Links 10/29/19

Bat Week 2019: fascinating facts & free activities TreeHugger

Hungarians Can’t Be Bought With Potatoes Jacobin

Absolute power Times Literary Supplement

‘Poorly’ Foreign Office cat Palmerston is at ‘death’s door and seeing out his final days at home of a senior official’ Daily Mail

Can Africa become the next European Union? Al Jazeera

How Silicon Valley breeds boredom, loneliness and vanity WaPo

What are the best first lines in fiction? BBC

Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas Forbes (david l)

Virgin Galactic Becomes First Space Tourism Company To Land On Wall Street International Business Times

737 MAX

The first Boeing 737 Max crash happened a year ago today — here’s how the saga unfolded, and the ongoing fallout as the plane remains grounded worldwide Business Insider

Lion Air 737 MAX Final Accident Report Cites AOA Sensor, MCAS Among Multitude of Contributing Factors Avionics International

‘Why Is This Airplane Still Flying?’ The FAA Missteps That Kept Boeing’s MAX Aloft WSJ

Boeing C.E.O. to Tell Congress: ‘We Know We Made Mistakes’ NYT

California Burning

Getty fire: Housekeepers and gardeners go to work despite the flames LA Times (dan k)

California opens investigation into companies shutting off power during wildfires CNN (PR)

Class Warfare

Social Inequality Leaves a Genetic Mark  Nautilus (Ignacio). From last year; still germane.

Waste Watch


Increasingly popular single-use bans pose hurdle for plastics industry Waste Dive

Australia’s beloved native birds are disappearing – and the cause is clear Guardian


House to take first vote on impeachment inquiry of Trump, forcing lawmakers on record  WaPo

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

This Charger Takes Over Your Phone to Poison the Ad Data Amazon Wants Motherboard

Opinion: 50 years ago, I helped invent the internet. How did it go so wrong? LA Times


Brexit: and so it goes on

Brexit: Boris Johnson to make fresh general election bid BBC


Trump may have claimed to kill al-Baghdadi, but he has brought Isis back to life Independent. Robert Fisk.

Caliph closure: ‘He died like a dog’ Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was a brutal tyrant but he had no real answer to the crumbling of his caliphate Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

OPCW Losing Credibility As Even More Revelations Surface On Douma Caitlin Johnstone


Delhi government has a new strategy to curb monkey attacks: An area-wise census Scroll

Better batteries are fueling a surge of electric scooters in India and China The Conversation

Satellite images show toxic air sweeping across North India as farm fires rage Scroll


VW ramps up China electric car factories, taking aim at Tesla Reuters

Democracy activist Joshua Wong barred from running in Hong Kong district council election SCMP

Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political Ads NYT (david l)

Health Care

A livestock-poison-turned-drug might save her from endless cancer surgeries. But if she helps test it, could she afford to keep taking it? Stat


7 in 10 millennials say they would vote for a socialist: poll The Hill

Why the Democratic superdelegate whispers are starting again Politico

As PG&E Leaves Millions Without Power Amid Wildfires, Sanders Says Time to Think About ‘Public Ownership of Major Utilities’ Common Dreams

With Biden Floundering, Democratic Establishment Considers Clinton and Kerry TruthOut. Kill me now.

North Carolina’s congressional map is illegal Republican gerrymander, court rules Reuters

The Market for Voting Machines Is Broken. This Company Has Thrived in It. Pro Publica

Obama Foundation Summit: Barack, Michelle in Chicago to reveal plans for Presidential Center ABC

Trump Transition

The Trump Administration Throttles the Iranian People American Conservative

Trump’s Antiwar Speech Deserved a Better Reception TruthDig Maj. Danny Sjursen
General Motors Sides With Trump in Emissions Fight, Splitting the Industry

Wall Street Was America’s First Foe in World War II Foreign Policy. Matt Stoller.

Antidote du jour (TH):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Synoia

    ‘Poorly’ Foreign Office cat Palmerston is at ‘death’s door and seeing out his final days at home of a senior official’

    Nonsense. He voted against Brexit, and is depressed by the potential breakup of the Union.

    1. Bill Smith

      He is a cat. He would have voted for Brexit and has come to realize that it is never going to happen. And worse than that he is has realized that the UK is stuck in Groundhog Day.

      1. Clive

        He is in fact Schrödinger’s cat and therefore forever destined to be in a state of existential limbo.

      2. Quentin

        Exactly, it’s not going to happen, which was obvious from the very beginning. A Remainer PM, May, was certainly not going to do anything to facilitate Brexit. What have they been smoking in the UK and around the world for the past three and a half years? The EU never wanted it either and with the new Comissar of the EU, Ursula van Leien, taking over next Friday, Brexit has definitely been canceled. You see, Russia must be confronted, that’s how she was as Minister of Defense of Germany. When asked why the EU wasn’t criticising the Spanish government for it’s hardhanded action against the most recent protests about the long prison terms of Catalonian politicians because of their support of independence, she puzzlingly replied something like ‘It’s not a political matter’ i.e. they are not being the victims of a political process. I don’t know if anyone asked what it then was: cultural, aesthetic, moral, ethical, informational, whatever. In short: political persecution cannot exist in the EU.

  2. Synoia

    What are the best first lines in fiction?

    “Constitutional Monarchy”
    “I feel you pain”
    “Congress considered and I supported including a Medicare-like public plan”

    1. Tom Stone

      ” One day I lived the American Dream, I threw my boss out a 14th story window”

      From the best pulp novel I have read, “Monster Hunter International”

    2. Chromex

      For actual fiction ( though far more based on real life than most) “It began as a mistake”. Post Office Charles Bukowski

    3. Roy G

      ‘We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.’

    4. Robert Moore Williams

      “The doorknob opened a blue eye and looked at him.” — Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, ”The Fairy Chessmen”

  3. Yan

    Just a thought on Joshua Wong: if an American went to meet the Chinese politburo or, God forbid, the douma, would he be even considered as a candidate by the Republican or Democrat parties?

      1. Xi

        So. People in Hong Kong aren’t entitled to representation if they desire some form or other of sympathy from abroad?

  4. russell1200

    great first line: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” – William Gibson, Neuromancer.

    1. toshiro_mifune

      I’m going to go with an obvious one;

      “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”

      – H.S. Thompson – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        A favourite from a favourite but more than a line.

        I was born in 1927, the only child of middle-class parents, both English, and themselves born in the grotequely elongated shadow, which they never rose sufficiently above history to leave, of that monstrous dwarf Queen Victoria.

        The Magus – John Fowles.

            1. False Solace

              The “on his toes” version introduces the possible interpretation that he was standing en pointe. The original phrasing doesn’t suffer this ambiguity.

        1. dearieme

          Or, to be serious:
          “Take my camel, dear”, said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.

          Rose Macaulay – The Towers of Trebizond

      2. JohnnySacks

        From a few years earlier at the onset of the 60’s:
        “They’re out there. Black boys in white suits up before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them.”
        – Ken Kesey – One Flew Over the Cukoo’s nest

    2. prx

      “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

    3. diptherio

      “It was a blue bird, pussy willow morning on the first day of spring and the newlyweds were driving cross-country in a large roast turkey.”
      ~Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All

    4. Jeff W

      I always liked the opening line to Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff:

      Within five minutes, or ten minutes, no more than that, three of the others had called her on the telephone to ask her if she had heard that something had happened out there.

      1. VK

        my all-time favourite, JR by William Gaddis:

        —Money …? in a voice that rustled.
        —Paper, yes.
        —And we’d never seen it. Paper money.
        —We never saw paper money till we came east.
        —It looked so strange the first time we saw it. Lifeless.
        —You couldn’t believe it was worth a thing.
        —Not after Father jingling his change.
        —Those were silver dollars.

    5. Off The Street

      “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

      One of my favorites from Charles Dickens. His A Tale of Two Cities is now 160 years old

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        “A decline of public morals in the United States will probably be marked by the abuse of the power of impeachment as a means of crushing political adversaries or ejecting them from office.”

        – Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

        (OK, not a first line, but germane).

        1. Winston Smith

          What’s it going to be then, eh? There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry

      1. JEHR

        “Most people in this world seem to live ‘in character’; they have a beginning, a middle and an end, and the three are congruous one with another and true to the rules of their type.”—H. G. Wells

        “The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.”—Oscar Wilde

        “From the high-placed window of the little room, a flat ray of sunlight thrust obliquely through the dust-thickened air, bright and pale and hard as the blade of a steel knife.” Marjorie Coryn

        “The small Catholic churches here are all the same, white clapboard drenched with snow or blistering under a northern sun, their interiors smelling of confessionals and pale statues of the Madonna.”–David Adams Richards

        “Brother Francis Gerard of Utah might never have discovered the blessed documents, had it not been for the pilgrim with girded loins who appeared during that young novice’s Lenten fast in the desert.”–Walter M. Miller, Jr.

          1. wilroncanada

            Wow, JEHR, I know you’re Canadian like me. How many people outside Canada know about novelist David Adams Richards.

            1. JEHR

              You might be surprised. Many, many Americans are familiar with Margaret Atwood and that same group may also know about David Adams Richards. If not now, in the future.

    6. Geof

      I don’t think I need to identify any of these.

      In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

      Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son Achilleus and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians, hurled in their multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls of heroes, but gave their bodies to be the delicate feasting of dogs

      The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piercing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

      “It’s a pretty good zoo,” said young Gerald McGrew, “And the fellow who runs it seems proud of it, too.” “But if I ran the zoo,” said young Gerald McGrew, “I’d make a few changes. That’s just what I’d do…”

        1. ambrit

          “A story as complex as this has no obvious starting point; neither am I able to follow Colonel Spencer’s suggestion of ‘beginning at the beginning and going on to the end’, since history has a habit of meandering.”
          Wilson, The Mind Parasites

      1. witters

        Anthony Burgess. Earthly Powers: “It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

    7. Harold

      “He was an inch, perhaps two, below six feet” — Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

      “He was born with the gift for laughter and a sense that the world was mad” — Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

      “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

      “Call me Ishmael” — Herman Melville, Moby Dick

    8. Mo's Bike Shop

      My father was a St. Bernard, my mother was a collie, but I am a Presbyterian.

      Mark Twain, A Dog’s Tale

    9. eg

      Not a first line, but the first bit of dialogue in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”

      “And this also,” said Marlow suddenly, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.”

  5. mpalomar

    First lines should include JJ’s circular, “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.” picks up the flow of the last sentence of the book, “A way a lone a last a loved a long the…”

  6. jeremyharrison

    “7 in 10 millennials say they would vote for a socialist.”

    I imagine that 9 in 10 millennials couldn’t accurately define “a socialist”.

    1. a different chris

      To be fair, who can? What’s a socialist vs a communist? What’s a fascist vs a Nazi? What’s an ophthalmologist vs an optometrist — oh wait, that one I understand.

      Everybody uses whatever term they think will ring their desired bell the loudest and they don’t worry about some dictionary definition. Humpty Dumpty had this down pat.

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        If I may guess at the real description; Americans believe “socialism” is “social justice”, “civil rights” and equal opportunity for all. Thats all they want and they currently don’t get any.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Given the rate boomers vote Republican and the conservative nature of boomer Democratic voters, I’m astonished those people managed to make their marks.

    2. Phacops

      Picking nits, aside, to me this speaks clearly to the idea that capitalism has failed them.

      Sometimes I think that my generation is the last to be fortunate in avoiding the commodification of our lives as long as one resisted being a consumer.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        my eldest had a small party out here last saturday…4 of his buddies, one who graduated last year, and already has to quit plumbing school(why are trade schools in Texas so similar to reform schools?) to take care of his grandad(his “hours” won’t count, due to esoteric state rules)
        they gathered around the pit as i cooked ribs and grilled pumpkin(!), and i got to eavesdrop….and ask pointed questions.
        none but my son knows what “capitalism” or “socialism” are…and i made sure to identify myself as a libertarian socialist.
        but they know pretty well that they are likely screwed.
        all of them grew up poor…2 of them have parents who came from Mexico(in the 80’s, before the current they were born here)…and none of them believe what the entitled rich girl(but well meaning) HS counselor tells them regarding “reaching for the stars” and other poster-ready platitudes.
        after my son, the obviously smartest one there—quiet…watching…asking me surgical questions when the rest wander off to pee on a bush—talked about maybe joining the Navy(to his mind, less likely to get killed) so that he at least has a chance.
        the rest are resigned to trying for the building trades: plumbing, electrician, HVAC…and 3-4 of them expect to have to do it the hard way, by working their way up through apprentice, journeyman, etc.
        the first one mentioned says that the trade school is filled with 2 kinds of people: older men with homes and families…and young problem children who do all manner of drugs and keep him up all night.

        none of the kids around my bbq pit expected to ever get rich, or even “well off”….and this assessment was not prodded by me. they arrived there on their own.
        anecdote, and all….but it doesn’t bode well for a return to pre-trump legitimacy. these guys are divorced from politics…after taking a look at it, not out of habit or whatever. nobody’s on their side, and they know it.
        I made sure, after a while, to talk up Bernie and the New Deal, and to encourage them—in spite of it being Texas—to not discount the trade unions when the time comes.

        1. tongorad

          none of the kids around my bbq pit expected to ever get rich, or even “well off”….and this assessment was not prodded by me. they arrived there on their own.

          Interest comment, Amfortas. I work as a teacher in Texas. I recall a discussion with my students a few years ago about raising the minimum wage. The majority of my students were against it – “It would hurt business.”
          Gloomily, the transformation from citizen to consumer seems almost complete. Obviously, the school system does little to develop agency and voice. Its all about standards, testing and “data-driven instruction” these days.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i recall the same sort of comments from kids this age(17-19), in this place, 10 and 20 years ago.
            (wife’s a teacher…and i get to hire the occasional high school kid..and i have big ears and ask a lot of questions)
            so i think something has definitely changed…like observable reality.
            ie: what they see their parents doing and saying, and the social media that’s such a part of their world(which hardly even existed out here 10 and 20 years ago).
            i hear from wife about a few high schoolers continuing to parrot faux newts(at third remove, no less)…but they are invariably more well off, and/or preacher’s kids….and bred to “conservatism”
            month or so ago, another party out here, with a couple of relatively comfortable(but non-religious) twins who have gone off to college: my monitoring of the goings on led to invitation to share their fire(how utterly unlike my own parents!…and me at that age!).
            from those kids…a much different economic cohort than this past weekends sample…i got the same sort of uncertainty and “oh, well”-ism…and they’re in college…paid for, even.
            again, i’m practiced at socratic method…asking questions, and trying not to lead.
            so save for a few, mostly religious and very comfortable kids, in this place, the fear/resignation cuts across class and racial demographics.
            10 kids out of a population of maybe 90 in that age group.(class of 2018 and 2019)
            better sample size than gallup,lol.
            but my overall population is small.
            again, anecdote…but still.

        2. Susan the Other

          We are all in a holding pattern Amfortas. Even the despised PG&E. I hate them too. It’s totally unacceptable to allow our corporation to get so extracted, bled dry and spread out so thin that they can no longer do their required maintenance. But just over the horizon was an enormous shitstorm. One to knock the power out and then some. And the Grid has been acknowledged as totally insufficient for decades. Formerly good politicians like Pelosi have refused to make the effort to even begin to set things right and it is probably the fault of one Turtle McConnell. He’s the worst. He is the “vile” in Jeffery Sachs’ “vile congress”. But, according to business as usual, we are at a loss because bz as usu. is now completely irrelevant. So what will happen? We screwed ourselves by failing to do something as simple (and unprofitable as) maintenance. That should be acknowledged and new rules should remedy that. The same damn way they caused it in the first place.

          1. inode_buddha

            Just saying, as someone who does maintenance professionally: failure to do maintenance can end up costing many multiples more than just doing it.

            1. ambrit

              For one thing, just finding the ‘as built’ print set is well nigh impossible.
              I have seen cases where the old standby, “Oh f— it. Let the other guy figure it out.” was the standard operating procedure for the entire job.
              A proposed remedy here is to have those in authority when the maintenance was supposed to be done bear full responsibility. Claw back their fortunes, including their retirement packages. (Not fair they say? Try dying from an avoidable danger that was allowed to fester because of greed. That’s the definition of ‘Not Fair.’)

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            There is plenty of money available for everything (including maintenance of Flint water and California power lines).

            But we slept while a handful of vampire billionaires siphoned it off. We don’t tax them. We don’t jail them when they break the law. They buy all the legislation they ever want. They airbrush away the smoking gun evidence in the “press” they own.

            What did we expect?

            1. JP

              I agree. There was plenty of money. Edison does a much better job of maintaining their wires in the same state, especially since PG&E is imploding. I disagree with Bernie about nationalizing the power companies. Just nationalize the distribution system and let true competition define the market with the power companies and every back yard, rooftop generator making power available.

              1. ambrit

                Full nationalization is necessary because past performance has demonstrated that the privatization of any utility inevitably engenders a ‘race to the bottom,’ with predictable results.

  7. John A

    ‘Caliph closure: ‘He died like a dog’’

    I don’t understand this simile.
    In my experience, pet dogs either die naturally of old age or disease, or when they reach the stage of incurable illness etc., are gently euthanased by vets. Unless Trump means a cruel owner who abuses the dog to death.
    If Trump means wild dogs, jackals, wolves, foxes etc., I dont support they fare any differently than other mammals, either die of natural causes or get eaten by bigger prey.

      1. divadab

        Yup – it was designed specifically to insult. Same reason Trump;s speech called Bagdadi a coward who ran wimpering and screaming until he killed himself and his family.

        The whole thing is basically an episode in the Empire War Show – the first in this series was the 9-11 Show, quite the pilot…..

      2. o4amuse

        A proverbial expression in English. Not a first line, but cf Hunter S Thompson’s, “The entertainment business is a cruel shallow money trench, a narrow plastic hallway where pimps and thieves run free and good men die like dogs. There’a also a negative side.”

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Australia’s beloved native birds are disappearing – and the cause is clear”

    Don’t expect the present government to do anything about it. In fact they will make it worse. They want a review of national environmental laws to tackle “green tape” i.e. environmental rules and regulations that have been in place for decades-

    1. larry

      Perhaps that served him well as some infiltrator stole the Leader’s underpants for DNA testing. Just to make sure that they were going after the right guy, of course.

      1. wilroncanada

        I’m taking bets on two different scenarios:
        When will al Baghdadi reappear and where?
        Who was actually assassinated this time, because al Baghdadi was confirmed dead years ago?
        …oops I almost forgot the third: How many other al Baghdadis are still around, because Hollywood recruited 20 of them through Central Casting.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Depending on Facebook with their vow of strict privacy safeguards is like depending on Big Pharma condoms that have had the tops of them cut off – to make them a better personal fit.

  9. Bugs Bunny

    Re: “Increasingly popular single-use bans pose hurdle for plastics industry”

    There is a law in France against single use plastic grocery bags, which, in my personal experience, has led the various stands in my market to give out thicker plastic bags that can be “reused”, but in practice are just tossed.

    These laws need to be thought through. I understand Ireland has a law that makes more sense – I would be interested in hearing more.

    1. Ignacio

      Grocery bags can be replaced by cotton bags. I do not bother to put things I will cook or peel in these bags (think peppers, zucchini, eggplants, potatos, melons, apples, oranges, avocados, bananas…)

    2. New Wafer Army

      Plastic bag use in Ireland is down 90%. It works. Likewise drink-driving and smoking are also dramatically reduced.

    3. jrs

      I believe there is a statewide plastic bag ban in California now (certainly there were city bans before that). But it’s exactly as you describe: the stores just give out the thicker plastic bags now that are in theory reusable but seldom reused. So yea it needs to be re-thought.

    4. False Solace

      I reuse all mine, I like that it saves me from buying trash bags. I wish they were slightly sturdier though, standard grocery bags frequently tear and have holes in the bottom seam which is awkward for some types of trash. I also use them for packing material. Admittedly, they ultimately end up in the garbage. Paper bags have way fewer uses but at least they biodegrade (in a standard landfill they don’t biodegrade, but they have the potential to in other circumstances).

    1. Olga

      Aahhh, the good, ol’Švejk:

      “‘And so they’ve killed our Ferdinand,’ said the charwoman to Mr Švejk, who had left military service years before, after having been finally certified by an army medical board as an imbecile, and now lived by selling dogs – ugly, mongrel monstrosities whose pedigrees he forged.

      Apart from this occupation he suffered from rheumatism and was at this very moment rubbing his knees with Elliman’s embrocation.

      ‘Which Ferdinand, Mrs Müller?’ he asked, going on with the massaging. ‘I know two Ferdinands. One is a messenger at Průša’s, the chemist’s, and once by mistake he drank a bottle of hair oil there. And the other is Ferdinand Kokoška who collects dog manure. Neither of them is any loss.’

      ‘Oh no, sir, it’s His Imperial Highness, the Archduke Ferdinand, from Konopiště, the fat churchy one.’”

      Funniest novel evah… (though, translating the slangy, dialect-y way in which he speaks poses a real problem for translators – a lot of the humour comes from just that).

      1. Mike

        Two translations- one by Cecil Parrott, an Englishman who decided to give Švejk a cockney-twinged dialect (well-known to English speakers), and a more recent one done in Czechia from 1997 to 2000 by Zdeněk Sadloň and Emmet “Mike” Joyce, which has taken the Czech language version and given a truer translation. If you are interested in the “update”, see

      2. Lieutenant Dub

        Agree on this. And for those of you who are not totally allergic to Amazon, Audible has just released an unabridged reading of the Parrott translation. Also worth reading is Brecht’s “Schweik in the Second World War”, though even better than reading is listening to the Radio 3 performance from 198(1? 2?).

        If you can find it…

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Caliph closure: ‘He died like a dog’”

    Vlade is the first person that I have read that mentions the fact that for Muslims, dogs are unclean so all this talk of dying like a dog is like Trump is trying to infuriate those Jihadists. The fact that al-Baghdadi and three of his children were being hunted down by an American dog would be adding insult to injury. I have actually been waiting to see how long it was before someone brought it up. Gotta disagree with Escobar though about how he got to his hidey-hole. He wasn’t trying to cross to Turkey. He had crossed from Turkey.
    I seriously doubt that he made his way from eastern Syria to this compound while avoiding patrols from Americans, Kurds, Syrians, al-Queda and al-Nusra – all of whom would want his guts for garters. He would have crossed into Turkey through one of the places that tens of thousands of tons of weapons and supplies flowed to the Jihadist into Syria, made his way through Turkey, and then dropped down back into Syria. Why Idlib? I have no idea as he was not exactly Mister Popularity there. He was only about 5 klicks from the border and you could walk it in under an hour. By car only a few minutes so probably he was ready to duck back into Turkey if he was threatened.
    I read that they dumped him in the sea like they did bin Laden. Not a good idea that. You never know how that might play out-

    1. larry

      Rev, I don’t think Trump was trying to infuriate the Jihadists deliberately. I think he is so ignorant that he is not aware of this fact. And his tweets are difficult to monitor and alter.

      If they had buried him on land, there is the possibility that it might serve as a place of pilgramage. I am not in saying this that it was a good thing to do. I don’t think in this case that there was any good solution.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You could be right about Trump as he is not exactly your deep thinker. But he may have been advised to do it by the Washington cabal. Remember when Saddam Hussein was finally captured after the fall of Iraq? All they had to do was to show him sitting with a US M.P. on either side to make the point that he was now a prisoner of the Coalition.
        Instead they sought to humiliate him by showing this US bald-headed doctor examining him and his gums for the benefit of the cameras to mock him. I wondered years after how many American servicemen were killed during the occupation as revenge for this humiliation of their leader. And I wonder if there will be future blowback by ISIS for the same. There is a reason why the Russians sought to distance themselves for receiving credit from Trump for this assassination you know.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        This was a practice during the W administration too. They were deliberately insulting while adding the caveat of “all the good muslims” which mollified the future members of the #resistance who didn’t care about FBI’s treatment of muslims, gitmo, etc.

        Trump himself may not know, but its the language used in GOP circles. All Trump has to do is mention one nice muslim or bring up his love of lambchops and he will be dancing on the Ellen and John McCain’s Daughter show in 2034.

        1. Lord Koos

          They do this kind of thing often I think, humiliating an enemy. This behavior seems infantile to me, like kids in a schoolyard.

          I recently watched the excellent Netflix documentary about the Rajneesh in Oregon, “Wild Wild Country”, and at the end it shows how American authorities went well out of their way to humiliate the Baghwan, (who from what I could tell, had himself broken no laws and was unaware of his underlings illegal activities).

    2. dearieme

      I treat everything in the account of the killing of Mr al-Baghdadi as being exactly as true as everything in the account of the killing of Mr Bin Laden. I even assume that the photos of the President and his cronies purportedly watching events on the telly are equally genuine.

      1. apber

        Don’t know if this killing was fraudulent like Obama’s supposed killing of Bin Laden. In December 2001, Bin Laden was hospitalized with the incurable Marfan’s Disease and died shortly thereafter. Noted by Fox News on their website. Some years later, David Frost interviewed Benazir Bhutto, the PM of Pakistan who proclaimed that Bin Laden had died and she knew where he was buried. Coincidence or not, she was assassinated shortly after that interview. Then there were the CIA videos showing a healthy and robust Bin Laden strolling through the mountains; impossible recovery for someone with Marfans.

    3. Polar Socialist

      Dogs are unclean to some Muslims, others keep them as pets. There’s kinda academic discussion around the origin of the hadith saying dogs are unclean — it’s likely origin predates Mohammed, and reflects the pre-Muslim aversion to dogs.

      Some Muslims think is fine (or great) to have a dog, but yhe animal should be kept outside of the house. Other allow dogs to live with them, since there are sources telling that the Prophet himself prayed in presence of his dogs. If you watch Eva Bartlett’s interviews from Syria, you can see dogs on sofas and beds.

      In any case, dogs are Allah creations, and it is the duty of humans to take care of them.

      That, of course may not concern extremists (ISIS, Al-Queda, Al-Nusra), who rarely engage in rational exploration of what Righteous Life encompasses

    4. Procopius

      I find all this discussion of why Trump used the phrase very puzzling. Is my knowledge of English idiom so out of date? Do people really no longer use the phrase “died like a dog” to mean someone who died in a shameful way? I don’t think someone who died by blowing himself up with a suicide vest can be described that way. He was trying to take some of his enemies with him, and obviously committing suicide was far better, to him, that being captured and tortured for months like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Reminds me, by the way, back in the ’70s the young ladies of negotiable affection used the phrase, “die like a frog.”

  11. Lydia Maria Child

    On the best first line of a novel: I’ll take the easy one if nobody else will.

    Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    1. marym

      Ha! I think “It is a truth universally acknowledged…” and “We were somewhere around Barstow..” are the easy ones! Anyhow, never too many revisits to the classics! I wonder if girls still grow up with ” ‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo lying on the rug.”

  12. Carla

    Garbage in, garbage out:

    The article in The Hill about the YouGov–Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation poll gave me pause immediately because who would trust polling about socialism when the source is the “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation”? COME ON.

    But then I got to this gem:

    “More than half — 57 percent — of millennial respondents also said they believe the Declaration of Independence better guarantees freedom and inequality over the Communist Manifesto, compared to an overwhelming 94 percent of the silent generation of Americans.”

    The Declaration of Independence better guarantees… INEQUALITY (than) the Communist Manifesto — TRUE. But somehow I don’t think that’s what the poll — or The Hill — meant to report.

    AND the poll supposedly has “a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points…” That’s rich!

    1. Partyless Poster

      I like how conservatives always talk up all the deaths from communism, as if an ideology could kill, but then give a pass to capitalism.
      As if centuries of slavery and genocide and current wars for oil have nothing to do with capitalism.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Well the official list of the worst mass murderers in history does have Mao at the top, followed by Stalin…
        But of course an ideology can’t kill someone. And I assume the near extinction of Native Americans comes under “‘capitalism”.

  13. vlade

    @Brexit: Labour seems to have caved in and will now support Dec elections. We’ll see later today.

    1. vlade

      Seems like Corbyn endorsed it, but Labour MPs are already trying to find ways how to scupper it. Except that they don’t have the votes if SNP + LD goes ahead, and it will look really bad if Corbyn says “yep, we’ll got for it” and then the Labour fights nail and tooth against it.

      The Labour lost the plot, and is going to pay in the elections. Don’t know whether Tories will get a majority (or even one in coalition), but odds on Labour winning a majority are veeery long IMO

      1. The Rev Kev

        And people love going to the polls, especially just before Christmas. The politics ads will be in competition with Christmas carols then. Jee-zuz, what a mess.

        1. vlade

          Put the polling booths in shopping centres, and run the elections on Saturday :)
          (actually, space for polling booths is going to be at premium in December).

          1. Monty

            Maybe he means the Laura K and crew at the Beeb and all the newspapers with their never ending “unofficial ads” for the Tories.

  14. Grumpy Engineer

    Regarding the Forbes article on batteries… Using batteries at $87 per kWh to supply the 541 TWh that Mark Jacobson says is necessary to back a 100% WWS energy system for the US (one where even building heating has been replaced by renewable energy) would cost $47 trillion. [And that’s just for the batteries alone. The necessary inverters, transformers, and distribution infrastructure would cost more.] Ouch.

    And that assumes RMI’s projections actually come true. If demand rises enough, raw material shortages (most likely on lithium and cobalt) will cause prices to climb.

    1. a different chris

      Oh noes!! Man that reminds me of when Eisenhower was gonna build all those highways and they found the math was simply impossible, crazy I tell you! I mean, beyond the cost and material demands of the roads themselves, what did they call them, “Interstates” I think, if every American was to have a car where would we have gotten the materials? Or the labor?

      Good thing we had Serious People to tell us no. Like they did when we were all set to oppose Hitler. Damp down all that nuttiness.

    2. Ignacio

      Yes batteries though cheaper and better have yet to improve. I have seen reports on redox flow batteries ready for large scale projects. Still expensive but there are alternatives arising. Stay tuned.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Direct solar heating of buildings is established technology; you might use electric for spot heating, but including that one implies that the estimate is deliberately inflated.

      Furthermore, batteries are not the only form of storage, nor the most desirable where there is space.

      Sustainability is a mosaic, not any one technology.

  15. Misty Flip

    Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building the previous three months. [First sentence]
    – High-Rise by JG Ballard.

  16. Wukchumni

    Squeeze play @ the plate
    Python applies the tag
    Runner out of oxygen

    Burma Slave

    Everglades National Park just had a 40th anniversary on October 24. It’s one anniversary we’d rather not celebrate. That’s the day in 1979 when the first recorded python was caught in the park near Everglades Safari Park on Tamiami Trail.

    Removing large, reproductive females may help slow Burmese python population growth, and that’s the focus of what’s been nicknamed a “Judas snake” approach.

    Large male pythons are caught, implanted with radio transmitters, and released back where they were captured. Biologists use the radio transmitters to regularly find the snake. Because multiple male pythons may find and court female pythons during the mating season, these “Judas snakes” lead researchers to other pythons, including large females, before they have the chance to produce more pythons.

    A major downfall of using Judas snakes is that female pythons aren’t receptive to mating for very long, making it less effective. The US. Geological Survey, in partnership with the National Park Service and university researchers, is working to fix this by implanting the radio-tagged male snakes with female hormones.

    Researchers expect that these “feminized” male snakes will exhibit female pheromones that attract other males. They also expect the pheromones to work for a much longer period of time. This should increase the chance of finding Burmese python mating aggregations, and thus facilitate removal of even more pythons.

    1. a different chris

      Wait, what? Putting one snake in basically drag works how again? Sounds like a recipe for a massive, um, sausage party.

      Not getting it. (Not Wuk’s fault, I followed the link and didn’t get any more enlightened)

  17. Burritonomics

    Re: Wall Street Was America’s First Foe in World War II

    Fantastic article; I’ll be keeping a link to this for future reference.

    It’s very helpful to have concrete examples from the past to show to skeptics from the current day.

    1. Olga

      It’s hard to read it and not wonder how much power (and impetus for change) FDR derived from the looming spectre of the war. Let’s just hope that history won’t repeat itself.

      1. inode_buddha

        Actually I have thought for years that this is exactly what will happen. Except this time, nobody will have the cojones to rein in big business, and even if they did it would be useless because it would take a generation to gain back any manufacturing capacity. So in the event of a WW3, the US will implode into a 3rd world banana republic, with lots of finger-pointing. Those who actually deserve the blame will neither admit nor face any of it. Might have to learn a new language, too.

        1. False Solace

          Much like Big Pharma, the MIC doesn’t get the best results from “curing” or “winning” conflicts, it gets the best results from endlessly prolonging them.

          1. Procopius

            The trouble is, with the Pentagon and the contractors colluding (there’s that word again) to inflate the costs of ever-more-complex weapon systems which don’t work very well, it’s very likely that if we were foolish enough to go to war with, say China, or maybe even the Russian Federation, we would discover that we are actually inferior militarily. They wouldn’t invade, that’s a logistical impossibility, but they could certainly deliver explosive warheads to American cities. Some people in Washington believe the claims about Russian and Chinese missiles are false. I don’t want to find out the hard way. Have you heard that the new Gerald Ford aircraft carrier was accepted by the Navy, even though the ammunition elevators don’t work and there are serious problems with the rail guns that are supposed to replace steam catapults? The ship hasn’t yet completed sea trials even though all that was supposed to have been finished three or four years ago. This is another case, like the F-35, where the aircraft was “designed” to use subsystems that had not been designed yet, and which don’t fit or work the way they were supposed to. Example:

  18. The Rev Kev

    “With Biden Floundering, Democratic Establishment Considers Clinton and Kerry”

    So in the 2020 Presidential sweepstakes, the DNC is offering up three prizes-

    President Joe Biden

    President John Kerry

    President Hillary Clinton

    And all of them with a track record of losing. You just keep thinkin’ DNC. That’s what you’re good at.

    1. ambrit

      Is it just me, or is that TruthOut piece a blatant anti-Trump hit piece? It ramps up the hatred for Trump without much supporting data. Indeed, it tries to pull off the old “everyone says it’s so, so it must be” trick. Strip out the TDS and it is a pretty good screed.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is why the Democratic Party needs super delegates to keep the plebs from not picking these losers.

    3. Hepativore

      If the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party wants to lose the presidential election that badly, the DNC should just concede to Trump right now, and save themselves the money and trouble.

      1. a different chris

        They can’t do that because their entire schtick is signalling, virtue or otherwise. So they have to run somebody that will comfort their big-money donors.

        I mean, what *do* they do besides run for office?

          1. hunkerdown

            Not that I support any of them, on principle, but some factions among the whales do have a more enduring destructive effect on the working class than others.

        1. wilroncanada

          Besides, then the money flow would stop.
          You can’t just quit; you have to pretend to fight while tanking.
          …see Miami Dolphins…

      2. Pat

        What and not put all that money in their pockets and the pockets of their favorite campaign advisors?!?!?! Are you crazy!!??!!

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Barack, Michelle in Chicago for 3rd annual Obama Foundation Summit”

    I suppose that when you get down to it, Obama is causing to have public parklands seized at the expense of local poorer communities so that a center can be built for the top ten percent of the population to serve the richest one percent. Nice. I wonder what motto he will have put over the doorway to this center? Maybe something like “I’ve got mine, baby!

    1. ambrit

      I’ll lay odds on the place having a Fort Knox level of security basement installed to hold all the ‘redacted’ information. Obama’s architects should consult the design firm that built the “Dry Powder Vault” under the Capitol building.

  20. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: House to take first vote on impeachment inquiry of Trump, forcing lawmakers on record WaPo

    Democrats are not expected to call every witness who has appeared before the committee for a closed-door deposition to testify in a public hearing, but instead feature the officials whose testimony they believe presents the most compelling narrative. Thus far, Democrats have all but settled on Taylor and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch as witnesses who could sell the story to the nation.

    So, is this an “impeachment inquiry,” or a casting call for an impeachment commercial? “I’m a career diplomat / bureaucrat and I play one on TV.” Makes me wonder if schiff is getting some advice from the casting professionals back home in beautiful downtown Burbank, which is in his district.

    Here’s a little more “nuanced” information on what the vote on Thursday is actually about. Quoting pelosi, “It’s not an impeachment resolution.”

  21. ChrisAtRU


    “The old bulls of today’s Democratic establishment are bereft of new ideas, and cling to their vividly failed policies and beaten candidates with frustrating vigor.”

    Money quote, right there … really hoping that their putrid efforts don’t succeed.

  22. Ignacio

    Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas Forbes (david l)

    The economics are improving, yes but given Lithium seems to be limiting reource I wonder whether will there be a rush and competition between sectorial users and some become crowded out (if so, I would bet households). The metric used in this article ($/kWh) does not say anything about battery usage. The final cost of stored kWh will depend on how many times per year the battery will be charged/discharged and this will have an effect on the economics.

    An interesting bit for wholly electrified households is thermal storage. Theoretically you can produce hot water for heating and sanitary use via PV-feed reversible air-water exchangers (aerotherm) during the sunny hours and store it to use later during the night. Simple and relatively cheap well-isolated hot water accumulators can function as excellent thermal batteries.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      I wish I could do a better job of doing the thermal storage up at my mountain cabin — I’ve tried to use one of those spiffy black-hose heat collectors tied in to some water storage for a heat sink, but my region (PNW) just doesn’t let it really heat up suitably when its needed due to persistent clouds/rain as well as shading from the big big trees surrounding me….great for summers, a little in spring/fall, but hardly any sun’s heat in winter. :(

      I’ve got plans to experiment when building my new greenhouse over the winter though….I have cleared out a space that is the absolute best for sun exposure, and have reserved space in the
      roof plans (next to a new pair of 300w PV panels) and I’m going to dig around and find the latest heat-exchanger/gatherer plans I can find and try again. If nothing else, the huge water tank I’ll be half-burying/half building in to the front greenhouse wall will provide me with ice in winter for my cocktails.

      ps – I got no experience with lithium batts at scale, but at my micro level I’ve got 400AHs of new lithiums taking over storage duties from the old tired lead-acid bank and I can’t say enough good about them. No maint at all, no fumes when charging, can be drained almost down to zero (as opposed to the 50-60% threshold of lead-acids where damage starts to occur) If they last even remotely close to the specified # of cycles…they will be substantially more cost-effective then the lead-acids.

      1. Ignacio

        Yeah, lithium batteries have changed the game. Regarding the heat exchanger two things to keep in mind: check their functioning at the outdoors temperatures you expect you will be using it. Very low temperatures are bad news. Get a well informed SCOP value for the apparatus you plan to buy (manufacturers give misleading values, I use eurovent but I don’t know if there is an american equivalent. If eurovent gives a SCOP equal to, or above, 3.5 I run for it.

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Thanks for the link, I’ll poke around!

          I’m still at a pretty basic technology/DIY knowledge level, but if & when I find a technology that someone has ‘built the better mousetrap for’ – and its proven by hard data such as what I expect is available via the link – I sometimes can be convinced to cease being so frugal and buy something that works right off the bat! :)

      2. Wyoming

        If I am not mistaken there is a charging issue you should examine.

        The lead acids last longer if they are fully charged and lightly discharged.

        The opposite is true for lithium’s. They can be deeply discharged but if they are charged over 80% (most folks charge them to 100% of course) then the battery life is decreased substantially over time. By substantially I think if you compare the 80% to 100% charging the only 80% charged battery will last near 40% longer than a battery charged to 100% all the time.

        This is just from memory and off the top of my head so it could be a bit inaccurate. But you might check it out as the correct answer means money to you. Maybe others know the exact data.

        1. inode_buddha

          I would like to spread the word about Edison batteries. Those are the ones that Ma Bell used to keep the phones on before generators during an outage. Simple arrangement of nickel plates alternating with iron (or very low-carbon steel) in a bath of KOH (potassium hydroxide). You could use Drano drain opener and it would work. Basically its a giant rechargeable alkaline. Huge amperage and discharge capacity, none of the charging drawbacks except a slightly slower rate than lead-acids.

          . Ma Bell was using these batteries since before most of us were born, and there’s still a bunch of them in service. I did the math once for a house-sized battery for a 3-day runtime, and it worked out to the same size as a bathtub. Not hard to make them, but a tad expensive. It will outlive you.

        2. Anon

          Lead acid batteries need to be vented to a high/out-of-way outlet. The batteries produce hydrogen gas that is highly flammable. Here’s a link to a webpage that can be navigated to a Web Publication “Eco-Home” that provides a photo of a PV battery bank (Trojan L90) of combined lead acid batteries. The shape of the battery storage area slopes upward to a 4″ dia. PVC pipe that clears the roof line to vent corrosive hydrogen gas created when the battery bank is charging.

          (The battery area is completely sealed when the solid wood door is locked shut.)

      3. hunkerdown

        can be drained almost down to zero

        Take it from someone who’s designed circuits that discharge and charge raw, unprotected lithium-ion rechargeables. Either your state-of-charge indicator is lying to you for your own good, or you’re heading for a world of fire.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and did you see the comments on the RCP link?
        I think it’s safe to say that Brock is Back, and it’s like the Cold War never ended.

  23. Rory

    “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”

    ― Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

  24. roxy

    “Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.”

    Ruth Rendell, A Judgement in Stone

  25. Krystyn Walentka

    RE: Social Inequality Leaves a Genetic Mark

    Capitalism produces yet another monocrop; Humans.

    1. Massinissa

      More like two monocrops. One of the super rich and one of everyone else. Clearly we need to separate the worthy food corn from the unworthy high fructose corn syrup corn that comprises most of the population! The food corn stays comfortably on the cob while the corn syrup corn gets squeezed into a pulp.

  26. JustAnotherVolunteer

    “It was a pleasure to burn.
    It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.”

    Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)

  27. Judith

    I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

    Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  28. barrisj

    Simply don’t understand the current line taken by “anti-anti-Trump” people who are proclaiming his newly-burnished “anti-war” credentials. Trump has fortified the US presence in the NE Syrian oil fields for “protection purposes”, i.e., denying Syrian govt. access to its own oil; he has sent a few more thousand military to KSA to support an ineffectual Saudi defense of its Gulf refineries; he has sent the larger US Syrian deployment across the border into Iraq, for God knows what “mission”. So, where the bloody hell is this vaunted “US pullback”? What am I not seeing that the “anti-anti-Trump” people claim as proof of Trump pushing back against “deep-state permanent war” partisans?

  29. JBird4049

    Comrade barrisj, please don’t believe your lying eyes! Pay no attention to the wreckers! Pay attention to the words of the Pravda and our glorious leader Father Trump! They always speak the truth!

    (I swear, listening to the msm is probably like reading Pravda and Izvestia with the often slanted, even tenuous, view of reality; even if it is nothing but fantasy, you are supposed to, and likely will, believe after being hammered with it continuously. If you say anything against the agreed upon Truth, your career will implode and all your right thinking friends will leave you. It makes for an interesting Thanks Giving.)

    So Comrade, Father Trump has said that he has pulled back the troops. The MSM has agreed, so it must be true.)

    1. The Rev Kev

      With “Pravda” and “Izvestia” which meant “the truth” and “the news” respectively, a popular Russian saying was “there’s no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia”. The Russian plebs knew the score.
      Saying that, after the Cold War was over the Russians said that everything that was told to them about Russia was a lie. But they also said that unfortunately everything that was told to them about the west was true.

  30. ambrit

    First sentences competition entry, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
    The opening sentence of this work contains 119 words, and it flows smoothly and easily into the reader’s consciousness. Not only that, but it describes our fraught condition today with prophetic clarity.
    Can it be a portent?

  31. VietnamVet

    PG&E burning a blacked out California and Boeing airplanes crashing both come down to austerity, regulatory capture and corporate asset stripping. All done with the blessing of state and federal politicians. Exponentially more will die until government control over corporations is restored and C-suite crooks imprisoned.

  32. Deschain

    Re: the PG&E story – I literally took VoIP from Comcast for the sole purpose of having a landline in case of emergency. I live in Marin. Now I find out it probably won’t work in case of emergency. Thanks FCC!

    Everytime I think we’ve hit max CalPERS, we reach new highs in CalPERS.

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