Links 9/13/19

Cubed wombat poop, why your left nut runs hot, among Ig Nobel winners ars technica

Scientists are racing to reengineer the banana before it’s gone forever Fast Company (Chuck L)

‘Game of Thrones’ prequel series about the Targaryen family in development at HBO, reports say CNBC. I wish Martin would have finished the books, particularly with a more fitting ending, but he’s not about to undermine the franchise.

Concerns grow over tainted sewage sludge spread on croplands PhysOrg (Robert M)

Obesity is the leading cause of death in America. When will we talk about it? Big Think. Advocates fat shaming. Go to hell. We are supposed to be sensitive to minor slurs to women and harass fat people? Did it not occur to anyone that fat people are ALREADY ashamed of being fat and get lots of negative social feedback, including being discriminated against in hiring and promotions? The false presumption is that it is not hard to get thin once you are fat. I am one of the few who has done that and it requires high levels of neuroticism, since dieting resets your metabolism lower and you have to continue to eat meagerly on a long-term basis to stay thin. If you have any kind of normal social life, this is difficult to impossible.


Huawei calls the US intel community’s bluff Asia Times (Kevin W). Am I missing something? I thought you could build in backdoors at the hardware level.

China Seeks to Narrow Trade Talks With U.S. in Bid to Break Deadlock Wall Street Journal

Trump Advisers Consider Interim China Deal to Delay Tariffs Bloomberg


India’s aggression is fuelling Kashmiri resistance Aljazeera

Imran Khan to make ‘policy statement’ on Kashmir LiveMint

U.S. lawmakers flag curbs in Kashmir The Hindu


The world shuts its doors Axios

From Politico’s European newsletter. Note that my connected economist contacts say that the big dogs (as in insiders as well as pundits, see the recent Summers piece questioning over-reliance on monetary policy) have been trying to get the ECB to get out of the negative rates business, or at least stop driving further into the red. That didn’t work:

NOT GOING QUIETLY: In a reminder of where power lies in Europe, Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, made sure he will be remembered once his successor Christine Lagarde takes over the institution from November.

Back to the future: In a throwback to his famous 2012 “whatever it takes” speech, Draghi on Thursday unveiled the last big decision of his term: a package of long-term measures intended to boost the eurozone’s economy. The ECB’s governing council will cut the deposit rate by 0.1 percentage points to minus 0.5 percent and will restart a €20-billion monthly asset purchase program from November. It was successful in the very measurable, very short term: Major indices went up, Italy’s financing costs went down.


Has the DUP offered Boris Johnson a Brexit lifeline? Party ‘drops its objections to some border checks across the Irish Sea’ in dramatic shift of the red lines that sank Theresa May Daily Mail

Barnier says Brexit situation is ‘serious and uncertain’ Financial Times. Full statement here.

John Bercow says Boris Johnson disobeying law over Brexit would be like ‘robbing a bank’ ITV

The Dogs in the Street Know Craig Murray (Chuck L). Important, including with regard to the next story.

Johnson denies lying to Queen over Parliament suspension BBC (Kevin W)

EU Fears Boris Johnson Will Persuade Hungary to Veto Brexit Delay Bloomberg

Boris Johnson faces new legal challenge which could see judges sign letter asking for Brexit extension, lawyers say Telegraph

GIVE BOJO THE BOOT PLOT Expelled Tories plot to oust Boris Johnson as MP by running candidate against him in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency The Sun

French company liable after employee dies during sex on business trip BBC


Israel accused of planting mysterious spy devices near the White House Politico. With friends like that….

Is Killing Peasants Protecting America’s Interests? CounterPunch (resilc)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Have You Noticed How Social Media Purges Always Align With The US Empire? Caitlin Johnstone (RR, Kevin W)

In Edward Snowden’s New Memoir, the Disclosures This Time Are Personal New York Times

Airbus is introducing a feature on its new planes to track everything you do, including how often you use the bathroom Business Insider. So how do I put myself in a Faraday cage?

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Media’s Betrayal of American Soldiers Antiwar (resilc)

Trump Transition

Trump Administration Rolls Back Clean Water Protections New York Times (Kevin W)

John Bolton, Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, Fired on Twitter Esquire (furzy)

Will Trump Make Pompeo National Security Advisor? American Conservative. Resilc: “Maybe Trumpisimo could have a TV show like The Apprentice for the gig?”

What Does Bolton’s Ouster Mean to Victims of US Imperial Aggression? Black Agenda Report. Resilc: “USA USA is screwed until the war machine and empire dies. It’s not sustainable and prevents progress on real issues affecting our lives and future…..”

2020. Last night’s debate was painful, so kudos to those of you who watched all or most of it. The Democrats lost.

Biden Complains Moderators Keep Giving Him Ample Time To Speak The Onion

Actually, Pete Buttigieg, Sept. 12, 2001, Was Bad HuffPost. I recoiled at Buttigieg’s remark. NYC was on lockdown for four days, with the tunnels and bridges closed. Six miles from the WTC site, I could smell the acrid smoke when the wind turned. The only good thing about Sept. 12 was that like on Sept. 11, the weather was freakishly perfect.

Is Anyone Entertaining Enough to Beat Trump? GEN (resilc)

Jim Crow Steals N Carolina 9th CD Greg Palast

Houston Police Officer Who Led Botched Raid That Killed Two People Now Facing Felony Murder Charges Techdirt (Chuck L)

MIT President: Oh Yeah, We DID Cover Up Epstein’s Donations Daily Beast. J-LS: “Note final sentence.”

That Time EFF Got A Copyright Takedown Demand Of Its Own Artwork Techdirt (Chuck L)

Our Fabulously Free Press

Le Monde’s editorial independence crisis deepens Financial Times

How the UK Security Services neutralised the country’s leading liberal newspaper Daily Maverick. PlutoniumKun posted this in comments yesterday, but important to read if you missed it.

Student Sues College After Being Told Not To Exercise His First Amendment Rights Without The School’s Permission Techdirt (Chuck L)

17 US cities where the average salary goes much further than you’d think Business Insider. See which city is #1!

Drop in hot stocks stirs memories of ‘quant quake’ Financial Times. Important.

U.S. Core Inflation Exceeds Forecasts as Medical-Care Costs Jump Bloomberg. So much for Obamacare bending the cost curve.

Guillotine Watch

What a swellegant, elegant party this is! New York Social Diary. Bear in mind, this is only garden variety, tasteful excess. See this example of wannabe rich bad taste. Resilc: “The Montgomery Vermont Knights of Columbus are holding a fundraiser to buy winter coats for poor kids in Northern Vermont.”

Class Warfare

How Greedy Hospitals Fleece the Poor New Republic. Resilc: “I go into Harbor Freight in Pittsfield, Mass to buy a pipe bender this week. The check out lady is in a wheel chair and “Just out out of Bay State Medical after complications”… I wonder what her bill was……”

Kickstarter Has Fired Two Union Organizers in Eight Days Slate

Antidote du jour (The Pleasant Lake Protective Association via Lawrence R):

And a bonus video from Kevin W. The kitten looks so scared!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Wukchumni

    Actually, Pete Buttigieg, Sept. 12, 2001, Was Bad HuffPost.
    Sept 12, 2001 was bad for me, in that after hiking from hut to hut in the French Alps in a series of overnight stays, that was the day we found out about 9/11.

    My first inking was spying a French tabloid newspaper in color @ a news stand when we reached Pralognan, that had a picture of the 2nd plane hitting on the front cover, you really know nothing about the outside world when you’re in the wilderness.

    If your travel plans were fairly soon after 9/11 you were screwed, but we were staying through to the end of the month and it didn’t effect us.

    What did affect us was the amazing outpouring of sympathy we witnessed during the next few weeks. My American accent would spill out of my mouth, and shopkeepers would react as if I had known every victim of the attacks-in words of consolation, we ran into so many ad hoc street memorials with candles & placards that we stopped counting, they were everywhere.

    The world as far as we could tell was in cahoots with our plight, never had I seen such solidarity…

    And then when we arrived @ LAX, every other car on the 405 had a plastic old glory waving furiously from a window jamb, in a display of patriotism overdrive.

    Last refuge, and all.

    1. The Rev Kev

      What I remember most from that time was the messages of condolences from some of America’s most bitterest enemies. I think that Putin was one of the first to ring Bush to offer his sympathy and help. For a brief time, there was massive support for Americans from around the entire world.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The fracking Industry wasn’t quite in vogue then either. The Boone Pickens wasn’t running those deranged ads yet, so Russian energy exports weren’t quite a threat. I’m not sure about the time line of Gazprom’s takeover of the Russian energy sector, but I don’t think it was as big as it was just a few years later. The wiki indicates 2005 was the start of big change in favor of state control.

        Why would Russia be an enemy then? Obama wasn’t working to make sure the US was the top oil exporter.

        1. Anarcissie

          At that time I worked a couple of buildings over from the World Trade Center. If I had been on time for work, I’d have had the chance to get hit with debris, but I was a bit late; saw the attacks from the Staten Island ferry. Turned around, went home. Very depressed when I learned it was a terrorist attack because I knew it would be exploited in every possible way, from politicians pumping up war fever and real wars to vendors hawking pennants at Ground Zero circus within a few days. Death and disaster fans and tourists showed up within a few hours with huge cameras, got in everyone’s way. Some of them pretended to be rescue workers, went right onto the rubble to take pictures. The term ‘hero’ began to be heard constantly — I’m a hero, you’re a hero, everyone’s a hero. Lower Manhattan locked down for weeks to protect legendary gold under one of the towers. A peculiar stink pervaded everything, best not to think what it was composed of.

          In a way, it’s still going on. Standing in a park near the FDR Drive a few days ago, I had to witness a parade, first of Fire Department and police emergency vehicles, all blasting their sirens and horns, then private cars not only with the usual American flags, but also peculiarly defaced American flags (to indicate you-know-what) and huge TRUMP 2020 banners, and after them hundreds of motorcyclists often with gang colors having the time of their lives going to celebrate 9/11 yet once again.

  2. Another Scott

    Biosolids and PFAS
    Why is this the fault of the wastewater treatment plants? And why are these costs being included in the budgets? PFAS isn’t created in the wastewater treatment process; it was already in the water in the first place. Like other harmful chemicals it shouldn’t be allowed in wastewater systems in the first place. Municipal treatment plants are basically a middleman, who’s stuck with the cost and blame. The companies like 3M and DuPont that manufactured the harmful chemicals and the major industrial users should be the ones paying for treating it in wastewater plants, cleaning up sites with large constitution and restitution for farmers.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The fundamental problem is allowing industrial users to discharge to wastewater treatment systems. Its extremely difficult to control this at source, as even a small town will have thousands of discharge points (otherwise known as ‘toilets’). As you say, there is a huge issue here with ultimate liability, but it will take decades to reduce the amount going into to sewage plants. If this material can’t be used as biosolids, then its disposal creates an enormous headache.

      1. Winston Smith

        Added to which PFAS are virtually indestructible as organic molecules go, perfluorination renders the carbon chain bulletproof. It is just one more example in the lack of forethought in the design of industrial chemicals.

    1. dearieme

      I was going to suggest that the link be headlined Frogs Save Kit but it turns out it happened in Wallonie.

      It ended in a sermon implying that black parents don’t know how to raise their own children

      Even Hands-on Joe will be right from time to time.

      Scientists are racing to reengineer the banana before it’s gone forever

      While they’re at it perhaps they could offer us a choice of Regular Banana, Banana with a hint of Vanilla, Salted Caramel Banana, and Cinnamon Banana.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I think dearieme is a classic troll of the old school. The old school troll didn’t have a particular political or otherwise agenda. The old school troll just enjoyed enjoying itself by writing silly things designed to get attention. And the old school troll measured the attention it got by the number of replies it could generate.

        1. witters

          Hard to believe, I know, but I think dearime is forever trying to be ‘funny’ and certainly ‘smart.’

    1. notabanker

      Add salt and sodium to that as well. As someone who has had to measure my sodium intake for years now, maintaining a diet below even the government daily recommended amounts eliminates at least 80% of grocery bought or restaurant menu items. In some places it is 100%.

      When I see the abuse of sodium in the US food chain, I sincerely wonder what other additives are laden in the food supply.

    2. David Finnerty

      What is the data re Obesity-income? Obesity-zip code?

      Seems to me that Obesity is a symptom of inequality… Poor, under educated, chronically ill, individuals whose most affordable options for food are limited to the toxic, government subsidized, fast/processed “food”.

      1. JohnM

        this video gives a nice illustration of the change in obesity rates by state starting at 39 seconds through 1 minute 47 seconds. it does show the south/appalachia being the hardest hit.

    3. coboarts

      Since I cut the cable, I’ve been watching old tv shows on DVD. I really enjoy seeing the old pictures, the backgrounds, the styles (flared trousers), the tech. So currently, I’m watching Dallas (I never watched it back in the day). Where are the fat people? Same with my all five seasons of Miami Vice. That’s right, I didn’t recall so many people overweight in the 80’s. I’ll have to check back in on the 90s. When did the fat hit the US population so badly? I’ve heard all about the supersizing orders and everything. Well, maybe an anecdote: I watched two pigeons pecking for food around the outdoor tables outside a Safeway. There were spills of two types of orange puffed cheese snack chips things, the puffy and the crunchy. The pigeons didn’t even bother noticing them, like they aren’t even food at all. What does Michael Pollan say, something abut eating food, real food.

      1. The Rev Kev

        A few short years ago there was a link on here to film clips or photos taken on colleges from the 1970s I believe and a few people commented how slim the kids were and where were all the obese college students? And it is not just an America problem either. I believe that I mentioned at the time how a major baseball stadium was renovated and when it was done, the owners were shocked to discover that they were a few thousand seats short of what they had before. Demands for explanation were made and it was revealed that the modern seats installed were a few inches wider than the older seats and took up more space, hence the fewer seats that could be fitted.

        1. CanCyn

          Recently watched the classic Woodstock documentary and I too was struck by how slim everyone was back then. It really has changed. I am 57 and I remember that in my elementary and secondary school days, a fat kid was unusual not the norm. I work in a community college now and there are really obese people everywhere – staff and students.
          Have to agree with Yves though, fat shaming is not the answer – it is truly a struggle to lose a lot of weight and keep it off. I did some personal training a while back to get some help getting back on the fitness band wagon. My trainer knows someone who was on that horrible “World’s Biggest Loser” show. One memorable story – they had the contestants ride stationary bikes in over heated rooms to sweat off extra weight before weigh ins. The fellow lost a ton of weight but has not been able to keep it off even though he exercised daily and ate a relatively healthy diet. It is pretty clear that keeping the weight off is way harder than losing it. Very few professionals work that side of the problem. I read a book called Refuse to Regain by a doctor named Beverly Berkeley who does focus on helping people keep off weight they have lost in her practice. The book definitely agrees with Yves’ contention that you have to be pretty obsessive to keep weight off once you lose it.

          1. Pelham

            Agreed. By the time I was 15 I was 76 pounds overweight, but I went on a sensible diet and 10 months later I hit my target weight. That was the easy part.

            As of next month, it will be 50 years that I’ve kept the weight off. But it required and still requires that I weigh myself every day. And I can rarely eat anything remotely frivolous. Can’t remember the last time I had ice cream or cake. And bread of any sort is maybe a once or twice a week treat. (My brutal secret to staying slim: I weigh myself every morning and reduce food intake if I go so much as a pound over target.)

            So fat shaming in my estimation is shameful. It assumes that someone is wilfully overeating when, especially these days, in many cases they’re just consuming the default diet of the declining middle and working class. That wasn’t a factor for me as a kid, but things have changed — and much for the worse — in 50 years.

            1. Can

              Pelham – Beverly Berkeley insists on weighing everyday too. Sounds like you are on the right track however tough it is.
              Couldn’t agree more about fat shaming, it is so wrong.

            2. James

              Ditto on the weighing in everyday. I’ve yo-yo’d up and down throughout my adult life after being a real porker as a kid (first hit 100 lbs in 3rd grade @ 5’0″), recently achieving 240 pounds on an average build 5’10” frame. Definitely not a good look or way to live. I’m down to 195 now and still working on the last 25 or so. I weigh in 3-4 times a day to keep an eye on things. Helps to de-traumatize the whole process as you get comfortable with the ebbs and flows of weight gain and loss (+/- 3 pounds in a single day is not unusual at all for me in the summer) throughout the cycle. I should add, I work out (outdoor cardio at 7,200′ altitude and circuit training in a well-equipped home gym) like an Olympian – 2-3 hours a day during the week, 4 hours plus on Saturday and Sunday – too. It all seems a bit unfair at times, but I’ve learned to fight back the urge to feel sorry for myself and just get on with things. I can also tell that my doctor – an avid rock climber and all-around fitness freak – doesn’t believe me when I tell him my workout schedule and weight loss difficulties, but I’ve learned to accept that now too.

              I’m kind of torn on the shaming, though. I actually find it beneficial if people remind me if I’m packing on a few, although I can’t say it’s a pleasant experience. Most times what we need to hear is not what we want to hear, so if someone pipes up with the bad news in a reasonably civil manner I’m mostly fine with that. I just try to make damn sure that I’m the one noticing it before anyone else does. Good as it gets these days for me.

          2. polecat

            I believe that obesity became more prevalent in lock-step with the I T revolution, with more and more people ensconsed in their chairs, sofas, cubicles, etc., as opposed to when, before the advent of the PC .. and all it’s variants – tablets, android phones, and the like … people where more physically active, not stuffing their gobs, whilst staring at screens. Of course, the plethora of psudo-food choices has followed that very same trend, sooo ……. you’ll have to excuse me while I reach for a Little Debbie Snack Cake, followed with a chaser of Pepsi, as I type on this device with sticky, greasy fingers …

            Oh, and lets not forget that even BEING outdoors …. at least where the youngins are concerned … is verboten, because of all the contrived dangers that lurk around every bush, field, and tree !!

            1. Baby Gerald

              In line with bassmule’s comment above, I’d like to posit that the spike in obesity might be tied more to the transition from sugar to high fructose corn syrup in processed foods and soft drinks.

              Cane sugar, as satisfyingly indulgent as it is, tends to make one ill when eaten to excess. High fructose corn syrup, however, doesn’t seem to provoke this reaction in the body, leading to the ability to consume, say, a two-liter bottle of Coke over the course of a day without any immediate ill effects. This ability to override the body’s own response seems to me the more likely cause of excess obesity than simply a culture of overindulgence. I mean, it’s not like Twinkies and Lil’ Debbie snack cakes were invented in the ’80s.

      2. BobW

        Decades ago, a country aunt would make biscuits. scones to Brits, from scratch. Any left over from breakfast would be thrown out the back door, where a racoon waited. Those made with lard (yes, I know) were quickly eaten. But those made with Crisco would be tossed back.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Lard is considerably less bad for you than the synthetic hydrogenated fat in Crisco. Apparently the raccoons know that.

          Mexicans cook with lard a lot, even in pastries. Traditionally it was used in pie crust – gives an especially flaky result. Butter tastes better, though.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        The weight explosion started circa 1980. Some of it was the complex carbs fad. Remember that one? Pasta, eat moar pasta!

        Note the tie to when the stagnation in average wages started.

        The fall in smoking is another factor:

        In the U.S. in 1965 approximately 42% of adults were current smokers (52% of men and 34% of women). By contrast, in 2011 less than 20% of adults were current smokers, with significant variations from state to state.

        One of my brothers became obese due to three things: going from having a job where he walked 7 miles a day to a desk job, said desk job having an office mate who brought junk sweet snacks, and quitting smoking. He probably could have fought off the sweet temptation by getting a smoke instead.

        1. James

          Good points. The problem with pasta is that it’s not actually “complex” at all. It’s made from highly refined wheat flour (whether white or “whole”) which is as close to refined sugar as you can get. Pasta and any refined flour bread of any type is basically a pastry. I never touch them now. When it comes to bread, it’s Ezekial Sprouted Grain bread from the frozen case or nothing at all.

        2. JohnM

          ‘circa 1980’

          and as the low carbers will eagerly point out, 1977 is the year when mcgovern’s committee published the ‘dietary goals for the US’ advocating a reduction in fat consumption and increases in ‘complex carbohydrates’ and ‘naturally occurring sugars’. these goal later formed the basis for the first US dietary guidelines in 1980.


          1. Anon

            Well, yes and no. Those dietary guidelines have since been shown to be “inaccurate” (dead wrong). The obesity epidemic has it’s creation not only in bad dietary advice, but also the composition of manufactured foods, the unrivaled access to this type of “food”, reduced activity lifestyles (although exercise rarely consumes enough calories to reduce body size), and the ability to get about (mobility) with taking the fewest strides possible. Sitting all day is likely worse for your lumbar region than your midsection.

            I live in a resort town that sees citizens from all over the world. Language and body size is definitely different from Europe and Asian visitors. Americans are the roundest people in the world (other than Sumo’s).

            1. dearieme

              Who could ever have thought that government dietary propaganda could be completely wrong-headed? What a puzzle.

        3. Procopius

          In the Army, over-weight became a target around 1975. The story was that General Westmoreland (of Vietnam fame) was escorting some visiting Soviet generals around Fort Benning, and they happened to see a sergeant who was very large. Now Westmoreland was a fitness freak like McChrystal, so he’s always been slim. The Soviet general made a joke, to the effect that, “How different, in Red Army sergeants are skinny and generals are fat.” That infuriated Westmoreland and resulted in a draconian weight control program that could lead to a medical discharge if a soldier couldn’t lose the weight.

      4. Summer

        It’s the fake food. Lab created. And they want to grow more in labs.

        Even older people used to be trimmer.

      5. drumlin woodchuckles

        Real food costs either real money to buy or real time to make . . . and sometimes both.

        The levels of obesity between populations with real money and real time as against no real money and no real time should be compared. What would we find out and learn?

        And the prevalence of fatness and obesity rose faster than a “change in national character” can explain. But a change in food-quality-on-offer and at-what-price could explain it.

    4. Medbh

      Thanks for this link!! I just watched the video, “Sugar, the Bitter Truth,” by the same author and found it fascinating.

      Right around the 42 minute mark the video gets into the science of how the body reacts to fructose, and explains from a biochemical perspective why the assertion that “all calories are the same” is false.

      My experience with sugar is that it is habit forming and addictive. If I drink soda, I tend to crave it and slowly increase my consumption over time, along with craving more food in general. But when I don’t drink it, it tastes disgustingly sweet. I’ve realized soda was very bad for me through personal experience, and never drink it anymore. However, I hadn’t realized how much fructose had invaded our diet overall, and how it’s pretty much found in all processed and fast foods.

      As a bit of a side note, this topic is a great example for why people have become distrustful of “expertise” and how the profit motive corrupts science. Doctors and nutritionists have pushed that “fat is bad, carbs are great,” and negative health consequences have skyrocketed. Food corporations love fructose because it’s cheaper and addictive.

      Thanks again for sharing that link and giving me a new rabbit hole to explore!

    5. Steve Roberts

      Everyone (even non-diabetics) should get a glucose monitor and 100 strips. Over 2-3 weeks keep a food diary and monitor your levels 2 hours after you eat anything. If your level increases, eliminate those items from your diet. You will lose fat.

      Plus, walk 12k steps per day. Americans are freakishly sedentary. Get up an hour early in the morning and go for a walk.

      Eat a piece of fiber oriented fruit before each meal.

      1. kareninca

        Yes, except for the part about the fruit. Some people react very badly to the sugars in fruit (I do; fruit is terrible for my blood sugar while e.g. sugar in dark chocolate isn’t). People vary a lot.

      2. James Nelson

        Great advice on the glucose monitor. Many will find out to their great surprise that they’re already pre-diabetic. THAT will definitely get your attention!

    6. jrs

      It’s all fattening. Extra fat, extra sugar, all of it is fattening. But overweight people don’t need to be shamed, they are victims of what passes for food (with tons of fat, sugar, salt, flavorings etc.), and probably genetically more susceptible and in some cases unable to completely escape it if they have been overweight a long time, no matter what they do now.

      1. polecat

        Hey, all you sugarphobes … there’s this concept called ‘moderation’ … which many people adhere to, in spite of your rantings ..

        I just canned homemade jam, containing that evil, evilly, evilist of ingredients – Sugar .. GASP ! … and we do not consume it at a sitting, by the jar full … we spread the wealth out over the entirety of a year or more, and have not ballooned yet ! So chill a bit, will you ..

        Next, youall will be ranting over the consumption of those dreadful things called .. Cheeseburgers ….. oh wait …

        1. marieann

          I think sugar should be looked at as a seasoning…like salt and pepper.

          I canned a dozen jars of Tomato sauce, along with the salt and pepper I added sugar.

          Brown sugar went into the Chili sauce I made.

          But I am on a mission to cut sugar out……the ones that come in cookies and cakes.

          1. polecat

            We don’t consume much in the way of commercial processed foods, imbibe in no soft drinks, so what sugar we do ingest I feel to be rather moderate. We avoid corn syrup andhydrogenated trans-fats, and eat a fair amount of fruits and vegies. Do we indulge now and then ?? .. well, of course ! But over all, I think we’re doing pretty well in avoiding the worst of Modern Industrial Pseudo Phoods.

    7. eg

      Sugar is the new smoking — across all of the dimensions, from health effects right on through the denialist playbook formerly employed by the tobacco companies and fully embraced by Big Sugar …

    8. UserFriendly

      If you haven’t read it this article is well worth the read.

      Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong

      About 40 years ago, Americans started getting much larger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 percent of adults and about one-third of children now meet the clinical definition of overweight or obese. More Americans live with “extreme obesity“ than with breast cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and HIV put together.

      And the medical community’s primary response to this shift has been to blame fat people for being fat. Obesity, we are told, is a personal failing that strains our health care system, shrinks our GDP and saps our military strength. It is also an excuse to bully fat people in one sentence and then inform them in the next that you are doing it for their own good. That’s why the fear of becoming fat, or staying that way, drives Americans to spend more on dieting every year than we spend on video games or movies. Forty-five percent of adults say they’re preoccupied with their weight some or all of the time—an 11-point rise since 1990. Nearly half of 3- to 6- year old girls say they worry about being fat.


      For 60 years, doctors and researchers have known two things that could have improved, or even saved, millions of lives. The first is that diets do not work. Not just paleo or Atkins or Weight Watchers or Goop, but all diets. Since 1959, research has shown that 95 to 98 percent of attempts to lose weight fail and that two-thirds of dieters gain back more than they lost. The reasons are biological and irreversible. As early as 1969, research showed that losing just 3 percent of your body weight resulted in a 17 percent slowdown in your metabolism—a body-wide starvation response that blasts you with hunger hormones and drops your internal temperature until you rise back to your highest weight. Keeping weight off means fighting your body’s energy-regulation system and battling hunger all day, every day, for the rest of your life.

      The second big lesson the medical establishment has learned and rejected over and over again is that weight and health are not perfect synonyms. Yes, nearly every population-level study finds that fat people have worse cardiovascular health than thin people. But individuals are not averages: Studies have found that anywhere from one-third to three-quarters of people classified as obese are metabolically healthy. They show no signs of elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance or high cholesterol. Meanwhile, about a quarter of non-overweight people are what epidemiologists call “the lean unhealthy.” A 2016 study that followed participants for an average of 19 years found that unfit skinny people were twice as likely to get diabetes as fit fat people. Habits, no matter your size, are what really matter. Dozens of indicators, from vegetable consumption to regular exercise to grip strength, provide a better snapshot of someone’s health than looking at her from across a room.

      It took a year of research, there is a podcast on it too.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        One point: there is a way to diet (not one I used back in the day when I was getting my weight off) so that your metabolism does not reset lower. One is to eat one week with some calorie restriction, the next week with pretty severe restriction, and the third week to go back to normal, but be sure not to binge (be mindful of desserts, fatty snacks, etc). Repeat. Another approach is to diet five days a week and have two cheat days, again don’t go nuts on the cheat days.

      2. cuibono

        +100 here!

        “Dozens of indicators, from vegetable consumption to regular exercise to grip strength, provide a better snapshot of someone’s health than looking at her from across a room.”

        THe data on obesity (other than superobesity) is mixed at best.overweight status was actually associated with a lower risk for mortality compared with normal weight in most studies.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “17 US cities where the average salary goes much further than you’d think”

    Considering the fact that there are about 350 cities in the United States with a population of over 100,000 peope, that is pretty good targeting that. Absent from that list, I see, is New York City.

        1. chuck roast

          Yeah, what with the seasonal rentals, the absentee owners who only show in the summer-time, the B&B’s and the Air B&B’s my small town is quickly moving towards the 1,000 mark. Maybe all we got left is rentiers.

    1. Polar Donkey

      Memphis came in #2. Your money goes pretty far here. Housing is cheap. Rush hour traffic isn’t bad at all. The primary problem is 1/3 of the city lives in grinding, multigenerational poverty and the place is awash in guns, so you get carnage/chaos. Lots of shootings on the interstate. Shootings or shoot outs at the fair, the mall food court, the movie theater, etc. Inequality is really bad. Memphis is a low tax/low social services city. Most of the city government budget is used for cops and fire department. You also get roads paved with bike lanes never used. Parks get mowed every 28 days. And that’s about it. Memphis was a hugely important city in terms of cultural influence on America 60+ years ago. Much wealthier then, but the industry we had went away and the cotton fields got paved over for warehouses. We weren’t a state capital, didn’t have a major research university, and sit on the border of 3 states in the Mississippi Delta. So yeah, your money will go far here, if you got some.

    2. Eclair

      I see that our neighbor to the north, Buffalo, NY, is on the list. My spouse and I visited the city two weeks ago, to go to the library at Buffalo State (distinct from SUNY Buffalo). My vision of Buffalo has always been the Amtrak route through the decaying factories and dilapidated grain elevators of the city’s outer ring. That and the Weather Channel’s annual presentation of the Buffalo snow emergency, with residents shoveling out their buried cars.

      Buffalo State is near the Niagara River, a lovely grassy and tree-lined area of museums, libraries and old houses. The river is narrow here, one can almost touch Canada on the opposite bank. I remarked to my spouse that, if things got really bad, we could jump in and swim to freedom.

      1. inode_buddha

        Too bad salaries are more than 20% below the national average for the same jobs in Buffalo. The charm wears off once you get to know the place…. I know, I’ve spent my life in and around Buffalo.

        1. Wukchumni

          Too bad the St Lawrence seaway was developed & opened to ship traffic, allowing the Quagga & Zebra mussels to take over the Great Lakes, while making formerly important ports such as Cleveland & Buffalo redundant, leading to their demise commercially.

        2. Arizona Slim

          My mother was born and raised in Buffalo. She went out of state for her college education and came back for a few months before she got married.

          I can’t help thinking that, for Mom, a wedding ring was her ticket out.

    3. jefemt

      Being over 60, the likelihood of being hired by a company, to commit to the Faustian bargain of the employer/employee paradigm, has in my experience been a non-starter.
      I have in the past worked for two ‘world’ class organizations, in sales and management, so have a pretty good resume and diverse applied professional experience on an objective, level playing field. Many billions competeing for those slots.
      As my dearly departed dad told my sister (not the boys in the family- don’t discourage them from the rat race!!), “They put you on the shelf after 55….”

      It seems to me the trend and goal for companies is to automate, engage independent contractors— run as fast and far away from the employment paradigm as possible. Every penny saved in salary and benefits goes straight to the bottom line. Management issues and tussles are eliminated. Feature- not -bug win-win!

      Articles like this one are interesting- I read them compulsively– but they do drive me nuts.

    4. diptherio

      I want to know how it is that the average salary for listed jobs in all those cities is more than the median household income for the country as a whole. What’s that about?

      1. Carla

        A lot of people in this country don’t have jobs?

        OR, maybe not all the jobs “listed” that comprise the average don’t actually exist?

        In many, many households, perhaps no one has a salaried job.

        1. inode_buddha

          I have seen lots of companies in the last 20 yrs, post fake listings with grossly manipulated salaries. They will post a huge number to get applicants in, then re-run the ad with a much lower number the next month.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Cities v. rural and smaller cities.

        Birmingham, which is on the list, has had an overall decline in population since 1990 (which is why housing is cheap) but along with Huntsville has shown the best growth post crisis. So think of how, say, Montgomery and Mobile are doing.

    5. Goyo Marquez

      The Sacramento, #6, data seems mistaken, $75,200 average salary vs. really like earning $73,700. Not that I’d be surprised if those were the correct numbers, just doesn’t make sense to be at #6.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, and I’m told the locals perceive Sacramento to be expensive, at least relative to government incomes. Too many high paid lobbyists distorting the housing market.

  4. zagonostra

    >Dem Debates (sic)

    Went over to NYT to see how the establishment ranked last nights debate. They have the following as having performed best in descending order: Warren, Harris, Booker, Buttigieg, Rourke, Biden, Sanders, Klobuchar, Castro, and Yang.

    To rank the performance of Biden over Sanders says all you need to know about how disingenuous and corrupt the establishment national “news” organizations are and confirms my distrust of Warren.

    ABC/Disney questions were pathetic and the format was nothing less than demeaning and not worthy of
    a cheap game show or beauty pageant.

    Leaves one very depressed and hoping for some third party emergence. Hudson’s recently posted take on the DNC was validated in spades last night.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Given Joe Biden’s devotion to harming millions of people with the power of his position, let him suffer the humiliation of slow decay and personal delamination in front of millions of viewers. I hope he knows and feels exactly what is happening to him.

  5. WobblyTelomeres

    Re Huawei backdoors

    What is surprising is the amount of software in modern processors. However, a “backdoor” may be as simple as a somewhat sticky bit, say one that predictably and reliably contains a ‘1’ ever so slightly more often than a ‘0’, perhaps 51 out of 100 reads, in a hardware random number generator register. If Huawei allows the NSA full software source code access, it wouldn’t reveal this tendency.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      With the source code documentation and everything else Huawei are willing to share, the NSA wouldn’t be able to reverse engineer the processors to find any oddities indicating a backdoor? Also, sharing source code usually means sharing methods as well, doesn’t it?

      1. Acacia

        Source code doesn’t reveal backdoors in the hardware. As Wobbly says: the software and hardware can be documented to work in one expected way… until it doesn’t. But there is no way to figure this out by looking at the source code.

        Also… what if Huawei turns over source code that has been minimized? All variable names turned into meaningless letters and numbers. Good luck reverse-engineering that. The NSA could ask Huawei for the original, and they could simply say: “this IS the original; the function of the code is perfectly clear to our engineers; look, if you can’t read code, maybe your guys need to go back to school”.

        There are lots of games that can be played here.

        E.g., remember when the US gov went after Microsoft about Internet Explorer being bundled with the OS (United States v. Microsoft Corporation)? Bill Gates famously testified, something to the extent that “oh, it is built into the OS — we can’t just unbundle it” and the DOJ pretty much folded like a cheap suit.

        1. gamesjon

          The article says

          For a one-time fee, a transaction would give the buyer perpetual access to Huawei’s existing 5G patents, licences, code, technical blueprints and production know-how. The acquirer could modify the source code…

          This offer does in fact include all the components, unless my mind is blanking on something at the moment, necessary to deal with all claimed fears & issues with Huawei’s technology. It is definitely a workable starting point. There are of course things that require technical expertise during the negotiations to not allow any cracks for stuff to slip through, but that is necessary in any sort of deal & I would assume that said expertise would also be involved in this one.

          Of course this offer could in fact be Huawei trying to bluff the U.S., but that is only something that can be actually established in the process of negotiating when they end up unwilling to agree to the requisite language to prevent any of those cracks. However, if the U.S. is unwilling to even use this offer as a starting point to find that out, then that would make it virtually certain that all the claimed issues here are just a smokescreen for something else.

          I would guess if the latter were to happen it would be over the fear that Huawei would be less amenable to voluntarily cooperating with the U.S. in its own spying & of an increased difficulty to apply legal pressure to force them to comply if necessary. The U.S. finds both of those things rather easy with companies based in the U.S. & even with companies based in nations on friendly terms with the U.S. than China is.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            See the comment above as to how the code might be written and/or presented, as in such a low-level manner as to be not readable by an independent party. And technical blueprints won’t expose backdoors or subtle performance issues that could be used to anchor a backdoor.

        2. Anon

          Microsoft stated that the merging of Windows and IE was the result of innovation and competition, that the two were now the same product and inextricably linked, and that consumers were receiving the benefits of IE free. Opponents countered that IE was still a separate product which did not need to be tied to Windows, since a separate version of IE was available for Mac OS. They also asserted that IE was not really free because its development and marketing costs may have inflated the price of Windows.

          The case was tried before Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The DOJ was initially represented by David Boies. Compared to the European Decision against Microsoft, the DOJ case is focused less on interoperability and more on predatory strategies and market barriers to entry.[2]—Wikipedia

          Bill Gates was proven to be a disingenuous prevaricator during that Antitrust trial (2001).

          1. Procopius

            My memory is that the judge declared Microsoft to be a predatory monopoly. Those were the days when there were still several magazines for hobbyists, and I remember Robert X. Cringely using that phrase (“.. the world’s only court-designated predatory monopoly …”) whenever he referred to Microsoft.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        By compromising the RNG, perhaps one based on reverse-biased transistors suitable for quantum cryptography, the entire edifice built on top of the RNG is untrustworthy. This can be accomplished with a very slight alteration to the composition of a single transistor or resistor, which are a few nanometers across. Don’t care who you are, you’re not going to find that particular backdoor. And once you can break the encryption, the world’s your oyster (or Bob’s your uncle).

  6. LaRuse

    Another multi-decade GRRM fan here. I too am so sorry he won’t finish the series; Dany and Jon deserved the ending he would have given them. Melanie Rawn left me similarly bereft way back in the 90s when she abandoned her Exiles trilogy after two books with killing off the most beloved character in the books and never bringing the series to its conclusion. You would think I would be over that loss but not yet, evidently.
    With that, I am very open to suggestions for a good fantasy series that the author of did manage to bring to a satisfying conclusion. Please and thank you!

    1. Jim A.

      Personally, I’d like to see some of his Haviland Tuf stories put to film. Conlith Hill (who played Varys) would be perfect for the part. Indeed I have a suspicion that he read the Tuf stories because his take on Varys resembles him.

    2. prodigalson

      This is like Robert Jordan and his obvious upcoming death before he could finish the wheel of time. GRRM is on exactly the same track, the books take longer to come out each time, they’re thicker each time, and less happens to move the plot forward each time.

      Granted with GRRM he’s got a payday now and other writers can do the job for him so his incentives have likely changed.

      Sometimes this happens to video game franchises too. The Mass Effect series got nuked by it’s own creators at the end of its trilogy in such a way that it basically killed the entire franchise. (imagine if star wars ended a movie by destroying the force and killing every force user in the galaxy, or if star trek turned everyone into the borg and caused warp tech to stop working) EA is the ultimate owner and i’m surprised they let a future funding stream off itself like that.

    3. False Solace

      GRRM is continuing to plug away at his series. Here’s an interview from 2 weeks ago where he says so. His intended ending didn’t totally make it into the HBO adaptation, that’s all.

  7. Wukchumni

    Cubed wombat poop, why your left nut runs hot, among Ig Nobel winners ars technica
    I’ve only seen it maybe 3 or 4 times, a bear’s first poop after hibernating looks remarkably like a can of soup, as things were backed up awhile.

  8. Watt4Bob

    DNC is obviously taking chances with Biden’s health by experimenting with brain-enhancing drugs, maybe micro doses of ibogaine, or adrenochrome?

    The industrial strength cosmetics could barely cover up the swirling paisley patterns under his skin, and it’s certainly venturing too close to the edge, what with unreliable, and possibly contaminated Chinese blood pressure medicines, and his rumored aneurysms.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      he looks so fragile and tentative he can’t be comfortable up there on stage, he’s in so far over his head and he knows it. excruciating. my mom* remarked in anticipation of this debate, “they need a centrist who’s not senile”

      *most people who share my values in real life, in contrast to those on this blog, don’t see a way for Bernie to win by taking the oligarchy on directly as he is… very discouraging

    2. Eclair

      Good goddess! ‘Radio and record player!’ I’m two years older than Biden and even I know that people don’t use ‘record players.’ His mind is back in the, what, 1950’s?

      1. Wukchumni

        When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.’

        Joe in 2008

      2. Win Smith

        It would have to be pre-1940’s at least. If you listen carefully in the video at about 1:45 he begins to say phonograph but stops himself after the first syllable. If Sanders had done the same …

        1. Wukchumni

          What if Joe had mentioned ‘the vinyl solution’ last night, as he still had all his 45’s from the 50’s?

        2. chuck roast

          You guys ought to get out more often. Young folks are actually grooving on vinyl again. In the last ten years the vinyl sections of music stores have expanded dramatically.
          Presumably, they have some cash, because they cost in $20-$25 range.
          I can see Old Uncle Joe doddering around a “record store” looking for Dean Martin and Vic Damone platters.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks. I didn’t know that, and had been wondering what to do with the records from decades ago.

      3. polecat

        I still play vinyl … on a GASP ! .. record player, hooked into a vintage stereo receiver …. does that mark me for an anachronism ??
        And vinyl IS having a revival of sorts right now …

        As for ol Joe, that huggable gaseous bag of methane .. Disincorporation is where it’s at – and that’s a really big deal, man !

      4. Anon

        Eight track tapes came into being in 60’s. But Jazz oficionados are still using vinyl records. Don’t think Ol Joe is into Jazz music.

    3. Goyo Marquez

      One of the comments to that tweet about Biden has a Biden quote from 2007 explaining why schools in Iowa perform better than schools in DC,

      “There’s less than one percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There’s probably less than four or five percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you’re dealing with.”

      Well between Trump and Biden what white people secretly think about black and brown people is finally being made public. The DNC has obviously concluded that Trump won because of racists and so now they need to go after the racist vote.

      Is this a bizzaro version of the United States of America?

    4. Roy G

      Shades of HST!

      Under the headline “Big Ed Exposed as Ibogaine Addict,” in the April chapter of the serialized work, Thompson claimed that Muskie was addicted to a hallucinogenic drug called ibogaine. The prank was intended in part to test the gullibility of his fellow members of the press, who apparently proved susceptible to running with the false story. In the work, HST colorfully described the effect of the drug on Muskie, “given the known effects of ibogaine… Muskie’s brain was almost paralyzed by hallucinations… he looked out at the crowd and saw gila monsters instead of people”.

      1. Watt4Bob

        When I was a kid I thought HST was incredible hyperbole, I read him now and it sounds like a completely rational description of the politicians, their staffs, the media and advisors.

        It would take HST to properly describe HRC giving a $Billion dollars to 5 consultants and loosing to Trump.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Has the DUP offered Boris Johnson a Brexit lifeline? Party ‘drops its objections to some border checks across the Irish Sea’ in dramatic shift of the red lines that sank Theresa May Daily Mail

    As Slugger O’Toole notes, the DUP denied this immediately, which strongly suggests that its London that is leaking stories about the DUP weakening its stance – this indicates that they are inching towards the notion of a WA based on ‘tweak’ of the backstop which would, in effect, be an Irish Sea border (maybe they think otherwise, but I assume they know the EU will not accept anything less).

    Its hard to say whether this is the usual misdirection or not, but it does at least indicate that No.10 sees ditching the DUP as at least one of the options available on the table and wants to throw it out there that maybe its not a complete betrayal of their lovely loyalist allies.

  10. Acacia

    Re: Huawei calls the US intel community’s bluff. Yes, naturally it is possible to have a backdoor via hardware. The first two paragraphs of the article indicate that the author doesn’t understand quantum communication. Then I looked at who wrote the article — Spengler — and stopped reading further.

    This is a subject that needs to be treated by somebody that really understands technology, not a demographics-is-destiny ideologue.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Exactly, what’s being misunderstood is the fact that a mastery of quantum computing/encryption would not only allow defeat of current encryption technologies, it would also allow for undetectable remote access.

      The article amounts to clueless cheerleading for technology by a mediocre mind that assumes anyone with questions/objections must be a luddite.

      And I have yet to hear anyone raise the issue of 5G’s ability to allow for the location of individuals in real time, to an accuracy of a couple meters?

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        And I have yet to hear anyone raise the issue of 5G’s ability to allow for the location of individuals in real time, to an accuracy of a couple meters?

        That capability and accuracy is already built into the phones via the embedded GPS.

  11. Wukchumni

    I kept waiting for a salient discussion in regards to climate change last night, and I had a much better chance at half of the candidates practically leaping over the Moon in their praise of Obamacare & in general Saint Obama’s myriad of accomplishments, imagined or imagined.

    There was no way Biden was ever gonna cop to being part of the Obama deportation machine when pressed to do so by Jorge Ramos.

    1. Roy G

      Rev, I lived in NYC when 9/11 happened, and the day after the tabloid headlines all ablaze about ‘The Dancing Muslims,’ further fanning the anti-Muslim blaze that started about 1 minute after the first plane hit. Eventually, the real story came out that they were Israelis (and Mossad!), but the outrage was a magnitude less because it didn’t fit the narrative.

      Not coincidentally, but a year before, after I first moved to NYC to pursue my MFA, I met an tall, attractive Israeli girl at a student party. She was very friendly, even as her friends, 4 or 5 thuggish looking Israelis were not. It only occurred to me much later that they were part and parcel of the Israeli ‘art students’ spy ring.

      That so many Americans are so sanguine about news like Israel spying on the White House just goes to show the effectiveness of the propaganda apparatus. Even with a potentially explosive story like this it just takes a handful of commenters that say ‘every country spies, so what’s the big deal?’ and the bovine herds quiet right down.

    2. Baby Gerald

      Thanks for sharing this link, Rev Kev. Comedian Sam Tripoli has a great extended interview with Whitney Webb covering this and many other related topics on his ‘Tin Foil Hat’ podcast. It’s kind of remarkable that the ‘dancing Israelis’ story didn’t get mention at all when everyone was hopping on Trump’s claim that there were ‘Muslims dancing’ and that he’d seen videos of it, or some such. Instead of correcting him at the time and saying, ‘No, those people seen dancing and high-fiving each other were actually five Israeli operatives that eventually got deported.’ everyone responded as if he was talking his usual brand of crazy.

      Sam is an acquired taste but I presume his ‘question everything’ sensibility will appeal to a large cross section of NC readers.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Those Israelis were not the only ones deported. After 9/11 the entire commercial aviation fleet was grounded for the whole of the United States and the skies were clear of contrails for the first time in decades. Oh, except for those aircraft that were picking up those Saudi princes and members of bin Laden’s family, some of whom the FBI were screaming needed to be detained for interrogation due to their activities. This story was denied after but it actually happened.
        Come to think of it, there was a lot of denial going on at the time. I watched a street interview with a New York official just after the attack who came out and denied that any people ever jumped from those towers (rather than being burnt to death). He said it never happened as Americans do not do stuff like that in spite of the films showing this to be exactly the case. I can think of no reason why an official would ever come out with such a bogus claim but make it he did.

    3. Acacia

      Thanks for this link to the Whitney Webb article. Interesting to see how the photos are “redacted”, with big white squares over the faces, buildings in the background erased, etc. It’s almost John Baldessari-esque. Some contemporary artist could lift this graphic style and do a whole series of images of “redacted” NATO members.

      Funny how the FBI now has people on the payroll whose job is to carefully protect the identity of Mossad agents who just coincidentally knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened.

  12. Deb Schultz

    With regard to greedy hospitals. Netflix is streaming “Diagnosis”, a series featuring Dr Lisa Saunders who writes a column on mystery diseases for the NYT. The program supposedly celebrates the wonders of crowd sourcing as a means of discovering just what is afflicting someone who hasn’t been able to get a diagnosis.

    The first “case” is a young woman suffering from a somewhat rare metabolic disorder which has caused her to make numerous ER visits. At the time of the filming, she has had no genetic testing done, she has been sued for failure to pay the costs accrued by these unproductive visits and things are getting worse and worse. This has been going on for 9 years.

    Enter the Good Fairy Dr Saunders! Soon the girl is getting free testing from a hospital in Turin where they give her a diagnosis and a management plan. Everything is wonderful!

    This patient’s problem did not require crowd sourcing. It required a care system that doesn’t begin with a trip to an American ER where bills pile up for “treatment” and diagnosis is the responsibility of the patient’s private insurance coverage.

    I found it pretty remarkable that Dr Saunders and her NYT editors were so pleased by this opportunity for Dr Saunders to “help”. All of them make far more money than the young afflicted woman. And no doubt they have much better insurance and absolutely they have huge leverage over the system through their network of privileged connections.

    Indeed, that leverage and network are what has allowed them to do this thing they feel is somehow a social good. Yes it made the patient’s health better. But Italy paid for her care. And the episode doesn’t advocate for a change in our system in any way directly.

    I think in this instance crowd sourcing tends to bypass systems in a way that makes participants feel virtuous without doing much to empower participants to change the system for all users.

      1. polecat

        A kinder term for wealth transfer, as it pertains to the parasitic Medical•Industrial•Complex is .. ‘Tapeworm’ …

    1. T

      Thanks. I’ve not watched in fear that the “mystery” is simply lack of medical care that is available to me, thanks to my job with a giant organization that offers sweet benefits to get an edge in hiring.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Obesity is the leading cause of death in America. When will we talk about it?”

    Bill Maher called for fat shaming last week? Well excuse me but there are only two – still alive – comedians that I will take advice from and neither of them is a neocon sell-out. One is Jimmy Dore and the other is Chris Rock. Worried about obesity? How about taxing junk food and using the money raised to subsidize fruit and vegetables for poorer people. It is ridiculous how it is cheaper to feed people junk food rather than real food. Fat shaming? Reminds me of smoker shaming-

    1. Carolinian

      One hates to agree with the smarmy Maher but we do need to talk about it. Where I live it’s hardly uncommon to see people using those store supplied motorized shopping carts because they are too fat to walk. Americans are definitely getting fatter and while “shaming” may be the wrong word, an intervention is called for and social pressure is what rules the land. Complacency about the obesity epidemic is hardly a “safe space”–particularly for those who will experience bad health from habits which, without a doubt, society is encouraging via the food we eat and the desire for lots of couch potatoes glued to those TV sets and websites.

      1. Wukchumni

        Friends are lifelong cigarette smokers, probably around 40 years for a couple I know, and i’ve known em’ 25 years, and to watch the hoops they’re forced to jump through in lighting up are nearly draconian, not to mention the always going up state taxes on their addiction.

        Try this:

        Light up a cigarette inside a mall @ the food court. and you’ll be arrested in a hurry if you don’t put it out, but order something deep-fried that has 2,000 calories, and it’s no big deal.

        How do we make bad food choices as repugnant as tobacco?

        1. Baby Gerald

          Light up a cigarette inside a mall @ the food court. and you’ll be arrested in a hurry if you don’t put it out, but order something deep-fried that has 2,000 calories, and it’s no big deal.

          How do we make bad food choices as repugnant as tobacco?

          One of the keys to banning smoking was the effort to prove, however tenuously, that smoking not only harms the smoker but those immediately around them. So, if we can somehow find a way to show that overweight people are killing not only themselves but those around them, we can elevate fat shaming to a moral duty.

      2. Kevin

        I frequent upper northeast Michigan. I have witnessed firsthand the proliferation of “Dollar Generals” and “Family Dollars” in these towns, sometimes both exist in a town of a couple hundred. They have quite impressive grocery aisles, that is, until you look at the processed crap they carry.
        Good grocery stores, with “healthy” meat and vegetables are difficult to come by and these stores are filling in the gaps.

        1. Wukchumni

          When a Dollar General, a check cashing/payday loan place, and a rent-to-own furniture-appliance store shows up in your town, the grim reaper of commerce has arrived.

          1. ambrit

            Oh s—! We have multiple iterations of all three ‘wealth extraction operations’ in our mini-metropolis. Around here we also have several examples of ‘by your bootstraps’ business endeavours, the most notable being the Mexican run tyre stores. (Second hand tyres, no lie, at first hand prices. [Work out the cost per mile one day and you’ll know what I mean.]) Oh, and Lamberts fave, big auto tyre rim rent to own outlets. We have several.
            My inner cynic is waiting to see a “rent to own” medical practice. (Your body being the surety for the bill. Wait till you see the repo truck!)

      3. KidPsych

        There remains a rather significant knowledge gap between what we know about weight gain and what is disbursed in the media. A 53, I’m more fit than I have ever been. This has occurred through consumption of scientific knowledge, rather than an unnatural ability to abstain from food. I first shifted to a keto diet, and then over the past two years have been relying on fasting. One should proceed the other because once one’s body is fat-adapted, fasting is easy.

        I know this is not just for me. In my own small practice, one of my partners, who is 50 and was struggling with weight gain and high blood pressure, listened to my spiel and lost 25 pounds and 50 points on his blood pressure with keto and fasting. My intake coordinator apparently took in my advice and has lost 7 pounds in the past two weeks via fasting (she downloaded an app that provides alternating fasting times, which is pretty cool.) I guarantee that when I walk in this morning, she will tell me how she has lost another pound and remark about how easy it is.

        The comment earlier about metabolism resetting when one diets is true. However, with fasting this does not occur. If anyone is interested, I’d recommend searching fasting expert Jason Fung and go from there. His remark that what he’s selling is free (and why it’s not widely accepted) should appeal to many here.

        1. T

          If true, why is this not true for domestic and captive animals? Or for wild creatures who live near garbage dumps or endure drought?

          Not trying to be fighty, just think we need to accept that many of us effectively have disordered eating for a variery of reasons including our own individual experiences and attitudes.

        2. CanCyn

          Losing 25 or even 50 pounds is way different than losing over 100 pounds. The metabolism doesn’t re-set so easily for the very obese when they lose weight. Yves’ contention that you have to be pretty obsessive to keep weight off once you lose it is somewhat proven by the fact that a keto diet and fasting actually works. That would be a very difficult regime for a lot of people. How do you retrain/teach an adult who eats lots of sugar and fat, very little unprocessed food, few to no fruits and vegetables, has no culture of cooking in their family, etc. to go on the keto diet and occasionally fast?

        3. kareninca

          I tried fasting before menopause (I wasn’t overweight; it was for blood sugar) and it sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. Now, after menopause, I don’t have that problem. Fung ignores this possible sex difference. People should be warned to keep an eye on their blood pressure if they fast, just in case.

      4. scarn

        Shaming doesn’t work. There is already a ton of social pressure not to be fat. Nearly every single piece of advertising tells the public that winners are fit and losers are fat. Every commodity is sexualized, from chocolate to water to air freshener to you name it. Fat people are already shamed constantly, and it’s been this way for decades. People who already feel physically unhealthy are made to feel like they are morally bad because of it, yet the obesity rate continues to rise.

        I say this as a guy who works out six days a week and counts 95% of the calories and nutrients I consume: people are fat because capitalism makes them fat. Highly processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor food is cheap in both money and time. You don’t need to prepare it and people are comforted by the salty, sugary oilyness of it. If we want less obesity, we are going to need to make processed food scarce and make nutrient rich, whole foods ubiquitous and cheap. We will need to replace fast food chains with equivalent time convenient choices that serve healthy alternatives. Capitalism will never do that on its own.

        1. notabanker

          “make nutrient rich, whole foods ubiquitous and cheap”
          One wonders if this is indeed possible for entire populations. Industrial grown fruits and vegetables are expensive in supermarkets, organics doubly so. Farmer’s markets almost always come at a premium and are seasonal. Restaurants that focus on natural healthy choices charge large premiums to those that don’t.

          Economic foods made in industrial complexes are inherently going to be saturated with additives, if for no other reason than preservation. And obviously there are profit motivations to add fillers and cheap calories. But even if you were to miraculously eliminate those, I’m not sure there is capacity to replace it with truly healthy and nutritious alternatives.

          1. Another Scott

            You mean industrial grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and veggies (even organic ones) are cheap and have nutritional values equal to exceeding fresh ones. They also take less time to prepare, which is a big barrier for a lot of working class people (don’t underestimate its role in people. Yet they are often stigmatized and not included in many recipes.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Those are important points. The only frozen fruit and veg I eat are berries and spinach. I should rethink that.

              Also (admittedly there are issues with the cans) canned beans (like black beans) cut way into prep time v. cooking them from dried.

              1. polecat

                For beans, we use an electric pressure cooker. Prep time is 15 min. chopping onions & bell peppers + polecat’s special bean spices .. cooking time is 25-30 min. once the cooker is at pressure. We soak the beans (1 1/2 lbs.) in cold water with 2 Tsp. of salt, in the morning, then drain before cooking in the evening. Easy peasy !
                People really need to jump out of hyper-drive, slow down a bit, and learn how to cook. It’s not that hard .. plus you save $$$ doing so.

            2. kareninca

              Frozen broccoli is not as good (but can be made to be so):

              “Frozen veggies are the convenience-fiend’s dream; they’re usually as healthy as fresh, and sometimes they’re even more nutrient-dense. But not always. Take frozen broccoli, which unfortunately just doesn’t measure up to fresh. The freezing process obliterates the compound sulforaphane, which is one of broccoli’s active ingredients in fighting inflammation and cancer.

              But don’t go on a freezer-strike quite yet. A new study published in the Journal of Food Science found an easy fix to the frozen broccoli dilemma: just sprinkle a little daikon radish on top. The missing compound is abundant in radish, and when paired with broccoli, it reactivates the enzyme. ” (

              1. Drake

                Depends on what is meant by fresh. If it means fresh-picked, then fresh wins. But any produce that has made it to a supermarket is probably days old, and was likely picked before it was ripe. Frozen produce is typically flash-frozen right after being picked, so can be superior to “fresh”.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    No, there was a big backlash against it when the tech was new. Consider: we would not need chlorinated chicken if we had irradiation, now would we?

                    1. The Rev Kev

                      I guess that that make Oz one of the 40-odd guinea pig countries for this technology. And here I was thinking that the glow to my skin was caused by sheer animal health.

                    2. drumlin woodchuckles

                      The EUropeans don’t have chlorinated chicken. If they don’t irridiate their non-chlorinated chicken either, then how do they have non-salmonella and non-listeria chicken?

                      Or maybe the question should be, when did chicken in America become so rich in salmonella and listeria that chlorination became necessary to kill the evidence?

                    3. ambrit

                      Re. drumlin’s point, one just has to see the inside of an American commercial chicken processing plant to know where the pathogens come from. I have seen those places in action and wonder at the low number of ‘accidents’ reported. The speeds at which the workers are expected to interact with dangerous machinery are the essence of ‘dehumanization.’ Cleanliness is also ‘questionable’ on some days.
                      There are good reasons for having inspectors with unscheduled routines.
                      That would be a good stunt. Start up a “Peoples Agricultural Inspection Service.” Just showing up at the gates of a big processing plant and demanding access to “independently verify” corporation health and safety claims would make wonderful political theatre.

          2. scarn

            Those are great points. I would say that market forces will never provide this, and it’s only possible in the USA if food is de-commodified. Food chains provide similarity across the whole nation. The farm worker who lunches at McDonalds is having a copy of the taste experience that Trump is having at the White House that day. Possibly, that sort of mass similarity can only be accomplished with a lot of salt and fat. Perhaps food science could accomplish a similar effect if profit was not the goal. Either way, it seems likely to me that this national-industrial similarity would need to go. Raw food materials would need to be distributed to local cookhouses for preparation, at high subsidy. On the upside, regional and local differences would quickly multiply. Aside from removing food from the marketplace, providing working people with more time to prep food would lead to less demand for “fast” alternatives. Obviously capitalism ain’t going to do this. It’s a working class political demand that is anti-capitalist and pro-human.

            Some of the healthiest cuisine I ever ate was in Oaxacan market squares. Very poor people were eating very cheap, very healthy food that was not particularly labor-intensive to make. Perhaps something like that could be semi-industrialized, if the state would step in and manage it.

          3. Henry Moon Pie

            For a century, we’ve been radically reducing the number of people engaged in growing food. Not only have we gotten rid of small farmers, but we’ve also de-skilled a large part of the population so that fewer people are growing any of their own food.

            That must be reversed and fast. Industrial farming is destroying future capacity to grow food. It’s essentially eating our seed corn. More restorative practices like permaculture may aim for reducing labor in the long term, but they are very labor intensive initially if converting abused land into something healthier.

            There are positive signs in unlikely places. I attended a “fest” last weekend with a neighbor. A number of different facilities were combined at this site located in the heart of one of my city’s most dangerous neighborhoods: a state university extensions service test farm; a composting facility; an organic food growing enterprise. There were a lot of positive things taking place there and a significant degree of neighborhood interest judging by the turnout.

            We have newly established vineyards and orchards near us along with many community gardens. Many people in what have been food deserts are engaging with growing things, including a lot of young people.

            People’s interest in growing food is increasing in many places as evidenced by the discussions on the Water Cooler, but this all needed to be ramped up decades ago. We can only deal from this point on, so we’d better get to it.

        2. Wyoming

          Let me throw in a bit of contrariness. People are fat because they sit around and consume more calories than they burn. The makeup of the calories is of secondary importance.

          While I think you have a point about diet and processed foods it is way overstated. It certainly is not a solution all on its own. It can be part of the solution, but other things are also required. Even more important than not eating processed foods is lack of sufficient physical activity.

          Most Americans simply do not move. I am somewhat similar to you in that I work out almost every day and have done so for most of my life (65+ years), but unlike you I have eaten far from a great diet over that time and still do not. For example I eat a couple of Whopper meals a week, meat every day, a fair amount of canned goods and chips and such. A fair amount of vegetables as well. But I totally ignore organic (even though I once owned and operated an organic vegetable farm). I eat lots of fat and a high salt diet. I weigh less than I did when I was 20 and am pretty ripped (for a 65+ year old), have excellent blood work and no physical problems related to the poor diets Americans often suffer from. I realize that I am not data and this might just be because I have an exceptional body, but there is lots of evidence out there which might indicate that ones level of physical activity is the primary path to basic health and a better body size.

          Americans are very sedentary and have loads of chronic physical ailments. When you can get them up and active for a significant period of time the measurements of all those physical ailments improve – regardless of their diets. A better diet just makes the improvements more measurable. Watching sports, watching TV, using cars for getting around, playing video games are just as detrimental as what you eat.

          1. scarn

            Great response! I’m 40 years old, and you are basically describing where I intend to be in 30 years. I love meeting people your age who remind the world that good habits and a little discipline lead to excellent results over time.

            I don’t really disagree with anything you write here. I myself eat plenty of meat, and don’t care at all about organics. I go through periods where I eat a lot of fast food. I love beer. And I absolutely agree that to be healthy a person must move around, every single day. I’d argue that a person should break a sweat because of exertion, at a minimum, every single day. In my experience, nothing builds habits that are likely to lead to good choices like physical fitness. Nothing even comes close.

            On the question of obesity alone, I do think that what I wrote above still stands, though. It’s much easier to eat 200 calories than it is to burn 200 calories. Moving is hard, eating is easy. Most people will choose what is easy, not what is best for them. So, to reduce obesity and it’s health effects, we need to reduce access to calorie-dense, cheap food. Not because it’s less nutritious (though it usually is), but because we need to reduce the ease of over consumption. We need to make less calories easier and cheaper to consume than more calories. That’s a utopian dream, at this point in human society, ha.

          2. Anon

            Oh, Boy! It’s the end of my day, so I don’t have much time

            Calories are NOT all the same in how they interact with body metabolism. Drink 3000 calories a day of Coca Cola for a week and you’ll see what I mean.

            Activity is important for good health, but it can’t overcome a bad diet. (And don’t tell me about your teenage son– body metabolism at 18 is not the same as at 40.)

          3. Oregoncharles

            This is essentially what my doctor just told me. He was actually talking about half an hour of aerobic exercise a day (I usually get more, being a gardener with a large property). More would be better. Our ancestors ran down wild animals, or spent the day digging. That’s what we’re adapted to.

            1. ambrit

              My ancestors spent their time running away from large predators, especially the two legged kind. (Scots, Erse, and a mysterious short, black haired, mystical sort of Pole.)
              I would not neglect family medical histories either. My forebears, the male gendered ones, tended to die young. The averages conceal the particulars.

        3. Medbh

          I believe there are multiple contributors to the obesity epidemic, and many of them are outside of individuals’ control or knowledge. However, there is one social aspect that seems to have changed, in that healthy behaviors are now perceived as abnormal and embarrassing, rather than the other way around.

          I have a 12 year old daughter who is in girl scouts. My daughter is very active in sports and has a very strong/slim/athletic build. We hosted a girl scout camping trip, and only two girls out of the entire troop of 12 was not obese. One of the parents was talking about her daughter having high blood pressure and being pre-diabetic.

          Almost all of the girls’ eating habits were appalling. As one example, one girl ate at least 8 cups of plain spagetti noodles with about a quarter cup of butter for dinner. Another girl ate 16 marshmallows and 2 chocolate bars with smores (my husband was watching and finally pulled them after she went for the 3rd candy bar). There seemed to be no recognition of healthy portions or self control. I don’t even understand how they could consume so much without getting sick. 12/13 year olds are old enough to feed themselves and shouldn’t need food police. A number of the girls easily had a 2000 calorie dinners, not even including all the other soda and meals they had that day.

          There was a ton of healthy food (fresh berries, cut veggies, etc.), but aside from the two thinner girls, no one touched them. At dinner, my daughter was told she was weird because she doesn’t drink soda and doesn’t eat enough (she ate everything, including the treats, but in reasonable portions).

          I think there is something to the idea of shame, at least from the perspective of lost standards. Similar to binge drinking, there’s something dangerous in allowing destructive and abnormal behavior to become unremarkable and shameless. People should be ashamed of self-destructive behavior (of all types), but at least in the case of overeating, it’s become weird to eat appropriately. People have no understanding and/or respect for what constitutes a reasonable portion size.

          Obese people definitely experience scorn and it’s obvious many of them feel terrible about their weight, but we now almost have reverse shaming of people who chose not to engage in warped eating behaviors. Shame implies some knowledge of right/wrong behavior, and external enforcement of social rules and standards.

          The U.S. has contradictory and twisted shaming related to eating and weight. No one wants to be fat, but you’re weird if you don’t engage in binging and other destructive eating/living behaviors that leads to obesity.

      5. Ted

        And … the epidemic has nothing to do with the industrial food system in the United States and the millions corporations spend to design foods that keep their eaters eating more? This reply reflects the extreme naivety that too often infects otherwise sensible people in this god forsaken country. I was reading Jacob Riis with students this week about the tenements in New York over a 100 years ago. The social reformers of his day totally got it, and placed the blame of urban ills exactly where it belonged, on the unchecked greed of the American business class. That remains the problem to this day.

        1. flora

          I agree. China has expanding western fast food franchises and a corresponding rise in obesity.


          Data from the China national surveys on the constitution and health in school children showed that the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children aged 7-18 years increased 28 times and obesity increased four times between 1985 and 2000 (figure),5 a trend that was particularly marked in boys.

          China seems like a good “experiment” that shows western diets, especially fast food, effects on weight gain, imo.

          1. Wyoming

            Once again it needs to be pointed out that attributing this all to diet is not justified.

            Along side this change in diet has been a cooresponding change in typical physical activity.

            There has been a large population shift from rural lifestyles to city lifestyles.
            Farming was a much more physically active lifestyle than sitting for 12 hours a day at a bench in a tech factory is.
            Many people now live in housing which is integral to their work vice the constant walking around required in rural areas.
            The growth of the vehicle fleet in China has been gargantuan. More people sitting instead of biking, walking to the bus, etc.
            Video gaming, tv, etc.

            Nothing occurs in a vacuum and all factors have impact.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Traditional Chinese dishes can be quite fattening. As China has become more prosperous, more have been consuming very tasty, and fattening, dumplings, Dong Po Pork, etc. It doesn’t have to be through Western diets, alone.

            On the other hand, replacing tea with sugared drinks can be a big contributor.

              1. Young

                Can anyone comment when “all you can eat buffets” became common in the USA?

                One can easily consume 5K calories for $10 in one of those places.

                1. pretzelattack

                  I remember them in the mid 70’s, there were some earlier but i don’t remember them being common.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    It seems to me that America put on a lot of weight after the advent of DIY all-you-drink soda fountains @ fast food restaurants.

                2. ambrit

                  I can remember my Dad explaining the psychology behind the methodologies used in a Sveden House Buffet Restaurant back in the late 1960’s. He knew the owner operator of the place. The sizes of the plates relative to the price point of the various foods was the key. The first station on the line was the salad bar. That spot had the largest plates. As you progressed down the line, the food became pricier and the plates shrunk in size. The idea was that the customer would load up on the cheaper eats first and then, in most ‘normal’ people, cut back on the more expensive stuff due to a subconscious calculation of how much you thought you could consume.
                  So, late 1960s at least for buffet style eateries.
                  Then, as Phyllis will sometimes wax nostalgic about, there were the lunch counters in many of the larger department stores, at least in New Orleans.
                  Lest I be accused of slighting the older generations, there were the ‘Automats’ of Depression era ‘fame.’
                  Going way back to Elizabethan times, a person eating out, and many did then in the city, one brought their own knife, (everyone carried one for many purposes,) and, if one were wealthy enough, a silver spoon. (The spoon was supposed to be a test of the freshness and safety of the food. If there was corruption or poison in a dish, the spoon was supposed to turn dark on contact.)
                  I wonder about life ‘between the two rivers’ back in the really ancient days. Where did travelers eat? The local temple of Marduk?

        2. Carolinian

          Sorry but I don’t accept the argument that the recent explosion in obesity is all about the US food supply. We have been eating fast food and processed, sugar enriched food for much longer than this current phenomenon.

          And to those who say fat people are already ashamed and neurotic about their condition I would observe that being overweight is coming to be the new normal among lower middle and working class people (not so much in my upper middle neighborhood). I believe this is Maher’s point. It’s not about “fat shaming” those who are genetically predisposed to be large but about refusing to accept this “new normal” among everyone else. Americans simply no longer get enough exercise and that is a matter of personal choice and not diet alone.

          1. T

            We eat more, we exercise less, and many foods have more sugar or more fat now thanks to the magic of modern farming.

            Be very suspicious when someone compares a steak dinner with a buttered baked potato and salad fromn1955 to today. The steak is fattier, per ounce, the butter has more fat, the tomatoes have more sugar. So even if you account for increases in portion sizes, the calorie comparison is off.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              When I was growing up, TV ends mostly around 11 or 11:30pm, and nothing really good in the late afternoon when one gets home from school or work.

              Nowadays, you have 24 hour TV, or professional football on a Thursday (whereas Monday night football, after a busy Sunday was exciting).

              I mean, that seems to say more people are watching more TV.

              And of course, video games were around until after I was in college. Back then, there wasn’t much to do sitting on the couch.

          2. scarn

            Body fat percentage is a function of diet much more than it is a function of activity. It’s much easier to consume 200 calories than it is to burn 200 calories. The issue is not so much increased sedentary behavior as it is increased caloric consumption over time.

            You yourself note that obesity is a strong class marker. Why do you think that is? Personal choices determine lots of individual outcomes, but why are there such clear mass trends? If you want to solve a social problem or change mass behavior, it’s never enough to just tell people to “be more moral”.

            1. Carolinian

              If you want to solve a social problem or change mass behavior, it’s never enough to just tell people to “be more moral

              Well then what is it a matter of?…forcing stores to stop selling processed food and taking the choice out of consumer hands? It’s worth saying that even now almost every grocery store has a produce section and I can guarantee you that I can buy raw carrots or potatoes or anything else cheaper than the canned or frozen version. People eat fast food and processed food for convenience, not to save money. So perhaps the class marker is that those upper middle class are less concerned about convenience, have more leisure time.

              But I also think we–corporate marketing and ordinary people as well–are taking the stigma out of obesity and that is what Maher is saying and I’m agreeing. Things are not always a victim situation. Adults do have some responsibility for themselves.

              1. scarn

                People eat fast food and processed food for convenience

                Convenience is a measure of free time, which working people have less of than other classes, which is part of the constitution of waged labor. People labor even off the clock to reconstitute themselves for the next bout of work. They got kids, chores, stresses, etc. They do what is convenient because it’s literally cheaper on every vector, in the short term. And I promise you that you cannot purchase the bundle of calories and convenient pleasure that a worker gets from the mcdonalds $1 menu at the supermarket.

                If you want to reduce obesity, then yes, obviously you need to take choice out of consumer hands. That’s true about everything! It’s why we can’t end climate change by shaming people into bicycling and using metal straws for pity’s sake. Big social change is made at the point of production, not at the point of consumption.

                Of course adults have some responsibility for themselves. We probably agree that temperance and diligence are virtues that lead to a pretty great life. Sadly, most people don’t form these habits just because someone tells them that they need to. Individuals vary, but systems produce results around a mean. Capitalism produces results where individual workers can become millionaires, but almost none will. Something similar is occurring with food: some individuals will buck the systemic trend, but most will take the easy road with the bad outcome. You can moralize all you want, but to change the outcomes you gotta change the system, not just preach.

            2. jrs

              there’s a link to class, weight may be about calories in and out (and how to maintain that with minimal hunger). But stress will determine WHERE you store those calories, more stress -> more storing in the abdomen -> greater health risk. Even some people of NORMAL weight store their fat in their abdomen due to stress, and it can be a health risk for them too. Now the link of stress to class could not be more clear (though adverse childhood experience plays it’s role as well, but the role of economics is huge).

              Also, class alone, not weight, is the #1 predictor of heart attack risk.

          3. CanCyn

            “Sorry but I don’t accept the argument that the recent explosion in obesity is all about the US food supply.”
            Read any research much? Pay attention to other countries at all?
            Food supply and the quantities of food we eat and our sedentary life style have definitely changed things.
            And yes, people do eat more than they used to – ever seen a Big Gulp from 7/11?
            Take the book the Joy of Cooking. Over time the recipes haven’t changed but portion size has. A pan of brownies that used to serve 16 now serves 10, many of the recipes are like that. Same recipe, fewer servings.
            I have a Wedgewood china pattern called Solar that has been around forever, my dinner plates are the size of most modern china lunch or side plates. They recently discontinued Solar and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit that it is because people think that the plates are too small.

            1. jrs

              Fat consumption is NOT down, only as a percentage of calories, but calories have increased. Uh that last part might be the punchline.

              From that link itself:
              “Since 1971, the shift in macronutrient share from fat to carbohydrate is primarily due to an increase in absolute consumption of carbohydrate as opposed to a change in total fat consumption”

              It’s like let’s assume simple unprocessed food that people ate a potato and a pat of butter before and now eat 2 potatoes and that same 1 pat of butter, it’s not that they decreased fat, they are just eating more. Getting fat on potatoes would admittedly be kinda hard, they eat junk more often.

          4. ArcadiaMommy

            I think there are several problems to manage. There are way too many addicting and sedentary activities (too many tv channels, video games, iPhone, Netflix etc.) I’ve noticed that a lot of boys at my kids’ school have blown up like balloons once they started playing video games. These are well off families that can afford to provide healthy food and activities. There is some sort of terrible reset in our expectations for physical activity and basic nutrition that has taken place. When half the fifth graders outweigh me, something is up.

          5. Yves Smith Post author

            I did a quick look and a study found that both energy expenditure and calorie intake fell from 1965 to 1977. So historically, people ate less as they did less physical work. And as indicate above, the obesity explosion didn’t start until 1980 or so.

      6. Bruce F

        I farm in NW Wisconsin, organic grains/row crops, after living in a hipstery part of Chicago for a long time. The change in shape/size/”healthy appearing people”/age has been a shock. A couple of days ago I was in my doc’s office for a physical and we started talking about this. He told me half of his patients are medically obese AND have some stage of diabetes. He put this down to diet and we agreed that the surrounding countryside of industrial feedstock (corn/beans) was a big part of the problem.

        It takes a massive effort to think of all what you know/knew as “food” is bad for you. Another big effort to start eating all those “weird” beans/pulses/grains/vegetables that in all likelyhood never make it to your local grocery.

        WalMart stocks collards, turnip greens, as well as a few industrial organic products. There are choices, but asking people to make the change seems to be too difficult for most. The resignation/defeatism/depression is palpable around here, 80 miles from “the big city” (Mlps/St. Paul). An internal colony.

        1. notabanker

          I was overseas in Europe and Asia for many years. Returning to the States, the diet and obesity issue was prominent, undeniable.

          I really question these “choices” debates. I lived in societies where this is just not anywhere near the size of the issue it is here. I have a very hard time telling myself it is because all of those people simply made better choices. My instinct tells me it is because of the choices made available to them.

      7. Geof

        Negative emotions like shame and guilt are likely to backfire. Combine shame with ordinary human weakness and you end up feeling that there’s no point even trying. It’s a lost cause. Might as well have a tasty treat and at least feel good for a moment.

        The solution is not making fat people feel bad about bad things: it’s making them feel good about good things. E.g., the lovely feeling of cooking real food and eating it with family. Craving good food will go a lot farther than wallowing in self-loathing over bad stuff.

        Besides, in my experience the key moment for eating junk isn’t the gross feeling afterwards, or the attempt to resist grabbing another cookie in the kitchen: it’s passing by in the grocery aisle. Avert the eyes for a few moments. Then it won’t be hanging around at home to tempt you. Willpower is an illusion, but out of sight is out of mind. No shame involved.

        Which makes me think that the real target should not be the food industry: it should be advertising. Advertising afflicts whatever it touches. Look at how social media polarizes us to hold our attention. Look at our excessive consumption and the impact on oceans and climate. (Plastic bags aren’t the problem: buying stuff is.) Rather than making finnicky rules, I would start with a blanket high tax on advertising.

        1. Basil Pesto

          One might also consider the Australian approach to cigarette advertising (without the tarred lungs and diseased eyeballs): ensure that manufacturers have to make the packaging for egregiously high-calorie products as plain as possible, particularly for products aimed at children.

    2. marcyincny

      Of course as long as their are huge industries making billion of dollars in dieting and medical care “talking” is isn’t going do anything change things and a populace addicted to cheap sugar+fat+salt, weakened by obesity and poor health isn’t likely to revolt.

      I’d say it’s all going according to plan…

      1. eg


        And there is increasing evidence that stress (and its hormonal markers like cortisol) is implicated in obesity.

        Neoliberalism kills — literally …

  14. russell1200

    Jim Crow Steal NC Election is a great example of distorted reporting.

    Strach was an investigator within the Elections Board for most of her 20 years there. Most of those years under Democratic administrations. She was elevated fairly recently to the senior post by the Republican Governor. She was the person that investigated the irregularities by Harris’s Campaign Director that got the election in the 9th District thrown out.

    When a Democratic Governor was elected, the Elections Board (now 3-2 Democrat) voted her out on party lines. The Democrats didn’t say that she did a bad job, even said she was a good investigator, but that they wanted someone with better communications skills. That’s politics.

  15. John Beech

    This recently registered Democrat spent the three hours watching last night. not too impressed. Did Joe really say black people are bad at raising their kids? The nutter from Texas (Beto) has miscalculated in my opinion by saying we’re taking your ARs away. Then he compounded this by including all weapons of war. Doesn’t he know the .38 cartridge (M1892 Colt New Model Army Revolver) was first used in anger as a side arm in the Spanish American War (Teddy brandished one recovered from the battleship Maine explosion during the charge up San Juan hill). When in 1899 there was a general realization the .38 wouldn’t drop a man charging you in close quarters it led to the .45 Colt M1909 (also a revolver). It was supplanted by the M1911 firing the .45 ACP round). This makes both revolver and pistols weapons of war. But I especially took note how Senator Warren said the job won’t be done with just the the AR-15 and AK-47. She said point blank gun control efforts would require multiple attempts. I interpreted that to mean they’re coming for handguns and all long rifles soon after. Note, I’m not a member of the NRA but that hit parade was sufficient to make me reconsider. What anti-gun folks fail to understand is I live in the county, meaning 15-20 minute response time by a sheriff. Put another way, ‘I’ am John Law until they get there. That, and regardless of background checks, do you think all the guns floating around in Chicago being used to kill so many people have been purchased with the niceties of a background check? Are you kidding me? What a joke. And remember, I’m not really a gun nut owning just a handful of .357 scatter about the house and office for self protection if the need arises.

    Mayor Pete sounds interesting but he’s awful young and inexperienced. I noticed Senator Sanders didn’t contribute to the anti-gun diatribe. Could it be he’s from a rural state where that idea would go over like a lead balloon?

    Anyway, Castor struck me a unfair in his attack on the former VP. I used the DVR to go back and listen to what Biden said and believe Castro had it wrong. And he looked bad doing it.

    Klobuchar? Yawn. Harris? Panderer. Who am I missing? Oh yeah, Yang “I’m an Asian and thus know doctors” – another wingnut (and racist to boot). Sadly, my guy, Senator Sanders, spent a lot of time with eyes pivoting a bit wildly. It wasn’t a good look.

    Me? I switched party affiliation last week. Not to torpedo the Dems as a Democrat-pal suggested but due to my belief Senator Sanders is worth a shot. Would have voted for him in 2016 had he not been screwed over by HRC and the machine. Fear it’s going to happen again meaning I’ll ultimately cast my vote for Trump again. At least if he gets re-elected I can look forward to watching Rachael Maddow’s head explode. Totally worth it if for no other reason!

    Finally, what’s with Senator Sanders? Can’t he do some simple math? Just lay out the case for a family making $30k/year, $60K/year, $118K/year, $1M/year, $10M/year, and $100M/year. Show the numbers! Do it with cards like Ross Perot. Better than what he’s doing now. People need a visual. Sigh.

    1. inode_buddha

      You don’t even have to do that. Instead, look at your pay stub. Look at the number taken out for Medicare. Now look at the number taken out for your health insurance. Which one is bigger? HINT: they could triple Medicare taxes and I would still be ahead by …..

    2. Drake

      “At least if he gets re-elected I can look forward to watching Rachael Maddow’s head explode. Totally worth it if for no other reason!“

      Rachel Maddow’s business model is based on Trump being President. Her head will only explode if her ratings go back to their negligible Obama-era ratings. She and many others like her will find a way to get Trump re-elected. He’s their bread and butter and lemon meringue pie.

  16. Frank Little

    RE: Drop in hot stocks stirs memories of ‘quant quake’

    By my relatively uninformed reading, this seems to point to the same issue that Michael Burry was talking about with respect to passive investment being the source of the next crisis. I think he was talking about passive investment more broadly, but I’d think that chasing momentum stocks is a big part of these index fund strategies, though of course I don’t know from experience, just trying to read up on these issues.

    1. rd

      Index funds just select a market index and buy the components of that index. There are numerous indexes used. The purest ones are the Total Stock Market types that simply buy an entire country’s stock market components weighted as the market weights them.

      However, index funds are also a plaything for traders and machine algorithms. So there is a lot of active trading in the passive index funds. Some of those index funds are very niche and may only hold a dozen or so stocks. People can short the index funds, either by directly shorting the ETF or buy buying an exchange-traded product that artificially creates a short. They even have double and triple versions of those to magnify gains and losses.

      Michael Burry is simply in exactly the same spot that all active and passive value funds are in. Value has not been the hot strategy over the past few years. That is the tough part about buying value stocks – it sometimes takes years before the value gets realized. That was the same before index funds were invented and its the same today.

      BTW – part of my 401k is in an small cap value index fund which is a similar strategy to Michael Burry’s stock picking right now. My small value index fund has lagged the S&P 500 for a while now. One day it will blow away the S&P 500 – I just don’t know when that will be.

  17. Chris Smith

    Re: Obesity is the leading cause of death …

    Here’s an idea. Let’s remove (PH) corn syrup from everything and make real, non-processed foods affordable and see what happens. I’ll bet it will be more effective and far less jerkish than fat shaming people.

    True anecdote: every time I go to India, I eat three times as much as I do in the US and still lose weight. The difference? Real food, no corn syrup in India.

    1. Kevin

      Agree, but at some point people need to read ingredient lists!!!
      It’s all there, just takes a second to read; but who can spare a second these days?

      1. Drake

        Not just corn syrup but soy protein also. Those are the two pillars of American agriculture, used to fatten up cattle, pigs, and humans.

        Reading ingredient lists is fine for anyone with the knowledge to interpret them, on the supposition that they’re even accurate or complete, but you need at least a beginner’s understanding of chemistry to make any headway. I used to get tired of just scanning for the words ‘hydrogenated’ and ‘high-fructose’ — which even now is nearly everything in a typical supermarket, although hydrogenation is slowly dying out.

        Basically you shouldn’t be eating anything that has an ingredient list. Since that’s rather burdensome, the next best thing is shortcuts like Pollan gives, don’t eat anything with more than four ingredients, or and ingredient you can’t pronounce, etc. But that’s ultimately accepting the state of the food-supply and applying workarounds that don’t will never work for poor, uneducated people trapped in food deserts.

        1. Wukchumni

          In my travels, nowhere in the world is the ingredient list and caloric intake as prominently displayed on foodstuffs, as it is here.

      2. Big River Bandido

        Help me. Do you *only* eat at home? Have you *never* tried to eat while commuting or traveling?

        I know there’s healthy, cheap food to be had at the airport in Detroit. If there is any other airport in America where you could say the same thing, I’ve never been to it. Certainly one can’t get that in any airport in the Northeast, or Chicago.

      3. Donna

        Exactly…. Now, being retired and previously being a stay at home Mom, I have had the time to read labels for 20 years now. It takes me forever to get through the grocery store. Now the darn labels require a smart phone which I have but refuse to use. I can’t imagine how someone on a limited budget buys fresh fruit for the family when even in season a pear for example can cost half a dollar and that’s not organic. How about preparing meals? We rarely eat out any more but I spend most of my days preparing foods. Then there are genetics. Obesity runs in my family. Even with daily exercise and close watching of my diet, I have gained 25 pounds since my 20s. You just can’t blame the victims. The solution always goes back to paying people enough money to make it on one job so they have time to pay attention to health issues. It is always the inequality……

        1. marieann

          I so agree with this. I am retired and have time to read labels, I can’t imagine how I would have had the time when I was shopping with a kid in tow and working on a budget.

          Actually I do know how I managed it….because I didn’t need to read labels when I bought a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli I knew there would be meat,pasta,sauce and some preservatives. I could trust that the food in that can would be real food.

          Today most labels are unreadable because of the list of ingredients.

          I just find it easier to follow Michael Pollan’s advice, eat food, real food, not too much and mostly plants.

          and don’t buy anything with more that 5 ingredients

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Reading labels can be time consuming.

            I buy mostly the same, more or less, every week. So, after reading them once, it doesn’t take as much time afterwards (though I might have to recheck some ingredients again).

            If I have to eat something convenient once in a while, when I am out and have no time, I console myself that it’s ‘one time only.’

            1. pretzelattack

              half the time i’m not even sure what i’m reading, except that the list includes a lot of chemicals with long names that don’t sound appetizing.

        2. inode_buddha

          Bingo! I have pics of people in the 1800’s, before modern food, who were build like “round is a shape”. It is indeed genetics and inequality. How many wage slaves are gonna have the time and energy to devote to their health after their employers get done taking everything they can out of them?

      4. polecat

        As it is, with many food labels, one often needs to don their reading glasses, to unjoy what seems a really bad novel.
        If I want to eat up a tome, I’ll go to the Library !

  18. bob

    “Resilc: “The Montgomery Vermont Knights of Columbus are holding a fundraiser to buy winter coats for poor kids in Northern Vermont.””

    Montgomery is still the center of the world.

  19. s.n.

    4 interesting Epstein articles from Felix Salmon at Axios yesterday PM. Apologies if already posted here:

    Harvard reviews Epstein’s $8.9 million in gifts
    [from the embedded Harvard letter: ” We have also recently learned that Stephen
    Kosslyn, a former faculty member and a beneficiary of Epstein’s philanthropy,
    designated Epstein as a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Psychology in 2005…

    The anatomy of Bill Gates’ Jeffrey Epstein-facilitated MIT donations

    Exclusive: Reid Hoffman apologizes for role in Epstein-linked donations to MIT
    [” Hoffman, here, is blaming Ito for vouching for Epstein. MIT president Rafael Reif is doing the same thing, in a letter where he talks about how his office “accepted Joi’s assessment” of Epstein“]

    Exclusive: MIT and Jeffrey Epstein’s billionaire enablers

    It wasn’t that Epstein gave money directly to Black, which was then passed on. But it was understood that Black and others owed Epstein “favors” — perhaps they owed Epstein money for some kind of financial advice — and that Epstein could ask them to send those sums directly to MIT.

  20. spro

    “you have to continue to eat meagerly on a long-term basis to stay thin. If you have any kind of normal social life, this is difficult to impossible.”

    If you want to be thin you have to eat like a thin person – that’s how thin people stay thin. Calorically it’s more or less the same among people at the same weight with minor metabolic and energy expenditure variation. It’s only “meager” relative to eating a caloric amount to maintain an overweight figure.

    It’s why temporary dieting doesn’t work – you can’t temporarily drop your calorie intake, because once you lose weight your body requires fewer calories to maintain that weight. It’s not a “meager” amount of calories, it’s the biological requirement of calories.

    1. Chris Smith

      This contradicts my experience eating in places where real food (as opposed to processed food) is the norm and everything is not inundated in corn syrup. I find myself eating more food when I go to India or have gone to Peru and Spain and I lose weight while doing so.

      1. spro

        Accurately measure your calorie intake and expenditure on your trips and you will reveal the cognitive biases driving this belief.

        Eating real food (healthy fat, good protein, and fiber-rich carbs) will increase your satiation quicker and reduce cravings and trips back to the pantry. The corn-syrup stuffed food is probably higher in calories than you think, and doesn’t provide the satiation that comes with complex foods, driving you to eat more overall.

        Also it goes without saying you are probably expending more energy on international trips than you are at home/work.

        1. a different chris

          >Accurately measure your calorie intake

          Hahahahahahahaha. Ha. HA. You seriously believe you can do that?

          Then you turn on a dime and go to this (which I agree with, actually):

          >Eating real food (healthy fat, good protein, and fiber-rich carbs) will increase your satiation quicker

          So what is it? Real food or calorie-(mis)counting?

          And note I’m giving you an out on the calorie counting – because people half my weight and of equal or lower activity eat well over half as much. Usually almost equal, in fact. There’s a lot more going on in US obesity than in your calorie counting philosophy, Horatio.

        2. The Rev Kev

          A handy rule of thumb is to be wary of food that is brown in colour. There was a film called “Super Size Me” where a guy lived off McDonalds for a whole month and saw his health get shot to pieces. During this month he visited several people and places and some were school. One school only offered healthy foods and the kids were sharper, had more energy, etc. The other school was one where some corporation served junk that had been frozen and was then heated up. When it was in the bain maree trays, it was all brown – the fries, fish, scallops, etc – all of it brown-

          Compare this-

          with this-

    2. marieann

      If I lose the weight I need to I will have to consume around 12-1400 calories per day to maintain that loss.
      My sister, who has never been overweight, could eat 1800 calories a day and not gain. Our biology changes after weight loss.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Please do not put words into my mouth. I eat 800-1200 calories a day. That is way less than anyone would deem to be normal or adequate. It’s awfully close to those long-term calorie restriction diets used with animals, where they have them eat 60% of “normal” intake. There are plenty of women with my body fat level who can and do eat more.

      I won’t bore you with detailing how little I eat and what it consists of.

      1. inode_buddha

        OMG I don’t know if I could do that — My hat is off to you! (I probably have to make changes — disclaimer: 6-foot 200 lb guy with an active on-your-feet life as a wage slave)

  21. Paul Jonker-Hoffren

    The president of the Dutch central bank has publicly come out with his dissatisfaction with the new interest rate decision and buying program. He is quoted in NRC Handelsblad as saying that “in the eurozone the economy works at full capacity and wages are rising.” Also : “the measures are in no proportion to the economic situation at the moment, and we can question the efficiency of the measures.” He, according to the article, openly doubts the reasons of the rest of the board for supporting these measures.

    1. eg

      “in the eurozone the economy works at full capacity and wages are rising.”

      I guess he doesn’t get out much.

      Seriously, these central bankers can go (family blog) themselves as far as I’m concerned.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      I agree with him. Under “Not Going Quietly”, pertaining to the observation about Draghi’s further suppressing negative interest rates and increasing future bond purchases by the ECB through more quantitative easing, the statement that this policy is “a reminder of where power lies in Europe,” merits further elucidation and discussion. If it doesn’t lie with the European core’s democratically elected politicians, where does it lie and what’s their end game?… “Disruption” doesn’t begin to describe what is occurring.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      How does a country that has outsourced its currency even have a Central Bank? Shouldn’t it at least be called something else?

      1. Paul Jonker-Hoffren

        Officially it is of course De Nederlandsche Bank, part of the ECB – the Dutch office if you like :)

    1. BobW

      One place I worked required accurate measurement of RF spectra, so we built a Faraday cage. It was really quite difficult to make one properly.

  22. Tom Stone

    I love the commercial featuring AOC, it brings back childhood memories of Daisies and Nuclear explosions,
    memories of “Ducking and Covering” in grade school, counting how many pieces of gum were stuck under my school desk.
    Retro is back.

    1. Wukchumni

      The crazy thing about the ‘socialism’ attack ad, was Cambodia during the Khmer Republic was a right-wing nationalist country, just like us presently.

      1. JBird4049

        Just because the devastating, secret, illegal, massive bombing campaign on Cambodia by the USAF was a major cause of Pol Pot, and his merry band of genocidal fanatics the Khmer Rouge, winning the civil war. That and the fact that we supported that corrupt and narcissistic King/Prime Minister/Prince Norodom Sihanouk.

        That piece of propaganda is like saying America and then putting up the bodies of Wounded Knee, the corpses at Dresden, the shadows at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and perhaps some of those pictures of Abu Ghraib.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Which commercial is this? I went back through the Links and couldn’t see anything that looked like it.

      1. BobW

        Our Fabulously Free Press

        ABC can go to hell. Running propaganda with a picture of @AOC being set on fire, with dead bodies & skulls in the background, was absolutely despicable. People need to be fired over this. It’s ridiculous & evil. ABC profited off of it, during the #DemDebate. Shame on ABC. Shame.

        — Scott Dworkin (@funder) September 13, 2019

    3. inode_buddha

      I used to pray for a duck and cover drill so that I could eat the gum under the desk. It was often the most sensible part of the day, and the gum wasn’t that bad. In some ways I suppose I still do this. After all, it’s the only way I’m going to get any gum.

  23. Carey

    Rob Urie- ‘Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left’:

    “..This is to grant a lot to Mr. Sanders and the broader context of American politics. Partly as a result of the pre-neoliberal age in which he spent his early years and partly through a moral compass centered on the public interest, Mr. Sanders alone amongst modern presidential candidates is capable of expanding the idea of the public interest to include the large swath of the U.S.— and importantly, outside of it, whose economic fortunes were cast asunder through neoliberal reforms and plunder.

    Through his frame of class divisions, the liberal universalism that previously ended at national borders can be rendered visible for what it is— capitalist imperialism to benefit the wealthy by treating the rest of the world as so much cannon fodder, indentured labor and expendable impediments to the accumulation of wealth. This is to make the point that it was always a convenient fraud, a wall to separate related interests ‘externally’ so as to render them all but invisible internally..”

    It’s the Predator Class and their minions v everyone else, now.

  24. Wukchumni

    Is Anyone Entertaining Enough to Beat Trump? GEN
    What’s been missing from our very serious political structure for some time, is humor.

    Cataloging the chief executives litany of lies hasn’t touched the teflon Don in the slightest-like water off a duck’s back, but a politician who could skewer him just so, might be all it takes to cut him down to sighs, in the voters mind.

    Sadly, the donkey show’s best & brightest couldn’t come up with a joke if their lives depended on it, aside from themselves, that is.

    1. Drake

      “If you want progressive policies in government, elect a celebrity who will listen to experts.”

      This seems to be the author’s best advice for conducting politics today, and objectively I’m not sure I could come up with anything better, but it still makes me shudder because I’ve so come to loathe experts of every kind, about on the same level as with celebrities and politicians. To me an expert is a person less able to deal with uncertainty and disagreement than an average person due to overweening, unmerited self-confidence and conflicts of interest they are unable to acknowledge.

  25. BenX

    Obesity – like most things, there is no one cause/solution. Since this is mostly an economic blog, I’d like to mention that the high-calorie, high-sugar junk foods tend to be the cheapest foods in the aisles. It’s a lot easier for the upper echelon to provide fresh, organic meals for their families than, say, working parents living paycheck to paycheck – for them, $10 at Dell Taco goes a long way.

  26. Duck1

    Obviously it was a big mistake by the economists to include the cost of “medical care” in the measure of “core inflation”. By god, if we can exclude food and housing cost, surely “medical care” has no place in core inflation statistics. This might excite the real “inflation” concern, rising wages. Perhaps the neo-liberal injunction “go die” could be put to good use reining in this onerous inflation as a hedonic adjustment.

  27. dearieme

    A breeze through a few websites reveals that in the opinion of some (i) Biden almost lost his false teeth and talked engagingly of “record players”, (ii) Camela Harlot was sloshed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Biden almost losing his false teeth, and Sanders’ hoarse voice.

      I don’t know if either could have done anything about, though they may seem funny.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        From what I have seen of Sanders he does at least appear to possess plenty of animation, whereas even to my 61 year old eyes Biden appears to be very old in both mind & body. I can only imagine that to the young they both look prehistoric, with the latter seeming almost extinct.

        My Grandaughter has a modern version of a record player with quite a good collection of vinyl including my collection of old jazz albums, so perhaps he is not as far off the mark as it seems.

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    After reading the ‘scientists racing to save banana from spreading fungus’ article, I read some more articles at that Fast Company site.

    I saw an interesting article about efforts to inoculate certain farm-soils with bio-active fungi and bacteria in order to improve those soils’ ability to support faster plant growth and hence more carbon suckdown and bio-storage in the soil itself. Here is the link:

  29. Mark K

    These sentences in Craig Murray’s article caught my eye:

    Because the one thing the Blairites detest most of all is the prospect of a Labour victory and a Corbyn government, implementing comparatively left wing policies that might prove popular and cause a real change in political discourse in England and Wales. Because that would be the death knell for the Blairites and their corporate sponsors.

    Sounds vaguely familiar…

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