Links 4/5/18

Astrobiology

Miami Herald

Mashable (ER). No wonder my forsythia bloom in the fall now. It’s the only safe time.

NYT

The Wire (J-LS).

Jalopnik

Wolf Street

NPR

Brexit

FT

Handelsblatt

Syraqistan

LRB

Reuters vs. WaPo

The American Conservative

NYT

OilPrice.com

FT

Asia Times

SSRN. From 2017, still germane.

New Cold War

Atlantic Council. Some damned foolish thing in the Baltics…

* * *

Craig Murray (MA).

Moon of Alabama

Trump Transition

NYT. Most of the headlines read “Trump is sending,” but in fact Trump can only send a state’s National Guard forces anywhere if the governor of that state agrees.

Federal News Radio

In These Times. Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi.

Facebook Fracas

Politico.

Bloomberg. Millions… Billions… Squillions… Surreallions….

Scientific American. n = 3000, but with rats.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

AP. Film at 11.

Freedom to Tinker

NPR

FT

Our Famously Free Press

Think Progress. : “Why don’t Sinclair reporters quit? Most of the open jobs are also with Sinclair.”

Nieman Labs

Edward Luce, FT. Shorter, Press: “It’s all about the press.”

Felix Salmon

Democrats in Disarray

Sardonicky (UserFriendly). Review of Palmieri’s book (Palmieri being the Clintonite apparatchik who thought the Russians were going to hijack her limo). Palmieri: “Nothing draws fire like a woman moving forward.” !

New York Magazine

Politico. “But if the impeachment push has no endgame, then why keep talking about it? It’s virtue-signaling to progressives, the ultimate proof of one’s Resistance bona fides… It is just talk, much like Republicans’ endless calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act during the Obama years.” Another bubble…. Popped!

The Intercept

Health Care

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Modern Healthcare

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Black Agenda Report. “King and his SCLC were a rogue faction of dissident Baptists in a sea of petty capitalist hustlers in clerical collars whose mission was to reconcile Black people to life under apartheid.” Continued excellence from BAR.

Rolling Stone

BuzzFeed (ChiGal).

Class Warfare

The Week

Arc

Vanity Fair. Terrific writing from William Langewiesche.

Antidote du jour ():

“Japanese photographer Miyoko Ihara’s series on the bond between her grandmother Misao and her cat Fukumaru.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

124 comments

  1. Edward E

    We’re forecast to dip to 20° over the weekend with pear trees almost full blooming. But be careful what you wish for, we’ve had pineapple express, much rain. At least the foxies look good, saw two last evening for a while. This wild weather is about how it was described in history books as folks faced the little ice age, just saying. Have a great day folks, I’m going to Branson and Taneycomo all day. They don’t like my jokes either… but it’ll be fun

    “It was fake news, verbal pingpong, tariffs aren’t tariffs, trade wars aren’t trade wars… Please remove any Fed Tightening + Smoot Hawley references from trading algorithms and return to default settings of whatever Bullard says + Kudlow rainbows” -beatlesonbanking

    1. Wukchumni

      Our Satsuma plum that was good for about a gross last August, might have but a couple dozen this year, as it bloomed when a freeze came calling last month, sayonara summer fruit. Could be worse though, imagine I was a commercial grower & had 3,000 of them in the ground?

      The majority of the 50 or so different varieties of apple trees here are just beginning to leaf out, followed by a bloom. It’s the other way around for summer fruit, which bloom first, such as the gorgeous pink blossoms on our Kaweah peach tree.

      Cherry valley by the river has twelve different kinds, with 5 of the olde guard of 5 year olds in heavy white blossom, surrounded by a carpet of little white popcorn flowers, and various yellow ones interspaced giving a buttered look to the aforementioned shag flooring.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Satsumas and the Elephant Heart plum rarely fruit well here because of the weather when they bloom – but I grow them anyway because the fruit is so wonderful.

        Berries are more reliable for summer fruit.

        1. Wukchumni

          When I offer those that have never had a ripe Satsuma in later August before, there’s always a hesitancy on account of it not looking the part on the outside, but one bite in and they’re hooked.

    2. Jim Haygood

      “China’s tariffs amount to about three-tenths of a percent of our GDP. So, it’s hardly a life-threatening activity,” Commerice Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a CNBC Squawk Box interview.

      This is of a piece with Kurgman’s claim, in an NYT essay posted by L in yesterday’s Water Cooler, of only a 1.5% of GDP impact from a broader-scale trade war.

      These claims are flake-o-nomics. Imports are 15% of GDP. Even with across-the-board 100% tariffs, a back-of-envelope calc indicates “only” a 7.5% of GDP impact.

      But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. More costly imports provide a price umbrella for domestic producers, who will hike their own prices in response. The price shock will be large, large enough to tip the economy into recession just as Oil Shocks I and II did.

      But there’s more. An aspect that Kurgman got right is that by artificially making imports uncompetitive, a vast demand for capital arises to fund new domestic production — even as one source of capital, vendor financing via the trade deficit — is cut off.

      America’s puny savings rate (2.4% of GDP last year) cannot fund such a project. At best, foreign direct investment might step up to the plate so that we can all work in Chinese-owned US factories, mindlessly screwing together flat screen TVs to the beat of happy Sino-pop tunes on the PA.

      Flake-o-nomics has come a cropper. Wilbur Ross and Peter Rabbit Navarro are flat-out charlatans. Potus (allegedly) graduated from Wharton, but emerged convinced that trade deficits are inherently bad.

      *sigh*

      *mails in cereal box top to join Flat Earth Society*

      1. Wukchumni

        I was a newly minted hellion on wheels when the lines of ’79 appeared as an oil shock, and i’d say that the longest one I waited in was 3/4’s of a mile. This came on the heels of the ’73 version.

        People were civil towards one another as I remember, but how would today’s gasumers react to having to wait it out in order to get go juice?

        1. Jim Haygood

          They’ve got phones now, Wukchumni, to entertain themselves with goofballs on the whilst queueing for their petrol ration:

          Donald J. Trump
          @realDonaldTrump

          The Fake News Washington Post, Amazon’s “chief lobbyist,” has another (of many) phony headlines, “Trump Defiant As China Adds Trade Penalties.” WRONG! Should read, “Trump Defiant as U.S. Adds Trade Penalties, Will End Barriers And Massive I.P. Theft.” Typically bad reporting!

          9:10 AM – Apr 5, 2018

            1. The Rev Kev

              Not if you drop a few hand-grenades down into the abyss, it won’t! That gravity-well thingy working for you here.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Meanwhile, over in People’ Daily, the English version, the message is “US households can’t live with Made-In-China.”

        To the Chinese patriots, it is only a matter of time when those American capitalists surrender…unconditionally.

        “But, but, capitalism will end there soon. Some say it’s already socialism for our elites.”

      3. Kevin

        POTUS a degree from Wharton? wonder how much of a “donation” that requires…
        “Flake-O-Nomics” – love it.

      4. Ed Miller

        Jim Haygood: Kurgman vs. Krugman:

        Not intended to be critical, possibly just corrective. In the last few days I have noticed that you keep spelling Krugman as Kurgman. I have assumed that lack of proofreading is the cause but I do want to know if there is a hidden dig at our Nobel winning economist. Just asking and hoping to be helpful regarding finger control. I am constantly doing the same so I never post without proofreading, and a goof still sometimes gets through.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I’ll say – Lambert quoted one of mine, without commenting on it, yesterday. He was agreeing with me, so being nice. Spell check doesn’t catch omissions or word substitutions. And my keyboard is full of crumbs, so some keys work better than others.

          I don’t think commenters are expected to have copy editors. Come to think, the original posts have far fewer copy errors than they used to, so maybe some of the new staff have been pressed into service. It isn’t actually important unless it causes confusion (some of those word substitutions can be hilarious), but I do think our hosts’ work deserves the best possible presentation.

      5. Oregoncharles

        @Jim H.: a capital shortage is an ideal application of MMT.

        Let’s remember that our dear leaders know perfectly well they can print dollars, in various ways, as the Fed proved during the financial collapse. They just like to deny it when it’s inconvenient, or counter to the propaganda.

  2. Ignim Brites

    “Don’t hate me, but record-setting cold and snow are about to sweep across the U.S.”

    Great baseball weather!

    1. sleepy

      There was 17 inches of snow in northern Iowa last week, 5 inches Tuesday, and more to come this weekend. The springtime birds have come around, but there’s little for them to eat it seems. I do my best to keep the birders full. Robins sit around fluffed up looking unhappy. It’s unusual to hear all that chirping and to see the sun so high in the sky, yet everything’s still frozen up.

      1. polecat

        Could be worse. Those bird ers could be on a frozen mile higher, if you know what I mean !

  3. zagonostra

    I know I post on this every time I see an article on MLK, but it needs repeating, especially on the 50th anniversary: MLK was murdered by his own government.

    Failure to mention this FACT drives me mad. Religion for all its historic failings at least understanda the need for “atonement,” of “sins” without which reconciliation (In this case paying tribute”) falls hollow and rings as self-serving.

    As mentioned in a previous comment, the WaPo printed an article on 3/30 mentioning William Pepper, the attorney who spent over 30 years proving the government’s involvement in the killing of MLK and just came out with the third volume on the subject.

    1. Roland Chrisjohn

      Please never stop. I am one of the clan who can recite the second, the place, and the circumstances when I heard the news. Those too young to have such moments must be taught just how gut-wrenchingly awful it was to live in that world. And why.

      1. Polar Donkey

        The officer referenced in the king assassination was the best marksman in the Memphis Police force. His brother had also been a police officer. The brother was killed by a black man who went crazy. It happened on Kansas st. Not sure if that contributed to motivation. He wasn’t anymore or less racist than average middle aged white guy in Memphis in the 1970’s. This is what I was told by a person that saw him regularly at his job.

  4. Steve H.

    > My VA experience – TTG Sic Semper Tyrannis

    “The alternative is to further restrict services.”

    “For example, the Veterans Administration (VA) has enacted policy that requiresto have a BSN to be considered for promotion beyond entry-level, and all branches of the United States Armed Forces now require a BSN or higher to practice as an active duty RN (AACN, 2014).”

    First they came for the sex workers, then they came for the teachers…

    Janet and I were discussing the internet crackdown on sex workers, and the coming crackdown on teachers. She is an RN, which is another largely female profession. We noticed the policy linked above, and that it was first proposed institutionally in 2010.

    As an old-school nurse, she’s observed the BSN workers are often behind-the-desk, which deprives the patient of concrete material care. We noted that the policy is supported by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which will have a windfall, as it requires two years of education *Ka-Ching* to upgrade from an RN to a BSN. This produces an artificial shortage of nurses, both by credentials and by time taken from work to educate. Which means there will be a glut of BSN’s, with wages being driven down by an oversupply of labor with a non-bankruptable debt driving their need for employment.

    We concluded they were already coming for the nurses, we just didn’t notice.

    1. MayM

      They’re coming for the occupational therapists too. My sister in law is an OT and has just informed me that the OT accrediting body has just changed the entry-level education requirement to a doctorate. Current OT’s and students can continue to practice with a bachelor or master’s degree, but by 2027 all OTs entering the profession must have a doctorate.

      It’s pretty easy to see what will happen: Fewer people will enter the profession, those that do will be crushed by student debt and patients/health care systems will either pay more or have less access to occupational therapy.

    2. Fraibert

      Some context just for the military only, the BSN requirement shouldn’t be surprising.

      The reason? Nurses are always officers (just like some other professions, such as pilots and doctors). Either an officer has a bachelor’s degree or greater (hence, ROTC is based at colleges, and the military academies all issue accredited bachelor’s degrees), or otherwise starts as an enlisted person and qualifies as an officer through successful completion of Officer Candidate School.

      Nurses don’t really go the later path, so it would really be anomalous for the military to have nurse officers without bachelor’s degrees.

      1. Steve H.

        That’s a solid point within the context. More generally, “recommends the nursing profession increase the number of registered nurses (RNs) with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) to 80 percent by the year 2020 (IOM, 2010a).”

        Your point is strong enough I regard it as how a fulcrum is used to implement from a command structure (where citizens give up constitutional rights) to the general populace.

  5. christy

    “….US suspects cellphone spying device…” “For the first time, the U.S. government has publicly acknowledged the existence in Washington of what appear to be rogue devices that foreign spies and criminals could be using to track individual cellphones and intercept calls and messages.”

    Meanwhile, DSW along with 44 Democrats exempted the Awan brothers from background checks.

    And…. It hasn’t been proven yet, but

    All three of these articles are related.

  6. Clive

    Latest twist in the Skripal story, which I was loathed to comment on lest it turn out to be fake news, but if this conversation is something that really happened, hard to square with the, ah-hem, facts we’ve been given to date from various U.K. government (and healthcare) sources:

    1. windsock

      Was there a tap on the cousin’s phone? How else would the recording have been made? Weird. Or does the cousin record every phone call made to them? Also weird.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        There is– it says she was recording her conversations and gave them to the news agencies. I would guess that to record all phone conversations would have been standard advice given to someone in her situation, so I don’t think there is anything odd to it.

        Incidentally, I just read through. The last paragraph is as fine a piece of gaslighting as you are every likely to see, and proof if any was needed that the Guardian sees itself as Guardian of the official narrative.

        1. Clive

          I’m pretty sure they (the Guardian) are tweaking their copy on the fly (article now timestamped “14:58” (U.K. time)).

          Says Yulia says she’s “disorientated”.

          Uh-huh. Can’t have her going off-message, now, can we?

          1. The Rev Kev

            My own take is that Yulia is being very guarded in her replies. Either there are minders with her or else she knows that she cannot say too much over that line. I wonder what happens if she says that she wants to go home again to her family upon release. Will they let her? She seems to know that they will not let her niece come over to see her. Having this published means that she and her uncle are now back on the radar map as surviving and recovering so sooner or later they will have to be released from hospital. After that, well……

            1. begob

              She used the term “incapacitated” – or was the translator guarded in the choice? It also appears here, from the OPCW:

              The Convention defines chemical weapons much more generally. The term chemical weapon is applied to any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action. Munitions or other delivery devices designed to deliver chemical weapons, whether filled or unfilled, are also considered weapons themselves.

    2. ambrit

      I looks like we now have an English answer to the question; “How stupid do they think we are?”
      The answer to said question being; “Very stupid.”
      In a related note; I wonder what Mz May promised the ‘boys and girls’ in Buenos Aires for drumming up talk of Falklands War 2.0 just now?

    3. begob

      Strangely uninformative, that conversation. My professional Cluedo surmise is (a) Professor Unknown in (b) the restaurant with (c) a novel organophosphate suitable as a pesticide.

      1. Clive

        Read to me like a hurried translation. Translations of colloquial and high familiarity “everyday” conversation is incredibly hard to get right. And if Russian is at all the same as Japanese (which I can translate), some expressions simply defy a neat and direct equivalent. You have to substitute your own choice of phrasing based on your own understanding of what the speaker was saying. Which is fine, but can’t then claim to be 100% original and a true direct translation. I think the translation of the reported conversation was aiming for a clunkier, but completely unaltered, interpretation.

        1. begob

          I thought ’twere strange to have no inquiry or explanation relating to the diagnosis and treatment.

        2. David

          Interesting that Yulia’s statement, as reported by various parts of the media, says nothing about being in with her family. The hospital apparently hasn’t confirmed it either, though you assume they would know. It’s also strange that Viktoria apparently says “they gave you a telephone, did they?” as though Yulia never had one, or it had been taken away. From the English transcript, it seems that Yulia originated the call. The current Guardian version doesn’t say that Viktoria was recording the calls, or how the recording reached the media. Whether or not this recording is genuine, we can safely assume the FSB were listening in.

    4. pretzelattack

      well, they can always use the russian troll farm as an excuse for ww3, if the skripals are in good health. the skipals better be extra careful, though, because people that are inconvenient to the official narrative are wont to commit suicide.

      1. Clive

        I though would struggle with trying to parse the usual rejoinder “Fanny’s your aunt” into US-English.

        1. Anonymous2

          The phrase supposedly refers to when Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury, was Prime Minister and appointed some of his nephews as his ministers.

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    So “weak unions” in the public sector in right-to-work states turn out to be more radical–and more effective–than unions with mandated dues/service fees. Maybe the Wobs, who historically didn’t seek dues clauses in contracts, were right all along. To pay dues, you go to the monthly meeting, participate, vote and pay your dues.

    That just might work better for a labor movement than dues coming automatically out of your check every month just like a tax. That’s especially true if much of that dues money is going to support a bureaucracy housed in DC and Democrat Party politicians promising to don their “walking shoes.”

    Staughton Lynd has long argued for solidarity unionism, an approach marked by a lack of reliance on the NLRA and a refusal to negotiate both no-strike clauses in contracts and conceding control of the enterprise and its processes to “management.” Here’s Lynd addressing the 2005 IWW convention:

    1. makedoanmend

      Thanks for the link, and I think your observations regarding union dues and participation are spot on.

      I read the article cited and was much surprised at its tone and content. Book marked it, although much of its content is a bit too rich for me.

      All the same, Americans and America never fail to provide delightful surprises. Get off the beaten main stream track, so to speak, and America provides a rich array of experiences and insights and contradictions – lots of contradictions.

  8. Kevin

    A lesson from mating birds: The song gets sweeter over time

    …although perhaps a little shorter in duration?.

  9. Jim Haygood

    David Stockman summarizes America’s economic mad science experiment:

    When one arm of the US government [the Treasury] is borrowing at a $1.2 trillion rate at the tippy-top of the business cycle, while the central banking arm is dumping bonds at an annual rate (i.e. $600 billion) which exceeds the level outstanding as recently as 2003, you are talking about a fiscal/monetary collision like never before.

    Trying to sweat out a preceding monetary expansion, as the US did during 1871-1896 and Britain did during the lost decade of the 1920s, is a miserable deflationary slog.

    The hippocratic principle of “first do no harm” dictates to just leave the Fed’s QE-bloated balance sheet alone unless inflation becomes a problem — which it hasn’t.

    Dumping bonds onto a weakening economy is flake-o-nomics writ large. Lord Japewell is the designated bagholder. Still time to collect rotten eggs and overripe tomatoes for use as projectiles, comrades.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      He is sounding it like trade wars have nothing to do with bubble bursting…or just a sideshow.

      And he is right…the bubble that has been immune to the 99%, at best, and now crying out for the serfs’ compassion, has more to do with the central bank, or the Fed, than China having won the trade war already or Xi’s current and future threats.

  10. Ignacio

    France legislators enter muddy waters against fake news.

    He said France’s media watchdog, the CSA, would be empowered to fight against “any attempt at destabilisation” by TV stations controlled or influenced by foreign states.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      This goes much further – the law proposed allows anyone to shut down a website or social media account by simply asking for a restraining order, without the other party having a right to defend itself. I haven’t seen a definitive text yet but the restraining order idea stinks to high family blog.

    2. Sid Finster

      Translation from Orwell to – when they say they want to “fight destabilization by foreign actors” they mean “shut down websites that stray from the officially sanctioned narrative.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Foreign films like ‘1984’ would likely not be allowed to be shown on those foreign state controlled or influenced TV stations, then.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Suburban NYC feels the burn:

    Among the ten U.S. counties with the highest average property tax bills last year, nine are within commuting distance of Manhattan, a new analysis by Attom Data Solutions shows. Marin County in Northern California is the only one outside the region.

    Topping the list is Westchester County, home of Scarsdale and Bronxville, Wall Street meccas that are among the richest places in the nation. The average property tax bill in the county was $17,179, well above the new $10,000 limit on deductions for state and local levies.

    In the No. 2 spot is Rockland County, just across the Hudson River, where homeowners paid an average of $12,924 last year.

    Unlike Westchester, which has a couple of commuter rail lines, Rockland on the west bank of the Hudson has only bus service to NYC. Except for tony enclaves such as Sneden’s Landing which attracts celebrities seeking privacy, most of Rockland is a middle-class mix of white-collar and blue-collar families.

    Tax bills in the teens on ordinary suburban bungalows are so absurd that they could be characterized as neofeudalism. Long-term tenure in one’s humble hut is impossible during senior years when a large chunk of one’s diminished income is confiscated by the state as permanent tribute.

    Life can be sweet on the quiet side of the Hudson, but New York’s dying welfare state makes it untenable unless one participates in the suburban rat race of making big money to pay big expenses. Ol’ Jim just couldn’t take it no more.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Word. I grew up in Rockland and am shocked by the property taxes.
      We were middling middle class. Parents sold our humble family manse at top of the market and fled to a cheeper tax zone.
      Brother’s still there but has a prosperous small business.
      When I was growing up in the ’70s, Rockland public schools were phenomenal.
      Now, not so much.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Several causes for Rockland’s plight are proposed in a local newspaper article:

        High salaries paid to police and school employees relative to median household income in the general population;

        “Onerous” costs incurred by the North Rockland school district and the towns of Haverstraw and Stony Point, and to some extent the county, following a tax-reduction case won by the utility Mirant in 2007;

        The percentage of residents enrolled in Medicaid has more than doubled, from 9.5 percent in 2000 to 24.5 percent in 2013;

        A doubling of the poverty rate from 1970 to 2014, from 5.5 percent to an estimated 14.1 percent;

        The emergence of Ramapo, the fastest-growing town by far, accounting for 58 percent of Rockland’s growth from 1970 to 2020 and as a location where tax exemptions for religious purposes, including religious schools, have skyrocketed.

        Mirant’s tax ruling, which cost northern Rockland its largest tax ratable, sent property tax bills in that area into the $20,000- range on ordinary middle-class residences, according to a real estate agent acquaintance.

        Soaring poverty and Medicaid enrollment not only indicate social deterioration, but also are not unrelated to the mushrooming Hasidic population in Ramapo. Historically this community avails itself of social services such as food stamps and Medicaid at a higher rate than others, while succeeding in taking many private residences off the tax rolls entirely on the grounds that they are shuls.

        As the costs multiply, it’s clear that the effect is no longer negligible. Indeed it may ultimately make Rockland uninhabitable.

        1. nycTerrierist

          Familiar dynamic, esp. re: the Hasids. Non-observant Jew here pained by
          that tension (tax exempt shuls) which has been going on for decades, now worse than ever.
          It’s really crazy.
          Something has to give, but what?

    2. Clive

      One big spanner in the works for my musings of saying sod Blighty and its many and varied woes and considering retirement to the sunbelt was (after the quagmire that is healthcare in the US) property taxes. Here in the U.K. I pay £2,400 or a little under on my middle class house in a middle class county (c. $3,200-ish).

      Relocation services for expats send me marketing guff on properties aimed at people considering The Good Life in US retirement locations. Lots of Toll Brothers golf course resorts, that kind of thing, it all looked reasonable enough by U.K. property price standards. Then I read the estimated property taxes. $5-6,000 on your McMansion in Phoenix was typical, sometimes a heck of a lot more than that, especially in CA. Even FL was pretty horrid. That puts a big dent in a fixed retirement income. Made me wonder if this had always been a problem in the US or whether all that small government and low (federal) taxes was now leaking out into state and city taxes instead.

      1. flora

        or whether all that small government and low (federal) taxes was now leaking out into state and city taxes instead.

        Yes. Cutting taxes on the big guys at the federal level has resulted in lower revenue sharing dollars to the states and in increased local and state taxes , including sales tax increases that have reached 10% in a lot of areas, including on groceries. Replacing progressive income tax with regressive sales tax hurts low income people the most.

        1. ambrit

          Amen. We have a nine percent sales tax here. My fat fingers typed herr for here and I corrected it. Perhaps my subconscious was trying to tell me something. (For some definition of Herrenvolk.)

      2. ambrit

        Just ‘off the top of my head’ thinking here, but, the tax burden has been slowly shifting from off of the federal books and onto the state and local books for some time now. Thus, local governments have increasing expenses without the previous federal help that was normal in days past. Add to this, the continuing increase in unfunded mandates being passed down from ‘on high,’ and one experiences a bottleneck phenomenon. Local income taxes are hard to impose and continue. They are extremely unpopular, whether by design or felicity. Taxes begin to fall hardest on those not powerful enough, or organized enough to ‘influence’ governmental decision making.
        Finally, inequality rears it’s ugly head. Those wealthy enough to afford financial ‘advisors’ and tax lawyers to fight off property tax impositions usually have more than enough disposable income to absorb the taxes as a normal part of ‘doing business.’ The rest of us, who come in almost as many shapes, sizes, colours, spins and flavours as subatomic particles, do not generally enjoy such an embarrassment of riches. Usually, our domicile is our main source of wealth. Try telling a tax lawyer that you’ll deed to him or her the title to one of your bedrooms in exchange for some tax ‘reducing’ pettifogging. Bring a tape recorder and you could sell the result to any video ‘comedy’ show for a laugh track.
        Finally, on the perils of expatriatism. One day, when I was a teenager living on Miami Beach, I found out that that City had a large English expatriot community. Later that day, I asked my Dad as to why we didn’t see any of these expats, or have them over for dinner or a barbeque.
        Dad turned to me and said one word: “Class.”
        Now we’re discovering that America has a similar dynamic.

    3. ambrit

      Sounds almost like the gentrification we are experiencing down here along the Gulf Coast. Considering the orders of magnitude increase seen with the NYC environs tax bills compared to ours, I venture to say that a new descriptor is in order. How about; “Aristofication?”

  12. Lee

    New Cold War

    Johnson and May Hide as their Lies Dissolve Craig Murray (MA).

    “It’s The Cover-Up” – UK Foreign Office Deletes Tweet, Posts False Transcript, Issues New Lies Moon of Alabama

    If you look really, really closely, you can see производство в России inscribed on the molecules.

    1. pretzelattack

      the british government now denies that it ever said that, the true translation being “these molecules may have a connection to russia”.

    2. hemeantwell

      If the May government’s case disintegrates as thoroughly as appears likely, Moon of Alabama should take a few victory laps. His coverage has been dogged and accurate. He made one error, doubting the existence of Novichok, which he acknowledged. Boris will likely not follow his example.

  13. Carolinian

    The Arcdigital link on Evolutionary Psychology is an excellent article and highly recommended. Here’s the author’s summary.

    I have argued that the just-so story criticism of adaptive hypotheses is based on a flawed understanding of science. At the most extreme, this view of science supposes that theories are only legitimate if they are directly falsifiable (naive falsifiability). And that science progresses by proposing and falsifying theories in succession. But science is actually richer and more complicated. I maintain that inference to the best explanation most accurately describes how science is (and ought to be) practiced. According to this description, scientists forward theories and hypotheses that are coherent, parsimonious, and fruitful. Theories that fit these criteria earn confidence; theories that don’t, don’t. And then scientists seek out all kinds of evidence to strengthen or weaken their confidence. Adaptive hypotheses are no different.

    Supposedly one way Darwin came up with his theory was by visiting the London Zoo and observing the commonality between animal behaviors–particularly that of a newly acquired gorilla–and our own. He employed what that later Englishman Conan Doyle, a doctor in real life and therefore a scientist, called the “science of deduction.” Perhaps resistance to such ideas come in large part from traditional humanities who see science poaching on their territory. But in biology Darwin triumphed. Theories that apply his approach to human psychology shouldn’t be rejected out of hand.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is some truth or confidence-inspiring in the claim that science as practiced by scientists (and we all can be, in various ways) is about strengthening confidence, and not longer claiming it as the best current explanation.

      More broadly, human confidence can be inspired, strengthened or weakened, in many different ways…Fifty years of neoliberal triumphs can do that for a couple of generations to have more confidence in its claims.

    2. nihil obstet

      I was underwhelmed by the example of Evolutionary Psychology in the article on the greater male desire for sexual variety. It all seems to start from the belief that men maximize reproductive success by maximizing the number of partners. That may be true of Genghis Khan, but I’d appreciate some acknowledgment that reproductive success means being one of the participants in an act of conception and having the resulting offspring live to reproduce. And that raises issues that are completely ignored in everything I’ve seen on the subject. If we’re talking evolution, we’re talking about individuals living in groups of fewer than 100 members, without a whole lot of social services — there ain’t gonna be lots of girls in the bar and Mama ain’t gonna collect no TANF.

      First, unlike most other mammals, humans do not have a mating season. Females are fertile for relatively short periods of time, and there are weak or no signals as to when that is. Humans therefore do not have a period where they are obsessed with sex; it is potentially available at all times (homage to the recently deceased Ursula LeGuin — Left Hand of Darkness has a good scene on this). So getting in the mood requires more external and mental incitement than other mammals. This suggests to me that sex is important for reasons that the article completely ignores. I mean, the purpose of sex is just to produce offspring, but humans evolved to separate sex and conception? And this doesn’t make the cut of things to examine? Like maybe the development of bonds between parents that help the offspring survive might be important? At least as important as pairing behavior in birds (I like the wren article linked to above).

      The lack of a mating season suggests that it would be handy for the sexes to be able to coordinate desire. Faster male response to external stimuli would seem very useful for when the female feels rested, fed, and ovulating, and ready for the activity that might produce another kid. The important thing for the male is to be the one who is there at that point, and a permanent relationship in a small band on a very sparsely populated planet gives him a better shot than hoping the female will pick him.

      I could go on through the whole process, but I think I’ve written enough to make the point that I find the article extremely cherry picking in its choice of data, situation, and facts to consider. I’ve made up plausible stuff that fits the same very limited individual “facts”. The article did not lead me to a better opinion of evolutionary psychology. What’s it supposed to prove?

      1. Carolinian

        Sounds like you didn’t read this part.

        However, the just-so story criticism rests upon a flawed and unnecessarily austere vision of what real science is. According to this vision, science is comprised of a series of directly testable hypotheses. Falsify a hypothesis, and the theory is tossed overboard as dead weight into a sea of failed theories. But this strong version of falsification hasn’t been popular since the 1960s (if it ever was) because it just doesn’t describe how science actually works. Most science is much more like solving a murder mystery than it is dropping a litmus paper into a beaker and declaring “I have refuted your theory thus!”

        In other words the usefulness of the article doesn’t rest on his particular example about sex but on his description of a process that is hard to argue with.

        Inference to the best explanation is a better description of what most scientists do, and what they should do, than other accounts.

        Scientists examine evidence with a certain set of background assumptions and attempt to offer the best, simplest, and most coherent explanation for the evidence. They then infer, provisionally, that this explanation is closer to the truth than alternative explanations. Of course, they update their confidence in the explanation as new data are discovered. If the new data appear inconsistent with the theory, for example, then they might become skeptical of it and seek to revise or replace it. Or, they might be skeptical of the new data because they believe that the theory is stronger and more plausible than the source of the new information.

        He’s saying the simplest explanation is always the best if it can be validated. Contrast this with Freud’s ideas which seem to rely primarily on ancient Green archetypes to prop up their credibility. And yet Freud was all the rage in the previous century and, as this blog often record,s pseudoscience all too often persists into our own.

        Some of us believe that the problem at the present time is not too much science but rather that there is not nearly enough. Obviously using science to study human behavior is a lot more complicated than with mice or chickens. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

        1. nihil obstet

          There’s not just more science and less science. There’s also good science and bad science. I think one of the reasons that science has such enemies in the U.S. today is that too many people experienced bad science in their lives — the best scientific study of the geology of your area proves that the solid waste disposal facility has to go in your neighborhood, far away from the rich people’s houses; your health problem is that you’re lazy and self-indulgent (not a whisper about environmental issues); take these medicines whose side effects from the manufacturer-run studies have been under-reported. Frankly, the distrust of science took a long time to come, and will take a long time to be overcome.

          Objecting to critical views of the content of processes that are hard to argue with probably doesn’t advance the role that science should play in our society.

        2. witters

          Inference to the Best Explanation (Abduction)? – Not a great leg to stand on:

          Have a look at Bas van Fraassen, 1980. The Scientific Image, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
          & his 1989. Laws and Symmetry, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Sex and reproduction are the basis of social organization in nearly all human societies – our own, over the last couple of hundred years, being the sole exception. That’s why anthropologists obsess over the “kinship system.” Literally, what you call your cousins matters. That isn’t just the truly primal societies you’re talking about; it’s most of civilization, too.

        That’s why we have continuous sexuality: it’s the basis of our societies, until just now (and we wonder why we’re seeing some instability). Incidentally, bonobos do, too, the only ones I know of, and also use it as a social glue and, umm, lubricant. That’s how female bonobos maintain control. Trading sex for favors or peace is The Bonobo Way.

        That said, human males gain most of their evolutionary advantage by helping raise offspring, if only by bringing home occasional doses of protein. But that doesn’t prevent cheating, by both sexes, which apparently is found wherever biologists look.

        I think that’s an answer to the question you raise. You’re right: civilization is a bit of scum floating on a sea of prehistory. And probably not for long.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Rather than focus on the Evolutionary Psychology of individuals I prefer speculating on its implications for a society and the individuals within that society. Human young are perhaps the most malleable of all creatures. As they grow from infancy to adult the processes of education shape their values, expectations, and aspirations. Within a larger social group the existing group values, expectations, and aspirations further shape individuals, and select individual behaviors for rewards and punishments. Humans, not greatly unlike ants, most affect the world as social entities. Though we aren’t all sisters like ants, is it far-fetched to view human societies as organisms of a sort like an ant colony? Might human social organisms ‘evolve’ in some sense? If so, I believe our present social organisms value greed, expect selfish action, and aspire to control and exploit individual humans and other human social organisms. I believe they select sociopaths and psychopaths for their leaders who then further project their aberrant values, expectations, and aspirations onto the individuals of their social organism and onto other human social organisms.

    4. Peter L.

      I disagree that the Bo Winegard piece is good. Some of the points about how science ought to be done are fair, but they are irrelevant to demonstrating that there is value in evolutionary psychology in general. I suspect that serious criticism of evolutionary psychology is not limited to simply making the following accusation: it’s nothing more than a “just so” story.

      Consider this passage, where Winegard writes:

      “Imagine a group of 50 men and 50 women. Now, suppose that all the men were killed except one. The lone man could impregnate all the remaining women (siring 50 or more children a year). However, if the situation were reversed (all but one woman is killed), the surviving woman could only get pregnant once in the year (siring perhaps two or three children at most). Therefore, men often stand to gain more from sexual variety than do women, because men’s reproductive success is largely a function of obtained sexual partners, whereas women’s is not.

      This theory suggests a straightforward hypothesis: Men possess psychological adaptations that lead them, on average, to desire a greater number of sexual partners than women.”

      I think it is fair to say that this isn’t solid reasoning. If this is what passes for theorizing in evolutionary psychology, then there are problems which can’t be dismissed by saying that its critics have a poor understanding of science.

      Notice that Winegard says, right away at the beginning of the article: “They object to applying the logic of natural selection to the human mind.” Yes, of course they do! Natural selection applies to the whole organism, not one single part of it. Obviously (I think) it makes no sense to think of natural selection operating on an isolated part of the organism.

      By the way, in the introduction Winegard uses the term “methodological dualism.” I continued to read the piece because of this term. I had first come across the term because it is used by Noam Chomsky to identify an inconsistent approach to dealing with the study of human mental capacity. Winegard hyperlinks on “methodological dualism” to a book review he wrote which says nothing about methodological dualism, but uses a different term “selective dualism.” This is sloppy and a bit confusing.

      I think this review distracts from legitimate and sensible criticism of evolutionary psychology.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “FEMA has a ‘blunt’ new message: It won’t be there for every future disaster”

    That buzzing sound that you can hear in the distance is actually the voices of millions of preppers all saying: “We told you so! We told you so!”

    1. Wukchumni

      One odd aspect of our forever wars going on sweet sixteen now, is not once has anything been rationed out to us-as in WW2, where I would’ve been in a world of hurt last week if it was 1942 with the woeful looking tires on my truck, as they would’ve had to last me 3 years until the war was over, in order to be able to procure a new set. Gasoline was strictly rationed along with all foodstuffs. Oh, and don’t forget to collect your bacon grease and scrap metal for the war drive when they come by to collect it.

      Instead during our current dubious battles, I had a choice of nearly a dozen different brands, off-road, etc. to choose from, and about an hour after paying for them, I was back on the road again.

    2. Summer

      Now you know the plan for battling any future climate change disaster scenarios.
      Reduced population.

  15. funemployed

    Sigh. I really like playing with ideas of evolutionary psychology, and think the theoretical defense of evolutionary psychology presented above is sound, but that article lost me by replicating a lot of the flawed pseudoscientific argumentation that undermines confidence in the field.

    Firstly, being a playwright doesn’t increase one’s “fitness” unless it leads to more babies. It doesn’t. Higher social status and educational level decreases “fitness” in this sense, significantly and across the board. Being, say, an orthodox Jew, on the other hand, would very much increase “fitness,” but that example would, of course, provide scant support for her argument, as social factors obviously predominate. The notion that differential birth-rates in 2018 are determined by anything other than historically unique (and much too new to have much-altered our biology) socio-cultural variations is ridiculous. i.e. Our current environment is so vastly different from that in which we evolved, such reasoning is inherently fallacious.

    More importantly, the thing that makes humans so damned adaptive is not our traits as individuals. Individual humans are among the most pathetic creatures in the natural world. We are horrendously badly adapted to live on our own. Even if a human manages to survive in isolation, it will probably go insane. Humans evolved in tribes of 100-200 people. As members of those tribes shared more genes with each other than the outside, this means that, with regards to, say, sexual behavior, the most adaptive behaviors would be those that maximized the reproductive fitness of the group.

    Sure, the author is right that one man and 50 women could make many more babies than 50 men and one woman, yet one might think that it would be relevant to an evolutionary psychologist that even if such a tribe ever existed, it would have been very short lived.

    It is not, perhaps, worth noting that young men without access to sexual partners or opportunities to achieve the social status that would facilitate such access are very prone to socially destabilizing violence? Should we not consider the very large percentage of young men in our society who find the social expectations and pressures to eschew deep, lasting, monogamous (or non-monogamous but sexually fair) relationships unbearable, or who feel alienated, frustrated, insecure, and turned off by hook-up culture (most young men, in my experience)? How might we explain the one out of 10 men who prefer relationships with other men? How might we explain the fact that bonobo females appear every bit as lascivious as the males, though bonobos are presumably operating under similar evolutionary pressures to those of prehistoric humans? What about the fact that humans are one of the few animals to engage in recreational sex (indicating social functions beyond mere reproduction)? What about the fact that virtually all human societies have developed and practice methods of population control and pregnancy prevention? What about the fact that, while it is certainly onerous and risky to carry a baby for nine months, then nurse it, the bulk of the energy of child ing and rearing is carried out collectively by the tribe over the course of many years? Might not the fact that humans devote grossly more time and resources to collectively raising young than any other species suggest the hypothesis that human beings have often found themselves under evolutionary pressure to devote more resources to fewer children, and that such pressure might have profound implications for understanding human sexuality and bonding behavior?

    I mean, think about it, if we accept the simplistic evolutionary assumptions in this article, why would human females feel sexual jealousy? After all, the tribe will collectively provide for the children, and I, as a male, could impregnate 10 women as easily as I could 1. If I have the best genes, wouldn’t the evolutionary incentive be to share? Wouldn’t all the women in a tribe have evolved sexual proclivities that would tend to lead them to just carry the children of the few most “fit” males? How would jealously defending a mate of low or middling status not be maladaptive? Bighorn ram and lion females don’t lose their shit or try to get revenge when a bigger man comes along to kill or drive off theirs – human women do – and that’s really important.

    In any case, I’m not arguing that there aren’t aggregate sex-differences in biological tendencies in sexual proclivities between male and female humans. We know, for example, that polygyny is more common among humans than polyandry (though polyandry does exist, which, on it’s own, should give evolutionary psychologists much pause when advancing arguments about the biological basis of human sexual behavior). I’m arguing that this kind of sloppy thinking is precisely why evolutionary psychologists, on the whole, are respected by neither psychologists nor evolutionary biologists.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      Very insightful critique – and a good compliment to the Buzz article on how not to talk about race and genetics.

    2. Summer

      Here’s the problem. I mentioned it the other day in another convo:
      “The evolutionary psychologist accepts the three basic premises of natural selection—variation, differential reproduction, and heredity—and uses them to understand human cognitive and emotional propensities.”
      Darwin studied evolution as natural and ARTIFICIAL selection. They totally ignore all the ways that people here in the world today are also here through the ARTIFICIAL selection processes.

      “What about the fact that humans are one of the few animals to engage in recreational sex (indicating social functions beyond mere reproduction)?”

      The only things we do naturally are eat, crap, and sleep.

    3. RMO

      “maximized the reproductive fitness of the group” Precious few people seem to understand that vitally important concept when talking about evolution by natural selection.

    4. Oregoncharles

      Aren’t you conflating genetic vs. cultural evolution? They work in parallel ways – variation and selection – but with very different media of transmission, which means the selection is also different. For one thing, in cultural evolution acquired characteristics ARE inherrited, and indeed transmitted independently of genetic reproduction.

      So the high-status individual may have a huge effect on CULTURAL evolution, even though he/she fails to reproduce.

      And in talking about physical evolution, it’s easy to gloss over just how atypical our present circumstances are. Civilization has had an impact on our physical evolution, but in biological terms it is both very recent (let’s see: 7,000 years would be about 350 human generations and that’s just the first area to be civilized, essentially the Middle East) and likely very short-lived. We aren’t normal. The few remaining hunter-gatherers are. In their societies, high-status individuals would reproduce like mad.

    5. Oregoncharles

      ” the author is right that one man and 50 women could make many more babies than 50 men and one woman, ”

      This is the reason the norm is to protect women. The birth rate depends on the number of women, not the number of men, so men are expendable. It’s the basis of much of the division of labor: men do the dangerous stuff, whether it’s hunting, or managing large animals, or fighting. Some other roles are pretty arbitrary – pots may be made by women in one village, by men in the next.

      Ironically, that division of labor, the larger size of males (a remnant indicator of combat mating – of which warfare is an example), has also led to the subordination of women in many, perhaps most societies. There’s a wide range, both in the degree of difference and in how nasty it gets. The worst are demographic disasters like India or China, where overpopulation leads to severe devaluation of women. Contraception is a better way.

      The need to maintain a stable population is one of the main reasons for polyandry, which you mention as anti-evolutionary. Since it’s reproductively inefficient, it’s an example of cultural evolution overcoming genetic evolution, at least for a while. Of course, it increases NET reproductive fitness where there are obvious limits on the carrying capacity (traditional Tibet, for instance).

  16. Craig H.

    > Google staff protest at company’s AI work with the Pentagon

    Link for googlers who might be reading NC:

    I can’t recall off hand; in which circle of Hell did Dante stash the hypocrites? I think it was pretty far down there.

    1. polecat

      I think they’re pretty well down near the lowest circle .. the one over-looking those such as mark z., obama, bush, brennan, maccaine/lindsey, and the blue-eyed glazed whitewalker welding a (s)wipe .. or something.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      anyone who works at Google and doesn’t already think they’re MIC must be just *precious*.

  17. Ed

    More on Langewiesche, one of the best now writing:

    His “American Ground: The Unbuilding of the WTC” is without peer.

    1. allan

      One sour note: after the Miracle on the Hudson, Langewiesche (who is a nonprofessional pilot)
      pooh-poohed Sullenberger’s landing, saying essentially that any trained pilot could have done the same.

      1. Arthur J

        I don’t think he’s wrong. The landing wasn’t the smart part of his decision. It was the decision -not- to divert and try to land at one of the airports. I would like to think that any well-trained pilot, experienced with his aircraft and with knowledge of the surrounding area would have made the same choice.
        Unfortunately, with all of the automation being applied to planes, and flight computer “laws” that are generally unknown, a pilot having such intimate knowledge of his aircraft seems like something that will become increasingly rare.

      2. Massinissa

        Oh no, a single anecdote of bad behavior, how terrible.

        Are not people allowed a single slip up now and again?

        1. Ed

          Don’t we wish that we aren’t the ones who have to make those kinds of decisions? Or at least if we were we could/would keep our wits together enough to get everyone home safely? There are a lot of people quick to judge who would fall apart sitting in such a chair at such a moment. Further recommended reading: the trio of books by Laurance Gonzalez on deep survival, surviving survival, and that flight that was crashed-landed in Iowa. Further reading: the numerous reports that were part of the TADMUS project (tactical decision-making under stress). There are people who can’t walk and chew gum without finding a standing pole.

    2. Paleobotanist

      Superb writing. It sounds like they were killed by a cheap controlling home office. The captain had a good reputation for safety but had lost a previous job by insisting on safety. That had to have influenced his choices. A broken anemometer, cheap weather forecasting, pressure from higher ups worried about bottom lines and who didn’t know about hurricanes and these waters…poor souls. I know those waters where they went down. To be out there in a Cat 4, my God. They didn’t stand a chance. They were walking dead.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    American polarization driven by a sport team mentality.

    From History of Sport, Wikipedia:

    The history of sports may extend as far back as the beginnings of military training, with competition used as a mean to determine whether individuals were fit and useful for service. Team sports may have developed to train and to prove the capability to fight and also to work together as a team (army). The history of sport can teach us about social changes and about the nature of sport itself, as sport seems involved in the development of basic human skills.[citation needed] As one goes further back in history, dwindling evidence makes theories of the origins and purposes of sport more and more difficult to support.

    Cave paintings have been found in the Lascaux caves in France that have been suggested to depict sprinting and wrestling in the Upper Paleolithic around 15,300 years ago.[1][2][not in citation given] Cave paintings in the Bayankhongor Province of Mongolia dating back to Neolithic age of 7000 BCE show a wrestling match surrounded by crowds.[3][not in citation given] Neolithic Rock art found at the cave of swimmers in Wadi Sura, near Gilf Kebir in Libya has shown evidence of swimming and archery being practiced around 6000 BCE.[4] Prehistoric cave paintings have also been found in Japan depicting a sport similar to sumo wrestling.[5]

    Team sports have been around for a long time. There have been riots over them…the Nika riots among them. Fortunately, they are not causing today’s polarization, but just polarization is driven by a similar mentality. That is, no need to ban women’s volleyball, for example, yet.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Did that article include any mention of how the corporate media have had a major influence in encouraging the sport-team mentality by framing every major election contest in those terms?

    2. vidimi

      i knew this from growing up in my family. my dad would completely write off anyone once the label liberal was attached to them and would often be in favour of liberal policies if they were labelled conservative.

  19. perpetualWAR

    Unlawful Stingray use in Washington DC.

    I’m here in the [other] Washington. Several years ago, the Seattle Times reported that the SPD had purchased drones and the Stingray equipment and it was in use on Seattle city streets. People were in an uproar. I followed the story to find if the SPD in fact had returned the equipment as was reported days later. I never was able to get a solid answer to that question.

    Thank you, NC, for reminding me to keep on this issue. I have just sent a letter to Mayor Durkan and I have called the SPD Police Chief’s office and posed the same question, “Did SPD send the drones and the Stingray equipment back to Homeland Security, as reported would occur, especially since the SPD purchased this equipment without the approval of the citizens, the City Council or Mayor?”

    I await their response.

    1. Wukchumni

      Did said Stingrays come with a banana seat, slick back tire, sissy bars and a Marv Throneberry baseball card, set in the spokes?

      1. polecat

        When I was a wee polecat, my parents bought me the sh!ty knockoff …
        It only scanned HALF the neighborhood !

  20. allan

    SF’s growing reputation as a poverty-tourism destination:
    [SFGate]

    More than 28,000 international gaming professionals recently congregated at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center, where they tested the latest VR tech and sampled hundreds of indie games.

    But some attendees, many of whom traveled thousands of miles for the annual convention, found the city streets outside the Game Developers Conference (GDC) inhospitable, the sights disturbing.

    “My GDC back was simple: Stop hosting it in SF,” wrote Emre Deniz, director of Melbourne-based game company Opaque Space …

    When asked by fellow Twitter users to elaborate on his GDC experience, Deniz claimed he intervened in a mugging, experienced racial abuse, “toxic dudes in events” and had his credit card skimmed. Deniz added that Airbnb hosts canceled last-minute on “heaps of people,” and “scores of devs” had “rejected visas or (were) hassled by TSA.”

    “The downtown area felt really unsafe to both myself and apparently many other attendees,” he wrote. …

    [another] developer described a host of crimes he witnessed during his week in San Francisco, including the smash-and-grab of a parked vehicle, a knife fight and, after a GDC presentation at the Four Seasons Hotel, “10 police cuffing a guy outside the door.” …

    And they didn’t even get around to mentioning the feces and needle strewn streets around Union Square.

    After Rome and Venice went into decline, at least people still wanted to visit.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Dude —

      The quarterly median house sales price in San Francisco jumped to a bit over $1,600,000 in Q1 2018. This is almost a 24% jump over the Q1 2017 median price of $1,300,000.

      Can’t you just turn a blind eye to SF’s modest blemishes? You’re hurting property values. /sarc

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Even though we are limited to $10,000 total deduction.

        San Francisco is beginning to look like Tokyo in the 80’s.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe not many would visit.

      But it seems many more would still want to buy a house there (Bagdad by the Bay), though.

      And someone commented that the Apple/Google buses are needed because those workers prefer that to living close to San Jose.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Before the Media Lionized Martin Luther King Jr., They Denounced Him Rolling Stone

    True.

    Just like the neutral Swiss. Before they became neutral, they denounced neutrality.

    So, what is the point of that headline?

    That the Swiss are trustworthy in their neutrality, but not the media, who probably will go back to denouncing him?

  22. Arthur J

    The El Faro article is really quite depressing to read. It’s hard to decide whether the blame should be laid at the captain’s feet for his nonchalance about the bad weather, and decision to not keep a closer eye on the forecasts, or the company for only purchasing the cheapest weather reporting service and not keeping what little equipment the ship had (broken anemometer) in good repair.
    The article mentions the problem of the crew not speaking up, but this is common all over. Captains, either of aircraft or ships, hold such power over a crew member’s career that it would be a brave individual indeed that would dare go toe-to-toe with the captain over an issue that doesn’t yet appear to be critical. Of course by the time the disaster appears, it’s usually too late for anything to be done.

    1. Ed

      Proper psychology is to see ahead of fast-moving events by having practiced them intensely.

    2. Oregoncharles

      I just remembered: there’s a WWII story about a ship in a hurricane: The Caine Mutiny. Both a book and a film. In that one, the crew escort the captain to his cabin, and survive. Then they’re put on trial for mutiny. I don’t remember the outcome.

  23. -jswift

    More on the whistleblower story; Swiss too embarrassed to be seen as part of Spain’s swap proposals…

  24. Summer

    New Studies Link Cell Phone Radiation with Cancer Scientific American. n = 3000, but with rats.

    How are rats even still around when so much that humans produce is toxic to them?

  25. oliverks

    One of Hillary’s biggest problems, …, was that she wasn’t self-centered enough.

    That made my morning.

    1. Massinissa

      When you said that, I thought you had to have been exxagerrating.
      But no, Palmieri really wrote that.

      I have no words, my jaw has dropped too far to speak.

      Palmieri even defends the fact that we are talking about the Hillary campaign over a year later.

      “It is absolutely necessary to keep reliving and rehashing the Hillary Clinton campaign in order to clear the path for the next woman president, who will be inundated by haters as Proxy Hillary. The Clintonites have to keep complaining and blame-gaming to try to altruistically “sort everything out” for the sole benefit of the future female candidate.”

      This is just so hard to contemplate.

  26. Rates

    No change in user behavior.

    As I’ve observed before, the final victory will belong to the muppets.
    1. Facebook issues. Data forgiveness.
    2. Debt issues. Debt forgiveness.

    With so much forgiveness, the world is looking like a brighter place.

  27. Oregoncharles

    “Palmieri: “Nothing draws fire like a woman moving forward.” ”
    You mean Jill Stein? Cynthia McKinney?

  28. Oregoncharles

    “The Man who Spent $100,000 to Remove a Lie from Google” goes to:

    “This story has been temporarily removed pending an editorial review.”

    Google got to NPR?

  29. The Rev Kev

    “US National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster: “Russian Aggression is Strengthening Our Resolve” ”

    The sad thing about this speech would be if he actually believed what he was saying. I have no doubt that it was prepared for him with all the obligatory points and views of the Pentagon. Just for fun, considering what it reminded me of, I thought that I would translate his speech into Newspeak.
    Getting rid of the adjectives, the suffixes, prefixes, synonyms & antonyms as well as all the superfluous words, I finally was able to translate the whole speech down into Newspeak and here it is:
    “Eurasia is doubleungood”

Comments are closed.