Links 12/1/19

Ice preserved a tiny puppy in near-perfect condition for 18,000 years. Scientists are fascinated. WaPo

Once A Vibrant Place, Harvard Square Is Dying American Conservative

Amazon fires are causing glaciers in the Andes to melt even faster The Conversation

How we could sleep better – in less time BBC

A Turkish dam is about to flood one of the oldest continuously settled places on Earth WaPo

This microbe no longer needs to eat food to grow, thanks to a bit of genetic engineering Science (chuck l)

Battersea Bridge whale found motionless on shore BBC

With suction cups and lots of luck, scientists measure blue whale’s heart rate Reuters (chuck l)

Julian Assange

‘Psychologically Tortured’ Assange Victim of British ‘Rogue State’, London Conference Hears Consortium News

Syraqistan

Why the resignation of Iraq’s prime minister will not automatically stop the mass uprising on the horizon Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

Iraq parliament approves PM Adel Abdul Mahdi’s resignation Al Jazeera

Trials and tribulations of Central Asia integrationAsia Times. Pepe Escobar.

Class Warfare

Amazon warehouses are ‘cult-like’ sweatshops run by robots: ex-employee NY Post

Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City NYT

How our home delivery habit reshaped the world Guardian

The Lonely and Dangerous Life of the Filipino Seafarer (re Silc)

Citizens Adrift City Journal

50,000 protesters, tear gas — and Madeleine Albright trapped in her hotel: How the 1999 WTO protests changed Seattle Seattle Times

Freedom Is Meaningless Under Insurmountable Debt Atlantic (Summer)

EXCLUSIVE-EU antitrust regulators say they are investigating Google’s data collection Reuters

l’affaire Jeffrey Epstein

2 powerful lawyers reportedly planned to use videos of Epstein associates to rake in millions — but it appears they were duped Business Insider

The Sketchy, Sketchy Case Of ICANN Execs And Self-Dealing Regarding The .Org Domain techdirt

Internet Society CEO: Most people don’t care about the .org sell-off – and nothing short of a court order will stop it The Register

Backlash grows against sale of domain names company Marketwatch

Brexit

Brexit: the debasement of politics EUReferendum.com

NHS Staff to Lead Protest Against Trump During His Trip to the UK Amid Rising Privatization Concerns Common Dreams

Venice goes to the polls in referendum on autonomy Guardian

Health Care

This Doctors Group Is Owned by a Private Equity Firm and Repeatedly Sued the Poor Until We Called Them ProPublica

Nothing To Sneeze At: The $2,659 Bill To Pluck Doll’s Shoe From Child’s Nostril Kaiser Health News

Two Ebola treatments yield ‘substantial decrease’ in mortality, landmark trial shows Stat

The remembrance poppy is becoming a weapon against immigrants to Canada. We need to remember everyone’s contribution to the war Independent. Robert Fisk.

Impeachment

House Intelligence Committee to review impeachment investigation report Monday The Hill

2020

Election polls aren’t broken, but they still can’t predict the future Ars Technica

Why the Obama legacy is complicated for Joe Biden in 2020 Philadelphia Inquirer

Michael Bloomberg might be better off skipping Democratic debates: experts NY Post

Ginsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle The Hill

We’re Still Waiting for ‘Early and Often’ Climate Debate Questions FAIR

The Case for Bernie NYT Ross Douthat?

Obama pines for the political era that created Trump in the first place Salon

India

This is India’s first ever slowdown at a time of political as well as macroeconomic stability Indian Express

China?

Exposed: China’s Operating Manuals For Mass Internment And Arrest By Algorithm (chuck l)

Trump Transition

This Time Trump Will Be Just One of The Wild Cards at NATO Bloomberg

Critics say an EPA rule may restrict science used for public health regulations Science News

It’s a good bet Trump pardons his felon allies. Here’s when that’s most likely. WaPo

Donald Trump’s struggle to revive the US rust-belt FT

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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209 comments

  1. Quentin

    The Guardian Turkish dam link goes to WaPo.

    Such wholesale destruction of the archaeological record by Turkey is par for course. An ahistorical country that lives in myth, for instance, ‘the Kurds are mountain Turks’, ‘the Hittites were proto-Turks’, etc.

    Reply
      1. Steve H.

        I’d swear I got this link here today:

        technologyreview.com/s/614742/machine-learning-has-revealed-exactly-how-much-of-a-shakespeare-play-was-written-by-someone/

        and glad of it. Primary source:

        arxiv.org/abs/1911.05652

        Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      From your link on the Chan brothers buying up properties around Harvard Square:

      The company through which he is funneling these investments, called Morningside, tends to take a long-term approach, he said, buying properties, holding them, collecting rents, and building equity.

      He remembers Harvard Square fondly, he says, from his days as a graduate student there…

      I forget: is there a “Harvard Square” property in the Game of Monopoly ™?

      Reply
    2. petal

      Thank you for that article, reminding people of the Chinese moguls buying up property in HS. I lived there for 10 years and moved away 9 years ago but go back down occasionally to visit dear friends. Last went down in late June for the Car Talk plaque dedication in the Square. Couldn’t believe how much it had changed from when I was last there, let alone when I lived there. It was sterile and dead, surprisingly so. I was shocked. At the time, the Curious George shop was in the process of closing up and moving to Central Square(I think they were out July 1st), so am not sure when Robare wrote his article for TAC. The Dewey Cheetham and Howe window(located above what had been the Curious George shop) is supposed to have been preserved, but I don’t believe/trust it, not with the way the “development” is going. I have a strong feeling that some day, it too, will be gone before anybody even notices. The place is being erased.

      Once you sell your soul, there ain’t no getting it back. Unfortunately, people have to learn the hard way, and by then it’s too late. One doesn’t need a military to take a place over.

      Reply
    1. Danny

      Looking at the Reader’s Picks on the NYT article, EVERYTHING is pro Bernie from the top rated comment, at 1,500 thumbs up, all the way down to the first anti Bernie comment, with only 41 thumbs up. It sure looks like a “correct the record”, dredging up the grievance, David Brock pro-Hillary smear.

      If you add up all those upvotes together from each comment and translate them into votes, it’s obvious who wins the primary, if it’s not stacked and is fair, as well as the general election, at least among NYT readers.

      Great language coinage from the readers:
      “Warren’s Hillaresque technocratic path”
      “Biden, Republican Lite”
      “Bernie’s Socialism vs. longstanding Corporate Socialism”
      “The Organized Mega-Money Mob”
      “The Money Changers’ talking heads”

      “Tulsi Gabbard, a great vice-presidential insurance policy for Bernie to finish out his first and second term”
      OK, I made that up.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . she would be, though. But only if she is able to stay in Dick Cheney’s “undisclosed secure location”. And only if all her comrades-in-arms make very clear, without any prompting from her, that they are willing to hunt down and exterminate anyone who tries to assassinate her.

        Reply
    2. MojoGoober

      Very shocking indeed… and yet his last line hits it on the head:

      “…he’s the liberal most likely to spend all his time trying to tax the rich and leave cultural conservatives alone.”

      Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    “Michael Bloomberg might be better off skipping Democratic debates: experts”

    Maybe the Democrats could take a leaf out of British debates and have an ice sculpture in the shape of a dollar in Bloomberg’s place on stage. The melting of the ice sculpture under the stage lights could symbolize his melting support numbers then.

    Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And if the ice-dollar were made of frozen urine, would that be even colder?

          And if it were mounted on a bed of dollars bills, would that be even more colderer?

          . . . u rine the money . . .

          Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      Only the debates, not the entire campaign?

      A more accurate ice-sculptural stand-in wouldn’t be appropriate for family TV but I get the distinct sense Ajit Pai might convince the FCC to let it slide.

      Reply
      1. richard

        yes, i agree that nervousness over the sanders campaign and an agitated, leftward bound electorate has spurred Bloomberg’s campaign, that is probable
        what i don’t get is how he, or anyone else, thinks this helps to defeat sanders
        how do they even think this isn’t helping sanders?
        he won’t take a single vote from bernie, and i don’t think i’m much exaggerating
        there really is no answer for how he thinks it helps except the quickly spreading poor decision making/mental illness among our political class
        Nice that it’s breaking our way for once

        Reply
        1. John k

          Presumably he would take oldest most conservative votes from those they are now supporting, ie Biden, Warren and Buttigieg.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether

            I’m not sure that age is the determining factor. As I understand Bloomberg’s pitch, he’s a “problem solver” (the actual label of a centrist faction).

            You know, like Dukakis.

            Reply
  3. Livius Drusus

    Re: Election polls aren’t broken, but they still can’t predict the future.

    The article’s discussion of swing voters and nonvoters is correct. Even if you think the country is polarized into red and blue tribes there are still enough swing voters and nonvoters to determine elections, especially if they are close.

    The media, including social media platforms like Twitter, do not represent the country. It is easy to get sucked into media bubbles and think that everyone is a hardcore ideologue on one side or the other.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/04/twitter-is-not-america/587770/

    https://www.fastcompany.com/90339526/study-confirms-twitter-is-not-real-life

    I know a number of people who fit the description of the swing voter or the person who may just sit out the election. You will rarely see these people debating online but they are still out there and they can decide elections so politicians cannot just write them off.

    Reply
    1. T

      And always the questions about if people will have access to polls, will be allowed to vote without provisional ballots or the “wrong” ballot for party affiliation, and if ballots/votes will be counted.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The organized berniefolks can organize in their millions ( hundreds per polling place) to head that off.

        And if they can’t head it off, they can video-phone it happening in real time. And video-phone and video-upload every aggrieved wanna-vote preventee’s grievance in real time. Generate enough basis for enough well informed hatred that the Catfood Democrat Nominee gets defeated in all 50 states.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether

          > The organized berniefolks can organize in their millions ( hundreds per polling place) to head that off.

          I hope the campaign can do that. They certainly seem to have planned well so far. And I’m sure the lesson of those coin flips in Iowa was learned at the top of the campaign.

          Reply
      2. John

        I’ve heard on the Rush Limbaugh show him and guest callers telling people (Republicans) to be ready to go to the election polls and challenge people’s (those they know are Democrats or those they “suspect” are Democrats) right to vote so they have to cast provisional ballots which are know to not be counted.

        This will absolutely help Republicans in a close race of which there will be plenty.

        Reply
    2. ptb

      “or the person who may just sit out the election”

      you see enough Steyer or Bloomberg ads, that is exactly what’ll happen.

      Reply
  4. Bugs Bunny

    The “Kessler” evidence on Epstein and Boies’ and Pottinger ‘apparent collusion looks like criminal racketeering. The plan itself was a concerted blackmail scheme. The NYT article seems like deflection. Of course nothing will come of it. And I have no idea what to make of it.

    Reply
    1. mpalomar

      “no idea what to make of it”
      Perhaps only to acknowledge the multiple layers of deep dark muck in anaerobic perturbation.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        acknowledge the multiple layers of deep dark muck in anaerobic perturbation
        Thank you, I’ll remember that when work colleagues bring up Epstein et al. yet again!
        I will change the wording slightly. Most of this muck is white as hell.

        Reply
  5. dave

    Why the Obama legacy is complicated for Joe Biden in 2020 Philadelphia Inquirer

    “Childs loves Obama. She prayed for him nightly during the 2008 campaign. She helped him campaign again in 2012, and says, “He did more than any president in my lifetime.””

    Childs watched a very different movie from the rest of us.

    Reply
    1. roadrider

      Obama-bots are no different than Trumpsters. They have an essentially religious attachment to those guys and will not let the facts get in the way. And its not only low-information types that fall into this category. I know many highly educated news junkies who can’t seem to find any flaws in Obama’s presidency and recoil in horror when one tries to point out how bad Obama really was.

      Of course, the “news” these junkies shoot up on is mostly MSNBC and Obama-worshipping MSM sources. The problem with some of these people is that they never lost a job or were in danger of losing their jobs in the recession. They never actually had to try and sign up for Obama-care so they can praise it as a great achievement and disparage single-payer.

      They weren’t in danger of losing their houses so they ignore the failures of the programs that were supposed to aid distressed homeowners but didn’t. They lament how Mitch McConnell prevented Obama from doing more good while ignoring Tim Geithner’s “foaming the runway”, Obama’s toadyism towards Wall St and the big banks, Obama’s willingness to sell out Medicare and Social Security, Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, the mass deportations that occurred under Obama, how poorly African-American’s did under Obama, the drone attacks, continuation of the forever wars, the surveillance state, persecution of whistle-blowers and on and on.

      Unfortunately the Obama worshippers make up a sizeable chunk of Dem primary voters. Many who see Obama for what he was (like me) are no longer registered Dems and are barred from voting in the primaries in many states. I cannot vote in the Dem primary in my state (MD) and I refuse to re-register as a Democrat in order to do so.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I don’t blame people for thinking we need hope and change, I do blame them for refusing to acknowledge that the con man who said he was going to bring those did the exact opposite. It’s never a good look or a good feeling to be the victim of a con, and then have to admit that you were. Maybe people identify with Charlie Brown, ending up flat on his back no matter how many times Lucy swears she will not pull away the football. It’s a nice, safe, external agency they can add to their internal blame catalog of the reasons they keep losing in life. And they can feel assured there are many people just like them. So it’s an uncomfortable position to abandon and get yourself past the first Kubler-Ross stage

        Reply
    2. Synoia

      Childs loves Obama. She prayed for him nightly during the 2008 campaign.

      Did she get a response? Personally I’d question if Obama ever did the Lord’s work.

      Here’s the test:

      “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

      Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

      Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

      Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

      Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

      Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

      Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “The Case for Bernie”

    At this stage, I am willing to bet that it is a safe assumption that in the same way that a large part of the UK’s Labour Party would rather lose to Boris Johnson & the Conservatives rather than see Jeremy Corbyn elected as Prime Minister, that the Democrats as a party would rather lose to Donald Trump a second time rather than see Bernie Sanders become President of the United States.

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      Its been that way for quite a while now, I think. At least in the case of the US, this is the first time many of us have experienced a politician from the Left. (as opposed to the current scam artists who wrap themselves in the flag…) I think the last time anyone was truly Leftist in the States was back in the 60’s.

      Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Maybe not leftist as Nixon was under political pressure, though, a defining difference between our modern gilded age Presidents and the FDR through Nixon is their approach to the New Deal and government services. Doespecially the government exist to serve the population or is there profit to be had?

          Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Sanders has looked and acted as an anti-oligarchic, pro-civil rights, pro-American, pro-people politician for something like fifty years. He does not seem to virtue signal, support Identity politics, or any sort of cultural war/contempt like many Democratic liberals (or Republican conservatives) do.

        I do not see any fake, check off the box, person molded into the narrow, acceptable, orthodox Democratic or Republican politician manufactured on the parties’ assembly line.

        All this would be very attractive to either real leftist or real conservatives who care about a functioning and humane society; while one might question the methods, especially the conservatives, (OMG socialism!!) he really does seem to have the same goals as most Americans, or ultimately most human beings, instead of the elites’ desires and their minions’ career.

        Reply
        1. Brian (another one they call)

          Thanks Jbird; Very well put. I consider Sen. Sanders a very conservative person. He appears to wish that we conserve ourselves and our nation to enable a future less dystopic than planned by those sponsored by state terrorism against the citizen. He also appears to be quite rational and never takes the bait offered by the lunatic fringe scared of their daily bread and circuses.

          Reply
        2. dcblogger

          I was phone banking for Bernie yesterday, the best thing you can do for him unless you live in Iowa, NH, SC, or NV. Looking at the Bernie Map ( https://map.berniesanders.com/ ) I would guestimate that there were 100 phone banks going on yesterday. Assuming that each one had 4 volunteers and that they averaged 80 calls each, that is 32,000 calls that were made yesterday, and very likely more. No other candidate has anything like this. I got mostly wrong numbers, but one of the volunteers where I was signed up two additional volunteers in SC. So the real purpose of the phone banks is to make a first sift. That is weed out all the wrong numbers (read wrong address), supporters of rival candidates, etc. Locating Bernie supporters or best, future Bernie volunteers is pure gold. What we are really doing is helping the field directors narrow down their walk list. Like I said, no other candidate has anything like this. And this is why I just do not buy the brokered convention. Yes, the establishment Democrats want a brokered convention, but it ain’t happening. Bernie is going to win.

          Reply
          1. lyman alpha blob

            Why should they narrow down their walk list? Why not talk to everyone?

            This strategy was recommended to my wife when she ran for a local election – only talk to the people you deem already likely to vote for you to make sure they vote. She declined and knocked on every door when going through a neighborhood. There were people who told her no other politician ever bothered to talk to them personally and she’d won their vote. She talked to people who had signs for a conservative opponent in their yards. One told her he only had the sign because he went to high school with the other candidate and would vote for her.

            Now that she’s in office she’s found that some of the local conservatives have become her allies, and that quite a few weren’t as conservative as those who advocated for selective contact had led her to believe.

            Reply
          2. Baby Gerald

            Thank you, dcblogger, for phone banking for Bernie! This is the boots-on-the-ground support that mass media is only just warming up to.

            I signed up to phone bank after his Queens rally but learned to my dismay that my laptop isn’t new enough to log into their phone bank server with the antiquated browser I’ve got. The phone bank party where I learned this sad news had six people making calls, most of whom were members of the local DSA chapter. After the holiday I plan to upgrade and join you in the crusade. This is a crucial time for us plebs.

            #Bernie2020

            Reply
    2. Joe Well

      We need a new term for “The Party,” to distinguish between, as they say in Cuba, the Party “militants,” the ones who actually carry the water or even give the orders, vs. all the tens of millions of adults who registered as Democratic voters vs. all the millions more who refuse to register a party affiliation but vote reliably Democrat.

      Really, who knows what those millions of people think? Polls and surveys tend to give contradictory answers, though what little we do know is that Sanders is broadly popular and has a strong enduring base of support, though Biden is also popular with probably a less strong base of support.

      Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I find myself worrying about how said corporation behaved in 1968, Eugene McCarthy showed up with lots of support and delegates but the nomination went to a candidate (Humphrey) who did not compete in any of the primaries:

          Before the start of the convention on August 26, several states had competing slates of delegates attempting to be seated at the convention. Some of these delegate credential fights went to the floor of the convention on August 26, where votes were held to determine which slates of delegates representing Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina would be seated at the convention. The more racially integrated challenging slate from Texas was defeated.

          Even though 80 percent of the primary voters had been for anti-war candidates, the delegates had defeated the peace plank by 1,567¾ to 1,041¼. The loss was perceived to be the result of President Johnson and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley influencing behind the scenes. Humphrey, who had not entered any of 13 state primary elections, won the Democratic nomination, and went on to lose the election to the Republican Richard Nixon.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            And a richly deserved loss it was.

            Personally, I suspect that Pigasus, the real pig that the Yippies “ran,” was decisive, drawing enough protest votes to make the difference – it was very close.

            Reply
        2. Lambert Strether

          But it’s not a corporation. The best analogy I’ve been able to come up with is that the Democrat Party is a street gang whose turf is the ballot — who gets on the ballot, how the ballot is counted. But that doesn’t account for the dense matrix of NGOs in which the Party is embedded, the relationship that the national Democrat organizations (DNC, DCCC, DSCC) have with each other and with the state parties, the consultants and the strategists, or the electeds and their staff, as well as the “Flexnets” that run through and between these entities. Nor does it give an account of the relationship between the Democrat Party proper, and its assets in the press or its allies in the intelligence community. Or the donor class (Ferguson’s industrial model). It’s complicated.

          Reply
    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Yes they would. And they will do everything in their power to make SURE they can get a Catfood nominee who will lose to Trump.

      The SanderBackers’ only hope is for Bernie to get nominated on the First Ballot.
      As Yoda would say . . . ” First Ballot or First Ballot not. There is no Second Ballot”.

      Reply
  7. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Freedom Is Meaningless Under Insurmountable Debt Atlantic (Summer)

    I appreciate the premise of the article, but this example is so extreme that I have to wonder if it’s real:

    Her payment history shows her trying to keep up. Over 13 months, she gave more than a quarter of her take-home pay to the lender—$5,617—on a loan of $1,971. But the lender applied less than $2 of that to the loan principal; the rest vaporized in fees and interest.

    If this is even “legal,” this country has bigger problems than a philosophical discussion of debt vs. freedom is ever going to solve. I mean “less than $2”–what is that, an infinite interest “rate?”

    Reply
    1. Summer

      It seems extreme, yes.
      But just a couple of months ago, a friend showed me the payments that he had been making on a student loan and there were a shocking number of times were $0 were applied to the principal.
      It’s what had me on the lookout for other instances of this type of thing because I thought the same as you: This can’t be legal…

      Reply
      1. Summer

        And he is in his 50s and still paying off the loan. He has started to make more money, but also has to help his family.

        Reply
      2. HotFlash

        Apalling business, but not new. Four decades ago my BFF was having trouble with her student loan payments being misapplied, applied late (more interest!), or not applied at all. They were all the same amount and the application date never matched the date the cheque cleared, so she couldn’t track it properly. We devised a method to differentiate the payments — $xxx.01, $xxx.02, etc. We calculated the interest and sent a statement with every payment. They said she still owed after she had paid off by her records, but they never came after her. Sweet!

        Reply
    2. Foy

      I’m not sure that those numbers are that extreme. Netflix had a documentary on Scott Tucker who ran the payday outfit AMG services which generated $3.5 billion in revenue between 2008 and 2013. Their borrowers had similar levels of payments with little going against the capital, much to many borrowers surprise.

      Of course it was all done with smoke and mirrors in the fine print to confuse the borrowers, making them think they were paying off their capital when they weren’t, (AMG called many payments service fees) which is what many payday loans try to do. In the example in the documentary using the standard and deliberately hard to decipher AMG contract a $390 loan would result in $975 in payments due to the service charge fees.

      Interestingly Tucker went to jail for racketeering by trying to hide his business through deals with Native American Tribes in order to claim sovereign immunity from the courts.

      Reply
    3. Summer

      The financial company for my friend’s student loan account is Nelnet…
      “Nelnet owns over 50 subsidiaries that administer and collect student loans throughout the United States and Canada, such as inTuition, infiNET, LoanSTAR, and TriCura Canada, Inc. Also through their subsidy, FACTS Management they own RenWeb, a school management program.

      One of their lobbyists is Clark Lytle Gelduldig & Cranford.”

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “House Intelligence Committee to review impeachment investigation report Monday”

    This is so deluded that it is sad. You could drive truck convoys through the holes in what the so-called narrative is supposed to be. Even a jag-off night club comedian can put together a damning 18-min video exposing them. Here is the link for it (note, lotsa swearing)-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYwe_K9Dxio 1802

    He points out that the only one that can get solid support behind him, even with people that vote Republican, is Bernie Sanders and maybe Tulsi Gabbard.

    Reply
  9. xkeyscored

    “Amazon fires are causing glaciers in the Andes to melt even faster” The Conversation
    And this year’s fires in the Arctic are having the same effect on ice in that region – soot covering the ice, making it reflect less and heat up faster. A taste of things to come.

    Reply
  10. xkeyscored

    This microbe no longer needs to eat food to grow, thanks to a bit of genetic engineering Science (chuck l)
    “The implications of this are profound,” says Dave Savage, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved with the work. – I agree entirely.
    Such advances, he says, could “ultimately make us change the way we teach biochemistry.” – I’d say advances like these could be the magic we need to avert the climate catastrophe. We’ll need to suck vast amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere, and trees have a habit of burning, especially when subjected to droughts and heatwaves, even if we can reverse our current habit of net deforestation.
    the researchers couldn’t give the bacterium the ability to carry out photosynthesis, because the process is too complex. – Given the speed with which directed evolution, synthetic biology, etc are developing, it might not be that long before we can.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Umm, what happens if through a mutation, that these microbes go full Andromeda Strain? That article mentioned that they already had done eleven successful mutations so far. Is this really wise this if you do not know what the eventual outcome could be through different mutations?
      What if they do learn photosynthesis and that they start going after the CO2 in the atmosphere at an increasingly rapid rate. Plants and trees would start to die off but could you imagine an oxygen-rich atmosphere? Every fire would be catastrophic as a lit cigarette in a hospital oxygen tent.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        Undoubtedly there will be complications, maybe a few disasters, with this new synthetic biology and wotnot. But without some immediate and drastic action, the climate catastrophe will surely see our civilisations crumble. If it was just a new way to make candy or male baldness medicines, I’d say no way, or, grudgingly, wait till it’s proven safe beyond doubt. But we urgently need as many tools in our box for climate change as possible, and this one opens up a whole range of options. Stopping, or even just reducing, our CO2 emissions would be great, but it ain’t happening – they’re increasing. More trees would be great, but ain’t happening either. By the time we sort out how to organise our economies rationally (how I long for a true Homo oeconomicus!) the situation’s going to be a lot worse than today’s.

        Reply
        1. lyman alpha blob

          If we are to resort to desperate solutions, I think I’d favor involuntary sterilization (since the ultimate problem is overpopulation) before the release of a bunch of invisible little beasties into the wild without being sure of the outcome.

          Why expect modern technology to solve the problems brought on by modern technology?
          – eunuchs have been around for thousands of years.

          Reply
          1. xkeyscored

            Your wish is being granted!
            … the strongest confirmation yet obtained that human sperm concentration and count are in a long-term decline: more than 50 percent from 1973 to 2013, with no sign that the decline is slowing.
            “The study is a wakeup that we are in a death spiral of infertility in men,” said Frederick vom Saal, Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri and an expert on endocrine disruption, who was not part of either study.
            https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/blog/2017/7/26/new-endocrine-disrupting-chemicals-are-undermining-male-fertility

            Reply
          2. xkeyscored

            but a human population decrease, even to zero, will do nothing to stop the warming we’ve already caused, some of which, maybe most if we are over a few tipping points, is yet to kick in.

            Reply
          3. Massinissa

            The ultimate problem IS NOT overpopulation. A small proportion of the worlds population accounts for most of the emissions.

            Who gets to be involuntarily sterilized? You can’t do it to everyone, because that would mean no next generation. So you would need to decide who gets sterilized. And it probably won’t be the wealthy and powerful who are causing the problems.

            Reply
            1. lyman alpha blob

              Well I’m not advocating for it, just saying it’s preferable to bioengineering with unknown consequences.

              But as you note, it is the wealthy and powerful causing the problems. Perhaps when the torches and pitchforks get taken out, some rabble rousers might opt to bring along some pruning shears too.

              Reply
          4. The Historian

            Involuntary sterilization? Haven’t we done that already? I just read an article about Native American women being involuntarily sterilized until the 1970’s:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterilization_of_Native_American_women

            Whether overpopulation is the issue or not, the fact is that those people are already here and they have as much right to be here as any of us.

            Instead of trying to force population control, which I understand from India and China’s experiences, hasn’t worked out that well, why not give up our Norman Rockwell view of what a family is. Why not stop all the social pressure on people to have children? There are many things that we can do that would be positive. Force is not the answer to everything.

            Reply
      2. Samuel Conner

        I don’t think that oxygen-enrichment is a significant concern; CO2 is .4 parts per thousand, Oxygen over 200 parts per thousand already. IOW, if all the CO2 were converted to O2 + sugars, it would result in only a tiny increase in Oxygen concentration.

        Competition with natural phototrophs for the atmospheric carbon does seem like a concern, though.

        In the setting of an old sci-fi novel, the last deep oil reserves were being mined to feed bacteria to make food for humans. Perhaps something like that, without the mining, lies in our future.

        It doesn’t seem likely that they would be able to keep this organism under control. Industrial scale level 5 biohazard isolation doesn’t seem very feasible.

        Perhaps they can engineer appealing flavor molecules into it.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          It doesn’t seem likely that they would be able to keep this organism under control.
          I don’t see why. It sounds like a pretty frail thing that needs a lot of mollycoddling. It’s learned how to live in special vessels on a diet of formate and CO2. I doubt it would fare well in the wild, though it can’t be ruled out. It would have to mutate into eating something other than just formate, while in competition with things that already can. Like worrying that factory chickens might take over the world if they escaped.

          Reply
          1. Samuel Conner

            I hope that’s right. But I worry that it could acquire traits through horizontal gene transfer from other organisms.

            And bacteria are pretty good at evolving metabolic pathways.

            Genetic engineering of micro-organisms seems to me like a very risky business.

            Reply
            1. xkeyscored

              it could acquire traits through horizontal gene transfer from other organisms.
              From the sound of it, it’d need a whole ton of genetic transfer just to be viable outside its vats of highly specialised nutrition, never mind survive in a world full of aggressive bugs who’d see it as juicy prey. We don’t know a lot about HGT, but it does seem to help already successful things adapt to novel environmental challenges and opportunities, rather than help severely disabled weaklings suddenly develop superpowers. If it’s HGT that worries you, look no further than antibiotic- and antifungal- resistant microbes.

              Reply
          2. Danny

            Synthetic biology is right up there with nuclear weapons. Fight it, ban it, destroy it.
            Fight, ban and destroy any scientist or organization that tries to inflict it on the world.

            “The logical extrapolation from this
            experiment is to suggest that it is possible to make a genetically
            engineered microorganism that would kill all terrestrial plants. Since Klebsiella-planticola is in the root system of all terrestrial plants, presumably all terrestrial plants would be at risk.

            http://online.sfsu.edu/rone/GEessays/Klebsiellaplanticola.html

            “What happens when you apply the most fungicides and pesticides to soil?
            In every single case where we have looked at foodweb effects of
            pesticides, there are non-target organism effects, and usually very
            detrimental effects. The sets of beneficial organisms that suppress
            disease are reduced. Organisms that cycle nitrogen from
            plant-not-available forms into plant-available forms are killed.
            Organisms that retain nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium,
            calcium, etc. are killed. Organisms that retain nutrients in the soil
            are killed. Once retention is destroyed, where do those nutrients go?
            They end up in our drinking water; or end up in our ground water. You
            and I as taxpayers have to pay in order to clean up that water so we
            can drink it.”

            Reply
            1. JTMcPhee

              It’s just some lines from a movie, “Little Big Man,” but they’ve always stuck with me as an explanation for so much of what some folks have “accomplished” in this world:

              Do you see this fine thing? Do you admire the humanity of it? Because the human beings, my son, they believe everything is alive. Not only man and animals, but also water, earth, stone, and also the things from them like that hair. The man from whom this hair came, he’s bald on the other side, because I now own his scalp! That is the way things are. But the white man, they believe everything is dead. Stone, earth, animals. And people! Even their own people! If things keep trying to live, white man will rub them out. That is the difference.

              The voice is that of Old Lodge Skins, a Cheyenne chief, looking out over the massacre by Imperial troops of his tribe. Also referring to the massacre of the buffalo herds, and the grand “success” of the transcontinental railways (an earlier Robber Baron episode) that “opened the West to development.”

              Reply
              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Shout out to Chief Dan George, the film is a retelling of Voltaire’s Candide in case anyone missed it. Full of life quotes

                Reply
                1. pasha

                  thanks, OTPBDH, one of my favorite movies — and i never made the candide connection! time to watch and read again, respectively

                  Reply
        2. Chris

          Err, things to start to burn that normally wouldn’t and other chemical processes can accelerate in richer oxygen environments. It doesn’t take too much on a ppm basis before you see those kinds of effects. And with bacteria driving the change, you could have concentrated effects due to the presence of the bacteria. Imagine a colony of them hanging out around your furnace and when it clicks on the whole house goes boom.

          This is something that we’d need to understand a lot better if it was widely distributed.

          Reply
      3. mpalomar

        Panglossian remedy. Technology offers fixes for previous tech initiated disasters. Well one can always hope for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

        I’m reading Altered Genes, Twisted Truth by Steven Druker who makes a solid case for reigning in the GE industry that has gotten a reckless free pass from industry captured government regulators and complicit establishment institutions, including the FDA and the National Academy of Science in the US and MAFF and the Royal Society in the UK, ANFZA and the EU.

        Interestingly the landmark case in the US was presided over by judge Coleen Kollar-Kotelly who settled the Microsoft antitrust case (the DOJ lawyer was David Boies cited in the Epstein article above) after the original judge TP Jackson was removed from the case and was also the judge who allowed NSA surveillance as presiding judge over the FISA court. Her ruling more or less set the precedent for obstructing the legal avenue to hold the industry and its regulators to account.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          Without technology, all the CO2 and stuff already emitted continues warming the world. Massive tree planting won’t draw much of it back down, as well as looking unlikely in the near future. And if, as many scientists are now claiming, we’ve (probably) passed a few ‘tipping points’ already, then things will only get worse even if we cease all our emissions now – completely unlikely.
          But I fully share your fears about the likes of Monsanto/Bayer getting control of this kind of stuff. They’d probably secretly engineer it to escape into the wild and take over, so they can sell the antidote they just happen to have developed. Sort of what they’ve done with Roundup resistance.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            “We’ve got the groovyTech now, so we can keep right on doing what we’ve been doing!!!” nope

            less energy use is the (far from perfect) answer. As for for moar tech
            solving its self-created problems (without creating new and worse ones): umm, I’ll pass.

            Reply
      4. Jeff W

        This microbe no longer needs to eat food to grow, thanks to a bit of genetic engineering Science
        ~~~~~~~~~
        “go full Andromeda Strain”

        Stone: Andromeda’s perfect for existence in outer space. Consumes everything, wastes nothing.
        Good Lord. Stone to Delta V. Put me through to Robertson immediately.
        Hall: What?
        Stone: God, I hope we’re not too late.
        Hall: Tell me.
        Leavitt: It functions like an atomic reactor.
        Stone: An atomic blast could provide it with enough energy to grow into a gigantic supercolony.
        Dutton: In one day.
        Robertson: You can relax now, gentlemen. We just left the president. He agreed to drop the—
        The Andromeda Strain [film], 1971

        Reply
    2. Lee

      The bacteria turns CO2 into itself. Then what? Is the carbon then sequestered or beneficially recycled? I’m guessing this organism cannot survive in the wild without human support, which if it be the case, would allay concerns about the potential unintended negative consequences of releasing into the environment a self-replicating organism subject to uncontrolled mutation by natural forces.

      Reply
    3. Ignacio

      Giving there are already many photosynthetic microorganisms I really don’t see the practicality of introducing photosynthesis in E. coli except for the joy of bioengineering. Now let’s get to the point. Engineering E. coli is relatively easy given the enormous amount of information about this bacteria but it turns out that what you obtain is almost certainly a very weak microorganism that grows very slowly and is prone to be attacked and beaten by other microorganisms. I wonder if it could be more practical to screen in nature for other microorganisms that can do the same with none or less bioengineering.

      I don’t see a discussion on the scale of culture that would be necessary to obtain significant CO2 capture and what would be done with the enormous amounts of biomass produced in order to keep that CO2 on earth’s crust. Anyway, why not using naturally existing photosynthetic microorganisms and other autotrophs? To my knowledge there have been identified at least 6 synthetic or natural CO2 fixation pathways that could be engineered in already autotrophic microorganisms making it unnecessary to engineer E. coli so deeply.

      Anyway the most interesting take of this article is how laboratory-directed evolution can be used to achieve the results they obtained. That was great!

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Back in the First Cold War, a Russian scientist set a big lab he ran to working on how to introduce, into E. coli, the genetic material that codes for the production of neurotoxic (and other types too) venom from the cobra species. His politically correct goal was to make a bug that could be turned loose in the decadent West, Resulting, in best Marxist-Leninist form, In the capitalist state destroying itself from within.

        Fast-forward to CRSP-R technology And a host of other “disruptions,” and a time when bio scientists have done stuff like resurrecting the 1918 influenza virus “just because it’s a neat thing to do,” and “fixing” viruses that are vulnerable to the human immune system so they can just waltz in, set up shop, and go about replicating until the host is dead.

        And let’s not forget that “on the scale of culture,” that a self-selected bunch of billionaires are spending a fair amount of money to “develop” geoengineering “technological fixes” to the world’s human-driven biosphere destruction-for-profit. Stuff like injecting sulfur compounds or finely divided aluminum particles into the upper atmosphere to change the planet’s reflectivity (albedo) — https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/feb/06/bill-gates-climate-scientists-geoengineering.

        What could possibly go wrong? And “Well, we have to do SOMEthing, fergodssake “ is not a principled position, especially in light of all the fails that “technology” and “business” have shoved down the planet’s throat over the last couple of thousand years. The precautionary principle, if it is ever to be applied again, ought to be the FIRST principle in “responding” to the crap “we” have already done.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Surely our “representatives” in “Congress” can pave the way for the bioterror hijackers like they did for payday lenders, take something utterly abhorrent to every notion of goodness and decency and fairness and pass laws so three billionaires can make serious bank on it. Then portray the politicians responsible for it all like folk heroes

          Reply
      2. xkeyscored

        Yes, I’m not excited about this particular E. coli. It’s a proof of concept, we can get these microbes to not only make what we want them to, but eat what we want them to. But there’s no way we’re going to see this strain of this bacterium bubbling away in vats all over the world, much less (IMO) see it escape and take over.
        It’s a stepping stone to future applications, but a pretty big one. Now we know it can be done, others will try. And yes, we must keep screening existing microbes and so on, and hoping for more bright new ideas (plus a whole lot of change on the social/political/economic side). We can’t dig ourselves out of this hole without technology; it’ll just keep getting deeper if we try.

        Reply
        1. Duck1

          Guess I’m a pessimist, but don’t see where the energy is going to come from for all these bubbling vats all over the world in fifty years, perhaps only ten. Using our finite energy resources in a desperate end game to fix decades of overshoot and overconsumption seems like oxymoron held in the brains of feckless cornucopians.

          Reply
          1. xkeyscored

            The hope would be that we teach them, or things bred from or inspired by them, to eat our crap at ordinary temperatures and without our energy inputs. Maybe eat our literal crap. And turn it into something we need or can easily store as carbon capture stuff.
            Like many commenters, you seem to imply that we must not use technology to combat climate change (or environmental collapse, presumably) until we’re certain it will be safe. What course do you propose? Give up and accept our species’ just desserts?
            We’ve gone too far already to solve things with trees galore and solar panels and population reduction and so on, though they’d all help.

            Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              Under anaerobic conditions, “crap” is eaten by bacteria that produce natural gas and leave fertilizer. Not a new technology, no gene splicing required.

              Reply
              1. Ignacio

                Some of the CO2 fixation pathways I mentioned above imply enzymes that are not inhibited by oxygen. So far the best known, like the photosinthetic Calvin cycle, are strictly anaerobic or its performance diminishes greatly in the presence of oxygen. It would be desirable to develop aerobic processes.

                Biogas production (biomethanation) from organic residues by anaerobic microorganism consortiums, as you mention, is widely done. Biogas reached in 2015 about 18 billion cubic meters in the EU (about two thirds of global biogas production I believe).

                Reply
  11. cnchal

    > Amazon warehouses are ‘cult-like’ sweatshops run by robots: ex-employee NY Post

    Would you want your mother, sister, brother or father working in those conditions? If yes, keep cracking the whip by ordering your Chinese crapola.

    I had to laugh at that commercial where they show how great it is to work at Amazon. I want to stab that one woman who says, “We sweat. We bust our butt. If I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, I wouldn’t be here,” in the eyes. No one I knew at Amazon was remotely that happy.

    Amazon jobs are like Menudo — they are for people 16 to 25. Once you hit 25, you age out.

    I have a lot of sympathy for the people who still work there. People think their Amazon order just magically pops up at their door. There’s a lot of sweat and tears that go into that.

    When I finally threw in the towel, I finished my shift, left the building, phoned the warehouse, told them to give my manager this message: I had another job offer and was taking it. Which was not true.
    What I really wanted to say was:’F–k Jeff Bezos’: The brutal, back-breaking reality of working for Amazon

    She is one of the lucky ones because she wasn’t there long enough to contract a urinary tract infection, an Amazon workplace hazard.

    Mr Market’s price for Amazon is somewhere within the range of just below a trillion dollars. This is an example where price and value have two completely different meanings, for how do you value a hellhole?

    Reply
  12. Ohnoyoucantdothat

    Interesting article about the bloody past of Crimea. Author writes for Daily Beast but lives in Moscow.

    I think this is a good history lesson and I only can quibble about the tourism numbers. After annexation, tourism tanked here big time. First few years we got almost nothing. Why? No banks so no access to money as no ATMs. We often ran into Russian tourists frantically running around town looking for banks to access their accounts. Hasn’t gotten much better in the 5 years since. Plus, why would anyone want to visit this place, with its lousy beaches and s**ty service. For the history? Russians with any money can go to Thailand, Turkey, the Caribbean … anywhere and get better value and a much better experience. I’d guess we got at most 3 million last year, half the historical average. Even with the new bridge and a fancy new terminal at the airport.

    Two examples of why no one wants to come here:

    1-I used to visit an old friend who lived in Stormavoya, a tourist town on Crimea’s western coast. No big hotels … catered to people with limited budgets. Mostly small rooming houses. Lots of poor people would camp on the nice sand beaches. I’d go in mid-September. The stench was beyond description. People would dig shallow latrines or just use the bushes so there were piles of c**p everywhere. Local town council wouldn’t even opt for porta-potties to reduce this. We often found dead porpoise washed up on the beach along with tons of trash left throughout the season. It was a mess. Not somewhere I’d want to spend my summer vacation if I was paying. Just went to see my friend.

    2-We’ve had a summer tradition of taking a bus to Nova Federovka, a tourist town north of Sevastopol, to swim. 4-5 times in late June to end of July. Not August because the water was so dirty it was unsafe by then. People would, to avoid walking to the public toilets, walk into the water and c**p. We’d often see stuff floating in the water. And jelly fish population would explode in the warm water. 2 summer’s ago, on our first visit in late June, our daughter came down with a severe illness due to ingesting too much of this polluted water. Massive antibiotics to get her well. We haven’t been back since. Too damn dangerous. And the beach is not that great.

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Ah but the entire US foreign policy in the region should pivot around the existential crime that Russia wanted this execrable place back, when from your description they were actually doing The Ukraine a favor. Thanks for the report on the ground

      Reply
      1. Duck1

        When I was I kid in San Francisco when it rained the sewage mixed with the storm water and was dumped in the ocean at the beach. The beach was covered with shit. Now the shit has migrated to the neighborhoods as the homeless have no toilet facilities. Thank god the tourists still throng the place, oblivious or not to the human disaster on the streets. So poor shit management is not peculiar to the alleged Crimean hellhole.

        Reply
  13. xkeyscored

    “Freedom Is Meaningless Under Insurmountable Debt” Atlantic (Summer)
    the Reconstruction Congress adopted a core view of the new Republican Party: that central to freedom is the right to enjoy the fruits of one’s own labor.
    Marx viewed alienation not as a psychological malaise, but precisely as not enjoying the fruits of one’s labour. I’ve never seen how we can control our labour and its fruits, and allow private property the right to buy that labour and its fruits and use them for its own ends. Western capitalism has been less savage at times in its history, but it’s never been democratic. ‘Markets’ determine our destiny.

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      That’s interesting; I’ve never seen that the Right gives a toss about workers enjoying the fruits of their labor, at least not in America. And I’m well over 50 yrs old.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        Henry Ford was taken to court for giving workers too many crumbs from the shareholders’ table. Not that he was necessarily motivated by pure philanthropy!
        https://bizzvenue.com/dodge-v-ford-who-said-corporations-have-to-maximize-shareholder-wealth/

        “The second and more sinister reason: There were two brothers, John Francis Dodge and Horace Elgin Dodge, they owned 10% of The Ford Company. The Dodge brothers where the largest shareholders after Henry Ford. Ford got word that those pesky brothers wanted to start their own company. So what could be done to discourage them? Easy, make that 10% of theirs be worth as little as possible and reduce the car’s prices to a point that wound make it unviable for rivals to even attempt to compete. By reducing prices, investing in plants and raising employee salaries Ford Managed to hit a whole nest of full of birds with one rock. He increased his companies’ value in the long term by making massive investments, he made both consumers and employees happy and he sent the Dodge brothers plans down the drain. The man was clearly a genius.”

        Reply
      2. Danny

        Nor the Left care about workers they allegedly represent, via flooding the county with cheap union busting salary lowering iPolitic Democratic voting labor and promoting affirmative action in employer hiring, promotion and especially public employee hiring.

        Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “NHS Staff to Lead Protest Against Trump During His Trip to the UK Amid Rising Privatization Concerns”

    I think that they are picking the wrong target unless they are going to promise Trump a general strike if Boris tries to sell the NHA to him. The real target should be Boris himself who seems to have no loyalty to the NHS itself and I suspect that the reason is who he thinks uses the NHS the most and what they are like. Hint – it is not “his” sort of people-

    https://www.businessinsider.com.au/boris-johnson-said-britain-poorest-chavs-losers-criminals-addicts-burglars-2019-11

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      Johnson could learn from Israel, and build walls around “the chavs, the losers, the burglars, the drug addicts and the 70,000 people who are lost in our prisons” to protect his Chosen People (old Etonians and the ilk) from them.

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        No need, I’d assert Old Etonians, and their ilk, comprise the majority of Castle Owners.

        I doubt the remainder of the people own many (excluding the National Trust).

        Reply
  15. Samuel Conner

    I gave up on the WaPo item

    “It’s a good bet Trump pardons his felon allies. Here’s when that’s most likely”

    when I encountered the words “Roger Stone” halfway through the first sentence.

    Per a recent Craig Murray interview with Randy Credico (Stone’s alleged back-door to Assange; the interview was linked at NC), Stone lied to Congress to conceal prior self-serving misrepresentations to DJT (specifically that he had a back-door to Assange). The crime RS was convicted of did not benefit DJT and, in fact, harmed him by providing grist to the ‘Russian collusion’ narrative.

    I cannot imagine that DJT will want to pardon him.

    Don’t the editors of the WaPo read NC links? They should.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      You mistakenly assume that the WaPoo is not simply the Company tabloid run by just another oligarch in a long string of oligarchs. It’s much wiser to treat everything the 1% have to say, and for that matter most of the 10%, as an attempt to gain and hold advantage over you, and treat it as “not intended to be a factual statement” until proven otherwise beyond doubt. Then support good people. I just did.

      Reply
    2. lordkoos

      Wouldn’t the solution to Trump’s pardoning these crooks be to charge them locally (state jurisdiction) if possible? As I understand it, the president can only pardon crimes tried in federal courts, is that correct?

      Reply
  16. Wukchumni

    The richest person in the world & I lead similar lives…

    My truck can go as fast as Big City traffic will allow their vintage Ferrari to proceed

    The airplane I take somewhere, gets there about the same speed as their Gulfstream V

    The cruise ship i’m on is 666 feet longer than what they call a yacht.

    …the only difference is exclusivity & comfort

    Reply
    1. Anthony G Stegman

      On the Gulfstream IV you can have under-aged girls performing sex acts for you. Try that on a commercial flight.

      Reply
  17. flora

    re: Citizens Adrift – City Journal

    An interesting essay. I understand what he is reaching for but find some of his analogies contrived for the purpose. ‘Selfie Man’ in this essay carries the weight of his entire argument about alienation and loneliness. I understand the point, but people taking selfies are no different, imo, than people who have always taken “selfies” with film camera. They simply have more opportunity and easier access with their photo-phones (smart phones) than vacationers past who carried film cameras. (I no longer get asked to dinner to see friends’ vacation pictures; now they’re posted online.)

    The idea that wokeness and id pol have replaced religion as a moral touchstone is interesting. But again, religion (or id pol) is not in itself democracy.

    The one thing missing – glaring in its omission in an essay about democracy, alienation, nationalism, and globalism – is any mention of current neoliberal economics and the falling economics of everyone below the 1% or 10%. That falling economic condition might explain a lot of the anxiety, angst, desperation, and disconnect from politicians’ campaign bromides. Being preyed upon by financial and medical and other institutions with no recourse from the govt who once regulated predatory behavior can destroy community feeling pretty quick, imo.

    So, I don’t disagree with the essay but find it narrow; it doesn’t really answer the question it asks, imo. It does have some interesting points. This part I agree with:


    First: we can carry on believing that fault and transgression can be atoned for only by actively renouncing our nations, to the detriment of the largest durable community that man may ever have…. Our nations will become weaker, while national elites who proclaim the gospel of cosmopolitanism will tighten their grip on power.

    Reply
    1. flora

      adding, to misquote Peter Weiss:

      “And so they chained down the woke and the id pols in their ignorance so that they wouldn’t stand up and fight their bosses who ruled in the name of the lie of neoliberal and monopoly right.”

      ― Peter Weiss, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Out of curiosity I read the link but I confess it made no sense to me. To begin with, if populism is a threat to both parties what exactly does it threaten and how do we suddenly come to “our troubled world” from that beginning — “the homeless man of the democratic age” — “existential homelessness”. How did the end of the Cold War foster this existential homelessness and lead inexorably to globalism and what does democracy have to do with any of this? By the end of this link I end up with a very large bag of unrelated or weakly related ideas with little in the link that ties them together. Along the way little nuggets like “democracy make men forget their ancestors; it also clouds their understanding of their descendants and isolates them from their contemporaries” combined with other non sequiturs and nonsense to conclude: “Our crisis is that we no longer know where our home lies.” This essay definitely got me lost, but I think I can still find my home. To me this is a long wandering exercise in intellectual mush.

      Please explain what I am missing.

      Reply
      1. flora

        I agree it’s mostly intellectual mush, but mush with a purpose! Adding de Tocqueville ‘Democracy In America’ quotes was a nice touch, a bit of argument from authority. After all, de Tocqueville wrote a book and saw this current dismal outcome in the mid-1800s as foreordained (he suggests, I didn’t read de Tocqueville that way.) It’s inevitable! Nothing to do with economics at all. /s

        His purpose, imo, is suggesting modern life’s alienation and despair has nothing to do with the neoliberal economic order that’s lowering most peoples’ economic well-being; has nothing to do with ever harsher material conditions for most people in the US. He suggests alienation and despair are caused by people’s philosophical approach to life, especially the “wrong” philosophical approach to life that is destroying community. (He never mentions the destruction of the manufacturing sectors hollowing out communities. Community as a manifestation of the material world is never mentioned.) The essay is a strawman argument discounting the arguments against neoliberalism and greed without ever mentioning them. He suggests the fault of the unhappy lies in their choice of philosophies instead of the material world, thereby blaming the victims, and letting the economics of greed off the hook, imo.

        He sees the symptoms but he seems determined not to see the real causes. my 2¢.

        Reply
        1. flora

          adding: de Tocqueville was born into a French aristocratic family after the revolution. He was a classical liberal and always skeptical of democracy. From wiki:

          He was best known for his works Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes, 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). In both, he analyzed the improved living standards and social conditions of individuals as well as their relationship to the market and state in Western societies. (my emphasis)

          It’s interesting the writer makes so much of de Tocqueville’s skeptical, aristocratic view of democracy and uses that to explain current polity unrest, while ignoring de Tocqueville’s greater emphasis on improved living standards and social conditions of individuals. Emphasizing living standards, of course, might undermine whatever argument the writer is making. imo.

          Reply
          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Thank you. Your comments are very helpful in explaining this link. As you point out de Tocqueville was an aristocrat skeptical of democracy; the author of the link discounts the arguments against neoliberalism and greed; and asserts the fault of the unhappy lies in their choice of philosophies. Your insights suggest to me I was right in smelling an odor of the aristocrat and a mistrust in democracy about the author of this link. The author seems to make an unquestioning embrace of globalism. From this new standpoint I think characterizing the link author’s writing as mush is over generous. I am more inclined to call it weasily mush.

            Consider the author’s blame of the unhappy — as unhappy through their choice of philosophies. That assertion carries a double-edge. I believe the philosophy of Neoliberalism — not just it physical manifestations is indeed a source of great unhappiness to those who unwittingly adopt its values, theory of knowledge and view of reality. I think Ilana Gershon best makes that case. Another aspect of the alienation and loneliness — a feeling of homelessness — is very much a result of physical/economic circumstance. I have made so many long distance moves chasing after constantly shifting jobs that I cannot feel truly at home anywhere. The one home I had I lost with much of my children’s childhoods following my divorce. As I grow toward old age I live alone and physically distant from all my nearest relatives and contemplate a move to a less expensive state better situated to escape the worst of the collapse I feel might come during my lifetime.

            Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I agree that our Elites are pushing very hard to weaken nations and proclaim the gospel of cosmopolitanism while attempting to tighten their grip on power. I do not see that this outcome is inevitable or in any way related to democracy, “existential homelessness” — whatever that is supposed to mean although it does sound nicely erudite and philosophical — selfies, facebook, bowling alone, identity politics and all the other baggage carried in this essay.

      Reply
  18. Vegetius

    Battle in Seattle:

    An article reporting on a supposedly historic protest against globalization never uses the word ‘globalization.’

    Is this because twenty years on too many of the progressives who once opposed globalization have now become its vanguard, whether they understand this or not?

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      Amazon was in its infancy then. I wonder how many of those 1999 protesters avail themselves of Amazon’s “convenience” today.

      I’ve always been of two minds about those protests, having been an eyewitness to them. They started off great, with the labor marches etc. From my vantage point they deteriorated into some other than the original intent once those black bloc [family blog]ers got involved. People started joining in the protests who had no idea what they were about – they just wanted to be part of the action.

      On one of the later days of the protests I was sitting in a bar in Capitol Hill, watching on TV as the news showed protesters making their way up the hill from downtown, tear gas remnants wafting in through the front door. I was talking to an older guy who was a landlord who didn’t work and sat around drinking all day which he could afford to do because his family had left him some valuable real estate. He was all for the protests but my enthusiasm was waning because I’d been unable to get to work in Queen Anne at the tiny local restaurant where I waited tables due to traffic blockages and not being able to work really hit my wallet, not those of the globalization advocates. At this point it wasn’t labor marches blocking traffic, it was drunken young men in hoodies overturning dumpsters and lighting them on fire. We argued a bit about the point of it all, he was drunk and I was not (yet) and the bar owner decided that either she liked my argument better or that he’d had enough to drink, or both, and booted him. About two minutes later we looked at the TV protests again and saw his drunken self wrapped in the US flag he had been carrying for some unknown reason leading the parade of protesters which were now right outside the bar. Within about five minutes of that we saw him get arrested after being drunk and belligerent and hauled off by the cops.

      The article mentions that the police felt they lost control of the protesters. I think the protest organizers also lost control of what it was supposed to be about by the time it was over. I had initially hoped that Seattle might be the start of a larger movement but it fizzled out quickly. Nobody wants black bloc and rioting in their city which is why I suspected then and do to this day whenever I see those black bloc idiots show up that they were simply agent provocateurs sent in to discredit everyone else.

      One other thing I remember but didn’t witness personally. There were human chains set up to keep the diplomat types from reaching meetings but they didn’t always last. At one point one of the Colombian delegation dressed in his nice suit pulled a gun on the human chain and it scattered pretty quickly. I always wondered what if anything happened as a result of that.

      Reply
      1. Vegetius

        That is a wild story about the landlord.

        I think any time any sort of dissident spectacle is announced in advanced, there will be attempts at provocation. This goes for the left and for the right. A lot of mid-century Klan violence was provoked, when not in fact committed by informants, and this was used to great effect by the media. There probably was, at the very least, police infiltration in Seattle. I would love to follow the money when it comes to Antifa.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether

        > Nobody wants black bloc and rioting in their city which is why I suspected then and do to this day whenever I see those black bloc idiots show up that they were simply agent provocateurs sent in to discredit everyone else.

        Yep. I was suspicious of the HK “front-liners” for this reason. But one cannot reverse engineer ideology or strategic objectives out of sartorial choices.

        Reply
  19. The Historian

    Re: The article about Amazon being a sweatshop. Actually, it is much worse than that. Sweatshops, although not very nice places, still recognize their employees as humans.

    My youngest son is senior staff at a small company that competes with Amazon. They have their own niche market so they are doing OK right now. A couple of months ago, out of the blue, Amazon offered them a tour of one of their Fulfillment Centers. My son’s company didn’t know why Amazon was offering this, but they weren’t going to turn down a chance to see how their biggest competitor worked, so they all went on the tour.

    Some of the things my son took away from the tour:

    Yes, a lot of truly impressive whiz-bang technology.

    Employees stand in the same place all day and do the same motions all day. They could be robots except for their human appearance. Employees have no place to sit down, even for a moment.

    Everything comes to them – they don’t move out of their small areas – my son called their areas virtual prison cells. They can leave their cell with a human supervisor’s approval but getting a human to respond was virtually impossible. If you leave your cell without permission, you can be fired.

    Employees have several different cameras placed on them so nothing they do, not even scratch, is private.

    Employees are not allowed to talk to each other or have any distractions like music.

    The floor where the employees worked was hot and employees were allowed to have one water bottle in their station, but that was all. Nothing else personal was allowed.

    Computers track their every movement and if for some reason they can’t keep up with the computer, the computer terminates them and moves another person into their cell. There is no need for any human supervisor action.

    Amazon is very proud of how they allow computers to control everything, including their humans.

    When my son’s company was driving back to their own offices, they were extremely depressed. They now understood why Amazon invited them for the tour. It was to politely tell them that if they were not willing to go completely high-tech including turning their employees into computer controlled machines, I.e., bots, then perhaps they should get out of the business now and stop competing with Amazon.

    Reply
      1. The Historian

        Interesting video. My son said they were not allowed to take in any recording devices on their tour, i.e., no cell phones, no cameras, and they were not allowed to talk to any employees except the tour guide.

        Oh, I think what he saw and what the author of today’s article said make it very clear that what Amazon does is much worse than serfdom.

        Reply
      2. cnchal

        Four years have passed since that video. The most likely outcome for her is, crippled for life.

        @ The Historian – thank you for your comment regarding your son’s experience.

        I have noticed that Amazon is now running recruitment ads with heavy layers of Bernays sauce slathered on top, basically lying to potential employees about how wonderful life is, being whipped in an Amazon warehouse.

        This makes me suspect that word is finally getting out there about how truly awful Bezos is to work for, and are running out of desperate people to exploit. For one thing, they have physically ruined many lives already, so that potential pool of employees are gone, to Amazon or anyone else that would hire them. Inviting the “competition” to view the cruelty behind closed doors probably was not done to demostrate that the company he works for should automate and be as cruel as Amazon or perish, but to give his company a reason to not expand, therefore freeing up more desperate people for Amazon to exploit.

        If anything, Amazon is deceptive with whoever they deal with, so what your son thinks is the reason for the invitation, he is likely wrong.

        For example, it is my understanding that Amazon leases the warehouses that were built to their specs, in the event that if something goes wrong, someone other than Bezos can be left holding the bag. (If I am wrong about the leases,whoever has more info, please correct me)

        Its similar to the “delivery with white vans”. At first established courier companies were hired until they got going and dependent on Amazon, then unceremoniously fired by algorithm and a new crop of delivery van buisness owners with no experience were hired as replacements, and through funding financed by Amazon. Why would they do that, if not to exploit the lack of business acumen and experience of a fresh crop of victims.

        This exploitation is not confined to the sell side, after the buy button is pressed. The seller side has the same levels of exploitation. Popular products are plainly ripped off and copied by Amazon and other third party sellers as well. Fake products, fake product reviews, millions of daily price changes depending on what the algorithm determines is the maximum it can extract from an individual buyer. Advertising scams that drain seller accounts, 30% return rate and comingling of returned products with new stock of different sellers selling the same item. The requirement that you have former Amazon insiders to guide you through a booby trapped selling process, lest something goes awry. Copywrite infringement against authors, the scams against sellers are just as viscious as the working conditions for workers in the warehouse.

        Were Amazon run ethically, there would be permanent losses the way it is structured now. Even doubling the warehouse workers to cut the pace of work in half, it would still not be survivable jawb.

        Reply
      1. Anthony G Stegman

        The reality is the customers drive Amazon’s behavior. In order to achieve one day shipping the warehouses must be managed the way they are being managed. Why do so many of us require one day shipping??? With five day shipping the work environment for Amazon warehouse workers could be at least a tad better.

        Reply
        1. smoker

          Jeff Bezos drives Amazon™s behavior, not the other way around. And pretty sure he offered one day shipping without any deluge of customer requests for one day shipping. Further, just how would those customer requests even be acknowledged when it’s highly likely that customers expressing a desire with a human at Amazon is likely near impossible, unless they’re in the elite class who can whisper in Jeff’s ear?

          Even if that weren’t the case – which is extremely dubious – Bezos is responsible for the malice he’s served up to those suffering in his inhuman warehouses, despite the fact that there are self absorbed people who don’t give a second thought to the misery their insatiable desire for speed and convenience is causing. No one forced Amazon to meet desires which cause so much human suffering.

          Reply
    1. smoker

      So gut wrenching and enraging how many lives and livings Bezos has been allowed to immiserate and destroy. The fact that there are apparently no laws to prevent the human degradation he employs, and no proposed Major Congressional Bills against it on the horizon is mind boggling in its depravity. The fact that many insist on still using Amazon services when unnecessary – which increasingly destroys smaller businesses is also enraging (it has been for over a decade), people have willfully decimated their own local stores.

      In the Silicon Area where I live, small, and now larger local businesses have been utterly decimated between Amazon and the insane commercial rents and housing costs which a Technocratic Oligarchy has wrought – though that Oligarchy has always been highly publically subsidized and catered to by uncapped visas, with no return whatsoever to the majority of the public (an increasing majority are non homeowners). And, needless to say, homelessness is increasingly exploding not only here – no matter how little the underlying property was acquired for – but also elsewhere, all over the country. As soon as one low rent area is increasingly moved to, those small business leases and rents explode. It’s inhuman.

      (This got stuck in spam yesterday, retrying)

      Reply
  20. Joe Well

    “The Characterless Opportunism of the Managerial Class.”

    This is just a thought piece by Amber Alee Frost, minor bigwig in DSA and the most interesting part of the Chapo Traphouse, but it really intrigued me.

    She argues:

    1. There really is such a thing as the Professional Managerial Class (such as anyone in Human Resources, middle management anywhere) as a subgroup with its own interests and ideology, and though it is falling apart, it remains a powerful force in society, mostly for bad.

    2. PMC types are flooding into DSA and similar left groups but they can’t be trusted because they don’t really believe in equality and their whole careers depend on inequality and fealty to the system.

    3. PMC types are drawn to IPpol both because they witness the exclusion/mistreatment of these groups of people in their work lives and also because it avoids a class or economically based critique.

    Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        PlutoniumKun: You recommended the movie Parasite recently. I’m half way through it, and it’s brilliant. What’s more, it captures the atmosphere of places I’ve known and lived in precisely; it made me feel at home right from the start! Thanks.

        Reply
    1. lordkoos

      Great quote from Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts:

      “‘The world is run by one million evil men, ten million stupid men, and a hundred million cowards,’ The evil men are the power–the rich men, and the politicians, and the fanatics of religion–whose decisions rule the world, and set it on its course of greed and destruction.’

      ‘There are only one million of them, the truly evil men, in the whole world. The very rich and the very powerful, whose decisions really count–they only number one million. The stupid men, who number ten million, are the soldiers and policemen who enforce the rule of the evil men. They are the standing armies of twelve key countries, and the police forces of those and twenty more. In total, there are only ten million of them with any real power or consequence. They are often brave, I’m sure, but they are stupid, too, because they give their lives for governments and causes that use their flesh and blood as mere chess pieces. Those governments always betray them or let them down or abandon them, in the long run. Nations neglect no men more shamefully than the heroes of their wars.’

      ‘And the hundred million cowards, they are the bureaucrats and paper shufflers and pen-pushers who permit the rule of the evil men, and look the other way. They are the head of this department, and the secretary of that committee, and the president of the other association. They are managers, and officials, and mayors, and officers of the court. They always defend themselves by saying that they are just following orders, or just doing their job, and it’s nothing personal, and if they don’t do it, someone else surely will. They are the hundred million cowards who know what is going on, but say nothing, while they sign the paper that puts one man before a firing squad, or condemns one million men to the slower death of a famine.’

      ‘So, that’s it,’ he concluded. ‘The world is run by one million evil men, ten million stupid men, and a hundred million cowards. The rest of us, all six billion of us, do pretty much what we are told!’

      https://www.helladelicious.com/blog/quotes/2009/08/one-million-evil-men-shantaram/

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe the managerial class requires two things to find satisfaction: a comparably higher level of pay and assigned-status; and control over others of inferior income and status. Somehow I don’t see how any of the sort of people who so crave hierarchy and an upper berth could be socialists. If members of the managerial class are joining the socialists in politics I fail to see how their motives can be trusted, and I fail to see how their support could be relied upon.

      I should of course clarify ‘assigned-status’. I really do not believe everyone is ‘equal’ in the sense that everyone deserves and receives the same regard and status by others. Some people are better than others in certain ways and earn their status as respect for their skill or wisdom or character. Members of the managerial class receive their status as a rank handed down to them from those above them in a hierarchy. They may or may not possess skill or wisdom or character sufficient to earn respect, and if they are secretly aware they lack these qualities they are entirely dependent on a hierarchy.

      The article made a disturbing equation between the professional class and the managerial class. I believe there is a definite distinction. To me the desire for control over others is that distinguishing trait. If members of the managerial class are flocking toward the socialist cause I can only wonder and worry what may have attracted them.

      Reply
      1. Tom Doak

        I wish only that you had put your last paragraph first. I agree that many in the professional class are not attracted by control over others, and this makes them different than the managers. But the rest of the discussion lumps them together, so it would be helpful if you made the distinction at the front end of your statement.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thank you for your suggestion. I agree that the last paragraph should have been my first paragraph. By placing it at the tail I continued the confusion contained in the article to the end of my comment. I am working to become a better writer and greatly appreciate suggestions like yours which help me write more clearly. I write comments partly as exercises to hone my thinking and its expression … and to fight the slow decline I feel as I age.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            JG: in my opinion your comments are usually clearly written, and I like to hear what you have to say, whether I agree or not.

            Reply
            1. Jeremy Grimm

              Thank you. I appreciate your comment. If you do not agree why not disagree in a comment. I believe the ‘truth’ in a matter comes from argument and dialogue — advocacy. Disagreement is as welcome, perhaps more so than agreement. I sometimes cast out barbs in the hope it might encourage some disagreement since I am something of an ornery old cuss.

              Reply
      2. Massinissa

        Theres a difference between ‘being socialists’ and ‘hijacking socialist parties’. Most socialist parties in Europe were hijacked by these managerial types and turned into defanged centrist parties that pedal IDPol. Francois Hollande is a good example of one of these people. No surprise there are American managerial liberals attempting to do the same thing to DSA before it even becomes a major threat and make it into a party chiefly concerned about IDPol.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Setting aside for a moment the ‘socialist’ label- was there really a widespread
          public clamoring for Abbott / Harper / Sarkozy / types; and then for those who
          said they’d remedy their handiwork? IOW, how’d we get this long-term
          “drift to the right™”, against the wishes of the great majorities of the citizenries
          worldwide?

          Silo-ing works, but only for the few.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            Adding: I should also have mentioned the near-worldwide acceptance
            of open borders, which also benefits almost exclusively the few; again,
            against the wishes of the great majority of the citizenries (check out the
            rise of the SD in Sweden, in reaction).

            Reply
    3. xkeyscored

      Thank you for that link. I hadn’t come across her before; she’s very clear-headed and perceptive.
      She mentions Enzensberger:
      “So we belong to a class that neither controls nor owns what matters, the famous means of production, and it does not produce what also mat­ters, the famous surplus value (or perhaps produces it only indirectly and incidentally . . . ).” But ultimately he concluded that:
      For just as [this] class can be defined only in negative terms, so its self-understanding is also negative. The petty bourgeois wants to be anything other than a petty bourgeois. He tries to gain his identity not by allegiance to his class, but by separating himself off from it and denying it. But what links him with his own kind is just what he contests: the petty bourgeois is always someone else. This strange self-hatred acts as a cloak of invis­ibility. With its help the class as a whole has made itself almost invisible. Solidarity and collective are out of the question for it; it will never attain the self-consciousness of a distinct class.

      I think it will never attain class consciousness as its very existence arises from its role in mediating between controllers and producers. Owner-controllers can fantasise about total global domination, producers can aspire to ownership and control of the means of production, but the PMC is nothing without both other classes; the victory of either is it’s death knell.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        > I think it will never attain class consciousness as its very existence arises from its role in mediating between controllers and producers

        I see the argument, but I also think credentialism could be that consciousness. This isn’t well thought thought, but it might be possible, also, to think of credentials as a sort of property interest generating “rent,” an interest that can in fact be transmitted to the next generation though social connections (the “right” university). The fragility of both the credentials and their transmission might give rise to the distinctive “precariousness” that the PMC/10% feel, and which they hope others join them in feeling (“why don’t they just move,” “learn to code”). See this illuminating post from Interfluidity:

        In a stratified, liberal capitalist society, the ability to command market power, to charge a margin sufficiently above the cost of inputs to cover the purchase of positional goods, becomes the definition of caste. When goods like health, comfort, safety, and ones children’s life prospects are effectively price-rationed, individuals will lever themselves to the hilt to purchase their place. The result is a strange precariot, objectively wealthy, educated and in a certain sense well-intended, who justify as a matter of defensive necessity participation in arrangements whose ugliness they cannot quite not see. In aggregate, they are predators, but individually they are also prey, and they feel embattled. So long as the intensity of stratification endures, they will feel like they have little choice but to participate in, even to collude to entrench, the institutions that secure their market power and their relatively decent place.

        Reforming government contracting, controlling medical costs, breaking up big-tech, opening the professions to international competition, these sound technocratic, even “pro-market”. But under present levels of stratification, the consequences of these things would be a revolution, whole swathes of society accustomed to status and political enfranchisement would find themselves banished towards a “normal” they used to only read about, opiate crises and deaths of despair, towards loss of the “privilege” it has become some of their custom to magnanimously and ostentatiously “check”. Did I say they? I mean we, of course.

        But of course, not doing these things means continuing to tolerate an increasingly predatory, dysfunctional, stagnant society. It means continuing deaths of despair, even as we hustle desperately to try to ensure that they are not our deaths, or our children’s. Even for its current beneficiaries, the present system is a game of musical chairs. As time goes on, with each round, yet more chairs are yanked from the game.

        The only way out of this, the only escape, is to reduce the degree of stratification, the degree to which outcomes depend on our capacity to buy price-rationed positional goods.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          Thank you. This isn’t thought through either, but the Interfluidity piece seems to be partly saying the same in a different way, from another angle, and partly talking about the individual consciousness of people within the PMC, caught between hustling for status within their class, perpetuating the ugliness, and pursuing their class’s assigned, ostensible role of managing society in a truly rational way, ie. revolution, production for the producers, humanity’s control of human destiny, thereby losing their class privilege and raison d’etre. Either way, they don’t seem to have class consciousness in the sense of a historical mission as a class. Scramble for a better position within the sh!theap, or get rid of the sh!theap that gives rise to and sustains their class.
          The excerpt from Enzensberger didn’t explain much to my mind. The cloak of invisibility,
          the petty bourgeois is always someone else – it sounds like what I call continental philosophy, all poetically convoluted and maybe describing their individual psychology, but not explaining why their psychology is thus constructed.

          Reply
  21. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the post from Consortium News about the intentional injury being inflicted upon Assange. Deeply disturbing.

    Reply
  22. David Carl Grimes

    I wonder if Trump is going to jail after his Presidency. Or at least lose valuable assets after his Presidency.

    TRUMP, INC.
    Trump Tax Records Reveal New Inconsistencies — This Time for Trump Tower
    Documents show the president’s company reported different numbers — higher ones to lenders, lower ones to tax officials — for Trump’s signature building. Last month, ProPublica revealed a similar pattern in two other Trump buildings.
    by Heather Vogell Nov. 27, 4 a.m. EST

    https://www.propublica.org/article/trump-inc-podcast-trump-tower-tax-records-reveal-new-inconsistencies

    Reply
    1. urblintz

      if politicians of either party gave a damn about financial crimes, Trump, along with many of those same politicians (including the Clinton’s and Bush’s), would have been in jail decades ago. There’s the rub.

      Trump will not be going to jail and he has a lot of valuable assets to lose before he stops being a billionaire, which is why he will never go to jail or suffer much for losing half his wealth if that happens.

      His ego might be bruised, that’s true…

      and yet he’ll probably be re-elected.

      Reply
      1. richard

        i still think sanders could not only beat him, but go all 1932 on him (the further Bernie manages to distance himself from russia and impeachment the better, but trump will be trying to drive him there relentlessly if he’s smart)
        but apart from that, none of the other “frontrunners” really have a chance
        mayopete’s support is monochrome and managerial
        biden is turning into a puddle in front of our eyes (watch out for drains joe!)
        his support is equally thin
        warren has the best shot of these three, which is saying almost nothing
        not a populist bone in her body, despite all her feckless finger waving at bankers
        trump’s fake racist brand of populism will certainly beat her, unless hundreds of thousands abandoned and lied to midwestern voters achieve an historic triumph over cognitive dissonance, and actually manage to believe that she intends to help them

        Reply
        1. Carey

          C’mon now, Mayo Pete™ of South Bend, Indiana has got a great shot at the Presidency, what with Kapital and Seventeen Intelligence behind him!

          Reply
    2. Tom Doak

      Is lying to lenders illegal? If so, lots of Americans would be in trouble, but for selective prosecution.

      If not, then Trump’s accountants just have to prove the numbers they told the IRS are plausible.

      Reply
    3. Yves Smith

      Different numbers mean nothing. Tax has very arcane rules. Every public company has tax accounting that differs from its accounting for reporting purposes. This is bog standard normal.

      The Trump official is correct:

      A spokesperson for the Trump Organization said that “comparing the various reports is comparing apples to oranges” because reporting requirements differ.

      Moreover, I struggle to see how an occupancy rate is an meaningful figure in a tax filing. Taxes are generally done on a “tax basis” for the value of assets (as in purchase price less any depreciation) and revenues and expenses (which will be on a cash or accrual basis). I can’t see how it would impact tax liability.

      Moreover, you could even reconcile the two. Trump could have given financial concessions to new tenants. If a tenant given two months of free rent for the first year of his lease (and concessions like that are VERY common), the space would be considered to be fully occupied by normal real estate standards, but he’s only have revenue for 83% of the year.

      Reply
  23. Synoia

    Would it be correct to consider: Managerial Class = the 10%?

    For example: Bezos of Amazon is in the 0.1%, and surrounded by courtiers, if the 1% in the (Palace) 1%. The managers of his sweat shops (warehouses) are part of the 10%.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      PMC = “Professional Managerial Class” = 10%.

      That’s how I see it.

      PMC is better because it exposes social relations.

      10% is better because it builds on 1% v. 99% from Occupy.

      So take your pick until something better comes along.

      Reply
  24. Synoia

    How we could sleep better – in less time

    Margaret Thatcher is one of many powerful figures throughout history who have claimed to sleep on four or five hours a night, well below optimal levels.

    And that shines through her irritability and intolerance of “The Working Class.”

    Reply
  25. smoker

    Re: How we could sleep better – in less time

    Uugh, in less time indeed. Love BBC’s pandering to the technocracy. No discussion whatsoever about the ill effects of the increasingly punitive environments most endure, which destroy healthy sleep patterns. What everyone stressed out to the limit now needs to do is wear an unaffordable Dreem ] or SmartSleep smart™ (how I’ve come to despise that word, along with the lower case letters i or e inserted before once stand alone words) band to sleep to boost their available waking hours to perform 10 hour shifts at Amazon Warehouses. Soon there will be no 8 hour sleeps allowed for those toiling till they’re dead. After that’s instituted perhaps sleep for the masses will be done away with entirely.

    There has been an unprecedented amount of Time to Meditate, Relax, and SLEEP stolen from the masses. It shows itself in so many ways, such as making acronyms out of entire sentences because one doesn’t feel they have the time to write out a whole sentence; which then steals time from those who don’t understand what the acronym means. Twitter is a perfect example of this, totally mimicking a CEO’s demand to fit responses to his inquiries into one small paragraph or be demoted, whether those responses actually require a many paged documents (say about PG&E infrastructure dangers), or not. This all followed the fairly recent imposition of Multi-Tasking during Clinton/Gore, and way too many ways to communicate simultaneously when logically a person can only efficiently have one conversation at a time, versus being forced by an employer to be addressing phone calls; voicemails; pages; emails; direct messages; etcetera, all at the same time. “Answer that email while pretending to listen to the customer’s problem.”

    Not to say that there is no use for Jan Born’s discovery, just to say that the main thing destroying sleep is the increasingly ghastly backdrop to surviving which so many are enduring. That backdrop, Ill call it Bezos, et als’ World -is what urgently needs to be addressed (yesterday). That backdrop is causing an ever increasing explosion of death and despair.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Thanks for this comment. “Even more time to work for The Man, even More Productively!”

      Today’s busy lifestylz yadda yadda

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        Two out of two of the vanguard of neoliberalism succumbed to Alzheimer’s? It’s a small sample, but maybe it’s a line of research worth pursuing.

        Reply
      2. smoker

        Yes! I love sleep too, and never personally met anyone that desired to sleep less. Sleep is so vital to well being. The article’s slant of lessening sleep time as opposed to addressing major life factors that destroy sleep, made me nauseous. this paragraph was particularly onerous:

        But what if we were able to simply optimise the sleep experience so that we enjoyed most of the benefits of deep sleep, in less time?

        .

        Centuries of sound experience – of the actual sleepers themselves! – regarding the common need for at least 8 hours of sleep, and now it must be optimised™, hacked™ and disrupted™ with skull bands , apps, and of course, last but not least, a new name- requisitely misspelled – for the word, dream.

        Reply
      3. Jack Parsons

        There is a gene that allows you to get by with 5-6 hours instead of 7-8 hours. I had an girlfriend with it- I went to bed, she stayed up and read, we woke up at the same time.

        Apparently, lots of people think they have this gene but don’t- they just don’t get enough sleep.

        As to Alz’s, it’s being correlated with gum disease, not sleep disease.

        Reply
        1. smoker

          hmmm, an over two decades acquaintance had that purported ‘gene,’ then apparently lost it, and now needs much more sleep than I do (generally eight hours or more for me, highly dependent on stress levels).

          Reply
  26. drumlin woodchuckles

    I began reading the Harvard Square is Dying article and got to the part where UberLyft drivers squat in bus stops to handle passengers.

    The solution to that is real simple. Design carcatchers for buses , like cowcatchers for old fashioned trains. Then pass a Boston Ordinance making it FULLY LEGAL for a busdriver to push a car in its stop space out of the way. Then begin installing carcatchers on all the buses. Then instruct the busdrivers to push the bus-space squatter cars out of the bus-space.

    If you like, we could call these cacatchers by the word “car plows” instead. Put a car plow on the front of each bus. And legally mandate each bus driver to use the car plow to plow the cars out of the bus space. And if the illegal UberLyft bus-space squatter objects . . . have its car impounded and taken to the car crusher. Turn its car into a cube and give the cube back to its owner.

    ” There you go, son. There’s your car back.”

    Reply
      1. Pat

        In NYC it is not just the ride sharing drivers, drivers of all sorts use the bus stops and easy spots for the “brief” drop off and pick up. My recent favorite is the truck driver who responded to my pointing out it was a bus stop with “it’ll take five minutes”. The bus arrived before they even started unloading the truck and so blocked traffic as people entered and exited the bus. It wouldn’t surprise me if they blocked access to the next bus as well.

        Reply
  27. Pat

    CNN appears to be going all in for Bloomberg, on air they have such guiding lights as Smerconish and Scott Galloway attempting to herd the masses. And now they have an opinion piece from Drew Westen.
    Bloomberg could be the Democrats’ Backstop

    I appreciate being told how the public option is vastly popular and Medicare For All is unpopular for one from, and I quote Wikipedia, “Drew Westen is professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry[1] at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia; the founder of Westen Strategies, LLC, a strategic messaging consulting firm to nonprofits and political organizations; and a writer. He is also co-founder, with Joel Weinberger, of Implicit Strategies, a market research firm that measures consumers’ unconscious responses to advertising and brands.[2]”

    Apparently the unconscious response to Sanders and to Bloomberg has not been to the liking of his customers.

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