2:00PM Water Cooler 8/22/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


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

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

I’m abandoning the RCP poll on the Democrat Presidential nomination race, despite the fancy presentation, because I don’t like the way the polls used keep changing (and RCP doesn’t include Reuters/IPSOS either, at least not now, even though Reuter is one of the polls that the DNC uses to determine — if that’s the word I want — candidate eligibility for the debates. So I’ll try FiveThirtyEight (I know, I know) for awhile. Here are results going a week back, last updated 2019-08-20:

A new YouGov, relative positions of Biden, Warren, Sanders are same. Morning Consult (B-) is still the pick of the litter today on sample size, and it has Biden, Sanders, and Warren, in that order, and Sanders solidly ahead of Warren. CNN (A-) has Warren breathing down Sanders’ neck. Harris (C+) has interesting head-to-head comparisons. Hopefully we’ll have something better than this screen dump shortly.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden’s Poll Numbers Mask an Enthusiasm Gap” [New York Times]. “Joseph R. Biden Jr. is coasting in the national polls. Surveys show him ahead of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups against President Trump. He has maintained a lead in Iowa all summer, despite facing months of controversies over his record and his campaign missteps…. ‘I did not meet one Biden voter who was in any way, shape or form excited about voting for Biden,’ [Patrick Murray, the director of Monmouth’s Polling Institute, who recently spent time in Iowa] said. ‘They feel that they have to vote for Joe Biden as the centrist candidate, to keep somebody from the left who they feel is unelectable from getting the nomination.'”

Gabbard (D)(1): “Gabbard Victimized by DNC’s Dubious Debate Criteria” [Michael Tracey, RealClearPolitics]. “Tulsi Gabbard is on the verge of being excluded from the next Democratic presidential debate on the basis of criteria that appear increasingly absurd. Take, for instance, her poll standing in New Hampshire, which currently places Gabbard at 3.3% support, according to the RealClearPolitics average as of Aug. 20. One might suspect that such a figure would merit inclusion in the upcoming debates — especially considering she’s ahead of several candidates who have already been granted entry, including Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Yang. But the Democratic National Committee has decreed that the polls constituting this average are not sufficiently ‘qualifying.’ What makes a poll ‘qualifying’ in the eyes of the DNC? The answer is conspicuously inscrutable.” • Third World stuff. The rules of the game are opaque, confusing, and constantly changing. But the outcome always tends in one direction!

Harris (D)(1): “The #KHive, Kamala Harris’s most devoted online supporters, explained” [Vox]. “With Harris, it’s not the #BeyHive but the #KHive…. Given its size and the commitment of those using it, the #KHive hashtag could be an invaluable organizing resource for the campaign, says digital strategist Alan Rosenblatt. In a competitive and crowded race where grassroots support and funding is everything, the #KHive has emerged as its own energized, and passionate, community.”

Harris (D)(2): “Is it panic time for Kamala Harris?” [Chris Cilizza, CNN]. ” You don’t need to peak in August 2019. You need to peak in February/March 2020. The Point: Harris is doing just fine. She isn’t the front-runner. But she’s in the lead pack — and that’s right where she wants and needs to be.” • Maybe…

Inslee (D)(1): Nothing in life became him like the leaving of it:

Impressing Axelrod. Something to tell the kids about, I guess, years from now.

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders’s ambitious plan to double union membership, explained” [Vox]. “Sanders’s plan calls for the end to “at-will” employment, aims to double union membership in his first term in office, and advocates for industry-wide collective bargaining. It also directly addresses criticism from those like former Vice President Joe Biden who argue Medicare-for-all, Sanders’s central health care policy, could be bad for unions…. ‘If there is going to be class warfare in this country, it is time that the working class of this country won that war,’ Sanders said at the AFL-CIO convention in Iowa Wednesday, where he unveiled the plan.” • The detail looks very strong. Must be a good plan, because The Jeff Bezos Daily Shopper is already trying to distort it:

Sanders (D)(2): “Is Bernie Sanders the New Climate Candidate?” [Rolling Stone]. “Dubbing the plan as his version of the Green New Deal, Sanders wants America’s electrical and transportation systems to be powered exclusively by renewable energy by 2030, and for America to be totally decarbonized by 2050. The plan calls for a $16.3 trillion public investment to make this happen, which Sanders says will pay for itself in only 15 years, partially through tax revenue generated from the 20 million new jobs the plan would create. To help kick the plan into gear, Sanders would take executive action to declare the climate crisis a national emergency.” • As Klein, below, asks.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump has 62 percent disapproval rating in new AP poll” [The Hill]. “Sixty-two percent of Americans said they disapprove of the job Trump is doing, while just 36 percent approve, according to the Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Thursday. While low compared to former President Obama, Trump’s latest approval rating is relatively consistent with the polling results seen throughout his first term. Trump’s approval rating has stayed between 32 and 42 percent throughout his time in office, the AP noted. Amid fears of a recession, which Trump and administration officials have dismissed, 46 percent of Americans now approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, based on the poll.” • It seems that these days fear sells better than sex.

Trump (R)(2): “Team Trump launches ‘coast-to-coast’ campaign for suburban women” [Politico]. “President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign will dispatch more than a dozen female surrogates on Thursday to some of the most important 2020 battleground states in its first major push to mobilize suburban women — a critical voting bloc that revolted against Republican candidates as recently as the midterm elections last fall. Campaign officials have billed the cross-country events as both a celebration of women’s suffrage — Monday marks the 99th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote — and a coordinated effort to train pro-Trump women to become effective volunteers in their communities. A campaign official involved with the planning said about 2,000 attendees were expected across the gatherings in 13 states, as of Tuesday.”

Warren (D)(1): “Rising Warren faces uphill climb with black voters” [The Hill]. “While Warren (D-Mass.) has been moving up in recent polls, she has struggled to lure black voters to her campaign…. A separate poll by the Pew Research Center found that while former Vice President Joe Biden received 29 percent of support among African Americans, only 4 percent were throwing their support behind Warren. More black voters also named Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as their pick… Warren’s political director and senior adviser Rebecca Pearcey, for example, is a well-respected veteran of the Democratic Party, having worked at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a string of campaigns. D’Shawna Bernard, the African American outreach director, is a veteran of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Rich McDaniel is the National Organizing Director. LaToia Jones, a consultant on the campaign, is also a Black Caucus veteran.” • The Black Misleadership Class. Could be a recipe for success in South Carolina. We’ll see!

* * *

“Progressives Are Winning the 2020 Democratic Primary, and Losing to Biden” [Paste Magazine (RH)]. “Majorities of the under-35 crowd simply look at politics in a completely different light than majorities of the over-35 crowd, as demonstrated by these two poll responses below. Biden’s support is grounded entirely in completely subjective and undefinable measures like “electability” and “personal characteristics,” while the majority of both Bernie and Warren’s support is rooted in their aggressive policy positions—which again, are the farthest to the left of standard Democratic politics than any primary contender in Gen Z’s, millennials’ or Gen X’s lifetimes. On a majority basis, young people simply outright reject the politics of Biden’s generation. There’s no other way to read this kind of polling.” And: “Leftists who want to evangelize the cause should be wary of using the famed ‘centrist’ slur against folks just trying to find someone new to like, as current polling proves that these are the people who will choose the Democratic nominee (also because ideologically, the Democratic Party is staunchly united on policy that is quite far to the left—very few Democrats are actual centrists).” • Perhaps not conventional wisdom, but certainly conventional analysis (generational analysis; left v. right as a spectrum and not a terrain). That said, as a trend, younger voters do vote on policy, and some Sanders advocates need to avoid conflating the Axis of Tanden with “folks.”

“Why the Democratic National Committee Must Change the Rules and Hold a Climate Debate” [Naomi Klein, The Intercept]. “It does not help the case for this debate that much of the mainstream climate movement has done a poor job of making clear links between the ways that the wealthiest and most powerful interests in our economy are assaulting the earth, assaulting democracy, and assaulting the most vulnerable among us all at the same time and to serve the same profitable goals.” • Yep.

Susan Sarandon Hysteria

It’s still going on!

Yikes. Here, the hysteria spirals outward and takes down an editor at Daily Kos. or should. See at bottom right:

The liberal Democrat slogan “Listen to black women” has always seemed somewhat selective, but never moreso than here.

“Democrats are traumatized. That’s why they hate Susan Sarandon” [The Independent]. • Well, maybe. But the cost of living in the Beltway is very high. I would bet a lot of Democratic strategists and identity politics “voices” and talking heads made career plans based on the idea that Clinton was a lock in 2016. Now, it turns out that life is more precarious for them than they imagined. They’ll have had to cut back on positional goods. No braces for little Madison! Connor won’t get into the right pre-school. That’s the kind of trauma we’re talking about. It’s not like they’ve having to block a coal train as an answer to their boss’s wage theft.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

When you’ve lost Deray:

“Jeffrey Epstein’s Intellectual Enabler” [Evgeny Morosov, The New Republic]. “[Literary agent John Brockman] is also the president, founder, and chief impresario of the Edge Foundation, which has earned a stellar reputation as an eclectic platform for conversations that involve scientists, artists, and technologists. There is more than one Edge Foundation, though: There is the one meant for public consumption, with its “annual question”—e.g. “What are you optimistic about?”—answered by famous intellectuals and thinkers; and one meant for private consumption by members of Brockman’s elite network. The former exists primarily online. The latter has a vibrant real-life component, with sumptuous dinners, exclusive conferences, and quite a bit of travel on private jets—it functions as an elaborate massage of the ego (and, apparently, much else) for the rich, the smart, and the powerful.” • I think I see where this is going… ” And so we get to this email from Brockman to Morosov: “Last time I visited his house (the largest private residence in NYC), I walked in to find him in a sweatsuit and a British guy in a suit with suspenders, getting foot massages from two young well-dressed Russian women… At that point I realized that the recipient of Irina’s foot massage was his Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.” • Everybody knew.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Election reform thread from Mike Gravel:

This is a lot more interesting than “abolish the electoral college” foofra (which in practice is yet another way for liberal Democrats to avoid looking in the mirror for their 2016 loss).

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of August 17, 2020: “The coming employment report, this time for August, looks to be roughly as strong if not slightly stronger than prior reports, at least based on jobless claims” [Econoday]. “Low levels for claims point to low rates of layoffs and high demand for labor.”

Leading Indicators, July 2019: “The index of leading economic indicators had been weak in May and June but bounced back strongly in July” [Econoday]. “Yet manufacturing components were still weak and the yield spread component, which has been the great strength of this report over the past 10 years, came in negative for a second straight month. The Conference Board’s conclusion: ‘While the LEI suggests the US economy will continue to expand in the second half of 2019, it is likely to do so at a moderate pace.'”

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, August 2019: “Tenth District manufacturing activity had its largest monthly drop in over three years” [Econoday]. “The drop in overall manufacturing activity was driven by declines at both durable and non-durable plants, especially primary metal, electrical equipment, appliances, paper, printing and chemical manufacturing.”

Purchasing Managers’ Index Composite (Flash), August 2018: “Just about flat and no better than flat are the conditions being reported by Markit Economics’ US business samples where the headline composite… came in below Econoday’s consensus range. [Econoday]. “The text of the report underscores that respondents are often citing subdued levels of corporate spending in what directly confirms Fed worries over business investment, that investment here is slowing as businesses lower their outlooks…. Weakness for the manufacturing sample is no surprise, unlike services where spillover from manufacturing is the possible indication in what would confirm the Fed’s structural assessment that changes in manufacturing precede changes in services.” • Remember, however, that is a survey, and the divergence between surveys and data has been a continuing scandal for years.

Retail: “The Hottest Thing in Food Is Made of Peas, Soy, and Mung Beans” [Bloomberg]. “Brown prefers to hold forth about the meatlike substances he’s been working on for more than 10 years, breaking plant materials down into their component parts—amino acids, lipids, minerals—and then rebuilding them to mimic the structure of animal flesh. He’ll identify the five necessary sensory experiences: fat, flavor, aroma, appearance, and texture. “Meat is these five components,” he says. “What the animal is doing is organizing plant material.” Instead of using cows to turn plants into burgers, Beyond uses a system of heating, cooling, and pressure. The result is a raw, reddish-brown patty that’s closer to animal meat in taste and texture than any freezer-aisle predecessor.” • And then there are those proprietary ingredients….

Tech: One area where innovation never, ever happens:

Tech: He’s not wrong:

Right now, the firms @gravislizard describes are manufacturing and selling cables, routers, modems, etc. But no reason for them not to move up the value chain, eh?

Manufacturing: “Walmart slams Tesla with a lawsuit claiming its solar panels caught fire at 7 stores” [Business Insider]. “‘As of November 2018, no fewer than seven Walmart stores had experienced fires due to Tesla’s solar system,’ the company said in its lawsuit, filed in New York state court…. Walmart alleges the incidents were linked and that they were all a result of ‘widespread negligence’ on behalf of Tesla and its employees, who installed the systems on more than 200 stories, which are now all laying idle.” • Gozilla vs. Mothra!

Manufacturing: “FAA Issues Safety Warning on Sensor Linked to Boeing 737 Max Crashes” [Industry Week]. “‘It is imperative that all operators are aware of the criticality of AOA sensors and the potential for damage during normal operations, maintenance procedures, servicing procedures, and any other procedures around an aircraft where damage to an AOA sensor could occur,’ the FAA said in the Aug. 14 notice…. A Bloomberg review of public databases found at least 140 instances since the early 1990s of angle-of-attack sensors being damaged on the ground or by birds. Even though the failures occurred on different models, they sometimes prompted serious cockpit emergencies like what occurred in the 737 Max accidents.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing’s $1 Billion ‘Kill Vehicle’ Contract Ended by Pentagon” [Industry Week]. “The Pentagon canceled a Boeing Co. contract for a ‘kill vehicle’ envisioned to shoot down missiles from North Korea or Iran, the latest setback to a next-generation system that has struggled to prove its effectiveness…. ‘Ending the program was the responsible thing to do,’ Michael Griffin, the under secretary of defense for research and engineering said in the statement. ‘After exercising due diligence, we decided the path we’re going down wouldn’t be fruitful, so we’re not going down that path anymore.'” • Boeing’s defense bailout seems slow in coming.

Honey for the Bears: “The next recession won’t be like the accelerated 2008 crisis – it will be long, slow and deep” [The New Statesman]. This is the UK. Nevertheless. “With incomes low, savings drained and debt levels high, a turn in the business cycle will mean great financial hardship for families throughout the global North…. Many people are no better off today than they were in 2007, and they do not expect their lot to improve. If the political turmoil of the last decade has resulted from economic stagnation, there is no telling what chaos might be unleashed when stagnation turns into decline.” • Yep.

The Fed: “Fed’s Daly Says She Doesn’t See a U.S. Recession on the Horizon” [Bloomberg]. “‘When I look at the data coming in, I see solid domestic momentum that points to a continued economic expansion,’; Daly wrote Tuesday in a post on Quora.com, citing data on labor markets and consumer spending. ‘But considerable headwinds, like weaker global growth and trade uncertainties, have emerged — and they’re contributing to this fear we see in the markets that a downturn is right around the corner,’ she said. ‘So one thing I’m looking closely at is whether the mood gets so out of sync with the data that the fear of recession becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” • And there are those who, if would defeat Trump, would be perfectly happy with a recession (since it won’t touch them). Wiser heads, I think, understand a recession would elect Sanders.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 26 Fear (previous close: 25, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 19 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). L Last updated Aug 22 at 11:38am. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

The Biosphere

The Milky Way:

“Siberia just experienced wildfires on a staggering scale. Russia is rethinking how to fight them” [Los Angeles Times]. “Four years ago, Russia instituted a policy of letting remote forest fires burn unless it made sense economically to put them out. Environmentalists warned that the new rules would intensify Siberia’s annual fire season and release more greenhouse gases into the air. The public, for the most part, didn’t pay attention to the regulation change. That changed this summer when fires swept quickly through thousands of square miles of Siberian forest and strong winds spread smoke and ash across a third of the country. For several days, dark clouds blanketed the cities of Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk — each home to more than a million people — hundreds of miles from the fires’ epicenter.”

“A Once Common Gecko Is Vanishing from Parts of Asia” [Scientific American]. “The baby blue and orange-spotted tokay gecko—whose creaky calls of to-kay provided its onomatopoeic name—have always been ubiquitous throughout Southeast Asia, southern China and India. The wall-climbing reptiles often reside in restaurants, gardens and homes, where they help control insect pests… In recent years, though, they have begun to be traded by the millions on the international market—and evidence is emerging that the species is in quick decline, says Vincent Nijman, an anthropologist at Oxford Brookes University in England. Few scientists have undertaken studies of gecko population trends, but teams have confirmed declines as high as 50 percent in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Indonesia, the Philippines and Bangladesh. Anecdotally, “many people say that where they could hear tokays in their backyards 10 to 15 years ago, they are no longer there,” Nijman says.” • Oy. Just like the missing bug splats. I love geckoes.


“Water shortages are becoming a banking problem” [American Banker]. I can’t get through the paywall, but here’s the first sentence of the lead: “Cashmere Valley Bank, based a little more than two hours outside of Seattle, had never considered the water supply as a credit-risk factor.”

“Zambia Mulls a Congo Canal. Experts Say Don’t Even Try It” [Bloomberg]. “Drought-riven Zambia plans to build canals from the Congo river in its northern neighbor to supply water and electricity. It will never work, say experts…. The Zambezi is also more elevated than the Congo river, said Chapman, a hydrologist who’s published a study on the impact of climate change on the Zambezi’s hydropower production. ‘Canals are absolutely not feasible. I have no idea what the relevant minister could be thinking,’ he said in reply to emailed questions. ‘There are no places in which one could get the Congo river to flow downhill.'”

“Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants” [PFAS Project (MN)]. • MN writes: “This looks like a central source of national news on PFAS.”

“State’s ‘forever chemical’ restrictions not applied to compost” [Portland Press-Herald]. “State environmental regulators have allowed companies to sell compost made with treated municipal sludge to the public this summer, even as they restrict the use of sludge on many farm fields because of concerns about chemical contamination…. Direct application of treated sludge on Maine farm fields has slowed dramatically this year amid new concerns at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection over levels of PFAS in the would-be fertilizer. But the DEP has granted a dozen facilities that mix sludge with other materials to make compost an extension, of sorts, to continue selling their nutrient-rich product to landscapers, nurseries, contractors and home gardeners.” • Those bastards. That’s Casella. I bought some of that stuff once, as I’ve said, and it was horrid.

“Here’s what Ann Arbor-area lawmakers are doing about PFAS” [MLive (MN)]. “With many other pollutants, Irwin said, the threat is measured in parts per billion. But with PFAS, it’s parts per trillion. ‘This stuff is dramatically more dangerous than most of the other compounds we’re dealing with,” [State Sen. Jeff Irwin] said. ‘And we don’t really know enough about how to clean it up.'” • Apparently, PFAS is used in dental floss. That’s nice.

Health Care

“A day in the life of a nurse who works 10-hour shifts in an NYC cancer unit keeping patients comfortable in the midst of a national drug shortage” [Business Insider]. “I shadowed Czarina Cecilio, a 33-year-old registered nurse at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Multiple Myeloma Center in New York City. She treats patients with myeloma, a type of bone-marrow cancer…. I did notice that Cecilio was on her feet most of the day assisting patients, and she was constantly getting asked questions by the oncologist, secretary, patients, and other nurses. I learned that not only did Cecilio have to know the ins and outs of myeloma treatment for her patients, she was constantly managing interpersonal relationships around the clinic. And because one of the drugs needed in the treatment is facing a national shortage, Cecilio spends a lot of time on the phone with manufacturers and drug providers.” • I’m glad to see a working class person getting some respectful coverage. But “national shortage” of cancer drugs? Huh? How did I miss this? This is worse than the insulin stupidity! Readers?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Joe Strummer’s wasn’t the only birthday yesterday:

“‘Willful amnesia’: How Africans forgot — and remembered — their role in the slave trade” [Public Radio International]. “[The Portuguese] named the area the Gold Coast. There was already a domestic slave trade when they arrived, [Nat Amarteifio, a local historian who’s also a former mayor of Accra, Ghana’s capital] said, although slavery didn’t mean what it came to mean in America. Enslaved people had some rights and opportunities. Still, ‘The system already existed,” Amarteifio said. “The Europeans saw it. And thought: ‘Ah, we can try these people in our lands in the New World.’ But Amarteifio says the Europeans weren’t going out and capturing Africans. They couldn’t — they got sick and died from illnesses like malaria. Some African ethnic groups went into business, warring with other groups so they could capture prisoners they sold as slaves to the Europeans. Amarteifio says they were organized and intentional about it. ‘To pursue slavery successfully, you need a highly organized group because somebody has to go out there — somebody has to locate the victims; somebody has to lead an army there; somebody has to capture them, transport them to the selling centers; all the time, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t revolt,’ he said. ‘And then sell them, and move on.'” • So “the Ancestors” is a little equivocal…

Class Warfare

“A tale of corruption by the United Auto Workers and the Big Three American automakers” [Monthly Review]. Well, well:

The UAW and the Big Three automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, have established a series of joint programs (described below), serving a variety of interests, all purportedly aimed at benefiting union members. The funds that support these programs amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, funded in various ways but never overseen in a transparent and public way. One program is aimed at training workers. However, the enormous sums involved were enticing to those who saw opportunities to pocket the money. Here is an example.

The lack of public oversight of joint training funds produced a “culture of corruption” among the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center (NTC) directors that led to bribery, theft, influence peddling, and a cover-up of criminal activity. The case filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division charged that Fiat Chrysler Vice President Alphons Iacobelli and UAW Vice President of the Chrysler department General Holiefield violated the Labor-Management Relations Act (LMRA). One provision of the LMRA sought to prevent corruption of the collective bargaining process that occurs when an employer gives something of value to the union representative, presumably to influence the representative to ignore his or her duty to promote the interests of union members. Iacobelli and Holiefield and their cronies embezzled $4.5 million of joint training funds from the NTC to pay for items that varied in value from shoes, purses, and luggage to $2180 Belgian shotgun, $37,500 solid-gold Mont Blanc fountain pens, and a Ferrari sports car. Over $200,000 worth of purchases were charged to Holiefield’s NTC credit card including jewelry, furniture, and other personal expenses. NTC funds paid for over $262,000 on his mortgage. Iacobelli encouraged training center staff to use NTC-issued credit cards for personal purchases, to keep senior members of the UAW Chrysler Department “fat, dumb, and happy,” “take company friendly positions,” and to pay off co-conspirators to cover it all up.

Penny ante, four-, five-, and six figure corruption. And it can still do a lot of damage (and have a terrific ROI).

“Columbia Had Little Success Placing English Ph.D.s on the Tenure Track. ‘Alarm’ Followed, and the University Responded.” [Chronicle of Higher Education (DG)]. “For anyone who dreams of tenure, the pressure is constant, and the chances are slim. It’s a truth English departments are having to reorient toward.” • See, if you did not read it, the Interfluidity post I quoted yesterday: “Predatory Precarity.”

“Chris Arnade’s Book: Dignity” (interview) [The Last Word on Nothing]. “Chris: I wrote most of the book sitting in the back corner of my local McDonald’s and that of course attracted lots of questions. When I told people I was writing a book they just looked at my blankly, like I was crazy, and then would ask me what was it about or the title. I tried various things, and eventually found what resonated most was, ‘You can learn everything about America in a McDonald’s.’ So that was also my working title in my head for much of the process.” • I love Arnade’s Dignity; and while you can learn about the front row and the back row in McDonald’s, I don’t think you can learn much about the 1% that owns the franchise.

“A revolutionary treatise goes on the block” [The Economist]. “Modern capitalism began among the European merchant families of the early Renaissance—the Fuggers of Augsburg, Medicis of Florence and, in Venice, one Antonio de Rompiasi, who in 1464 hired a tutor in mathematics for his three sons. Like any sensible teacher, young Luca Pacioli aimed to make his lessons memorable and clear. Good humanist that he was, 30 years later he gathered all the world’s knowledge of the subject into a single massive volume. His ‘Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita’ was the 615-page work of a mature professor who had spent decades working across northern Italy. The book was revolutionary on more than one count. It integrated computation using Hindu-Arabic numerals with the logic of classic Greek geometry; it was written in the vernacular of the marketplace rather than Latin… ; it circulated in large numbers thanks to the new technology of printing. Yet its greatest significance lay in a slim ‘how to’ chapter that described the double-entry accounting system used by Venetian merchants.”

News of the Wired

“How to De-Feralize Your Children for Back-to-School” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “8. Confiscate all tribal effects and weaponry acquired during ascendence to power in local child horde. This includes, but is not limited to headdresses, crowns, conch shells, chain-link armor, back tattoos, shields, spears, kilts, and tooth necklaces. Turn these in to your local police department, and replace with the (slightly) more socially acceptable rope bracelet from the boardwalk gift shop.”

Diamond geezers:

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

CR sends this from Wanakena, New York (the northwestern Adirondacks).

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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. WJ

    “Abolishing The Electoral College 1/8
    This is a lot more interesting than “abolish the electoral college” foofra (which in practice is yet another way for liberal Democrats to avoid looking in the mirror for their 2016 loss).”

    I am beginning to think that, “in practice,” it is also a way for at least some of the DNC elites to get out ahead of Biden’s projected 2020 loss.

    1. JohnnyGL

      it is also a way for at least some of the DNC elites to get out ahead of Biden’s projected 2020 loss

      — Obama’s already trying to get ahead of it with his remarks saying, “I tried to warn him not to run!”

    2. AS

      Dunno, it seems like a very contrarian position from the left to say that a counter-democratic mechanism that has advantaged the Republican Party is good, actually because it punishes Democrats for sucking. I mean, I know that all the working class people in America live in toss-up states and hence the EC has been effective in conditioning our parties to better attend to workers’ concerns, but…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think in practice simply abolishing the EC and leaving everything else in place would mean that local oligarchies in blue states with large cities would end up picking the President with no input at all from the rest of the country. If you want to see why I don’t think that’s a good idea, read Yves on CalPERS, the pension system of a fifth-largest economy in the world — in a one-party state run by Democrats — which is corrupt and shambolic. It’s always possible to make things worse!

        I view Gravel’s support for RCV as ameliorating this, but of course Democrats would never support it, because it dilutes party power.

        1. funemployed

          I’ve thought for a while that the “making all votes count the same” argument would logically lead to making abolition of the Senate the top priority (not that I’m saying we should do this, just that it would be logically more consistent).

            1. funemployed

              Just read the fine print under Gravel’s “Abolishing the Senate as we Know It” section. Seems a bit kludgey to me. Given that radical constitutional reform is clearly impossible in the near term anyway, why not go all in and just call for a constitutional convention.

              Although I guess convincing the average USian that our system of gov’t is actually a bit crappy by modern standards (though admittedly clever in the late 18th) is a good way to end a conversation before it starts.

              1. Summer

                I haven’t read it. But unless it is about increasing the number of Senators from more populous states…same as it ever was….

                1. Summer

                  That is the only thing that will make the smaller states so more to retain population and even grow.

                  1. Joey

                    ? Making middle america accept immigrants to counter bicoastal hegemony? I think you just figured out who actually wants a wall!

                    1. Lambert Strether Post author

                      > It sucks.

                      Hey, thanks for insulting my state.

                      Just for your reference, we take your waste, you run your power lines and pipelines through our land and our farms, and when you want to leave your cities and have a nice vacation in beautiful scenery among simple, authentic rural folks, we’re your humble servants. Oh, and your 1% and 10% — universities, think tanks, and investors — deindustrialized us. In essence, we’re your colonies. Have a nice day.

                2. Lambert Strether Post author

                  Gravel did not increase the number of Senators, I’m not sure why. Keeping the group dynamics of 100? What he did do was give each Senator voting power according to population. That’s complicated, but I’m not sure it’s such a bad idea.

              2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                250th American Anniversary is coming up why not have a Constitutional Convention!!!

                We can get Workers radicalized in 7 years, right?!!!

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > why not have a Constitutional Convention!!!

                  Why not? Because as power relations are right now, the Koch Brothers and ALEC would dominate it.

                  Now, if, as you say, workers were mobilized…

        2. John

          The Republicans would not support abolishing the electoral college because it dilutes party power.The Democrats oppose RCV for the same reason. Neither party is interested in equity only power for its own sake … and for the money.

          Abolish the Senate right now seems an excellent idea but a one-house legislature is no bed of roses either and of course for any of these proposed changes you do have to deal with that pesky constitution.

          Does Maine’s RCV apply to national offices as well as state?

          1. Oregoncharles

            Don’t know about Maine, but it can. One advantage is that it’s a least-change reform, compatible with Federal election law. Not all states have it authorized in their constitution, as Oregon does, but all it changes is the ballot design and election-office procedures.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Does Maine’s RCV apply to national offices as well as state?

            Yes. NECN:

            A new challenge {Susan Collins] would have to face is ranked choice voting (RCV), a system Mainers approved in 2016, which allows voters to rank their preferences instead of choosing one candidate. While RCV was not implemented for statewide races like the governor’s race, it does apply to federal elections. If no candidate achieves 50 percent of the vote, instant run-offs calculating voters’ second-place choices will be taken into account to determine the winner.

            Now, it’s a long time to the election, and both parties hate RCV and have consistently tried to stop it in the legislature. They could still be doing that. I don’t know what the deadline for printing the ballots is….

        3. Mo's Bike Shop

          Before any removal of the Senate, let’s give Puerto Rico one Representative and then wait a few years to see if that makes things all better there. I’m not particularly attached to either the Senate or the EC but this is one issue where you have to have a replacement solution or you’re wasting time or worse: how then do we balance regions? I am sure open to new ideas, because the current system is obviously not doing great. But if we take away either the Senate or EC, with no new system to compensate for the fact that rural areas have lower population densities, then secession will go from political gimmick to a new source of background radiation in our politics. Sort of a twist on the neoliberal ‘just move to another country.’

          I’m probably most open to 3000 Representatives in a single chamber. We could build a new House of Legislature somewhere on some bankrupt mining brownfield in the middle of the country.

          1. rowlf

            We could build a new House of Legislature somewhere on some bankrupt mining brownfield in the middle of the country.

            Montana? Wyoming? Make the lobbyists really work for their goals? Plus you could cut the pay as the cost of living is supposedly less in those areas.

            1. Chris

              I like that idea. Let’s put the offices in the middle of a labyrinth, filled with traps, and you have to overcome them to reach the target of your lobbying :)

        4. Oregoncharles

          @ Lambert – How does that work? New York, Chicago, and LA are big, yes, but there are far more people in the rest of the country. The rest of Illinois, which is pretty rural, could far outvote Chicago. I’m not so sure of that in Oregon, a lot of which is pretty empty (remember the notorious occupation of the wildlife refuge in the SE of the state? One reason it went on so long is that nobody lives there. Gorgeous, but empty, with good reason.) But that’s unusual, and a small state anyway. We’ve never mattered in a presidential election.

          The point is that the President represents the whole country, while legislators represent their districts or states (Idea, which I’ll spitball at end of this*). If there are a lot of people concentrated in certain states, then they should be represented accordingly. But they’re still pretty small in relation to the whole.

          *A couple of thoughts on organization: the simplest way to reform the presidential election (aside from RCV) is to eliminate the Senatorial votes on the EC. It is then roughly proportional to population, like the House.

          Second: what do you put in place of the Senate? If you want the states represented as such, you give each two more Representatives, to be elected at large like Senators. But they vote along with the rest.

          If you want a bicameral legislature, you do what every state is now required to do: Have a Senate that is districted proportional to population, but has longer terms and fewer seats. Works fine in Oregon. Insofar as state legislatures are ever all that great.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            It works as I described. The Democrats, for example, jiggered the primary schedule to move up California because it’s a one-party state they control (and everything is like CalPERS and their Gini co-efficient is awful, so there’s no particular reason to regard them as exemplary in any way, and in particular exemplary as small-d democrats). Abolishing the EC — if that is all that is done — simply amplifies that already existing process. It’s alway possible to make things worse.

          2. Steve H.

            > The rest of Illinois, which is pretty rural, could far outvote Chicago.

            This is demonstrably false:

            Chicago Metropolitan Area: 9.5 million people
            Illinois 12.74 million (2018)

            Urban Percentage of the Population for States, Historical

            17 Illinois 83.2 83.3 84.6 87.8 88.5

            1. Steve H.

              To be clear, I don’t think Oregoncharles meant to make s* up, just had an incorrect assumption.

      2. todde

        seems like the urban centers have a sh!t ton of economic power already.

        I am not keen on giving them political power too.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


          My Socialist Facebook Friends are yammering about abolishing the Electoral College.

          When i try telling them about the consequences aka California/NewYork siphoning all the power, they parrot some bullshit John Oliver said about ‘Whataboutism.’ These fn Socialists dont know jack squat about how political power works in this Country.

          Lol i said this the United STATES of America not the United COASTAL NEOLIBERAL CITIES of America.

          They did not appreciate that ;-)

          1. JBird4049

            I want scream whenever someone blurts out we should abolish the Electoral College and, or get a unitary legislature because reasons when obviously they are just fricking emoting.

            Yeah, I know that I’m a political science/economy nerd, but how hard can it be to read the Constitution of the United States as it’s only like ten(?) pages long with the amendments and maybe ask a few questions about it? There are just a mind blowing number of books about it, some by actual writers. It’s like dealing with Christians who have never even read the New Testament, never mind the whole Bible.

            Also too many Americans don’t even think, or sometimes even know, on just how large the nation is or how complex, so they come up with solutions that will never work.

            1. JBird4049


              There are just a mind blowing number of books about it, some by the actual writers of the Constitution on their thoughts before the convention.

              Instead of

              There are just a mind blowing number of books about it, some by actual writers.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > just fricking emoting

              How I see it. The talking point results from the Clintonite concept that the 2016 results were in some way illegitimate because the Clinton campaign didn’t play by the rules they knew going in. (You can bet we’d be hearing about the “wisdom of the Founders” if the results had been swapped.) This morphed into a campaign — similar to the campaign by some liberal Democrats to simply secede — to abolish the EC. Since that won’t happen any time soon, the campaign is simply a way to channel liberal outrage (and bucks) into advocating yet another systemic tweak that won’t in fact accomplish anything (this page in the playbook is very worn indeed; see gun control).

      3. Joey

        There is no but… It was formulated, and continues to serve, as a defense for less populous states against the tyranny of the majority.

        Destruction of implements that cause you harm without understanding their utility always comes back to bite. History repeats itself. Round up. Pesticides. Flood plains.

        Do make the electors loyal, though. Don’t make em easier to hack than the booth.

        1. Oregoncharles

          There is no reason for electors if they’re “loyal.” Just run a calculation.

          the original intent was openly anti-democratic, so they put a committee of “wise men” in charge. Never actually worked that way.

    3. jrs

      only liberal dems have been entirely silent on the issue mostly even though it’s only lost Dems two elections, They have only been focusing on russia. so no it’s actually not been a Dem issue at all. I mean obviously it would make a lot of sense, and obviously it’s not going to happen.

    4. notabanker

      Unless it’s repealing citizens united and an amendment stripping the rights of corporations, it’s just rearranging Titanic deck chairs.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        I do hope they have them in the recent movie. I am still waiting to rent it, so don’t spoil me! :)

      2. ewmayer

        Ah, yes, The Peanuts (approximated Za Pīnattsu in dental-fricative-less Japanese speech) vocal duo, twin sisters Emi and Yumi Itō. Their identical-twinness was key to their signature harmonic style: “Their uniqueness was their being monozygotic twins, with voices only slightly apart in timbre which resulted in their singing together sounding like a solo artist using double tracking or reverb).” The longer-lived of the pair, Yumi, died just a few years ago at age 75. They have a lot of fans in SciFi-dom.

      3. richard

        and that whole cult about him! I just recently watched Mothra again, and what really sticks out is how long they make you wait before Mothra actually shows up. But I seem to remember most of the godzilla movies were like that too, come to think of it. They always have to shoehorn in some kid, or some love angle.

        1. Martin Cohen

          My wife and I saw this when it first came out. It was, I think, the lead-in to either a John Cassavetes film or “The King of Hearts”. Still funny after all these years,

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Yes, I was think Mothra is way out of Musk’s league. Maybe Godzilla vs fighter planes or high tension wires.

        Now I have Blue Oyster Cult in my head.

        1. ambrit

          Any of their first three albums will do. The Black and White period.
          Godzilla is a later song.

    1. richard

      I am a gamera man through and through. He spins through space with rockets shooting out of his leg holes, and is a friend to all children, though he’s not overjoyed about it, plus he eats fire and explosions and they just add to his power.
      Godzilla is all talk. And that clapping thing he does after he scores a hit? Just like a teacher in summer: no class.

      1. ambrit

        Even though it is not a kaiju picture, Ishiro Honda’s “The H-Man” gives the right sense of menace to modern life. No rampaging monster needed. The insidious infiltration of Evil does the trick.
        Plus, as an added bonus, it gives a subtle endorsement of ‘physical liquidity’ to boot. Who says film makers don’t understand the philosophical ramifications of modern finance?

  2. Synoia

    West African Slavery:

    Ladder of Bones, by Ellen Thorp.

    Yes the West African enslaved other Africans. They also ate them.

    Here’s a Joke from my Childhood:
    Q Why do cannibals eat Missionaries?
    A They prefer white meat.

    1. mle in detroit

      It’s not that this history is unknown. It does, however, make “Go back where you came from” even worse than it is on its face.

    2. wilroncanada

      Here’s an ambidextrous conversation from mine:
      One cannibal: Am I late for dinner?
      2nd cannibal: Yes, everybody’s eaten.

    1. Fíréan

      Thank you for posting the link.
      Great article.
      Read and bookmarked.
      Author promises more to come.


  3. Wukchumni

    and while you can learn about the front row and the back row in McDonald’s, I don’t think you can learn much about the 1% that owns the franchise.

    McDonald’s is my one for sure interface with homeless, in Visalia. The management makes no effort at keeping them out.

    I wonder how it is @ McDonald’s in other areas of the country?

    1. Robert McGregor

      The McDonalds in downtown Decatur, Georgia has COVERED UP ALL THE POWER OUTLETS! I would say they are not too friendly to the homeless. This is the only McDonalds where I’ve ever seen this of all the McDonalds I’ve been to all over the country in fifty years! I hope it’s not a trend, and is just the peculiarities of the owner and neighborhood. In the last several years, Decatur has seen the mega-development of mid-rise “luxury” apartments, and there are hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of new $1500-$3000 per month paying apartment dwellers descending upon the heavily gentrified/yuppified coffee shops and food establishments, and McDonalds may have thought they have to do whatever they can to keep the homeless out, and keep the tables clear for “the better sort.” But hmm, I’m not yet homeless, but I needed a charge.

      1. ambrit

        We have not sunk so low yet, but it is coming. Last week, the Hattiesburg City Council passed an ordinance essentially outlawing panhandling.
        This being summer, there are a lot of obviously homeless people on the streets around here. Look for the backpacks to tote their few belongings in. The more enterprising of them ride bicycles now.
        A lot of the people ‘on the streets’ now are visibly disturbed. I blame that Arch Demon Ronald Reagan for closing the Federal psychiatric hospitals.

          1. ambrit

            In the spirit of the Third World cohabiting with the First World, we have favelas in America now.

            1. J7915

              The favelas I recall from living in Rio in the mid 60s were constantly upgrading, one brick or cinder block room at a time. Utilities seemed the worst problem water in/up the hill, sewages disposal was aided by gravity.
              Recall the issue with the rowing competition venue, I used to sail there in the day, no swimming and if capsized keep mouth shut.

              Don’t know if I’d trust chemical laced run-offs from US suburbia as much.

        1. MichaelSF

          I’m moderately sure that was the CA State mental hospitals that St. Ronnie turfed the inmates out to the tender mercies of “the communities”.

  4. Cal2

    “Which Democrat is your L.A. block backing?” (map)https://www.latimes.com/projects/2020-democrat-la-county-donor-maps/
    Large hauls from fundraisers on the wealthy Westside have helped top her rivals here, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who holds the nationwide lead thanks to an army of small donors spread across America.”

    Not so much support on the east side.
    See the horrifying images
    , from the area where Bernie has a strong base.


    The corporate Demographic Socialist ‘democrats’ have been in charge of this city starting in the 1960s, with one Repblican squeezed in there, and have run the state for decades. Kalmala’s their backstop to make sure nothing gets taken away from their privileged positions of power and profit.

  5. Summer

    RE: “I would be a lot of Democratic strategists and identity politics “voices” and talking heads made career plans based on the idea that Clinton was a lock in 2016. Now, it turns out that life is more precarious for them than they imagined. they’ll have had to cut back on positional goods. No braces for little Madison! Connor won’t get into the right pre-school. That’s the kind of trauma we’re talking about. It’s not like they’ve having to block a coal train as an answer to their boss’s wage theft.”

    It’s just so spot on! Wouldn’t want anyone to overlook it.

    1. Cal2

      “They’ll have had to cut back on positional goods…”

      If you think it’s braces for Madison or a preschool for Conner, you are delusional. That’s middle class fluff…here’s the kind of thing they really lose out on, based on overheard boastful conversations at a Democratic Fundraiser:

      Rachel loses out on a trip to Thailand to massage and get massaged by elephants. Counts as “community service” in her private high school!

      Ben doesn’t get the trip to Italy, Israel and Bali,

      Dave misses out on that summer internship, including Mayfair apartment, at the London School of Economics.

  6. Wukchumni

    The feeling here is being on tenterhooks, as a bear has gotten into the neighbors trash bins and scattered the contents both hither & yon, and the hope is that boo-boo doesn’t see those 125 Sierra Beauty apples that are a few months away from ripening, along with lesser numbers on a few dozen trees, living in terror of amateurish pruning efforts by hamfisted bruins.

    THREE RIVERS, Calif. — Tourists and animal lovers hoping to see a bear in Sequoia National Park this fall probably stand a better chance of spotting one in this tiny town at the park’s entrance.

    And even TV’s Capt. Kirk is feeling the pain of hungry bears run amuck.

    In Three Rivers, bears have knocked over plenty of garbage cans and raided fruit trees and grape vines.

    They did a number on the apple orchard at Shatner’s Belle Reve ranch, said caretaker Sal Natoli, who added that he got a depredation permit to kill the culprits but didn’t use it during the two-week period it was valid.

    The trees look “just like Venus de Milo,” the armless ancient Greek statue, Natoli said.


  7. Carey

    From the Johnstone piece a commenter provided this morning:

    “The Beltway hostility to Bernie Sanders is about the power structure,” Sirota also said. “He’s the only candidate who makes the political elite’s connections and networks irrelevant. If you run a corporate think tank, you will be irrelevant under a Sanders presidency. That’s why he scares you so much. Let me add one thing: every single person in DC knows that this is true — they know that the Beltway hatred of Bernie is fundamentally based on a fear of total irrelevance and loss of insider influence. They will pretend it’s about something else, but it’s not. And they know that.”


    The real left is getting traction.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it a bit like the Reformation, the elites then mediated between the believers and the ultimate?

      That ended in two separate blocks, without either one gone for centuries, up to the present day.

    2. JBird4049

      If this hatred for Sanders was over differences in ideology, opinions, or beliefs I would have some respect for their opposition. Since it appears to be a threat to their parasitism, I will wish on them the same suffering they have imposed on others. If we do live in a true meritocracy in which they have rightfully earned their place, they should have nothing to fear.

      1. NotTimothyGeithnerF

        In retrospect, I think the glorification of Dear Leader, Obama, beyond his initial following was meant to distract from just how bad HRC and Team Clinton really was and how much of the success from 2005 through 2008 (don’t forget off year elections) was due to organizing and not personalities or ad buys.

    3. notabanker

      I wonder if the 9 million JRE Sanders views have anything to do with it?

      That is 6x the primetime viewership of MSNBC and 11x CNN’s.

  8. pretzelattack

    even biden’s wife isn’t that enthusiastic about biden’s candidacy, paraphrasing “yeah he’s not perfect but he’s the best you’re gonna get, so what are you gonna do”. (shrugs).

    1. Carey

      Mrs. Biden says we need to “swallow a little” and then mcVote for D’oh.
      No, that’s your job, Dear.


    1. The Rev Kev

      He could always swap Greenland for California and New York. Would that not remove democratic strongholds from the Presidential election next year?

    2. rowlf

      Can we have a referendum like Crimea to see if we want to join Denmark? That could be even more fun than voting neither the Sh!t or Sh!t Lite parties. I’d love to see a Danish ad campaign promoting the benefits of unification.

      Impish People of the Proletariat Unit!

    3. skippy

      Ambrit …

      I was thinking more Zong massacre, but set in a Japanese art movie setting where one soul climbs endless sand dunes for 6 hours …. without audio … and how that plays out for the audience.

      Kev …

      Are you mad Sir … Thirdway is the designated hitter for the Republicans, vulgar Republicans scare the DNC flock and by the time its turn to bat comes around they take the hit because – as everyone knows [Trump trademarked – to include “you know”] – the Republican version would be way worse. I mean who do you want to get hit with the belt … dad or mom …

      rowlf …

      I would be hesitant in using the words unit or unite in reference to anything WRT Trump becuase it would only encourage him.

  9. Krystyn Walentka

    Note from the road regarding candidates: I drove 1900 miles mostly on I-90, the only political signs I saw were:

    A huge Tulsi 2020 sign in a corn field in Iowa.

    A school bus with American flags and images of Trump with Trump 2020 and eagles and all that, also in Iowa.

    Since then, nothing.

    1. John

      The DNC desperately wants Tulsi off that debate stage. She upsets the war loving consensus and she is clearly rhetorically human. If the game is so clearly rigged, why are we playing?

      1. JBird4049

        It’s consider good maskirovka to make the proles think that they have an actual say in the national mafia style bust-out that they are running. We’re the marks and they’re the grifters running the sting.

        1. sammie

          When one accepts that the US is run by a mob-like structure, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) falls neatly into place.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I’m developing an idea that goes like this:

        1. Country sinks so far into utter and complete corruption that populist alternatives emerge and gain power;
        2. Populist leader runs into immovable technocratic inertia and institutional power structures so is not able to achieve any of what the people put them there to do;
        3. Reactionary counter-reaction as right-wing nationalist/austerity/race baiting leaders fill the void and seize power.

        Yesterday’s example is Greece and Tsipras, now back under center-right austerity with Tsipras completely discredited and hated. Today’s example is Italy, with M5S on the ropes. But the next example could be the U.S.

        Scenario: Bernie gets elected. The Permanent State, along with the FBI, the banks and the media, close ranks to block everything he wants to do. Bernie and his entire populist message are discredited and the electoral counter-reaction puts in an even worse version of Trump/neo-fascism.

        My conclusion: all efforts to work within the existing power systems are doomed, the only thing that will work is a complete system overthrow and do-over. As a history major I can’t say that’s a complete surprise to me.

        1. Phenix

          Except the PTB have wirked tirelessly to make an unitary executive in this country. The fear for many of us is what would happen if a more competent Trump emerges. Now the Capitalists fear a Sanders admin wielding Executive Orders.

        2. Monty

          I agree with this. So I am going to focus on learning some skills like woodworking or gardening and not worry about it. Leave them all to it.

        3. Kurt Sperry

          The M5S is a pretty ideologically diverse group of anti-establishment voices. It can be more than a bit incoherent at times. Still, I’ve followed Grillo for years, and I like the guy. I’m puzzled though by the political capital M5S has spent opposing the high speed rail link between Lyon and Turin. I get the environmental objections local to the val di Susa, but getting people off of airplanes and onto trains and their massively greater efficiencies is a good idea. At the same time, I admire the energy and principles of the opposition to the TAV in the Piedmont. I just want them to lose in the end this particular time.

          I spend a fair amount of time in Italy and I seldom take the TAVs there, even if they are running a route I want. They come through infrequently and you sort of either have to plan your day around it or get lucky. And the Regionale Veloce and IC intercity trains are plenty fast for shorter trips and one will be leaving within an hour or less whenever you show up which is a reeeeaaal luxury when it comes to travel. When you can walk up to a train station and get on a train in less than an hour (often a lot less) without having to sweat schedules, it’s a revelatory experience if you are used to Amtrak. Plus they are a lot cheaper.

        4. fajensen

          Regarding Italy, I think Italy is a special case … I have noticed that Italians while at work will fight & argue all the time while working until a leader somehow emerges out from the chaos and then slaps some direction into the group – then the group dynamics immediately change into one of several factions united on the single purpose of deposing the leader, which they will succeed in doing, and the cycle repeats!

          Swedish project managers heads are exploding about here, while the Danish relax, enjoy the show and all those new off-colour Italian words they are learning! Whatever the process looks like, the Italians know what they are doing.

          Italian politics, doubly so! Nobody in Italian politics wants political stability because it would deny the majority contenders their shot at being the ones running the show, for however brief a time that may be. The risk of stability happening will soon break any Italian government apart!

          It took a full invasion from Napoleon Bonaparte at his prime to unite Italy and it still hasn’t fully taken!

          The interesting thing is that as soon as the workday ends, the fighting is put away and the entire team will all go out together for a meal or beer or something. The very next day, Its ON again :)

  10. Synapsid

    Lambert Strether,

    I just saw your reply to my post yesterday about a blocking pop-up ad for E*Trade.

    The ad is on the screen blocking text when I open Water Cooler; the same for opening Links. I have to close it. This is on Safari on a macMini running OSX Yosemite 10.10.2

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes, I’m seeing that, too. At the bottom. Easy to click off, but keeps coming back. And I’m using Waterfox on Windows 8, so completely different.

      it’s a narrow band across the bottom; would be possible to read text over it, but a nuisance.

  11. Gary

    “A Once Common Gecko Is Vanishing from Parts of Asia”
    I haven’t seen a horney toad in the wild for decades. They used to everywhere…

  12. Michael

    “”Instead of using cows to turn plants into burgers, Beyond uses a system of heating, cooling, and pressure. The result is a raw, reddish-brown patty that’s closer to animal meat in taste and texture than any freezer-aisle predecessor.””

    I think I am not alone in stating I don’t want my veggie burger to taste and feel like meat. I like veggie burgers because they are made of and taste like vegetables. I like a piece of mushroom or corn or rice showing itself in my burger. I want to see it and feel it when I eat it.

    I eat meat burgers occasionally and enjoy a grass fed or mixed meat offering.

    Why this is so popular is beyond me@

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I look at the structured and imitation food as a spiral. They’re not really satisfying, so you eat more, and since they’re stupid on calorie density you go to more extreme imitations that promise to keep you from expanding.

      I bet Falafel tastes better than this. I like the taste of half soy tvp/half beef patties, but I haven’t seen those in forever. Keep it real.

      1. Late Introvert

        Long time veg who loves veggie burgers, I tried the Impossible Burger at the co-op and told my wife “you won’t like it, it tastes like meat”. No healthier either, but maybe it will reduce meat consumption, that would be good IMO.

  13. ambrit

    We have a soft spot in our heads for geckos too. We have some ‘invasive’ Mediterranean Geckos here in the mid-south of Mississippi. they hang out on the window screen of our bathroom after dark and ‘predate’ the flying insects like mad! Alas, as has been noted by others recently, the little critter’s population has shrunk recently. No idea why.
    The green anole lizards are doing fine. The tiny anole hatchlings are appearing on the japanese yew shrubs now. I know that we have some of the super fast pine lizards about, since I have seen some on the front pine tree. Plus skinks and grass snakes. what I really want living under the house is a king snake. They’ll drive off poisonous snakes and eat rodents.
    Nature is grand!

    1. Olga

      Reading that story on geckos, my thought was that when mother Earth is done with us, humans, many little creatures will breathe a giant sigh of relief. And Earth will be better for it.

    2. JBird4049

      On the UAW-Big Three corruption, seeing $37,500 solid-gold Mont Blanc fountain pens is just low class. I am a fountain pen lover. One of the big reasons for using fountain pens is the ease of writing, which blows away ballpoints pens. Even a decent $20 fountain pen is better than almost any non-fountain pen. A gold pen is like a gold toilet seat. “Look at me! I have no taste!”

      Now, if someone wants to buy a Mont Blanc Meisterstück Solitaire Blue Hour LeGrand Fountain Pen at only $1,500 I would be very happy. A fine nib and a couple of refillable ink cartridges would be awesome!


      1. ambrit

        I remember learning to write with an internal rubber bulb fountain pen. You had to dip the nib in an ink well and pull open a lever to force out the air and close the lever to pull ink on up into the bulb.
        I remember Granddad sending me a Platignum gold nib pen for Christmas one year. I must have been around eight years old. It was one of the myriad victims of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath.

  14. marym

    Huffington Post: Democratic National Committee Votes To Reject Climate Debate

    The Democratic National Committee has rejected a proposal to host a single-issue debate on the climate crisis.

    It was a predictable outcome. Top brass at the DNC opposed the climate debate from the get-go, fearing it could sow discord in the base and hamper the eventual nominee in the general election.

    Symone Sanders, a senior adviser of presidential candidate Joe Biden, was among those who urged the DNC committee on Thursday to vote down a climate debate, saying it would be “dangerous territory in the middle of a Democratic primary process.”

    “sow discord in the base and hamper the eventual nominee in the general election”

    So, the “base” doesn’t care about climate change, and their “eventual nominee” won’t either? Thanks DNC.

    1. Carey

      Symone Sanders, name rings a bell- didn’t she work for Sanders (Bernie) in 2016?

      ..can be so cumbersome

    2. richard

      “sow discord in the base”
      jesus, a cat would laugh
      do you think the repubs ever worry about such things? they feed their base red meat and watch it roar
      actually, the dems do the same for their real base, the last 3 years with russia cubed
      unlike their ostensible base, which constantly needs to be scolded and corrected, watched and restrained.

  15. Jerry B

    ===Apparently, PFAS is used in dental floss===

    PFA’s are a derivative of Teflon. Perfluoroalkoxy alkanes (PFA) are fluoropolymers. In terms of their properties, these polymers are similar to polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) i.e. Teflon. Like Teflon, PFA’s have excellent anti-stick properties and higher chemical resistance which is why there use is so pervasive.

    For instance in today’s society it is difficult to buy clothes that are “not” coated with Teflon. Yes, the advertising and labels may have nice sounding words like non-stain, easy care, etc. but in reality it just means that the clothing has been coated with something, usually Teflon based.



    Teflon and it’s derivatives are used extensively in many products. For instance, Scotch-gard is used as a stain resistant coating and additive in car interiors and other products.


    Supposedly 3M has phased out Scotchgard as a product but I am skeptical that 3M did not just change the name of the product or some other sleight of hand practice. Most anything that advertises “stain resistant” has some Teflon based coating or additive.

    Also StainMaster carpeting is coated with a Teflon derivative that helps it to resist stains.


    So, Teflon (an environmental toxin) and it’s derivatives are in our cars, homes, clothes, and many other areas of life. In our numb, mindless, consumption of consumer products many people are happy with the “convenience” of easy care, anti-stain, etc. products but do not ask themselves what is in the product that gives it that property??

    In climate change discussions many people rightfully focus on CO2 and global warming but another significant issue is environmental toxins. Environmental toxins are everywhere and include Round Up (glyphosate-based herbicide), Teflon and it’s derivatives, and many other toxins.

    1. Cal2

      i.e. “Glide dental floss.” While you are at it, boycott anything that is “antibacterial”, it’s pesticides mixed in with plastics, ie. toothbrushes, car seats, diaper changing tables, in socks, underwear etc. Nothing like pesticides applied directly to your huevos…

      Try soap and water and air. Works better.

    2. fajensen

      I believe that Teflon Everywhere is one of the many tools used by a global conspiracy to kill off the poor people: One notices quickly that plain, basic, iron or steel cookware like grandma used, without Teflon, will easily cost about six to ten times the “high-tech” Teflon-coated versions. Despite those factories stomping out put and pans on the original machines that used to run on steam!

      The only escape route for the less affluent people are the Asian markets, but The Donald is working on that!

  16. Synoia

    President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign will dispatch more than a dozen female surrogates on Thursday…..

    Female Trump Surrogates…..Ick. Think of the Comb-overs.

  17. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    News from Becneland-

    Went to a Veterans Job Fair today where ‘over 40 companies’ were hiring. The catch was that most werent hiring on the spot, and the HR rep/Company rep would simply hand you a flyer with their website on it. THEN once you got home you can apply online. Like WTF why even have the fair when you can direct Vets online? Plenty of people drove there from far away. Luckily, Intels Rep had hiring authority, and after asking me about what i was looking for (Electronic Technician) he interviewed and hired me on the spot! The jobs in Portland, Oregon at this huge microprocessor plant so id have to move. My 10 year old lil bro is gonna be devastated, but we can always play Fortnite online or FaceTime/Skype. Theyre sending an intent to hire email in a couple days and then i gotta wait 2-4 weeks while they put me in the system. My fingers are crossed and ill believe it when im in Portland but yeah wanted to let my NCs in on the good news! Beats fn selling cocktails at the Saenger thats for sure! There was also a Solar panel company called Posi-Gen hiring Sales Associates which is in Metairie/Harahan that sounded cool too. Im a born Salesman but i gotta believe in the product that im selling if that makes sense.

    Some other companies hiring were AirBus, Boeing (lol), Entergy, Trane, Vinnell Arabia, Dept of Corrections, NOPD, ICE, Customs and Border Patrol, Air Force Reserves, Oil n Gas, Jefferson Parish Govt, and a few others.

    1. JacobiteInTraining


      Assuming it pans out (man, I know that feeling – tends to stay at least until the first paycheck is banked) and you are looking for places to stay beyond whatever initial temp housing….try driving generally west up Hwy30 to Scappoose, St Helens, and beyond. Forest Grove and Banks are also worth looking around in. Mellow, lots of farms and forests.

      Lots of nice scenery, plenty of little hole-in-the-wall rentals and houses in that neck of the woods. Well, this assumes you don’t like McSuburbia…if you are into that kinda thing, Hillsboro/Beaverton/Tigard, lol.

      If you aren’t into the whole car/commute thing…don’t forget to grab a map of the MAX light rail lines and routes when looking for places to live…..Portland did a pretty good job of getting light rail, and connecting buses in. Most friends of mine from High School who live there (and are within walking/biking of a MAX line) are able to get by without a car just fine.

      And, don’t forget (as an old Native Oregonian saying goes): “…Portland, its about 15 minutes from Oregon…” :p

    2. psv

      Good luck! Glad you got to someone who was actually hiring on site and not just pointing to a website.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        They are looking for people to help build the 270? and 302? airplanes in Mobile, AL. George the Rep said theres a back order of 4000 planes when i joked about Boeing being on the other side of the

        1. rowlf

          Thanks. I like working with Airbus but I am on the ideas and concepts side and not on the put-airplanes-together side. I do like that they are going all in on customer services and take a long range view on the operation.

          I think their competition has changed from focusing on aerospace engineering to financial engineering.

    3. Hopelb

      I’ll let my nephew, Ben Zemanski,know you might be headed there so he can give you a tour and insider info/advice. He just returned to Portland from Pittsburgh to (assistant)coach soccer at the Univ of Portland. He played for the Chivas, Timbers, and the Riverhounds. If you google his name and David Beckham’s you’ll see a great shot of Ben defending Beckham. Congratulations!He and his wife are nice people.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        F YEAH!

        Ill let ya know in about a month if im headin that way. And Beckham dam!!! Did he meet Posh Spice as well :)

        P.S. Any updates on NC merch???

    4. ambrit

      Really good news! You have already seen Sandistan courtesy of Uncle Sam. Now see the West Coast courtesy of the Corps. It is indeed a ‘whole nother world’ from N’Awlins.
      The good side is that when the sea level suddenly jumps five or ten metres, you can sponsor your family as eco-refugees!

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


        Either Portland or The UP in Escanaba, MI where my best army bud lives with his family.

        I actually spoke to my mom about climate change and the housing bubble. Shes working class and inherited a house. I told her she should sell that sucker soon so shell have capital for when the bubble pops. Maybe get a place somewhere dry lol. But shes under no illusions and knows the ice is melting and the gulf is rising/warming. Her n my pops are Centrist Dem Gen Xs.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Congratulations! I think you’ll like Oregon and Portland – though PDX is not a cheap place to live. We might even meet, if there’s ever another Portland meetup.

      Sometimes I think someone has lifted the East Coast and given it a gentle shake, so all the people roll West.

  18. Geo

    • It seems that these days fear sells better than sex.

    Or is it despair?

    “Wallowing is sex for depressives” – Jeanette Winterson

  19. WJ

    “To pursue slavery successfully, you need a highly organized group because somebody has to go out there — somebody has to locate the victims; somebody has to lead an army there; somebody has to capture them, transport them to the selling centers; all the time, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t revolt,’ he said. ‘And then sell them, and move on.’”

    I didn’t know the Congressional Black Caucus was that old.

    1. JBird4049

      Diseases just don’t act one way.

      The British, Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Americans all used states like the Kingdom of Dahomey and the Ashanti Empire to sell them slaves. As humans came from Africa, the continent is just full of biological deadliness and often with a preference for humans.

      Note that in Americas once the initial massive die offs from Old World diseases passed, the natives often rapidly regrew in numbers (although not always to the same numbers) and both the natives and the invading Europeans suffered from the endemic diseases of the times. One of the reasons that the American Colonies took two centuries to reach the Appalachians was because of all those pesky Indians in the way.

      It was not until quinine became widely used that malaria didn’t kill Europeans wholesale and with the development of modern disease control other diseases like yellow fever that were endemic to Africa were controlled enough that enough Europeans could survive to have the Scramble for Africa in the late 1800s. Unlike the native Americans as well their eventual conquerers, in Subsaharan Africa, Europeans just died and kept on doing so.

  20. Geo

    “Water shortages are becoming a banking problem”

    I’ve been a bit obsessed with the commodification and financialization of water for a while now. This is from years ago and it’s only getting worse:
    “Back in September 2010, J.P. Morgan purchased SouthWest Water, a large national water company. The Carlyle Group announced it plans to purchase the Park Water Company, which owns water systems in California and Missoula, Montana.”

    The Race to Buy Up the World’s Water – Newsweek (2010)

    1. JBird4049

      We will know that the Water Barons hold in the California legislature has been broken once eminent domain is used on the various water supplies. Vicious is a good description in the various water wars and just as the City of Los Angeles stole the Owens Valley’s water, dry Southern California has used its greater number of state legislators to hijack wet Northern California’ water. Usually, when there is not a long drought and the State and municipal governments are well functioning, any conflicts don’t interrupt anyone’s water.

      If you don’t think that is possible, please do remember that much of the water infrastructure is man-made. People start “suggesting” using explosives, or a case of two caught trying, to damage the canals, pipes, pumps, sluices, and dikes, it gets noticed. Quickly.

      On a tangent here, but this is why I am very puzzled by China, India, Turkey, and others building and threatening to block water to the countries down stream. A few bombs or missiles will put a hole in any dam ever made. If some people think stealing water will solve their problems, they ain’t thinking clearly.

      1. Massinissa

        On the one hand, I don’t think any of China’s neighbors would seriously consider launching cruise missiles at Chinese anything. Nobody wants to awaken the Dragon.

        On the other hand, if India thinks Pakistan won’t resort to cruise missiles or other methods of militarily stopping them from strangling the water supply of the fifth most populous country on earth, they’re either dangerously naive/hubristic, or purposefully trying to get Pakistan to strike first in a sub-nuclear or even nuclear conflict.

        As for Turkey I don’t know enough about that countries’ neighbors to say anything for certain. Perhaps it could go either way.

        1. JBird4049

          I think that all three countries are like Russia’s Gazprom, which has a strong tendency to have “problems” with its natural gas pipelines, whenever some European government does something the Kremlin does not like. It is one of the reasons that there has been a push for renewable energy although Climate Change is the other.

          However, nobody can afford to have their water held hostage. Europeans do have some alternatives to just remaining a customer of Gazprom. India, Vietnam, and Pakistan do not really have an alternative to the Himalayas. It might be as bad as Egypt’s survival depending on the Nile, but it is close. What I think is likely to happen is that Beijing will pull a stunt like the Kremlin and there will be “accidents” and “misunderstandings. Let’s say one of those countries starts not so covert support of Taiwan or China’s claiming the South China Sea and decides to stop any of the 4-6 countries around it from fishing. Then being frustrated at not being obeyed it claims to have an accident with a new dam.

          Chinese Dragon, or not, this would not be a trade dispute or a skirmish. Hydroelectricity, drinking water, farming, and local fishing stocks would all be destroyed. I am guessing that hydro would suffer first, then farming, then drinking, and last the fishing. Perhaps a death sentence for millions.

          What ever the power disparity, no nation could afford to have their water supplies stolen. From what little I know, the Chinese government could easily be arrogant enough to interfere with other nations’ water.

  21. kareninca

    On the topic of insulin. Here is info one of you may be able to use, due how many women tip into diabetes during or after menopause. I just went through menopause. I’ve been bordering prediabetic for a long time (about 100), and changing food types doesn’t help much; maybe that just is my natural state. But, I’ve been nervous about what happens after menopause.

    So, I started using topical over the counter estrogen on my face to build collagen (carefully; don’t get on kids or pets; use gloves; shower afterwards). Suddenly my fasting blood glucose was 86! It had dropped like a brick. Yes, the stuff crosses the facial skin; it ended my hot flashes. I experimented using my meter; the effect lasts about 24 hours.

    So, it turns out that they are now thinking of studying prescribing estrogen for this very purpose. It turns out that estrogen increases insulin sensitivity (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321421.php)(https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190212162216.htm)

    Don’t ask me if what I’m doing is safe; it beats me. I asked one dermatologist and she told me to ask my GP. I’m sure he won’t know; I’ve researched it without finding an answer. I asked another dermatologist and she said it was great; then she sold me a costly facial cream that I could tell also had estrogen in it.

    By the way, it turns out that a lot of face creams contain estrogen without disclosing the fact.

    1. Oregoncharles

      so does soy – enough to poison mice. And red clover, IIRC.

      Not sure it reaches medicinal levels, but worth considering.

      1. kareninca

        Yes. I wonder to what degree the estrogen in soy, and the estrogen-like effects of pollutants, are keeping blood sugar down in the population.

  22. Summer

    I must be considered a danger to safe and deluded elections although I seldom post about the mess.

  23. coats & linen

    Re: Chronicle of Higher ed: Lambert, I have to object if your intention above is to classify grad students (even in the Ivy League) as part of the “predatory precariat.” (I think the tenured professoriate 100% qualifies — I’m around them a lot and they constantly complain about being pressed for money.) The grad students in this particular article are getting paid $35,000 a year in NYC, and most are not likely to rocket into highly paid careers. (I am actually a recent graduate of that program myself!) Graduate students, and all other contingent labor in higher ed, are not predators, they’re prey.

    1. jsn

      “meritocracy” casts everyone in a predator/prey relationship we only escape though cooperation.

    2. Musicismath

      Yeah—I’m around literature PhD students a lot and they’re not a predatory bunch. They just want jobs.

      I saw that CHE story when it was linked on Facebook. The comments were something else. There were a lot of people I can only assume were academic administrators basically laughing at the students, saying they were “narcissistic” and “egotistical” for imagining that there might be jobs at the end of their PhDs. One or two people resisted that, saying the real problem is how university management has strategically withdrawn from offering TT positions in non-STEM fields that aren’t likely to bring in large amounts of external grant money, replacing them with contingent faculty instead.

      The victim-blamers shot back, accusing the people who disagreed with them of mansplaining! At that point, I realised the only way I could distinguish between a conservative and a Clintonite liberal was that the latter were more likely to make a bad faith accusation of sexism when challenged. But the fundamental viewpoint—obedience to power, contempt for “losers,” an exaggerated posture of “realism” and “pragmatism” indistinguishable from casual cruelty—is the same.

      1. fajensen

        FaceBook has become one of those big engines that is powering the ongoing information attack on Democracy, Humanity, Society, The Environment and pretty much Life itself. The latter I deduce from the extra-strong vitriol always reserved for any women daring to voice an opinion, which I think is simply because females can create new life.

        The victim blaming and identitarianism are part of the operating manual of finding the cracks and divisions in any group and then pour energy into widening them. It is really cheap too because nasty authoritarian people will do the work for free because they have nothing better to do. So every well-funded lunatic interest group as well as your regular tin-pot authoritarian regimes are all doing it.

        This will be the next area of information security, in the meantime, avoid Social Media it is toxic and rots the mind:

        https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/aug/22/online-hate-extremism-physics-science (paper is probably paywalled, I have access from work).

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > classify grad students (even in the Ivy League) as part of the “predatory precariat.”

      I’m not trying to. I think the position that grad students have been put in is terrible, especially since most grad students, especially in the humanities, aren’t in it to get rich, but “for the love of the game” (and a level of dignity in their living arrangements). However, the incentives are to become predatory. I remember a Richard Morgan novel where the corporate environment that was the setting had adopted “some of the more feral American management techniques,” one of which was to staff an office with, say, five people, but only provide four desks. This incentivizes early arrival… That’s what the universities have done. The real predators are at the administrative level, which should be gutted.

      1. coats & linen

        Thanks for responding, Lambert. That makes sense, and I agree that the incentive is to become predatory – certainly in burnishing one’s own career without the slightest solidarity with either other professors or the grad students and contingent faculty propping up the whole enterprise. This is why, imho, unionization efforts have not gone further in universities – it’s the tenured faculty who have real leverage, and they’re generally not inclined to use it. I worked on building the grad union at Columbia, and while there were some visible allies among tenured faculty, most of them really could not be bothered – despite the fact that they see their own disciplines, and the mission of the university as a whole, being eviscerated in front of their eyes. I also completely agree that the apex predators of the institution are administrators, who should be dispensed with altogether…

        1. Musicismath

          It’s complicated, though. I literally couldn’t do my job without certain administrators, some of whom have the word “manager” in their job titles. David Graeber acknowledges this point when he goes out of his way to thank a number of LSE university administrators and support staff by name in his acknowledgements to Bullshit Jobs. You can’t dispense with administration altogether and expect the institution to function. And to introduce another shade of grey into this, a lot of PhD graduates who don’t get faculty jobs ultimately do end up with decent positions in university administration. I personally know many who have gone down this route.

          The problems are higher up in the hierarchy: at the level of Dean and its cognates, Provost, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, and (perhaps most importantly) Council. And those positions are often held by former academic Faculty members. So when we talk about “administration,” I think we have to be clear who we mean. The apex predators are just that: at the apex. It’s no use lumping people in the broader bits of the pyramid in with them.

  24. Olga

    “How to De-Feralize Your Children for Back-to-School” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency].
    Thanks for that!
    Too, too funny … took me back to my childhood/summer – when we were left to roam around as a pack of kids, returning unwashed and hungry. Aahhh, the good ol’ days.

    1. rowlf

      My mom had a no kids in the house during daylight policy but I should point out we lived in military housing in rural areas.

  25. JBird4049

    returning unwashed and hungry. Aahhh, the good ol’ days.

    And sunburnt and mosquito bit. :-)

  26. The Rev Kev

    “A day in the life of a nurse who works 10-hour shifts in an NYC cancer unit keeping patients comfortable in the midst of a national drug shortage”

    I would guess that people like that Czarina Cecilio are the sort that really keeps healthcare going. But if you are going to be honest about national drug shortages, try talking about places like Syria and Venezuela. I was just reading an article this week how the doctors and nurses in Syrian hospitals, especially on the children cancer wards, were helpless to do their jobs as US/EU sanctions had made delivery of life-saving drugs almost impossible. It was more palliative care than actual treatment.

  27. scarn

    I am the only omnivore in a family of strict vegetarians, and I do all the cooking. That means I pay some attention to new “meatless” protein offerings that food science blesses us with. My partner and I are fairly athletic people who track our calories, macros, and micronutrients, and we try to eat at least one gram of protein per lb of bodyweight. To achieve that and maintain a certain calorie threshold, we like to get around 10% of our total calories per day from protein. This is pretty easy for a person who will eat lean meat. My partner has a tougher time meeting the goal unless she uses food-science creations like whey powder or products derived from soy. A soy-derived product like Boca Original provides 18% calories from protein. Compare that to a Beyond Burger at 7.5%, or an Impossible Patty at 7.9%, and you see that these products fall pretty short for our own goals. Of course, most people don’t care about this measure, and simply want food that tastes good at a certain price point. Which means, I imagine, that most people will continue to eat meat. It’s familiar and it costs less.

    So what’s the market for these products? Do investors imagine meat production is going to fall off? Do they think they can market their way to vegetarianism? Have they simply overestimated the number of meatless dieters in the USA? In my personal life, most people are leftists, Buddhists, old hippies, or some combo of the three or just kinda weird (and i prefer it that way) and I still don’t think the majority of them are vegetarians. The valuation on this fake meat stuff is bizarre.

  28. mtnwoman

    The Food and Drug Administration estimates that at least 80 percent of the active ingredients found in all of America’s medicines come from abroad – primarily China.

    Astounding that this is not a topic of discussion more.

  29. The Rev Kev

    “Democrats are traumatized. That’s why they hate Susan Sarandon”

    Just worked out the ultimate trigger for both the Republicans and the Democrats. How about for 2020 you have President Tulsi Gabbard with Susan Sarandon as Vice-President. Anything happens to Gabbard gives you the progressive Sarandon as President instead. Bazinga!

  30. Oregoncharles

    ” two young well-dressed Russian women… At that point I realized that the recipient of Irina’s foot massage was his Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.” • Everybody knew. ”

    How young? Was Epstein perchance smart enough to keep the illegal girls a bit out of sight? Granted, there are pictures of Roberts/Giuffre out and about, but in public settings where her age wouldn’t be such a factor. In the posted story, where an outsider just walked in, maybe only young women who were old enough.

  31. verifyfirst

    I thought there might be more comments about the cancer drug shortage question. I feel like I have been hearing about such shortages on and off for a very long time.

    Indeed, there was a gathering in 2010 about this issue: https://ctep.cancer.gov/branches/pmb/drug_shortages.htm

    Currently it seems the worries are for bladder cancer drugs and for children, among others:

    The Canadians are concerned:

    But this study claims no macro-level impact of shortages:

    Much (most?) of the problem appears to be with off-patent, older drugs. From the statnews article above (2019):

    “At a recent drug shortage summit convened by the FDA and Duke University, Martin VanTrieste, a pharmaceutical executive and president and CEO of Civica Rx, acknowledged that “all drug shortages are the result of economics, financial and management decisions.””

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