2:00PM Water Cooler 5/29/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Too-patient readers, I got a late start on Water Cooler, and will add more material shortly. –lambert UPDATE 3:11PM Done.

Trade

“Delays and ‘poison pills’: team Trump runs out of road in NAFTA talks” []. “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is running out of time to deliver a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) he promised for this year and people involved in the talks say the crunch is largely of his administration’s own making….. Negotiators, industry lobbyists, trade experts and lawmakers briefed on the talks described how precious months passed before the U.S team presented its proposals and how the talks stalled because the demands far exceeded what Canada and Mexico had expected and Washington signaled no readiness to compromise. In the end, an unusually tight timetable allowed little space to bridge differences on the core issues, such as U.S. and regional content requirements for the auto industry.”

Politics

2020

“Elizabeth Warren is quietly working to defang Trump’s ‘Pocahontas’ slur as 2020 looms” []. “Warren delivered her most forceful rebuttal yet during in February. The speech opened a new chapter of Warren leaning into her heritage — a move that could help her defuse a political landmine ahead of a potential 2020 presidential run by building goodwill with Native American leaders who could validate her claims and vouch for her advocacy on issues important to their communities….. Since March, Warren has met 16 times with Native American groups and tribal leaders, at times bringing up the issue in those meetings. Warren also attended Cherokee Day in Washington and toured Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma.”

2018

“Breaking a Promise, Tom Perez Puts His Thumb on the Scale for Andrew Cuomo” []. Really shocking that Perez would do this.

“First-time, liberal candidates are flooding the Democratic primaries” []. Interesting, but note the hidden assumption: Political ideology can be placed on a “spectrum,” a linear scale from conservative to liberal. Why do we assume that?

FL-27: “Donna Shalala Won’t Discuss Working for Lennar During Housing Bust, Profiting Off Health-Care Work” []. “Here’s a sentence that perfectly explains the state of Democratic politics in 2018: Former Clinton Foundation chief Donna Shalala, who helped lead a major homebuilder during the 2008 housing crash and also , is poised to steamroll a crowded field of Democratic competitors in a race for the U.S. House.” From March, but it is what it is.

Our Famously Free Press

Uh oh:

Fake news is a non-partisan issue, and we’re building technology to protect all groups affected as we fight for the truth.

We're excited to see the work with us and take a leadership role on a problem that attacks democracy itself.

— Ash Bhat (@theashbhat)

Obama Legacy

“Hail the Obama temple, and silence at City Hall” []. “Chicago may not have enough cops to patrol the streets, taxes are going up and residents are fleeing for safety and jobs. But you really can’t say City Hall ignores the important things. The Barack Obama Temple of Adoration and Fealty is important. It’s vitally important to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and aldermen seeking re-election, whether taxpayers like it or not. And Wednesday’s speeches honoring the Chicago Sun-Times chairman without ever mentioning that he’s now being paid by the mayor’s money man, Michael Sacks, is important. Silence is always important.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Facing Student-Led, Anti-NRA ‘Die-In,’ Publix Suspends Political Donations” []. #BlackLivesMatter had escalated to die-ins very effectively, just before the liberal Democrat establishment managed to decapitate it.

“Hax Philes: Talking politics in a bipartisan relationship” [Carolyn Hax, ]. (I’m a big Hax fan, and her commentariat is well-moderated, although naturally not in our league.) The topic for discussion: “The political climate seems to be getting more acrimonious by the day. For many bipartisan couples, conversations that used to be run-of-the-mill political exchanges with good-natured ‘agree to disagree’ outcomes have become more heated and personal. How do you suggest spouses who are on opposite sides of the aisle deal with opposing political views in this increasingly tense environment?”

“The spillover of race and racial attitudes into public opinion about climate change” []. “Results show that racial identification became a significant predictor of climate change concern following Obama’s election in 2008, and that high levels of racial resentment are strongly correlated with reduced agreement with the scientific consensus on climate change. These results offer evidence for an effect termed the spillover of racialization. This helps further explain why the public remains so polarized on climate change, given the extent to which racial grievances and identities have become entangled with elite communication about climate change and its related policies today.” Hmm. “Spillover” seems a bit squishy to me.

“The Right-Wing Millennial Machine” []. “Progressives aren’t just out of sync with their own need to recruit and retain young people. They’re also lagging behind conservative interests. A 2017 study found that between 2008 and 2014, conservative donors gave three times more to millennial outreach groups than liberal donors. Much of that funding, Thompson says, went to things like paid fellowships, travel stipends and study grants ― creating the er system that will guide young people into actual jobs with political campaigns and think tanks.”

“Imagining class: A study into material social class position, subjective identification, and voting behavior across Europe” [Lorenzo D’Hooge, Peter Achterberg, Tim Reeskens ]. “[M]aterial class only seems to predict economic voting behavior when it coincides with subjective class.”

Stats Watch

Dallas Fed Manfacturing Survey, May 2018: “Regional indications point to a very strong month of May including the Dallas Fed’s general activity index” []. “How long can these rates of growth go on before business expansion — because of lack of capacity especially for employment — begins to slow is the question especially for this sample.”

Consumer Confidence, May 2018: “as expected” []. “Of all the measures on consumer spirits, this report has been and remains the strongest…. Significantly more consumers says jobs are currently plentiful, at 42.4 percent vs April’s 38.2 percent, and about the same say they are hard to get, at 15.8 vs 15.5 percent. Expectations also moved higher, up 1.3 points to 105.6 with sizably more, at 19.7 percent vs April’s 18.6 percent, seeing more jobs opening up in the next six months.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI, March 2018: “Home-price appreciation is slowing going into the Spring housing season” []. “[E]arly traction in the Spring housing season appears to be less convincing than usual which, for policy makers committed to sustainable economic growth, is probably a given what may have been a pattern of overheated price appreciation last year.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, May 2018: “Global institutional investors slowed their accumulation of equities significantly in May” []. Sell in May and go away? Is that one real?

Retail: “People Aren’t Paying Their Bills at Bankrupt Stores” []. “The severe delinquency rate — those 60 days or more past due or in collections — increased to 4.65 percent in March for private-label retail credit cards, up 57 basis points from last year. Late payments have been rising steadily, on a seasonal basis, since 2013 and are now at the highest level since early 2011, according Equifax data collected in March.”

Retail: “2018 could be a record year for store closings” []. “As the ‘retail apocalypse’ rolls on, 2018 could see more retail space open up than any year before, according to CoStar Group data cited by CNBC. At least 94 million square feet of retail space will be closed in 2018, according to data released in April, already moving in on 2017’s record of 105 million square feet, with much of the year still left to go. This surge was powered by the liquidation and closing of retailers like Toys “R” Us and Bon-Ton, with many more stores set to close soon….

Retail: “India’s Biggest Competitors to Walmart and Amazon? Mom and Pop” []. “Tiny stores known as kiranas dot every Indian street, village and slum. Usually family-run, these micro-businesses range from street vendors selling vegetables to shops the size of a one-car garage. They pay low wages and have little or no rent, which helps keep costs down. And since they cater largely to neighborhood populations, many offer instant delivery, interest-free credit and other personalized services that the global giants are unable or unwilling to provide. ‘The kirana store has better economics than a supermarket,’ said Rajiv Lal, a professor of retailing at Harvard University. ‘There is no way to beat them.'”

Retail: “Facebook’s Scandal And GDPR Are Creating New Opportunities For Retail” []. Not quite a Facebook story. “According to a recent by the , accounts for only 4.8 percent of data breach incidents compared to 24.3 percent for the financial services industry. Yet, because breach laws require only retailers to notify the public of breaches, and not banks, many assume retailers have more breaches. While unfair at its core, retailers are now further ahead of the game than other industries.”

Shipping: “The Engines of the Largest Container Ships in the World, and Challenges their Manufacturers Face” []. Well worth a read (even if you’re not a container ship maven or fan; sheds light on the Daewoo bankruptcy). The image of the MAN SE crankshaft, however, strikes me as an example of gigantism; like the A-380 or the USS Gerald R. Ford, gigantism always strikes me as a bad sign; technology reaching its limits.

UPDATE The Bezzle: “Why Uber’s self-driving car killed a pedestrian” []. “According to the NTSB report, the Uber vehicle struggled to identify Elaine Herzberg as she wheeled her bicycle across a four-lane road. Although it was dark, the car’s radar and LIDAR detected her six seconds before the crash. But the perception system got confused: it classified her as an unknown object, then as a vehicle and finally as a bicycle, whose path it could not predict. Just 1.3 seconds before impact, the self-driving system realised that emergency braking was needed. But the car’s built-in emergency braking system had been disabled, to prevent conflict with the self-driving system; instead a human safety operator in the vehicle is expected to brake when needed. But the safety operator, who had been looking down at the self-driving system’s display screen*, failed to brake in time. Ms Herzberg was hit by the vehicle and subsequently died of her injuries.” Isn’t 4.7 seconds rather a long time, in computer terms? Even in human terms? I remember being taught in Drivers Ed (yes, I did take it) that human reaction time is 1/30 of a second. NOTE * Also dangerous on Teslas.

UPDATE The Bezzle: “Tesla deaths.xlsx” []. Links for all deaths.

The Bezzle: Happy customers are all alike; every unhappy customer is unhappy in their own way:

In which messes with the wrong customer

— "Elon Says" (@ElonBachman)

The Bezzle: “U.S. Launches Criminal Probe into Bitcoin Price Manipulation” []. “The investigation is focused on illegal practices that can influence prices — such as spoofing, or flooding the market with fake orders to trick other traders into buying or selling, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the review is private. Federal prosecutors are working with the , a financial regulator that oversees derivatives tied to Bitcoin, the people said.” Since , it will be interesting to find out who’s doing the manipulating.

The Bezzle: “The great meal-kit shakeout continues as Kroger plans to buy Home Chef for at least $200 million” []. “Blue Apron’s struggles, in addition to Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, appear to have dissuaded several other smaller players in the space from continuing on a path as an independent business, where distribution typically comes with high customer acquisition costs. Big grocery companies can give these startups a way to reach mass audiences by selling their meals a la carte in brick-and-mortar stores.” So next the groceries bring meal-kits in-house, and that’s the end of this stupid idea, no?

Five Horsemen: “Amazon and Microsoft are at new record highs in late morning trade as the broader market droops” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May 29 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index eased to 61 (complacency) on Friday as new 52-week lows continued to exceed new 52-week highs” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index May 25 2018

Facebook Fracas

“Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and the Regulator’s Dilemma: Clueless or Venal?” []. “I spent nearly four years as director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, where I worked on several hundred enforcement cases…. sometimes I wondered whether the company was simply completely clueless or actually venal. Clueless companies acknowledge that problematic conduct took place, but claim that they were unaware of it, and for that reason they shouldn’t be punished—or, at most, should get a slap on the wrist. Venal companies deny all wrongdoing, no matter how egregious the violation, incontrovertible evidence against them, or the toll exacted on consumers. And like all regulators, I struggled with deciding which was worse—cluelessness or venality…. I didn’t think that Facebook fell into the “venal” category when the FTC first investigated the company . The company seemed to understand that it had pushed too hard to force users to make private data public and was willing (if not happy) to rein in the company’s drive to increase data sharing. But Facebook’s enabling of the Cambridge Analytica campaign suggests that I may have been wrong. Facebook is now a serial offender. And for much of the company’s fourteen-year life span, Facebook has faced justified criticism that it is not candid about the extent to which user data is shared with app developers and other third parties.”

“Zuckerberg set up fraudulent scheme to ‘weaponise’ data, court case alleges” []. “‘Zuckerberg weaponised the data of one-third of the planet’s population in order to cover up his failure to transition Facebook’s business from desktop computers to mobile ads before the market became aware that Facebook’s financial projections in its 2012 IPO filings were false,’ one court filing said.” Big if true.

UPDATE “Facebook is now labeling political ads to try and prevent another Russian situation” []. “The major issue still facing the company, though, is how it will identify issue ads that don’t necessarily endorse a specific candidate but that touch on a wide range of political themes, such as civil rights, immigration, the environment and the military. A lot of the ads purchased by the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm, were ads focused on divisive issues, not specific candidates Facebook is aware of the challenge. ‘Deciding what is or is not a political issue is inherently controversial, and not everyone will agree with our approach,’ the company wrote in a blog post. To figure out what issues to look for, Facebook worked with an outside organization called the . The organization measures ‘trends in policy-making’ globally; it helped Facebook come up with a list of 20 issues to monitor for, including topics like abortion, guns, taxes and civil rights.”

MMT

UPDATE “EPISODE 78: Burn the Debt Clock! with special guest economist Stephanie Kelton” []. It’s good to see Kelton out there on the hustings. It’s not so good to see the front page of ElectaBlog, which bills itself as “the indispensable Michigan politics source,” devoted to the moral panics generated by liberal Democrats from the Beltway. The first Michigan story (““) is from May 9, twenty days ago. Oh well, the “indispensable Michigan” quote is from Maddow.

Gunz

“Gun Control in the Crosshairs: Christian Nationalism and Opposition to Stricter Gun Laws” [Andrew Whitehead Landon Schnabel Samuel Perry, ]. “Using data from a national population-based survey, we show that Christian nationalism is an exceptionally strong predictor of opposition to the federal government enacting stricter gun laws. In fact, of all the variables we considered only general political orientation has more predictive power than Christian nationalism. We propose that the gun control debate is complicated by deeply held moral and religious schemas that discussions focused solely on rational public safety calculations do not sufficiently address.”

Police State Watch

UPDATE “Policing and Gentrification” [Autonomous Tenants Union, ]. “The police — and those happy to call them at every turn — are part of the engine that drives gentrification and, ultimately, displacement…. San Francisco’s Anti-Eviction Mapping Project documented a dramatic increase in arrests and citations for petty misdemeanors in gentrifying black and brown neighborhoods. In the Mission, a historically Latinx neighborhood, 311 complaints about minor infractions increased by 291 percent from 2009 to 2014 as wealthy techies moved in.”

Health Care

UPDATE “Doctors propose new Medicare direct-contracting model” []. Capitation isn’t all that new.

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE “Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?” []. Throwing a flag on the Betteridge’s Law violation; lots of icky detail. “In failing to consistently inform readers of Bezos’s connection to Amazon, the Post is continuing a pattern of not disclosing its owner’s ties to companies at convenient times. Last year, as ride-hailing giant Uber faced increasing scrutiny over a series of scandals, the Post suddenly that Bezos was an early Uber investor.” And Cambridge Analytica couldn’t have done its work without Mechanical Turk, an Amazon product. And on and on and one.

Class Warfare

“Four MIT graduates created a restaurant with a robotic kitchen that cooks your food in three minutes or less” []. “The robotic kitchen serves salad and grain bowls… The only human in the kitchen is the ‘garde manger’ or ‘garnish employee.’ They add your toppings.” The restaurant is named “Spyce,” forsooth.

“You’re Going To Use That Self-Checkout Machine Whether You Like It Or Not” []. “But to a certain degree, the choice is already being made for them. Vankleeck says that at her store, management wants 65 percent of all customers going through self-checkout rather than traditional registers. Since many shoppers dislike the machines, the workers themselves often have to nudge them there ― even if it means siphoning work away from wage-earning cashiers.”

UPDATE “Another Taxi Driver in Debt Takes His Life. That’s 5 in 5 Months” []. “Mr. Chow bought a medallion in 2011, just as Uber was beginning to operate in New York City. By last year, Mr. Chow was realizing that his $700,000 investment was not paying off. He could not afford his daughter’s college education. He could not afford the medical bills after his wife was diagnosed with cancer, Ms. Desai said. Ms. Desai said Mr. Chow went to make a payment on his medallion loan a few days before he went missing. His credit card was declined.” Yeah, well. Creative destruction.

News of The Wired

“How Stanley Kubrick’s Early Photography Influenced His Moviemaking” []. I don’t think the text proves the claim made in the headline

“Mutants and Grotesque Monsters: The Soviet Artist who rebelled against the fall of Communism” []. “Korzhev’s painting developed from the basic propagandist needs of Socialist Realism into a more personal and highly artistic style. His work ranged from the traditional Soviet style to a more Impressionistic studies. Then in later life he progressed towards a highly surreal and almost Bosch-like approach with a series of allegorical works. These attacked the political corruption and folly of the new Russia. They depicted weird parasitic creatures devouring the flesh of citizens and bizarre monsters celebrating their worst excesses. His paintings were disturbing, thought-provoking and radical in their revolt against the new capitalist politics of the time.” Korzhev may remind readers of Goya, as well as Bosch, and possibly Francis Bacon.

Meta at last:

by age 35 you should be 35 years old

— leon (@leyawn)

So how was your weekend? Thread:

You know when you get a press release to cover a Guinness world record attempt for tallest stack of waffles & expect it to be some big commercial thing & then it's just a guy's house? This is SO MUCH BETTER. Follow along, ! Things might get weird!

— Elizabeth Hernandez (@ehernandez)

There’s a lot about America that is, actually, great, already. Events like this!

And to top it all off, brunch:

I kept calling ObamaCare a Rube Goldberg machine for good reason….

* * *

Readers, feel free to me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plan (petal):

petal writes: “This is a trout lily. I found a few of them blooming yesterday evening where I walk my dogs.” As readers know, I encourage dogs. (As to the name, the pattern on the leaves is said to resemble a brook trout’s coloring. )

* * *

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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.

171 comments

    1. Lunker Walleye

      Joseph’s Machines was lots of fun to watch. Thanks for sharing it with us. Re Kubricks’ photography career, I’d like to know how many rolls of film he had to burn through to get a few good shots.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        “I’d like to know how many rolls of film he had to burn through to get a few good shots.”
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        Notice how few ‘professional’ photographers there are now?

        That was their ace in the hole, unlimited amounts of film in order to get ‘the shot’.

        Mere mortals would have grimaced at the idea of turning in 41 rolls of film that cost $600 to develop, but now it’s free.

        Reply
        1. Tom_Doak

          It’s not just film costs that have changed the game, it’s electronic distribution. Today you can just crowdsource the photo you need from hobbyists eager to give their work away. Or, steal a pro photographer’s photo that’s been posted to the web without protection.

          Reply
        2. Lunker Walleye

          I know one pro but he has had to branch out and offer videography and find his own special niche. I’m still an amateur 40 years later. In the 70’s I lived in a tiny apartment with a shower built into a closet where I’d develop Tri-X film in a one-roll plastic developing tank. On the weekend I’d drive to the community college where I worked and spend the day making a sheet and print the best shots. Maybe there would be two decent images on a roll of 36. The day in the darkroom flew by.

          Reply
  1. ambrit

    Ah, the Post Soviet art beat. I’d call that work a cross between Frank Frazetta and George Grosz. Both mentioned artists worked after major wars. Grosz in Weimar Germany after Germany lost WW-1. Frazetta in America after America helped win WW-2..

    Reply
  2. Angie Neer

    Ah, the joys of automation: the camera focused on the leaves in the background instead of the flower. <codger>Back in the old days, we had to mis-focus things by hand.</codger> Still, the subject of the photo is interesting!

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I shouldn’t be viewing photographs on a MacBook Air screen, I guess. (And I am used to tapping on the screen to get the autofocus to focus where I want, a good compromise.)

      But thanks for the tip!

      Reply
    2. petal

      Sorry. It was also raining at the time, and the light was poor due to that and time of day. It was the best I could get. I went back the next day and they were all gone. Thought it was an interesting plant, though, so I sent it in.

      Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    gigantism always strikes me as a bad sign; technology reaching its limits.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Was admiring a particular giant over the weekend, this one was probably 1500 years old and a dozen feet wide @ eye level-with a rakish tilt of about 15 degrees to starboard, and how it never tipped over since about the fall of the Roman Empire will just have to remain a mystery.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Trees do not stay up by balance; they stay up by gripping the ground (remember the riverside Plantidote with most of its roots exposed? Still up.) However, it annoys us, who do use balance, to see them tipped. And when the ground gets really soft, they fall over.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Sequoias not only are rich in vowels, but also benefit from shallow roots that spread out barely underground, like a spider web of sorts.

        Reply
        1. JBird

          They also interlace with the neighbors’ roots. Unless there are no other Redwoods nearby, it’s being helped and helping others. There are some good reasons for some to live over twenty centuries or when the Roman Republic was still going.

          Reply
      2. Lunker Walleye

        Our power was out for 3-1/2 hours this evening. We had a terrible storm here and we held our breath for the 75 foot linden tree which has seen better days. The 7 or so oaks on our lot and the linden were dancing, bobbing and swaying with huge gusts of wind. The poor linden is nearly hollow and a huge limb fell off a couple of years ago. We keep placing bets as to where it is going to fall once it goes down.

        Reply
  4. Matthew G. Saroff

    They use 2 stroke engines on container ships?

    Speaking from my experience with smaller but still large engines (3000-6000 kw for locomotives, where EMD had to abandon its 2-stroke diesels), I think that environmental regs may require the replacement of those engines sooner, rather than later, particularly at places like Long Beach, where (entirely justifiable) accusations of environmental racism are becoming more common.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I read the article and then read a little way into the comment thread. It took only 7 comments for commenter ” d” to lay bare a very major point in one paragraph of a longer several-point comment. I will copy-paste the one to-my-mind crucial paragraph. And here it is.

      “It is Calculated that Maritime Shipping puts out more pollution than Germany, annual. How much of that is so Corprates can save on labour costs, by exporting jobs to dirty china and india.”

      If we had ten times less cross-ocean trade than we have now, we could have ten times less ships with ten times less 2-stroke bunker-fuel-burning diesel engines than we have now. And we would have ten times less ocean-trade-shipping-caused pollution, including greenhouse gas pollution, than we have now.

      The near-abolition of cross-ocean trade will be a necessary part of any global de-warming effort. But I don’t demand anyone believe me on that. I suggest just waiting and watching. If International Free Trade is not stamped out, then watch those transocean marine engines just keep polluting more and more and more. If International Free Trade is permitted to keep existing and yet the rising tide of marine engines starts polluting less and less and less, then you all ( or your descendants) can laugh at me all you ( or your descendants) like for how wrong I was.

      Reply
  5. ambrit

    About Stanley Kubricks’ photography career, well, we can all say the obvious. Every director has to learn how the camera is going to portray the subject. It isn’t often what is in the directors’ minds’ eye, is it.
    Another director who started out doing big city still photography was Ken Russell. He ended up the quintessential “mad genius” as well.
    I’ll hazard the guess that what one learns through still photography is form and composition. In that regard, Kurosawa was famous for doing his own storyboards. He had been exposed to European Impressionist and Expressionist art by his parents. Not the usual thing in pre-war Japan, I’ve read.
    On Kurosawa:
    On Russell:
    On Fellini:

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      This is hardly a new thesis and some might say that photography was the aspect of movies that Kubrick was most interested in. Several of his later movies have a techie hook–special effects in 2001, available light photog in Barry Lyndon, steadicam in The Shining–or have a photography reference (to Japanese cameras in Strangelove or there’s that stolen Nikon in Full Metal Jacket). To say he was a photographer’s director would probably, to Kubrick, have been high praise.

      BTW Ambrit my county library has just announced free streaming of foreign movies and US documentaries via Kanopy. Perhaps yours does as well. The Kanopy website says it works on Roku, Android, Apple and later Windows. They have a Chrome browser app but unclear whether it works on Linux.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        This looks good. Our local library is not on the list. I ‘sponsored’ it, but I might have to go down there tomorrow and do some politicking in favour of ‘freedom of expression.’ (This is not the most broad minded group of people.) This is the town that had exactly one protestor for Occupy when that was a going concern. So, YMMV.
        Thanks for the heads up. A cause for which to struggle!

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Presumably the library has to pay somehow for patron use as they do with e-books so it may depend on their finances. I know that at least one other county in my state is doing this–haven’t heard of any others.

          We have a very excellent library. All political stripes seem to support it

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Last time we were in NZ, I watched the Dunedin bookmobile drive by, and wistfully it brought me back to the late 60’s, and talking to my mom awhile ago, she told me that the ‘librarian’ on board, related that our family were the best customers.

            That said, there’s ample reason we can’t have nice things now, such as bookmobiles.

            Reply
            1. crittermom

              Actually, they still exist in the US. A bookmobile comes to town once a month in the area I moved from last year, here out west. Poor, rural area, where the towns are 22 miles apart on average (the distance a stagecoach traveled in a day, I’m told) & no libraries.
              Local folks look forward to it & use it.

              Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Shooting movies after doing still photography is very tricky; you tend to stop at the wrong moment. In stills, you want the peak moment; in film, you want the action to complete, or you get strange, frustrating connotations.

      At one point, I was filming a waterspout, decorated with girl, and kept stopping at the peak of the spout. Wound up with unintentional overtones. Granted, it may have been what I was thinking…

      You’re right about form and composition, but action is another matter.

      Reply
  6. Jim Haygood

    I love starting my summer reading with some gripping public pension doom porn:

    A simulation using a fixed 5 percent return scenario and assuming sustainable budget contributions shows New Jersey’s’s pension fund assets would decline at an accelerated rate until reaching zero by the end of 2029.

    Once insolvent, future benefit payments for the plans would be directly paid out of employee contributions, the lottery revenues newly dedicated towards the pension funds, and the state’s budget. This would increase the state’s annual cost from about $5 billion in 2029 to almost $7 billion in 2030, the first year of projected insolvency.

    Furthermore, from 2018 to 2028 alone, reported pension debt in this scenario would balloon from $56 billion to $101 billion.

    No worries — New Jersey’s victims will still get their Social Security … until it hits the wall in 2034.

    Carpe diem, comrades — that’s what our leaders do.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Do our bloghosts agree that Social Security will hit the wall in 2034? Or do they disagree with that for analytical evidence-based reasons?

      If they disagree with that, do they think you are merely mistaken? Or do they think you are making stuff up?

      If they think you are making stuff up, one wonders how long you will retain your exemption from being cautioned for “making stuff up”.

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        Social Security Trustees Report, 2017:

        ‘Combined OASI and DI Trust Fund reserves diminish until they become depleted in 2034.’

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We can pay the Social Security shortfall from the federal government’s budget, perhaps the portion for the CIA or military.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            {Form Letter to the MIC & CIA}

            “As you may have heard, Social Security will run out of money sooner than later, and if you don’t mind, we’d like to strip out your budget to better help the citizenry that dutifully paid into the scheme, if that’s alright with you?”

            Regards,

            …the Federal Government

            Reply
          2. david

            We can pay the shortfall with money printed by the treasury.

            No need to raise taxes or take it from elsewhere.

            Would be good stimulus.

            Reply
          3. neo-realist

            Take the shortfall out of the black budget for “The Company” or what would otherwise be tax cuts for the 1%.

            Reply
          4. The Rev Kev

            I have heard that one section of the CIA is willing to come up with as much money as required. The Counterfeit Division said just to let them know how much is needed.

            Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          The reserves are exactly supposed to be depleted in 2034. The entire theory behind the Great Reagan Rescue was that the Boomers who were going to retire in a big bankrupting surge should have to pre-pay twice as much as before and that money would be saved into the Trust Fund and paid back out to the old Boomers till they died. The Fund will deplete just when the last Boomer dies, and then SS is back to pay-in-pay-out.

          I believe that when you call that “hitting the wall”, that you are consciously making things up, because you are smart enough to understand exactly what I have written before about the Great Reagan Rescue and the Trust Fund. If our hosts think you are sincerely misunderstanding all this, then I don’t see why they would break in to say anything. But if they think you are smart enough to know that you are making things up with this so-called “interpretation” of yours about Social Security, then I suppose they will decide whether you have their special unspoken permission to keep making things up on this subject, or whether they will break in to caution you about this. That is, of course, no one’s decision but theirs.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            Thank you for flagging the stuff that Mr.Haygood always omits from his Chicken Little-Give The Money to Wall Street squibs.

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Thank you for the kind words. If other people understand the unsaid stuff consistently and always omitted from all these types of anti Social Security pro Wall Street statements, hopefully those other people will also respond by saying the unsaid stuff every time the “Social Security will hit the wall” canard is repeated.

              Reply
      2. Grumpy Engineer

        He’s not making it up. 2034 is the year the Social Security Trust Fund is projected to be depleted, at which point the SSA will have the legal authority to pay only about 80% of normal benefits. You can read the gory details here:

        Of course, it’s worth noting that the Trust Fund actually doesn’t contain any real economics assets, like real estate or shares of stock. instead, it contains only special federal government bonds, which the SSA redeems regularly in exchange for payments from the government’s general fund. When when the SSA runs out of bonds to keep benefits intact, the government could simply continue sending money from the general fund even if bonds aren’t redeemed.

        Right now this can’t happen under federal law, but I predict that Congress will fold after a single month of reduced benefits and permanently back-fill any Social Security shortfall with general funds.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The Trust Fund is suPPOSED to be depleted. The only reason it was ever built up to begin with by pre-charging the Boomers double the FICA rate as before was so the Boomers could be paid back out of that Fund and that Fund would die when the last Boomer died.

          Reply
        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Thieu’s multistory presidential palace in Saigon, beautifully preserved as the Reunification Palace, also happens to be the finest museum of pricy 1960s kitsch since Graceland. A must see when in HCMC!

          Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      SS is a transfer payment, not a savings account. The “fund” was Greenspan’s idea, and essentially a con.

      Any payments from the “fund” come from the federal budget, not from SS taxes.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Just because Greenspan designed it from the very start to be a con does not mean we have to accept being conned. The double-FICA tax money we paid and are paying into it is real money . . . by which I mean real monetized work-per-unit-time multiplied by all the time-units over which I and every other FICA payer performed that work.

        Any payments to ANY Federal Treasury Debt Instrument come from the federal budget. That includes both the genuinely-legal-obligational Treasury Debt Instruments which are held in the Fund as well as any and every other Federal Treasury Debt Instrument. If the SS Fund Treasury Debt Instruments are to be defaulted on and zero-redeemed or paid back upon, then let every single Treasury Debt Instrument of every sort and size be equally defaulted on and zero-redeemed or paid back upon.

        The answer is to restore all the missing taxes against the upper class and the overclass starting soonest, since it is our SS Trust Fund money which was post-embezzled to them in the form of “tax cuts”.

        Reply
    3. Louis

      No worries — New Jersey’s victims will still get their Social Security … until it hits the wall in 2034.

      That depends on the pension system–the way PERA works in a lot of places is you pay into PERA instead of Social Security, so if you PERA gets cut, you are out of luck.

      Reply
  7. Jason Boxman

    On self checkout, the CVS pharmacy here in Somerville, has 3 checkout kiosks and only ever 1 person at the register up front. Occasionally, I see the self checkout machines locked or otherwise in need of an attendant.

    At the small Target, in Central Sq in Cambridge, there are 4 self checkouts, with usually only 1 person at the register as well. That person also handles returns, exchanges, and online order pickups. The Target machines seem pretty good, although when the store first opened that were extremely uselessly slow.

    At the bFresh grocery also here in Somerville, Davis Sq, they actually have 12 self checkout machines, and 3 registers that are usually fully staffed. Almost no one waits for the registers. Even I’ve succumbed and self checkout, even when I buy a bunch of produce. I can’t say it’s much slower than having a person do it for me; the machines also work well and I rarely see one that’s broken.

    The audible warning to take my credit card out is always annoying, as is being told by the machine what to do. It’s very vocal and commands you to put your vegetables on the scale, or take your items from the scale, and so forth. Certainly not relaxing.

    Not having a line to wait in eliminates one avenue for meeting people. Everyone gets down to business at the self checkout, so there’s certainly no socializing. It’s not uncommon to see people wearing earbuds in the store, so that makes socialization a challenge anyway. That’s really an issue throughout Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville though.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I never use the self-checkout as i’m not eager to embrace the future of AI, and it seems like it’d be easy to switch barcodes from an expensive item to a cheaper one, I wonder how they police that?

      Reply
      1. marieann

        I agree and never use the self checkouts. I am not paid to learn how to run a checkout. My husband embraced then with enthusiasm until they changed all the procedures a few weeks ago, he is done with them now.
        I think it would be very easy to alter the price at a self checkout and I guess the increased losses will just be added to the price of the items.

        Reply
      2. John Zelnicker

        @Wukchumni
        May 29, 2018 at 3:10 pm
        ——
        What I have seen at the Walmart where I get my groceries, is that one or two employees roam the front of the store helping people, verifying age for liquor, and sort of spot checking that people are scanning everything. Also, the platform where you bag your stuff weighs each item you put down after you scan it. It will not allow you to continue if the weight doesn’t match the item scanned.

        Reply
    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Self-checkout is just the first stage. At Home Depot, it’s getting closer and closer to “unpack the pallets” because that’s the only way you’ll get through the aisle to the product you want. No doubt, with “unload the truck” is not far behind.

      It all started with “bus your own table” at McDonald’s.

      I like Roseanne’s idea: slip one item through without scanning per trip as payment for your forced labor.

      Reply
      1. Louis

        I like Roseanne’s idea: slip one item through without scanning per trip as payment for your forced labor.

        This is also known as shoplifting and like may shoplifters you try to rationalize stealing as being somehow okay or different.

        Reply
        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Shoplifting? Really? Since I become a short term contract employee of the Mega Corp running the scanner, surely it would be larceny or embezzlement?

          Speaking of EULAs, check the comment guidelines.

          Reply
          1. Aumua

            Unfortunately, it is true that petty thieves have justified their behavior with exactly the same kinds of arguments for a long time. I did it myself for many years.

            Reply
        2. witters

          Right, even when a starving slave takes an apple it is stealing. Fair or not, it is stealing! And stealing trumps fairness… And if you let them remunerate themselves for forced unpaid labor, well that is stealing and it trumps fairness too…

          Reply
            1. JTMcPhee

              Yah, rich folks steal whole COUNTRIES.

              Pity poor Jean Valjean, and his stolen loaf of bread to his sister’s starving children. EVIL MAN (OR WOMAN), THAT”S SHOPLIFTING!!!HOW DARE YOU EVEN SUGGEST IT? say the stiff-collar churchgoing people who nudge on their tax forms, do a BMW rolling stop at the stop sign or none at all, use their 300 mph yard blowers to blast the dog and cat poop and chewing gum wrappers and cuttings from their holy yard plantings either onto the neighbor’s lawn (a trespass, at common law and in statue in a lot of places) or into the public rights of way and thence into the public storm sewers (a public nuisance, one might opine…)

              But of course we live in a Great Nation Founded Onm The PrincipleThat Property Trumps All (see today’s post about the use of hyper-policing to drive the deplorable unworthiness out of ‘gentrifying’ areas, where the new residents are the worst and most grasping hypocrites, credentialed special folks working for Uber or Google or Faceborg or one of the many other looting concerns.

              Reply
        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          If people are stealing items from stores with hu-manned checkout lines, that is shoplifting. If people are stealing items from stores with forced robo-self-checkout unpaid work imposition kiosks, then that may be sabotage and rebellion. Especially if it is done by enough shoppers at the same time, and done in the spirit of either torturing the store into closing the self-check kiosks or driving the store into roach-motel liquidation so that all the customers are forced to go to other stores which still have human checkers. If mass kiosk-spoofing “shoplifting” is done massively enough to force that result ( ” go back or go broke”), then I strongly support the effort even if I am too scared to take part in it myself.

          And of course for now my passive obstructive resistance takes the form of only shopping where human checkers cash me out. And since I consider shoplifting from stores with real live human checkers to yes-indeed be stealing, I don’t do it. And I won’t do it as long as those stores don’t try stealing time and work from me by forcing me to check myself out through a robo-kiosk. ( And if the robo-kiosks come to my stores, and I feel too survielled to perform sabotage-by-shoplifting, then I will at least feign bitter outrage every time I “discover” yet again that there are no human checkers. And I will walk away from my filled cart in a sullen huff. Or maybe I will play the good citizen and offer to put everything back myself. And then put everything back in all the wrong places).

          Reply
    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Home Depot, at least the ones around me, are moving on to the next stage after pushing self-checkout on anyone who’d like to avoid a 15 minute wait in line. The aisles are so clogged with unloaded pallets that customers who want to get to their products will have to consider unpacking and shelving the items on the pallets. Next up: unload the trucks to find items the website claims are in stock but have not yet made it to the shelves.

      Roseanne had the right idea: slip an item through without scanning per trip. Hey, why not a little self-help remedy when you’re forced to work without pay?

      Reply
      1. sierra7

        Wouldn’t recommend slipping by one item each shopping trip on self-scanners to “….pay for your forced labor”. Anti-Shoplifting scanners at the exits will ensnare you with a loud screeeeeeech!!!!! As each bar-code is scanned and the transaction is finished the bar-codes scanned are “cleared” for exit. Is that the police I hear coming?
        As far as Home Depot goes and it’s customer services it just plain stinks! Lowe’s is getting just as bad.
        I will here in the West prefer an Ace Hardware any day of the week.

        Reply
    4. ambrit

      I’d say that the loud and annoying mechanical voice at the self checkout is a feature, designed to move the customers along faster. It goes along with the anti-teenager sound machines and the really nerve wracking automobile sirens and lots more that we don’t really want to think about. (If we did think about it, we’d realize that we are in a sonic version of the frog boiling pot.)
      Do notice the ‘approved’ venues these social control cues are allowed in, and where they are prohibited.
      When we lived out in the woods in Louisiana, we had a neighbour who liked to ‘ruffle’ feathers. Once he put some light aircraft landing lights on a rack on top of his redneck(TM) truck. Several nights, when behind us, on the road, he’d flash those hundred thousand candlepower things on. To say that they were blinding would be an understatement. The locals were getting fed up. Someone went to the local cop, (singular,) and complained. There are laws regulating lights on vehicles, and different rules for public and private uses. The private light show was cancelled for the rest of the season. Those aircraft lights ended up on top of a Volunteer Fire Department truck.

      Reply
      1. Daryl

        Here in hick Texas, I always seem to end up driving home in the dark in front of these people. They get super bright aftermarket headlights, and then they aren’t adjusted properly so they’re often right in my eyes as I drive a regular car and everyone else, of course, drives a truck or SUV. Insanity.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          At one point, our girls, who were pre-teen at the time, had some fun for awhile with mirrors. They’d wait for one of those super bright headlight idiots to pull in behind us and then have fun trying to reflect the light back into the offending drivers eyes.
          I made the mistake of trying to put a stop to it by telling them that they might cause an accident.
          “Oh cool!” was the simultaneous reply.

          Reply
        2. Amfortas the Hippie

          while I can see the benefits of such devices, re: deer, or black cows all over the road…yes…I almost never drive at night, and take dirt roads when possible.
          it’s not just the redneck hunting lights, anymore…it’s the led and halogen and whatever those purple-ish ones are, that come standard.
          that, the general decline in manners.
          what happened to the car-length scale,lol?
          I usually punish such people by taking my foot off the gas and creeping along.
          Of course, one such punishee turned out to be the deputy sheriff. his boss got an earful as soon as I got home.
          where in Texas are you, neighbor?
          I’m in the NW Hill Country.

          Reply
          1. Daryl

            Rural exurb of Houston. Will be driving past you on the way to better climes for the summer soon though — I will wave as I go by. :)

            Reply
    5. Kurtismayfield

      We are just doing more work for a corporation that refuses to pay it’s people to do it. I do my own banking now, I have to do everything online for the state, and I refuse to say “Just ship it” because the delivery people are getting screwed. How many more hours of my time do I have to donate to corporations?

      Reply
    6. Summer

      They are about to start charging fees for using the human cashier lines and most likely leave humans to service the high income areas.
      Bet….
      The continued income stratification of service industry.

      Low income – deal with an unaccountable bots and automation
      High income – have a human deal with the bots and automation for you

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        You may have that backwards. These days there seems to be a lot more retail competition at the low end of the income scale than the high end. The lowest price grocery stores in my neck of the woods–Lidl and Aldi–are the ones that don’t have self checkout (Walmart grocery being the outlier). Meanwhile the well heeled will probably be paying with their iPhones. We have a tony new outdoor eatery downtown that says “no cash accepted.” Apparently in Sweden–not a poor country–cash is a thing of the past. It’s all getting very robotic.

        Reply
      2. Kurtismayfield

        Don’t forget the constant surveillance for your trouble. Last time I was in Target the kiosks took your photo.

        Reply
    7. Norello

      I wonder if there is a regional difference in the willingness to accept self check outs. Around where I live on Long Island people will wait on a long line for a cashier or walk out of the store and go somewhere else instead of using self checkout.

      The manager of a stop and shop in that article is referring to the same local store I occasionally walk to. It’s not uncommon for people in that store to demand they get another cashier to open a new line or walk out of the store and go somewhere else. I’ve seen that store have two lines of seven people for cashiers while there was an empty self checkout. Their customers are more likely being nudged to another store instead of self check outs. The better run grocery stores in the area all know this and do not have self check outs.

      If people at corporate headquarters forcing these decisions had any practical experience they wouldn’t operate this way. While the issue of self check out is a trivial annoyance it comes off as a symptom of a larger societal problem of incompetence and managements hatred of their workers.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        That’s what I would do. If they refused to open another humanned checkout line, I would leave my full cart behind for the store to pay its employees to put the stuff back away.

        Reply
      2. JBird

        And this is why I don’t go to Safeway anymore. The confusing pricing, the excessive overcharging for not using their discount card, the lack of help, and virtual disappearance of manned checkouts. I don’t like paying the store with my mind, time and energy to do their work and it’s not fun seeing the beaten look of the store employees.

        Reply
        1. Aumua

          It’s funny cause Safeway around here has no self checkouts, but most of the other grocery stores do. It’s some kind of regional thing. Safeway however has recently been gutted of a lot of things I used to buy there. “warehouse issues” are always cited when I ask about it. I’ve also heard that the recent buyout by Albertson’s has something to do with it. Come to find out that a firm is behind the deal. Quelle surprise.

          Reply
    8. Jeremy Grimm

      If I am forced to go through self-checkout when I go to buy something I’ll go to that store far less often, buy much less, and I already feel an urge to start shuffling products around to different shelves.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Like perhaps putting frozen goods in the merely-cool meat/dairy display counters so they slowly melt down? Or like putting cold liquids in the frozen containers where they can freeze and burst-rupture their containers through the magic of water expanding as it freezes?

        Reply
  8. pretzelattack

    fwiw dept roseanne show just got cancelled for an admittedly offensive tweet about valerie jarrett.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my Trump-hating friends was just crowing about this. And then I reminded him that similarly offensive things were said about Lincoln.

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      That’s cancelled by CBS. Expect to see the show on another channel next year. If it makes money, someone will air it. I mean, look at Robot Chicken, for Dogs sake!

      Reply
    3. Kevin

      she always has the National Anthem singing gig to fall back on, but I rather she fall back into a deep dark hole.

      Reply
      1. roxy

        I think I heard that the new Roseanne show was supposed to go only one season, and the final episode was last week. ABC renewed it for a second season because it was a hit. I think Roseanne just wants to go back to her macadamia nut farm and chose this method to do it.

        Reply
  9. drumlin woodchuckles

    I like to think, or at least hope, that various DemParty operatives and other big wheels and operators read this blog and the threads just to keep up with a certain sector of sentiment out here in the field. If they did so, they might find interesting things that people no longer have the patience to try writing directly to any DemParty person or office.

    In that spirit, here’s hoping that Senator Warren has someone reading these threads. It is good that Senator Warren accepts that sometimes she has to fight and win on Trump’s choice of battlefield. I hope she can win by making him lose this particular zero-sum battle. Trump’s “Pocahantas” slur is an example of the “verbal kill-shot” technique which Scott Adams worshipfully praised Trump for using a long time ago. Adams celebrated it as one of Trump’s brain-grabbing discussion diverting-and-re-directing techniques. Perhaps Warren can use the same method against Trump. Perhaps she can begin referring to Trump as “Trashy” Trump every single time she mentions his name. She can use it in every speech, in every reply to a newperson’s question, in every Tweet she sends out. Perhaps she can get the title “Trashy” attached to the name “Trump”. Perhaps she can get under his skin and get him acting nastier and nastier and nastier. And each time he does, she can say, “That’s our Trashy Trump” or “there goes Trashy Trump again”.

    Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Yes. He is known to be very sensitive. It is certainly worth a try. That is why I offer the Scott Adamsian verbal-kill-shot “Trashy Trump” to the Warren team, in case they want to use it.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          All he hears is somebody talking about him-not that it’s an insult,
          and that’s what a narcissist gets off on.

          Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      The problem with that tactic is it exhausts all the political oxygen on an irrelevancy — personalities. For a president whose party controls Congress and is based on doing nothing (or as little as possible), this is fine.

      It is not fine for a “party” that doesn’t control anything, and whose oligarch owners also insist that they do nothing (or as little as possible) even if they did have power.

      And it is definitely not fine for the small rump of that party which is actually committed to doing something if they had power. (Emphasis on *small*) That faction, if it wishes to grow in influence and eventually take power, must pivot to its own “talking points”, and not get conned by distractions.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Trump uses personalities as a battlefield and a set of weapons systems. So it is not an irrelevancy where Trump is concerned. Scott Adams explained that in his articles about Trump.

        Reply
        1. Big River Bandido

          Yes, he uses distractions as weapons — and more effectively than any of his predecessors. He himself is a distraction. But attempting to parry each and every one of these blows is a wasted effort, like attempting to respond point-by-point to a Gish Gallop argument. On top of that, his political ideologies (neoliberalism and neoconservativism) are fully consistent with minimal activity.

          Tactics like these are not at all effective for challengers, who must draw attention to their vision —  why their ideas for change are better than what the incumbent can provide. That assumes, of course, that the challenging party actually has ideas, as opposed to just phony “proposals”.

          Reply
    2. Arizona Slim

      At Harvard, Elizabeth Warren was called Socrates with a Machine Gun. So, I think she would be able to carry out this mission.

      Reply
    3. MK

      Even if she (and every other pol) did, it wouldn’t matter. Rubio & Cruz tried something similar during the primaries. Trashy Trump with his small hands would still be throwing that slur at her until she does something to shut down the whole thing altogether.

      AS in, she really should release her 23&me results to shut it down 100%. Not that she should be forced to, but rather to really set up the counter-offensive, perhaps when she announces her run.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Trump would just call it “fake results”. He lives in a fact-free world. Scott Adams celebrates him for it.

        Warren and her strategists and tacticians will do what they think best regardless. I merely offer the verbal head-shot/kill-shot “Trashy Trump” in case they think it can be used . . . . weaponised . . . disseminated . . . . viralized.

        If not, then not.

        Reply
    4. JohnnySacks

      But that, along with making simple, exciting promises to provide things people want and need, regardless of ability to provide, would be counter-intuitive to learning a lesson from the tactics used by the guy who just ate your lunch. And besides: “When they go low, we go high!” Can you feel the wins yet?

      Reply
    5. djrichard

      The idea is to swiftboat somebody. Go after their greatest strength and make it instead a weakness. And I think this also requires a claiming of authority when it comes to such branding. It can even be fictitious authority, along the lines of, “who you gonna believe? Me or your lyin eyes?”. But some kind of authority.

      In the case of John Kerry his branding was that he was a war hero. Which was a particular weakness for GWB. So get some troops to write an “authorative” book that says the opposite.

      In the case of Sen Warren, presumably a large part of her brand is honesty. Therefore re-brand her as being dishonest. So it makes sense for her to engage the Native American community to give her more authoritive support in any particular claims regarding that community.

      In the case of Trump, his greatest strength is his populism, especially in comparison to the lack of populism in the democratic candidates (excluding Bernie). So you need a way to call into question Trump’s bonafides as being a populist. Not only that, but the attack vector has to come from somebody who has claims to authority in that area, i.e. somebody who can at least masquerade at representing populist authority. Well the dems can do better than that, they have an actual bonafide populist in the form of Bernie Sanders. Sanders will be needed big time to fight this fight; he’ll be needed to double and triple down on his messaging to drown out the messaging that’s coming from Trump.

      Question is, will Bernie be the actual candidate running against Trump? Or will he simply be a proxy for the candidate running against Trump. If it’s the latter, then Bernie is on the battle field simply to neutralize Trump on his bonafides when it comes to populism, to let the candidate win in some other area of debate. For instance, once populism is taken off the table, that positions a democratic candidate who can win on the battlefield of identitarian politics say, or some other battlefield.

      But if I’m the electorate, I want to elect the guy who wins the title fight – who can claim the populist throne. I don’t want to elect the person who wins the undercard fights. So from that perspective, I think they’ll need to have Bernie run. And then give him a VP that can be the “laying on of hands” by Bernie (just to address questions of what happens if Bernie needs to step down due to age).

      It’ll be interesting to see how Russia plays in all this. It shouldn’t play hardly at all I would think.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I’d Swiftboat the reign of error in 2020, but in a Jonathon variant. Make glorious fun of the one thing he adores, funds.

        Reply
  10. 3.14e-9

    I don’t think the text proves the claim made in the headline

    I’m convinced that headline writers don’t read past the first graf. Even so, I’m not sure you could describe in words how Kubrick’s early photography influenced his choices as a director, without showing photos alongside frames from his films. We did some of that in film school, Kubrick being the obvious choice for showing how the principles of photography translate to film (which, after all, is moving pictures). Another good example was Toland’s work in Citizen Kane.

    What made more of an impression on me with Kubrick, though, wasn’t just how he framed shots, but what was in the frame. Nothing was there by accident. He was obsessive down to the smallest detail.

    Reply
  11. Big River Bandido

    Lambert, thanks to you for providing some links a few weeks ago on the wave of teacher strikes. As a disgruntled AFT member, I’ve been following this issue with great (self-)interest, and WSWS has excellent coverage, by far the best I’ve seen anywhere. So thank you for those links.

    Today WSWS has an interesting item that gives . Included in this: while San Diego teachers are not quite ready to strike (only 88% supported a strike in a vote last week), this number could likely grow by September. And what better time for a teacher’s strike than the first week of school?

    The last few days have also seem some interesting items on labor actions in protest of “austerity” measures: strikes by truckers in Brazil, whose blockade is aimed right at the heart of the corrupt, illegitimate, neoliberal administration, and .

    I say, more of this please. Strikes have messy consequences. But they are a powerful, powerful weapon — and to keep them sharp, they must be used.

    Reply
    1. Huey Long

      All NYC building trades unions are rallying weekly at Columbus Circle on Tuesdays at 3:30pm and 6AM Thursdays at 34th and 10th. The purpose of these rallies is to stop the open shop model for phase 2 of Related’s massive Hudson Yards development on the far west side of Manhattan.

      Related is shutting certain unions out of phase 2 and has brought in notorious non-union contractor Gilbane to build 55 Hudson Yards.

      All NC’ers are welcome to join us at the rallies.

      More info:

      Reply
        1. Huey Long

          Unfortunately they do not, even though Related is building over and on land they are leasing from the MTA, a state agency.

          Reply
      1. Huey Long

        The closest we ever came to a true general strike in the US of A was back in 1945-46:

        Then congress passed Taft-Hartley over Truman’s veto and its been downhill ever since for labor in the United States

        Reply
      2. ambrit

        Sooner or later, enough people are going to be without work, and thus available for strike actions.

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          worked for the bonus army, till macarthur came in. i worry that would be one of the possible outcomes, but if things keep going the way they are, well, the choices will be limited.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            I’ve read quite a bit on the Bonus Army, and one thing that is striking is how few guns were utilized by the veterans & civilians numbering 43,000, when MacArthur, Patton and Eisenhower came to roust them out.

            I’d suggest the outcome to a similar saga would be a wee bit different.

            Reply
          2. Wukchumni

            p.s.

            The Canadian variant of the Bonus Army in 1935 was called:

            It never made it to Ottawa, they were rousted in Regina by PM R.B. Bennett’s thugs in the guise of the RCMP, and went no further.

            Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      I must have transcribed the link to the Brazilian truckers’ strike story incorrectly. .

      Reply
    3. Richard

      We struck in Seattle at the beginning of the year, in 2015. It worked very well for organizing potential community support and just being able to give parents good advance notice.
      Any AFT member would have to be a disgruntled AFT member; I feel the same way about the Dem lovin’ WEA, who endorsed,Clinton IN THE PRIMARY. That was so considerate and also so representative of their actual members, that hurling the WEA leadership over a cliff, in a woven straw basket, is definitely not something I would endorse.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        Yes, that is just one of my reasons for being disgruntled. The national AFT also endorsed Clinton — before the primaries, without ever bothering to ask their own members. Then there’s Randi Weingarten’s email to John Podesta promising to “go after” the nurses’ union once Clinton was elected. And then there’s her attempts to stifle teacher’s strikes post-West Virginia, all in the name of getting Democrats elected. Rah, yay.

        One thing I love about WSWS is that the national presidents of the NEA and AFT are always identified, respectively, as “National Education Secretary Lily Eskelsen Garcia (salary $348,000)” and “AFT President Randi Weingarten (salary $497,300)”.

        Reply
  12. allan

    From “The Right-Wing Millennial Machine”:

    While some left-leaning think tanks do offer paid internships and fellowships, they tend to be less generous. EMILY’s List, for example, offers a stipend of “up to $300 per month, dependent on schedule,” but no housing. … The New America Foundation offers course credits to its interns, which means they may actually be paying to work. …

    If only New America to allow them to pay interns a living wage
    not charge interns for the privilege of putting New America on their résumés.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps ten million non-wealthy Sanderbackers could send periodic tiny donations to New America ( for example) so that New America (for example) could provide decent-paying opportunities for this sort of internship.

      Reply
  13. Wukchumni

    I’d speculate that diamonds are the most overpriced thing in the world, and now that DeBeers is selling man-made lab-grown ones for 1/10th of what natural carbon diamonds cost, aren’t they going to bring the price down in a hurry on the latter?

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      No.

      One has to differentiate between gem quality, and industrial use. Man made diamonds are generally industrial diamonds. Industrial diamonds are good for Grinding, and easily obtainable at a Home Depot near you.

      Gems – Are different, in many many way$

      Gem quality > 0.25 Carat, SI. (approx)

      I knew noting of diamonds, my wife educated me.

      Her taste is > 0.5 Carat, VVS2.

      Best I’ve ever seen

      Carat 2, D Color, VVS1.

      No I did not buy it.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Man made diamonds used to be produced for industrial use, but these new knockoffs pass the smell test. The previous usurper was something called moissanite, and was pretty good quality, so much so that if put into an antique jewelry setting, it could fool experts occasionally.

        I’d advise your wife to sell her baubles now before the market collapses and indulge in some other sparkly trinkets not in a carbon vein.

        Reply
        1. drexciya

          Oddly, things have turned around, and nowadays, “ugly” diamonds, such as colored diamonds, which used to be “bad”, are seen as good. That’s because you cannot artificially create colored diamonds yet.

          Reply
  14. BoyDownTheLane

    Let me know when Elizabeth Warren takes up the cause of the rape of Native American women [see the movie Wind River]; otherwise, she’s another politician using people like the other ones.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      ‘Is She In Two Worlds’ (a shout out to a most important book on a sole Californian Indian)

      Reply
  15. DonCoyote

    “I remember being taught in Drivers Ed (yes, I did take it) that human reaction time is 1/30 of a second.”

    Sorry, I spent way too many years in grad school measuring reaction time (RT, not to be confused with )
    to let this one pass.

    1/30th of a second would only hold for (sensory to spinal cord to motor neuron, no thought required), i.e. jerk you hand away from the hot stove burner when you touch it. I think even for that 1/30 second is a bit fast, but meh. Recognizing a bicyclist at night is probably not a reflex arc.

    , depending on modality, gender, and individual difference (and you could argue, per Pavlov, this is still a learned reflex, so there is “minimal” thinking involved). And there is this quote: “The more complex the response individuals have to perform, the slower their reaction time will be, suggesting that a more complex answer requires more cognitive activity and, therefore, an inherently longer reaction time.” So probably this is still an unreasonable expectation for “as good as human” performance for recognizing a bicyclist at night.

    My graduate work involved , definitely a more complex text, and it typically took people (well, mostly undergraduate college students) 1/2 – 2/3 seconds. Now we are probably somewhere in the right ballpark for expected/required timeframe–i.e., categorizing a visual stimulus as something requiring braking vs not-braking is going to take some travel time (from eyeballs in the front of the brain to the primary visual cortex in the occipital lobe in the back of the brain), some processing of the images (picking out object borders, etc) and then categorization, before action (braking) can be initiated.

    This is not to defend Uber and its algorithms. >4 seconds for a categorization is way too long for anything involved driving (even @ 30 miles/hour, 4 seconds = 176 feet). If the algorithm can’t make a decision in four seconds, it shouldn’t be out on the road. And the second part of the article (that emergency braking was turned off) suggests exactly that–they had to turn it off, because it was being deployed “too often”.

    So let’s put this in . In any given “situation” (whether defined as an actual road situation or some timeslice, say every 30th of a second), the algorithm can decide to brake or not brake (it can also decide to do other things: accelerate, turn, etc., but let’s keep it simple for now). And brake or not brake can turn out to be the right decision or the wrong decision:

    ______________________REALITY_________
    Algorithm______Brake_____________Not-Brake

    Brake_________Correct “Hit”___False Positive

    Not-Brake_____False Negative_____Correct “Miss”

    (Apologies if that didn’t render well. the algorithm’s decisions are the rows, reality is the columns). A False Positive means the algorithm hit the brakes when it didn’t need to. A False Negative means it didn’t hit the brakes when it should have (Oops).

    Now of course, the algorithm will almost certainly return a “probability”, e.g. a number from 0 to 1: the closer the number is to 0, is not braking, the closer it is to 1 then braking (again, you can make it more complex by applying “some” brakes for certain ranges, but let’s keep it simple).

    So the article explicitly says that emergency braking was “turned off” because the system was returning too many False Positives–that is, it was incorrectly categorizing the situation as a braking situation (and an “immediate” braking situation) when it was not.

    Now Uber must have known that turning emergency braking off was a temporary fix (, it may work for a little while during beta testing). So here’s where the speculation starts: was Uber deliberately raising the “cut point” between braking and non-braking situations to try to cut down on False Positives? E.g. imagine the algorithm has to be 99% sure it was a braking situation to brake, and some Uber programmer said “Well, what happens if it has to be 99.5% sure? Let’s try it.” Well, sure, you will decrease False Positives. But you will increase False Negatives. And in this case, a False Negative means the algorithm doesn’t brake when it should have, and (sometimes, not very often, but sometimes) it kills somebody.

    Do I know this is what happened? Of course not. But the underlying givens and the assumptions are (IMO) not unreasonable.

    So do we really want a company out beta-testing their algorithm and its probabilities and cut scores on real roads with real people when False Negative = Real Death? I know my answer.

    (And this is why knowing the 97% for the fake news algorithm {MSNBC story} is important, but only a first step. We know no algorithm is going to be 100% accurate {neither are humans}, but how accurate it is matters. And what probably matters more is what kind of errors it’s making.)

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      From the bezzle description this is key:

      . . . But the car’s built-in emergency braking system had been disabled, to prevent conflict with the self-driving system; instead a human safety operator in the vehicle is expected to brake when needed. . .

      The car’s built in emergency braking system, when disabled, should not interfere with the Ayeye driven car from braking on it’s own, unless we take literally the statement that the human driver is expected to brake when needed, such as for example a red light or stop sign. If that is the condition, the automated car is driving around with no braking on it’s own, and depending on the human to stop the car, yet the economist article has a brief description of the third module and what it does, steer, speed up and slow down, and by slow down I am assuming it can use the brakes as well as reducing throttle.

      Something is very off with this whole situation. When the system is described as three modules, module one defines the inputs, module two decides what to do with the inputs and commands module three to react, which is output. Are these three modules all part of the AI chip, where you have an input layer, the hidden layer or layers which interpret the inputs, and an output layer? That is what it sounds like to me.

      I think the human safety operator was tasked with multitasking, and that is ultimately where the fault lies in this incident. Had there been two, one to keep eyes on the road the other to assist with eyes on the road and monitor the automated system, this could have been avoided. I think the fact that the car’s own emergency braking system being rendered inoperable, and touted as the reason this happened is an effort to hide the real cause, an AI chip that became confused, and a human safety driver that was distracted.

      The Economist describes it as a system-design failure. I would insert the word testing between system and design. Someone at Uber decided to do live testing with one human in the car instead of two, presumably to be cheap.

      The comment by the Google engineer gave me pause too. What cloud are these people on? Presumably their system can now tell the difference between a balloon and a flying baby.

      Reply
  16. Carolinian

    Re Amazon’s creepy e-book spying when you use a Kindle–there were instructions available for the earlier Kindles that allowed one to root and block this behavior but now keeping the thing offline seems to be the only (faint) hope. Meanwhile most libraries refuse to release patron data without a court order while paradoxically partnering with Kindle when issuing e-books (there are usually several other reader options).

    To quote from the Counterpunch story

    Professor Galloway writes in a 2017 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.

    “After spending most of the past decade researching these companies, I’ve come to the conclusion that our fears are misplaced in focusing on what I call the Four. We should instead be worrying about the One: one firm that will come to dominate search, hardware and cloud computing, that will control a vast network of far-flung businesses, that can ravage entire sectors of the economy simply by announcing its interest in them. That firm is Amazon.”

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Facebooger can just buy all these other social media companies that the Generation Z-ists are using and that way keep their bussiness and their presence.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        Yes. Richly ironic that the article makes such a big deal about how young people are shunning effbook — while signing up for I-gram, an effbook-owned company.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I thought Instagram was Zucker-owned but I couldn’t remember for sure. So I stated the problem in general terms. Is Snapchat also Zucker-owned?

          The Zucker-dude is smart enough to know about this building problem. He has his intelligence agents watching for trends like this. It would be oh-so-easy for Facebooger to discover and buy up every single “Zucker-free” social media company as the Z-ists move from company to company to company. As long as they use Social Media, they will always be paying Big Zuck for the opportunity to mine and refine their own data for Facebooger.

          The only way out would be for some creative Z-ists to create a strictly pay-to-use social media platform which could be kept un-Zuckertaminated forever. And that would require of Z-ists that they be willing to pay the company to use the platform. Would they be willing to do that if offered the chance? Would any of their elders be willing to pay-to-use in the same way?

          Reply
  17. clarky90

    Re,”Political ideology can be placed on a “spectrum,” a linear scale from conservative to liberal.”

    I propose “A New, More Accurate, Political Spectrum” for the 21st Century.

    On the RIGHT of the spectrum we have the Communists, Fascists, Maoists, Hitlerites, Stalinists; violent revolutionaries of every stripe… all the passionate, full of conviction Utopians who plan to kill 90% of us for one reason or an other; It is lovingly required, to make Heaven on Earth, with plenty of pristine Lebensraum, for the lucky 10% survivors’, “true happiness”…..

    On the LEFT of the spectrum we have the traditionalists; like the Amish, the Paleolithic lifestyle, the mystically religious, the back to nature, the historical reenactment crowd, the old fogies, the gardeners…

    Karl Marx was a vociferous anti-semite, “On the Jewish Question”

    and

    Gestapo–NKVD conferences

    The “fake History” illusion, that Communism and Fascism are diametrically opposed, is the root of much confusion. How can anybody discuss political history if the basic premise is fake? (Let us all assume that the Earth is flat, and then discus…….)

    The National Socialists (Nazis) and the International Socialists (Bolsheviks), both arose from the similar/same ideologies, and as “revolutionary” reactions to the status quo of the times. They are “family”, just like the Muslim Sunni and Shiites, who are also locked into a protracted, bloody fratricidal struggle.

    Reply
    1. Bulb, Byron alias Works-Well-with-Others

      This is the spectrum of public opinion sorted by intensity of authoritarian behavior. The ends of any political spectrum tend to meet ex. left/right [us] by of ideological frequency, crests and troughs seeming opposite teams only one and a half steps from synchronicity.

      Or to think of it another way, maximum political expediency on any given issue as measured by funds raised is reached when the room is split 50/50, where every additional dollar donated seems to have the most impact.

      Reply
    2. JBird

      ?!?!?!?

      No, just…no.

      First an example of American history made into a lie. Some people insist that the current GOP and and Democrats are like the political parties of the past. For example that the Democratic Party post Nixon’s Southern Strategy is as, or nearly so, racist as before when it was the party of Jim Crow or that the current Republican Party is like the old one which was the party of blacks because it was the party of Lincoln and sort of a champion of the legal rights of blacks.

      Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were only using each other and were similar in that politically they were ruthless, were happy using the millions, didn’t mind killing millions, and both did have goals. One was based on racial superiority and purity and the other on the superiority of an economic system.

      Hitler’s goals, and therefore the Nazis too, was the removal of the Jews, the destruction of the Soviet Union, the acquisition of living space especially farming for Germany, and making it supreme at least in Europe. If they had to kill tens of millions of Jews, Slavs, and other “inferiors” that was okay; the Soviet Union was authoritarian one party state that wanted to impose its interpretation of communism on ultimately everyone and also killing as many people as needed.

      Reply
      1. clarky90

        The Bolsheviks were an unmitigated, bloody disaster for observant Jews and traditional Jewish communities. Many were murdered or sent to die in the Gulags. The younger, atheistic, secular Jews did much better under the Bolsheviks; until Stalin unleashed the Great Purge or the Great Terror in 1934. Then, not so well.

        “Journey into the Whirlwind” by Eugenia Ginzburg, is an account of that period.

        “…the Bolsheviks were strongly opposed to Judaism (and indeed to any religion) and conducted an extensive campaign to suppress the religious traditions among the Jewish population, alongside traditional Jewish culture. In 1918, the Yevsektsiya was established to promote Marxism, secularism and Jewish assimilation into Soviet society, and supposedly bringing Communism to the Jewish masses.

        In August 1919 Jewish properties, including synagogues, were seized and many Jewish communities were dissolved. The anti-religious laws against all expressions of religion and religious education were being taken out on all religious groups, including the Jewish communities. Many Rabbis and other religious officials were forced to resign from their posts under the threat of violent persecution. This type of persecution continued on into the 1920s….”

        Reply
      1. JBird

        Well, it seems more likely that we’re in the Twilight Zone. Will that do? I almost expect to hear Rod Serling.

        Reply
  18. Synoia

    The Barack Obama Temple of Adoration and Fealty.

    Is that a misspelling?

    The Barack Obama Temple of Adoration and Feely?

    Reply
  19. ewmayer

    Re. UPDATE “EPISODE 78: Burn the Debt Clock! with special guest economist Stephanie Kelton” [ElectaBlog] —

    I’m still waiting for Kelton or any of the other major MMT advocates to seriously address the issue of the goverment’s spending priorities (e.g. warmaking and financial-crook-bailing-out) and why anyone should believe that our Dear Misleadership class would suddenly embrace a “bottom up” spending reprioritization were they to explicitly embrace the MMT view of fiscal-sovereign finance. After all, with respect to e.g. highly profitable corporations refusing to pay their lower-tier workers higher wages, it’s been shown that the main motivation is not based on P&L considerations but rather on naked power dynamics – “keeping the Deplorables down” appears to be highly gratifying to the elites. Why would one believe that corporate and governmental elites – especially in view of the extent to which the former control and influence the latter – are fundamentally different in this respect?

    Reply
    1. Adam Eran

      Good point. I’d suggest that something like MMT’s Job Guarantee reduces “labor discipline” to the point that violent suppression and domination are no longer sensible motivators, and employers must begin treating labor like human beings.

      Don’t get me wrong, violence is perfectly acceptable even in child rearing … on occasion. For example, yanking a child out of the way of an oncoming bus is violent, and useful. But expecting that kind of violence to provide that same child with an insight into what provides satisfaction, its life mission, what it loves, or what to pursue is simply silly.

      Once there’s a crack in the edifice of violence, it’s likely to spread. The shock doctrine inevitably (one hopes) must defer to sensible, calm, loving persuasion…if we’re to progress, anyway.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They might offer guaranteed work in, say, monitoring of Russian meddling in American politics.

        That would be one example of the current elites’preferred spending priorities mentioned by ewmayer.

        The other way to resist labor discipline is to give workers a choice of staying home to do peaceful, non-violent* housework.

        *except for pest control housework – that could be quite violent.

        That would kill three birds (metamorphically) – labor discipline, income, and recognition of housework as work to be counted in the GDP.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If housework is recognized as GDP-monetizable and measurable work, would that mean that people performing unpaid housework would be forced to pay taxes on their own housework?

          In analogous vein, if people had backyard food gardens, would people be forced to pay a garden tax on the monetized value of the garden produce they grew for their own subsistence consumption?

          Reply
    2. Grebo

      Neoliberalism has so successfully infected the minds of its natural political opponents by pretending to be politically neutral; just the facts.
      MMT has a much better to claim to the facts, but the more politics is harnessed to it the more opposition it will get.
      As Bill Mitchell at least has noted: once the economic lies are apparent to all, Neoliberals will have to be more honest about their politics, and that will not help their popularity.

      Reply
  20. Jim Haygood

    On a weak day for US stocks, Amazon reached a second consecutive record high of 1612.87. Chart:

    Jeff Bezos does not believe in the kirana model. Anyway, modern US zoning makes them impossible in many cities, where subdivisions cover many sterile square miles without a trace of local commerce other than e-workers beavering away inside their lookalike beige tract homes.

    Reply
  21. Jim Haygood

    New day, new policy lurch:

    Barely a week after Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the trade war with China was “on hold,” the White House issued a statement saying that the US would move ahead with its plan to impose 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of imported Chinese goods within the next month.

    The administration’s statement on Tuesday suggested the hard-liners were, for now, once again winning the internal trade war.

    In a statement, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer applauded the announcement but urged the president not to waver from his plan. “While obviously more details are needed, this outline represents the kind of actions we have needed to take for a long time, but the president must stick with it and not bargain it away,” he said.

    If Herbert Hoover Trump manages to destroy our prosperity with a gratuitous trade war, he’ll have to share the credit with his copilot and bombardier Chuck Schumer. Dumb and dumbahhh …

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      If we keep committing tariffist acts on the rest of the world, they’re gonna sour on our semollians.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Trump policies seem to be like mountain weather.

      “If you don’t like it wait a few minutes and it will change.”

      Reply
    3. ewmayer

      “If Herbert Hoover Trump manages to destroy our prosperity with a gratuitous trade war…” — And just whose prosperity might you be worried about there, Jim?

      Reply
      1. Eureka Springs

        Oh yeah, health insurance (not care), a less than fifteen year old car and a vacation are almost within reach. In Ecuador.

        A friend of mine who paid her student loans in full several years ago but her bank (which is now sold/out of business) still has a report otherwise on her credit record. She just had to buy a car on 15 percent interest.

        Reply
    4. Richard

      ewmayer beat me to it Jim, but I too wonder about this prosperity of which you speak. Is it perhaps the prosperity of 10000 rotten little ponzi schemes? Because I’m hard pressed to think of other examples around here.
      Tread lightly when you speak in the second person, is my advice if you will take it.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Movie makers’ prosperity.

        Apparently, the Chinese market is their El Dorado.

        I learned this morning people over there crave this kind of American garbage.

        Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that when there are enough of these (incompetently) self-driving cars on the roads, that companies like Tesla will have laws pushed through that will require any vehicle that goes on a road to be equipped with a transmitter. That way, the self-driving car can interrogate the space around it and identify any vehicles as those vehicle’s transmitters will reply.
      If this happens, I would suggest that they start with big red fire engines first. Tesla has a problem seeing those.

      Reply
  22. clarky90

    Mussolini commits the unforgivable sin

    “It was in breaking the bond of socialist unity that Mussolini committed the unforgivable sin. Montagnana relates how he stared at the first issue of Il Popolo in disbelief. There is no stronger feeling than love betrayed and no time when betrayal is felt more deeply than in adolescence.

    As Mussolini turned to attack his former comrades, a member of the young socialist federation wrote: “I idolized Mussolini” when he served the socialist Ideal but now he has become a “murderer” who “venomously” attacks the party. No one asked Mussolini to leave the party nor even tried to silence him for his disagreement with the majority, Bordiga wrote. “We must now ask, did Mussolini serve the Party or did it rather serve him?….”

    Reply
      1. Harold

        You didn’t even mention Mussolini in your previous post — which I replied to. So I don’t see how in this one you can say you intended it as replying to my reply.

        Everyone knows Mussolini came from a socialist background. His parents named him Benito after Benito Juarez.

        You can set up any kind of categorization scheme you wish to. Whether you can persuade people to accept it on the basis of logic and evidence is another matter. I doubt it, because there has been a lot of ink spilled on this matter already.

        Reply
  23. The Rev Kev

    “Hail the Obama temple”

    Well if it hasn’t got the Presidential papers, it can’t be a library, can it. Maybe it is partly a temple to neoliberalism as it confiscated public commons i.e. the park lands, kicked local residents out and put it to private use. That fits Obama’s profile. I shouldn’t be surprised that it will have no Presidential papers in it. Considering Obama’s track record, if they were there they would be all classified top secret or something so why bother having them there. It’s not like they are public property and belong in governmental archives or something.

    Reply

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