2:00PM Water Cooler 7/9/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“U.S. automakers face an oversized inventory problem. Sales of sport-utility vehicles are slowing, leaving models crowding dealership lots for longer periods…, yet car companies are preparing to roll out more SUV offerings into already-packed showrooms” [Wall Street Journal]. “The gap between sales and strategy is in part the result of the long lead times it takes to get automotive supply chains running. But some dealers say manufacturers are falling back on old habits of overbuilding to keep factories running and then turning to discounts to boost sales. U.S. auto sales fell 2.2% in the first half of this year, and the 1.6% growth in SUV and crossover sales was lackluster by historical standards. That’s hit shipping networks, with rail shipments of motor vehicle and parts falling in five of the first six months of the year, according to the Association of American Railroads.” • Not a bad thing from the perspective of the biosphere.


“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 5: Biden up at 27.3% (26.8%), Sanders flat at 14.9% (14.8%), Warren up at 13.9% (13.7%), Buttigieg flat at 5.3% (5.3%), Harris having jumped, flat at 15.0% (15.0%), others Brownian motion. Sanders, Harris, Warren now clustered, Biden having rebounded in the past few days, putting the busing controversy behind him, I’m guessing.

* * *


Swalwell (D)(1): “Swalwell drops out of presidential race, announces House reelection bid” [The Hill]. “Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary on Monday, making him the first major candidate in the crowded 2020 primary field to end a presidential bid…. Swalwell, who is a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, instead said he will focus on his reelection bid for his fifth term in the lower chamber.” • So Swalwell had a single purpose in life? To get into the debates and then drop out, after repeatedly telling Biden to “pass the torch”? Ironic if he was Pelosi’s straw on behalf of Harris, I must say.

Gillibrand (D)(1): “Why Is Kirsten Gillibrand Going Nowhere in the Granite State?” [Inside Sources]. “Sen. Gillibrand is at zero percent in five of the last six polls of New Hampshire voters listed at the FiveThirtyEight website…. Former Vice President Joe Biden has held just 10 events in New Hampshire, according to tracking by New England Cable News. Sen. Kamala Harris has had 12 events and Mayor Pete Buttigieg 16. And they’re all having some polling success in New Hampshire. Kirsten Gillibrand has held 55 events – and counting…. Some Democrats tell InsideSources they believe Gillibrand’s fundamental problem is that she’s running an entire campaign on women’s issues in a race where candidates like Warren and Harris let Democrats both vote for the first woman president and advance other agenda items at the same time.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Jeffrey Epstein case is why people believe in Pizzagate” [Matthew Walther, The Week]. The conclusion:

If you have spent the last few years earnestly consuming mainstream left-of-center media in this country you will be under the impression that the United States has fallen under the control of a spray-tanned Mussolini clone who is never more than five minutes away from making birth control illegal. If you watch Fox News and read conservative publications, you no doubt bemoan the fact that Ronald Reagan’s heir is being hamstrung by a bunch of avocado toast-eating feminist witches. Meanwhile, Alex Jones’s audience will tell you that America, like the rest of the world, is ruled by a depraved internationalist elite whose ultimate allegiance is not to countries or political parties or ideologies but to one another. These people believe in nothing. They will safeguard their wealth and privilege at any cost. They will never break rank. And they will commit unspeakable crimes with impunity, while anyone who dares to speculate openly is sued or hounded out of public life as a kook.

Which of these worldviews is closest to the truth?

Not a bad question.

Stats Watch

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, June 2019: “The small business optimism index missed expectations in June” [Econoday]. “The dip in this report is consistent with similar declines in other readings on business sentiment which are being pulled back on concerns over slowing in global trade and slowing in global growth.”

JOLTS, May 2019: “The level of job openings remains very high but is easing [and] lower-than-expected” [Econoday]. “A moderate quits rates suggests workers are not shifting to higher paying jobs which for Federal Reserve policy makers points to available capacity in the labor market and lack of pressure on wages. Today’s report is consistent with easing levels of stress in the labor market in results that are not likely to stand in the way of a possible rate cut at the month-end FOMC.”

Employment Situation: “US Labour Market still adding jobs but scope for further expansion” [Bill Mitchell]. “Last week’s (July 5, 2019) release by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – June 2019 – reveals a steady labour market with month-to-month volatility. The US labour market is still adding jobs, albeit at a slower pace than last year. The unemployment rate remains low (at 3.67 per cent) and the participation rate has moved up a tick, which is a good sign. It is also clear that there is still a substantial jobs deficit remaining and considerable scope for increased participation… [W]hile payroll employment growth has been steady since the crisis ended, it is still well down on previous decades of growth.”

Tech: “Serious Zoom security flaw could let websites hijack Mac cameras” [The Verge]. “Today, security researcher Jonathan Leitschuh has publicly disclosed a serious zero-day vulnerability for the Zoom video conferencing app on Macs. He has demonstrated that any website can open up a video-enabled call on a Mac with the Zoom app installed. That’s possible in part because the Zoom app apparently installs a web server on Macs that accepts requests regular browsers wouldn’t. In fact, if you uninstall Zoom, that web server persists and can reinstall Zoom without your intervention.” • Yikes!

Tech: “Kuo: Apple to include new scissor switch keyboard in 2019 MacBook Air and 2020 MacBook Pro” [9to5Mac]. “Apple has introduced four generations of butterfly keyboards in as many years, attempting to address user complaints about stuck keys, repeated key inputs, and even the loud clackiness of typing when striking each keycap…. Keyboard ergonomics and feel is dependent on many factors, but it is a promising sign that Apple is reverting to the same key switch mechanism used in every MacBook before 2015, which was widely praised.” • A coincidence that the butterfly keyboard dies after the thin-ness obsessed Jony Ive left?

Tech: “Amazon confirms Alexa customer voice recordings are kept forever” [ZDNet]. “Amazon has confirmed that the voice recordings produced by customers of the Amazon Alexa smart assistant are held forever unless users manually remove them… Unless you know how to remove these recordings manually, Amazon will retain them — and in some cases, the letter [from Amazon VP of public policy Brian Huseman told Democrat Senator, Chris Coons] reveals that transcripts will be held even if users remove the audio. … The recorded information is not anonymized and transcripts are associated with customer accounts.” • Of course, we’re assuming that the online buttons for removing the recordings aren’t a ginormous dark pattern, like “Close Door” buttons in elevators.

Manufacturing: “Airbus to Check Wings of Emirates, Qantas A380 Jets for Cracks” [Bloomberg]. “An Airbus spokesman said small cracks had been found on the outer rear wing spars of early-production A380s, and that inspections and repairs can be accomplished at the same time as heavy-maintenance checks. The safety of the fleet is not affected, he said.”

Food: “Maggots: A taste of food’s future” [WaPo]. “[T]he black soldier fly larva’s remarkable ability to transform nearly any kind of organic waste — cafeteria refuse, manure, even toxic algae — into high-quality protein, all while leaving a smaller carbon footprint than it found. In one year, a single acre of black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than 3,000 acres of cattle or 130 acres of soybeans. Such yields, combined with the need to find cheap, reliable protein for a global population projected to jump 30 percent, to 9.8 billion by 2050, present big opportunity for the black soldier fly… Soldier flies are ‘where carbon goes to die,’ Tomberlin said. ‘It goes into this system and comes out the other end as all these beneficial ingredients.’ Such as food for animals.” • This actually sounds pretty neat, especially the carbon part. Go long maggots!

The Biosphere

“The Nation’s Largest Commercial Insurance Company Has Ditched Covering Coal. That’s a Big Deal” [Mother Jones]. “Chubb Ltd., the nation’s largest commercial insurance company, announced it will move away from insuring and investing in coal. It becomes the first major U.S. insurance company to take such action, joining more than a dozen European and Australian insurers that have already adopted similar policies. Chubb will no longer underwrite the construction of new coal-fired power plants, according to the policy. It will also stop investing in companies that generate more than 30% of their revenues from coal mining or production, as well as phase out existing coverage for mining and utility companies that exceed the 30% threshold. ‘Chubb recognizes the reality of climate change and the substantial impact of human activity on our planet,’ Evan G. Greenberg, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. ‘The policy we are implementing today reflects Chubb’s commitment to do our part as a steward of the Earth.'” • What industry will be next, I wonder?

“The True Price of Electric Cars” [Bloomberg]. “[F]or the 3 million or so Europeans working in the auto industry, the transition [from ICE to EV] is a source of great anxiety. While the numbers are hotly debated, carmaker jobs will probably become scarcer because electric vehicles need fewer parts and less maintenance than their gas-guzzling predecessors. With automation, Brexit, and President Donald’s Trump tariff wars all hitting the European sector too, things look bleak for auto workers. Ford is slashing 12,000 jobs on the continent (carmakers cut 38,000 jobs globally in the six months to May). The wider industrial background is little better: Manufacturing as a share of European Union GDP fell from 19% to 14% between 1991 and 2018. None of this is ideal for mainstream political leaders who are trying to safeguard decent blue-collar jobs to counteract the appeal of populist rivals.” • A Jobs Guarantee is, I suppose, anathema.

“The war on Southern California smog is slipping. Fixing it is a $14-billion problem” [Los Angeles Times]. “Decades of emissions-cutting regulations under a bipartisan law — the 1970 Clean Air Act — have eased the choking pollution that once shrouded U.S. cities. Cleaner air has saved lives and strengthened the lungs of Los Angeles children. But now, air quality is slipping once again. Bad air days are ticking up across the nation, and emissions reductions are slowing. The most notable setback has been with ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog that builds up in warm, sunny weather and triggers asthma attacks and other health problems that can be deadly…. Health effects from ozone pollution have remained essentially unchanged over the last decade — ‘stubbornly high,’ according to a study published this year by scientists at New York University and the American Thoracic Society. Nowhere is the situation worse than in Southern California, where researchers found a 10% increase in deaths attributable to ozone pollution from 2010 to 2017.”

“The Internet Is Drowning” [National Geographic]. “A vast web of physical infrastructure undergirds the internet connections that touch nearly every aspect of modern life. Delicate fiber optic cables, massive data transfer stations, and power stations create a patchwork of literal nuts and bolts that facilitates the flow of zeros and ones. Now, research shows that a whole lot of that infrastructure sits squarely in the path of rising seas…. When the three researchers laid the map of the internet’s physical infrastructure on top of sea-level rise prediction maps, they saw a striking overlap: Huge sections of important infrastructure were in the places likely to be underwater within 15 years.” • Good thing all our data is up in the Cloud. Oh, wait…

Our Famously Free Press

“‘Mad’ Magazine Told the Truth About War, Advertising, and the Media” [Jeer Heet, The Nation]. “The kids who read Mad learned from it to distrust authority, whether in the form of politicians, advertisers or media figures. That was a lesson that successive generations took to heart. Without Mad, it’s impossible to imagine underground comics, National Lampoon, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, The Daily Show, or Stephen Colbert. In the historical sweep of American culture, Mad is the crucial link between the anarchic humor of the Marx Brothers and the counterculture that emerged in the 1960s.” • Heet identifies “detestation of lies” as Mad’s “underlying ethic.” Hard to see how that descends from the Marx Brothers. And it’s also hard to see how that effort ever got a lot of political traction. Remember The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear? Back in 2010?

Guillotine Watch

“The Dish On Dinner” [New York Magazine]. • From 2003, includes a description of a Jeffrey Epstein dinner party (“‘I had rich shock!’ one stunned guest says) but also provides a window into the Manhattan elite circles in which Epstein moved. My favorite:

STEVE RATTNER, Managing Principal of the Quadrangle Group
MAUREEN WHITE, DNC finance chief

Where: Fifth Avenue apartment
Guest list: Steve Brill, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O’Neal, Arthur Sulzberger, Chuck Schumer, Wendy Wasserstein
Décor theme: The apartment faces the Met, and the art is just as good.
Upside: Unlimited networking potential. “It’s a terrific New York room,” says an enamored guest who crows over the heady mix of politicians, art-world luminaries, and journalists.
Downside: Unlimited networking potential. Says a past Christmas-party guest, “You feel like you’ve all been assembled there to hustle or so that other guests can hustle you. When you leave, you have to check to make sure no one’s taken your soul!”

Class Warfare

“When bills pile up, young people turn to strangers on Venmo” [Los Angeles Times]. “In concept, crowdfunding from a Twitter community resembles a digital version of immigrant lending circles, or a modern version of a rent party — events that arose in the 1920s as African Americans migrating to Harlem leaned on their friends and communities to cover exorbitant, discriminatory rents…. There’s been a ‘generational shift‘ in the way young millennials and Gen Z discuss labor, wrote Terry Nguyen, who produces a newsletter on Gen Z culture. ‘Through social media platforms, even the most niche hobbies and lifestyles can become monetized labor….’ Nguyen writes. ‘Nothing is done for free anymore. In fact, unpaid work is frowned upon and institutions that encourage free labor are shamed.'” • Emotional labor would be the new frontier, I would think. Can readers comment on this trend, if trend it be?

“Amazon Workers Plan Prime Day Strike at Minnesota Warehouse” [Bloomberg]. “‘Amazon is going to be telling one story about itself, which is they can ship a Kindle to your house in one day, isn’t that wonderful,’ said William Stolz, one of the Shakopee employees organizing the strike. ‘We want to take the opportunity to talk about what it takes to make that work happen and put pressure on Amazon to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs.’… Of late, warehouses in Minnesota’s Twin Cities region have become an epicenter of worker activism, led by East African Muslim immigrants who organizers say compose the majority of the five facilities’ staff. Last year workers thronged the entryway of a delivery center chanting “Yes we can” in Somali and English, presenting management with demands such as reduced workloads while fasting for Ramadan. They also circulated flyers at a nearby fulfillment center urging co-workers to wear blue shirts and hijabs in support of the same cause.”

News of the Wired

[Lambert preens at “codgers” (Thread)]:

Also, if you want to know how to test the seal on a freezer, this is the thread for you!

The last gender reveal debacle burnt 47,000 acres:

I don’t know when “gender reveal parties” became a thing, but I can’t help regarding them as a popular rejection of “gender fluidity.”

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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 (SV):

SV writes: “Our Milkweed looks to be about a month ahead of Mr. Conner’s beautiful specimens. Note the aphid/ant farm in the upper left. Don’t know nothin’ ’bout no seeds! In year 4 here subterranean roots have spread through the native heavy clay soil. Some might not like this ‘out of control’ habit but I celebrate it: I’ve dug these upstarts in early Spring and replanted them in another front yard bed.”

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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. Wukchumni

    I’d have to say that MAD magazine was my primer to life, not that I had any inkling of it’s veracity as a premature juvenile delinquent yearning to get into double figures, but there it was laid bare, the snarky underbelly that dared crucify anything for a laugh.

    It was a bible that came once a month…

      1. Olga

        Mine was Balzac – but then that my be the difference between growing up in a socialist Europe vs commercial US. Aahhh, the good ol’days!

            1. richard

              hey, i was in that one as a kid!
              as townsboy #3 or something
              and my friend mitch m. got to sing about the wells fargo wagon
              “comin’ down the street
              to create a fradulent account!”
              great fun

    1. ambrit

      I loved MAD magazine. It helped that MAD was the distaff offspring of the Entertaining Comics organization. Those were the people who bought us all those yucchy wonderful pulp magazines like “Vault of Horror” and “Tales From the Crypt.”

  2. dcblogger

    I will never understand how the generation that grew up watching Rocky and Bullwinkle and reading Mad Magazine wound up voting for Reagan.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      One, I would hope many of those voters didn’t watch or read those cultural landmarks. Like most stories of Democratic defeats, its usually about voters becoming non-voters and people simply not becoming voters for the usual reasons, only having a choice between GOP and GOP lite.

      1. Hepativore

        It could also be the fact that many people become bitter and cynical as they get older, and so when the boomers were children they became hardened adults during the 1980’s. Perhaps they turned bitter after finding that many of the ideas of “flower power” “peace” and “love” are hard to reconcile with humanity’s shortcomings.

        Many people actually grow up to be quite different than when they were children and teenagers.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I do confess, a movie I like is the “Big Chill”. I have wondered what these people in it would be like if they remade this film to show what they would be like in 2019 after getting together again.

    2. foghorn longhorn

      Never did vote for Raygun, nor Bush the elder, nor Bush the stupid, and especially either of the clintoons.
      Running clowns like this is how you wind up with the orange clown.
      Garbage in, garbage out

      1. mega mike

        “Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.”
        ― Franz Kafka

    3. Louis Fyne

      “…wound up voting for Reagan.”

      they became taxpayers and bought into the (arguably toxic) psychobabble of aspirational self-actualization (via relatively easy access to credit).

    4. Carolinian

      It was Gen X that went for Reagan although doubtless plenty of Boomers (the Mad/Bullwinkle demo) voted for him. The 20 somethings thought he was a cool old guy and didn’t know not to trust anyone over 30.

      1. toshiro_mifune

        It was Gen X that went for Reagan
        Gen-X was mostly too young to have voted for Reagan in either his first or second term.

        1. Carolinian

          Demographers and researchers typically use birth years ranging from the early-to-mid 1960s to the early 1980s.


          The Gen Xers I’m talking about–people I knew–were from the 1960s born so perhaps we are both right. They definitely had a different set of attitudes from my Boomer cohort and would astonish by praising Reagan–a man viciously lampooned by that Boomer hero Gary Trudeau.

          1. Frank Dean

            From your wikipedia link:

            Many researchers and demographers use dates which correspond to the fertility-patterns in the population, which results in a Generation X starting-date of 1965, such as Pew Research Center which uses a range of 1965–1980,[15] Australia’s McCrindle Research Center which uses 1965–1979,[16] and Gallup which also uses 1965–1979.[17] PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multinational professional services network headquartered in London, describes Generation X employees as those born from 1965 to 1980.[18]

            Reagan’s second win was November 6, 1984. So Gen X’ers born between January 1965 and November 1966 could have voted for him. None could have voted for him in 1980.

            Reagan fared about the same across all age groups:

            1. Carolinian

              We seem to have dueling quotes from the same source re the demographics. And please re-read my comment. I said that I was sure many Boomers voted for Reagan. What I would dispute is the notion that Reagan was somehow a Boomer phenomenon when he himself was of a much older generation and during much of his career actively opposed the 60s generation–perhaps the original “hippie puncher.”

              Obama, born in ’61, was of that late Boomer/early Gen X generation and has expressed admiration for Reagan as a political phenom. Young people of that time liked Reagan, even if many of them couldn’t vote for him.

              1. jsn

                Reagan was the pay off for the US Chamber of Commerce investment in the Powell Memo back in 71 and Buckley vs Valeo in 76. By 1980 the Koch brothers were running Jon Anderson to cut into Carters voter pool while the business propaganda was dialed to 11 with focus on the “National Debt”, the horrors of demilitarization and “welfare queens.”

                This was a structured, multi-pronged and well financed public relations assault on the New Deal and Great Society: the economics professors at UTexas in 1981, what with the LBJ School having become a retirement community for many administration functionaries from both those eras, were incredulous that people believed the “deficit hysteria” that was being drummed up everywhere from specialty journals to The New York Times.

                This age cohort, voting block narrative is revisionism, a cover-up for a well planned and financed conspiracy by a business elite that continues to just grow stronger even as its basis in reality increasingly matches it non-existent morals.

                1. foghorn longhorn

                  It’s easy to beat up on raygun, but clinton was the one who ended ‘welfare as we know it’ and brought on 100,000 new police officers and started the mlitary surplus tanks to said police.
                  Since nixon resigned, it’s just been the same conglomerate switching between d and r every 8 years.
                  Save for bush the groper, who perot helped to depose, which brought on billary. So yeah whatever

              2. curlydan

                As a hardcore Gen-X’er (born early 70s), I can attest to that generation’s love for Reagan on average. I have seen surveys of Dem vs Repub allegiance by year of birth, and those born from 1970-72 were the relative peak for Republican allegiance. Basically, we got a double barreled shot of Reagan propaganda, including Nancy’s Just Say No. Although many did not vote for Reagan due to age, the love unfortunately helped Bush I get elected, not that he needed much help from voters after Lee Atwater got in his licks.

                P.S. How is a 13-year old boy not swayed by Red Dawn, The A Team, and Rambo Part II? I was about as “liberal” as you could get, and I still liked Red Dawn.

                1. Toshiro_mifune

                  Idk, I was born in ‘70 but my time in the 80’s hardcore scene (excepting Murphy’s Law) may have skewed my perception since that was a decidedly non-Reagan friendly atmosphere.

              3. Brian L.

                Well, I sure didn’t. I was any early adopter of “anyone but a Democrat or Republican.” In 1980, when I was 12, I was pulling for Anderson. The first presidential election I could vote in was 1988 (Bush or Dukakis, meh). However, later I thought Perot was a clown (Oh noes, the debt is going to crush us! — glad to see my instincts were right in light of MMT). Nader has been about the only Pres. candidate that I would vote for and he wasn’t “presidential” to say the least. Early on, I didn’t see the point of voting in Federal elections — as someone mentioned above — GIGO. The Carlin spiel on voting sums up my attitude pretty well. Voting just legitimizes all the corruption, imperialism, war and general evil spewing from the swamp. [Family blog] that.

                Here is something that Lambert has pointed to in the past from A. Silber (and he may again one day) — Enjoy!

                The Tale that Might Be Told

                1. dcrane

                  Well, Perot also coined the famous “giant sucking sound” quote about NAFTA, and for that reason I now feel a bit of late pride in my choice in that election.

                  1. Brian L.

                    Yes, he was right about that. NAFTA is good example of how the Ds and Rs aren’t really much different. Bush started it and Clinton finished it.

      2. jrs

        oh yes my kindergarten self was out there voting for Reagan. can you get more absurd.

      3. Carey

        Not getting this: I was a late-“Boomer”, born 1959, and thus barely old
        enough to vote (for Anderson, should have voted for Carter) in the ’80 election.

        Millennials as Ray-gun’s base?


    5. shinola

      I grew up reading Mad mag. & watching Rocky & Bullwinkle well into my college days. Didn’t actually vote for Ronnie Raygun as much as against Carter. Thought Carter would win anyway. Big mistake – did not repeat it though.

      1. Gary

        Carter was unfairly ridiculed and blamed for things not his fault. His brother Billy was used against him where as RR had a brother in a mental institution that was never brought up.
        I put it all down to programming. Some of us are easier to influence than others.

        1. JBird4049

          Billy Carter was running around being followed by news cameras doing stuff like promoting Billy Beer whereas Ronnie’s brother was moldering quietly in a mental institution. I think Billy wanted to be the family black sheep.

        2. foghorn longhorn

          Carter was no innocent victim, he helped start the deregulation of this country.
          Nixon with the hmo’s, carter with trucking and airlines, raygun, bush, clinton, obama, and here we are.
          But it was all his unelected brothers fault because he liked beer instead of chardonnay.

          1. Carey

            ..almost like there was an overarching plan, that had little
            or nothing to do with whoever was “elected”..


        3. NotTimothyGeithner

          I think the narrative of Carter’s Sweater was designed to distract from the extreme right wing positions and to blame voters not the Democratic strategerists who likely swore that kicking unions would be a huge vote getter.

    6. Dita

      Please. I was born on the border of boomer/gen x, and didn’t vote for the Gipper.
      “Generation” in the US is an advertising ploy to sell useless crap to young consumer, IMNSHO.

    7. willf

      I don’t know, it seems like all the “lighter side of” strips were punching left from the center. YMMV.

    8. kernel

      Born 1954, grew up in New Jersey reading Mad. Never subscribed, but read it cover-to-cover whenever I could.

      But I’d bet that it was a regional phenomenon that never sold well in the South. Or is this just my Yankee prejudice showing out?

      Looking for anecdatal confirmation/refutation from other Naked Capitalists…?

      1. Toshiro_mifune

        I was born in ‘70 in NYC but grew up in Jersey. Didn’t read Mad (I did read Crazy which was a competitor though). Even by ‘79 or ‘80 Mad seemed to me to be an artifact from another era. Judging by what my friends and younger brothers read Cracked was dominant during the 80s and 90s. So maybe there is a generational skewing at play in addition to regional?

        1. Wukchumni

          Cracked was a wannabe competitor to MAD, I transitioned to the National Lampoon in the 70’s, and then Private Eye in the 80’s.

          1. ambrit

            I also like to peruse old editions of “The Spectator.”
            I quite enjoy Addison and Steele, (not related to the Spook Steele, thank heavens,) in their wry observations about current events and personalities.
            It still brings mirth to the beleaguered soul.

      2. Sushi

        We passed issues of Mad magazine and compilations like Don Martin’s zany works around the neighborhood. Many gray afternoons could be whiled away with some snacks and entertainment when it was too cold to play outside and not yet snowing.

        I think we got started on Mad by an older kid returning from New York City with tales of banned books, or what passed for that in those days. Nothing like some prohibition to make youth take notice.

      3. Dwight

        Born in 1963, grew up in Atlanta reading Mad. As I recall it was popular among my cohort. Lots of transplants in Atlanta – I moved from New Jersey – so Atlanta may not have been representative of the South.

    9. Barmitt O'Bamney

      I’ll never understand how a Mad Mag readership could produce and support a troop fluffer like S. Colbert, post 2008. He became his SWC role, Mr. Nobblet. Couldn’t get enough of the RusssiaRussssiaRussssssia!!!! catnip. They have a word for faces like that.

    10. richard

      spy vs. spy was always the first place i checked
      to see if the black spy won (i was a black spy booster)
      anyway, i am boomer/x cusp (1964) and voted for mondale in ‘84, dukakis while holding my nose (after supporting jackson) and no democrat for the presidency since. I wrote in Nader twice in ‘92 and ‘96.
      my older brother, older sister and I all watched and loved the rocky and bullwinkle cartoon
      i caught the little needles to authority even then
      of course we all shared tons of horrible culture as well, like everyone else
      and for our part we grew up in a very conservative, market-is-god kind of atmosphere
      dad and granddad were both private business owners
      and “union” was as dirty a word as there was
      if you said the word without snorting or spitting you were breaking all kinds of norms
      the payoff?
      my brother is a dem now
      my sister voted for trump (but i think sanders could grab her, she and i need to have the med4all talk)
      and I parted ways with the dems 30 years ago

      1. Carey

        Thanks for this history, richard. I admit to mcVoting for Bubba in ’92- my last “Dem” prez vote, unless Sanders somehow gets the nomination (heh!).

        at the least, one can withhold consent.

        1. Punts Pete

          Same here. I voted for Bubba because he said he wouldn’t sign the NAFTA bill without strong labor and environmental provisions. I believed him. My bad. Voted only third party since. Fool me once . . .

  3. Summer

    Re: Maggots
    “This actually sounds pretty neat, especially the carbon part. Go long maggots!”

    Yes, it sounds like a nice little experiment. Now I’m imagining maggots on a global, industrial scale …..regulations being fought every step of the way…..

    1. Lee

      Insects and their larvae are an important food source for fellow omnivores such as bears. I’m sure we can similarly benefit from them. Maggots are also handy for wound cleaning and probably useful in various other ways above and beyond their natural functions.

      Yellowstone Bears Eat 40,000 Moths a Day In August

      How Maggots Heal Wounds

      1. Summer

        Yes, they have their place.
        You don’t know how they would behave if “manufactured” on an industrial scale.

        1. polecat

          Jut imagine : GMO maggots !! ..

          ‘CRISPR Critters’ – “Now with 89% maggot genes !”

          Can you say Brundle .. mr. fly ?

      2. Dwight

        Sardinia has a maggoty sheep cheese called Cazu Marzu. It is supposed to be eaten when the maggots are alive.

      1. nippersdad

        A Modest Proposal?

        I doubt that many of them would even qualify as Soylent Green. At least we know where the maggots have been; less chance of a recall after consumption.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      imagine what living next door to that kind of CAFO would be like.

      a lady bug grower(rancher?) for a neighbor, i can deal with….

  4. Eduardo

    Meanwhile, Alex Jones’s audience will tell you that America, like the rest of the world, is ruled by a depraved internationalist elite whose ultimate allegiance is not to countries or political parties or ideologies but to one another. These people believe in nothing. They will safeguard their wealth and privilege at any cost. They will never break rank. And they will commit unspeakable crimes with impunity, while anyone who dares to speculate openly is sued or hounded out of public life as a kook.

    Wait. What? Alex Jones is the sane one? I thought he was a crazy right wing nut job. I guess that is what they wanted me to think?

    1. Wukchumni

      I sometimes watch Alex Jones, hoping to get him on the day he spontaneously combusts, live on air.

      He’s wound tighter than a 2 bit watch…

      1. clarky90

        Waking Life, “The Car Scene”, 2001

        American contemporary ranting poetry


        “You can’t fight city hall. Death and taxes. Don’t talk about politics or religion. This is all the equivalent of enemy propaganda rolling across the picket line. Lay down G.I.! Lay down G.I.!

        We saw it all through the 20th century, and now, in the 21st century, it’s time to stand up and realize that we should not allow ourselves to be crammed into this rat maze. We should not submit to de-humanization.

        I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned with what’s happening in this world. I’m concerned with the structure. I’m concerned with the systems of control: those that control my life, and those that seek to control
        it even more. I want freedom, that’s what I want! And that’s what you should want! It’s up to each and every one of us to turn loose and just suck up the greed, the hatred, the envy, and yes, the insecurities, because that is the central mode of control; Make us feel pathetic, small, so we’ll willingly give up our sovereignty, our liberty, our destiny. We have got to realize that we’re being conditioned on a mass scale. Start challenging this corporate slave-state!

        The 21st century is going to be a new century, not the century of slavery, not the century of lies and issues of no significance, and classism and statism, and all the rest of the modes of control! It’s going to be the
        age of humankind standing up for something pure, and something right.

        What a bunch of garbage: liberal, democrat, conservative, republican. It’s all there to control you! Two sides of the same coin. Two management teams bidding for control, the CEO job, of Slavery Inc.!

        The truth is out there in front of you, but they lay out this buffet of lies. I’m sick of it and I’m not going to take a bite out of it, do you got me?! Resistance is not futile, we’re gonna win this thing, humankind is too good, we’re not a bunch of under-achievers! We’re gonna stand up, and we’re gonna be human beings. We’re going to get fired up about the real things, the things that matter: creativity and the dynamic human spirit that refuses to submit. Well, that’s it, that’s all I got to say. The ball’s in your court.”

    2. richard

      I liked this short piece, though he misreads (of course) the liberal contribution to “fake news”. After 2+ years of russia cubed, how is that not your example? “Spray tan mussolini” and “never more than 5 minutes away from making birth control illegal” seem to miss the point, delicately and purposefully.

    3. Plenue

      The article is idealizing him, basically. He does sort of talk about those things, but it’s in the form of constant ranting about vaguely defined ‘globalists’. Jones doesn’t present any kind of coherent definition or critique of transnational elites or neoliberalism (to the point I’ve genuinely wondered if he’s someones paid dis-info asset. “‘Globalization’? What are you, some kind of crazy Alex Jones fan?”). Any vaguely accurate points Jones makes are sandwiched in between him ranting about a conspiracy to turn frogs gay and him hawking bottles of Super Male Vitality to counteract the ‘estrogen mimickers’ the ‘globalists’ are putting in our food to make us all beta male cuck libtards.

        1. Plenue

          The way he exploits his audience by claiming his overpriced products will counteract the ‘conspiracy’ reveals the utter disdain he has for them.

    4. Joe Well

      But why are they resonating with Alex Jones instead of Jimmy Dore?

      That is the real question.

      1. JBird4049

        Because Alex “Mad Dog” Jones crazy conspiracies are actually crazy enough to match the crazy that the Wonderland of our world even if he is a probable candidate for a 5150 hold. Jimmy Dore’s explanations are actually true and at times almost as crazy as Alex Jones, but without the added Elders of Zion-Liberal-NWO-Illuminati-Lizard People vibe to draw people in. If Dore is making sense why not go a further onto the Crazy Train with Jones?

        There are serious differences between the two starting with only one of them is sane, but, frankly, if I had not spent years reading history and political science, while following our devolution into whatever we are becoming, and instead gotten my wake up call after the 2016 elections, I might be a devotee of either Alex Jones or Rachel Maddow

      2. skippy

        Umm … Alex Jones under legal deposition stated his work was performance art entertainment – ?????

  5. Wukchumni

    Tech: “Amazon confirms Alexa customer voice recordings are kept forever”

    HALexa : I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

    1. Hepativore

      Soon, employers are going to be paying Amazon and Google to get our Echo, Alexa, and Siri data and recordings so that they can see if current employees or potential new hires have anything odd or subversive in their character. Not having an Alexa or and Echo might be grounds for dismissal and potential hires would not get the position. After all, you must be hiding something.

      1. Wukchumni

        I like to mess with my sister’s Alexa, making requests such as:

        “Alexa, read me War and Peace”

    2. The Rev Kev

      But think of the advantages for future genealogists. They could download all those recordings of their ancestors and know every bit about their personal lives and I mean everything. All their personal conversations, their quarrels, what they talked about in their bedrooms, every nook and cranny of their lives. Wouldn’t that be something wonderful to look forward to?

      1. JBird4049

        Wouldn’t that be something wonderful to look forward to?

        No. Which is why I don’t have that thing. Or use Siri. Five Eyes probably already know what I last read.

  6. Michael Fiorillo

    “Detestation of lies” and the Marx brothers?

    Absolutely: “Duck Soup” is one of the greatest anti-nationalism satires ever made.

    1. Wukchumni

      Wouldn’t ‘Whoreshack’ be a good moniker for Epstein?

      Not that there wasn’t an Epstein also in Welcome Back, Kotter.

      1. ambrit

        Well, place the movie version of “Whoreshack” in an exclusive subdivision, and play most of the action on the attendant golf course. Bill Murray is still around. I wonder if he would be interested. And what part would he want to play?
        “Welcome Back Kotter???” John Travolta was in that. He already has his own jet. He wouldn’t be interested.

      2. ChrisPacific

        ‘Whore’ is too kind. It implies consent, which underage girls cannot legally give.

        1. ambrit

          Good point. I would use the old term “White Slavery,” but it does have an olde tymey segregationist connotation. Just plain old “Sex Slavery” will do nicely.
          Perhaps the old Middle English word “trull” will do.

    2. Louis Fyne

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence…..

      but I love a good conspiracy theory and the idea that Epstein blackmailed his way into his billion+ dollar fortune is near the top. Maybe someone will spill all the beans and evidence.

      Until that happens, I await to serve our alien overlords (another famous conspiracy) with open arms.

      1. NotReallyHere

        Indeed, I read one theory that the “hedge fund” never existed. The “offshore fund dealing in FX markets with no need to declare investor rolls” was just the blackmail money he got from his video making biz. That is a set-up that works in a logical sense.

        Who knows? The linked article articulates well the logical line that makes crazy theories credible. And whatever the truth, the authorities are likely to publish their evidence and that will be a great source of more conspiracies.

        1. nippersdad

          Which would go a long way toward explaining how the Clinton Foundation gets through so much money while having so little to show for it; Inquiring (Haitian) minds want to know.

          Yahoo News (only memorable for having broken the Steele Memo story) thinks that they just got to the bottom of the Seth Rich Murder conspiracy theory (Putin, of course), so now it is time to make up some new ones to fill the gap. I wonder how Yahoo will explain Vlad’s ultimate responsibility for Epstein’s transgressions.

          1. NotReallyHere

            I though the foundation’s trick was to funnel donations through a Canadian entity cos Canadian law forbids revealing the source of donations.

            So much mone, so much jurisdictional choice, so little time, eh!

            1. nippersdad

              Speaking of having so many jurisdictional choices, with ISDS they can always sue in privatized courts for lost profits! The grifting industry must be protected at all costs.

              1. ambrit

                So, we’re all at the mercy of a giant “protection racket.” Just when we thought it was safe to join the “Mile High Club.”

      2. Synoia

        the idea that Epstein blackmailed his way into his billion+ dollar fortune…

        Only a Billion?


      3. dearieme

        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence…..

        They don’t, you know. Perfectly ordinary evidence will do if it’s conclusive enough.

        1. ChrisPacific

          ‘Extraordinary’ and ‘conclusive enough’ are synonyms in this context. It just means that the bar for proof is set higher. (As opposed to something like “my dog ate dinner at the usual time yesterday” which you would probably be quite happy to take on faith).

      4. VietnamVet

        Extraordinary Evidence. Indeed. Why Now? Perhaps because Jeff Epstein was Clintons’ BFF and there are no hints of a “Five Eyes” Intelligence Community involvement; just straight forward “pay for play”. But then there is Michael Isikoff on Huffpost today pinning the Seth Rich conspiracy on the Russians who insidiously planted the theory in the dark recesses of the internet. Such villains. No wonder Barrack Obama and his First Hand, Joe Biden, restarted the Cold War.

        A really dark-wing conspiracy theory on the internet is that media consolidation controlled by five oligarchs has turned western new reporting into profit driven propaganda to facilitate human and environmental exploitation and spread conflict across the globe.

        1. Carey

          Interesting that Bubba Clinton felt the need to issue a
          preemptive statement.

          Probably just more theater for the rubes though

    3. Isotope_C14

      Search wikileaks.org for the key words “Dennis Hastert” in the Podesta releases. It’s pretty obvious what is going on.

      I think the text was something along the lines of “We should send Denny to an undisclosed Japanese Island.”

      His son is a lobbyist for the Podesta Group, which makes sense that daddy had to get him a job, he’s qualified for literally nothing else.

      It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see where this most likely leads.

      1. Acacia

        Good call. It was Jake Siewert who quipped: “Might be time for Denny to vanish to an undisclosed Japanese island.”

        But — definitely far short of a rocket surgeon here — it seems that Hastert was simply paying hush money to a former student, underage, who he’d molested some years earlier, whereas it sounds more like Epstein was enabling molestation by a large number of high-profile figures, and then skimming the shut-up money. Or, is there some Podesta angle I’m not seeing?

  7. Matthew G. Saroff

    Gillibrand is polling at 0% because she is loathed by something north of 20% of the Democratic primary electorate, both for her knifing of Franken and her decades long political opportunism,

    The fact that her candidacy is largely content free exacerbates this.

    It should be noted that sexism is an issue: Buttigieg is even more content free, but he gets lots of love.

    1. Geo

      I’m not disagreeing but find it fascinating that the idea of sexism hurting a hetero woman but benefitting a gay man is potentially true. Speaks volumes about the speedy advancement of gay rights and their social normalization.

      If you’d told me even just ten years ago a gay man would outperform a straight woman in a national election I’d have laughed at you. Today, it seems to actually be an asset for Buttigieg. At least in the primary.

      Curious if there’s a lesson there for other rights movements or if this is just something unique for white gay men that other “out” groups aren’t afforded?

      1. JCC

        It seems more like modern US IDPol vs age-old prejudice to me. I still think much of this pro-Gay politics will be relatively short-lived based on long term Judeo-Christian-Moslem social history; hopefully I’m wrong.

  8. barrisj

    Re: air pollution in the LA Basin…appropriate time for this article, as Herr Trumpf is now touting his – wait for it – “environmental record”, and how life is better in these here Yewnited States since he took office. NYT does a fact-check, but at three years into this Administration, BFD…been there – done that.

    1. Wukchumni

      I was raised on awful pollution in L.A. in the 60’s & 70’s when there was half as many human beans there as now. It took awhile for the changes set forth in the early 70’s to take effect, but by the 80’s the air was remarkably clear in comparison to when i’d see the San Gabriel range only a few times a year after a big rain, despite the view being a straight shot from my front porch 25 miles away.

  9. Off The Street

    Emotional labor would be the new frontier, I would think.

    That is distressingly ominous and foreboding in a neo-liberalish, exhaust all consumer surplus kind of way. Imagine the apps to allow instant debiting and crediting of accounts, tied into social capital like some Black Mirror episode (watch the one with Bryce Dallas Howard) released into the wild. Add in subcultures springing up to find more ways to extract whatever remains, or to create new fresh hells out of blank sheets of vaporware. /rant

    1. Summer

      That “Black Mirror” episode was hilarious and terrifying because it’s the kind of BS that will get passed off as “cool” and everybody plays along like it is although it is driving them all insane. Like so much other crap in the “social” sphere.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Pretty good read.

      I still think the biggest, most important decision is his pick for Justice Dept. He needs to unleash holy hell upon the oligarchs. Anti-trust, tax evasion, whatever they can find to get them. If he doesn’t, they will do their best to ensure he doesn’t finish his term.

        1. polecat

          I would choose the Honorable Professor William Black, as he knows, through experiance, how to kick ass to those who need a bruising !!

        2. Geo

          Definitely the best pick in a realistic world. In an ideal one i’d prefer Nomi Prins – or NC’s own Yves.

        3. John k

          Bill black…
          warren for treasury.
          Tulsi for veep. Great insurance policy, kinda like pence… granted he’s ineffective, dems not worried about somebody with direct line to dog.

        4. JohnnyGL

          Nah, I like her as Treasury Sec. Yves said it first, probably a couple of years ago, now. She was right.

          I really don’t know who to put in charge at Justice Dept.

          Just throwing darts here….what’s Eliot Spitzer up to these days? :) Bill Black?

  10. Carolinian

    Actually there’s a direct line from Duck Soup to

    “It struck me that war is not a very nice business, and the comic book companies dealing in the subject matter of war tended to make war glamourous,” Kurtzman recalled. “That offended me—so I turned my stories to antiwar.”

    But just as the Marx Brothers were highly variable some of those quoted Mad bits don’t seem all that hilarious if you are no longer 12 years old. Parody has its limits and in Colbert’s case has morphed into outright pandering. There’s nothing very subversive these days about taking on that overstuffed target known as Donald Trump. He’s already a cartoon character.

    1. Wukchumni

      My parents were mad about Laugh-In, they’d have the neighbors over and everybody would drink Daiquiris and get smashed amid antics.

      It’s almost unwatchable now…

      Comedy often has a use-by date attached.

    2. ambrit

      It tells us something profound about America that the electorate, at least, a plurality of such, preferred a cartoon character to what the other team was offering.
      It’s an often overlooked factor in politics that a cold hearted s.o.b. can win by offering some ‘hope and change’ to the people while a more genuine candidate, from either end of the political spectrum, will lose using a hate based strategy.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve been reading my autographed copy of Adlai Stevenson’s 1952 campaign speeches, and I think he blew it for future Presidential candidates, in terms of being too intelligent & witty @ the same time, and then losing twice.

        Present day candidates in the donkey show, come off as kindergartners in comparison.

        1. ambrit

          You just had to throw that “…autographed copy…” remark in there, didn’t you.
          I’ll match you with my autographed copy of Al Gore’s book “Earth In The Balance,” and raise you one “Lost Moon” signed by James Lovell.
          I must agree with you that today’s politicos have no gravitas, nor much in the way of usable liberal arts knowledge.
          Oh for the days when politicians had to write their own speeches.

          1. Wukchumni

            My friend was a volunteer on Stevenson’s 1952 & 1956 campaigns, and the book is inscribed to him:

            “To Daryl,

            With my esteem

            Adlai E. Stevenson 1954”

            He gave it to me about 20 years ago, I think to perk my interest, and it worked.

  11. Summer

    RE: “Within 15 years, thousands of miles of fiber optic cable—and hundreds of pieces of other key infrastructure—are likely to be swamped by the encroaching ocean. And while some of that infrastructure may be water resistant, little of it was designed to live fully underwater…”

    This is would be one of those things we will get to find out in our lifetimes.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      This statement near the tail of the link caught my eye:
      “’We live in a world designed for an environment that no longer exists,’” says Rich Sorkin, the co-founder of Jupiter Intelligence, … [a]ccepting the reality of what future will look like, he says, is key to planning for it—and studies like this, he says, highlight just how quickly we’ll all have to adapt.”

      The links from this link were especially rich with references. Apparently there is a fair sized academic industry generating studies of resilience. I doubt that knowing and accepting the risks will mean any planning for it will be done and if there is planning it doesn’t mean any actions will be taken. Consider the many warnings the petroleum industry has had in the past about rusting pipe infrastructures. That didn’t lead to planning or action other than passing the potential problem to the next guy.

      1. ambrit

        It will depend on the size of the population being planned for. A small cadre of ‘experts’ and ‘technocrats’ will expect themselves to be saved because of their ‘natural virtue.’ Such persons seldom consider the entire support system architecture.
        I’m amazed that Musk and Company haven’t admitted that going to Mars isn’t their main objective. I’ll suggest that preparing for surviving on an Earth that becomes like Mars is the goal.

  12. ewmayer

    U.S. judge strikes down Trump administration rule requiring drug prices in TV ads – Reuters

    One of the few Trump administration initiatives I can actually get behind … so maybe Congress should actually do something and give HHS such price-disclosure authority? Oh wait, that would require multiple influential congresspersons to get off their knees and interrupt their fellation of BigPharma. What was I thinking? Love the specious “free speech” argument by the plaintiffs, though!

    1. ambrit

      This could be a back door way of challenging all those ‘Executive Orders’ that litter our regulatory framework.
      The simplest way I can think of to undo this is to overturn “Citizens United.”

  13. Savedbyirony

    I think this ties in with your speculation about “gender fluidity”, but not only when did they become so popular but why are they “gender reveal parties”? People are born as a particular sex (and some inter-sexed, but is that not often not detectable before birth and “corrected” at birth?) Gender is the social baggage that gets dumped/gifted upon us all. (makes a big difference right from the very start if you are female or male)

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      with both our boys, we knew, but refused to tell anyone until the blessed day when i emerged from the delivery area with them.(talk about frustrated relatives,lol…this was all about asserting our autonomy(“our kid, not yourn!”))
      of course, we never needed an excuse for a party…and “gender reveal parties” sound a lot like “give us stuff” parties, which feels kinda icky.

      1. Savedbyirony

        I am guessing that part of the popularity ties in with social media. Do something spectacular or inane, throw it up on YouTube, share and/or bask in five seconds of social media attention.

        But, why do people want to know a forthcoming baby’s sex? Just curiosity, being in the know, how to address it and/or to shop for baby gifts? Though for the last, what difference for a child’s let alone newborn’s needs whether male or female?

        But what about linguistics, here. People are thinking they are being told which biological sex but they are hearing a term which does not mean that nor is it specifically in our society ever used to mean that. This is a normalizing of the erasure of the ability socially to specially speak of biological sex in the day to day common language of “ordinary” conversation.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I think they used to be called “baby showers” – or are those still separate?

        Of course, the purpose is so the relatives know what color of baby clothes to buy.

        Personally, I think this knowing the sex beforehand is cheating; you’re supposed to have to pick out 2 names, just in case. Granted, we failed at that; had settled on a boy name but not a girl name, and got lucky. Naturally, the name we thought was for boys turned out to be unisex,not that that’s a problem, so really we had it covered.

    2. doug

      I figure is it an excuse to have one last(for a while) party. nothing wrong with that IMO.

    3. Summer

      Why are they “gender reveal parties”?
      Marketing of baby products.
      Marketing jumps on any bandwagon.

      1. Carey

        Somthing about that phrase- “gender reveal parties”- saddens and depresses the f*ck out of me.

        Late-stage performative something

  14. ACF

    Re gender reveal parties

    a) didn’t used to be a thing b/c people just waited to find out b/c they had to or preferred to (my husband and I waited by choice)

    b) to me seems driven by consumer culture–according to the google people generally have a baby shower *and* a gender reveal party–two expensive events to ask people for presents.

    c) to me seems also driven by exhibitionist culture–the selfie/social media/reality show life culture–it’s a totally different vibe than a baby shower, which is about giving the parents things they need to care for a baby (including some gifts ‘for’ the baby like clothes, blankies, stuffed animals) but really it’s about car seats, strollers, diapers, pack & plays, bottles, milk pumps, etc. The gender reveal is about the baby as person instead of as bundle of ‘joy’ the parents are taking on, and apparently is helpful to shoppers at the baby shower who want to get gendered gifts.

    I mean, I guess in some way it’s a push back against fluidity, but I don’t think that’s really it. Parents are always into knowing their child’s gender, and in utero they’re focused on gender as anatomy. Most parents aren’t thinking about their announcing their coming girl or boy-to-be as a political statement re gender; parents who wanted to know before birth always found out, and if asked, told people (they told family members anyway.) What’s new is the broader publicity, the production, and the additional consumerism.

    imo anyway

  15. Craig H.

    Colorful self-made billionaire H. Ross Perot dies at 89

    It’s pretty simple: If you’re paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory South of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor,…have no health care—that’s the most expensive single element in making a car— have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don’t care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      labor arbitrage is why i voted for him both times.
      didn’t agree with him on much else…although his outspokenness was refreshing.
      i despised Billary from the getgo…first from a gut feeling…later, confirmed.
      and i won’t vote R.
      prolly the only billionaire i’d have a beer with.

      1. Gary

        He would not have had a beer with you. We used to have lunch at the same BBQ place in Plano. He was a cross between Napoleon and Boris Karloff as The Mummy. He surrounded himself with lickspittles and lackeys. If you worked for him and wore loafers, especially tasseled ones, you were fired on the spot. His software products were garbage and relied on government contracts. Ha ha!

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          ’93 or so, i was cooking breakfast for 9 months in the little basement cafe in the Democratic Building across the street from the Texas Capitol.
          Bob Bullock and Anne Richards were regulars, for an idea of my clientele.
          Perot was there one day with somebody for something, and that somebody wanted to grab a donut or something…Perot, like you said, was quite the ass. almost prissy.
          nose literally up in the air(bossman(a Scot) was making bubble and squeak, of all things…so the place smelled funny)
          I still voted for him the next go-round.
          he was the only one even questioning nafta,etc at that level.
          that was plenty enough for me.

      2. polecat

        Had a good friend call me “a f#ckin spoiler” for voting Perot, just as when I voted for Nader. He had a hard-on for Gore … thought he was Gaia’s gift to the War against Climate Change … and never considered his choice for a wanker of a running mate.

        sigh …

    2. foghorn longhorn

      If he hadn’t been shown the horses head, would have definitely voted for ol’ Perot.
      That giant sucking sound indeed.

    3. Wukchumni

      I was on a long backpack trip when Perot fell out of the Presidential race, only to rejoin it later. He seemed too elfin to be considered, to me.

      My dad was out of work in the stock biz for a year or so, when this happened…

      The first “Earth Day” was launched April 22, 1970. It was also Ross Perot’s “back to earth” day. Shares in his Electronic Data Systems (bought by Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) last year) fell $60 that day. On paper, Earth Day cost Ross Perot roughly $450 million, but he didn’t seem fazed by all those paper losses.

      The average computer stock fell 80% from its peak in late 1968 to the May 1970 lows. Perot’s EDS shares fell 85%, from $162 to $24. Other big-name tech stocks fell almost as far: Control Data fell 83%, Mohawk Data 84%, Sperry Rand 72%, and NCR fell 64%. Some lesser-known names fell further. University Computing fell from $186 to $13 (-93%); Data Processing Financial fell 94%, from $92 to $6.


    4. anonymous

      IIRC perot, thought major spending on infrastructure was a priority. I don’t think he meant the privatized type either; but I could be wrong on that.

  16. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Which of these worldviews is closest to the truth?

    I’m going with narcissistic, sociopathic unaccountable ruling caste on this one.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      “Which of these worldviews is closest to the truth?”

      Depends largely on which tax bracket you’re in and which religion (if any) you were born into.

      Americans may be the least objective people on Earth; many are completely incapable, and moreover, actively resent anyone who tries to disabuse them of their gaslit world view..

  17. a different chris

    >But some dealers say manufacturers are falling back on old habits of overbuilding to keep factories running and then turning to discounts to boost sales.

    Here’s my scratched* record comment:

    Sounds like fracking, doesn’t it? Except for the “old habits” part, this is all new to them! And that’s why the oil bidness people can’t make this work at all. They don’t even know what they are involved in, let alone how to make it work.

    *I used to have to explain to you young’uns how a scratch would cause a record to continually skip back and repeat a segment. But seems you’ve discovered records again! One bright spot in the gloom.

  18. anarcheopteryx

    “When bills pile up, young people turn to strangers on Venmo”

    Since most of my friends online or otherwise are in a constant hustle to make rent, very common indeed. I long ago stopped giving to NGO charities and when I have spare cash give it directly to venmo/paypal/cash accounts of friends-of-friends or minimally vetted strangers who need some extra. You’ll see a lot of twitter threads ended these days with a “and donate to me here!” link (much as you do at the bottom of posts here). I donate under the understanding/hope that if I reach that point, someone would help me out in return. A lot of people sell handmade jewellery/crafts/art partially just because of the shame associated with outright begging. And people like me don’t really care that much about the good/service being purchased, more about where the money is going.

    I appreciate people being hesitant about the idea of monetizing even more in life, but it often is more a retaliation against being exploited. If you are being taken for granted, it can be empowering to stand up and say “No, you owe me cash for that, it’s not free”. See also the “wages for housework” movement. When money is the primary way we measure worth in society, demanding $$$ can be a way of establishing, in a way The Man understands, that your labour has value.

  19. JohnnyGL

    Pretty good from Bernie Sanders:


    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): In terms of Joe Biden, look, I think that Joe Biden, Joe has talked about his early days in the Senate when things were civil. But underneath that so-called civility, there was an incredible oppression and ugliness and attacks against the African-American community.

    You see this when your Congresspeople are so nice, how are you, how is your family. And yet, they are supporting efforts that literally terrorized 30, 40 years ago the African-American community. So it is one thing to work with people, I do, of all political differences. But it’s another thing to boast about a civility which really masks some very ugly policies.

    1. Geo

      But it’s another thing to boast about a civility which really masks some very ugly policies.

      Odd how Bernie never gets credit from the mainstream for all his bipartisan accomplishments. The only time I’ve seen him get much notice for it was the recent Yemen bill. Maybe the Fed audit too. Don’t hear much about his bipartisan success though. It’s only celebrated when “centrists” reach across the aisle to tighten the systemic rigging against the powerless with more “shared sacrifice” at the altar of the “job creators”.

  20. TonyinSoCAL

    Inverted yield curve, a reliable recession indicator, may fail this time, Realtor economist says

    The current inversion is taking place at historically low-interest rates,” Yun said. “Not only is this unique, but the low interest rates can provide a buffer to any downturn.”

    During his forecast, delivered at the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Austin, Texas, Yun pointed to a number of other indicators showing home prices will continue rising for the foreseeable future, barring an all-out trade war with China.

    For example, consumer confidence remains relatively high, thanks in part to lower mortgage rates this year, Yun said, although it did notably decline in June in California and nationally.

    That’s quite a steaming load of BS you are slinging there, Larry!! After all you’ve been trying to talk up the housing market for the last six months despite its turn lower. You just don’t get it do you, Larry?

    Low rates won’t mean crap if inflation hits, Larry!!

    Consumer confidence you say, Larry?

    The overall Consumer Confidence Index currently sits at 121.5, down 7.5 percent in a month and down 4.4 percent from a year ago.

    At 162.6, the Present Situation Index also fell between May and June, down 4.7 percent, but is up 0.6 percent from a year earlier. The Present Situation Index is currently up 705 percent from its December 2009 low point, and is still 18 percent higher than the pre-bust peak in July 2007.

    And the economy might look good to your buddies on the cocktail circuit, but for the rest of America, Trump and his steaming load of economic BS that democrats refuse to challenge is not fooling anyone.

    As economy booms, many a crisis away from bust

    Sommer Johnson thought everything was finally coming together for her last year. She was engaged, working full time and doing well in online college classes when her fiance’s mother died a week before their wedding day — triggering a series of large and unexpected expenses that left her struggling to pay her bills and brought her to the verge of bankruptcy.

    I keep hearing this is one of the best economies we’ve ever had and unemployment is down, especially among African Americans, which I am,” said Johnson, 39, who lives in Douglasville, Ga., an Atlanta suburb. “I’m looking around going, ‘Where is this boom?’ From where I sit, this doesn’t look like the best economy ever.”

    I guess Sommer doesn’t know what she’s talking about and we are just supposed to follow Trump and the rest of the Washington gang of BS slingers. “Trust us, the economy is great, now go get your EBT.”

    Strikingly, like in our study, the Census Bureau study found that about 5% of the population, or 16 million Americans, experienced multidimensional poverty in 2017, but are not income-poor. In other words, according to both studies, 16 million Americans are struggling, yet they do not show up on poverty monitoring radar screens and may not be eligible for assistance programs.

    Oh, so not only are you going to sling BS at us, you are going to manipulate the numbers to pretend like poor people really aren’t that poor in the greatest economy in the history of all time?

    But don’t worry, we’re at almost full employment and it’s all up from here!!

    The U.S. job market has been a growth engine of the U.S. economy since the Great Recession. The unemployment rate in May was 3.6%, near the lowest levels in decades, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, economists worry that the recovery may stall because of factors that include slower corporate earnings and the trade war with China.


    Even though reality is clear, you have the Trump BS Slingers out there trying so hard to push lies about how “great” things are. Democrats better watch out with this great economy!! Joke.

    The thriving US economy creates a dilemma for Democrats: “In 2020, most voters would likely say ‘yes’ when asked if they are better off than they were four years ago,” notes The Washington Examiner’s Byron York.

    Thank you BS Byron for that magnificent piece of analysis.

    Nearly four in 10 Americans say they lack confidence in their ability to pay an emergency expense of $1,000. At the same time, only about 1 in 10 say it’s very likely they wouldn’t pay the bill at all, even if it meant taking a loan, relying on a credit card or borrowing money from relatives.

    Just two in 10 are very confident that they’ll have enough savings for retirement. Nearly half have little to no confidence.

    A quarter of Americans say their expenses are rising faster than their incomes. Just 11% say their salaries have outpaced their costs. (The rest say their incomes have largely kept pace with expenses.)

    Wow so strong!! So economy! Watch out Democrats!!

    The rich have gotten richer and they’ve gotten richer faster,” said John Mathews. He is the head of Private Wealth Management and Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management.

    But there are signs of problems at lower-income levels. Information from the U.S. central bank suggests that, by 2016, the richest 20 percent of Americans held 88 percent of the country’s wealth.

    The federal government says that more than 39 million people need to use food assistance programs. That is not as many as the high of over 47 million in 2013. But still, it is up 40 percent from 2008. At the same time, the country’s population has only grown about eight percent.

    Just get a hard-money loan, losers!

    A new program offers incredibly cheap hard money financing rates and points.

    We are talking about a 30-year amortizing mortgage, with an interest-only rate and payment of 5.75% locked in for the first 5 years.

    This is nearly half the rate for traditional hard-money mortgages. Holy smokes!

    Holy BS!

    Will any Democrat (besides Sanders) please stand up and challenge this BS narrative? Nancy? Chuck? Hello?

  21. ewmayer

    The Dish On Dinner” [New York Magazine]. • From 2003, includes a description of a Jeffrey Epstein dinner party … “When you leave, you have to check to make sure no one’s taken your soul!” — That’s only a danger for those still possessing one. I doubt that was a concern for most of the named luminaries.

    And here is an appropriately-themed film recommendation.

    1. Geo

      I was thinking more of Delicatessen but that’s a good one too.

      As for that quote: does anyone there still have a soul? I figured they sold that long ago.

      “It’s hard to build your soul when everyone around you is trying to sell theirs.” – William Deresiewicz

  22. Wukchumni

    5.9, 6.0, 5.8, 6.0, 5.9, 5.8

    Man goes over Niagara Falls, survives with ‘non-life threatening’ injuries

  23. dearieme

    If there is a Great Crash before the presidential election then presumably a Dem will win it.

    So the choice is between (i) two geezers who are too old, one a socialist and the other much too hands-on, (ii) a woman whose career prospered based on a fake claim to racial privilege, and (iii) a grande horizontale.

    It sounds like Byzantium.

    1. Wukchumni

      Byzantium kept the Roman empire going for another 1,000 years, the clowns you’ve mentioned might keep things going for another few hundred days, until they fade badly.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      nice ageism there

      no policy points whatsoever, but nice attempt at narrative control

    1. sleepy

      Probably be a fake peace, but if the optics hold for awhile it’s good news for Trump and his re-election.

    2. Wukchumni

      I’d imagine if you showed a delineated map of the world with only borders drawn in and no names, to my countrymen, how many rank & file Americans could correctly place Afghanistan’s location out of say 1,000?

      Maybe a dozen, maybe not that many?

      1. ambrit

        It’s an aspect of “Right Action.” Stopping those nutcase jihadis from blowing up more Buddhist art treasures.

  24. pricklyone

    Zoom app:
    The quote at the end is the real story. Not a “security flaw” or “vulnerability” in the app. The app itself is malware!
    *** ” In fact, if you uninstall Zoom, that web server persists and can reinstall Zoom without your intervention.”***

  25. Wukchumni

    I used to see soccer-mom laden SUV’s with cattle guard bars in front and rock guards on the headlights and other autocoutremonts they got suckered into buying, going nowhere fast on the 405 freeway, and yes, said car probably never went off-pavement.

  26. Cal2

    Headline: (speculative).

    10:30 A.M. P.S.T.
    “Second 7.1 earthquake hits California. Both Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors collapse. Radioactive cloud expected to arrive at Los Angeles five hours from time of quake. Freeways Gridlocked,
    mass evacuations of 17.5 million is impossible.”

    The only thing that is preventing this from happening is the earthquake has not hit–yet.

    Bankrupt, PG&E, found guilty of multiple felonies and known for their criminal management of gas pipe and power lines, found guilty of causing dozens of fires, killing hundreds of people, is “in charge” of maintaining the two reactors at Diablo Canyon, sitting atop a complex of faults several hundred miles away from and part of the same system that has caused a swarm of quakes in California over the last few days.

    PG&E has DEFERRED ITS MAINTENANCE at Diablo since at least 2010.

    Got faults and coverups? Yup.

    Nuclear Regulatory Commission site inspector Michael Peck, among many others, has doubts that Diablo can withstand a credible earthquake.

    California Governor Newsom is being asked to demand an investigation of the plant’s weaknesses. He is resisting, seemingly more interested in maintaining PG&E’s credit rating than assuring the safety of tens of millions of Californians.


    Governor Newsom, We demand safety inspections.
    Contact the governor’s office:


    1. Carey

      All this. I’m about 6 miles from of the aptly-named Diablo Canyon nuke.

      Dog have mercy

  27. Wukchumni

    The wrecks of two Dutch submarines sunk off the Malaysian coast during the second world war have disappeared along with the remains of the 79 men who perished onboard.

    Researchers discovered just a few remains of HNLMS O 16 and a mere outline in the seabed of the hull of HNLMS K XVII after investigating a possible disturbance.

    The wrecks are regarded as treasure troves by salvagers. Even poor quality steel can bring in about £1m ($1.3m) a ship, according to estimates cited by the Guardian in a special report in 2017. Other metals valued from the wrecks include copper cables and phosphor bronze propellers.


      1. ewmayer

        Interesting! Guess there’s no cost-effective way to produce low-rad O2 for steelmaking … but hydrolysis of pre-A-bomb-testing water (say from glacial ice of sufficient age) does come to mind.

  28. Samuel Conner

    Nice Milkweed!

    You will have seeds, I’m sure. Mine are full of pods now. And…

    It turns out that what I thought was “Purple” is actually “Common”, which makes me a little sad given the lengths to which I went to germinate the seeds,

  29. Summer


    “British billionaire Richard Branson will take Virgin Galactic public by year-end, giving it the much-needed funds to take on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in the race to space….

    “Hundreds of people from 60 countries, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber, have paid or put down deposits to fly on one of Virgin’s suborbital flights. Some of Virgin Galactic’s ticket holders have been waiting over 14 years for their trip….

    Wait…we can invest and get Bieber off the planet?!? That Branson is slick!

    1. rowlf

      Amateur hour stuff. Ship Congress to Mars and the lobbyists will develop cheap transit for us.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Just bust out those slide rules and that good old 60s technology and we could be on the moon again in 5 years.

  30. The Rev Kev

    “The Nation’s Largest Commercial Insurance Company Has Ditched Covering Coal. That’s a Big Deal.”

    If this spreads this is definitely seriously bad news for Australia’s coalition government who has a passionate affair for coal plants and the coal industry in general. The present Prime Minister, when he was a front-bencher, even brought in a lump of coal into Parliament to show them that it was safe and that there was nothing to worry about from it. They are that wrapped up with coal but even they won’t step up as say that government will be their insurance company if regular insurance companies bail.

    1. Cal2

      Rev, I will raise you one:

      I challenge anyone to find any insurance company fully insuring any nuclear reactor anywhere in the United States, or the world, for that matter.

      The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is the only Soviet Style institution in America; absolute denial of reality and offloading of all costs and every risk to The People, either as rate or tax payers.

      The Price Anderson Act means in a serious nuclear accident,

      except for a tiny deductible, Americans must pay the almost unlimited price in dollars, the destruction of their land, property, their health and their genetic future.


      Cheer up! Look at the sunny side of things. Still not as bad as a hydrogen bomb blast though.
      What me worry?

  31. vegasmike

    The link between the writers of Mad Magazine and the Marx Brothers is obvious. They were East-European Jews and that sensibility is mildly anarchic. Secular Jewish culture is pretty much dead. But in the 20th Century it was very influential.

    1. Harold

      They were actually not East European but rather Alsatian Jews; and Karl Marx was from Trier on the right bank of the Moselle river on the German border with Luxembourg. The writers of Mad Magazine were red diaper babies, alienated but a-political. In the 1950s they would have been considered “non-conformists”.

      Liner Notes for Peter Stampfel/ Dook of the Beatniks

      Excerpt: By 1957, a spirit of rebellion, often referred to as non-conformism, was rising throughout the US. Jean Shepherd was a radio personality who railed against what he called creeping meatballism, as decent a phrase as any to describe the prevailing attitude of the 1950s. Shepherd was one of many who had a powerful compulsion to put on the straights, or as he put it, strike a blow against creeping meatballism. https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/PeterStampfel1

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