Links 7/1/19

Why wasps attack and how to avoid them TreeHugger

Have we all underrated the humble pencil? BBC

The NASA engineers struggling to build a better heat shield MIT Technology Review

In a case that made Canadian legal history, Ontario man convicted of impaired operation of a canoe National Post

The Ruler of Dubai Condemns His Runaway Wife, Princess Haya, on Instagram—in a Poem Daily Beast (chuck l)

Waste Watch

Scrap Collector: Japan’s environmental record scrutinized ahead of G20 marine plastic talks Waste Dive

Microplastics from homes and factories are ending up inside mussels off Chennai’s coast Mongabay

How to rehabilitate old oil supertankers BBC (David L)

The mythical economic data on climate change (1): Nordhaus’s 1994 survey of “experts” Patreon (chuck l). Steve Keen

Mexico hail: Ice 1.5m thick carpets Mexico’s Guadalajara BBC (David L)

‘Madrid Central’ protest: Thousands oppose suspension of anti-pollution plan BBC

New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear Forbes (David L)


Why Facebook’s answer to bitcoin and WeChat Pay, libra, is doomed to fail SCMP (furzy)

Our Famously Free Press

New York Times Clears National Security Stories with the Government Before Publication. Source: New York Times Does With Tyranny. Thomas Neuburger.

The Mass Extinction No One Is Talking About TruthDig

Watching the End of the World Boston Review

Scumbags can program vulnerable MedTronic insulin pumps over the air to murder diabetics – insecure kit recalled The Register (chuck l)

North Korea

Trump becomes first sitting US president to enter North Korea as he shakes hands with Kim Jong-un Independent

‘We Need Real Diplomacy,’ Not Just Photo-Ops, Says Bernie Sanders as Trump Restarts Nuclear Talks With North Korea Common Dreams

Trump-Kim Denuclearization Talks Still Stalled Despite Korea Meeting International Business Times


Chinese scientists guilty of ‘researching while Asian’ in Trump’s America

Trump’s Huawei shift angers US security hawks FT

Road of US-China relations remains bumpy after Huawei reprieve Asia Times

Protesters dismantle metal fencing at Hong Kong’s Legislative Council SCMP

‘Millions march’: Sudanese renew protests to demand civilian rule Al Jazeera


Stopped Clocks: The European Union Gets War With Iran Exactly Right American Conservative

Trump’s Lose-Lose Iran Strategy Project Syndicate

Iran Has Breached Critical Limit on Nuclear Fuel Under 2015 Pact, State Media Reports NYT

Class Warfare

US attorney general declares emergency for public safety in rural Alaska, freeing up $10.5 million to support police Anchorage Daily News

New data shows depth of U.S. mental health crisis Axios

Gray Wave of Workers Gives Slow-Growing World a Boost WSJ

I’m an American who’s lived in Europe for 10 years — and I don’t miss these 5 aspects of American culture at all Business Insider


Biden’s spin doctors, Beto’s flop, a sea of sweat: The madness after the Miami debates.
WaPo (UserFriendly)

Her ambition got it wrong about Joe’: Harris faces debate backlash Politico.

Demanding End to ‘AIPAC-Created Status Quo,’ Progressive Jewish Group Pressures 2020 Democrats to Take Stand Against Israel’s Brutal Occupation Common Dreams

Guillotine Watch

Does the World Need $4,500 Sunglasses? Business of Fashion

Bangladesh’s 65-day ban on fishing will hurt over 400,000 poor coastal families Scroll


How India copes with heatwaves: From traditional tricks to official action plans, what keeps the country from meltdown? Independent

Special Report: How the Modi government dismantled India’s main defence against drought Scroll

Caste Wasn’t a British Construct – and Anyone Who Studies History Should Know That The Wire

Trump Transition

Furzy: “Nepotism Barbie”…

New EPA rule could expand number of Trump officials weighing in on FOIA requests The Hill GF: “It appears this may be the first government agency that may allow political appointees to determine if FOIA requests are deserving of a response.”

How Trump’s ‘weaponized’ use of foreign aid is backfiring Politico

New Soros/Koch-Funded Think Tank Claims To Oppose US Forever War Caitlin Johnston

A Think Tank Dedicated to Peace and Restraint American Conservative

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. PlutoniumKun

    The mythical economic data on climate change (1): Nordhaus’s 1994 survey of “experts” Patreon (chuck l). Steve Keen

    People who follow these issues know full well that the names of Nordhaus and Tol on any paper on the environment should be looked at exceptionally closely for bad faith argumentation. That paper is a classic example of fixing suitable variables in order to come to a pre-ordained conclusion – in this case, that climate change is manageable and won’t be so bad after all.

    Its vital that these papers be continuously be highlighted – Deniers have gone from black refusal to accept scientific reality to more subtle ‘arguments’ based on selective facts and variables to push the same message. And its successful, I’ve seen less wary readers fall for this sort of ‘academic’ paper.

    Thanks to NC for continuously highlighting these issues.

    1. voislav

      I see it as going through stages of grief. We’ve had denial and anger and we still do for minority. Now that it’s more difficult to deny, we’ve moved on to bargaining, either “it may be happening but we are not sure how much of it is anthropogenic” or “it’s happening and small corrective action is all it’s needed (solar panels on the roof, driving a Tesla)”. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll get to acceptance before Florida is mostly underwater.

      1. Oregoncharles

        ” Florida … mostly underwater.”

        That might do it. Note that sea level rise is not yet “priced in” to Florida real estate.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Louisianas coast has beaten Florida with the first federally sanctioned move of a community (Isla de Jean?) due to Climate Change. Louisianas boot is gonna disappear soon. Louisiana Politicians and Lobbyists are calling for ‘All hands on Deck’ while the Oil n Gas Cos that destroyed 70% of our Wetlands sing Kumbaya My Lord.

          True story, I saw Bobby Jindals College daughter on a local access public channel talking about how we need to preserve the cultures being wiped out in the newest Diaspora. The latest being Katrina in 05. F the people, but lets film them and write about them before they go!

  2. PlutoniumKun

    New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear Forbes

    As we’ve seen the last 10 years, the drop in prices for renewables is driving change far faster than policy – I don’t know how long it can go on for, but its certainly doing serious damage to the alternatives.

    Crudely, Los Angeles can count on solar power generation from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., said Louis Ting, director of power planning development at the agency. The batteries in this project effectively extend that horizon four hours, to 11 p.m.

    “The battery can be dispatched differently,” Barner added, “depending on the system need. So you could run that four-hour battery over 16 hours at one-fourth of the output, so you can vary it over time. It’s not just fixed over four hours.”

    One striking thing I’ve noticed here on this side of the Atlantic is that windfarms are now proposing battery storage even without any policy or financial incentive. Batteries are getting so cheap that its worth it for windfarm developers to add batteries just so they can take advantage of better gate prices for power by having more ‘on demand’ capacity. It also allows them to build ‘bigger’ than before because with storage then can build more generating capacity than local network capacity previously allowed (as surplus power can now be stored).

    1. Charger01

      Really? Battery tech seems all the more expensive with the US-china tariff game in play.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      If solar can come in at 1.2 cents per kilowatt hour with solar cells working without loss of efficiency for 25 years that’s great! But I have trouble coming up with the link’s numbers. If I buy one set of panels to generate 100 Watts of power it will run about ~$150 on special sale with discounts etc. from Harbor Freight. If I assume my only cost is the purchase of the panels and buy ten of them, assume they all run at 1000 KiloWatt for 12 hours every day for 25 years — working on the back of an envelope for a guestimate price:
      100 Watt set of panels x10 ~$1500 on sale.
      Number of daytime hours in 25 years = 24x365x25/2 = 109500 hours
      $1500/109500 hours =$ 0.01369863 per KiloWatt hour
      I want to know where I can buy some of the solar panels Los Angeles got from 8minute Solar Energy for their project along with some of the mounting hardware they are using. A chance to buy a battery like 8minute Solar Energy sold to Los Angeles would also be nice — to make a solar package deal. With a package like that why would anyone want to hook up to Grid. Is the only thing holding back wider adoption of solar energy the high markups charged by middlemen? The government could make a bulk purchase to get a volume discount and sell at cost to the public, just as they might to make lower cost drugs available. Solar energy could become a weekend home improvement project comparable to adding a patio or a deck. “Measurements show a house will occasionally use as much as 15 kilowatts for short intervals, but usually the power demand will not exceed about 3.5 kilowatts per house.” []
      So I could pick up enough solar panels for 2 – 3 kilowatts for under $10K and the battery for not sure and with a little work I could be off the Grid. What am I missing here?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m not an expert in the buying side of energy, but I would guess the very low costs achieved are largely down to the economies of scale and the relatively open timetable for delivery. Utility level solar will always be far cheaper than domestic solar for all sorts of reasons, similarly with storage.

        You raise an interesting idea in that consumers could benefit from large scale purchases, either by government or a third party such as a co-operative. I think Musk’s Solar City was based roughly on that idea (a bit like the leasing market for aircraft), but I’m not sure why it failed so badly. But the notion of government simply buying large quantities and selling at cost is alluring, although that could lead to problems of waste and stockpiling and sell-ons, so destroying the overall market.

        1. Olga

          While utilities-scale solar may be cheaper now than the roof-top solar, the above calculation does not take into account transmission/distribution costs. Roof-top solar largely eliminates the need for T&D facilities (a bit more complicated in reality, but still).

        2. JohnnySacks

          Centralized providers have purchasing, quality assurance, engineering, maintenance and repair departments. You and I have fly by night contractors and Angie’s List for all the support we need over the hopefully long life span of the systems, all components of which are obsolete quicker than I wear out a pair of shoes.

      2. GF

        You are trying to do it through Harbor Freight. Companies like 8minute can get extremely good pricing for all parts and pieces necessary for their projects because their projects are huge. They will put out for bid to the major solar players and get those good prices. The same goes for installation. On the small scale end – where you are – a reputable solar installer from your local area is the way to go. The 30% tax credit is also good for systems installed before 12.31.2020. I don’t know what state you live in but this search may help:

        Always use NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certified installation companies.

    3. UserFriendly

      Except to go to 100% renewables you need to have like 4X the battery storage and deal with the change from winter to summer. Try reading the paper that PR is referencing. Honestly though, since when are we taking Musk fanboy assertions at their word?

      Mark Z. Jacobson, the Stanford professor who developed roadmaps for transitioning 139 countries to 100 percent renewables, hailed the development on Twitter Friday, saying, “Goodnight #naturalgas, goodnight #coal, goodnight #nuclear.”

      The anti-nuclear activist Arnie Gunderson, who predicted storage prices under 2¢/kwh four years ago on the night Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Powerpack, noted Saturday that his 2015 prediction was too high. He too said, “Goodbye coal, nukes, gas!”

      Goodnight Moon had more facts than this.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        “developed road maps”

        Thats the best humanitys got? What a waste of 4K yrs worth of technology.

      2. a different chris

        > you need to have like 4X the battery storage and deal with the change from winter to summer. Try reading the paper

        I did, I went and even used the “search” function, and the word “battery” doesn’t even appear in the paper.

        I call BS. You should be a politician with that level of misdirection. Try again.

      3. Jeremy Grimm

        Thanks for the link. I grabbed that reference.

        Mark Z. Jacobson is indeed an interesting character:
        “Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson has filed a lawsuit, demanding $10 million in damages, against the peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and a group of eminent scientists (Clack et al.) for their study showing that Jacobson made improper assumptions in order to claim that he had demonstrated U.S. energy could be provided exclusively by renewable energy, primarily wind, water, and solar.” []
        His website at Standford links to oodles of papers, projects, videos, TED talks, and a Letterman interview. []
        He has another site with links to his research papers. [], including the disputed paper “100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps forthe 50 United States”
        If you back to the site [] there are further references linked from within the directories contained there.

        The site for the “Solutions Project” [] associated with Jacobson in a 2015 press release at Standford [] is particularly interesting to look at a little more closely. And finally the company website for 8minute Solar Energy, “the largest privately held solar power developer in the United States” [] is interesting. I was particularly curious what they were using for their battery storage. I learned that it looks like a white shipping container with no visible connections and four vent panels along the side facing the camera. Beyond that I have no idea what the options are for their “innovative” “technology-agnostic” energy storage. I sensed strange echoes in the style of the 8minite website and the Solutions Project websites. And I kid you not — the about-us page for 8minute actually uses the header “Wait, there’s more” near the bottom.

  3. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Why wasps attack

    Well that’s easy – it’s a result of 10 year old boys throwing rocks at their nest attached to the garage to see what will happen. Learned that as a 10 year old boy – didn’t need any highfalutin scientist to figure that out.

    1. marcyincny

      But I liked the larger message: “It behooves us to do our best to get along with wasps…” especially if it’s extended to all of the natural world.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Indeed – and I learned the hard way that throwing rocks is definitely NOT the best way to get along….

      2. polecat

        Last summer was a heavy wasp season. While the yellow jackets predated on our honey bees (usually the weak and outcast, especially the drones), they, and their relatives the paper wasps & bald-faced hornets, left polecat alone as he attended to his various yard duties. In fact, they where rather busy sucking necter from the catmint and scrophularia (both 7 ft. + in height) that they completely ignored moi. I would goes so far as to gently touch them, without harm, even the hornets !!

        In a related issue, I recently read about some reserchers in the State of Hawaii that discovered that the yellow jackets there were ‘passively’ passing on K-wing and Curly-wing viruses BACK to honeybee colonies, due to their previous predation on infected bees, acting as an ‘incidental’ disease vector. The viruses evidently pose no harm to the wasps themselves.
        I will be more diligent in setting out wasp traps this summer … though, so far, they haven’t showed up .. yet !

        As a youngin .. well, been their – done that ! .. with enough welts on my clueless youthful person to last a lifetime ‘:0

        1. Wukchumni

          We have paper wasps here in Mineral King, and their nest kind of resembles a cornucopia of sorts.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Just to make sure, we are not talking about White Anglo-Saxon, Protestants here, or are we?

            1. polecat

              Well, the BOTH have the capacity to sting now .. repeatedly I might add, and not just white one’s either. ‘:/

        3. Oregoncharles

          I’m something of an expert on how to get stung by yellowjackets; one season I was stung 5 different times and my helper 3 times; she had a reaction and for some reason wouldn’t go back to that site, Essentially all of that was while weeding; they nest in holes in the ground, usually tucked away under things, And you’re leading with your nose when crawling around under things, as my nose could attest, at one time.

          Paper wasps are harder to rile, but brushing against the nest, let alone throwing rocks, will do the job.

          Given all that, both I and the beekeepers next door do our best to eradicate yellowjackets; the others we leave alone if we can – little nests under the edge of the car door are not well placed.

          And a further how-to-get-stung story: at one point, as my then very young son and I were walking through the woods, he took a stick and shoved it into a yellowjacket nest he knew was there. Remarkably, they stung him but not me (maybe I was faster). Dad was very unsympathetic.

      3. Plenue

        Screw that. The second a single one stings me, I will seek out and nuke their nest. Bees are fine, but wasps are assholes and should be exterminated with extreme prejudice.

        1. JohnnySacks

          My grandmother would dip a rag on the end of a stick in powdered cyanide and shake it in the yellow jacket’s nest. None made it more than a a foot or two before dropping stone cold dead. After getting stung, a beautiful sight.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    New Soros/Koch-Funded Think Tank Claims To Oppose US Forever War Caitlin Johnston

    A Think Tank Dedicated to Peace and Restraint American Conservative

    This really is weird. Its hard to even begin to trust an institute backed by Soros, let alone the Koch brothers, but it seems to include some people with real substance and integrity. I guess time will tell.

    1. a different chris

      Well a good use of money is to capture your enemies with it.

      However, in this case – seriously both Koch and Soros aren’t complete idiots and “War, What Is It Good For” is maybe thrumming thru their heads. The interesting thing about both of them, I think and don’t quote me on this, is that their holdings aren’t really that varied and do not really (Koch has oil and the DOD guzzles that, true) depend on the MIC.

      So they are saying “family blog this it ain’t makin’ me any money and it’s sapping my customers” maybe. I’ll take it.

    2. pjay

      Here’s one cynical take on this. The Kochs have invested multiple fortunes (from the perspective of most of us) in co-opting well-meaning but naive libertarians for the neoliberal cause. Soros has invested multiple fortunes in co-opting well-meaning but naive liberals for the neoliberal cause. Now it’s time to “join forces” for the “greater good” of opposing “permanent war” — one cause on which many libertarians and liberal/progressives agree, especially as the problems of US empire become more obvious. But I’m sure it’s sincere *this* time!

      This is just one possible viewpoint, of course. As I say, I hope I’m wrong, but…

      1. pjay

        Also, I assume that Koch and Soros money will now pour into the Tulsi Gabbard campaign, given this new cause. Yea!

      2. polecat

        Opposing permanent war while simultaneously condoning permanently open borders …

        How Grand !! .. /$

      3. hunkerdown

        Koch and Soros are deep into their autumn years. Perhaps there is 11th-hour legacy burnishing and Great Man construction in progress, a just generous enough bone for people to gnaw on and temporarily forget where the meat (and the color revolutions, and the austerity advocacy, and the selective push for selectively open borders) came from so that we don’t take it out of their hides.

      4. prodigalson

        Lure, encase, and smother your opponents with the promise that you “support” them. The Intercept is exhibit A for this in action, Greenwald still shines but the volume of his writings seems to have dwindled to a trickle compared to when he was “independent.” Likewise the Intercept has a funny track record of burning their sources, likewise a good chunk of their writers support the same neolib narratives as the MSM, etc.

        I’ll be VERY surprised if this Koch/Soros monster isn’t some variation of this ploy to neuter opponents with “support” and redirect them into giving narrative cover for other actions that don’t seem completely evil on their surface.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          But hes taking Identity Politics pics for MSM in Brazil.

          Free Lula?

    3. XXYY

      They each contributed half a million. This is like me giving 5 bucks to a homeless guy: Not a sign of enduring and committed support, but perhaps more of a passing fancy. (Though still helpful to the homeless guy!)

      Parsi is good, though. He has been a pretty sane voice on Iran for many years.

      1. Wukchumni

        I gave $5 to a homeless guy a few months ago, he was on an island unto himself inbetween traffic going opposite directions, with a cardboard sign held aloft that proclaimed:

        “Will Work For A Median Income”

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          I usually give a dollar if someone asks me and i have it in my wallet.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Her ambition got it wrong about Joe’: Harris faces debate backlash Politico.

    Its interesting that Harris seems to have done very well from going on the attack, but has royally annoyed insiders and may suffer in the long term – you can certainly say a Biden-Harris ticket is dead.

    I think this is good news for Sanders/Warren/Gabbard. They can stand back and focus on a positive message and let the Corporates cut each others throats. Dying candidates like Beto will be tempted to go on the attack themselves to raise their profile. The more they do it, the more Biden suffers.

    1. a different chris

      >I think this is good news for Sanders/Warren/Gabbard

      You meant John McCain of course! :D

      She was the consummate insider, they must have really sat up in their seats when she suddenly savaged the top dog. This is gonna be a fun season, it’s unfortunate that there is so much at stake we can’t really enjoy it.

    2. Chris

      Nothing could make me happier than to see Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris destroy themselves in fits of spite and pique. But I don’t think this will favor Bernie or Tulsi. Slate’s coverage of the debates ended with a brief paragraph summary of Tulsi saying she supported dictators who gased their own people (she doesn’t) and is part of a weird cult (we love Diversity(TM)!) And both were completely out of synch with what she’s said and done for the past decade or so. Not to mention, wrong.

      The Slate coverage of Bernie ignored that the topics discussed and the attitudes behind them are being driven wholly from his involvement in the campaigns in 2016 and 2020.

      Ditto for WaPo, the Atlantic, the NYT, etc.

      The powers that be do not want anyone who looks, thinks, speaks, or acts like an anti-war progressive. They will shield Warren, Harris, or whoever else to protect their interests. I can’t see this faux debate fracas turning out to help any of the candidates who could actually make a change to the way this country is actually run.

    3. jrs

      Marianne Williamson (hardly someone I think is a great choice for president) was making an intelligent point when she was rudely interrupted by Kamala Harris, so Harris could literally talk about *HERSELF* (and attack Biden in the meantime, I won’t shed any tears) and not even address the issue being talked about (reparations).

      1. pretzelattack

        so the resistance will go after harris for talking over a woman, no doubt. doesn’t seem to work that way with them, though.

      2. JohnnyGL

        “and not even address the issue being talked about (reparations).”

        Harris knows her job is to bury this issue for the Democrats.

        There are activists making noise and making a genuine case….and there are also cynical grifters who want to make a couple bucks…..and there are also cynical media-beltway types who want a useful line of attack against Sanders on racial issues.

      3. BobW

        Reparations like Sherman’s 40 acres and a mule? Who knows mules these days? When my father was in the army in the 30s he drove a mule team. Maybe there’s an old field manual online with instructions.

    4. voteforno6

      I’m not surprised at the backlash. Say what you will about Biden’s politics, but he’s been around a long time, and has built up relationships within the party over the course of decades…for Harris’ campaign to behave as crassly as they have towards Biden has to have irritated a lot of party insiders.

      Also, that stunt with the t-shirt is just plain tacky…this is the kind of stunt that Trump would pull.

      1. ambrit

        “…this is the kind of stunt Trump would pull.”
        Trump is presently President of the United States, tacky and all. So, your point is????

      2. JohnnyGL

        “for Harris’ campaign to behave as crassly as they have towards Biden has to have irritated a lot of party insiders.”

        There’s also a lot of people in the party apparatus of team dem that know Biden is a walking, talking dumpster-fire of a candidate and will likely lose to Trump if nominated.

        There’s a break in the establishment-types on this. The old guard of the party wants to protect Biden and will stay loyal to him. A lot of party activists will happily throw him overboard.

    5. Daryl

      > Its interesting that Harris seems to have done very well from going on the attack, but has royally annoyed insiders

      Of course, she showed a small amount of backbone and conviction. Can’t have that in a Democratic candidate.

      1. richard

        I dunno
        she came after biden, who was the frontrunner and so exposed and vulnerable in so many ways that to not come after him is just not trying
        so, good on her that she did a pretty basic function
        the framing was all personalized (I was that girl) which actually takes away its power
        the implicit message is look away from the outrage that effects everyone
        and do a sharp focus on me
        shit framing, i hate it, don’t like her one bit
        dishonest and authoritarian
        kamala harris is a cop

        1. Oh

          So self center, like Biden who’s riding on Obama’s coattails. Too bad most people don’t realize how much Obama ruined this country for the common folk.

      2. WJ

        She is trying to leverage for a better “deal” in relation to the DNC’s broader strategy of brokering a compromise candidate to avoid nominating Sanders. Harris must have been unhappy with the first “offer” she received as recompense for her role in this and her debate performance was meant to “motivate” a higher offer from the buyer (Perez and his donor clients.)

        1. ivoteno

          it would be poetic justice if somehow convicts get to vote in the next election. there’s one “labor pool” that prolly wouldn’t be voting for team blue if harris is the nominee…

    6. XXYY

      It’s amusing to see someone besides Bernie being criticized for violating Democratic Unity ™. Also entertaining as hell to see a cop and the guy who gave Strom Thurmond’s eulogy arguing about who has the greater commitment to civil rights.

      If Harris and Biden are going to be gnawing each other’s ankles the next nine months, pass the popcorn.

    7. Geo

      I’ve enjoyed the entitled notion that’s been floated around about that ticket. I think that’s partly inspired Harris and her attack – that the establishment would keep pitching her as VP like she’s not worthy of the top billing.

      Add to that Booker’s consistent attacks on Biden too and it’s a nice little circular firing squad of insiders who have been convinced they’re the next chosen one tearing into each other for stepping on their red carpet.

      Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people.

    1. Craig H.

      I am down with name-calling on oligarchs but she is not at the top of my list.

      Donald the Fat
      Mark the Short
      Jeff the Wall-eyed

      The current edition of the wikipedia says they called Pepin the Short that because he wore his hair short. Hmmmm.

      In the Yale History Middle Ages youtube class the teacher says nobody knows why Pepin was called short. His descendant Charlemagne was supposedly the tallest guy on the whole continent and this was a great mystery.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What’s in a name?

        Perahps Ivan the Terrible was not so bad, Peter the Great not so great?

          1. richard

            My old time favorite is ethelred the unready
            a fine allierative slur
            of course the normans probably popularized that name
            to rank on the saxons
            but a good gag is a good gag!

            1. icancho

              Ethelred II, a.k.a. Æþelræd unræd, was ‘ill-advised’, not ‘unready’.
              A cool Anglo-Saxon pun, since Æþelræd means ‘well-advised’.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Both were visibly insane but highly effective Czars nonetheless.

          Russian history reads like a cheesy Hollywood movie. Putin is a real standout against that background. The best were a couple of women (Catherine and Elizabeth, IIRC) who weren’t even Romanovs.

          Granted, I took Russian history at the height of the Cold War, so some of that might have been exaggerated.

        2. jrkrideau

          Ivan the Terrible is just your normal crappy English translation. If Wiki is correct, and it looks like it is, in Russian he is Ива́н Гро́зный​.

          There seems to be several ways to translate Гро́зный in English but “Terrible” does not seem very accurate in the context. The wiki suggests ‘Formidable’ or “Fearsome” is likely more accurate.

          He still was not nice and cuddly.

    2. barrisj

      Christine Lagarde’s reaction was priceless, the old double-take/facial-grimace won the Internets in a landslide!

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Does the World Need $4,500 Sunglasses? Business of Fashion

    Well, obviously not. But what the article doesn’t mention is the primary motive of this sort of product – and it extends over a very wide range of ‘ordinary’ products. Most of us don’t really know what the ‘correct’ price of a product is, we just compare the price to similar products to know what ‘good value’ means. The purpose of very high profile super expensive goods is to increase our perception of what constitutes mid-range or cheap products. This was always the purpose of haute couture – not to persuade people to spend $5000 on a coat, but to persuade people that it is reasonable to spend $500 on a coat which may have cost $50 to make.

    1. Ford Prefect

      The 1% having 31% of the wealth now renders $4,500 sunglasses a necessity. You need something to blow money on when you have too much of it.

      1. Alfred

        All of this was covered by Veblen under the rubric of conspicuous consumption. The social need, as Veblen identified it, was not merely to spend money (of which the rich had, so to speak, to much). It was to be seen spending money in a wasteful way. In that perspective, the greater need is not for any particular sunglasses, but for articles in outlets like Business of Fashion that point out — to vast readerships — the existence both of sunglasses at extremely high prices, and of purchasers of those sunglasses. Only when we know the prices that the rich have paid (or even can pay) for their sunglasses, handbags, turtlenecks, socks, yachts, etc., can their profligacy impress us and (if the social mechanism of invidious comparison works as intended) make us feel envious and perceive them as ‘better’.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s one the upper bound.

      For the lower bound, there are products for 99 cents. And in comparsion, 2 dollars would be considered ‘expensive.’

      One would think zero is the lowest one can be condiitioned to expect, like say, free college tuition, so that when the student finds out that books are not free, and in fact can cost fifty or over a hundred dolllars, it would be quite unacceptable.

      In fact, zero is not the lowest on the lower bound. The numbers can be negative numbers. We can imagine situations where a person is paid – instead of paying – to take or consume something. Maybe, say, get paid to vote, exercise, get certified to operate a tooling machine, etc.

      After that, free would seem too expensive.

    3. John k

      The only way trickle down works is for the oligarchs to buy stupidly expensive stuff… they gotta keep up with the one down the street… mine was 5k. Course, had all three shipped to the Swiss chalet to avoid the tax.

    4. Procopius

      We used to be able to buy fake Rolex watches on Patpong Road. They ran around $20 and were quite accurate for five or six years. Properly speaking they weren’t “counterfeit” because nobody buying them could have believed they were the real thing, they were “unauthorized copies.” I don’t understand the wrist-watch thing, anyway My late wife thought I should view watches as jewelry, the way she did. In fact I’m not particularly observant and couldn’t tell you if the person I just spoke to was wearing a watch or not unless I had asked her what time it was and she looked at her watch to tell me. I need to go back to Thorstein Veblen.

  7. zagonostra

    >Healthcare / DNC

    The Intercept has reviewed lobbying records and identified at least eight superdelegates who are currently working with health care clients lobbying against Medicare for All. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase each have lobbyists who double as superdelegates.

    And a growing number of superdelegates are currently employed by presidential candidates, an arrangement that means some will enter the convention with less than neutral standing.

    1. katiebird

      This is scary and depressing. The number of ways Democrats have and continue to compromise the Presidential Primary process. It should be a disgrace to do this. And at the very least, candidates should be required to disclose it.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    I’m an American who’s lived in Europe for 10 years — and I don’t miss these 5 aspects of American culture at all Business Insider

    Apart from the usual ones about healthcare, etc., this article highlighted something I find very noticeable when I go from Europe to the US – all foods – including unexpected things like bread and salad dressings – are much sweeter.

    I’d like to think it was just different palates, but I strongly suspect it comes down to the industry trying to increase corn syrup into everything in order to hide the low quality of the product – the US is just ahead of the game on this.

    1. Chris

      I don’t know. I find the same thing when I go to Japan. They french style pastry shops there. The pasties have what seems to be 1/3 the sugar of anything in the US. And those are the pastries! It could be the palates but from the other foods I eat when I’m there I think a lot has to do with the quality of the food and the people just won’t stand for the same crap we shrug at in the US.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think the Japanese, like most Asians, very definitely have a more savoury than sweet palate – almost all junk food snacks I’ve encountered from Japan are on the salty or vinegary side. The exception are Indians, who love their super sweet treats.

        But quality-wise, things like convenience store pastries in Japan and other Asian countries are if anything even worse than you’ll get outside a Cinnabon. They seem to me to be manufactured to achieve the ‘look’ they want, not the texture or flavour. I’d hate to think what they make them from, although at least the Japanese ones are not likely to be as toxic as what you can buy in China.

      2. Oh

        The cakes are not loaded with sugar and their peanuts have less salt. Ice cream portions are much smaller too. Nice!

    2. Off The Street

      American ideas have a way of traveling, as noted in a Diane Ravitch article about British school privatization. That might be described less charitably as They can run but they can’t hide.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      Tuscan bread without salt is very odd to me. Go to the next town over in Umbria, Le Marche, or the Emilia, and the salt’s back, and the bread is fantastic.

      1. BillS

        Legend has it that the “saltless” bread became a tradition after a twelfth century dispute between Florence and Pisa, which caused a salt shortage. The Tuscans got a taste for it, apparently. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, he forsees his own exile from Florence and laments the need to eat salted bread. (sorry, link is only available in Italian).

  9. pjay

    Re: ‘New Soros/Koch-Funded Think Tank Claims To Oppose US Forever War’

    I like Moon of Alabama’s response to Joshua Landis’ credulous tweet: “Hi Joshua, I’ve got a bridge on sale. You seem very interested in buying such. Gimme a call.”

    As usual, I hope I am wrong. As someone who has been reading such statements by hopeful progressives all his long life, I have my doubts.

    1. Carolinian

      Yes, who knew George Soros favors a hands off approach to other countries? But maybe that’s not what they are saying.

      Meanwhile Tucker Carlson joins Trump at the DMZ and Bolton does not. So Trump’s passive/aggressive (or rather aggressive/passive) presidency continues to confuse.

    2. John k

      Benefit of the doubt here…
      Maybe thinking the retreat in NZ wouldn’t be that comfortable after wwiii.
      And plus… maybe neither has that much invested in mic.

      1. False Solace

        This is planet hostile, its Lee Harvey Osworld
        I see scared people because I see no fair leaders
        I see dead people because I see shared needles
        Its all liposuction. It’s all thigh reduction
        It’s all filofaxes and nice bible bashing
        Let the fat kids try it, it’s called the Atkins Diet
        And all this advertising’s kind of patronising
        Wrapped in Klein and polo sport
        But the truth stays quieter than a coma ward
        I keep on seeing Bill Hicks’ ghost
        He says World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones

        – Does It Offend You, Yeah?

    1. a different chris

      Ohh go right at the center of your opposition with “Concrete Material Benefits” for them. That is, instead of fighting them, offer them something.

      Wow so easy even a group of some of the stupidest people known to mankind figured it out. That still means it’s a bridge to far for the Democrats to figure out Middle America.

    2. Wukchumni

      Leader Nigel Farage told a rally in Birmingham rates of up to 6% on loans were “outrageous” and “close to usury”.

      Some years ago we were walking the main drag of Hurricane, Utah (pronounced hurry-kin) and came across a payday loan place that had a SLC newspaper clipping taped inside the front window, as their establishment had the lowest rate in the Beehive state @ 312% a.p.r., beating the worst rate of 824% elsewhere handily.

      …they were awfully proud of themselves

  10. a different chris

    >The Eland Project will not rid Los Angeles of natural gas, however.

    No unless they did finally plug that spewing pipeline….how much energy was lost, in comparison terms (like “enough to run Detroit for a month” or something like that), did anybody ever calculate?

    1. ewmayer

      The ‘energy lost’ aspect of the natgas leak is far less important than the massive greenhouse potential of same. Mass venting and leakage of CH4 are the fracking boom’s most toxic legacy, even worse than the groundwater contamination aspect. But insidiously, the methane-leakage is invisible.

    1. Cal2

      And GMOs:

      “More than 90% of soy, corn, canola and sugar beets grown in the USA are
      registered as insecticides, not food

      But are these insecticidal plants regulated and have their proteins been tested for safety? Not by the federal departments in charge of food safety, not in Canada and not in the U.S.

    2. Durans

      I’m not so sure there has been a “spike in autism”, even if there has been it certainly isn’t as big as they say. What we have is a spike in people getting diagnosed. I got diagnosed a few years ago at the age of 36. In my limited involvement with the online autism community the amount of people diagnosed later in life is rather large.

      Though it has now changed it at least used to be that no matter how autistic you obviously were if you could manage the regular school curriculum for other kids your age your chances of be diagnosed was practically nonexistent.

      1. Monty

        It’s interesting to hear from a lucid adult with an official diagnosis. I haven’t met any around here. Do you have any anecdotes regarding the condition? Did you get any worthwhile treatment? Do you find anything you do, or eat, alters the symptoms in a positive or negative way?

      2. Geo

        One of my best friend since childhood has a daughter that was diagnosed. When he told me the symptoms that put her on the spectrum my response was, “So, she’s your daughter.” It was an almost exact description of him. From the social cues to the focus issues and on and on. He was never diagnosed but it’s clear he’s on the spectrum. High functioning though. One of the most genuinely good people I’ve ever known and easily the most talented artists I’ll ever have the privilege of knowing – and quite successful with it.

  11. Otis B Driftwood

    Buried in the ‘Biden’s spin doctors..’ is a lame attempt to rehabilitate Ryan by insinuating his late post-debate meeting with reporters and other candidate’s staffers shows he came out of his ass-kicking by Gabbard with any chance at gaining popular support. He should drop out immediately.

    In the meantime, Gabbard is again dismissed out of hand with this:

    “Today’s warrior on behalf of Delaney or New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio or Tulsi Gabbard, the congresswoman from Hawaii, might be tomorrow’s mouthpiece for whomever survives the unforgiving early stages of the race.”

    That is the one and only mention of Gabbard in the article.

    Here’s some real news: Gabbard is going to be around much longer and it would be sweet irony if she takes on a few of Ryan’s staff when he leaves the race.

  12. Carey

    ‘The Real Threat From Facebook’s Libra Coin’:

    “..And this brings me to my real concern about the Libra project. Facebook’s business model since its inception has been to harvest and monetize data. I see no reason to assume that this has changed. So when I find, buried in Libra’s whitepaper, two sentences that imply Facebook’s real aim in creating Libra is to set the standard for global digital identities, my hair stands on end. As Dave Birch, director of Consult Hyperion and an expert on digital identity, puts it:

    There are no throwaway remarks in a Facebook white paper that has taken a year to put together. It’s in there for a reason. [Facebook] are actually going to try and fix the identity problem.

    Dave seems fairly sanguine about Facebook’s intention. But I am not. We now know just how damaging Facebook’s data harvesting can be. If Facebook became the standard setter for digital identities, it could gain access to all personal data. And that is what it wants. Not control of finance, control of data. And if you think your personal data would be digitally secure from harvesting simply because Facebook said so, you are the biggest sucker in the world..”

    1. Cal2


      Being in San Francisco is like living with a parent slowly rotting from the inside out–for over 40 years. The first wave of political sepsis came out of the cultists and drifters attracted by the Haight Ashbury and the radicals at state college that slowly worked their way into local government. Once District Elections started in 1977 and each demographic elected “their” city representative, the die was cast.

      Like a snake consuming its own tail, the leftists, Cultural Marxists, progressives, identarians, whatever the label, have been getting more and more desperate in their quest to do something!, that conforms with their political ideology, and which doesn’t exacerbate the disasters they have created. The school district is merely the latest expression of the Politillectual rot within.

      Great pencil history.
      Anybody know why it is no longer possible to buy a pencil that holds its point and does not disintegrate? Yeah, I know, softness numbers, it’s not that.

      Old yellow pencils left over from the 1960s, sharpened in good wall mounted sharpener are so much better than the crap sold in stationary stores today. What’s the technical reason?

      NASA made a huge deal out of finding a defense contractor that could design a pen that wrote in zero gravity. Millions of dollars later, the Fisher Space Pen resulted. The Russians used a pencil.

      1. Partyless Poster

        Please don’t use the term “Cultural Marxist” its a BS term invented by right wingers to try and associate identity politics with Socialism.
        As Zizek says “the problem with identity politics is that its NOT marxist”

        1. Cal2

          It was a term invented in the New School in prewar Germany, then transplanted to the U.S. at the New School for Social Research in NYC.

          Here’s a long list of articles and topics on that from an intelligent and informed commentator who ran for California governor.

          As Zizek says “the problem with Marxism is that it’s not my identity”, hardly a reliable source.

          1. False Solace

            > It was a term invented in the New School in prewar Germany

            Meaning Nazis. Their term of choice was “cultural Bolshevism”.

            1. Cal2

              [a] “term invented by right wingers to try and associate identity politics with Socialism.”

              They had identity politics in Germany in the 1930s?
              The Nazis were national Socialists.

              Dude, read a book, or two. The New School were the people who fought the Nazis and then fled to New York.

    2. Quentin

      The destruction of these murals just go to show how badly and deeply the Democratic Party has immersed itself in its self-inflicted philistine wickedness. Now, ‘Let them burn books!’, beginning with Obamas’ and Clinton’s.

      1. Cal2

        The latest: Protestors block yesterday’s “pride” parade on Market Street:

        “The system of policing upholds white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, gender binaries and capitalist rule,” the protestor said over a megaphone.

        When are they going to erect a guillotine at Market and Castro?

        Bumper sticker: “Celebrate Insanity”

    3. flora

      Thanks for the link.
      The murals were clearly part of the leftwing WPA intellectuals’ endeavor to raise social consciousness, a step toward the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s.

      Yes, they were. The odd thing is, the New Dems ideology in part came out of the 60’s civil rights movement. Except, instead of seeing govt as a potential force for good and guarantor of rights, it saw govt as part of the problem; the budding New Dem ideology turned to business and the private sector as the answer to social problems and inequality.

      And here we are: liberal SF public school about to destroy a WPA era work of art.

    4. Bernalkid

      This is a travesty and Talibanesque, destroying one of a handful of murals from this era in SF.
      In 1967 I took a couple of summer courses at Washington, it was not my regular High School, and ran across the murals. At this point I had concluded for a while that the Vietnam War was an atrocity and the hippies were stirring things up in the Haight, which was of great interest to a teenager there. Knew nothing about the artist or the history of the murals. 52 years ago they triggered a dismissive “what a square (uncool) painting” and gave them no thought.
      Just wonder if the students these days even notice them, glued as they are to their phone.
      Seems like it is the adults that are making the terrible decisions.

    5. Alfred

      May I add my thanks for snagging and posting this link? One of the finest essays I’ve ever read; the argument is clearly presented and beautifully articulated. it should persuade anyone. Unfortunately, from what I have read so far about this affair (all on links from NC), the majority members of the San Francisco School Board are beyond persuading. They are true believers. They have made themselves over into their own, infallible gods. They stop their ears against appeals to caution because they imply the possibility of mistakes having been made. They have gotten themselves into a psychological place in which they cannot admit mistakes for they cannot make mistakes; they cannot even imagine themselves making mistakes. And therefore, these officials make dreadful, irremediable mistakes — quite likely, I’d even say certainly in this case, mistakes that will ultimately harm the very ‘children’ whom they’d like to shield from ‘triggering experiences’. The damage they are inflicting upon visual culture, by mistaking an act of politically motivated vandalism for an instance of their own apotheosis, is as nothing compared to the damage they are doing to education.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        +1. I’ve really struggled to understand “the Left’s” inability to coalesce around opposing the worst of what the government is doing on their behalf: Permanent Forever Global War on Everybody.

        We went into the streets, bashed heads, and stopped Vietnam. But today: nothing. Really? The Beast is much bigger and much badder today. He’s sucking the money and the future away much faster than ever before. And “the Left’s” response is: crickets? Moaning about murals and bathrooms that accommodate persons who say their gender is “unicorn”?

        But the article pulls it together: Closing oneself into a limited identity group denies both respect for individuals and awareness of universal humanity. It can only be a basis for endless conflict

        Next time someone hits you with ANY kind of narrow identarianism it really is your job to point out how they are doing exactly what the 1% WAR CLASS wants them to do. Divide:conquer plays straight into their hands.

        1. Alfred

          The explanation that suggests itself to me is, that the American right, in the 1970s-1980s, was far more successful in destroying the American left, than has heretofore been supposed. If there is no action from the putative left today, perhaps it is because there simply is no real left left.

        2. False Solace

          You’re confusing the Left with Liberals. Liberals are all-in for idpol and none-in for class consciousness. The Left is anti-war.

          What’s the point of protesting when the media doesn’t cover it? Millions of people marched in the street against the Iraq War. Nothing happened. Maybe protests worked in your day but don’t work now. Who knows.

  13. John Beech

    Anyone dissing Ivanka does so at their own peril. Christine Legarde should know better, and the French will rue the day. This is his daughter. More than that, she’s been by his side and involved since before his nomination. if this were his son being groomed, would there be so much angst? The guy’s in his mid-70s, could live another 20 years, could drop dead tomorrow. Me? I bet she’ll be up to the task of taking over his enterprises, and with a softer ‘face’ to the world be even more successful. Don’t say you weren’t warned because she’s surely every bit as calculating as the old man. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    1. JEHR

      “And there’s nothing wrong with that.”–the creation of a new political dynasty perhaps?

    2. Wukchumni

      Casting perils before swine seems dangerous, but our country wouldn’t have it any other way.

      1. Pat

        I just remind myself, this could be Chelsea. And based on their histories, Chelsea is not the more competent of the two.

        (Neither would be best, but then that applies to the parents being President as well.)

          1. Pat

            Not for nothing but I’m pretty sure that is more the effect of our not so blind justice system rather than one family pedigree being better than the other. Corruption and playing fast and loose seem to be rampant in both families.

            Nobody named Trump or Clinton (or Kushner or Mevinsky) should be anywhere near the White House or Congress or even the dog catchers office in a sane world. We unfortunately do not live in one.

    3. a different chris

      >if this were his son being groomed, would there be so much angst?

      Huh? The Angst Meter would go up to 11 if Don Jr. was being groomed. The Donald doesn’t even trust him with anything.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Microplastics from homes and factories are ending up inside mussels off Chennai’s coast Mongabay


    The other problem is over-fishing.

    And when they are all gone, there is no need to worry about mercury or whatever other things are inside them.

  15. rd

    The big problem I have with Trump’s North Korea and Iran strategies is that he is ensuring both of the will have nuclear weapons.

    North Korea is getting the message that getting rid of nuclear weapons is not a ticket to getting rid of sanctions. It just means you become weak and can be kicked like Iran is. Also, the US’s promises don’t mean anything once there is a regime change in Washington. So I think Kim will give up his nukes over his dead body.

    Iran is getting the message that the only way not to be kicked is to get a nuke and delivery missiles. Then Trump will fawn all over you instead of kicking you.

    Meanwhile, China is finding out that they just have to punish America’s farmers and Trump will cave:

    With negotiating strategies like this, who needs Obama? He at least was able to get a deal with Iran.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not getting rid of sanctions….

      In contrast to North Korea, Russia has many nukes, and is still looking at sanctions.

      And comparing to Iran, China also has nukes, and many delivery missiles. But Trump is not fawning all over China.

      It seems Trump is totally unpredictable.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Silence is not approval/consent?

    From links above:

    Madrid Central’ protest: Thousands oppose suspension of anti-pollution plan BBC


    Does it mean millions who are not counted among those protesting approve of that suspension?

    I would think that their silence does not mean consent.

    1. Carolinian

      Joni Mitchell says hi (although she probably lives in your state).

      Canadians love our Myrtle Beach. It’s a shorter drive than Florida.

  17. Ignacio

    RE: ‘Madrid Central’ protest: Thousands oppose suspension of anti-pollution plan BBC

    In fact the majority of protesters were those that live in the city center. The Popular Party won in the affluent peripheral districts were the people that want to “keep the liberty of riding to the city center if I wish” live.

    As a matter of fact this is a political issue that confronts contamination-related health issues (more worrying for those living in the center) with laissez faire issues (that defend those in the periphery, particularly the wealthiest suburbs). The BBC and other media should frame the problem more accurately.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its always the case that its suburbanites wanting the freedom to drive to work and shops who are most responsible for polluted inner urban areas (not always, occasionally you’ll get people who live right in the heart of things but still want to be able to drive their SUV anywhere). I hope those protests escalate to the extent of blocking traffic – this is the only way to get real action in my experience.

      1. Pat

        I can’t speak for the suburbanites of Madrid, but some of this may not just be convenience but survival, at least based on both life in the US AND the protests in France. How many of those suburbanites don’t just visit the city center but work there? How many live in the suburbs because that is what they can afford? How many drive because it is cheaper and/or massively easier and time saving to drive? Is there adequate affordable housing? Is there public transportation that doesn’t add an additional couple of hours to the work day? How dependable is that public transportation?

        If Madrid works like most of this country, there is every chance that this is a solution where the wealthy and connected feel little of the pain produced by it.

        Just saying that seems to be the trend.

        1. Ignacio

          Madrid has good public transport. Trains, metro and buses. Some suburbanites may really “need” to go by their own car but also many have excellent alternatives but either prefer the confort of their car even in the middle of traffic jams or do not want to mix with the masses.

    1. ewmayer

      Interesting article, but ugh, laudatory mention of Milton bloody Friedman and his bogus invocation of the wunnerful miracle that is the so-called ‘free market’. Because monopoly, concentrated corporate power and bribed politicians are the exception, not the rule, dontchaknow. And companies would never make a habit of attempting to stifle healthy free-market competition and price discovery.

      Aside: another interesting historical-writing-implements nugget: ‘lapsus calami’ is Latin for ‘slip of the pen’. Calami has the same root as calamari because the Greek and Latin for squid was ‘penfish’, a reference to the squid’s long tapering internal shell and its ink. So whenever I hear the expression ‘slip of the pen’ I mentally picture a waiter slipping on a puddle of squid ink and a plate of delicious seafood going flying through the air.

  18. shinola

    Thank you JLS for the link to “Watching The End of The World”.

    In light of last weeks articles about the survey that indicated @33% of Americans would approve of a “preemptive” nuclear strike on N. Korea, perhaps it is time to, again, bring up the perils of a nuclear armed world. Seems there quite a few people who have either forgotten or who have never been informed of the terrible consequences of nuclear war.

    This boomer has read/seen most of the books/movies/TV specials mentioned – though I’ve not seen the BBC production “Threads” (I’ll have to dig around to see if it can be found online). Maybe it’s time for someone to produce updated versions of “On the Beach”, “The Day After” or “Threads” (But don’t mess with “Dr. Strangelove” – one of my all time fav. movies)

      1. newcatty

        Yes, though not the same subject, though related to the MIC, just like Catch 22. Now why did I think of that book and movie when it was revealed that a certain democratic candidate, we saw on stage during the recent debates, was a veteran? No, it most certainly was not Gabbard, but the boy mayor who had the leadership and responsible position of being a driver for officers in Afganistan.

    1. JerryDenim

      Second that. As a Gen-X kid who grew up in the shadow of the country’s largest military base, and was acutely aware and worried about both the likelihood and effects of thermonuclear war, I really identified with the author and their claim that they never expected to live long enough to reach adulthood. It seems strange to me now that I’m almost 44 years old, the world still hasn’t ended, and at least two generations of Americans have grown up without giving nuclear war much thought or worry, even as we seem to be headed towards much more dangerous times in 2019.

  19. rd

    One of Trump’s key economics gurus is doubling down on the destruction of the US economy:

    Laffer has provided the fig leaf for Republicans to execute their tax cuts for the wealthy strategy over the past 35 years that has led to substantial inequality, huge federal fiscal deficits, and probably to a lower GDP growth rate since 2000..

    But that is not enough. Now he believes that the Fed should be a policy tool of the President. He clearly missed that class in financial history where Arthur Burns bowed to the desires of Richard Nixon and let the inflation genie out of the bag in the early-mid ’70s. That, combined with things like the oil embargo, resulted in inflation and then subsequent interest rate increases unprecedented in American history. Volcker eventually had to step in and crush significant chunks of the US economy to put inflation back in the bag.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It would matter much more if central banks were central. They’re not. 2/3rds of U.S. Dollars are created outside the U.S. and completely outside the purview of any regulator. That’s why 2/3rds of the NY Fed bailout trillions at the peak of the crisis went to Eurozone banks and corporations. They were asked to disclose the recipients and they demurred.

      It’s also why USD interest rates are not going up anytime soon. The omniscient priests at The Fed look at the U.S. economy and would like to raise rates. Then they get a call from Europe: “If you raise rates Deutsche Bank will fall over”. Then they get a call from China: “If you raise rates our entire banking system will fall over (look at what’s happening to SHIBOR). Then they get a call from the IMF: “If you raise rates most emerging markets economies will fall over”.

      So in effect it’s our currency AND our problem. The phrase “when money dies” comes to mind. What do you do with a debt-based currency system when every conceivable borrower is maxed out and debt service is only possible with rates at or below zero?

      Long gold, Bitcoin, and USD cash.

    2. Monty

      I think he is on to something actually. Why not have a coordinated approach to something this important?

      I don’t think the causal chain between Nixon’s desire and Volker’s high rates are quite as direct as you imply. The inflation genie was a function of many interacting forces. The oil shock and the abandonment of the gold standard among them.

      1. jonboinAR

        I’ve always heard that Vietnam War debt was part of the cause of “stagflation”.

  20. JerryDenim


    A timely article for me as I’ve been watching and pondering the natural effects of a slow wasp invasion in my own backyard. My vegan, animal rights activist neighbors who are quite Jain-like in their approach to dealing with pests and vermin, have multiple paper wasp nests growing together like some kind of new wasp suburb under the eaves of their house just a few feet from our property line. As the weather has warmed and their numbers multiplied I have noticed quite a few changes with the insect populations and behavior in my backyard. I had struggled quite a bit with aphids in the last year, they transmitted a woodiness virus to two young passion vines I had planted in the fall. In response I extirpated the old diseased vines and planted new ones this spring along with a bounty of plants rumored to attract lacewings, the aphids most efficient predator. My plan worked and much to my delight I discovered the clever and vigilant lacewings figured out that the most popular part of the passion vine with the aphids, the tender new growth emerging from the tips of the vine, was a great place to camp out and patiently wait for a meal. They were the most fantastic guardians a passionfruit farmer could ask for. Well now the wasps patrol every nook and cranny of my passion vine and the lacewings are no more. Same story Monarch caterpillars and milkweed, which we were having quite a bit of success with early in the spring/summer before the wasps showed up in force. Despite having two healthy passion vines now covered in both wasps and blooming flowers, not one has managed to get pollinated without my direct intervention. Despite an abundance of honey bees, carpenter bees and bumble bees in my yard I’ve never seen one bee venture near my wasp-infested passion vine.

    While wasps may eat some bothersome garden pests it appears they devour or deter the most charismatic, endangered and beneficial ones as well. If wasps were effective pollinators perhaps that would help excuse their rapacious eating habits, but they are lousy pollinators, their lithe bodies are too smooth and hairless. I don’t mind a few about, but from my brief observations it seems too many wasps can upset the dynamics of a harmonious backyard garden.

    1. Cal2


      Educate your neighbors. If indeed the paper wasp nests are so close, standing on your property, knock down the nests with a pole at dawn, before wasps can see well enough to go after you, then retreat into your house and watch your neighbors learn about their guests. Saturday morning probably the best time.

      Do it for the monarchs.

      1. JerryDenim

        We’re good friends and they are very reasonable people. They would allow me to remove the nests if I asked. I’ve been enjoying the experience of watching the changes. My herb garden which was being feasted upon by a number of different small moth caterpillars looks the best I’ve ever seen. But, yeah I do feel bad for the monarchs and I am worried about my beloved M.I.A. lacewings.

      2. JerryDenim

        I don’t think this removal method is approved in the state of California, but I remember watching my father as a boy hold an open container of gasoline, like a small paint can, under a wasp nest. The wasps would become intoxicated by the fumes and begin dropping into the can one by one until they were all gone. I don’t know if they were experiencing euphoria of some kind or some kind of stupor progressing to central nervous system failure, but I remember seeing him do it at least twice without ever getting stung. I’ve never heard or read about this technique anywhere else but I was considering it. The trick is you have to get really close to the nest with the open container of gasoline. Like six to eight inches for it to work well. Perhaps that is why it’s not popular or recommended technique, but it’s certainly no less humane than toxic high-velocity spray and it’s less harsh on the environment as well. Wish I could move their nest to a nice dead tree in the forrest somewhere. I don’t want to kill them.

      3. polecat

        Might I recommend an easier technique. WATER – as in a blast, on jet setting (if you have an adjustable water wand) at dusk .. totally obliterates a nest into a soggy mess in one continuous shot. I did that a few years back, when I discovered a football sized covered hornets nest hanging from eave at the top of the gable end of my shop. No hornets ! and no stings, due to blasting away from about 20 ft. .. I also did the prudent thing after, by retiring quickly for the evening indoors, just in case the flying varmits had their infrared sensors dial at 11 !
        I gave the remainer of the nest, the core with all the capped pupae and open cells containing larvae, to the hens the following morning …. they were in 7th chicken heaven !!

  21. Plenue

    >Caste Wasn’t a British Construct – and Anyone Who Studies History Should Know That The Wire

    This seems like it’s arguing against a strawman. I’ve never seen anyone claim the British invented Indian castes. What I have seen is the idea that the British patronized and codified it because it helped them rule.

  22. ewmayer

    “Gray Wave of Workers Gives Slow-Growing World a Boost | WSJ” — Leave it to the WSJ to spin neoliberal impoverishment in old age as a positive trend.

  23. ewmayer

    “How Trump’s ‘weaponized’ use of foreign aid is backfiring | Politico” — Because foreign aid was never politicized in the past, right, Politico?

  24. Parker Dooley

    re: WAPO “Biden’s spin doctors”

    IMHO he looked like late stage Reagan, but he got one thing right: “My time is up.”

Comments are closed.