2:00PM Water Cooler 12/26/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I hope you enjoyed Christmas, and are enjoying Boxing Day. For the duration of the Naked Capitalism holiday season, I’m going to run Water Cooler as an open thread.

For the past year or so, I’ve been extremely online, which is one reason the links here are so very eclectic (at least I like to think so). But what that means is that I haven’t had time to read any books, except the sort of Grade B fiction that I can devour at a sitting, and that infrequently. So I am going to go to the bookstore and buy some books — probably middlebrow stuff, nothing too challenging — and then read them, instead of gulping down enormous quantities of news-adjacent krill on the Twitter. If you have any suggestions, please put them in comments — but I’m not going to be able to read too much, since my vacation will only last a week or so.

So talk amongst yourselves! Do remember, however, that this is a holiday for the moderators as well, so don’t make them work hard. Be excellent to each other.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (TH):

TH writes: “A cheery spray of aster type flowers. Don’t know exactly what any of these are but I liked the yellow and blue color opposite combo. Looking at it super-sized, one wonders if I was thinking, ‘If I can’t get them all in focus, they should all be out of focus.'” I believe the yellow flowers are Black-Eyed Susans, a favorite of mine from growing up in the Midwest, and also easy to grow and self-seeding. Yes, they are in the aster family!

Also, if any of you go out on your Christmas walks with camera (or, I suppose, phone), I’m running out of plants. Wintry plants would be especially appreciated!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Lunker Walleye

      Thanks for the link to Bernadette Banner. I book marked her site. Loved it when she did the burn test on the inexpensive princess dress fabric. It is the best way to determine if there are synthetic fibers in the cloth.

    1. John Beech

      I spend zero time on Twitter but recently made a comment on Truthdig and the vile hate that followed was enough to gag a maggot. I have better things to do and won’t be back.

  1. Utah

    Book recommendations:
    “Where the crawdads sing” by Delia Owens was my favorite fiction book this year. Highly recommend. Part science-y part murder mystery. Easy to devour.
    “The body keeps the score” was my favorite non fiction book that I read this year. It’s a few years old, but great. It’s about complex ptsd (an informal diagnosis not in the dsm.)

  2. zagonostra

    >Welcome to the PanOptician

    Walter Lippmann’s groundbreaking 1922 study of the news media, “Public Opinion,” begins with a chapter titled, “The World Outside and the Pictures in our Heads,” in which he presents the media as a bottleneck through which information about the world beyond the perception of our senses must pass. Aside from the question of which stories get passed through that bottleneck, which information about an event that survives the crucible of condensation into an article, news bulletin or wire is determined by the biases of the writer and editor. In turn, control over that information bottleneck gives the controller incredible power to shape the consciousness of readers about “the world outside” – the “manufacturing of consent,” as Lippmann originally described it….

    One of the things that eventually happens … is that we don’t need you to type at all because we know where you are,” Schmidt, Google’s then-CEO, said of the company in a 2010 interview with The Atlantic. “We know where you’ve been. We can more or less guess what you’re thinking about.”

    The security state has sought to master this craft for more than half a century by sweeping through massive amounts of sociological data, tracking the attitudes, movements, and demographics of vast numbers of people in a bid to better map the tendency toward rebellion before it occurs. Tracking how billions of people navigate the internet, innocent of the knowledge they’re even being watched, has provided the security state with the greatest petri dish it could have asked for.


  3. Phillip Allen

    Annals of the Former World, John McPhee. Exploring plate tectonics and geological history through a cross-continent journey, written beautifully.

    The Well-Tempered Garden, Christopher Lloyd. Lloyd informed much of my garden design practice, back in the day. The writing is delightful and witty and opinionated as only gardeners can be.

    Wilding, Isabella Tree. I book I long to read, which I now see is easily had in the US. I believe I learned of the book either through an edition of Links or 2:00PM Water Cooler, in fact.

        1. Carey

          Also, McPhee’s ‘Levels of the Game’, one of the most penetrating books ever
          written (nominally) about the game of tennis.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Definitely “Wilding” by Isabella Tree. I got a copy when I saw mention of it here and it is a fascinating story. The countryside we see is mostly an artificial construct.

      Also “At Home” by Bill Bryson which is a brilliant history of our homes and full of fascinating stories of how it all came to be.

      And as a change of pace, “World War Z” by Max Brooks. Forget the stinker of a movie, the whole book is composed basically of people’s experiences and reactions to the Zombie War and can be quite thoughtful in places.

    2. Fiery Hunt

      Actually prefer McPhee’s shorter stuff…

      His book on Oranges is a classic!!
      And anything else in essay form…

      Classics that always reward a 2nd (3rd or 4th…) reading….

      Red Harvest-Dashiell Hammett
      The Continental Op at his best! Hammett was a short story god and this is his first novel….includes a chapter called “The Seventeenth Murder”.

      The Whale; Moby Dick
      Herman Melville
      Source of my user name and the Greatest American Novel! I read it about every 3 years and jesus, does it reward.

      The Grapes of Wrath
      John Steinbeck
      Best of our best. More important today than when it was written 80 years ago!!!

      Nonfiction. …Doug Peacock and Steven Rinella.

  4. Thomas Jennings

    Found this on a best of 2018 list and thoroughly enjoyed it:

    Severance by Ling Ma

    Severance is a 2018 satirical science fiction novel by the Chinese-American author Ling Ma. It follows Candace Chen, an unfulfilled Bible designer, before and after Shen Fever slowly obliterates global civilization. Severance explores themes of nostalgia, modern office culture, monotony, and intimate relationships.

    Severance takes place in the United States in the 2010s, before and during a pandemic of Shen Fever, a fictional fungal infection originating in Shenzhen, China. Some people are inexplicably immune and try to survive during the slow apocalypse.

    People infected with Shen Fever repeat old routines compulsively, without consciousness and until death.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Takes place in the US…originating in Shenzhen, China.

      Is this more China-bashing? Fortunately, the direction is not the other way (and the rest of the world can’t blame America here).

      More likely (or equally likely) something nasty might re-emerge from the thawing Siberia of Russia.

      1. Hepativore

        There is an interesting science fiction book from the 1970’s called the Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It is a first contact novel, but the alien race that humanity encounters are very well-thought out and very alien compared to humans.

        They are simply known as the moties. Moties are roughly mammalian in physiology and appearance, except they have three arms in most cases, two on one side, and a larger “gripping” arm that attaches to the side of their heads and necks.

        Moties have several breeds of their species, such as engineers, doctors, farmers, mediators, keepers, etc. but they are all instinctively subservient to the “master” caste. Each master motie has its own goals and ambitions and the other castes that serve it are all genetically related to it as a sort of super-extended family. Moties also suffer from a severe limitation of their physiology in that they must breed at regular intervals or they will die from the hormonal shifts in their bodies.

        Unfortunately, this has led to motie civilizations going through regular intervals of expansions, technological advancements, ultimately leading to inevitable collapses due to over-population and resource wars. Moties do have methods of birth control, but since each master motie largely follows its own agenda, the moties that do comply are always out-bred by those who do not.

        As a result, the moties have set up special buildings on their planet that contain archives and various technological examples to try and hasten the process of recovery after each inevitable civilizational collapse. The moties hope to find a way to escape their boom/collapse cycles, but their fatalistic outlook makes them ultimately feel that it is a doomed effort. They even have a mythological figure in their culture known simply as “Crazy Eddie”. Crazy Eddie is a tragic figure who has good intentions and ideas, but ultimately fails due to his naivete and his failure to accept reality ultimately endangers everybody else as well.

        The moties are not hostile to humanity, but both races have difficulty understanding one another and inadvertently pose a danger to each other’s existence.

        1. FreeMarketApologist

          I’ll be the second to recommend The Mote in God’s Eye. Read it decades ago, and it stuck with me. I don’t know if I still own a copy — should look through the books and see — worth a re-read.

      2. Thomas Jennings

        It doesn’t read like China bashing and shen fever/zombies are more of this persistent underlying narrative as opposed to the dominant narrative of American office culture and general suck of modernity.

  5. Alternate Delegate

    Edward Snowden’s “Permanent Record” is recommended. It looks like this book received a really good editing job, which is a rarity these days. Also, we need more “how I changed my mind” narratives like this.

    E.g., “I used to believe one thing, and this is why I believed it, and then I saw that what I believed wasn’t right, and this is how my mind got changed, and this is what I did next.”

    Plenty of people could benefit from more of this in our public discourse, including myself.

    1. Carla

      Thanks for this comment. I wasn’t sure if I would pick up Permanent Record or not, but you’ve made me want to read it!

      1. GC

        Try to buy it used so that the US govt doesn’t get Snowdon’s seized royalties. Maybe there is a way to send him his rightful cut.

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          Am presently listening to Snowden on a Joe Rogan podcast which is ED basically just talking for 2hrs 40 mins with JR for the most part staying quiet. Fascinating stuff so far & Snowden appears to be a really nice guy.

          Will likely get the book myself but first I have to tackle ” Stalingrad ” by Vasily Grossman which has only just been published despite it being pt 1 to the IMO incredible pt 2 of ” Life & Fate ” which also wasn’t published in his lifetime due to Soviet censorship. Vasily was a journalist who took 1000,s of interviews from all of those involved while being attached to the Red Army & then fictionalised it.

          Will likely read the 2 together, but there is one chapter in L & F that I dread reading again that details the descent into a gas chamber, based on the testimony of those who operated it & perhaps one of the reasons it is such a profound read, is the fact that his Mother made that journey before Vasily & the Red Army could get to her.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Recently borrowed this book from my friendly neighborhood library. Had to read it right-quick because umpteen other people were waiting for it.

      Highly recommended. Especially for Snowden’s explanation of why he came to believe what he does.

  6. Chris

    Any interest in starting a thread on the effects of climate change local to us loyal readers in the commentariat? I was thinking about it after reading several of the articles from the last week.

    I’ll start. Living in the mid Atlantic, central Maryland, we’ve had most of the maple and oak trees on our 1.5-2 acre property die. We bought the place because of the verdant forest in the back half of the property. No we have to spend thousands each year to deal with trees that if they fall the wrong way in an ice storm will damage our property, our neighbor’s property, or most importantly other people’s lives. I’m told it’s due to a combination of the warmer winters, transplanted boring beetles, and a fungus that has taken hold due to the deluges we now get in the spring and fall. It kills me to pay people to take down huge trees. But it’s the only way to be sure it’s done properly. We’ve lived at our current house for 5 years now. I think by the time we’ve been there 7 years I won’t have any old trees in my backyard and the rest of the property. I really will cry if our japanese maple trees die. Seeing those trees change their colors in the fall is something I look forward to every year.

    1. JTee

      When life hands you dead trees…..

      Save some (people safe) snags for woodpeckers and others. Make wood piles, brush piles for towhee/song sparrow types and other critters. When I’ve created brush piles from fallen tree branches, they show up to check them out within hours.

      Many warblers and other birds prefer or only occur in new/dense tangles of young shrubs and trees. Old trees create shade which hampers new growth. Good time to add native shrubs or trees that do not occur on your property, especially ones that provide flowers and fruit.

      There was one more thing that is ecaping me …. oh yeah, many people are aware that a healthy forest includes a diversity of species, but forget that a diversity of age-classes are important too (young and old trees).

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Make wood piles, brush piles for towhee/song sparrow types and other critters. When I’ve created brush piles from fallen tree branches, they show up to check them out within hours.

        I was taught by a reader that “birds love a mess. ” It’s true!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I think by the time we’ve been there 7 years I won’t have any old trees in my backyard

      Therefore this is the time to select and plant new trees! Do it now, and in 5-7 years you’ll have some. Maybe fruit or nut trees (food) though of course you should take advice from a local.

      Trees have been around a long, long time. There will be some appropriate for the next few centuries on your land, I am sure.

      Or start a food forest! See also NC here, here, here, and here.

  7. Savedbyirony

    Just finished Victoria Glendinning’s “Leonard Woolf a Biography”. Well written and revealing of his life, famous wife and very interesting Era.

    1. Harold

      He wrote a wonderful autobiography that I read years ago, and a well-regarded novel, too, which I haven’t read, I’m ashamed to say, because I am a fan.

      1. Savedbyirony

        Ah,yes. This biography references the autobiography often. I have been considering reading it soon. I came to this biography more out of interest in Virginia Woolf but Leonard and his work have certainly caught more of my eye now.

  8. Summer

    Most of you have probably already seen this:
    “Former New York Gov. Mike Bloomberg’s campaign contracted with a call center that employs prison inmates to make calls for his 2020 presidential campaign, ABC News confirmed on Tuesday.”

    They should talk about state and fed govt use of prison labor in their next faux debate.
    Bloomberg is the pic in the dictionary under “F’in Neoliberal”.

    1. D. Fuller

      Prison labor… WeWork before WeWork was WeWork.

      The use of prison labor undercuts small and medium-sized businesses who can’t afford to compete with prison labor. Thanks to prison labor, the United States is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for Third World labor markets. A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq.

  9. farmboy

    don’t read much anymore, but have given away about 30 copies of Donna Eden, Energy Medicine. it’s the future of health

  10. Jason Boxman

    Lambert got me reading Dune series, so this quote is apt:

    “Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms.

    “No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class — whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.

    “Politics as Repeat Phenomenon: Bene Gesserit Training Manual”

    Children of Dune

    1. Synoia

      It is an interesting statement, but historically Governments were the Aristocracy. They rarely started as democracies. It would be better if Herbert stated the basis for his opinion.

      Some Science fiction writers exhibit great bias towards strange forms of Government, for example, Heinlein was a libertarian, and when I read his opinions, I belied his political theories completely impractical.

      The Romans started with Kings, tried a republic, and ended up an Empire. Europe copied the Romans. There was no universal sufferage.

      The Greeks started with Democracy, but the voters were a limited group, it was not universal suffrage.

      The difference today is that we try universal suffrage. Possibly the Swiss succeed.

  11. Martin Oline

    Book recommendation:
    I read both fiction and non-fiction, a lot since I have retired. I want to keep the recommendation book short so you have time to read it and move on, and yet substantive in some way. Historical fiction might fill the bill here, so I suggest Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which she won a Booker prize for in 2009. It was followed by Bring up the Bodies. These two were made into the BBC (I think) production named Wolf Hall. I suggest these because she has returned to the well and is writing the final book of a trilogy to this series which will be done this fall. This way if they are enjoyable, you have one more to look forward to. I was so impressed with them I was driven to read 4 volumes of David Hume’s History of England from 1754.

  12. Adam Eran

    For hard core MMT fans: Macroeconomics is William Mitchell, L. Randall Wray and Martin Watts’ just-published textbook. This is, for real, a textbook, so it’s dense, and expensive. Worth the trip for those wondering about the contrast with the conventional neoclassical economics narrative. Also worth knowing it exists since it legitimizes MMT as a course of study.

    Note: Neoclassical economics not only treats the economy as barter, only incidentally enabled by money, it folds land into capital as an input for production in its calculations. Not a big surprise, then, that the neoclassicals missed predicting the biggest economic event of the last 75 years (the GFC) at the confluence of land and credit.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the neoclassicals missed predicting the biggest economic event of the last 75 years (the GFC) at the confluence of land and credit.

      Will Upton Sinclair please pick up the nearest courtesy phone?

  13. Carla

    I really enjoyed “Resisting Illegitimate Authority” by Bruce E. Levine. Despite the sub-title “A Thinking Person’s Guide to Being an Anti-Authoritarian — Strategies, Tools, and Models” — it’s not a difficult read. The range of anti-authoritarians Levine profiles, from Thomas Paine to George Carlin and Ida Lupino (!) to Ted Kaczynski, is fascinating. Who knows? I may have first read about the book on NC!

    Lambert, thanks so much for the Open Thread — and Happy Boxing Day to all !

    1. xformbykr

      I too read Levine’s “Resisting Illegitimate Authority” but perhaps I expected too much of it. I have wanted to re-title it something like “biographies of people who have resisted authority”.
      Nonetheless, glad to see another reader and to share opinions.

  14. Tommy S.

    book recommendation too: Brokedown Palace brand new by Maggie Dubris. From kinda the late 70’s punk/east village etc scene up through to the oughts…..she was doing late night EMT from early 80’s on…at a NYC catholic hospital ‘serve the poor’ type of place. Fascinating. Sometimes written in prose poem style, but really all just amazing vignettes of life then….includes AIDS epidemic some….from the 80’s, which I had forgotten about…..Such great little stories…..gritty, but so compassionate….

  15. dcblogger

    House Republicans in swing districts are retiring at a very fast pace, especially in the suburbs of Texas and elsewhere. (Republicans talk grimly of the “Texodus.”) Rep. Greg Walden — the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the only Republican in Oregon’s congressional delegation — yesterday shocked the party by becoming the 19th GOP House member to not seek re-election.

    1. John k

      Bernie, if nominated, and with AOC help, might win Texas.
      Fabulous if Bernie wins pres. But imagine if it’s a landslide.

  16. Trent

    Something I’ve noticed over the past few months: Where is all the RA RA AOC comments? She was very popular here for awhile and now its like she fell off the face of the earth. She also was in the news all the time and now its like she doesn’t exist. Thoughts?

    1. polecat

      I’ll give your question try. If she’s still pushing for open borders, then that alone is a mighty big crevass to cross in my book ! The green new steal, if affiliated with the fine bourgeois hypocrites @ E. Rebellion + the co-opted Thunbergian Jihadis, would be my second …

      1. JohnnyGL

        If you listen to what she says about immigrants and ICE, it’s clear she sees it as both a human rights issue as well as a rule of law issue. She sees an unaccountable, out of control bureaucracy that answers to no one in particular (parallels with pentagon and FBI or CIA?).

        She’s never said, to my knowledge, that she favors ‘open borders’. I’m happy to be proven wrong.

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, she has said she wants to “abolish ICE” but that seems to be due to ICE abuses. But the open borders types also have abolishing ICE as on their checklist and so she gets depicted as a fellow traveler when I am not sure she is. Having said that, she may be at fault for engaging in too much constructive ambiguity.

          A lot of Hispanics who went the hard road of coming to the US through legitimate channels resent undocumented migrants, so the idea the Hispanics favor open borders is a 10% idpol fantasy (and a terribly convenient one, since they like having cheap nannies and yardmen).

      2. skippy

        AOC is anti the market treatment of immigrants for the profit of the billionaire class, not that immigrants have some sort of agency in advancing neoliberalism or anything.

        Its just a scapegoat meme … scary criminal immigrants that don’t share our [tm] traditional values [IP].

        Furthermore anyone think that limiting immigration would result in wage increases or social programs is smoking some strong stuff …

        1. integer

          Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers Politico

          Here’s the problem with the current immigration debate: Neither side is revealing the whole picture. Trump might cite my work, but he overlooks my findings that the influx of immigrants can potentially be a net good for the nation, increasing the total wealth of the population. Clinton ignores the hard truth that not everyone benefits when immigrants arrive. For many Americans, the influx of immigrants hurts their prospects significantly.

          This second message might be hard for many Americans to process, but anyone who tells you that immigration doesn’t have any negative effects doesn’t understand how it really works. When the supply of workers goes up, the price that firms have to pay to hire workers goes down. Wage trends over the past half-century suggest that a 10 percent increase in the number of workers with a particular set of skills probably lowers the wage of that group by at least 3 percent. Even after the economy has fully adjusted, those skill groups that received the most immigrants will still offer lower pay relative to those that received fewer immigrants.

          Both low- and high-skilled natives are affected by the influx of immigrants. But because a disproportionate percentage of immigrants have few skills, it is low-skilled American workers, including many blacks and Hispanics, who have suffered most from this wage dip. The monetary loss is sizable. The typical high school dropout earns about $25,000 annually. According to census data, immigrants admitted in the past two decades lacking a high school diploma have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25 percent. As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 each year.

          We don’t need to rely on complex statistical calculations to see the harm being done to some workers. Simply look at how employers have reacted. A decade ago, Crider Inc., a chicken processing plant in Georgia, was raided by immigration agents, and 75 percent of its workforce vanished over a single weekend. Shortly after, Crider placed an ad in the local newspaper announcing job openings at higher wages. Similarly, the flood of recent news reports on abuse of the H-1B visa program shows that firms will quickly dismiss their current tech workforce when they find cheaper immigrant workers.

          1. Joe Well

            The “immigrants” at the southern border are largely refugees from Central America, and their lives were endangered in large part thanks to the US: drug trade, drug war, smuggled Made in USA guns, and US support for coups.

            If there were any justice on earth, the US would be bankrupted paying reparations.

            1. integer

              I agree with your first paragraph, however I think justice would be better served by holding those who are/were responsible for implementing and carrying out the policies that led to the current situation in South America (i.e. members of government, the foreign policy establishment, the CIA, and corporations that seek to loot and profit from destabilization and regime change) to account. Not an easy task and I certainly won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to happen. AFAICT, the heavily-propagandized US public has approximately zero agency in foreign policy decisions and CIA activities.

              1. Joe Well

                We can, and should, do both, just like we should have both fought the fascists in the 1930s and accepted refugees from those countries.

                But even if overnight HRC and Barack Obama (supporters of the Honduras coup that really pushed things over the edge there), along with the entire NRA leadership, were shipped to The Hague tomorrow (not that that’s going to happen), those countries would remain killing zones.

            2. JBird4049

              So Americans should suffer because the United States’ ruling class, our Beloved Meritocratic Elites are using the Central American Disposables to oppress the American Deplorables? Nah.

              What we Deplorables should be doing is sending our corrupt, greedy, and murderous oligarchy to International Court of Justice at The Hague while kicking out all of those Disposables back to Central America while abandoning their countries’ corrupt, greedy and murderous oligarchies to the resultant revolutions. Maybe we could offer to help fly their war criminals and human rights violators to the ICJ for them.

              After the firing squads and the hangmen have finished, and the rest sent to their prison cells, the United States could offer some sort of Marshall Plan as compensation for the roughly 180 years of violence and theft.

              1. Buckeye

                Why fob off our responsibility for trial and punishment to others? WE have the moral right and responsibility to do it ourselves, in OUR courts, with OUR hands. Getting others to do the fighting and punishing is plain cowardice.

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > If there were any justice on earth, the US would be bankrupted paying reparations.

              But I’m not sure asking the US working class to “take one for the team” is the best approach here. Which team?

              1. Joe Well

                These people, mostly young people from early teens to mid-twenties, are getting killed. If you put their lives on one side of the scale and lower US wages on the other…I can’t believe any human being would choose the side you claim to be choosing.

                And yes, any American who voted against gun control or for the war on drugs, or for Republicans or Establishment Dems, has a share in the blame. The “working class” is neither monolithic nor blameless.

          2. flora

            Thought experiment: Women entering formerly all male occupations are regarded by hiring/owners as ‘surplus labor’ (surplus to the male workforce available for the work). Women entering formerly all male occupations/trades lower the overall wages of the workforce since they, as surplus labor, will be offered and (usually) settle for lower wages.

            Immigrants (legal or illegal) are regarded as surplus labor and will likewise lower the pay for the occupations they enter. Nothing to do with any -isms. Everything to do with labor supply and strength (control of scarce resource) of labor to demand higher wages.

            1. JBird4049

              It is only partially to do with squeezing labor. While most people really just want to make a good profit, I think It is actually worse than that as an illegal immigrant effectively has no rights at all; in theory, and in actual practice in the past, there were some rights even for the deported as such things as being paid the minimum wage including all overtime would be enforced.

              Just because you are here illegally did not then, and should not now, mean that the law protecting your rights do not apply. This was especially true of slave labor (This is still a thing even in the United States. Some people are really f@@@ing greedy.) The Feds would happily take all the back pay from the business or the owners and give it, less taxes of course, to workers before deportation.

              I have not checked recently, but getting information is harder nowadays and researching the subject makes me ill. This is not some decades past horror, but probably something happening right now. And somehow I don’t think that OSHA, NLRB, the IRS, or any other Federal office is really doing what little I know that they used to do to protect the undocumented anymore if the current diseased version of La Migra is running concentration camps for children as well as losing track of where many of them are.

              Many people just enjoy making others miserable, and if they can make a profit or get paid for it, well that is just gravy.

        2. smoker

          I don’t know, that seems way too simplistic a comment to me.

          Actually the US State Department (which offers an A through Z, and subsets of that alphabet, list of immigration visas) allows a stunning amount of upper middle class through obscenely wealthy, Neoliberal immigrant visa holders to diminish the earning capacity of US citizens.

          I’ve witnessed it for decades, in Silicon Valley, a predominance of those legal immigrants being cherry picked for their despotic conservatism, and utter disdain for paying their fair share of taxes.

          1. smoker

            John Yoo – Berkeley Law Prof™ transplant, Torture Defender- and his oddly quite opaque Family Tree Branch, clearly welcomed to the US by The State Department, into Philadelphia [Freedom™] comes to mind immediately in terms of that despotic conservatism.

            Usually the apple didn’t fall far from the tree if there’s no indication of such outburst. In his case, I see no indication of rebellion from the branch of the tree he came from; smooth sailing from Episcopalian High School, directly to Harvard, to Yale, to DC, to Law Prof™ tenureship at Berkeley™, to validating Torture for Cheney and Bush.

            There are, and have been, plenty more ghastly, despot and Free Markets™ minded legal immigrants, like him. Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Sergey Brinn, and Vinod Khosla come to mind, as do some US born offspring of the US State Department embraced, such as Ajit Pai, who appears to be a Narendra Modi admirer, as did Obomber, who appointed Ajit to the FCC commission he now rules.

            As to ‘illegal’ immigrants (almost always those the powers that be want in their bondage, and tag illegal because they don’t need a plane or boat to arrive), when a country’s own citizens increasingly don’t have their basic needs met, despite paying for a social safety net their entire lives, it makes no moral sense at all to welcome in even more, whose basic needs won’t be met and who will be further competing as ‘cheap labor’ with those citizens who did pay for benefits they’ve yet to see.

    2. Carla

      Well, this is from November 28, so a month old — but it’s excellent and as relevant now as then for sure. I probably picked it up here on NC — the clip starts with Tlaib, but she turns it right over to Ocasio-Cortez:


      Also, she’s been campaigning with Bernie in California.

    3. Yves Smith

      I can’t prove it, but I suspect that since she’s been campaigning for Sanders, the MSM is giving her the Bernie Blackout, and the fall in rapt MSM coverage of her tweets is leading to lack of uptake in the commentariat. Her early impact was due to media appearances + Twitter and my sense is not many of the readers are big on Twitter.

      1. John k

        I read la times daily, not much coverage. Probably doesn’t matter, latins that look at both msm and AOC will likely believe her. Bernie might win Ca and Tx in the nom, imo even has a play for Tx in the general.

      2. Trent

        Which is why I was very suspicious when she was getting all that media attention. Perhaps they were trying to “buy” her then and since it didn’t work they give her the treatment of anyone who is “sincere” in politics.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Where is all the RA RA AOC comments?

      I am to a large extent Twitter-driven — as is AOC! — so if she doesn’t for whatever reason show up in my feed I am less likely to link to her. I am sure I have linked to her very well-received appearances on the Sanders campaign trail. However, at least to me, she became a bit less inspirational when Pelosi yanked her choke chain and got her to fire her staff. Still, she’s an extraordinarily interesting and talented politician, and it would be a lot to ask of her to keep up the the pace of the first few months. Her re-election looms too, so it will be interesting to see what the DCCC does to cripple and sabotage her.

  17. Synoia

    UK must pay for it! Varadkar REFUSES to help Boris with Brexit bridge in huge blow to PM

    The Boris Bridge. Will it bypass the Isle of Man tax haven, or will that become a stop on the way, literally now and not just figuratively?

  18. richard

    Hello open thread. My book rec for Lambert is the same title I gave my brother for christmas, House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, because i practice economies of scale with book recs (lazy bastard). It fits in the horror genre but is really more of an experimental type all of its own. Significant footnoting and appendixes and book within a book action, so maybe owes a bit to david foster wallace. It starts when a homeowner, also a doc. filmmaker, notices that the length of his house on the inside doesn’t match the length on the outside. Things then proceed in a very unsettling fashion. Not a tough read at all, big but super fun.

  19. smoker

    Anyone else increasingly outraged at certain entities – which the public at large use – having Facebook pages with Facebook’s forever history of privacy violations and AI discrimination:

    So called Privacy Rights oriented Non Profits such as EFF [The Electronic Frontier Foundation], and EPIC [Electronic Privacy Information Center] – the biggest no brainer of this list as to why they shouldn’t have Facebook pages.

    News Sites – who is going to report an injustice to a journalist at a local paper which generally only allows powerful people to remain anonymous. Who wants to give their name or have their face photographed as an innocent bystander or victim on ABC, CBS, or NBC Facebook Live News?

    Civil Rights Non Profits such as the ACLU – who would want to discuss a civil rights violation by a vindictive and powerful person, or entity, and give their contact data on an ACLU Facebook page

    Federal and State Benefits Sites such as Medicare and State Healthcare Departments – who in the world would want to log into their medical account and discuss their specific healthcare issues on a Facebook page?

    Politicians and Legislators – will never forget the revolting Obomber First Presidential Facebook Town Hall in April, 2011; forever corrupting what the essence of a Town Hall is supposed to be – ACCESS BY ALL – and validating Multinational Corporations becoming Entire Walled Towns, Cities and Counties of their own (Online, and Off).

  20. Big River Bandido

    It’s not a new book, but David Hackett Fischer’s “Washington’s Crossing” is one of the best-written historical works I’ve ever read…it tackles the period in the Revolution from the Battle of Brooklyn through the Long Retreat, through the battles of Trenton and Princeton and the Forage Campaign, tracing the revival of the American cause. It’s especially interesting for the way in which Fischer shows the differing leadership styles between the 3 armies (American, British and Hessian), and how this presaged a new American style of governance.

    Another outstanding book is Ian W. Toll’s “Six Frigates”, about the founding and early (wooden sailing ship) days of the U.S. Navy. Toll’s trilogy on the Pacific War (two volumes are completed and Vol. III due out this summer) is also a great read. He makes sailing and naval warfare understandable to non-specialists, and his writing is beautifully arranged. The Pacific War trilogy would not be a one-week’s read…unless you read at the speed of Teddy Roosevelt or have nothing else to do that week, in which case it goes quickly. But it would be great for a vacation read (if you can stand to read about war while on vacation).

    1. voteforno6

      Even more impressive is Fischer’s Albion’s Seed. It is a very well-researched, and at times provocative history of how the U.S. derived it’s folkways from Great Britain.

    2. Buckeye

      “Washington’s Crossing” +1000! I read it around this time every year.
      His book “Paul Revere’s Ride” is excellent as well, covering the events of Lexington and Concord.

      Both could provide inspiration for people today (like the Labour Party) who need to get themselves together and take the fight to the enemy.

  21. neighbor7

    New York 2140, Kim Stanley Robinson
    The Overstory, Richard Powers

    Enjoyable, large-scale fiction about our situation.

    When “The OA” was summarily cancelled by Netflix, star Brit Marling issued some remarkable tweets suggesting that we start thinking about the nature of capitalist storytelling; and that we begin to reconsider “the hero’s journey” model. Amitav Ghosh, in The Great Derangement, decries our model of individualist fiction v. the need for collective stories dealing with planetary themes. Matt Stoller has written an illuminating critique of the Netflix model, another money losing VC attempt to crush competition with offerings that have no knowable link to audience popularity.

    Happy fireside reading, everyone, whatever the book!

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Just got Stoller’s Goliath for Xmas along with Hate, Inc by Taibbi and Books 3-8 of Terry Pratchetts Discworld series.

  22. dcblogger

    The DC Library has eAudio Books you can check out without even going to the library. So I have listened to “It Can’t Happen Here” and “Democracy in Chains”, and “Griftopia” and am planning to listen to all the books I meant to read but never got around to. If, like me, you have to spend a lot of time on public transportation, eAudio Books are fantabulous.

    1. Carla

      “Democracy in Chains” — a great book!!! I keep recommending it, but it’s almost like nobody wants to know…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If, like me, you have to spend a lot of time on public transportation, eAudio Books are fantabulous.

      One more reason to destroy public transportation . Cant have people educating themselves!

      1. polecat

        I prefer to hold and caress books made of dead trees, rather than to touch a glitchy, grimy screen full of even deader pixels that you can’t even dog-ear !

  23. Jeff W

    The Imjin War: Japan’s Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China by Samuel Hawley.

    This book, which might have been dry as sawdust, is very engaging. In 1592,Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Japan’s second “great unifier” (out of three), sets out with a 158,800-man force to conquer Korea and then imperial China.The Joseon Court, ever factionalized and having split over whether Japan would actually invade, is caught flat-footed. Korean Naval Admiral Yi Sun-Sin, revered in Korea and even in Japan—Japanese Imperial Navy Admiral Tōgō said, “It may be proper to compare me with Nelson, but not with Korea’s Yi Sun-sin, for he has no equal”—manages to repel the Japanese invaders against impossible odds in 23 naval battles, in which he loses not a single ship.

      1. Jeff W

        It is! And, in fact, the Mimizuka (“Ear Mound,” euphonized slightly from the original Hanazuka “Nose Mound”), a war monument in Kyoto containing the noses of 38,000 Korean soldiers from the Imjin Invasions, was dedicated on September 28, 1597, and has effects on Korea-Japanese relations to this day.

      1. Jeff W

        Thanks, Rev!

        In a weird bit of synchronicity, the author started posting the series the week that I happened to finish reading the book, which was released roughly 15 years ago. The series—which is not yet completed—gives a good overview of the events described in the book but the book, naturally, goes into a lot more detail.

  24. KLG

    The Fire is Upon Us by Nicholas Buccola. Outs William F. Buckley for what he always was and reminds us of what we had in James Baldwin.

  25. JohnnyGL


    Boris Johnson debates Mary Beard on Ancient Greece vs. Ancient Rome.

    I think it’s clear that any comparisons between Boris and Trump can be put to bed, here. Boris might be a cynical SOB, but he’s sharp, he’s on message, and he’s a competitor. He also speaks to the highbrow conservative intellectual crowd, unlike Trump, who’s happy to disdain that bunch.

    1. Yves Smith

      Disagree. Americans are way too easily conned by cut glass English accents. They get attributed 20 IQ points.

      Boris is famous in the UK for standing for absolutely nothing save himself and being more willing than any other pol to reverse himself without any justification. You forget this is the same Johnson who said he’d rather die in a ditch than not exit on Oct 31. Yet he didn’t shoot himself in the head as effectively promised.

      The fact that he held to the “Brexit means Brexit” meme was an unusual departure.

    2. Joe Well

      It hurts to learn that Mary Beard dignified Boris Johnson by getting on a stage with him.

      It really is a big club and you’re not in it, and if you admire anyone in it you will be disappointed.

  26. Robert Hahl

    A few (short) good books:

    Martha Quest by Doris Lessing. The first of her great series of novels about coming of age in southern Rhodesia just before WWII. She is my favorite twentieth century writer. Not reading Doris Lessing is like skipping Tolstoy.

    Bread and Wine by Ignazio Silone, Eric Mosbacher (Translator). Prewar Italy from the socialist point of view.

    Badenheim 1939 by Aharon Appelfeld. Prewar Austria from the Jewish point of view.

    The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America by Lawrence Goodwyn. The populists were inspired by Greenback theory, the MMT of its day.

  27. Librarian Guy

    I recommend something I’m currently reading, Marina Warner’s Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights. This is nonfiction criticism published in 2011, sorry that I missed it for awhile. It rightly won the National Book Critics Circle Award, for criticism, among other accolades. Warner considers the 1,001, or Arabian Nights, from their various traditional versions in the East thru the translations started by the French in the early 18th century from many perspectives: mythical, historic, folkloric, as cultural appropriation, etc. as well as including criticism from the Orientalist perspective, a feminist lens, etc. (As to Orientalism, she was a personal friend of Edward Said’s, evidently, when he was still alive, as well as a reader.) She makes LOTS of unexpected connections (I’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s covered), & includes beautiful color & b/w plates from a variety of sources that enrich the Treasury here visually as well . . . I’d recommend this to Lambert or any reader interested in cultural studies, folklore, Hermetic lore, etc. Something to cheer one up during the miserable times of the end of a decade of degradation & disintegration which we call Modernity. A good heavy read– nearly 500 pp. of text and notes, then another 50ish of bibliographic support. And 40% finished, not a dull moment so far!!

  28. inode_buddha

    Lambert is probably familiar with this oldie but goodie already:

    The Greening of America by Charles A. Reich.


    It seems to me, to be even more relevant today than when it was written. Particularly prescient, it basically prophesied “Network” and the Corporate states of America, because that is effectively what we have.

  29. richard

    Also Lambert, I will recommend Walter Karp’s Liberty Under Siege, about the right wing reconquest in the Carter administration. Along with his ahead of its time dissection of republican shamelessness, and dem betrayal, Karp was also an interesting stylist. I’d be very interested in hearing your take on him.

    1. flora

      re: purplish flowers. Yes, they’re Alpine asters.
      The yellow flowers are black eyed Susans (or Gloriosa daisy or brown eyed Susans).

  30. witters

    Julian Barnes, “The Man in the Red Coat.” Civilised, relaxed, gossipy (though deeply researched), informative. Meet Dr Pozzi through John Singer Sargent’s marvellous portrait.

  31. flora

    re: running WC as an open thread. Woot! (I think that’s the current argot for ‘great!’.)

    About France’s workers’ strikes against raising retirement age and reducing pensions:

    The unemployment of France’s young workers is around 19% +/-.

    If young people think about retirement age (at all) there’s this; the sooner (in age) older workers can retire, the the sooner jobs open so mid-career workers can move up and entry jobs become available for younger workers. That’s an aspect not reported. Odd. (or not) .

    Methinks the support for the strikers is higher that the msm reports.

  32. Wukchumni

    Stephen Mihm’s A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men, and the Making of the United States is a look back at pre-cryptocurrency, kind of a do it yourself issuance of banknotes nicknamed ‘Wildcat Notes’ and now described as ‘Broken Banknotes’ by collectors. A good many of these were issued for banks that didn’t exist, along with counterfeits of legitimate notes, a bit of a free for all, as there were many thousands of different banknotes issued and who knew what was legit or not?

    Most of the action took place in the New England states.

    This was in the interim period from 1793 to 1861, in the aftermath of the Continental Currency debacle, which so frightened the fledgling USA, that not one Federal banknote was issued for almost 70 years, only specie.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I keep wondering why the Secret Service and DoJ don’t go after derivatives and related money pumps as counterfeiting. Shows my ignorance of Great High Finance. But really — creating what is it now, quadrillions of “ notional dollars,” which are maybe not spendable directly but sure undergird a lot of the manufacture of mega-yachts and such fripperies, not to mention the fees and bonuses for the players at that yuuge casino table, that’s not counterfeiting on a gargantuan scale?

      1. Wukchumni

        The game then was to pass a banknote on a bank that didn’t exist in NH, where they might not know about it in Georgia and think it was legit, and if enough merchants believed, who’s to say it wasn’t the real thing. credence being hard to ascertain in an era when news traveled by fortnight.

        Our gig is a zero sum game, but not in the usual parlance-not this chimera ruse.

        It’s simply adding more zeroes to the end of a number 1 through 9, allowing us to converse in trillions and quadrillions as if it was a normal thing, money conjured out of the ether, on demand.

        The only question left, is how does this saga end, and what replaces it?

  33. urblintz

    I recently re-read Phillip Kerr’s A Philosophical Investigation and although it might be considered pulp crime it’s so clever and erudite about philosophy it is decidedly A level. and genre expanding.

    1. norm de plume

      Agreed. The Berlin Noir trilogy was also very good. The later stuff has seemed to me a bit rehashed.

  34. Yves Smith

    Probably too long for Lambert vacation reading but:

    1. William Greider The Secrets of the Temple, both for itself and as a Greider memoriam.

    2. The Great Transformation. Absolutely essential.

    3. Barrington Moore’s The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy

    4. Roger Lowenstein, When Genius Failed. The rare account of a crisis that is highly reliable. I know people personally who were at the table in the LTCM rescue and they said it is 98% accurate, an astonishing level. IMHO one critical bit is how Goldman managed to exert disproportionate influence in the rescue talks and stack the deck in their favor.

    5. Fooled by Randomness. I need to read this myself. Foundational Taleb and way more readable than his later work, where he decided to make being a lazy writer into some sort of virtue.

    1. Robert Hahl

      William Greider’s “Who Will Tell The People” is also great. It’s like Listen Liberal, but twenty years sooner.

  35. Carey

    Nicholas Carr’s ‘The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our Brains’.

    If you’re up for a novel, Edith Wharton’s very memorable ‘The House of Mirth’.
    I know comparisons are said to be invidious, yadda-yadda, but for insight into
    humans, she puts Austen politely in the shade.

  36. eg

    Philip Pilkington’s “The Reformation in Economics: A Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Economic Theory”

    Michael Hudson’s “…And Forgive Them Their Debts”

    Adam Tooze’s “Crashed”

    Richard Vague’s “A Brief History of Doom: Two Hundred Years of Financial Crises”

  37. Henry

    My favorite book this year was Awakening The Soul by Micheal Meade. He is a great storyteller and who wouldn’t want to support his work with troubled youth. Bonus it is currently 25% off.

    Awakening the Soul addresses the issue of the loss of soul throughout the world and the loss of meaning and truth in modern life. Michael Meade shows how meaning is essential to the human soul and uses ancient stories and compelling insights to describe how soul can be recovered and people can learn to “live in truth.”

    Drawing from dramatic episodes in his own life, Meade shows how the soul tries to awaken at critical times, and how an awakened soul is crucial for finding medicine to treat the ailments and alienation of modern life. What we need now is not a minor repair, but a major transformation of the world that can only start with the awakening of the individual soul.


  38. norm de plume

    Like others I don’t read a lot of books anymore. I did enjoy and learned a lot from Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, a corrective to white Oz colonialist history’s narrative of Aboriginal backwardness, and a pathway to solutions for the droughts and floods and fires that are bedevilling us now, after 200 years of our poor stewardship of the land they maintained for tens of thousands of years.

    Few books, but lotsa movies. I have been immersed in cinema history the last few years thanks to a great niche video/DVD rental store in Sydney called Film Club. Now about 2/3rds thru my 500 strong list of greats (from merging the BFI and Ebert’s lists), and most so far have earned that level of kudos. But the real pleasure has been the discovery (often recommendations from the staff) of left field movies not on any lists… prime among them this year a few silents (Murnau’s Last Laugh, Pabst’s Louise Brooks films) and especially Marcel Pagnol’s The Bakers Wife (1938), Kozintsev’s Russian Don Quixote (57) and Jules Dassin’s 53 vehicle for Melina Mercouri – He Who Must Die. All of these are wise, earthy and sly, blessedly free of moralising, just great fun.

    Last, I know Lambert is a podcast man. I have been loving me some Literature and History, a podcast by academic Doug Metzger which is at once authoritative and also a little goofy. If names like Gilgamesh, Leviticus, Hesiod, Virgil etc have always daunted you as they have me, this is a user-friendly way to learn more about them while doing the dishes or the ironing… and Kevin Stroud’s excellent History of English Podcast keeps rolling on, it’s also highly recommended.

  39. Anthony K Wikrent

    There really is not any good, comprehensive treatment of the issue of political economy and the purpose of a republic, largely because, I believe, as the basis of the USA economy shifted to favor financiers and rentiers, the academy was corrupted by them to ignore the actual history of USA industrialization and instead propagate the myths of free market, free enterprise economics. This is especially true of the past half century, with the Reagan Revolution as a nadir of American political economy.

    Frank Bourgin, The Great Challenge: The Myth of Laissez-Faire in the Early Republic
    Probably the most important, as it directly challenges “The Myth of Laissez-Faire” with a consideration of what transpired in the Constitutional Convention, the fight for ratification, and legislation of the first few Congresses.

    A. Hunter Dupree, Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities to 1940
    The history of the government institutions that actually explored, surveyed, and organized a continental wilderness, and created and promoted the technologies of the modern age.

    Gabor S. Boritt, Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream
    Beautifully written biography that focuses on Lincoln’s economic beliefs and policies. By detailing the nineteenth Whig Party policies of a protective tariff, internal improvements, and regulating finance, this book shatters the false historical narrative purveyed by conservatives and libertarians that US economic history is free enterprise all the time.

    Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America
    Simply unequaled in its discussion of greenback economic policies, as well as the nineteenth century history of USA populism.

    Jon Larson, Elegant Technology: Economic Prosperity Through Environmental Renewal
    The best overview of economics I know of, since it entirely ignores all the mathematical modeling and fixation on monetarism that typifies the economics profession today. Available online at http://elegant-technology.com/ETdefBASE.html

    Sam Pizzigati, The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970.
    If you need a book to give you hope, this history of how economic populism and political protest shaped the New Deal is it.

    Thomas Frank, Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?
    There is simply no way to understand what’s wrong with the national leadership of the Democratic Party if you do not read this book.

  40. Henry Moon Pie

    Here’s something from someone’s ideas that I’ve found interesting, sometimes inspiring, Thomas Berry discussing the Gaia Hypothesis:

    Indeed, our scientific inquiry in this direction establishes the basis for a new type of religious experience different from but profoundly related to the religious-spiritual experience of the earlier shamanic period in human history. Since religious experience emerges from a sense of the awesome aspects of the natural world, our religious consciousness is consistently related to a cosmology that tells a story of how things came to be in the beginning, how they came to be as they are, and the role of the human in enabling the universe in its earthly manifestation to continue the mysterious course of its creative self-expression.

    Berry is seeking to restore a worldview that supports a harmonious relationship not only among humans but also between humans and the rest of the natural world of which we’re part. He doesn’t hope for us to get back to being hunter-gatherers; most of our ancestors passed through that gate long ago. Instead, he’s pointing to our current and still growing understanding of the universe that has at least gotten to the point that our new “picture” of the universe is awe inspiring enough to generate religious feelings and a new worldview.

    Second recommendation: Tao te Ching, Ursula K. Le Guin translation. Shambhala Press. By necessity, a lot of the translator shows through, and Le Guin purposely took it out of the Wisdom Literature context and made it for us regular folks. This little snippet struck me as hilarious this morning:

    Self-satisfied people do no good.
    Self-promoters never grow up.

    Yes, we are ruled by front-row children.

    I hope everyone is enjoying peace and contentment as the year comes to an end, especially our hosts: Yves; Lambert; Jeri-Lynn and Jules.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      One reason we billions of people can’t hunter-gather anymore is because there are too many people for too little habitat to support by hunter-gathering.

      Perhaps we can all become more-or-less tender-keeper-grower-harvesters. Permaculture is an attempted version of that, as are the various permaculture-lite methods, tempermaculture, etc. With annual gardens and maybe even microfarms anchored firmly in that matrix.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        And I don’t think it could hurt to convert vacant city lots to food forests that utilized native species.

  41. Expat2uruguay

    This was posted today in Links (12/27/2019) and a response was encouraged:

    “Q&A: Bernie Sanders says Trump will be hard to beat, but he knows how to do it” Los Angeles Times. Lambert thinks Sanders did not do so well, in particular in addressing the concerns of the owner of the LA Times. Thoughts?

    Unfortunately, comments are turned off to the Links article so there’s no way to respond. Maybe we could start a small thread here? Anyway, the owner of the LA Times is Patrick Soon-Shiong, and he asks Bernie quite a few questions, particularly about Medicare for all and whether Bernie’s position hurts his electability. I think Bernie dealt well with the question about perceptions of Bernie’s electability being hurt by Medicare for all by talking about how he would sell it to the American public by talking about all the money they would save on co-pays and deductibles and premiums. He also talked about how much money business owners would pay and spoke directly to the owner of the LA Times about how much money he was spending on healthcare for his employees. I also think that Bernie responded well to Soon-Shiong’s general concerns about medical delivery problems in the US and what should be done about them. It seemed to me like Bernie developed a back-forth dialogue with Mr Soon-Shiong that will leave the LA Times owner with more to think about, ie open his mind a bit.
    I wish I could discuss the interview further, but I am now paywalled and can’t access it even though I was able to read it before I came here to comment… does anyone know what Lambert concerns were with this particular interview and his responses to the owner of the LA Times?

  42. The Historian

    A good read that might open your eyes: “Ecological Imperialsim”, by Alfred W. Crosby. It wasn’t just native peoples that faced extinction in the face of Europeans, it was their plants and animals too.

  43. Carey

    Mr. Wemple’s multi-thousand word “debunking” of sh!t WaPo and NYT have been pushing to the exclusion of all else for the past three years calls, to my mind, for
    a newest “-Gate” term, as the decline and fall continues…
    I propose “distractionGate”, for what the Few are presently inflicting on all the rest of us.

    Mr. Wemple will be well rewarded for His Service, as with Maddow™; they serve the same forces.


    1. Carey

      Adding (sorry):

      Horowitz, Durham™, Barr™, “getting to the bottom of..” all = distractionGate

      this suckers going down

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