Links 11/23/19

On the Farm London Review of Books. On animal sentience.

Left in Car on Its Own, Florida Dog Shifts Into Reverse and Drives in Circles for an Hour DailyBeast (David L)

Give Bees A Chance: Ailing Honeybee Populations May Soon Get A Booster Of Healing Fungi Forbes (David L). I hate the word “healing” but that doesn’t mean this approach does not have merit.

Physicists Have Finally Seen Traces of the Long-Sought ‘Axion’ Particle LiveScience. See geeky version in Nature: Axionic charge-density wave in the Weyl semimetal (TaSe4)2I

Bah humbug! North Pole lacks enough ice for sculptures Associated Press (resilc)

The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun Vice (David L) versus The apocalypse: It’s not the end of the world Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy IFLAS (David L)

IT runs on Java 8 Vicki Boykis (vlade). From earlier this year, still germane.

China?

Asia’s powerhouse fuels global surge in coal use The Australian (Troy P). So much for the idea that China has embraced green energy.

Ex-CIA officer sentenced to 19 years in prison for conspiring to spy for China Reuters (JTM)

Brexit. Forgive me for putting UK election stuff in this bucket…

General election 2019: Jeremy Corbyn to remain neutral in any new Brexit vote BBC

Labour sets out advanced world’s harshest corporate tax regime Financial Times

Voters dislike Jo Swinson the more they see her, poll finds Times. So I’m not nuts.

Colombia

Curfew ordered in Bogota amid violent protests DW

Colombia protesters defy curfew as anti-gov’t rallies continue Al Jazeera

The CIA’s Jack Ryan Series Is ‘Regime-Change’ Propaganda Aimed At Venezuela Mint Press (Chuck L)

New Cold War

Charges of Ukrainian Meddling? A Russian Operation, U.S. Intelligence Says New York Times (Troy P)

Ukraine and Meddling in 2016 Yasha Levine. Important.

Putin could have been ‘FIRED’ in 1998 – from top spy job that propelled him to presidency RT (Chuck L)

Syraqistan

After Al-Baghdadi’s Death, Media Failed to Ask Where ‘War on Terror’ Is Going FAIR

Al-Baghdadi Killing: Knocking off the Odd Man Out American Herald Tribune (hat tip Off Guardian). JTM: “We mopes never can know what actually happened, amiright?”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Personal and Social information of 1.2 billion people Discovered in Massive Data Leak Data Viper. A less geeky version at Wired: 1.2 Billion Records Found Exposed Online in a Single Server

DOD Joins Fight Against 5G Spectrum Proposal, Citing Risks To GPS ars technica. Haha, this is getting fun!

NYC Creates a High-Level Position To Oversee Ethics In AI engadget. Why do I think this position was created for Cathy O’Neil (author of Weapons of Math Destruction)? Although they might want someone with more bureaucratic experience.

Trump Transition

America Will Never Live Down Trump’s War Crime Pardons TruthDig (Chuck L)

IRS Says Millionaires Can Keep Estate Tax Benefits After 2025 Bloomberg

Worker who raised alarm before deadly New Orleans hotel collapse to be deported The Hill

Russia Inquiry Review Is Said to Criticize F.B.I. but Rebuff Claims of Biased Acts New York Times (furzy)

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Keynote Address at ADL’s 2019 Never Is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate Anti-Defamation League (furzy). Note this speech has been widely picked up, from BBC to Slashdot, for instance: Sacha Baron Cohen Uses ADL Speech to Tear Apart Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook Daily Beast.

Impeachment

Fiona Hill Is the Antidote to Trump Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine. Resilc: “MSNBC’s new love child.”

Trump impeachment inquiry: Released records reveal Pompeo-Giuliani contacts BBC

Impeachment Non-Bombshells Endanger Democrats in 2020 Aaron Mate, Nation (UserFriendly)

If John Bolton Keeps Refusing to Testify, Congress Should Arrest Him Time (furzy)

Exclusive: Giuliani associate willing to tell Congress Nunes met with ex-Ukrainian official to get dirt on Biden CNN (allan)

“It Is Hard to Read This as Anything but a Warning”: New Polling Suggests Democrats’ Impeachment Push Could Alienate Key Voters Vanity Fair. Resilc flags this part:

Stop talking about issues that matter to you, not to me. Impeachment proceedings are viewed as bread and circuses for the anti-Trump crowd in Washington and the media—or, as Stanford political science professor Morris Fiorina described it to me, “entertainment and confirmation.” That’s a dangerous perception as Democrats approach one of the most consequential and fraught elections of our times.

Why skeptics on the left should care about impeachment The Week (UserFriendly)

US, EU gave over $20 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine since 2014 WSWS

2020

Why Elizabeth Warren’s Foreign Policy Worries America’s Allies Defense One. Resilc: “Endless waste and a hollowed-out USA USA should worry them more.”

Wisconsin Governor Evers Signs ALEC-Inspired Bill to Criminalize Protest PR Watch (UserFriendly)

Our Famously Free Press

False Equivalence in the Age of Trump FAIR (UserFriendly)

Explainer: California faces decade of ‘unique’ wildfire blackouts Reuters. EM: “As some guerilla signage posted during the late-October 3-day outage in my neck of Marin aptly put it, welcome to Venezuela!”

A climate-change fix is the ‘biggest investment opportunity in history’: Al Gore to millennials MarketWatch (David L)

High-Beta Stock Trade Seizes Up Right After Everyone Piled In Bloomberg

WeWork to ditch leasing model in many cities Financial Times

Personal loans are ‘growing like a weed,’ a potential warning sign for the U.S. economy – San Antonio Express-News (resilc)

World’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater reportedly has big bet on market crash CBS (furzy)

Elon Musk’s net worth plunges $768m in a day after cybertruck fiasco Guardian (UserFriendly)

OK Boomer, Who’s Going to Buy Your 21 Million Homes? Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

I paid $300 an hour for the VIP experience at Disneyland, and it made me realize how wealth has transformed the American Dream Business Insider

Baldwin, Florida, opens town-run grocery store after becoming a food desert Washington Post

Dylan Ratigan: The Super Rich Have No Country. YouTube. UserFriendly: “This is a 2 hour tour de force nailing down the failures of the media and Democrats on the GFC. Great explanation of the whole GFC too.”

Opinion: Here’s the formula for paying no federal income taxes on $100,000 a year MarketWatch (JohnnyGL)

Foster America Al Franken (furzy)

Antidote du jour (furzy). Humpback whales feeding in Alaska:

And a bonus (DK):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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235 comments

  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: Personal loans are ‘growing like a weed,’ a potential warning sign for the U.S. economy.

    Is this because people feel better about the economy and so therefore they think they can now safely take on more debt? I recall reading that Americans don’t save in upturns but actually spend more thinking that it is their chance to make purchases they delayed during the downturn.

    The assumption Americans make is that you better make your purchases while the economy is good because there will be a downturn in the future. I am sure more knowledgeable NC readers might shed light on this. I am not sure how correct this characterization is.

    In any event, it looks like we are going back to where we were before the last crash. With all of these student loans, auto loans, personal loans and more I think the next crash is going to be very painful.

    Reply
    1. Ignacio

      My two cents: As the article says, rapidly increasing personal debt may indicate some financial stress 1) coping with day by day bills, 2) surprise bills 3) reduced family income or any combination of these. You may have reached the limits on your credit cards and need extra financing. Another possibility is that income growth and expectations are strong, as you say, but this would probably result in increasing overall debt, not specifically personal loans. Given that these Fin Tech lenders are relatively new in the game we cannot resort to historical data to look for hints.

      Reply
    2. The S

      Loans are increasing not because people feel better about the economy, but because the economy is letting them down and they have no other choice besides usury to try and get by. People are barely hanging on with their woefully inadequate regular incomes, but life happens: unexpected car repairs, house repairs, medical bills, etc. Usury becomes the only lifeline. We should have declared total scorched-earth war on the FIRE sector and the investor class in 2008, but since we suffered their continued existence, poverty and debt will continue to increase exponentially.

      Reply
    3. Katniss Everdeen

      FinTechs say they are helping people make smarter financial choices……….Some online lenders allow people to shop around for the best rate, and most of the main players cap the interest rate at 36% to ensure they are not offering any payday loan products.

      Beg to differ. I’d say bankruptcy is a way “smarter choice” than 36%. Any way you slice it, this sounds bad.

      Experts are surprised to see millions of Americans taking on so much personal loan debt at a time when the economy looks healthy and paychecks are growing for many workers, raising questions about why so many people are seeking an extra infusion of cash.

      This one is simple–better experts.

      Reply
      1. David Carl Grimes

        Personal loans only amount to $115 billion. Not enough to kill the economy. But still, if they grow fast enough, they would.

        Reply
    4. Ford Prefect

      The credit card companies have largely ignored the era of 0% interest rates. Many credit cards still have double-digit interest rates. This includes medical credit cards for financing procedures. The fin-tech industry is offering much lower interest rates to consolidate and pay off those debts with a fixed schedule installment plan. If done properly, these loans can improve people’s debt position in a way ignored by the traditional financial industry. My understanding is that these loans generally get securitized and investors provide the funds, so the risk is that there is a recession and people will default on those loans.

      Reply
  2. Steve H.

    > DOD Joins Fight Against 5G Spectrum Proposal, Citing Risks To GPS

    Popcorn’s a’flyin’! This is an 800 pound gorilla suddenly joining the tag team and heading to the top of the corner post!

    “The FCC has already largely brushed aside similar opposition from NASA, the US Navy, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, among others”

    DOD usually gets veto power, and it’s usually a lot quieter than this. The tables not big enough for all the different stacks of rice bowls…

    Reply
  3. Steve H.

    > Antidote du jour (furzy). Humpback whales feeding in Alaska:

    Incredible picture. Science non-fiction, natural wonder… Reminds me of the Hokusai post recently. The incredible size of the whales, the mountains in the background. And the tiny detail of the fishing pole, a hidden comment which punctuates the place of man in the universe.

    Reply
      1. Mel

        Could simply be telephoto. If, e.g., the camera is a couple of miles away, then 100 yards between the whales or the boat won’t look like much.

        Reply
        1. Ignacio

          I think you are correct. Probably the fishermen can track where the whales will appear by watching the array of bubbles they make to trap the fish. I wonder if they could see themselves in the middle of such bubble array. Pray and hold fast! Probably the whales would avoid making their fish traps where they detect an obstacle like a boat.

          Reply
    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      I would go so far to call that photograph sublime.

      In regard to sentient animals I like that thought that the cattle might appreciate the enclosures, as being prey animals they might feel safer behind them – zebras & the like must lead very stressful lives. I sometimes wonder if the vegetarians had their way whether the no longer needed cattle if given the choice, would not prefer to exist even if they knew their fate.

      I am intrigued by the work of scientist Donald Hoffman on perceived reality & I like to believe his idea that pretty much everything is to varying levels a conscious agent.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eWG7x_6Y5U&t=327s

      Reply
      1. Steve H.

        Be wary of Hoffman, from what I can tell he just changed some variable names in the evolutionary equation, and then assumes reality fits the equation.

        Reply
        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          I am old enough to be wary of pretty much anything these days, but I like heading down interesting roads even if the person I am following might eventually lose his or her way.

          I do believe however that he is correct in stating that we are only partially aware of reality & that conclusion comes from many sources.

          Reply
            1. witters

              I do believe however that he is correct in stating that we are only partially aware of reality & that conclusion comes from many sources

              Being only partially aware, I wasn’t aware of that.

              Reply
          1. JP

            More like the true nature of reality is well beyond our ken. Like the opening verses in the Tao. It is impossible to frame in words. Almost unapprochable with our wetware.

            Reply
            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              It is this quote from the ” On the Farm ” link that led to Hoffman’s research popping into my head.

              ‘If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life,’ Eliot says in Middlemarch, ‘it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.’

              Reply
        2. Jeff W

          …he just changed some variable names in the evolutionary equation, and then assumes reality fits the equation…

          Don Hoffman’s “theory” never fails to set me over the edge. He sets up this strawman argument—that organisms’ perceptual systems evolve toward some “veridical” version of reality, which a moment’s worth of reflection would indicate can’t be the case—and then proceeds to “explain” his view with this mangled metaphor, which he calls a “theory,” of “interface perception.”

          He says “What evolution has given us is not the truth but a perceptual system that is like a Windows interface.” It’s such a bizarre statement that I can barely wrap my head around it—because (1) it confuses the object (the interface) with the perceiver (the organism) and (2) it says that something that has no intentional end design (the perceptual system of the organism) is “like” something (the user interface) that does. Sure, there is a similarity between what the organism sees in the world and what a desktop interface shows us—both optimize a particular set of behaviors—but that’s about it. (He could just have as easily called his theory “the elevator button theory of perception” for all its conceptual similarity, but cognitive scientists can’t resist computer metaphors and elevators aren’t as sexy, anyway, I guess.)

          It would really easy—and less confusing—to just say something like the perception of an organism, just like other aspects of the organism, evolves with respect to fitness in that organism’s environment—that might be using echolocation in the case of bats or hearing infrasound in the case of elephants or seeing ultraviolet guide paths on flower petals in the case of bees (and the perceptions of each of those organisms is no less or more “veridical” than the others)—but that would be, perhaps, too obvious to state. So we have to be subjected to this “interface ‘theory’ of perception,” which adds nothing but confusion, instead. The behaviorists half a century ago were accused of reducing humans to machines but it’s really the cognitive scientists, with their endless and misplaced computer metaphors who do so.

          Reply
          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            He actually rejects the veridical argument as stated here on page 5 :

            https://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/interface.pdf

            As for the PC screen metaphor which IMO is pretty straightforward, he uses that to describe what we see of the physical world without being able to see all of that which is behind it – the circuits, chips & all of the stuff that makes the PC work. A world of simple icons that gives us what we need to survive & pass on our genes, or in that case use the PC.

            I don’t know whether he is on the right track, but I find it very interesting anyhow & I believe that things are much more complex than we can imagine. I am not saying that reality is like that described by Aldous Huxley on an acid trip is the actual reality, but if it were something similar in a very complex & disorientating way, it might make sense that we cannot perceive it. After all animals have different ways of seeing the world that appear to be tailored to their needs, right down to what must be incredibly basic in a just enough to get by sort of way.

            He is apparently going to try to come up with a mathematical theory which abandons space time which might be interesting & I like his use of Godel’s incompleteness theory. I have been here before since the 90’s when particularly in neuroscience wonderful things should be here by now & people were predicting a theory of everything. Our sense of smell is still a mystery to us & I think much else will always be the same.

            Reply
            1. Steve H.

              YES! Eustache, that’s the way to respond! Thank you very much.

              Multiple reasons to say that. First, primary source. It’s always better to go to the source than rely on interpretations. Second, the source advances understanding. His discussion of Bayes is worthy, and “1.9 Interface Games” is a useful way to argue against selection for reality. That goes directly to understanding bias and heuristics, which is one of the few areas of understanding which has really advanced in the last couple of generations. So Hoffman has provided some useful tools.

              Third, it allows precision in pointing out where he gets out over his skis. Godel is a useful reference point. Godel was the smartest guy in the room full of smart guys, and there are indications that Einstein, von Neumann, Schrodinger and the others knew it. He said ridiculous things, and then backed them up, rigorously.

              This paper shows that Hoffman has an understanding of where he sits in terms of philosophy of science. But he gets squishy when applying the interface idea to tangibles. He indicates he gets this:

              “These proposals all assume, of course, that mathematics, which has proved
              useful in studying the interface, will also prove useful in modeling the world.
              We shall see.”

              But then he goes on to make statements about the world. In another source, he says:

              “They also entail epiphysicalism: consciousness creates physical objects and properties, but physical objects and properties have no causal powers.”

              That’s a bold statement, and via Occam it’s up to him to prove it. He does not. The fault line can be seen here:

              “We won’t understand categorization until we understand how categories emerge from dynamical systems in which these factors interact.”

              A shifty statement. I’d say it’s similar to saying we can’t understand mechanics until we understand the quantum universe underneath it. For some definition of mechanics. It’s safe to say that we may not understand mechanics at the quantum level, but organisms have been selected for which use its principles.

              Where he overstates is to say that a rock is only a category, that there is no physical causality. He is non-rigorous in this, as his maths are dealing with selection and categorization. His ‘we shall see’ makes me suspect he is staking out a position for academic purposes, to distinguish his argument. But he overmatches his theory, and does not provide a basis for testing. That sets up grifter flags and undercuts his credibility.

              Again, well done, and thanks for the paper.

              Reply
      2. Cat Burglar

        Sally Carrighar’s book, One Day On Beetle Rock was a literary attempt to do exactly what the article on animal sentience describes: to relate directly to animals. Carrighar spent years at Beetle Rock getting to know all the animals she wrote about, then tried to describe their experience in the first person. (I remember seeing the Disney film version as a kid.)

        I have not yet read her biography, Home To The Wilderness, which I have only just discovered, but she seems to have studied and worked to develop her capacity to communicate with animals, a project which seems to have saved her life.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      If you look at that foto in a particular way, it looks like the cover of an old science fiction book and you would swear it was a Photoshop job.

      Reply
      1. Liberal Mole

        Nice pic, but has to be photoshop. I was on a whale watching boat and we had them coming up to feed right next to us. They aren’t that big. Their mouths are around the size of a bathtub.

        Reply
    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Stunning. The tiny boat seems so vulnerable to the displacement of water that would surely be caused such enormous and powerful creatures bobbing up out of the water.

      And thanks too for the timely reminder from Yasha Levine.

      Reply
  4. Wukchumni

    The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun Vice

    Bardi’s analysis of Tainter’s work extends the argument he first explored in his 2017 peer-reviewed study, The Seneca Effect: When Growth is Slow but Collapse is Rapid. The book is named after the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, who once said that “fortune is of sluggish growth, but ruin is rapid.”

    I read Tainter’s book: The Collapse of Complex Socieites about 15 years ago, and he really ties it all together, how widely different cultures came a cropper.

    How many factors are in play on Tainter’s list currently, in his 11 causes of collapse?

    Resource depletion
    New resources
    Catastrophes
    Insufficient response to circumstances
    Other complex societies
    Intruders
    Conflict/contradictions/mismanagement
    Social dysfunction
    Mystical factors
    Chance concatenation of events
    Economic explanations

    I come from old money, and a clear sign of looming economic collapse historically has been the debauching of coined money (the entire world is complicit currently) followed when technology changed and allowed the issuance of too much paper money. Also, historically when countries are doing well, it’s expressed vis a vis the artistry on both mediums. When it looks as dreadful as our Federal Reserve Notes currently, there’s your sign.

    Currency & coins are a mere scintilla in the game of money now, as the technology changed, and current artistry on the lucre we pass through the ether to each other?

    None whatsoever.

    Reply
    1. Steve H.

      > The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun Vice

      A couple of comments:

      While “Limits to Growth” does chart CO2 rise remarkably well, to 2000, there was little focus on it as a primary driver of outcomes. The pressing variable was ‘pollution’ which, at the time, was framed more by direct toxicity, per Rachel Carson.

      The article puts a fair amount of focus on a “Seneca rebound.” What Bardi et al did well was to refine Tainter’s argument. Tainter’s mechanism was pretty much self-referential, with collapse coming from too much complexity, in a study about complexity. Turchin et al showed that it is fair to use a single measure of complexity for discussion, but did not look to give a mechanism for the ratchet effect. Bardi gave a mechanism based on resource depletion, a material basis which conforms to previous ecological work.

      However, using the work to introduce the Seneca rebound is disingenuous. Bardi’s paper clearly shows pollution going to a model maximum, but “Note also that the model does not consider the effects of pollution”. Limits to Growth clearly showed that the effects of pollution causes the crash. That’s a serious discontinuity.

      The modeled rebound happens when the resource scarcity is stabilized. This can happen multiple ways: the resource can rebound or be imported, a substitute can be found, or population can collapse below the carrying capacity for that resource. CO2 and climate change are a different phenomena. They are not local changes which can be mitigated by flows to and from the global system. They are global changes which impact global conditions. Temperature is not a resource, it is a base unit, and life is adapted to a very narrow range. What will survive the fever of Gaia?

      Limits to Growth: donellameadows.org/wp-content/userfiles/Limits-to-Growth-digital-scan-version.pdf

      Bardi et al: arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1810/1810.07056.pdf

      Turchin et al: pnas.org/content/115/2/E144

      (Edit: Wukchumni give Tainter’s of list of causes of collapse. I hope I didn’t give Tainter short shrift.)

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Haven’t read this book but perhaps the collapse of a complex society arises when a society loses the ability to solve problems as fast as they arise. Maybe that is why some societies rise in the first place – they have the ability to solve problems quicker than they arise.
      But I fully agree with you about the debauching of coinage being a very bad sign. I was in East Berlin a few years before the collapse of the DDR and was surprised to find the coins made of only aluminium. They made good souvenirs.

      Reply
      1. jef

        The vast majority of “solutions” are either solving for a problem that doesn’t exist, and/or they create more problems than they solve. This dynamic has a finite life span. Peak SOlutions!

        But us, the exceptional species will never accept this truth.

        Reply
      2. notabanktoadie

        But I fully agree with you about the debauching of coinage being a very bad sign. The Rev Kev

        Fiat is backed by the authority and power of government to tax; it needs no other backing (cf. Matthew 22:21, Romans 13:1-7)

        Therefore, fiat that is more expensive than need be (e.g. wrt durability, resistance to counterfeiting, etc.) is a waste arguably far, far worse than $700 dollar government hammers.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          I have read that a definition of currency is payability of taxes with it. That is, if you can pay your taxes with it, it is currency as the government accepts it.

          Reply
          1. notabanktoadie

            Yes, but why should government accept something YOU can make or mine for taxes when it could instead force you (by its taxation power) to sell that whatever for its fiat and thereby drive UP the price of its fiat and drive DOWN the price of your gold or whatever?

            Then government can buy whatever you sought to bribe it with at a LOWER price with its own cheap, easy to create fiat, should it need it.

            So much then for “worthless fiat” – an oxymoron if there ever was one.

            Reply
    3. The Historian

      I think you are thinking too conventionally. Economies are breaking down all over the world. Environmental disasters are happening all over the world. What we are looking at is not just one economy failing while others take its place – we are looking at the first signs of the third dark age. It won’t happen in your lifetime but I do expect it to happen within our grandchildren’s or great- grandchildren’s lifetimes.

      Before money became an end in itself, it was only useful to facilitate trade. One of the things that happens during dark ages is that trade ceases. And then what good is money – any kind of money? You can’t eat it and you won’t be able to use it to buy your way out of destruction.

      Those human that survive will be the humans who know how to grow their own food, who know how to fix things, who know how to find or clean water, who know how to survive in communes. Most of us will likely die. But those who survive will probably have fairly good egalitarian lives, even if it means using a lot of human labor as energy and not having all the things that we think we need – at least until the greed cycle begins again.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        When you follow the money, it waxes and wanes throughout its 2600 year history, a better Baedeker of events in those places that utilized it, really couldn’t be found.

        That said, there was no money as we knew it in 90% of the cultures that existed worldwide when the Roman Empire was in its salad days. They had variants, and shells were quite popular in what is now the USA as a conduit to facilitate trade, as you might not want that other guy’s Live Oak acorns in exchange for your Trout, but what if I give you some bitchin’ shells instead?

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I sort of worry when I consider that one of the big trade ‘items’ of the antique ages was slaves.
          When mechanical energy sources dry up, humans will fall back on something fairly simple and manageable; human muscle power. In a related note, it has been suggested that one of the impetuses to the increase in agricultural output during the Middle Ages was the invention of the draft collar. A quantum leap in efficiency for animal power.
          Collars: https://www.britannica.com/technology/horse-collar

          Reply
          1. robb

            I first read that argument about the horse collar in Jean Gimpel’s The Medieval Machine. It’s a terrific book that in essence details the mechanical and industrial innovations of the 10th-12th centuries in Europe, especially the waterwheel, windmill and town clock, among a great deal else. Absolutely recommended!

            Reply
        2. Steve

          Research on stone circles has revealed a stone axe trading system along waterways marked with stones, throughout the British Isles.

          Reply
      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I agree with your assessment that we are looking at the first signs of a coming dark age. Collapse will come in many forms with many causes spread across the world and one collapse or series of collapses will trigger others. Climate change is but one of many coupled drivers carrying the world toward collapse. I am not so sure “It won’t happen in my lifetime,” it’s too soon to tell.

        Reply
      1. False Solace

        Agreed, some commenters in this thread would benefit from reading Graeber’s Debt: The first 5000 years. Persuasively explains the origin of money and markets and coinage.

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          There are a number of commentators who simply refuse to understand such works. I’ve given up trying to explain it to them.

          Reply
        2. skippy

          Concur, when some forward the monetarist framework without even knowing its been thoroughly refuted, but focus on the secondary effects of trade dynamics.

          Not that money being a workaround to barter or anything …

          Reply
    4. Plenue

      “I come from old money, and a clear sign of looming economic collapse historically has been the debauching of coined money (the entire world is complicit currently) followed when technology changed and allowed the issuance of too much paper money. Also, historically when countries are doing well, it’s expressed vis a vis the artistry on both mediums. When it looks as dreadful as our Federal Reserve Notes currently, there’s your sign.”

      Aside from your standard refusal to understand MMT, ‘I think our money is ugly and that’s a sign of decline’ is probably the dumbest take I’ve seen all week. So, uh, congratulations?

      Reply
      1. notabanker

        Ad hominem much?

        Do explain how MMT solves the problem of having the world awash in trillions of QE USD, Euro and GBP which the .01% have used to buy up all production capacity and assets worldwide?

        Reply
        1. hunkerdown

          MMT, like gravity, IRS, and the round earth, doesn’t need your belief in order to work. MMT simply describes the way fiat money actually works. As a corollary, it debunks one of the most disingenuous excuses for not creating fiat to serve the broad public interest, that we “can’t afford it”. It describes what happens when fiat is put to use in particular fashions, but in no way compels that fiat be created for any particular purpose. Does the ability to afford a Lamborghini compel you to buy one?

          It seems you’re rather invested in the belief that economic theories should provide narratives of moral compulsion. That’s now how science works. If you need moral theories, you’ll need to look to economics’ separated-at-birth child, politics.

          Reply
          1. notabanker

            Where in this thread does one question how money works? And how is that relevant to the historical reference to how fiat money is created and perceived by the public. Spare me the moral lecture and the ad hominem insult of not understanding gravity, as if the concept actually applies to the argument here.

            I am not “invested” in any of your economic theories. We can “pay for” healthcare as easily as we can “pay for” continuous undeclared war on fill in the blank nations. The issue is not how money works, but rather how we choose to use it as a tool. And the original comment is not one of how money works, but of how society designs it, and what the foretells. To attack the commenter on MMT theory is self righteous economic bullshit.

            Reply
        2. Yves Smith Post author

          It is the opposite of ad hominem to say an argument is dumb. Ad hominem is rejecting an argument based on who made it. “Oh, Tom Friedman, everything he says is worthless.”

          Reply
      2. hunkerdown

        MMT, and specifically chartalism, debauches old money. It debases it, too, but perhaps the suggestion that old money wasn’t earned threatens social capital as much as financial capital. Upton Sinclair was right: it is impossible to get a man to understand something when his personal profit depends on not understanding it.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That is not right. First, MMT is descriptive and MMT advocates specifically argue that taxes are necessary to drain spending and contain inflation.

          Second, MMT proponents do not advocate more money creation. They advocate more net fiscal spending and argue that fears we will not be able to repay our debts are unfounded because the government is the currency issuer.

          Third, even if MMT did advocate more money creation, as opposed to more fiscal spending, there is no evidence that the amount of money causes inflation. This was decisively disproven in money supply experiments under Reagan and Thatcher. Monetarists found to their chagrin that absolutely no macroeconomic variable correlated with money supply growth despite their efforts to diddle with money supply to manage the economy. The “elasticity” of credit manages hugely.

          Fourth, appropriate net spending will produce more growth, which should help asset holders as well as labor. Look at the strong stock market of the 1960s when labor also did well.

          Kalecki describes what is going on much better in his classic essay on the obståcles to achieving full employment:

          https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/08/kalecki-on-the-political-obstacles-to-achieving-full-employment.html

          Reply
          1. Steve H.

            Yves, it is more than the clarity of your writing. Your voice, the way you communicate your thoughts, cuts straight to the bones of an argument. “ECONned” did this. I still consider Lipsey-Lancaster every day.

            Someone needs to speak about MMT this way, and soon. Masses of people need to understand how MMT shows how the money works, and that the goods have gone to the wealthy. How much the Fed is loaning to the banks comes to mind.

            If only there were somebody with both the full grasp of the conditions, and the clarity of communication, to present this in such a way as to make a game changing book, a bestseller. It wouldn’t need to be heavily sourced, just 150 pp of undeniability. A complete washing away of smears. Quick enough to impact the election.

            *sigh*

            Reply
        2. Plenue

          That Sinclair quote describes the anti-MMT crowd, who display their ignorance every single time they attempt to critique it. And given that places like NC have explained MMT over and over again, both in detail and in layman’s terms, I can only take this ignorance as deliberate refusal. Anti-MMTers simply aren’t arguing in good faith.

          Reply
          1. notabanktoadie

            It also describes the MMT crowd who refuse to countenance de-privileging the banks but would instead make an inherently thieving system more STABLE by:

            1) providing unlimited deposit guarantees FOR FREE (not that any payable premium could honestly cover systemic risk, mind you).

            2) providing unlimited Central Bank loans to depository institutions at ZERO percent.

            Just wait till unethically financed automation has eliminated so many jobs that there isn’t enough honest work for government wage slaves to do under a JG.

            Imagine the fury when people realize they are being paid to waste their time?

            And if nothing ever goes away on the Internet, imagine who their fury will be directed at?

            Or is the calculation that the perpetrators shall have died of old age by then?

            Reply
            1. Plenue

              Since automation doesn’t work like that, that’s something I’m not remotely worried about. Also this is just more of the same ‘the New Deal paid people to paint rocks!!!oneone’ fear-mongering.

              Reply
              1. notabanktoadie

                It’s not automation we should oppose; it’s unethical finance, including unethical finance of automation, we should oppose.

                We are suffering from an embarrassment of riches in a world of want because our money system was/is designed or evolved to only create wealth – not to distribute it justly.

                Reply
            2. Grebo

              Bill Mitchell advocates nationalising the banks.

              Not seen anyone advocate unlimited deposit guarantees. Got a reference?

              Zero interest to be paid on reserves, yes. Loans to banks, which are necessary to preserve the payment system, to be expensive.

              Reply
              1. notabanktoadie

                Not seen anyone advocate unlimited deposit guarantees. Got a reference Grebo

                I have three proposals for the FDIC. The first is to remove the $250,000 cap on deposit insurance. The public purpose behind the cap is to help small banks attract deposits, under the theory that if there were no cap large depositors would gravitate towards the larger banks.

                However, once the Fed is directed to trade in the fed funds markets with all member banks, in unlimited size, the issue of available funding is moot. The second is to not tax banks in order to recover funds lost on bank failures. The FDIC should be entirely funded by the US Treasury. Taxes on solvent banks should not be on the basis of the funding needs of the FDIC. Warren Mosler from: Proposals for the Banking System, Treasury, Fed, and FDIC (draft)

                Reply
              2. notabanktoadie

                Bill Mitchell advocates nationalising the banks. Grebo

                Does not solve the problem of using the PUBLIC’S credit but for private gain.

                Reply
              3. notabanktoadie

                Loans to banks, which are necessary to preserve the payment system, to be expensive. Grebo [bold added]

                Nope.

                1. The fed should lend unsecured to member banks, and in unlimited quantities at its target fed funds rate, by simply trading in the fed funds market. ibid Mosler

                Reply
                1. notabanktoadie

                  Besides which, why should we have only a SINGLE payment system (besides mere physical fiat, coins and CB Notes) that MUST work through private depository institutions or not at all?

                  Holding the economy hostage, much?

                  Reply
              4. notabanktoadie

                There are three fundamental approaches to the perennial (centuries old) problem of “the banks”.

                1) Nationalize them – Bill Mitchell’s approach. But this does not solve the problem of the use of the PUBLIC’s credit but for private gain

                2) Make the banking system more stable without regard to ethics – Mosler’s approach, a banker.

                3) Make the system ethical without regard to stability but why should we be concerned about the stability of a usury cartel so long as:
                a) banks are 100% private
                b) bank depositors are 100% voluntary?

                Since we will then have a credible risk-free payment system in addition to the one that must work through private banks?

                Also note that approaches 1) and 2) are elitist approaches and we should have learned by now wrt banking that the elites are NOT to be trusted but rather that doing what’s right IS to be trusted.

                Reply
                1. Grebo

                  Mosler’s suggestions seem to make sense in the context of the current system.

                  Mitchell prefers to change the system.

                  Neither of them are ‘offical’ MMT positions. Mitchell at least is usually careful to make that distinction.

                  Not sure why you say nationalisation ‘does not solve the problem of the use of the PUBLIC’s credit but for private gain’. Surely it eliminates the private gain?

                  Whatever the system it should be ethical and stable. Realistically, depositing your money in some kind of bank is not voluntary.

                  Reply
                  1. notabanktoadie

                    Not sure why you say nationalisation ‘does not solve the problem of the use of the PUBLIC’s credit but for private gain’. Surely it eliminates the private gain? Grebo

                    Who shall be deemed creditworthy and to what extent? Shall the rich continue to be the most so-called credit worthy? Shall politics be the guide instead? How long then before the public (goaded on by ex-private bankers) demands a return to so-called “private” lending?

                    That’s why ALL fiat creation beyond that created by deficit spending for the general welfare should be via an equal Citizen’s Dividend.

                    That and depository institutions should be completely de-privileged and that includes making them PAY for the storage and use of the Nation’s fiat.

                    And both Mosler and Mitchell promote wage slavery to government to supplement wage slavery to the private sector and that’s lame, at best, in this age of rapidly increasing job loss due to (currently) unethically financed automation.

                    Reply
                    1. notabanktoadie

                      In other words, loans by the monetary sovereign or its central bank constitute fiat creation and ALL fiat creation should be for the general welfare only.

                      And while the general welfare could certainly include an equal Citizen’s Dividend, spending on the needy and grants for public purpose, etc., it most certainly does NOT include fiat creation for private interests only.

      3. Jeremy Grimm

        I strongly disagree with you. The notion debauching of coined money — the perpetration of ugly design and lack of care so plainly evident in the quality of U.S. coinage strongly signals a decline in our culture. The signal has nothing to do with MMT. It is a signal of not caring for things that once held meaning and importance — things like beauty, pride, and respect toward commerce, the kind of respect expressed in the Orient by tendering a payment with both hands and giving honor to the vendor with a nod of respect. These concerns are more than just tradition. They were tradition because of their greater meaning.

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          First of all, our money looks fine. Secondly, the money from that ‘Orient’ that you’re weirdly fetishizing are aesthetically comparable to US money: someone’s face and a number. Maybe a landscape or bird occasionally. Is The Mysterious East™ also in ‘decline’?

          And once you start getting into nebulous things like assertions of ‘cultural decline’ I check out completely. Yes I know, and all the music now is crap, and also the kids won’t stay off your lawn. Sure thing.

          Reply
            1. notabanktoadie

              While you guys argue about how pretty CB Notes should be, the government-privileged usury cartel is robbing you and the rest of us blind with invisible private bank deposits.

              Reply
          1. Jeremy Grimm

            My comment has to do with the values — the social and human values — and the signs of their debasement in our culture. The comment about commerce in the Orient has absolutely nothing to do with the currency or coins exchanged. I thought the coins and paper currency in the Orient not particularly aesthetic. Most of the coins I handled there were as ugly, cursory, indifferent to aesthetics and have the same shallow stamping as current U.S. coins. My comment about the Orient has to do with my understanding of a kind of respect toward the exchange. It is not just a purchase. I most often saw this kind of exchange in the small towns and in exchanges with small shopkeepers — seldom in large department stores.

            Reply
            1. Plenue

              Yes, I know what your point about the ‘Orient’ was. It’s gibberish. By your own admission, their money is just as ‘ugly’ as ours. So how can this signal some sort of ‘cultural decline’, when you’re lauding them for their behavior in commerce?

              If you want to make some point about a lack of respect in the US for exchange, make it. But stop blathering about how ugly money is a proxy sign of it.

              Reply
              1. Jeremy Grimm

                Your comments in this thread show a remarkable ability to misconstrue what you claim to understand. The tone of your comments seems intentionally strident toward purposes I fail to appreciate.

                Reply
  5. John A

    Re Ukraine and meddling, and Fiona Hill’s bareface lies, I am reminded of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech:
    “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Thank you for this very relevant comment. As Yasha Levine points out in the article linked above:

      “… three years later, this episode [Ukrainian meddling in collusion with the Obama administration] has been wiped from the collective memory of our media and political establishment. What used to be fact is now smeared as either a pro-Trump rightwing conspiracy theory or Russian propaganda — and probably both. But saying that it didn’t happen doesn’t change the historical record.”

      It’s hard to accuse Levine of being a partisan Republican shill, which is how the Blob writes-off John Solomon. I suppose to the swooning “centrist” fans of Hill et al., this just validates the “horseshoe theory” of politics: theirs is the only reality; the rest of us are deluded fascists.

      Reply
          1. anon in so cal

            And, yet, every one of these quasi-GOP journalists—John Solomon (formerly of The Hill), Byron York, etc. repeat the canard that RU interfered in the election, despite the complete lack of evidence to support this allegation. Are they cowed? Brainwashed? Complicit? IDK

            Reply
      1. JTee

        I believe this may be a different John Solomon. There appear to be two journalists of that name, one British and the other American. I tried finding an article by “him” that I had read and had trouble figuring out who wrote what. Or maybe I’m still confused.

        Reply
        1. pjay

          John Solomon the American journalist has published a number of articles on the Democrats’ role in Ukraine, and has been smeared for it. I posted a very good link where he defends himself that has not yet cleared moderation.

          Reply
        2. pjay

          The John Solomon I was referring to was the American journalist. He has written extensively on Ukrainegate, notably on Democratic collusion with Ukrainian officials. For that he has been pilloried by the Blob. He wrote a very detailed point-by-point refutation of Vindman yesterday on his blog which has been reproduced at other sites. I have been unsuccessful in trying to post a link to it here today, but I recommend it to anyone interested comparing the Establishment narrative with the facts.

          Reply
      2. lyman alpha blob

        I glanced at the NYT article on “meddling” and found this which is mind boggling for its absence of anything factual:

        The accusations of a Ukrainian influence campaign center on actions by a handful of Ukrainians who openly criticized or sought to damage Mr. Trump’s candidacy in 2016. They were scattershot efforts that were far from a replica of Moscow’s interference, when President Vladimir V. Putin ordered military and intelligence operatives to mount a broad campaign to sabotage the American election. The Russians in 2016 conducted covert operations to hack Democratic computers and to use social media to exploit divisions among Americans.

        This time, Russian intelligence operatives deployed a network of agents to blame Ukraine for its 2016 interference. Starting at least in 2017, the operatives peddled a mixture of now-debunked conspiracy theories along with established facts to leave an impression that the government in Kyiv, not Moscow, was responsible for the hackings of Democrats and its other interference efforts in 2016, senior intelligence officials said.

        They basically admit to Ukraine trying to interfere, but it was “scattershot”. As opposed to those dastardly Russians and their rainbow pictures of Bernie that nobody anywhere ever saw but still managed to deny Queen Hillary her due. The part about the “broad campaign to sabotage” has a link which goes to, you guessed it, another NYT article about the Mueller report which the NYT expects us to forget went absolutely nowhere. Then in the next paragraph they seem to switch course, and now the Ukrainians didn’t do anything at all, it was those Russians again trying to trick us into thinking it was Ukraine. And those “conspiracies” have been debunked although the NYT doesn’t see fit to provide any evidence of the debunking.

        Anyone else tired of being treated like in idiot by the clowns?

        Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            AIPAC, Sheldon Adelson, lots more. All those Dems and Reps that have glued themselves to Eretz Ysrael to avoid the daggers of AIPAC.

            Oh, and a principal Israeli “influencer,” Netanyahu, has for some reason finally been indicted for a number of actual crimes.

            I’d note (long read) that Netanyahu had a great model to work from and with: “In a ruined country: How Yasser Arafat destroyed Palestine,” https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/09/in-a-ruined-country/304167/

            Reply
      1. barefoot charley

        The Blob’s star witnesses have all been unreconstructed Cold Warriors, whom I thought were all but extinct. Easy to understand why so many are ex-pats–they’re still living in the fossilized conflicts we’ve lost interest in, along with Big Bush’s promise not to advance NATO one inch to the East. That’ll advance a cold war just fine.

        They’re such perfect replicas I regret that they must fit into the new, larger jobs program, in which all are Terror Warriors. To be fair, that shoe fits too.

        Reply
        1. Big Tap

          This week some Deep State types out in the open testified before the House. These people were frightening in their idea that Russia is a threat to America and Ukraine should be a new Valley Forge. Their policies are at least 30 years out of date as if the Soviet Union still existed. Ukraine is not our ally just a MIC customer like Saudi Arabia. This is an area that needs fumigation. How they have still have jobs in the government is unsettling.

          Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Here is fiona hill’s 2015 op-ed in which she argues AGAINST arming Ukraine.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/giving-weapons-to-ukraine-could-goad-putin-into-a-regional-war/2015/02/05/ec2e9680-abf5-11e4-ad71-7b9eba0f87d6_story.html

      Was she lying then, or is she lying now?

      PS. There seemed to be a significant amount of “unawareness” on the parts of these career foreign service “professionals” wrt what had been going on in Ukraine before their arrivals. I found myself wondering why they hadn’t done a little studying of the state of affairs before they took over their very important jobs in this country that is so critical to american “security.” They didn’t seem to be too embarrassed about professing profound ignorance of what had been going on before they showed up. Must be nice to get paid and be immune to firing whether you know what you’re doing or not.

      Reply
      1. flora

        Bit of trivia: before the fall of USSR, Ukraine had a huge nuclear armament. Ukraine was promised that if it gave up and divested its nuclear arsenal that both the US and Russia would guarantee its protection and sovereignty. Fast forward … There’s no need for me to spell out how that worked out, or the guarantors that revoked their pledges.

        Reply
      2. anon in so cal

        John Helmer has quite a bit of historical and current info about FH. She consorted with Nuland, for one thing. They knew darn well what was occurring before they took their positions at the NSC.

        Reply
      3. kiwi

        They (the Fiona Hill types) wanted cash instead of weapons :) ……that is just conjecture on my part. Cash to NGOs is so much more easier to handle – javelins aren’t liquid.

        I think they are all on the take. We shall see what comes forth.

        Reply
  6. allan

    > Wisconsin Governor Evers Signs ALEC-Inspired Bill to Criminalize Protest

    This is why it’s so important to elect Democratic governors … oh, wait …

    In completely unrelated news, there is also an onslaught of ALEC-inspired laws making it a crime
    to “annoy” a law enforcement officer. In NYS, one has passed in Monroe County (Rochester)
    and another is being considered in Broome County (Binghamton).
    Brought to you by The Party of Small Government™.

    Reply
    1. Reify1

      I’m not sure he realizes how much he has damaged his chances for re-election with this.
      Unless he plans an equal and opposite (re)action
      to this in favor of the Ho-Chunk, Bad River and others. These are powerful tribes and they have alliances across the state still energized from previous battles.

      Reply
    2. Reify99

      I’m not sure he realizes how much he has damaged his chances for re-election with this.
      Unless he plans an equal and opposite (re)action
      to this in favor of the Ho-Chunk, Bad River and others. These are powerful tribes and they have alliances across the state still energized from previous battles.

      He’ll be a one term governor now.

      Reply
      1. Bugs Bunny

        Considering the mix of mediocrity and actual fascism among candidates in the last gubernatorial election, Evers somehow seemed like he at least wouldn’t cause any more harm. I guess that’s never really the case.

        (all my comments go to moderation lately – something up that I don’t know about?)

        Reply
  7. TroyIA

    Asia’s powerhouse fuels global surge in coal use

    Another link if the paywall blocks anyone – Climate change: China coal surge threatens Paris targets

    While the rest of the world has cut coal-based electricity over the past 18 months, China has added enough to power 31 million homes.

    That’s according to a study that says China is now in the process of building or reviving coal equivalent to the EU’s entire generating capacity.

    China is also financing around a quarter of all proposed coal plants outside its borders.

    . . .

    The researchers say that through 2018 and up to June 2019, countries outside of China cut their coal power capacity by 8.1 gigawatts (GW). In the same period, China added 43GW, enough to power around 31 million homes.

    The authors say that right now the amount of coal power under construction or under suspension and likely to be revived is about 147.7GW, an amount that is almost the same as the entire coal generating capacity of the European Union (150GW).

    Compared to the rest of the world, China is building about 50% more coal plants than are under construction in all other countries combined.

    China agreed to cap carbon output by 2030 but no one said they couldn’t double it before then.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      The USA only emits 16% of the world’s CO2. Every American can be raptured while sleeping tonight and the world is still up a creek. But I don’t hear Greta lecturing anyone besides the usual suspects (particularly deplorables).

      Just saying. if anyone wonder’s why 50% of the country just doesn’t care as CO2 is kinda at the bottom of the Maslow hierarchy of paycheck-to-paycheck needs for people.

      https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions

      Reply
          1. RMO

            And the transportation of said crap across the ocean to the US. And, before they refused the refuse, the transportation back across the same ocean of much of what was left of said crap once it ceased to be amusing to those who bought it.

            Reply
      1. CarlH

        Please post an example of Greta lecturing deplorables. The demonisation of a young girl is gross in my opinion. If I was here age I doubt I would be able to funnel my rage at older generations so gracefully and effectively (I am Gen X).

        Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Physicists Have Finally Seen Traces of the Long-Sought ‘Axion’ Particle”

    Meanwhile, in the dark matter-energy part of the Universe, scientists there are excited to think that they may have finally captured proof of an exotic particle called an “atom”. The lead scientist Dr, Groonftras Gargleblaster stated that “The total mass–energy of this theoretical universe contains only 5% of this exotic matter-energy so it is quite rare. We are quite excited to find possible evidence of this so far only postulated universe.”

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      If the topic of dark matter and a new standard Model interests readers, this recent piece is on a more serious note than Gargleblaster’s thesis, and it sounds promising. I think we’ll hear more about X17; it may take the place of the Higgs boson as the next great piece in the cosmic jigsaw puzzle.
      Physicists Claim They’ve Found Even More Evidence of a New Force of Nature
      https://www.sciencealert.com/physicists-claim-a-they-ve-found-even-more-evidence-of-a-new-force-of-nature

      Reply
      1. Susan the Other

        That they are finding evidence for dark matter “axions” in low temperature metal is kinda interesting. The only medium they can examine, wherein these axions actually turn to crystals. I’m assuming right under the microscope. They have long thought there is a dark matter field; but in very cold metal? More later I hope. And also too, if there is a dark matter field existing out there in the material “we call space” could it be the space creator?

        Reply
  9. Wukchumni

    Bonus antidote joke.

    There’s a commotion somewhere, and a hand cannon emerges from whence it came, and a secret service agent yells ‘Mickey Mouse’!, which so startles the would be shooter, and he is subdued, end of drama.

    When questioned afterwards, why ‘Mickey Mouse’?

    Said agent replied, I was trying to say Donald Duck. but got my cartoon characters mixed up.

    Reply
  10. Schmoe

    Sasha Baron-Cohen’s comments were deeply disturbing. He used the standard boogeyman of Holocaust deniers to justify search algorithm censorship and didn’t seem to distinguish what is anti-semitism. I recall Ben Stein said in 2003 that anyone who opposes the Iraq war is anti-semetic, and it goes without saying that any Youtube commentator who posts a video questioning the Syria gas attacks should have any such videos defunded. Likewise Twitter or Google would never suppress searches on a surging anti-war candidate.

    He said “facts do exist” as a way to justify censorship, but how is it that those who report what turns out to be truthful facts on Syria get defunded? Will 60 Minutes’ blatant propaganda on Syria gas attacks be deleted from search results?

    His comment that giving six Silicon Valley billionaires too much control over social media is notable, but I do not see any other way than trying to find a way to break of up these companies as a viable solution.

    Reply
    1. urblintz

      Sascha Baron-Cohen is a mugger. Whatever else about his celebrated talents and intellect is impressive, it all pales next to his extremely unprincipled ethnic neurosis. Shame that… playing the biggest victim in the world where everyone else is an anti-semite is the result of an unchecked ego and a very small heart.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        it all pales next to his extremely unprincipled ethnic neurosis
        I’ve seen most of his stuff, and I haven’t noticed this. His work, and this piece, takes on issues from homophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny, through to climate change, and in a very insightful way, though you might well use the term mugger as those involved in his screen stuff can claim to have been duped. [I’d add that some of his work leaves me flat and just seems rude, but that goes for many actors and filmmakers.] Nothing I’ve read or seen leads me to believe he views everyone else as anti-semitic.

        didn’t seem to distinguish what is anti-semitism – Schmoe
        He doesn’t provide a definition of anti-semitism, but the examples he gives make it clear enough what it is he wishes to challenge, explore and expose. (And for those who haven’t read the article, it’s fairly long. These are the items I spotted relating to anti-semitism; there’s much more besides.)
        Borat was able to get an entire bar in Arizona to sing “Throw the Jew down the well,”
        the greatest propaganda machine in history has spread the oldest conspiracy theory in history—the lie that Jews are somehow dangerous. As one headline put it, “Just Think What Goebbels Could Have Done with Facebook.”
        Borat got that bar in Arizona to agree that “Jews control everybody’s money and never give it back,”
        If a neo-Nazi comes goose-stepping into a restaurant and starts threatening other customers and saying he wants kill Jews,
        he [Zuckerberg] found posts denying the Holocaust “deeply offensive,”
        Those who deny the Holocaust aim to encourage another one.
        if Facebook were around in the 1930s, it would have allowed Hitler to post 30-second ads on his “solution” to the “Jewish problem.”

        Reply
    2. inode_buddha

      Its the same style of argument used by terrorists everywhere:

      “If you don’t let us do whatever we want then you are the socialist/anti-semite/infidel/terrorist!”

      Absolutists argumentation is fun because once you knock down one corner, the whole thing comes apart. So, how many ways does this manner of argument fall apart?

      Reply
    3. Mel

      Techdirt has a contrary position, based on its usual defense of Section 230. It remains true that we don’t know how to do bulk censorship accurately (everything I know about literature tells me that it will always be true.) If we wind up defending inaccurate censorship we wind up using the excuse “We’re going to be doing this to BAD people.” And no. We wind up doing it to everybody.
      Civil forfeiture was meant to stop Drug Kingpins from maneuvering themselves out of criminal charges. It got used to keep Conrad Black from, justly or unjustly, mounting his most powerful defense in his trial. Now it’s used on anybody carrying money in a car.

      Reply
    4. Vegetius

      May I suggest a new “Mask Slips” segment to go along with Guillotine Watch?

      Cohen has made himself rich and famous smearing other ethnic groups but as the shoe approaches the other foot he begins screeching.

      Reply
      1. norm de plume

        Yes, it would have been good to see him mention the Nakba alongside the Holocaust as a fact that does exist. A tall order for him, certainly at that venue. Some ethnic groups are obviously more equal than others in that large head of his, but he is hardly on his own in ‘thinking with the blood’, and I have to admit to hooting at least once or twice in even his weakest movies.

        Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I’m afraid its worse than you know…

      Every breed of cur from Shih Tzu to Newfoundland, has tasted air travel as a way of getting around thanks to their owners needing their service, and so emboldened have they become in ways of transit, that yeah Florida Dog knows reverse, but what happens when Nebraska Dog figures out forward, or Rhode Island Dog can handle a stick shift?

      p.s. the dog driver very much resembles Marlon Brando in the Godfather.

      Reply
    2. petal

      Maybe cheaper but they’ll be stopping a lot more during a trip to mark all the light posts and fire hydrants on the route!

      Reply
    3. Cat Burglar

      The automatic transmission has been a boon for driving dogs; working a clutch pedal and a stick just does not facilitate driving by the four-footed.

      One day my late Aunt Anna headed down the main post office in Portland to mail some bills, and took her rambunctious Border Collie, Trixie, along for the ride. Anna parked in the loading zone in front of the post office, and, leaving Trixie to mind the idling car, headed in to mail the checks. Being bright and curious, Trixie wondered where the most important person in her life was going, and jumped up to see what was going on.

      Naturally, the steering wheel was great place for one’s forepaws to brace, while you stood up to look around. But steering wheels are slippery for paw pads, and Trixie slipped off, hit the shift handle, and put the car in gear. Anna must have seen the car start to move forward — her quick responses had been honed by her years in industrial league basketball, playing for Bethlehem Steel — and she crossed the sidewalk in a flash and grabbed the door handle.

      It must have been then that Trixie hit the gas pedal.

      Still holding the door handle, the speeding car spun Anna around and she fell to the sidewalk, as the rear wheel ran over her leg. I understand that the witnesses were quite astonished; they did call an ambulance. I can imagine my Aunt was more concerned about Trixie and the bills than about any pain she might have experienced. Trixie must have loved the show.

      Still, Trixie was mightily concerned when uniformed strangers attempted to enter her car and take control of it, an attempt she sensibly rebuffed. It must have been comforting to watch Anna rise from her stretcher, get in the car, move it away from the parked car it had rear-ended, and get back in the stretcher. My Aunt’s boyfriend was called to come get the car, and Trixie must have been delighted when Anna returned from the hospital for a nice long stay at home with her.

      Reply
  11. xkeyscored

    Sacha Baron Cohen’s Keynote Address at ADL’s 2019 Never Is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate – Anti-Defamation League
    A very readable and coherent critique of what he terms the Silicon Six, by an actor I love, but politically naive?
    If they choose, or are compelled by law, to censor hate speech, will it be neo-Nazis who get deplatformed, or Tulsi Gabbard for being an apologist for the child-gassing Assad, Greta Thunberg for her irrational hatred of fossil fuels, or Naked Capitalism for – well, just about everything?
    Nonetheless, I’d recommend reading it, or watching the video.

    Reply
    1. Monty

      He is right that, in this day and age, Hitler would be advertising on Facebook, and they would be happy to take his money.

      Judging by the enthusiasm these 20000 Americans at Madison Square Garden were showing for Hitler’s ideas in the 1939, we are very lucky more of them were not allowed to hear his “free speech” at the time.

      Reply
    2. Sol

      If they choose, or are compelled by law, to censor hate speech, will it be neo-Nazis who get deplatformed, or Tulsi Gabbard for being an apologist for the child-gassing Assad, Greta Thunberg for her irrational hatred of fossil fuels, or Naked Capitalism for – well, just about everything?

      Astute point. No tool can be considered fully examined until we reflect on it being wielded in opposition. For a plan that weighs all potential benefits without recognizing that there may be consequences isn’t a plan, it’s a daydream. Thank you for the link, XKS.

      Reply
  12. Steve H.

    > The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun Vice

    A couple of comments:

    While “Limits to Growth” does chart CO2 rise remarkably well, to 2000, there was little focus on it as a primary driver of outcomes. The pressing variable was ‘pollution’ which, at the time, was framed more by direct toxicity, per Rachel Carson.

    The article puts a fair amount of focus on a “Seneca rebound.” What Bardi et al did well was to refine Tainter’s argument. Tainter’s mechanism was pretty much self-referential, with collapse coming from too much complexity, in a study about complexity. Turchin et al showed that it is fair to use a single measure of complexity for discussion, but did not look to give a mechanism for the ratchet effect. Bardi gave a mechanism based on resource depletion, a material basis which conforms to previous ecological work.

    However, using the work to introduce the Seneca rebound is disingenuous. Bardi’s paper clearly shows pollution going to a model maximum, but “Note also that the model does not consider the effects of pollution”. Limits to Growth clearly showed that the effects of pollution causes the crash. That’s a serious discontinuity.

    The modeled rebound happens when the resource scarcity is stabilized. This can happen multiple ways: the resource can rebound or be imported, a substitute can be found, or population can collapse below the carrying capacity for that resource. CO2 and climate change are a different phenomena. They are not local changes which can be mitigated by flows to and from the global system. They are global changes which impact global conditions. Temperature is not a resource, it is a base unit, and life is adapted to a very narrow range. What will survive the fever of Gaia?

    Limits to Growth: donellameadows.org/wp-content/userfiles/Limits-to-Growth-digital-scan-version.pdf

    Bardi et al: arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1810/1810.07056.pdf

    Turchin et al: pnas.org/content/115/2/E144

    Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “The CIA’s Jack Ryan Series Is ‘Regime-Change’ Propaganda Aimed At Venezuela”

    A bit of context here for clarity. I read most of the Tom Clancy’s books years ago and found them a pretty good yarn and you had a series of books featuring the character Jack Ryan. These were “The Hunt for Red October” (1984), “Patriot Games” (1987), “The Cardinal of the Kremlin” (1988), “Clear and Present Danger” (1989), “The Sum of All Fears” (1990), “Debt of Honor” (1994) and “Executive Orders” (1996). OK, fair enough. But then the next book in the series – “The Bear and the Dragon” (2000) – took a strange right turn that was out of character with the rest of the series and I suspect that he only co-authored it as he has done this with several other books. In short, it was crap.
    It was about this time the character of his son, Jack Ryan jr was introduced and this is the character that we are now seeing and he is full neocon as reflected in this TV series. Tom Clancy sold his name on 2008 so other people have been continuing this new character. Of course it is merely a coincidence that Amazon are doing this series and Amazon has a major contract with the CIA. I suspect that the CIA got jealous with how the Pentagon was always getting good publicity by helping with filming (e.g. “The Transformers”) so now they want a slice of that pie. You see this in, for example, the re-booted “MacGyver” where he now comes from a spook background. And now the main stream media are telling people that the CIA are the new Guardians of the Republic. Our very own Jedi Knights – not.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      There’s the answer to Dr. Gargleblaster’s question! We all, pos and neg beings alike, live in a nested series of ‘Franchise Universes!’
      Next up: “The Ineffable Fed and the Quantum Economy,” AKA, “Schrodinger’s Grocery Bag.”

      Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Debt of Honor” was right wing trash, buy Toyota drive with the enemy. Beyond briefly setting up “Executive Decisions” (which was also trash but far more fun), it was just awful. Then the Iran-Iraq alliance to destroy everyone…but itshe okay the new US division is named after a historic all black regiment…so there is no need to explain the sudden desire of a conqueror to arise. They were both better written than “The Bear and the Dragon”. I’m assuming the US won despite the former President’s hallowing out of the US military to pay for social programs and dramatically increasing the national debt because American soldiers are just so greal. This might have inspired the lack of body armor in Iraq. After all, they won in the books.

      But I am going to go see “Without Remorse.”

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Tom Clancy himself was pretty far right-wing but if you just read the books as yarns, they were not bad. But as books they perfectly illustrate Ronald Reagan’s era set against the back drop of the Cold War 1.0.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I agree just not about “Debt of Honor.” Perhaps you confused the ending which features the greatest hero in American history with the rest of the book?

          Reply
    3. Carolinian

      Jack Ryan–I bailed halfway through episode 1–is a show especially made for the Amazon Prime streaming network. Can’t imaging why Bezos would be blowing kisses to the CIA. Oh wait….

      Krasinski reportedly visited CIA headquarters, all aglow, and asked the agents how they wanted to be portrayed. H’wood loves them some CIA these days.

      Reply
      1. Danny

        Quite coincidental that Gloria, who promised to unify Venezuela, a nation in turmoil, in that well made propflick, is a near clone for the savior of the Bolivian people, Jeanine Añez, who promised to unify a nation in turmoil?
        Did they know something in advance?
        Got Lithium?

        Reply
      2. tegnost

        I was exposed to that bizarro mars mining futuristic morality play where the need to govern space resource extraction, off world living, and etc… Weird. TV is weird now…

        Reply
    4. JohnnyGL

      I was only a kid, but my dad worked in the defense industry, he’s long been a Clancy fan.

      I read Red Storm Rising as a kid one summer. My favorite part was how the US officials said to the Russians, after a ceasefire was declared “Why didn’t you just let us know you needed some help after the oil refinery fire? We would have been happy to help.”

      Oh, the US helped out Russia in the 90s….they helped plenty!!!

      Reply
    5. Jason Boxman

      I think Hunt for Red October is a rare instance where the movie is better. But maybe it’s just Connery. I recall Eye of the Needle (different author) as a better spy book, though, than what I’ve read from Clancy.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The movie is tight, there isn’t a scene that isn’t necessary, but the book despite an unlimited budget compared to film is tight too. There isn’t much to cut. Connery and Sam Neil (he conveys a good deal with a few lines) make the characters without much exposition, and so they aren’t needed. All the Russian characters were good. The doctor and the political officer weren’t bad guys. The political officer’s eagerness to share the original orders with the crew is sincere. The other Russian commander wasn’t either, just cold, and didn’t need pages devoted to their character. Alec Baldwin strikes me as a guy who could be both an unassuming researcher and would be marine. Harrison Ford will always be Indy in a way or only play larger than life characters well.

        Even the distrust is important. Ramius did hijack a ballistic nuclear sub. Did the Soviets really want to announce there is a rogue commander out there with a weapon meant to launch a first strike or avoid retaliation from a nuclear strike capable of killing everyone on the Eastern seaboard on a whim?

        Doesn’t the film cut out hiding the sub in the Outer Banks and just jump ahead to moving it to Canada?

        Reply
    6. notabanker

      Cardinal of the Kremlin was a fantastic book. The new Jack Ryan stuff is loyal to the Clancy version in name only. Berlin Station is a far better series then this Amazon nonsense.

      Reply
    7. JohnnySacks

      Loved Red October! Read a newer one and will never read him again. Was shameless patriot porn written at a sub eighth grade level. Pathetic doesn’t even begin to describe it. May try an episode or two of Ryan to see how badly it sets off my USA USA patriot porn alarms, but I’m not expecting much.

      Reply
    8. Basil Pesto

      On the other hand, Amazon is distributing ‘The Report’, about Daniel Jones’ investigation of CIA torture. I’ve not seen it, mind you. Also worth pointing out that Amazon didn’t produce it, merely bought the distribution rights.

      Reply
  14. Louis Fyne

    —I paid $300 an hour for the VIP experience at Disneyland, and it made me realize how wealth has transformed the American Dream—

    If you want the ultimate live-at-Disney experience, new homes only start at $2.6MM.

    https://www.disneygoldenoak.com

    We’ve gone from EPCOT’s modern vision of the future to Celebration, FL’s post-modern vision to …… i dunno what academics are calling post-postmodern.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      I don’t think Debord and the Situationists would have been in the least surprised by “the ultimate live-at-Disney experience”. They’d probably have termed it the Perfection of the Spectacle or some such, and included ads for The Golden Oak Club as ‘détournement’ in their publications.

      Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Recently there was some discussion here of the annoyingly relentless displays of “philanthropy porn,” I think it was called. I take this article as an expression of a companion annoyance which I’ll call “soul-searching porn.” Its hallmark is a lotta misuse of collective pronouns–“we,” “us,” “our”– that don’t even remotely apply, in consideration of “weighty” thoughts designed to make the “thinker” seem a member of a group he is clearly relieved not to be a part of.

      The world seemed a better and happier place when our experiences were punctuated by special, memorable moments, rather than the other line being an end in itself. We used to want a rewarding job, a nice house and car, and the ability to support a family, send the kids to college, and retire comfortably. But now we yearn for the most exclusive, private, elite luxuries. What has the American Dream become?

      For the umpteenth time, that’s what most of “us” still want. “We” are not interested in living in your fretful little world of competitive money-spending. “Our” american dream is the same as it’s always been. It’s your willingness to shit on your neighbors to get where you’re going, and then rub it in their faces to make it seem worthwhile that’s changed.

      You are not “us” by your own choice. Quit whining about it and enjoy your vip day at disney. Clearly you’re convinced you’ve “earned” it.

      Reply
      1. The Historian

        +100

        Those few that are so willing to do anything to get as much of the world’s resources as they can for themselves sure do spend a lot of effort trying to convince the rest of us that we are just like them, don’t they?

        Reply
      1. polecat

        Are Gator options included in the layout .. or are these residences in ‘Adult Only’ wish-upon-a-star communities ?

        Reply
    3. Monty

      The horrible thing about Disneyland is many, many unscrupulous guests claim to be disabled, and have been strolling to the front of the queue for decades whilst honest people wait hours.

      We have a disabled child, and took them once. I was shocked to see the huge number of able bodied people abusing the system. It was so sickening, I swore I’d never return.

      One family pushed a child in a wheelchair into the disabled access lane and, when they walked out of sight of the person manning the entry, the mum had the child get out of the chair and push her the rest of the way!

      Reply
      1. John A

        Another favoured scam to jump the queues at Disneyland, apparently, is to say your child is terminally ill and the visit is their dying wish…

        Reply
    4. Carolinian

      That Business Insider article is a real indictment of the rot that is current Disney. Pay $300 an hour and you can skip to the front of the line.

      I wondered how I would have felt about Disney’s other line back when I worked there, before the notion of VIP treatment existed at the park. I couldn’t decide. Part of me thought I would have been perfectly fine with it, appreciating the pay-for-value proposition that now seemed to infiltrate every part of Disneyland. But I mostly felt that my eighteen-year-old self would have been shocked. Equality seemed a core tenet of the happiest place on Earth. Would Walt have approved? I wondered. Is the VIP experience consistent with the values that Disneyland was created to exemplify and promote? Would I even come to Disneyland if I had to wait in line? What is my daughter learning each time we skip a line?

      I recall annoyance at standing maybe an hour in line to see the cheesey (IMO) Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World. But back then the park had gone a bit to seed and prices were low. Now you pay $129 to spend most of your visit standing in line. Iger and his crew are going to kill the golden goose at the theme parks as well as the long in the tooth movie franchises if this keeps up.

      Reply
    5. The Rev Kev

      When you are part of the 10% that serves the 1%, you do want to have some perks, even if you have to use your money to buy them. It demonstrates your smartness as compared to the rest of the population aka “the suckers”.

      Reply
    6. Basil Pesto

      I was obliged to come along on a lavish family holiday to Disneyworld last year. My diblings and their kids were fully into it. I went to some of the parks but just to do a bit of amateur anthropology. I found the place to be quite fucked, in a word. rather sinister. Luckily I was able to escape to play golf ex-Disney for a couple of days.

      Mind you, I went to one of the water parks and I feel like there was a certain wry irony about my reading NC on my phone while floating along a lazy river.

      Reply
  15. Monty

    UK election.
    I saw BBC question time with the party leaders and it offered a glimmer of hope that sense might prevail in the end. Perhaps the electorate isn’t as stupid as the Tories and the media moguls believe?
    It was the one time the audience wasnt stacked with right wing stooges, and as a result Corbyn looked great, his position on Brexit seemed reasonable to me. Johnson looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but answering the difficult questions he is normally shielded from. Swinson was also made to face her awful record of enabling and carrying out the austerity if the last 9 years.

    Reply
      1. tegnost

        I think the notably disappointing thing about ratigan on j dore was his acceptance that the titans of wall st can and will crash it all rather than change the current dynamic in which they call all the shots. Not that he’s wrong about that…

        Reply
  16. Donald

    The Ryan Cooper piece about why impeachment matters is worth reading, but makes dubious assertions. I think it is debatable that Trump’s corruption of the foreign policy apparatus is worse than what has come before. Objectively speaking, the Iraq War was worse than anything Trump has done so far. Trump’s worst foreign policy sin is the support for the war in Yemen and that started under Obama.

    The Eric Levitz piece he links is better.

    http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/11/alexander-vindman-testimony-impeachment-hearing-ukraine-policy-deep-state.html

    But even Levitz is naive or pretending to be naive. It isn’t some accident that the “ Resistance” has enthusiastically embraced a childish good vs evil Cold War narrative. It is the central point of the thing. The Blob is using Trump’s corruption to get every liberal to become a paranoid McCarthyite who thinks that Russian agents are behind every criticism of mainstream foreign policy thinking.

    Reply
    1. Ignim Brites

      Got to wonder if the whole Russiaphobia thing will reach its “OK Boomer” moment soon. How much is this really driven by nostalgia?

      Reply
    2. Jason Boxman

      Lately I’m reading Reporter, by Hersh, and just based on the chapters on Watergate reporting, it’s clear what was going on in the Nixon White House was blatant criminality. With such overwhelming opposition to Trump by the national security services, I’d expect if anything similar were going on, Democrats would be impeaching on that stuff instead of what they’ve got.

      Reply
  17. Expat2uruguay

    Following the link here in DW on Columbia I encountered this very sensible article: https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-latin-america-needs-solidarity/a-51038560

    In other news, tomorrow is the runoff election for President here in Uruguay. We are one of the very few Latin American countries not in political turmoil, and I believe that will remain true next week. But I’ll update everybody after the election results and some conversations with locals.

    Reply
  18. Carolinian

    Re impeachment–Trump just declared the Israeli West Bank settlements to be legal despite longstanding international law and the views of Western European allies. Since this was a goal of Sheldon Adelson–one of Trump’s biggest campaign donors–this seems a rather clear instance of “bribery” as opposed to the clear as mud Dem hearings. After all when Trump first ran he said he would self finance his presidential campaign. So every dollar he gets from rich contributors is literally saving him money.

    The Dems swat at a fly (an imaginary fly?) while ignoring the large hornet’s nest hanging over their head. As Michael Kinsley said, the real scandal in Washington is always what’s legal rather than what’s illegal.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      And this is ultimately why Trump won’t be removed from office and this is all just kayfabe. He is able to do things the Blob has wanted to do all along but lacked the nerve to act on. They pretend to “resist” but are really cheering him on from behind the scenes.

      Just as only Nixon could go to China, only Trump can turn Israel into the 51st state.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘only Trump can turn Israel into the 51st state.’?’

        I’m sure that you mean that Israel will be able to turn America into its seventh Mehozot district. The loyalty is only one way though. I recall Chuck Schumer saying that so long as there were two bricks propping each other left in America, that it will still support Israel to the hilt. Nice to know that.

        Reply
    2. kiwi

      Pffft.

      Bribery? As an impeachable offense in this particular situation?

      Take it up with how money works in our system.

      (and I don’t agree with Trump’s stance on Israel)

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        But I’m saying it isn’t an impeachable offense because it’s perfectly legal and all of our politicians do it. Just as in Brazil, a legislature (or some of it) full of people on the take are, by switching the complaint to “bribery,” impeaching Trump for the same thing.

        Reply
        1. kiwi

          So sorry, I read your comment 4 times (because I was unsure about its content) before I posted mine and thought you said the opposite.

          New rule for me-don’t respond if you can’t figure out the content in 4 readings…..

          Reply
  19. @pe

    https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2019/11/19/1574179518000/Are-banks-really-magic-money-trees-/

    Haven’t seen this here, but it’s interesting from a “How can folks psychologically deal with reality while denying it simultaneously” kind of way. Hale agrees that in essences, Graeber is right in his New York Review of Books article — banks have magic money trees. But, as he says in the comments, the problem is that since there are consequences to making money without limits, it’s mean and unfair to call it a *magic* money tree! So, the sorcerer’s apprentice didn’t use magic, since the magic had consequences!

    The comments are particularly sociologically interesting — Hale spends most of his responses complaining that people are mean to him (as mean as he is to Graeber (that dirty commie))! And of course the lowest denominator, which is “Graeber is ignorant because he’s a dirty commie and DeLong says he’s smelly (notwithstanding the reeking of DeLong himself!)”. And the middle path of, again, that Graeber is basically correct but it’s unfair or dangerous for politics to be based on factual reality.

    The lesson is — regardless of how delusional the theory is, be nice to bankers and politicians. And always focus on arguing tone and as irrelevant details as possible. Remember, nobody can be an expert on everything, so you can always find some detail that you know better and from that conclude that the entire argument is nonsense, especially if it’s a disagreement on the use of terminology.

    By the way:
    https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/12/05/against-economics/

    Reply
    1. UserFriendly

      You’re jumping down his throat for being factually accurate? I appreciate Graeber’s linguistic flourishes but anyone who knows anything about the credit creation theory of money knows that anyone making a loan creates money money and paying it back destroys it. In the same way that giving banks more reserves via QE and ZIRP didn’t magically make them give out more loans it should be obvious that bank lending has a number of factors and isn’t the same as a printing press. But hyperbole is perfectly acceptable in popular writing.

      Reply
      1. @pe

        No — I’m jumping down his throat for tone trolling. Hale isn’t busy trying to clarify and contain the argument, he’s busy trying to say it’s all wrong because of the tone. And once you’ve gotten to the point of tone trolling, you’re basically at the level of an emotional argument wrapped up as an attack on emotional arguments, so self-contradictory propagandistic nonsense — and that’s dangerous, going beyond irrational to anti-rational.

        A printing press isn’t the equivalent of a “printing press” once you get down to the brass tacks because there are always constraints. So let’s remember, we’re all talking metaphors here and not deface our signifiers.

        Reply
  20. Carolinian

    Re Java8/Hacker News–the old rule of machines used to be “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” (goes for grammar too). The new rule would seem to be: let’s make sure it’s broke so that we will then have to fix it. After all it is called “hacker” news. There’s the case where all those bank ATMs were running Win XP inside and therefore vulnerable to hackers. Now my bank has a new ATM that’s less easy to use than the old one but supposedly more digitally secure. Perhaps the real problem is exposing ATMs and bank internals to the internet in the first place. Ransomware thrives and city governments cough up the millions. The article thinks these large institutions need to get with the program, but are bureaucracies ever going to be able to keep pace with the “hackers”?

    Reply
    1. Daryl

      It is possible both that Hacker News’s buzzword chasing is not the correct path and that Oracle/Java are bad. Oracle is a bad actor that should be avoided at all costs. Java itself is…not my favorite, but now that it has the Oracle taint I would strongly advise against any greenfield projects involving it.

      Reply
    2. Mike

      Yeah, it’s just like Apple’s OSX – getting more secure (for Apple to charge you), but much less usable, dependable, able at all, for you. The question seems to be one of why the internet and computer systems had to become so complex and in need of so many layers of development without oversight or technology sharing to improve the product overall instead of grift for Company X opposed to Y.

      The modus operandi of natal Silicon Valley techies was… robbery (Gates, Jobs, all got basic product ideas from stolen software- the history is fascinating), so “shared” in a crazy way. Now, just like manufacturing and finance, secrecy and copyright are jurisdictional property fights. And, naturally, theft is still practiced by hacking and network disruption. Yay, lawyers!

      Reply
  21. Ignim Brites

    “It Is Hard to Read This as Anything but a Warning”: New Polling Suggests Democrats’ Impeachment Push Could Alienate Key Voters

    Nancy “They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.” Pelosi must be smiling.

    Reply
  22. Lee

    OK Boomer, Who’s Going to Buy Your 21 Million Homes? Wall Street Journal

    Around here (SF Bay Area) it could be well paid techies, rentiers, or well heeled foreign nationals. My own small contribution to the next generation will be leaving my house to my Gen X kid, who intends to live in it. As an additional benefit, he being a DIY guy, all the work required to address the deferred maintenance that I shall bequeath to him will go a long way toward keeping him well occupied and out of trouble.

    Reply
  23. allan

    5 states resisting creation of panels to promote the census [AP]

    With billions in federal aid and seats in Congress at stake, some states are dragging their feet in carrying out one of the Census Bureau’s chief recommendations for making sure everyone is counted during the 2020 census.

    Five states — Florida, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas — have not set up “complete count committees” that would create public awareness campaigns to encourage people to fill out the questionnaires. …

    Of the holdout states, all but Louisiana have Republican governors.

    In Texas, a measure to create a committee died in the GOP-dominated Legislature earlier this year even though the second most populous state has the most to gain from the census — up to three congressional seats.

    Some Texas lawmakers were worried about losing their seats during redistricting if population surges favoring Democrats were found in urban and suburban areas …

    Shorter Texas GOP congressional delegation: Census will not replace us.

    Reply
  24. Vegetius

    On Baldwin, FL:

    While it would be nice if every Baldwin-sized town had its own Whole Foods or whatever, let’s get real. And there is garbage reporting in this article.

    Macclenny is less than ten miles away, the road construction barely causes any slowdown, and even if you did have to ‘battle’ it, 90 parallels I-10 the whole way there.

    Similarly there is a Winn Dixie grocery store in Whitehouse, which is eight miles away, and a Wal Mart Super Center about another two miles east towards Jacksonville, nowhere near any ‘sprawl.’

    I happen to know a little about the area, but any fool could find all this out by using google maps.

    Reply
    1. Danny

      Most older people are fools then because they either can’t make it to your easily accessed store on their Rascal scooters, don’t have laptops, or have smart phones as extensions of their brains and egos.

      Re that hotel collapse in New Orleans, I wonder what percentage of the workmen were illegals, and if the savings from using them would have translated into lower room rates, once it was rushed to completion in time for Mardi Gras?

      I bet it was improperly cured concrete, stripped of its forms early, that helped cause the collapse.

      Reply
    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thanks, RWood. Phoned my local grocery. They confirmed that it should be thrown away, which I did. Also offered me a refund, but they didn’t cause the problem which seems to be recurring periodically.

      Reply
  25. Tom Doak

    New hard-hitting investigative piece by the Associated Press about Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide:

    https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/11/23/feds-fight-back-as-epstein-death-conspiracy-theories-swirl/23866455/

    Oh, wait . . .

    I especially loved this nugget:

    “[Eric Oliver, a University of Chicago professor who studies conspiracy theories] said a survey he conducted two weeks ago found that 30% of respondents believed Epstein’s death was a homicide. Most conspiracy theories gain traction with less than 20% of respondents, he said. The Trump-perpetuated theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. peaked at about 24%.”

    Reply
    1. Danny

      Here’s a wild conspiracy theory for you:
      19 deeply religious fundamentalist Moslems spend the night in a strip club drinking with hookers, then leave one of their sacred Korans in a rental car, and then outwit the CIA, FBI, NSA, DOJ, FAA, DIA, The U.S. Air Force and NORAD, as well as the State Department, which issued them visas at a special skip the line window in Riyad– and with $38 worth of box cutters, defeat the most powerful military in the world, flying aircraft at speeds higher than for which they were physically able to fly in lower thick atmosphere to hit a narrow target, or perform a steep banking turn and dive, skimming above a lawn at the Pentagon, maneuvers all done in a full sized jet after barely being able to take off in a Cessna, and then in spite of aircraft engines and entire planes evaporating, miraculously, one of their passports is found intact on a rooftop?
      A huge change in U.S. laws, The Patriot Act, which just happens to have been written months in advance, is whipped off a shelf and rammed through congress with dissenters getting military grade anthrax in their in-box.

      Who the hell would ever believe that?

      Then there’s the architectural conspiracy of how the first two steel framed highrises in history could collapse into their own footprint, along with a third one, not hit by a plane. Debunk conspiracy theories here: https://www.ae911truth.org/

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      I saw the following recently-

      Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) urged the director of the Bureau of Prisons on Tuesday to be honest with the American people about what happened in the death of financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

      “How can I put this? Christmas ornaments, drywall, and Jeffrey Epstein — name three things that don’t hang themselves,” Kennedy told Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “That’s what the American people think. That’s what the American people think!”

      Reply
      1. Danny

        Not true! The new theory is he got on his knees, then held the noose in his right hand and pulled his head quickly down with his left hand. See? It is possible and no one can not prove he didn’t do it that way.

        Reply
        1. Bob Burner

          When I read Epstein changed his will 2 days prior, moving it to probate court in St Thomas, I figured he was preparing for his his death.

          Reply
  26. Massinissa

    From market crash article:

    “Bridgewater declined to comment to CBS MoneyWatch. The hedge fund did tell the Wall Street Journal it was not betting on a particular outcome in the 2020 U.S. election. Another top hedge fund manager, Paul Tudor Jones, recently predicted at a hedge fund conference that the market would plunge 25% if Elizabeth Warren was elected president. Dalio was on stage at the conference at the same time Jones made the comment.”

    If Warren plunges Mr Market 25%, how much would a Sanders presidency plunge it? 50%?

    Might just make it easier for Bernie to pass through financial reforms.

    Reply
    1. RMO

      The old “Nice country you got here. Be a shame if something were to… happen to it…” Darkly amusing when the world was just recently plunged into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression because the government had spent years accommodating every last little demand from the financial sector.

      Reply
  27. sometimes susan

    re: Elon Musk’s Tesla Truck fiasco

    Last night we happened upon an early John Carpenter movie, Black Moon Rising and were amazed to see how much the prototype car of the title resembled the Muskotruck (driven here by Tommy Lee Jones with Linda Hamilton as passenger). After the jump the two engineers who built the thing stand amazed. One says, ‘We better get back to that Italian race car company right away’, to which the other replies, ‘Never mind the Italians we’re going straight to Boeing’.

    Ah, irony is so much more pleasing when it’s doubled.

    Reply
    1. skippy

      I just love the Musk expletive got almost a 900M write down and some talk about market pricing in neoclassical mechanics ….

      Reply
  28. Carey

    ‘Toward A Land Ethic’:

    “I’ve thought a lot about immigration in my time, and confess, I’ve never thought very highly of it. Which, of late, seems to be an extremely unpopular position among liberals. But it’s not that I’m anti-immigrant, per se. It’s that I’m militantly pro-place. I sympathize with my place.

    Not being inhumane, I do empathize with the plight of the refugee. However, their plight will always remain at one remove from me. I learned this from a pretty smart fellow who once observed that empathy is a problematic emotion because it is near automatic with those who are like us, and virtually non-existent with those who are not. Whereas, sympathy is a more useful emotion because it represents the care we feel about someone else who we want to feel better. Thus, we tend to help those we care about..”

    https://www.ianwelsh.net/toward-a-land-ethic/

    Reply
  29. Hamford

    Question. I was thinking about the apparent futility of candidates like Patrick enterring the race, when 15% is needed in a state to carry any delegates. The question is: who are the less than 15% delegates beholden to?

    For instance hypothetically, Sanders carries 30% of a state, Biden 25%, Warren 25%. The remaining 20% is split between other candidates with less than 15%- so no delegates assigned to them. Can that remaining 20% of at-large delegates go where they may, (e.g. Biden) or are they broken up proportionally to the leading candidates?

    Depending on the answer, we could have another Super-Delegate-esque heist on our hands, even before the convention.

    Reply
    1. ptb

      “Can that remaining 20% of at-large delegates go where they may, (e.g. Biden) or are they broken up proportionally to the leading candidates?”

      I believe all bound delegates (both congressional district and state) are awarded proportionately among those who got over 15% – per state. Thus in your example with 30:25:25 for the top three, the delegate results would be 37.5 : 31.25 : 31.25

      Reply
      1. Hamford

        Ahh thanks prb and jeremy. Any cynicism towards the Democratic Primary has proven to be insufficient in the past, so I am wary.

        Perhaps the dilution of the centrist field is simply a case of conceit-deluded billionaires and every man for himself rather than a game theory, elite-wargamed response to the Sanders wing.

        Reply
    2. John k

      IMO it’s useful to have as many non sanders as possible in order that the non progressive vote be split. In that case sanders needs maybe just to be leading with about 45% to get most of the votes in a given state or district… and the maybe 18% polls show him having now are all people with land lines… so he gets that plus most of the young uns… potentially close to 50%, maybe more with a few under 15% candidate votes not counting.
      Meanwhile biden warren get very few young… so their current numbers are close to their ceiling. And if sanders does well early they might even drop below the 15% threshold.
      Biden might do well in s Carolina, not many other places.
      I don’t think warren likes sanders, but she saw what endorsing a centrist did for her in 2016. Bernie is the only one that might give her treasury.
      So Bloomberg and Patrick are deluding themselves, but the more of these losers, the better.

      Reply
      1. Hamford

        Thanks John. Hopefully it works out. If come convention, Sanders has 40% and everyone else around 20%- that will be interesting.

        Reply
      2. skippy

        Concur and Warren would be the bane of many in the Treasury or SecCom, not that I would agree with other public stances, pandering or not.

        Reply
  30. Susan the Other

    The link on Deep Adaptation was the kind of stuff we should all be reading. You know, reality. By Jem Bendell. I’m just thinking about trees. During the last glaciation the ice sheets reached southern Europe. The forests of the far north died, only coming back as the glaciers receded. Now, trees and groves and forests all over the planet seem to be under stress. It could be more than air pollution. It could be that they aren’t getting enough energy from solar radiation due to the current solar minimum. In one obvious example this makes sense – trees are the original heat pumps. They take in warmth and energy from their canopies and transpire, bringing moisture up from their cool, buried roots. And if this new solar minimum leaves us too cold at the higher latitudes, all the trees/plants start to dysfunction. The equatorial belt will be the new bread basket. More like potato basket. We should probably start working on that one now.

    Reply
  31. Mike

    Two items from news of importance today:

    It seems Biden told Immigrant protestor to vote for Trump:
    https://caucus99percent.com/content/more-details-about-why-biden-dismissed-his-concerns-and-told-him-vote-trump

    And, the article on Amazon’s show “Jack Ryan” has a link for Alford’s book, being sold … on Amazon! See…
    The CIA’s Jack Ryan Series Is ‘Regime-Change’ Propaganda Aimed At Venezuela Mint Press (Chuck L)

    It’s the little things that add up by the end of the day.

    Reply
  32. smoker

    Re: DOD Joins Fight Against 5G Spectrum Proposal, Citing Risks To GPS

    As much as the US DOD™ horrifies me, I hope they win this one, since, clearly, Ajit Pai has never even been concerned with too many unknowns and the risks are far too great for the populace at large in the course of daily living, or the ever widening digital divide which has created even more sub classes of poverty and lack of vital access.

    Ever rapidly increasing, risk ridden Free Market™ Innovation™, which very few will be able to initially afford, while affordable and NEEDED BASIC TELEPHONE SYSTEMS that once worked – particularly in emergencies – are being allowed to rot. Those who cannot afford it are having to increasingly change phone numbers and shabby phones – phones which are obsolesced as soon as they hit the Free Markets™ – and pay for unaffordable innovation. Telephones used to last for decades and were near undestroyable, with crystal clear reception in many, if not most, places, particularly Hospitals.

    Was sickened but not surprised to learn that Ajit Pai, ex Verizon Counsel, Aspen Institute Participant Free Markets™ Striver, was also

    Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights…

    Thanks Obama (and US Senate, once again), takes an immoral Identitarian™ striver to sniff one out and pick them from a crowd – on Mitch McConnell’s advice – as like minded.

    Reply
  33. Chauncey Gardiner

    Regarding today’s link from MarketWatch, I appreciate Al Gore’s longstanding efforts to elevate the issue of climate change in the public discourse and his constructive policy proposal. However, I don’t have confidence that markets-based solutions will solve this global problem. Both speed of adoption of actions to reverse CO2 and methane pollution, and global cooperation between sovereign governments to implement and enforce such policies, are critical. I don’t see either flowing from Gore’s proposal.

    Besides tragic primary effects of climate change that we are seeing, there are also numerous derivative effects that remain unaddressed. David Dayen, who posted here on NC in the past, wrote an article this week for Prospect that I feel cuts to the quick:

    https://prospect.org/environment/the-biggest-threat-to-financial-stability-is-the-climate/

    Time is of the essence.

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      Really, the odds that the future isn’t cooked is infintesimal. The worry is that all the debt and paper held by the rich might be worth less, not about how the peasants will cope.

      If anything’s worse than doing nothing, it’s the CFTC’s climate subcommittee. JPMorgan Chase, by far the largest financier of fossil fuel companies, has a seat on the subcommittee. So does Citigroup, the third-largest financier. Morgan Stanley, which is heavily involved with crude oil and jet fuel through its commodities business, has a seat. Goldman Sachs, which operates its own coal mines and trades in uranium, arguably has two seats one for itself, and the other for Stephen Moch, listed by CFTC as a “student” with the Harvard Business School and Kennedy School of Government but actually a senior analyst with Goldman’s Environmental Markets Group for four years. French bank BNP Paribas, German investment firm Allianz and several other financial players hold seats as well.

      Goldman 666 has coal mines, plural no less. Who knew?

      The GFC was wasted on the likes of Goldman. Instead of being propped up they should have been taken out behind the barn and shot, or to be polite euthanized and the top ten percent of management still looking three decades into the future before getting out of prison. Instead they gloat from the bow of their yachts called Greed One, Corruption Two, and Fraud Three.

      Reply
  34. flora

    re: Fiona Hill Is the Antidote to Trump – Andrew Sullivan,

    Dear Andrew and other Neverland inhabitants,
    No, clapping harder will not make it real.
    Regards,
    the world

    Reply
  35. flora

    re: Fiona Hill Is the Antidote to Trump – Andrew Sullivan,

    Dear Andrew and other Neverland inhabitants,
    No, clapping harder will not make it real.
    Regards,
    the world

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      The media here has been very sparing of the word pedophiles in it’s reporting on this story and the Prime Minister has demanded that the head of Westpac step down which is just Kabuki theater. This was the same guy who fought against the recent banking inquiry being held at all and was lucky to have it limited to just a year.
      The Westpac story is one of the things that have come out of this inquiry but it will get better. Westapac is one of the “big four” banks in Oz so there are still three more big banks to investigate. So, watch this space for more stories like this.

      Reply
    1. cnchal

      My sense of wondement comes from, what kind of person wants to be a scungy democrat strategist? How many years does it take to become so scungy, and if the pay were higher would he, or she, be moar or less scungy?

      Know what else is scungy? youtube and tech in general is scungy. What is it with techbros, and why is “got it” the trap of the era to get one to click something? I click on nothing on the rare occasion I watch anything on youtube, but right underneath the login button is a blue rectangle with some ultra non enticing words to the effect that I am not logged in and to comment or ” up vote” I ought to be, and below that the words “got it”.

      I have no idea of what wolud happen were I to click on those words but my guess is some log in page or worse. I see the same crap on PayPal too, so it must be a way to convey a message, which perhaps an OK Millennial may understand but to this OK Boomer it makes zero sense and adds to the gigantic heap of fakery and insincerity of tech wasteland.

      I am moar than happy to have the two commercials I ignore run for half a minute or so, and hope Jimmy makes his two cents from it, but I will never give a click to Googlag.

      Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thats an excellent article. For all the furore about scooters, the reality is that small electric vehicles, whether scooters or electric bikes or various hybrids are here to stay – they are just too affordable, too practical not to be used. Like all technology, they are essentially value neutral – its how they are used that can have malign or benign impacts. But they have the potential to revolutionise our cities by providing a real solution to car travel and are vastly less polluting and dangerous than cars.

      Ultimately, the solution will have to be city by city. In cities with a reasonably good segregated cycle layout the obvious solution is to expand this and ban wheeled vehicles from sidewalks. In others, the solution may be to push them onto the main street, but radically reduce all traffic speed with segregation at junctions. Or the solution may be a Japanese style of permitting them on sidewalks, but with strict rules about speed and liability.

      Reply
    1. Sol

      “HAHA, it is to laugh, guys, because c’mon, it’s 2017 I mean seriously, but no seriously, I’ll release the tapes if I have to.”

      I honestly have nothing to add here except that this reality has been a running gag with cheesy predictable dialogue since 2015, and I want a new one.

      Reply

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