Links 7/24/19

For Wolves, Grooming Helps Strengthen Family Bonds Wolf Conservation Center

Study suggests much more water on the moon than thought Great! Maybe now we won’t have to invade Canada!

IMF lowers global growth forecasts amid trade, Brexit uncertainties Reuters

Eurozone manufacturing activity worst in almost seven years — PMI FT

Nissan to post 90% plunge in operating profit Asian Nikkei Review

Is Politics Getting to the Fed? Robert Barro, Project Syndicate

Air pollution may have killed 30,000 people in a single year, study says CNN (original).

Marine heatwaves in a changing climate Nature

Bad governance: How privatization increases corruption in the developing world (PDF) Regulation and Governance


Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan shot down by EU within moments of him becoming Tory leader Independent. A hearty welcome from Michel Barnier:

Is this Boris’s first cabinet? As Johnson prepares to meet the Queen and be crowned PM TODAY names emerge of the Brexiteer-heavy, ethnically diverse top team tipped to help him deliver Brexit in 100 days Daily Mail

My Boris Johnson story The Spectator. An amazing anecdote. Read all the way to the end.

What happened to post-Brexit free-trade nirvana? BBC

Ukraine Election – Voters Defeat Second Color Revolution Moon of Alabama


How The U.S. Lost Its Game Of Chicken With Turkey Lobelog

Docs Show US To Massively Expand Footprint At Jordanian Air Base Amid Spats With Turkey, Iraq The Drive

Iran’s two armies Le Monde Diplomatique


Chinese military can be deployed at Hong Kong’s request to contain protests, Beijing says SCMP

Who are the men in white behind Hong Kong’s mob attack? AP

Hong Kong anti-government protesters warned of risk of further violence in Yuen Long demonstration this weekend at site of mob attacks South China Morning Post. From the story, if true, protesters desecrating village graves could have problems with optics. But the sheer density of local symbolism, like the canes — said to be for “caning children” — used by the white-shirted attackers (“mob”*) in Yuen Long MTR station, is a bit daunting. NOTE * A little constructive ambiguity there from SCMP?

* * *

Former Chinese Premier Li Peng, known for Tiananmen crackdown, dies at 90 Straits Times

China’s $40 Trillion Banking System Learns a Lesson on Risk Bloomberg

China’s credit push to small firms falters in factory heartland Reuters

The painful path to curing Japan of its cash addiction FT. Just because cash is easier, quicker, Jackpot-Ready™, and doesn’t allow tracking, it’s an addiction?


India is failing to reap the benefits of China-US trade war FT

Mid-Day Meal Workers Protest in AP; Demand Termination of Contract With Akshaya Patra News Click

Skill India | Govt to spend Rs 5,000 crore to skill unorganised sector workers Money Control

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Governor Set to Quit After Protests, Papers Say Bloomberg. “Set to,” but has not yet.

Sens. Warren and Sanders introduce bill that would slash Puerto Rico’s debt CNBC

These journalists exposed the corruption that led to Puerto Rico’s mass protests CNN


Nationwide Blackout in Venezuela, Third since March – VA’s on the Ground Coverage Affected Venezuelanalysis


‘A lack of urgency’: Democrats frustrated as House investigators struggle to unearth major revelations about Trump WaPo, lol.

Mueller on Trump: Everything the Special Counsel’s Report Says the President Did, Said or Knew Lawfare

Trump Transition

Justice Department Opens Antitrust Review of Big Tech Companies NYT

House passes bill opposing BDS, exposing divide among Democrats The Hill. It’s all about the benjamins ?!

House Democrats unveil more ‘realistic’ climate change plan Reuters

Under Trump, 26% of Climate Change References Have Vanished From .Gov Sites Vice

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Your Data Were ‘Anonymized’? These Scientists Can Still Identify You NYT

Parents who won’t vaccinate their kids turning to home-schooling in California, data show Los Angeles Times

Search Warrant Alleges Embezzlement, Use of ‘Ghost Students’ by Epic Schools Oklahoma Watch

Redlining in the Lap Lane Longreads

Key findings about U.S. immigrants Pew Researchd

Class Warfare

Brightly Shows How Worker-Owned Cooperatives Can Scale Up Triple Pundit

My 300 Mile Lyft Ride From Chicago to Bradford Whatever

How a data detective exposed suspicious medical trials Nature. Citizen science!

Are we happier when we spend more time with others? Our World In Data. On the Harvard Study of Adult Development.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Savita

    Adani coal mine in Australia. Financial expert known for exposing due-to-collapse companies, says Adani is so far in the red it isn’t funny, and that it absolutely should not be invested in, is living on borrowed time

    And here’s a nice article about indigenous Australian astrology, which has been covered a bit recently in the media. There are some documentaries available, a good one is ‘We Don’t Need A Map’ made by a well known indigenous director. They can name 3000 celestial bodies. The Milky Way is an Emu.

    1. QuarterBack

      Re the Harvard social connections and health study, I have long been observing a slow growth of emotional dis-ease in myself and society around me that my gut tells me (fairly or unfairly) is a side effect of our Internet culture. I find it ironic that the Internet is often touted as “bringing us together like never before”. I would agree with the “like never before” part.

      I am well past 50 years old, and I have memories of idle chat with strangers in line at the grocery store, in an elevator, or at intermission in a theatre; coworker conversations between business meetings; intergenerational conversations at family gatherings or around the table; or, just stopping by in person to visit or stroll with a friend. These activities have by no means ceased, but they have noticeably diminished; being replaced by numbers of people near each other on their smartphones. Many of which, are busy “connecting” with distant friends, family, or social media herds.

      Call me old fashioned, but I experience greater joy sharing a smile or a laugh with a complete stranger than hundreds of “Likes” from some Internet posse. When I work in an office, I make a point of deferring from using email to communicate with people I can walk down the hall or across the campus to see.

      While we, as a society, learn how to best leverage the Internet, we must remember that Connection is not the same as Presence. Next time you pause to consider your Omega-3 intake, or your step count plan for the day, prescribe yourself some Presence with a fellow human being. From the study, we now know that Presence will help us to live longer, healthier, and I would suggest, to be better contributors to society.

      1. Wukchumni

        In the wilderness, conversations flow so easily when technology isn’t omnipresent and smartphones are really only utilized to take photos/videos, there being no communication possibilities (YWMV) allowed in the back of beyond other than word of mouth.

        I walked to the Farewell Gap/Franklin Lake junction yesterday under perfectly cloudy skies that kept the heat away on a normally quite exposed trail, and the locale there is thought to be the best of showy, as far as flora goes in the area and it didn’t disappoint with a plethora of dozens of different varieties.

        A Japanese-American mother & daughter backpacking to Franklin Lake showed up as I was finishing lunch, and we had the most sparkling conversation for 30 minutes, and I was thinking, would this ever happen in a city?

        Complete strangers exchanging experiences and tales of the trail, knowing that we’d never meet again, more than likely?

        1. Lee

          Truly, I have had so many great social encounters while camping. This was particularly true in Canadian parks. While camping near Egg Mountain in MT to visit the dinosaur digs we crossed paths with a couple who live only two blocks from us whom we’d never met back home some 1,200 miles away.

          1. JacobiteInTraining

            I’ve had great experiences camping/backpacking in my first couple of decades, and have only in the last couple of years really gotten back into the swing of things in that respect. Nothing quite like sipping some hot cocoa while watching the stars and listening to hiking stories from…well, all over the country and world depending on who you happen to have found on the trail.

            Then again, there was that one time 20 miles into the bush on Admiralty Island (SE Alaska, near Angoon) where we were packing in some supplies for the cabin. We encountered these 2 guys, middle aged, who were backpacking cross-country…..

            ….totally buck naked. Well, except for some expensive hiking boots, backpacks, and walking sticks. Never did quite figure out why they were stark naked (this *is* both prime grizzly and mosquito territory, lol) except that they were from New York City, and were spending the summer backpacking for their bucket list.

            Being good locals, we just did our best to keep our gaze scrupulously at eye level, smile a lot, and make them feel welcome until they wandered off into the trees….presumably with their (ahem) tackle swinging in the breeze.

            Hope they lived. :)

          2. Wukchumni

            This was my 2nd sojourn to said flower stand in the past fortnight, and the color knob is amping up with new arrivals and instead of hundreds of Mariposa Lilies, thousands.


            The ne plus ultra was a no-show, still a week or 2 away from blooming into as many as 6 or 8 satellites, each a yellow 5 petal’d pistil packin’ 5 to 6 inch wide super module, that requires a 3 mile, 1,000 ft elevation gain to get to, and what a reward, there’s a clump of 26 of them within a 30 foot radius, a few unfortunately too close to the trail. Should be in all their glory in the next 3 weeks.

            Giant Blazing Star


      2. JohnnyGL

        Fair points, all.

        I think with constant mobile access at all times in all places, it’s become mostly unacceptable to sit still and do nothing for any length of time.

        A lot of those spontaneous interactions, minor as they may be, happen when you’re waiting for something….grocery store, doctor/dentist office, that kind of thing.

        Social media has long since stopped being about ‘connecting’ anyone to anyone else. That’s the marketing pitch-book from years ago. Now it’s about scrolling through spam ads, memes, auto-play videos….anything to get those eyeballs!

        1. Lemmy Caution

          >I think with constant mobile access at all times in all places, it’s become mostly unacceptable to sit still and do nothing for any length of time.


          I don’t have a smartphone and it seems I am often the only person in a line or waiting room not craning over a personal data-gathering device.

          It reminds me a little bit of the prevalence now of almost everyone carrying a bottle of water or some other beverage everywhere they go. Back when I was a kid it was okay to be thirsty for awhile — you took a big drink when you could.

          Likewise now with the smartphones — people have been trained out of the idea that it is okay to be bored for a few minutes. By design, it is hard to resist the urge to click endlessly in search of the next dopmine rush. Big tech has used the internet to turn the world into one big Skinner box.

          1. skylark

            So much of it does seem to be about dopamine hits and instant gratification. At school, every kid has a water bottle on their desk. For some of them, it is constantly in their mouth, reminding me of a baby bottle.

            1. Nordberg

              I see people in my office standing at the urinal looking at the damn things. I don’t have the courage to ask if they taking d(family friendly blog) pics. I find it absurd.

            2. Medbh

              I never thought of it in that way. Perhaps this is another contributing factor to the obesity epidemic. I have kids, and snacks are provided for everything, even for activities that are only an hour or two long. My kids’ elementary school provides afternoon snacks through 5th grade. It’s not like it’s super healthy either, it’s usually something like crackers or yogurt raisins.

              I appreciate how obnoxious kids can be when they’re whiny or uncomfortable, and having a roomful of them would make me crazy. But part of growing up is learning to manage temporary discomfort.

              1. Lemmy Caution

                We had the benefit of the Rolling Stones tutoring us about important life lessons, such as, “You can’t always get what you want.”
                FYI: the link is from a mind-blowing 1968 BBC special called the “Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.” If you ever wondered how mesmerizing a young Jagger and the band were, check it out.

          2. Some guy in Beijing

            Your comment re: phones had me nodding along — I have serious questions about my forced reliance on this device and its effects on my behavior. However, your comment re: water bottles reminded me of that time Grampa Simpson yelled at a cloud.

            Proper hydration should be encouraged. Indeed, chronically low hydration is a contributing factor to kidney stones, as my friend found out recently. If young people are carrying around water when they leave the house, it’s great. It means they aren’t drinking carbonated high-fructose corn syrup

      3. Medbh

        I think smartphones are having a huge impact on social life, and I wonder about the long-term impact. Our family rule is that we’ll get our kids smartphones once they go to high school (14 years old, 9th grade). However, this comes with a significant social cost. Even when groups of kids are together, they’re communicating via their phones, not directly to one another.

        For example, my 11 year old went to a professional soccer game with her girl scout troop. The entire row of girls ignored the game and focused on their phones, with the exception of my daughter. She saw me looking and gave me the “See, I told you!!” look (she’s complained before about how having no phone makes her left out of everything). Same thing happens with my older son. Took a group of 15 year olds to the movies. The whole car is filled with kids looking at their phones, and every once in a while someone playing a song to share or forwarding a funny picture. They’re still interacting and talking, but they’re all staring at their phones at the same time.

        No one seems totally present with what’s happening around them. They’re always multi-tasking, or talking to someone without even making eye contact. I find it rude and don’t let my kids do it, but that’s definitely not the norm anymore.

        Another thing I’ve noticed is that for any event or camp, there are a number of kids that absolutely refuse to leave behind their phones (and the parents allow or even encourage it), even though they are repeatedly asked in writing and in-person not to bring them and warned that they’ll be taken away if brought along. The behavior seems very anxiety-driven and addictive, it’s almost like a security blanket for kids (and some parents).

        Maybe it’s an example of how culture changes over time, and how behavior that is at one time considered rude eventually becomes normal. Ten years ago most people would apologize for bringing out their phone during lunch or dinner, or during a conversation. Now most people do it without comment or apology (not just kids either, I’ve noticed this also in workplace settings).

        I don’t think current smartphone use is healthy or socially productive, but it’s become so normalized, there’s an element of social isolation and exclusion if you don’t participate or object to it in any way. I own a smartphone and use it a lot. I appreciate the convenience of it, and it makes it a lot easier to wait in line or kill time. But I wonder if it’s really a net positive to society and human happiness overall.

        1. katiebird

          I started having problems with my basic phone a few months ago (It would lock up instead of just getting a text message and that would fail and it would try about 7 times before giving up. Luckily I have an iPad that I use for text messages at home) it was frustrating because my mother’s health was failing fast and I needed to get messages from/to care givers and my siblings.

          So I went to the Verizon store to see what I could do. And was told that the phone worked on a 3g network and that was being torn down (true? who knows) and I needed a new phone.

          It turns out I kind of fell in love with a Smart Phone (which was the farthest thing from my mind) and I bought a Palm. It is teeny tiny. NO ONE could get addicted to it. I use it pretty much like my basic phone except that I can look up addresses on the go if I have to.

          I’m sure it has all the privacy issues I always wanted to avoid. But for a Smart Phone it doesn’t distract me at all.

          1. RenoRich

            > told that the phone worked on a 3g network and that was being torn down (true? who knows)

            “Torn down”. Yes.

            I do not have the links handy, but Verizon is phasing out one of its technologies by the end of this year. Planned obsolescence? Can’t say, but they are onto 4g, and soon, 5g as well.

            Condolences, but it may be time for your next phone…

            1. katiebird

              Thanks, it’s good to know it wasn’t just a sales-pitch.

              It was — I really couldn’t afford (still can’t) to miss messages. So I got a Palm. It’s cute and does what I need it to do. It is AMAZING how many people welcome me to the modern world. Apparently even though I’ve had countless computers and now have a laptop and two tablets, I am a primitive without a smart phone!!

              1. Briny

                I shall remain a primitive. In my downtime, I read books, design things and work on thorny problems. Currently dark energy, dark matter and quantum cosmology.

                Yep, I’m officially weird.

  2. Steve H.

    > Are we happier when we spend more time with others?

    Coupla things. The article references the World Values Survey, which found two dimensions of cultural variation, Survival/Self-expression, and Traditional/Secular-rational. I’ve found it useful for interpreting red/blue rural/urban dynamics in the US.

    Putnam’s ‘Bowling Alone’ makes the case that civic engagement has been declining since before the ’72 economic split. This goes to the quality of relationships: satisfaction in meeting in associations peaks at about two weeks, and can drop when too much time is spent together.

    The article could be interpreted as saying extroverts are happier, which is not the case. Quality counts. Are you with people you love, who love you? George Vaillant, a past director of the study, put it well:

    Happiness is Love. Full stop.

    1. Mike Mc

      Air conditioning, television, the Walkman, the Internet and now smartphones have allowed us to ignore each other whether perfect strangers or immediate family.

      Should civilization and many if not all of our shiny toys melt away, I suspect we’ll get used to talking to each other again.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I agree with you. I would far rather be alone than stuck in a room full of loud vulgar idiots talking endlessly about the latest sport extravaganza or what’s happening to so-and-so on the television show of the moment. I carry earplugs with me at all times to shut out that noise and reduce its impact.

      On the other hand I very much enjoy conversing with someone who holds a different point of view and is able to discuss their views on politics or of the world or science or a special consuming interest on almost anything academic or related to the arts. I suppose that’s why enjoy this blogsite and try to attend as many meetups as I can. I very much miss the discussions when I was still in college and could occasionally pry discussion or more often monologues out of grad students and doctoral students while they were on break over coffee. I learned of a lot of interesting ideas that hid behind the work going on in the labs and discussed in the seminars around the school. As for love — I try to find people who are passionate and truly love some topic or some pursuit so I might vicariously share their passions. And very occasionally I find someone who will listen to me rave about my passions and ideas and will respond with their own.

  3. zagonsotra

    >MSNBC – “Bernie makes my skin crawl”

    Below quote is is from “Up with David Gura” which I never heard of until now and I can tell you that I was so disgusted I had to donate more money to Sander’s campaign. MSM is reaching new heights in lows. If Warren doesn’t come out and condemn this grotesquery of neoliberal claptrap, that Thomas Frank so eloquently writes about, then she will show herself as just another unprincipled politician.

    “Having Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren next to each other will really highlight — because for me, as, you know, again, I’m not the political analyst here, but just as a woman, probably considered a somewhat moderate Democrat, I… Bernie Sanders makes my skin crawl.”

    “I can’t even identify for you what exactly it is. But I see him as sort of a not pro-woman candidate,” Rocah continued. “So, having the two of them there — like, I don’t understand young women who support him. And I’m hoping having him next to her will help highlight

    1. Pat

      This reminds me of the reason I Iost all respect for Planned Parenthood in the run up to 2016. The faux pro woman position with little or no recognition of record and history. The only explanations that fit the facts were delusion or cover for continuing an unpopular status quo.

      I have become increasingly saddened by Warren’s run. She cannot win, her plans while interesting still make me wonder what she has been doing as Senator. And they don’t really move the Overtime window as much as Sanders has. She may still be my fourth choice, but I am sure she, like my third choice Gravel, is not really running for President but is positioning herself for reward from the Democratic regulars. There will be no condemnation.

        1. CoryP

          I’m sure CNN will have a segment called Overtime Window sometime next spring. Copyright it now.

        2. Robert McGregor

          But “Overtime Window” sounds interesting–like it might apply to Climate Change, Fracking, or maybe Peak Oil.

          1. lordkoos

            The “overtime window” refers to the amount of work managers can squeeze out of their employees without having to pay actual overtime wages.

      1. nippersmom

        In a similar vein, there are several so-called environmental groups I no longer contribute to because they habitually endorse establishment candidates who don’t actually support/work to advance the groups’ professed goals, over more progressive candidates who do.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        This +1000.

        She’s already said she’ll take Corp and PAC money in the general

        On my bad days I think Liz Warren is a stealth neoliberal.

        1. polecat

          She’s appears as an status-quo A(u)nti Meme, who travels our world thru a rather narrow lens.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . if she gets votes that Sanders would not have gotten, and she gets those votes from Catfood Candidates who would have gotten them otherwise; then she is helping to degrade and attrit the Catfood Candidate numbers just a little bit.

        And that’s a good thing, especially if it can be exploited.

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      Rooted in a lie, it was a mean spirited, bitter ad hominem attack on Sanders and must be condemned by Warren and everyone else on that debate stage. Doing so would help enormously in setting a positive tone for this primary race. This crap just needs to stop.

  4. Krystyn Walentka

    RE: “My 300 Mile Lyft Ride From Chicago to Bradford”

    Whatever, the guy is an idiot. He could have taken one of several Greyhound Buses to Dayton and gotten a Lyft from there. Or could have taken the Amtrak train to Indianapolis in the evening and continued on from there. Theses people all part of the machine, feeding money to the coportate-fascist machine and then complaining about it.

    His website says it “mocks fascists”. No, he is a fascist.

    Here I am, getting my van ready to live in and he is popular because he could not find a way to waste $330? Can this liberal arts class be any more out of touch?

    1. Isotope_C14

      Well said.

      I suppose People who fly to Spain to attend “literary” Festivals are Special though. I mean, waiting for the next flight at 10pm would be a real pain in Chicago.

      It’s not like you’d have all day to head downtown after Hotel checkout, and go to the Chicago Public Library, Open Books, Myopic Books, or any of the countless Tourist attractions there. Obviously no art there, or world-class Museums.

      He skipped the paid for flight, to throw down 330 bucks on a car ride to Ohio… You could have quite a bit of fun in Chicago on half that.

      On your personal Topic, are you becoming homeless? If so, I know the Feeling, it’s not fun.

      1. Krystyn Walentka

        Yes! For $330 I could spend 8 nights in the HI Hostel right downtown, wonderful place!

        Instead of saying that I am becoming homeless, I am making it about creating my own agency and not giving in to fascist landlords. I am better off than most homeless (some friends, no drugs, understand the system, permanent disability, etc) so I think I can manage to make it not about fun or not fun, but more about finding “god”. So maybe it is more of a pilgrimage.

        1. Spring Texan

          Very best wishes to you. Sounds difficult but I know some have managed and that there are a lot of youtube videos about it you’ve probably watched. (I’ve watched a few myself but not with a view to doing it which fortunately I don’t need to.)

        2. Wukchumni

          What path led you to ‘creating your own agency’?

          And what would make a landlord a ‘fascist’, demanding that you pay your rent timely, and not be in arrears?

          1. Krystyn Walentka

            What path led you to ‘creating your own agency’?


            And what would make a landlord a ‘fascist’, demanding that you pay your rent timely, and not be in arrears?

            None of the above, or again, Capitalism. I paid my rent, as it kept increasing, then they figured they could get more, so they did not renew my lease. Hence, no agency.

          2. ambrit

            Ill try and exlicate. The fine line between fascist and simle garden variety small rentier landlord is how much above a rational return on investment one strives for.
            I define that line as being at the site where one begins to reduce basic caloric intake in favour of rentier cash gains.
            I know that Im crazy but Im beginning to favour the idea of arming the homeless.
            A new definition of IED is Imrovised Exlosive Demograhic.
            As is clear from the above, some of my keyboard letters have ceased to function.

        3. Carey

          I’m thinking of you and wishing you the best, Krystyn.
          Been there too, not so long ago, and could be again.

        4. WheresOurTeddy

          solidarity in this difficult time. in a just society homelessness would not exist.

    2. Watt4Bob

      Once, back when I drove a taxi, I picked a man up at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l airport, He’d just returned from Dallas TX, and was very much in a hurry to get home and watch the Vikings-Cowboy football game which by that time was well under way.

      He then explained that his flight had been over-booked and that the airline had offered anyone who would give up their seat, a hotel room for the night, $300 and a ticket for tomorrows first flight.

      When I pointed out that he could have given up his seat, bought a ticket to the game and seen it entirely, in person, and most likely with a few dollars left over, his face was suddenly not so excited to be home.

      In retrospect, I don’t think the option was as obvious to him at the time because travel tends to overly focus our intent, and at the moment he was simply so focused on getting home that he didn’t recognize the opportunity.

      1. a different chris

        >I don’t think the option was as obvious to him at the time because travel tends to overly focus our intent

        Brilliant! Yes, the whole “what was I thinking” moment we all have repeatedly throughout our life seems to have that explanation. Another reason “AI” just won’t happen, we have no idea what “thinking” really consists of. It sure is squirmy, that’s all I, um, know.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        This goes to show how underpriced the Lyft ride is. Hiring a car and driver to ferry you 300 miles is just slightly more expensive than renting a car that you have to drive yourself one way to the same destination then drop off at the nearest Hertz rental agency.

        1. a different chris

          In fact, it basically pays for the car’s depreciation, no more. So the only money the dude made for his time is the tax deduction for said mileage.

          Which won’t even show up until April-ish, hopefully his car doesn’t need tires/brakes/repairs before then.

    3. Oh

      I read the story and I have to sympathize with the author. I’m not in favor of Lyft or Uber (he doesn’t use them much either according to his account) but this time he found a ride. I don’t think he’d have gotten home if he’d taken AMTRAK. It’s been crappified and prices are high thanks to the neo-liberal meddling. I don’t think he wanted to ride Greyhound. Talking about coorprate-faschist machines, Hertz and the airlines top the list. His hotel bill in Chicago might have cost him a pretty penny too. And who’s to say that his flight would’ve taken off on time the next day at 10 AM.

    4. David J.

      John Scalzi is not a fascist. He’s an author that writes popular fiction. Hence, the trip to Spain. That he chose to have what he calls an “adventure” that cost a little bit is really not that extreme, especially when one considers that his travel arrangements were borked.

      I was in Spain in 1975 when Franco died. Now that guy was a fascist.

      I feel for you and hope everything works out.

        1. Aron Blue

          Wish I would have added to this thread instead of downstream … but let me add my best wishes to you – are you planning on traveling or just staying in one region?

          1. Krystyn Walentka

            Thank you, and traveling, west, to the open cheap places where the deplorables live. ;)

            1. Isotope_C14

              I’m not sure if you are in to rockhounding, but if you find yourself at the “Public sunstone collection site” near Plush, OR, it is well worth the visit.

            2. Aron Blue

              Have you considered a visit to Slab City? Though maybe not so much in the high summer months …

              1. Krystyn Walentka

                Slab City is a bit too dysfunctional. Had a friend who went through, told me not to go.

  5. David

    How is it that journalists at a reputedly serious newspaper are still capable of writing phrases like “Boris Johnson’s Brexit Plan” without spontaneously combusting, or something?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Judging from some of the articles, its only school summer work experience interns and lifestyle writers who are still in the office.

    2. Olga

      If ‘serious’ journalists were at all prone to combustion – spontaneous or otherwise – we’d long ago have lost most of them. I fear the exact opposite happens – the more they embellish, the more their paychecks (very serous!) grow.

  6. urblintz

    I am not sure why I decided to watch Mueller’s testimony this morning and am fairly certain I won’t be watching much longer. This is political onanism at its finest, a public, bipartisan and worthless display of small minded self gratification, tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    This is our government at work.

    1. sleepy

      It’s a flop so far. With dwindling public interest and few political points to score, I wonder how and if the dems will try to keep Russiagate going after this mess.

      1. JohnnyGL

        The party is clearly over on Mueller-time. The last few die-hards are still trying to get what they can tap from the keg, but it’s all foam and crud that settles at the bottom like a in a bad 40oz of malt liquor.

        Most people have packed up and filed out…but there’s always those last few die-hards that won’t quit!!!

    2. anon in so cal

      Not sure why I watched, either. Watched about 15 minutes, then read some tweets by Aaron Mate and others. Consensus seems to be that Mueller comes across as distressed, confused, unable to answer crucial questions and seemingly unfamiliar with parts of his own report.

      If Democrats keep the Russiagate psy ops going, they are toast in 2020.

      Glenn Greenwald has some zingers.

      “It’s honestly sad to watch people – after 3 years – still clinging to the hope that Mueller will save them from Trump. You’re going to have convince people in 2020 that your party won’t be devoted to Goldman Sachs, Silicon Valley & other Dem funders but making their lives better.”

      “I think it’s fair to say that there’s a pretty severe mismatch between the media mythology and iconography constructed around Mueller over the last 3 years & the reality of the man as revealed today. No wonder he opted for utter silence: wise choice.”

      “It’s really exactly like the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the curtain is opened and everyone is shocked by what’s behind it”

      Yamiche Alcindor:

      “Quite a moment. @RepJeffries using graphics to argue that President Trump committed obstruction of justice while Robert Mueller says “I’m not supportive of that analytical charge.””

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt as to what they believe and why, in this case it was unanimously clear based on everything they were hearing that Trump had committed treason and had to be deposed.

        So where do they go now that Michael Moore has called out Mueller essentially for just being too weak a messenger of the uber-message (and not that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the message itself)?

        Maybe the body politic just needs to digest the ergot on the rye, and let it pass through the system? So the scales finally fall away from their eyes? What will happen as the hallucinations continue to wear off, if Comey gets indicted, when people ask Mueller about prosecutorial misconduct, why Team FBI never examined the DNC servers or interviewed Assange, how 30,000 emails got deleted and the FBI destroyed cellphones and laptops containing evidence under subpoena?

        Of course the answer is that their very institutions (FBI, DOJ, MSM, Dem Party) have failed them. But faced with the choice simply to continue hating a rude, cartoonish, blowhard huckster of a president or to shake the very core of what they previously believed to be true, I think I know which they will pick.

        I never imagined that losing our republic would be quite so simple. No bang, all whimper.

    3. Oh

      I heard two questions being asked (on radio) and both of them were leading questions. The DimRats will lose again big time because of their spinelessness. They will cap it off with keeping Bernie out and shoehorning in Joe (Hands, hair sniffer) Biden.

    4. mpalomar

      “This is our government at work.”
      This is somebody’s government at work, not ours unless you happen to be a beneficiary of the energy/financial/defense/security industries.
      Haven’t been watching the show but look forward to reading the post mortems.

  7. Ook

    @My Boris Johnson Story: Spectator journalist discovers that a politician who probably makes a hundred such speeches a year:
    a) is a very talented entertainer and
    b) reuses his material

      1. Carolinian

        Perhaps more relevant re BoJo

        As mayor of London, he was asked by firefighters, “Will you accept responsibility in a criminal court when people die as a result of your cuts?” He replied, “Get stuffed!” The following year, 10 fire stations were closed in the capital and nearly 600 firefighters’ jobs lost. These cuts contributed to the 72 lives lost in the Grenfell Tower inferno—blood on Johnson’s hands.

      2. Olga

        Perhaps not data; nevertheless, it seems instructive. It puts a funny spin (and confirmation) on Finian O’Toole’s The Ham of Fate piece. Read together, one gets a picture of a totally unserious person (or, chap, as BoJo may refer to himself), whose main strength seems to be the ability to improvise and/or clown about. And more – he wears this unseriousness (backed up by huge ambition, unfortunately for us) as a badge of honour. For anyone who thinks these anecdotes are just about an entertaining pol, do read O’Toole’s article (

        1. a different chris

          And more to the point, BoJo is not an entirely unclever “bumbler”. Born as a plebe in America, he might have gone to politics but more likely would own a decent string of shiny car dealerships.

    1. DavidM

      What’s remarkable though is that Johnson didn’t just recycle the material of the speech, he recreates the whole performance leading up to it–arriving late, desperately asking for the paper and pen, writing SHEEP and SHARK large enough to be legible to bystanders, which, remember, at this point consists of only the organizers and the co-presenter. This is a man who knows he’s always being watched, by whom, and has orchestrated every response. Impressive stuff.

      1. ambrit

        Yes, but, as head minister he must use his analytical skills, not endlessly reuse a formula.

        1. Oregoncharles

          We shall see.

          Remember, thanks to May the Tories are well and truly stuffed (looks like Labor may be, too). I doubt he can make it worse.

          Anyway, I think it explains his rise to power – two identical performances are more than just an anecdote; they’re a formula.

          1. ambrit

            I would blame Cameron for calling the referendum in the first lace.
            Ultimately, the Neoliberal movement set it all in motion.

            1. BhamDan

              Dude from several of your posts looks like your “p” key is broken, if you weren’t aware.

  8. JCC

    The Pew Research article on Immigration was very interesting. It is almost, but not quite, amazing how little the political/social/MSM rhetoric matches the facts on the ground.

    1. marym

      It’s interesting to compare the data and map from that link showing where immigrants live to maps of attitudes toward immigration.

      2018 data: Perception of whether undocumented immigrants commit more crime
      2015 data (JPG): Cultural impact
      2015 data (JPG): Immigration reform

    2. anon in so cal

      It’s probably the case that residents of California may be most opposed to illegal immigration.

      Here’s the governor of California promising free healthcare for illegal immigrants even though there are plenty of resident Californians with poor to no healthcare coverage. 58,000 homeless on the streets of Los Angeles county.

      “California Is 1st State To Offer Health Benefits To Adult Undocumented Immigrants”

      “California pledges $30 million for Dreamers to pay for college, legal help”

      1. marym

        California is very positive toward immigration in the links I provided. Unfortunately the PRRI site didn’t have more recent* data on immigration that would reflect the policies referenced in your links (if your links reflect dates when the public would be aware of these policy changes.

        My link was for 2015 data, but subsequently I found they had what appears to be 2016 data (slightly different link to an interactive table) but still prior to your links.

      2. Dan

        The Democrats keep changing their position on immigration. A few years back, they argued that people rushing the border were merely seeking asylum and deserved their day in court. Now the most of the illegal aliens have received their day in court, lost, and have been ordered by an immigration judge to leave the country. They refuse to leave, so ICE has to conduct raids to round them up. The Democrats are upset by that. At this point, it’s pretty obvious they will not be happy until we have complete open borders, no matter what they say in the meantime.

        I think the Democrats see recently enfranchised immigrants as their only hope for survival. In the case of San Francisco, even illegals are allowed to vote in local elections for school board. What’s funny is that lots of recently legalized immigrants voted for Trump as the Democrat’s open borders position was a slap in the face after their waiting and following the law.

        1. Oregoncharles

          “I think the Democrats see recently enfranchised immigrants as their only hope for survival.” I don’t know what they’re thinking, but this charge makes little sense. It takes a long time to achieve naturalization, and unofficial immigrants aren’t eligible. So if it helps at all, it would be too far down the road to be a present factor.

        2. Aumua

          This is an example of far right brainwashing that has infiltrated the mainstream “conservative” point of view these past few years. “Open borders” is a loud and clear dog whistle. I’m no friend of democrats but I find the idea that they want to bring in as many immigrants as possible in order to win elections as ludicrous on its face and yet is it presented here as a foregone conclusion. I encourage anyone reading to try and consider the bigger picture on global, complex and multi-sided issues like immigration and not fall into simplistic Us vs.Them thinking and pointing the finger at the most vulnerable people in the equation.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “How the U.S. Lost Its Game of Chicken with Turkey”

    I guess that Erdogan still has not forgiven the US the time during the coup when they tried to have him murdered. I suppose that he took it personally. In this game of chicken, Turkey has three aces up their sleeve and the US knows it. First is the nukes that the US keeps at Incirlik Air Base for any future nuclear attack on Russia. Not may countries in this region will house them that are stable enough and don’t mind having a big target painted on them. The second is that after the US, Turkey has the biggest army contingent to NATO. Without the Turks, NATO has substantially less troops to go to war with. Thirdly, Turkey has control of the Bosporus which goes into the Black Sea which NATO is seeking to militarize. The Turks could find all sorts of reasons to deny NATO ships access to this area.

    1. Carolinian

      they tried to have him murdered

      He shouldn’t take it personally. As they say in the mafia movies it was “just business.”

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        as a guy I went to high school with that did 3 tours in Iraq said after Saddam was hung:

        “F*** them if they can’t take a joke”

        Be honest – did you recoil as much as I did?

  10. CoryP

    I believe the idea has been floated before that Turkey is using the S-400 to get out of buying the craptastic F-35… but then it looks like they’re losing money here so maybe not.

  11. J7915

    The Jordanian Air Base expansion? Why doesn’t the US use facilities in Israel? Aren’t they the strategic, democratic ally in the region?

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        one wonders if any of the personnel at Fort Meat Shield are aware of the events of June 8, 1967

        then again, one wonders how they get anyone to sign up for the death machine at all

  12. J7915

    Re. Turkish S400 first Russian mil systems in NATO. Germany operated Mig 29s Fulcrum at Red Flag. But then the Russians participated with Bear bombers in the 90s also.

    1. Carolinian

      More on those Ford transmissions.

      The defect can cause a car to surge into traffic and while there have been serious injuries, no deaths so far. Nevertheless, unlike Boeing (according to the reporting), they clearly knew they were putting out a defective part before accidents occurred and did it anyway. Perhaps Ford should be getting a far greater share of the bad ink when it comes to corporate malefactor journalism.

  13. chuck roast

    “Is Politics Getting To The Fed?”

    The certainly do have there share of blind-spots in Cambridge. Yesterday, a professor who taught people how to avoid cons was himself badly conned. Today, we have Professor Robert J. Barro revealing that the Federal Reserve Bank is (wait for it…) becoming politicized! One would think that the long-time Fed-hack-a-thon presented by Alan Greenspan got lost in a time warp.

    So, Harvard appears to have become a knuckle-head magnet. And so it goes.

    1. Louis Fyne

      An institution is “above politics” if it’s doing what one wants, it’s “politicized” if it’s doing what one doesn’t want.

      funny how things work that way

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Bernie Sanders castigating Greenspan is still one of the all-time great C-SPAN hits.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I think I remember seeing that. I think I remember seeing Greenspan leering, sneering and smirking throughout the whole thing.

          ” Oh yeah, Senator? So what anyway, Senator? So whattayu gonna do about it, Senator?”

          Greenspan got away with it. Every little bit of it.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      I made exactly this comment on a post from yesterday with regard to a different economist: the notion that Barro is a knuckle-head is mistaken. He knows exactly what he is doing.

  14. Oregoncharles

    “My Boris Johnson Story” – this:

    “I realise that I am in the presence of genius.”

    That explains a lot. However, it doesn’t tell us much about Boris as PM, except that we can’t predict. If I was British, I’d be wondering if he can really run the country the way he carried off an after-dinner speech.

    1. ChrisPacific

      I think the answer is almost certainly no, but that’s not the point. There will be chaos. The beneficiaries, as always, will be those that are best placed to deal with chaos – the strong, the powerful, the wealthy. There will be pain and suffering that is mostly confined to the poor and powerless, but is nonetheless morally uncomfortable and bad PR. What to do about that? Don’t worry, Boris has you covered:

      ‘Now, I accept,’ he went on in an uncertain tone, ‘that as a result some small children were eaten by a shark. But how much more pleasure did the MAJORITY get from those beaches as a result of the boldness of the Mayor in Jaws?’

      Brilliant. The whole room is hooting and cheering. It no longer matters that Boris has no script, no plan, no idea of what event he is attending, and that he seems to be taking the whole thing off the top of his head.

      He’ll take the heat. He’s a bulletproof raconteur. He will say the unsayable, take the morally indefensible position, and the people will somehow love him for it anyway. You’ll be off the hook and free to enjoy your ill-gotten gains! What’s not to like?

  15. ewmayer

    o “For Wolves, Grooming Helps Strengthen Family Bonds | Wolf Conservation Center” — The family that licks together, sticks together.

    o “Bad governance: How privatization increases corruption in the developing world (PDF) Regulation and Governance” — Only in the developing world?

    o “How The U.S. Lost Its Game Of Chicken With Turkey | Lobelog” — That’s quite the fowl headline there. Worthy of a Pullet Surprise!

    o “China’s $40 Trillion Banking System Learns a Lesson on Risk | Bloomberg” — Trust me, when China’s hyperleveraged wild west banking system finally “learns a lesson on risk”, it’ll be in more than a Bloomberg headline.

    o “‘A lack of urgency’: Democrats frustrated as House investigators struggle to unearth major revelations about Trump | WaPo” — ‘Urgency’ apparently being a euphemism for ‘evidence’ here. Gotta love the shamelessness, though – Russiagate ginned up to excuse HRH Hillary from losing on the issues, FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign issued based on perjury-riddled oppo research, 2+ years of elite FBI task-forcedom fails to find evidence of the nonexistent Russian-puppetry, now Team D having latest impeachment wet dream based on ‘obstruction’ of what appears to have been a highly improper and quite possibly illegal investigation. Anything to avoid governing and presenting a vision for fixing what ails the nation, and what ails the nation ain’t the doofus in the WH – he is merely a symptom of the underlying disease.

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “The painful path to curing Japan of its cash addiction”
    “cash is easier, quicker, Jackpot-Ready™, and doesn’t allow tracking”

    How Jackpot-Ready™ is cash? Most dystopian speculations use bullets as ‘cash’ or some other small durable useful item as a medium for exchange.

    As far as the Japanese preference for cash I think part of that preference relies on the relatively much safer society the Japanese enjoy. Walk around with large amounts of cash here and if you aren’t robbed you’ll be suspected of a drug transaction and your money will go to a Police Retirement Fund or Police Salary Enhancement program.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My first thought is, maybe the Japanese don’t like to owe money.

      I look up Wikipedia List of Countries by Household Debt, from 1980 to 2017, and in 2017, their household debt to GDP, from the IMF, was 57%, vs China @ 49%, the US at 77%, Denmark at 117%, France at 58%, South Korea at 94%, etc.

      It would seem they are on the low end among other similarly rich, industrialized nations.

      1. Jermey Grimm

        They are also at the high end as far as age. Most of us old people are very allergic to debt, especially at high interest rates when the return to most somewhat secure investments is crap.

  17. aronblue

    re: 300 mile Lyft ride … it’s a cryin shame what passes for an adventure these days … seems like people are either so financially constrained they can’t afford do anything out of step whatsoever or so rich that anything slightly out of the ordinary is like Gandalf knocking on Bilbo Baggins’ door.

    But maybe I just feel this way because I recently was stuck for 6 hours in Baker CA on a broken down Flix bus where I saw a fistfight between one of the bus drivers and a customer.

    tl;dr Don’t ride Flix.

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