2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“The Trade War Spurs China’s Technology Innovators Into Overdrive” [Industry Week]. “In Shenzhen’s glitzy financial district, a five-year-old outfit creates a 360-degree sports camera that goes on to win awards and draw comparisons to GoPro Inc. Elsewhere in the Pearl River Delta, a niche design house is competing with the world’s best headphone makers. And in the capital Beijing, a little-known startup becomes one of the biggest purveyors of smartwatches on the planet. Insta360, SIVGA and Huami join drone maker DJI Technology Co. among a wave of startups that are dismantling the decades-old image of China as a clone factory — and adding to Washington’s concerns about its fast-ascending international rival. Within the world’s No. 2 economy, Trump’s campaign to contain China’s rise is in fact spurring its burgeoning tech sector to accelerate design and invention. The threat they pose is one of unmatchable geography: by bringing design expertise and innovation to the place where devices are manufactured, these companies are able to develop products faster and more cheaply.” • Gee, didn’t we have this advantage once? Thanks, neoliberals!


“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

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart:

And here is (are) the latest poll(s) as of 9/16/2019, 11:00 AM EDT:

Biden, Sanders, Warren, again, with a drop for Biden. (Note that the circles denote the size of the population(s) polled; so the big circles are Morning Consult). And the polling detail:

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool “live.”

UPDATE 2019-08-30: Now the polls aggregated (all available) are shown at the bottom of the poll. We also give more detail about each poll than RCP, and allow candidates to be selected or deselected. That’s three reasons what dk is doing beats RCP, and if we can make the individual polls selectable/highlightable, that will be four reasons. With more to come, grid willing.

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Biden (D)(1): “Playing to Win” [Eschaton]. “Joe Biden believes that he is the only candidate who will be treated ‘fairly,’ that his good friends, those fine people in the Republican party, wouldn’t possibly be mean to kindly old white Uncle Joe. The presidency is a big prize and Republicans play to win. I’m not always sure what game Democrats are playing, but they should at least understand the game that Republicans are.” • Biden probably does believe that; and his voters do, too.

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(1): “Secret Tapes Reportedly Suggest Pete Buttigieg Fired South Bend’s Black Police Chief Due To Donor Pressure” [Inquisitr]. This comes from a TYT story, which is so convoluted I couldn’t figure out how to quote from it. “[L]egal documents that suggest Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg fired South Bend’s first black police chief, Darryl Boykins, due to a plan by white police officers to pressure him via his campaign donors. In particular, the documents detail secret phone recordings of South Bend police phone lines in which officers describe their plan to use two of Buttigieg’s donors, Sam Hensley and Steve Luecke — who deny having any such discussions with the Mayor — to oust Boykins from the South Bend Police Department (SBPD). ‘It is going to be a fun time when all white people are in charge,” one officer is quoted as saying in the documents. Although the plan was concocted without Buttigieg’s knowledge — they reportedly called him a ‘little f*cking squirt’ on the recordings — the report claims he learned of the secret SBPD police recordings in January of 2012. Buttigieg asked Boykins to resign two months later but eventually rescinding the resignation due to outage from the black community and demoted Boykins instead.” • Say what you like about Booker, he seems to have handled Newark better than Buttigieg has handled South Bend. And if Buttigieg isn’t seasoned enough to handle the SBPD, what happens when he encounters The Blob?

Sanders (D)(1): “The Working Families Party Has Written Itself Out of History” [Jacobin]. “n 2015, Sanders got the party’s endorsement (with a whopping 87 percent support from the membership). The following year, he urged New Yorkers to vote for Hillary Clinton on the party’s ballot line, calling the WFP ‘the closest thing there is to a political party that believes in my vision of democratic socialism.’ Now, in 2019, Sanders looks like he has every chance of winning the Democratic primary and bringing this vision to the White House. But he’ll be doing so without the WFP’s support. The party announced its backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president yesterday.” • Here is the kicker:

It’s impossible to know, given the process the party used to choose their candidate, split evenly between the votes of tens of thousands of WFP members and a small board of several dozen people. The party announced that Warren drew just over 60 percent of the ranked-choice vote, but refused to release the exact breakdown of member votes versus board votes, as they did in 2015 when Sanders won.

For “a small board,” read “superdelegates,” right? (The board is also, interestingly, dominated by the SEIU.) That said, I agree with this bracing subtweet:

Even if liberal Democrat gangsters did rig the election by controlling the ballot, there’s no point fussing, because that’s what they do.

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders won’t kiss your baby, but he feels your pain” [Politico]. “Though Sanders began holding smaller town halls and events months ago, his aides said he started making them more participatory at the beginning of August…. Sanders’ advisers said they understand that campaigning with a personal touch is critical in early caucus and primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire…. Sanders’ aides said his intimate town halls have helped them recruit more volunteers in Iowa and other states. They’ve also spread his message that the nation’s health care industry is failing and workers are suffering through the mouths of everyday voters. His social media team often quickly clips the interactions and shares them on social media. Unlike some other parts of campaigning, Sanders’ aides also said he enjoys hearing the life stories of working-class Americans — and is energized by them. ‘We’ll get in the car and he’ll tell me, ‘Did you hear that one? Did you hear this one?’; Shakir said. ‘They stick with him.'” • This is good. And the article has a lovely — no doubt beat-sweetening — photo of Sanders playing baseball.

Warren (D)(1): “At rally, Warren decries Trump as ‘corruption in the flesh'” [Associated Press]. • I don’t want to be sour about this, but “corruption” is a very Third World middle class, dare I say bougie, issue. And it never goes anywhere, first because too many people, not only the powerful, are enmeshed in the system (“tea money”), and second because it assumes that if only “good people” ran the system, the system would be good. And if the Warren campaign really wanted to end corruption, it could take the very simple first step of relying only on small donors.

UPDATE Warren (D)(2): “Can the Mainstream Media See Elizabeth Warren Clearly?” [Ghion Journal]. “Krystal Ball, of the Hill’s The Rising, recently quoted Naomi Klein, who called mainstream journalists view of Warren identity politics for journalists. She conceives of Warren as a political mirror who reflects the aspirations and self-conceptions of journalists, academics, and the rest of the professional managerial class. They take her at her word about what her politics are because they see themselves in her.” • One way to look at the 2018 election is as a legitimacy crisis of the professional class, whose right to rule (on behalf of the 0.1%) was rejected, Clinton being an avatar of that class (“smart” being the key word, as Thomas Frank pointed out and was blackballed for in Listen, Liberal!). Warren asserts and embodies the right of the professional class to rule; Sanders does not. That’s why he (and not Warren) needs to expand the Democrat base, and that’s why he (and not Warren) needs a movement. Identity politics, among other things, asserts the moral value of seeing “people like me” in office. Journalists, being professionals, sadly, see “people like me” in Warren. (Hence all the complaints about Sanders being angry, anger which a Sanders supporter might say comes from really “fighting for,” instead of virtue signaling about how important “fighting for” might be, were it to be done.)

Yang (D)(1): “Andrew Yang’s campaign says over 450,000 people have entered debate contest” [Politico]. “Andrew Yang’s surprising debate gambit — giving away $120,000 to 10 families over a year to highlight his universal basic income proposal — helped the outsider candidate raise $1 million in the 72 hours since the debate and collect more than 450,000 email addresses from people who entered the online raffle.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Political parties shouldn’t control the ballot, and they shouldn’t control redistricting either. Thread:

I bet there are an awful lot of NC activists who are very upset right now.

Stats Watch

Industrial Production, August 2019: “Showing broad strength in August, strength that will ease concerns at the Federal Reserve over weakness in manufacturing, industrial production hit the very top of Econoday’s consensus range” [Econoday]. “Production of business equipment rose 1.0 percent in the month which should ease specific concerns at the Fed that slowing in global demand is cutting into business investment.”

Housing Market Index, September 2019: “Low mortgage rates are helping the housing sector, at least for builders whose September housing market composite index jumped” [Econoday].

Shipping: “Protesters cause part of Houston Ship Channel to close” [Associated Press]. “Eleven protesters have been arrested after they rappelled from a busy highway bridge over the Houston Ship Channel, closing the vital artery for hours…. The demonstrators were Greenpeace USA activists protesting the use of fossil fuels…. Firefighters rappelled to the protesters Thursday evening and lowered them to boats below. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says 12 activists serving as spotters on the bridge also were arrested. The Port of Houston, located along the ship channel, is home to the largest petrochemical complex in the U.S.”

The Bezzle: “Three J.P. Morgan precious metals traders charged as criminal probe continues” [CNBC]. “Federal prosecutors on Monday accused three J.P. Morgan precious metals traders, including the global head of base and precious metals trading, of participating in a racketeering conspiracy in connection with a multiyear scheme to manipulate the markets and defraud customers. The alleged scheme saw the nation’s largest bank by assets profit handsomely, while investors suffered losses.”

The Bezzle: “Buzzy exercise startup Peloton is being sued for $300 million over accusations it stole songs by Taylor Swift, The Beatles, and many more” [Business Insider]. “The National Music Publishers’ Association originally filed a suit against [buzzy exercise-bike startup] Peloton in March accusing the company of using more than 1,000 songs in its virtual exercise classes without paying for licenses. Some of the songs mentioned in the lawsuit subsequently vanished, to the dismay of users. Now the NMPA has filed an amended suit after claiming it found a further 1,200 infringing songs — upping the damages sought to $300 million, double the original figure of $150 million… The amended lawsuit comes just ahead of Peloton’s planned initial public offering.” • So that’s where we are. Exercise-bike start-ups. To be fair, the bikes are internet-connected.

Tech: Thank you, Silicon Valley brain geniuses:

To be fair to Apple, my Mac just starts. Unlike my cheap and horrid Android phone which acts just like Kaminska’s computer, although for only three or four minutes. It’s always downloading something, even though I’ve crippled as much of its functionality as I can, and I don’t trust what it’s downloading for a minute, either.

Manufacturing: “Nucor’s Profit Wanes as Auto Demand Weakens” [Industry Week]. “Nucor Corp., the largest U.S. steelmaker, fell after saying its profit waned in the third quarter as prices decreased amid softening in several end markets…. Steelmakers raised some prices earlier this quarter, but buyers have been slow to accept the increases, underscoring fading optimism more than a year after the introduction of U.S. tariffs meant to bolster the industry.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 17 at 12:08pm. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

The Biosphere

“How to navigate Anglo media’s Amazon doublespeak” [BrasilWire]. “Brazil is a country with a 500-year history of monoculture and mining commodity boom-and-bust cycles, which has always produced high levels of income inequality and poverty. This pattern only began to be broken under Workers Party President Lula, through the implementation of redistributive socioeconomic polices, most importantly through massive minimum wage and pension payment increases, which lifted 29 million people above the poverty line. It is absurd to imagine that a monoculture production-based approach tied to the international supply chain, using low labor-intensity activities such as cattle ranching and soy farming on indigenous reservations, will make up for the setbacks caused by the post–2016 coup’s dismantlement of successful poverty-fighting policies and gutting of labor laws, which have plunged millions of people into extreme poverty.”

“As Rising Heat Bakes U.S. Cities, The Poor Often Feel It Most” [NPR]. “In dozens of major U.S. cities, low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be hotter than their wealthier counterparts, according to a joint investigation by NPR and the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism…. NPR analyzed 97 of the most populous U.S. cities using the median household income from U.S. Census Bureau data and thermal satellite images from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. In more than three-quarters of those cities, we found that where it’s hotter, it also tends to be poorer. And at least 69 had an even stronger relationship than Baltimore, the first city we mapped. This means that as the planet warms, the urban poor in dozens of large U.S. cities will actually experience more heat than the wealthy, simply by virtue of where they live. And not only will more people get sick from rising temperatures in the future, we found they likely already are.” • Everything’s going according to plan.

Health Care

“Health Care Premiums and Taxes” [Dean Baker, CEPR]. “Our pundit class have to decided to make a crusade out of forcing Senators Warren and Sanders into saying that their proposals for universal Medicare will require a tax increase. Both have repeatedly responded by saying that total costs for the vast majority of people will fall, since Medicare for All will lead to a large reduction in costs by all accounts, because it reduces waste in the health care system. Our pundit class have insisted that this is some sort of dodge. While there may be no hope in addressing arguments to people who have their brains in a jar on a doctor’s desk, there is a simple point that everyone else should understand. When employers pay for the health care insurance of their employees, this is effectively a tax on workers’ wages. Employers don’t pay for insurance because they are nice, they provide insurance as a way to attract and retain workers, just as offering higher wages is a way to attract and retain workers. If employers didn’t have to pay for insurance, then the savings would mostly end up in workers’ wages. This will not be true everywhere and always, but the fact that employers are indifferent between paying another dollar for health care and paying another dollar for wages is pretty much universally accepted by economists.”


“Aridity is expressed in river topography globally” [Nature]. “Here we present a global dataset of 333,502 river longitudinal profiles, and use it to explore differences in overall profile shape (concavity) across climate zones. We show that river profiles are systematically straighter with increasing aridity. Through simple numerical modelling, we demonstrate that these global patterns in longitudinal profile shape can be explained by hydrological controls that reflect rainfall–runoff regimes in different climate zones. The most important of these is the downstream rate of change in streamflow, independent of the area of the drainage basin. Our results illustrate that river topography expresses a signature of aridity, suggesting that climate is a first-order control on the evolution of the drainage basin.” • Something imagery would be useful in visualizing.

Really the Last of the Feral Hogs, I Swear

Remember the “feral hogs” meme, a rare moment of purely goofy good humor on the hellsite that is Twitter, and truly a meme for our time? Re-upping for our British readers:

Yashar Ali actually interviewed the guy–

“Exclusive: Feral Hog Man” [Yashar Ali (DK)]. “I’m pleased to share with you that I am the first reporter to speak with Willie McNabb, the man whose tweet about feral hogs went viral and spawned a meme.” From the interview:

I don’t know the answer to the gun debate. I’m not the avid outdoorsman I was when I was younger, but I do believe in my right to protect my home and my family. I’m for common-sense gun laws, including background checks, closing gun-show loopholes, and mental health requirements. I’m willing to look at anything that will help this carnage stop.

And finally, regarding Jason Isbell [on assault weapons], I love music and always have. My favorite band is Pearl Jam. They have always challenged my beliefs and opened me up to different perspectives, different ideologies, and a broader worldview. I find the same type of inspiration from Jason’s music. That’s why I asked him the question: because he grew up in the South and might be able to understand my perspective. At the heart of my question is a legitimate problem, and I firmly believe we don’t learn anything living in a vacuum. We must push ourselves as a people and a society to be more tolerant of our fellow humans, even the ones we disagree with.”

There are times I really do have hope for this country. I bet McNabb would like the Trillbillies, too. And as it turns out (McNabb explains this) feral hogs — not metaphorical ones, real ones) are a genuine problem–

“This 400-pound feral hog is one of more than 1,200 that have invaded a Texas Air Force base since 2016” [Task & Purpose]. “The United States is currently dealing with a ‘rapidly expanding’ population of 6 million feral hogs across 39 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an explosion that, in some places, has given rise to a cottage industry of helicopter-based hog hunting. According to a 2017 JBSA environmental assessment, roughly 2.6 million of those swine reside in Texas, where they poses ‘a threat to human safety’ near flight training facilities and military bases, among other properties. ‘Feral swine are considered a harmful and destructive non-native, invasive, species,’ the assessment reads. ‘Being prolific breeders, increasing population of feral swine has led to various types of damage to vegetation, soils, ground and surface waters, floodplains, wetlands, and sensitive karst topography, while also posing threats to private property, and human health and safety.'” • I would bet feral hogs will do very well for themselves as global temperatures rise.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Book Review: Jazz and Justice” [Monthly Review]. Review of Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music, by Gerald Horne. “Horne submits that while U.S. capitalism produces an insecure environment for all artists, the exigencies of racism cut far more profoundly into the work of African American jazz musicians than others. They were denied exposure, radio airplay, and jukebox access, barred from clubs entirely, or if permitted to perform then only under strictly segregated conditions. The policy prevailed well outside the South. Horne points out that the existence of segregated clubs in California prompted union leader Harry Bridges to lead a campaign against them. Working conditions on the road were especially challenging: finding food, accommodations, relief of thirst, and basic comfort entailed a frustrating, often violent-prone search. Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Benny Carter, Miles Davis, and Bud Powell were assaulted, either by audience members or police.” • Well worth a read.

Guillotine Watch

“”What we found is that these millennials are actually quite thrifty. We discovered that often they will split a checked bag with their friend when they’re going on a girls’ trip”:

Class Warfare

“Our Homes Are Key To Our Health” [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation]. Some numbers:

+45%: The increase of extremely poor neighborhoods from 2010-14

50% Of cost-burdened households pay more than half of their income for housing

4.6 M Estimated number of people who have asthma in the United States and can attribute their condition to dampness and mold exposure in their homes

6,300 Approximate number of people evicted every day

“Antiracism: a neoliberal alternative to a left” [Adolph Reed, Dialectical Anthropology]. “. Antiracist activism and scholarship proceed from the view that statistical disparities in the distribution by race of goods and bads in the society in which blacks appear worse off categorically (e.g., less wealth, higher rates of unemployment, greater incidence of hypertensive and cardiovascular disease) amount to evidence that “race” remains fundamentally determinative of black Americans’ lives. As Merlin Chowkwanyun and I argue, however, disparity is an outcome, not an explanation, and deducing cause simplistically from outcome (e.g., treating racially disparate outcomes as ipso facto evidence of racially invidious causation) seems sufficient only if one has already stacked the interpretive deck in favor of a particular causal account (Reed and Chowkwanyun 2012, 167–168). We also discuss a garbage in, garbage out effect in studies that rely on large-scale aggregate data analysis; gross categories like race may mask significant micro-level dynamics that could present more complex and nuanced understandings of causality. Put another way, if you go out looking for racial effects in data sets that are organized by race as gross categories, you will be likely to find them, but that will not necessarily lead to sound interpretations of the factors that actually produce the inequalities. As likely as not that purblind approach can lead to missing “the extent to which particular inequalities that appear statistically as ‘racial’ disparities are in fact embedded in multiple social relations” (Reed and Chowkwanyun 2012, 150–151, 158–159). This issue is not a concern for antiracist politics because its fundamental goal is propagation of the view that inequalities or injustices suffered by black Americans should be understood as resulting from generic white racism. Its objective, that is, is rhetorical and ideological, not political and programmatic.” • Reed is always bracing.

News of the Wired

“Can we really know what animals are thinking?” [The Conversation]. “[C]an we really know what non-human animals are thinking? Drawing on my background as a philosopher, I argue that the answer is no. There are principled limitations to our ability to understand animal thought…. Their thoughts are structured too differently from our language.” • Hmm. “[I]f a lion could speak, we could not understand him” (Wittgenstein). Yeah, but how about cats? Is it possible that we don’t understand cat language because that’s no adaptive reason for it, but that cats understand us, because they have every reason?


My personal aesthetic strongly favors feuille-morte, not just the color, but the scumble.

Subtweeting the universe:

“The Brave New World of Sports” [New York Times]. “It’s hard to imagine the public wouldn’t want to see swimmers with fingers surgically webbed together to act like paddles.” • It is?

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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 (meeps):

Meeps writes: “Here are some trees I photographed while hiking in the National Parks.”

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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. Carolinian

    Re Android–in my experience updates to an unrooted phone cannot be blocked. But then the same applies to Windows 10, does it not? If you turn off the update service Redmond will turn it back on. I believe you do have the option of not installing the MS updates once downloaded.

    1. Pat

      You can do like I do have to give them permission to download then just keep refusing to download them. Eventually I will crumble but by that time all the pitfalls are known.

      1. a different chris

        Yes I specifically ignore iPhone updates for at least two weeks. And I’d say 90% of the time there is suddenly another one before my window is up. With some anodyne comments not admitting to anything…

    2. Fiery Hunt

      Turn off the WiFi. No forced updates.
      As soon as you connect, download waterfall.
      So I never connect. ?

  2. hemeantwell

    “[I]f a lion could speak, we could not understand him” (Wittgenstein).

    Formulations like this miss what the idea of a hermeneutic circle establishes: that “understanding” is not about a 100%, isomorphic replication of the Other’s mind, but depends on criteria of sufficiency that vary across situations.

    Scenario: It’s 5:30 pm and my cat howls at me and I know I haven’t fed it. My cat and I rapidly arrive at a sufficient mutual understanding regarding getting my butt to the kitchen to feed him. The hermeneutic to and fro is very limited. Understanding is manifested by the sounds of wondermeat being consumed and subsequent choplicking, followed by silence. There may well be nuances to the initial howling that I miss, but who cares?

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      In the smattering of Wittgenstein biographies I’ve read, I don’t recall any mention of Wittgenstein having a pet. Anyone know otherwise?

    2. False Solace

      > insofar as we can translate the sentences of one language into the sentences of another, that is largely because we can translate the words of one language into the words of another

      This is the reason I never tried to become learned in philosophy. I have trouble understanding the questions.

      If we somehow reached a total impasse when it comes to translating ‘Schnee ist weiss”, I think we’d end up having one person indicate some actual, real world snow until the other person got the idea.

      > now imagine a language with a structure fundamentally unlike that of any human language. How would we translate it?

      Languages have real world referents. Since real world referents exist, that’s ultimately how we “check our work” of building a translation.

      So let’s translate something harder than “Schnee ist weiss”. Well, seemingly abstract concepts which we imagine not to have real world referents ultimately do have them. (“Philosophy” – philos goes back to ‘friendly’, sophos goes back to ‘investigate’, both are ideas which aren’t all that difficult to express to another human regardless of shared language.)

      We think “over” and “through” things, we “introspect” (“look within”). Everything is a metaphor, those metaphors ultimately circle back to our bodies and the real world, and those experiences are shared and can be communicated.

      Yes, I do think it’s possible to communicate with animals on the basis of shared experience, but I definitely wonder how much overlap there’d be with, say, a trout or jellyfish, whose experience of the world would be dramatically different from ours. No, I can’t prove that your experience of the world is exactly the same as mine (“Is your red the same as my red??”), but we can get close enough as to make no functional difference. I’m sure philosophers have said the same thing far more elegantly.

      1. eg

        Presumably the challenges include the extent to which the creature we seek to understand has similar or dissimilar sensory organs and nerve structures

        1. Jeff W

          The short story on which the movie is based, Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life,” is, perhaps, my all-time favorite work of science fiction, although—or maybe because—it’s more philosophy than sci-fi.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Doesn’t have to be biological differences but can be cultural that can create difficulties. In a famous Star Trek episode, this was brought up by a race that cited incidents from their cultural history to communicate the emotions they feel, their perceptions of situations, and their wishes and opinions about actions. Narrative imagery if you will. Thus we would say something like “Juliet. On her balcony.” to cite romance but if you do not know that cultural reference, it would mean nothing-


      3. Procopius

        Errrmmm… Translating is actually pretty hard. I am not a linguist, but I’ve had to learn a few languages. In my opinion, the unit of language is not the word, but the phrase. That’s why I found phrase books useful in learning German and Thai. After you’ve learned a few phrases the grammar starts to become apparent, and you can tell what are nouns, what are verbs, what are adjectives, etc., and you can start to tell which words are like each other in the two languages. There are words that are tied to aspects of the culture that don’t have exact matches. In Thai, for example, there is a phrase, /kreng jai/, which means something like “give deference to,” “display respect,” “be polite.” The negative is used in situations like, “Oh, go ahead and take the last cookie on the plate.”

      4. Mike

        Philosophically, Wittgenstein and other such linguistic analyzers got carried away with precise meaning, including the layers of meaning slathered on in poetic or referential speech – “my feelings are hurt” can be understood to mean something when stated in an expected reference amongst an understanding listening group, but may be misunderstood as well, even before it may be broadcast to a wider audience. To gain structure as was sought by philosophers was a nightmare of detail and digging.

        Communication is reference and audience, and animals are just not that stupid to not catch nuance from a daily-referenced human. Hopefully the same can be said of us, although we allow much expectation to get in the way.

    3. cuibono

      your cat is not a lion. as it is fully domesticated , presumbaly its form of life is much closer ot ours than a lion.
      I dont think Wittgenstein was speaking about whether or not we can interpret certain animal calls correctly.

      1. meeps

        Thanks, Lambert. This never used to be an issue, and my photos display correctly on my screen. Whenever I attach them to email lately they rotate 90 degrees. Very kind of you to use it. Sorry about the hassle.

      2. Randy

        Are you sure? It looks upside down to me. Plants generally grow up (toward the sun) and the sky looks to be in the bottom left corner of the picture (as I see it).

          1. John Zelnicker

            Thank you, meeps. I thought I was going a bit crazy, especially with Lambert saying above that he had fixed it.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              [family blogging] The correct rotation — done in GIMP, which understands EXIF, unlike Apple’s preview — was performed, and it didn’t “take” in WordPress!

    1. ambrit

      In this case, I would argue that the question of the genesis of “orientation” is firmly decided in favour of ‘nurture.’ (An attribution of the genesis of “orientation” to ‘nature’ would be a perfectly understandable logical confusion.)
      Anyway, any interest in the “orientation” of a living being would be, by definition, presumptuous and judgmental. Who are we to judge, etc. etc.

      1. meeps

        Ha. The world’s been a bit topsy-turvy, in any case. Perhaps sideways is an entirely appropriate orientation.

        I think you’d appreciate the geologist’s paradise where I took the picture, ambrit: Capitol Reef National Park.

        1. ambrit

          Oh, I would indeed. I still remember taking a side trip off of the old Route 66 through New Mexico or Arizona back in 1962. The family was moving from Florida to California. Sometime before the Painted Desert, (all those colours,) we were given directions to an ancient pueblo ruin “off the beaten path.” It seems that the locals were pulling our legs, since, we later were told, that ruin was only considered reachable by four wheel drive. Well, Dad managed to get there in an old fifties Plymouth station wagon. It was the kind of trip where you hung a canvas bag of water in front of the radiator. In fact, all of New Mexico and Arizona were “that kind of trip” back then. Dad was treated to free beer when we got back with a few souvenirs as proof. None of the locals could believe it. Mom still has the little coffee table Dad made out of the slice of petrified tree trunk we “picked up” in the wilds of the Petrified Forest. I don’t think that I have ever ‘recovered’ from that trip and the pure beauty of America it revealed to us.

          1. meeps

            Thank you for that. Some people look at deserts and see wastelands, but I see beautiful and fertile environments inhabited by highly specialized beings. The long-term vision and coordination it took to map, plan, implement, and maintain these wondrous Parks is remarkable, too.

            1. ambrit

              Thanks for this.
              On a related note, for some understanding of the background of the mess that is the Middle East today, I fall back on “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” by T E Lawrence and “Travels in Arabia Deserta” by Doughty. In both tomes, one can find a sense of the place, which defines the characters of the peoples encountered.

  3. Plenue

    “Remember the “feral hogs” meme, a rare moment of purely goofy good humor on the hellsite that is Twitter”

    To be honest what I most remember about that episode was all the liberals convincing themselves it was actually crypto-nazi code for murdering brown people. How embarrassing.

      1. Lee

        My kid having recently returned from a successful wild pig hunt, in the CA central valley hill country, I can attest to its boar meat’s tastiness. We’ve had the tacos as described in the video and they were quite good. Ah, but the Bolognese sauce with boar meat that my son made was absolutely the best I’ve ever eaten.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          In Tuscany, the ragù di cinghiale (wild boar) is a home-cooked country specialty. Unlikely to see it often on a menu. They also make excellent sausages — even prosciutto — from boar.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      We have a class of symbol manipulators (among whom I must number myself, I suppose). So that is what they see. “Connecting the dots” is the same mentality (much like the projection onto clouds in this morning’s Links).

      It’s a problem. However, I encountered “30-50 feral hogs” when it had come loose from its moorings — as the Cameron tweet shows; that’s when the purely goofy good humor took over.

    2. Gary

      Feral hogs are a problem here in Texas. You don’t see them in groups though. They tend to be loners. If a domestic hogs manages to get free, it will become feral in about 3 months. They suddenly grow a shaggy cape and their front teeth turn into tusks. It’s quite a phenomenon. People that “hunt” deer put out automatic feeders that spray corn periodically to encourage the white tail deer to stay near the “hunter’s” stand. When I was younger and not against hunting for meat, I only stalked deer. I don’t know when stands and feeders became so popular. In any case, the deer corn is also feeding the feral hogs.

      1. fdr-fan

        Interesting! Hogs growing fur and tusks is a lot like grasshoppers turning into locusts when they go feral. Must be an epigenetic switch.

      2. divadab

        Well in my neck of the woods more and more people also bait (apples and carrots) for deer starting in the late summer, about a month before the deer season starts. Not very sporting, it used to be that local hunters worked in teams and did sort of a drive (“we’re just taking a walk in the woods” they say but the deer move on ahead towards the shooters nonetheless). The locals attribute this change to baiting to more city people who won;t allow hunting on their ground. But it’s a whole lot more comfortable to sit and drink beer in the stand and wait for the deer to come to you than to actually walk several miles on deer trails.

    3. PKMKII

      Surprised they didn’t try to argue that it was a sign the tweet came from Russian agitprop.

      I don’t think it would have gone into meme territory if he hadn’t attached such an oddly specific yet wide number to the tweet. If it had just been, “how do I kill feral hogs” without the number, it wouldn’t have gone viral (for what it’s worth, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission says 30-50 would be an unusually high number of hogs at a time).

  4. a different chris

    > And as it turns out (McNabb explains this) feral hogs — not metaphorical ones, real ones) are a genuine problem–

    Note that McNabb successfully addresses *his* hog problem without resort to an AK/AR

    Note that the hogs were outside in any case. You know, just go inside (best Arhnold Voice) “if you want to live.”

    Note that if there are kids outside, and if somebody isn’t good enough with a hunting rifle thus they got themselves an AK/AR, then the hogs are not the bad thing that’s most likely to happen to the kids

    So maybe if McNabb turns this over in his mind a few more times he will start to see this.

    PS: also note that there is an “Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force” that doesn’t seem to be succeeding at, you know Eradicating Hogs. Quelle Surprise.

      1. inode_buddha

        I don’t even bother any more, there’s no point when people already have their minds made up. I love the way the media throws around the big scary words like “semi-auto” and idiots think it means “machine gun” and all black stuff is bad mmkay? Jesus, just try getting people to educate themselves. I won’t bother to stick up for someone elses civil liberties anymore either. Too bad.

        When you go to buy a firearm in my state (NY) the first thing the dealer will do is get some paperwork for you to fill out — the Federal paperwork. You lie, you go to jail. Your background is checked while you are filling it out. I do believe this needs to extend to *all* transactions, not just dealers, thereby closing the gun show loophole. And good luck getting a handgun of any kind in NY, it can take years to do it legally.

        Having said all that, NY absolutely makes my skin crawl these days, and I was born here. There is a zillion ways they try to manipulate you with fear, and all that does is piss me off. I’m not that stupid.

        1. a different chris

          Don’t even bother with what? I clearly indicated that I was fine with him and his shotgun. I clearly pointed out why that doesn’t extend to a weapon of war.

          What exactly in my post do you think you are addressing?

        2. Plenue

          To that list we should add “assault weapon”, which is a meaningless term the media made up, and ‘high-powered”, when in reality most assault rifles do not fire a particularly large or powerful round, certainly not compared to the average bolt-action rifle.

          I don’t much care about guns, or the second amendment. I just want all the damn shootings to stop. My inclination would be to just Toyotomi sword hunt every gun in sight, but the combination of the sheer number of guns in the US and the infantile and petulant culture surrounding them means this would never be a practical solution even if it were politically feasible.

          Also, not to go all “guns don’t kill people”, but other countries also have lots of guns but no habit of shootings, So there has to be more going on with the US than just firearms. I think the shootings are a manifestation of much deeper problems. Not the “there’s crazy people walking around, we need more mental health fixes” hand wave of the GOP. The whole society and culture is crazy, not just some individuals.

          Arguing about any of this is completely academic though. Nothing is ever going to happen on the issue. There’s zero political desire to do anything about it. It’s been the better part of a decade since someone walked into a school and gunned down dozens of literal children. If nothing happened after that, it’s not going to happen at all. A bunch of dead kids and we couldn’t even get the most rudimentary, widely supported reforms passed (and to be honest I don’t think universal background checks or anything related to assault rifles will change much. Like 98% of gun crime involves simple sidearms. I think the reforms that get the most attention are mostly virtue signaling).

          1. JBird4049

            Worse, the carnage is used to get money and votes. Much of the supposed debate is actually word salad used for creating political Sturm und Drang. Political organizations using Gunz to stoke up that sweet, sweet fear for the donations and votes. Republicans serve/use the NRA while the Democrats serve/use various gun “control” organizations; I don’t see the general leadership of either supposed side being serious or even wanting to change anything as that would be bad for the continued profitability of the political grift.

            Not only is it profitable, it also splits us up into smaller, more manageable groups of chumps that are easier to exhaust with emotional political BS and therefore less of a threat to the established neoliberal order.

            Solving our problems using the political process is bad for their business.

      2. a different chris

        Yeah, um, no better time to unleash the term “holier than thou” than this. You just “know” that I somehow don’t “get it”, and I am too far gone to explain it to.

        I deserve a family-blogging answer as to why having AK-47’s to wave around at feral hogs is a good idea. Do you actually have said answer?

        1. Plenue

          Hunting down a large number of wild hogs is in fact exactly the kind of scenario for a rapid fire weapon with a large magazine. That’s one of the few genuine use cases a civilian could have for an assault rifle.

          1. ambrit

            Considering how dangerous wild boars and feral pigs are, a high capacity magazine in a semi-automatic rifle sounds like a good idea. I’d hate to try and take on more than one wild pig with my old bolt action Lee Enfield. Pig is one animal where aim is definitely a factor in the shooter’s survivability.

            1. The Rev Kev

              A Lee Enfield? Certainly a .303 has the stopping power but can your model be fitted with a telescopic sight to give you extra distance with as a safety factor? I know for a fact that some variants of them were fitted with scopes in their role as sniper rifles-


              In growing up in Oz, there were a lot of these rifles about and were used for hunting with.

    1. Acacia

      Apparently, feral hogs are a big problem in France. A sounder of hogs can do real damage to a farm in one night.

      A friend there reported that recently that a pack of hogs began visiting their countryside vineyard in the night, to devour grapes. Returning home one afternoon, they found a group of hunters and a dead hog (one of the grape gobblers) in their front drive. It seems that if hunters fell a hog on your property in France, they consider it proper to share the meat with you.

      A few hours later, then, they had a follow-up rendez-vous with the hunters, to exchange some feral hog meat for bottles of wine from the vineyard.

      1. eg

        This seems like a very civilized way to handle wild hogs.

        Not expecting this to cross the pond anytime soon, though

  5. dcblogger

    there are only 4 polls that matter, Iowa, NH, SC, and Nevada. Clearly Bernie is not doing as well in NH as he should, so taking corrective measures.

    Iowa is only 4 1/2 months away, a long time in politics but mebbe not so long in organizing. The Iowa results always transform the race. Cleary Biden is in trouble

    If Biden loses in Iowa I predict his campaign will crumble.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Clearly Bernie is not doing as well in NH as he should

      Warren’s team isn’t getting itself into the papers, but people do seem to be impressed by her operation.

      I would imagine that Sanders has enough money to go to the air war in Iowa, if that’s what it takes.

      1. dcblogger

        agree, but I don’t think he should do that until after Christmas, but mebbe I am wrong. I don’t live in Iowa. I imagine that air time is purchased way in advance, so mebbe commit to running the commercials now but not actually run them until after Christmas.

      2. katiebird

        I had lunch with a friend last week and after donating to Warren, he got a telephone call from her. It was just a brief conversation but he was almost impressed. He is also donating to Harris and one of the others, I can’t remember. Not Bernie. He’s too old. (Sigh) … I wish I saw the appeal of those others. He and I agree on so many things, but not politics.

          1. katiebird

            Yes! Personally. It came while he was at work and in a room with a bunch of other coworkers. He said that when he answered saying, “Hello, Senator” conversation stopped and everyone stared at him.

            I did ask what he talked about but, I think it was fairly superficial (maybe ‘cause he was at work?), thanking her for running ….

            He said this was a promise she made to call donors personally and she is doing it. He really wasn’t as impressed as I thought he should be.

    2. Pavel

      California is a while away, but apparently the Emerson Poll has put Yang at 7%, ahead of Kamala Harris… causing no end of joy amongst the so-called #YangGang on the one hand and those who despise Harris [including yours truly] on the other. The former are taking umbrage with @TheHill for posting a link to their story featuring photos of Biden, Sanders, Warren and… you guessed it, Harris.

      I find a lot to disagree with Yang about (especially foreign policy) but he is definitely a breath of fresh air, has a real sense of humour, and seems relatively honest and uncorrupt. In noted contrast to some of the competition.

      1. RopeADope

        I also find a lot to disagree with Yang about but I am thinking that Yang should run in 2022 for Kamala’s Senate seat.

      2. Procopius

        I took an immediate dislike to Yang because he pronounces his name wrong. I know, lots of immigrants, especially their American-born children, change their names to be “more American,” and I probably would have minded if he changed his to something like Brzenski or Joan’s, but Yang does not rhyme with gang. Looking into his positions just confirms my dislike. Definitely a deal-breaker.

  6. Steve H.

    > Aridity is expressed in river topography globally
    > “Something imagery would be useful in visualizing.”

    There’s a Figures section on the right side of the screen. It looks like they’re really marking flash-flooding; high-velocity events with low deposition cut deep and sharp, without meandering. We can expect to see more of this topography with climate change providing fiercer rainfalls in shorter times.

    1. Steve H.

      {posted too quick}

      And, in arid environments the flash flooding is a rare, extreme event; lesser rains will evaporate or sink into the ground before there’s a chance to develop power.

  7. shinola

    The Dean Baker article “Healthcare Premiums and Taxes” states: “If employers didn’t have to pay for insurance, then the savings would mostly end up in workers’ wages. This will not be true everywhere and always, but the fact that employers are indifferent between paying another dollar for health care and paying another dollar for wages is pretty much universally accepted by economists.”

    I guess said economists dismiss things like stock buy-backs, dividends & increased pay packages for the executive suite – mostly.

    1. jrs

      noone who works for a living in the capitalist job market thinks the money would end up there, only an academic utterly detached from reality possibly could. But doesn’t mean it wouldn’t still be a net positive.

    2. Pat

      I, for one, wouldn’t trust that for a moment. And as a result one item I most certainly want in any Medicare for All law is the requirement for all employers who have been buying health insurance for workers increase base pay for all jobs by the amount paid for that insurance in the previous year minus any increase in the employer FiSA taxes and said increase is permanent for that job category. As in if you pay NY states minimum wage AND 300 dollars a quarter for the insurance the $25 week is added into the base wage for the job.

      Don’t expect it to happen but it has always struck me as something easy to defend as you are already paying this rate for the work you still will be and that wage is now the draw for the job. It might all go to the increased taxes but that in itself helps offset the supposedly higher taxes argument for most workers.

      1. jsn

        I agree completely! Baker doesn’t help his cred at all appealing to what economist agree to assume: can openers…

    3. cuibono

      In fact, if employees were NOT DEPENDENT on employment for health insurance, the ability to demand higher wages would be strengthened enormously!

    4. Yves Smith

      Late to this, but there is an important angle Baker oddly misses.

      The big rise in involuntary part-time employment can be significantly attributed to Obamacare employer coverage rules (IIRC people who work <30 hours a week not required to be covered). So a potential significant benefit is a reduction of companies assigning work shifts to keep employees below 30 hours a week. I recognize that this is depicted as a right-wing talking point v. Obamacare, but that does not mean it is not happening (I've heard accounts from both employees and employers suggesting it is real).

    5. inode_buddha

      They could reduce taxes and other withholding to zero, and *none* of it would end up in the employees hands.

      I mean, c’mon people, we’ve been reducing taxes since Reagan. The streets should be paved with gold by now. The land should be overflowing with milk and honey. So where is it ??? where did it all go ??? Certainly not into the *workers* pockets !!

  8. zagonostra

    >”Health Care Premiums and Taxes”

    When the next debate moderator asks Bernie if his M4A would raise middle class taxes I wish that he would dramatically reach into his pocket and say:

    “Let me explain to you in simple terms since you don’t seem to get it and you keep asking the same question over and over.” He pulls out 3 one dollar bills and says. “This one dollar is a tax that the government will take for healthcare coverage, these 2 dollars is what the insurance companies will take in deductibles, co-pays, and premiums. Which scenario do you think is better for working families. Capiche?!”

    It’s time he starts attacking the decrepit, corrupt corporate news media.

    1. inode_buddha

      He could just ask the moderator which number is higher, his medicare taxes or his insurance premiums?

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Maybe language should also be invented to spotlight the fact that a must-pay premium to an insurance company is a private tax.

      Perhaps we could speak of “privataxes” and “govertaxes” to help people understand that its ALL taxes one way or another. And then people might be better equipped to think about how if their privataxes go down by more than their govertaxes go up, that their combined total taxes go net down.

    1. jrs

      She’s going to lose her Senate seat if she keeps it up.

      Good. Maybe we can get someone good in there for once, would be nothing short of a miracle to get a decent Senator in CA. Of course part of Californian’s gripes with her may be that she just got the Senate seat, and clearly doesn’t want it, a mere bullet point on the resume.

      1. ChrisAtRU

        I can’t see bundlers getting any more money for her from here on out if this persists … she’s toast as a presidential contender.

    2. jrs

      By the way this polling for what it’s worth, and all of it not just the Prez part, matches my perception (based on ballot races etc.) than Californians are becoming increasingly politically astute. Doesn’t mean elections always go as I wish and that there isn’t bad policy out there, but it does seem we are collectively learning. Not a popular position in Trumpistan and parts elsewhere where Californians are just the worst but …

    3. False Solace

      What this poll is actually saying is that we should expect a lot more ballot box lids floating in San Francisco Bay the day after the CA primary.

    4. Cal2


      Thank you for your emphasis. Don’t forget, If Tulsi Gabbard had dared been allowed on the stage at the last debate, she’d probably be ahead of the Kamaleon and behind Warren.

      The demonstrators at the next debate need to shout

      over and over again .

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Well … ;-) I won’t go so far as to speculate … but yes, we’ll never know … for sure, because of the poll punishment dished out to Gabbard. I’m waiting to see if Castro will suffer the same fate, since he too dared to go after “one of the chosen”. If I were a wagering fellow, I’d put my money on him being excluded from the next debate.

  9. Another Scott

    This article is about the implementation of precision railroading at CSX at the instance of hedge funds.

    I’ve read a little about precision railroading, but I never thought it was this bad. Nearly every customer group and union has concerns and the number presented by the company are outright useless. Financialization and gutless federal regulation stand at the heart of it.

    This might be the most chilling part:
    “In the Village of Evergreen Park, a Chicago suburb, trains spanning multiple miles have blocked intersections throughout the town, making school children late to class and hospital staff late to a major trauma center, residents there have told the Surface Transportation Board. Some of the children have taken to crawling under the trains to get to school, according to Mayor James Sexton.”

  10. laughingsong

    “Even if liberal Democrat gangsters did rig the election by controlling the ballot, there’s no point fussing, because that’s what they do.”

    I don’t agree, please fuss, early and often. Sure, by all means, walk in with no illusions but you should fuss, loudly and often, and forever. Never let them walk around – not one day! – without having to acknowledge that they always have to cheat to win. It’ll stick eventually.

    1. johnnygl

      I had to stop 25min in so i could catch a train, but it’s a really interesting interview. Snowden says saudis made the call to kill jamal kashoggi by purchasing a set of off-the-shelf hacking tools sold by an israeli company. They don’t know for sure if kashoggi himself was hacked because they could get a hold of his device, but, friends of his went to a university lab in canada and found their devices had been hacked.

      It seems likely the decision to kill kashoggi was made by hacking his personal network and figuring out what he was up to.

      One way to think about this is that it will scare elites in the 10-20% in team dem that think trump’s a murderous maniac out to get them. The same for conservatives who think obama/clintonites are after them, too.

      My added commentary aside, it seems to be a demonstration of the horrors unleashed by the surveillance state and the spin off mercenaries who traffic in these tools.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        It is a great interview. Cannot recommend highly enough. Thank you for sharing. So rare from MSM. Brian Williams gave him time to talk. I found the delayed laughs charming. Snowden does an excellent job of distilling very difficult technical material, probably from a half-decade of speaking for a living now.

        Don’t see how anyone can watch that whole interview and come away thinking that Snowden is anything but a patriot and extraordinarily informed citizen. The dangers he describes of the panopticon are too real.


        “Mass surveillance is not about public safety. It is not about terrorism. It is about power. It is about economic espionage. It is about diplomatic manipulation and it is about social influence.”

      2. VietnamVet

        The brief period when wages kept up with economic growth was the direct result of the elite being scared to the core by the Russian Revolution, WWI & WWII and the Great Depression. It worked for the majority of the population at the time which you cannot say for today. I am sure a Saudi Prince and perhaps the aware elite are scared that all the money in the world couldn’t stop proxy non-state forces from cutting 5% of the world’s oil supply. Their wealth is not safe in incompetent utterly corrupt fiefdoms. The only thing that has worked to date to keep elite wealth safe are nation states with borders that had competent rulers in democracies protected by a conscript army.

        1. JBird4049

          I would add the Cold War with its possibility of civilizational extinction over an afternoon. Also, the Elites saw the results much of the suffering and even in the United States a large number of that class actually served and even fought. That can create empathy or a sense of togetherness. The current bunch of parasites and their immediate family and ancestors have experience nothing at all like it. They all seem arrogance enough to think nothing will hurt them.

        2. Cal2

          Don’t forget WWII combat veterans in the tens of millions, reintegrated throughout our society with lots of guns at home and a willingness to kill the enemy without mercy.

          The G.I. Bill, Veterans Loans, excellent health care and most importantly, high wages, was a means of saving the covert elite’s skin in the U.S.

        3. Mike

          At the end of WW2, much fear was indeed spread within the Us elite classes, but it was mostly a fear of falling back into the Depression we had left with WAR being the final answer to it (sorry, FDR fans, his policies were nice, but pulled back in the late 30s, so ineffective in ending the downturn). Full employment meant war, period. No war, then what???

          So, two things turned that around: the destruction of Europe and Japan left us to rebuild them (this ended up being not enough), and then the discovery of permanent wartime footing with the Cold War. It was no response to Russia and what they actually did (true, Stalin’s paranoia did topple democratic growth, but he knew Nazi sympathizers when he saw them), but the decision by Churchill and Truman that drew the Iron curtain, and this set up our Defense Department government, with all the make-work and cost-plus dynamics born to grow without fail. As industrial growth in the old infrastructure of northern US crawled and finally caved by going South and overseas, military investment and weapons manufacture saved broad areas of mass employment (factories, troop bases, supply depots, etc.) where civilian employment was kept up until the late 1980s. While competition with USSR had its role, it could not have been carried out without the rebuilding of confidence in the industrial owners and their patriotic duty of employment and some benefits shared. This was Fordist policy at its height.

          The Saudis are in a different position as a tiny minority employing imported workers and soldiers who have few rights, if any… wait, scotch that- not that much difference anymore, except the language spoken.

    2. Anonymous Coward



      “As I was trapped for 40 days in an airport. I don’t know what your longest layover is, but 40-days was a tough stint. I applied for asylum in 27 different countries around the world …

      [traditional U.S. allies, etc.]

      … and yet every time one of these governments got close to opening their doors, the phone would ring in their foreign ministries, and on the other end of the line would be a very senior American official. It was one of two people: then Secretary of State John Kerry or then Vice-President, Joe Biden, and they would say look we don’t care what the law is, and we don’t care if you can do this or not. We understand that protecting whistleblowers and granting asylum is a matter of human rights and you could do this if you want to.

      But, if you protect this man. If you let this guy out of Russia, there will be consequences. We’re not going to say what they’re going to be, but there will be a response.”


      1. scarn

        “Omg I have no evidence that gender is socially constructed. Also, I can’t believe how quickly ideology about gender being socially constructed has spread and changed the way society expresses gender”. Heh.

        Definitely worth a read! The author seems to have been disciplined into identifying with an ideology he never truly understood, almost as though there was some mechanism that punished baby academics that crossed boundaries.

        I don’t find Foucault convincing, to be honest. And Pinker is in the running for the “most successful living sycophant” award. But Foucault would own Pinker in the Octagon, in every single fashion.

      2. Acacia

        Thanks much for sharing this. Worth reading, especially for anybody who has ever wondered what academics in gender studies are actually doing. The author should be both commended and questioned for (rather belatedly) trying to raise the bar above ‘making sh*t up’.

        Reminds me of some of the gender studies grad students I encountered at university, one of whom was dissertating on how not merely gender but also sex was a totally social construction. (I wonder what happened to her. Probably tenured now, spreading “the wisdom”.)

        Regarding @scarn’s observation that the author may have been “disciplined” (today we might say “bullied”) into accepting the dogma, I’d agree that could be a part of it, yes. As much as academia prides itself as the motor of critical thought in our society, the power structure (e.g., star professors with their battalions of grad students) is often based upon a desire for recognition in exchange for cult membership and groupthink. I also wonder to what extent people with gender dysphoria gravitate towards this field, in effect seeking to normalize their dysphoria.

  11. Tim

    Three J.P. Morgan precious metals traders charged as criminal probe continues”

    This one is personal. I saw the manipulation flow across my screen as I invested in precious metals during the bubble years.

    It’s amazing to see it finally prosecuted, as RICO at that. Not that I’ll get any money back that I lost to these people. Maybe it took all this time to get rid of Fed fingerprints encouraging the activity which clearly suppressed prices at opportunistic times.

  12. Whoamolly


    Quillette is an online magazine founded by Australian writer Claire Lehmann. The publication has a primary focus on science, technology, news, culture, and politics

  13. Carolinian

    Interesting stuff on the drone attack

    the protection it has in place is unidirectional. The red circles designate the theoretical reach of the U.S. made PAC-2 air defense systems installed at their center. But the real reach of these systems only cover less than a half-circle. The PAC-2 and PAC-3 systems are sector defenses as their radars do not rotate. They can only see an arc of 120°. In the case of the Saudis those radars only look towards the east to Iran whcih is the most likely axis of attack. That left the crude oil processing plant in Abqaiq completely unprotected against attacks from any other direction. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the U.S. know from where the attack really came.[…]

    The Russian experience against the U.S. directed drone swarm attacks against its airbase Hmeymim in Syria showed that short range air defenses and electronic countermeasures are the best defense against mass drone and cruise missile attacks.

    Saudi Arabia does not have short range air defenses against drones and cruise missiles because the U.S. does not have such systems. It also does not have sophisticated electronic countermeasures because the U.S. can not provide any decent ones.

    Of course one reason the US is behind on defensive weapons is that we have two giant oceans to protect us against land wars unless Canada and Mexico decide to get feisty. Reagan may have once suggested that the Nicaraguans were threatening to invade but luckily we no longer have politicians in the early stages of dementia (oh wait).


    1. Procopius

      On other sites I’ve seen claims that the attack must have come from Iran, because the Houthi spokesman said they used 10 drones and there were 17 (or 19) strikes. Americans are not used to the idea that “ragged-ass desert dwellers” include doctors, accountants, and engineers, and the resources of a small country. The American Predator-B drone carries four Hellfire missiles plus two 500 lb. laser-guided bombs. Other configurations are possible. What the Houthis used, whether Quds-1 or Sadar-3 are not cruise missiles (although the Houthi have those, too), they are remotely piloted aircraft, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). Each one can strike more than one target.

  14. ewmayer

    Re. “Can we really know what animals are thinking?” [The Conversation]. “[C]an we really know what non-human animals are thinking? Drawing on my background as a philosopher, I argue that the answer is no… — I got the very real sense that the author of this ivory-tower nonsense has no complementary “background as a pet owner” on which to draw. Two further counters:

    1. At some level, the anwer to “Can we really know what another person is thinking?” is also ‘no’;

    2. At a more elemental level, overlapping needs and wants imply that we *can* know what animals – especially mammalian animals wit similar physiologies – are thinking. E.g. anyone who has lived with a cat or dog understands the key basics: “Squirrel! Bird! Food dispenser! Sunny spot in which to take a long nap! Warm lap! Scary loud noise!” And it works in reverse, too – I’m sure plenty of readers have seen instances of a household pet hearing a human baby living in the same household crying, and disappearing only to return with a food offering for the infant. The author, like most philosophers including Wittgenstein whom he quotes, is in the business of overthinking things, whereas animals are all about being, of living in the eternal here and now. To use on the article’s own alleged examples, you don’t need a frickin’ theory of mind to understand that a dog or cat which goes outside into a bunch of new-fallen snow and on first stepping into same lifts the stepping paw up and gives it a quick shake is probably thinking the animal analog of “snow is cold”.

    1. HotFlash

      “Can we really know what animals are thinking?”

      Well, yes, of course. They take great pains to ‘splain it to us. My senior kitteh will sit by his empty bowl, looking more and more polite until I finally ‘get it’ and fill the bowl. If I don’t catch on, he will meow, but only once. Same with going out — just one meow, by the door, after however long of looking more and more polite. I imagine the thought balloon to read, “Do I have to draw you a diagram?!?”. His junior colleague is *much* more vocal, and physical, too — lots of meows and ankle-twining. Message the same, though — ‘fill bowl’ or ‘open door’. The other jumps on the desk and looks at his bowl when it is empty, and paws on the window glass when he wants out. No vocalization, but the message is totally clear.

      It takes a while for them to train us up, but eventually we get it. But not know their thoughts? Well, maybe not all of them, but definitely the ones they want us to know. Unless you’re really dense.

      1. JBird4049

        Unless you’re really dense.

        Or they’re impatient. Then it is bouncing off my chest/stomach/lap and judicious claw poking.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Joe Biden believes that he is the only candidate who will be treated ‘fairly,’ that his good friends, those fine people in the Republican party

    If Joe really believes that, then good luck with that. The Republicans themselves already know what is bet in life for them-

    Warlord: “What is best in life?”
    Conan: “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.”


    1. Acacia

      Third (reported, at least) OD in his home. A pattern, ya think? Notice that two people already died from drugs injected by Buck, but he only gets charged with battery. DNC megadonors are evidently mega-connected. Crickets from Kamala Harris. Because he donated money to her…?

  16. Mattski

    The rumor on the left for some time has been that Working Families was a DNC astroturf operation. Dunno if that’s true, but choosing Warren before the first primary shot has been fired–with Sanders leading her, and leading in New Hampshire, before Iowa–discredits them forever in my eyes.

    I have an old iphone, but my wife’s Motorola just starts. My Samsung always did. I think the problem you’re describing involves individual companies and how they configure their startup programs, rather than an Android/Apple issue. It’s probably more important to challenge the kind of Manichean silliness that grows out of such observations than reinforce them.

    That said, Apple sometimes does have a cleaner IU, but that’s partly because they have parked all the dreck–including OP’s dreck–in the Appe/itunes store, where they quietly cannibalize any good idea that crosses their transom.

  17. Basil Pesto

    fwiw, I bought an Insta360 camera last year. Bought it at a comicslly small hole-in-the-wall electronics shop on the 8th floor of a Hong Kong high-rise on holiday (our next stop was NYC, but the camera, understandably, was relatively cheaper in HK. The next day I made a short lil test video of myself emerging from a HK metro station and walking to a nice bookshop – the video would’ve been a lot more interesting if I shot it today, I sudpect! It’s an impressive bit of hardware, with a very good feature set flr the price. The battery-life is miserly though (this doubtless encourages spare-battery and charger sales for enterprising videographers).

  18. Mike

    RE: Tech: Thank you, Silicon Valley brain geniuses:

    Quote- “To be fair to Apple, my Mac just starts.” — Lambert, at one time that was absolutely true, but Apple has changed, for the worse. If you do not have any security software (anti-virus, vpn, etc.) installed, and if you have no problematic software otherwise installed (extensions, “root access” handlers, open-souce), startup could be a breeze. I have not only those issues, but password protect my Mac so my use of wi-fi does not lead to pwning of my machine’s contents (I could detail, but wish not to get too personal here). Delays abound, and then I get pummeled with update and password notifications regarding my backup devices (yes, more than one) – also, since APSF reformatting of drive on main machine, have had various issues with slowdown, failure to launch apps, and now hard drive address issues. I get constant notices about the iTunes Store wanting me, when I haven’t bought a thing from them in 6 years. I could go on, but I gather you have a simpler setup and do not run complex imaging, video, or processing software that creates anger among others on the Mac platform.

  19. Mike

    Re: Warren (D)(1): “At rally, Warren decries Trump as ‘corruption in the flesh’” [Associated Press]. • I don’t want to be sour about this, but “corruption” is a very Third World middle class, dare I say bougie, issue. And it never goes anywhere, first because too many people, not only the powerful, are enmeshed in the system (“tea money”), and second because it assumes that if only “good people” ran the system, the system would be good.

    My doubts here:

    While corruption as a detail of capitalism today is somewhat a “bougie” issue, if you look at history, it is the grinding basis of most revolutions in the modern world, so it has its role to play in any great dissatisfaction among wide stretches of the populace. We should be more exact about this, as it will play a large part in any acceptance of a Democratic progressive pitch. Narrowly, corruption can mean what you said – it assumes that if only good people ran the system… but, how can we allow it to be narrowed that way if we realize that this corruption is endemic to the current system presiding over our economy AND politics (let alone intelligence, the military, and religious institutions, as we daily see)! Standard “tea” money is the going practice when large corruption is accepted and successful. Small corruption leads to habitual expectation of the same, and corrupts the society in general. Can the progressive message say that its origins today are built into financialized operations, that the individuals being put before us as answers are part of that corruption because they function successfully within that environment?

    Yes, it sounds like blaming the victim, but progressivism desperately needs to embrace a total systemic answer that allows for whatever good is left in individuals to be practiced without traps – to be precise, we need a system that calls forth relative honesty and protects itself constitutionally from the worst dishonesty. Maybe immediate recall of suspect representatives, maybe a rotating crew of watchdogs and backup watchdogs, maybe videoed and recorded as they do their tasks? Trust is everything, but building on a system of corrupt practices as this one demands we not trust until provable behavior ensues. Call it fascist, but not when its used against those in positions of trust who betray trust as often as happens now. How can we build a government of the people without it?

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