None of that commie business.

        2 tiers. Officer class or cannon fodder/exploitable labor.

        1. Rod

          Military Service is one thing, and certainly not for everyone, living the reality of today.
          I was thinking along the lines of WPA/CCC etc of FDR as well as Great Society stuff like VISTA/PeaceCorp etc.
          Letting my imagination go to the need around, and knowing the zeal of youth to engage in meaningful efforts reinforces, to me, that something like mandatory paid public service w portable GI Bill type benefits -undertaken by ALL post HS – is timely and appropriate.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Or you know, you could just pay people and do away with the mandatory part. People will work for money.

            1. Rod

              To me, earnings and benefits are secondary to the maturing, exposure to differences, and inspiration of our youth to the concept of real shared purpose focused on societal needs.
              Having a job gets you money, having shared purpose gives you motivation-imo.
              Being mandatory, because most all have some capacity, promotes a unity rather than divisivenesss.

    4. Tomonthebeach

      Draftback NOT. Giving kids time to grow up after high school makes sense.

      I and many of my Boomer peers who were drafted or conscientiously objected for alternative service like the idea of mandatory federal service but not exclusively to fill the ranks of the military – just some government service somewhere to validate their US passport and have time to mature a bit without pressure to enter college or find a job.

      I took a year off in 1967 to do volunteer work with the Mississippi poor because my freshman year was a dud and I needed time to grow up. When I returned, it was to the Dean’s List. A number of my friends took a year off before reaching 21 and not one regrets doing so.

  3. Bernalkid

    Wonder what the story is on how the autonomous vehicle types got control of the Concord Naval Weapons station?

      1. Tim

        It must have been the free auto-destruct feature if they make a wrong turn into one of the munitions bunkers.

    1. Craig H.

      The Concord Naval Weapons station is one of the most interesting properties in the state if you look from google map satellite view.

      37.992499, -121.986378

      It really sticks out if you view at around one inch equals a thousand feet. If you wanted to develop a new millionaire acres there might not be a better parcel in all northern CA. It’s been vacant since before 2007 when the Navy finished a long draw down. Why are there no mansions on it yet?

      I am guessing it has something to do with this:

      The Concord NWS was listed as a Superfund cleanup site on December 16, 1994. 32 areas of the facility were identified as having been contaminated with heavy metals including zinc, copper, lead, cadmium, and arsenic, as well as semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC) and organochloride pesticides. An area of great concern is the risk to the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse and the California clapper rail. Environmental remediation is underway at the base with some sites having soil removed and others being capped to prevent spread of contaminants.

      I don’t think there is any telling what a tight environmental audit would turn up. Robot car test facility looks like it could be a good use until the time (i. e. probably never) robot cars are ready for prime time. At one time Apple was going to take over the place for their robot cars but they have pretty much bagged their robot car project as a black hole.

  4. petal

    An update on the “Love Me I’m a Liberal house” in my neighbourhood: in addition to the BLM sign, the We Believe sign, the black yellow and red Kamala Harris For the People sign, there is now a Warren sign. Figuring maybe a Buttegeig is next, you know, to check all the boxes in one yard? Good for a giggle every day at least.
    And I seem to be receiving a Tom Steyer flyer once a week. Suppose printing all of those is keeping someone in a job, right?

    1. Inode_buddha

      I once had a co-worker who kept his membership cards for both the ACLU and the NRA in his wallet…. he used to haul that out and show everyone just to make people go “wtf”. Had matching stickers on the back of his truck, both ACLU and NRA. And of of course the oblig. sherriffs deputies assn.

    2. Jen

      Dear lord. I’m calling it. That’s officially the whitest house in the Upper Valley.

      The other dude who was pretty big on flyers was John Delaney. I have a PO Box and I can tell you that every damn flyer, irrespective of party affiliation, goes strait in to the recycling bin.

  5. Grant

    “Coase, Hotelling and Pigou: The Incidence of o Carbon Tax and CO2 Emissions”

    I am sorry, but I am sick of the market-based means of dealing with the environmental crisis. Yes, markets are missing lots of information, and yes pricing some of the environmental impacts is better than nothing, but this debate does go back to the socialist calculation debate and people that want to use markets to deal with this massive issue are ultimately siding with the Austrians in that debate. Von Mises said that markets, to the extent that markets contain all relevant information (in other words, no social or environmental externalities), were rational. To the extent that information is missing in markets, the economy would then be irrational. He and Hayek admitted that there were limits to monetization, but that those situations were relatively rare and markets were superior to planning because markets could break down complex phenomena to a single metric, market values, and that allowed for decentralized decision making that was better and more efficient than planning. People in that debate like Neurath and Kapp said that it was impossible to reduce anything to market values. They instead said that we had to increasingly deal with physical units, like tons of CO2 equivalent, how much water is embodied in commodities and how much is used overall, social indicators, etc. and then take that complex information in to make decisions. The things that we price might be useful, but not anywhere near sufficient to make good environmental and social decisions. Reducing everything to market values was impossible, and that was just the reality. Socialists had at least grappled with what that meant, and it does make this complex situation even more complex, but it is an issue that every human economic system will now have to deal with. Capitalists just want to create markets everywhere, and are very reluctant to acknowledge the limits to markets.

    To assume that markets can capture all direct and indirect impacts associated with carbon emissions is absurd, scientists don’t know the full direct and indirect impacts, so certainly economists don’t. Maybe it can be argued that you don’t have to capture all information in prices, that prices and markets simply have to impact behavior enough that environmentally sustainable outcomes are possible, but it seems to be a ridiculously tall order in a chaotic and decentralized economic system with limited planning and private ownership of a good chunk of natural resources and our energy system. But think about the fact that carbon emissions are not the totality of the environmental crisis. Plastic pollution is an issue, nuclear pollution is an issue, other air and water pollutants are issues, landfills are issues and will have to be maintained for a long time (and those costs over the long-term are transferred from current owners to communities), deforestation, the ocean being free of fish within decades without drastic (and coordinated) reductions in consumption, soil erosion, the species extinction rate being thousands of times the natural rate, overall issues in regards to accessing water, dead zones in the Gulf, the Baltic Sea and elsewhere, and I could go on. Even if you could price carbon to capture all of its direct and indirect impacts, or at least even if you could price those things so that people would behave in environmentally sound ways, how about the rest of it? How realistic is it for markets to capture all of these things that would allow hundreds of millions of people to act independently in such a way that the totality of consumption and production is within sustainable limits? What would most everything cost if we were to price all of those environmental impacts? We cannot realistically price these things, and even if we could, markets are a really clunky and chaotic means of managing the chaos we are already causing.

    What about limits to growth in throughput and pollution generation? If the human economy has to shrink relative to the environment it draws resources from and uses as a sink for wastes, could that realistically be accomplished without comprehensive economic planning? And what type of planning? As Pigou mentioned long ago, not every planned economy is a socialist, democratic or equitable planned economy. Pigou, by the way, said that when he talked about social costs he was talking about things we measure with market values. He talked about non-market impacts but said that his conception of social costs didn’t include those non-market impacts. It was Kapp that focused on that in his classic, The Social Costs of Private Enterprise.

    1. scarn

      Great breakdown. Markets cannot reliably price environmental catastrophe. But, even if we could figure out how to do that, why would we? That’s unnecessarily complex, when we can (at least conceivably) simply mandate some productive behavior, and some consumptive behavior through planning and regulation. When advocates argue for markets because liberty, what I really hear is them arguing for markets because profits. IMO, there is no defensible reason to protect a person’s right to pay a very high price for carbon. But if we mandate a carbon free economy, and that works, what other ideas might the proles come up with? They might even figure out that we can conceivably plan away exploitation and profiteering, and then how would we convince them to let us stay mega-rich?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the moral of the NBER study is in line with what you want to be be. I’m not even an amateur at carbon tax schemes, but even assuming the taxes aren’t gamed (lol), what that study says is that the numbers need to be stratospherically high to get any leverage over the problem. So they won’t happen.

      Mark Blyth says that “Markets cannot internalize their externalities on a planetary scale. They just can’t. It’s impossible.” I’m wondering if carbon tax failure is a lemma from that (heretical) proposition. Also, somebody tell Elizabeth Warren.

  6. Cal2

    Biden’s Medicare ideas? Will fool some and will outrage the politically and economically aware of M4A. However, a far larger group may have more to say about his candidacy:

    Every underwater student debt holder should know Biden is why they can never discharge their debt in bankruptcy for a degree from a fraudulent school, whether they are permanently disabled, or whatever. (nor can their co-signing parents or grandparents).

    “According to the latest student loan statistics from personal finance site Make Lemonade, there are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loans. Student loans are now the second largest consumer debt category after mortgages. On average, graduates of the Class of 2016 owe $37,000 in student loans, and graduates of the Class of 2017 owe almost $40,000 in student loan debt.”

    “A report from The Urban Institute, a non-profit research institute, found earlier this year several shocking student loan statistics related to student loan default: 40% of student loan borrowers may default on their student loans by 2023.” 17.6 Million potential pissed off voters by my math.


    None of them should or would vote for Biden, once they learn about his role in their poverty.
    Gee, guess who they will vote for? Wonder if that candidate would bring up Biden’s doing the Delaware Bank’s bidding, were Biden his opposition?

    “Never a scandal when I was with Barack” Biden has some explaining to do:

    1. Biden rammed through the bill that unjustly exempted student loans from the bankruptcy laws that protect people from excess debt.

    2. The government issued excess debt by blindly approving essentially 100% of student loan applications without doing any analysis whatsoever of the borrower’s ability to repay.

    3. It then handed off loan administration to unscrupulous outside contractors {Navient} instead of doing it properly themselves.

    Between Biden’s harmful changes to bankruptcy law and Obama’s pathologically altruistic decision to have the Department of Education take over student loans [where they ALWAYS say “yes”], they’ve done more harm to an entire generation of college students than any Republican before them ever has.


    Bernie is the only choice to beat Trump.
    Unless of course the Democrats would rather lose to Trump with Biden than win with Bernie.

    1. zagonostra

      “Unless of course the Democrats would rather lose to Trump with Biden than win with Bernie.”

      If you take the Marxist view that government is the “executive committee of the ruling class,” and understand that the Democratic and Republican Party as well as all the MSM are controlled by the ruling class, then the statement you end with is a tautology.

      My hope (tenuous as it is) rests with people writing in Bernie Sanders/Tulsi Gabbard or some other candidate if one of the +20 other candidates gets on the Dem. Ticket.

      1. sleepy

        Unfortunately, I expect that my voting choice in 2020 will be limited to a decision between writing in Sanders or voting Green or some other leftwing 3rd party.

        I’m in Iowa, so of course I will give Sanders the old college try come caucus time. I look forward to arguing with the Harris, Warren, Biden, and Buttigieg supporters in my town’s high school cafeteria next January.

        1. Cal2


          Bernie’s been on message and saying the same things for the last 20+ years and has voted his beliefs.

          Ask the supporters of the Kamaleon, what her positions are on the main issues that week, what they were a year ago, and how she has supported them with her actions as California attorney general and senator.

        1. zagonostra

          I’m not so sure some low-level editor at the WaPo or NYT or Political Party functionary is “part of ” the ruling class” anymore than some grunt in the military.

          No, I respectfully disagree, I think “controlled” is more accurate.

  7. shinola

    Re. the ‘CalMatters’ article about self-driving cars: At least this article mentions the infrastructure modifications necessary to even begin to make s-d cars possible (at taxpayers expense of course). But I have yet to read about another potential problem – liability.

    I don’t see s-d car manufacturers letting their cars ‘out into the wild’ unless/until they can pre-empt any liability for injuries, deaths & property damage caused by their vehicles.

    1. notabanker

      Yeah, they would have to have captured the American Court system so that $2 billion dollar jury settlements could be reduced by a judge to like $87 million….. oh, wait…..

    2. Kurtismayfield

      The longer this process of making a “self-driving car” takes, the more I see technology people clamoring for infrastructure changes to make it happen. If the Tech Bros can’t get this right, then my future plans for a Butlerian Jihad will most definitely have to be scrapped.

      There will be no way that the car designers will be liable. I will bet that the passengers will be liable for themselves, and have to sign some convoluted agreement that no one is responsible if the “self-driving car” gets into an accident.

    3. Acacia

      Whenever I hear “Infrastructure modifications” for self-driving cars, I can’t help but feel this whole project is just a colossal waste of energy leading to a dead end.

      If the infrastructure needs to be modified — but we don’t really know exactly how, yet, because the tech is still a known unknown — why not just lay down train tracks and be done with it?

      The case for self-driving tech just sounds more and more like two in the bush is better than one in the hand.

  8. prodigalson

    The 80’s Epstein on the Cosmo eligible bachelors list. Yikes!

    Brings to mind the George Carlin line, “it’s a big club, and you ain’t in it!”.

    So Epstein’s always been a made man…

  9. Deplorado

    You are so right to ask these questions, I want to weep – also because the answers are unimaginably far from our current political discourse.

    One of the best comments I’ve seen on this excelent blog.

    We need at least a Voltaire to ridicule the market idolatry into oblivion.

  10. XXYY



    “A student loan debt forgiveness program for Pell Grant recipients who start a business that operates for three years in disadvantaged communities!”


    “Three or more years after graduation provided the complex eligibility requirements are met!”

    This will probably benefit 3 people, if that, much like Cuomo’s “free college” program in NY. Evidently if you don’t have Pell Grants, aren’t interested in starting a business, start one in the wrong place, or it fails after two years, you have to pay full freight for your college, which makes a ton of sense. Goes along with her convoluted tax-advantaged savings accounts, another inspirational program that has really gotten people out in the streets. Maybe her campaign can sell inspirational t-shirts with a picture of young Kamala filling out a Pell Grant application.

    The sad thing is that these people think they are riffing on Sanders, but instead they are demonstrating how they completely don’t get it and have no idea what Sanders is doing.

    1. jrs

      the full freight of college and the financial blow of a failed business. I mean starting a business is risky, and if it fails: can leave people with even more debt, can wipe out any existing savings.

      Besides how many entrepreneurial paths even require college? Some but not all. Wage slavery has runaway credential inflation, but entrepreneurship? I think it’s one way to escape that, but risky.

      1. Jen

        And some of us, would rather have a job that doesn’t suck, get paid a living wage for doing said job, and go home. The idea that the solution to our economic problems is to turn everyone into an entrepreneur is BS.

        1. Voltaire Jr.

          “The idea that the solution to our economic problems is to turn everyone into an entrepreneur is BS.”

          I concur. OTOH, one can fill one’s days with entrepreneurial joy in creating what hasn’t existed before. Different strokes for different folks.

    1. Gary

      I owned an Australian Shepherd that knew the name of at least 50 toys. She did not need training. When you brought in a new toy, you named it to her once and that was it. She always remembered it by that name. She also noticed at bed time we turned the covers down. We did not train her, she took it upon herself to start turning the covers down. Perhaps this is something to do with the herding breeds.

      1. CanCyn

        Our mutt only knew the names of 22 toys but she won me a fair amount of money as a teenager. No one believed that knew the names of all of her toys and could and would get them when asked. They always bet against her and were pretty surprised when she showed what she knew. She too could read body language pretty well and had a good sense of time, always waiting at the door for my dad at the end of the day.

        1. Briny

          Cat story: I fell asleep at the bus stop after work and the driver of my regular bus came out and woke me up. He told me: “Get up. Time to go home. Your cat is waiting for you.” She was.

      2. foghorn longhorn

        We are on our second Australian Shepherd, and our third Miniature Schnauzer, both are incredibly smart breeds.
        If you are active and can keep them engaged, would highly recommend either as a life partner.

      3. sleepy

        I have a ten month old mixed Aussie and Sheltie.

        I never consciously taught him the names of things or what to do with them. But he learned on his own the name of the cat (and to herd the cat inside when I say so), the names of my grandkids and to watch at the window when I say they’re coming over, plus get a particular toy when I call it by name. Pretty amazing animal, but they do like to be busy. Too bad he doesn’t learn (or doesn’t want to) chew things up!

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Try a Kong, they are tough rubber chew toys you can put treats in.
          Our experience has been that it takes until about 2 years old (14 people years) for their real brain to engage.
          Long walks with a slip-noose type leash help accelerate this process.
          Collar type leashes and harnesses tend to kick them into pulling/working mode, the slip type makes them keep their head up.
          Good luck.

        2. Voltaire Jr.

          Funny story:

          45+ years ago we had a Golden Retriever that liked to chew on shoes while we were gone. One day, she left a window completely open, got in the car, drove a block, walked back and caught the GR with the shoe in its mouth. She threw something [can’t remember] at the dog and it dropped it.

          We never had another problem.

    2. Carolinian

      Thanks for link! Our hometown genius dog will be remembered with a street statue next spring. Her passing was covered locally but didn’t know a NYT obit had appeared.

      I met Chaser once and have her paw print autograph in Dr. Pilley’s book.

    1. Carey

      I think this is just more signaling from Ms. Harris to the donor class that she will indeed make sure nothing gets better for the Many.

      They’re all on the same page.

    2. turtle

      That generator is fantastically funny. Here’s mine:

      Yesterday, I announced that, as president, I’ll establish a school improvement program for immigrants who open a roller coaster that operates for 10 months in the Bible Belt.

    3. Geo

      That’s amazing! Thank you for sharing.

      Here’s the one I got:
      “Yesterday, I announced that, as president, I’ll establish a Social Security program for vegetarians who open a Crossfit that operates for 18 days in a border town.”

      Sounds like something she’ll pitch at this week’s debate. :)

    4. richard

      so cool! i love our world, where I can instantly and electronically reproduce pseudo-twaddle to make fun of the actual twaddle that somebody “thought” of. A satire engine for the commoner!
      speaking of kamala, apparently cnn is running the equivalent of campaign ads for her as news items
      all about “character” and “leadership” and everything else invisible and no damn good to me
      k. kulinski covers it here
      may i be the first to say to kamala:
      people turned this story off 3 years ago
      nice is good, bad people suck, vote for me
      best of luck
      and to cnn:
      you tube is kicking your ass
      expect it to continue

      Kamala Harris Is A Cop

    5. Redlife2017

      “Yesterday, I announced that, as president, I’ll establish a means-tested dental care program for college professors who open a fortune teller tent that operates for 2 days in the Grand Canyon.”

      That gave me a really good giggle.

    1. marym

      It’s there. Sometimes if you leave a page and go back you get the older version and need to refresh.

    1. dearieme

      the 2017 accident at the Mayak facility in Russia released between 30 and 100 times as much radiation as the 2011 nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan

      Given the public propensity to hysteria on environmental issues, and especially nuclear issues, it’s odd that there was little or no excitement in 2017. What can the explanation be?

      1. ewmayer

        Several factors likely in play in that regard:

        o Not associated with a larger, ‘photogenic’ natural catastrophe as was Fukushima;
        o Secrecy by the Russians, thus no wave of initial wild-eyed MSM coverage;
        o Apparently not part of a larger nuke-plant disaster as were the Chernobyl and Fukushima clouds;
        o Ru is platinum-group, i.e. no danger related to uptake by living organisms as e.g. for radioactive Iodine;
        o Half-life of Ru106 is ~1 year, so fairly rapid decay.

        Plus, for whatever reason, there is a large and dedicated hysterical-danger-exaggeration community associated with Fukushima in the blogosphere. People who can’t be bothered to divide [X amount of radioactivity] by the volume of the Pacific Ocean, for example.

  11. Summer

    RE: Self-driving cars/CA
    “Wait. After many billions, we don’t have an algo to turn left in traffic?”

    Imagine how far away they are from recognizing that the little boy who just darted across the street in front of you is now calling out from the other side of the street to his little sister who is running along your blind side before darting in front of you to join him…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When we keep reading that self-driving cars are just around the corner, I think we can assume, since they are not here yet, that the algo problem is about how to make those cars turn at that corner.

      Basically, a corner turning problem, for our algo experts.

      For many humans for whom going left is as easy, and as natural, as going right, negotiating a corner is not a problem at all.

    2. Acacia

      I picture the scene in RoboCop when ED 209 goes off script and the guys in lab coats start panicking.

      I wish somebody would hire Paul Verhoeven to make a movie about Silicon Valley.

  12. Summer

    “Lafayette public defender found in contempt after filming duct taping of defendant”

    Who are the terrorists again?

  13. John

    I am in favor of Medicare-for-All especially seeing how well Medicare has worked for me, but I have a question? Harris said in her interview with Jake Tapper that she would go directly to a full fledged single payer program and end private insurance. Did I understand that correctly in the first place and in the second, how do you uproot a huge industry with a sweep of the hand?

    I see no way to implement MforA except in steps and that does not mean delay completion for the next fifty years.

    1. sleepy

      In the house and senate bills for M4A sponsored by Sanders and Jayapal (with a four year transition period), there are extensive sections dealing with assistance for those in the healthcare industry who lose their jobs.

      Sanders says, “send ’em to Cuba to cut cane!” j/k

      I imagine many would be hired by Medicare as its workload increases.

      For those of us already on medicare like you and me, there will be no deducts, no copays, no premiums, and no need for supp. insurance. Plus, we get dental, vision, and long term care.

      Everyone else gets those things as well.

  14. Ford Prefect

    Complex eligibility requirements are very effective. You get to claim you are helping but never pay any money! Best of both worlds.


    FYI – my spouse is one of the 99%. Did the 10 years payments thing fully documented but turns out it is the wrong type of Federal student loan…..

    I haven’t figured out yet if the wrong type of loan is baked into the original legislation in the authorizing bill or is a regulatory interpretation when the regulations were issued. In any case, Congress and Department of Education are moving as fast Congress and a Department can move on this. I think the intent is to wait until everybody has paid off their loans and then announce the fix.

  15. fdr-fan

    Skipping Eastern Orthodox isn’t a big issue, but it would tend to insult exactly the people and places Bernie needs. Old industrial cities, from Cleveland to KCK to Spokane, have lots of Slavic types who still attend Orthodox services.

    1. RMO

      I know quite a few Orthodox people here in the Vancouver area. Many grew up in the evangelical world and became disenchanted with it. At a guess, less than a third of the adults in the congregation of the Orthodox church I’m familiar with came to the religion through it being the religion of their parents so there’s probably more there to appeal to than just Slavic types. I would say the majority, and certainly the overwhelming majority of those under fifty admire Sanders and would vote and even do campaign work for them if they were US citizens. The Orthodox priest I know best certainly supports the sorts of policies that Sanders puts forth.

      Despite my father’s side of the family being Russian and Ukranian I never had any exposure to those variants of Christianity other than spotting the churches on family trips to the prairies as a kid. None of my grandparents and certainly neither of my parents were noticeably religious.

  16. foghorn longhorn

    Not sure where to drop this, but found it quite interesting


    The Last Days of John Allen Chau

    In the fall of 2018, the 26-year-old American missionary traveled to a remote speck of sand and jungle in the Indian Ocean, attempting to convert one of the planet’s last uncontacted tribes to Christianity. The islanders killed him, and Chau was pilloried around the world as a deluded Christian supremacist who deserved to die. Alex Perry pieces together the life and death of a young adventurer driven to extremes by unshakable faith.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Just left the link, don’t agree with his motives at all.
        Come preaching at me and you’ll likely get punched in the mouth, mainly because I don’t possess any narrow, incredibly sharp arrows.
        Much like the ‘Into the Wild’ kid, he got what he was looking for, and kudos to them.
        Most people just sit on their fat asses and whinge.

        1. Plenue

          I wonder how often ‘deconversion’ happens, where a missionary type is confronted with push back that they can’t answer.

  17. NotTimothyGeithner

    Does Harris even know what she ostensibly believes?

    She’s a social climber. She wants to appease the plebes to avoid a riot and impress anyone who can help her to the next level. She’s a Senator from California, and she’s known for…now running for President.

    Her latest policy is largely based around having a bone to throw the plebes to avoid questions without offending the donor class.

    1. John

      About a year to the conventions and five months until the Iowa circus, sorry caucus. I have purposefully not done more than quickly scan the campaign coverage in Water Cooler. It seems ridiculous for all this flailing around to be getting so much attention. The same cast of characters lead the pack as in 2016 except for Mayor Pete and what he is doing there is a mystery to me. (I suggest he drop out and run for State Assembly or a House seat.) Well someone will get the nomination but it appears that the Democratic Party has no program and is desperately searching with both hands for its backside. I do hope they find it. The prospect of Trump re-elected gives me agita.

      The status quo party hates Bernie and the war mongers want nothing to do with Tulsi and the 398-17 vote in the House the other day means Israel and its partisans are still in charge of US foreign policy, which is just fine with the Secretary of State since he is waiting for the End Times as soon as the Jewish people are gathered in.

      And by the way, all nations interfere in other nations internal politics to whatever extent they can get away when it is in their interest. For example, the United States has touted regime change, a euphemism for overthrowing the government, in Iran most recently, but remember Libya and Iraq and years ago Italy on a routine basis and Russia in the 1990s and North Korea and so on and so forth.

      1. JBird4049

        The United States has been actively doing regime change since the Kingdom of Hawaii’s Queen was overthrown by American business leaders in 1893. After the Spanish-American War, it has been a routine event. So that’s 126 years, not including the Native Americans, of regime change.

        I am sure that every single decade since the Spanish-American War has seen several events.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It seems ridiculous for all this flailing around to be getting so much attention.

        Think of it as prep work. 2020 is certainly the most interesting election of my (too-long) lifetime. More interesting than 2008, for sure.

  18. dearieme

    A long form piece on Beckett’s life. Who knew he played cricket?

    Pretty much anyone interested in literature or cricket.

      1. Synoia

        In the UK they play basketball (called netball there)
        In the UK they play baseball (Called rounders there)

        Both of these are women’s games in the UK.

        However, salvation of US men’s sports is at hand: Disallow forward passing and blocking in American “Football”, and you’d have a nice game of Rugby.

      2. Synoia

        The expression “It’s not cricket” means someone is plating unfairly, or cheating.” Disdain for that behavior is a part of British culture, and is frowned upon.

        Would that be the same in other parts of the world?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m very interested in literature, and to be fair, picked up the nugget that Beckett played cricket only in recent cricket coverage. I grant you qualified your claim with “pretty much,” so one example doesn’t disprove it, but still.

  19. TroyMcClure

    I know it’s just Hollywood, but Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) is the only big budget film to deal with the notion of the wealthy actually wanting to see The Jackpot brought about. It’s also a pretty good action film. Worth it imo :)

  20. Plenue

    >“Why the ending of Game of Thrones elevated the worst of fan culture” [Vox].

    ‘Curatorial fandom’ has been getting a great education from J. K. Rowling in recent years on the concept of ‘death of the author’. Rowling has taken to decreeing new things as canon, mostly over Twitter, but also through the terrible prequel movies and an awful stage play, that are in no way evidenced in the original Harry Potter books, and which are frequently, well, stupid.


    1. Carolinian

      From Vox

      Within our real-world context, Bran’s ascension to rulership feels like a myopic, self-aggrandizing celebration of curatorial fandom, or the specific way in which many fans worship canon — in this case, Game of Thrones’ source material, the Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R.R. Martin. Ending the show with Bran in charge of Westeros codifies a male-dominated version of geek culture that reflects mainstream perceptions about fandom and aligns generally with the show’s frequent misogyny.


      While the misogyny charge may have some merit (or maybe HBO just demands nudity and provocative sexual situations), it seems pretty clear that after all the violence the showrunners were out to end the show on an antiwar note. Plus it finally gave the Bran character a purpose for being in the story. In other words they were trying to tie up the ending with a bow and get the heck out of Dodge.

      And fair enough–they gave us a great ride for the most part.

      I barely made it through the rest of the article, but here’s hoping the writer got an A from Teach.

      1. Plenue

        “Plus it finally gave the Bran character a purpose for being in the story.”

        I think it’s the exact opposite. The show axed Bran’s entire purpose and cut his character arc off halfway through. Bran in the books is set to go even further north, into the Land of Always Winter, presumably to learn the truth of the Others/White Walkers.

        The idea that his character doesn’t have a point is because Martin is playing a very long term game with him. Since the show deep-sixed whatever Martin has planned in favor of the Night King (even existing, I mean. He’s not in the books) and the White Walkers being out of control biorobots, Bran is left with literally nothing to do in the show. They gave him the throne at the very end just to do something with this dangling, abandoned plot-thread of a character.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Would it surprise you to learn that when they went to make the very first Harry Potter film, that they were talking with Stephen Spielberg as director? And that he wanted to use that Haley ‘I see dead people’ Osment kid to be Harry Potter?
        I think that Spielberg wanted it to be a cartoon film as well as he saw an opportunity to make a quick, cheap buck but Rowling said nope and said that it had to be made in Britain with a British crew and cast. Maybe she figured that the world did not need another Mickey Rooney “A Yank at Eton” film. I’d call that a bullet dodge that.
        Rowling did this as a matter of policy which was why in the film “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” she made sure that a French actress – Clémence Poésy – was chosen to play a French girl and a Bulgarian-born kid – Stanislav Ianevski – was chosen to play a Bulgarian character. So kudos to her for that.

        1. Carolinian

          To me Rowling is so busy creating her imaginary world that she forgot to make it interesting. Plenue’s link above says she is quite obsessive about all those details. It’s all scenery and not nearly enough narrative.

          George RR on the other hand never at a loss for story twists. It’s what he lives for. We turn pages to find out what’s going to happen, not to admire what funny name Rowling has given to this or that.

          All those good British actors may be what saved the franchise.

  21. JBird4049

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette boss J.R. Block sounds like a real piece of work.

    The news media rooms, just like the low level educational staff, has had their lives treated as worthless and their work as garbage; yet, somehow too many people both liberal and conservative seem to blame them and not the the owners, the senior management, and the growing lack of funding for actual hands on work.

  22. bhamDan

    Rapture Index: Closes down one on Israel. “Israel Has been generally quiet the past few weeks.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

    Ah, so in the past few weeks it’s just been IDF & settler goons murdering Palestinians & destroying their homes. No Israeli victims = “quiet”

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