2:00PM Water Cooler 10/22/2018

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By Lambert Strether of .

Trade

“The Steel Industry Gets What It Wants on Tariffs” []. “U.S. steel producers, who prevailed in their push for the Trump administration to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, have also proven equally effective—and far more effective than many other industries—at avoiding tariffs they don’t want. Steel producers in September petitioned the U.S. Trade Representative for relief on 132 tariff lines, primarily for raw materials and chemicals used in the steelmaking process that members of the Steel Manufacturers Association import from China. They were able to get 66, or half, of them removed from the final list. Overall, the U.S. took nearly 300 tariff lines off the list, meaning about one out of every five removals was backed by the steel industry. A tariff line can refer to a single product but sometimes includes more than one. Most other major industry groups had a much lower success rate in petitioning for exemptions….”

Politics

2020

“20 Reasons Bernie Sanders Is The One To Beat Trump In 2020 (*Backed By Data)” []. Note especially this: “One of Sanders’ secret weapons is the digital media empire he’s built with the help of his Media Producer, Armand Aviram, formerly a politics producer at NowThis. Sanders uploads thousands of originally produced videos to his social media channels, in which he and other progressives champion major issues like Medicare for All.”

2018

until Election Day. 14 days. That’s two weels, still is a long time in politics. And remember that October is the month of surprises, though apparently Mr. Market is in his happy space now.

“Opinion: Trump’s ‘major’ tax promise is a sign that even he recognizes the 2017 tax cuts didn’t resonate with voters” []. “That was obvious from the outset to anyone paying attention. For a middle-class household, the typical change was $930 per year, per the Tax Policy Center. That extra $78 per month, assuming the proper withholding changes were made, gets easily lost amid other rising costs, including the roughly 35-cent increase in the price of gasoline prices since the tax-cut legislation was signed into law. That’s even the case if you factor in the flood of corporate announcements of one-time employee bonuses after the tax-cut bill was enacted that the Trump Commerce Department estimates was worth $30 billion in aggregate. And, remember, for the typical household, 2018 may be the peak of the tax law’s benefit, because the brackets are indexed to a measure of inflation that’s less than what most people experience. And that isn’t even getting into the issue of the 2025 sunset of the individual tax provisions.”

“Trump’s home tax changes costing votes in the suburbs” []. “[Trump’s tax reform] capped at $10,000 the amount of state and local property tax that households can deduct [the SALT deduction] from their federal income tax. The limit hit towns like Westfield, with expensive houses and a median household income of more than $150,000. ;What I’m noticing in Westfield is that there are a million houses on the market, and they’re not selling. And they’re on the market because people are worried about the tax reform,’ said Ms FitzPatrick, a speech pathologist and mother of two.” • Districts like NY-19, NJ-7, NJ-03, all toss-ups according to the FT. So, oopsie. Kinda like , isn’t it? Nobbling the SALT deduction was meant to screw the Blue States and shrink big gummint, but it looks like it might boomerang. (It might not, because as I read it, the effect is mostly wealth effect stuff like home valuations; the tax itself, the check you write, has not yet begun to bite.) And then there’s this: “Democrats’ pledges to abolish the cap has put them in the awkward position of helping affluent Americans while campaigning in the name of the middle class. Ninety-six per cent of any tax cut resulting from repeal would go to the highest 20 per cent of US households by income, according to an analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. More than half would accrue to the top-earning 1 per cent. The deduction is worth little to people who rent flats. ” • The Democrat position is “awkward” insofar as their existential position is awkward.

“Latino Voters Still Up for Grabs in Midterms” []. “In places with large populations of Hispanic voters, such as Texas, Republican candidates seem to be faring well. A recent Quinnipiac University poll in the Senate race there showed incumbent Ted Cruz with 45 percent of Hispanic support — falling short of Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke’s 54 percent, but still strong. Gov. Greg Abbott led his Democratic opponent, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, among Latinos in the state by a margin of 49 percent to 45 percent. The RealClearPolitics average in the Senate race shows Cruz up by seven percentage points while Abbott is up by 19 in the average for that race. In Florida, several polls taken earlier this year showed Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for the U.S. Senate, either leading or in a dead heat with incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Both the Cuban immigrant population, known for being more conservative, and the Puerto Rican population show high favorable numbers for Scott. One poll from Florida International University in June showed the two-term governor leading among voters of Puerto Rican heritage by a 21-point margin in the net favorable ratings – this despite 57 percent of them identifying as Democrats. RCP has the race as a tie in the average of the latest overall polls…. With over 29 million Hispanics eligible to vote this year — 4 million more than in 2014, according to Pew — candidates will have to find a way to engage this group. Young Latinos are a key component, but only 16 percent of this demographic turned out in 2014. Some analysts say that this year, due to Trump, young Latino voters are particularly angry — but that anger does not guarantee votes.”

“Dem Senate hopes shift from winning majority to limiting losses” []. “Democratic hopes of winning the Senate have faded in the final weeks of the 2018 election, with the party now needing to win every one of more than a half-dozen competitive races to capture control of the chamber…. Democrats would have to turn around [Nevada and Tennessee’, carry Arizona, and then sweep largely conservative battleground races featuring incumbent Democrats — Missouri, Florida, Indiana, Montana and West Virginia — to win the majority, a prospect several party strategists referred to as picking up an ‘inside straight’ — a low-odds poker hand.”

CA: “In California, Democrats Winning the Battle of the Bases” []. “”[Democrats] winning in a district like California-45 means everything has to go right,” said Porter adviser Sean Clegg, a former Los Angeles deputy mayor and veteran California political strategist. “It’s the district that proves the hypothesis that Trump has problems with college-educated voters—that was true in 2016 and it’s driving a disalignment.” This is one of the 25 GOP-held seats that Clinton carried in 2016.” • Problems with the Latino vote here, too, however.

New Cold War

“Russia probe revival expected if Democrats win House” []. “[California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel] and other lawmakers say they are closely watching special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and the Senate’s Russia probe to look for gaps that they could fill. And if Mueller issues any findings, their investigative plans could change.” • “If”? If Mueller doesn’t issue any findings, how much credibility will House Democrat findings have, except among the faithful?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats try to rebuild their relationship with rural America” []. Deck: “It will take a while.” • And since Democrats would have to change for this to happen, it’s unlikely.

“3 Things Democrats Need To Understand Now” []. “Democrats are the last institution standing between democracy and a dystopian mash-up of auto-kleptocracy. Here are three things they need to do immediately. One: Stop Panicking… Two: Stop Rewriting History…. Three: Stop Acting Desperate.” • Never change, Democrats! Never change! Oh, and this: “If the Democratic Party rewrites history and ignores voting trends that have been underway for several cycles, it risks overcorrecting to the left. Those who remember the names McGovern and Mondale will tell you that this sort of thing never ends well.” • And those of us who remember the initials FDR will will you that good policy can cement Democrat power for generations. Obama had the chance, and he blew it. Today’s Democrats seem determined to do the same.

“Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era” []. “On the Democratic side, liberal fury with Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress has been reflected in the form of millions of low-dollar donations to Democratic candidates in House and Senate races…. But Trump is backed by an army of small-dollar donors of his own. His campaign committees reported raising more than $18 million between July and September, bringing the total raised this year for his 2020 reelection bid to $106 million — much of that from small donors.”

“Progressives have nothing to learn from “nationalist” backlash politics” [Matt Yglesias, ]. “[S]ome aspects of the post-Cold War neoliberal consensus have not worked out as promised.” • “The situation has developed not necessarily to our advantage.”

“The Next Threat to Redistricting Reform” []. “Now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has left the stage, it is unlikely that the Court will stop extreme partisan gerrymandering. But the Court may do more than simply fail to intervene. Within a few years, the Supreme Court may well hold unconstitutional state political processes that have produced measurably better redistricting reform for the drawing of congressional districts…. The North Carolina case, , is back for a return engagement before the Supreme Court. There is every reason to believe that the Court will take the case up on mandatory appellate review and that new Justice Brett Kavanaugh will join the Court’s four other conservatives to hold that partisan gerrymandering claims are non-justiciable. Such a holding will embolden partisan legislators who control the redistricting process to push things about as far as they can without fear of federal court intervention.”

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, September 2018: “September’s results make for a solid 3-month average” []. “Though the negative pull from consumer & housing is a concern, today’s results do hint at what is expected strength for Friday’s GDP report.”

Real Estate: “Housing Inventory Tracking” []. “Inventory is a key for the housing market, and I am watching inventory for the impact of the new tax law and higher mortgage rates on housing. I expect national inventory will be up YoY at the end of 2018 (but still to be somewhat low)… Although I expect inventory to increase YoY in 2018, I expect inventory to follow the normal seasonal pattern (not keep increasing all year like in 2005). So the current increase in inventory is not comparable to late 2005 when inventory increased sharply signaling the end of the housing bubble. Also inventory is still very low. In cities like Las Vegas and Sacramento, inventory has finally moved above 2 months supply – but still historically low.”

Retail: “How Sears Kit Homes changed housing” []. “The retail chain’s bankruptcy filing this week, after decades of slow decline, obscures just how disruptive Sears was in its early 20th century heyday. While the business page obituaries will continue to position Sears as the Amazon of its day—and there’s some truth to that—the physical footprint left by Sears, especially via its kit home program and Modern Homes catalog, is wholly different than anything Amazon has yet to achieve. Consider this: In an era before commercial aviation and long-haul trucking, Sears, Roebuck & Co. set up an operation that would package and ship more than 400 different types of homes and buildings to anybody who had the cash and access to a catalog. From 1908 to 1940, Chicago-based Sears sold between 70,000 to 75,000 homes—”from Craftsman to Cape Cods, they offered a custom home at budgets and sizes that could accommodate any size family,” according to Popular Mechanics—which were sent via train car and set up as far afield as Florida, California, and even Alaska.” • Bezos is a piker.

Shipping: “Yes Virginia, there will be a Santa Claus this year” []. “Two of the indicators that are jumping off the screen right now are the Headhaul Index map and the HAUL.JOT Index. Both are clearly showing that the return to growth in inbound loaded container flow that we saw in the Long Beach/LA port is continuing and gathering momentum… This is exactly what we expect as both ‘brick and mortar’ and e-commerce retailers stock up their distribution centers in anticipation of a strong holiday shopping season.”

Shipping: “Boeing: Air cargo growth will double over 20 years” []. “Boeing projects the air cargo market will sustain a long term growth rate of 4.2%, with e-commerce as one of the main drivers. Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach $2.8 trillion this year. By 2021, the e-commerce market could reach almost $5 trillion. China in particular is booming, as the nation has become home to the world’s largest e-commerce market, with sales rapidly outpacing e-commerce sales in the U.S., which is the second largest e-commerce market.” • If business as usual continues in the stratosphere…

The Bezzle: “Funding Secured” []. “Can you imagine if Tesla were actually moving forward today with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund in a take-private transaction? Can you imagine the uproar over Elon doing this sort of major deal with the Saudis after the Khashoggi regrettable altercation murder?… Softbank’s Vision Fund is the largest single private equity fund in the world, with about $100 billion in capital commitments, of which about half comes from Saudi Arabia. Over the past two years, the Vision Fund has transformed Silicon Valley, particularly in the relationship between capital markets and highly valued private tech companies – the so-called unicorns like Uber and Lyft and Palantir and Airbnb. Who needs an IPO for an exit when you’ve got the Vision Fund to write a multi-billion dollar check?” • Well, well.

The Bezzle: “Reports Find Bank Tax Fraud Cost Europe $63 Billion” []. “It’s being called the biggest fraud investigation of Europe’s postwar period: a heist by banks and investors that allegedly plundered $63 billion from state treasuries across Europe. On Thursday, a consortium of European news outlets and journalists revealed that an investigation by European prosecutors into allegedly illegal short-term share-trading schemes is far greater than previously understood. Investigators are probing bankers at some of the world’s largest banks, and investors, accountants and tax experts. The reporting, coordinated by a German nonprofit newsroom called , was based on leaked and confidential documents and an undercover operation by Correctiv journalists posing as billionaires keen to profit from the share-trading scheme.” • Posing as billionaires? How?

Transportation: “Drone missed Heathrow-bound 787’s engine by 10ft” []. “The aircraft had been operating at 3,200ft on approach to runway 27L on 25 June, according to the UK Airprox Board…. The board says the drone was being flown beyond visual line-of-sight limits, at an altitude and in a position which meant it was ‘endangering other aircraft’, adding that it posed the highest category of collision risk.” • I imagine the video will show up on YouTube…

Transportation: “Uber Is Accelerating Its Plans to Deliver You Burgers by Drone. Here’s When It Could Start” []. “The late Sunday that Uber had ran a job ad for an operations executive who could get the drone delivery program up and running in 2019, and rolled out across multiple countries within three years. The paper reported that, after it asked Uber about the job ad, the ride-hailing firm pulled it and said the listing ‘does not fully reflect our program, which is still in very early days.’ When it was up, the listing apparently talked about enabling “safe, legal, efficient and scalable flight operations” for UberExpress, which refers to the UberEats drone delivery program….. In Uber’s case, a variety of ambitions may play well with investors looking to buy into the company’s looming IPO.” • Also flying cars.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged []. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Seems indeed that 180 is a floor.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Dunkin’ employee calls police on student speaking Somali with her family” []. • This happens entirely too much. We should be grateful that the Somalis came to our aging and chilly state and bought land and started small businesses. (Also, from Somali oral traditions, a lot of them joined high school speech and debate teams, and did very well, so I am here for that.)

Water

“1,600 days on bottled water: Flint still swamped by water woes” [].”On a recent Thursday morning along Saginaw Street, empty plastic water bottles once again littered the front lawn of City Hall near a bronze statue of an autoworker on an assembly line…. The almost daily tossing of empty water bottles along Flint’s main thoroughfare is another kind of protest, expressing anger and frustration that the lead water crisis that began in 2014 continues…. In March 2017, a federal judge approved a $97 million lawsuit settlement in which the state agreed to pay for the replacement of an estimated 18,000 lead and galvanized steel water service lines connecting main lines with household plumbing by 2020. Almost 7,400 lines have been done. Cost of the program is estimated at more than $100 million. Flint residents pay eight times the national average for our water, and water prices are only going to keep rising for the next 20 years,’ said Ms. Walters.” • Oddly, the article doesn’t mention Obama’s visit.

“Trump Orders Fast Track for Water Projects in California, the West” []. “Doubling as a campaign gift for California Republicans locked in close congressional races in the state’s agricultural heartland, Trump’s presidential memorandum expedites biological reviews of California’s two largest water delivery systems as well as projects on the Columbia and Klamath rivers….

The mighty river:

On the left is a Rio Grande without human intervention, the right is the river as it actually is. Blythe and Schmidt, 2018

— John Fleck (@jfleck)

Class Warfare

“The Economy Is Growing. These Workers’ Paychecks Aren’t.” []. “By many indicators, the U.S. economy is humming right along. Unemployment is at the lowest level in nearly two decades, and job growth hasn’t slowed. But workers mostly haven’t reaped the benefits of this growth in the form of higher paychecks. Following years of stagnant wages, real median earnings started climbing slowly in 2014. They peaked around mid-2017 and have since dipped slightly…. Some groups of workers over the past year have actually sustained notable wage declines when the numbers are adjusted for inflation. Governing identified several struggling demographic groups, using the latest quarterly median earnings estimates from the Labor Department’s Current Population Survey. These groups include women with low educational attainment, older black women, black men and those with bachelor’s degrees. But they also include the much broader category of employees in the prime of their working years.” • Oddly, neither party is talking about this.

“Teaching Criminal Law from an LPE Perspective” []. “[W]here do crime and criminals come from? [William] Chambliss rejects the story of crime conventionally told by tough-on-crime politicians, authoritarian leaders, and many a citizen: Some people are ‘good’ people (i.e., ‘us’), others are ‘bad’ people (i.e. ‘criminals’), and the job of criminal law is to make sure ‘they’ are identified and punished for preying on ‘us.’ Instead, drawing on data from Nigeria and the United States, Chambliss argues that pretty much everybody in both societies violates criminal codes at some point or another. What distinguishes the people who go to jail for their crimes from the people who don’t is political and economic power. More broadly, Chambliss argues that in a capitalist society, crime policy is not intended to ‘prevent’ or ‘stop’ crime, but rather to manage it. Our book doesn’t disagree, but it tries to complicate the story. ” W-e-l-l-l…. Interesting piece.

News of the Wired

Haven’t seen this meme in awhile:

— Amarnath Amarasingam (@AmarAmarasingam)

“A neuroscientist who lost her mind says it can happen to anyone” []. “In the US alone, one in every five adults, or more than 43 million people, experience mental illness in any given year, according to the . Worldwide, one in every four individuals will suffer from a mental health condition in their lives, according to an Oct. 9 report in . Yet few resources are devoted to this critical aspect of health, and the result is a global crisis—a “monumental loss in human capabilities” that will cost $16 trillion by 2030, according to the report. Because mental health services are “routinely worse than the quality of those for physical health…all countries can be thought of as developing countries” in this regard, write the global experts in The Lancet.”

“The brain may learn by building 11-dimensional “sandcastles”” []. “Ran Levi, co-author of the study[:] ‘It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates.'” • From 2017; note that the study post-dates the “11-dimensional chess” mockery of Obama in the blogosphere. Fascinating stuff, although I don’t have time to dig out and study the original…

Eleven-Dimensional Thinking (1):

Dude just cruised past me riding a lawn chair taped to an electric skateboard while vaping and blasting Jack Johnson. Now I’m questioning all my life choices.

— Smashley Ghoulish (@AshleyJPL)

The Dude would love this. He could strap his bowling ball on the back.

Eleven-Dimensional Thinking (2):

A brief history of philosophy on social media

— Philosophy Matters (@PhilosophyMttrs)

* * *

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 plant (SD):

More fall pollinators. Wow!

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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.

79 comments

  1. blennylips

    Building statues of hope in augmented reality
    .
    .
    .
    Savor that for just a moment…and then shoot me now.

    In Google News Initiative’s () latest foray we find out via flowingdata.com:

    As of right now, this gets 9 hits on google:

    Here! You can build your own statue of hope: buildinghop.es

    Reply
  2. flora

    re:
    “Progressives have nothing to learn from “nationalist” backlash politics” [Matt Yglesias, Vox]. “[S]ome aspects of the post-Cold War neoliberal consensus have not worked out as promised.” • “The situation has developed not necessarily to our advantage.”

    Dry, Lambert. Very dry. ;)

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      The subhead to that article:

      “Nativism is the social democracy of fools.”

      I’m loving the idea of Matthew freaking Yglesias daring to call anyone else a fool.

      Reply
    1. ambrit

      We, personally, would like to Bank the Shadows and Compound the Interest. But, then, all the World’s a Staged Non-Event.

      Reply
  3. Mark Gisleson

    11-dimensional thinking and sandcastles sounds like my college Hermeneutics 101 class. Other students and I would understand everything the instructor said, but once class was over our grasp of the lesson crumbled and Habermas was again impenetrable. Half-life of understanding shrank as we got to Lacan and Derrida.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sounds like the college world is in desperate need of more departments of 11-dimensional thinking.

      With more 11-D thinking degree holders, the ever-shorter half lives would be less of a problem.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      This, however, is the real topology of the brain. It’s not hermeneutics at all. (I have mixed feelings about us understanding “how the brain works,” because of horrible possibilities for abuse, but I think it’s undeniable this is interesting, even fascinating, work. Science is popping!)

      Reply
  4. JTMcPhee

    Hey, who needs nuclear power and all its perils when the Google Pit is going to bring KITES to your neighborhood and mine?

    And I see that Musk has maybe been doing some of that permissionless stuff (though maybe some permits or ordinances were involved) — seems the first section of his Boring Tunnel is ready for viewing. One wonders what engineering features are built into the Long Hole to insulate it from the effects of stuff like earthquakes and flooding.

    For the Run Away And Hide set, here is hopeful news from Mars: Oxygen found in little bits in the Martian atmosphere! Of course there are always nay-sayers for all Grand Visions: ‘Hey, Elon! What about toilet paper on Mars?”

    Reply
      1. Carey

        Thanks for that link! I’ve been meaning to watch ‘Brazil’ again, and seeing that
        clip was enough to get me to do it. So timely.

        Reply
    1. heresy101

      Makani is in an old Navy hangar in Alameda, CA. We looked at putting solar on the roof of the leased building 4-5 years ago and they were developing test models. These are not really designed for urban environments because of FAA flight restrictions. Models can’t be tested in Alameda because their facilities are in the Oakland Airport flight path. Where these will likely be most useful in rural 3rd world areas that can provide electricity when the sun doesn’t shine.

      Just down the block is the small run of the river hydro company – Natel, which makes 500kW to 2MW turbines.

      In another building, a Tesla co-founder is developing drive trains for electric trucks. The Port of Oakland and LA/Long Beach ports are moving to electric trucks over the next five to ten years.

      There is a lot of real development in renewable energy going on across the country while coal and nuclear (with the exception of Thorium) are being phased out regardless of Trump or Musk.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Re Google Kites, how do they stay up when the wind doesn’t blow? Or blows too hard? Turn the generators into motors to drive all those turbine/propellor blades?

        And so nice that a smallish company is making little 500kw to 2MW hydropower turbines. Soon to come to another river near you and me, with the damming and disruption that goes with. Are they selling to US customers or to those furriners who aspire to use (and convert ultimately to heat) all the electricity that they see us USians consuming?

        Really gratified to see that a Tesla dude is developing transmissions for electric trucks (the electricity to power said truck fleets coming from where, again?) to be used by the Hubs of World Trade, reducing their fuel costs but doing dang-all nothing to encourage a little autarky instead of the ‘network” of vulnerable “supply chains” that burn megatons of bunker fuel moving all that offshored sh!t to the “Consumer’s” hot little hands.

        Any other really cool disruptive and innovative stuff in the “renewable” (sic — it’s all “extractable,” since we don’t undo the effects of extracting and converting metals and sand to solar panels, recharge the sun, replace the wind energy diverted into power generation (with at least local effects,) or “renew” the effects of diverting watercourses to power our electric toothbrushes and vibrators and, current fad, the
        InstantPot!, a “life changer:”

        One might say, “at least some people are looking for solutions.” Others might say those people are looking for profits, creating new externalities, and following the seductions of Techiness that have already fostered a bunch of biosphere-damaging externalized effects. Silicon Valley thinking will Save Us All, I guess? Just have to find that magical combination of Techs that will fix all the impacts of all the magical Techs that preceded them. Because all the Smart Engineers and Tech Gurus really have a clear idea how the systems of systems and ecologies they will be impacting actually work, and would never act to “do evil.” How much electrical energy is currently used in the Blockchain Bombing? A YUUUUGE amount, I see, to do what again, that could not be done by less consumptive means or does not need to be done at all (taking “need” in opposition to “lust after” and “want”)?

        Reply
  5. Hameloose Cannon

    17. Slavoj Žižek wants to be disciplined for complying with YouTube’s terms of service, but is not.

    Reply
  6. Summer

    “Over the past two years, the Vision Fund has transformed Silicon Valley, particularly in the relationship between capital markets and highly valued private tech companies – the so-called unicorns like Uber and Lyft and Palantir and Airbnb. Who needs an IPO for an exit when you’ve got the Vision Fund to write a multi-billion dollar check?” • well, well.

    I keep saying unicorn investments and valuations are all about investing in an ideology to undercut regulations. That’s the value they see and while the lack of profit generating in the traditional sense doesn’t bother the investors. This is the case where they don’t mind what they consider short term losses until the monopolies develop further.

    The Saudi twist could contain a whole other bag if ideologies to make your skin crawl.

    And no one disagrees with the notion of

    Reply
    1. Lee

      I keep saying unicorn investments and valuations are all about investing in an ideology to undercut regulations….The Saudi twist could contain a whole other bag if ideologies to make your skin crawl.

      Regulatory dismemberment, perhaps?

      Reply
    1. Lee

      A contemporary version of Ouroboros. Or, from one or another Hindu scripture IIRC, “I am this world and I eat this world.” Or is it, “The world eats me”? I forget.

      Reply
  7. Samuel Conner

    Wonderful “butterfly-idote”!

    Re: the item on Uber’s food delivery ambitions — is this corporate “bluffing”? (taking “bluffing” from the recent item about the preponderance of “bluffers” in British politics). Basically, piling one audacious idea on top of another to distract attention from the impracticability of the prior audacious ideas?

    Reply
  8. Phil in KC

    Yeah, that is a good question, why is no one talking about wages stalling out again? There’s been a lot of anecdotes about one-time bonuses given out at some companies, and yes, starting wages at Target are now $12.00/hour (until the few remaining humans working there can be replaced by robots). You would think Democrats would seize on this. Oh, right.

    Along with that, McConnell’s comments on adjusting the holy trinity of Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare seem also to have produced a mighty yawn of indifference. Or is it because we’ve seen this movie before?

    Reply
    1. Kurtismayfield

      Go to Target, the replacement has already begun.. went to one on a Saturday and the lines were long, with no one jumping on register. However the automatic registers we’re almost empty ( because no one wants to use on with a full cart).

      They will train us to cash out ourselves, TINA.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Sounds like Target is following Walmart’s lead. The latter is increasing their self checkouts at the expense of human cashiers who may have been switched to the new “Pickup” service.

        Personally I don’t mind self checkout as long as I don’t have to stand in line to do it. Standing there waiting while someone fumbles with the machine can be frustrating.

        But interestingly once forced to do so shoppers do seem to be getting the hang of it. So yes we are being “trained” by the dreaded Bentonville oligarchs.

        Reply
        1. Skip Intro

          It certainly provides opportunity for a consumer-worker alliance in the form of direct action. Always get help when doing ‘self-checkout’. But do it slowly.

          Reply
          1. Rod

            … and then talk loudly about preferring to use a live cashier because you prefer to help employees remain gainfully employed and not replaced by machines….

            Reply
      2. ChristopherJ

        As long as there are alternative business owners with a social conscience, I’ll continue to not shop where I am herded into the robot lane. Almost there with Maccas….

        Thanks Kurtis

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          So do you only go to gas stations where an attendant fills your tank? They are getting hard to find. It could be that corporations, whatever their motives, have a lot more control over our behavior than you think.

          It’s actually surprising the degree to which almost everyone has accepted the process of taking a nozzle spewing flammable liquid and filling up their car. A few years from now the same unthinking acceptance could apply to self checkout lanes.

          Reply
          1. ChristopherJ

            You are, of course, right, Carolinian.

            Although, there is one left at Edge Hill near me, where the owner/assistant will come out and serve you. Just doesn’t have 98 octane, otherwise I would use them.

            We have crossed that line now. We should have put up a fight when we were first asked to serve ourselves, but we didn’t. Today’s corporation thinks social responsibility is to steal as much of your money as they can, with price discrimination the wholly grail…

            A government not beholden to corporations could change the laws that favor them and their stockholders over people.

            I just can’t see one on the horizon.

            Reply
          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Shoppers could continue to use humanned checkout lines as long as any exist at all. Choosing to use the robo-checker is a choice one chooses to choose in many cases.

            Now, if Walmart has exterminated every other place of bussiness within reach, and they make you wait for 60-80 minutes in a checker line waiting for a checker, then one really is driven to choose the robo-checker. ” Dhere are vays to MAKE you chooss der robo-checker.” For people who have time to burn, a passive-obstructive protest might be to get in the robo-checker line and keep “doing it wrong”, playing dumm, etc. The passive-obstructer could make his passage through the robo-checker into a feast of pain and delay for the swelling line behind him till wage-paid humans have to come out and help him overcome his “difficulties with the system.” And if the next customer in line were passive-obstructive, and the next customer after that and the next customer after that . . . perhaps a line of 30 or 50 or 80 people would just say “fork this” and walk away from their full carts, leaving paid employees to put it all away.

            Maybe enough of that would torture Walmart into abandoning the self-robofication of all checkout lines.

            Reply
  9. neighbor7

    Re book meme:

    “The owning of more books than he can possibly read is the only trait that ranks man above the animals.”

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I agree and I am prone myself to getting too many books as part of my permanent collection. Why just this week I got a book by some character named Y. Smith on how unenlightened self interest undermined democracy and corrupted capitalism.

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth K. Burton

      I currently have enough books in my TBR list to last me ten years after I’m dead. So, if heaven does turn out as described by Mark Twain, I’m well prepared.

      Reply
  10. ewmayer

    o “3 Things Democrats Need To Understand Now” [WGBH]. “Democrats are the last institution standing between democracy and a dystopian mash-up of auto-kleptocracy.” — Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure they are…

    o Retail: “How Sears Kit Homes changed housing” [Curbed] … From 1908 to 1940, Chicago-based Sears sold between 70,000 to 75,000 homes—”from Craftsman to Cape Cods, they offered a custom home at budgets and sizes that could accommodate any size family,” according to Popular Mechanics—which were sent via train car and set up as far afield as Florida, California, and even Alaska.” — And they did all that without 3D-printing, software or the internet, and actually sold people homes they could live and raise a family in at a reasonable price. Talk about ‘disruptive’!

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      “Democrats are the last institution standing between democracy and a dystopian mash-up of auto-kleptocracy.”

      If that is true, we are well and truly doomed.

      Reply
  11. Big River Bandido

    The WGBH link (“3 Things Democrats Need to Understand Now” is actually from November 2016. Did you post it simply to show ça change? Because, skimming the article left me with the impression that since then, liberals have learned absolutely nothing, and changed absolutely nothing.

    Especially insulting is the piece’s dishonesty over how the $15/hour minimum wage and the candidates’ stances on it. And the delusions of the writer are eye-opening — perhaps they were inspired by post-election hysteria:

    To win in 2020, Democrats may not need to do anything more complex than remember to campaign in [MI, WI, and PA].

    If the Democratic Party rewrites history and ignores voting trends that have been underway for several cycles, it risks overcorrecting to the left. Those who remember the names McGovern and Mondale will tell you that this sort of thing never ends well.

    The same old, stale, stinky DLC/”Third Way” plays, including the “demographics-as-destiny” argument, and of course the pro forma trotting out of the McGovern meme. Because what could be more contemporary than invoking an election from half a century ago? And it’s a phony equivalence, anyway — gear Dog, McGovern was the first candidate to recognize and appeal to what Thomas Frank later termed the “professional class”.

    All in all, this piece epitomizes hack reporting, by a scribe writer with a serious Rip Van Winkle complex. I’m not old enough to remember George McGovern — and neither are most Americans. But I do remember once upon a time when PBS actually practiced a forgotten art called “journalism”.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      I paid careful note to the language “overcorrect to the left”. I’m almost certainly reading a little to much into it, but this what that language and condescending tone says to me:
      1) Hey, we’re all on the same team!
      2) We’re just talking about what is possible to do, at this historical moment. Chill out. We all have the same long term goals!
      3) We must never mention those goals, or talk about them.
      4) That scares the straights.
      5) In deciding what to do next, and how to proceed, we must pay serious attention to mysterious currents of zeitgeist and political culture.
      6) I don’t think you really understand this. It is mystifying work for high priests.
      7) These are trends only smart people can see.
      8) No, I’m not being grifted by a crooked tailor. How childish of you to say that.
      9) Go team!

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        Don’t forget the gratuitous references to Cheetos and living in Mom and Dad’s basement. That’ll give you an even list of 10.

        Reply
  12. dcblogger

    “In places with large populations of Hispanic voters, such as Texas, Republican candidates seem to be faring well. A recent Quinnipiac University poll in the Senate race there showed incumbent Ted Cruz with 45 percent of Hispanic support — falling short of Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke’s 54 percent,

    one what planet is Beto the one with an Hispanic problem? He has a nine point lead with Hispanics.

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      on what planet is Beto the one with an Hispanic problem? He has a nine point lead with Hispanics.

      In her successful 1990 gubernatorial race, . Four years later, she upped it to 75%. If you accept that range as a reasonable benchmark that a Texas Democrat needs for success in a statewide race, O’Rourke is underperforming the weaker of Richards’ tallies by a whopping 12 points. A candidate whose election depends on overwhelming support from a certain demographic is receiving an underwhelming response? That does indeed constitute a serious “Hispanic problem”, just not in the way you are conceiving of it.

      This is not a problem limited to O’Rourke, to Texas, or to Hispanic voters. But it’s an appropriate metaphor for what ails Democrats of all types, all over the country.

      Reply
    2. edmondo

      It’s not just Hispanics. The Big Blue Wave looks like a ripple. The Democrats may have recruited all those CIA agents out in Langley for no good reason

      Reply
  13. WheresOurTeddy

    “Trump Orders Fast Track for Water Projects in California, the West” [Courthouse News]. “Doubling as a campaign gift for California Republicans locked in close congressional races in the state’s agricultural heartland, Trump’s presidential memorandum expedites biological reviews of California’s two largest water delivery systems as well as projects on the Columbia and Klamath rivers….

    They’re raising Shasta Dam for no good reason at all, and people are PISSED. Lake will rise, people’s properties will shrink, and for what? More water to the agriculture of this state that uses 80% of it already?

    When it comes to Urban vs Rural, it’s pretty clear whose side Donny is on, which is antithetical to the coalition that actually voted his ignorant ass into office in the first place.

    Reply
    1. Duck1

      Sort of an Anglo ghost dance, it will be less full, but there may be a really big rain. Meantime there is money to be made moving dirt and pouring concrete. Maybe all the excess CO2 will bring an atmospheric river to the basin to legitimize the expenditure.

      Reply
  14. Summer

    Re: Smashley Ghoulish @AshleyJPL
    “Dude just cruised past me riding a lawn chair taped to an electric skateboard while vaping and blasting Jack Johnson. Now I’m questioning all my life choices.”

    Most of the comments on the thread were humorous or inquiring, but I’m kind of amazed that some feel threatened by this…(and not in a “may cause an accident” way. They miles away and not even on the same road).

    Reply
  15. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Steel Industry Gets What It Wants on Tariffs

    I thought that Trump was delivering a political payoff to one of his bases of support when he began imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum. Everybody else was concerned about protectionism but politics isn’t really about ideology, values, or vision. Just look at the Democratic Party. The primary concern at the end of the day is rewarding your friends and crushing your enemies. That alone should provide some clarity that hacks through all the drama and posturing that takes place in contemporary American politics.

    Reply
  16. EGrise

    ‘Broad City’ stars urge Clinton not to run again

    She made a cameo on their show, but the stars of Comedy Central’s “Broad City” say Hillary Clinton shouldn’t make another run at the White House.

    “I love Hillary. I don’t think she should run again,” Abbi Jacobson told ITK on Sunday. Jacobson and fellow “Broad City” star Ilana Glazer were on hand to honor Julia Louis-Dreyfus with the 21st annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

    “It’s like sad for me to say that,” Jacobson, 34, added. “I feel like we still very much need her to be involved in some way. I don’t know what that is.”

    A top aide to the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said last week that Clinton hasn’t completely ruled out another presidential bid.

    Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “1,600 days on bottled water: Flint still swamped by water woes”

    And who can forget this golden oldie when Obama pretended to drink Flint water saying that the filters made it all safe. It was like during the mad cow outbreak in the UK years ago when some politician was eating meat to “prove” that it was safe to eat – and to protect the profits of the British meat industry. Gaaachh!

    Reply
    1. Alex V

      I remember that vividly. The best (worst) part is he also forced his young daughter to partake at the same event.

      John Gummer was his name.

      A few years later…

      Thankfully, according to Wikipedia, Lord Deben is now Chairman of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change.

      Is everything run like CalPERS?

      Reply
  18. Unna

    One can read all that contemporary legal theory. Or just go to the Republic and learn from what Thrasymachus taught:

    “And each ruling class makes laws to its own advantage. Democracy makes democratic laws, tyranny makes tyrannical laws, and so on with the others. And in making these laws, they declare that this—what is to their advantage—is just for their subjects, and they punish anyone who deviates from this as lawless and unjust.

    “This, then, Socrates, is what I say is just: it is the same in all cities, the advantage of the established rule. Since the established rule clearly has the power, anyone who reasons correctly will conclude that everywhere it is the same thing that is just—what is to the advantage of the more powerful.”

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I hope Sanders is quietly withholding his help from junior clintonites, rahmoids, catfood democrats and Brennan’s flying monkeys.

      Reply
  19. knowbuddhau

    >>> “Governing identified several struggling demographic groups….”

    Those with a BA and drastically underemployed, present. But I’m not struggling. I’m being hindered. This whole system is designed to parasitize me, but that’s ignored, _I’m_ the one with the problem. Thus their solution, if any, won’t be to stop parasitizing me.

    If I read that, and they say I need training, or to move to some “innovation” center, the noise you’ll hear will be me screaming.

    Ranks right up there with “financial toxicity.” It’s like putting a red-hot branding iron on someone, then noting in your report their “thermal inadequacy.” Recommendation: clothing made from 100% recycled asbestos.

    Reply
  20. knowbuddhau

    I like the sound of this:

    “The brain may learn by building 11-dimensional “sandcastles”” [New Atlas]. “Ran Levi, co-author of the study[:] ‘It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates.’”

    I have a schematic of a process that can do that. Developed it back before video editing was so easy. It’s a still of how brains work. It’s based on Yevgeny Sokolov’s Neuronal Model of Stimuli.

    We have feature detectors in our processing system, ranging from simple to complex, just like the above description. Ever hear of the “monkey paw detector” cells? Some are specific to faces. The most simple are just horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and so on.

    Thanks for the great food for thought!

    Reply
  21. The Rev Kev

    That Philosophy Matters list missed the most important ones-

    17. All philosophers realize that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42.
    18. All philosophers go on strike as they are now out of work.

    Reply
  22. Elizabeth K. Burton

    Don’t tell the DNC, but I think I accomplished their much-desired goal this past weekend–persuading a moderate Republican woman to vote blue. Curiously, I didn’t use a single one of their “tools,” like “Trump hates women.” I just talked about Trump derangement syndrome, and how it keeps people watching Trump while the real damage is done behind their backs. And assured her the Democrats are now pretty much what the GOP was under Ike.

    Also over the weekend, TeleSUR reported 23 journalists, or more than two per month, were murdered in Latin America this year. Remember the outrage and uproar about them? Yeah, me either. Wrong class, I suppose. And they were covering things the establishment prefers remain undiscovered.

    And, to no surprise, an article in Politico warning those who’ve been slavering over Mueller’s pile of alleged bricks connecting Trump and Putin may end up with wet laps because there’s a report he’s about wrapped up everything there is to wrap. Which, also to no surprise, didn’t get much air time.

    I suppose there’s something to be said for dependability.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      I am sure that there is still plenty of violence, but the Mexican cartels until they had them properly informed terrorized would not only regularly go after the reporters, they would go after the offices, publishers, co-workers, anyone doing any work for them like the cleaning ladies, and the families of everyone I just listed. They really don’t mess around. Worse, it is not always clear what might make the local druglord unhappy and often they don’t bother to even call, they just shooting into the office. So instead of a call or letter “suggesting” something it bullets.

      I have to say that it’s only because I have had family in the business and sometimes down south that I know any of this. I have had to make an extra effort to find this out.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Exactly. One rich Saudi dies, and we’re supposed to prepare to launch nukes. Hardworking journalists are butchered by people who likely wouldn’t exist but for another, ongoing war, the War on Drugs, and the silence is deafening. Of course, the fact the CIA often works cheerfully with those drug lords has nothing to do with it.

        When all else fails, my deeply rooted disgust of hypocrisy will likely be what keeps me going.

        Reply
  23. emorej a hong kong

    On the left is a Rio Grande without human intervention, the right is the river as it actually is. Blythe and Schmidt, 2018 …

    Buried future analogy:

    Rio Grande = Mekong
    Mexico = Indochina
    USA’s Remember the Alamo = China’s Dam Mekong Headwaters

    Reply
  24. ChristopherJ

    If I am right, then things are about to turn upside down down under.

    Harvey Norman – Electrical and Furniture retailer – Going to be bankrupt soon.

    Just my unique thoughts, following unusual sales tactics, two, urgent sales in the space of week. Not shorting it, don’t have the money, just want to place a marker somewhere. Hope I am wrong.

    The canary? 74 year old Roger David menswear – stalwart of all good Aussie malls for a long time. Gone. Plus everything else affecting consumer spend in Australia….

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Real estate is where the Oz economy will blow up. It has warped our economy as well as our laws and when it goes there will be a lot of people underwater with their mortgages – and hell to pay at the next elections.

      Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Not necessarily. Probably Wall Street as well. Last I heard, real estate prices are about two or three times what they should be and the government is not inclined to haul them in, no matter which party is in power. As an example of how this has warped our laws, we use to have a good Banking Act which stated that depositors got paid out first in case of trouble, and then creditors.
          Going by memory here but I believe that it was changed to allow a new type of loan money coming into the country (as done in NZ) which meant that creditors had first priority getting paid back and ordinary depositors were at the back of the line. This was a Wall Street innovation and nothing to do with China if memory serves me right.

          Reply
  25. CCZ

    Regarding the young Somali woman at the Dunkin’ Donuts:

    Perhaps you should do some research before immediately defaulting to “I Believe” and taking sides!

    Ms. Ahmed also alleges “discrimination” at Starbucks.

    Numerous newspaper articles describe her organizing for Women’s March, multiple anti-Trump marches (immigration, travel ban, DACA) and an anti-gun march. Perhaps she approaches people in a way to provoke a hostile response??

    Reply

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