Links 10/7/18

Popular Science

LRB

Motherboard (Carolinian). Hoisted from comments.

Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

FT

The Conversation

Asia Times (The Rev Kev)

Burn, Baby, Burn

San Francisco Chronicle

Bloomberg (David L)

Waste Watch

TreeHugger

BBC

The Hindu

Moon of Alabama (Chuck L)

Counterpunch

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Handelsblatt. Seems ordinary Germans have sensible attitudes and habits: “They pay with cash, fear self-driving cars, and think data sharing (even when anonymized) is one step away from Stasi methods. “

India

The Wire

Al Jazeera Bill: “And all Syria got was a bunch of old S-300s.”

BBC (David L)

Scroll.in

Aisa Sentinel

Indonesia

Al Jazeera

AFP

New Cold War

Politico

Brexit

EUReferendum.com

Syraqistan

Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

American Conservative

Consortium News

Guardian

Imperial Collapse Watch

Salon

China?

China Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

SCMP

Class Warfare

Jacobin

ProPublica

The Conversation

Independent

Reuters

Kill Me Now

TMZ. Couldn’t resist linking to the photo in the first link…nor this headline:   Daily Mail

Kavanaugh

NYT

ABC

Politico

WaPo

Trump Transition

Ars Technica

CNN

Truthdig

Antidote du Jour ():

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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182 comments

  1. el_tel

    Germans and AI: I saw exactly this in early 2015 in my final academic job. I was based in Sweden, where beggars have card-reading machines (yes and the media have reported on it too), but remember my most recent visit to Germany where a big dinner at no slouch of a restaurant still required a myriad of bill-splitting across cards (and type of card mattered) and cash in order for us to pay up. Though short-term Germany seemed more of a pain, the increasing knowledge of the insecurity of e-payment systems (see NC previous articles) makes me think Germany may have it right.

    1. Jos Oskam

      Germany is unrivaled for the quality of its engineering of stuff that goes “thump” when you drop it on the floor. Whatever AI or other hyped-up IT developments will eventually deliver, there will always be a market for the staid Made In Germany products.
      In robots for example, the AI component is only part of the equation. The arms, manipulators, motors, joints and whatever must come from somewhere. And I would not be surprised if that “somewhere” is more and more going to be Germany.

      1. el_tel

        Yeah I wouldn’t be surprised if some German clever person is designing a much better card system….after all, first is not necessarily best. For instance IIRC it was France who introduced “chip and pin” for cards before any other country in Europe. However, the international security protocols eventually agreed upon made French cards frequently cause difficulty – I saw it on holidays in Spain in the noughties on a regular basis when it came to paying bar tabs etc at hotels.

        The US, of course, introduced NTSC as its TV standard…then Europeans learnt from its limitations and PAL gained a reputation for being “much better” with NTSC disparagingly called “Never The Same Color”. I won’t even touch upon how both Microsoft and Apple “developed/invented” *ahem* windows based systems on the back of tech supposedly developed elsewhere (Xerox GUI).

    2. Carla

      When one little letter “i” changes the entire meaning of a statement:
      “Seems ordinary Germans have sold attitudes and habits: “They pay with cash, fear self-driving cars, and think data sharing (even when anonymized) is one step away from Stasi methods.”

      It’s not the Germans who have been sold. ;-)

      1. TimmyB

        This struck me as hilarious. From the article: “Germans, however, prefer to wallow in paranoid visions of digital dystopia.”

        Unlike America, where both major political parties and the corporate media all turn a blind eye to our government vacuuming up our electronic communications and data. Seems like German paranoia is a good thing.

    3. Wukchumni

      When I was in Japan in the 80’s and 90’s, it was the most cash and carry country i’d ever come across, before or since.

      1. Lord Koos

        That was a long time ago — now in Japan you can buy stuff from vending machines using your smart phone.

  2. David Carl Grimes

    Re: Clinton Oktoberfest: Why does Hillary always have this crazed look on her face?

    1. Edward E

      I don’t think she drinks what we do, it’s more like a Witches’ Brewery where she’s always preferred to swill. Told everyone that Bubba Clinton was dating again when he came to Little Rock this summer.

      1. oh

        Bubba’s found some fresh “catch du jour” in Germany while Hilly has the waxy frozen smile on her.

        1. ewmayer

          Well, ‘dirndl’ (capitalized in German) is the diminutive of ‘Dirne’, an old-fashioned word for ‘girl’ – so Bill and the little girls, same old story. It’s funny to imagine the Big Dawg, red nose fully engorged after a couple of those full-liter Oktoberfest beers, making zee small-talk woo-woo in German in his best Sergeant Schultz imitation: “Ach Lieeeeeeeeeeeebchen, ich hab’s ja nicht bös gemeint, ich will nur einen ganz kleinen Kuss von deinen Lippen…”

          1. Unna

            ….nicht bös gemeint…sondern ganz bös geplant.

            And that outfit of his. Impossible to look at even via a picture from half way around the globe.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Between her appearance in a TV show and her appearing as a nominal character in a recent play, it seems that she is being turned into a parody of herself which would remove her from serious contention in 2020. Maybe she will gravitate into the persona of an respected elder in the democrat arty for the rest of her life. She would love that as she would be pulling all the strings behind the scenes for her own reasons just like Pelosi.

  3. Wukchumni

    To sell it to the public, a Reality TV show titled “The Fresh Prince of Kabul” would be the clincher.

    Watch Erik and his Blackwater ops, no strike that, Xe, whoops, make that Academi, who are sent to move in with their wealthy uncle-Sam. He often clashes with the lifestyle of the inhabitants of Kabul, but that’s where Ryan Zinke makes a cameo and declares that all waters are territorial to the U.S.A., and thus, Afghanistan is in the realm of the Department of the Interior, and the locals better just STFU, there’s a new sheriff in town.

    All that’s needed is for the critics to give it enough props, for at least a Half-Neilsen, and then Erik can pin down the details, and save our country from the burden of having to care about why we’re there.

  4. Wukchumni

    Prost! A beaming Bill Clinton hugs women in Bavarian Dirndl dresses as he and Hillary live it up at Oktoberfest in Munich during German getaway Daily Mail
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Then: Peace in our time

    Now: Piece in his time
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Everybody ought to go to Oktoberfest once, but that was enough for me.

    Such a bacchanalia of indulging and excess, and then after you’ve drank too much, just out the door of the beer hall you’ve been in for hours, are a bunch of carnival rides, bumper cars and beer in your belly being a good way to hurl if if you’re in a hurry to technicolor yawn, but if that doesn’t take, the chintzy roller coaster ride will get you to the promised land.

  5. timbers

    But if you are audited, there’s a good chance it’s because you claimed the earned income tax credit.

    Being an Arm Chair Non-Expert of Average Intelligence this seems to violate the EQUAL PROTECTION clause.

    The IRS could best use it’s resources targeting wealthy folks – assuming that’s want the IRS wants to do.

      1. JBird4049

        The wealthy have tax lawyers that get paid to slap the IRS back whereas the average poor person doesn’t.

      2. timbers

        If that’s true – that the wealthy are always under IRS audit – then why don’t the wealth sue for violation of the EQUAL PROTECTION clause? They have the resources to do so. Why haven’t they done so? That’s seems very odd indeed. Because if the wealthy are always under IRS audit when those claiming EARNED INCOME CREDITS and other less than wealthy are not under 100% IRS audit as you claim the wealthy are, that is clearly a violation of law and constitution.

        1. JBird4049

          The wealthy have raw power, the merely prosperous have some money for a little help and social capital, while the poor do have the money, power, connections, or even the time to deal effectively with the IRS. That is why the supposed fraudsters get the audits while the supposed virtuous job creators skate. This was is especially true when the IRS’ budget has been deficient for decades.

          Reminds me of social security fraud which really is not that much, but it does exist, and like the IRS, Social Security’s administration budget has been declining for years. When maybe a decade and a half or so, after having Congress whinged a lot about fraud, Social Security got their budget beefed up just for fraud investigations. It worked and some real thieves were caught. The thing is, is that the legislation authorizing the extra money had a sunset provision. The provision kicked in, the funding stopped, the Social Security administration went back with doing too much with too little.

          Around five years ago, the head was hauled into committee and blasted for having the rate of disability fraud increase because of reduced fraud investigations. The administrator very politely explained the problem to the congressman although he did look very…exasperated.

    1. Lynne

      This article might be new, but EIC audits are old news. The earned income credit has been a source of headaches and audit flag for years. Consider

      Back in 2015, Rand Paul, the IRS, and Politifact all came up with a 22-25% figure for what percentage of EIC payments should not have been made. The last few years, they’ve increased the amount of inquiry required of tax preparers before filing a return claiming an EIC credit. Not all the claims are in bad faith, but consider the likelihood that a couple that went through a nasty divorce might each try to claim the kids and at least one report the other for tax fraud. Ive heard of it happening.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Suppose an EIC claim were made in “bad-faith”. If a claimant meets the income qualifications why should we be so worried if they cannot meet the numerous requirements on child support, and residence? Are these taxpayers a major source of lost income for the IRS? What about waiters and waitresses and their tendency to not claim all their tip income? What other scams do the poor perpetrate on the IRS — and why should I be concerned about making the poor pay Federal taxes? I am much more concerned about tax havens for Corporations and the very rich. I am more concerned about the fairness of the IRS rules. I believe the IRS tends to rule so as to maximize their taxes. Take a close look at the rules for who can claim children in a divorce, or who can claim children in broken families where grandma has an extra bedroom and uncles and aunts kick-in the money needed to support the child.

        Worry about tax laws specially written to benefit special interests and particular people. Worry about the tax laws that let Corporate CEO pay a lower taxrate than their secretaries. … And in terms of fiscal stimulus, fairness, reducing the political power of the wealthy and MMT why worry so much about the little bit the poor are able to snag here and there from the poor IRS?

        1. Lynne

          Well, see, there’s your problem. Talking about fairness and the IRS. Why woul you think they care about that?

    2. Lord Koos

      It wasn’t exactly an audit, but the year after I sold my house in 2012, someone at the IRS went through my back returns and figured that I owed them $1200 from a 2009 return. I’m a semi-retired musician who has always shown very little earnings… apparently I had declared some gig income from that year so that it could be taxed. Since then I have begun declaring it as “hobby” income and now don’t owe anything on the same type of earnings. But the interesting part is that the IRS bothered to comb through the old filings of a relatively poor senior citizen to get this $1200. A friend told me it was because I had recently sold my house without purchasing another and the IRS knew I had some money. He’s probably right. So the big fish skate while the IRS uses their resources to investigate minnows.

      1. Procopius

        Their resources have been cut so much since Reagan they can’t afford to take on the rich, with their highly paid tax lawyers, PR firms, and lobbyists, paid by their corporations. It’s like the FBI, and the DoJ in general, where hundreds of agents were taken from investigating/prosecuting white collar crime and switched to “antiterrorist” duties and then never replaced. And of course in all departments the prospect of being hired at excellent wages if the rich like them.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Saudi journalist ‘killed inside consulate’ – Turkish sources”

    If the Saudis are saying that they will welcome the Turkish government searching the Consulate, it can only be because the Saudis have already snuck his body out the premises. Probably stashed in a diplomatic bag. Or, knowing the Saudis, several diplomatic bags.

    1. Wukchumni

      Officials believe that a team of 15 Saudis arrived on Tuesday to conduct the killing, then left the country soon afterwards.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      15 Saudi hijackers on 9/11 to take out 3 planes, and 15 Saudi hit-men (that’s very Quentin Tarantino’ish in terms of overdo) to take out one pain.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Apparently that is standard fare for a hit team. The section below is taken from an article at in which an Israeli veteran explains how such missions are carried out-

        I want to explain how the special services work. If you need someone to eliminate, then this is a very serious operation, which is being prepared for a long time. A very significant material and human resource is allocated. We are talking about dozens of employees. On the territory of this state, an “advanced command post” is being created.

        In the operation, a technical support group, a logistic group, a cover group, an external surveillance group and a group of performers are involved.

        The performers themselves appear at the very last moment. They do not go anywhere, lighting up on cameras, do not use public transport, but move on rented cars, which they do not rent themselves. And the more they will not stop in hotels, but will live on safe houses provided by the logistics group.

        Such groups do not come under the passport of their country, do not go to the embassy for obtaining a visa, leaving fingerprints. This is complete nonsense. Professionals do not work that way.

        Actually that whole article is worth a read.

        1. Wukchumni

          My hit-man experience is limited to dispatching hundreds, no make that thousands of ants, but it’s all relative.

          The best kind of ant killer is a brand called ‘Terro’ and my wife sometimes calls me a ‘Terroist’ and as far as the wee ones go, I most certainly am.

          1. Oregoncharles

            A story that’ll make your hair stand on end: The wee ones are mostly sugar ants, and yes boric acid bait, like Terro, is the best bet. But we fought a battle with carpenter ants. The first year, they, too, took the boric acid in syrup, and disappeared (I also found a nest outside and laced it with pyrethrum and diatomaceous earth). A year or two later, they reappeared.

            That time, the soldier ants (these are big guys) formed a circle around the drop of bait, facing outward, and kept the others from drinking it. Impressive, and scary.

            I found other ways to attack them, like blowing pyrethrum into their tunnels, and haven’t seen but one or two this year. Knock wood.

            1. KB

              Oregon: Carpenter ants will always return until you find the wet wood they are attracted to and remediate……Sometimes it’s just a wet window sill even inside…
              From an experienced totally wood home owner…

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            I had a bunch of the tiny little blackish ants ( “picnic ants”) sharing my dwelling unit with me many years ago. I discovered that they really liked little pieces of tuna-in-oil.

            So I took an empty tuna can and made a folded paperboard bridge so the ants could walk into and back out of the can. Then I put a little tuna fish outside the can to get the ants interested. Then I put a bunch of tuna fish in the can and waited for a couple of days for the whole colony to become totally interested in it. When there was a thick ant-trail road going to the can and coming back from it, I poured a quarter-inch of olive oil into the can. All the ants in the can drowned and all the other ants followed the ant chem-trail into the can where they drowned. After a couple more days there were zero ants coming to the can. When I was sure that every last in was drowned in the can, I threw the can of ants away.

          3. The Rev Kev

            Of course you could turn a pesky ant’s nest into an art installation-

            But don’t be surprised if they evolve their defensive capabilities-

        2. Unna

          Great article. A “must read”. But the British, and the rest, would have us believe that when Putin, formidable KGB operative that he is, orders a hit on a washed up ex spy in the UK years after he’s been released, Putin sends two wild and crazy guys on the same plane together who as soon as they land go partying with booze, dope, prostitutes, and loud music just so they can attract a lot of attention and get discovered – but only after they return safely to Russia. And all this being brought to you by the same government that’s bringing you a crash out Brexit – which is maybe why they’re bringing it to you….

          1. Unna

            Verdoppeltebemerkungsmisserfolg

            It seems to roll off the tongue nicely with a bounce. Suggestions anyone?

        3. Unna

          Thanks. A “must read” article. So when Putin, formidable KGB master mind that he is, orders a hit on a washed up ex spy in the UK years after he’s been released, Putin sends two wild and crazy guys on the same plane together who as soon as they land go partying with booze, dope, prostitutes, and loud music just so they can attract a lot of attention and get discovered – but only after they return safely to Russia. And all this being brought to you by the same government that’s bringing you a crash out Brexit….

        4. Olga

          Yes, it is fascinating to contemplate how those Russkies manage to be evil geniuses and bumbling idiots – all in the same moment. Seems to me if they really wanted to off Skripal, no one would ever know (and they certainly would not do it with the innocent daughter present).
          On the other hand, the entire grisly, false-flag affair reveals just how low MI6 has sunk. Nihilism, combined with rank incompetence – this is supposed to be the world’s best and oldest secret service…?

      2. oh

        Several US Govt and FBI planes to fly other saudis out of the country when all aviation was shut down in the US. Go figure!

    2. Carolinian

      That’s an amazing story if true and like something out of a gangster movie. The Turks say no body parts were removed in diplomatic bags. If the Saudis and MBS feel they can get away with almost anything–via being buddies with Trump–then the region is truly in uncharted territory.

      Of course it may not be true and the missing man yet turn up.

    3. Ignim Brites

      Got to wonder if this isn’t a Russian/Turkish intel op to pressure the Saudis into abandoning their proxies in Idlib and ending their war in Yemen. President Trump’s, “whose your daddy” comment might be a shot across the bow to the Saudis to not play footsie with the Russians. Got to doubt that Trump much cares but Mattis might. Look for the Russian collusion pressure on Trump to ratchet up in the coming weeks as Russia moves to put its middle east plan in place.

  7. skippy

    From my understanding the top usage on the internet is 1. social media 2. video 3. financial transactions and data with the top two being platforms for adds.

    Reminiscent of Moores old awful truth show quip – I show their misdeeds and they still advertise on this shows time slot…. all they care about is eyes….

    1. Carolinian

      In terms of traffic rather than clicks the winner is in

      Video streaming service Netflix is the world’s most data-hungry application, consuming 15% of global net traffic, according to research from bandwidth management company Sandvine.

      Video in general accounts for more than half of net traffic, it suggests.

      1. el_tel

        So if Netflix is about 15% and total video is over 50% can we infer that around 35% is p*rn?

        sounds about right ;-)

      1. skippy

        3. is largely financial exchange data as I understand it – see boxing day earth quake some years ago damaging undersea cables in South China sea. I forget the exact number of estimated billions lost until traffic was rerouted.

  8. jo6pac

    I can’t read the ft story but the Fish Market is moving to a new location. It looks like a fun place to be at 2am.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Drunk birds are wreaking havoc in Minnesota”

    Can’t see the story itself but are they sure that it was not actually drunk golden gophers wreaking havoc in Minnesota?

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      That’s a pity, as it’s a funny story, and more than lives up to the promise of the headline– I just checked the link and it works for me.

    2. Carolinian

      It worked for me. What I found interesting was the evolutionary implications for humans and alcohol.

      Larger, bi-pedal primates may indulge for similarly coincidental reasons. We could have developed our taste for ethanol because it signals ripe, nutrient-rich fruit, one theory goes. Or maybe because it makes us hungry, getting more calories into us. Either way, in a world where the booziest thing you’re likely to find is a slightly rotten apple, those instincts are fine. It was only after the prehistoric Chinese discovered homebrewing in the seventh millennium B.C.E that enjoying the products of fermentation became a health hazard. Someday evolution might catch up and grant us the drunk reflexes of a bat, but for now, some biologists consider alcoholism an “evolutionary hangover.”

      It could be we humans are chock full of “evolutionary hangovers.”

      1. Edward E

        Superstar and I seem to have an evolutionary hang-up. She won’t marry me when I’m tooted and I won’t marry her when I’m sober…

      2. polecat

        Ah contraire Carolinian,
        Just look what date beer (along with the requisite quotient of onions) did for the Egyptians … One needs all the fortification they can get whilst raising obelisks, or moving 6-ton stone blocks into godly position.

        1. JBird4049

          Good point. Alcoholic beverages were made not just to get drunk, but also as portable and storeable calories. It is also a reason that cheap sugar was popular among the poor especially in places like the wonderful slums of Georgian and Victorian England. When you are on the raggedly sharp edge of starvation, a cup of strong tea with sugar might make the difference. You get your calories, stimulation, and pain killers where you can.

            1. Big River Bandido

              Also more readily available than water — or hard currency, for that matter. In the 18-century backcountry of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, whiskey was commonly accepted as payment of debts, taxes and court costs.

            2. Yves Smith

              In my college intro Shakespeare course, the prof bothered pointing out a couple of times that that old English beer actually had quite a few nutrients in it.

              1. Synoia

                Yes, It toot Budweiser to remove the nutrients and taste.

                And introduce the 4 legged brewers, pulling wagons.

    3. nihil obstet

      I have a large holly tree in my front yard that gets covered in berries. Every spring a mixed flock of cedar and bohemian waxwings show up for a lost weekend. They sit in the oaks surrounding my house, fly to the holly, scarf up berries, fly back to the oak tree perches. The whole holly tree shakes like it’s alive. This goes on for several days until the holly is completely stripped of berries. I have to close my curtains, because otherwise they get drunk enough to try to take a shortcut through my windows back to the oaks. It’s disturbing as hell to keep hearing “Thunk! Thunk! Thunk!” and to go outside and find dead and dazed waxwings on my walkway.

  10. Wukchumni

    No one disputes that high concentrations of smoke taint render a wine undrinkable. Wines are sometimes described as tasting like an ashtray.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “The 2018 varietals are reminiscent of chain smoking unfiltered Winstons, this Cab is defined by aromas of violet and crushed rock. Oak & pine forests clove and graphite dot a landscape of bold structure on the palate with provident fallout giving Its thick skin a tan-in, resulting in wines of profoundly deep color, with bright acidity balancing the concentration and grip beguiling. Enjoy 2025–2030. 98 Points”

    Great article by the way, I never heard of smoked wine heretofore.

    1. HotFlash

      Jeez. They should just make wine with the smoked grapes, label it “Wildfire Wine 2018” or something and recommend drinking it in 2050. For sure somebody will buy it. Maybe it’ll even be a hit. After all, ‘ice wine’ started when the grapes froze.

      1. JBird4049

        Ice wine is concentrated sweetness and flavor. Breathing in the [email protected]@@ smoke for months was icky enough. I don’t think I want to taste burnt house again in ten years. Bleh.

        1. barefoot charley

          My neighbor tried that 10 years ago when we were smoked out by the Canoe fire in Humboldt County. Called his pinot something like Fire Sale. The nose wasn’t exactly of ashtray, but it was burnt bad. You didn’t get used to it and it wasn’t worth drinking, I’m sorry to say.

      2. ewmayer

        Many folks really cherish the extra-smoky scottish single malts, so if e.g. Islay can make an entire island economy based on such, CA should consider turning those grapes into smoky brandy. History in a bottle!

  11. paul

    Not reported much by the bbc, but scotland had the largest independence march ever in edinburgh yesterday, first police reports estimated it at 100,000.

      1. paul

        Until saturday morning the bbc were insisting the march had been banned.
        They did broadcast about 30s on it.
        Strangely they parked their cameras right beside all 20 unionist counter protesters and devoted half of the clip to them.
        The same 20 they film at every march.
        Strange they don’t interview them about their rather revisionist views of the holocaust.

    1. knowbuddhau

      Craig Murray had this on it the other day.

      The Tories have already announced that Westminster will not agree to another Indyref before 2027. We have a fundamental stand to make on whether we accept that a parliament in England dominated massively by representatives of England, has a veto on the self-determination of the Scottish people.

      Hard to argue with that. And yet they do, oh how they do.

  12. Brooklin Bridge

    How the disappearance of a journalist and a humiliating remark by Trump shows Saudi Arabia’s weakness

    Forget their weakness, what are Trump’s motives for belittling Saudi Arabia in the first place? Just a cheap shot for fun or did they refuse to bomb another American landmark full of innocent people that would have provided Trump with the excuse he needs to get rid of elections altogether?

  13. Indrid Cold

    re “Comfort Women”: all of them still around should receive the same pension a Japanese soldier would get. That might help. A bit.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Do you think that the Japanese should be forced to say to them “Thank you for your service?”

        1. Plenue

          Well, in a way it was free. I’ve noticed Japanese often like to portray it as a form of prostitution, which implies compensation. It wasn’t. They weren’t prostitutes. They were sex slaves.

          I’m surprised Osaka went to the length of terminating their sister city relationship. If the Japanese are never going to act like adults and face up to their history (and yes I know I’m saying this as an American. The same goes for the US), surely the next best move would be to just ignore international criticism. They do that with plenty of other things, like whaling. By doing things like this and both drawing further attention to the issue, and revealing themselves to be petulant children, they only make themselves look worse.

          It must be a domestic politics move. Politicians in Osaka must think it’s an assault on city pride or similar and that reacting this way will boost their reputation with voters.

          1. Synoia

            Hmm, as a person from a very class riddled county, which has clearly defined form of politeness, and inter class sarcasm, I don’t find the Japanese polite.

            I see their politeness as a very pointed obsequiousness.

            “Ah, I am busy with my task, polishing the item until atoms shine brightly, is a coded form of FOAD.”

            1. Plenue

              I’ve always thought of Japanese politeness as essentially meaningless. It’s so ingrained into them that it’s an unthinking social reflex. When everyone says “sorry” and “thank you” constantly, it ceases to have any real meaning. Sometimes they can even manifest in really bizarre ways, as in telling a waiter who just took your order “sorry”. Um…what? “Sorry for making you do your job”?

              It takes more elaborate forms too, not just words but entire stock sentences. “Thank you for your hard work” and “I look forward to working with you, please take care of me”. My favorite (as in the most irritating) is probably “sorry for intruding” when entering someone else’s house, even if the person who invited you in is standing right there. It’s not an intrusion! You’ve literally done nothing to apologize for. The phrase you just uttered is nonsensical.

              And that’s before really even getting into the asinine madness that is keigo (). If I wanted to insult someone, I would do it, and there’d be no misunderstanding. I wouldn’t do it by using the ‘incorrect’ verb form.

              It’s like the Japanese layered superfluous complexity onto their language for the sole purpose of giving people tools to be passive aggressive.

              1. Yves Smith

                I worked with the Japanese for years as the first Westerner hired into the Japanese hierarchy of one of their biggest banks. I don’t agree with you at all regarding the formal nature of their communications. If you are as fluent as you suggest you are, you ought to know that Japanese is all about power relationships, and the meaning of what you as a Westerner regard as annoying rituals are ways of signaling that you understand protocols, when to send signals and what signal to send, and most importantly, when they choose to break protocol to send a message (like using a form consistent with not knowing someone’s rank when both parties know they do, which is a diss).

                And you think Americans don’t have similar formalities? I much prefer the Japanese form of “thanks for getting your work done” to the ridiculous gushy praise by the CalPERS board to staff for delivering work product they were required to provide! All this bloviating for “thanks for doing what we are paying you to do” with grade inflation on top of it. Or how about the widespread use of lavish praise among the top 10%, that Thomas Frank describes long form in Listen Liberal, how everyone is “amazing” and “a rock star” and so on. Gah.

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  I have far more limited experience with the Japanese than you, but from what I’ve observed, this is very much the case. I had an English friend who worked in banking in Japan for eight years and he said that what he found most striking was that when he passed a threshold of language and cultural understanding, things changed very abruptly in how he was treated. It went from his been given the strong benefit of the doubt in dealings (social and work), to being repeatedly sharply told when he was not ‘following the rules’. He said it was around year 4 of his living there that he got a very rude shock when he discovered what was really going on around him (not least with his Japanese wife!).

                  Although I can see how the relentless politeness and ‘signalling’ in Japan can be very wearying (and I’ve Japanese friends in the west who say they find not having to deal with it a huge relief), I do find that the social rules in Japan are more ‘honest’, if I can put it that way, than the relentless gushing and boostering of US work etiquette (now working its way across the Atlantic in a most annoying way), with its casual hypocrisy and seemingly random brutality.

                2. Plenue

                  Then it isn’t meaningless. But the meaning has little to do with genuine politeness. Japanese politeness is a system for communicating and observing power protocols; it has nothing to do with actually being nice or, well, polite.

                  “And you think Americans don’t have similar formalities?”

                  We don’t. Our upper echelons may have their own ways of circle jerking each other, but I don’t see them as comparable to the ubiquitous Japanese banalities. And even if they were, they definitely don’t exist much if at all in wider American society.

  14. Merf56

    So …. more precisely – Susan Collins pats Dr Blasey Ford on the shoulder and says – honey you are mistaken. It wasn’t our dear boy The Kav who almost raped you. There there. Run along now honey….. holy s***.

      1. Darius

        It wasn’t a turnabout in any way. But entirely in character. Collins has a moderate image because the corporate media needs to be able to portray a moderate Republican in the Senate and she affects a schoolmarmish persona. She is one of McConnell’s reliables. Collins is standout fraud among a Senate full of them.

      2. Big River Bandido

        Everyone has to bat in the game of revolving villain. It was merely Collins’ turn to take the heat for what nearly all of her colleagues (Republican and Democrat) wanted all along.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Well Collins did go twice to the high security, underground bunker to read the top secret FBI report. I’m guessing that report has all the answers. /s

  15. Amateur Socialist

    Very interesting longish form piece on the BBC this morning re: the failure of austerity policies in the UK. I guess it must have been triggered by May’s editorial claiming “Austerity is over” not sure. Tried to find link on the BBC site but failed – it was carried by the local NPR affiliate.

  16. Brooklin Bridge

    Why Germans will be left behind in AI

    Don’t get left behind. That’s got to be the best reason I have ever heard to plunge head first into AI driven by an ideology of rent extracting hard asses who’s entire moral universe is circumscribed by, “More money, more power.”

    And speaking of money, the money paragraph:

    There is a place for caution. But the best way to tame future abuses of our data is to be among the players as rule makers, not rule takers. Germans, however, prefer to wallow in paranoid visions of digital dystopia. They should be aware of the costs. Germans are living in a comfortable present, oblivious to an uncertain future. Sure, it’s nice to have a Mittelstand that makes the world’s best ventilators, ball bearings, and screws. And next? [emphasis mine]

    Yep, that’s got to be the highest aspiration of humankind: Be the rule maker and not the rule taker. Worked wonders for Germany in the past, why would they ever do anything differently?

    1. ewmayer

      We must appreciate the sheer breathtaking dishonesty of portraying the German economy as some kind of low-tech miracle of Luddite productivity – ball bearings and screws, really? That new Mercedes you bought? Well, let’s see the Krauts try to build one with a *computerized* control system…

  17. Wukchumni

    If your country & a consortium of others wanted to do away with the Dollar being a yoke around your neck like so many Yap stones and strike while we are at our weakest, do you pull it off in a bitzkreig move, or a more gradual approach?

    1. Edward E

      I vote blitz, and get the dastards for their war crimes before they all pass on. That has been planned, cleaning up the oceans too.

    1. Wukchumni

      I heard there’s some hope that they can scotch tape all of the shreds together, in order to recoup part of the loss.

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        Yves linked to a story about this yesterday so I didn’t repeat a link today.

      2. cnchal

        Loss?

        “This is now part of art history in its shredded state and we’d estimate Banksy has added at a minimum 50% to its value, possibly as high as being worth £2m .”

        Not sure if that’s ‘tongue in cheek’ or not.

        The rich must be taxed mercilessly, so they stop making fools of themselves. It’s for their own good.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It may have been meant tongue-in-cheek, but it will end up money-in-bank. It will be the only piece of self-starting Banksy Performance Art in the world.

      3. Oregoncharles

        We were talking about that – the shreds can be reconstituted for a lot less than the million it sold for. Then it’ll be worth MORE, a truly unique Banksy.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Or perhaps the shreds can be cut off and sold one-by-one at a million dollars per shred.

          ” I bought a shred of the One True Shredded Banksy!”

          1. JTMcPhee

            My family once had a folio of original Currier & Ives works. I think my dad gave it to a family acquaintance after my mom died of cancer. The individual prints showed up at a local “art dealer,” in the high-end bedroom suburb of Wilmette, IL, selling for thousands apiece after they were cut from the bindings and matted. Oh well.

    2. Louis Fyne

      ironically, the 3/4-shredded canvas is probably worth at least double than the gavel price now with all the new publicity/spectacle/controversy.

      “Modern Art” hasn’t been about the aesthetics of visuals for at least decades. It’s momento trading/being the peacock with the biggest feathers among the wealthy. (well, art has always been about displaying the patron’s wealth/taste)

      And what says “i’ve got plenty of money to burn” than proudly displaying, in essence, $2 million worth of shredded paper.

      1. Carolinian

        There’s a great Swedish movie called The Square that satirizes the modern art world. Banksy’s post shredded canvas would fit right in at the fictional museum.

        1. Wukchumni

          Talking about art as money, hadn’t realized this gent passed away last year, very interesting fellow…
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          Sitting in a Chicago diner in 1984, the artist Stephen Boggs began doodling on a paper napkin as he consumed a coffee and a doughnut. He started with the numeral 1, then transformed it into the image of a dollar bill.

          His waitress, impressed, offered to buy it. Mr. Boggs refused, but presented it in payment for his 90-cent tab. The waitress handed him 10 cents in change.

          An idea was born.

          For the next three decades, Mr. Boggs, better known by his artistic signature, J. S. G. Boggs, kept money on his mind. Extending the logic of the diner transaction, he painstakingly reproduced British pounds, Swiss francs and American dollars, with quirky deviations.

          On American currency, for example, he might use the signature “J. S. G. Boggs, Secret of the Treasury,” or inscribe “Kunstbank of Bohemia” on a $5,000 bill, or append the motto “In Fun We Trust.” At first he created the notes one by one, a time-consuming process. Later he ran off limited-edition prints.

        2. fresno dan

          Carolinian
          October 7, 2018 at 11:06 am
          based on your recommendation, I have added it to my Netflix queue

      2. JEHR

        I laughed when I saw Banksy’s painting being shredded–it says so much about art and art’s patrons (and artists and their works). I hope the buyer got the shredded bits for his money!

        1. Wukchumni

          The winning bidder ought to pay in like kind:
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          Shredded Currency

          Shredded currency is available through the BEP. Small amounts, as pre-packaged novelty souvenirs, are available for sale in the Washington, DC and Fort Worth visitor centers. Five pound bags of shredded currency can be purchased in our online store and in the Washington, DC visitor center.

          Larger amounts of shredded currency for use in artistic or commercial purposes will need to be obtained from a Federal Reserve bank; and written approval from the Chief, Office of Compliance, is required before a Federal Reserve bank will consider honoring currency residue requests.

      3. Big River Bandido

        “Modern Art” hasn’t been about the aesthetics of visuals for at least decades.

        Content has also been overshadowed by spectacle. Art is considered serious only if people talk about it. And the artist may stop at nothing to achieve that.

  18. Stephen V.

    Regarding ProPublica on IRS machine audits::
    Once you receive the final notice of deficiency from the IRS, you legally owe the tax. Your best option then is to file a petition in Tax Court.
    I’ve been in the tax prep biz for almost 30 years. Never had to go to TC. A better option might be to file an Amended return with a request for Audit Reconsideration.
    This kind of audit (CP2000*you forgot some income* is another) is cheaper for the under man/womanned IRS to administer and obviously falls much harder on the lower income folk.

  19. Edward E

    “An Indian bus driver has been suspended – for letting a monkey “drive” his bus.”
    Somebody once took photos of my beagle sitting in my lap driving an eighteen wheeler, glad they didn’t send that in.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Supposedly in S. Africa they train baboons to drive tractors. I haven’t seen a picture, though.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “How India Walked a Tightrope to Ink the S-400 Missiles Deal With Russia ”

    I was reading elsewhere that the Indians had little choice but to go with the S-400s. A large number of India’s fighters are ancient Mig-21s () and a commentator elsewhere was saying that India, because of its size, needs 42 squadrons but at the moment they only effectively have 31 squadrons, seven of which are ancient fighters due to be replaced.
    They are buying newer aircraft like a coupla squadrons of the Dassault Rafales but that is still too few to fill the gap. In addition, the cost of buying these new aircraft has taken up most of the money budgeted for new aircraft for the next coupla years. Thus these S-400s are there to fill a gap that the Indian Air Force has until there is sufficient money to purchase the scores of newer aircraft that the Indian Air Force needs to defend India against China and/or Pakistan.
    They did want to buy the Russian Su-57 but the money is just not there hence the purchase of the S-400s. The US has nothing that they could offer instead as far as missile defense systems are concerned. The Patriot system has been shown up repeatedly to be a dud and if the US is not willing to sell its THAAD system to the Japanese, then there is no hope that they would sell it to India.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Aid begins to reach Indonesia’s remote areas after quake, tsunami”

    How come they don’t parachute supplies in like they did back in the 90s until they can fix the roads? Because some people were killed by the large cases that were parachuted in, there was experimentation at the time with smaller ones. Either way, how hard would it be to store supply packs that could be dropped into a region to tie people over until regular help can reach them. Big loads can be dropped by transport planes at several sites while smaller ones could be dropped by helicopter. It’s not like they have to reinvent the wheel or anything.

    Great looking bird that in the Antidote du Jour and it is so colourful, it looks like that it was photoshopped.

  22. Lynne

    On the link to underserved US rural areas, it reminded me of the complaints from protesters in ND last year that they frequently couldn’t get through on their cell phones or internet connections, with some alleging that meant the authorities were somehow blocking connections. It was a perfect example of the urban-rural divide, as those of us in my SD area shrugged and said the system is overloaded again. I can always tell in the fall when the school’s computer lab starts up because my connection slows to a crawl if it works at all. And I pay extra for “high-speed” internet at work.

  23. lyman alpha blob

    Nice piece by Nader. We could use more investigation into the efficacy of online ads vs. the money charged for them.

    The old saw goes ““Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Google and Fleecebook would have you believe that they now know exactly who is reading and responding to ads but I don’t believe that is so, largely due to Google’s own admission on the matter – .

    An incredible 56.1% of ads on the internet are not seen by humans, according to new research released today by Google.

    “With the advancement of new technologies we now know that many display ads that are served never actually have the opportunity to be seen by a user,” said Google group product manager Sanaz Ahari in a blog post.

    Those ads appear outside the viewable area of a browser window. Once you factor in bots, even fewer ads are seen by the people advertisers are paying to reach.

    Now Mr. Market would have you believe that every capitalist gets paid exactly what they deserve, but it would seem that here, Google and FB have gotten rich by throwing up some smoke and mirrors grossly overcharging for the ads they run on their platforms. And as Nader notes, this ad money is the bulk of their revenue and if it dries up, there goes the business model.

    So how long before the rubes figure out they’re being fleeced?

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Google and Fleecebook would have you believe that they now know exactly who is reading and responding to ads

      I can’t speak to Google, but I’m quite sure Facebook knows exactly who is reading ads because they pay them to do it. Case in point: an ad purchased with expanded display via Instagram gets more than 1000 “likes”, more than any other ad ever purchased. Source of all those “likes”? Brazil. For a book in English.

      There were articles some years back calling Facebook out for maintaining “like farms” in foreign countries for the purpose of upping the responses to paid ads. They claimed they stopped.

      1. Geo

        Noticed that years ago when doing a small FB ad spend for one of my films. Even though I specified certain US cities for the ads (the ones where my film was showing) most of the “likes” came from other countries. Haven’t done a FB ad since. Waste of money.

        1. Pat

          But a small band of Russians cracked the code and managed to dethrone America’s rightful Queen President with a measly hundred thousand dollars or so.

          Makes you wonder about all those super smart politicians who keep hiring very expensive consultants who lose rather than seeking out those cheaper wily Russians.

          This post is only partly snark

  24. Carolinian

    Interesting backgrounder on the Federalist Society which sees itself as a libertarian rather than a strictly Republican organization.

    At the Trump administration’s request, Leo drew up a list of 25 potential Supreme Court nominees for the president’s consideration, which included Kavanaugh. At the same time, the influence exerted by the Senate on the nomination process has decreased.

    “It used to be that Republican Senators played a much more important role in judicial selection than they do now, so ordinary party patronage mechanisms used to be more important. But I think this ideological network that we associated with the Federalist Society has clawed away more and more power from that senatorial role over time,” says Teles. “And it’s clearly the case that Trump… has been willing to completely subcontract this over to these conservative judicial networks.”

    This may be, as Avery suggests, because Trump is “lazy” and by outsourcing his work to the Federalist Society he can be sure they will put forward people who appeal to the president’s conservative base. Or it may be, as Teles suggests, that Trump realises that such a transactional relationship is his best way of keeping social conservatives on his side.

    And why is Trump so devoted to social conservatives, given his own playboy lifestyle and history of ambivalent political affiliations? Perhaps it’s because the Dems keep threatening to impeach him. It’s certainly overwhelmingly true that the Trump administration is not “normal,” but then his opposition hasn’t been very normal either.

    1. marym

      There are a lot of shared values between white social conservatives and Trump, who either also shares or consciously exploits particular value/con whereby a politician’s personal life doesn’t matter so long as he’s willing to impose those shared values on those they would control, oppress, or exclude.

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      Leonard Leo is friends with David and Charles Koch, who have both donated generously to his organization [Federalist Society].

      So let’s just call Kavanaugh what he is, a judge handpicked by the Koch Bros. US Govt is a Neoliberal toilet bowl. Trump’s favorite line to his brain dead followers, “We Drained the Swamp.” Irony at its best.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Most people don’t realize “THE Donald” has a lisp…he isn’t saying we “drained” the swamp…we “TRAINED” the swamp…something to do with his uncle and radar and operation paperclip…

        Details…details…

  25. JEHR

    Here’s naming the names from :

    CEOs, investors, trust funders, and bankers are elites where it counts, and their actions clearly show an insatiable thirst for more: more money, more influence, more power. These are the elites who truly think they are better than you, as their compensation packages should attest.

    . . . .
    to demonstrate the obvious reality that the White House especially, but also Congress, Courts, and Bureaucracy, are controlled not just by the few, but by a particularly Wall Street, hide-your-money-off-shore, Fortune 500, silver spoon crew. There are clearly more oligarchs who rule this and other countries, so the few described here are not meant to be an exhaustive list. Indeed, people like the Koch brothers, the Uihleins, Peter Thiel, Kelcy Warren, Bernie Marcus, Robert Murray, Robert Mercer, Robert W. Johnson, Stephen Feinburg, and Sheldon Adelson (all of whom have donated inordinate amounts of money to Trump) are intimately tied to U.S. governance through their campaign contributions, funding and sponsoring of the Tea Party, the Heritage Foundation, Cambridge Analytica, ‘Americans for Prosperity,’ other union-busting organizations, etc. yet are not explicitly connected in a way that a cabinet post would make visible. Of course, oligarchs are known to hedge their bets by contributing to multiple candidates, ‘right’ or ‘left,’ for the Democrats are also not immune to Wall Street sway, or the unequal and undue influence of their own oligarchs like George Soros, Jeff Bezos, and Michael Bloomberg.

  26. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding the BBC’s thing on Laundry…
    as a graywater nut, the biggest problem with laundry water wasting is that non-sodium-filled detergents are difficult to find.
    Sodium hydroxide(lye), and it’s modern analogs, leaches salt onto your soil…which is bad(think of the biblical “salting of fields”)
    wood-ash lye(potassium hydroxide) is preferable by far…actually ing the plants in the discharge zone.
    I must include a caveat in this: a whole lot of the chemicals listed on your average bottle or box of detergent are quite esoteric to the lay person…and often the actual chemicals aren’t listed at all, save as “surfactant” or whatever.
    This makes shopping for grass and tree friendly detergent hard to impossible.
    I use Dr Bronner’s, mostly…but wife doesn’t like it.
    Ergo, our laundry waters the stand of bamboo, which doesn’t care as much as other plants(like fruit trees).
    A concerted effort on the part of Tide, et alia to remedy the sodium problem would enable much of that water to be easily diverted to where it could be put to good use.

    1. JCC

      Or you could make your own soap. A little Potassium Hydroxide, some off the shelf olive oil, coconut oil,, avocado oil, vegetable oil, whatever, and some peppermint oil (or whatever smell you prefer if any) and a crockpot and off you go. If you want to get a little fancy, throw in some cocoa or shea butter for the shower soap.

      Run a bar through a hand grader for a handful of laundry soap, with a tablespoon or two of Borax, for the washing machine. Four or five 32 oz batches a year is all I (single) need to make. Too easy and way cheap… and probably healthier for you and the environment, too.

      Just be careful with potassium hydroxide!

    2. Oregoncharles

      I use the laundry water to water an area of lawn near the house, partly just to keep it out of our rather slow septic system. Our relentless winter rain makes sodium less of an issue; I just use the bulk detergent from the Co-op, and have never seen evidence of toxicity. The lint is visible, but disappears quickly.

      The permaculture approach is to direct it into a pile of wood chips and twigs, to speed composting, but I don’t want a pile like that near enough to our house.

      Bamboo is mostly water-loving and should absorb it nicely.

  27. Carey

    I’m wondering if NC/WC readers might have a solid recommendation of a book
    that looks critically at our digital age and its ramifications? I’ve thought of Carr’s
    ‘The Shallows’, but that was from 2011, I think. Hope to get little or no techno-
    boosterism, pro forma or otherwise; I know about the good parts.

    1. Geo

      It’s an old one but more relevant today than ever: Erich Fromm, A Sane Society

      Alienation as we find it in modern society is almost total… Man has created a world of man-made things as it never existed before. He has constructed a complicated social machine to administer the technical machine he built. The more powerful and gigantic the forces are which he unleashes, the more powerless he feels himself as a human being. He is owned by his creations, and has lost ownership of himself.

    2. Geo

      And, a more current one by Douglas Coupland: Bit Rot

      In the 1990s there was that expression, “Get a life!” You used to say it to people who were overly fixating on some sort of minutia or detail or thought thread, and by saying, “Get a life,” you were trying to snap them out of their obsession and get them to join the rest of us who are still out in the world, taking walks and contemplating trees and birds. The expression made sense at the time, but it’s been years since I’ve heard anyone use it anywhere. What did it mean then, “getting a life”? Did we all get one? Or maybe we’ve all not got lives anymore, and calling attention to one person without a life would put the spotlight on all of humanity and our now full-time pursuit of minutia, details and tangential idea threads.

      1. Carey

        Thanks for all of these recommendations, and I’ll make one, too: Ivan Illich’s
        ‘Tools for Conviviality’, which I’ve probably mentioned here before. Quite a
        bit in it on becoming the tool of one’s tools, or not.

  28. Carey

    I have not been a fan of Rod Dreher’s writing on Kavanaugh, but I do think this is
    worth reading:

    1. Todde

      If the readers of the times want blood in the streets there are plenty of people willing to have a go at them.

      Democrats, who insist everyone has a rigjt to self identify aa they please, are upset that people self identify as they please.

    2. flora

      This id pol ranting make the Dem party weaker by alienating many of its former supporters and voters, imo. The interesting thing, to me, is that B. Clinton once said “When people are insecure, they’d rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than someone who’s weak and right.” *

      By weakening the Dem voting base the Dem estab makes the Dem party itself look weak. Considering that the Clintons and the Dem estab understand the strong vs weak voting dynamic, I conclude the Dem party preference for weakness is calculated. My 2¢.

      *From Jan. 2007:

      1. Carey

        I think you are onto something. The ‘Dem’ half of the duopoly’s job seems to be
        endless sh!tstirring and misdirection, while the ‘Rep’ half does both halves’
        real work: enriching the very few. That’s how it’s looking to me, anyway.

      2. flora

        adding: Interesting to me that B. Clinton’s formulations did not include “strong and right.”

        1. Carolinian

          Excellent point! Nice guys (and gals) finish last?

          FDR and crew seemed strong and right–mostly. But then they weren’t afraid of fear.

    3. The Beeman

      I asked my wife to stop subscribing to the print nytimes once Sarah jeong was hired. She did but for reasons of her own.

      Have the editors lost their minds publishing this?

      This is pure hate filled speech.

      What’s interesting is there are a lot of people who believe in this cr*p.

      How do you build consensus with this?

      Counterproductive

      If the author needed to vent, a better place would be her therapist, a good friend or a large fluffy pillow.

      NYtimes please stop spewing this at us – you aren’t helping women

        1. flora

          Wonderful how the NYTimes manages to give the GOP a new rallying cry against the Dem party right before an election in which Dems had been predicted to do well, and to also indirectly punch left at the same time. Probably a coincidence. /s

          * I don’t know anyone on the left who thinks the tripe written by Jeong, but the distinctions between ‘left’ and ‘liberal’ and ‘Democrat’ get lost for the general public.

          1. marym

            It’s like at the end of a big, peaceful march when some black bloc person breaks a window. Convenient.

      1. JCC

        This is the same woman who wrote this 6 years ago – – (I looked her up :-)

        She knew it was jobs and fair and equal pay 6 years ago, now it’s subservient female “whiteness” privilege?

        Hard to believe what 6 years of Democrat Identity Politics can do to a rational young woman (or man for that matter).

    4. Big River Bandido

      Mmm, after reading it I’m not so sure. He seems to me every bit as unhinged as the people he’s criticizing.

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      I wonder how Eliot Spitzer is doing right now?

      So now the country focuses like a laser beam on policy for the remainder of the election?

  29. Edward E

    Finally something out of Beijing

    China on late Sunday confirmed it has detained Interpol President Meng Hongwei, who is also a Chinese deputy public security minister on suspicion of violation of law.

    While Beijing did not provide any further information about the investigation, analysts said that the fact it was willing to jeopardise its diplomatic relations by snatching a high-profile official in such a way suggested the stakes were high.

    There’s good news to be found…

    “Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” – James Thurber

    “We Are in a Big Fat Ugly Bubble” say what? at least he’s right about one thang

    1. Edward E

      Interpol says China’s Meng resigns as president of organization, suspected of having shown favoritism to a particular company for cybersecurity procurement, according to le Parisien
      .

  30. Duck1

    Sort of trivial, but Amazon has opened a DC near Portland and hiring, so get served ad for employment on the local paper site. Earn up to $14.25/hour it sez. Guess the Bezos memo didn’t reach the ad mavens.

  31. Craig H.

    Today is one of those days when I had to do the google image search thing.

    East coast S. America.

    That’s a pretty good pose also!

  32. dcblogger

    Dr. Margaret Flowers in Kentucky: Educating on health policy, inspiring activism to win single payer
    Posted on October 7, 2018 by Kay Tillow

    On October 4 and 5, 2018, nationally-known single payer activist, Margaret Flowers, MD, spoke at a whirlwind of events in Kentucky, educating physicians and medical students and inspiring activists. Dr. Flowers, a Baltimore pediatrician, now works full time advocating for a National Improved Medicare for All system as set forth in HR 676, the bill in the House of Representatives that currently has 123 cosponsors.

    On Thursday morning, Dr. Flowers presented grand rounds to 150 physicians and medical students at the University of Louisville Department of Medicine. Her topic was “Health Care: A Business or a Public Good?”

  33. Unna

    Slow news day article in Globe & Mail, “As Millennials take up film photography, darkrooms see a bright future again”

    I admit I’m partial to film but is this the Millennials looking for “authenticity” and craft in the best sense? If so, it’s good news. Maybe time to dig out the Nikon F4 and start taking some real pictures.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Hmm, yes. Although setting up a darkroom would be a challenge where we are.

      Interestingly, my grandson’s girlfriend, about 20, is toting a Nikon and using film. The look is different from digital.

  34. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Is Saudi Arabia the Middle East’s Next Failed State?” — Just how dependent are we on Saudi Oil, in spite of our tremendous fracking reserves and productivity? We haven’t been playing nice with Iran or Russia or Iraq. If Saudi Arabia becomes a “failed state” what is our plan ‘B’? Do we have a plan ‘B’?

  35. The Rev Kev

    “Female Nobel prize winner deemed not important enough for Wikipedia entry”

    Strange one this. Is this simply a case of some tech-bros offended at the success of another woman? Wikipedia is a tech firm after all.

    1. Harold

      There is a rather lengthy article on Strickland in Wikipedia now, complete with photos. On Wikipedia what one editor says is not enough to reject an article, evidently.

      I haven’t looked into this particular case in any detail, but I know there are editors (and anyone can be an editor) who go around reflexively requesting that articles be “speedily deleted”. It takes all kinds. That editor (who is not a “moderator” but a random person) immediately got negative back from other editors (i.e., readers) and speedily announced there were quitting Wikipedia. That is how Wikipedia works. It is hardly worth a Guardian article.

      The article in the Guardian is a non-story by someone who doesn’t understand, or deliberately misunderstands, how Wikipedia works. When the Guardian says something like “Wikipedia scrambled to write an article”, that is absurd. What they should have said is that some reader discovered that Ms Strickland had no article and decided to write one and then another reader decided to delete it — because as a matter of fact there are a lot of articles that do deserve to be deleted by the self-appointed deletion police — and then other readers instantly pitched in to defend the subject, and the abashed deleter withdrew. But then others pointed out the references weren’t according to form and so other people proceeded to fix them, and so now there is a very nice article up there. That’s how it goes.

      There are plenty of people who deserve articles on wikipedia and don’t have them. Anyone who wants to write one is welcome to, but if they don’t provide evidence in the form of references sourced according to Wikipedia’s rules, they can expect to be challenged.

  36. Procopius

    I’ve been seeing links to that “WTF Are We Still Doing In Afghanistan” story for at least four days now. Not at NC, but I think at Salon, which is getting close to being deleted from my bookmarks anyway. The headline is completely disconnected from the body of the article, which never discusses why we are still there. Iraq at least had oil, and was on the neoconservatives’ PNAC strategic plan since 1998, but why we decided we needed to stay in Afghanistan has never been explained. Is it a live fire training course for our Army?

    1. Synoia

      It is a area, next to Iran, with which to dominate the middle portion of the silk road, and continue to cause upset and trouble with the Muslims who populate the silk road.

      It is best to discuss the US’ adventures in the ME with two things in mind:

      1. A map of Asia, indicating the Silk Road route
      2. The Chinese Belt and Road initiative

        1. gepay

          these things are hardly ever just one reason. When the US and CIA was active in SE Asia, 70% of the world’s heroin came from the opium grown in the Golden Triangle. Now it is 90% from Afghanistan. If war with Iran ever happens (as Israel keeps pushing) one can be sure the bases in Afghanistan will be important. As mentioned it is in an excellent position to disrupt China’s Belt and Road initiative. it makes piles of money for the Military industrial Complex. Pipelines and minerals in the future just door prizes.

  37. ewmayer

    1-year anniversary of the North Bay , the most destructive wildfire in California history, burning parts of Napa, Sonoma, and Lake counties. Lots of anniversary coverage on the bay area news channels this evening, but one of the segments focusing on a selected fire victim’s rebuilding efforts really gave me pause – they showed an aerial drone-view shot of the fellow’s new home under construction on the same lot as the old, the new place’s wood framing was complete and the external plywood sheathing was about 2/3 done. Accompanying commentary: “One year later —-‘s new house is finally looking like a …” – the voiceover continued with ‘home’, but on seeing the wooden matchstick-looking assembly I just blurted out ‘tinderbox’.

    I realize getting paid only replacement value for one’s home by the insurance company may not leave a lot of options as far as materials and dwelling style go, but seriously, one would hope that of all those folks rebuilding in wildfire country, one would see at least a few new dwellings of smaller, built-into-the-earth, less-flammable-materials (e.g. adobe with tile or lving-garden roof) variety – but all the new construction I saw in the anniversary coverage was exactly the same kind as the old. If nothing else, I would’ve expected hefty fire-insurance hikes on that kind of structure to have incentivized folks to choose lower-risk alternatives.

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