2:00PM Water Cooler 9/5/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I have returned, and opened comments once more. Moderation will be slow, and please be even more excellent to each other than usual, to minimize the need for it. Thank you! –lambert


“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. A reader said they preferred curves to stairsteps, so curves it is:

And here is the latest poll as of 9/5/2019, 1:00 PM EDT:

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; unlike RCP, there is no “secret sauce” for poll selection. 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): “Joe Biden, MIA” [Harold Meyerson, The American Prospect]. “the most important piece of legislation currently pending in any of the nation’s 50 state legislatures has seen something of a generational divide among Democrats. The bill, AB5, would conform California’s labor law to a ruling of the state’s Supreme Court that required employers to reclassify workers currently mislabeled as independent contractors into their correct classification as employees… Not surprisingly, the bill is the subject of a titanic battle between Uber, Lyft and other app-based driving services on one side, and their drivers, backed by the state’s labor movement, on the other. But it also has split the state’s Democrats. Many Obama-era Democrats, who have been flocking to Silicon Valley sinecures or received the Valley’s campaign contributions throughout the past decade, have lined up on Uber’s side… Responding, in part, to the labor-left militancy of today’s Democratic electorate, however, a host of Democratic presidential candidates have backed the bill, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, and even Tony West’s sister-in-law, Kamala Harris. That’s every Democrat who polls in the top seven of the Democratic presidential field—with the single exception of the guy who polls first, Joe Biden.”

Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden will return to Wall Street for fundraisers after climate town hall” [CNBC]. • C’mon, man. (One characteristic Biden shares with Trump, and it’s not unattractive, is that he gives zero f*cks.)

Biden (D)(3): “Biden’s eye fills with blood during CNN climate town hall” [Washington Examiner]. “Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to have a blood vessel burst in his left eye while participating in CNN’s town hall on climate change. A broken blood vessel in the eye, also known as a subconjuctival hemorrhage, can be caused by several things, including high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, blood thinners, or even excessive straining.” • And not for the first time. Since today is my day to be kind, I won’t make jokes; mortality is something all humans share.

Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders, Killer Mike talk income inequality, health care” [The Hill]. “Killer Mike, who endorsed Sanders’s 2016 presidential bid, told the Vermont senator that his economic policy was ‘the only policy that matches up with the Poor People’s Campaign,’ the sweeping effort led by Martin Luther King Jr. to combat income inequality.” • Sanders looks like he’s having fun, too.

Weld (R)(1):

I was wondering whether Weld was still alive. Apparently he is!

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UPDATE “Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren: Frenemies from way back, now 2020 rivals” [Los Angeles Times]. “As Vice President Joe Biden contemplated challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in August of 2015, he scheduled an important, private Saturday lunch at his official residence.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the guest, and Biden had an audacious idea on his mind: He was eyeing Warren as a potential running mate, according to associates. The two met for more than an hour without any aides present…. ‘They both faced these moments of truth in 2016 and for different reasons walked away,’ said a former Obama administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ‘Here they are about to appear on the debate stage together, and just a few years ago, he was thinking, ‘Wouldn’t she be a good running mate?'” • It’s rich to hear an Obama administration official talk about a “moment of truth,” but it is true that both, for different reasons, blinked at a critical time.

Climate Town Hall

Interesting schedule:

Not really a debate, but kudos to CNN for at least dedicating the time and allowing the candidates to stretch out. I couldn’t watch it, so if readers who did have reactions they want to share, that would be great.

“CNN’s epic town hall on climate was a perfect time capsule for an unprecedented moment” [WaPo], “The town hall was exhausting but not exhaustive, and an admission that the topic deserves more airtime but won’t get it during the Democratic debates. (The general-election debates in autumn of 2020 will feature even less climate talk than the primaries: perhaps a few minutes on the topic, with a Republican saying there’s no problem and a Democrat saying there’s a huge problem.)” • Thanks, DNC! This article is a compendium of quotes Biden: “There’s not a damn thing we can’t do.” Sanders: “There will be a transition. And there will be some pain there.” Warren: “They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around lightbulbs, around your straws, and around your cheeseburgers — when 70 percent of the pollution, of the carbon we’re throwing into the air, comes from three industries.” Harris: “I’m going to be honest. It is difficult to drink out of a paper straw.” Buttigieg: “This isn’t just saving the planet. This is saving the future for specific people who are alive right now.” • To be fair to Harris, she’s right; paper straws get soggy. Drink up!

“6 winners and 3 losers from CNN’s climate town hall” [Vox]. • Winners: Inslee, the Sunrise Movement, Sanders, the audience questioners, CNN, the Democratic Party. Losers: Biden, oil and gas companies, meat.

UPDATE “2020 Democrats Offer Up Ambitious Climate Plans in CNN Town Hall” [Bloomberg]. “Nuclear power and natural gas fracking provided two fault lines. Biden and Yang promoted new nuclear technologies that they said would be safer and generate less waste than older reactors. Others, like Sanders and Warren, oppose nuclear power. Amy Klobuchar pointed out that nuclear power produces 20% of the nation’s energy and emits no carbon. “But I wouldn’t expand nuclear unless we can find safe storage and figure this out, and Yucca Mountain is not the answer,” she said, referring to the proposed waste disposal site in Nevada. Biden, Klobuchar and Julian Castro also defended natural gas as a transitional energy source. And while they oppose drilling on federal lands, they said they would not immediately ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to unlock the nation’s natural gas deposits.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Resist? Resist! Why and How?” [Immanuel Wallerstein]. “The Resist movement has grown with remarkable rapidity into sometimes impressive enough that the mainstream press has begun to report its existence…. The problem with Resist is that it is still at the stage where its many activities are dispersed and without a clear strategy or at least not a strategy they have yet adopted…. Resist has engaged in manifold different actions. They have held marches, challenged local congressional representatives in their public meetings, created sanctuaries for persons menaced with state-ordered expulsions, interfered with transport facilities, published denunciations, signed petitions, and created local collectivities that meet together both studying and deciding upon further local actions. Resist has been able to turn many ordinary persons into militants for the first time in their lives. Resist however has a few dangers before it. More and more participants will be arrested and jailed. Being a militant is strenuous and after a while many people tire of it. And they need successes, little or big, to maintain their spirits. No one can guarantee that Resist will not fade away.” • I saved out this piece from my obituary for Wallerstein — see Jacobin and Democracy Now; l guess the mainstream press in the Five Eyes is a lost cause — because I felt it was more appropriate to Water Cooler, which, as readers know, takes a very granular approach to the practice of politics of all kinds. Wallerstein writes: “More and more [Resist] participants will be arrested and jailed.” Lol, no. The so-called Resistance was driven by a gaggle of Clintonite irredentists from Day One; Neera Tanden had the hash-tag in her bio, ffs. There were no Resistance “militants,” and nobody was ever going to jail. There’s no brunch in jail. My point is that Wallerstein was engaging in top-down analysis without understanding the ground truth of his object of inquiry. (“You gotta know the territory,” as the song goes.) Now, when you’ve got an analytical tool as sharp as “world systems” theory, you can often often get away with that. In this case, Wallerstein went ludicrously astray (though, I am sure, led by the best of motives: hope). The methodological parallel to the Hong Kong protests is obvious.

UPDATE “Elite Failure Has Brought Americans to the Edge of an Existential Crisis” [The Atlantic]. “In 1998, the Wall Street Journal and NBC News asked several hundred young Americans to name their most important values. Work ethic led the way—naturally. After that, large majorities picked patriotism, religion, and having children. Twenty-one years later, the same pollsters asked the same questions of today’s 18-38-year-olds—members of the Millennial and Z Generations. The results, published last week in the Wall Street Journal, showed a major value shift among young adults. Today’s respondents were 10 percentage points less likely to value having children and 20 points less likely to highly prize patriotism or religion…. This blanket distrust of institutions of authority—especially those dominated by the upper class—is reasonable, even rational, considering the economic fortunes of these groups were pinched in the Great Recession and further squeezed in the Not-So-Great Recovery. Pundits may dismiss their anxiety and rage as the byproducts of college-campus coddling, but it flows from a realistic appraisal of their economic impotency. Young people today commit crimes at historically low rates and have attended college at historically high rates. They have done everything right, sprinting at full speed while staying between the white lines, and their reward for historic conscientiousness is this: less ownership, more debt, and an age of existential catastrophe.” • Hard to argue with the general point, although, as usual, “generations” lack agency.


“House Democratic Caucus chairman announces support for ‘Medicare for All'” [The Hill]. “Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday that he is cosponsoring ‘Medicare for All’ legislation in the House, giving a boost to the legislation from a high-ranking House Democrat. Jeffries is the second-highest-ranking House Democrat to back Medicare for All, after Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who announced his support in June. But while Luján is looking to leave the House by running for Senate, Jeffries’s backing is important because he is seen as a potential future Speaker of the House once current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) retires. Jeffries stressed that the Affordable Care Act must be strengthened and that Democrats must fight GOP efforts to attack it. ‘However, given the enduring nature of our healthcare access and affordability crisis, more must be done,’ Jeffries said. In addition to backing the full-scale Medicare for All bill from Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Jeffries also announced that he is co-sponsoring more moderate approaches, such as a public option bill known as ‘Medicare X.'” • support “support.” Fixed it for ya. Hedging your bets isn’t support, for pity’s sake. “Medicare X” is cute, though. It’s fun to watch liberals working at brand confusion, as long as you don’t take it seriously.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, August 31, 2019: “Jobless claims continue their remarkably stable run” [Econoday]. “Claims data have been consistently signaling solid gains for underlying payroll growth and underscoring the fundamental strength of the US labor market.”

ADP Employment Report, August 2019: “ADP estimates that private payrolls in Friday’s employment report for August will rise” more strongly than expected [Econoday].

Challenger Job-Cut Report, August 2019: “Challenger’s layoff count this year has sometimes spiked higher but has yet to be reflected in much increase at all in jobless claims or much decline in payroll growth” [Econoday]. “Layoff announcements in August were led by technology where layoffs this year are up more than threefold. Warehousing companies, losing contracts with retailers and e-tailers, have also been cutting jobs this year according to the report as have mining companies. This report rarely affects expectations for the monthly employment report.”

Factory Orders, July 2019: “Factory orders have been flat this year but proved strong in July” [Econoday]. “Commercial aircraft are always a wild card and, given large monthly swings in orders, are often excluded when evaluating this report. Yet given the continued and extended grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, recent gains are very welcome…. In a special downbeat note, an initial 0.4 percent rise in new orders for core capital goods (part of the advance durables data) is revised downward to a 0.2 percent increase…. But there is still more good than bad news in this report, highlighted by by growth in aircraft orders that should ease 737 concerns at the Fed. Exports have been slowing this year but have yet, despite warning signals from anecdotal reports like ISM manufacturing, to topple the US factory sector.”

Productivity and Costs, Q2 2019: “Productivity was unrevised in today’s second estimate for the second quarter at a respectable 2.3 percent annual growth” [Econoday]. “The key in this report is hours worked, which fell 0.4 percent in the quarter for only a 0.9 percent year-on-year growth rate. This is the lowest growth rate in nine years and hints, as does moderation underway in job openings as tracked in the JOLTS report, that demand for labor may be peaking…. When adjusted for inflation, real hourly compensation rose at a 1.9 percent pace to match the pace of output.” • Can’t have that.

Purchasing Managers Services Index, August 2019: “Markit’s US samples are reporting only marginal growth” [Econoday]. “Growth in new orders for services was no better than marginal in August and at a three-year low with the sample reporting a decrease in foreign demand and moderation in corporate spending. Backlogs are being worked down with job creation, which is often tied to high or low levels of backlogs, the softest in nearly 10 years. Understandably, year-ahead expectations are also at a series low…. On the plus side, the services sample reports sustained growth in consumer demand, a factor that increasingly is becoming the central strength of the US economy.” • “Understandably.”

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, August 2019: “In the best showing since May and a reminder that the domestic US economy remains solid, ISM’s non-manufacturing index easily beat expectations” [Econoday]. “Today’s headline contrasts very sharply with ISM’s manufacturing index… The separation between the two indexes underscores 2019’s economic theme — strength in domestic demand versus trouble for global demand and resulting trouble for domestic manufacturing. And the separation also underscores the developing risk at play, that slowing in manufacturing will eventually spillover into services. But for August, negative spillover isn’t yet apparent.”

Energy: “Changes in U.S. energy production are triggering strains in the Farm Belt. The ethanol industry is suffering from weaker prices and oversupply… as that pillar of the farm economy wrestles with regulatory changes and the trade dispute with China. Producers of the corn-based fuel additive have closed plants in several Midwestern states and companies including grain giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. are scaling back ethanol business” [Wall Street Journal]. “About 38% of corn grown in the U.S. is used to make ethanol, which is hailed in rural America for helping wean the country from foreign oil. But exemptions for oil refiners from ethanol-blending requirements and a halt in exports to China have led to increased inventories, diminished shipping volumes, lower prices and rising losses for producers. One result: U.S. ethanol consumption declined last year for the first time in over two decades.” • 38?! What an effing boondoggle…

Shipping: “:Ocean Rate Report: ‘Sizzling’ bulkers hit near nine-year high” [Freight Waves]. “On Sept. 4, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), which tracks rates of bulkers in multiple segments, hit 2,518 points, its highest level since November 2010, almost nine years ago….. Gains are largely being driven by bulkers in the larger Capesize category (with capacities of 100,000 deadweight tons, DWT, or more) but also by Panamaxes (65,000-90,000 DWT). The Baltic Capesize Index rose to its highest level since June 2010 – in other words, its highest level since the global financial crisis. ‘Dry bulk shipping markets continue to sizzle, with spot rates at near decade highs, while the time-charter market continues to push higher,’ said Deutsche Bank transportation analyst Amit Mehrotra…. During the quarterly conference call with analysts held by Safe Bulkers on Sept. 4, executives pointed to much higher levels of Brazilian iron-ore exports to China driving Capesizes and strong grain exports to Asia out of the east coast of South America driving Panamaxes.”

Tech: “How Apple uses its App Store to copy the best ideas” [WaPo]. “Apple plays a dual role in the app economy: provider of access to independent apps and giant competitor to them…. When Apple made a flashlight part of its operating system in 2013, it rendered instantly redundant a myriad apps that offered that functionality. Everything from the iPhone’s included “Measure” app to its built-in animated emoji were originally apps in the App Store…. But what makes Apple’s practice different is its access to a trove of data that nobody else has. The App Store, where the original apps were offered and competed for downloads, collects a vast amount of information on which kinds of apps are successful—even monitoring how much time users spend in them. That data is shared widely among leaders at the tech giant and could be used to make strategic decisions on product development.” • Sounds like Apple and Amazon are more alike than different.

Recession Watch: “Are Republicans Ready to Respond to a Recession?” [Bloomberg]. “Some conservatives oppose any fiscal stimulus at all, either because they think monetary policy alone is sufficient to stabilize the economy or because they believe the government should simply let the recession “play out.” Both of these views are fundamentally misguided. President Donald Trump has done a lot to repress if not extinguish the latter line of thinking; he is clearly not indifferent about the prospect of a recession. Yet there are some conservative economists who say that downturns have “cleansing effects” that help make the economy more efficient. This is a rare case when the president has it right and the economists have it wrong. Far from cleansing the economy, recessions leave permanent scars not only on the economy but also on the generation that experiences them.” • With this important chart:

Gotchyer hysteresis, right here. And as usual, averages conceal. The charts might be take to imply that all classes were equally likely to bear “permanent scars.” In fact, after the Great Recession, the 0.1% are fatter and happier than ever, and the 10% sailed right through. Only the 90% bear scar tissue (those who haven’t succumbed to deaths of despair, that is). I don’t know what’s rare about economists getting things wrong, though.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 28, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 26 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 5 at 11:52am. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

The Biosphere

“Tiny NASA satellite gets fascinating 3D peek inside Hurricane Dorian” [CNet]. “Tempest-D is a CubeSat roughly the size of a box of cereal. This inexpensive satellite is on a demonstration mission to show if it can track storms. If successful, it could set the stage for launching a series of low-cost CubeSats that can follow storms across the globe…. ‘The CubeSat used its miniaturized radio-wave-based instrument to see through the clouds, revealing different depths of the hurricane with areas with heavy rainfall and moisture being pulled into the storm,’ NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.”

“Unregulated, enormous poultry farms and their millions of birds again lie in hurricane’s path” [NC Policy Watch]. “When a hurricane knocks on North Carolina’s front door, as Dorian is today, the seas start to churn, the winds begin to whip and the air Down East stinks worse than usual. We often associate the pre-storm stench with swine farmers spraying their fields with hog waste in order to lower levels in the open-pit lagoons. But the poultry industry also presents an environmental threat, both because of the number of birds, an estimated 515 million in North Carolina — compared with 9 million hogs — and because it is largely unregulated…. These ‘deemed permitted’ farms use a ‘dry litter’ method of managing their waste, which supposedly reduces the ammonia odor and risk for pathogens and flies. But poultry farms, especially gigantic operations housing millions of birds, do stink, even if the manure is dry. And when the waste is spread on fields it can wash into nearby streams, just like manure from swine farms can. Farms that use ‘wet litter’ disposal methods are required to have a Division of Water Resources permit. Only 20 poultry farms in the state report disposing of wet litter.” • I love the “deemed permitted” construct. It’s every bit as bad as you think: “‘Deemed permitted’ means that a facility is considered to have a permit — and paradoxically, to be in compliance — even though it has not received an individual permit for its construction or operation.”

“David Koch Is Dead, But His Legacy of Climate Denial Lives On” (interview) [Michael Mann, The Real News]. Mann: “There was an unholy alliance that was reached during the campaign early on where the Koch brothers essentially said to the Trump campaign, “We will not oppose your campaign as long as you appoint our preferred people to all the key cabinet positions. In particular, climate change deniers. Appoint climate change deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists to the Secretary of State position, to the EPA administrator position.” And that’s exactly what they did. The various cabinet members of the Trump administration is a veritable who’s who of Koch Industries and Koch brothers-affiliated lobbyists….. So, we have to understand that as we’re distracted by the clown show that is Donald Trump, the circus act that is Donald Trump and his antics, meanwhile, a little bit more quietly, all of these Koch brothers-connected administration cabinet occupants are dismantling our environmental policies.” • In other words, “owning the libs” is a very good strategy, not least because libs are so very, very willing to be owned.

“Anthropocene? Humans Have Been Changing the Planet for Millennia.” [Live Science]. “Not everyone is sure that today’s industrialized, globalized societies will be around long enough to define a new geological epoch. Perhaps we are just a flash in the pan — an event — rather than a long, enduring epoch…. Global archaeological data show that human transformation of environments began at different times in different regions and accelerated with the emergence of agriculture. Nevertheless, by 3,000 years ago, most of the planet was already transformed by hunter-gatherers, farmers and pastoralists. To guide this planet toward a better future, we need to understand how we got here. The message from archaeology is clear. It took thousands of years for the pristine planet of long ago to become the human planet of today.”

Groves of Academe

“Eastern Michigan opens new athletic facility, still looking for $6 million to pay for it” [Michigan Radio]. “‘This is being built completely with donor dollars. We’re not taking anything from the general fund,’ [Board of Regents Chairman James Webb] said. Problem is, that’s just not true. Eastern’s Board of Regents borrowed the money to pay for this and a few other renovation projects on campus. The board plans to use $8 million from the general fund for this athletic building. The remaining $12 million dollars is supposed to come from donors. So far, EMU’s athletic department has raised only half of that money that it’s on the hook for.” • Everything is like CalPERS, including college athletics.

Class Warfare

“Inside the Harlan County Coal Miner Protest” [Rolling Stone]. “It’s day 38 of a nonviolent blockade of a Harlan County, Kentucky railroad track. During the occupation, union miners have stood with non-union miners, transgender anarchists have built solidarity with Trump-voting Republicans, and a 100-year-old labor movement has found a new generation of working-class leaders fighting to keep the region’s wealth where it came from: in workers’ hands and in the foggy hollers of central Appalachia.” And this:

Lill, who uses gender-neutral they/them pronouns, quit their job as a server and, along with a small crew of transgender anarchists, set about marshaling the blockade into an organized labor camp. They helped set up a camp phone line, a solar shower, and a kitchen capable of feeding dozens. The anarchists, who spent 27 days on the tracks with the miners, brought up questions the miners hadn’t yet considered: Who are you going to call if this gets you arrested? Who’s going to bail you out?

“I didn’t know who they were at first, but I kind of got used to them,” says Sarah Kelly, 43, the wife of a Blackjewel miner. “We haven’t had the support [from our church] we thought we’d have out of all of this. You don’t never know where your help is going to come from. You don’t know who’s going to be preparing your meals.”

The Blackjewel miners were strangers to the vocabulary of lefty direct action, but the area has a strong history of labor activism.

If you think that the way forward on, well, seizing the means of production lies through the America’s tightly coupled and fragile supply chain (see, e.g., Kim Moody), then this is the most important and interesting protest in the world today, including Hong Kong. And local trans anarchists are doing great, give credit.

UPDATE “Hollowed Out” [The Baffler]. “This particular grant had come from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative, or the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization. POWER was the Obama administration’s attempt to offset the loss of coal jobs caused by mechanization, natural gas prices, and environmental regulations. It was also subtly intended to undercut the coal lobby campaign alleging that Obama was waging a ‘war on coal.’…. POWER, then, was never intended to be a War on Poverty–type program, nor was it another New Deal. Instead, it was a strategic compromise that prioritized entrepreneurship, small business development, and job training; most of the money has gone to nonprofits, ‘business incubators,’ or community colleges.” • It was, in other words a jobs guarantee for the credentialed professionals who form the base of the Democrat Party. Chris Arnade spotted the same sort of thing in his tour of America for Dignity: old-fashioned lamp posts and bike paths meant to attract the “creative class.” More NGOs. More grants.

News of the Wired

“List: Attending Burning Man or Parenting a Toddler?” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “14. A lot of the art isn’t actually that great.” • I think I need to put McSweeney’s up there with The Onion and Duffel Blog. They’ve been on a roll lately.

“Human speech may have a universal transmission rate: 39 bits per second” [Nature]. “Italians are some of the fastest speakers on the planet, chattering at up to nine syllables per second. Many Germans, on the other hand, are slow enunciators, delivering five to six syllables in the same amount of time. Yet in any given minute, Italians and Germans convey roughly the same amount of information, according to a new study. Indeed, no matter how fast or slowly languages are spoken, they tend to transmit information at about the same rate: 39 bits per second, about twice the speed of Morse code…. No matter how fast or slow, how simple or complex, each language gravitated toward an average rate of 39.15 bits per second…. In comparison, the world’s first computer modem (which came out in 1959) had a transfer rate of 110 bits per second, and the average home internet connection today has a transfer rate of 100 megabits per second (or 100 million bits).” • “Transfer rate” seems a little reductive for human communication….

“Audiobooks or Reading? To Our Brains, It Doesn’t Matter” [Discover]. “In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the Gallant Lab at UC Berkeley scanned the brains of nine participants while they read and listened to a series of tales from “The Moth Radio Hour.” After analyzing how each word was processed in the the brain’s cortex, they created maps of the participants’ brains, noting the different areas helped interpret the meaning of each word. … Looking at the brain scans and data analysis, the researchers saw that the stories stimulated the same cognitive and emotional areas, regardless of their medium. It’s adding to our understanding of how our brains give semantic meaning to the squiggly letters and bursts of sound that make up our communication.” • No wonder I like podcasts so much! Particularly the ones with enormously long “story arcs,” as the Civil War podcast* puts it, and lots and lots of characters! NOTE * Grant, in a sparkling campaign, has almost taken Vicksburg, winning the Battle of Champion Hill, in Episode 300 (a marathon performance almost as impressive as regular blogging :-).

“How to become a successful influencer, according to YouTube and Instagram stars” [Business Insider]. • No.

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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 (JU):

JU writes: “The Arm Tree in the Atwell Grove in Mineral king is at least 3,000 years old and perhaps 3,500 years old and maybe the oldest Giant Sequoia of all, an Alt-A Sherman Tree that requires a 5 hour walk off-trail and all uphill to get to, so it languishes in anonymity. Its been a busy year for visitation as around 20 people have made the trek to see it this summer, as opposed to the 2 million that visit the Sherman.

Taking a panoramic photo with a smartphone held sideways starting from the base and going up makes for an interesting shot, in an Alice in Wonderland fashion.” Yes, I was wondering how that was done. I wish I had a light-weight view camera but with an affordable digital back so I could tinker with those verticals…

JU also send the following from ZM, who has more on the Atwell Grove:

Atwell is such a pretty grove! Perhaps the prettiest for the entire species. We spatially covered the entire grove over 1.5 days, visiting Diamond and Above Diamond and the lowest tree (700’ down from Touchdown Jesus). The second day, we hiked the trail to the top, sampling Tunnel and a 302.5’ tall tree (one of the tallest known sequoias) on our way to the highest tree (8800’ up—incredible tree). Then we bushwhacked down into the forest just northeast of Dean. It’s a gorgeous bowl in there, covered in lupine with 270-290-footers! …

From Dean, we went to Arm and then down. Arm is 9.96’ diameter from the side, but only 4.69’ diameter from below, making it on average 7.32’ diameter. It’s slightly smaller than the largest coast redwood limb at 8.96’ diameter. Looking at rings in the burn scar, I suspect this may be one of the oldest giant sequoias—at least 3000 years if not up to 3500! It is one of my top two favorite sequoia trees ever.

Third day we did Oriole Grove. It was nice, but no huge trees. Based on the oldest tree in the grove, the place must have had a nasty crown fire decimating most of the population 1500-2000 years ago, meaning the true titans were all burned up. Atwell did not seem to have the same fate.

… I do want to go through Atwell again, just because of its sheer beauty. I will aim to find the tallest in the grove, which right now is the 302-footer, but there almost certainly is something taller.

… We have samples from Diamond, Above Diamond, Tunnel, Arm, and the tall one as well as a bunch of others in the grove for a future range-wide population genetics study.

I know we have California redwood fans in the readership, so I hope they find this of interest.

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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. ambrit

      You do a good job of “beating,” good sir. Who is Hakeem Jeffries? You have ‘beaten’ all memory of said individual out of my consciousness. Worthy of a Phil Dick plot.

  1. Carolinian

    Re flashlight apps–that’s not exactly a prime piece of intellectual property. Most of those things are apparently spybots anyway so you are probably better off with the Apple version (assuming Apple isn’t a spybot).

    And hurricane report: just some funky clouds here a couple of hundred miles from the coast.

        1. ambrit

          A “Stealth Monopoly” business model. Drive any and all potential competitors out of the field. Take control of the remnants.

        2. polecat

          The only free flashlight app I’ll ever use is this thing most often referred to as .. a finger !
          Honestly, I’m truly amazed that there are enough born suckers that are buying into this i-hype .. both the idiots who gravitate towards the new shiny object .. er .. app, and the ‘investors’ … who’ll dive in Anything for an extra quatloo !!

        1. Kurt Sperry

          This. Plus, when I found my Android phone had no native flashlight, had a tax put on my time choosing among the hundred different flashlight apps, picking the “highest rated” and then found the app asking for ridiculous perms and sending me targeted ads, all I could think was, “Why?”. I recently got an “obsolete” iPhone SE because it might be the last small touchscreen phone with a audio jack ever to be built and there’s a flashlight functionality built right in outta the box. Woo hoo! What value could a third party app developer ever, even in theory, add to a flashlight? I’m thinking: exactly none.

          Parenthetically, the SE is a pretty sweet little phone. I never thought I’d buy an Apple phone but did because they were the last standing with a compact, cheap, reasonably powerful phone and I had no other choice new.

          1. Blowncue

            There is a term of art for this phenomenon highlighted today by Lambert – getting sherlocked. As in the third-party software provider getting sherlocked.

          2. RMO

            Sonim phones are still available with audio jacks and native flashlights – and the XP-7 I’ve been using for the past few years has enough battery capacity to last weeks instead of days. That they’re waterproof and damn near impossible to break is a nice bonus.

          3. Jack Parsons

            Another iPhone SE owner, huh? I bought one about a year ago because I wanted something that was smaller than my cheap but dying LG, and had a lot of ram (128gb). iphone SE was the only game in town, v.s. a Sony that had a lot of bad reviews.

            I had not had an apple phone before, and I gotta say it: it sucks! The individual apps are overcomplex, and navigating them is a nightmare compared to my older cheap LG Android. I really regret buying Apple. I also have a Mac at work, and it’s got the same problems in apps and navigability.

            I’m a silicon valley vet and have a bunch of friends there, and don’t know how to talk about this with them. They’re cynical about the corporate self-love, but still.

            1. Acacia

              iPhone SE here too. Apps seem fine and interoperate with the macOS desktop easily.

              I figured that given the choice between Apple spyware in iOS and Google spyware in Android, I’d opt for Apple.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Copying other people’s ideas and using it for your own profit? This is what the Chinese have been accused of doing. Maybe Apple has been spending a little too much time in China and there has been some cross-fertilization of ideas at work here.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The other way is to get those with ideas to work for you, the way the Allied victors (USSR, America, etc) did with German scientists.

    1. Olga

      Yes, thanks. The insanity if DT’s trade&tariff war against China laid bare. Even if one knows nothing about China, the basic comparison of a country of 330 mil with one of 1.4 bill people should make one pause. It is not a battle DT can win. But it follows the spirit of all US wars – as this one, too, is grounded (no pun intended) in hubris, a lack of knowledge, and a refusal to understand (and/or look in the mirror). And that is not even accounting for China’s well-planned determination not to lose.
      (It seems that China is motivated by a firmly held and fundamental desire to survive (preferably, as a distinct civilization) – a goal supported by most of its citizens. The US is motivated by the desire to remain the top dog – an ambition articulated 75 yrs ago, blind to developments since then, and arguably supported (or even aware of) by only 10-20% of its population (who may still derive some benefit from it). A simple math would show the chances of winning for one or the other. It’s almost like we’re witnessing the battle of two “Manifest Destiny” cries – China’s (sidelined 500 yrs ago, when it was the largest economy on the planet, and humiliated for 100 yrs by the west) and the US’, which rose quickly and aggressively, but also exhausted itself in endless wars and destruction). All one can do is move out of the way and pass the popcorn!)

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for comment although I’m not sure to what degree “China” is a monolith and its people are on board with their own 10 percent. It’s not as though there’s a Gallup poll.

        And the linked article says this

        If the Trump White House does indeed succeed in decoupling the two economies, both countries will be losers. Neither will be able to leverage from the advances made by the other and enjoy the multiplier effect of the interconnection of the world’s two largest economies.

        but has the US been enjoying the “advances” of the Chinese or mostly their cheap labor? In recent years Chinese made products have seemed to be of good quality, but as we know their factories can ignore worker rights what with iPhone assemblers jumping out of Foxconn windows.

        However I agree that if there is a trade war it’s for all the wrong reasons. Trump’s claim to be the champion of the “little people” seems increasingly thin. And to the degree that China is the coming industrial colossus they may be where we were in the previous two centuries, using protectionism and IP theft where necessary to gain the dominance that made us think we were exceptional. As the wheel turns they are just on a different spot.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > not sure to what degree “China” is a monolith

          Both Mark Blythe and David Harvey (!) emphasize the localities have considerable, real autonomy. China’s no democracy, but it’s not a dictatorship (and not a dictatorship of the proletariat, either, obviously).

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If China wishes to be the next industrial colossus for the next 2 centuries, like the US has been, it’s critical the foundation is built solidly.

          And that takes time.

          One good sign would be for their rich and smart to stay in China, go to top Chinese universities there and remain. A better sign would be for students all over the world wanting to get into a top college in Beijing or Shanghai.

          Becuase there is life after 5G (say, 6G), Huawei is a mere bargaining chip, seen in that light (as in, there will be more competitions in the future, and if you missed 3G or 4G, you can compete for 5G, and if you miss 5G, you can try for 6G or 7G). And if the US is fighting for the wrong reason, so is China, it seems to me. There is plenty of time to be ‘like water,’ and there is no need to be try to ascent ‘quickly and aggressively.’ There are plenty of improvements domestically for China to build that solid foundation for the next 2 centuries of success. (Making baby formula safe would be one of them).

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        We are now reaping the bitter harvest of 40 years of failed neoliberal policies that capitalized China, deindustrialized the heartland, and turned us from a country that made things into a country that buys things and uses the international financial system as a strategic weapon. At some point, the rest of the increasingly multipolar world is going to tire of that weapon, especially given how clumsily we wield it (see Mark Carney), and at that point all we’ll have left is a military that can’t win wars and our aircraft carriers. Think happy thoughts on the way down, sailors!

        Of course, the Never Trump Republicans and the liberal Democrats who run the country are all fine with that because the harvest is not bitter for them.

        It’s really unfortunate that the liberal Democrats are so intellectually and morally bankrupt that it took Trump to upset the increasingly unstable apple cart, but it did, and here we are. That’s the bitter harvest of the Democrat Party’s abandonment and betrayal of the working class (see Thomas Frank), besides Obama’s disastrous reboot of the existing financial system when faced with a still-unresolved legitimacy crisis in 2008.

        Unlike the business community, I don’t regard the global supply chain as a fetish object, and I’m not even sure it’s sustainable given climate issues. I also don’t have any problem with tariffs. When Third World countries like flyover need to industrialize, that’s what they do. Again, it’s really, really unfortunate that the issue of what to do about the effects of globalization on this country fell to Trump — for starters, we need industrial policy*, and Trump won’t deliver on it; or Pelosi — but the Democrats didn’t just drop the ball, they kicked it away.

        So, Trump’s policy may be insane, but insanity is what you find in the lunatic asylum that is our Establishment.

        NOTE * Besides optimizing for the production of expensive bespoke weaponry.

        NOTE The steady rise of elite animus toward China — which I do not share, except as a matter of realpolitik — seemed a lot more organic to me than the rise of anti-Putin hysteria, which was fueled by a small and readily identified cabal of hacks (amplified by Clinton’s Democrat faction for their own purposes). In general, I’m with Mark Blythe, who in essence says “let China be China,” especially because the time to change China’s direction was 40 years ago, when the effing neoliberals decided that the magic of the marketplace would automatically produce liberal institutions.

        1. a different chris

          Whoa. Glad to see you get that off your chest!! BTW, I think this is tangentially related:

          >I don’t know what’s rare about economists getting things wrong, though.

          No. They didn’t get anything wrong. They spread false information, and even if it was not consciously done it still allowed them to keep and probably improve their spot in the top 10%. That’s the point of employment, right? To get paid. As per a previous post, they were considered near useless with salaries to match only two generations ago.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There is a Zen story in the film Charlie Wilson’s War, about a boy and his horse.

          I believe it’s a Chan story (Zen was Chan in China originally), or just a Chinese story, about blessings in disguise (the Western version, roughly speaking). So that the insanity of Yelstin is followed by Russians’s new hero Putin, for example.

          So, the tariffs are setting up perfectly for an industrial policy (to be implemented by whichever leader who is ready to step up). That’s the lesson of that Zen story – you may think you have a misfortune, without knowing that is the source of your fortune.

          And the beauty of Chan wisdom, like Buddhism, or many other things, is that for it to thrive, for Buddhism to flower in America (for example, but really, any new places), the locals have to do it on their own, adopting, in their unique local fashion, along the way, to solve their own problems.,,here, knowing that there is a need for a policy for manufacturing.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > you may think you have a misfortune, without knowing that is the source of your fortune.

            The Chinese “danger + opportunity = crisis” trope may be shopworn and may not even be true, but nevertheless liberal Democrats and their assets in the press consistently emphasize danger — the word everybody seems to have settled on is “terrifying”; I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve skipped because that word is in the headline (and I don’t want to be gaslit). But they never, ever address the opportunity part of the trope. I’d speculate that’s because they have no intention of taking advantage of them.

        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Shared this little gem on Louisiana Socialist Networks Facebook Page.

          Worker’s March in New Orleans tommorrow! Be there or be Square!

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the effing neoliberals decided that the magic of the marketplace would automatically produce liberal institutions.

          If they had been right, there would be no Hong Kong protests today, IMNSHO, because that’s in essence what the protesters are demanding; the rule of law, universal suffrage, sacrosanct contracts (or treaties) etc. These are all good things, but the protests aren’t remotely about seizing the means of production or anything like that (and that would truly create concerns in Beijing).

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For China to survive, if motivated by a desire to do so (the goal of every nation), it’s very traditionally for China to be open to ‘lose,’ if that is the word, by being ‘like water,’ (that is, to be not too rigid, or too determined).

        And that is still the way forward, long term, even after 100 years of being humiiliated by the West, and Russia, or including Russia, which sometime is considered part of Europe, and sometimes not…either way, China was humiliated by Russia as well, that’s the point.

        And if we are hearing two cries of ‘Manifiest Destiny,’ that destiny for a top dog China is likely to include the takeover, or the return, of Siberia, if not more Euro-Asian territories, either peacefully (through sheer number of migrants to that region) or by force (should there be resistance).b

        By the way, being run by humans, more specifically alpha humans or top-dog humans, every nation is capable of desiring to be a top-dog nation, either regionally (easier to project power) or globally (when the stars line up).

        1. ambrit

          Re. (“…when the stars line up.”)
          This seems, to this Western acculturated child, to be a prefiguration of some catastrophic occurrence. In Lovecraft, ‘when the stars align’ is necessary for the return of “The Ancient Ones,” who have scant interest in the affairs of humans. Substitute “faceless bureaucracy” or ” cold hearted elites” for ‘Ancient Ones’ and we come to an equivalence.
          Faceless forces that grind individual humans into the dust.

  2. Off The Street

    Human communication central tendencies, like a bod rate to add to the computer world baud rates. The growing differences in transmission rates between people and machines makes me think that my tinnitus is a warning of sorts, like some of the sounds of an old telephone coupler modem. Now decoupling to a book.

    1. RWood

      Pixillation is a form of reiteration, no?
      Overextended feedback, maybe. Distracting.

      As opposed to integration with pooling realities.

      This constant self-reference a snare and a delusion.

        1. RWood

          umm humm

          wonderful, that one

          tho I was thinking of more “modern” pixils and their infarction of

      1. Off The Street

        Almost a Moody Blues vibe

        Cold hearted orb that rules the night, Removes the colours from our sight, Red is gray and yellow white, But we decide which is right. And which is an illusion? Pinprick holes in a colourless sky, Let insipid figures of light pass by, The mighty light of ten thousand suns, Challenges infinity and is soon gone.

  3. Summer

    How to become a successful influencer, according to YouTube and Instagram stars” [Business Insider]. • No.

    I asked an exec that lives and breathes social media metrics what she thought of the bot influencers (computer generated persons with matketer developed natratives).
    She seemed pretty excited about it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > bot influencers (computer generated persons with marketer developed narratives).

      I believe the jargon that William Gibson devised for deploying an influencer bot was “fronting a head” (Mona Lisa Overdrive, 1989).

    2. curlydan

      I think Business Insider should have subtitled the article “and how to be a successful publisher” since all the linked articles within the larger one (or at least the two I clicked) took me right to paywalled Business Insider Premium articles.

  4. Duck1

    I thought the sharpie mod to the hurricane cone was a classic Trump troll. Immediately starts bouncing around the media with harrumphing and expostulation exploding across the liberal media and blogosphere, “could this guy be a worse idiot”. Well played liberal marks.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yep. Trump is a master troll, the world’s best.

      For Democrats, the opportunity cost of clutching their pearls and heading for the fainting couch is making the case that they’re good for anything but, well, clutching their pearls and heading for the fainting couch (at which, to be fair, they are very good, les grandes horizontales of our time). “We are what we repeatedly do,” as Aristotle says.

      1. ambrit

        Don’t forget the “Donor Class” that ‘sponsors’ those pearl clutching ‘servicers’ called the American Political Class. I am partial to the term “Meretricious Meritocrats.” Or, as some wag put it, in relation to the present ‘grande horizontale’ leveling tendency; “Credentialled C–ksuckers.”

  5. ewmayer

    Just had to comment here re. the “What if aging weren’t inevitable, but a curable disease? | MIT Technology Review” article over in Links today:

    A: Then the world would be under the thumb of a handful of ageless oligarchs who would not even do the victims of their oppression the courtesy of finally dying at long last. Next question?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I read it, finally: Thin Air; it’s not exactly a sequel to Thirteen, but it’s set ini the same near future. The critique is that Morgan keeps writing the same book; I don’t agree with that for the Takeshi Kovacs series in the slightest, but for the series about Mars I can see it. The genetically enhanced superman with a wry sense of humor + ultraviolence could be said to be getting stale. On the other hand, the portrait of Mars is very vivid, and that’s how we would colonize it.

          1. pretzelattack

            yeah especially the sex machine, james bond scenes. he’s still an interesting writer, although my enthusiasm has waned a bit.

        1. ambrit

          Even if it got you a ticket to Mars?
          I’m with you in not wanting to become a living mummy.
          Life is not really worth much without a purpose. I am quite conflicted about the “value” of amassing wealth. I see little if any sign of the present day elites embracing the concept of “noblesse oblige.” This present bunch of super wealthy characters have, alas, “side.”

          1. tegnost

            yes, and if your cynicism is starting to wane check jeri lynn’s great offerings today and I’m sure it will return post haste

    1. Hepativore

      Actually, considering how expensive age-related illnesses are to treat in addition to their debilitating effects on people, an argument could be made that looking at it from a pure monetary standpoint as in that of a neoliberal financier, it would probably save money overall if it were given to the population at large.

      In any case, it would only remove senescence -related diseases as a cause of death. I remember hearing something somewhere that the average lifespan of a biologcally immortal person might be somewhere along the lines of 200-300 years just because of the chances of dying by trauma or disease. Look at how many people die in fatal accidents every year.

      Anyway, provided you solve the problem of the “immortality” treatment being artificially retstricted by a cartel, it might confer some social benefits. More people might learn to be patient and take time to appreciate things more with less of a “rush”. There is also the fact that added time would give people more opportunity to do what they like with their lives.

      Anyway, I still think that the possibility of such technology is a long way off just because of the biological complexities involved. However, I do not think that the idea should be dismissed out of hand just because of the potential of it being captured by ruthless oligarchs since that can and has happened with many areas of technology. The problem is the financial class themselves not necessarily technology.

      We are going to have to cut down the plutocrats one way or the other. Why should we let them ruin scientific and technological progress for everybody else?

      1. Greg

        I think we could expect a property bubble of doom followed by the normalisation of two hundred year mortgages and century long indentured employment contracts. The opportunities to milk the proletariat over a longer working life are huge.

      2. Whoamolly

        There is a working model a society that functions superbly and avoids evils of neoliberalism. 1940-1970 USA.

  6. Synoia

    Really: Indeed, no matter how fast or slowly languages are spoken, they tend to transmit information at about the same rate: 39 bits per second….

    High rate of speech (Italians), = Low signal to noise ratio,
    Low rate of Speech (Germans) = High Signal to noise ratio….

    Thus: Italian (s/n) < German (s/n)

    Which begs the question of the relative Signal to Noise ratio between men and women…

    1. Tim

      It’s likely a tortoise vs the hare thing. Italians talk quicker with more frequent and longer pauses, Germans less quick with shorter or fewer pauses.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I’ve seen Italians riding their bicycles (and even scooters) no-handed just so they could use the hand not holding the phone to make hand gestures the person they were talking to would never even see. Porco dio.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            To be pedantic it’s “mi piace” “mee-pee-AHH-cheh”. Ma, anch’io comunque! I hope to visit Naples next month, I’ve never been. Italy is a wonder.

            1. Peppeniello

              “A me piace Italia” is grammatically correct. As is “mi piace Italia.” And if you make it to Napoli, in Napoletano, “me piace” is fine, too, ma nun vuo mettere ‘o ppepe nculo a zoccola.

            2. Bugs Bunny

              Mi piace means I like. The mi transforms to me when being expressed about an object.

              Like the song “A me piace sognare”

              Spero che a te piaccia Napoli.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I read once that Israelis also used their hands a lot when talking. The guy who said this also mentioned how unnerving it was when following a car in Israel to see the driver of the car in front take both hands off the steering wheel to make a verbal point with his passenger.

    2. jsn

      Signal, noise? Which is pleasure, which pain?
      “Transfer rate/Signal to noise” seems a little reductive for human communication….”

      Or, I like Hemingway, I like Fitzgerald too…

    3. ewmayer

      Does the alleged German low rate of speech factor in the long average word length which results from that beloved German linguistic tradition of mashing smaller words into long assemblages*?

      * E.g. the classic Donaudampfschifffahrtgesellschaft, which indeed has to do with Danube steam shipping organizations, but not with standing on the deck of such a ship and letting one rip from one’s, um, stern region. Rolling Stone columnist Matt Taibbi made hilarious use of such German Bandwurmwörter (tapeworm words) in a critique earlier this year of NY Times pundit Thomas Friedman’s work:

      Thomas Friedman Is Right: Pie Doesn’t Grow on Trees – Rolling Stone

      1. T

        39 bits per second

        Reminded me of past projects where I was stuck taking notes or even transcribing entire conf calls. One thing I learned: The more some yahok complains about slow talkers or brags about being a fast talker, the less they say. If they make me do this again, charting bullet points against speed.

        May be unique to the industry though.

        1. VK

          There’s a nice tapeworm word for you (put in the hyphen so that the whole word shows): “Hottentottenstottertrottelmutterattentäterlatten-gitterwetterkotterbeutelrattenfangprämie”,
          an absurd story about someone claiming a reward for catching an opossum and the cage it escaped from…

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Interesting, the (verbal) transmission rate is about 39 bits per second.

      The brain is said to process information at 50 bits per socondly (consciously).

      The difference is possibly traced to the fact that the brain has been conscioulsy functioning that way for millions of years, and humans’ verbally transmitting has been only around for a much shorter period. Thus, the latter needs more time to evolve (to catch up).

      In the mean time, the brain thinks faster than we can speak. Does it sometimes lead to stuttering or mumbling (some sort of data traffic jams)?

  7. Pat

    Regarding valued institutions and mistrust of authority, recently had a discussion regarding the possible coming recession with a couple of young people (1 still in grad school, the other a fairly recent graduate). Mind you I know both from a gig economy part time job. Both are spooked by this possibility, the grad school person particularly. Neither is stupid, and both know that the way they have managed to structure their survival will probably fall apart in a recession.

    While I personally believe that the reaction to a recession will necessitate an entirely new and unapproved by the elite response (more FDR not Obama/Geithner), it will be an interesting. Some of that belief is not just that masses of people my age are not down with the top down loses nothing no recovery for the bottom version, but that despite putting up with being unpaid interns our young adults are also not going to quietly into tent cities. Destroying institutions by making them useless in order to strip more profit WILL come back to haunt our elite, as increasingly scared and even desperate people no longer have hope/faith in them and thus no outlet for that fear. Just saying.

    ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…’

    1. WJ

      Arguably, the U.S. state apparatus is already preparing an appropriately dystopian response to any unapproved political action undertaken by the proles.




      1. Pat

        Call me wild and crazy, but I’m not sure how much help that is going to be in the long run. Short run, sure, but a large number of our military and police have closer ties to the people who are going to be screwed royally than they do the elite who wish them to be a shield from the consequences of their actions. A few will be true believers in the i won’t be like others and will end up being one of the ‘winners’, but most…not so sure.

        1. ambrit

          It will come down to organizational abilities. A well organized minority can rule over a majority in any society. Setting up competing organizations in the governance field is key.
          This is probably how Sanders will co-opt the Democrat Party in the coming decade. He may not personally become President, but he will certainly nurture a future President.

          1. JBird4049

            Sometimes change happens because people just stop accepting the old structure and its rules, which happens sometimes by accident. The American Continental Congress just fell into the role of the national government after its original purpose was to coordinate a successful, peaceful, solution to the growing mutual hostility, mistrust, miscommunications, and worry between the American colonies and the British government. Once Saratoga Lexington were blundered into, Bunker Hill happened, and the Olive Branch Petition rejected, the Congressional members realized that they were running a (Civil) war.

            Like with the little bit that I understand about the Brexit Follies, most people who began the war did not really expect it to happen the way it did, if it was to happen at all. The Americans were seeing more coordinated nefariousness of the British instead of the general cluelessness, corruption, general goofiness, and amiable incompetence that actually ran the British government. The British government did not see some of the real complaints, honest concerns, and some of the actual problems that the roughly three million colonists in thirteen very different colonies had; only the naked self-interest greed of many and the borderline treasonous speech of a small extremist group was really noted.

            It makes for entertaining and fascinating history, but like Brexit and we Americans soon to be interesting times, confusing to read and not that fun to live through with the events themselves in charge rather than any supposed leadership.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Sometimes it’s lovely having been a history major, all I need to do is ask “Hmm when have I seen this plot line before?”

          Answer: everywhere, and always.

          The billionaires of the day *always* overplay their hands. Eventually the mass of torches and pitchforks show up at the gated community.

          Corollary 1: eventually the sovereign borrows too much.

          Corollary 2: eventually money corrupts the politics.

          This Fourth Turning is going to be a doozy. As I said before we should endeavor merely to survive, with local food sources, the love of our neighbors and friends, and maybe an iodine pill or two.

          1. ambrit

            Sadly, I must jump in here and play ‘Ye Advocatus Diaboli.’
            Gunning up will play a part in the eventual outcomes of any serious systemic degradation. All those ‘Local Population Loci’ will have problems with those who did not prepare, and thus become desperate. Desperate people will do “what it takes” to survive. That survival strategy will include theft of resources from those who prepared, or became lucky. (Luck will play a major role in the eventual survival of various groups.)
            This “Fourth Turning” of which you speak will be both terrible and sublime.

            1. JBird4049

              You two are just sunshine, roses, and unicorns aren’t you. :-)

              History does much horrific reading on what happens when the Powers That Be gets things wrong, but often communities function surprisingly well as the average human gets very altruistic, supportive, and even sacrificial then. The stories of people going barbaric the moment things go wrong are usually just that. Fantasies. Much of the damage done during a collapse however long and deep is usually done by the attempts of the elites to stay in power and hog the available resources.

              To stop the worse of it, we will have to push the corrupt bastards from business and government and even the NGOs out and replaced them with competent and caring individuals. Doesn’t have to be a Sanders or an AOC. Even a Warren, Gabbard, LBJ, FDR, even a Truman or perhaps an Eisenhower type would do nicely. Leadership that looks beyond their bank account and for the greater good of America and ultimately everyone.

              I just hope that Americans don’t get tangled up into the small bits of what a person’s exact ideology or views on things are. Guns, abortion, the police, racism, sexism, drugs, religion are all very important stuff, but dammit I want honest, competent, compassionate, and farsighted leaders, and not a checklist, for our leadership.

              1. ambrit

                ” I want honest, competent, compassionate, and farsighted leaders..”
                s/ We don’t want much, do we? /s
                (I do endorse your sentiments.)

                1. JBird4049

                  That’s me. I’m a wild and crazy man dreaming dreams of honest, competent, compassionate, and farsighted government. Just how whacked out does one have to be to hope for that?

      2. Temporarily Sane

        The shadow police and surveillance state that, since 9/11, has been quietly built in the background is ready to be unleashed on the citizenry should the elites feel it is necessary. Constitutional protection from government overreach and laws upholding civil liberties have also been steadily eroded without much outcry from the media.

        The treatment meted out to Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for revealing government activities that are illegal according to the laws of the land is instructive. All it takes to get a significant majority citizens on board with totalitarian practices is a demonizing smear campaign that focuses on the personality and character flaws, real and imagined, of the people targeted for persecution.

        Anyone who doubts the government will resort to overt ‘iron fist’ authoritarian repression if and when the ‘velvet glove’ soft-totalitarian approach (e.g. effective censorship of social media by big tech, publicly branding certain news and information outlets as “fake news” or Russian propaganda fronts and limiting their reach) fails to pacify a restive population is being incredibly naive.

        This is isn’t limited to the United States. I just read a news item about a guy in Canada (that idealized liberal paradise) who was ‘detained’ (i.e. jailed without a trial) for four years for praising ISIS on Facebook. Surely, I thought, he must have done more than just passively “praise” a bunch of terrorists on social media to get that kind of treatment. Nope. According to the article he supported jihad, said ISIS is “the solution to all our problems” and praised a guy who killed a member of the Canadian military. He was acquitted by the Canadian Supreme Court and now faces deportation to Jordan.

        Whatever one thinks of people like the ISIS supporting dude, is four years in jail without a trial for expressing an opinion really something that should be happening in a democratic country? Similar cases, and worse, have happened in the United States and other supposed democracies. But they get little publicity, I came across the ISIS story by chance, and they generally stay under the radar. But the ‘national security’ mindset that began being promoted after the 2001 attacks has been thoroughly absorbed by the public and the media gives Americans a million and one vague or exaggerated reasons to be afraid (while the economic insecurity that haunts large numbers of people is downplayed or individualized).

        The “liberal” and “conservative” media each have a roster of demons and boogeymen they serve to their audiences, with scary foreign commie updates China and Russia crossing the divide. Dissenters and undesirable people in the United States and other democracies are regularly subject to Orwellian and Kafkaesque treatment outside the rule of law, citizens (all of them) have every aspect of their lives surveilled and their online activities recorded and archived by government and big data. Basically, all the worst case scenarios civil libertarians have been warning about since 9/11 have come true and the public has been conditioned to pay it no heed. Nothing to see here, move along.

        If and when the gloves come off, the public will be pumped and primed by the media to view the targeted people and groups as traitors, terrorists, foreign spies and agents, enemies of liberty etc. Just think Wikileaks, Snowden and friends but on a larger scale. If National Guard troops are manning checkpoints, enforcing curfews and conducting house to house searches it will be on our behalf, for our own protection and to protect our freedom and democracy from those bad actors and their sponsors who want to destroy our way of life.

        1. WJ

          Excellent comment.

          Note the interest in elites going back decades now in fresh water investment, etc. The middle-to- long term military strategists of every major State foresee the eventual need to limit citizens’ access to natural resources like food and water and air by nondemocratic means.

        2. Anarcissie

          Sounds great, but the best-laid plans…. Especially when those plans are complex, far-reaching, untested, involve powerful forces and instruments, are driven by competing interests, have single points of failure, and so on. The present ineptitude of our ruling class suggests to me that, should they go for broke (in terms of control) they will promptly get there. What will happen after that will probably not be at all nice, but most of the current r.c. personnel will be replaced, probably with extreme prejudice.

  8. ewmayer

    Another Links-page article that needs commenting-on:

    “Analysis Finds US Corporate Media ‘Failing to Connect Climate Crisis to Strongest Atlantic Storm Ever to Hit Land’ | Common Dreams”

    While it’s easy to blame the corporate media for all manner of things, and global warming for everything else, perhaps the criticism is misguided in this case, because Dorian is definitively *not* the ‘Strongest Atlantic Storm Ever to Hit Land’:


    (And here is Wikipedia, if you want a second opinion.)

    As serious an issue as climate change is, this sort of hysterical fake news from goodthinking media outlets doesn’t help, because it undermines their credibility.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      You could almost hear them salivating for Dorian to hit Miami.

      (Does anyone know why Atlantic hurricanes tend to track the coast? Their behavior doesn’t seem random at all.)

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Maybe the coast has been contoured by eons of Atlantic hurricanes to a shape that accommodates them.

        1. ambrit

          The present world coastlines are only 12,000 years old. Of more importance to storm movements would be, I suggest, the heat flows of the atmosphere, as evidenced by the jet streams. Those are based on Arctic and Antarctic snow covers and the relative albedos of the regions of the earth’s ecosphere.

    1. Pat

      Having a deja vu moment, anybody else reminded of the tap dancing done in the wake of Clinton’s collapse at the 9/11 memorial?

      Speaking of which, I am not looking forward to Wednesday.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Slim here. I lost my father to Alzheimer’s in September 2016 and my mother to dementia (among many other ailments) this past July.

      When they were officially diagnosed, and that was in late 2015, a neurologist made the diagnosis. Neurologist, not neurosurgeon. There is a difference.

      That being said, the “President My Boss” flub reminded me of my mother in the last couple of years of her life. She’d tell me that some guy came to take her to church. For the record, his name is Bill, Mom knew that quite well, but she just couldn’t find his name during phone conversations with me.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Though there is stuff out there that might indicate Biden has problems, I would posit the problems with Biden are far deeper and reflective of Team Blue at large.

      Biden, a Senator with a safe seat, does poorly when asked questions that are outside of the Overton Window worldview of the corporate media.

      In the past, lying was easier because of the gate keepers, and when Obama came to office, he used up every excuse. This is just a case where people who haven’t run in a real election are facing scrutiny. Take Hillary. She was awful, but outside of being a spouse, she had one election where she parachuted into a safe seat and 2006. She lost to Obama. She pulled out all the stops for Sanders and lost to Trump. Biden doesn’t have the deflections Hillary has because I’m pretty certain being Obama’s friend isn’t quite the draw people believe it is to others.

      Look at the other candidates. Global warming, poverty, the gig economy, etc, and these people show up with promises of maybe having ideas one day. Joe Biden is what the Democratic Party has been for a long time, a pool of the teacher’s pet front row kids who were largely there to apple shine. Biden might not be a front row kid or ever mistaken for one. Its the party of people who write “West Wing” fan fiction that usually involves the character loosely based on themselves giving Bartlett advice such as “run to the extremes in the primary and the center in the general.” Its been claimed Hillary was the worst person possible to run, but this is simply not true. The Democratic Party is rotten. Take the current thought leaders of the Democratic Party: one is “socialist” independent, one is a former Republican, and one was tending bar last week. Not one of them is advocating anything “new” or out there. Much of what they say amounts, “hey, these other countries do it and are pretty nice.” Their status isn’t so much about them as its about just how awful Team Blue is. Its so bereft of competence and compassion and just rife with laziness and greed worthy of a blue blood GOP.

      1. JBird4049

        Biden, a Senator with a safe seat, does poorly when asked questions that are outside of the Overton Window worldview of the corporate media.

        I think it is the ignorance of just how ignorant they are of the world we all live in is the American ruling class and of its serving nomenklatura. Even the more general Credentialed Class does not know that it does not know, if for no other reason than to continued their paychecks.

        I just hope that we have a large enough intelligentsia to get the required number of competent reformers. We need more than old political curmudgeons and charismatic bartenders no matter how talented to successfully manage the necessary changes. I don’t mean the ultimate leadership, but the doers and organizers that know how to reach the goals of whatever that we all eventually agree to set.

        1. ambrit

          Something like Franklin D Roosevelt’s “Brains Trust” is almost unimaginable to the present Democrat and Republican ‘Nomenklaturae.’ Roosevelt used anyone who had decent ideas, irregardless of their personal ideologies.
          I fear that it will take another economic and social crisis on the order of the original ‘Great Depression’ to break this stranglehold the neo-liberal intelligentsia has on the American ruling elites. A major economic and social crisis that seems to be lurking just over the event horizon.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Roosevelt used anyone who had decent ideas, irregardless of their personal ideologies.

            Or the Ivy League credentials. Perhaps FDR knew his own class too well for that…

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I just hope that we have a large enough intelligentsia to get the required number of competent reformers.

          Look to the over-educated, under-employed adjuncts and any university other than the Ivies (which is what FDR did). Like, say, UMKC.

          * * *

          Re: “bartender”: From eyewitness accounts I’m not free to share, AOC is an extremely talented retail politician; a “natural.” She also exemplifies the downwardly mobile precariat (she has an asteroid named after her, unlike most bartenders). If we had a hundred AOC’s at the national level, I wouldn’t be so worried.

    4. Kurt Sperry

      Can you imagine how the press would have reacted if Sanders had burst a blood vessel during the same event? I sure can, they would be announcing his candidacy as over via concern trolling, and bringing in credentialed talking heads one after the next as fast as the checks could be written out to them to hammer the coffin on it shut.

    5. dearieme

      “He is every bit as sharp as he was 31 years ago. I haven’t seen any change,” said Dr. Neal Kassell, who is also 31 years older.

      Plus, of course, it’s conceivable that surgeon Dr Kassell knows that “He is every bit as sharp as he was 31 years ago” is wonderfully double-edged.

      1. richard

        When I’m 80, I also want an 85 year old doctor to cheer me up. Let’s get started on that for everyone :)

  9. ewmayer

    Re. Recession Watch: “Are Republicans Ready to Respond to a Recession?” [Bloomberg]. “…This is a rare case when the president has it right and the economists have it wrong.” — For some unusual definition of ‘rare’, apparently. Run down the list of economic ‘big picture’ topics and see how many the big-money-captured economics profession got wrong: so-called free trade and globalization, financial deregulation and the resulting ‘innovation’, exponential growth on a finite planet, etc.

    Also, Trump has an obvious reason to want to avoid a near-term recession at all costs – he’s trying to get re-elected, and knows that the ‘strong economy’ – I use quotes because one can legitimately debate the underlying strength, but according to most of the usual MSM-beloved metrics it is strong – is his #1 positive in that regard.

  10. Summer

    RE: recessions
    “Some conservatives oppose any fiscal stimulus at all, either because they think monetary policy alone is sufficient to stabilize the economy or because they believe the government should simply let the recession “play out…”

    You know, like they let World Wars “play out”…population decreases. Keep sending the pleebs over the top of trenches into machine gun fire and shoot them if they don’t commit suicide.
    More of that 19th Century “Social Darwinism” degeneracy.

    1. Monty

      This reminds me of a funny meme I saw during the last UK election.
      It read, “The Conservatives. Putting the N in CUTS”

        1. ambrit

          I have floated the (admittedly joking) theory that Hinckley succeeded in ‘liquidating’ Ronald McRegan and that Reagan was replaced with a Disney built animatronic President. After all the revelations that Reagan was in a state of dementia throughout his second administration, I would prefer to have had the Disney robot in charge.
          Alas, Nancy consulted the Court Astrologer to help run the country for those four years. And look at how it turned out. As classic an example of late stage Imperial decline as can be found in the annals of human history.

    2. a different chris

      The Plague and WWII did a number on the plebes, and sadly that seems to be the only way the lumpen proles get a break. Decrease their numbers to the point where the 1% suddenly finds itself without easy access to food or working plumbing and realizes it knows nothing about how to procure those things.

  11. Gareth

    TBH I strongly dislike the curved lines in this graph, prefer the step-graph which clearly shows that results are disconnected slices of time. The curves appear to show information for how the path moves between datapoints, but it’s just a made-up curve. Showing the raw datapoints with a moving average would serve the same purpose with real information. This is what wikipedia does.

  12. jsn

    “Transfer rate” seems a little reductive for human communication….”

    Yeah, hook, line and sinker on the “Artificial Intelligence” trope, as if what people are doing when they talk is slinging light weight bundles of data about (that somehow communicate rich complexity) where computer chips hose out massive bricks of the stuff, but still can’t make a left turn in traffic or get a joke.

      1. ambrit

        My calculus teacher in high school worked at Los Alamos on the atomic bomb project. He told stories about real “mentats” who were prodigies who could do complex calculations in their heads quickly. These people were referred to as “Computers,” because that is what they did. He told the tale of one day calling up a woman with this gift who worked there and setting her a problem. He laughingly remarked that she answered the problem quickly and complained that the mathematicians were not sending her any problems difficult enough to make her work “fun.”
        The Germans had similar people working on various projects in their system. One of the generals in the logistics branch did the daily train scheduling in the evening, all in his head. This person is one of the tales in “The Nightmare” by C S Forester.

    1. Summer

      The “brain” is like a “computer.”
      That’s the marketing plan and they’re sticking to it, evidence be damned.

      1. ambrit

        Well do I remember the ‘holograph” theory of the ‘mind.’ Can a computer create a ‘holograph’ field? Hmmm….
        Our computers are programmed by people. Thus, it follows that the biases of the human programmers guide the development of any theoretical Artificial Intelligence. For me, I will wait for a computer complex to reprogram itself. Then I will be afraid and in awe.

  13. Wukchumni

    It was quite something being in the presence of the Arm Tree, which ought to be called Excalibur, hidden away in it’s mountain redoubt on high, far from prying eyes. It was a sapling when the last of the Egyptian pyramids was being built, and avoided a large crown fire for 31 centuries.

    It rises out of a steep slope on which it’s perched, and like a good many trees of size in the grove, has burn scars on the upward side of the tree where rolling logs on fire from above found their rest. About 20% of the left hand side of the Arm Tree burned out many hundreds of years ago, but didn’t kill it.

    There were 6 of us wandering aimlessly through the grove following my lead as trail where you make it, and you need to find a landmark Lincoln Log laying down, a magnificent Sequoia that has some of the bark still on. The root circumference where the giant toppled over one fine day 100-200 years ago, is 25-30 feet wide, to give you an idea of girth, and somewhere on the order of 250 feet long, broken into sections upon impact.

    Its an easy 150 yards to the Arm Tree from there, a handy yardstick.

    On what was a busy Labor Day weekend day, we didn’t see another soul in our 8 hour walk.

  14. JBird4049

    The message from archaeology is clear. It took thousands of years for the pristine planet of long ago to become the human planet of today.

    Oddly, many animals like Cape Buffalo especially in places like Africa start to become seriously anxious around humans when they get into range of a spear cast. Not the range of a bow and arrow or gun but a thrown spear. It is probably one of the reasons that the megafauna of Africa are still around as they evolved right along with humanity’s increasing ability to hunt (well, that and lesser extremes of the climate change also exist in other continents like North America) and unlike our other fellow great apes, using our over the shoulder ability to throw things. Considering that we have been using spears for millions of years, but only arrived in Australia no more than fifty thousand and in the Americas no more than forty thousand years no matter how generous you make the estimates.

    The little evidence that can find about the pre-Clovis populations in America suggests some some serious population changes around the end of the last ice age. Desperate and starving humans among the not fully adapted megafauna that was also under stress from climate change would suggest the reasons that the horse, elephant, mammoth, rhino, camel, and others all died out at about the same time.

    1. ambrit

      This is a “hobby horse” of mine. A growing consensus among the ‘credentialed class’ is that there was a catastrophe at the beginning of and possibly at the end of the Younger Dryas period. The debate now is roughly between the advocates of a cometary impact on the North American ice sheet and those who theorize about a coronal mass ejection from the sun hitting the Earth about that time. Either way, a catastrophe of that degree would explain both the human and megafauna population declines and outright extinctions.
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas_impact_hypothesis
      Also: https://www.futurity.org/younger-dryas-impact-hypothesis-evidence-2013702/
      As the reliable ‘Firesign Theatre’ said; “Everything you know is wrong.”
      Read, and be amazed seekers!: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everything_You_Know_Is_Wrong

  15. Chris

    File this under please keep our local papers…

    Following up on some past discussions with the school redistricting plan for where I live. The people involved are now saying the quiet parts out loud and the people in different parts of the county are also expressing themselves in open ways I don’t think we’d hear otherwise.

    To begin, here’s the announcement that a serious plan was going to be proposed for the 2020 academic year.

    And here’s the article describing the promised plan was released with details that had not been discussed before.

    And here’s the response from the community. Also here and here.

    And more interesting, here’s a resolution from a few county council members who went even further than what the super intendant wanted. Which they apparently did not tell the super intendant about!

    Maryland bills itself as America in miniature, and this redistricting discussion is meeting the description. This is like the 1% in miniature. All the public schools in Howard County are good by national standards but some are much, much, better. The biggest outcry against the redistricting is coming from the people who were promised their kids would go to these stellar high schools and will now be sent to someplace slightly above average. There’s also the big hit to people’s property values, which some of my friends in the business are putting at 50k$ to 100k$.

    This entire process has made me think a lot about what is going on, what does equity even mean in this context, and what is likely to happen next. I think the redistricting has a good chance of being shot down because there’s little available evidence to claim that the problems are racially based even if the reality is that most of the people on Free And Reduced Meals are minorities. I also think that this is likely to spark a charter school movement that will break our great public school system. I’m going to continue following this matter even though it doesn’t seem like it will affect my kids because the redistricting will keep us at the great high school that’s local.

    Regardless, we now have a forced busing experiment going on which involves some of the wealthiest communities in the US. Stay tuned.

    1. ambrit

      I lived through a ‘forced busing experiment’ in South Florida during the early seventies. A stellar high school in the wealthiest community was sent a cohort of the least advantaged kids from the worst section of Miami. The experiment could not have turned out any worse than if it had been thought out and planned to fail. Instead of bringing up the standards and quality of teaching in the disadvantaged schools, the abused populations of school kids from the poor side of town were thrust upon the ‘advantaged’ kids. We had all the usual problems as a result of the busing; robbery, extortion, and the obligatory riot. The kids from the poor side of town were socialized to using force and violence to get what they wanted. A perfect neo-liberal mini-society. The advantaged kids were socialized to meritocracy. When the riot occurred, the police showed up to ‘restore order’ and basically legitimated the use of force and violence to maintain order in the society. The police were simply more forceful, and potentially more violent than the unorganized thug elements sparking the outbreak of violence within the school. It was a lesson many of my compeers learned that day. Control of the ‘official’ organs of, as S M Sterling put it in one of his books, “Professional Practitioner of Coercive Violence,” leads to outward control of the polity.
      This modern attempt to try the previously semi-failed experiment in social engineering will be interesting to watch. ‘They’ seem to, as Lambert quotes, “learn nothing and forget nothing.” Look at how well this attitude worked out for the Bourbons. Maybe the “better technologies” available today will make history a moot point in the present dilemma. Somehow, I doubt it.

      1. Chris

        Interesting. In this case, we have a decent number of poor families sending their kids to wealthier schools and a decent number of wealthy families sending their kids to poorer schools. About 7300 students in total, most of them being high school aged children.

        What I keep thinking about is when NPR did that long form story several years ago about busing as a solution to problems in schools for poor students, they couldn’t even get Arne Duncan, Obama’s SecEd, to agree that it would or should be tried. How can you argue that diverse group of wealthy people are being exclusionary or racist if Obama’s SecEd wouldn’t agree with this policy? And where is the evidence that shuffling these students around will help anyone? And are we now saying that classism = racism?

        It’s not county funding or state funding that are causing the “equity” issues being raised here. Are we going to say parent can’t join and donate to booster clubs? That PTAs can’t do fund raisers? That local parents can’t form 503(c)’s? Given the economic reality of Howard County there is no way the busing will solve the class issues that are driving what people are claiming is segregation. I guess they’ve never read the Big Sort.

  16. Blowncue

    Re: Harlan County

    I am reminded of another fellow from San Francisco who once approached some trade unionists, and promised that he would get Coors beer out of every gay bar in San Francisco. Which he did.

    Said fellow then approached the Eureka Valley Merchants Association and invited them to sell their wares at the Castro Street Fair. Which they did, whereupon they walked away with a bundle of money.

    The unionists voted for the fellow as did the merchants, sending the fellow to the Board of Supervisors.

    Meanwhile the fellow’s community, namely the the gay community, was over the moon.

    Fast forward to today and I see all of my friends, each of whom proclaims their own particular identity or even identities, declaring that their vote shall never be taken for granted again, pillorying the contestant of some other’s tribe. Heaping dirt upon the remains of the idea of the Rainbow Coalition.

    Oblivious to the reality that in the next election that will be all about figuring out who has the tail that will wag the dog. And ensuring that that tail wags the way that one wishes it to wag.

    How could anyone even consider not voting Democratic in the next general election, regardless of who the candidate is, my friends exclaim.

    So I reply–to their surprise:

    Well they can and they will, if they don’t care for the candidate on offer. So maybe you should spend some time figuring out which candidate to nominate such that those crucial voters will never even consider defection!

    So who will those crucial voters be, those tails who wag? Will they be you? The aggrieved women of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina? The soybean farmer? The senior citizen who is terrified of a new healthcare system, fearing she will wind up with less than she has currently? What will you do to assure them that you will have their back? Rather than spend all your time documenting the many ways that others are trying to cheat you.

    But I am heartened at the advent of these transgender anarchists. And I note the story does not end with transgender quote-unquote. But transgender anarchists. Not just who they are, or what they believe, but what they do.

    I think Harvey Milk would be pleased.

    1. Dan

      I’m reminded of a child molester who got a ship named for him.
      People in San Francisco remember how “Reverend” Jim Jones provided Harvey Milk with a printing press, gave him hundreds of campaign ‘volunteers,’ yielded the Peoples Temple pulpit to him, and provided free publicity to him in the Peoples Forum newspaper, In a votes for power swapping exchange, Milk publicly vouched for Jim Jones who was appointed by Mayor Moscone to the city’s Housing Commission.
      Yeah, that Jim Jones. He had a town named for him, remember?

      “Rev. Jones is widely known in the minority communities here and elsewhere as a man of the highest character, who has undertaken constructive remedies for social problems which have been amazing in their scope and effectiveness,” Milk wrote in a letter to President Jimmy Carter earlier in 1978 on behalf of Jones’ claims of paternity to the 6-year-old son of one of his cult members.

      Randy Shilts, a friend of Milk’s who was also homosexual, wrote in a biography, “Milk was attracted to “boyish-looking men in their late teens and early 20s,” “Harvey always had a penchant for young waifs with substance-abuse problems.” One of his young lovers was allegedly Jack Galen McKinley, a 16-year-old runaway from Maryland. Jones also had a relationship with a 25-year-old alcoholic named Jack Lira, who eventually killed himself.

      1. JBird4049

        Well, Rev. Jim Jones started out as sane, if a bit intense, and his growing insanity wasn’t obvious to most until it was far, far too late especially as his earlier goodnesses gave cover as did his charisma which got too many people to put their blind faith into him rather than mere trust.

        As for Milk, yeah he had his problems and the local gay subculture did (does?) put too great an emphasis on youth and good looks then. Just like with Jones, I can see Milk’s status also giving cover to his misdeeds and with his murder he gained local sainthood.

        1. Dan

          “Jim Jones started out as sane, if a bit intense”
          That’s understating it!

          Picture a cross between a demented Elvis, wearing purple pimp shades and a Southern Preacher, who talked like he was from Mississippi, who whipped up the emotions of every poor person he could, got them to give him their money, sign over their houses and their cars, claimed to be the black man’s friend, had them, including their children, beaten and scalded with boiling water and other things, far worse if they disobyed him.
          and that was in his “sane” and “earlier goodnesses” stage when the mayor appointed him to give out housing project units to his loyal followers. The fun really started when he got paranoid and headed to Guyana. One of the more colorful creatures in the political cesspool that is San Francisco.

          “In a letter to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, then-state Assemblyman Willie Brown, (Kamala’s launching pad), called Jones a “close personal friend and highly trusted brother in the struggle for liberation.” Liberal icon Tom Hayden hailed Jones for his “high standard of ethics and morality,” and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner named the future mass murderer “Humanitarian of the Year.”

          “Jones’ admirers included California Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally and Congressman Phil Burton. San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appointed Jones commissioner of the city’s Housing Authority. San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk became one of Jones’ most eager advocates, writing that he had found “greatness … at Jim Jones’ People’s Temple.”


      2. Blowncue


        I did not know that. When they showed The Life and Times of Harvey Milk when I was in college, Harvey Fierstein neglected to mention that his namesake was both a chicken hawk and a good friend of Jim Jones.

        Aside from my invocation of what I now understand to be hagiography, I do hope you share the pleasure in witnessing a group of activists who have forsworn the Kool-Aid of virtue signaling, and reached for the tall glass of back-scratching.

    2. JBird4049

      San Francisco always has a bit strange and in interesting ways. I am glad to see that the transgendered anarchists are helping and maybe Harvey Milk would have been pleased; connecting to one’s identity should be used to connect and add to the community and not as way to separate and take from it.

    3. marym

      Providing support for striking workers is an important function. Like jail and bail support for protesters, it’s something people can contribute who aren’t participants in the primary action. It’s good to hear of this kind of solidarity.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s what I think. Kudos to the trans anarchists of Harlan County. (Note that if they’d taken the advice of the front row kids to “just move,” they couldn’t be doing this, so double kudos.)

  17. Wukchumni

    Kudos to Wal*Mart for filling in for politicians and starting the disarming process for the country.

    When the Glock struck twelve too many times, is when the cylinderella story had to come undone.

  18. wilroncanada

    Re coverage in links from Politico on the Democrat quasi-debate on climate hosted by CNN. It actually mentions Sen. Sanders name in the first sentence, and then ignores him and his proposals completely the rest of the piece. Warren, Biden, and Harris got almost all the commentary, along with Harry Reid claiming all the climate ideas from the candidates are for the most part, the same.

  19. richard

    re “the resistance” and “resisting”
    it strikes you immediately how inappropriate this vocabulary is to the brunch bunch
    has it occurred to no one in that clique that resistance implies opposing action?
    one physical force preventing another from completing its action
    the tandeneers not only don’t take actions, they don’t oppose actions either
    they could give a s*&^ what trump does
    what he says and what they think he is, is all
    absolutely no actual resistance in any of that: on DACA, taxes, military budget, surveillance, wall street deregulation, military adventurism, Trump’s wheels move as freely as they would if there were no “resistance”

    1. Darthbobber

      In fairness to Wallenstein, he wrote that in March of 2017, before the branding of the #resistance by machine hacks was as clear as it would become. There were still a large number of people who were sort of spasmodically galvanized by various forms of outrage, and who sort of accepted the idea, though not the reality, of resistance, though its meaning to many of them wasn’t at all coherent. They were by no means all Neera Tandens at that point.

      I didn’t see it as likely to add up to much in that form, and Wallenstein actually shows some awareness of the inherent problems. He speaks of what would be needed to carry forward into an actual anticapitalist movement, which the eventual custodians of the western stage set of resistance had no interest in.

      And the people who were interested in that generally found less fuzzy ways of trying to move forward, finding the generic concept of resistance neither helpful or necessary.

      1. richard

        I commented without reading the piece, an bad habit i am now pledged to break. So now I read it and wasn’t much moved, but i don’t know very much about wallenstein or have a better background to appreciate him. The whole thing seemed to me a put up, from the women’s march onward (probably well before) but i’ll admit the turnout was huge and must have had a lot of people of good will involved.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > In fairness to Wallenstein, he wrote that in March of 2017, before the branding of the #resistance by machine hacks was as clear as it would become.

        Some of us expressed considerable skepticism as soon as the possibility was mooted. See NC at 12/12/2016, 12-19-2016, 12-21-2016, 12-27-2016, and 12-29-2016. The 12-29-2016 reference to Tanden’s cute “yellow logo” is to the hash tag #Resist then (but no longer) in her bio. No “movement” endorsed by Tanden would ever be militant. I accept that Wallerstein “shows some awareness of the inherent problems,” but that’s because he was reasoning from first principles. Like I say, you gotta know the territory. (One of the links quotes a Guardian story; I wasn’t the only one to see the obvious.)

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          In all fairness, I’m sure there has to have been a Brunch somewhere…someplace, wherein the popo stormed in, popped smoke in the lobby, sprayed tear gas in the canapes, and raised some welts and caused a little of #Resistance blood to flow with their clubs.

          Right? Right? I’ll keep googling….the truth is out there, it MUST be.

          ps, HK Apple Daily is good live stream for some ACTUAL Resistance, in this case HK. Wish I spoke Cantonese, but is interesting to paste selected chat snippets into google translate to see what they are saying:


  20. BDBlue

    Harlan County (and the rest of eastern KY) is covered by the Trillbillies Workers Party (@thetrillbillies) podcast, which is recorded in Whitesburg, KY. One of the Trillbillies also wrote that Baffler article. They have been on fire lately between covering the miners’ blockade and their hatred of Amy McGrath. Great “on the ground coverage”.

  21. VietnamVet

    I am about as far away from the Millennials as one can get. But, it is clear they and all following human generations are short-changed.

    Mark Blyth pointed out the obvious that corporate media ignores:
    The growth in real income is being taken away from the western middle class and transferred to emerging countries and the top one percent. This is the direct cause of Brexit, Yellow Vests and Donald Trump’s election.

    Anyone who gets a W-2 is at best treading water. Besides restarting the Cold War, the Obama Administration also conned Students into taking out a mortgage on their future income to pay for education that makes having a family and a home too expensive to afford. Also, besides the endless wars and stagnant wages; climate change and finite resources means that everyone will have to live on less energy. This is getting harder to deny. The next generations are facing the existential question of how do they get along with each other.

    1. notabanker

      “The next generations are facing the existential question of how do they get along with each other.”

      I’m guessing that may not include the ones that got them there.

  22. John Beech

    Tech: “How Apple uses its App Store to copy the best ideas” [WaPo].

    Nothing to see, Keep on walking, is what I have to say. How is this any different from a distributor having privileged information regarding the 80/20 rule with respect to your product line? There’s no difference.

    For example, in my industry, the big distributors cherry pick your products using the data mined from handling your product line. Only to turn around and compete with you. For example, a friend does blow-molded fuel tanks for model airplanes. Has 63 different models – but – as he commiserated with me over a wee whiskey one evening after a long day on our feet at a trade show in Chicago, his distributor – using the knowledge gained by handling his products for three years – had just introduced their own line of fuel tanks. But instead of 63 different models, theirs consisted of just 6 models, which were cheaper and always in stock. And bang, just like that, my pal was nearly crippled!

    Oh, and another trick is to list his product as ‘out of stock’ and offer consumers their own house label, which in honesty, is every bit as good – but cheaper. Out of stock only because they cut orders to minimum quantities. Also cheaper, in part because they didn’t bear the R&D expense of developing and making 63 units along the way to finding the six products that constitute 80% of the sales. And cheaper because they intentionally set out to undercut him (what is it the Japanese say about business and war?).

    Sound familiar to what’s being cried about regarding Amazon and their business practice, or Apple and their App store? Hah, in fact it’s a scam as old as time. Also goes to explain why we design, manufacture, and distribute our products ourselves. No Amazon, no eBay, no distributors – no middlemen whatsoever. We’re doing OK with our business model. And we can thank the internet for that.

  23. Chris

    Anyone else annoyed that WaPo now consider viewing comics in its monthly limits for free browsing? So now I can’t even read Doonesbury because it’s tied to that execrable Bezo shopper :(

  24. jessica

    I suspect that while languages in general all have the same bit rate, there are some exceptions. I think Japanese news broadcasts have a higher bit rate. Japanese is spoken very fast, with a high number of syllables per second but the words tend to have a large number of syllables so the bit rate balances out. However, news broadcasts tend to use many words of Chinese origin (Chinese is for Japanese what Latin and French are for English) and those Chinese words are usually just two syllables. So they can really ram a lot of data into a short period of time. They also take two or more two-syllable words and select on syllable from each word to make something even more compressed. For example, “eastern kernel” meaning “eastern capital (Tokyo) Power Company Nuclear Power operations”. That has to be a higher bit rate.
    I also wonder if Cantonese doesn’t have a higher bit rate than Mandarin because Cantonese has more different tones, so it can use more one-syllable words and fewer of the two-syllable words that Mandarin needs to avoid ambiguity.
    Barely related, but I wonder what role language may be playing in Hong Kong. Large parts of China (Singapore too) have shifted from other forms of Chinese to Mandarin. This tends to be ignored because it is all ‘Chinese’, but even though the different types of Chinese are mostly written with the same characters, the spoken languages are often at least as different as, for example English and Norwegian or Swedish.
    If the US government had been forcing Americans to switch to Swedish over the past generations (and grandparents had to go to school to be able to talk to their own grandkids), that would create an underlying resentment. OK, in the US it wouldn’t be underlying, but I wonder if that isn’t one more contributing factor in Hong Kong.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      As someone trying to learn Japanese, I find your comments very interesting – although Japanese sounds are quite simple in comparison to other Asian languages I’ve dabbled with, the speed and lack of rhythm can make it quite hard to follow. I’d often wondered if its my imagination that formal Japanese seems to be spoken so fast, I’m glad you’ve confirmed its not just me!

      And not just spoken – the lack of spaces in written Japanese can be quite frustrating to deal with when learning and can often confuse google translate in particular (I recently found an example where it auto translated ‘Iya Valley Hotel’ as ‘the Disgusting Hotel’ on googlemaps).

      From my experience of HKers – and Taiwanese – they greatly resent standardised Mandarin (essentially Beijing dialect) and openly describe it as a horrible language, much preferring either Cantonese or their own dialect with older writing styles. A lot of Chinese I know say they very much regret the loss of variety due to the increasing standardisation of the language. A Vietnamese American (but ethnic Cantonese) friend of mine told me of her shock when she visited her relatives in northern Vietnam to find that they’d all simply stopped speaking Cantonese in favour of a mix of Vietnamese and Mandarin. But of course much of this is convenience, not due to the diktats of Beijing.

      So far as I’m aware, most HKers don’t see the loss of language as a key issue, but they do see Cantonese as very much part of their identity as a distinct place, separate from the Mainland. But I think the generally superior attitude of HKers means that mainland Cantonese speakers don’t always feel any particular brotherhood with Hong Kong.

    2. Clive

      Yes, Japanese — both written and spoken — is, or can be, a very “compact” language. A significant part of this is the ability to allow omitting the subject of the sentence or the object of the verb and still have an intelligible sentence. And intonation can convey a lot of meaning, but this of course isn’t exclusive to Japanese.

      For example:

      Speaker A: これ? [kore?] (rising intonation)
      Speaker B: ペンだ。[pen da]

      … when written more “fully” would be something like:

      Speaker A: これは なんですか? [kore wa nan desu ka?]
      Speaker B: それは ペンです。[sore wa pen desu]

      The first version as a transliteration or literal version is “This?” “It’s a pen”. The second being “And as for this, what is it?” “As for that, it’s a pen”. But of course, even in English both versions are completely comprehensible, so long as the context is clear. For example, I could say the first version if, say, I was holding a pen and my conversation partner was looking at me, while I was waving it in their direction. Even if English is your first language, if you’re not paying attention or have got the wrong end of the stick, you can easily misunderstand the terse version of this exchange. It is the same — worse I suppose — if you’re trying to use a language which is, for you, a second language.

      Most of my friends who are native Japanese speakers learn if, when I’m trying to speak Japanese without murdering the language, to have adapted so when I’m involved in the conversation, they stop omitting all those linguistic “helpers” like “he went”, “this is”, “those were”, “how many people”, “Boris Johnson previously said” and suchlike. It slows the dialogue down a good thirty percent I reckon. But at least I can follow most things and not lose track of verbs and subjects, pre- and post prepositions, what has been made into a noun-phrase, the tense etc.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        My Japanese friends always marvel at the ability of Irish people to communicate a complex drinks order at the bar without ever using a noun – just a greeting, a few gestures and the barmen always seems to magically know that its ‘three Guinness, a Heineken and four packs of Tayto’.

      2. David

        Japanese is a good example of the difference between content and context in language. Quite a lot of Japanese is actually incomprehensible unless you know the context. For example, if somebody says “ohayou” to you (sorry, I don’t have Japanese fonts installed) it just means “early”. So what? But you have to know that it is descended from a much more elaborate formula roughly equivalent to our “good morning”, which is the usual translation. “Ohayou gozaimasu”, the longer form, is just more polite (it comes from an archaic verb for “to be”) and so it adds context (you are speaking to a superior) but not content. This, of course, is typical of high-context cultures, of which Japan is a supreme example, and where unless you know the rules, you are completely lost. It’s for that reason that, when people ask me if Japanese is a difficult language, my reply is that it’s actually quite easy to learn, but incredibly difficult to use.

        1. Clive

          Oh, gosh, yes, I regard Japanese as my (as I call it) “lifetime project”. I’ll never, ever get to the bottom of it all.

          I don’t mind the respectful variants (so long as I can get the “giving to the lofty superior who risks getting oxygen starvation as a result of their elevated position” / “humbly receiving while I am grovelling around in the dirt” direction bit right). But the informal conversation level stuff, agh!

          For example, I visited a Japanese friend today and during the course of the conversation she finished off with a summary (one of those one-word sentences you get in Japanese now and then). She’d said:

          食べちゃった 。[tabechatta]

          Now, she could have been saying, simply “I ate it”. But I’ve a hunch she was actually implying “I ate it all (but I really shouldn’t have done)”. I was too polite to ask (and, as was posited earlier, I would have slowed down the conversation and it would seem to be a bit clunky). Plus it’s another — as you mention — “rule”. You’re just supposed to know what’s inferred. Without having to ask loads and loads of tedious follow-on questions.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Mandarin, Wikipedia, the word ‘Mandarin’ literally means “Speech of Officiials.’

      For a socialist/communist government of the proletariat, that will not do…too elltist. So, it is called “Putonghua” meaning, literally, ‘common language’ though it’s translated as Modern Standard Mandarin, showing that it’s largely, very largely, based on the old Mandarin.

      From the same Wikipedia article:

      After the fall of the Northern Song (959–1126) and during the reign of the Jin (1115–1234) and Yuan (Mongol) dynasties in northern China, a common speech developed based on the dialects of the North China Plain around the capital, a language referred to as Old Mandarin. New genres of vernacular literature were based on this language, including verse, drama and story forms, such as the qu and sanqu poetry.[15]

      The capital of the Northern Song was Kaifeng.

      Old Mandarin was not spoken there, but rather, in the new capitals of Jin and Yuan (Zhongdu and Dadu, respectively, both in Beijing area), from reading the above quote.

      The implication here is that old Mandarin started as a local dialect (from among many at the time, beside the official one spoken by the emperor and the people around Kaifeng), spoken by the ruling elites of northern barbarians.

      And the dialects of, say, Fujian, Guangdong, Zhejiang, etc all have older, and supposedly, more prestigious pedigrees than Mandarin, only except for, as Mao said, the power from the barrel of a gun, though that power predates the Great Helmsman by many centuries (Beijing, except for two brief periods*, has been the capital of China for close to 1,000 years)

      *Hongwu, Jianwen emperors, plus briefly Yongle, and more recently, the ROC period, both located the capital in Nanjing.

  25. David Carl Grimes

    Bernie is third on this list of Russiagaters


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s a bit ironic, given this from sanders.senate.gov:

      In this bonus episode, Bernie explains the avalanche of information in the last few days surrounding President Trump’s possible ties to Russia and the firing of

    2. Watt4Bob

      You’ve mischaracterized your own link David.

      The whole page does not contain either of the words ‘Russia’, or ‘Russiagate’.

      What the page does describe is the candidates mentions of Trump in FB ads.

      Last I checked, mentioning Trump in a political ad does not equate with being a ‘Russiagater’ unless, in addition, one also mentions Russia in some manner.

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