2:00PM Water Cooler 9/30/14

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Hong Kong

Demand of Occupy Central + Hong Kong Students Association becomes for CY Leung to step down by October 10, as Wednesday marks the 65th anniversary of the founding of the PRC [Time].

Traders from New York brokerage grill thousands of sausages for protesters [Bloomberg].

Excessive force from Hong Kong police brought more thousands to the protests, and its not clear what the remaining options for the PRC are [Asian Correspondent]. One might wonder if they are taking lessons, for good or ill, from the sunflower movement that occupied the Taiwanese parliament for a month [The Diplomat]. Despite the upheaval, Taiwan is quite stable, says Taiwan state media [Focus Taiwan]. 

Or not! “Is Xi losing control of China’s ‘peripheries’?” That is, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan [The Diplomat]. At least in Hong Kong and Taiwan, “one country, two systems” is showing signs of strain [The Diplomat].

Or not! The best thing the United States could is not not meddle, but of course not; see this on funding of “university students” from the National Endowment of Democracy (ugh) [Moon of Alabama]. (In this connection, it’s interesting that the student faction moved first, and that Occupy Central moved up its timetable because of them. A caveat that as always, I care a lot more about what the people in the crowds are doing; a form of “cool hunting,” you might say. “Deep state” actors are just grey bureaucrats consumed by factional infighting, like everywhere else, after all. Moon of Alabama predicts violence, based on the NED’s playbook, and he could be right. It’s always easier to foster and hire goons — and keep the puppet strings tight — than it is to elevate democratic norms, after all.

2014 and 2016

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have issues with their fathers [National Journal]. Like Obama, Bush the Younger, Clinton….

The Mittster: He’s tanned, rested, and ready [HuffPo].

Stats Watch

Redbook, week of 9/27: Year-on-year sales growth picked up to 4.3% from 3.7%, fueled by deep discounts, primarily of staples [Bloomberg].

Consumer confidence, September 2014: Consumer confidence suddenly reversed course, falling to 86.0 from August’s revised recovery high of 93.4. Weakness is centered in expectations [Bloomberg]. Why the upsurge in staples? Hoarding sacks of potatoes because winter is coming?

Rapture Index closes down 1 on Israel [Rapture Index]. Because the situation in Israel has stabilized, the rapture is less likely. Hence, the rapture index is down.

Fracking

The EPA is considering rules to require disclosure of chemicals in fracking fluid [Chemistry World]. Your trade secrets vs. our drinking water. “I’m thinking….” Here is the rule [EPA].

Study: Do not treat fracking waste in municipal systems and release it into rivers; it’s got heavy metals and halides in it! [Science 2.0].

Ohio has the worst fracking disposal practices [EcoWatch]. 

Judge refuses to halt tracking in Nevada [USA Today].

Iowa counties do well by “keeping it local” when regulating frack sand [Gazette].

News of the Wired

California passes Yes means Yes law [Bloomberg]. Guys: All you gotta do is not hassle a drunk girl into bed. Is that really so much to ask?

The “Internet of Things” turns out to be shutting down your car remotely if you’re late on a payment [Pando Daily]. 

45,000 requests per hour to join overwhelm anti-tracking platform Ello [Ad Week]. I guess there’s demand…

The sound so loud that it circled the Earth four times [Nautilus].

Owners should consider limiting themselves to a single cat per home [Independent]. Controversial!

Changing our dumb discourse on austerity [Down with Tyranny].

Fuck Earth!’ Elon Musk said to me, laughing. ‘Who cares about Earth?’” [Aeon]. Pretty much sums up the squillionaire worldview, doesn’t it? Musk want to send a million people to Mars. Do you think you’ll be one of them? Maybe the Earth’s owners could give consider to unfucking the Earth, instead of turning it into a blasted ruin and then leaving it? Just a thought. Honestly, if there’s any kind of extraterrestrial intelligence watching us, I wouldn’t let us off planet. Clean up the mess, first!

* * *

Readers, feel free to me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant:

Black Hills National Forest

Talk amongst yourselves!

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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.

122 comments

  1. Louis

    Mitt Romney may be running again?

    It seems implausible but then again Romney still seems to believe that he is entitled to the presidency.

    1. Ed

      Its a bit unusual in that its his third try. But Bryan and Humprey ran unsuccessfully three times, in primaries and general elections. And he came close last time. And he has the money to burn.

      Actually the third time could be the charm. Voters tend to remove parties from the White House when they try to maintain control in the third election in a row, or at least cut their margin, and the Democratic margin isn’t that much to work with. Hillary is a worse candidate than Obama, and there is no Republican prospect that blows one away. If Romney decides to go for it, its his race to lose.

  2. Garrett Pace

    LOL Romney forgetting that little people’s opinions matter for one day every four years:

    “My mistake was that I was speaking in a way that reflected back to the man,” Romney said. “If I had been able to see the camera, I would have remembered that I was talking to the whole world, not just the man.”

    I think he means, “I was talking to the whole world, not just The Man.”

  3. Vatch

    Iran plans to execute a woman who killed the man who tried to rape her:

    http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/iran-to-execute-woman-accused-of-stabbing-attempted-rapist-to-death-114093000503_1.html

    They did execute a man who “insulted the prophet Jonah”:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/marginoferr/2014/09/24/iranian-executed-for-insulting-the-prophet-jonas/

    Despite this, the author makes a strong case for improving our relations with Iran. One of his points is that the fundamentalist hardliners benefit from tensions with the “Great Satan”:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/marginoferr/2014/09/25/despite-irans-human-rights-situation-please-support-normalizing-relations/

    1. hunkerdown

      That’s just Rouhani trying to be a Good Satrap, make nice with the West and build a nice benign, inert Middle Eastern hydrocarbon amusement park reserve that’s safe to run pipes through (and out of).

    2. David Mills

      And yet solid relations are retained with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Uzbekistan, etal…. those tremendous bastions of women’s rights and free speech. You have no influence over someone you deign not to speak to.

  4. Bill Smith

    “see this on funding of “university students” from the National Endowment of Democracy ”

    That was $500k well spent. If you believe that conspiracy theory.

    We should build one less F-35 and take over the world with that money…

  5. Carolinian

    Re Pando’s mull of the NYT story from last week: worth pointing out (as the Times does) that the sinister “automatic repossession” device is likely illegal in several states. So it’s not just a matter of rich people and their techie toadies vs the poor. There are laws.

    And of course the Times also talks about how these devices are fairly easy to circumvent. To be sure many people may not know how to do so. On the other hand just about every poor person seems to know how to defeat the content piracy technology. It’s likely that in the end the Internet of Things robocop is not going to be a very effective tool for the forces of Property.

    1. hunkerdown

      Put yourself in the shoes of the designer of such a lockout system: these devices have to be generic to work on many models and years of vehicle, and it’s more about keeping nice honest underclass members honest than 100% security. If assurance were the #1 goal, and if it were legal in all 50 states, lockouts and any signalling hardware would most likely be integrated deeply into engine controllers, with anti-tampering measures on par with those of cable descramblers or credit-card terminals.

  6. diptherio

    After I posted a comment yesterday wondering whether the HK protests were CIA-backed or “legit,” it occured to me that that is actually a pretty unsophisticated way of thinking. Either/or? I should know better than that. Probably a little of both, is what I decided.

    And lo and behold, if it isn’t the good old NED which, as everyone knows, is just an alternate spelling of CIA. But there also appear to be real grassroots, non-manipulated protesters taking part as well (and why shouldn’t there be?). We should probably be expecting some kind of mysterious violence, shortly, although I imagine hiding the work of a merc sniper would be considerably more difficult in HK than in (for instance) Venezuela or Ukraine.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I feel like I should have “No single causes!” tatooed on me somewhere. That there are spook actors and genuine protesters (and protest organizers) all involved in the same scrum should come as no surprise to anyone; I think there’s a lot of both/and going on. One assumes that’s the rule, rather than being shocked, shocked. (Though I grant blogging about these thing for years has led to a certain loss of innocence…)

      1. MsExPat

        The Moon of Alabama piece is utter shite. Why does anything that happens in the world always have to be about the USA?

        I’ve lived here more than 10 years and personally know many of the players involved. I also know there has been National Endowment for Democracy money floating around here in the pro-Democracy HK movements for a very long time. These bits of money–and believe me $460K is a pittance in this city– flow to the predictable players–the established pro-dem parties like the Democrats, who are completely marginalized in this movement. The US has not been funneling bucks to a bunch of geeky 17 year olds who barely speak English. The geeky 17 year olds would be too wary to accept it anyway. As for the Occupy Central original leaders–well, they are not at the center of things at this point, if indeed they ever were.

        This is a pissed off middle class uprising. That is who has come out on the streets. If you live here, you know this has been building for the last 8 years, and not because it has been funded by CIA goons.

        The students at the center come from Hong Kong households who’ve played by the rules, worked and studied hard, and are seeing themselves thwarted in every direction–from the rich Mainland Chinese princelings who are squeezing them out of University places, to the huge Mainland China cash flows (a lot of it the fruits of corruption) that have pushed rents so high they know they’ll never be able to afford to live or rent in Hong Kong, much less advance their lives in a city that’s turned into a parking lot for Mainland China capital.

        Assuming this uprising happened because it was seeded by US money is the height of US-centric arrogance. Hong Kong people are better educated on the whole than Americans, and way more sophisticated, politically, culturally, and organizationally, as the unfolding events here on the ground are proving, hour by hour.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Thanks. As I wrote, “I care a lot more about what the people in the crowds are doing,” so this is very useful. There are always and everywhere spooks; but that doesn’t make them the drivers.

          Adding, it sure is dumb (at best) for any US money to be involved at all. Dear Lord, what a PR mess in the making.

          1. trish

            “it sure is dumb (at best) for any US money to be involved at all.” Alas, that just never seems to matter.

            this post, I found interesting: http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2014/09/us-openly-approves-hong-kong-chaos-it.html

        2. Banger

          Great post, thanks! This is what makes this site so worth going to. I’m someone who does blame the CIA for a lot of things but I don’t see why the U.S. would want to undermine China which has, generally, cooperated with the U.S. corporate world. The U.S. prefers to pick on very weak victims and just increase the chaos and discomfort already there. Ukraine was a mess before the latest events as was Syraqistan–these are easy places to profit out of chaos. Washington, as far as I can tell, has no coherent policy other than chaos to enable semi-criminals elements and the MIC to profit.

          1. readerOfTeaLeaves

            NED money is/can be used by think tankers to destabilize places that maybe the US govt would rather be left alone. Taxpayer funding for outfits like NED s incoherence, confusion, and makes the government look like a lying pack of scoundrels.

            Congress needs to eliminate NED’s budget.
            It’s probably one thing both the Tea Party and Progressives could actually agree on.

          2. cwaltz

            Don’t know if we’ve meddled there or not but the fact that China is and has been one of the forces behind arguing that the dollar no longer be a reserve currency and the fact that they will shortly overtake us as the world’s largest economy seems like a pretty plausible reason for us to meddle.

            I’ve always found it rather interesting that we wagged our fingers at the Chinese for manipulating their currency when that is exactly what the Fed does as well.

            1. Banger

              Have they argued that the dollar not be the reserve currency? Since they’re holding so many of them I doubt they favor that at this time–maybe down the line–but Washington doesn’t care about that so much as far as I can tell. Everyone in the U.S. works for short-term goals usually focused on their own factions.

              1. cwaltz

                They were originally arguing that the reserve currency be a basket of goods, not just the dollar.

                They are the C in the BRICs coalition.
                http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aOSpiNsVYSnU

            2. MsExPat

              If the US is worried about China’s threat to the dollar as the world’s currency, then they should be strategicallly supporting the anti-Democracy forces in China, not the students. For if Beijing hardliners prevail here, any chance that the state-controlled propped up yuan has a shot at becoming any kind of world currency goes from not likely to less than zero. As one essayist–can’t remember if it was in WSJ or FT yesterday, sorry–pointed out, Hong Kong’s open and well-regulated and accountable financial market is the bridge between crony capitalist China and the rest of the world. The guys in Beijing, though, are so scared about holding on to absolute power that they are ready to shoot themselves in the foot over Hong Kong.

              1. cwaltz

                I haven’t followed the situation really closely to be honest. I’m just positing that there are valid economic reasons to support unrest in regions of the world who don’t necessarily have our interests at heart. I often wonder if one of the reasons contributing to us deciding to invade Iraq was when Saddam Hussein decided he no longer would utilize the dollar and heavily suspect that his use of the euro was one of the reasons many of our European counterparts weren’t anxious to join the fray.

          3. hunkerdown

            “Don’t upset our elites by making deals with Russia and we won’t upset your bourgeoisie. Remember, sharing is caring!”

        3. trish

          with admittedly much more ignorance on HK than you, re “This is a pissed off middle class uprising.” OK, that certainly seems legit. It’s just that the US seems very likely to try to use this uprising, use these protesters, with the aim of sticking their bloody tentacle in as far as they can and manipulate and try to influence. All for the usual nefarious purposes.. That’s what the US has done in the past and I’ve read enough to be thinkin’ here we go again…

        4. Bill Smith

          A lot of the Moon of Alabama is crap. But once in a while they something pointed to say. In addition, it is useful to know what the fringe is thinking.

        5. MsExPat

          And by the way, 460K is micro-peanuts compared to the untold (and documented) billions that Mainland China funnels every year to support anti-democracy, pro-Beijing interests in Hong Kong. One of the sparks (of many) that brought older Hong Kong citizens out to the streets to support the students is this:

          Rafael Hui Received Secret HK 11M payment from Beijing

          Hui being the ex-number 2 man in the HKSAR government. Everyone knows he’s merely the tip of the iceberg!

          1. lambert strether

            Is the question one of relative numbers, or absolute ones? Surely (for example, in an academic environment) $475,000 isn’t nothing (and assuming that there is no more). A deal doesn’t have to be fabulously corrupt to be a deal.

            Most importantly, I wish the number were $0, rather than any number greater than zero.

        6. different clue

          A lot of the American Left are American Exceptionalists. Of course they “hate” and “despise” America and consider it the world’s prime source of worst evils. Noam Chomsky is a specimen of this type. One might name their ideology as ” American Evilism”. America as the exceptionally evil source of exceptional evil in the world.

          But American Evilism is just American Exceptionalism standing on its head. Or Reverse American Exceptionalism, if one prefers. To believe America is exceptionally evil requires one to believe that America is exceptional.

        7. GWJones

          MsExPat is correct. I’ve lived in HK for the past 18 years and participated in countless demonstrations for democracy, June 4th Remembrance and other issues. The students are driving these occupation protests and they are not being duped by any outside agents. She’s right about NED money too, as far as what I’ve heard. One example I came across recently is a good book about the history of the Chinese Communist Party in HK by Christine Loh, Underground Front (2010). It’s well researched and insightful about a uniquely strange case of an underground revolutionary movement taking power and still remaining secret. Anyway, I was chagrined to see that it was funded by the NED. Chagrined yes, but not suspicious that Loh is a CIA asset.

            1. MsExPat

              Not really, not by HK standards. Civic Exchange founder Christine Loh, by the way, is a minister in the present government, which gives you an idea of how unremarkable it is for think tank type groups here to accept US research grants. To risk becoming weary by repeating myself, the amounts of support that might arrive from places like US, UK, the Scandanavian countries, are dwarfed by the covert billions spent by Beijing.

              What is remarkable–and dismaying–is the eagerness of US so-called lefties to jump up and down screeching about the “control” of these HK demonstrations that we have allegedly created and bought with this chump change. The point made above about “American Left Exceptionalism” is right on.

              In this case, our naive US lefties’ eagerness to see a black US hand behind every international event plays directly into China’s propaganda that the students are a front for foreign forces.

      2. Greenguy

        One has to assume every hegemonic nation like the United States invests at least a little money in trying to support dissident groups to cause chaos in potential rival states. It is likely that at least some of the groups in HK have gotten some of that 500k from the NED. However:

        – why wouldn’t dissident groups in HK take the money? Is it necessarily the case that they are being wholly directed by the US even if they took money? Remember, the Bolsheviks took German gold in 1917 and accepted a train ride to Petrograd from the Kaiser’s servants. It is perhaps just as likely the US said take the money/training and do what you will.

        – While the Ukrainian uprising seems to have been entirely directed from the US embassy and the HQ of the neo-fascist groups, Occupy Central and Scholarism seem to both represent organic rising discontent by the middle class with Beijing’s policies and the oligarchy that controls Hong Kong. Remember that almost the entire elite business class is in bed with Beijing and has opposed the risings – though again I am sure it is complicated because some of the lesser wealthy are upset at the preference given to the mega-rich.

        – if this is true then we can probably also make a logical assumption that there is a class dynamic going on here, besides that of a privileged city-state rebelling against the PRC. Toby Carroll at the Guardian pointed this out (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/28/hong-kongs-pro-democracy-movement-is-about-inequality-the-elite-knows-it); the HK people are aware of rising inequality over the last two decades and are starting to lash out in class conscious ways. Part of the protests have been for social justice – a modern code word for redistribution of wealth in some form. No, they’re not looking to create a democratic post-capitalist society as of yet, but in HK any calls for social justice must strike at the hyper-capitalist ruling class, too.

        – the US has been strangely silent about these protests, probably because of the US business investment in the HK stock market. China hasn’t said much about US meddling, and it can do much more to hurt the US if it is meddling than a country like Ukraine. So while I am sure there *is* US meddling going on, I wonder how much of it is really directing the protests rather than helping some groups get the ball rolling and seeing where it lands?

        1. lambert strether

          I can’t imagine the US is directing anything. All the protests look far too well organized and competent for that. As you say and MsExPat points out, it’s organic.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            OK I was in HK yesterday, met with very well-informed and connected expats and HK’ers alike. My fear was that Beijing could just do another TienAnMen, Obomba would bluster for a minute or two and Fox News would rave for about 30 seconds, then everybody would just get back to taking selfies. Genocide is just so ho-hum these days (Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Yemen etc) and after all HK is just 7 million people. The informed HK people felt otherwise: they pointed out that within 1 hour’s drive of HK there are now >100 million people (Shenzen etc.) that depend on HK, so Beijing won’t just shut it down and assimilate it like the Borg. “One country two systems” will have to continue for quite a while longer in their view

            1. lambert strether

              Hmm. I’ve been toying with the idea that the real audience here — assuming word and images get out in the TAM scenario — is mainland working class China, because word of strikes, bosses being locked up, and various indications that all is not calm occasionally leak out to the West. How would that play on the mainland? (Not that the “real” audience is necessarily the one any of the HK actors are talking to. Not sure.

            2. proximity1

              “My fear was that Beijing could just do another TienAnMen,”…

              So far, so good.

              “The informed HK people felt otherwise”

              I don’t know who these informed people are but whoever they are, they should reconsider.

              … “: they pointed out that within 1 hour’s drive of HK there are now >100 million people (Shenzen etc.) that depend on HK, so Beijing won’t just shut it down and assimilate it like the Borg.”

              There’s a word for this: “naive.” People should expect that, unless the pro-democracy protests cease and desist within whatever currently constitutes “Beijing’s” limits in patience, then Beijing will order police or military or some of both forces deployed to crush the protests, clear the streets and suppress further irruptions of public sympathy for the protesters.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                I thought the same thing, that they were being pretty sanguine. It would be outrageous for Beijing to use TAM tactics in HK. But once people thought that a country murdering people by remote-controlled missile because they thought they might commit a crime sometime in the future was completely and utterly outrageous, too.

        2. Ed

          Bolsheviks, Irish nationalists, isolationists in the US and the left in France all took German gold during World War I. The Allies funded all sorts of ethnics separatist groups in Austria-Hungary. This is an old game.

    2. hunkerdown

      It seems characteristic of the color-revolution playbook to mold and enable dissident sentiment already in the arena — there are always a few malcontents available and they can usually be drawn together into a coherent crowd, deniably (according to the bourgeois standards of evidence). It’s like the “10% juice” legend on the label: its purpose is to draw attention far away from what the other 90% comprises; to ask defeats the purpose.

      1. lambert strether

        But the idea of a color revolution playbook doesn’t meant that all “color revolutions” are fomented using the playbook. That’s often the implied thesis, and I couldn’t disagree more with it. It’s easy cynicism.

        1. hunkerdown

          Absolutely not. I’m making the weaker claim that, if this *is* an organic uprising copycatting Occupy, that the West probably considers it extremely important to get some influence within it, and probably is doing or has done so.

          I do happen to think the “figurehead x to resign so the people can vote for a new one US-style” mission and the penchant for redefining famous anniversaries is a useful tell that US fingers are either in, or have designs on, the pie.

    3. different clue

      Mark Ames in his writing about Ukraine has noted the same thing. Discontent was real and remains real however badly hijacked it was by the NED spenders and the NeoConazis. I don’t have masses of facts or deep analytical ability. I just have an intuitional sense which works sometimes.

      My feeling is that the HongKong protests are real and have been for some time. One hopes the Hong Kongers can learn how to sniff out and purge/delete the NED agents among them. One also hopes they can sniff out and purge/delete the Beijing Communist Regime agents, spies and provocateurs who will also be among them. The Regime Commies want a Tien An Men moment so bad they can taste it. They will put their cops-in-protester-clothing all over within the crowd with instruction to “draw Peoples’ Liberation Army fire” when the time comes. One hopes the Hong Kong protesters are also aware of this.

      Could anything stay the Beijing Regime’s hand? Only this: the knowledge that Taiwan is watching.

    1. optimader

      “signed legislation directing colleges that receive state financial-aid money to make students responsible for getting affirmative consent — either verbal or through some physical signal.”

      WTF constitutes a verbal or physical signal? Sounds like an opportunity for an smartphone app

      1. McMike

        That’s the damn problem: what to do when there’s conflicting verbal and physical signals.

        Setting aside less ambiguous cases of men taking advantage of obviously incapacitated women, and those ignoring clear unambiguous expressions of “no”, there’s a mile of gray area short of that when men and women get drunk together and go home together and engage in the the dance of seduction in the glow of the dashboard light.

        I guess the law makes it clearly illegal to have sex with a passed out person. Less clear what to do with a woman who is clearly drunk, but doing her best to pitch into the action. Even less clear what to do when she says “we shouldn’t be doing this,” while the rest of her is already doing it.

          1. McMike

            … “excuse me, I need to clarify if I should believe your words or my zipper”…. *sound of record needle being dragged across LP*

            Seriously, where is the woman’s responsibility to give unambiguous signals on matters of such import? If a man’s failure to stop the party and clarify ambiguous or contradictory signals in the bedroom is to rise to the level of felony crime, it ought to include a responsibility on the woman to make clear notifications of trespass in the first place. Not simply decide later if they meant yes or no. A women’s voluntary choice to drink beyond their capacity ought not waive their obligation to proactively communicate on matters of legal import, that’s a hell of a precedent.

            Or have women become a de facto protected class, helpless waifs, child-like and unable to take responsibility for making their own choices, and expressing them clearly?

            This is becoming a freaking stand your ground law.

            1. cwaltz

              Shorter McMike: Boohoo I DESERVE consequence free sex. It’s not fair that I actually need to figure out if the person I’m having sex with is actually not lying about her age or maybe is an emotional basketcase that tomorrow will regret sex with me. That’s woooooork. (said in a whiny male voice)

              Cwaltz: Pssst McMike head on over to the clue booth

              Here’s a clue for you. Your problem is easily resolved by not picking up and sleeping with random women. The fact that 1 in 5 women experience rape during their lifetime is not nearly as inconvenient for you as it is for someone who gets the joy of not being able to trust half the species thanks to some douchebag who has decided that no really means yes. So forgive me if I don’t feel sorry for you that you have to treat a human being as something more than your personal sex toy and delay gratification long enough to figure out if yes actually means yes(and remember this is a complete person you’re sleeping with not just a “hot” body). If you don’t like plan A I’m pretty sure you can pick up a blow up doll and not have to worry about it hollering rape.

              Hope this resolves those zipper issues.

              1. McMike

                That’s a pretty sad view on casual sex. (With several non sequiturs thrown in as well).

                The women with whom I am have been involved might be offended that you sell them so short – as to be unable to decide what they want to enjoy with their bodies, with whom, when and where.

                It is in fact possible to have consensual, mutually respectful, mutually enjoyable casual sex. Even with people that you only recently met. Even if under the influence of alcohol.

                1. cwaltz

                  I think it’s very telling that you think sex should be casual(as in I don’t know whether or not you’ll accuse me of rape the next day but hey let’s totally go home together and load that ol’ six shooter anyways) and should be under the influence(because we all know that the BEST decisions we ever made were right after we pickled all the brain cells in our frontal region.) It really doesn’t say much for your standards.

                  I feel sorry for the women who you sleep with you(and you). I have to wonder how little self esteem one has to have to have sex with someone who doesn’t care if you’re sober and certainly doesn’t care about you enough to really care if you truly want to have sex with them.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    Well, who knows from casual. But casual or not, it doesn’t seem like getting a clear “Yes” before proceeding is too much too ask, just out of simple humanity. And I would think it’s obvious that it your counter-party is incapacitated, the “Yes” can’t be clear.

                    1. McMike

                      Interesting perspective from a contributor to a blog whose premise is that the devil is in the details, and that the law has become a lousy arbiter of right and wrong.

                      And posted in tag-team with a bitter ranter whose premise seems to be that it’s a man’s responsibility to sort out between the crazies and not-crazies before participating in consensual sexual activities.

                    2. McMike

                      PS. I have quite unambiguously stated that incidents of exploited obvious unilateral incapacitation are not what I am interested in.

                      However, I believe the bulk of the problematic issue resides in a much grayer area.

                  1. cwaltz

                    I was a victim of molestation as child so I feel incredibly strongly about this topic. Having CHOICE ripped from you diminishes how you feel about yourself as a human being and it shapes how you perceive others. It’s not merely an inconvenience for the victim(like having to clarify whether yes means yes), it’s a burden. And while I have learned you can eventually heal from just about anything, I’ve also learned that your experiences shape how you view the world( I had relationship and trust issues in my late teens and early twenties thanks to my experience.)

                  2. optimader

                    Legislating rules of engagement by invoking a requirement of an undefined verbal or physical signal seems a rather ambiguous standard that may have the unintended consequence of indemnifying the rapist, in circumstances of rape, just say’in.. ” Yeah, she gave me an affirmative nod” –Well then we’re done here.

                    And then there’s the rest of us:
                    http://magictransistor..com/post/98606773846/george-grosz-1-the-funeral-dedicated-to-oskar

                    1. McMike

                      Precisely.

                      It creates legal and social jeopardy for law abiding men caught up in a women’s morning-after seller’s remorse, while failing to effectively address the target problem of men who won’t take no, or who abuse very drunk incapacitated women.

                      [Can’t resist… if getting it on with drunk women is outlawed, only outlaws will get it on with drunk women.]

                      As I said above, it really only protects truly passed out or catatonic women, yet creates a damn mess for everyone else.

      2. hunkerdown

        Tried that, now someone’s got a giant trove of machine-readable blackmail. Maybe ancient Internet memes have good counsel, here.

    2. cwaltz

      Here’s a novel idea, don’t use bars as an opportunity to get laid. I really get aggravated that the male half of the species figures that sex should be consequence free for them and them alone. If you aren’t sure if a girl is going to accuse you of rape then perhaps you shouldn’t be sleeping with her. Women aren’t pieces of meat, we’re human beings and it frosts my cookies that the male half of the species figures that all they need to concern themselves with is whether a woman is “hot.” Guess what deceitful or emotionally unwell women look just the same as women who aren’t. Perhaps it’s in order to spend more than 5 minutes to figure out between the two.

      1. hunkerdown

        Guess what deceitful or emotionally unwell women look just the same as women who aren’t. Perhaps it’s in order to spend more than 5 minutes to figure out between the two.

        Agree. The French seem to manage it in a half an hour or so before taking a woman home; what’s our problem?

        1. McMike

          People with borderline, narcissistic, and MPD personality disorders can in fact hide their symptoms for long periods of time.

          I have actually two close friends who married women with clinical-level disorders that only allowed this to emerge well into the marriage. Sure, there were warning signs, but only in hindsight.

          It is quite common in cases of employee embezzlement for the victims to remain in denial even after the crime, unable to process that the “perfect employee” was in fact systematically scheming to rip them off, even as they methodically worked their way into positions of trust and friendship.

          1. cwaltz

            Dude,

            As you just pointed out there ARE symptoms. When in doubt about someone’s mental well being, DON’T SLEEP WITH THEM. It’s really not that complicated. I get that human beings are animals and all. However, you don’t have to actually act like a dog and hump something just because it’s there. It’s not that difficult to remind yourself that the spectacular rack you see is attached to a person who has thoughts, feelings and a whole entire history and you don’t just sleep with the spectacular rack, you sleep with the complete package.

            1. different clue

              A mere layman is not a trained clinician and would not be able to detect the well-concealed or disguised symptoms that a trained clinician would be able to detect with some intensive study and interviewing.
              It seems perfectly plausible to imagine that a slick manipulator could con an untrained layperson into the cleft of a badly forked stick.

            2. Yves Smith

              The problem is (as I hear from men) is the most whacked ones are often the best in bed. I know a woman distantly who everyone could tell was clearly disturbed, and had the history to go with it (now in her 50s, had sex the first time at the age of 13, which then was utterly unheard of, had an early abortion too). A buddy who was on the psychological rebound (had just gone through a bankruptcy) married her. She did have a great body for a woman of her age and the draw was the sex.

              She also was an alcoholic. Became a Stage 4 alcoholic during the course of their marriage. That means they already show the signs of brain damage in CTs and their five year survival rate is 20%.

              She’d call the cops regularly, claiming he was beating her (this to get a protective order so she’d get the apt). He was 6’2″ and she was 5’3″, so normally this strategy would work. But this being NYC, the cops were no dopes and she’d regularly get hauled off to the psych ward.

              She became homeless after the divorce. He gave her a lot more than the judge ordered, including paying her rent for a year.

              So this can happen with plenty of opportunity to witness the nuttiness and warnings from good friends if the man is needy enough. I’m not defending this conduct, mind you. But men aren’t just at risk of accusations of rape, whether the woman is a loose cannon or too impaired to be adequately firm or clear about the word “no”. There are even worse possible outcomes, per above. Just imagine if a newbie cop had believed the beating claims, for instance…

              1. bob goodwin

                Lots of us men have fallen in love with mentally ill women for reasons other than sex. Attraction is a very complicated subject. I am not sure I agree about the correlation on the quality of sex, either, but I can’t speak for all men.

        2. cwaltz

          The French seem to manage it in a half an hour or so before taking a woman home; what’s our problem?

          French sociologist, Georges Vigarello would beg to differ with that statement. For the record, France does have a better record(must be that extra 25 minutes of effort) but is far from a paragon when it comes to rape and like us far too many victims don’t come forward because they don’t want to have their clothes, drinking habits and dating habits dissected. You might enjoy this article.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/01/world/europe/01iht-letter01.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      2. McMike

        Millions upon millions of people of both sexes have fun hooking up in bars, and have been doing so for generations, without any of this drama. Some lead to nothing more than memories, some to repeats and relationships, some even to marriage.

        Is that where the law will go next to eliminate the scourge of ambiguous signalling among potential sexual partners – outlaw men and women drinking together?

        BTW. I do not think that women are pieces of meat, or helpless, even when drunk, or if they are, it’s their own damn fault. That’s why I am annoyed at this law and its premise. I happen to think women can make their own choices, communicate their desires, and decide for themselves what to do with their bodies, up to and including the right to wake up and wish she could chew her arm off to escape the lump of hungover blubber lying next to her.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Right, so it really shouldn’t be too much to ask for a clear “Yes.” This just seems so obvious that it’s hard to see what the fuss is about. But fuss there is!

  7. redleg

    Oooh – volcano!
    1. the sound at the Batavia gas works was probably louder than what the article cites, as most simple pressure instruments do not measure instantaneous pressure. So the peak at 2.5″ is the measured peak. The actual maximum peak was almost certainly larger given the instruments of the day so may have actually arrived as a shock wave. Some local accounts (many books/papers on this eruption) indicate that this may have been so in some places around Batavia (now Jakarta).
    2. The blast and tsunami was caused by magma-seawater interaction. The eruption had created a void beneath the island that caused the island to collapse, allowing seawater in which flashed to steam, and then released dissolved gas in the magma as the lid of the pressure cooker was removed (the weight of the island + sea). Wha-WHAM! Very exciting from a considerable distance. Mt. St. Helens did this on a multi-exponentially smaller scale when the north face of the mountain slid away on May 18, 1980. You can see this on the still pictures of that eruption as well as the results of the blast.
    3. The video in the article is even more interesting than the author thinks it is. You can watch the shockwave move through the sky as it condenses atmospheric water vapour in front of it. Given the crater’s elevation relative to the sea, this is probably a water initiated explosion. Also look at the size of the rocks hitting the water.
    4. Most volcanic eruptions do not explode like the ones in the article (or MSH, Pinatubo, etc.), but when water is added/comes out of solution explosions become more common.
    Sometimes I miss teaching. End of nerdgasm.

    1. trish

      Interesting. thanks for the added information! This is all quite fascinating.
      re (from the link) “The atmosphere was ringing like a bell, imperceptible to us but detectable by our instruments.” But perceptible to many other animals more sensitive, I would imagine, as it sped around the globe.

    1. wbgonne

      Who could expect the unexpected? Let’s bake the planet we inhabit and see what happens. It will be exciting!

  8. abynormal

    Foodbabe is not happy…
    McDonald’s serves organic milk to children in the U.K.? But not here in the U.S.?
    McDonald’s also serves organic milk with their porridge (oatmeal), coffee and tea! You’ll also find healthier items, like pineapple and carrot sticks that you won’t find at any McDonald’s in the U.S. – also without preservatives. Their fries aren’t cooked in oil that contains TBHQ (a derivative of butane) or the anti-foaming agent dimethylpolysiloxane (an ingredient in silly putty) like they are here. Isn’t it funny that the oil in the U.K. seems to work just fine without these ingredients?
    ***
    Not only are their ingredients different, but they are serving up completely different ingredients and menu choices. One startling thing I noticed is that many of the menu items in the U.K. contain far less sugar than the versions that they serve us in the U.S.

    (last time ‘babe’ got this po’d subway changed their toxic bread)

    1. trish

      This doesn’t surprise me considering they’re ahead of us in many environmental ways. Better EU-wide (with some EU countries better than Britain). I think, for example, standards/certification for organic, treatment of farm animals, use of GMO’s…all better.
      And there’s no doubt EU is better re pesticides and herbicides. The EU has a cautionary approach to banning, and the US…well we all know it’s stall, delay, study the issue more, cover up, avoid, etc.

      1. different clue

        One wonders if part of the reason for TTIP is to bust European food-safety standards down to US levels. Which would make the EU leadership pushing TTIP from their end into utter traitors and corporate biznazi collaborator agents.

    2. optimader

      Are either compounds toxic in the application/concentration? I’m just guessing, but anyone who is inclined to include McDonalds in their regular lifestyle/behavior/food choices probably has more significant concerns than either of these two compounds.

      1. abynormal

        my daughter would disagree with your inclination…jacksonville fl is not an easy town on a 21 yr old. she’s defined their dollar menu as a luxury, after hospital bills and inflated rent/util.
        but its her own fault for not getting the education to put her above all that…mine too for not having 2 nickles to rub together.

        “Just because you’re sober, don’t think you’re a good driver”
        John Irving

        1. trish

          Important point, on this. There are reasons these people make bad choices for this and other harmful food. Or the only choice. And it boils down to who is this stuff working for. It didn’t just happen that our corporate masters offered either the crap or good, basic, unadulterated food and we picked the former and hence what we have today.

          1. optimader

            It didn’t just happen that our corporate masters ….
            huh? You have no free will when it come to what you eat?!? Don’t delude yourself.

        2. cwaltz

          (((aby)))

          I think that the comment “more significant concerns” was probably meant to address the fact that most of the people who visit Mcdonalds are not wealthy and are probably going to end up eating more chemicals besides the two in question thanks to the fact that they are poor.

          Once upon a time the US used to prey on third world countries to “test” drugs, nowadays we’re all Guatemalans and these companies are allowed to use us all as guinea pigs consequence free.

        3. optimader

          Aby,
          McDonalds, and it’s competitors in that biz model simply are not economically viable choices for your daughter trying to achieve some value when it comes to her food budget. If it’s a “treat”, that’s one thing, if she thinks she’s achieving some food value and eats there regularly she is deluding herself.
          That’s the issue to me, not the notion that McDs is cravenly poisoning their clientele (any more than any average restaurant in America).
          It would be interesting to have her save every McD receipt for a week, total it up and take her to the ethnic grocery stores and show her some cool alternatives… (Full disclosure, a “treat” for me is a PB&J on dark rye and a .05liter stein of coffee. Guilty as charged)

          1. optimader

            Side bar: when I was a kid we literally NEVER ate in restaurants or fast food, it simply wasn’t in the family budget so I was never really exposed to that stuff growing up. McD or equal a couple times in HS w/ friends and it was entirely unappealing to me, not due to some salubrious sensibilities, it simply was vaguely nauseating for whatever reason. It wasn’t until college “dining out” was even a consideration, and I was fortunate to be surrounded by ethnic neighborhoods –little Italy, greek town, china town, Maxwell St (wow) where as students we could get great homemade chow. To this day, there really aren’t too many restaurants I have any burning desire for -just a few..
            So a fun irony, I live right nearby the McD corporate campus, it’s part of one of my bikerides.. a beautiful park property.

      2. trish

        So what does it matter? If they’re eating Pseudo-food crap, why worry about potentially toxic (and apparently unnecessary) chemical crap sprayed on or hormone/herbicide/pesticide crap in non-organic milk?

        Well, the thing is, it’s not good overall for the environment. The production of the chemicals, the use, excretion even, possibly…and it may be small amounts, but big scale… I’m no scientist/chemist but I would think there might be an issue there. It’s not just about the individuals, or even just about us.

  9. abynormal

    i viewed this doc on pivot this wknd…informative (choice blues n indie music too)
    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/before-the-music-dies/
    Before the Music Dies tells the story of American music at this precarious moment. Filmmakers Andrew Shapter and Joel Rasmussen traveled the country, hoping to understand why mainstream music seems so packaged and repetitive, and whether corporations really had the power to silence musical innovation. The answers they found on this journey–ultimately, the promise that the future holds–are what makes Before the Music Dies both riveting and exhilarating.

    1. wbgonne

      Thanks. I’ll see if I can track it down. The music scene is really poor, IMO. Horribly commercialized pap while great music is practically ignored. Comcast and LiveNation control everything.

      On the bright side, thanks to whomever recommended James McMurtry. I really like his stuff and I’ll be seeing him perform soon.

      1. abynormal

        you can watch in full from the link i attached. agree the scene has been flattened… unless you know where to look http://pitchfork.com/ for one.

        1. wbgonne

          Watched it. Excellent documentary. Highly-recommended for all music lovers. Everything Wall Street touches turns to poison, even music.

      2. hunkerdown

        Even Soundcloud, supposedly a social network for musicians, has tried to play feudal lord cum human zookeeper and fed all that content into a celestial jukebox for the plebes.

        Fascinating.. The Kids have seen for themselves an entire commons being fenced off at their own expense for the benefit of others. I wish I heard from more of them.

    2. optimader

      For anyone truly interested in stewarding real music and high fidelity.. pass these on. Support live music and don’t proliferate/download mp.3 files
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY5hI98HEi0
      Deep Listening: Why Audio Quality Matters

      http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/the-future-of-music

  10. abynormal

    here go

    4:50p
    CDC confirms first case of Ebola virus in the United States — reports
    4:48p
    Tekmira shares jump 14% on report of U.S. Ebola case

    1. abynormal

      ive often pondered what ET’s would think of us…not letting us off the planet is a good one

      The fancies that take their monstrous birth from the spinelessness and boredom of usurped wealth bring in their wake every defect … and though rich men’s crimes escape the law, protected as they are by the cowardice of governments and people, Nature, more real than society, sets her anarchic example by abandoning the wretched time servers of Capital to the shame and madness of the worst aberrations.
      Jean Lorrain, Le Crime Des Riches (1905): Suivi de Paris Forain

    2. optimader

      More like the The Golgafrincham “B” Ark?
      Golgafrincham was a planet, once home to the Great Circling Poets of Arium. The descendants of these poets made up tales of impending doom about the planet. The tales varied; some said it was going to crash into the sun, or the moon was going to crash into the planet. Others said the planet was to be invaded by twelve-foot piranha bees and still others said it was in danger of being eaten by an enormous mutant star-goat.

      These tales of impending doom allowed the Golgafrinchans to rid themselves of an entire useless third of their population. The story was that they would build three Ark ships. Into the A ship would go all the leaders, scientists and other high achievers. The C ship would contain all the people who made things and did things, and the B ark would hold everyone else, such as hairdressers and telephone sanitizers. They sent the B ship off first, but of course the other 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

    3. hunkerdown

      The days of unlimited soup, salad and web directories are numbered. Starboard Value LP, leaders in crapification.

    4. Hacker

      Maybe, just maybe, most people in their subconscious have done the math and realize that there is not enough energy lying around to support 100,000 trips to Mars, nevermind tens of millions of electric cars driving like today’s fossil fueled cars.

      And if folks get to Mars, they won’t be working their butts off trying to build Industry, it will simply be trying to manufacture food where there are no natural and organic processes to help.

      1. ChrisPacific

        The problem of establishing a self-sustaining civilization on Mars is orders of magnitude more difficult than establishing one here on Earth, a task that we have yet to demonstrate we’ve accomplished. If we can’t solve our problems here, what happens when we face exactly the same problems in a vastly more dangerous environment?

        I actually had not heard of this guy (yes, I probably do live under a rock). An interview with somebody called Elon Musk, at a site called Aeon, conjures up images of some kind of 50s Sci Fi themed porn movie. Which, on reading the article, turns out not to be all that inaccurate.

        (Is that cynical enough for you, Lambert?)

        1. optimader

          mmmm. under any circumstance , a planet without an atmosphere perse would be a downwardly mobile lifestyle choice me thinks.

  11. optimader

    http://grapevine.is/news/2014/09/30/geir-haarde-lands-washington-d-c-ambassadorial-post/
    perfect ending to a fairytale story.. did I say fairytale? make that Troll

      1. craazyman

        evidently chivalry is not dead in Iceland.

        I wonder if they can round up a few women to go to a UN conference on men?

        That’ll be the true test. hahahahahahahahah

        faaak. what a world. Can you imagine going in a space ship at the speed of light & coming back to earth 1 million years later, when it was only a few days for you. I still can’t believe it works like that. There must be something missing in that way of thinking. Alll your thoughts would come from the same place everybody else come from, but they’d be slowing down every second! But the place they all come from, it would have to be outside of both time frames. That bothered me today, thinking about that. I thought to myself. “That means time is not the place things come from.” I think it’s time for a bong hit. ahhaahahah

        1. optimader

          You know, doing big timezone changes often tends to constipate the weary traveler. Imagine what it would be like to not take a #2 for 100year (eqiv)?
          A serious quality of life issue for you to contemplate on tonight.

  12. Brindle

    re: 2016– Virginian Jim Web To Challenge Clinton?

    Slightly whimsical piece from WaPo, I guess the journos know how boring a Hillary coronation will likely be so maybe Webb could make it interesting. Strange wording about Webb’s “Confederate roots”, perhaps they meant ancestors.

    — “If you go back and look at the remarks I was making from the time this administration got involved in the Arab Spring, I said it was an unprecedented use of presidential power — no treaties, no Americans attacked, no imminent threat of attack, no Americans to be rescued,” Webb said. “Secretary Clinton and I have worked well together, but the Arab Spring is a different question. . . . This administration, collectively, made some very bad decisions, and they now have to climb out of a deep hole.”—

    —Webb, who has Confederate roots, has praised Rebel troops for their “gallantry” during the Civil War, and in 1979 he wrote a Washingtonian magazine article questioning whether women should be on the front lines of battle.—-

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/jim-webb-former-senator-from-va-takes-on-his-partys-hawks-and-maybe-clinton/2014/09/28/ba12f572-43f1-11e4-9a15-137aa0153527_story.html?tid=pm_pop

    1. cwaltz

      Jim Webb is partially responsible for FISA. We actually called the asshole when the vote was going on and he said he voted for it because it would never pass the House. Hell would freeze over and I will personally canvas in his own state to make sure that everyone knows that jerk used the Constitution as toilet paper and pretty much pawned off his vote on the “other guy.”

  13. frosty zoom

    Iraqi Pilots Mistakenly Airdropped Food, Water, And Ammunition To ISIS

    the wheels on the bus certainly do go round and round..

    1. Andrew Watts

      The Iraqis were trying to resupply the troops trapped in Saqlawiyah military base by air. On a recent post of his blog the Saker has a piece asking why air re-supply was not attempted. They tried and it failed. Oops.

      Now the base is in the hands of IS and they’re that much closer to attacking Baghdad.

  14. trish

    re Fracking. Here is the rule [EPA]

    In the summary it outlines how it could be regulatory OR VOLUNTARY (???!!!). like that works!
    “Your trade secrets vs. our drinking water” Seems so simple. Regulatory a no-brainer. But.

    And I can’t help but wonder how long will this be dragged out (stalled) before disclosure hopefully occurs? And then stopping. How much contamination.

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