Thursday, January 19, 2017

Happy Hour Thread

Get happy.


Bishop Allen - Dimmer


I wouldn't really align myself with the bulk of this piece (sorry, not in the mood to do a line by line discussion, I am a lazy blogger after all), but I thought this was a good point.
I have always respected Jonathan Chait. That may come as a surprise, but he possesses a quality that is rare among liberal pundits. Most will lie to you about the politics of their hearts. They will tell you that they’re all for the left’s ambitions, or at least for a United States more like the benevolent states of Europe. They will assure you that when the time is right, they’ll throw their weight behind the moral cause of socialism; it’s just that it isn’t practical right now. It’s just that you’ve got to be reasonable, compromise, capitulate to the demands of the Democratic Party without protest, or else we’ll never get anywhere. Chait does not do this. He believes that the mild welfare state championed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is not merely an acceptable form of government, but very nearly an ideal one. When he scolds the left for their hostility toward business, or lectures college students over their inadequate reverence for liberal free speech norms, or endorses the Iraq War and later cops only to an inadequate consideration of its logistical prospects, Chait is telling you precisely what he thinks. I’ve often, almost always, taken issue with his conclusions. But I have never gotten the sense that Chait is operating in bad faith. He’s a liberal capitalist, a technocrat, what any sane assessment of the political spectrum would rate a conservative centrist, and he does not pretend otherwise.

Well, perhaps not the first sentence, but otherwise I agree with the basic point. One thing about the primary, during which too often Bernie versus Hillary obscured Bernieism versus Hillaryism (that is, the basic ideological positioning of the two as opposed to the specifics of the people who were representing them), is that a lot of people did reveal themselves to be, at heart, Chait Democrats (I think this was true much more of prominent Hillary supporters/surrogates, than was true of of the campaign or Hillary herself). That's fine. People can be Chait Democrats. And people can disagree with Chait Democrats. But the point is that there are disagreements which are, as the above says, papered over with claims of solidarity and practicality and electability. Team D (or Team Liberal or Team Left of Center or whatever) actually don't agree about policy goals. It isn't simply that one segment thinks they are going as Lefty as they can get away with. They're going about as Lefty as they want to go. More lefty Democrats have a pretty good case that their crazy ideas aren't just crazy, but perhaps popular and necessary,too. The campaign highlighted that and also sharpened divisions. That's good and bad, I guess. Fight away.

Republicans Will Not Save Us

Oh, sure, they might pile on a confirmation vote or two just to maintain their "independent" cred. But I doubt even that's going to happen, and it sure as hell isn't going to be Little Marco who will take anything but the occasional rhetorical stand.

Lunch Thread

Tomorrow will be yuge.

Mini Book Review

Trying to rid mor good books this year. I'm a bad reviewer, and not much interested in slamming books I don't like, but I might as well mention the ones I do like. It won a Pulitzer, too, so I guess that means something. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is long but worth reading.

Who Won The Twitterz

Jeebus save me from coverage like this.

You know, the thing about Trump becoming an incoming president with an approval rating in the 30s is that whatever he's doing isn't winning. I mean, sure, he might win at destroying everything good about the country and the world in the process, but he isn't winning the fucking PR battle. He isn't winning with his +1 Vorpal Twitter powers.

Obama and The Press

Speaking very generally for a couple of paragraphs blog post, I think the Obama administration had decent press coverage. Campaign 2008 was kind of shitshow - LEAVE JOHN MCCAIN ALLOOOOOOONE - but campaign 2012 was surprisingly "balanced." The rise of non-fake-"view from nowhere" media, which certainly isn't always liberal and definitely isn't advocacy journalism but in which reporters are a bit more free to inject a perspective that doesn't require shutting off their brains has been good. Obama's actually had his own "sycophants" in the press, which while not always good is a necessary balance to the weight of sycophancy that comes with any Republican administration. There was that Tea party nonsense early on, of course, which everyone should be ashamed about, but aren't (the coverage of it, I mean).

But, campaign 2016 was a shitshow and all signs point to the shitshow continuing. Of course there are good journalists doing good journalism - given the mountain of conflicts and corruption it isn't as if there's a shortage of work to be done here - but there's the news and there's the talking about the news, the way what's "important" gets distilled and inserted into the ears of people who just catch a few minutes on TV or the radio here and there. And that's probably going to be as bad as we have ever seen, despite Trump being the most unpopular incoming president we have polls for. Get ready for the new normal in which 37% approval is "popular."


Rick's the DJ.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


The Buggles - Adventures in Modern Recording

Let Me Google That For You, Rick

I'm sure the people who offered him the job didn't know, either.

WASHINGTON — When President-elect Donald J. Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state.

In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

Good thing it isn't all that important.

But, hey, not like our crack reporting staff knew either.

...and another:

And My Sleepiness Is Explained

Getting sick. boo.


Something I keep coming back to is how we should be able to pay the corruption tax and get overpriced nice things, that we can pay off existing "stakeholders" and get the result we want.

Instead we pay the corruption tax, bribe the existing stakeholders, and get nothing in return.

Afternoon Thread

Make America sleepy again.

You can check out all the construction activity at the America Dream site here.

Nothing to See Here

Move along.

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

The industries that were powerful enough to prevent meaningful climate change action would have been powerful enough to get adequate "compensation" for doing something to not destroy civilization. They just wanted to roll coal to piss off liberals.

While We're On My Favorite Subject

That "we're" talking about these issues just shows they can't solve the actual issues.
BOSTON (AP) — Imagine you're behind the wheel when your brakes fail. As you speed toward a crowded crosswalk, you're confronted with an impossible choice: veer right and mow down a large group of elderly people, or veer left into a woman pushing a stroller.

Now imagine you're riding in the back of a self-driving car. How would it decide?

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are asking people worldwide how they think a robot car should handle such life-or-death decisions. Their goal is not just for better algorithms and ethical tenets to guide autonomous vehicles, but to understand what it will take for society to accept the vehicles and use them.

Such research might say something interesting about us, but will have little value in making a "better" self-driving car. Let a thousand thinkpieces bloom! I'll be on the bus.

Who would HAL choose to kill?

All You Need

And more inklings about how they'll try (and still fail) to solve self-driving car issues.

Autonomous vehicles, the patent warns, “may not have information about reversible lanes when approaching a portion of a roadway that has reversible lane”, leading to a worst-case scenario of them driving headfirst into oncoming traffic.

More generally, the inability to plan for reversible lanes means cars and trucks can’t optimise their routes by getting into the correct lane well in advance, something that could otherwise prove to be one of the benefits of self-driving cars.

Amazon’s solution to the problem could have much larger ramifications than simply dealing with highway traffic in large cities. The patent proposes a centralised roadway management system that can communicate with multiple self-driving cars to exchange information and coordinate vehicle movement at a large scale.

It isn't entirely clear what this means, but I look forward to legislation requiring that all roadworks, with precise measurements, be submitted in advance. Anyway, point being is that the only chance this works (it still won't) is a lot of external infrastructure and changes to how things are done. And who will pay for all of that?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Gogol Bordello - Alcohol

Tuesday Evening

How is it Tuesday already? Only another 208 or so of these to go...

For Your Consideration

On the way out the door.
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.


La Resistance will have protests. People will spend most of their time nutpicking the protests. As always happens.

Conservative Health Care Plan

Liberal Trump fanfic scenarios aside, the conservative plan for health care is "if you can't pay for it, you suffer and then die." This could be modified slightly to setting up a system by which your income is garnished for the rest of your life to pay for your treatment (not so different than what we have now, except with more pressure to actually treat people), or with a system that forces you to buy shitty health care insurance that you can't afford and which won't cover treatment anyway (ACA does this to some, though with health care that isn't entirely shitty and which might actually cover you).

That's how it is, and anyone who pretends otherwise is stupid or lying. I suppose there's some slight chance they'll blackmail Democrats into supporting some plan which is only 90% as bad as this sounds, so that Republicans don't get blamed for it, but otherwise that's the only template for "replacement."