Links 2/18/2020

Woman brings mini-service horse onto plane, into first class NY Post. What could go wrong?

A Car ‘Splatometer’ Study Finds Huge Insect Die-Off Wired (Re Silc). NC readers have been highlighting this phenomenon for sometime. Let’s not call it “anecdotal data.” Let’s call it citizen science! (OK, I exaggerate. But not entirely.)

Floods Force U.K. Climate Strikers to Cancel First Gathering Bloomberg

Climate change: will the insurance industry pick up the bill? FT

More than 60 shipping vessels stalled off B.C. coast due to rail blockades CBC

Tesla Model 3 Teardown Reveals Why Other Automakers Are Lagging Behind The Drive. Important: “[O]utside of the raw materials needed, Tesla’s supply chain [for electronics technology] is non-existent. And because Tesla’s current lineup of vehicles isn’t muddied by non-modular architectures and multiple powerplants, the automaker is free to build a platform that interacts with all of its vehicles on a global scale…. Is it the automaker or supply chain that is stunting the growth of an industry?” Are vertically integrated companies more resilient against tail risks like, oh, pandemics?

Pay Up, Or We’ll Make Google Ban Your Ads Krebs on Security

Letter: Remove Zuckerberg and Sandberg from their posts George Soros, FT

Jim Banks Urges Firing of California’s Public Pension Head over Ties to China’s ‘Thousand Talents Program’ National Review


As Afghan Soldier Kills 2 Americans, Peace Talks Forge Ahead NYT

“They Have Not Relented”: U.S. Maintains Support for Yemen War as Saudi Airstrike Kills 31 Civilians Democracy Now (Re Silc). Note that Yemen is another failed or failing state through which locusts passed on their way to the Horn of Africa

The Lebanese Uprising Continues Jacobin

Four decades on, the West still doesn’t get the Iranian revolution Middle East Eye

Israeli Burning Man-style Event Planned for West Bank Sparks Controversy Haaretz


Coronavirus: should we panic? (video; 10:13) FT. I like the analog production values.

Coronavirus: Largest study suggests elderly and sick are most at risk BBC (original study from CCDC, but I cannot get it to load at the time of this writing). “Largest” is doing a lot of work, there.

The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2

We’re Reading the Coronavirus Numbers Wrong NYT

Japan issues guidelines to prevent rush on hospitals as COVID-19 cases surge Japan Today

Hygiene tips: What’s the best way to disinfect your phone without damaging it? Channel News Asia. Doesn’t really answer the question. Who decided that being able to disinfect one’s phone was not a product requirement? Tim? Kun-hee? Zhengfei? Anybody?

Coronavirus creates oil ‘contango’ as supertanker rates dive FT

Coronavirus: Investors track ships, chase rumours to get edge on Covid-19 risks The Straits Times

Apple Warns Coronavirus Outbreak Will Affect iPhone Sales, Lower Q2 Revenue Internationa Business Times. Tim Cook bet the company not only on China sales, but China production.

747s Carrying Americans Exposed To Coronavirus Used New Quarantine Box For Infected Flyers The Drive. I can envision a lot of other uses for boxes like that, most of them very unpleasant.


Air pollution figures as a proxy for China’s containment effort:

Coronavirus: Stranded by Manila’s travel ban, Hong Kong domestic workers face financial havoc and an uncertain future Hong Kong Free Press


Boris Johnson’s 570 Billion Reasons for Wanting an EU Trade Deal Bloomberg. Handy chart:

New Cold War

Ukraine’s president vows to end war, invites Trump to Kyiv AP

Denouncing the U.S., Venezuelan Troops and Militias Stage Drills Time

Trump Transition

Ups, downs and other major highlights from Trump’s 2021 budget request Federal News Radio

Federal judges’ association calls emergency meeting after DOJ intervenes in case of Trump ally Roger Stone USA Today

NSA whistleblower petitions Trump for clemency The Hill. Reality Winner.

Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy amid new sex-abuse lawsuits Guardian


Bernie breaks out of the pack Politico. Hence the hysteria.

Bloomberg says many ‘black and Latino males’ don’t ‘know how to behave in the workplace,’ in newly uncovered 2011 video FOX. There’s always a quote.

Bloomberg’s Soon-to-Be-Released Higher Education Plan The Intercept

The New Rules of the Game Chris Hedges, Truthout

Electronic glitch triggers Dominican Republic vote suspension Reuters. Digital voting’s unique selling proposition.

Health Care

Fed Chair Jerome Powell calls out massive US health spending, says Americans are ‘getting nothing’ in return Business Insider (Re Silc).

German public health insurance cheaper without private option, study says Deutsche Welle. So much for that talking point.

‘California refugees’ move to Idaho for lax vaccine laws. They want lawmakers to know why Idaho Statesman. They’ll have to wear moonsuits if they ever leave the state, but ok. Good premise for an SF story, there.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why the US is losing its war against Huawei Asia Times (KW).

U.S. mulls cutting Huawei off from global chip suppliers, with TSMC in crosshairs Reuters

West Point Prof Pens Blistering Takedown Of U.S. Military Academies The American Conservative

Black Injustice Tipping Point

American Bottom Black Agenda Report

Class Warfare

After Neoliberalism The Nation

Inside the Pentagon’s Secret UFO Program Popular Mechanics (UserFriendly). Just the institution to put in charge of this important matter. On the black budget, of course.

Good news: Neural network says 11 asteroids thought to be harmless may hit Earth. Bad news: They are not due to arrive for hundreds of years The Register

Why the Mind Cannot Just Emerge From the Brain Mind Matters (DL).

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. BobW

    The phone cleaning item made me think of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide: “…two-thirds of the population stayed on the planet and lived full, rich and happy lives until they were all wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.”

    1. Louis Fyne

      supposedly a Hitchhikers Guide TV reboot is in development. Cross fingers that they remain true to the source material and not mangle the story like other cash-grab reboots.

      1. Geo

        That whole series is still one of my favorite reading experiences. Have no idea how it would ever translate to a visual medium though. Maybe if the old Monty Python were given a Michael Bay sized budget they could have done it.

        Hope they don’t butcher it again. I’ve met too many who think the books are dumb based on their impression from the movie that came out about a decade ago.

        1. Jokerstein

          If you want to get the best experience, listen to the original radio series. The original was six episodes, then there was a one-off (supposedly) Xmas special, then another five were added to make two seasons.

          The first six are outstanding, the last six, not so much. The later seasons, even the ones written by DNA are stretching the franchise more than it should have been, and the Eoin Colfer ones? Fergeddaboutem!

      2. Plenue

        Adams himself would probably have wanted it to drift away from the source material to a large extent. The 2005 movie wasn’t great, but one of the frequent criticisms of it was that it wasn’t a loyal retelling. But Adams had actually wanted it to be different, because he had essentially told the same story three times already (radio play, book, TV series).

    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      Ah, yes! Of course, that tragedy wouldn’t have occurred if the professional telephone sanitizers and the rest of the similarly useless 1/3 of their planet’s people hadn’t been sent off ahead of the other 2/3 to get the new planet ready. . . .

  2. Woodchuck

    In Politico’s article, the last sentence sums up a lot of the current primary it seems :

    “The establishment,” he said, “seems almost clueless about what they have to offer.”

    Outside of Sanders most platforms do not offer anything substantial other than not being Trump, or things like “Medicare-for-all-who-want-it” which just by the name alone is obviously nothing but a reaction to M4A and something that would never have been mentioned otherwise and is very unlikely to be fought for or change anything of significance. As if the country was in such a great state as is and all you need is to remove Trump for all to be great again (remove Trump to MAGA! Should be someone’s slogan)

    John Oliver did a solid piece in support of M4A on his first Last Week Tonight. Considering his following extends far beyond Sander’s base, I think this could seriously help his campaign.

  3. dearieme

    It would be instructive if Bloomberg were undermined by his tendency to blurt out unfashionable truths, and then cravenly to apologise for them, whereas Hellary were to flourish because she’s never knowingly told a truth in her life or apologised for anything.

    Bloomberg, I should add, can’t have much sense if he’s seriously considering Hellary for VP. It would be like pinning a bull’s eye on his back. So it’s presumably a ruse.

    Anyway: Afghanistan and all that. If I were Prez I’d announce that I’d bring the troops home pronto, explaining that they would be at terrible risk if they were floundering in a Wuhan pandemic.

      1. paul

        I think the same unfashionable truths (which have never really gone out of fashion in some circles) that saw superforecaster/sex guru sabisky have his zero week contract fail to be renewed.

        I’m sure he didn’t mean to demean kwarteng or cleverly, after all, they in general agreement with him.

        He only meant to demean people that looked like them.

      2. dearieme

        When he said, for instance, that street crime in NYC was usually perpetrated by males, 16 – 25, members of minorities (meaning, I assume, black). This is a truth, is it not?

        If not, when did things change? What’s the evidence for the change? Or was it untrue in his time as mayor? If so, presumably he was widely derided for his error, was he?

        Should I assume that street crime in NYC was in fact largely perpetrated by elderly white women? There’s a first time for everything I suppose.

        1. Goyo Marquez

          I think the part of the statement that seemed questionable was about the faxing of the description, kind of like if someone suggested faxing the description of the people whose bad bets caused the GFC to the police so those kind of “people” could be rounded up.

        2. SlayTheSmaugs

          Let’s assume for the moment that street crime in NYC was committed more by black and brown people than white people. That does not validate Bloomberg’s idea that “male, 16-25, minority” is a valid description to give to police, which is the quote you’re referring to. He didn’t just say minorities disproportionately commit street crime (which we are assuming is a true claim for the moment). He said you could photocopy that description and give it to the cops. That is not a valid description to pick someone to stop and frisk, arrest, or otherwise suspect. The overwhelming # of people who were stopped & frisked were 100% innocent–no guns, no drugs, no warrants.
          Look at the 100s of thousands of people who had a really ugly encounter with cops b/c they were “male, 16-25, minority”. That description doesn’t approach constitutional standards. Terry v. Ohio, which created stop and frisk, insisted on “reasonable suspicion”, which had to be articulable and objective.

        3. Dan

          Trevor Noah helps explain the consequences. Perhaps you’ll understand:

          The vast majority stopped and frisked were black and the vast majority of the blacks who were stopped and frisked were innocent. It’s really not hard to understand, unless one lacks entirely any capacity for empathy.

        4. Eclair

          It is undoubtedly provable that the greatest thefts are perpetrated by white males between the ages of 30 and 70, easily identifiable by their ‘gang-wear’ of bespoke suits, handmade loafers, Italian silk ties and Patek Philippe watches. Let’s ‘xerox’ that description, send the police to Wall Street and 5th Avenue, throw ’em against the wall and frisk ’em.

          Except, that class actually make the laws and nothing they do is defined as ‘illegal.’ Killing a human by evicting them from their home, for example, so they live on the street and die in a blizzard, is not illegal.

          And, to spread our stop-and-frisk net even further, let’s extend it to white colonialist invaders, who massacre the brown indigenous inhabitants of a land, then make it ‘illegal’ for the survivors to speak their language, wear their traditional hairstyles, or leave their ‘reservations.’ And further demonize them by declaring them ‘savages,’ ‘heathens,’ and ‘barbarians.’ Then take ‘legal’ title to a continent. If you’re going to commit theft, do it on a grand scale. None of this ‘$23.78 from the 7/11 cash drawer’ stuff.

        5. Glen

          Wall St wrecked the world economy in 2008. Bush, despite warnings from the FBI about rampant white collar crime, amped up the terrorist policing, and stopped policing white collar crime.

          Trillions of dollars were lost, tens is millions of people lost homes and jobs, families destroyed. But no one goes to jail because there were no cops doing stop and frisk of these crimes. Heck even just stop and frisk of all the coked up drug users on Wall St might have done some good.

          But crime is generally found by looking for it. I dare say if everybody in your neighborhood was stopped and frisked once a week, somebody is going to jail.

        6. lordkoos

          In a video Bloomie blamed people of color for the bad real estate loans leading to the 2008 crash. Is that a “truth”?

          1. inode_buddha

            Among Conservatives, yes it is a “truth”. It is an article of faith among them that the government forced the banks to make bad loans to those who could not afford them, and they just happen to be people of color…

            1. lordkoos

              I’d hazard a guess that significantly more white people defaulted on their loans than all other minorities combined. Just like there are more white people on welfare, and more white people who get SNAP benefits. Though I’ve noticed that whenever the media show pics of poor people, they are usually black.

              1. JBird4049

                Yes, there was the (deliberate?) effort to offer/push loans with worse terms to minorities and better ones to whites irrespective of class. If two people of the same race had the same credit worthiness, the white applicant usually got a better deal.

        7. drumlin woodchuckles

          Back . . . and in fine form, I see.

          By the way, you still haven’t, after all this time, bothered to tell us what kind of woodpecker it was that you claimed to have seen in your garden.

          Did you really think we would just forget about that?

    1. michael hudson

      My view is that Bloomberg’s talk of Hillary was simply bait to attract her STAFF of manipulators to join his campaign. It was a recruiting call — leaving him free then to simply ignore her, once he’s got her dirty tricksters on his side pissing out, not outside pissing in.

      1. Shonde

        Hmm, interesting side effect to that ploy. Hillary won’t be able to suddenly enter the race since her staff is all employed by Bloomberg and with non-compete clauses in their contracts.

        1. ChrisAtRU

          Perhaps, but still … Lambert called it months ago. It is not out of the realm of possibility that in a brokered convention #HRC could be floated as an outright unity candidate. The unintended effect here is that by floating the possibility, #TeamOligarch no doubt found out anew what a polarizing figure she is, and hopefully that, more than anything else puts the kabosh on any further political aspirations she might have. Have no doubt, though, she is going to linger on till Milwaukee … if I had to make a bet on an establishment veep choice for Bloomberg, my money is on Kamala Harris. That’s a boatload worth of the kind of impotent tribal virtue signaling that’s important to #IDPol establishment types:

          – Woman
          – Black
          – Law Enforcement
          – Hamptons approved

          Curious as to what others think about a possible Bloomberg veep! ;-)

          1. Monty

            She has been known to be quite morally flexible in her quest to get ahead. She would probably fit right in with Bloomberg. Her track record with older powerful men suggests that she would probably give him a smile and a wink, rather than the natural gag or cringe, if he made her one of his famous indecent proposals.

          2. Yves Smith

            Hillary in any form in 2020 is a non-starter. Her and Bill’s inability to draw followers on their last speaking tour (turnout was embarrassingly low even with severely discounted ticket prices) is proof you can stick a fork in her.

            She still can muster media attention, God only knows why, maybe out of Sunset Boulevard-style horror.

            1. RMO

              “I’m ready for my inauguration now Mr. Roberts…”

              (I’ve seen Carol Burnett’s take on that character far more often than the actual movie so it’s her version of it I see in my mind when I pictured that!)

            2. ChrisAtRU

              From your keyboard to ${DEITY}’s ears, Yves … ;-)

              Heaven knows she won’t shut up anytime soon … :)

            3. ambrit

              I feel that you vastly underestimate HRH HRC’s ambition. She is quite capable, especially if she is convinced that she can beat Trump this time, of moving Heaven and Earth, plus call in a lot of ‘markers’ from Down Below, to ‘fix’ the nomination arising out of a brokered convention. The Clinton Foundation still has it’s hooks in the DNC. A lot of the Democrat Party Nomenklatura are Clintonistas. A takeover of a political party, movement, or even a nation by a committed minority is not unknown in history.
              The flip side of Bloomberg poaching so many Clinton campaign staffers is that the Clinton camp has a ready made ‘fifth column’ inside the Bloomberg camp. That blade can cut both ways.
              Time will tell.

      2. Michael

        seems strategically correct (with a wink about payback as a S Ct justice.)
        Electeds are 4-8years, Appointees are lifers.

      3. Yves Smith


        Please don’t present inaccurate information.

        Bloomberg said no such thing.

        It was a rumor in the NY Post, a Murdoch pub, that the Bloomberg campaign 95% denied (I presume not 100% so as not to alienate Hillbots). I think this was Trump allies taking an early shot at Bloomberg.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Bloomberg’s targeting of Nina Turner, David Sirota and Briahna Joy Gray demonstrates even his recognition that he confronts a movement, not a man. The whole Bernie Bros meme this time around is directed less at random vile tweets than at the activists who have gathered around Bernie in this movement. Their effectiveness in their distinct roles is what concerns all Bernie’s opponents. It is the combination of their abilities and the fact that Turner, Sirota and Gray, unlike their counterparts in other campaigns, dance to the rhythm of this time, not 1995 or 2007.

    Bernie will be our strong shield through this fight, a Rock of Gibraltar too solid for any wave or gale to shake. The activists gathering around Bernie, and that list seems to grow and grow, are the spear points digging into the corruption and degeneracy of this beast.

    Thanks. I just had to get that off my chest. ;)

      1. Skip Intro

        I think the Bloomberg press release was written by one of the Clinton dead-enders he picked up, since it had that whiny entitled tone of a bully meeting his first resistance, but still quoted the ‘offensive’ material in full, to show just how thin-skinned he was in the face of mild, factually accurate criticism. It seems certain to backfire, not only by spreading the critiques of Bloomberg as a racist oligarch, but also to show how he withers in the face of even mild criticism, as if Trump will not say anything critical of him… what a weak candidate.

    1. chuckster

      Bernie will be our strong shield through this fight, a Rock of Gibraltar too solid for any wave or gale to shake.

      Until he endorses Bloomberg.

      1. flora

        Bernie is attacking hizzoner headon as a Republican candidate running in the Dem party. He hasn’t attacked any of the other Dem candidates this way.

        1. Plenue

          Sadly, I think he will if Bloomberg is the nominee. Sanders has already signed a pledge to endorse whoever the Democratic nominee is, presumably as part of his deal with the DNC that allows him to run on the ticket.

          If this happens it will be a truly sad end to his political career.

          I don’t think it will come to that though. Even if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination (and I’m getting genuinely hopeful he will; the polling and crowd sizes seem to indicate he’s a juggernaut snowballing momentum), I doubt Bloomberg is going anywhere. He’s just so comically bad.

          1. lordkoos

            I very much doubt Bloomberg will be the nominee. If that does happen, all pretense that there is more than one party in the US will have to be dropped.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Sanders could get out of that pledge by saying: ” when I signed that pledge I just assumed that the Democratic Party would nominate a Democrat . . . . or at least a Democratic Party “fellow traveller”.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          In my view Bloomberg’s purchase of the American political system is the only news story at the moment.

          The path to Trump victory is to convince Bernie’s followers (after Bloomberg finalizes the purchase of the nomination) that their interests are 100% threatened by the complete cancelling of all representative politics. That’s pretty conceptual and will be a tough sale to make.

          If we still feel like having a democracy, the best thing right now would be a conference between Bernie and the rest of the Dem field, their marching orders would be to aim all of their guns at Bloomberg, then agree to pledge all delegates to whoever has the most before the convention. It’s still probably a loser because the MSM is lining up to laud and whitewash Bloomberg because they don’t want to lose the ad buys that are to come. $410M spent so far (versus $12M for favourite grandpa son Biden). And Biden’s and Pete’s Wall St puppetmasters have already jumped ship, after Bloomberg’s recent meeting with Goldman Sachs, which hizzmajesty referred to as a “solidarity visit”. Indeed.

          Will be interesting to see where Prince Charles of Schumer and Empress Dowager Pelosi line up on the ascension to the throne of Bloomberg The First. I’m sure they’d be pleased with the royal grants that Mikey The First will bestow on them. Question: what will the protocol be for an American coronation (versus an inauguration)? Should he place his hand on a Bible, or a Torah? (Probably neither since his power does not derive from a God, it derives from manna). And shouldn’t the ceremony eliminate the part about “upholding the Constitution”? There’s very little in there about how to run a monarchy.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            We have Thomas More to comment for us. From Utopia, 1516:

            “The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

            They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible.”

            And here I thought we had made a little progress in the last 500 years, silly me.

          2. Oh

            Prince Charles of Schumer and Empress Dowager Pelosi

            Love it!

            I think Bloombery the First will ride to the palace in a coach and place his hand on a young lass’s behind during the coronation to show his true colors.

      2. Oh

        I was really disappointe in 2016 when Bernie endorsed Hillary and campaigned for her. If the Dims cheat him out of a nomination he should use that as a good reason for not supporting their choice. If he still decides to go through with his pledge, he will irrepairably damage his supporters’ faith in him and in future left wing leaders.

    2. Geo

      Would love to see an ad highlighting how Bloomberg:

      – Called Obama divisive and blamed him for racial divisions.
      – funded and campaigned against Warren for GOP
      – helped give and retain Senate Majority for McConnell

      The “Vote Blue No Matter Who” crowd needs to know their billionaire knight in shining armor has spent the past two decades building the current GOP and trashing centrist “progressives” like Warren and Obama. The NC crowd is past that messaging but the MSNBC crowd isn’t. They don’t care about his racism, sexism, etc (idpol only matters to them as a weapon) but empowering McConnell and Trump does.

      1. Plenue

        From what I’ve observed, at least on the very fringes of the Clinton diehard crowd, Liberals are now convincing themselves that Vote Blue No Matter Who is something that the Sandernistas invented, and not something that came from the Democratic establishment.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The liberals who are convincing themselves of that are the liberals who are afraid that Sanders will get the nomination despite the Democratic Party’s best efforts to stop him from getting it.
          They are preparing to announce that a nominee Sanders is just ” a blue Too Far” for them to vote for.

          A lot of Riverdaughters will vote for Trump if Sanders gets nominated, just like a lot of Riverdaughters voted for McCain when it was McCain vs Obama.

    3. Dan

      Pramila Jayapal, warming up for Bernie in Tacoma last night, said in no uncertain terms that they expect the Democratic establishment to steal the election and that she’s working on getting a million people to Milwaukee to prevent that.

        1. JBird4049

          Don’t want another headache? Just how good is the Milwaukee police department? I know nothing about them. Are they relatively civilized and professional or are they like what the Chicago PD was and still is?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Milwaukee is much smaller than Chicago. It probably has way fewer police. If the Milwaukee mayor asks the Wisconsin governor to call out the National Guard and send it to Milwaukee to meet the protesters; that would signal just what the DemParty has in mind for DemNom 2020.

  5. Charles 2

    Hygiene tip : a lot of phones are now water resistant. I personally wash my phone with soap and water when I wash my hands. One has to wait for a while before charging because the charging port is wet, but I mostly use wireless inductive charging anyway.
    Note that water resistance and wireless inductive charging are the two last significant functional improvements in mobile phones, so, with due respect, I think you have it backwards : Tim and al. actually made phone more hygienic recently ! Also worthy of note is that the disappearance of the headphone jack was an important step towards water resistance…

    1. Tim

      I also wash my phone to keep it clean. Great feature, water resistance.
      You got it wrong about the headphone jack. My phone has one. My wife’s phone: water resistant+headphone jack. My previous phone: same. All different models.

      1. Charles 2

        “Water resistant” jack port comes with caveat. Usually, more often than not, one needs to put a cover over that port. See for instance :

        AFAIK, the only capless ports on smartphones are the charging ports, and one shouldn’t use them for several hours after they get wet. Forgetting the cover may not disable the phone, but it may let rust set in, and that will usually void the warranty.

    2. Ignacio

      Nobody touches my Samsung POS except me. I don’t think it is the most important thing to care about.

      I frequently shake hands when I meet people, that is a true source.

        1. Craig H.

          I like to carry a can of black flag spray cockroach poison to spray on people before they get close enough to infect me. This is the best defense: don’t let them get too close!

          Anyway yeah don’t ever let anybody touch your phone or your computer keyboard. There is a large fraction of people who do not wash their hands after they urinate and defecate and wipe their ass. A few years ago some troublemaking grad students did a surveillance of the men’s room at a big convention of surgeons and found that around 50 percent of surgeons do not wash their hands if they are using the men’s room and nobody is looking. They did not report on the female surgeons.

            1. Lost in OR

              Or touch any handles or knobs. Use your feet for that.
              Or use those air-blowing hand-dryers. Use your pants for that.

            2. xkeyscored

              That hardly protects you from other people’s hands, unless you combine it with Craig H.’s sound advice.

              1. inode_buddha

                Good news is, I almost never touch other people, full stop. There is simply no reason to in my life. Can’t recall the last time, in fact. I worry more about the fact that I live in an underfunded urban shithole of poverty and crime; diseases propagate rapidly. Yet another reason on my long list of reasons to be elsewhere. Mason, Iowa is looking more attractive by the minute.

      1. Charles 2

        The problem is using your phone between the time when you shake hands and the time you go wash them…

    3. Kael

      My LG has the same water resistant rating as an iPhone, yet has a headphone jack. So that might not have been the motivation dispite what is published by tech “journalists.”

      1. RMO

        I have a Sonim XP7 – waterproof (2 meters, 30 minutes rating) AND it has a headphone jack and the charging/data cable uses a magnetic system to connect to the phone so it’s both waterproof and won’t damage anything if the cord gets yanked out accidentally. Battery life is measured in weeks too. But it is a heavy little rubber brick.

          1. RMO

            You’re right – I should have mentioned that part. I almost always leave the attached cap on the jack as I don’t use headphones that often and the waterproof rating is based on the premise that it will be in place.

    4. ptb

      rubbing alcohol wipes? dries fast, less residue.

      anyway if you live in a city, the phone’s not gonna be your problem

      1. Charles 2

        Bad idea, phone screens are coated with oleophobic compound to avoid fingerprint smudges. Alcohol will wipe it eventually. Soap is already on the dark side, but my bet is that if not too concentrated and rinsed with clear water abundantly and immediately , it should be ok.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How about strong hydrogen peroxide? How about ammonia? Would that disturb an oleophobic compound?

    5. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I never use any sanitizer or wash my hands after shaking hands etc.

      I rarely get sick.

      Aren’t we supposed to expose our bodies to certain amounts of germs and our bodies immune system kicks in?

      1. Dan

        No. You’re supposed to act like you’re always about to be performing open heart surgery. Cleanliness is godliness.

        Don’t you know, we produce these sanitizers for pennies on the dollar, induce fear of bogeyman germs in the population and, Voila! – Lots of profits!

        Apparently it hasn’t yet occurred to the masses that since the rise of this strange fascination with over-sanitation society has in fact become more sickly. Much, much more sickly.

      2. Charles 2

        In most cases, you are right, the benefit of exposure to bacteria (which can even be beneficial to the body, immune system training excluded) and viruses (when there is a lifelong immunity from the immune system response) is larger than the cost of disease.
        For very infectious diseases with no lifelong immunity,such as Flu or nCov-2019, or very virulent diseases like Sars, it is not the case.
        Also, one should go beyond our individual self : we, as individuals with a strong immune system, may be not much affected by the latter diseases, but we may pass that diseases to more fragile persons, such as our parents or children or frail colleagues at work. It is not cool to be a super spreader !
        Finally, evolution has a nifty trick in that it sometimes target people with a strong immune system, by using the latter to kill the host. Look for the term « cytokine storm ». There are indications that there may be cytokine storm associated with nCOV-2019.
        So, until there is vaccine or the virus disappears, I suggest you start washing hands, and / or avoid shaking them.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was seated cheek by jowl in hot water next to a bakers dozen fully attired in their birthday suits, all in close proximity to one another, conversation (and germs) flowing like fine wine for hours on end with nary a masked man or woman. I shared time with at least 50 people, and so far-so good on the Coronavirus front.

        1. xkeyscored

          Must be because they didn’t have their phones with them. (Oh no, you’re going to tell me they all did …)

          1. Wukchumni

            Not one phone made an appearance, as there’s no wi-fi within hailing distance, people were forced to talk to one another-the horror.

          2. Anon

            No, it’s because this current coronavirus is a cold weather virus, but a hotspring is well, hot. The virus is mainly being spread through air-borne coughing vapor. We’ll no for sure if Wuki was risking his health in about 14 days.

    6. lordkoos

      A simple way to sanitize your phone is to turn it off and pass a UV wand over it a couple of times. The ultraviolet wands are inexpensive and are also handy for sanitizing kitchen surfaces, cutting boards, etc.

      Even if you are the only person that touches your phone, every thing your hands have touched during the day can get onto the surface phone.

      1. jax

        Looks like those wands cost $50.00 and up in the states. Not inexpensive for poor people. And guess what? At that price they’re all made in China.

        1. lordkoos

          I got mine some time ago, but I see them on ebay for $25, and small one is sufficient for a phone. It’s cheaper than getting sick, and also being useful for other applications.

      2. Phemfrog

        Sorry, i have to call you on this one. While UV light can sanitize, it needs much more time than a few seconds.

        In my lab days, we had to put acid-cleaned glass into a strong UV light box. 30 seconds. This was just to remove organic residue. I imagine it would take longer to destroy cells.

        Also, this light was so strong that it was enclosed. It was dangerous for it to touch your skin. So any handheld UV device strong enough to kill germs on a surface would be dangerous to use with bare skin.

        Far UV may be useful, but very expensive for consumers.

        Notice in this study the tests were conducted with light exposure lasting 7 hours.

        Not saying UV can never work, but its complicated.

      3. Anon

        … and many folks place their phone to their face where germ entry is propitious. Again, the coronavirus appears to be transmitted in air-borne vapor; it’s lifetime on dry surface is apparently limited.

    7. David West

      On headphone jack, not true in the slightest. The fact that you believe that shows propaganda is alive and well.
      I have a underwater ipod thing from the early 2000’s that was waterproof, and had a standard headphone jack.
      The reason they took it out was to forcefully sell everyone on wireless headset/speaker technology. Want to listen to music? Buy the wireless headset (because you have to).

  6. jackiebass

    The FED chair calling for more health care spending sound good. I’m a suspicious person. We need more than just spending. If money is spent in the same way it is now spent nothing will change. I believe that he is thinking this way. We need to put the money into things that directly improve health care and outcomes. We don’t to need to just spend more money.

    1. paul

      Of course, you’ve been spending far more than most for a long time, with relatively little to show for it.

  7. Ignim Brites

    “Ukraine’s president vows to end war, invites Trump to Kyiv”. You have to wonder how much the impeachment effort was about undermining Zelenskiy’s peace initiative. Schiff certainly made a point that the withholding of lethal military equipment was the principal “crime against national security”.

    1. John A

      Especially as the article conveniently omits any mention of Victoria Nuland and US coup, and points to the start of the war being Russia’s ‘invasion’ of Crimea that was a defensive measure post dating the coup.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Zelenskiy was saying ‘However, several contentious issues complicate the peace process, including Ukraine regaining control of its border and allowing elections that would give rebel-controlled regions more autonomy’ but that was a porky that.

      The reason is that the Munich agreement lays out a sequence of events to take place to bring peace to this region and the Ukraine taking control of the Donbass’s border with Russia is the very last one. Maybe Zelenskiy wants to bring in the US to ‘solve’ this problem for the Ukraine (neither Russia or the US are signatories to this agreement) but I doubt that after all that has happened over the past few months, that he will give them the time of the day.

  8. QuarterBack

    Re new planet killer asteroid findings. I am skeptical that these news threads may be just propaganda aimed at justification of funding hugely expensive space weapons that can be put to use for a myriad of other uses beyond “saving the planet” (by the new Space Force, of course). I am no expert in probability mathematics, but how do we go from such impacts occurring every several million years to now finding 11 (plus or minus 11) on their way in the next few hundred years?

    1. Wyoming

      I agree that this is a great excuse to work on space weapons. But this part

      I am no expert in probability mathematics, but how do we go from such impacts occurring every several million years to now finding 11 (plus or minus 11) on their way in the next few hundred years?

      is a bit of a misunderstanding. In the article it says that those 100 meter roids will pass within .05 Au or 7.5 million miles. The moon is 1/4 million miles away from us so that means that the likelihood of getting hit by one of those roids mentioned in the article is actually very small. It just really means they are worth tracking (and useful for justifying space weapons as you pointed out).

      We get hit by thousands of meteorites every day. One has to be somewhere around 10 meters and made of metal to be tough enough for part of it to make it to the ground. Which happens fairly frequently. Big impacts happen far more often than ‘every several million years’ as we know of 9 impacts of roids greater than 100 meters in the last 10,000 years. There have been 9 impacts of 1km size or bigger in the last million years with the biggest 14 km in dia (that would pretty much wipe us out). It is interesting stuff. And it is a matter of when not if we get hit by something really bad of course so it pays to try and mitigate this issue (along with a few others of course).

      Here is a good piece on the probabilities thing:

      1. Wyoming

        Oh and additionally here in northern AZ we had one come into the atmosphere 2 days ago which I heard the boom from (it sounded like a bomb going off at some distance) and many saw the fire and breakup. It is expected that some pieces hit the ground and there is a rush on to find them as we speak. If they find some it will be the 5th time in AZ since 1912.

      2. lordkoos

        I see these asteroid stories surfacing pretty regularly. I prefer to worry about things that I may actually have some control over.

        1. steve

          When it comes to large natural disasters, extraterrestrial impacts are the only ones we have a chance at avoiding. There is nothing to be done for hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes…

      3. ewmayer

        “There have been 9 impacts of 1km size or bigger in the last million years with the biggest 14 km in dia (that would pretty much wipe us out).” — Uh, 14km would be Chicxulub-scale, those are once-every-100-million-years or so. From your JPL link:

        “The Ries Crater in Bavaria is a lush green basin some 25 kilometers (15 miles) in diameter with the city of Nordlingen in the middle. Fifteen million years ago a 1500-meter (5000 feet) asteroid or comet hit there, excavating more than a trillion tons of material and scattering it all over Europe. This sort of thing happens about once every million years or so.”

        Probably most relevant to human civilization, with its history of a mere ~10,000 years and apparent propensity to kill itself off without extraterrestrial help, are the Tunguska-sized “city killer” impacts which occur roughly every century or so:

        “The 1908 Tunguska event was a stony meteorite in the 100-meter class. The famous meteor crater in northern Arizona, some 1219 meters (4,000 feet) in diameter and 183 meters (600 feet) deep, was created 50,000 years ago by a nickel-iron meteorite perhaps 60 meters in diameter. It probably survived nearly intact until impact, at which time it was pulverized and largely vaporized as its 6-7 x 1016 joules* of kinetic energy were rapidly dissipated in an explosion equivalent to some 15 million tons of TNT! Falls of this class occur once or twice every 1000 years.”

        To my knowledge there have been precisely 2 such impacts since the human population passed 1 billion in 1804 – Tunguska in 1908 and, more recently, the Chelyabinsk fireball. The latter was close to a significant population center, but proved much less damaging than Tunguska due its very shallow angle of approach, which caused it to deposit most of kinetic energy harmessly in the atmosphere, aside from shock waves which broke windows at ground level.

        I have a neat little reminder of the ever-present danger sitting on its display pedestal a few feet away: a 100lb chunk of the Campo del Cielo iron-nickel meteorite, which fell in what is now Argentina 4000-5000 years ago, with a total recovered-fragments mass of around 100 tons. The locals there still find new parts of the strewnfield every few years, my piece is from one of those more-recent discoveries.

    2. steve

      Your assumption that extraterrestrial impacts only occur “every several million years” is incorrect.
      Hiawatha Crater in Greenland is dated to ~12,500 yrs ago, Burckle Crater to ~5,000 yrs ago. Both of these had world changing consequences.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Woman brings mini-service horse onto plane, into first class”

    Even the women involved admitted that this was not a good idea. Think what would happen if a whole bunch of people brought mini-service horses aboard a plane and then they got loose. Then you would need Samuel L. Jackson to step up and say-

    ‘Enough is ENOUGH! I have had it with these m***********’ mini-horses on this m***********’ plane! Everybody strap in! [extracts his gun] I’m about to open some f*****’ windows.’

        1. Michael

          Should I be concerned if when I check seat availability if I start seeing animal emojis in some taken seats?

    1. Karrinina

      As someone active in various equine industry pursuits, I know guide horses (mini ones) for the blind have been around for a relatively long time and they are actually validly trained as official service animals. The benefit is they have longer lifespans than dogs, so the training and partnership-building time invested in that sort of pairing can last a lot longer without old age and death disrupting the relationship between guide and guided. I think those with the requisite training skills may be few, however.

      Ta! That was me jumping in with my one horse-related comment per year.

  10. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Further to the take down of US military academies, it’s not dissimilar in the UK, especially as the academies for senior officers merged, the military slimmed and paths from the military to contractors, “think tanks” and the courtier community, formerly the media, and even academia became so lucrative. It became particularly noticeable from the second gulf war, 1990-1, onwards. Senior officers had often joined contractors, but they were not that many. Few were in the other fields.

    As the generation of military leaders who began their careers in WW2, this lot leading the effort in 1982, and the retreat from east of Suez gave way to Thatcher’s children, just as with the civil service, the City and local government, the rot set in. Dad, who joined the Royal Air Force in the mid-1960s and retired soon after the second gulf war, recalled that the officer class was not particularly right wing, but those in search of a queen’s commission, i.e. the NCOs, were and especially so from the 1980s.

    There was greater politicisation, not just of the armed forces, but the spy agencies and civil service, too, vide John Scarlett and Matthew Ryecroft and the “dodgy dossier” that dragged the UK into the third gulf war. Before then and a bit after, servicemen, current and former, had stood up to chicken hawks, vide Marcus Kimball MP in the Falklands and General Mike Jackson as David Cameron thought war was like the playing fields of Eton. The current crop of generals, e.g. Nick Houghton and Mark Carleton-Smith, son of a general, play politics.

    With regard to education, where I went to school, an establishment similar to Synoia’s, pupils not particularly academic were encouraged to join the army. The army was considered a skip.

    One hopes David, a former civil servant who has had dealings with the military, Synoia, who attended classes at Sandhurst, weigh in.

    1. Wyoming

      I spent my professional career in one of the more infamous US intelligence agencies and can attest to a similar sequence of change.

      When I first entered onto duty as a young man this agency was in hot water with the Democrats and widely reviled by them. But the agency at the time was pretty well stocked with those of a liberal orientation and dominated by Ivy League alumni. Today that agency has evolved into a solidly conservative organization and is now reviled by the Republicans. I find this endlessly amusing.

      1. Olga

        I can see how/why you’d find it amusing; however, the consequences for the world (the rest of us) have certainly been less than entertaining.

  11. urblintz

    I have a question for UK readers of NC: It has been reported that the Queen recently refused to intervene in the Assange case, specifically because the throne needs to remain “non-political.” Is this an acknowledgement that Assange’s persecution is political, and if so isn’t that a strong defense against his extradition?

    (i do not know the linked site and can not vouch for its veracity but it seems above board – apologies if this is bunk)

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      I wasn’t aware of this, but can ask a friend of a friend who works for the office of the chairwoman of UK, Inc. From our last catch up, the office and chairwoman are more worried about Brexit not working out, the unravelling of the union and, allied to the first two and a sense of mortality, the “firm” not surviving her passing. In that scheme of things, unfortunately, Assange is not important.

      1. urblintz

        Thank you, Colonel! I’ll look forward to any insights you might discover and well understand that, with everything else happening, Assange is just not a topic on which many are focused.

        If this turns out to be the Queen’s way of ending the debacle (a comment on the linked article says British law does not allow extradition of “political” prisoners) well…

        God Save the Queen!!!

      2. vlade

        Megan and Harry “commercialising” the firm doesn’t help the survivability.
        Or maybe it’s the other way around – they (well, Megan) don’t expect it to survive much longer so want to get as much out of it as possible.

        1. Monty

          I am surprised there hasn’t been a terrible accident out in Canada already. House Windsor must be losing it’s touch!

    2. David

      No, it’s an acknowledgement that the Assange case has become a political issue and that the Queen could not intervene without appearing to side with one political opinion agains another. That’s quite a different thing.

      1. Tom Bradford

        This was to be my suggestion, to which I would add the rider than for me the only justification for the Monarchy is that it can and should act as the conscience of the Constitution, able to act in those situations no written constitution can allow for or predict.

        God knows that’s a fine line to tread but – as we’ve seen with Trump pardoning his mates left right and center, and which I suspect we’ll see a lot more of as he gets away with it – using such a such a power in all but the most extreme cases is an abuse of it I suspect the Queen is justifiably wary of.

  12. Bob

    During the 60’s West Point taught that a military that was responsive to civilians and staffed with citizens from the draft was a good thing. I was thought necessary prevent a mercenary army from forming; isolated from the rest of the populace; and becoming too inbred from not being exposed to ideas from people who were drafted. Nixon and Vietnam changed everything. No more accurate reporting of what war is like, but managed PR. It is not West Point or the generals. Remember, it was Eisenhower who warned of the military industrial complex. We have too many people making too much money to allow the military to be filled with drafted civilians. Most people on a daily basis are not touched by the war; have no skin in the game; and don’t get any exposure to it from the media.

      1. jef

        “The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”: an employee is promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent”

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It has occurred to me that the solution to that problem is to make every promotion provisional for a long enough probationary period that incompetence can not be hidden or deferred from notice. If the probationary period reveals the promotee to be incompetent, just send herm back to the highest previous level of competence from which heeshee came.

    1. divadab

      “Nixon and Vietnam changed everything”

      It was LBJ responsible for starting the rot by ramping up the war. The fee for protection from going the way of JFK, perhaps, or perhaps more complicit?

      1. dearieme

        JFK ramped it up before him. You can argue that it was a feeble harvard-limp-wristed ramp up, but a ramp up it was.

        1. xkeyscored

          Thank you. I’ll try and remember your words when I want to make the same point about JFK in future!

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I have read that Kennedy was assassinated to prevent him from de-ramping it back down if he were to have won the 1964 election. Also to prevent any further peace-pursuit with USSR along the lines of the Comprehensive Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty.

      2. Bob

        Nixon and congress did away with the draft. Vietnam was an embarrassment to the military who felt they could win a war while losing popular support. Media must be managed.

    2. D. Fuller

      In the early 1990’s, I was temporarily stuck as a 75B (Personnel Administration Specialist) or clerk for a certain unit over in Germany. Which led to me having access to the ASVAB scores of everyone. It was no surprise that just about all of our officers had ASVAB scores that should have disbarred them from military service. In other words, they were not qualified to peel potatoes. Talking to other UA’s (unit administrators) revealed that this was a not-uncommon occurence. IIRC, officer ASVAB scores were subsequently classified.

      The incredible amount of incompetence from officers is astounding. I’ve encountered officers who can not perform basic inventory for the material that they are responsible for. Or who are mystified by the simple act of requisitioning basic equipment.

      The best officer we had came from a community college. We would follow that officer to hell and back. I doubt he lasted long in the military. Our CO – that officer – actually half-jested that if in wartime that our LT’s were about to get us killed through their stupidity? To shoot the LT. No one is sure if he was serious or not. There was serious consideration to doing exactly that. At best, out of four LT’s who graduated from West Point? One was – AT BEST – half-a**ed and that we actually liked him enough to keep him from screwing up too much. At least that LT did listen.

      West Point graduates are literally the worst of the worst. I know of cases where West Point graduates endangered the lives of their troops IN TRAINING EXERCISES, and no disciplinary action was ever taken. There was almost an entire platoon of combat engineers wiped out through severe dehydration during an exercise at Fort Irwin, CA, because of a West Point graduate failing to notify supply that water needed to be provided. That was in 1996. No disciplinary action was ever taken against the officer, who was called LT Spanky.

      There are many other stories of incompetence I could relate, but you get the picture.

      1. Lost in OR

        The worst Lt I had graduated from a military academy in VT. He taught us that the most dangerous weapon in the Army was an Lt with a map.

        1. D. Fuller

          Had an amusing incident involving a lensatic compass and an LT. Another West Pointer.

          Ever have an LT order your driver of the Bradley to traverse a 60 degree slope? Yeah.

          Or the LT – yet another West Pointer – that had 22,500 rounds of ammunition go missing. It took almost a day and a supply SGT to notice that the LT actually signed out only 2,500 rounds. With the paperwork listing 25,000 rounds.

          Or the LT in charge of ordering publications – who didn’t know how to order publications.

          Had an LT use Armor-All on the track. We paid for his idiocy. Shiny is not something you want to be out in the field. The LT thought it would make him stand out with the BC during inspection. We stood out alright.

          Or the LT who sent a squad of combat engineers down range on a tank gunnery range to put out a fire. Who neglected to tell the RSO that he had troops down there. The RSO announced fire at will. The squad hid behind a berm and their Bradley was a total loss. The RSO called a “cease fire” when the Bradley exploded spectacularly. Something targets on a tank range normally should not do. Almost had some friends end up in Leavenworth when the LT lied about sending those troops down there. Thankfully, there was an E-7 who also had been present to hear the LT give the order. Anything ever happen to that LT? Nope. Fast-tracked for promotion.

          One of my favorites? An officer who spent his entire career at The Pentagon, who wanted a command so he could pad out his resume. He lasted less than 30-days. His favorite saying, “That is not how it works in the book!” Reply? “Welcome to the real Army, Sir!”

          A note on West Point. If anyone thinks that West Point graduates are not taught to sacrifice their troops to save themselves? They have another thing coming.

        2. wilroncanada

          The problem is that all officers are provided with Tates compasses. Everybody knows that “He who has a Tates is lost.”

      2. xkeyscored

        I’ve heard somewhere (a John Pilger film?) of ‘fragging’ during the war on Vietnam. Soldiers under the command of an over-enthusiastic gook hunter would roll a fragmentation grenade into his tent while he slept.

        1. The Rev Kev

          It happens for every generation. In WW1, one officer was in charge of doing an idiotic charge over the top. He blew his whistle and went over the top. All his men grabbed the top of the trench – and then dropped back down leaving that officer charging in the middle of the no-man zone. Problem solved.

          In the Crimean war, there was a vicious British Colonel that told his men that he knew that they wanted to kill him for all that he had done to them but said that they had to beat the enemy. The battle ensued and the British fought off the enemy. The Colonel turned around and started cheering when a single shot rang out and no more Colonel.

          This sort of stuff probably goes all the way back to Troy as soldiers learn that it is a matter of survival. Good officers get protected and helped. Bad officers end up KIA.

          1. RMO

            Yes, but on the Western Front there were plenty of junior officers to send to the front to replace them (they died like mayflies), Haig was going to keep ordering the attacks again and again and showed clearly that he was happy to send soldiers to the firing squad after a kangaroo court – and made sure the condemned were shot by men from their own outfit so they knew full well that the soldiers were being executed for mentally and physically breaking down or being unable to do the impossible. So overall events like that didn’t change much.

  13. barefoot charley

    Bloomberg goes all AOC!

    A transaction tax ffs! Charge corporate perps! Strengthen consumer protections! This is the highest pile of lies so far in this campaign. Can’t wait for the stinkpile debate on Wednesday night, his live debut.

    (If he really wanted to ‘rein in Wall Street’ he could just turn off their terminals)

    1. Geo

      Whenever I feel my opinion of the Democratic Party has bottomed out they find a new stairway down further. This rise of Bloomberg amongst the electorate and rash of establishment endorsements/fervor is breathtaking. It is the hen house crowning the fox their new king.

      The nihilist in me is amused. The humanist in me is horrified.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Heinlein set a lot of his stories and characters in a future timeline that he laid out and “The Year of the Jackpot” was a story outside of this timeline-

      Having said that, he did give a lot of thought to this timeline in the technologies, human developments and that chart only shows a fraction of what he planned out. But he did have a lot of interesting thoughts such as in the following article

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        Always been a Heinlein fan, though not of his later work were he seemed to get rather self-indulgent and sloppy.

        10-year-old-me tried repeatedly to draw a tessaract reflected in 2D on graph paper under the mind-blowing influence of ‘And He Built a Crooked House’.

        11-year-old me desperately wanted to learn to fly on Luna under the influence of ‘The Menace From Earth’. (and, kinda fell in love with the lead ‘Holly’ character, imprinting a bit of her personality & strength into my ‘must haves’ for a lady friend)

        12-year-old me decided I wanted to become an ice miner (or computer repair dude) on Luna under the influence of ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’. (12-and-a-half-year-old me decided I also wanted to become a revolutionary, buy a cannon, and ‘set up business for myself’ under the same books influence)

        13-year-old-me made a bit of a militaristic turn and wanted to kill skinnies and don powered armor under the influence of ‘Starship Troopers’, but luckily I talked myself back from that escapade.

        Current me….well, I guess deep down I really still want to be an ice miner on Luna. Have a small bit of cubic in the lower levels of the warrens below Tycho Under, with maybe a doss over in HKLuna.

        1. Samuel Conner

          Maybe live forever and enjoy free love, under the influence of “Time enough for love”?

          At some point, decades ago, I noticed that “immortality” and “sex” (more specifically, the combination of the two) seemed to be recurrent themes in RL’s novels. “Glory Road” was perhaps the point at which I noticed this.

          Me thinks that RL’s intended audience was hormone-soaked adolescent boys. But maybe that was the entire genre at the time.

          Similarly, at some point I realized that while Frank Herbert’s novels held my attention, at the end of each one… I felt really bad. “Destination Void” and “The White Plague” are good examples of this, but even the Dune novels had this effect on me.

          1. ambrit

            It turns out that Heinlein’s real life was like his “hormone-soaked” writings.
            He indulged in all sorts of ‘non-standard’ sexual pursuits. At one time, he was involved in a menage-a-trois with his second wife Lurlene and L Ron Hubbard.
            His so called ‘juveniles’ were groundbreaking productions. Lots of good out-there ideas and positive libertarian and technocratic themes. I still like them. His later stuff, meh.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Lots of memories there and I have most of his early work on my shelves. Me? When I was a kid I wanted to be reporting to Hayworth Hall so that I could get to the PRS James Randolph.

  14. Carla

    In The Nation article “After Neoliberalism,” the author concludes: “If we want to save democracy, we will first need to achieve democracy.”

    Although he doesn’t quite say so, it’s obvious that’s what the Sanders campaign is trying to do. It is also the task of, which is truly a “create REAL democracy” movement.

    If we don’t outlaw constitutional rights for corporations (and all corporate entities, including unions), we will not have that chance.

    Please go to

    If your Congress critter is not on the list of co-sponsors, lobby them to join it. Also lobby your U.S. Senators to introduce companion legislation to hjr-48 in the Senate.

    Go to and see if there’s a local affiliate near you, then join it. If there isn’t one, consider starting one. The national organization will put you in touch with someone who can help.

    We need all hands on deck for this one! Ironically, organizations trying to build real democracy suffer during national election years because everybody’s energies (and dollars) are drawn off into electoral efforts that in the end, seldom change things. Don’t forget the fundamentals!

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Japan issues guidelines to prevent rush on hospitals as COVID-19 cases surge”

    Yesterday Plutoniumkun was talking about the effects of the Coronavirus on the upcoming Tokyo Olympics this July. Since then I have begun to wonder if this may not lead to the cancellation of the Summer Olympics themselves. The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing may be safe as the virus may have – hopefully – burnt itself out by then but there is only a little over five months until the Summer Games commence. No time to re-locate and if athletes & tourists refuse to come to a Japan with widespread Coronavirus taking over, what other choice will there be? Wouldn’t be the first time they have been cancelled and here is a list of those that have-

    1916 Summer Olympics‎
    1940 Summer Olympics‎
    1940 Winter Olympics‎
    1944 Summer Olympics‎
    1944 Winter Olympics‎

    1. Massinissa

      Most of those involved WW2, with one involving ww1. Wonder if Japan cancelling would mean ww3 is around the corner.

    2. lordkoos

      I worry more about the possibility of US elections being “postponed” due to pandemic fears. The Olympics, I could care less personally.

  16. DJG

    Why the Mind Cannot Emerge. The excerpts posted of a discussion by a neurologist and a computer scientist are nonsense on stilts. The first paragraph flirts with radical dualism–material / spiritual. Naturally, the two of them will have to go further with the flirtation.

    The idea that wetness isn’t an “emergent property” of water is plain nonsense. Any book on chemistry (or physics) is going to get into the unique properties of water, which include its unique structure and bonding. And lo and behold, water shows unique behavior as a liquid (you know, wet) and solid (the solid is lighter than the liquid and can float in it).

    If we think of the mind as the senses and brains constantly interacting with the environment–much like Lambert Strether’s description this morning of crowds of locusts touching and interacting and changing their brain structures through big doses of seratonin–we can approach some ideas of mind that are more than the ancient chestnut of Socrates–that little voice that keeps talking inside my head.

    If the Mind Can’t Emerge article shows anything, it is that too many TED talks may cause our minds to collapse.

    1. The Historian

      Apparently neurologists don’t have to take basic high school chemistry or any other chemistry any more. Wetness is just a function of surface tension – something controlled by the molecular attraction in the liquid and any liquid can be made wetter by adding a wetting agent. which will reduce the surface tension. It has nothing to do with emergent properties as they appear to define them.

      “That is, there are no properties of the mind that have any overlap with the properties of brain.”

      How does a neurologist get his degree without studying the effects of brain injuries on the mind?

      1. ptb

        Surface tension can be thought of as a thermodynamic property, i believe. (It involves the gas/vapor phase too, and thus temperature and heat and energy etc. p-chem!) Aquaeous solutions really are a bit wacky and unlike many more mild mannered fluids because of the hydrogen bonding. The other things that make our experience of wetness are viscosity, thermal conductivity, heat capacity, diffusion, and the chemistry and micro structure of whatever solid surfaces the liquid touches. It ain’t in your mind, it’s genuinely complex.

      2. Grebo

        He doesn’t understand emergence or, apparently, information. The plot of Game of Thrones has no properties that overlap with the properties of my computer; nevertheless, with the right incantation, the latter will present me with the former. It must be magic.

    2. Krystyn Walentka

      They lost me at

      “You can study the quantum mechanical attributes of oxygen and hydrogen and all the chemistry and physics of water and not come out of that with anything that suggests that it’s wet. But when you put real water in front of you and dip your finger in it, it’s kind of wet. So people say that wetness is an emergent property of water. ”

      Ha! The finger is the same quantum junk interacting with the the quantum junk of water. Wetness occurs when the two interact. Wetness emerges from the water and the finger touching it.

      The brain senses thoughts like the ear senses sounds. What we call the mind (thinking) is just a sense object, and we are nothing but our memories, a sense, the sound of a gong that arises and falls away. The mind cannot arise without a sensation just as the wetness of water does not arise until you put your finger in it.

      Reminds me of a koan:

      Two monks were arguing while watching a flag flapping in the wind.
      “The flag is moving,” argued one monk.
      “No, it’s the wind that is moving!” insisted the other monk.
      Huineng was passing by, and remarked, “It’s your minds that are moving.”

      1. Jeff W

        “The brain senses thoughts like the ear senses sounds.”

        That’s what I was going to say, well, sort of. Thoughts are covert verbal behavior—you’re just hearing in the absence of external auditory stimuli. You’re in effect hearing yourself speaking to yourself.

    3. Dr. Happypants

      The neurosurgeon in question is in fact a known crank: he works for the Discovery Institute shilling for Intelligent Design.

    4. dearieme

      “unique behavior as a … solid (the solid is lighter than the liquid and can float in it).”

      It’s not unique but it is unusual. Or so we were taught at secondary school. And google confirms the wisdom of my chemistry teacher.

    5. xkeyscored

      If you ask me, mind is a big red herring. Bacteria make decisions, much as we do. But some of us like to think of ourselves as fundamentally different, hence the soul, free will, the body-mind problem, and all that.

      1. Monty

        I think saying we are “basically just big bacteria” does a great disservice to the experience of being alive and self aware with agency. The causal chain, spanning eons, that has led to me reading your post is so fantastically improbable. Yet, here we are. Is it any wonder some choose to call it miraculous when any number of things could have derailed it along the way?

        1. xkeyscored

          I know some people don’t accept that dogs, say, have “the experience of being alive and self aware with agency.” Personally, I’ve always thought it stunningly obvious that they do, and I’ve noticed science beginning to swing in that direction in the last decade or two.
          I too have a hard time attributing awareness and agency to bacteria, but I can’t see much logical reason to assume they’re fundamentally different from us. They’re made of the same bits and pieces, and they make decisions – when to divide, which way to swim, etc etc. And I think we fool ourselves about our ‘agency’. There’s definite and widely accepted evidence that we make our conscious decisions before we’re aware of them. And do you shiver because of something in your awareness, or does it happen regardless?
          Maybe our much-vaunted consciousness is just the voice in our heads.

          1. Monty

            Slime mold has no brain, but still manages some form of awareness.

            I just find it a bit frustrating when the “armchair professors” come out en-mass, when this topic arises. All enthusiastically denying how magical it is that matter “woke up”, and that we are here to experience it! No big deal, just a fluke… Maybe, but what a dull way to look at things!

          2. martell

            What is this experience of being alive supposed to be? If it’s what I’m supposed to describe when asked “What’s it like to be alive?”, I wonder “As opposed to what? Dead?” And in that case, I can’t say. So I’m tempted to answer in terms of what I know living things have to be like, given the norms for talking about them: they grow, they have bodies, they fare well or poorly, etc. But then the question of whether dogs have the experience of being alive amounts to the question of whether dogs grow, have bodies, flourish, and so forth. Obviously, this is not an interesting question.

            As for the question of whether dogs are self aware agents, they’re certainly agents. They act. They do things. Hence agents. If by ‘self aware’ you mean perceiving themselves, so reflexively perceptive, then sure, they’re that too. But if you mean that each dog is aware of some thing called a self that’s somehow distinct from the whole animal, then no, dogs aren’t aware of that. And that’s because there’s no such thing as a self. ‘Self,’ I’m pretty sure, was originally a part of pronouns that functioned to make verb phrases reflexive. At some point in the history of it’s use, ‘self’ started to function apart from those reflexive pronouns as a noun, misleadingly suggesting that it refers to some mysterious entity. Philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists go hunting for it. This is a snipe hunt.

            Finally, I very much doubt that bacteria make decisions. There aren’t any clear cut rules for the use of ‘decide,’ but I think what follows is roughly accurate: Agents capable of making decisions are agents who can act for reasons. Reasons for action are justifications for action. Agents capable of justifying their actions by appeal to reasons have to be able to state their reasons. The power to decide is, in short, the power of a language using animal. Bacteria don’t qualify.

            1. xkeyscored

              Under your definition of decide, bacteria do not make decisions. At least, I’ve never encountered one justifying its actions. But is that the only meaning of decide? And, for us, does the justification precede the action? In most cases, I suspect not. A pretty woman might turn my head, which to me is a decision, when reason would dictate that I keep my eyes on the road. I could state my reasons by saying I couldn’t help it, it’s in my genes, my culture programmed me thus, etc, but that’s no different to bacteria – except that they don’t use such sophisticated language as us.

              1. witters

                “A pretty woman might turn my head, which to me is a decision, when reason would dictate that I keep my eyes on the road.”

                To me it looks like akrasia.

  17. DJG

    Are UFOs Real? Interesting that Clapper’s name comes up in the middle.

    The article is mainly about the melodrama of the intelligence community–the same people who can’t figure out if Iran is a real nation with its own interests or just some gamepiece on their version of Risk. So they classify everything–and they have money galore, so who knows what else / who else they are “investigating.”

    The problem with UFOs and extraterrestrials is that if you put just one low probability into the Drake Equation, you end up with a thousand or so Earth-like planets able to support life–and none of them near. The recent list of exoplanets that might support life points to planets that are hundreds of light years away as the closest ones.

    So what are UFOs? Who knows? It is stuff for scientists. Just as recently developed hypothesis about dark matter and dark energy are for scientists, and who knows?, maybe UFOs are an explosion of dark energy as it contacts Earth. They aren’t Vogon cleaner-ships, building galactic highways and spewing poetry.

    The salient paragraph:

    “The whole contracting process for this program was irregular from start to finish,” Steven Aftergood, Director for the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, tells Popular Mechanics. “[The AAWSAP contract] sounds like it was a good deal for the contractor. But it would be hard to argue that either the military or the public got their money’s worth.”

    All I am saying is, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time practicing “Klaatu barada nikto” if I were you.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Bloomberg says many ‘black and Latino males’ don’t ‘know how to behave in the workplace,’ in newly uncovered 2011 video”

    When Bloomberg said that black fathers should get engaged with their children, my first thought was that that was what Obama did – black-shaming. But when Bloomberg talks, I sometimes think that he is a Joe Biden that has not yet lost the plot. Take a look at the following bits from that article-

    (He) claims that farming doesn’t take much intelligence and that “anybody” could do it.

    “Nevertheless, there’s this enormous cohort of black and Latino males, age, let’s say, 16 to 25,” Bloomberg said, “that don’t have jobs, don’t have any prospects, don’t know how to find jobs, don’t know what their skill sets are, don’t know how to behave in the workplace where they have to work collaboratively and collectively.”

    Anybody that clueless with their judgement is capable with coming up with what would be an “obvious” solution. Taking those 16 to 25 year old black and Latino males and sending them to work in rural areas to work in agriculture as it “doesn’t take much intelligence”. No word if he would be so clueless as to then suggest them working in the cotton industry.

    1. Monty

      Don’t worry Kev. It all makes a lot more sense when you understand that the Bloomberg primary campaign is actually just a dry-run for a future leadership challenge of the UK Conservatives. Allegedly, such views are not only welcome there, they actually form a litmus test for membership.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Gentlemen.

        Monty is not far off the money.

        Cameron and Osborne thought about appointing Bloomberg mayor of London, the same thinking that propelled Carney and several former Fed officials to the Bank of England, and even canvassing for him to be UN secretary general. The pair are enthralled by him and would often speak at his London HQs, the new / current one at Walbrook and old one at Finsbury Square. Any minister and senior civil servant wanting advancement soon picked up that paying homage to Bloomberg was one way to get noticed. I attended some of the speeches, including the fateful commitment to the Brexit referendum.

        Apparently, Bloomberg was not best pleased that his new and expensive London HQ, across the road from the Bank of England and next door to Mansion House, office of the Lord Mayor of (the City of) London and further down from Rothschild HQ, would no longer hold court when the referendum results came in. One reason why Bloomberg staff are so keen to big up Macron is, apart from all being birds of a feather, they are micro managed and know their boss likes to have these types pay homage.

      2. Stormcrow

        In don’t think Bloomberg really wants to become president. His job is to stop Bernie. A brokered convention is the goal. I also doubt that his campaign is entirely self-funded, though I can’t prove this. But I would not be surprised if it eventually turns out that he is the tool of covert group of billionaires, each of whom is chipping in. Sanders must be stopped because he is a threat to the rapacious economic elite.

            1. Shonde

              Mayor Mike has a huge love cult doing commenting on articles in the Mpls. StarTribune. Are they paid staff or real supporters? No way to know.

    2. Lee

      Make ‘m act right! Bring back the lash!

      One thing my parents instilled in me is a strong look like you’re busy even when you’re not work ethic. ; )

    3. xkeyscored

      don’t know how to behave in the workplace where they have to work collaboratively and collectively
      This could be said of world leaders, perhaps even more so of US presidents. Instead of collaboration we have US exceptionalism, the world is our enemy.

      1. 1 kings

        ‘Only idiots and generals love war.’

        Can’t remember.

        Oh, and let me add Chicken-hawks:Johnson, Nixon, Kissinger, Cheney, GWBush, Obama, Hillary, Trumpster and pretty much everyone who voted for Gulf War 2.

  19. Wukchumni

    It practically demands a video, but words will have to suffice as 7 of us were doing time in Volcano hot springs in Saline Valley around late dusk, when our oval shaped body of water became an aircraft carrier for touch and go sorties by the bat colony, with 40-50 swiftly coming by in between us human beans

    When you’re about 5 miles out from the hot springs, you come to the Bat Pole, the mammal mascot of the place. The 1st photo on the link.

    …the hot spring i’d mentioned is in the next photo

    On this sojourn, a rocket scientist from JPL was with us, his first foray, everybody else in our 3 car convoy off-road for 52 miles in, had been many times previously. There’s 6 of us and you have to bring everything you need as you are as back of beyond as one can be behind the wheel, and that includes a couple extra used tires on rims in addition to the spare tire.

    The drive in starts off with forests of Joshua trees, and one thing i’ve noticed in regards to Joshuas here is that they don’t grow that close together, when looking for possible sites to hang my hammock. They’re always 25-30 feet apart, probably as a self preservation effort in a land of little rain, and what water lies underfoot must be rationed out.

    As you ascend into Pinion pine forests for awhile, there’s a bit of snow from the last storm of significance in the Sierra, over Thanksgiving weekend. We’ve gotten precious little since, and it looks as if February might be a shutout for precipitation participation.

    At the high point before descending we always stop to admire the view down below of Panamint sand dunes thousands of feet underneath our eyes, one looks almost as if a pyramid. The road’s a bit icy but no biggie and after a mile or so through patches of intermittent ice, its back to crushed lava & small rocks you get to maneuver around avoiding the pointy ones in particular. The rest of the drive in takes its time and before you know it we’re there, and President’s day weekend has a pancake breakfast on Saturday and a pot luck on Sunday, with a traditional softball (Skins beat the Misfits 18-17) game as well.

    There was around 300 of us there, and as always the soaking was sublime and the conversations scintillating. Had a 4 am soak in the Wizard hot spring with an expert on petroglyphs, and we had a mutual friend in common, a fun 6 degrees of separation thing that comes with these springs, it always happens it seems.

    I tell him of my idea to make modern petroglyphs using a Dremel tool and he tells me he’s already been doing them for quite awhile, one of his sillier ones has a UFO hovering over a Conestoga wagon. I ask him how would you describe in picture words on a wall, the history of the USA in a panel measuring say 40 feet by 20 feet?

    He says its tricky, you have to make it easy for somebody thousands of years in the future to understand, and I told him I thought a modern petroglyph of a Moon landing in its various phases would make for an interesting project. Seemed to get him interested.

    There’s another soaker who is best described as a 66 year old bronzed hot springs Zeus in wraparound sunglasses. I’ve soaked with him before and know he’s made it his life mission to soak in as many different as possible. He was just back from going to 13 new ones for him in Argentina a few weeks prior. When I ask how many he’s been to, he says “Most of Alaska & Canada, almost all in the continental USA…” and then he reels off countries where he’s been in hot water down under until you realize he’s named every one of them, south of the border. My hero.

    1. xkeyscored

      The spacing of the Joshua trees may be related to fire as much as water.
      “Leary [58] suggests 3 reasons that fires were historically rarer in southwestern deserts than in other ecosystems. Vegetation spacing in the deserts did not promote fire spread. Litter and fuel levels were low in the deserts, and lastly, deserts were sparsely populated and had a reduced chance of human-caused fires. However, invasive species have changed the fuel and litter loads (see Changes in fire frequency and size with nonnatives), and human-caused fires have become more common (see study in Discussion and Qualification of Plant Response by [60]). Loik and others [64] report that the current fire return interval for singleleaf pinyon-California juniper communities of Quail Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park is approximately 15 years.”

    2. Anon

      If I can transfer the slide pics to digital I’ll link to pics of the Saline Valley hot springs from an excursion made in 1980. When the valley and hot spings were “owned” by disparate group of societal outcasts and not the NPS.

      The Saline Valley offers more than just hot springs. I have photos of side canyons that have lush waterfalls with man-made vine ladders to scale them. There are also now abandoned cable trams that took borax mined in the valley up the canyons and over the Inyo mountains into Owens Valley towns to the west.

      Geologists and botanists love the place for it’s exceptional display. The rest of us love it for the night sky ;)

      1. Wukchumni

        Yes, there is a lot to see & do in the environs. The most remote ghost town in California is in Beveridge, way inaccessible up in the Inyo range, and ancient Native American wall art as well, along with the aforementioned borax tramway, which still has 4 towers intact, from the early 1900’s. We usually get an air show as well, with jet fighters making very low passes, but only saw a couple of F-16’s streaking overhead @ 600 mph @ 400 feet, as it was a holiday weekend. We typically get 25 or so in a 3 day span.

  20. Jason Boxman

    Ha. Not being able to disinfect was an issue at Voalte; They started out selling an app to hospitals for secure texting between providers that ran on iPhones. Some (most? all?) of the commercial hospital disinfectants destroyed the iPhone screen. So yeah, it definitely wasn’t part of the iPhone design requirements. (And clearly not part of Voalte’s service offering at the time; no idea if they still even offer the iPhone, but nurses _loved_ them.)

  21. Wukchumni

    Israeli Burning Man-style Event Planned for West Bank Sparks Controversy Haaretz
    Couldn’t get past the firewall, but isn’t it still too soon to have ‘Burning Man-style Events’ in Israel?

    1. xkeyscored

      The Israeli group, which was not involved in organizing the Dead Sea Burn, has not commented on the issue, reiterating its apolitical stance.
      In the event’s announcement on Facebook last week, Yaron Ben-Shoshan, one of the organizers, posted that while the chosen location “is beyond the Green Line,” that is, beyond Israel’s 1967 borders, “recently they’ve been talking about Israel annexing this land, so a momentary decision could place it inside the Green Line, there’s no cause for concern.”

      Now that’s definitely what I’d call apolitical. Maybe next year they could apolitically strap themselves to missiles aimed at Damascus, Major Kong style, for a real burning man experience of a lifetime.

  22. Mikel

    Re: “After Neoliberalism”

    “The better term for this third future is ‘nationalist oligarchy’ and Trumpism is its American variant”

    That’s the FUTURE? Snap out of it. That oligarchy will remain enshrined by the Supreme Corp as the essence of the Constitution. Term limit that court (among other things) and one may have the inklings of a possible beginning of putting the oligarchy on the run.

    And The Nation should refrain from saying neoliberalism is in retreat as long as the farce of the Democratic Party Primary is on full display.

  23. antidlc

    Somehow I missed this…sorry if already posted.

    From Jan 17.
    Billionaire Bloomberg is granted financial disclosure delay

    Billionaire Michael Bloomberg won’t have to publicly disclose his finances until late March, well after voters in more than a dozen states take to the polls on Super Tuesday.

    Presidential candidates are required to reveal their investments, businesses and streams of income. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, is the only Democrat seeking the White House who has yet to file paperwork to publicly disclose his.

    And under an extension granted to him Friday by the Federal Election Commission — the second such one Bloomberg has received — he can postpone their release until March 20.

    1. marym

      Since Trump hasn’t filled positions on the FEC its membership currently consists of 3 vacancies and three members still serving though their terms have expired. The terms expired in 2007, 2009, and 2013, so Trump’s not alone in not getting positions filled.

      Trump did try to make one appointment,but the Senate hasn’t held a confirmation hearing.

      Supposedly 3 isn’t a quorum for them to rule on campaign fundraising and spending (convenient) but apparently they’re able to ok this extension (convenient).

      1. xkeyscored

        I wonder if, say, the EPA can still declare places safe and pollution-free, even as they lose their power to investigate?

  24. Watt4Bob

    From Hacker News.

    There is an “Ask HK” feature which posted the following this morning;

    A major bank is storing your passwords in clear text.

    A reader asks the following question of Hacker News readers;

    I was having trouble accessing my account, so I gave a call to customer service. The service rep proceeded to (accurately) describe my own password to me. Should I report this somewhere? I’m not really sure what to do.

    The first to answer, provides these words of wisdom;

    As someone who works in finance/banking, I can assure you that this is not uncommon. Almost everyone is engaging in not-so-best practices with password storage if they are using any 3rd party vendors. Only the institutions with the resources to rebuild in-house systems with modern security standards are the exception to this rule. There are only a handful of these. Ultimately, it’s not some malicious intent or incompetence, but simply the acknowledgement that the legacy systems will not enjoy PBKDF hash+salt+iterations columns being added 30 years after the fact.

    The risk analysis and mitigation discussion for these institutions goes something like this:

    1) We cant have good password storage so we will require a 2nd factor and attempt to ensure these systems reside in our most secure network.

    2) There is nothing we can do, so we will simply rely on the fact that if someone logs into an account illegally, we send in the men with guns. For some strange reason when a bank calls the FBI things move with a high level of expediency.

    There is much more to this than just the technical aspect of “oh my goodness why aren’t you hashing your passwords”. How much ripping would HN impose on one of these institutions if they attempted a 100% best practices secure password upgrade and then subsequently had a complete IT disaster unfold (I can certainly link articles). For many banks and other financial institutions, going down for even 1 hour is a complete catastrophe. If people can’t get their money out right away, they are leaving for the competition and you will likely get dinged by regulators. Bad people will continue to do bad things until the end of time. Killing your business to handle every edge case, even if it seems obvious, is not a good path to go down.

    I would also consider this: These banks’ IT systems are storing things that many of us would argue are much more valuable than your passwords. A bank’s core system also represents the actual monetary value of every customer’s account. We are talking about password security in a system domain where there are arguably far more valuable assets to secure. These assets are already implicitly protected by a massive apparatus extending as far as Ohio Class nuclear submarines patrolling the Pacific ocean.

    Trying to secure my password could lead to a potential cock-up, so it will not be attempted.

    So the back-up plan to securing my account password, in clear text, is the might and power of the US military.

    That makes me feel so much better.

    Follow the link to the thread, it provides an enlightening look into the quality of thinking going on at our banks.

    1. lordkoos

      My former credit union was also able to provide my password on demand. I believe it is a good idea to keep some of your wealth outside the banking system, if possible.

      1. notabanktoadie

        Credit unions are not outside the banking system; they ARE banks; it’s just they are owned by their depositors and are supposedly non-profit, whatever that means since they do pay dividends to their owners.

        All private depository institutions should be de-privileged, including credit unions. Otherwise, equal protection under the law is violated in favor of the more so-called “creditworthy.”

    2. Tom Bradford

      Two of the financial institutions I have my money at use a two-step log-on, first a password and then a personal question out of three with pre-set answers – and one of these demands only two ‘random’ letters of the answer. The third simply has a password.

      While I don’t think any password is safe from someone ‘on the inside’ with access to the servers the two-step log-on offers some protection from the person looking over my shoulder who gains my password, and so the third institution which relies on the password alone only gets the minimum of my business.

    1. curlydan

      Just looked at the latest WHO stats. In Wuhan’s province Hubei, corona virus has been confirmed in 1 out of every 1,017 citizens. In Guangdong (the province with the second highest infection total), corona virus has infected 1 out of every 85,824 citizens. Guangdong is the most populous province, BTW.

      Hubei: talk about an epicenter!!

      My mother in law lives in Guangzhou, and it is definitely on lockdown. To go into any neighborhood, you have to have your ID proving you live there.

    2. Susan the other

      This one is more evasive than the link above – analysis done by a long list of virologists in La Jolla – concluding that it is highly improbably that Corona19 was bio engineered. But they don’t know for sure. In fact they make it sound like Covid19 is Son of SARS and go on to imply that maybe it is attenuating (without saying so) by saying that SARS is 10% fatal while CoV19 is only 2.5%. Same old. There was a previous blurb (sorry, can’t site) that Covid19 was being studied at Wuhan Virology Institute to determine what would make it less virulent than the original SARS outbreak. (So is it or isn’t it SARS?) And that piece implied (without saying) that studies to understand virulence go both ways and can discover what makes a virus more virulent as well. Then a latest blurb (I think late night BBC) about 2 researchers at the Wuhan Institute being bitten by the bat they were studying using Covid19. Then on top of all that there is the curious behavior of the Chinese authorities. Keeping it quiet. That’s the smoking gun. And oh, they just mistakenly hosed down the wet market so nobody could do any forensics… etc. But I suppose the La Jolla study could be right – that Covid19 is possibly son of SARS and that it is, in fact, only fatal 2.5% of the time. There’s still puzzlement about the ACE2 receptor issue. And on top of it all it’s hard to imagine that China would release something so devastating on its own population. I don’t think I’m ready to say that Covid19 is not bioengineered, whether inadvertently or otherwise. But, hey, mutations and incompetence happen.

      1. xkeyscored

        “The 2019-nCoV has caused an epidemic of 28,060 laboratory-confirmed infections in human including 564 deaths in China by February 6, 2020. Two descriptions of the virus published on Nature this week indicated that the genome sequences from patients were almost identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus. It was critical to study where the pathogen came from and how it passed onto human. An article published on The Lancet reported that 27 of 41 infected patients were found to have contact with the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. We noted two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus in Wuhan, one of which was only 280 meters from the seafood market. We briefly examined the histories of the laboratories and proposed that the coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory. Our proposal provided an alternative origin of the coronavirus in addition to natural recombination and intermediate host.”
        The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus, Feb 2020

        And, from a pretty dubious source,
        “BAT ATTACK Coronavirus may have started in Wuhan lab where HUNDREDS of bats ‘attacked and peed on scientists’, experts say”

  25. Grant

    Warren is such a hack at this point. She has been focused intensely on Bernie of all people, and said very little about Biden’s horrific record. Bloomberg is literally trying to buy an election, but what does Warren do? Again, aid the corrupt establishment in their propaganda against Bernie. He has “a lot of questions to answer” because his supporters were critical of a culinary union LEADERSHIP doing blatant propaganda against a healthcare plan that would massively benefit working people and critiqued a LEADER of the union because of her ties to CAP. Warren says that his supporters are oh so mean (the enemies of Bernie can attack him and do what they want, but his supporters cannot fight back, point out lies, flaws in logic, corruption, or gaslighting) and thinks he should apologize for them strongly critiquing the leaders of that union. She also jumped on the bandwagon of saying that unions that negotiated for good healthcare plans should be able to keep those plans, again aiding in propaganda. When it was clear that the leaders did that and that many of the rank and file were not agreeing, the leaders pulled back and didn’t endorse anyone, which they were set to do. The notion at this point that she is a “unity” candidate (as if that is a real thing anyway) is absurd. What a disappointment she has been.

    1. Geo

      She entered politics because of th bankruptcy bill Biden authored and Bloomberg funded/endorsed her GOP senate opponent – and she attacks her longtime ally Sanders.

      Was fun to see Stacey Abrams trash her (and her dog Bailey) on Bloomberg’s behalf today. A bunch of “players in the game” playing each other in their efforts to get a VP nod.
      “Every person is allowed to run and should run the race that they think they should run, and Mike Bloomberg has chosen to use his finances. Other people are using their dog, their charisma, their whatever,” she added.

      1. RMO

        Nice to see Bloomberg’s minion pretty explicitly saying his overlord is doing his utmost to outright buy the White House! Clarifying!

      2. jrs

        That’s all the super rich have isn’t it, their substitute for any actual likable or admirable qualities/abilities. They don’t even like pets.

    2. xkeyscored

      She hasn’t disappointed me in the slightest. Another Dem attempt to keep socialism at bay at all costs (except, of course, for the rich.) I guess it depends on what you expected from her.

      1. Jeff W

        “She hasn’t disappointed me in the slightest.…I guess it depends on what you expected from her.”

        Agreed. She’s acting entirely true to form as far as I’m concerned.

      2. Grant

        I have a low bar for most any politician in this country. Most of them are pretty much worthless and usually corrupt. She is okay on some issues though, and in the early debates, she had some good things to say. She seemed for a bit to support Bernie on some issues. She was always bad on issues too, doesn’t have the best history and I didn’t really trust her. But, whatever I thought of her, I think less of her now. I didn’t have a negative opinion of her really when she began, although I didn’t want her to win. But now, I am really not a fan, and I thin she has revealed a lot about her character with how she has acted.

        I also agree that 2016 was her chance, and thank god that Bernie stepped up and not her. I don’t think the left would be in this position and that she would have inspired people to run like Bernie has. I don’t think she would have forcibly challenged the establishment either like he has. And people can now openly run as socialists and win elections.

  26. Quentin

    Are the oligarchs now beginning to turn on each other. Soros’s letter stating that Zuckerberg and Sandberg need to resign might suggest this, though I couldn’t actually read the article behind FT’s firewall.

    1. Spring Texan

      Soros is actually a good guy, much-maligned. He’s done a lot to get actually good, reformist prosecutors elected.

      And he doesn’t really care about money, not in my opinion an oligarch. He’s always been for an ‘open society’ and that is a truly excellent goal.

            1. urblintz

              actually I was agreeing with you(!) and do not know if the texan was being snarky…

              I expect not… so “farce” wasn’t the best expression but it was hard to resist to play on words.

              1. Dan

                Well, now that I’m completely confused…:)

                I actually hesitated to respond for just that reason. I wasn’t sure if you were referring to me or Spring Texan. I guess the fact that I settled on my being in error shows you how secure I am in my own skin!

                Actually, it shows once again how it’s often tough to gauge what someone means without in-person, visual cues.

                So, going forward, when in doubt I’ll endeavor to ask, “Is this sarcasm?”

                Of course, that sort of ruins the humor if indeed it was.

                Life online is very complicated :)

    2. xkeyscored

      From the letter, which is very short, heavily edited in the hope of not breaking FT copyright, but still true to the original meaning I think:

      Z. should stop arguing for regulation.
      [He] appears to be in [an] arrangement with Trump [to get him] re-elected. Facebook [could] stop accepting any political advertising until after November 4. It is unlikely that Facebook will follow this course.
      (I support regulation of social media.)

  27. Olga

    American Bottom Black Agenda Report
    This truly reads like a (modern) horror story (though with roots in the deep past).

    1. xkeyscored

      And a vision of the future. A sh!thole country, quite literally. Many a third world nation puts the Benighted States to shame.
      But more even than the past, Centreville looks like the future—a future unfolding at the confluence of climate catastrophe, structural racism, infrastructural deterioration, and widespread indifference to black suffering.
      Asked where she thinks the water and the waste come from, Mrs. Greenwood answers that it comes “from the people above us”—the people who live on the higher ground that surrounds Centreville: the more prosperous suburbs of Belleville, O’Fallon, and Collinsville. In Centreville, the flow of social power, storm water, and even human waste all follow the same course. Poor and working-class black people from the 1960s on found their way to a place where they thought they could get a foothold in the middle class, only to see their dreams washed away by a tide of malfeasance and indifference. Highways planned without regard to their homes; bureaucratic definitions of disaster which define their chronic flooding, suffering, and sickness as acceptable; local “representatives” whose only resource for dealing with the longstanding problems of structural racism, infrastructural deterioration, and environmental catastrophe appears to be boundless cynicism.

    2. xkeyscored

      Moderation apparently dislikes my use of a term Trump used to describe Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, but I think it entirely appropriate for the Benighted States, and this exemplifies why.

      1. xkeyscored

        For those who haven’t read the article, the term in question isn’t even metaphorical in this context.

  28. Larster

    Have a friend that went to West Point in the 60’s and played football. He blew his knee out in the second year and ended up graduating from UCLA. His take to this day is that West Point is very overrated academically. His freshman year was a repeat of his senior year of high school and designed to bring the “laggards” up to speed. Sounds like There might be any number of Tommy Franks out there.

    1. Wukchumni

      We toured the grounds @ West Point just before the turn of the century, and everything was perfectly in place, even the cadet joggers seemed to be in perfect cadence along the perfectly manicured grounds above the Hudson. The cemetery was a who’s who of for whom the bell tolled, Custer’s last lay is there.

      …and then less than 10 miles away is a crime infested town named Newburgh, where we watched drug deals go down on the street as we drove past. It has been named one of the most dangerous cities in the country

      A weird ying & yang~

      1. xkeyscored

        A compelling case could be made for West Point being one of the most dangerous places in the world.

    2. Savedbyirony

      I just read “The Long Gray Line” a couple of weeks ago. According to that book, West Point back in the sixties had the practice of passing students at times who were failing academically if they looked to be exceptionally good and loyal “company” men (no women back then). I wonder if that has changed. So, in addition overrated academics there is also the possibility that some commissioned officers are not even meeting those standards.

  29. dearieme

    Bloomberg sounds a little like Crassus (a plutocratic member of the first Roman triumvirate).

    He eventually marched his troops against Persia (the Parthians) and lost catastrophically.

    Trouble is, Bloomberg would expect to survive catastrophic defeat, unlike Crassus.

    So their incentives are different.

  30. Goyo Marquez

    Re: West Point

    Okay, so I have a son who graduated from USNA, a daughter about to graduate from UCSD, and a son who just started at MIT.

    The West Point professor’s mistake is assuming that it is somehow different in the real world.

    The problem of elitely credentialed, incompetent, sociopathic takers, graduating from “elite” schools where they learned nothing but how to project an air of superiority, manufacture a resume of faux elite accomplishments, take credit for the work of others, escape responsibility for incompetence, and fail always upwards, is not limited to the Service Academies, it is, for the rich and powerful, a desirable feature of the economy of the United States.

    The number one rule of economic success not just in the military but throughout the United States is: It’s not about achieving the organization’s stated goals, it’s about making the people above you look good. I keeping thinking there has to be a business opportunity in there somewhere.

    As in the real world, so also in the service academies, many people attend the service academies for purely idealistic/giver reasons, Duty, Honor, Country. As in the real world, so also in the military those people only rarely move upwards. The entire system, both in the military and the real world is designed to filter out competence, integrity and idealism.

    1. cripes


      Quite right. It cannot be said enough times.
      The American system is uniquely evolved to reward the sociopath.

      I’m living proof that unprincipled, lazy, incompetent-but-credentialed suck ups always fall further upwards than I have climbed sharing knowledge, working towards common goals, leading by example, avoiding the buzzkill of buzz-words and just doing right.

  31. Cuibono

    Thanks for the link to the Mind podcast! Egnor is delightful. (Whether or not you agree him or not and I dont.)
    I loved this quote: “Neuroscience: a vast collection of answers with no memory of the questions”.
    The host needs to learn to shut up and listen however. He interrupted his guest several times and derailed the conversation.

  32. Glen

    Stop and frisk is generally used to target poor people to “keep them in their place”. The complete lack of policing in “self regulating markets” is done to facilite crime.

    Wall St wrecked the world economy in 2008. Bush, despite warnings from the FBI about rampant white collar crime, amped up the terrorist policing, and stopped policing white collar crime.

    Trillions of dollars were lost, tens of millions of people lost homes and jobs, families destroyed. But no one goes to jail because there were no cops doing stop and frisk of these crimes. Heck even just stop and frisk of all the coked up drug users on Wall St might have done some good.

    But crime is generally found by looking for it. I dare say if everybody in your neighborhood was stopped and frisked once a week, somebody is going to jail.

    1. xkeyscored

      I know quite a few people who are dead keen on locking up criminals, by whom they mean petty thieves and the like. When I mention some of their crimes such as drink driving (far more serious than stealing a phone, in my opinion), they look at me like I’m a commie subversive.

  33. Deltron

    NYT: Activate this ‘Bracelet of Silence’, and Alexa Can’t Eavesdrop…

    “People into their privacy are no longer shunned as loonies,” Mr. Urban said. “It’s become a concern for people of all ages, political perspectives and walks of life.” He added: “New technologies are continually eroding our privacy and anonymity. People are looking for an opt-out, which is what I’m trying to provide.”

    Woodrow Hartzog, a law and computer science professor at Northeastern University, doesn’t think privacy armor is the solution to our modern woes.

    “It creates an arms race, and consumers will lose in that race,” he said. “Any of these things is a half-measure or a stopgap. There will always be a way around it.”

    Rather than building individual defenses, Mr. Hartzog believes, we need policymakers to pass laws that more effectively guard our privacy and give us control over our data.

    “Until then, we’re playing cat and mouse,” he said. “And that always ends poorly for the mouse.”

  34. Lil’D

    It’s easy to mock Bloomberg’s campaign but propaganda is effective
    Lots of my local democratic friends are now taking a good look at him. AND parroting the anti Bernie bro stuff
    It is nearly universally believed that Bernie supporters are aggressively attacking and trolling all non Bernie supporters
    I think we are in trouble

    1. lordkoos

      I have some Democrat friends who like him now as well. Some of them actually switched from Bernie to Bloomberg because “he can beat Trump”. I agree it’s quite depressing, but let’s see how this next debate plays out. Sanders has a lot more experience as a politician than Bloomberg does.

  35. kevbot9000

    I attended one of the military academies (something something far above that of West Point or Annapolis) and while I don’t particularly disagree with the points made in the article, there’s one thing that at least as stated makes me think he might be overegging the pudding. When he claims the acceptance rate is over 50%, he very explicitly uses the phrase ‘fully qualified and nominated’ applications. The biggest barrier of entry to all non Coast Guard service academies is getting a nomination, mostly from a Senator or Representative. (There are other sources, the VP gets….100 I think? among others, but congresstypes are the vast majority) I’m pretty sure I applied before I got a nomination based on timing, so his number excludes the pool of people before the biggest hurdle. Though if the metric is what he says that is garbage too.

    Also I never considered the Prep School a problem in terms of quality, those who couldn’t hack it failed out quickly, maybe at a higher rate than the average cadet, but it was a pipeline for people coming from sub par educational backgrounds to take a year of classes to catch up. Athletics, totally agree with him. There’s no reason the Service Academies should be D1 institutions and the rank favoritism and outright corruption that stemmed from them (Football was the primary culprit) was and I’m assuming still is an ugly thing. There are exceptions, boxing would win national championships and who competed was decided by bouts throughout the year, and the rugby team competed as a D1 school but at the time was considered a club sport.

  36. Bjorn Jorgensen

    Regarding the study on German health insurance, I think there’s some important context that isn’t mentioned in the DW article, perhaps because everyone in Germany knows it.

    Yes, you can subscribe to a private insurance plan, and yes, it’s usually both cheaper and higher quality than the public system when you’re young and healthy. But once you opt out of the public system, you can never return. I find this to be an utterly reasonable compromise. The result of it is that, even though most of us would pay less if we went private, I and everyone I know (I’m a tech worker in my mid-30s) uses the public system. (Actually, it’s not strictly public, but rather highly-regulated private companies–“geseztliche” insurers.)

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