Links 5/7/18

The Wire

Gizmodo (The Rev Kev)

International Business Times

Techradar (The Rev Kev)


Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

TechCrunch (The Rev Kev)

SCMP. Although this situation has worsened under Trump, it didn’t start there.

Engadget (The Rev Kev)


VW board considers seeking damages from former CEO FT. US prosecutors filed charges in March against the CEO and other officers; the indictment was unsealed last week. Jalopnik


WaPo (The Rev Kev)

NPR (UserFriendly). Yves: “If the Dems weren’t so stupid, this is their best rallying cry for November, that the US needs to pass a Federal law confirming the right to an abortion.”


o MIT Technology Review

Tariff Tantrum

Der Spiegel


AP Alas, they’re plastic.


(The Rev Kev)


The Wire


Boston Globe

The New Yorker. Chuck L: “Did someone in the Borg forget to refill The New Yorker’s kool-aid bottle?”



Guardian. This is exactly what’s needed! Send in the clowns.

Moon of Alabama

x Ghion Journal

Al Jazeera

Class Warfare




NPR Illinois (furzy)

Kill Me Now

May be true, but please don’t encourage her.



Trump Transition

The Onion

Vanity Fair







Antidote du Jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. voteforno6

    Re: Tesla

    Did Elon Musk have a breakdown recently? This is almost a serious question.

    1. tegnost

      o the irony of listening to a tech titan complain about contractors…maybe I should go back and read the on interspecies competition, it may shed some light on the likes of bezos, musk, ellison and all the rest of the trillionaire wannabes

    2. Jim A.

      Interesting that he blames and wishes to punish the individual contractors rather than the idea of contracting out your core manufacturing business. Because there was never any foreseeable problems with getting others to do all the “fiddley bits,” that you can’t be bothered with. Frankly this looks like the Tesla sh!t show is entering a new phase. This is the “blame” phase. In reality it looks like they’re discovering that actual mass production of a product is SIGNIFICANTLY more difficult than pulling the wool over investors and getting money.

      Ironically, I suspect that 20 years from now, a Tesla will have the same sort of “amazing car, business failure” cachet that Tucker autos do. By then, the surviving cars are likely to be worth significantly more than other, contemporary cars.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        I suspect that 20 years from now, a Tesla will have the same sort of “amazing car, business failure” cachet that Tucker autos do. By then, the surviving cars are likely to be worth significantly more than other, contemporary cars.

        If you can retrofit one with a Chinese battery.

      2. John k

        Maybe did have breakdown. Certainly spread too thin. And distracts himself with ideas for new products.
        By all accounts, including consumer reports, an amazing product. Volt, best from US dinosaurs, never compared.
        Amazing somebody came along, maybe fooled investors, and moved the needle in an industry reluctant to change.
        VW spending 48b to buy batteries and copy him… giving up on diesel. Didn’t want to. The dam is breaking, they’ll all be doing e-cars now.
        But too soon to write Tesla obit even if he needs funding this year. The question is, what production rate gets him to break even at current prices… if any?

        Funny trump complaining about China unfairly supporting new tech… we should be supporting our own, but that goes against rep and many dem principles, guided of course by Koch bros. Tesla subsidies running out while batteries still expensive… how dumb is that? And while we continue massive fossil subsidies.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Swiss Guards: World’s oldest standing army gets new headgear AP Alas, they’re plastic.

    The Swiss Guards plan to replace their metal helmets with plastic PVC ones made with a 3-D printer, giving the pope’s army cooler and more comfortable headgear when standing guard for hours at a time.

    Its such a pity that they are going for PVC – seeing as the main reason is to keep them cool in the sun, they could have revived the genius design of the cork . In Africa, British soldiers learned that by soaking the cork in water in the morning Or maybe the Swiss Guards think they’d look a little undignified if they were gently emitting steam through their helmets at midday.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Do they have any racial or ethnic diversity program in the Swiss Guards?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, each unit must have at least one soldier representing each major Swiss bank.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Agreed that Pith helmets were a great design but in India they got to be a bit of an obsession. The heat and glare of places like India were considered dangerous and every British wallah in the old British Empire was told to always have their pith helmets on when in the sun or the sunstroke would kill them. Everyone simply knew that you had to have shade on your head or the heat would get you and lay you low and the pith helmet was the best solution.
      That is, until the second world war broke out and tens of thousands of British servicemen were shipped out to places like India and Burma. Not knowing any better, they just walked around with their service caps on or with nothing on their heads at all which perturbed the local British to realize that all their lives they had been wearing these pith helmets for no good reason at all.

        1. whine country

          Better to be pithed off than pithed on. I always wondered where that saying came from.

      1. Procopius

        Not only no hats or helmets, but no shirts. If you’ve seen pictures of British (and, later, American) soldiers in Egypt and North Africa you’ll have seen how many of them didn’t even wear shirts. I would have thought that (a) felt hotter, and (b) ran a big risk of serious sunburn. Anyway, I was always charmed by the British Surgeon General (when Winston Churchill was a journalist covering the Mahdi War) who seemed to believe that the sunlight could penetrate the heavy woolen cloth of their tunics and that heat stroke was caused by sunshine hitting the spine, so directed that British soldiers would add a thick pad of flannel on their backs to the normal uniform.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        One problem was that the pith helmet became a ‘style’, reproduced by manufacturers who didn’t understand the elegance of the original construction. The true pith helmet was made of cork or another organic material that could be soaked in water – but there needed to be space and ventilation to allow the evaporated water to escape, so cooling down the owners head.

        They also fell out of use when local natives no longer used ripened mangos to attack colonials, instead discovering bullets and shrapnel. A pith helmet was no use against that, so the steel helmet made a comeback.

  3. allan


    … ***Update***: Thanks to everyone who pointed out this article Graham wrote for The Wall Street Journal in 1998, in which he said of President Bill Clinton:

    If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public? Private conduct does have public consequences.

    This change in heart is undoubtedly due to Graham’s economic anxiety.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Twenty years is a long time for a person or a nation to evolve.

      Not everyone does, though.

    2. fresno dan

      May 7, 2018 at 7:42 am

      These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I can change them.
      Grocho Marx

      I’m not going to say Grocho Marx is the greatest orator of all time….. other than by typing it….

    3. Lambert Strether

      “Economic anxiety” is one of those phrases I watch out for, because I feel it’s virtually impossible to use it in good faith. IIRC, it was invented and propagated by liberal Democrats in the CAP axis to reduce material conditions to feelings (and implicitly sneer at those to whom the feeling were imputed) while simultaneously giving an account of the working class voters who went for Trump. Yglesias periodically runs the “So, I guess it was economic anxiety that ______” trope.

      So, yeah, if I were living in an area where the mill left, Walmart is going, people are losing their homes, people are sending their kids off to useless wars and they’re coming back maimed, my deductible is through the roof, my credit rating is in the pits, I’ve got life savings of like $1000, and life expectancy is dropping, I too might have feelings of anxiety. Perhaps I should seek therapy. From a professional. Or get some training. I’m sure that’s what Matty would recommend. Oh, and be sure to vote Blue!

      1. allan

        Franklin Graham’s I seriously doubt that he has to worry about his
        health insurance deductible, a shrinking savings account, or his dropping life expectancy.
        Elmer Gantry would approve. As would Marx.

  4. southern appalachian

    Regarding West Virginia, it is a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object.

  5. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

    Contractors, Tesla and otherwise:

    I used to work as a temp or latterly a contractor in what is now called the gig economy. Every day as I entered whatever building I made a point of saying to myself, “This is probably my last day.”. Only on one occasion did my departure on the day come about, but I stuck with it as it tends to focus the mind.

    I worked in listed companies for long periods and wondered how they retained those precious listings when seemingly thirty five perecent of the help could walk out of the door for the last time at any moment because they were temps. That this situation is accepted as normality is perhaps the root of the Tesla thing (if it is not a fake).

    HR should be called what it is: the department of human liabilities and the rebalancing of the workforce should start from there. Bring on the Gig Charge!


    1. Jim A.

      The change from “personnel” to “Human Resources” was telling enough. I used to be a person, now I am merely a resource, like steel, although at least I’m still regarded as “human” at least.

      1. J Bookly

        I remember that transition. When my boss said the personnel department was being renamed “human resources,” I immediately pictured concentration camp guards taking gold fillings out of people’s teeth. Since my boss and I were on good terms, I shared that image with him. He said, “They’re just trying to say people are valuable.” I remember being a bit shocked at this really nice guy accepting Orwellian bullshit so readily. Of course it’s now standard American thought that human beings are only a means to an end.

      2. rd

        You are out of step with the business lingo. Human Resources was transitioned to Talent Management several years ago. This provides far more potential diversity now as it can include everything from animals to artificial intelligence.

        It also makes it easier to eject those elements that turn out not to actually have talent, even if they originally were permanently in the person or human categories.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > I used to be a person, now I am merely a resource, like steel

        Yes, “Human Resources” is paradoxically corporate jargon that is accurate. The labor power that you sell is input to a process, like steel.

  6. John

    A great blog post by Marxian economist Michael Roberts on Marx and Keynes on Marx’s 200th birthday. While I think his premise is a bit extreme, I firmly agree that the world’s labor movements and left-wing parties need less Keynes and more Marx.

  7. TiPs

    It must be getting increasingly difficult for The Onion to come up with headlines that sound absurd enough so readers know they are fake…

    1. rd

      They have adjusted. They are now simply reframing the truth a little bit with a different perspective than the MSM since there is no way they can compete with the absurdity of the official fake news. SNL is often doing the same.


    2. The Rev Kev

      I thought that the Onion rededicated themselves to be a documentary website? Apparently they gave up the challenge of trying to compete with the headlines. Last I heard, Duffleblog has taken up the challenge-

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Wars of Aggression: Drinking from the Poisoned Chalice of the Military-Industrial Complex Ghion Journal

    Understand this: Israel wants an actual air attack on Iran done with aircraft. The problem is, the U.S. hasn’t pulled off an operation like that in quite some time now. The U.S. might get away with it, but there was a war game done on just such a scenario during the George W. Bush years. In the scenario, the U.S. airstrike was a disaster, losing most of the aircraft and a carrier to an Iranian anti-ship cruise missile. The U.S. promptly hid the war game results. But the truth cannot be hidden that easy. Yes, you might succeed. But at what cost?

    I think this raises an interesting question which I’ve never seen satisfactorily answered. We know the hawks in Washington and Israel (and SA) want to attack Iran. But what type of attack? The long term dream I suppose was an invasion, but even if there are lunatics who think invading Iran is a good idea, the loss of Iraq, and now Syria as a staging area makes it pretty much an impossibility. There is simply no good land base for such an attack.

    So this leaves:

    1. A quick and direct air attack (maybe cruise missiles only) on selected Iranian military facilities.

    2. A more concentrated longer term air campaign aimed at completely degrading Iranian military power, and (probably) destroying its infrastructure and oil industry too.

    3. A variant of 2 including the seizure of selected strategic areas such as Gulf islands, or border areas with pliable minorities such as Kurds or Balochs.

    The problem with all three is there is no obvious exit plan if Iran decides that it is at war with one or all of the participants. I assume that even the most crazy hawks has war gamed this out, but I’ve not seen any indication of what they are thinking. Or maybe its a mistake to think those people are capable of strategic thought.

    1. Another Anon

      Also with so much attention both paid to what is going on there, some one may decide its a good opportunity to settle elsewhere some old score. I recall reading that in 1956 Khruschev sent in Soviet and other Warsaw pact troops into Hungary partly since because so much attention was given to the Suez crisis that it was less likely that there would be real opposition from NATO.

    2. John k

      I assume Iran has told everybody that saudi oil fields and pipelines will be toast. Hawks think they can stop that?
      Oil futures!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hey! Can you imagine what would happen if the missiles that hit the Saudi oil fields were loaded up to the hilt with radioactive materials such as plutonium? Got that idea from a novel I read once. How long-term would those oil futures be then?

    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Do not get stuck in 20th Century Thought, comrade, Permanent War is about inventory, not strategy, the more hair-brained and impossible the strategy the better when your goal is another impossible quagmire that maximizes the flow of dollars from gullible chump taxpayers to offshore billionaire arms company shareholders.

      Iran is perfect!

      We can all thrill to those grainy green videos of Iranian children being incinerated in their homes, knowing our 401(k)s are loving it.

      Here are a few excellent targets for American-style diplomacy:

      Suggested reading: The Road to Oxiana

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The Road to Oxiana is one of my favourite travel books, really eye-opening. Unfortunately, if the neocons read it they’d interpret it as a ‘how to’ book to get from Jerusalem to Kabul. Mind you, Byron was a bit of an imperialist himself, I loved the line where he described himself as living it up in the King David in Jerusalem ‘the last half decent hotel before Shanghai’.

  9. Summer

    Re: Criminals could alter their DNA to evade justice with new genetic editing tools Telegraph

    The least of the problems with this.
    The alchemy of trying to achieve immortality will create the extinction.
    I keep remembering….a new organ was just “discovered” in the body.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Urban sprawl more solar friendly?

    California to require solar panels on most new homes Engadget (The Rev Kev)

    Why not on most new office/residential skyscrapers as well?

    This seems discriminatory.

    On the other hand, suburban single family homes usually have more nearly horizontal areas exposed to sunlight.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Target and other companies in SoCal have had solar panels on rooftops at many locations. As panel costs continue to drop, expect more commercial and residential placements, especially with any tax or other subsidies.

        1. John k

          And Walmart. Very cost effective in Ca, electricity is 0.17/kwhr.
          Already so much produced utilities are paying other states to take the excess power during cool weather when little air conditioning demand, and weekends… critically need cheap stationary batteries.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘The new standards are poised to hike construction costs by $25,000 to $30,000 (about half of which is directly due to solar), but the self-produced energy is estimated to save owners $50,000 to $60,000 in operating costs over the solar technology’s expected 25-year lifespan.’

      Adding $25-30K to the cost of new houses in the nation’s most expensive housing market?

      Millennials who already can’t afford houses might as well just leave. Let them eat cake …

      1. GF

        There is no mention of a required size for the solar PV system or what percent of the homes expected electricity use must be met by it. And there are significant energy upgrades required (about half of the projected costs) that would result in a smaller sized solar system being needed. It is always more cost effective to increase energy efficiency than try to meet the energy demand of a poorly constructed inefficient house using solar. I would put the cost of the solar system much lower taking the energy upgrades into account. Adding a Tesla type battery or 2 would also result in a smaller solar PV sizing and subsequent lower cost.

    2. rd

      Single family homes have a lot of opaque rooftop area.

      I expect that once transparent solar panels become available, California will require them installed on at least south facing windows of commercial buildings. That will be a game-changer for urban solar power generation.

      1. Jean

        IF California is really serious about global warming and the environment, not only will they require solar on all new construction, but new, and retrofitted, solar would be exempt from increased property tax assessments the way seismic upgrades are.

        This would promote solar on preexisting structures to the point where California would be exporting electricity.

        The Wall Street owned Pacific Gas & Electric owns the legislature and the governor and they would never allow this. More neighborhoods and humans will burn for returns.

        1. John k

          We do export electricity. We already produce more power on cool afternoons, especially weekends, in fact sometimes pay other states to take it. Users save because they avoid 0.017/kwhr cost,
          We need cheap storage for more solar to be useful. Or charge e cars during afternoons, which means charging stations at work. Until then legitimate problem for utility, particularly given the way PUC provides incentives for more plants but no incentive for reduced consumption.

    3. Wyoming

      I’m curious what impact this would have on the entry level home market. Would raising the average price by 25,000 result in 5% (10%?) of the prospective buyers no longer being able to qualify for a loan? Or something like that.

      Any mortgage loan experts want to comment on the implications of what impact this might have on sales? If any.

    4. Ignacio

      I think that solar panels on commercial/office space are more efficient than in residential use because energy is consumed mostly during insolation hours then you have less energy storage requirements.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Feedback: Noble Charter Schools Story Hit A Nerve NPR Illinois (furzy)

    What the hell????

    Apparently noble INMATES are required to have “escorts” to the washroom and if one doesn’t come, too bad–sit there, STAND there or get “demerits.”

    At certain campuses, teachers said administrators offer an accommodation: They allow girls to tie a Noble sweater around their waist, to hide the blood stains. The administrator then sends an email to staff announcing the name of the girl who has permission to wear her sweater tied around her waist, so that she doesn’t receive demerits for violating dress code.

    Last year, two teachers at Noble’s Pritzker College Prep helped female students persuade administrators to change the dress code from khaki bottoms to black dress pants. Although their initiative was based in part on a survey showing that 58 percent of Pritzker students lack in-home laundry facilities, it remains a pilot program available only at the Pritzker campus.

    Where are the democrat misogyny police or #MeToo or michelle obama or the congressional black “caucus?” Too busy with Stephanie Clifford’s NDA or the southside obama vanity project? This is bluer than blue illinois fer chrissakes.

    And from the comments, which are worth the read:

    When I first started working at Noble, two students had accidentally urinated on themselves in class while waiting for an escort and I was told that this happens after breaks (this took place after winter break), because students have to become readjusted to bathroom policy. (Emphasis mine.)

    Just when I thought it was impossible to be any more disgusted than I already am……

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      PS. I have read that in some of these charter “schools,” these “demerits” carry stiff FINANCIAL penalties on the order of $10-$20 per demerit. Get your period, leave class to go to the restroom without an escort and pay a FINE.

      This is unconscionable, pure and simple, and indefensible in any notion of american “education.”

      What’s next, reservations, “tribal” councils and casinos?

    2. JohnnyGL

      “Where are the democrat misogyny police or #MeToo”

      That Pritzker name seems to purchase a lot of silence and consent. After all, there’s a Pritzker headed for the Illinois Governor’s office because the Democrat Party says so.

    3. pretzelattack

      that’s what they are training the students for, to readjust themselves to the policy of whatever repressive insititution, whether school, place of employment, or private prison, they find themselves in. gotta train the sheep to “baa” at the right times.

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      Welcome, ladies, gentlemen, and ungendered, to the delightful world of “no excuses” education, pioneered prior to the 20th century and re-adopted by the for-profit charter school industry supported by state and federal “education reform” on the grounds it’s the only way poor and minority students will ever obtain the necessary skills to learn anything useful. To support this, those schools using it cite increased scores on the standardized math and reading tests, which test nothing useful.

      I’m not kidding when I say anyone who cares about the future of the US needs to take the time to read up on what the governments, in the name of “competition”, has been doing to public education in its war on children and learning for the last thirty-odd years.

    5. JerseyJeffersonian

      Well, here’s an idea. The school could turn this into a revenue stream; have all of the students be required to buy leakproof undergarments from them, as a humanitarian gesture, of course, to save them from the embarassment of self-soiling with urine, feces, or menses. And cut way back on escorts at the same time, thereby saving the company still more money. Don’t leave that money lying on the table, bitchez.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Spying charges against Chinese-American scientists spark fears of a witch hunt SCMP. Although this situation has worsened under Trump, it didn’t start there.

    Are other ethnic-Americans treated the same?

    Say, Russian-American scientists?

    1. The Rev Kev

      I can see this backfiring badly. All those Chinese scientists who would have come to the US to develop their ideas and research will now probably think about other destinations such as Canada or Europe – or simply stay home and work there. Any Chinese-American working in America will have to watch what they do lest they be charged with spying and perhaps research institutes may be loath to take them on and support them. The loss to America of all these talented scientist will be substantial and considering that already China surpasses the US in patents lodged I do not think that this situation will improve anytime soon. Because the FBI is involved you just know that there are informers at all these institutional and you wonder how many of these accusations are launched because of jealousy, racism or just a desire to remove a rival.

  13. allan


    Governance matters. Who knew?

    Time for another #Resistance fundraising email blast.

    1. Pat

      Gosh you mean someone who actually appoints judges without faux consideration of bipartisanship is shocking.

      Remembering how Obama and the Democratic Congress wasted their opportunity to stack the courts with equal rights and union loving judges because a super majority wasn’t enough. Makes this happening when Republicans have a bare majority rather confusing.

      Don’t like the nominees, shoot them down rather than complaining about it.Forget any prior agreements like Republicans do. Anything else is kabuki.

      1. Jean

        President Jimmy Carter addressing the NAACP convention in 1970s;

        “If there’s one thing I want you to remember today, it is that the federal judges I appoint will go on interpreting your rights for the rest of your life…”

        Partisan? Nah.

        1. pretzelattack

          yes, carter tried to protect and advance civil rights, in the 70’s. problem?

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Can Trump use the bully pulpit to lower drug prices? Don’t bet on it Stat

    The image of Trump, true or not, is that if you get him mad enough about something, he would react rashly against it.

    So, maybe, you design something, or something occur fortuitously, and he does it. Though, as the title suggests, don’t bet on it.

  15. Sid Finster

    Re: Carville, J. What was really happening back in Rome, when Caesar three times declined the people’s call to become king?

    Or, to put it another way: “Please don’t throw me in that briar patch!”

  16. JohnnyGL

    Re: Caplan’s ‘Case Against Education’

    I saw an interview recently with the author that amused me enough that I dropped it into the comments either in links or water cooler.

    I think Caplan’s sort of amusing because, like most Libertarians, he takes the market-based logic of neo-liberalism to its cartoonish extremes, which is the ugly side of our society that elites try to pretend doesn’t exist, even though we’re creeping closer to it in a lot of ways. The uncomfortable truth is that the hefty price tags attached to higher education in the USA these days means that it feels like the burden of proof seems to shift towards the Caplan’s opponents, who want to defend the current system. Now, Aronson would probably advocate lots of reforms (very different ones from those Caplan advocates), but I feel like there’s some value in listening to people like Caplan because he’s at least making us ask harder questions about the rottenness of our educational system. I also think Caplan’s partially right about education as signalling.

    However, if Aronson’s going to defend education, he should argue that we need it to craft better CITIZENS, not better employees. If, in the process, we end up making better employees, then so be it. If not, oh well. And, therefore, if we’re just strengthening democracy and society with education, we should make it free of charge and actively push back against neo-liberal justifications for education about skills. Because there’s no justification for burying citizens with debt to make them better citizens. The financial costs swamp any possible intangible benefits.

    1. JohnnyGL

      On a separate note, this from Aronson shows a real lack of understanding of how our political system works….

      My preferences for American politics have two tiers. In the first tier, I simply want the Democrats to vanquish the Republicans, in every office from president down to dogcatcher, in order to prevent further spiraling into nihilistic quasi-fascism, and to restore the baseline non-horribleness that we know is possible for rich liberal democracies.

      If Republicans were vaporized from this earth tomorrow, then the Democratic Party, in it’s current state with its current leadership would actively work to re-create them. If you think I’m wrong then why did Andrew Cuomo create the IDC? There’s also too many pied-piper examples of democrats actively funding and supporting crazy, awful Republicans and pushing them to greater levels of insanity so Democrats can grab that center-right political position that they yearn for so strenuously and seem utterly convinced is the path towards victory (whatever victory means).

      Malcom X was much closer to the truth when he said Republicans vs. Democrats was more like the wolf vs. the fox. How come he understood things so well, and all these democrat-leaning professors with all their education can’t see it????

      1. Sid Finster

        Team D needs Team R (and vice versa) like sports rivals need each other, or like Batman needs the Joker, otherwise he’s just a rich weirdo in a funny outfit.

      2. polecat

        Democrat-leaning Profs relish lamb too, like all good credentialed !

        #Gotta Feed .. Partaaay Affiliation Irrelevant

      3. Lambert Strether

        > If Republicans were vaporized from this earth tomorrow, then the Democratic Party, in it’s current state with its current leadership would actively work to re-create them.

        When Obama won the nomination in 2008, the preamble to the Party platform was revised to express the hope that the Republicans would become reliable interlocutors once again. And after his election, Obama rehabilitated them (instead of stomping down hard on their windpipe). Hence the ObamaCare debacle….

        1. JohnnyGL

          And he never stopped pining for Republican support every chance he got….was always complaining about the ‘tone’ in Washington.

          He wanted them so badly on Obamacare….and on Grand Bargain and austerity (even threatening default on US Treasuries to help get a deal done)….on TPP….

          8 years and he never stopped pining for bi-partisanship

    2. jrs

      Of course education is partly about signaling or in what sane universe would you see things like biology majors employed in accounting roles. And I have seen all that and more absurd.

      No. The argument that education should be free should be because it should be about job training. Noone, but noone asked to be born into this economic system. Since we were and since it is socially imposed, If we are going to have an economic system that requires such training to succeed we should collectively pay for people to be trained.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Job training can be funded by corporations on company time, for company benefits (profits, to be generated by trained employees).

    3. JTFaraday

      There is more to human life than being part of a labor force. There is also being part of society, and in a democracy, being part of a self governing society.

      While it’s true that educational institutions swallowed the labor force bait, it is also more or less true that it is more or less shoved down their throats to begin with.

  17. Jim Haygood

    This morning West Texas crude oil has busted through 70 dollahs. Chart:

    Soaring energy prices have killed several economic expansions, including the one that ended in Dec 2007 as crude soldiered on to $147 a barrel in July 2008.

    This ugly pattern is playing out again. Threatening Iran is totally unhelpful.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Be good news for countries like Russia and Venezuela though as they can use the extra cash.

      1. Jim Haygood

        It would be good news for Venezeula, Reverend, except that Venezuelan production is falling so fast that price increases fail to produce higher revenue.

        Without effective management of PDVSA (soldiers are in charge) and with no foreign exchange to buy spare parts, Venezuelan production will continue its death spiral until enterprising people pick up the wrecks from less competent people, as ol’ Andrew Mellon used to say.

        1. Ignacio

          It looks your analysis is correct. Venezuela is spiralling down so fast… I speculate that creditors migth be obligued to ask for control before bankrupcy… let’s say China… High oil prices at least could help if some kind of solution is to be achieved. Dutch disease is becoming virulent in Venezuela.

    2. JohnnyGL

      “Threatening Iran is totally unhelpful.” – For whom? Those frackers need a bailout per the article in Nakedcap this past weekend.

      Of course, it’s not enough, because no bailout is ever enough because they’ll just keep on drilling too much at any price.

      One of the funnier and more telling quotes was the CEO who screamed “wall street, please, show some capital discipline and stop me before I drill again!”

  18. rd

    Re: Saga of the Toxic Ball Fields

    Lead in soil is one of the easiest environmental mitigation problems. It is very immobile and has to be ingested or inhaled as dust to be a risk. So shallow excavation (if necessary) and capping with clean materials is safe and cost-effective.

    Unmentioned is that much of the housing these people live in probably is relatively old and likely has lead paint, lead in the piping and faucet systems systems (Flint shows how bad this can get but NYC does have a better water source), and lead in the soils around the housing from lead paint flakes and leaded gas emissions. Lead paint dust is a major urban health issue for both ingestion and inhalation but is still often unaddressed. Stripping and removal of lead paint has to be done very carefully, because methods like heating and stripping can volatilize the lead and turn it into a vapor that is immediately inhalable.

    It is likely that many of the families that play on those field have more lead contamination issues in and around their homes than on the playing fields.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Auto maven Eric Peters turns his ire on Elon Mush:

    When financial analyst Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford C. Bernstein asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the money-losing electric car company’s capital requirements going forward (Tesla has burned through – cue Dr. Evil – one billion dollars in three of the last four quarters) Musk replied: “Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?”

    For sheer effrontery, this tops even The Chimp’s I am the Decider!

    Sacconaghi was also lectured by Musk to not “make a federal case” out of Tesla failing to achieve the ludicrous 25 percent gross profit margin on sales of the Model 3 it claimed it would make. A reasonable question, given most legitimate car manufacturers – those whose cars sell on their economic merits, without needing taxpayer-financed propping-up via subsidies and mandates – earn about 4 percent.

    “That’s something that we’ll solve like within three months to six months later,” Musk said. The sun will come out, tomorrow…

    The guy is a crony capitalist Rasputin. He bewitches and seduces. Whatever the ersatz Iron Man says is taken as holy writ, not to be questioned.

    Meanwhile the clock ticks on Mush’s absurd claim that Tesla won’t need to raise capital this year. Lane divider collision dead ahead …

    1. ewmayer

      TSLA up nearly 20% in the 5 weeks since the 2 April post-fiery-crash-PR low, so the pool of Greater Fools appears to be far from drying up.

  20. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Giuliani says Trump doesn’t have to comply with a Mueller subpoena and could invoke the Fifth Amendment WaPo

    It would seem that mueller and his “team” are much more comfortable when victims say “No” than when they say “Yes.”

    In February, mueller dramatically charged 13 Russian individuals and 3 Russian companies with “election related crimes.” One of the companies has decided to hire some lawyers and respond. Arraignment was scheduled for this coming Wednesday.

    Last Friday afternoon, meuller, having failed to respond to defense requests for documents, tried to get the arraignment delayed, citing issues with serving the summons. On Saturday evening, the judge said the case will go forward as scheduled.

    The defense response was, apparently, persuasive:

    “Defendant voluntarily appeared through counsel as provided for in [federal rules], and further intends to enter a plea of not guilty. Defendant has not sought a limited appearance nor has it moved to quash the summons. As such, the briefing sought by the Special Counsel’s motion is pettifoggery,” Dubelier and Seikaly wrote.

    The Concord lawyers said Mueller’s attorneys were seeking “to usurp the scheduling authority of the Court” by waiting until Friday afternoon to try to delay a proceeding scheduled for next Wednesday. Dubelier and Seikaly complained that the special counsel’s office has not replied at all to Concord’s discovery requests. The lawyers, who work for Pittsburgh-based law firm Reed Smith, also signaled Concord intends to assert its speedy trial rights, putting more pressure on the special counsel’s office to turn over records related to the case.

    “Pettifoggery.” My new favorite word.

    1. apberusdisvet

      Mueller’s indictment of the “13” was a PR stunt to try to show that there’s a there, there; i.e some sort of Russian collusion, with or without a Trump thumbprint. Unfortunately for Mueller his bluff has been called. Discovery by the defense will likely call for the proof that doesn’t exist. Meanwhile Waters and Schumer will enter a mutual suicide pact as the blue wave becomes a typical yellow puddle in a NY subway.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For a wannabe-scriptwriter, he or she could possibly offer this dialogue:

        “Where is it then?’

        “It’s no more. I stored the proof in a Syria pharmaceutical factory. Trump’s missiles ate it.”

  21. timbers


    Kerry is quietly seeking to salvage Iran deal he helped craft Boston Globe

    I thought it was illegal to undermine a sitting President’s foreign policy?

    That’s what my friends who voted for Hillary have told me.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Nobody has ever been convicted of violating the Logan Act. I, for one, am glad that Democrats rescued that impotent law from the memory hole. It demonstrated their innate authoritarian and paternalistic tendencies before Trump was elected.

  22. Spring Texan

    The TechCrunch article is terrific, best explanation I’ve seen of harms of surveillance:

    [People blow off the harms of surveillance, but] the lack of privacy has a chilling effect on dissidence and original thought. Private spaces are the experimental petri dishes for societies. If you know your every move can be watched, and your every communication can be monitored, so private spaces effectively don’t exist, you’re much less likely to experiment with anything edgy or controversial…If you don’t like the ethos of your tiny community, you can move to another one whose ethos you do like, but it’s a whole lot harder to change nation-states. Remember when marijuana and homosexuality were illegal in the West? (As they still are, in many places.) Would that have changed if ubiquitous surveillance and at-scale enforcement of those laws had been possible, back then? Are we so certain that all of our laws are perfect and just today, and that we will respond to new technologies by immediately regulating them with farsighted wisdom? I’m not. I’m anything but.
    A second problem is that privacy eradication for the masses, coupled with privacy for the rich, will, as always, help to perpetuate status-quo laws / standards / establishments, and encourage parasitism, corruption, and crony capitalism. Cardinal Richelieu famously said, “If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.” Imagine how much easier it gets if the establishment has access to everything any dissident has ever said and done, while maintaining their own privacy. How long before “anti-terrorism” privacy eradication becomes “selective enforcement of unjust laws” becomes “de facto ‘oppo research’ unleashed on anyone who challenges the status quo”?
    …. When the rich establishment can use asymmetric privacy to discredit dissidents while remaining opaque themselves…When constant surveillance, or the threat thereof, systematically chills and dissuades people from experimenting with new ideas and expressing contentious thoughts…[we have a dystopia.]

    1. Tooearly

      I would be interested to know if anyone has measured just HOW chilling an effect this is? I suspect it is icy indeed

  23. ObjectiveFunction

    Re the “perfect battery”, the less breathless source report is here:

    But could someone better qualified please help me here: isn’t this really just a hydrogen fuel cell, not truly a battery?

    “Excess electrons bubbled off as hydrogen gas, thus storing that energy for future use. Engineers know how to re-create electricity from the energy stored in hydrogen gas so the important next step was to prove that the water-based battery can be recharged.”

    Still great science of course, but hydrogen fuel cells have been spinning their wheels on commercialization since the 1960s.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      This is different than a hydrogen fuel cell, which requires a fuel and O2 source. This is a battery that can be both charged and discharged electrically, the hydrogen gas is just a fortunate (high specific energy) byproduct of the reversible chemical reaction. This is the type of tech that could make renewable sources practical— and likely cheaper than fossil fuels. Getting the grid off fossils would be an enormous accomplishment, one that looks more feasible by the day. The fastest, easiest, least contentious way to get off fossil fuels is to find a cheaper practical alternative.

      1. oh

        If the hydrogen gas bubbles off it has to go to storage where it can be used when the process is reversed. The article does not say anything about how and where it would be stored or the dangers thereof.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Yeah, I am hoping battery guru Jack Lifton will weigh in here. I freely admit my dismal chemistry, but I am in good company: half the reportage seems convinced that the chemistry generates hydrogen but not a charge.

          It would be really great, sure, but (a) this seems like chemistry that could have been done 200 years ago, and (b) I’ve read one too many breathless paeans: This Changes Everything No Really We Mean It This Time. Really really really needing it to be so don’t make it so. Chemistry is not impressed by magical thinking, alas.

        2. Synoia

          Nor does it discuss the pressures involved, or the hydrogen container.

          When Iread of stored hydrogen, I picture a potential explosion due to corrosion and lack of maintenance.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > Getting the grid off fossils would be an enormous accomplishment, one that looks more feasible by the day.

        So maybe the Iranians irradiating the Saudi oil fields could, ironically, have a salutary effect

    2. oliverks

      Some notes on the “breakthrough”. From the paper

      As schematically depicted in Fig. 1a, our Mn–H cell is composed of a cathode-less porous carbon felt, a glass fibre separator, a Pt/C- catalyst-coated carbon felt anode and a soluble Mn2+ aqueous electrolyte

      1) One of the electrodes was built using platinum and carbon. This is potentially not cheap.
      2) There is a separator between the electrodes. I think this similar types of separators are used in flow cells, and they have proven difficult to scale up (I am inferring this and could be wrong)
      3) The energy density calculations, while good, were not under the same conditions that showed good charge cycle counts.

      Potentially interesting technology, and I could be proved wrong, but there really haven’t been any breakthroughs in battery technology in 100 years. As an example 100 years ago a lead acid battery probably had a 30Wh/Kg 60KWh/m^3 and 80% coulometic efficiency and pretty good cycle count (if you looked after it). Compare that with todays Lithium batteries. Cycle count and efficiency are about the same. The densities are much improved. They probably get 300Wh/Kg and 600KWh/m^3 So an improvement of 10 in both cases. That translates to an improvement of about 2.3% a year.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        “Chemistry in a can”, as John Peterson, the Don Quixote of battery storage, says over at SeekingAlpha. Along with “In tech investing, being too early is pretty much the same as being wrong.”

  24. Synoia

    The electrons flowing in reacted with the manganese sulfate dissolved in the water to leave particles of manganese dioxide clinging to the electrodes. Excess electrons bubbled off as hydrogen gas, thus storing that energy for future use.

    There is much wrong with this descfiption:

    1 MnSO3 + H2O -> H2 + MnO + S Valencis need work, but the question is what happens to the suffer?

    2 Electrons bubbling off as Hydrogen gas is just nonsense. The hydrogen may bubble off.

    3. Storing hydrogen is difficult, and stored hydrogen is a bomb waiting to happen.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Here’s a plain language summary of the obstacles faced by hydrogen, as fuel and as storage medium.

    2. oliverks

      The overall reaction they give in the paper is actually

      Mn2+ +2H2O↔MnO2 +2H+ +H2

      So there is not any sulfur they need to deal with.

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