Links 3/25/18

This day in history: On March 25, 1306, Robert the Bruce became the King of Scotland.

TreeHugger

The Verge. Reify99: “There are lots of instances of fish devolving,- losing sight, coloration over generations in a dark environment. This one CLIMBS WATERFALLS, too.”

 Guardian. RIP. Alas, that means no more Bernie Gunther novels– after Greeks Bearing Gifts is published next month, and Metropolis, next year.

Fox. Ban TV babble in airports and disconnect the machines. One of the many annoying things about US airports is the constant sound barrage. Doesn’t have to be that way: I find it much more pleasant to pass through airports that have adopted a quiet policy (e.g. Heathrow, Asian airports). Flying is stressful enough without the cable cacophony.

Ghion Journal

Uber’s Killer Car

The deck: The time to think about ethics in autonomous vehicle accidents is now. American Conservative

Motherboard

The Conversation

Politico

Guardian

Gunz

WaPo

Benjaminstudebaker.com UserFriendly: “bingo”

Kill Me Now

New York Post. Please help me avoid straying into any “sacred space of sisterhood and fellowship.”

Brexit

TLS

EUReferendum.com

China?

Jacobin

India

The Wire

The deck: The economist emphasised the need to improve the education system and skill development and also batted for Universal Basic Income. Scroll.in. Interesting– Rajan is former head of India’s central bank, forced out by Modi.

The Wire. Part three of a three-part series; links to first two parts included within.

2016 Postmortem

NY Post. What the hell is she raising money for? $10K minimum donation to be a charter member in the Onward Together Leadership Council. I guess grifters gotta grift.

Counterpunch

Class Warfare

Chicago Tribune. UserFriendly: “drain that swamp.”

NYT

The Baffler. Pete Peterson obit by Doug Henwood.

New Republic

NYT

ProPublica

Trade Tantrum

FT

SCMP

Syraqistan

Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

Independent. Robert Fisk.

Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

Facebook Fracas

Quartz (David L) For Steve Jobs to be concerned, you know it’s bad.

Dealbreaker

  Atlantic.

The Wire

Columbia Journalism Review

Trump Transition

The Hindu

Above the Law

WaPo

Mediaite. She does have a point.

DeSmogBlog. From two weeks ago, but still germane.

FiveThirtyEight.

Foreign Policy. Stephen Walt.

Vox

The deck: How power in America has turned the rule of law into a mere myth. Lapham’s Quarterly. Ralph Nader. Important.

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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175 comments

  1. YY

    Gaddafi’s ghost haunts walking-dead King Sarko
    Good to see that Gaddafi is getting some revenge for the duplicity of the Western leaders. Aside from the utter failure, whether it be in Iraq, Libya, or Syria, of interventions against “dictators”, the dealings by the West has been characterized by treachery following friendly handshakes. If the West can’t keep to promises of peaceful intentions within a window of, say a 10 year time period, there is no point in having any sort of negotiations for order in the world.

    1. David

      The Escobar piece is superficial and makes simple mistakes like confusing Takeiddine (who is Lebanese) with Djouhri, who is Franco-Algerian. In addition, the €50M figure is not generally believed now: the usually accepted figure is much lower, although still completely illegal of course. For anglophone readers, there is a much better and more accurate article in the .

    2. Sylvia

      So true YY–Russia says the US is “not agreement capable”. They are correct. The degree of lawlessness characterizing both foreign and domestic policy in the US is both outrageous and not well understood.

      Several articles today help with the big picture. Thank you to all the people who put out Cfdtrade every day for helping us understand our world a bit better.

    3. K Shah

      If every problem needs a demonstrable solution in 10 yrs or less, we have a huge generational problem. Some issue requires decades and few requires centuries to solve. Wrong quick solution leads to problems much bigger than the original ones!!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sometimes the problem continues to grow (bigger in size and/or complexity in nature) while a solution is being sought or implemented.

        There, we are confronted with secondary effects, compounding, non-linearity etc.

    4. Chaos is the goal

      All these interventions have been highly successful because chaos and death – perpetual war – is the goal, nothing else.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What motivates that fine, lofty goal of having constant, or perpetual, chaos?

        And who benefits (and in what concrete material form) from that goal?

        Will these questions lead us to the goal or goals behind the chaos goal?

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    The drop in bird populations seems to confirm that shocking news about a 75% drop in flying insect populations in Europe. While frightening, it is something to which many of us can respond in an effective, if small way.

    We live on a 4,800 sq. ft. lot less than a mile from our Rust Belt city’s downtown. Available space is further limited by the fact that the lot includes not one but two houses and connecting sidewalks and a deck, leaving only about 2,000 sq. ft., much which is shaded most of the day by those buildings and a neighboring two-story house to the south. Over the past 6 years, we’ve planted nearly all available space in herbs, flowers and vegetable annuals, nearly all grown from seed, and just added two dwarf almond trees and trellised grape vines last year.

    Last summer, these garden areas were buzzing audibly from all the honey bees, bumblebees, wasp-like thingies and butterflies. These bugs were having a ball with the Florentine fennel, the yarrow, the horehound, the zinnias, even the humble bachelor buttons that self-seed every year. I was so encouraged that I’m digging up the last of my grass and the tree lawn and planting them in creeping thyme, rosemary and lungwort for the shaded spots. And I’ll happily offer cuttings and dividings to neighbors who want to get a three-fer: the beauty of the plants, the benefits to the bees and escape from the tyranny of the lawn mower.

    I know it won’t stop the poisoning of our environment done for the sake of industrial agriculture, but the political systems in the U. S. and even Europe are so compromised that I find little hope for pursuing that by means of conventional politics. In the face of all that power arrayed on the side of death, we can still resist by nurturing some life in our little corner of the world whether it’s a high-rise terrace, a south-facing window or a couple of thousand square feet in a poor, urban neighborhood. I can testify that it changes the gardener. Perhaps it can lead to changing those who see it and find it attractive enough to try it themselves. Even little life-affirming pockets declare that there is an alternative to the insanity, and that seems to me to be the sine qua non of any eventual substantive political change when it comes to the environment.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Wonderful, and a very impressive effort. We’ve done something similar with a much larger space. Even the extensive areas of grass are full of flowers; if there’s a dead spot, I plant clover. (That’s a tip for really healthy lawn, BTW; grass will soon grow into it, and thrive.) That, the black locust trees, and the blackberries I can’t quite control help the neighbor’s honey bees, too. Certain trees can be heard a long way off when they’re in bloom.

      However, I still see important deficits. For instance, our list of butterflies is severely impoverished; we get just three species regularly, one of them white cabbage butterflies. There should be far more than that. We do get a lot of birds, so that’s a good sign.

    2. JCC

      Good stuff. I’m doing the same here on my small patch in the Mojave desert. Someone commented to me a couple of years ago when I first moved in that I had a nice “weed farm”. The buzz from all the bees in my yard was extremely gratifying the first year I lived here so I decided to let ’em grow instead of cutting them out, so I said, “Thank You.”

      (When I first moved in the place had been empty for two years and I ended up cutting down over 20 non-native trees that had quickly died off in these desert conditions)

      Slowly but surely I am bring my small piece of the world back too life with nothing but plants and trees that are native to this area and that birds jack rabbits and bugs. Anything I need I can get at the grocery store.

      I now have desert quail visit my house in the early morning hours and hummingbirds in the late morning, while rabbits and the occasional roadrunner cruise through at all times of the day along with a slew of sparrows and others nesting in the 4 or 5 trees that survived. Very Peaceful.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You guys should send images of these oasis to the Antidote du jours. I’m sure everbody would enjoy them.

  3. Octopii

    Thanks for the link about Philip Kerr’s death. His thriller novel The Grid about an out of control smart building was my first introduction to the concept. I now work in the field.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      And thank you for recommending The Grid— I only know Kerr’s extraordinary Bernie Gunther novels and I’ll now add this to my reading list.

    2. pretzelattack

      rip mr. kerr. loyal reader since march violets. damn, my favorite authors keep dying.

    3. larry

      This is awful news. He wasn’t old and his novels were always ‘new’. RIP Mr Kerr. I agree about The Grid, where the building treats the humans in it as indistinguishable from dirt. Very clever.

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        He wasn’t old: 62. The Express reported the cause of death as cancer:

    4. David

      Yes, the Gunther novels were good, especially the early trilogy. But check out A Philosophical Investigation, which is set in roughly contemporary England and features a killer inspired by Wittgenstein.

    5. chuck roast

      Meticulous research. I just read Berlin Noir again. All the arch-criminal are there; Heydrich, Muller, Goring. His handling of his old boss Arthur Nebe was very nuanced.
      He was the best.
      RIP

    6. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Here’s a more complete obituary, published this afternoon by The Guardian: .

  4. Marianne

    Is the Antidote today an adolescent White-Faced Whistling Duck (that hasn’t developed its eponymous white face yet)? They whistle instead of quacking.

    1. icancho

      Is the Antidote today an adolescent White-Faced Whistling Duck (that hasn’t developed its eponymous white face yet)?

      No, not a whistling duck; rather, it is an adult Ashy-headed goose (which is not really a goose, but a large shelduck). Lives in Patagonia.

  5. Jean

    Self driving cars?

    Is it considered assault or just vandalism to attack, impede, cripple, block in, blind or spray paint on a robot or its sensors?

    What happens when some kid with a super soaker full of watered down paint accidentally hits the cameras or sensors?

    1. notabanker

      Good question. I have auto-sensing technology for cruise control and I hate it. In a snow or rain storm, it just stops working, shuts itself off and you have zero cruise control.

      1. o4amuse

        The owners manuals on my pre 2013 cars caution me not to use cruise control when driving on wettish roads as the back may not function properly and may allow slippage. Sometimes I do, anyway. In your case the sensors just make cruise control unavailable period. They must think of it as a feature, not a bug.

      2. JCC

        This is just a side note: I almost got killed once with a working cruise control during a snowy period and have been too close for comfort to cars doing 360’s in major rainstorms both in FL and CA. I learned my lesson, almost too well – crappy weather, cruise control off.

        Using cruise control in adverse weather conditions is not considered very safe. Cruise + Black Ice is a potential death sentence. If the front wheels lose grip and slide or hydroplane, you are in trouble if the cruise doesn’t let go in time, particularly in a rear-wheel drive vehicle.

      3. HotFlash

        I do not own a car, but autoshare frequently and find that I almost never use cruise control. Where is the fun in that?

  6. Lemmy Caution

    RE

    Great article about the ethical dilemma’s revolving around who decides how autonomous vehicles are programmed to respond to unavoidable collisions. The article asks:

    Who should get decision-making power? Should it be politicians? The market? Insurance companies? Automotive executives? Technologists? Should consumers be allowed to customize the moral dashboard of their cars so that their vehicles execute moral decisions that are in line with their own preferences?

    Those are good questions, but what the article fails to emphasize is that autonomous vehicles on the road are already . That autonomous vehicle has already left the garage.

    In fact, behind the wheel in Chandler, Arizona. How are Waymo’s vehicles programmed to respond when a fatal collision is imminent? It’s not clear that anyone outside of Waymo knows the answer. Life and death decision-making authority has already been ceded to autonomous vehicle testing companies.

    1. Bill Smith

      From another article they are programmed to hurt what they estimate is the the fewest number of people.

      Don’t all these self driving cars need only to be safer than human driven cars? Not totally foolproof or accident free, just better?

      1. jrs

        Yes, they just need to be safer than human drivers, which isn’t that hard you would think. First there are people on the road who shouldn’t be driving period, people who have reached an advanced age and are also compromised by this, teenagers just learning to drive, people under the influence. If these people are among those replaced by self-driving vehicles …

        And humans aren’t perfectly rational beings who always see the pedestrian and respond appropriately. Sometimes humans panic if they see they are going to run into someone or have run into someone, hit the gas instead of the breaks, hit reverse and go back over, etc., not intent, just a panic and confusion reaction.

        I suppose it is possible the best option would be more smart car technologies so that it is humans technology kicking in. If Uber etc. has been totally lax and piloting self-driving cars that aren’t remotely ready yet that is on them. But overall self-driving cars don’t need to be absolutely perfect, just better than human drivers. Now if they can be made even safer than this they maybe should be eventually by legislation in the same way we have added seatbelts and airbags to cars.

      2. roadrider

        Don’t all these self driving cars need only to be safer than human driven cars? Not totally foolproof or accident free, just better?

        Ummm, no. That’s setting the bar very low leaving room for lots of leeway for failures to handle edge cases that are extremely difficult to anticipate and code into an algorithm. And this is true even for the best of these systems, Imagine what will happen when the inevitable cut-rate competition emerges ,particularly since our “lawmakers” at both the state and federal level are blindly rushing to water down or eliminate any sensible regulation of this industry the same way they did with cable TV, social networking, cell phones, etc.

        Apparently we, as a society, seem to be incapable of learning from recent history and seem doomed to be forever playing catch-up trying to patch over problems that should have and could have been prevented from existing in the first place. All in the name of tech utopianism, bribes to politicians campaign contributions and “innovation”.

        1. John Buell

          As I watched the inspiring demonstration Saturday I could not help thinking that more teens are likely to die in auto accidents than from guns. This is not to downplay the latter or to excuse the gun lobby. But these issues are in some ways connected. Our auto dependent transportation and urban design are counterproductive, a case Andre Gorz made thirty some years ago in Ecology as Politics. The more cars we purchase and depend on the less useful they are. Our transportation system is a source of economic and time pressure, not to mention environmental degradation. Road rage has many causes but this is one.
          Even within this badly flawed system we could take several steps to reduce auto fatalities. Perhaps start by enforcing speed limits and giving pedestrians legal priority. There are better jobs for police than walking the hall ways of our public schools. Promote alternative modes of transportation such as ride sharing and public transit wherever possible.

          Finally, I second Lambert’s comments on NC commentariat.

      3. HotFlash

        From another article they are programmed to hurt what they estimate is the the fewest number of people.

        OK then, one life, one vote? I am happy to see that they are not checking biometrics and credit scores to see who is more expendible, or less likely to sue.

        1. georgieboy

          Ultimately they will be programmed to hit that(those) which will cost the insurance company the least.

          Dress sharp when you go for a walk….

        2. Lambert Strether

          > I am happy to see that they are not checking biometrics and credit scores to see who is more expendible, or less likely to sue.

          From the Department of No! They Would Never Do That!

    2. Carolinian

      Actually that article doesn’t even get the facts right if you believe the NYT account in yesterday’s Links which said the Uber car was going 40 in a 45 mph zone and not over the speed limit. The Times version suggest the accident has more to do with Uber than with self drive.

      The cars were having trouble driving through construction zones and next to tall vehicles, like big rigs. And Uber’s human drivers had to intervene far more frequently than the drivers of competing autonomous car projects.

      Waymo, formerly the self-driving car project of Google, said that in tests on roads in California last year, its cars went an average of nearly 5,600 miles before the driver had to take control from the computer to steer out of trouble. As of March, Uber was struggling to meet its target of 13 miles per “intervention” in Arizona, according to 100 pages of company documents obtained by The New York Times and two people familiar with the company’s operations in the Phoenix area but not permitted to speak publicly about it.[…]

      there also was pressure to live up to a goal to offer a driverless car service by the end of the year and to impress top executives. Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, was expected to visit Arizona in April, and leaders of the company’s development group in the Phoenix area wanted to give him a glitch-free ride in an autonomous car.

      In other words Uber may have been rushing to implement their somewhat inferior technology to impress investors etc.

      1. roadrider

        In other words Uber may have been rushing to implement their somewhat inferior technology to impress investors etc.

        So what? Don’t you think that there will be other competitors with inferior (and lower cost) technology that will emerge if we continue on this path? Or are you saying that we have to create another tech monopoly in the name of safety?

        What’s really troubling in this case is the attitude of the local police who have rushed to blame the victim in this case and not Uber’s negligence.

        1. Carolinian

          Pardons. I’m responding to the American Conservative article in Links, not the Motherboard article you are talking about.

          But just to the legal and ethical question–we entrust our safety every day to the reliability of machines including the cars we ourselves drive so it’s unclear why automated cars are breaking any new ground in that respect. Obviously if self drive cars continue to run over people there will be no self drive cars. The companies responsible will be sued out of existence if not regulated out of existence.

          1. Lemmy Caution

            Thanks. Yes, the Motherboard article does appear to be wrong when it states that the Uber car was speeding. Google map Street View clearly shows a located 600 feet south of where the accident occurred.
            To your other point, yes we entrust our safety every day to the reliability of our cars. What I am saying is that there are autonomous cars out there with no driver right now, and that they have no doubt been programmed to choose who to kill in unavoidable accident situations. In other words, the autonomous car and its features may be working accurately and reliably as it assesses a imminent collision and then takes the course of least reisstance, according to its programming. That choice may lead directly to someone’s death. And the car will have worked as programmed. The article points out that right now, we have no idea who is telling the autonomous car what to do.

            1. Carolinian

              Yes that’s been a question from the beginning. I think self drive cars are going to be held to higher standard than human drivers if only because the large companies who can afford the technology have very deep pockets. Google/Waymo seems to understand this. Uber maybe not so much. If the unfortunate woman in Tempe had been hit by a human driver it may not have even made the news.

              1. Brooklin Bridge

                The legal issues are incredibly complex and are being bulldozed. That will come back to bite, but if the manufactures have their way, the burden will be on the vehicle owners, not the algorithm designers, nor the clowns who shove beta quality software out the door and onto the kill zones.

                Justice is money. And so is truth/information via the MSM.

            2. Octopii

              If they can’t obey the Three Laws of Robotics, I don’t think they should be allowed to be autonomous.

          2. Lee

            Something that cannot feel fear, pain, remorse, or shame behind the wheel. To the sociopathic humans already out there we can add machines with the same qualities. Being a robot is never having to say you’re sorry.

          3. HotFlash

            The companies responsible will be sued out of existence

            Well, good luck with that one these days.

    3. Arizona Slim

      Uber killed Elaine Herzberg. That’s what happened and it is why I plan to be a rolling protestor at the next Cyclovia Tucson.

    4. Louis Fyne

      When you don’t have dashcam footage, stories like this get buried by the news cycle. and the media likes picking on Uber more than Elon:

      March 23. Tesla X, presumably on autopilot, drives straight into a highway divider at full speed in broad daylight. killing driver, literally obliterating the front 1/3 of the car.

      as a side note, i had a passing conversation at the airport with a tesla S driver who said his car would driven straight off an off-ramp while his car was on autopilot if he wasn’t paying attention

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That sounds just as terrifying, making that 2 fatalities in about a week.

        About that off ramping, maybe it’s a lazy car (“I’ve had enough. I’m going back to the shop.”)

  7. John Merryman

    It was easy to see the line item veto would gut any legislative control over the executive and was just a tool in debates over deficits.
    There could be a way to make it work with budget bills though.
    Break the bills into all their various items, have every legislator assign a percentage value to each item, put it back together in order of preference and have the president draw the line. “The buck stops here.”
    That would not only preserve legislative control over prioritizing, but distribute more of the power over the whole legislature. As well as making the president responsible and thus accountable for deficit spending.
    It would never pass though, as any serious attempt to rein in sovereign debt would destroy Capitalism.
    The reality is that money is the underlaying social contract, not a commodity and functions as a medium of exchange, not a store of value. For example, in the body, blood is the medium and fat is the store. Or for cars, roads are the medium and parking lots are the store. Its functionality is in its fungibility. We own money like we own the section of road we are on.
    Public debt is the effective store of enormous amounts of the notational wealth presumably being stored.
    When we try to pull it out of circulation, even to stick in a mattress, more has to be added and eventually the excess washes back into the system, when there gets to be too much and it starts to lose value. So banks bribe us with interest and threaten us with inflation to keep it with them and thus in circulation, but there are limits on effective investment, so the government comes along and borrows up lots and so has to deficit spend.
    Now, theoretically speaking, if the government was to threaten to tax excess money out of the system, rather than borrow it, people would quickly have to find other ways to store value.

    Back in the day when society was small groups, value was shared around, because it was more efficient than trying to store it individually, but as communities got larger, accounting systems evolved and became money.
    Since we all save for the same general reasons, from children and housing, to healthcare and retirement, if these could be invested in as community resources, rather than trying to save for them individually, with bank accounts as our economic umbilical cords, society would go back to being more reciprocal and less atomized.

    1. Bill Smith

      It’s hard to get too worked up about the request for a line item veto which short of an constitutional amendment has been ruled unconstitutional.

      Didn’t Congress overwhelming just pass that sex trafficking bill (FOSTA) that calls for ex-post-facto punishments? Congress was told by the Justice Department that was constitutional. Didn’t seem to slow Congress down.

      1. JEHR

        It is a good thing that there is no such thing as infinite life:

        But any effort by the respectable to rehabilitate the likes of Peterson as representatives of some pre-Trumpian Golden Age of reasoned discourse should be beaten down with heavy sticks. Let’s make sure this guy stays safely buried.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Pete Peterson’s dead?

      As Mark Twain is reported to have written (but probably didn’t): “I can’t attend the funeral, but that doesn’t mean I disapprove.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Absence or silence.

        Silence is consent.

        From Wikipedia on Silence and Consent:

        The maxim is “Qui tacet consentit”: the maxim of the law is “Silence gives consent”. If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented.

        — Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons[1]

        When I was watching that on a video recently, I thought myself, when we were preparing to war on Iraq, had Colin Powell resigned and said nothing (remained silent), would anyone construe that as giving consent (with him being silent)?

        Was Thomas More wrong?

        1. Oregoncharles

          A resignation in those circumstances speaks rather loudly, although a bit ambiguously.

        2. Procopius

          None of those guys ever resigns because they disapprove. What they do is retire with a huge pension. If they’re “double dipping,” like Powell (receiving an Army pension and working in a Civil Service job [even if it’s as a political appointee, GS 13 and above] so they can also get a Civil Service pension) they may not have enough service for the pension to vest, but they don’t resign and give it up.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Do ideas say to other ideas, ‘You’re bad. You’re bad ideas?’

      Do ideas die? Are they not born and will never die?

      Do ideas murder other other ideas?

  8. Musicismath

    A 33-minute interview with the odious Frank Luntz (21 March 2018). Having listened to this, I’d put it at about 70% odium, 30% something else, but there are a few interesting observations about Clinton, polling data, and polarisation buried in among the obfuscation and self-justification:

    “I can actually pinpoint the moment when the American political system went off track, and it was the Bush-Gore election of 2000.

    “It took five weeks to determine who the actual president was and every election up to that point people accepted that even if you lost, the democratic process works.

    “Half of those who did not vote for President Bush felt that election was stolen.”

    Luntz, like many US pundits, thought Donald Trump had little chance of winning against Hillary Clinton.

    On election night itself he still believed she would win. He now says he misinterpreted the exit polls which indicated Clinton performing better than she actually was.

    But Luntz isn’t convinced social media swung it for Trump.

    “Most people who get their news from social media have already decided who they are going to vote for. The key was the campaign on television and the three presidential debates.”

    Clinton won the first debate but was lacklustre in the final two, and she is in denial about her “horrible” campaign, Luntz says.

    1. rowlf

      One of my favorite media moments was after an early Republican debate in the 2016 election Luntz had a panel of ordinary Republican schmoes from Florida that he was asking responses from after the first debate. About 2/3rds into the segment one of the panel said that the electorate is tired of the media telling them what to think. He said just give us the information and let the people decide. The panel was clapping and cheering the response.

      Luntz had a dumb blank look like he had just been smacked between the eyes with dimensional lumber.

    2. John k

      She campaigned for status quo and endless war, exactly what her donors want. Status quo has been very good for her and other dem elites, why wouldn’t you think this strategy is a winning one?
      So since strategy was best, losing must be because of something else. Herself? No, she is surrounded by people that love her, can’t be that. So that just leaves greens, Russians, assange, women likely due for special place in hell, deplorables, and/or racism (incomplete list.)

  9. John

    Pete Peterson died. The paraphrase of Max Planck regarding progress “one funeral at a time” comes to mind. I hope the boyz at the institute blow through the money now that daddy is gone. Self serving billionaires money needs to be squandered.

  10. cnchal

    Re: Uber’s Killer Car

    The prevalent assumption is that AI programmed autonomous vehicles are safer than human drivers, or will be. When you examine the word assume, it breaks down into ass u me, which is what we are if this belief isn’t examined and challenged.

    I don’t believe it. What I do believe is that there is a flaw at the heart of AV and it has to do with AI or Artificial Intelligence devices. These things have been touted as the next coming of computer power but the concept has fallen in and out of “fashion” for the last half century at least.

    No doubt these devices have their place and use, but putting them in control of a car is risky and unwise.

    There is an input layer and output layer, and between those two layers is a hidden layer that makes the connections between the input and output. This hidden layer or layers is the flaw, in my layman’s opinion. It cannot be diagrammed after the device is “trained” and the internal connections are not known and so far, not knowable.

    For background:

    How can we be certain that each device has been “wired” the same way after training? Each device must have exactly the same output for every given input when installed in a AV and then the device can learn as it drives, which brings the question, exactly what are the connections in the hidden layer changing to? When the inevitable happens, as in Tempe Arizona, how do you query the device to determine why that happened, when it has hidden layers of connections?

    A few days ago Lemme Caution left a link to a study about the to determine the comparative safety of AV versus human drivers. Let’s just say most of us alive will never know the results. Download the fifteen page study at the link and verify it for yourself.

    The claim that AV vehicles will be safer than human driven vehicles is nonsense and cannot be proven within any reasonable definition of the word “proof”. Live testing is taking place, and the crash test dummies are us.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It reminds of the last big ‘theoretical idea.’

      “We think neoliberalism works. Let’s test it on those ignorant serfs. No notification needed. Certainty no need to seek consent.”

      1. Lambert Strether

        The same with ObamaCare, whose “MarketPlace” is also a ginormous experiment, and adopted with single payer, since single payer advocacy was suppressed throughout the process, and by liberal Democrats.

      2. Procopius

        I have to disagree. Hayek and Milton Friedman said (in effect), “We know (i.e. assume) that unfettered free markets will always produce optimum results, and it is essential that governments not be allowed to introduce distortions through taxes and regulations.” From that they built neoliberalism, based on privatization and destroying unions. This is what the ideology of “government is always the problem, never the solution,” is based on. Neither of them examined their assumptions (well, it’s possible Friedman was starting to in the last couple of years before he died). The historical record, going back at least 5,000 years and probably based on many millenia of experience before writing was developed enough to record laws and regulations, was unequivocal that in the absence of regulation merchants will cheat. Of course our present-day oligarchs love promoting neoliberalism. It allows them to cheat all they want.

    2. visitor

      How can we be certain that each device has been “wired” the same way after training?

      You cannot. Not with deep learning at least, because

      1) If you train the network with successive batches of highly correlated training examples, then switching the order of batches can lead to very different results. It is therefore indispensable to shuffle examples; however, this would imply driving a car in markedly different traffic conditions (i.e. distinct types of roads, intersections, vehicles on the road, meteorological conditions, etc) from one drive to another to minimize such correlations.

      2) Even if you shuffle examples to avoid correlations, it is important to order and weight the difficulties, e.g. by starting with numerous simple cases and increasing the difficulty progressively, to improve the speed and consistency of learning.

      3) Even if (2) and (3) are fulfilled (I do not know how Waymo, Cruise, Uber & co do it), a change in the order of examples will lead to a change in the resulting learning network. When (2) and (3) are done correctly (whatever that means, it is heuristics territory there), then differences should be minimal according to AI developers. But if autonomous vehicles continue to learn after the leave the manufacturer’s plant and are taken in use by customers, then it means that each such car will eventually learn something slightly different after driving for a while. Good luck explaining their subtle behavioural differences when something unexpected happens, dealing with liabilities, and arguing with insurance companies about subrogation.

        1. Young

          How far are we from reading about a disgruntled (spouse, employee or Russian spy, somebody) to pay a hacker to conspire with a self-driving car to murder?

      1. cnchal

        There seems to be an information black hole when it comes to this technology. Your bolded if refers to something which I profess ignorance about. I am not certain that AI vehicles are programmed to learn from their driving environment after leaving the factory, however that possible feature is touted by proponents of AV vehicles as desirable.

        I have a word for the possible subtle behavior differences you allude to, spooky. It get’s to the heart of the flaw in this technology as I see it.

        The scientists and engineers don’t say much, they are after all under the cloak of IP and as we have learned to our chagrin, trusting them to do the right thing, however that’s defined, is giving credit where none is due.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Are we even up to the point where we know what happens when Company A’s driverless car is competing with Company B’s driverless car for a spot in the off ramp?

    4. lyman alpha blob

      Although I am not particularly sanguine that it will happen any time soon if ever, it is certainly possible that AI controlled cars will someday have a better overall safety record than those driven by people.

      However it is already a certitude that automobiles larded up with tech can be taken over remotely.

      Here’s :

      With a modest amount of expertise, computer hackers could gain remote access to someone’s car – just as they do to people’s personal computers – and take over the vehicle’s basic functions, including control of its engine, according to a report by computer scientists from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Washington.

      Here are a couple by the same author working with the same hackers a few years apart. This one’s from 2013 :

      Stomping on the brakes of a 3,500-pound Ford Escape that refuses to stop–or even slow down–produces a unique feeling of anxiety. In this case it also produces a deep groaning sound, like an angry water buffalo bellowing somewhere under the SUV’s chassis. The more I pound the pedal, the louder the groan gets–along with the delighted cackling of the two hackers sitting behind me in the backseat.

      Luckily, all of this is happening at less than 5mph. So the Escape merely plows into a stand of 6-foot-high weeds growing in the abandoned parking lot of a South Bend, Ind. strip mall that Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have chosen as the testing grounds for the day’s experiments.

      And from 2015 :

      I WAS DRIVING 70 mph on the edge of downtown St. Louis when the exploit began to take hold.

      Though I hadn’t touched the dashboard, the vents in the Jeep Cherokee started blasting cold air at the maximum setting, chilling the sweat on my back through the in-seat climate control system. Next the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring Skee-lo at full volume. I spun the control knob left and hit the power button, to no avail. Then the windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid blurred the glass.

      A Lyft mysteriously driving off a cliff could become the new small airplane crash* so no matter how safe these vehicles may someday become, I won’t be getting in one any time soon. At least not until political operatives who have pissed off the establishment start riding in them on a regular basis. In the meantime I’ll take the bus.

      * I’ve touted this series before but for any scifi fans and Uber haters out there, you may be interested in checking out – it’s political scifi where a flying car network plays a prominent role.

  11. jfleni

    RE Growing questions about CNN’s airport monopoly as network veers left

    Where have you been? There is a $4 device which turns off all the airport propaganda! Click and it’s history!

      1. diptherio

        The TV-B-Gone® universal remote control allows you to turn virtually any TV On or OFF. We prefer OFF.

        You control when you see TV, rather than what you see. The TV-B-Gone Keychain remote is so small that it easily fits in your pocket so that you have it handy whenever you need it, wherever you go: bars, restaurants, laundromats, ballparks, arenas, etc.

        1. Matt

          Can anyone testify this actually works? Can I finally be free from CNN and MSNBS playing at the gym?

    1. Big River Bandido

      TV-B-Gone is a great product, but for the most part it does not work in airports. Yes, it will turn off some of the teevee *monitors* — but the audio will still blast through the speakers. And not even all the monitors are suceptible. If the unit is functioning merely as a display from a central (as most of the CNN Airport terminals do), the device will not shut off the monitor.

  12. Dean

    I like to make eye with drivers at crosswalks before crossing. With self-driving cars, would I simply look at the lidar dome instead?

    1. cyclist

      I agree with making eye , but where I live there is a trend for heavy tint on car windows. It seems to be especially popular with aggressive drivers in big trucks and luxury cars. Oh, and police cars – I’ve been almost nailed twice by cops not paying attention when suddenly pulling out – one guy chatting away on a phone. This should be banned, as it is a hazard to cyclists and pedestrians.

      1. John Wright

        per

        “In California, it’s illegal to tint either windshield (except for the strip at the very top), and the windows next to the driver and front-seat passenger. Back-seat windows can have a tint. Tints ensure privacy and help keep interiors safe from sun damage.”

        “According to the CHP, from January 2015 through the end of August of this year, a total of 193,025 tickets were issued to drivers for violating the California law that forbids tinted windows.”

        The article mentions that one CHP officer only writes a fix-it-ticket for tinted windows if the car is also pulled over for speeding.

        I was fortunate to be able to walk 2.4 miles to work for about a year before work moved to a new location.

        I really appreciated being able to see the driver’s eyes when they were turning right into my intended crossing path, but sometimes side tinted windows prevented this.

        Maybe the local police/CHP will appreciate the revenue enhancement features of enforcing the law, making the streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

        1. howseth

          That’s a weak fine paradigm for tinted windows. Only fine ’em after speeding? Are they fining auto-shops who are doing the tinting? Not a serious law implementation. I would not like to be a cop pulling over someone with tinted windows….. Bang!

    2. djrichard

      Excellent point. Or when I’m in a car and waving my hand (or flashing head beams) to concede space to another driver. I think we’re going to need mannequin drivers, who can be animated by the innards of the car itself. Shades of the robo taxi in Total Recall?

      Driving in the Caribbean I’ve noticed other signaling cultures. In Guadeloupe, people flash their emergency lights as a sign of thanks when you concede space to them. In Tobago, people honk their horns; it almost has it’s own vocabulary: to say hi to other drivers in the opposing lane, to say hi to people on the side of the road, to indicate when they want to pass, to indicate when they’re conceding the lane to opposing traffic, to give a heads up when they’re rounding a bend, etc. It’s almost like car/driving as social life. Hard to see them giving that up for automated cars. There are plenty of people there without cars, and maybe they would adopt use of automated taxis, but a lot of the car-less there just hitch rides. Again part of their social life.

      1. Chris

        In Bali, many local drivers honk their horns to show respect for small roadside temples and banyan trees…

        1. Lunker Walleye

          On the gravel roads in the “Tickley Hills” of SW Iowa, Dad used to touch the brim of his brown felt fedora and look in the eyes of the driver traveling in the opposite direction. Other times he would keep his hands on the wheel of the Olds and raise his index finger to signal “hello”. He was all for enterprising ideas but can’t imagine what he would have thought of so-called “driverless” vehicles.

          1. JamesG

            Living in farm country, I always honk when I drive by cattle, goats and the like.

            But only if I’m close enough to enjoy their reaction.

      2. o4amuse

        Although believing in the nautical principle of sail over steam (the least maneuverable vehicle has right of way) I grew up in car dominated California and learned to just let the cars roll by and wait for a safe crossing after they had passed. In Oregon I was totally flabbergasted to find that if I stood anywhere near a cross walk even speeding drivers would stop and wave me across. There is a lot of drivers and pedestrians making eye here. Can’t cite chapter and verse from the vehicle code, but I believe it is the law here. Sometimes when making a left turn oncoming drivers will urge me to proceed when my training was that it is their right of way instead. It seems so quaint and polite. An Oregon State Trooper once told me that it was very easy for him to spot a California driver because unlike an Oregon driver the CA driver knows that the pick up half a block ahead will pull out in front of him at the last minute or that if he want to change lanes he’d better do it NOW or stay put. This probably applies only in the hinterlands and not in Portland, of course, where non natives now outnumber the locals by quite a factor.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In a bull fight, the beast or heroic-victim is believed to charge at something red.

      In fact, any color would do.

      Will be the same with a self-driving car coming at you – that there is nothing you can or could have done (choosing a different shirt before leaving home, for example)?

    4. Jim Haygood

      ‘With self-driving cars, would I simply look at the lidar dome instead?’

      Possibly aiming an infrared strobe at it might send it into reboot mode.

      A self-driving remote, as it were.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks.

            It appears that we have been careful to admit no Russians in those challenges.

      1. Chris

        “aiming an infrared strobe at it might send it into reboot mode.”

        The vehicular equivalent of TV-B-gone?

    5. Lemmy Caution

      Requiring autonomous vehicles to be equipped with a standard, universal system for communicating with pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users sounds like a good idea.

      However, that is another detail that can be worked out down the road: despite federal guidelines on stationary pedestrian traffic signals in today’s transportation world, there are no standards for vehicle-to-pedestrian communications at the moment.

      According to the article ?, nobody knows what the most effective methods of communication are. Trail and error is always a good approach, right?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Road rage.

        When it was said that road rage was due drivers feeling more powerful behind a machine, I thought instead, it was due the inability for human drivers to communicate with the full spectrum of subtleties we employed daily.

        “Oops, sorry, Didn’t see you there when I cut you off.”

        “Do you know you can go now? The train has passed and the barrier lifted.”

        So, as they work on that machine-human communication system, for not much more money and energy, perhaps they do something about ‘human driver to human driver’ communicating.

  13. Tom Stone

    Mike Pence is a fundamentalist christian who is well aware of the powers ranted the executive under the NDAA.
    How soon would Planned Parent hood be declared a terrorist organization?
    Think of the uncounted innocent babies put to death…
    And Gay people are “An abomination in the sight of the Lord”
    If exorcisms don’t work, the Bible tells us what to do with witches!
    Once America adopts Godly ways peace and prosperity a guaranteed.

    1. Indrid Cold

      Authoritarians and fanatics are out in force on both sides. “Liberals” and “Democrats” and self-styled SJWs who break up rightist political meetings, start braewls and denounce everyone not sufficiently obeisant to various identitarian causes are soon going to find out what it’s like to be on the other side of the hammer. Once They are no longer of use to ‘responsible’, ‘centrist’ elites, Antifa will be swept into the trash right along with Richard Spencer an his Pseudo nazi fringe. And all that data they provided online will be used to finger them.
      And pay attention to who is organizing an funding this “march for our lives” thing – and who its figureheads are. This Hogg guy is not a teenage kid. and What’s with the black armband and David Duke looking Jehovah’s Witness looking getup on Twitter? And the Mussolini pose, complete with stiff arm fist salute?

    2. Synoia

      From wikipedia:

      “If This Goes On—” is a science fiction novella by American writer Robert A. Heinlein…Revolt in 2100. The novella shows what might happen to Christianity in the United States given mass communications, applied psychology, and a hysterical populace.

      The novel is part of Heinlein’s Future History series

      Hmm, we seem to be close. President Pence -> Prophet Pence or Profit Pence?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Great novel that. It was not so much Christianity as a military-priesthood that ruled this future America using all those methods that you mentioned. Even though Heinlein was ex-military, I guess that he could see how vital both the military and religion was in America and so postulated a future where they came together to rule America.

        1. Procopius

          I’v always been suspicious of claims that Heinlein advocated for military dictatorship. Especially in Starship Troopers. I have read that he did become more right-wing after he married his second wife, Virginia. “If this goes on …” was excellent, and the founder of the theocracy, Nehemiah Scudder, was mentioned in passing in a couple other of his books written at the same time. I don’t think he advocated authoritarian government, but he warned that it has been common in human history. I think the scholar and historian Niccolo Machiavelli did the same.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Land of the Lawless”

    Looks like Dick Cheney succeeded. After 9/11 he said that America had to go from being a nation under the rule of the law to a nation under rule of men. But as they say, be careful what you wish for as you just might get it.

  15. OIFVet

    Just a reminder that human kind is not entirely hopeless: There are people all over the Bulgarian northeast who have been braving the nasty winter storms to search the plains for storks and bring them to safety, and hundreds of these beautiful birds have been saved. I have been fascinated with storks since I can remember myself, watching them come back year after year and raise their chicks.

    1. Carolinian

      Check out this documentary that follows the storks on their journey from Africa up to the Balkans. It’s really good (and features many other bird species).

  16. Louis Fyne

    in case you missed it the first time around and someone you know needs this concept clubbed into their brain cuz when Obama did it the ends justify the means:

    Bannon turned to the conference audience and said: “You’re all serfs. Well paid serfs, but still serfs … The data is all out there, they [Facebook] take your stuff for free and monetize it for huge margins, they take over your life.”

  17. Carey

    Henry Moon Pie at 8:00 am, thank you for that comment. I am starting a tiny garden on my apartment balcony
    now, despite my non-green thumb.

  18. Mickey Hickey

    George Waldens article in the Times Literary Supplement titled “Who Are The Patriots Now” is quite accurate in my opinion. I lived in England in the sixties and have relatives there, as European foreigners we were tolerated. The same could not be said for non Europeans who were not treated well by the natives. When he states that the revulsion toward immigration was not aimed at the Russians, Poles, Czechs, Romanians and other Europeans he was right on the mark. As he states the Brexit referendum win may have been influenced by the misperception that the larger number of non European immigrants could be excluded under Brexit. Unrelated, I see today that Cambridge Analytica is being mentioned as participating in favour of Brexit during the referendum.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They have always had non-Europeans, even before their imperial days.

      The bigger issue seems to be numerical in nature…Maharajas were given red carpet treatment centuries ago and today, billionaires are sought after. By concentrated nature, there have never been a lot of them elites, anywhere, at any given time.

      1. begob

        In 1772 England (not Britain) had 14,000 black slaves on its soil – submission accepted in the Somerset case that held slavery was unlawful under the common law and not provided for by statute, so that a slave brought to England from the empire could not lawfully be detained to return him to his owner’s custody. Capital value 700,000 l.

  19. TroyMcClure

    re: March for Our Lives

    The author explains:

    “Today you don’t even need an education degree to teach in Indiana, and organisations like Teach for America shovel unqualified college students into classrooms to fill voids. A bill signed into law three days ago allows people to teach in Indiana without even a license.”

    Seems like another well-meaning school reformer thinks credentials are the answer. The very teachers he roasts in his article were all undoubtedly licensed at the time. And how did that work out? Since Yves pointed it out some years back, I’ve noticed credentialism is an incredibly difficult habit to kick for Americans.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We haven’t heard of talked much about robot teachers.

      Will they be the next big ‘progress?’

    2. jrs

      I also don’t know what the author is talking about in saying noone protests rising college costs. It rather seems students are ALWAYS protesting tuition increases!

      In California in the UC and Cal State systems alone, protests in 2009, 2010, 2012, walk outs in 2014, protests in 2016, 2017, 2018. Have these protests not yet reached the scale he would like?

      Credentialism well … it’s a way to protect an income in an era without much union or other worker protections. Sometimes the extra education may be valuable? Sure, but I’m not sure the correlation is really that strong.

    3. jrs

      I just don’t know about that article, not only for it’s obliviousness to the protest that do exist of tuition hikes etc,, but it calls for more electives, but the reason high school students don’t have more electives is being on a “college track” pretty much precludes it if you want to get all the needed course to be admitted to college. Blames schools a lot for what any teacher would tell you are often larger social problems. Kids are not miserable SOLELY from what goes on within schools but may grow up in poverty, dysfunctional families, lack of safety etc..

      And I don’t think it’s the case that people who graduate forget how bad high school is, it’s more that they find the adult role of selling themselves on the capitalist labor market with it’s endless economic terror and abuses to make high school days seem benign in comparison. Because as bad as high school may have been, it truly is mild compared to the reality most people will face in adulthood. I mean: “There were too many adults who didn’t respect me, who heavily structured my day around activities that were meaningless”. Uh yea and how does that not describe working for a living? Only at the work place the lack of respect often escalates to outright abuse as there are far fewer safeguards.

      And all this to smear gun protests which seem rather unrelated.

    4. Big River Bandido

      In Listen, Liberal, Thomas Frank wrote about credentials as the backbone of a Cult of the Professional Class. Yet that Professional Class has turned on the teaching profession with a vengeance. I suspect this is for two reasons: teaching is the one profession that has been highly unionized, and public education itself — the creator of an informed populace — is anathema to the neoliberal ideology.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Which shows they are being ungrateful, for, on the other hand, public education has graduated many of the finest who man our neoliberal machine, some even lead that jihad. With them, greed is banal and can be found everywhere.

    5. Benjamin Studebaker

      Fully agree that the family environment is an important contributor to student unhappiness (and we could help by improving the economic security & stability of low income families). But public high school is miserable even if you come from a privileged background because of the authoritarian structure (which includes overly restrictive college-track graduation criteria) and because the standards for teaching are too low, leading to too much variability in quality. This is true even when licenses and teaching degrees are required–the licenses and degrees are still way too easy to get. To raise the standards we need to raise wages and improve working conditions for teachers to make the profession more attractive–otherwise a standards increase would just produce shortages. The proposed reforms are very different from what we commonly see in ed reform–not about increasing testing, not about using markets and vouchers to make schools compete, not about deprofessionalising teaching & weakening unions, but about strengthening teaching and making curricula more flexible.

      It is true that you see some protests in the states about tuition, but these are not comparable in scale, intensity, or radicalism to what happens in other countries.

      It is true that many workplaces alienate and dominate their employees in a manner similar to that of high schools–but this gives us even more reason to reject this alienation and domination at both levels.

      Happy to acknowledge that the approach is credentialist–credentialism is good provided we ensure people from poor & working backgrounds have the opportunity to obtain the credentials. That’s the main issue with credentialist careers at the moment–it’s not the fact that they’re credentialist, it’s the fact that this prevents kids from poor backgrounds from accessing them.

  20. David

    Richard North’s Brexit article is well informed as one would expect, but I think that, like a lot of other commentators, he’s missing something. May is a post-modern politician, ie there is no particular link between what she says and does, and her understanding of its impact on the real world. Only her words and actions actually count, and, whether it’s threatening Russia or threatening Brussels, real-world consequences don’t form part of the calculation, insofar as they actually exist. Her only concern (and in this she is indeed post-modernist) is with how she is perceived by voters and the media, and as a consequence whether she can hang onto her job. I think May has decided that she will have an agreement at any cost, no matter if she has to surrender on every single issue, and throw Northern Ireland to the wolves. She wants to be seen as the Prime Minister who got us “out of Europe,” just as Ted Heath got us in. The content of the final deal is secondary: not that she wouldn’t prefer to please the City and the Brexit ultras if she could, but if there’s a choice she will sacrifice them for a picture of her shaking hands with Barnier and waving the Union Jack with the other hand. The resulting chaos can then be blamed on a treacherous Europe. Indeed, if May can stick it out until next year, I think she’ll keep her job. What a thought.

    1. Quentin

      How ironic, then the Brits can go on and on whining for a mother fifty years about how dastardly the EU playing the eternal victim of whoever. The poor dears, in or out it’s everyone’s fault except theirs. Spontaneously I get visions of Mrs. Clinton: none of the mess is my fault.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Also ironic:

        1. The English, or the Anglo-Saxons were newcomers, to the earlier Celtic inhabitants of the island.

        2. Originally, the Mexican government invited settlers from the north to what is now Texas to ‘balance out’ the Native Americans there. But when it decided to discontinue that invitation, Americans kept streaming in…undocumented migrants, as we call them today, and before long, a war that broke out in the 1840’s. Today, it’s us Americans who are dealing with the same problem, but in reverse.

        1. Sid_finster

          IIRC, two additional issues between the anglos and the Mexican government were: 1) the status of the Catholic Church; and 2) slavery.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Throwing Northern Ireland to the wolves.

      Sometimes, it’s a cold calculating move. Sometimes, it’s short term pain vs. long term gain. And at other times, it’s done with reluctance.

      And this throwing N. Ireland to the wolves reminds me of the Sixteen Prefectures. From Wikipedia article of that name:

      The Sixteen Prefectures (simplified Chinese: 燕云十六州; traditional Chinese: 燕雲十六州; pinyin: Yānyún Shíliù Zhōu), more specifically the Sixteen Prefectures of Yan and Yun or the Sixteen Prefectures of You and Ji (Chinese: 幽蓟十六州; pinyin: Yōujì Shíliù Zhōu), comprise a historical region in northern China along the Great Wall in present-day Beijing and Tianjin Municipalities and northern Hebei and Shanxi Province, that were ceded by the Shatuo Turk Emperor Shi Jingtang of the Later Jin to the Khitan Liao dynasty in 938. The subsequent Later Zhou and Song Dynasties sought to recover the ceded northern territories. Most of the Sixteen Prefectures including the two principal cities, Youzhou (also called Yanzhou, modern Beijing) and Yunzhou (modern Datong) remained in Liao hands until the 1120s, when the Jurchens of the Jin dynasty conquered the region. In 1123, the Jurchens ceded most of the territories except Yunzhou to the Song, but retook them in 1125. The loss of the Sixteen Prefectures exposed the plains of central China to further incursions by the Jurchens (the ancestor of Manchus) and the Mongols.

      Without the 16 prefectures (and the Great Wall – inner and outer walls – that went with them), there was no defense for Song China. It was a matter of time before they were driven south, and was eventually defeated by the Mongols.

      And it all started with one cession.

    3. ChrisPacific

      The whole thing is eerily reminiscent of the in 1628:

      Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, Vasa was dangerously unstable and top-heavy with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. Despite this lack of stability she was ordered to sea and foundered only a few minutes after encountering a wind stronger than a breeze.

      Leadership without connection to reality works quite well until it doesn’t.

  21. Jim Haygood

    Here’s another little chart of horrors for Wall Street’s self-driving algos to ‘think’ about tonight.

    Institutional trading skews so heavily to the final hour that about 8 percent of daily trading volume takes place in the closing auction at 4 pm. By contrast, individuals tend to enter more orders at or before the open.

    In a healthy bull market, “amateur hour” market action tends to be weak, while insiders and pros step in near the close to drive prices up. It’s like the gray morning clouds in LA getting baked away by the sun before afternoon. This was a consistent pattern during the internet bubble of the late 1990s.

    This year’s pattern is the opposite: as the chart shows, hopeful punters push the market in opening higher, but the big money remorselessly sells into their bids causing the opening gain to wilt.

    S&P 2581 is the line in the sand which must hold for the sake of our beloved Bubble III … OR ELSE.

    It won’t take long to forget you
    Time it passes fast
    Maybe all be over in a minute
    You’ll be in the past

    — Rolling Stones, It Won’t Take Long

    1. John k

      I thought there would be a retest of the high before the bubble ran out of time.
      Maybe yes, maybe no.

  22. foomarks

    Mother Earth might actually get some temporary relief while consumers on both sides of the ocean get whacked with higher penalties on their consumption habits.

  23. Big River Bandido

    Obviously a Fox “News” story on CNN as airport pollution is going to be biased and wrong on several angles, notably the notions that CNN was once “nonpartisan” and is now somehow “hard left”. But the statement of the “CNN Airport Media Kit” that “323 million people view CNN Airport on an annual basis” is also a lie — “seeing” is not “viewing” and “viewing” does not mean actually “watching”. How many of those 323 million do like I do, and plug into headphones to drown out the hell inside the terminal?

    I’m with Jerry-Lynn on this. All airports need to undergo “calming”. I fly regularly between Boston, LaGuardia and JFK for work; all three of those airports are nothing less than unmitigated hell. CNN is merely a part of the problem — usually that has to compete with 3-4 shops and loudspeakers, all within a few feet of each other, each blasting a different recording. Once, from my seat at the gate, I heard a “four on the floor” dance tune, a clavé, a “smooth jazz” riff, a bubblegum pop song — *and* CNN, and far off in the background, flight announcements. Even though JetBlue terminals mostly cut it down to one song at a time ( CNN), it’s no better, because the “music” is played at Studio 54 volume — and this is what it’s like at 5:00 in the morning.

  24. Jim Haygood

    Today Facebook ads appeared in the UK’s The Observer, The Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday Express and Sunday Telegraph, along with American newspapers The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. Copy:

    We have a responsibility to protect your information.
    If we can’t we don’t deserve it.

    You may have heard about a quiz app built by university researcher that leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014. This was a breach of trust and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time. We’re now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    We’ve already stopped apps like this from getting so much information. Now we’re limited the data apps get when you sign in using Facebook.

    We’re already investigating every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this. We expect there are others. And when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.

    Finally we’ll remind which apps you’ve given access to your information — so you can shut off the ones you don’t want anymore.

    Thank you for believing in this community. I promise to do better for you.

    Mark Zuckerberg

    We expect there are others.” That’s like the oncologist telling you, “We zapped that little tumor … but we expect there are others.” Thanks, Doc Mark, I’ll sleep well tonight.

    Most likely interpretation is that Facebook KNOWS other bombshells are cued up, and are playing coy about it.

    For those intrigued by handwriting analysis, take a look at Zuck’s illegible, shrunken, stylized little squiggle of a signature. Would you trust this man?

    1. bob

      This is nonsense-

      “We have a responsibility to protect your information.”

      They sell your information. That’s their stated business plan.

      Full stop.

    2. Synoia

      We have a responsibility to protect your information.
      If we can’t we don’t deserve it.

      You haven’t protected it, and don’t deserve it. Delete it all.

  25. djrichard

    Regarding the protests, I think we should have a march for spam. What do we want? Spam! And how are going to get it? Spam!

    In all honesty, I think that’s what our national conversation has devolved too. For instance, my view of the media is that they’re simply spamming the airwaves.
    Even if there is quality content, it’s drowned out by the rest. And even ignoring that ratio, Yahoo news and the rest simply spam the airwaves with content, both good and bad content. It’s an unrelenting spew. They don’t need to regulate the comments sections anymore. The spew of the news itself dwarfs the spew from the commenting sections. It used to be I could focus my comments on articles that are esoteric, like trade, where there’s less commenting. But it’s not worth the energy anymore, Yahoo makes sure my comment disappears simply by spewing the same article over and over again.

    And if I want a venue where people can spam each other more thoroughly with comments, I can go to s.

    And the concern is the fake news? Let’s call it for what it is: fake spam. How do we separate the fake spam from the real spam? What a joke.

    NC in contrast is a refuge from the spam. An oasis of sanity simply by being that refuge. Maybe in the end I guess I should be grateful for at least having a refuge and give up on the rest.

    1. Petter

      Ditto for NC, thumbs up.
      “Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.” Ben Hecht

    2. rjs

      the adults in the room were always dismissive of us when we marched against the war in Vietnam as teens, too

  26. Jim Haygood

    Excerpts from a fine rant by David Stockman:

    In the last day or two signs of a new phase of crisis have proliferated.

    Not the least of these is last night’s unseemly passage of a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill which encompassed 2,232 pages of fiscal largesse. While it funded every single agency of government at startlingly higher levels, not a single member of Congress had actually read it during the 24 hours between when it was printed and when it was enacted.

    The heart of the bill—a $695 billion defense appropriation for the current fiscal year—is the real tell. That represents a staggering $80 billion annual increase over the previous DOD spending caps.

    But it’s worse. Now that [Trump] has installed Mike Pompeo at the State Department, Bloody Gina Haspel at the CIA and Bolton next door to the Oval Office, the Donald has surrounded himself with the neocon war department. It would literally be impossible to find a worse trio of militaristic interventionists.

    The trio and the Donald will soon be ending the one constructive thing Obama did during his eight years — the nuke agreement with Iran. And that foolish action, in turn, will bust the middle east and the wider world wide open.

    It also means that the impending fiscal carnage is now beyond recall, and that the mother of all “yield shocks” in the bond pits will soon shake Wall Street to the rafters.

    I’m less sure than Stockman about a yield shock. A real trade war that dents domestic consumption could be quite deflationary, like the last go-round in 1930-32 under newbie prez Donald J Hoover.

    1. Synoia

      2,232 pages… not a single member of Congress had actually read it during the 24 hours between when it was printed and when it was enacted

      umm: Could anyone have read 2,232 pages in 24 hours?

      And

      What’s the point? I’d presume it was read closely, section by section, on paper, before being “printed”.

      1. Jim Haygood

        What’s the point? Probably an appropriations process that’s out of control.

        Theoretically the Appropriations committee should have reviewed and reported out the bill. Members would be aware of any floor amendments, having voted on them.

        Now it’s a 3 am free-for-all, collating riders scribbled on cocktail napkins by lobbyists. As the eminent Nancy Pelosi accurately observed [in regard to Obamacare], “We have to pass the bill so that you we can find out what is in it.”

        Any resemblance between this chaotic orgy of log-rolling and good government was entirely unintentional.

        1. Odysseus

          Meh, the other end of the spectrum is just as bad.

          “Every bill should only do one thing”.

          There’s only so many minutes in a day. Congress would literally never get anything done if they took 2,322 vote on “One Page Bills”.

          1. hunkerdown

            Good. The more Congress “gets done,” the worse off most of the world and most of the USA. The less Congress “gets done” in service of managerial liberalism, the better.

      2. Yves Smith

        Maybe Harry Reid. He says he was the best speedreader in Nevada evah, according to the Evelyn Wood course instructors.

        Of course, reading and interpreting are two different matters….

      3. Jean

        Synoia,

        O.T. but as to your comment yesterday,

        Synoia
        March 25, 2018 at 3:24 pm

        “Kamela Harris was aggressive in investigating the Actors behind the crash in 2008, and caused many 000’s of them to be prosecuted and imprisoned.”
        “She was totally effective in every way in the State Government of California.”
        Really? Maybe you were transposing the results of the savings and loan scam onto a future date??

        “California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who was sworn in as a U.S. senator on Tuesday, and who will soon have to vote on Mnuchin’s appointment.
        Why did her office close the case, deciding not to “conduct a full investigation of a national bank’s misconduct and provide a public accounting of what happened,” as her own investigators had urged?
        State and federal law enforcement have been severely criticized for failing to hold accountable those responsible for the financial crisis and its aftermath. The OneWest case provides another example, and this time, the failure to prosecute could help the nation’s next treasury secretary get confirmed.
        To give you a sense of the full extent of OneWest’s, and possible Mnuchin’s, crimes, consider this:
        Though the state investigators could not subpoena OneWest and were obstructed from obtaining more documents, they extrapolated that a full and unencumbered inquiry would yield at least 5,600 violations of foreclosure sale auctions, and turn up instances of backdating in nearly all of the 35,000 foreclosures OneWest had completed in California from 2009 to 2012.”

  27. Parkland

    That was fast…. the Parkland children were quickly co-opted to perpetuate an expansion of state control by police/military.

    1. Big River Bandido

      After reading the Baffler article you referred to, I am uncertain whether your “do not speak ill of the dead” comment is sincere or not.

      But regardless, I strongly disagree with the sentiment. People who use the political (and extra-political) processes to increase the misery of people who are far less well-off, deserve condemnation in life and death.
      Pete Peterson was a greedy, selfish [family blog]hole whose influence on the American economy and body politic was nothing but corrosive.

    2. EGrise

      Eh, I think Americans are too quick to forgive the departed. I prefer what Hemingway is supposed to have said (but probably didn’t):

      A sonofabitch alive is a sonofabitch dead.

  28. Sid_finster

    See, when we do data mining, it is Very Good, Very Very Good, and all for a good cause.

    When they do data mining, that makes it Very Very Bad, criminal, even.

  29. dcblogger

    Anyone here from Queens? If so, what, if anything, do you know about Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

  30. lyman alpha blob

    They won’t be giving this guy a Darwin Award just yet –

    “Mad” Mike Hughes, the rocket man who believes the Earth is flat, propelled himself about 1,875 feet into the air Saturday before a hard landing in the Mojave Desert. He told The Associated Press that outside of an aching back he’s fine after the launch near Amboy, California.

    “Relieved,” he said after being checked out by paramedics. “I’m tired of people saying I chickened out and didn’t build a rocket. I’m tired of that stuff. I manned up and did it.”

    Beam me across Scotty, there no intelligent life over here.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wonder if this guy is related Wan Hu.

      From Wikipedia article under his name:

      Wan Hu (万户 or 万虎) is a fictional Chinese official — supposedly of 2000 BC, or else the middle Ming dynasty (16th century) — who was described in 20th century sources as the world’s first “astronaut” by being lifted by rockets into outer space. The crater Wan-Hoo on the far side of the Moon is named after him.

  31. ex-PFC Chuck

    Thanks for the “Smart Phones and Human Suffering” link, which is mainly about the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The author could have also discussed the country’s travails regarding uranium, the ore of which it was the major source during World War II. Whereas elsewhere in the world at the time there was no known ore deposit of more than about 1% Uraninite (aka pitchblend, aka uranium dioxide), reserves in the eastern Congo province of Katanga were up to 70%. You can imagine the effects this stuff had on the people digging it out of the ground by hand, many of whom were children. Germany and the USA were both well aware of the value of this resource. The story is told in Susan Williams’ .

  32. YY

    A little nightmare scenario of autonomous vehicles racing each other. We all know of the shortcomings of present day posted speed limits by adjusting by pressing down on the accelerator. I would assume that autonomous vehicles (for their own protection against being treated like bumper cars) will adjust to the prevailing level of driving over the speed limit by sensing the traffic flow and speeding accordingly. Either that or the robot cars will end up pushed into ditches by road rage. As the proportion of robots increase in a swarm of vehicles they will probably end up racing each other to the point of upper safe physical speed, but beyond the ability of a normal sane relaxed person to participate. Imagine this happening of a peleton of fast robot cars barging through at high speeds.
    Autonomous traffic require more than intelligence in individual vehicles (and more than just visual sensing, like the ability to hear sirens). It requires environments such as variable speed limit postings and countless other changes in traffic management. The problem is at that point we are talking public money and public spending, which means a need for change in orthodox knee jerk politics.
    When the road surface in NYC look as smooth and pristine as the buildings that sprout from it, robot cars may have a place to go.

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