Links 9/25/19

Scott’s Supreme Quantum Supremacy FAQ! Scott Aaronson (David L)

Quantum observers may be entitled to their own facts PhysOrg (Robert M)

U.S. GLOBAL CHANGE RESEARCH PROGRAM,CLIMATE SCIENCE SPECIAL REPORT (CSSR) WikiLeaks. From Sunday, apologies for not having linked to it. Chuck L: “A 100MB+ PDF document, apparently posted today by WikiLeaks, that’s been suppressed by Trumpstan.”

Nuclear Energy Too Slow, Too Expensive To Save Climate, Says Report Reuters. I think this misses the point. Many if not most people who want nuclear in the mix want it take care of base load, which solar and wind are poorly suited to do. It may still take too long to build out nuclear even for that use but that is not what this report addressed, so it comes off as a bit of a straw man. We posted an analysis that described at length when you factor in the costs of load shifting or overbuilding to cover for load-shifting (which can still fail with solar if you have cloudy days), solar prices are higher than naive comparisons suggest. You really need to drill down to “Power when and where do we get it?”

These tree-planting drones are firing ‘seed missiles’ into the ground. Less than a year later, they’re already 20 inches tall. Megaphone (David L)

Ancient mummy hearts may be the secret to understanding a 21st-century killer Inverse (Kevin W)

Researchers find lead in turmeric PhysOrg (Robert M) :-(


Saudi oil disruption could hit China hardest Asia Times. Kevin W: “Fecal matter? Meet oscillatory rotation device!”

US universities see decline in students from China Associated Press

German Prosecutors Indict Top VW Bosses Over Diesel Emissions Scandal Reuters


How the U.K. Supreme Court’s Rebuke to Boris Johnson Remakes British Law New York Times (Kevin W)

The Supreme Court, Proroguing & Dangerous Precedents OffGuardian (JTM)

Boris Johnson forced to fly home to face anger of parliament Financial Times

After Thomas Cook collapse, UK PM asks why bosses got paid millions Reuters

New Cold War

Is Europe Eyeing a ‘Reset’ With Russia? American Conservative (resilc)


U.S. exit from Syria could bolster ISIS threat, strengthen Iran, bipartisan report says NBC

Yes Trump, Please End the American Era in the Middle East American Conservative (resilc)

Three US troops wounded in apparent insider attack in Afghanistan Stripes (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Amazon’s Ring Wanted To Use 911 Calls To Activate Its Video Doorbells CNET. Help me. Cop will use burner phone to make 911 call to turn on recording of home where he thinks his wife is having an affair.

Imperial Collapse Watch

US Navy Corruption Levels Put the Third World to Shame – Checkpoint Asia (Kevin W)

America’s Startling Short Range Air Defense Gap And How To Close It Fast The Drive (resilc)

Revealed: how the FBI targeted environmental activists in domestic terror investigations | US news Guardian

Trump Transition

Speaker Pelosi Announcement on Impeachment C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Senate GOP vows to quash impeachment articles The Hill

The Trump-Ukraine scandal is a taste of how dirty the US elections will get The Trump-Ukraine scandal is a taste of how dirty the US elections will get Guardian

Trump ordered aid frozen; more Democrats want impeachment Associated Press. Resilc: “We’re down from Vermont for a few days for medical issues. I sat in the UNC orthopedic center yesterday with a cast of dozens of all ages, races and economic levels. I am betting most could care less about Trump and impeachment, but a whole lot about their medical insurance or lack of….”

Trump sets out to undercut Pelosi’s impeachment gamble CNN

‘Ukraine-Gate’ Will Endanger Biden, Not Trump American Conservative (resilc). We’ll see in due course if this call proves correct.

‘No, you’re corrupt!’: why there’s method in Trump’s playground taunts Guardian

Saker rant: reaction to the Dems attempt to impeach Trump The Saker (Kevin W)

Trump’s Economic Program Has Left Most Americans Worse Off Washington Monthly

How Popular Is Donald Trump? FiveThirtyEight (resilc). Funny, the headline on the article proper is “How unpopular is Donald Trump”. Reslic snagged his link from some service….RSS reader (I don’t inquire but I can tell from the formatting). So wonder how that happened? It’s not due to the URL, which is often the culprit.

Detained: America’s immigration detention center Guardian

Court Says FCC Ignored Hard Data In Rush To Help Media Companies Motherboard.


Biden Already Dominated Cable News Coverage. Then The Ukraine Story Broke. FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

The Prospect of an Elizabeth Warren Nomination Should Be Very Worrying Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

Edison might cut power to 89,500 amid increased fire risk to Southern California Los Angeles Times (resilc)

Sprint Took FCC Cash For ‘Serving’ 885,000 People It Wasn’t Actually Serving ars technica

WeWon’tWork: CEO Adam Neumann enters Low Earth Orbit to declare, I’m outta here The Register (Kevin W)

“Too Much Too Fast” Gas Glut Crushes Shale Drillers OilPrice

Altria Rues the Day it Plowed $13 Billion into Super-Unicorn Juul Wolf Richter

Guillotine Watch

French chef Marc Veyrat sues Michelin guide over star rating BBC (resilc)

How Carlos Ghosn Hid $140 Million in Compensation From Nissan Yahoo

Class Warfare

Google Contractors Officially Vote To Unionize Motherboard

Tracking Global Corporate Tax Avoidance Big Picture

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. John A

    Apropos the Guardian link about how dirty the 2020 election can be, their coverage is absurdly biased against Trump dating back to Saint Hillary having the election ‘stolen’ and the sheer evil of Putin. Only the other day, the Guardian baldly stated “There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden or Hunter Biden”. I for one, have seen a video of Joe Biden boasting about the firing of the Ukraine prosecutor, for starters.

    1. Roquentin

      It’s impossible to tell how any of this will play out, but my gut feeling is that this will end up being yet another massive own goal on the part of the Dems. Biden is even deeper in this scandal than Trump, so I just don’t see a lot of scenarios where this works out very well for them. Add into that most people being sick to death of this dog and pony show which really never stopped after the 2016 election. I think the comparisons to the Republicans going after Clinton and basically handing him the 1996 election are fairly apt.

      The stuff about Hunter Biden and Burisma has been out in the open for years, no one gave a damn. I don’t expect much from Team Blue, but I am genuinely surprised they put so much energy into a Biden candidacy knowing full well they’d spend the last 3 years getting everyone hooked on the narrative that collusion with governments in Eastern Europe was the problem. How did they think it wouldn’t bite them in the ass? Russiagate was always opportunistic bullshit, but this lack of self-awareness or foresight is bad…even for them.

      The only other explanation I can think of is that the see the theater of impeachment as the only way the Democrats (at least the traditional, no Sanders/Yang types) can win. Maybe they see Biden as a liability and are willing to sacrifice him to hurt (at least in their eyes) Trump, clearing they way for Warren or someone else? Who knows.

      1. russell1200

        On Hunter Biden: It is not true that nobody cared. It’s just that there wasn’t much you could do so long as the few people who were in a place to do something about it wouldn’t act. Not that this payoff of to US political elites by foreign governments (aka Clinton foundation, and Bush’s in Saudi Arabia) is unique, it’s just that this one is so straight forward its very hard to explain away. But I agree, the Democrats lack of self awareness on Biden is bizarre.

        Matt Stoller was perfect on it a “turducken of corruption”. Turducken: deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, further stuffed into a deboned turkey. I guess also called a 3 bird roast. A big messy Russian nesting doll that we would only be too lucky if we even get 3 birds to roast over this mess.

        One reason I think Warren is doing well is because she is pulling in the conservative/moderate democrats who now view her as viable, but don’t want someone who is part of the Democratic insider corruption team, but are not willing to abandon the Democratic party completely. I think the Sanders folks would say (and she does give them some ammo) that she is on the team, just shading her participation.

        1. Roquentin

          That’s fair, it’s less that nobody cared about Burisma than it was nothing could be done about it and it was politically inconvenient for anyone that could. Turducken is right, but in the end, when then dust finally settles I think Ukraine will be worse for Biden than it is for Trump. It’ll hurt the Dems more than it hurts Trump, and I think Trump and the people around him understand that. Pelosi and the Dems are sort of like a bull charging in at a red cape only to get stabbed. Can’t predict the future, but that’s how I see it.

          I have such mixed feelings about Warren. I was initially pretty favorable, but I now see her leftist rhetoric more as opportunistic posturing rather than genuine commitment to any aspect of the Sanders platform. The whole Native American thing is politically radioactive too, and will never go away. She’s got a lot of work to do if she wants to be at all credible in telling the left she not just Hillary 2.0.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            My view is Warren is a “nose to the grind stone” type. When she cares, she’s quite good, but she holds “conventional wisdom” for anything outside of her area of Interest.

            She knows corruption is bad and has plans to fix corruption as she has seen it, but she doesn’t have a response to dealing with the fallout of 40 years of gross corruption. Fixing the rules and tweaking the edges doesn’t get us back. The collapse in minority wealth for example won’t be fixed by a few rule changes and white people claiming to not be white on a form (will a cab not pick you up is my standard).

            1. Geo

              “ fallout of 40 years of gross corruption”

              Warren would have been a great candidate decades ago but at this point she wants to place fire alarms on a home that arsonists already lit ablaze. We need someone willing to go after the arsonists and rebuild the home. Then we can put new fire alarms up in it.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                “We need someone…”

                One scenario is that we only have one shot, 2020, and we need some one person.

                Another scenario is that will take a series of responses, and a mediocre leader. to be followed up by many other leaders over many years, to start the long journey is not as bad as having no leader (from the side of the good) in the White House at all. That’s, of course, not the top option (which is having the leader you really want all along), but, in this scenario, it’s not the end of the world.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          One aspect of this situation that doesn’t seem to be getting much attention is that the guy biden was strong-arming, Poroshenko, owed his position as Ukrainian president to the ouster of his elected predecessor in a “revolution” orchestrated and supported by the obama administration.

          It’s no wonder biden was so cocky. What the u.s. giveth, the u.s. can taketh away.

          It’s axiomatic: One person’s “corruption” is another person’s “leverage.”

          PS. The turducken reference is hilarious.

          1. Pat

            While not direct corruption, the coup could be considered the third bird in the turducken.

            Which would just be the icing on the shadenfreud for me. Because if it goes that far it would really be the largest unintended consequence dropping both Saint Hillary and Saint Obama into the quagmire.

            1. anon in so cal

              Obama presided over Victoria Nuland’s support for (aka engineering of) the Maidan putsch in Ukraine. The deposed president had been too friendly toward Russia. The US continues to arm the regime. Which means the US endorses, supports, provides weapons to neo Nazis.

              “America’s Collusion With Neo-Nazis

              Neo-fascists play an important official or tolerated role in US-backed Ukraine.”

              By Stephen F. Cohen


              1. Off The Street

                Obama’s legacy, such as it is, is increasingly vulnerable due to enhanced scrutiny of Biden. It is a matter of time before greater media focus on Obama occurs. That won’t end well for Team D, except for an opportunity to clean up the fundamental corruption in the DNC apparatus. The American public deserves better representation.

                1. Monty

                  I fear that is wishful thinking. I have seen a lot of media types putting their fingers in their ears and singing, “La la la!” when the subject of “What Biden did” comes up. If they just ignore it, it might go away! (just like Bernie)

              2. drumlin woodchuckles

                And since these are literal descendants of the Banderists of Yesteryear, they are not just “neo” nazis. They are hotsie-totsie Banderazis.

              3. Yves Smith Post author

                That isn’t quite correct. The deposed prez was going to do some sort of deal with Russia (I forget regarding what) because the EU had ignored repeated entreaties. Sort of like dating the only girl that would have you until the father of the girl that blew you off shows up with a shotgun.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was negotiating for an an association agreement with the European Union but refused to sign it as it would have devastated the Ukrainian economy in return for a loan of only about $840 million.
                  The Russians were offering $15 billion in loans as well as cheaper gas prices and no real conditions so he opted for the later. The Europeans blew their stack at this lost looting opportunity and the rest is history.

            2. Tom Doak

              You know it will not be allowed to go that far. In fact, that’s exactly the moment when Biden will have to fall on his sword – or be shoved from behind.

            3. R Zarate

              Pat. That occurred to me this morning, I’m glad you posted. I have a variant view which is, the Dems are trying to get their retaliation in first because they know the Ukrainians are soon to expose all the ƧĦįŧ that was pulled over “the revolution” by the Obama regime.

      2. Craig H.

        It reminds me of that play in the Saints-Vikings playoff game where at the end with the score close the pass defender goes for the crushing highlight reel smash over tackle, misses the receiver, crushes the only other defender in reach, and the barely-touched pass receiver rolls right into the end zone to win the game. It was like the two dumbest possible mistakes in one move.

        Whoever is behind this thinks they are killing two birds with one stone and they are really shooting themselves in both feet with one bullet.

      3. Basil Pesto

        I’m starting to think this might be a Dem establishment ploy to throw Biden under the bus. Remember “you don’t have to do this, Joe”? The impeachment thing is a non-starter, pure political theatre that plays well with the base. But it brings Biden’s low-rent corruption into the open and makes him, in the minds of the DNC, less electable. Which is good because he’s basically incoherent. Then they’ll nominate Warren and lose next year anyway. Fun!

        1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money


          Is this by any chance a distant echo of the Fawlty Towers episode in which Polly is induced to pretend to be Sybil ill in bed?

          Many people shy away from politics because of the antics on display. If they had a taste for farcical black comedy perhaps they could remain engaged.

          As a spectator of a few political systems I can only remain engaged with the prospect of fun as described (and hope it doesn’t end with blood on the floor for some innocent).

          Currently ‘The Incredible Sulk’ gives and gives.


  2. PlutoniumKun

    Nuclear Energy Too Slow, Too Expensive To Save Climate, Says Report Reuters. I think this misses the point. Many if not most people who want nuclear in the mix want it take care of base load, which solar and wind are poorly suited to do.

    The essential problem with nuclear is that it can only provide base load – but renewables (apart from hydro) are bad at providing for peak loads. This means nuclear has pretty much the same problems as renewables – you either need to vastly overbuild and accept waste, or you balance out with gas turbines, or you invest heavily in storage.

    So you really have a fundamental choice. Nuclear with gas, the gas slowly giving way to storage. Or you have renewables with gas, the gas slowly giving way to storage. You simply can’t mix nuclear with renewables satisfactorily.

    And since renewables are much cheaper now than nuclear, can be delivered much faster, there is really no good argument for going for large scale nuclear investment except for certain countries with specific problems with renewable energy (one of them may be India).

    1. roadrider


      Nice analysis. Can you elaborate on the India situation? What is their problem with renewable energy?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m not an expert on the India energy grid, but I think that outside the coast and mountain fringes they don’t have the same capacity for renewables as other countries. I’ve not seen any calculations, but I suspect that if you crunched the numbers and built in an assumption of Chinese style economic growth, they’d have to go either coal or nuclear. I could stand corrected on this. This might also apply to countries like Indonesia.

        It should be said that in the Himalayan region they use local micro-grids with renewables very effectively, and India/Bangladesh import very large quantities of hydro power from Bhutan. Bhutan has plans but build something like 30GW of hydro capacity, almost all for export.

        China has issues too, but its more related to their failure to build the type of grid that would connect the windy/sunny northwest with the big population areas, so if they were to rapidly replace their coal plants nuclear might be the most obvious alternative – although this is problematic due to issues with cooling waters as their big rivers dry up. But I think its significant that for all their big plans, the Chinese have been very slow to push hard on nuclear, which makes me think it doesn’t make economic sense for them. Their big investments have been in renewables.

        1. Ignacio

          India claims to be the cheapest country for solar pannel production and is actively promoting it. The Ministry of New and Renewable energy plans to achieve up to 100 GWp of solar PV in 2022, second to hydropower (regarding renewables). Conditions for solar PV are good (+2.000 sun hours/year) and much of the production should be self consumption but there are desertic zones suitable for large solar farms. Wind is also in the cards, I guess a combinaton of renewables and nuclear + needed support from flexible and able-to-store sources.

          My calculations are that with 85% power-to-consumption efficiency and 2.250 S.H. per year in 2022 they could be producing close to 200 TWh annually. Current consumption is about 1500 TWh annually. That power-to-consumtiom efficiency is applicable to self-consumption installations, not for solar farms loading the grid.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Thats really interesting, I’ve not seen that level of analysis, its very hopeful if they do have that sort of capacity. Particularly as solar would suit the poor quality grid better than mega sized nuclear or coal plants.

        2. JTMcPhee

          “Rapidly replace coal plants with nuclear.” Now there’s a solution looking for a solution. But maybe our appetite for “abundant energy” would make it all right, mate? No problem getting nukes on line in 5-10 years or so, given the right mix of regulatory relief (sic) and crazy demand.

          Still doesn’t get us humans to a sustainable presence on the planet.

          On another subject, a couple of decades ago, John Silber, a pretty arch “conservative,” offered in an article in the Boston University magazine a reassuring observation that we mopes should not “catastrophize” about existential threats like nuclear winter. Because, he observed, that “life will go on on Earth.” He took as his text some then recent findings that tube worms and crustacea and other higher life forms had been found thriving in the near-boiling and heavy-metal and anoxic water pouring up out of those volcanic vents in the darkest depths of the ocean. So who should care if the “conservative” Cold War-Great Game policies he fostered led to global thermonuclear annihilation of us humans?

          And recent studies apparently establish that the largest part of the total mass of living creatures supported by Mother Earth lies below the ground.

          So maybe Silber had a point? And what are we humans worried about? That we are just a blip on the evolutionary scale, on the long flow of life in the universe?

      2. Olga

        Actually, India is well-positioned for solar power. If only they could get their act together. They’ve been focusing on coal in the last few years, though. Things may be changing:
        “Coal provides about half of India’s commercial primary energy supply today and is the dominant fuel for power production in India. In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi established ambitious goals for renewable energy (RE) development, aiming to quadruple its capacity by 2022. Despite expected growth in RE, we project that coal will remain the dominant fuel for electricity generation in India through 2030 and beyond, even though its share of generation will fall.”
        This is from
        They have plans for renewable power – but organising it may be a big challenge (if you’ve ever visited India, you’d know what I mean). Geography is not the main issue. (For nuclear, Enron once tried to build a nuclear plant there – near Mumbai, if I recall. It did not end well. Plans for new reactors have met with resistance. The total share of power produced by n-plants in India is not above 4%, if I recall.)

        It is not accurate to make a broad statement that renewables are bad at peak. Solar is actually very good as a peak power provider, although not completely without challenges.

        In Texas, there is about 25-26GW of wind installed, and it is projected to provide about 24% of power in 2020 (according to the Energy Information Administration). It has had the strange effect of actually shifting the peak. (TX wind is mostly inland; wind facilities that are off-shore work very well with peak demand. The East coast will be getting many such facilities in the next few years).

        Nuclear provides base-load power because it is very demanding (both financially and operationally) to take it offline and then bring it online again. Once it’s on, it should run for extended periods to make economic sense. They are not quick-start units, for sure, but when they run, they provide power also during the peak periods.
        This is a complicated topic, not a good subject for simplifications.

    2. Another Scott

      If memory serves, some of the nuclear plants in France can and do change output throughout the day to help meet demand. But your larger point there remains.

      Interestingly, in the Northeast U.S., the plan in the 60s was to largely pair nuclear with pumped hydro to meet demand. For example, Vermont Yankee and Yankee Rowe would generate electricity 24/7, but when demand was low, the Northfield Mountain and Bear Swamp, would use the surplus electricity to pump water. The pumped storage facilities are located within 15 miles of the nuclear plants, with Bear Swamp being in the Town of Rowe.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Pairing nuclear with hydro doesn’t always work, for the simple reason that it makes you very vulnerable to drought unless your nukes are based on the coastline, and thats not a particularly great idea in the Pacific NW due to the inevitability of a mega tsunami/earthquake at some stage. Nuclear plants need lots of cooling water – in a drought they often have to shut down if river flow reduces too much, and of course at those times you lose hydro too. Pumped hydro actually works much better with renewables as if your renewables are based in the same mountain areas you avoid grid replication (i.e having separate high capacity circuits connecting your coastal nuke plans and your inland pumped hydro). Although it is possible to have coastal pumped storage for hydro, but its pretty environmentally damaging.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          Nuclear power stations can utilize much less river water if they’re configured with evaporative cooling towers instead of single-pass water-to-water heat exchangers. The towers are more expensive and more of a hassle to maintain, but they can provide effective cooling with much less water.

          And pumped storage doesn’t have to be that close to the nuclear stations to be useful. I live fairly close to the Bath County pumped storage station, which is an enormous 22 GWh facility that stores more energy than all of the world’s battery stations combined. It’s located several hours from the nearest nuclear power station and still does useful work.

        2. EricT

          You could use large cask storage. I remember reading an article about a storage process that uses a large I-beam crane, with large blocks of concrete. When the demand is low, the excess electricity is used to lift the large blocks to a higher point, when the electricity is needed, the crane picks up a block off the top of the pile and lets gravity go to work, turning the crane motor into a generator. Doesn’t need water and you could build these near locations with advantageous conditions, such as geothermal sources or large solar farms in the more desolate parts of the country. The only thing that is holding us back from eliminating fossil fuels is the special interests that profit off the continued use of fossil fuels. Besides, whatever happened to fusion research. The Republicans couldn’t wait to eliminate the backing for international fusion research when they took control in 2001.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Steel for cranes and reinforcement for those concrete blocks made of roasted limestone cement, copper for wires. All of which require combustion to produce.

            And it is not a trivial exercise to operate a cooling tower, remember that scary image of the ones at Three Mile Island — and a variety of chemical inputs are needed to deal with scale and other inconveniences.

            When it comes to industrial financial capital growth and greed based “civilization,” maybe as with “mutually assured destruction,” the only way to win is not to play the game?

            And remember that “civilization” we brag on was the result of innovation and disruption allowing a whole lot more humans to fill out and displace into previously occupied or unappreciated niches. Grow grain, need granaries. Also walls, manned by soldiers, to keep other humans, analogous to or empire builders, from stealing your grain and enslaving or just murdering your people (see, e.g., the Battle of Jericho as one episode in the bloody and disreputable “history” laid out in the first dozen or so books of the Old Testament.) Soldiers also useful for raiding other such fortified cities, to commit “rape and pillage,” and kill or enslave the resident humans. And priests to track the seasons and forecast planting times, and justify the Divine Right of Royalty to take the biggest gobbets off the corpses… Somehow all leading up to Microsoft and the iDevices and cable TV and flush toilets and refrigeration, all fulfilled by burning fossil carbon or releasing neutrons from the weak force that binds them,, to move electrons to serve us like the often abused beasts of burden, two and four legged, of yore, which occasionally rose up and bit civilization in the arse. And of course the F-35 as a kind of polyfaceted prism capstone in the arch of history, where the roots of the arch are being eaten by Code, both semi-domesticated and just feral wild, bred by Civilized People…

            Some of us think we are masters, and can draw up Leviathan with a string.

            I think “civilized,” like “democracy,” is one of those word swords we casually swing about, without any notion of or thought to its provenance, nor the damage done by its edges and points…

    3. TroyIA

      According to the latest IPCC report 85 different scenarios were considered for keeping warming at 1.5 c. All of the scenarios would require the use of nuclear power with the median increase of 2x of 2010 output by 2050. While an increase in renewable energy will be needed it alone will not prevent warming of less than 1.5 c.

      There are no longer any good options left rather we now have to choose the least bad option. Keep warming below 1.5 c with an increase in nuclear power and deal with the consequences of nuclear waste and accidents or allow warming to increase 2+ c and having to face those consequences.

      1. Dan

        Who is “WE” Kemosabe?

        Why does every discussion talk about centralized, profit taking and control schemes?
        Rooftop hot water and solar with battery storage and 12 V lighting is much an anathema to big finance that controls energy production as Tulsi Gabbard is to the Democrats.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          As far a home power needs — “rooftop hot water and solar with battery storage and 12 V lighting” makes the best sense to me.

        2. Gaianne

          Thanks for this.
          Every sprawling energy discussion thread needs a gentle reminder that our problems are self-created. They are of our own making.
          If our energy demands were sensible or modest there would be no problem.

    4. Drake

      I thought solar was good for peak load, that is, it provides max power at the time of greatest demand (during the day). I realize there can always be cloudy days, but not everywhere all the time, especially in the places where solar arrays are likely to be sited. Am I missing something?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Photoelectric solar is good for peak load in hot climes with lots of air con, where peak loading hits early afternoon – e.g. California or Texas. Its not so good in other areas, especially cooler climes where the peak load usually hits in the early evening, just when solar is declining. In northern hemisphere areas you get lots of solar during long summer months, when demand is quite low, but very little when demand is high, in winter.

        But on the other hand, in some climes its a particularly good complement to wind, as it tends to maximise when there is a high pressure zone, which is when wind is at its least, and vice versa. These calculations are obviously pretty complex and very locally dependant.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          In the dead of winter in northern climates, there are two demand spikes per day. The first is shortly after sunset, when people head home and start cooking dinner. [And even worse, some people will have programmable thermostats that will keep their houses cooler during the day but kick in an hour before they get home. This reduces overall energy consumption, but arranges for maximally bad timing on the energy that does get used.] And then there is a second spike around 7AM. Air temperatures are usually at their lowest shortly before sunrise, and this is also the time when lots of people take showers, cook breakfast, and make coffee.

          Yep. Solar power isn’t going to rescue us in the wintertime. We can’t restrict the use of high-power appliances (such as heat pumps, water heaters, stoves, etc.) to daytime-only hours when sunlight is available.

          1. Jesper

            I come from a place close to the arctic circle and live in Ireland. The programmable thermostat isn’t an issue in countries with well insulated housing: In Ireland (and probably UK) then yes, the insulation is so poor that it is important when the heat-pump runs but not in Sweden. In Sweden we know how to calculate energy balances – the heat that leaks out needs to be replaced so we minimise the leakage while in Ireland the standard appears to be to just use more energy to replace the heat.

            I was at first amazed that a free standing 40 year old free standing three bedroom house in northern Sweden uses up less energy than a 10 year old two bedroom apartment in Ireland. But then I looked at the insulation….
            Temperature in the apartment in Ireland drops to chilly inside within an hour of the electric heater being turned off. The BER is supposedly good but since the BER is based on estimations then it is only as good and reliable as the person doing the estimations…

            Here is a project in Sweden with modern technology:
            Ireland (and again probably the UK) is about 25-30 years behind the times.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Indeed, houses in Ireland (and the UK) are far behind those in northern Europe for insulation, although one reason is that Irelands damper climate has made insulation more problematic (the type of building standards used in northern Europe results in houses full of condensation and damp in Ireland as several home builders found to their cost).

              The current Building Regs, in place for around 10 years are far better, and compulsory energy rating has ensured that private builders feel compelled to opt for the highest rating.

              As you say, the issue of controllable thermostats etc., is vastly more advanced in smaller countries where controlling peaks and troughs of demand has historically been much more important than in large grids. This is why Ireland pioneered large scale pump storage in the 1960’s – it was essential for a useable grid on such a small scale, as was differential pricing to encourage night time use.

              1. Jesper

                If you mean it is usually problematic to get people to try something new then yes. People in Ireland are no different than others when it comes to preferring what is known, what they know are the building tecnhiques used in Ireland for a long time. The building techniques from countries/regions with similar climates and humidity where it has been known how to build well insulated homes with good ventilation are now starting to be used in Ireland.
                The older and not so old homes in Ireland that I have been into have been badly insulated and despite being drafty also been badly ventilated (damp and mold). It might have been comforting to believe that it can’t possibly be different. Therefore I suspect that it might take a generation to get it more widely accepted that what is does not have to be.
                The building regs in Ireland were/are about as good and as enforced as the banking regs. It is a decade since I was involved in the Irish construction industry, maybe the changes since have been material but I have my doubts.

            2. Olga

              Your comment illustrates my point that the subject of providing power is complex and also very location-driven. Some here make broad and simplified statements about how power is – or ought to be – provided, and it just does not fit reality. I don’t don’t know of any other industry, in which precision, accuracy, and substantial knowledge matter more (maybe medicine).

          2. EricT

            But your poop can. If you aren’t hooked up to a sewer system, you could run your waste into a sealed septic tank, separate plumbing for your laundry and dish water to eliminate the bacteria killing phosphates and bleach and another system for your gray water for bathing and showering that could be used for watering gardens or lawns. The waste tank vent is attached to a methane extraction system, which then pipes it through a fuel cell, or burns it in a furnace. I recall seeing a demonstration, where a person puts a plate of food in a sealed tent. At first the tent is flat, after a few weeks, the tent is fully puffed up and the food is rotted, then the person opens up a port, similar to the opening in a bouncy house where they connect the blower, and proceeds to light the gas coming out on fire. Methane is way worse for our atmosphere than carbon dioxide, and with a growing population, which also means a growing pile of poop as well with a lot of unused methane potential just ready to be released. I would think powering our houses would be better than letting it go into the atmosphere, at least we would reduce the greenhouse effects significantly by changing the methane into carbon dioxide.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          That is not correct, as the video I linked to shows.

          Peak load in CA is 8PM, not late afternoon, when people have turned on their AC, lights, TV, and cooking devices, well after peak production. The charts are super clear on this.

          Solar is also crappy in CA in the winter months, when production is 1/4 the level of summer months, and worse than that if you have a cloudy stretch.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Sorry if I misled, it was certainly true back in the ’00’s when I was looking through comparative work on grids – or at least the data I had available at the time said this. It may be that the greater spread of domestic v commercial air con has changed the calculation.

          2. Anon in so cal

            In Southern California, there are sometimes months of “June weather.” There’s dense cloud cover and onshore breezes, which means the sun may not be even weakly visible until 2pm. This weather pattern can start late April and persist into early July.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thats the theory behind ‘smart’ meters. You can encourage people with pricing to do lots of things off-peak, like using water heaters or storage heaters or washing machines on timers or ultimately, charging up your car and electric bikes/scooters/helicopters. But its till very hard to prevent peaks and troughs through the day, and even harder to match it to energy inputs if you are dependent on renewables. Here, for example, is the current situation with the Irish grid. If you look at the demand side (click on it), you’ll see the pattern through the day, as well as all sorts of little peaks and troughs for all sorts of reasons, some random. Storage and back up capacity requirements will always be needed.

        1. Dan

          ‘The theory”, but not the practice.
          Smart meters are a profit sucking and data mining scheme, nothing more. Resist their installation.

          Prices go up across the board with smart meters, market based pricing means the factory down the road can offer more per KWH than homeowners in a brownout, thus shutting down homeowner’s meters remotely, only possible with “smart” meters. They feed electrical interference back into homes, the smart meters are a health risk, killing plants nearby with EMFs and affecting people, and then there’s the data mining and snooping aspect.
          Yes, vibrators send out a different electrical signature than refrigerators. That and time of use data can be reported and sold to advertisers per our PG&E user agreement.

          1. Olga

            Correct on the “theory” part. Most people simply do not have the time or opportunity to be turning appliance on and off. And smart meters do not give one pricing – so the previous comment on smart meters is simply wrong. One has to see prices – not just consumption – to make the theory work

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I mean corporations and governement agencies rearranging their work hours, so that fewer people are at home to usie washing machines, water heaters, etc.

    5. bstamerjon

      Nuclear definitely can provide more than base loads.
      Both coal and nuclear are drivers of steam cycle heat engines which reject heat to condense steam.
      Nuclear doesn’t have stack losses that coal has.
      Nuclear and coal both have mining and processing costs.

      All power generation modes need some cradle to grave analysis to determine their true costs.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        It ‘can’ provide peak loads, but only by massively overbuilding capacity – this is very expensive and wasteful. Steam cycle engines can only provide for peaks if you can store the steam, which can’t be done for any lengthy of economically in any meaningful way.

        1. Olga

          Nuclear plant – once running – runs also during peak times. To portray it any other way is simply misleading. What an n-plant cannot do is start quickly to run only during peak times – but that is different.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            When I say ‘peak loads’ I mean specifically the loading over baseline – I didn’t mean to imply that somehow they don’t work during those periods. Most nuclear plants of course run pretty much 24/7 (except of course when they have to shut down, which of course provides its own problems on smaller grids or when the cause of the shutdown goes across the sector). The issue is that it only makes economic sense to build them up to the baseline average power demand.

        2. bstamerjon

          Both coal and nuclear power can be ramped up and down.
          Bigger or smaller fire.
          More or less fissions.
          Don’t need to store the steam, store the potential energy to make the steam.

          To provide for any large load increase, you need large standby capacity. With any source.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            That is a statement only true in the very broadest sense. Just because something is technically feasible doesn’t mean it makes sense economically or in any other way. Old coal plants are sometimes ramped up and down for seasonal variations, but its not feasible to do this for shorter term (daily) or emergency ramping up. In the UK and other grids older coal plants are ramped up (at great expense and difficulty) for projected winter peaks. So far as I am aware this is never done for nuclear plants, they simply aren’t designed for that.

            1. bstamerjon

              That depends entirely on the design of the power plant. Any plant, of any type, that is designed to accommodate large swing loads will be built (not over built) for those conditions.

        1. Old Jake

          If the climate changes significantly, then it will kill almost all life on earth. Half a million years may be a conservative estimate of the recovery time. So yes, coal “residue” can indeed do that deed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      During one of the two great dynasties in Chinese history, the Tang dynasty, foreign students flocked to Xian (Chang’an, it was called then) to study at Guozijian.

      Many fo them graduated from it to serve as competent officials in the Tang imperial court.

      And to be able to compose ‘Regulated Verse*’ poetry was regarded as a proud achievement.

      There is a long way to go for Beijing to match that.

      *From Wikipedia: the origin of regulated verse within the Classical Chinese poetic tradition is associated with Shen Yue (441–513), based on his “four tones and eight defects” (四聲八病) theory regarding tonality.[1]

    2. Tom_Doak

      Isn’t it likely that some of this decline is due to the Chinese government making it harder for its own citizens to get their money [and kids] out of China and invested in America?

  3. Davey Wavey

    Lots of respect for NakedCapitalism, which I’ve been watching for years. I can even tell who did the links without looking, because I’ve become familiar with your individual styles.

    But your nuclear boosterism never addresses the problem of nuclear waste (in your defense, neither does the industry). I’m talking about the millions of tons of highly radioactive fuel rods, chemicals, infrastructure, water, etc., that are parked in supposedly temporary storage at power plants around the world.

    If this problem could have been solved, it already would have been solved.

    1. john steinbach

      In defense go NC- I’m a (somewhat lurking) part of the NC community & have been an anti nuke activist for the past 50 years. Sure there are pro-nuke NCers, but my guess is that the majority are nuclear septics.

      It’s simply wrong of you to call NC “nuclear boosters.”

      1. Arizona Slim

        And here I thought I was the veteran anti-nuker around here. Went to my first big anti-nuke protest at the still-unfinished Fermi II in 1979.

        But, John, you have me beat by 10 years at least. Hat tip to you!

    2. PlutoniumKun

      NC is about asking hard questions, and future energy use involves very hard questions.

      Unfortunately, many anti-nuclear activists react on a hair trigger to any suggestion that nuclear power may be needed. But given the overwhelming nature of the problem we face, every single option available to us (including geoengineering) needs to be assessed with intellectual vigour and an open mind. The simple reality is that nuclear waste is a minuscule problem for humanity compared to climate change. There is certainly an ethical question about leaving waste for future generations, but there is equally an ethical question about screwing up the climate for future generations.

      Back in the 1990’s, I was very involved in environmental campaigning, and I made more than one enemy by being neutral to positive on nuclear energy. I didn’t like the idea of nuclear energy, but no matter how hard I crunched the figures, it was pretty clear then that renewable energy wasn’t remotely capable of displacing existing fossil fuel use. And the technology for reducing energy use was questionable too.

      But I changed my mind around 10 years ago. Quite simply, the technology and economics changed. The increase in potential capacity and the drop in costs in wind and solar in particular was remarkable, and far quicker than even the most optimistic had anticipated. I’ve seen sceptic after sceptic in the industry have to eat their words. The costs of storage are following this same pattern, private industry is actually well ahead of governments on this.

      On the other side, nuclear energy has flopped. The Gen IV reactors, which were the big hope for the industry, have proven to be giant white elephants. All the potential alternatives, such as pebble bed reactors, thorium reactors, various salt based reactors have all turned into unicorns, forever ’10 years away from being viable’. Sometimes they even say they’ll be viable in 5 years. I’ve been reading this stuff for 35 years now (I was a teenaged energy tech nerd). I would quite happily flip back to my old neutrality or become pro-nuclear if someone could show me a viable, working reactor that can be built in the timescale needed and at the scale needed to address the climate emergency, at a cost comparable to solar/wind. But nobody can. Because they don’t exist. And this despite all the major powers investing countless billions, probably trillions in the technology for 70 years now.

      1. JohnnyGL

        “But given the overwhelming nature of the problem we face, every single option available to us (including geoengineering) needs to be assessed with intellectual vigour and an open mind. The simple reality is that nuclear waste is a minuscule problem for humanity compared to climate change.”

        This may, in fact, be true. But, I’m also reminded of the David Harvey quote that ‘capitalism doesn’t actually solve problems, it just sort of moves them around.’

      2. Dan

        Oh, so that’s why you have “Plutonium” in your name…

        I respect all your commentaries, Sir. I’m anti nuclear everything.

        ” I would quite happily…become pro-nuclear if someone could show me a viable, working reactor that can be built in the timescale needed and at the scale needed to address the climate emergency, at a cost comparable to solar/wind. But nobody can. Because they don’t exist. And this despite all the major powers investing countless billions, probably trillions in the technology for 70 years now.”

        That is the quote of the day and bears repeating.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Amory Lovins made an interesting, general point about nuclear – probably back in the 90’s. It was that the temperature of the reaction, and for that matter of the interior of the reactor, is grossly disproportionate to the tasks we want to perform, like heating water maybe 90 degrees F. The consequence is that nuclear reactions produce (not sure that’s the right term) so much entropy that humans can’t really manage them. There have in fact been runaways, for various reasons, human error high on the list.

        So if we’re looking for a fundamental explanation of the difficulties, that’s one: too much entropy, all in one place.

        1. bstamerjon

          This is the nature of converting heat into electricity, and electricity into heat.

          The Whole Earth had an article called high heat, low heat that made the same point years before.

          If we could harness just one ten thousandth of the lightning discharging on and around the earth into human useable form, we’d have a perpetual excess.

      4. Jeremy Grimm

        I guess I’m one of the anti-nuclear types who react on a hair trigger to any suggestion that nuclear power may be needed. I really don’t trust the Nuclear Energy Commission or the Nuclear Industry. I feel their agenda is too mixed. Besides nuclear fuel isn’t renewable — unless breeder reactors are included in the mix. Breeder reactors — if they are any that work — run by cost cutting short-term profit oriented Nuclear Power companies sounds like the basis for an exciting disaster movie plot.

        But what about the small scale nuclear power plants for powering remote locations or as a backup to power things like hospitals, or the pumps cooling nuclear power plants, or backup power for pumps for keeping municipal water and sewerage flowing. Nuclear power isn’t so scary to me on a small scale like that. Are present designs for very small scale nuclear power generation relatively safe?

        I’m also one of the anti-geoengineering types who react on a hair trigger to any suggestion that geoengineering may be needed. I don’t at all trust most of the proponents — especially the disruptive entrepreneurs — who already push for geoengineering. Engineering assumes a good understanding of the science involved and fair amount of rules-of-thumb arrived at through cut-and-try. I don’t like the idea of a geoengineering project scaling up their version of a Tacoma Narrows Bridge. How can we engineer for a chaotic system like the climate we only understand within a limited set of conditions?

      5. hunkerdown

        Funny, everything I’m reading on pro-establishment Wikipedia suggests that historical accident and MICC interests have more to do with the relatively low penetration of molten-salt reactors or thorium fuel cycles than does technological viability. Now that we’ve found the Higgs boson, there are going to be a lot of unemployed particle physicists who have been kept busy chasing that particular pin-head angel and who will probably be looking for something productive to do. So, what happens when the MICC is taken out of the equation (and, preferably, out to the back 40)?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The wikipedia article is nonsense. There is this constant trope going around that we’d have cheap modular molten salt or pebble bed reactors powering our grids if it wasn’t for *insert name of politician you hate* cancelling some program or other 20 years ago. Its just an excuse. We know molten salt designs don’t work because they have very strong military utility (think of how much easier it would be to run a navy if every vessel had a small molten salt or similar reactor to keep it at sea for years on end). The US, Russia, UK, China, French, Japanese and Germans have all had a go – and all have failed to make useable ones. This is why the very latest nuclear subs and aircraft carriers are still using the same basic reactor designs as they did in the 1950’s. These reactors are extremely expensive and extremely difficult to work with, which is why they aren’t used on cruisers or frigates or assault ships. If they could possibly have come up with something better, they’d have done so by now.

      6. bstamerjon

        I support nuclear power. 93 million miles away.

        That said, a lump of uranium roughly the size of a bowling ball will continuously power a submarine at greater than 30 knots for more than 20 years, and at the end of useful life, about 50% of the original uranium remains. Without consuming any atmosphere or emitting anything except waste heat (and containable radiation).

        That doesn’t account for the mining, concentration, and processing of the fuel, or the effects of the wastes (tailings, radioactive byproducts) to make the fuel. Nor does it account for the used fuel reprocessing and storage.

    3. Odysseus

      We have concrete and we’re not afraid to use it. Dig a deep hole, and put all the nuclear waste in it.

      It’s not hard, the NIMBYism is ridiculous.

      1. Massinissa

        Except even concrete is facing resource crises. We are actually running out of sand, or at least, to paraphrase Peak Oil, we are running out of ‘cheap’ sand. Even Concrete is not something that can exist in limitless quantities, at least not also when its one of the major components of constructing… Basically every other type of structure known to man.

    4. Massinissa

      I honestly find the concept of NC being largely for Nuclear Energy, while also believing in The Jackpot, to be sort of contradictory. If The Jackpot is a thing, and everything goes belly up, will it be difficult to safely turn all these reactors off, permanently, in a timely manner, if there are sudden major food and water crises? I cant imagine the continuing effective operation of these reactors would continue even in the major crises that may be coming later this century.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        See my comment below. You have not been reading with sufficient care and/or are so anti-nuclear that any questioning of the anti-nuclear case for being overstated is interpreted through your halo effect bias.

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      This is a gross misrepresentation and you need to apologize big time.

      Pointing out that critics are overegging the pudding or presenting a straw man is not advocacy. Please show where we have pumped for nuclear. You won’t find it.

      Your assertion is no different than trying to say because we weren’t on board with RussiaRussia we must be pro-Trump.

  4. Tom Stone

    That tree planting drone is a wonderful use of new technology.
    A real game changer for some parts of the world.

    1. The Beeman

      read about the same technique about 30 years ago – seedlings in small pods dropped from a plane. I can still see the picture in the article of the seedling in a small pointy type cage with a bit of soil and exposed roots sail out from under a cargo plane.

      These drones have the advantage of better targeting of locations where seedlings might have a better chance of thriving, plus you can track where you have planted and resist easily.

      Cool stuff.

    2. jef

      A glimpse of the future? Is this how our benevolent robot overlords will keep the planet populated with humans to keep servicing them?

      Where I live it is a good summer job to go up and replant logged out areas. Folks I talked to said they loved doing it. But that is just another non-problem that tech can fix to make a few people rich.

      1. furies

        According to High Country News, those tree planters are foreign guest workers working for contractors. The locals don’t get those cool jobs anymore. Haven’t for awhile.

    3. Anon

      I think using drones to reseed an area is novel. I’ll believe it functional when I see more real life successes.

      Planting seeds is time consuming and the drone application is interesting. But a 20″ high sapling is not a sustainable plant, yet. Browsing from rodents and other animals can make that sapling disappear quickly. Soil type, soil temperature, and soil moisture are also key players in sustainable propagation; 20 acres of amenable soil conditions is not 200 acres. Scaling the drone seeding up to a larger scale may require substantial “boots on the ground”.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “America’s Startling Short Range Air Defense Gap And How To Close It Fast”

    Buy Russian Pantsir S-2 and Tor-M1 air defense systems?

    1. Carolinian

      That Drive article, full of military speak, is a hoot.

      A good way to visualize this is to imagine a war in Asia where there is a need to grab and hold islands that are inside China’s anti-access/area-denial “buffer zone.” These expeditionary operations that venture into contested territory will require the assets of all the services combined, including intelligence and communications gathered from space, and rapid and highly targeted strikes in the realm of cyberspace.

      Somebody needs to tell these people it’s time to put away their box of toy soldiers and go upstairs and brush their teeth. We are a country held hostage to the fantasy life of adolescent boys. Of course it’s no joke when we start laying waste to countries like Iraq or Syria but the moral disconnect of military theorists with their glib phrases can be hard to take. Should we go to shooting war with China it’s dubious SHORAD will be our greatest concern.

      1. abynormal

        When tyrants have disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, there is nothing more to fear from them, then they will always be stiring up some other war or other, in order that the people may require a leader (of like). Plato

        Hey You…hope most is well with you and yours

          1. abynormal

            i’m residing on a 5 acre farm outside of Hickory NC, and never felt better. Better…a space to grieve many recent family losses and yet close enough to accompany my sister/last family member, while she dies from her chosen journey to not participate in medical healing of her stage 4 breast cancer.
            Im blown away to have met a mate that excites in getting to know undiscovered parts of meand he got me a really fast crotch rocket to get to my sister when she is need of my touch.

            Some healing days are dark and heavy…then i walk or pick fresh veggies and breath in pure GRATEFULNESS.

            thanks for asking, btw

              1. abynormal

                Ahhhh Monty, i remember your appreciated post!

                ‘Inspiring’ hints like i had control or at least a vision of this present leg of my journey…i still look over my shoulder.

                About 2yrs ago took my long time commpaion Wilzen/cat to the vet…in front of a no nonsense elderly vet i came undone. I mean falling against wall while crying so hard i scared myself…i explained to the vet how i can’t lose anymore and ran down the list of my family dying within the last 3yrs. Vet stared at me on thee floor and said, “Oh you’re suffering from compassion fatigue”. What the hell. Still a little jumpy.

                Good pathing Mont

                1. Susan the other`

                  I always burst the dam when my pets die. The tears just roll down my cheeks. It’s funny I’m more controlled when people die. Go figure. I’m glad to hear you are in a good place (Hickory NC is where my father is from; he was always nostalgic about it, beyond belief.) I hope you will be elevated when your grief lifts – when my parents died it had been so heavy a burden I was not me, I didn’t know who I even was – and then I had a virtual religious experience – it was “over”. Of course now I’m questioning how anything can ever be “over”. But I was set free at a new level. Can’t really explain.

  6. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Elizabeth Warren nomination

    If Biden’s candidacy will be torched by the Trump/Ukraine impeachment inquiry, then doesn’t Pelosi’s announcement suggest that the DNC has decided on Warren as The Candidate?

    1. voteforno6

      It could be that she was facing an internal rebellion, from within the caucus. She has been very reluctant to go after any of the other brazen corruption on Trump’s part, and this might be just the accumulation of the frustrations at her (lack of) leadership.

      It will be interesting to see how circumscribed this impeachment inquiry will be. If it’s wide open, then we might see all sorts of sleaze bubbling to the surface – the administration certainly offers a target-rich environment. If it’s only over this Ukraine mess, then that will be telling as well. I suspect it will be the latter, since Pelosi, along with a lot of other senior Democrats might not be willing to dig too deeply into a corrupt system that has also benefited them.

      That being said, I do think that Trump’s actions with the Ukraine bear closer scrutiny. If it can be established that he withheld aid as a means to pressure them to investigate Biden, then Trump certainly deserves to be impeached. I don’t trust the motivations behind this now. Then again, as has been said in other quarters, I think that people would be shocked at how often the right thing gets done in Washington, for the wrong reasons.

      1. macnamichomhairle

        Impeachment may also allow shift of presidential campaign focus away from issues like Medicare for All, Green New Deal, etc.

          1. Drake

            Yes, but he’s a “respectable” mainstream politician (without a active Twitter feed or a loud, enormous ego). That’s really all they care about. He won’t flagrantly trash the brand, like Trump does, and they’ll be able to pretend that ‘normalcy’ has returned. Which means they can fight Pence with the traditional arsenal of political weapons, which bounce off the Teflon Don.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Exactly. Pence has been a Governor. And a Senator. The Democratic Senators would be perfectly accepting of a President Pence. He is One Of Them.
              He is a fellow member of the Big Club . . . which we ain’t in.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Can they time it so that Pence replaces Trump for a few days or few weeks*, but with the impeachment drama, and the end result enough to sink Trump or Pence’s re-election?

          *’Only’ a few days or few weeks. It could still be risky enough for them, though.

        2. hunkerdown

          Pence is the rival they’ve been creating and training their base against (and, needless to say, fundraising off of) for years. Trump is an enemy of their smoothly-running racket.

      2. marym

        since Pelosi, along with a lot of other senior Democrats might not be willing to dig too deeply into a corrupt system that has also benefited them.


        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Ever since Nancy took impeachment off the table, my belief has been every crime of the Bush administration was done with the full complicity of the Gang of Eight. Crimes that go well past corruption.

      3. kiwi

        Big if there.

        It was reported yesterday that the Ukraine official said there was no pressure. It was reported before today that the president was withholding funds due to corruption (like he did in Puerto Rico – do you recall the recent story about some PR officials being arrested for corruption?); however, a repub senator objected, so the funds were released. The release took place months ago.

        It has also been reported that a transcript contains no quid pro quo; and the ‘whistle blower’ reported on 2nd hand information – how reliable.

        I know people keep drooling over the prospects of impeaching Trump, but these people really need to familiarize themselves with the Constitution and the notion of three separate branches of government.

        Personally, I hope the dems go for impeachment. Bye bye dems.

        And this comment comes from someone who has voted straight ticket dem since Reagan. I wonder how many other dems are as sick as I am of the dems. Customer service information has a rule of thumb that for everyone who complains (like me), there are 30 more people who aren’t complaining, but walk away. I wonder if that rule of thumb holds in this situation.

      1. IMOR

        Thanks for the link to the CFR article, and holy crap! If you want zero foreign policy change while you’re forced to listen to/read every misstatement of fact and history, every DOA shibboleth, every piece of measured, reasonable ignorance we’ve suffered for the last 35 years– she’s got this! Worse than I would have imagined.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        Even more reason to support Tulsi for VP or SecDef. Am heartened to see that They deigned to let her back into the next debate.

        1. Massinissa

          Speaking of Tulsi, shes basically the only major Dem candidate firmly against this impeachment nonsense, although Sanders is at least voicing his misgivings (Hes not against it per se, but believes it could end up helping Trump)

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If it actually were to reach the Senate, this would be Sanders’ opportunity to vote NO on “convict”. That would earn him some credit among the Deplorables. He would have to separate the youngers and certain others from the hate-filled Clintobamacrats, though.

  7. roadrider

    Re: The Prospect of an Elizabeth Warren Nomination Should Be Very Worrying

    I agree 100% with this article. I have a lot of difficulty with Warren’ background, her market fundamentalism and her cozy fit within the Dem establishment. I won’t deny I have some issues with Bernie but they pale in comparison to my reservations about Warren. I’m pretty much a Bernie or no one voter at this point. I voted for Stein in the last two presidential elections (and no, I didn’t help elect Trump since my state – Maryland is always in the Blue column; not that that it would have changed my vote if it wasn’t) but the Greens have been decertified in Maryland so I’m not sure I will have that choice next year.

  8. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The Prospect of an Elizabeth Warren Nomination Should Be Very Worrying Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

    There are serious differences, too, with the college plans. Bernie Sanders has promised to cancel all outstanding student debt. Elizabeth Warren says that “my plan would provide at least some debt cancellation for 95% of people with student loan debt (and complete and total student debt cancellation for more than 75%).” She explains further:

    It cancels $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with household income under $100,000. It provides substantial debt cancellation for every person with household income between $100,000 and $250,000. The $50,000 cancellation amount phases out by $1 for every $3 in income above $100,000, so, for example, a person with household income of $130,000 gets $40,000 in cancellation, while a person with household income of $160,000 gets $30,000 in cancellation.

    I didn’t try it, but I suspect if you google “How Loopholes are Born,” Warren’s student loan “forgiveness” plan would top the list of results.

    What is it about a harvard pedigree that makes people who have one so allergic to simplicity?

      1. a different chris

        And of course it can’t even be that simple.

        The $50,000 cancellation amount phases out by $1 for every $3 in income above $100,000, so, for example, a person with household income of $130,000 gets $40,000 in cancellation, while a person with household income of $160,000 gets $30,000 in cancellation.

        Ok nobody, even the 160K guy/gal because she/he has to live in a hella expensive place, is going to pay off their 50K in one year. So if my income is 90k, 100k, 110k… as the years go by, how does that work? What if said income goes down one year? I make $130K one year, get laid off the next, so I wind up behind the guy that made $65K each year…

        I’m sure that’s all explained, but my point is that is isn’t gonna be very simple at all.

  9. Tomonthebeach

    Why does California’s electric companies distribute juice on 19th-century wooden telegraph poles easily blown over by wind, car wrecks, tree branches, etc.? With one of the highest standards of living in the US (and the taxes to prove it), Californians tolerate getting their electricity the way their great grandparents did.

    It surely is a scandal that CA’s electricity providers have spent nothing to upgrade transmission lines despite decades of knowing above-ground lines start fires and other mayhem. Ironic that in Florida, where once wind routinely blew down main power lines, old wood poles have been replaced by concrete and steel ones that can weather 200MPH+ winds. Residential distribution is often underground. Florida Power & Light continues to replace old distribution systems with rugged ones. What is California’s problem? – he asked rhetorically.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Californians tolerate getting their electricity the way their great grandparents did’

      If you look carefully, you might be able to find some original telegraph poles still in service where your grandparents have carved their initials into it.

      1. ambrit

        My favourite carving on an old telephone pole from down south of New Orleans was; “Hic erat Kilroy.” Obviously done by an educated Gaul.

          1. ambrit

            “Legends of the Lost Legion,” chapter the sixth. Wherein our doughty heroes escape the wily Africans by sea, and what transpires next.
            As for the idea of ‘super science’ back then, see “Lest Darkness Fall” by de Camp.
            Similar to “Bring the Jubilee” by Ward Moore.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              From there, the Guals could have made it all the way to Xinjiang, China, where one of the ice maiden mummies, and closed to six feet in height, was discovered to wear a type of clothes woven in such a way that is found to be practiced today only in Ireland.

              1. ambrit

                Ah, but you reverse the order of travel. I have read that the “Ice Maiden” and her cohorts were part of a population living in Central Asia back in the sixth to second centuries BC. Thus, they would be the ancestors of the Gauls. There were supposedly caucasoid peoples in Central Asia when the Tarim Basin was still an Ice Age meltwater lake. Say, ten thousand years ago or better. The best explanation of the peopling of the world I have seen so far is Steven Oppenheimer’s “Out of Eden.” All is not as we suspected.

    2. anon in so cal

      Some California cities, such as Irvine, buried all of their utility lines underground. No unsightly and dangerous telephone poles.

      In Los Angeles, in contrast, they’re everywhere. Looks like streets in Hanoi. It’s very expensive to relocate the utility lines underground.

      “According to PG&E estimates, it costs approximately $3 million per mile to convert underground electric distribution lines from overhead. ”

    3. Krystyn Walentka

      In the areas where these fires started underground power lines, I think, would probably be impossible to implement since in most or the region there is no ground to bury it, only rock. And they are not on wooden poles by any means.

      Also, there is a health problem with burying power lines. I measured higher magnetic fields (>400nT) at ground level in a neighborhood with buried cables. I typically only see about 100nT right under above ground cables.

        1. ambrit

          Higher magnetic fields have effects on human bodies. The brain and nervous system are bio-electrical systems. The (in)famous Kirilian photography is based on the electro-magnetic fields the human body emanates. (Indeed, all carbon based lifeforms show some degree of this phenomenon.)
          Kirilian photography:
          The poster child for the effects of high magnetic fields are the observed phenomena of greater growth of agricultural crops underneath high voltage power lines. The phenomenon is taken seriously by “reputable” scientists.
          And, something involved in the field of a positive nature. Harnessing the effects for agriculture.
          China leads the way:

    4. a different chris

      Yeah, we keep hearing “renewables are intermittent!! Intermittent I tell ya!!!”

      The main problem with electricity is reliably getting it to people. People who can afford it are gonna buy their own solar and storage just because of that — thus the hysteria among the big power companies. The question is far more complex than cost.

      At the moment there are 1282 properties without power in PA:

      It will be different when you look. It’s just part of life, and people that are trying to act like it’s not are just blowing smoke.

  10. UWSmarathonrunner

    Re Fivethirtyeight page on presidential approval rating: What anyone sees in a static screen grab or text-only presentation misses a creative use of color and typography to display approval/disapproval polls.

    Headline changes the second word and its color every four or five seconds. It alternates between “How popular is Donald Trump?” with popular in green, then switches to “How unpopular is Donald Trump?” with popular in orange. Then popular/unpopular alternate as long as the page is displayed. All poll results and the chart show approval figures in green, disapproval in orange.

    They began using the format in January 2017. Worth hitting the link to see a presentation of numbers that aims for neutrality.

  11. John Beech

    I just don’t care what the President says on the telephone. Let me repeat . . .

    I. Just. Don’t Care.

    Scandalized? You shouldn’t be because he’s the Executive personified and talking is what these guys do. Or doesn’t anybody recall our removing missiles from Turkey 6-months after the standoff in Cuba? Anybody who believes this wasn’t talked about by our President with his counterpart is in fantasy land. Good thing we didn’t have putative whistle-blowers then. So enough of the talk-talk BS, please.

    However, and I know it’s an open secret, a $50,000/month sinecure for Hunter with a Ukranian gas company? And Hunter traveling on AF2 with the Vice President to China – and – securing funding for his fund, and the VP didn’t know anything about it? Pull the other leg, please! Oh, and imagine Ivanka in that role and how Rachel’s head would explode. Jeez!

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s funny when you think about it. The Democrats are now tying their fortunes and prospects of winning next year’s Presidential elections by dealing with the Ukrainian government? Good luck with that. It is like the Mos Eisley City Council – writ large. And promising all democrat supporters that this will finally, after three years of the Meuller investigation, lead to Trump’s impeachment which of course all the Republicans will cross the aisle to support? I can think of nothing surer that will galvanize Trump voters next year. And as for democrat voters, here is how it will go in the end-

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Mos Eisley City Council

        Except for droids, Mos Eisley seemed like a more tolerant place than the Kiev rump state.

        1. ambrit

          Mos Eisley also has some serious competition for the title of “Greatest Hive of Scum and Villainy” nowadays.

    2. marym

      There are things people can say that are illegal at least under some circumstances. This is one that I see on twitter in relation to the current controversy. Of course without the whistleblower complaint it’s all speculation, as to what was said, what else was said or done, and whether any of it merits impeachment.

      It’s at least ironic to hear Trump and his supporters concerned about someone possibly leveraging a parent’s political position for personal gain. You’d think their own heads would explode.

      1. Carolinian

        DC’s most ignored law? Will Trump get speeding ticket and jail time while everyone else whizzes by at 90mph?

      2. Pat

        Even more ironic was my response to yesterday’s Trump is worse outrage about using their hotels as the route for corruption riches, still doesn’t come close to Hillary and Barack. The Trumps at least provide an actual service to the “customers” with hotel rooms and one that is far less destructive than the half assed charities and foundations and ‘libraries’ used by some of the acceptable political elite.

        Dear Nancy, Chuck etc al: Screw the outrage and impeachment dreams, I want attacks on the policies. Do your best to screw the cabinet departments doing the bidding of Devos and Pruitt. F*ck over the dismantling of the FCC Nd FDA. Do something useful and I won’t root for your vindictive unself aware attacks to boomerang. But since you won’t, may all the fires you set burn your house down FIRST.

        1. marym

          It’s equally ironic, or maybe comparably ironic, that both sides have descended so far into evil, that most charges from either side have counterparts on the other. I agree that the only worthwhile critique (impeachment or any other format) would be a detailed attack on actual policies.

          1. Pat

            The thing that gets me is the corrupt nature of the beast has meant that any investigation, regardless of which party drives it, is largely diminished corralled and ineffective in order to protect the interests of the investigators. Any comprehensive investigation would bring down too many people or pet projects if done. This is part of the reason so many investigations in the last decades have been incomprehensible. (See Benghazi)

          2. inode_buddha

            Frankly I think our entire legislative branch needs to be tossed out, without warning, simultaneously. Nuked from orbit as it were.

            THEN we start fresh, with normal everyday people, and term limits, and public campaign funding, no lobbyists or interests whatsoever.

            I’ve felt this way since about 1996, (Clinton) and that feeling has only been vindicated more and more every year.

        2. kiwi

          So, I kept hoping that dems would actually do some of the things you mention. I waited through the Reagan years; I waited through the Bush years…oh, forget it, I’ve been waiting since the ’80s!

          I now know it won’t happen. I now understand that whatever the dems do is done to distract from the fact that they do so little of what they supposedly support (okay, I know there are a few exceptions to that generalization).

          Stick a fork in it.

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        So, if I’m understanding this correctly, Trump’s alleged request to investigate biden is being construed as some sort of an illegal campaign contribution solicited from a foreign government–a “thing of value.”

        If this had occurred during a second Trump term with no prospect of a future campaign, would it still be considered “illegal” and grounds for impeachment?

        Is every action of a sitting president of any party, from day 1, to be evaluated first and foremost in the context of a never ending “campaign season?”

      4. JTMcPhee

        Cute little extra bit in the statute you link to, 52 USC 30121. Which makes it “ “unlawful” for a “foreign national” to offer anything of value “ion connection with any federal, state or local election,” and other Bad Acts.

        The extra bit is in the language defining ‘foreign national,” to mean “) a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section 611(b) of title 22, except that the term “foreign national” shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States.” The last clause excluding all the dual citizenship people in Congress and the Administration and the lobbying firms, and their actions in seeking to suborn electoral processes in the US, and all the lobbying they do for “foreign governments

        Wonder how that got in there?

      5. kiwi

        The ‘whisteblower’ complaint isn’t even based on first hand information or observation.

        Have you ever played that game where some brief story is passed around a circle of people and the end results have nothing to do with the original story?

        Just some gossipy person in the throes of pearl clutching…..

    3. FredThompsonDoppleganger

      Wait… Kennedy removed intermediate range missiles from Turkey in exchange for an investigation by Khrushchev into Julie Nixon’s homework? If there had been whistle-blowers, the US may have been reminded that there were missiles in Turkey contravention to agreements before instigating the Cuban crisis. The responsibility of keeping authority as lawful as possible is imperative. Fortunately, a representative government can still act without a prior manufacturing of consensus. Finally, Rachel from “Friends”? Fin de siècle nostalgia for a previous generation’s sitcoms indicates a collective yearning for a less pathological contemporaneous reality, the Happy Days-Vietnam effect, I suppose.

    4. Tom Doak

      There is so much “pot calling the kettle black” going on in campaigns since 2016, that George Orwell’s must be ready to open the time capsule where he says, “told you so”.

      The best of these (and least frequently discussed so far) is the idea of an Administration collaborating with a foreign intelligence agency to dig up dirt on a potential candidate.

      Are the Five Eyes are exempted from this discussion, since they are just an extension of the American empire?

  12. nippersmom

    Tracy H. hits another one out of the park with today’s antidote. Great photo of what appears to be a red-eared slider.

  13. jfleni

    RE: US Navy Corruption Levels Put the Third World to Shame .

    Uncle Sam’s canoe club is sure having their share of problems as they play clutch-butt with defense contractor good buddies; meantime we peasants are on pins and needles as we wait desperately for medicare for all !!! ?? Way to go UNCKLE.!!

  14. Wukchumni

    Another foray into the forest for the trees, no chance at doing a deal with a shady Ukrainian, as we saw not another human bean in 4 days on the trail.

    The goal was to get to the Giant Sequoias of size in the Garfield Grove, and mission accomplished.

    Saw the King Arthur (wider @ the base than the Sherman tree-not as tall though) Floyd Otter, Eric de Groot & Sawtooth, all in the top 50 in terms of size. None of them were close to the trail, so lots of bushwhacking into the steep upper climes of a spectacular grove that hardly anybody ever goes to.

  15. Katniss Everdeen

    Well, the “transcript” of the nefarious phone call is out. Turns out it’s not a verbatim transcript. Apparently no tapes are made of these calls. The calls are made in the situation room, with several people listening and taking notes. Then the different accounts are merged together as a record of what was said.

    That’s what was released.

    What’s interesting is that my favorite propaganda company–crowdstrike–was, for some reason, mentioned. I can’t wait to find out what that’s all about.

    1. John A

      ‘No tapes are made of these calls’. Just call Mossad (or Putin?), don’t they evesdrop on all White House communications for kompramat?

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Right. I forgot. I suppose if it was really incriminating, some anonymous patriot would leak it. With all those ex-spook dems in the house, someone should be able to call in a favor.

        I’m beginning to think lack of leaks should be considered exculpatory.

      2. Carolinian

        The Israelis may have a copy, what with all those just removed snooping devices outside the White House. However I believe those only worked on Trump’s cell phone. Presumably his office phone a bit more secure?

        Then there’s the NSA. They keep everybody’s calls.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Cancer tumors have similar strategies, like angiogenesis, where the tumors employ various tricks of biochemistry to sucker the host organism’s circulatory systems into building new and large arteries into the tumor mass.

      Another trick is to sucker the sufferer’s immune system into thinking that the wildly proliferating tumor cells are just plain old normal somatic cells, evading the “stand-down, peace-dividend” action of normal end-of-useful-life cleanup of aged and pre-cancerous cells.

      So we got the now more rapidly advancing “defense spending” arteries that feed trillions into the war machine that has to have fuel to engage in the conflicts that ensure the source of fuel to engage in conflicts to lock down energy supplies for the giant tumor that is the MIC. And all done under the cover of “patriotism” and “national interest,” so the dumbsh_t working cells in healthier tissues don’t even know what is happening to the organism of which they are a part.

      Self-licking ice cream cone, much?

      Does it make any difference to note that this can’t end well, possibly short of the death of the host organism (human presence on the planet)?

      1. abynormal

        mind boggling still…it wasn’t born in a vacuum, and neither the outcomes.
        Eons ago i still see my only child…in her sweetest nature of innocence singing We Are All On Drugs. No clue to the literals of drugs and by no means to an abstract. After a time of growth spurts, i suggested to my little rebel with too many causes…the drug she use sing about might possess an indeterminate shelf life. Sadly, i was met a numbness we’ve all possessed that allows it to continue.

        “You have a grandstand seat here…to one of the most momentus events to the history of science”….dare y’all to view the entire few minutes of creative honesty

        1. abynormal

          HA. just listened to it with my 57yo ears… where Weezer writes “i WANT to confiscate your trust”, i couldn’t help but notice our government (with its GDP one third military and rising) accomplished ‘i WILL CONFISCATE YOUR TRUST’

  16. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. exit from Syria could bolster ISIS threat, strengthen Iran, bipartisan report says”

    Perhaps the emphasis of US troops staying is the wrong way to look at it. Let us suppose that US troops had never invaded and occupied parts of Syria but had stood down instead. What would the result be now. Let’s see. The Syrian armed forces, along with their Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies, would have finished wiping out ISIS from the whole region and reunified their country once more. The freed agricultural areas would be going to feed their people and the sale of Syrian oil would be financing reconstruction of that country. Hezbollah and Iranian forces would have withdrawn from Syria except for a few score instructors and technical experts. As for all those foreign Jihadists? Well, let us just say that they would have not been disturbing any more people for the rest of their lives.

      1. Off The Street

        General Flynn knows about Kerry, ISIS, Hillary, Benghazi, dead Ambassador Chris Stevens and those errant arms. He was in a position to read and hear the intimate details and so was a risk to Hillary and others that had to be silenced in any way possible.

        The acquittal of Flynn’s business partner Rafikian yesterday takes the public one step closer to the truth about Stated Department criminality, so expect extraneous panics to flare up whenever a new bit of truth is ready to be publicized. That pathetic counterpunching will get ever more desperate, given the own-goal tendencies of Dems in Congress as others have noted.

  17. pretzelattack

    the only democratic candidates i would vote for for president are bernie and tulsi. but it seems fairly clear that the dnc will once again foist a candidate like biden or warren (who i don’t trust) on voters–“whaddya going to do about it?”.

    1. Whoamolly

      Re: “Whaddya going to do about it”

      1. Write in Tulsi/Bernie.

      2. Reject all future D pleas for money, time, votes, clicks, and attention. In all future elections ask “What have you done for me, lately?”

      3. Try to convince at least “one other person” to do the same.

      4. Hope that the practice spreads. Get on with my life.

      1. nippersmom

        If the dems once again foist a neoliberal warhawk on us, I will probably vote third-party again. I’ve never donated money, time, or anything else to the Democratic Party (just directly to specific candidates) so no change in my current patterns will be required. I will also continue to vociferously denounce the policies and practices of establishment dems on various fora.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s possible, no idea if it’s probable, that in 2024, Tulsi can single-combat challenge the D neoliberal incumbent (in the case they prevail in 2020), be it Biden, Warren or whoever, this is assuming that, for example, hypothetically, that Warren or Harris won’t challenge Biden, as a sitting D president.

  18. rjs

    Pam & Russ Martens ask What Has Frightened Wall Street Banks from Lending in the Repo Market?

    my sense it that it’s related to last week’s wild swings in the price of oil (up 19%, down 12%) after the attack on Saudi infrastructure….there was record trading volume on Monday; over 3.68 million future’s contracts, or 3.68 billion barrels of crude…another 517 million options to buy or sell crude contracts were also traded on Monday, meaning trading in futures and options was 344 times the amount of oil actually produced in the US over the same period…

    John Kemp at Reuters says it wasn’t hedge funds, but runaway trading bots…

    i figure some guys lost their shirts betting one way or the other, but no one knows who…

    1. abynormal

      agree partly…charts, from the specific episode, show the bots confusion in the extreme. Algros may be man made but trading desk around the world are aware we have created a Frankenstein with an abynormal brain…

      1. skippy

        The old proverb was – you had to make your first million by hook or crook, that got you a seat at the big boys table, with a few chips, then you used other peoples money to bet with … don’t smile because then you have to scull your drink and that can effect future performance …

        1. skippy

          I would proffer that no one wants invest in long term prospects that have long term social connotations due to human friction[s and baked in market perspectives during the neoliberal period E.g. better to create your own reality in frictionless [virtual] capitalism.

  19. Expat2uruguay

    Recommended podcast from Media Matters:

    Roosevelt’s New Deal remade American society, and now climate activists are pushing for a Green New Deal to do it again. This week, On the Media looks at the attacks from conservatives against both projects, and why congress underestimates support for climate action. Plus, how a wave of labor strikes might be a crucial component in building momentum towards Green New Deal adoption. And, the teenage girls spreading climate awareness on Tik-Tok.

    Broken into 4 parts:

    1. Jane McAlevey [@rsgexp], writer and organizer, on why striking is essential to effect meaningful social change.

    2. Kim Phillips-Fein, historian at New York University, on lessons from the origins of and fights against the original New Deal. 

    3. Kate Aronoff [@KateAronoff], writer at The Intercept, on what a popular meme tells us about climate activism permeating youth culture.

    4. Leah Stokes [@leahstokes], professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, on the misunderstandings about public opinion and climate action.

    1. Oregoncharles

      ” the teenage girls spreading climate awareness on Tik-Tok.”
      I attended the initial, high school-based climate rally on Monday. I noted then that the crowd sound was remarkably high-pitched. It was actually mostly girls. There were plenty of boys and men, but they were afterthoughts, and not making a lot of noise. Assuming that the crowd here is typical, I think I see a very positive development that is only about 40 years overdue. The climate movement isn’t the only place women are asserting themselves.

      And about time, I say. It isn’t like the guys have done so well.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Be fair, now — women have had a lot to do with how civilization has turned out. X’s and Y’s both have their share in the making of misery and the incipient destruction of the biosphere as a habitable place for 8 billion humans. And when they do rise to positions of power? Who’s worse? Bill Clinton or Hillary? Victoria Nuland or Henry Kissinger? Lucretia Borgia or Victor Borge?

        Just for fun, one of those Top 11 lists:

        And I believe there are lots of “Top 10 Worst” lists for men, of course…

        1. Susan the other`

          I had an epiphany yesterday. I walked into the grocery store and time stopped. I saw lots of men walking around purposefully, supplying all the various items with dedication; walking straight-backed and with confidence. I thought, these guys are offering me what I’m looking for. And I declinated that realization to: I was once offered a dishwasher; a super-vacuum cleaner; a turbo laundry washer-dryer; a maximum frig/freezer; a fabulous gourmet oven and stovetop… you get the picture. But, I’m a minimalist still – I can do without everyone’s new and latest design. I can cook over a small campfire just as deliciously as I can at home because I don’t do anything too fabulous. So where did all this nonsense come from?

  20. ptb

    re: impeachment –

    i was not expecting this. high risk move, and not that strong since the proceedings can never leave the House. But it creates an opportunity to take back control of the news cycle for Dems- Rgate did that for 3 years, although ultimately didn’t dent Trump’s approval and opportunity cost of not addressing many real evils of the Tr administration. being able to control the news so easily is still useful to manage the primary. i think they’re catching on that (Bern + Warren) > Biden.

    The risk for the general is weak evidence discrediting the D media more with independents, i.e. substantiating what every 2bit right wing commentator had been saying all along.

    also maybe Pelosi’s hand was forced because Biden was threatened by Biden Jr. allegations. also it placates some of Pelosi’s critics.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t know what to make of the following representatives, and their signing on for starting an impeachment inquiry (from a CNN article):


    2. Drake

      “also maybe Pelosi’s hand was forced because Biden was threatened by Biden Jr. allegations. also it placates some of Pelosi’s critics.”

      It seems to me likely at this point that shedding light on all this will cut Biden’s cojones off, probably to the benefit of Warren. Corruption will now be either the unavoidable topic of discussion in the press and future debates, or the unmentionable elephant in the room that everyone is thinking about.

      I almost wonder whether sinking Biden is the goal, while throwing a bone to the ‘impeach at any cost for any reason’ crowd. It’s clear they have to get rid of Senescent Joe somehow, and I think they know it. They don’t want actually want Warren but next up is Sanders…

  21. EricT

    But the neuro toxins contained in coal ash( which gives off residual radiation as well ) can cause human suffering that is just as bad as radiation from nuclear waste. I prefer that we develop a system that doesn’t involve either methods of power generation.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Or perforce do the other thing, which is Do Without. Which looks like the choice the Great Test Maker in the Sky I ended to be the correct answer.

      Wasn’t there a School of Thought that rated the degree of “civilization” strictly on the amount of power (the rate of doing work) or energy transferred per unit of time? Work being, if I remember my PSSC physics, defined as force times distance. And in the Imperial thinking, Success is Force Projected to Make Lesser People Do the Work.

      I wonder if Musk has in mind building a Dyson Sphere or one of its analogues. As described here in Wiki, in simplified form: Sic fi stuff, of course, but then so was manned winged flight not so long ago. Just think: why b=try to figure out how to bottle up thermonuclear reactions to harness to do “work” when you could just build a nest of heat or electron collectors in a sphere around the Sun, like Dyson posited other “advanced civilizations” must have done? There’s almost unlimited growth potential there! No weather to worry about (except solar storms,) no inconvenient day-night cycles. And we could just fiddle with our DNA to adapt us to live in the infinite number of environments of choice that such plenitude would provide!

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        RingWorld, properly stabilized, is simpler…

        But, seriously, wouldn’t a continent-wide trench/canal with truly massive generators positioned at suitable distances allow for the capture of Coriolis Effect “tidal” movement? We know how to dig ditches, that we do. We could call it, oh, something like “RiverWorld”.

  22. Roy G

    Regarding: America’s Startling Short Range Air Defense Gap And How To Close It Fast, it is from The War Zone, a sister site of The Drive, which focuses on Automotive news. I work in Automotive, so I read The Drive daily, and am continually assaulted by their inserting of The War Zone content into The Drive. Wtf? Why do these things go together? It’s basically a straight pipe from the Pentagon into the website, and a reliable pusher of all the worst MIC agitprop, mingled in with fanboy posts about military technology. This is one of the worst features of web news, where the desire to keep the reader scrolling leads to the injection of all kinds of unrelated an often unwanted news.

    This pisses me off every day, so thanks for letting me vent.

  23. skippy

    The glaring omission within the energy debate is susceptibility to increasing extreme weather events and their frequency, seems Houston is flooded again, not that its a supply bottle neck or anything.

    I mean whats the point of building Nuke plants if the vulnerability of its transmission has the same increasing risk factors.

    1. Olga

      The Houston area flooded big time in 2017. Major power outages. The one place that managed was a grocery store that signed up for a micro-grid arrangement.

      1. inode_buddha

        This is one idea I favor. Some cities in Europe have experimented with micro co-generation as a means of increasing resiliency and cutting both pollution and costs. Basically, it works — but faces opposition in the US from the big energy companies.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    “Fecal matter? Meet oscillatory rotation device!”

    I remember trying to think of a way to say that once. I had come up with something like:

    Fecal matter? Impact sharply upon the directional multi-vaned air-impeller!

    1. inode_buddha

      I liked the one about the Iranian exterminator — you know, what happens when the Flit hits the Shah…

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