Links 1/18/2020

Park Life: New Tiger Park to open in Chalong already challenged on ‘ethical confinement’ Phuket News (furzy)

Gone Fishing? No Fish, but Plenty of Pesticides & a Public Health Crisis Counterpunch (UserFriendly). Also on soil!

Australia Burning

Tree Ghosts’ Are All that Remain in Parts of Burnt Out Australia Vice (resilc). OMG:

“We’re talking hundreds of degrees celsius, possibly over 1000,” said Professor Keith. “It takes a massive input of energy to get a living tree to burn to the core, right down to ashes… [and] these trees could have been uprooted [in the firestorm] or they could have been standing dead.”

Lake Chad: A War Fueled By Global Warming Der Spiegel (resilc)

Waste Watch

6 zero-waste lessons from Paris TreeHugger (J-LS)

India to enforce 1% contamination rate on paper imports, conduct random inspections Waste Dive (J-LS)

Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes may be communicable MedicalXpress. I know the plural of anecdote is not data, but one of my brothers is obese and has been for well over a decade. How he does not have diabetes is beyond me. His wife is not, her weight yo-yos from borderline thin to normal (and that is normal normal, not American overweight normal). Said brother’s food consumption is sufficient to explain his condition. I have another relative whose wife in a few years gained 60 lbs and is now obese while he was only about 10 lbs overweight, went on a diet and is now quite lean. Needless to say, I see enough examples that contradict this thesis to make me a skeptic.

New Chinese virus ‘will have infected hundreds’ BBC

Travelers at 3 U.S. airports to be screened for new, potentially deadly Chinese virus Seattle Times (furzy)


The U.S.-China Trade Deal Was Not Even a Modest Win Politico (resilc)

What US farmers make of Trump’s trade deal BBC

The Case Against Huawei Balding’s World (J-LS)


Forget staying close to EU after Brexit, chancellor tells business Financial Times. Up there with the classic New York Daily News front page: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”

Sussex Row. This is serving as a badly-needed distraction, so indulge me…And it is a negotiation! Meghan and Harry have a made a big ask. What will they get as a counter? What will they do if they don’t like it?

Harry and Meghan’s hideaway, the Kremlin-linked tech tycoon and a web of intrigue: Tantalising questions about billionaire Yuri Milner who met the prince at elite ‘Google Camp’ last summer Daily Mail

A Briton Explains Megxit American Conservative (Li). Wowsers.


Syrian, Turkish intel chiefs thaw ties in Moscow Asia Times (Kevin W)

David Wurmser, Key Iraq War Architect, Advising Trump on Iran Intercept (resilc)

UK officially designates Hezbollah as a terrorist organization Almasdar News (Kevin W)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Biden wants Sec. 230 gone, calls tech “totally irresponsible,” “little creeps” ars technica (J-LS)

Obama Freed Chelsea Manning Three Years Ago. Why Is She Still in Jail? Vice

Imperial Collapse Watch

The War Machine Is Run on Contracts Atlantic

Trump Says U.S. Is Ready for War. Not All His Troops Are So Sure. ProPublica (resilc)

Trump Transition

Supreme Court to take up Trump appeal in ObamaCare birth control case The Hill

Trump admin seeks Michelle Obama school lunch rollback McClatchy (J-LS). So mean…

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights Deserves to Stand, Should be Enforced GoogleDocs. Via Carla, who hosted the Cleveland meeup last year. Please consider signing.


Trump chooses high-profile but controversial legal team The Hill

Trump assembles a made-for-TV impeachment defense team Associated Press. The Japanese have a saying: “Too many captains and the ship climbs up the mountain.”

Coalition Letter to Senate Leaders on Proposed Press Access Restrictions American Civil Liberties Union

Open the Impeachment Trial New York Times


Supreme Court to weigh whether states, including Washington, can punish ‘faithless’ electors Seattle Times (furzy)

What The Sanders vs. Warren Battle Is Really About FiveThirtyEight (UserFriendly)

‘Believe women’ is being cheapened to score political points. That will backfire Guardian (resilc)

Media Skewers ‘Sexist’ Sanders for Refusing to Bend the Knee American Conservative (UserFriendly)

Bernie Sanders Is Running On a Moderate Foreign Policy New York Magazine

‘People will sit at home’: Sanders supporters threaten to boycott vote if Democrats pick a centrist Washington Examiner (resilc)

“Electability” Is a Poisonous Political Shibboleth New Republic (resilc)

On the impossibility of efficient markets Lars P. Syll

IMF boss says global economy risks return of Great Depression Guardian (Kevin W)

The FCC’s Approval of SpaceX’s Starlink Mega Constellation May Have Been Unlawful Scientific American (Robert M)

Federal agency looking into Tesla driver complaints of sudden unintended acceleration CNBC (Kevin W)

New glitch found in 737 Max software Financial Times

This is Not a Democracy, It’s a Cheerocracy: The Cheerleading Monopoly Varsity Brands Matt Stoller

Class Warfare

Yes, David Brooks, there really is a class war Economic Policy Institute

Real wages declined slightly in Q4 2019; nearly flat since last January Angry Bear

Since when does capitalism have agency?

Why Luxury Units in Manhattan Are Vacant Atlantic (J-LS)

Political Philosophy and the Search for the Possible New Rambler Review (J-LS)

Antidote du jour. Arnold update from Scott D:

“We got him a companion 2 years ago called Buddy.”:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. drumlin woodchuckles

    About ” people will sit home ” . . . I hope all the people who would sit home in the event of a mainstream Democratic nominee will come out and Write Sanders In instead. That way, all the votes who would have been for Sanders can be counted and compared to the numbers of votes that the various candidates will win or lose by.

    Also then, as well too of course, is the existence of all kinds of worthwhile people and issues and referrenda and initiatives to be voted about all the way on down the ballot. There will be lots of worthwhile things to vote about other than “president”.

    1. Jen

      This morning, I noticed a couple of people making the argument on twitter that you might need to vote for Sanders because his voters will stay home. Small sample size, but not something I’ve seen before. The power to destroy a thing…

      1. T

        We don’t know, for sure, why so many stayed home or didn’t vote for a president but Pew found 20+ percent of undervotes were people who didn’t like either candidate.

        Undevote was huge in 2016. In prior presidential elections, maybe 8% didn’t vote for that office because they didn’t like either the D or R candidate.

        2016 was weird, and had historically unpopular candidates so hard to say if strong trend against voting for president and turnout.

        We’ll see.

        1. Big River Bandido

          This is not hard. Democrats lost the general election because their candidate sucked and they had a better one that they screwed over. (In at least 3 must-win “blue” states that HRC lost in the general, Sanders won the primaries hands-down: WI, MI, and WV.) There’s no question Sanders would have taken all three of those states in the general election, and probably several more as well.

            1. Big River Bandido

              According to a Twitter post just days ago which was posted here somewhere, the figures were even worse than that. Around a 50,000 vote drop off for the Democrats between the primary and the general.

              In the Democrat primary, Sanders won all 55 counties in West Virginia, winning more votes in a contested race than Donald Trump won in the uncontested Republican primary.

              1. Kurtismayfield

                I went with the Wikipedia numbers for just Sanders and Clinton. I think that twitter post included all votes cast.

              2. none

                In the Democrat primary, Sanders won all 55 counties in West Virginia, winning more votes in a contested race than Donald Trump won in the uncontested Republican primary.

                I’d expect higher turnout if the election is contested.

          1. Joey

            I voted for Nancy Stein and will go 3rd party again if Biden, buttigieg, Bloomberg or klobuchar are ticket toppers. Staying at home implies disinterest. I want my message to be disconteMr.

            1. richard

              Why not have “No” or “None of the above are worthy of this office” as options, and the parties have to go back and nominate new candidates if this option wins a plurality of votes
              the incumbent holds office until a candidate beats “no” and all the other candidates
              If you were trying to fill a position at a private firm, or even when we’re trying to do it at school
              if none of the candidates fit what you need you keep looking
              if you’re actually serious about staffing

          2. Phacops

            I attended the (Benzie Co.) Dem postmortem, and while I tried to emphasize that a campaign of “I’ll hurt you less” and Obama’s policies that were disastrous to working Americans, including the ACA, led people to abandon Dem candidates, the denial was strong. The Dems concluded that it was merely a lack of effective messaging that lost Michigan, even when the messages had the cachet of a fresh turd on a hot day. They couldn’t believe that Hillary lost because their numerology told them she outperformed their silly baseline (SISO).

            Unless the Dems here take a stand in the primaries (including shitcanning Sen. Gary Peters) they will make the party entirely uselessto voters.

            1. Kurtismayfield

              I would also say that the lack of visiting the Mid West lost the Mid West. Clinton barely campaigned in the battleground states in the Mid West

          3. Procopius

            I get uncomfortable reading the comments on some other blogs. A statistically significant number of the commenters state emphatically that Sanders supporters actively worked against Hillary in 2016, and that all of them voted for Trump. They are sure their candidate could not have been unpopular. And, after all, she was “most quailfied,” so people should just suck it up, amirite? She could only have lost because of Russian influence and Bernie Bros sabotaging her. And just look how hateful they’re being to Senator Professor Warren! They are vile, rotten people.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        to paraphrase Stannis from Game of Thrones:

        “They will bend the knee or be destroyed.” #BernieOrBust

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          “For the Night is dark and full of terrors.”

          -Red Witch


          “What is dead may never die.”

          -Greyjoy Priest

          1. ambrit

            I prefer Lovecraft’s translation of Alhazred:
            “That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.”
            As good a description of neo-liberalism as any I have seen.

      3. Harry

        Whenever I come across people making the argument that Sanders supporters should fall in line and support whoever the Dem nominee is, I make a point of saying, actually I will vote for whichever candidate makes the most credible and explicit pledge to introduce Medicare4All, and if the Dem nominee wont do it I will stay home.

        Usually that prompts some idiot to say it will be my fault Trump gets in again. Which gives me the opportunity to say, “Oh good, so I do have some leverage. If you dont want Trump then you need to either support Medicare4All, or its “4 more years” & #MAGA.

        If you cant bring yourself to support Medicare4All, which one of us is really holding the other hostage?

        1. Kurtismayfield

          The best us when they go “What about the courts!!!”. I point to numerous examples of the Dem’s flubbing up the Federal and Supreme Court, and that it seems not to be a priority of the Dems.. so who am I voting for? Merrick Garland?? No thanks

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

            Yes, I say, good question, “What about the courts!!!” Worth pointing out that when Dems do get a chance to fill court positions, their candidates for judgeships tend to be business-friendly on issues that don’t hit the headlines – e.g., ease of filing class actions and limitations on punitive damages, to name just two. The Supremes have handed down a number of significant decisions on these issues, which taken together, drastically circumscribe the ability of people who’ve been harmed to get into court and secure appropriate damages. It wasn’t just Rep nominees who comprised the majorities for these decisions. But you virtually never hear about Dem complicity in this project.

      4. Matthew

        I’ve heard the Chapo Trap House people say that a couple of times, and they’ve got a pretty big audience. So I guess the meme is getting out there.

        1. Riverboat Grambler

          That’s where I heard it. It’s pretty cheeky, but “electability” as a whole is kind of a joke.

          I doubt it’s an argument that will sway the “pragmatic”, but if you truly have no principles other than voting for whoever other people will assumedly vote for, it has a certain logic.

    2. timbers

      Seems to me, Nancy’s “genius” is being revealed regarding her delay on the “impeachment” charges. Perhaps I’m showing how out of touch I am, but maybe the Senate can schedule daily impeachment proceedings televised back-to-back with the highest rated soap operas? Do they still have names like “As the World Turns” and “The Bold and Beautiful”?. Or sandwhich daily impeachment episodes in-between re-runs of Seinfeld and Friends or whatever is currently running now.

      Public schools can have students watch in class as daily course on American civics lessons.

      It might be good for ratings. The TV people would love that. Or hate it, if it bombs.

      But maybe Millennials and the gig economy have done away with those. As I said, I’m out of touch now.

      Or maybe Trump could just ignore the formal charges, and instead present evidence of all the crimes Bush and Obama did…present as if HE were the prosecution of these 2, indict, prosecute, and convict them?

      Or maybe Trump team could act as if Hillary’s email episode was on trial? Or maybe make a surprise appearance in person and do a magic act or something
      with spinning plates or keeping lots of balls in the air while he wears a great bid Clown Nose with painted face wearing an Uncle Sam red-white-blue suit.

      Anything to treat it like the circus it is.

      And his base thinks this is a huge joke, and myself being a Sanders or Green Party type, have totally ignored the “news” of this because it’s all just a nothing burger designed to divert us from any actual choice in the Democratic Primaries.

      I hope Democrats are ashamed of themselves doing this after what the 2 previous POTUS did and Nancy took that “off the table.”

      1. inode_buddha

        “I hope Democrats are ashamed of themselves doing this after what the 2 previous POTUS did and Nancy took that “off the table.”

        If they had any shame none of this would be happening in the first place.

      2. Donald

        “ I hope Democrats are ashamed of themselves doing this after what the 2 previous POTUS did and Nancy took that “off the table.””

        They’re not. They shrugged it off when Obama wanted to look forward, not back. They didn’t care about Yemen when Obama was responsible and they barely care when it is Trump. “The rule of law” is only supposed to cover crimes ( real or imaginary) that are committed against major Democratic figures and crimes or actions that go against US interventionism, no matter how minor. The Deep State and the Democrats have their standards.

        1. remmer

          Reminds me of an old political axiom that has been attributed to various people in different eras: “For our friends, everything; for our enemies, the law.”

      3. Stephen V.

        Laugh or cry? James Howard Kunstler’s blog to the rescue:
        So titanically self-unaware is the Democratic Resistance that it failed to grok it was actually signing the party’s death warrant Wednesday, complete with official Nancy Pelosi commemorative black-and-gold signature pens. And that their solemn, prayerful journey from one side of the Capitol building to the other was actually the conveyance of that death warrant in what amounted to the party’s funeral march.
        See here!
        Remember this eternal paradox of the human condition: people get what they deserve, not what they expect.

        Could you look at the line-up of Democratic impeachment managers without laughing? Was there ever such a band of hapless, misbegotten ninnies assembled for a suicide mission? Led by the waddling homunculus, Jerrold Nadler, side-by-side with Adam Schiff, oozing a flop-sweat of falsehood, a rank cloud of bathos trailed the procession to the Senate side with its pathetic bill-of-particulars.

        Could they actually be so dim as to proffer “abuse of power” and “obstruction of congress” as articles of impeachment? These two figments would be laughed out of a second-year law school mock court. Legal necromancers of the future, with all the time in the world, may never unpack the intended meaning of these charges besides “we hate you” and “you hurt our feelings.” But it’s up to the Senate of today to dispose of them procedurally one way or another, and the exercise is sure to be a high order of entertainment.

        1. Big River Bandido

          “a rank cloud of bathos trailed the procession to the Senate side with its pathetic bill-of-particulars.”



      4. Matthew

        Nancy didn’t take impeachment off the table in this case because for once she’s not implicated in the president’s crimes.

      5. Yves Smith Post author

        It isn’t “can schedule”.

        Senate rules have impeachment taking precedence over all other business, AND the Senate is required to sit 6 days a week while a trial is on.

        1. christofay

          There, that will keep Sanders off the campaign trail. The DNC’s main goal is to keep Sanders from winning the primaries and tying him up in Swamp theater aids in that.

          1. Procopius

            I don’t think that’s going to work. For most of the Nineteenth Century candidates did not actively campaign. It was “beneath the dignity of the office.” Bernie has an impressive organization, which none of the others has. I do not believe a voter who can be persuaded to vote for Bernie’s policies will refuse to vote just because she wasn’t able to get a selfie with him.

    3. KLG

      I had to stop reading that article at “Nominating a career center-left candidate such as Biden.” Life is entirely too short to get the next five minutes back.

      The only way to consider the Senator from MBNA as “center left” is to go back to the world in which his boon companion Strom Thurmond was still a “Democrat.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Not even then. Young Biden was basically a neolithic version of Buttigieg. He acted as the reasonable segregationist.

      2. Chris

        Yes, all of this, but also have you heard people describing Bloomberg as left???

        The one possible good thing that might come from the inevitable screwing Sanders a lot of us see coming is that we will honestly be able to differentiate the Democrats from the left. The media from the left. The think tanks from the left. Hollywood donors from the left. When it all falls down and people learn that Professor Blyth’s admonition of “the Hamptons not being a defensible position” means they also can’t rely on the wealthy and the media to push a narrative others will buy…we will finally be able to say with clarity what happened in 2016 was not an anomaly and it will continue to happen until your respect democracy.

    4. marym

      Write-in votes are not necessarily counted. Emphasis added.

      “Although a write-in candidate is not entitled to ballot placement, he or she may still be required to file paperwork in order to have his or her votes tallied (or to be eligible to serve should the candidate be elected). A total of 33 states require a write-in presidential candidate to file some paperwork in advance of an election. In nine states, write-in voting for presidential candidates is not permitted. The remaining states do not require presidential write-in candidates to file special paperwork before the election.”

      1. lyman alpha blob

        In my state which uses the optical scan fill-in-the-oval ballots, the only way write ins would be counted is if the election results were close enough to warrant an automatic recount, and even then that only triggers a recount of the candidates who were close. The only way individual write in votes would ever be looked at is if “write in” were to be neck and neck with one or more of the named candidates.

        Now if we had hand marked paper ballots counted in public by hand, that would be a different story.

        But since we don’t, I agree with what others have said – if you want to make a protest vote, better to leave it blank.

        1. Phacops

          The above is correct for Michigan. Write-ins must register to be counted, but the tally machine segregates the write-ins for a hand count and tally.

        2. hidflect

          I wouldn’t leave anything blank. Something or someone might behelpful and fill it in for you. “Nothing for Bernie… must be a Biden vote, amirite?”

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        If Bernie is not chosen to be the DNC Candidate — I will write-in Bernie’s name on the final ballot exactly as his name appeared on the primary ballot. I will also vote for other offices that will assure my vote will show up in other counts — whether write-in votes for Bernie are counted our not. My vote for Bernie may not show up as an undercount vote for president, I don’t know. This election is a last hope for our future. I intend to make my will as a citizen known and plain whether anyone else wants to notice.

        1. marym

          That’s an understandable choice if Sanders isn’t the nominee, though I’m not sure yet if it would be my own choice. I was just responding to the original comment and to any idea people may have that a write-in will have some visibility.

      3. fnx

        My memory may be failing me, but thought I read many years ago that here in Illinois any write in vote ends up being counted for that party’s named candidate rather than for whoever you write in. Ever since then if I don’t support a named candidate, I just don’t vote in that particular category.

    5. Mark Gisleson

      If they still bother to count write-in votes, they then make it all but impossible to find out how many there were and who they were for.

      Write-in votes are for the most part ignored as the duopoly controls the vote counting and has no incentive to pay attention.

      What’s harder to ignore is showing up to the polls and then skipping any race in which you think the major candidates stink. Undervoting can’t be hidden. When a congressional race gets more votes than races higher on the ballot, serious people take note.

      The Duopoly makes light of low voter turnout, but they can’t ignore undervoting since it cost HRC the 2016 election in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

      1. Tom Doak

        Serious people may take note, but the undervote in 2016 has not caused the Democratic Party to change its behaviour in 2020. They seem ready to double down on what they did last time.

      2. polecat

        Every voter should scan & make copies of their filled-in ballots, BEFORE submission, to be shown as proof of selection should the need of contention arise.
        Would work with mail-in ballots .. not sure about precinct voting … phone camera shots ??

        1. inode_buddha

          Nope. Any recording device will get you thrown out of the fire hall in which I vote. (NY-27)

          1. hunkerdown

            Does anyone still believe the excuse that “people might sell their ballots to the highest bidder” is a serious concern compared to “the establishment might just make up vote totals”?

      3. Jeff W

        “…they can’t ignore undervoting since it cost HRC the 2016 election in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.”

        Whether or not that’s true—and I hope it is, I see it differently. It’s not “If we do not vote for x, the party will change,” it’s the inverse: “If we continue to vote for x, the party will not change.” I don’t want to play a role in the Democratic Party remaining the same or getting even worse—we’ve seen over four decades what a disaster that is.

        It’s not only just information for the party. You want people—insurgent politicians, others in the media (e.g., Michael Moore), those of us on this blog—to be able to point to something like an undercount as an indication of what the Democratic Party is foregoing when it fails to pursue policies that get votes. It allows an opening for others to pursue those policies.

        Undervotes also indicate the possibility of a favorable outcome to the “assurance problem”—e.g., why should you, little voter, pursue something like single payer, when you can’t be assured that anyone else does? You’re the only one! Suddenly, Bernie Sanders appears on the scene and, well, it turns out you’re not the only one. If “everyone” casts a vote “for” a candidate that, in fact, no one wants, there’s an assurance problem—you can’t tell if you’re the “only one” who is, in fact, holding your nose voting for that candidate. The undervotes, the write-ins, indicate other people are as disaffected by the choices on hand and allow for the possibility that might vote for some other candidate who offers other policy positions. It allows for some way out of the assurance problem.

        1. a different chris

          Thanks, I didn’t really understand what Mark was saying. He seemed to say “if you write in Bernie Sanders your vote will be ignored, but if you leave it blank everybody will notice”. Huh?

          If there are a lot of ballots without either of the putative contenders on them, then people will get interested. If they then look at the ballots and find “Bernie Sanders” written down a lot then that’s a story. And maybe a shot across the bow to the Democrat even if they win* the election.

          *I use the term win but for the millionth time, the second election is always a referendum on the incumbent…I know it’s a lot of fun to say “if Dick did this instead of that” but it really won’t matter. The news everybody will pay attention to will be about Trump.

          1. Jeff W

            “I didn’t really understand what Mark was saying.”

            My interpretation of Mark’s statement is that, because states disallow or allow write-in votes to various degrees—some disallow them entirely and some allow them only if the person written in has met some requirement (and others allow them without restriction)—there is no guarantee that those states that disallow those votes in some way will tally them. No one will ever know what those write-in votes are. (I suppose you could, in theory, have some independent party request the ballots and tally the write-ins, if that is in fact allowed for in state law, but that’s something that is out of the course of regular voting.)

            Ballots with undervotes—you do not vote for a position you could have voted for—however, are ascertainable if for no other reason than if you have 100 ballots cast in a two-person race, with 50 votes for Candidate A and 40 votes for Candidate B, 10 ballots did not have votes for either candidate. And it might be that voter registrars in various states do routinely tally undervotes.

            (I don’t know if that’s what Mark meant or if that’s, in fact, how the voting works but that was how I interpreted it.)

        2. redleg

          The “vote blue no matter who” people should save their votes for the general election and leave the primary to those who understand that “who” is sublimely important.

    6. Wyoming Doc

      I am receiving multiple pieces of mail daily asking for funds. Mainly from Biden, Warren, and Buttigieg. And somehow Trump is sending me lots of emails asking for cash.

      The answer is the same to all. I will support Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard with cash and with my vote. Both are on monthly donations with me.

      If the Democrats dare to nominate any of the DNC approved candidates (Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, Clinton, Klobuchar) or the billionaires (Bloomberg or Steyer) , I will be voting for Trump. I like my liars to be straight forward and in the face. Nothing is worse than a passive aggressive liar – which is now the permanently enshrined mascot of the DNC.

      My elderly neighbor – who has had Warren signs in her front yard all during the autumn took all the signs down yesterday. I discussed this with her in the front yard. Her comment – “She sure fooled me – what a liar and a horrible person – I have ordered my Bernie Sanders signs and hope they get her soon.” – I have never seen a more spectacular political backfire – maybe one of the top 10 in the history of the mainstream media.

      1. Chris


        Mayo Pete’s “not all income levels” comments lately have been risible. I really can’t stand him,

        I have seen and heard good things about Yang too. I wish the DNC weren’t so set on keeping him and Tulsi out of the debates.

      2. Piper

        If the Democrats dare to nominate any of the DNC approved candidates… I will be voting for Trump. I

        Think I will too. Punish the Democrats for nominating a loser.
        A self fulfilling prophesy.

    7. Big River Bandido

      That article has nary a shred of actual reporting in it at all. They interview two voters who are Sanders-only supporters. This gives them a pivot to restate all of Clinton’s lies from 2016 and Warren’s from last week. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Biden and Zuck–

    So what is Zuck up to? My interest in Zuval Harari led me to this 90-minute discussion between the academic warning of humans being “hacked” by social media and Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg does get into his goals and thinking about AI, information gathering and online manipulation as he tries to defend against Harari’s criticisms.

    Harari is a historian and author of Sapiens, another of these grand histories of humanity aimed at elucidating what makes us tick. He’s a skeptic of technology with a focus on how myth creates and maintains communities larger than that 150 humans that anthropologists seem to agree is the maximum self-organized size without other mechanisms. After Sapiens, there are a lot of YouTube discussions between Harari and various folks you might expect to see at Davos. Here are a few of them:

    Harari and Pinker

    The defender of the Enlightenment against the Postmodernist hordes tries to remain optimistic in the face of Harari’s dire warnings.

    Harari and Fei-Fei Li

    The head of Stanford’s AI research discusses Harari’s concerns about AI.


    Harari’s ideas are also relevant to the discussion yesterday about Gene Sharp, revolutionary nonviolence and Marxist materialism. Harari is definitely of the historical school that places more emphasis on culture than social-economic conditions as a determinant of the “course of history.” In part, this is because the focus of his academic attention is a topic that reaches back well before the industrial age, but it’s also because Harari benefits from what we’ve learned about humans from anthropology, biology and cognitive science, information unavailable to Marx and Engels.

  3. Wukchumni

    For the first time in recorded history, tiny bark beetles emboldened by the climate crisis have started to kill giant sequoia trees, according to a joint National Park Service and US Geological Survey study set to be published later this year. Twenty-eight have gone since 2014. The combination of drought stress and fire damage appears to make the largest sequoias susceptible to deadly insect infestations that they would usually withstand.

    One of the 28 is the optimistically named Lazarus, which stands in the Giant Forest in Sequoia national park, surrounded by other sequoias and a handful of cedars and pines that died in California’s great drought.

    Even as tens of millions of trees died around them in California’s historic drought, reassuringly the vast majority of giant sequoias appeared to stand strong, as they had always done. But in 2017, Dr Nathan Stephenson, a forest ecologist with the US Geological Survey, noticed a live branch showing signs of beetle damage had fallen from a giant sequoia. Trees had died standing since 2014, but the fallen branches were the first indication of what might be going on. He incubated the branch for further research.

    “Hundreds of beetles came out of these pieces of branch. We went back the next spring and that part of the tree that had been sampled was now dead,” he recalls, detailing how the giant sequoia faded to its death from the top down. Stephenson emphasizes that there is still further research to do on how bark beetles are killing giant sequoias but he is clear on one thing.

    “I think beyond reasonable doubt in the limited set of circumstances, which was the most severe drought on record and all the trees had had a recent fire at their base, you can weaken giant sequoias to the point that bark beetles can kill them.”
    I’ve known this for about a year now, and if there ever was an above ground canary in the coal mine, Sequoia trees are it.

    They’re kind of the equivalent to our too big to fail giant corporations, top heavy organizations that have outsourced jobs (shallow root systems) and a surprisingly large amount of them are crooked, not unusual to see a Sequoia weighting 10 tonnes listing 10% to port or starboard.

    I walk by 1,500 year old specimens all the time, and each survived a couple of epoch droughts lasting 200 & 135 years, and wildfires that only went out when Mother Nature decided that the forest had run out of fuel to burn, or shifted winds.

    1. Janie

      I have fond memories of family camping trips and hikes in the Sequoias. This is so sad for me personally, but far more important are the implications for the near future. I dont even ponder20 plus years out; the next couple of decades are frightening enough.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s tragic if they get wiped out, you might have to go to a museum to see a dead one instead of just walking up and saying hello to an old timer.

        If the fatality rate ramps up quite a bit, I might go on Sequoiabatical and visit as many groves as possible, i’ve been to around 30 so far, and there’s quite a few little pocket groves that are way off the beaten path i’d like to see.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Your story reminds me of one that I heard from London in 1939. Just before the Blitz started, this guy was going around London to see and say goodbye to all the old buildings before they were destroyed. He said that after the war that many more buildings survived the bombings than could be hoped for – such as St. Paul’s Cathedral – but I think that the sentiment is the same as yours.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      I believe you’ve said this before, Wuk, but I have heard that bark beetle infestations and the desiccated deadwood they create are a not-inconsiderable element feeding the California drought wildfires.

      1. Wukchumni

        So far aside from a wide swath of pines in Kings Canyon NP that died just a few months before the Rough Fire (151k acres) and were taken out in the conflagration, most every dead tree is still waiting for a similar outcome.

        The newlydeads from the beetles concerted effort were initially called ‘red trees’ and now they’re skeletal and ashen looking, so they go by the moniker ‘grey trees’.

        I’m not seeing any new die-offs in the zone most effected from 3k to 7k, for what it’s worth.

    3. The Rev Kev

      This sounds tragic, Wuk. I hate to think of a fire getting loose with those Sequoias in their weakened state. Appreciate the updates that you give on these trees. Is anybody doing any research on how to kill off these beetles?

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m friends with Nate Stephenson, who was mentioned in the article, and he thinks maybe by using pheromones, they can attract the bark beetles away from the Sequoias, the problem being that there are 73 separate groves of Brobdingnagians spread a few hundred miles apart, and his team has found (very slight for now) beetle infestation in 3 groves, so they have their work cut out for them. certainly.

    4. Piper

      Why can’t they water the area around the remaining healthy trees?

      Firehoses, diesel pumps and a couple dozen volunteers could saturate the ground a couple times a year.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The problem may be the intensity of the flames. In Oz, the recent fires were so hot the radiant heat was making cars explode before the flames even had a chance to touch them. The article taking about “tree ghosts” in today’s links was frightening in its implications of the intensity of the fires. Thus the radiant heat would dry that area down in seconds and put any fire crews at risk.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps houses in Australia should be built ( or rebuilt or retro-fitted wherever possible) with outside cladding totally non-flammable and also proof against 2,000 degree F heat-ray soakdown from an advancing fire. All windows in Australian houses should perhaps have outside shutters easily closed and locked to keep radiant heat from going through windows and igniting the insides of houses.

          1. Norm de plume

            Good idea. Time for a daydream…
            The gubmint, MMT-woke, opens an account with itself to fund this project (one of several which would be required), puts the experts in charge under public control, and a workforce is formed, trained and deployed nationwide to future-proof human ability to inhabit this country. With no returns to capital required, costs are more than offset by the social and economic benefits of full(er) employment.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Regarding that Scotty from Marketing cartoon. It is based on a image that has become famous (infamous?) recently and here is the original-

    For those who do not know this term, a joey is just an infant kangaroo. I have to say that that article about Tree Ghosts was very disturbing and I let out a “Jesus F****** Christ” when I saw it. Some may be reminded of the Shadow people of Hiroshima but I am more reminded of the effect of the deaths rays from the original 1953 “War of the Worlds”.

    1. Collapsar

      I also let out an audible, strongly worded expression when I saw the ghost images in the article. Like you mentioned, I immediately thought of the Hiroshima shadows. A few days ago, a song came on the radio that I hadn’t heard in years by the group Matchbox 20, which is titled “How Far We’ve Come.” It’s lyrics seemed a little too on-the-nose for recent news: “I believe the world is burning to the ground. Oh well, I guess we’re going to find out.”

    2. GF

      Time to remove Prime Minister Scott Morrison from office. Only one Australian prime minister has ever been removed from office, with Gough Whitlam deposed by Governor General John Kerr on November 11, 1975. An online petition calling on the Governor General to remove him as Prime Minister received more than 70,000 signatures back in December. I’m sure they could get 7,000,000 signatures now.

    3. hidflect

      Smoko’s first allegiance is to his prosperity, sky-god before Australia’s interests which (IMO) makes him unfit to serve. People think he proposed moving the embassy to Jerusalem to sway Jewish voters in a particular electorate (effort falied) but the real reason is his desire to see prophesy fulfilled and the undivided nation of Israel created. He’s a nut.

  5. Jack White

    Mr. Biden has run for the presidency before. If he were electable, he would have been elected by now.

    1. Big River Bandido

      IIRC, last time he ran he dropped out after finishing 4th in Iowa.

      He’s pretty well on track to do that again.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        But he won’t drop out this time because the Democrat party needs a brokered convention to keep Bernie away. Can’t have the also-rans dropping out to soon and ruin the coronation.

        1. lordkoos

          I have a hard time believing polls that show Biden leading. Sanders needs to repeatedly point to Joe’s attacks on social security and medicare, which are well documented.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Neil Kinnock is already ahead of that and claiming Bernie’s people have doctored the video and I assume transcripts…I’m sorry Joe Biden, not Neil Kinnock.

        2. Big River Bandido

          “Brokered convention” is frequently invoked, but it’s never been a very plausible scenario, especially when the vote is divided between one strong candidate with lots of structural advantages vs. several weak candidates with only institutional advantages split amongst them. The closer we get to actual vote taking, the less that brokered convention appears mathematically possible.

          1. inode_buddha

            AFAIK they can just change the rules at the last moment. Or simply nominate whomever they want regardless. After all this is the same crowd that told a judge they are under no obligation to the public and can do what they want…. because what are you gonna do about it? I certainly wouldn’t put it past them.

            1. Hepativore

              Yes, the Democratic Party leadership might just say outright that they refuse to nominate Sanders, f*ck his delegates. Granted, I think that might even spark a few violent protests across the nation but the people at the helm of the Democratic leadership might even see themselves as martyrs in a way as they are determined to go down with the sinking ship that is their party rather than let Sanders be the nominee.

              If they do brazenly refuse to recognize Sanders as the Democratic candidate, at least everybody will be able to see who their true enemies are in public.

              1. inode_buddha

                On the bright side it would most certainly spell the end of the party, and inject a bunch of honesty into the discourse. At this point I can only pray that AOC runs for prez as soon as possible in such a scenario.

                  1. JBird4049

                    There has been a vast amount of corruption, backroom dealing, and double-crossing in America, but I do not think any political convention in the United States has resulted in a nominee being rejected if they won an absolute majority of the vote at the convention.

                    However, if the Democratic leadership is foolish enough to do so, it might get us President Trump for another term, but you would also see the Democratic Party implode. The former would be terrifying and might lead to the collapse of civilization. I mean that literally. The latter would be fun to watch. I would be eating endless bowls of popcorn while doing so.

    2. Samuel Conner

      Yes, but in past primaries when JB was seeking the nomination, there wasn’t a credible progressive with widely-popular policies and a serious chance of winning the primary competing with him; someone who, from the perspective of The Party, must be stopped and for the sake of stopping a hopeless general election candidate is worth nominating.

      The D party doesn’t seem to want to govern in the interest of the whole population of the country. This, IMO, accounts for the lack of interest in expanding votership.

      1. John

        Given their druthers both parties would be content with a voter role restricted to white male property holders or simply those with an income above $100,000. Make for a nice cozy election and it would not matter which party was victorious.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Only as long as they have to. Their lust for white flight republicans is about more than rejecting the working classes. It fits Neil Kinnock’s friend Strom Thurmond.

  6. allan

    Pro-gun activists threaten to kill state lawmaker over bill they misunderstood [Guardian]

    Virginia’s only socialist state legislator said he has been the target of multiple death threats over a bill that pro-gun activists misinterpreted as a potential threat to their rights.

    The legislation introduced by Lee Carter, a 32-year-old Bernie Sanders-endorsed socialist, would allow public school teachers to strike without being fired, and has in fact nothing to do with guns. But some gun rights activists wrongly interpreted it as an attempt to fire law enforcement officials who might refuse to comply with gun control laws introduced by Virginia’s new Democratic legislative majority. …

    That conspiracy theory relied upon a basic misreading of the bill text, which in fact kept longtime Virginia law intact for law enforcement officers, and created a new exemption for other public employees.

    While a gun rights YouTube channel had appeared to be central to spreading the misreading of his bill to a wide audience, Carter said that some of the misinformation about his bill appeared to be fueled by police unions, and even by a fellow Republican state lawmaker – all people, he said, who should be able to accurately read legislation. …

    Sadly for Mr. Carter, and small-d-democracy in Virginia and elsewhere, the organizations and lawmakers
    referred to can read perfectly well and know exactly what they’re doing.

    1. inode_buddha

      Eventually they’re just gonna come right out and say that nobody with a net worth of less than a million can sue, full stop. Every time I see one of those disclaimers about fitness for purpose and disclaiming all warranties or other representations I wonder what the hell am I paying for, then?

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

        Oh yes, to add to my comment above re the complicity of Dem-nominated judges in business-friendly decisions, mandatory arbitration jurisprudence is another great example.

        1. Procopius

          It’s long been a puzzle to me why this received so little attention. The reason the mainstream media to not mention it is clear, but there are credible alternative outlets that I would think would talk about it more than they have. Several years ago I saw a lengthy article (I think it was by the excellent Dahlia Lithwick) about the Supreme Court’s limitation of “standing.” I wonder if legislation could overturn the rulings in favor of mandatory arbitration. I believe legislation could at least limit the phony precedent that corporations are people.

    2. wilroncanada

      Thanks Carla
      I note the article did not differentiate between children and “young” adults. Does that mean that “Young” adults of voting age still cannot sue? Maybe a point for reducing the voting age to 16. It is being mooted elsewhere.

      1. Dikaios

        The court unanimously agreed with the content of the suit, and even accepted the “standing” of the young people. But two of the judges dismissed the suit on the grounds that any action they might order would be “uninforceable.” Given the present composition of the SCOTUS, who is to say they were wrong?

  7. The Rev Kev

    “New glitch found in 737 Max software”

    I think that I know what Boeing’s real problem is. They spent far too long in Seattle. Why should that be a problem? Well think who is also in this region and when you do, you realize that it is Microsoft. They spent afar too much time with these guys and how they did business.

    Put it all together and you realize that when Boeing launched the Boeing 737 MAX, it was actually the Beta version of the 737 MAX that they released and that is why all these problems keep on cropping up. They were of course going to eventually fix these problems in an eventual Service Pack.

    1. a different chris

      haha I imagine a 737 just flattening out after a partial liftoff and heading 300miles in an exact straight line while “upgrade 13 out out 17” flashes on the screens…and everybody grips their seats waiting for the reboot…

    2. Scott D

      They are trying to use software fixes to compensate for a design that is approaching instability at high angle of attack. This is because the larger forward engines move the center of lift closer to the center of gravity as AOA increases. When they get too close you can’t really control the plane manually. One solution to the problem is to leave the last 10-12 rows empty and move the CG forward, but that’s not going to fly.

    3. Bugs Bunny

      A policy at Microsoft is “code reuse”. You will likely find hunks of DOS or some acquisition in the latest update of any of their products. Sometimes that old nugget of code screws up something new or vice versa.

      Sounds exactly like what Boeing did by reusing the stuff from the 737 and strapping on new junk to make the MAX deathtrap.

    4. lordkoos

      I don’t think so, even though it makes a nice meme. Boeing was in Seattle for many decades before Microsoft.

      In fact, the problems started appearing after they moved their HQ out of Seattle to Chicago and some of their manufacturing to Huntsville AL.

      1. pasha

        exactly, lordkoos! the mba group ousted the engineers, moved to chicago when seattle wouldn’t give them tax breaks, then set up in a right-to-work state to damage the union. all these decisions dictated solely by bottom line and raising stock price.

    5. Harry

      Apparently the 737 Max software was written in India. That said, perhaps the main block of code was written in Seattle before for the earlier models.

      1. skk

        Great link !
        While I still think “off with all their heads”, metaphorically of course, still that article was a great side-by-side comparison.

      2. anon in so cal

        The clinchers were the dodgy work and relationship history; using then ghosting; just-met celebrities, not family, at the wedding; over-the-top spending; commercializing “charities.” Perhaps the final straw was the “no one asked if I’m ok” interview in S. Africa. All against the backdrop of austerity for the masses. Otherwise, SussexRoyal yoga mats collection coming soon to a Target near you…

      3. pjay

        Thanks for this. I have almost no knowledge about and even less interest in this debate. But this is an informative article in showing how easily similar actions can be spun into puff pieces or hit jobs. I did read the TAC piece, and it seemed pretty obviously one-sided to me. This article nicely illustrates some of the mechanisms used in the TAC story. And of course now there is a “Kremlin link” in the press coverage… Lol.

        Again, I take no position on this issue. “MM” might well be the scheming bitch she is said to be by her detractors. But I am quite interested in the techniques of media manipulation, which seem to be everywhere these days.

      4. wilroncanada

        Thanks DorothyT
        I too have been surprised at the attention to this. I got a laugh though about a couple of things. The letter writer dropped some names of celebrities in some vague way connected. David Foster, Michael Buble, Celine Dion and Michael Jackson. Foster as the LA music promoter of the other three: Foster is from Victoria, Buble is from near Vancouver, Dion is from near Montreal. We Canadians are taking over!
        There was a lot of stuff about a Russian Oligarch, without much substance, but his rental of an estate, likely owned by Foster, deserved headlines. Especially highlighted was Foster’s five wives. Doesn’t that writer realize that a lot of us Vancouver Islanders have multiple wives, many at the same time. But we are not sexist because there are many women here with multiple husbands. It creates quite a bit of chaos at the ferry terminals to Saltspring Island.
        There were attempts by journalists to hound them when they were here, but those supposed journalists were British, from many of those so-called papers named. One water taxi operator refused to charter his boat to take a group of those “journalists” by water to spy on the couple, though they were offering double the going rate. A local television station showed a couple of other British “journalists” going from store to store in one of the suburban shopping districts, where the couple had been reported, trying without success to get information on what they had done or what hey might have bought. Like the boat operator, the store owners/staff refused to co-operate. We’re used to celebrities here and, by and large, we leave them alone.

        1. Wukchumni

          If they were to relocate to Medicine Hat, and live ordinary lives-albeit with a little meth problem, would that allow them to worm their way into Canadian hearts & minds?

        2. RMO

          wilroncanada: “We’re used to celebrities here and, by and large, we leave them alone” A notable exception to the rule being when celebrity/0.01%er tries to do something like closing off a beach to the public so they can have it themselves (or preventing the public from traveling on public roads to a lake to fish as in the recent Douglas Lake Ranch case). That sort of thing tends to blow up in their faces.

      1. John A

        Unfortunately, the second half of this quotation, featuring the sun of York, is out of the question as the Duke of York remains under the Epstein cloud.

    1. Geof

      If this is right, then she played herself in Suits.

      I barely knew who she (or Harry) was when I started watching Suits a couple of months ago. Markle’s character Rachel is chronically insecure, narcissistic and clingy. The show presents this as endearing and sweet. It seems that she – the actress – can’t tell the difference.

      At one point, she is moping around the office because she feels she’s not respected. Her boyfriend Mike comes in and posts her framed LSAT scores on the wall so that everyone can see how smart she is. The music and the moment tell the audience that this is a good deed. The show can’t see that replacing self-confidence with dependency on credentials destroys the soul. Characteristically, nor can she.

      Mike, the supposed hero, is a self-righteous do-gooder who is clearly more concerned with his own conscience (and letting everyone else get a good look at it) than in doing anything worthwhile for anyone else. The two are a perfect pair of furious righteousness and hypocrisy, and we’re supposed to love them for it. (Don’t watch the show for them: do it for Louis.)

      Sometimes an actor just an actor. Louis obviously has a great time chewing on the scenery. But Meghan? She’s playing a part in Suits, but it isn’t Rachel: it’s a person she thinks the audience will love – herself. And because she herself is a superficial act, so is Rachel. Playing the hero’s love interest she does all these things that she clearly thinks are cute, but that reveal a void of substance that would make any sensible person run in the other direction. That’s not just the writers or the director – that’s her. At least that’s how it looks to me – and did before I knew about the actress’s reputation. Watching the show, I kept thinking that if this is what attracted Harry to Meghan, the man is a fool to be pitied.

      Yeah, I know none of this matters. I never gave a darn about the royals before. But if this really is the zeitgeist – if this really is what people put on a pedestal – then it explains a lot about the state of our society and politics. I hope my fellow Canadians smarten up.

        1. Wukchumni

          If the Canada gambit doesn’t work out, Meghan was talking about Tiara del Fuego as a second choice.

      1. wilroncanada

        If you aren’t a celebrity suckup, Geof, why did you just start watching the show, when it has long since been discontinued?
        Then writing what your self-styled brilliant analysis of character development is simply demented.

        1. Jeff W

          “I’m sure Harry would agree that this package is the perfect solution for his needs.”
          —Simon Graney, director of the outdoor adventure and challenge school Outward Bound, Anakiwa, New Zealand, pointing out that full-time accommodation at the school’s newly-built staff quarters comes with the role of instructor

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The article proves no such thing. Meghan is an American (Brits do no like Americans) who has as the article in Links shows, created tons of animosity by refusing to respect protocol and shirking her civic duties. And it conveniently omits the time factor, that Kate was roughed up quite a lot before and shortly after her marriage, but she settled into playing the royal role and the press turned and started being generally very positive. And as for avocados in particularly, it’s only pretty recently that they’ve become controversial.

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

            As an American who has lived in England, studied in England, and been married to an Englishman since ’86, and who works and interacts with Brits in several capacities, I can attest to the truth of Yves’ comments. An American can be accepted, and form deep and lasting friendships and professional associations with Brits, but one has to work at it – and it’s necessary to display cultural understanding and genuine cultural sensitivity. If one does that, one can be accepted. I treasure my friendships with Brits, most of which date to the Thatcher years. The examples from the link above show that Meghan didn’t do this. Acceptance is by no means automatic; it must be earned.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Does “trying too hard” in itself in this context reduce the chances of acceptance?

  8. Craig H.

    > Harry and Meghan’s hideaway, the Kremlin-linked tech tycoon and a web of intrigue: Tantalising questions about billionaire Yuri Milner who met the prince at elite ‘Google Camp’ last summer Daily Mail

    I looked at the pics. According to the internet Yuri Milner is 5’8″ tall. If that is true then his wife is 6’3″. So that part was interesting!

    1. a different chris

      Here’s my pox on the whiners side take – remember I hate both equally but the link in this post was to that side so…

      The whole thing seems to boil down to this:

      So royalty, despite being bowed to, is meant to draw attention to others and not be boastful. Yet her behaviour throughout continually drew attention to herself.

      I mean, OMG. Nobody of importance has even been somebody who is inclined to draw intention to themselves. It’s so different, especially in America. Not FDR, not that shinking violet JFK, and Reagan didn’t want to be seen at all. Right?

      Megan Markle’s professional career is as an actress. She has spent her whole life doing things where she expects to be the center of attention. Where she would actually get criticized for not commanding attention. (“Markle, tell me why should I watch you? It’s costing us Xzillion dollars a day to shoot this thing, so you better command the camera a lot better than that, there are a 100 prettier girls waiting in line if you don’t”) Maybe Harry shouldn’t have married such a creature, but if you mistakenly or otherwise bring a Border Collie home to your mid-city apartment things aren’t going to go the way they would as if you bring a more temperate dog.

      1) Ms Markel is not the same as other royals. Duh, that is a good thing in any case where said person is not actually a serial killer. Have you seen the Royals? Any shakeup is an improvement…
      2) An actress’s tendency is to act.
      3) “the royals have been increasingly careful to not be so ostentatious with their wealth.” Yeah because of the head-chopping thing, not because they are some sort of saints
      4) And this calls into question the entire mentality of the writer: “The press had killed Harry’s mother (not William’s apparently) “. WTF does the fact that Diana was also William’s mother have to do with anything?

      And.. I could go on. But finally we agree:

      >By the way. I don’t think her behaviour is because she’s American, or because of her race.

      No. It’s because she has been in show biz her whole life. This is how most people like that behave. But please god I wish everybody would shut up about it. And feel free, in fact please also tell me to shut up if I ever comment on this again.

      /head banging

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No, being an actress gives her less of an excuse for her conduct, particularly since she claims to have been obsessed with the idea of being a princess and read voraciously about Diana. Being an actress means assuming a role. Being a royal is a role with very specific duties and protocol. But she was unwilling to accept them and kept trying to do things her way. The insisting on private class travel, the million dollars in a year on clothes (when her pre-Harry net worth was $4 million) and pushing in front of Harry are key bits that you ignore.

        I would also hazard you don’t have much experience with foreign cultures. It is incumbent on the foreigner to fit in if you are anything other than a tourist (and even then, it helps). The rules are more strict at more elite social and business levels. I worked in McKinsey’s London office which wasn’t socially elite or even business elite back then, it was full of Oxbridge types, and they were hostile to the foreigners (not just me but the other American and an Irish woman who later became partner). At best, it’s a protracted hazing process.

        Meghan appeared unwilling to make any effort along those lines. It’s as if she got hired by an elite Wall Street firm and announced after she joined, “I don’t do spreadsheets.”

        I hate to use Arnold Schwarznegger as an example, but he was also a deliberate social climber. He did so by studying up on everyone he met, trying to meet them socially, ideally over a meal, and charming them. By all accounts, Arnold was very engaging and would show impressive knowledge about issues of keen interest to the person he was soliciting. And this was pre the Internet, when it was much harder to do that sort of research. Arnold’s success was in feigning very successfully that these meetings were all about the other person, not him.

        1. Tom Bradford

          I agree that “being Royal” is a matter of acting out a role that’s pretty much pre-defined, but it’s also a role that doesn’t come with a script to follow. Megan might be a great actress when she has a script written for her and a director to tell her what to do – I don’t know as I’ve never seen her – but improvisation is different talent altogether and one many ‘great’ actors fail at if they even try it.

          An added complication is that you’re not working with other actors with a common goal. You’re dealing with ‘ordinary’ people who are likely to be unsure of what to say, what they can say, and are looking for you to lead them and provide the clues – often in situations where you’re the outsider, don’t really comprehend what you’re acknowledging and, at heart, don’t have any real interest in the whole event.

          I have to suspect Megan was attracted by the glamour of the role – I really can’t imagine she’d have married Harry had he just been a barista in a run-down cafe – but like most Americans just didn’t understand that being ‘Royal’ is a vocation and couldn’t take the dull grind it mostly is.

        2. a different chris

          ;) — if you read my post again but are given the underlying info that the writer (me) believes that Meghan is both a bad actress and overall not particularly bright to boot, you see your and my views actually align pretty darn well.

          And. I. Am. Done. With. This.

        3. Harvey

          Having lived for a few years in a non-western culture as part of an expat community full of Brits and Dutch and some Aussies we found the following.
          The locals who were our neighbours were unpretentious & friendly, as were some of the Brits and the Dutch and the Aussies.
          But, many of the Brits were cliquish and racist(eg wouldnt let their kids play with the local kids whose fathers worked in professional roles in the same firm), and some Brits looked down on us for letting our kid play at the neighbours.
          Brit remarks that left us laughing included – that “one” wouldn’t dream of using sheets that hadn’t been ironed by the maid, and
          – that “one” must have the maid do the orange juice for breakfast (rather than doing it themselves) – and this from people who had never had a maid before in their lives.
          If one had to be a faux upper class tw*t to fit in, then we bailed out on that. I can relate to anyone who feels the same.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I didn’t get any of that at McKinsey. What I got was instead reflexive horror that someone who didn’t have a proper accent was in their ranks. It was visceral. And the people at McKinsey didn’t have maids.

            However, they were very upset at signs that I behaving above my status in their eyes. For instance, I had very nice suits by virtue of buying good designers at the end of the season at 50% or more off. People in the London office grumbled that I dressed “grandly” for a mere associate. Similarly, due to the dollar being super strong that summer, and Americans hoovering up short-term rentals, making it very difficult for me to find a place, I wound up in a better neighborhood than they saw fitting for my rank. That stuck in their craw.

            1. Harvey

              Yes, the old 1960s UK skit by Cleese, Barker and Corbett about class might explain a bit of your situation, perhaps being seen as “acting above your station” by having designer clothes and a nice flat.
              The whole British class thing is good for a laugh, especially by people who don’t know their place.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Generations of Scots, Irish and Australians in England have often used that to their advantage – because the English find it hard to ‘place’ their accents and mannerisms they can slot into business and social situations where the English would struggle (it was an Irishman – George Bernard Shaw – who said that ‘no Englishman can open his mouth without having another Englishman despise him’). The trick is to be suitably ambiguous in terms of your behaviour and accent. If you are too obviously working class, or too obviously posh, you’ll be nailed down and excluded. I learned this the hard way when I lived in England – I learned over time that smoothing over my previously quite hard Dublin accent into a softer more ambiguous one made a huge difference in how people responded around me, both socially and professionally (it helped that so many English women adored Boyzone at the time!). Although having said that, I had only minimal contact with Oxbridge types, but when I did they seemed to treat me as a sort of curiousity.

                This isn’t uniquely an English thing of course, plenty of westerners succeed in Asia doing the same thing at all levels – learning enough about local mores to both slot in and succeed in a manner they couldn’t do at home. I’m sure there are examples in pretty much all cultures, but maybe less so in the US where there is a far greater ‘churn’ of people from all sorts of backgrounds.

                There is nothing unique about this – all roles demand a certain type of behaviour (being the spouse of a politician, for example), this is just how social relationships work – and its all the harder when it is in another culture. You can use it to your advantage, or you can be arrogant and have it blow up in your face.

                Up to this blow up I’ve been pretty much oblivious to the whole Royal thing (not really a political stance, I just find them uninteresting), but it does seem to me that she failed to do her due diligence. One thing upper class English really dislikes is the sort of aggressive pushiness that would be considered normal among the US upper classes. You are supposed to at least pretend to be humble and unconcerned with material things and to affect a sort of ‘ordinariness’ (its the layer below the true upper classes that join things like the Bullingdon Club and act like asses). It looks like she simply didn’t bother doing this.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Trump Says U.S. Is Ready for War. Not All His Troops Are So Sure.”

    The stuff in this article reaffirms a lot of what I have been reading over the past few years. The US has the ability to go to war but if a war lasts longer than a few weeks, then the military may run out of steam due to issues like this and supply problems. Doesn’t help when a potential opponent can use ballistic missiles with an accuracy of only a few meters either.

    These are not the typical enemy fighters in sandals and carrying AK-47s & RPGs. And this is not forgetting the fact that when the US went after Iraq, they had the better part of a year to transport all the troops and ear, establish a network of bases and stockpile mountains of supplies. That will not be allowed to happen again. Next time could see casualties at a rate not seen since Vietnam.

    1. inode_buddha

      All I know is, I have spent the last 20 years listening to 24×7 jingoism and I’m sick and tired of it. These people seem to be in a bubble regarding US military ops, every bit as much as those who live in privileged economic bubbles. It’s going to be interesting when the blinders finally come off — you would be *amazed* at how many inconvenient facts are “left out” by the news and media in the US.

    2. a different chris

      Big wars are so over. The destructive capabilities are so great as to threaten* the entire planet, aka no real winners. Small wars are a matter of casualties, and nobody wants their kid dead far away over something they don’t even understand.

      Would be nice if everybody just bagged the whole idea at this point.

      *And I mean “threaten” in the sense that “this will happen” not in sense of “maybe”…

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      More like a Market Garden esque disaster. I think the shock of more than a dribbling of a few funerals would have a major effect on USians. The belief in invincibility feeds our collective thuggishness. Then there would effectively be a ceasefire unless the Iranians had a few specific nearby landmarks to snag (artillery spots).

      With the deployment of the military and no real threat in any of these wars, there won’t be any demand to finish the job except from Ben Shapiro.

      1. Monty

        Many of the US-ians I’ve met would be baying for blood, and demanding a nuclear response. Trump might feel obliged to use a couple lest he appears weak. Then what? Probably nothing, apart from some mouthing off. The totalitarian control the US enjoys in matters financial means it can easily harm countries that don’t play along. The media and foreign leaders will all fall in line.

        1. anon in so cal

          Reports suggest 20,000 U.S. troops would be killed if the U.S. starts war with Iran. The real danger is Trump might be stupid enough and pressured enough to use tactical nuclear weapons. Trump has pressed for their use: submarine-launched (nuclear) ballistic missiles and sea-launched nuclear cruise missiles.

          1. coboarts

            20,000 that’s nothing. When I served in the Army in Germany in the late 70’s we were told that 3 out of 100 would survive the first three days of an all out Warsaw Pact attack. Of course, I had to look up and down the line to figure out who the other two guys would be.

            1. Rod

              Our truth should be known by every American.

              I was stationed in Germany at the end of the VN war.
              Field Artillary; Pershing 1a (Mobile Nuclear) Battalion in Bavaria.
              I have never forgotten that count off at Unit Orientation: 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3…all you ones stand and this is the first 12 hours casualties now 2s stand and this is the first 24 hour casualty count— be happy you’re not a Grunt or Tanker…
              I was 19 and it was my first introduction to being expendable. But not the only one on that tour of duty “serving my country”.
              As the Army was fond of saying: I had an Attitude Adjustment

              1. coboarts

                Improved Hawk, out of Spangdahlem Air Base. I got there in ’77, just as the last of the VN era guys had left. You guys were legend.

            2. Matthew

              I spent the mid-late ’80s in Frankfurt as a small child. My parents told me about this quite a bit later. I think my father said that the entire goal of the first 24-48 hours was holding the airport long enough to evacuate families and other civilians.

              I’m really glad I didn’t know this stuff at the time!

        2. neo-realist

          Another thing that may happen if we go nuke on Iran is that “sleepers” within the homeland may become activated and engage in a campaign of assassination and sabotage. Solemani hinted at such a possibility when in an interview or a response to one of Trump’s boasts, I recall him saying something to the effect of “we may be closer than you think.” The war will finally get real for the average beer drinking, sports watching American.

    4. Winston Smith

      On the topic of endless US wars, there is an excellent radio open source podcast “the cost of war”. The seldom discussed topic.

    5. Wukchumni

      If our vaunted military was a pro sports team, all they would have is a couple of playoff appearances early (beaten in the first round) in the festivities since 9/11, but otherwise they’d essentially be the Baltimore Orioles, a hapless team going nowhere.

      Now, could you imagine heaping hosannas upon the Orioles in spite of their record of 54 wins and 108 losses this past season?

      That’s what we’re trained to do with our GI Joes & Janes.

      1. KLG

        If our vaunted military was a pro sports team, they would have Jeff Fisher as head coach. Good looking. Ineffective when it counts the most, and getting worse with every season.

    6. coboarts

      “Next time could see casualties at a rate not seen since Vietnam.”

      or WWI?

      Then how long will we last? I’d be surprised if we didn’t allow for that and begin the draft beforehand. Although, the darn thing about war, or a street fight, is you don’t have any control over what your opponent is going to do, unless it’s WWE.

    7. Phacops

      Don’t underrate RPGs. The Somali’s did not have surface to air capability, but they knew of our helicopter tactics and the altitude of Blackhawk support. They devised a timed rather than an impact fuse and the rest is history.

    8. Wukchumni

      What do we replace all the military jingoism we’ve been peppered with as if we were some dish in heavy need of seasoning?

      It’s only gotten ever more pervasive since 9/11, bordering on forced fan worship gone horribly wrong.

      You get the feeling the worm is going to turn, and similar to the period between the fall of Saigon and invasion of Grenada. our military might will be shunned by the public.

    9. VietnamVet

      What turned the world upside down is Iran’s and the Shiite Militia’s achieving conventional weapon mutually assured destruction (MAD) with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Two missile attacks and not one shot down. They hit with precision. Donald Trump backed down twice from striking Iran.

      Like the 737 Max, the reason this occurred is corruption. The protection money from the Saudis and American taxes went into pockets of the wealthy. DOD is a scam. There is no effective missile defense. Middle East petroleum facilities are so spread out and interconnected plus goes through two narrow straits that if the USA strikes Iran, oil shipments will be cut off and the global economy killed.

      War games in the First Cold War indicated that once nuclear weapons are used, tactical or regional, the losing side always escalated until the ICBMs were launched before being destroyed in their silos. The Boomers as long as they could remain undetected underseas assured a second strike. MAD allowed the human species to survive to see a second Cold War with Russia restarted by Joe Biden, all over again. Launching tactical nukes against Iran is pointless. Nukes can’t be used without destroying US allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

      Iran has stated it wants the USA gone from the Middle East. The Saudi Crown Prince to keep his wealth, oil pumping and his head, needs peace with Iran. Right-wing Israelis have enough influence over American politics that the USA will never voluntarily leave. Troops in the Gulf will be pulled back to Israel. The basic question is how do the Abrahamic Religious Homelands learn to live together without causing the prophesied Apocalypse.

      1. skippy

        Sadly Divine Right does not reveal itself until someone is completely dominate [tm] in victory, not to mention all that get ground up in chasing that event horizon in perpetuity.

  10. Wukchumni

    New Chinese virus ‘will have infected hundreds’ BBC
    We noticed that Chinese on holiday were the predominant visitors @ Zion & Bryce Canyon NP’s when we were there just before xmas, and what a dandy place to spread infection, fairly tight quarters during the winter with snow accumulation that herds humans into quarantine-like spaces in a way similar to how norovirus has affected 200 recently in Yosemite Valley, or on a cruise ship.

    1. Ignacio

      The situation around Lake Chad, Rivers Niger & Volta and all the Sahel region is horrible and the article is a very good primer on how it is degrading into an destructive spiral and how climate change has worst effects in regions that cannot respond in an organized way to the challenges. Fertile land for violence and jihaddism is helping to make things worse. This region would need intervention by a working UN body but this institution has degenerated so much…

  11. CH

    I cannot wait for Martin Luther King Day, when liberals and conservatives all over the country unite to ignore MLK’s clear insistence that racism and economic inequality are inextricably linked and must be addressed and fought together.

    Once the composition of America’s CEOs paying themselves 278 times the median worker salary reflects the racial balance of America, King’s dream will have been achieved.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Israeli ethic cleansing

    Good article from Harper’s a few months back on an absolutely disgusting tactic that politicizes archaeology in order to evict Palestinians. The right wingers have managed to take over some of the Israeli archaeological organizations and are now using what are in my opinion extremely dubious “finds” – one example was a footpath supposedly used by ancient pilgrims – as a pretense to tunnel underground (which is a very sketchy technique) in Palestinian owned areas. The tunnels then destabilize the buildings above which are condemned and the Palestinians evicted, to be replaced later by Israelis.

  13. Lee

    Electability: Any electorate fed up enough to elect Donald Trump is certainly fed up enough to elect Bernie Sanders.

    On getting your pet a pet. Do it, particularly with dogs. Leaving them home alone is cruel and makes them miserable and neurotic.

    1. John

      The tourists love it. They all go and get their pictures taken there.

      It’s very useful in continuing the myth we “little people” have any power in this country.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Is it still there near the bull or did they move it? It was still there two or three years ago, surrounded by tourists, when we visited. I really wanted to hang a sign around its neck that said something like “I am a corporate sponsored marketing campaign for a Wall Street investment company” and take a picture with my daughter but she was too embarrassed by her old man to allow it.

        I’d love to see someone do it and post a pic to NC if it is still there. Just planting seeds….

      2. polecat

        That’s the public for ya ! Still in awe of ‘shivin for a livin’ in the ‘Bronzed Age of the Wall$treet Ferengi’.

  14. John

    Caligula’s horse was elected consul; Donald Trump was elected president. Given these to historically verifiable facts demonstrate that there is a bottom limit to ‘electability’.

    1. Wukchumni

      Caligula’s horse was elected consul; Donald Trump was elected president. Given these to historically verifiable facts demonstrate that there is a bottom limit to ‘electability’.

      The only problem being that Caligula’s horse: Incitatus, wasn’t elected consul, and yet it’s the one thing most remember about him.

      We’ve got just over a year of tyranny left with fearless leader-maybe 5, what will history remember him for 1,900 years from now?

      1. Norm de plume

        Does Trump own any horses?

        He does have children, as did Caligula. Both of Caligula’s died young (one at his command), but Trump’s are well on the way to Clinton/Bush level in the imperial families stakes.

        Trumps as yet unborn will in our grandchildren’s time do battle with the librul neo-Clintons in the glare of the showlights, and clink glasses after dark.

        ‘It’s a club. And you ain’t in it!’

  15. smoker

    Re: The FCC’s Approval of SpaceX’s Starlink Mega Constellation May Have Been Unlawful

    Very depressing, I hope something can be done before Musk, Bezos [Amazon’s Project Kuiper constellation], et al destroy the night skies forever. It sounds like filing the injunction and an uncorrupted Judge[s] is the only hope to prevent further launches. It’s bad enough what’s been unleashed regarding drones, sidewalk robots, etcetera, and their ill effect on living species.

    Perhaps in Musk’s case, public appeal might help also. Unlike Bezos, who doesn’t seem fazed at all about how evil people think he is, Musk, as horrid as he is, seems more effected by popular opinion of him.

    1. polecat

      “Oh come on now ! Who doesn’t want to live under the ruddy darkened skys of GIEDI PRIME ?? .. anyone ?
      Ok,You there … perched on that dune crest.. uhh, umm .. mr. … ‘Dib’. What say you about the matter ?”

    2. neighbor7

      Yes, this for me, longtime sky lover, was the most depressing link of the day.

      “The beauty of the night sky [and], for astronomers, the ability to conduct science by doing observations of the night sky are both impacts that would be covered by the statute. So there should be a case there.”

      >>>”Should be”…. Well, I hope there is, and I hope we find out about it soon, so we can support it!

      I can’t believe there isn’t more of a public uproar from scientists. That in itself is depressing.

      1. smoker

        So much being wantonly destroyed – never to be recovered – by a handful of billionaire, megalomaniacal technocrats who clearly see themselves as, and have been repeatedly treated as, gods, and act accordingly.

        Your comment brought to mind celestial navigation, along with the memory of fireflies being the only competitor to the stars, and their distinct phermonal scent in early summer.

        So much to weep and worry about. Who exactly are these handful of technocratic monster billionaires to repeatedly get away with such crimes.

    3. curious euro

      Astronomy on earth is on a declining path since the first human found out about fire. Electrical lighting, and now satellites, etc.are all only a simple continuation of this. Nothing new and while you can and probably should mourn it, you and everyone else still wants newer and better toys like this computer you read this on. So do the other 6 billion people e.g. in Africa. They want their computers too. If you give them their computers with copper wires, how much more destruction of the ecosphere will that necessitate? Do you want to give up things like TV and weather forecasts? Shouldn’t the africans get forecasts and computers too?

      Humans always changed their environment by building stuff. You aren’t living in a forest or the savannah anymore as your species should, instead you live in a ugly concrete desert. However you live in a concrete desert with sewer pipes.You also live around 2-3 times as longer than back in the savannah days. I dunno about anyone else, but I don’t want to give these things up.

      Have you ever walked towards a city by night? Even a small town? You can actually see the light pollution above it. Astronomy in our densely populated and industrialized countries has been dead for decades now. On Earth, they all moved to South America and Hawaii. Lot less people and a lot clearer sky due to less pollution. We now have the tech to do astronomy with satellites. That and the backside of moon or outer solar system are the future for astronomy. Regardless of Musk or other satellites, it would be still the proper way forward since it’s the only way to create better telescopes than the ones possible on Earth.

        1. tegnost

          Adding, the idea that musk is putting up starlink because he’s worried about poor africans is laughable. He wants their data and to be able to control. What you argue in favor of is dystopia.

          1. smoker


            Loved the going even beyond the We™ word to You and Everyone™. Can always tell a Tech Dystopia Promoter by their pretense to Omniscience as if they were a god of some sort. curious euro might commit suicide if they were placed in my techie gadgetless and techie transactionless life; outside of the rapidly obsolescing crap utterly forced on me in order to survive.

  16. L. Smith

    After reading the news release from MedicalXpress “Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes may be communicable”, I believe it totally misrepresents the referenced study, “Are noncommunicable diseases communicable” from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The AAAS article stresses the importance of how gut biota determines an individual’s response to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Even the title to the AAAS article gives the wrong impression, IMHO.

    Our gut biota is inheritable in different ways, one variable being vaginal birth vs. cesarean delivery. So the question of inheritability is intended to focus our attention on gut biota and how that population determines risk factors for response to NCDs. A longish quote might help give understanding.

    Infectious diseases are caused by the transmission of pathogens between individuals. However, the extent to which microbial dispersal between humans contributes to NCDs remains unclear. The human microbiota consists of the various microbes (including bacteria, fungi, and viruses) living in and on the human body and has an important role in many physiological functions, including digestion, immune responses, and metabolism. Although microbes reside on many body sites, the majority are in the gut, with bacteria being the most studied. Several examples of NCD transmission exist by fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) into animal models, but how transmissible is the human microbiota? Cohabitants and spouses have more similar gut bacterial microbiota than genetically similar siblings living separately. Microbiota are transmissible within both family and social networks, and spousal relationships can be determined on the basis of gut bacterial analysis (2). Because families share diets and environments, their microbiota is expected to be similar. Thus, whether shared microbiota influence the transmissibility of NCDs is challenging to investigate, because uncoupling environment from microbiota is difficult

    Throughout the AAAS article, the authors stress the importance of understanding the ecology of social, physical and individual environments so we accurately assess the various relationships in how NCDs are in fact transmitted from one human to another. I’m looking up another link on evolutionary medicine that shows who gut biota are important in response to pathogens of all nature, to post later on.

    1. Whoamolly

      Re: Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes may be communicable

      Dr Jason Fung has had good results treating obesity.
      He believes it is a multi factorial disease resulting from hormonal imbalance. Primarily insulin problems. He is a big believer in intermittent fasting as one part of a treatment. Details here

  17. John k

    538: sanders warren skirmish is is a fight between two progressives…
    No. It’s a fight between a progressive and a centrist who for a while pretended to be a little bit progressive because there were too many centrists. Retreating to centrism, she began losing progressive supporters, and threatening to bring her under 15%, so in desperation tried to take down Bernie with what many see as a false claim. The problem is she has little credibility while his is solid, so this will just lose the rest of the progressives, leaving her with the gotta have a woman pres before I die supporters. And these older, mostly centrist voters will mostly go to biden when she gives up.
    Pretending to be something she is not is her sop, as is flexible truth.
    Perfect timing, shaking up the race right before the first primary… Anyway, with her progressives bailing, she is now splitting centrists away from biden, so the longer she stays in the race the better.

    1. Pat

      There was much missed in that article, including the fact that on most subjects Warren does not really have progressive positions. Often if you look beyond the initial statement you find that the plan or program she is touting are more conservative even neoliberal than progressive. They also ignored the rules in Iowa when discussing her poll drop, IOW they didn’t let their readers know how dire Warren’s position was if you believe the most recent polls.

      Frankly while I found the article disingenuous with a big helping of trying to have it both ways, the more frightening thing is reading the comments. We are truly divided and the 538 readership is, unsurprisingly, more aligned with Warren than with Sanders. There are still vocal and active Sanders supporters but they are outnumbered. What scared me was how often Sanders supporters were accused of playing victim. I wanted to say to these people “When wide ranging press outlets run articles and opinions about how CNN took on a hit job against Sanders even when they would like to see Sanders fail you aren’t playing victim.

      1. Jeff W

        There was much missed in that article, including the fact that on most subjects Warren does not really have progressive positions.

        Elizabeth Warren doesn’t have progressive positions and, to the extent that she does, she either wouldn’t be inclined to fight for them, if elected nor does she have a credible theory of change to get them implemented, if she were inclined to fight for them. She doesn’t, she won’t, and she can’t. It’s beyond absurd to pair her as a progressive “champion” with Bernie Sanders. (It’s actually nuts to even waste time discussing her as a credible contender as the race will come down to Sanders and, amazing as it seems, Joe Biden—but people like to imagine that anyone still in has a chance until they’re out.)

        I’m hoping that, finally, after Warren’s Medicare-for-All debacle—after which, she all but abandoned talking about Medicare-for-All (so she had no interest in talking about Medicare-for-All before she rolled out her signature “plans” nor, it seems, after their scathing reception)—and this latest non-credible effort to shiv her putative ally, Bernie Sanders, we can get off this dopey and plainly false narrative of the “stylistic” differences between Sanders’s and Warren’s “progressivism.” Warren’s as right-wing as any of the other Democratic contenders—it’s not what she’s saying that matters, it’s what she’s not saying: she’s not for universal programs, she doesn’t have a systemic critique of capitalism (actually, she doesn’t have any critique of capitalism nor a systemic view of much of anything), she doesn’t address the populace (especially the working class) as a whole. (That she has been less candid on so many matters is a separate issue.)

        Let’s hope that enough of the electorate is getting the message, notwithstanding FiveThirtyEight’s best efforts to muddy the waters.

  18. Wukchumni

    Any word yet on whether Devin Nunes has sued any Ukrainians for disclosing that he was neck deep in big muddy?

    And by the way props to Ted Lieu for putting the kibosh to the human suing machine (no, not the one in the White House) in a updated version of “At long last, have you no sense of decency, sir?”

  19. flora

    re: Yes, David Brooks, there really is a class war – Economic Policy Institute

    Thanks for this post. It’s a good debunking of Brooks’ latest, blase` dismissal of Main Street economic problems. According to Brooks, the increasing misery on Main Street is just the “market working” in its infinite perfection; nothing to do with changes in man made rules and political power. Therefore, according to Brooks, nothing can be done or should be done to address the forces widening the economic inequality. Brooks is a courtier to the 0.01%.

  20. Pat

    Hurrah for the Arnold update!

    And it looks like there are two happy healthy Ginger boys spreading love and furry croissants. Lucky family, both the humans and the kitties.

    1. Scott D

      We have catnip growing year round in the back yard (you can’t kill it) so it’s a pretty good life for a cat.

  21. Wukchumni

    MLB is in a weird quandary, on one hand it’s the same as it’s ever been, a slow game certainly not technology driven, for instance all of the college teams use metal bats, but not in the bigs, tradition.

    The root of all the present evil is kinda funny, because it’s all technology driven, the ‘cheating’, which is fully condoned as long as you only use your 5 senses to figure out what pitch is coming next.

    The game itself is falling apart, a million less fans through the turnstiles compared to last year, and cheapening the home run had no effect on people desirous of seeing lots of dingers, for unlike the steroids era in the 90’s with players hitting 70 out of the park, they merely stayed away in droves.

    1. Wukchumni


      The timing is interesting, with it coming a century after the Black Sox scandal, but what to call this saga?

      ‘Hack Socks’

      1. Big Tap

        So when are the LA Dodgers going to be awarded the 2017 and 2018 championships? They were beat by cheaters Houston and Boston.

    2. Another Scott

      Except the game isn’t the same. Baseball used to be a fast sport. See any of the quotes on the Ken Burns documentary from around 1900. The game has slowed down. The time between pitches has gone up and slowed the pace. This has contributed to the lower interest and attendance in the game. I also think that if they pitched faster, there would be less time to get signals from the bench about what the pitcher is throwing.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      The game itself is falling apart,

      Pricing aside, its become really boring over the last few seasons. The whole homerun madness has wrecked the game. I know roids in ’98, but that was cool then. But every year, it just makes the game long, and its filtered down to the minors.

      I’m the sort who will go to high school softball and baseball games when there are good pitchers.

    4. roadrider

      You’re kidding about the aluminum bats right? If MLB used those bats people would get killed – pitchers, infielders, coaches, people in the stands (not every team has extended the netting all the way to the foul poles). Colleges started using them not because of the cost of replacing broken wood bats not for improving the game. Even colleges had to abandon the composite bats they used for a while because they produced unsafe exit speeds for batted balls.

      1. inode_buddha

        Wanna have some real fun, get a sack of used golf balls and start cranking them with an aluminum bat. I’ve heard of this as a hunting technique among the truly impoverished right here in the USA. I’ve tried it, and the speed that you can get out of a golf ball is basically invisible until it hits the target.

    1. smoker

      …interesting how the police, prosecutors and justice system seem genuinely interested in rightful vengeance. perhaps because they get to wield it so rarely?

      As a blanket statement – given the amount of cop , prosecutor, and judicial corruption – I wouldn’t agree with that; but the right result was thankfully reached in that case. I remember it well. From that L.A. Times piece, emphasis mine:

      Kent and Jill Easter were in their 30s, and wore their elite educations on their license plates: Stanford and UCLA Law School for him, Berkeley Law for her. Experts in corporate and securities law, they had met at a Palo Alto law firm.

      Yep. Jill and Kent Easter, both Palo Alto Wilson Sonsini Alum (wonder why the Los Angeles Times piece didn’t name that notoriously powerful Silicon Valley, Palo Alto Law Firm ). No small wonder they thought they could get away with it with such a long line of Meritocratic Bay Area California Pedigrees™.

  22. martell

    Regarding “Political Philosophy and the Search for the Possible,” I find it hard to believe that anyone thinks or ever thought Rawls’ Theory of Justice interesting and important. It’s warmed over 17th and 18th century social contract theory, doing what social contract theory has typically done: employing bad arguments about the state of nature to show that the present social arrangements are timelessly and eternally just. For Hobbes it was absolute monarchy, whereas Locke favored the limited, property rights respecting government of classical liberalism. Rawls seems to have preferred something along the lines of the US welfare state of the 1960s. The latter, to be sure, wasn’t a perfect instantiation of the Rawlsian Form of Justice, but it was closer than most anything else in recorded history.

    Two things I noted about the article itself: the author claims that Rawls had a deep knowledge of economics, and also indicates that there seems to be an inconsistency between Rawls’ early, famous work and his later, less well-known Political Liberalism. Regarding Rawls and economics, it’s been a while but I don’t recall Rawls evincing any deep understanding of economics in either his early or late work. Deep understanding would require some familiarity with heterodox approaches. Since Rawls was, if anything, a deeply orthodox thinker, I seriously doubt he was either familiar with or even slightly interested in unorthodox economic theory. As for apparent inconsistency between his early and late work, it’s not merely apparent. He really changed his mind. Early on he thought he was spelling out the one and only timelessly true account of the nature of justice. His theory and supporting arguments were met with devastating criticisms from a variety of figures on the left and right who got lumped together as so-called communitarians. Rawls response? Relativism. According to Political Liberalism, justice as presented in Theory of Justice is only justice for those of us who cling to certain post-Reformation principles, such as religious tolerance. In short, he caved.

  23. Wukchumni

    “We’re talking hundreds of degrees celsius, possibly over 1000,” said Professor Keith. “It takes a massive input of energy to get a living tree to burn to the core, right down to ashes… [and] these trees could have been uprooted [in the firestorm] or they could have been standing dead.”

    I’ve only seen one wildfire that burned trees down to the trunks, the 2006 Day Fire in the Sespe River drainage. It was as if the trees had been guillotined about a foot up.

  24. Foy

    Re Obesity heart disease

    Yves you mentioned that how your brother does not have diabetes is beyond you given how obese he is. According to this doctor it depends on the type of fat cells one has. As you get fatter your fat cells can do one of two things and it is based on genetics:

    1. Try to jam more and more fat into each fat cell (Adipocyte Hypertrophy), the fat cell expands, it becomes inflammed and requires more and more insulin to get ever reducing amounts of fat into the cell. The cell becomes unhealthy, the limit is reached where no amount of insulin can jam any more fat into it and it starts to become impaired, inflammed and die (it is insulin resistant)

    2. The fat cell divides and produces more fat cells of the same size (Adipocyte Hyperplasia), which happily keep processing the additional fats received and remaining insulin sensitive.

    Some people have genetics which allows their fat cells to continually divide to process fat and the cells stay healthy, but look overweight. This is why of two obese people of similar size, one could have a healthy body from an insulin/fat perspective and remain that way, and one could be very unheathy. It depends on whether ones fat cells divide and multiply, or just simply try to expand.

    Here’s a link to the point in the presentation where this is discussed (he does speak like a machine gun) (Dr Ted Naiman – Insulin Resistance)

  25. richard

    hey, i just heard on chapo that in their ed. board interview of buttiegieg, the ny times asked him about the nickname “Mayo Pete”, and was he aware that millenials were using it to describe him (No, he wasn’t).
    Did you guys already cover this? Didn’t Lambert coin that?
    They said it was in the extended part of the interview, if you want to go look. It sounds like it was rather a lively interview.

    1. lambert strether

      I did not coin “Mayo Pete.” I was an extremely early adopter and propagator, however — as evidenced by so many who heard first here!

  26. Carey

    ‘Longtime Boeing advocate Maria Cantwell formally criticizes report on FAA’s certification process for 737 MAX’:

    “Maria Cantwell, Washington’s junior U.S. senator and longtime Boeing advocate, criticized Friday a government advisory committee’s findings this week that largely endorsed how the Federal Aviation Administration oversaw the certification of the 737 MAX, saying it “defends a system that is in clear need of improvement.”..”

  27. witters

    Our defender of Rawls is mistaken in claiming that Rawls’ political philosophy is not a philosophy of action. On the contrary (as I’ve said most recently in Brian Ellis’ “The New Enlightenment”) it is indeed such, and in a way that serves the rich and powerful. To miss this fact seems to me to involve a refusal to think seriously about the so-called “Difference Principle” which Rawls (duplicitously, in my view) tries to use to ensure “fair” levels of inequality.

    The Difference Principle says inequalities in income and wealth are not merely OK, but positively desirable (so “just” and “fair”) so long as those inequalities make the worst-off better off than they would be under some other, more equal, set of economic arrangements.

    And here is the problem: for in any system of serious inequalities those who have the most will certainly insist (they will have founded think tanks, hired economists and other public relations flacks, to ‘prove’ this) that their riches make the poorest around here (you know, the hungry, homeless, sick and uninsured) better off than they would be if things were different.

    Can’t the poor object? Of course they can! But who will they hire to fight back? How can they show that they would be better off under some other, less unequal, system when they have to admit that their proposed system – not being the actual system – is merely an imagined possibility?
    In this game the rich always win. Not only is Rawls’ Difference Principle no threat to them, they can appeal to it to justify their riches and everyone else’s poverty…

    1. tegnost

      The Difference Principle says inequalities in income and wealth are not merely OK, but positively desirable (so “just” and “fair”) so long as those inequalities make the worst-off better off than they would be under some other, more equal, set of economic arrangements.

      Thanks for this, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that philosophy before from Gordon Gekko

  28. The Rev Kev

    “The Case Against Huawei”

    I could be wrong but I do not think that Huawei is on this person’s Christmas list. The thing is, you could get a Chinese guy to write a mirror article about Silicon Valley corporations. So how about we try this-

    Are they private corporations? Well kinda – so long as they do the government’s bidding. The government will then give them regulatory protection such as when France put a tax on their activities in France and Trump then threatened the French over this.
    Do they work with Security Services of Various Kind? I am not going to bother to list the many, many ways that they do.
    What Does American Law Say About Intelligence Gathering and Data for American Firms? They help – or else.
    Does America provide state support for Silicon Valley? Tax laws, a light regulatory touch and working with their research teams as well as funding them. The internet itself was a government initiative that they handed over to commercial companies.
    Is America the Technological Leader in 5G? No, that would be Huawei because they actually put the effort into it.
    Does America Engage in Intellectual Property Theft or Intelligence Gathering For America or Itself? All the time with overseas companies and has been for decades.
    Is there Evidence Silicon Valley or America Are Using Existing Capabilities to Gather Data on Foreign Firms or Individuals? Ask Edward Snowden.
    Is Silicon Valley Network Gear a Security Risk? Need we ask?
    Is Silicon Valley a National Security Threat? Only to countries other than America. Oh, and progressives in America itself.
    Is Silicon Valley a Human Rights Violator? Only if they use virtual slave labour to assemble their products or let child labour be used to mine the materials necessary for their products.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      We might also think about whether a 5G system from any source which involves several million little transmitters and boosters and repeaters or whatever those things are called . . . all soaking down their overlapping immediate areas with round-the-clock non-ionizing radiation . . . . would raise rates of cancer and other diseases over years of total exposure.

      Perhaps we should ban 5G from existing in America and let China and others run that mass medical experiment on their subjects first. And we just observe the results over the next 50 years.

  29. The Rev Kev

    “6 zero-waste lessons from Paris”

    This is a really neat article this. No billion dollar programs. No apps. No nation wide programs. Just people doing stuff more pragmatically for a better end.

  30. notabanktoadie

    re stakeholder vs shareholder (“Capitalism Must Reform to Survive”):

    Please note that government privileges for private credit creation (i.e. for “the banks”) allow companies to bypass sharing wealth and power with the general public.

    So the distinction between stakeholders and shareholders (and indeed between capital and labor) has been exacerbated by those privileges.

    So reforming capitalism should include eliminating those privileges – if we desire a lasting solution.

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