The world’s worst poker player

Brexit

Boris Johnson keeps raising the ante. There is a new blog entry entitled, “The world’s worst poker player, on a jet-powered bicycle at full throttle toward a brick wall.” He might be strapping on a rocket next.

Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam, “Britain may face snap elections after Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffers major loss in Parliament,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/showdown-set-for-the-british-parliament-as-legislators-return-from-summer-recess/2019/09/03/105ecca6-cb6c-11e9-9615-8f1a32962e04_story.html

Peter Walker and Jessica Elgot, “Boris Johnson’s ultimatum: back me or face 14 October election,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/boris-johnson-threatens-to-ignore-mps-on-no-deal-brexit

Esther Webber and Kate Devlin, “Try and stop me rebelling, Philip Hammond tells No 10,” Times, September 3, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/try-and-stop-me-rebelling-philip-hammond-tells-no-10-kbdzj8nwf


Recession

I’ve been inclined to think a recession is on the way for a while now[1] for a bunch of reasons.[2] Now Aaron Back, writing for the Wall Street Journal’s “Heard on the Street” column opines that “[s]igns of a possible recession keep stacking up. At some point it no longer makes sense to keep explaining them away.” The manufacturing index dipping below 50 is not a perfect recession signal and Back seems to think it’s less reliable than the inverted yield curve. But he concludes, “With both the yield curve and manufacturing surveys flashing red at the same time, it would be foolish to dismiss them both. No wonder investors are spooked.”[3]

Ruth Simon, Megumi Fujikawa, and Paul Hannon, “U.S.-China Trade War’s Global Impact Grows,” Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-china-trade-wars-global-impact-grows-11567466809

Aaron Back, “Another Recession Sign to Ignore at Your Peril,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/another-recession-sign-to-ignore-at-your-peril-11567530230


Hong Kong

Natasha Khan and Eva Dou, “Beijing Asserts Power to Declare Emergency to Quell Hong Kong Unrest,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/beijing-asserts-power-to-declare-emergency-to-quell-hong-kong-unrest-11567509276


Dorian

Continental US - Clean Longwave Window - IR
As of 8:00 am, Dorian’s eye had moved off of Grand Bahama, but the storm was still lashing the island. The storm had weakened to category 3,[4] but appeared to be beginning to affect Florida. It killed at least five people on the Abaco islands, to the east of Grand Bahama.[5]

The storm has weakened further since, to category 2, but looks set to graze the Atlantic Coast all the way up to Newfoundland.[6]
eusgm-2019-09-03-20FireShot Capture 083 - HURRICANE DORIAN - www.nhc.noaa.gov
72-hour gif, images 2 hours apart, as of 8:00 pm and National Hurricane Center storm track forecast as of 8:00 pm.

Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, “Dorian expands in size as tropical storm conditions hit Florida and the hurricane risk increases in the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/03/hurricane-dorian-is-set-creep-north-closer-florida-georgia-carolinas-after-pounding-bahamas/

Arian Campo-Flores and Erin Ailworth, “Hurricane Dorian Death Toll at Five in Bahamas as Storm Is Headed for U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-dorian-batters-bahamas-drives-toward-u-s-11567429839


  1. [1]David Benfell, “About that recession timing and the 2020 election,” Not Housebroken, August 25, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/25/about-that-recession-timing-and-the-2020-election/
  2. [2]Jon Hilsenrath, “After Record-Long Expansion, Here’s What Could Knock the Economy Off Course,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-record-long-expansion-heres-what-could-knock-the-economy-off-course-11559591043; John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF; Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html; Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath, and Taylor Telford, “Stocks tank as another recession warning surfaces,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/14/stocks-tank-another-recession-warning-surfaces/; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/; Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html
  3. [3]Aaron Back, “Another Recession Sign to Ignore at Your Peril,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/another-recession-sign-to-ignore-at-your-peril-11567530230
  4. [4]Arian Campo-Flores and Erin Ailworth, “Hurricane Dorian Death Toll at Five in Bahamas as Storm Is Headed for U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-dorian-batters-bahamas-drives-toward-u-s-11567429839
  5. [5]Arian Campo-Flores and Erin Ailworth, “Hurricane Dorian Death Toll at Five in Bahamas as Storm Is Headed for U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-dorian-batters-bahamas-drives-toward-u-s-11567429839
  6. [6]Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, “Dorian expands in size as tropical storm conditions hit Florida and the hurricane risk increases in the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/03/hurricane-dorian-is-set-creep-north-closer-florida-georgia-carolinas-after-pounding-bahamas/

Boris Johnson isn’t even a bad poker player

Brexit

There is a new blog post entitled, “Even bad poker players know better.”

Jessica Elgot, “Johnson could sacrifice majority by withdrawing whip from rebel MPs,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/01/boris-johnson-brexit-sacrifice-majority-by-withdrawing-whip-from-rebel-mps

Kate Proctor, “Irish border after Brexit – all ideas are beset by issues says secret paper,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/irish-border-after-brexit-all-ideas-beset-by-issues


Dorian

Hurricane Dorian has pounded the northernmost islands of the Bahamas with winds gusting to more than 220mph (355km/h), the biggest storm to hit the Caribbean island chain in modern times.[1]

And of course this somehow has to be about Donald Trump, his astonishing ignorance, and his raging narcissism:

The storm decreased to category 4 and is expected to weaken further.[2] I would be cautious about that: The eye was passing over land, even if only the northwestern Bahama Islands; storms have been known to regain strength when they return to open water. It now appears to be turning north, off of Grand Bahama.
eusgm-2019-09-02-20
72-hour gif, images two hours apart (missing two images, from 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, from yesterday), as of 8:00 pm.

Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, “Historic Hurricane Dorian unleashing ‘catastrophic’ blow in northern Bahamas. Hurricane warnings posted for Florida’s east coast,” Washington Post, September 1, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/01/catastrophic-hurricane-dorian-unleashes-devastating-blow-northern-bahamas-takes-aim-southeast-us/

Richard Luscombe, “Hurricane Dorian: first reported death as category 5 storm hits Bahamas,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/01/hurricane-dorian-bahamas-us-flooding-florida-south-north-carolina

Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman, “‘Catastrophic’ Hurricane Dorian blasting Bahamas while bearing down on Florida, threatening Georgia and the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/02/catastrophic-hurricane-dorian-blasting-bahamas-bearing-down-florida-georgia-carolinas/


Hong Kong

Stack-HongKongDispatch
Undated photograph attributed to Anthony Kwan, via the New Yorker.[3]

I have wondered since Britain agreed to hand over Hong Kong how this could possibly end well. It seems we’re seeing the answer. I hope I’m wrong.

Megan K. Stack, “Bravery and Nihilism on the Streets of Hong Kong,” New Yorker, August 31, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/bravery-and-nihilism-amid-the-protests-in-hong-kong

Violet Law, “Looking to future, school students join Hong Kong protests,” Al Jazeera, September 2, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/future-school-students-join-hong-kong-protests-190902082122134.html

Iain Marlow, Aaron McNicholas, and Natalie Lung, “Hong Kong Officials Urge Calm While Warning of ‘Signs of Terror,’” Bloomberg, September 2, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-02/hong-kong-officials-urge-calm-while-warning-of-signs-of-terror


  1. [1]Richard Luscombe, “Hurricane Dorian: first reported death as category 5 storm hits Bahamas,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/01/hurricane-dorian-bahamas-us-flooding-florida-south-north-carolina
  2. [2]Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman, “‘Catastrophic’ Hurricane Dorian blasting Bahamas while bearing down on Florida, threatening Georgia and the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/02/catastrophic-hurricane-dorian-blasting-bahamas-bearing-down-florida-georgia-carolinas/
  3. [3]Megan K. Stack, “Bravery and Nihilism on the Streets of Hong Kong,” New Yorker, August 31, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/bravery-and-nihilism-amid-the-protests-in-hong-kong

Are we waiting for the make-up sex or does this count as another divorce?

Faux News

Donald Trump apparently did not utter the words, “I divorce thee,” three times. (Oh right, that’s a custom among some Muslims. Well, you know, lots of things are confusing these days.)

Brett Samuels, “Trump criticizes Fox, which ‘isn’t working for us anymore,’” Hill, August 28, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/459105-trump-criticizes-fox-which-isnt-working-for-us-anymore


Jeffrey Epstein

There is a new blog post entitled, “We’ll never know. We’ll never be able to conclusively rule out the conspiracy theories about Jeffrey Epstein’s death.” I’m sure the elite will manage to trudge on. It must be tough.

Mark Hosenball, “FBI studies two broken cameras outside cell where Epstein died: source,” Reuters, August 28, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-people-jeffrey-epstein-cameras-idUSKCN1VI2LC


Uber

There is another new blog post entitled, “Uber’s spiral down.”

Eliot Brown and Sarah Nassauer, “Uber Cuts Third of Marketing Staff; Lyft Chief Operating Officer Exits,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-third-of-marketing-staff-lyft-chief-operating-officer-exits-11564430556


Dorian

car-2019-08-29-20
Dorian’s brush with Puerto Rico and a string of Carribean islands can still be seen in this 72-hour gif, composed of images taken two hours apart, as of 8:00 pm EDT tonight.

Matthew Cappucci, Andrew Freedman, and Jason Samenow, “Hurricane Dorian: Florida on guard for potential major hurricane strike,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/08/29/hurricane-dorian-florida-guard-potential-major-hurricane-strike/


Sexual orientation

Can sexual orientation be attributed to nature or nurture? The answer seems to be, it’s complicated, but there are a number of genetic components that appear to increase the probability of particular orientations.[1] What we’re not seeing here is linear causation, with one cause and one effect. But these findings would seem to indicate that sexual orientation cannot be attributed solely to any social cause. They will be a blow to social conservatives, especially those who think they can “reprogram” people to be heterosexual.

Andrea Ganna, et al., “Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior,” Science 365, no. 6456 (2019), doi: 10.1126/science.aat7693


Brexit

But one top Johnson lieutenant, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, was caught on camera acknowledging that Johnson was struggling to push through Brexit without a majority.

“Parliament has been very good at saying what it doesn’t want. It has been awful at saying what it wants. That’s the reality. So eventually any leader has to, you know, try,” Wallace explained to French Defense Minister Florence Parly, caught on camera ahead of an unrelated meeting in Helsinki.

A government spokesman said later that Wallace “misspoke.”[2]

But everyone knows that Ben Wallace “misspoke” the truth. It’s really rather silly, which I guess is another word for a legal artifice, to deny it.

Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html


  1. [1]Andrea Ganna, et al., “Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior,” Science 365, no. 6456 (2019), doi: 10.1126/science.aat7693
  2. [2]Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html

Abuse of power

There is a new blog post entitled, “The quandary of anarchism as the tower crumbles.”


Brexit

Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Queen approves Boris Johnson’s request to suspend Parliament ahead of Brexit deadline,” Washington Post, August 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/boris-johnson-accused-of-deeply-dangerous-behavior-after-reports-he-will-shutter-parliament-ahead-of-brexit/2019/08/28/6bca5988-c96f-11e9-a1fe-ca46e8d573c0_story.html

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Boris Johnson asks Queen to suspend Parliament,” August 28, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49493632


Pittsburgh

Relevant to my recent blog post,[1] the Allegheny County Council voted against forming a civilian police review board, with council members asserting that they are already responsible for civilian review.[2] Perhaps so, but based on what I saw yesterday,[3] if this is indeed the case, they should all be impeached for dereliction of duty.

Or maybe they just really think the cops here are just fine the way they are.

Jamie Martines, “County council votes down Allegheny police review board, supporters vow to keep pushing,” TribLive, August 27, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/county-council-votes-down-allegheny-police-review-board-supporters-vow-to-keep-pushing/


Migration

Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, “‘Take the land’: President Trump wants a border wall. He wants it black. And he wants it by Election Day,” Washington Post, August 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/take-the-land-president-trump-wants-a-border-wall-he-wants-it-black-and-he-wants-it-by-election-day/2019/08/27/37b80018-c821-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html

Molly O’Toole, “Trump administration appears to violate law in forcing asylum seekers back to Mexico, officials warn,” Los Angeles Times, August 28, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-08-28/trump-administration-pushes-thousands-to-mexico-to-await-asylum-cases


Dorian

The storm seems to have dealt a glancing blow—I gather it was a bit more exciting if you were there—to Puerto Rico. I’m otherwise insufficiently familiar with the geography to identify the islands it appears to passed directly over.
pr-2019-08-28-20
As of 8:00 pm, 72-hour gif, images two hours apart.

CNN, “Hurricane Dorian nears Puerto Rico,” August 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/webview/us/live-news/tropical-storm-dorian-august-28/index.html


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/
  2. [2]Jamie Martines, “County council votes down Allegheny police review board, supporters vow to keep pushing,” TribLive, August 27, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/county-council-votes-down-allegheny-police-review-board-supporters-vow-to-keep-pushing/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/

See what you want to see

Gig economy

There is a new blog post entitled, “Liking Lyft, not liking Uber.”

Michael Wursthorn, “Lyft Shares Rally on Hopes Price Increases Will Drive Profit,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-shares-rally-on-hopes-price-increases-will-drive-profits-11566845457


Brexit

You wouldn’t expect the shadow (official opposition) attorney general to approve of Boris Johnson’s idea to prorogue Parliament to allow a hard Brexit,[1] which remains the legal default[2] and which all but hard Brexiteers agree would be likely to result in a grave calamity.[3] But still.[4]

Heather Stewart and Rowena Mason, “Brexit: shutting down parliament ‘gravest abuse of power in living memory,’” Guardian, August 26, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/26/brexit-shutting-down-parliament-gravest-abuse-of-power-in-living-memory-legal-advice


Pittsburgh

Jamie Martines, “U.S. Steel facing a 2nd federal lawsuit tied to December fire at Clairton Plant,” TribLive, August 26, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/u-s-steel-facing-a-2nd-federal-lawsuit-tied-to-december-fire-at-clairton-plant/


Jeffrey Epstein

Sorry, this still stinks to high hell.[5]

Carol D. Leonnig and Matt Zapotosky, “Investigators scrutinizing video outside Epstein’s cell find some footage unusable, according to people familiar with the inquiry,” Washington Post, August 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/investigators-scrutinizing-video-outside-epsteins-cell-find-some-footage-unusable-according-to-people-familiar-with-the-inquiry/2019/08/26/df405636-c827-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html


Racism

There is another new blog entry entitled, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?


Economics

Add this[6] to the pile of evidence against the field of economics.[7] And give Binyamin Appelbaum some credit—this[8] is a hard thing for anyone who has made their profession within a field—yes, he’s a journalist but he has, through the time I’ve seen his writing, focused on economics—to admit about that field. But it’d help a lot if the New York Times would stop endorsing neoliberals. (And notice that Appelbaum never once uses the word.)

Binyamin Appelbaum, “Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In,” New York Times, August 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/economics-milton-friedman.html


  1. [1]Toby Helm and Heather Stewart, “Boris Johnson seeks legal advice on five-week parliament closure ahead of Brexit,” Guardian, August 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/24/johnson-seeks-legal-advice-parliament-closure
  2. [2]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Double Dishonesty of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Proposals,” New Yorker, August 22, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-double-dishonesty-of-boris-johnsons-brexit-proposals; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  3. [3]Bobby Allyn and Frank Langfitt, “Leaked Brexit Document Depicts Government Fears Of Gridlock, Food Shortages, Unrest,” National Public Radio, August 18, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/08/18/752173091/leaked-brexit-document-depicts-government-fears-of-gridlock-food-shortages-unres; David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/; Lisa O’Carroll and Rowena Mason, “Johnson told no-deal Brexit will crush domestic policy plans,” Guardian, July 28, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/28/boris-johnson-ifg-no-deal-brexit-crush-domestic-policy-plans; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Double Dishonesty of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Proposals,” New Yorker, August 22, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-double-dishonesty-of-boris-johnsons-brexit-proposals; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/
  4. [4]Heather Stewart and Rowena Mason, “Brexit: shutting down parliament ‘gravest abuse of power in living memory,’” Guardian, August 26, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/26/brexit-shutting-down-parliament-gravest-abuse-of-power-in-living-memory-legal-advice
  5. [5]David Benfell, “What the hell is going on with the prison video from around the time of Jeffrey Epstein’s death?” Not Housebroken, August 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/16/what-the-hell-is-going-on-with-the-prison-video-from-around-the-time-of-jeffrey-epsteins-death/; Carol D. Leonnig and Matt Zapotosky, “Investigators scrutinizing video outside Epstein’s cell find some footage unusable, according to people familiar with the inquiry,” Washington Post, August 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/investigators-scrutinizing-video-outside-epsteins-cell-find-some-footage-unusable-according-to-people-familiar-with-the-inquiry/2019/08/26/df405636-c827-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html
  6. [6]Binyamin Appelbaum, “Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In,” New York Times, August 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/economics-milton-friedman.html
  7. [7]Hites Ahir and Prakash Loungani, “‘There will be growth in the spring’: How well do economists predict turning points?” Vox, April 14, 2014, https://voxeu.org/article/predicting-economic-turning-points; Richard Alford, “Why Economists Have No Shame – Undue Confidence, False Precision, Risk and Monetary Policy,” Naked Capitalism, July 19, 2012, https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/07/richard-alford-why-economists-have-no-shame-undue-confidence-false-precision-risk-and-monetary-policy.html; Ha-Joon Chang and Jonathan Aldred, “After the crash, we need a revolution in the way we teach economics,” Guardian, May 10, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/may/11/after-crash-need-revolution-in-economics-teaching-chang-aldred; Barry Eichengreen, “Economists, Remove Your Blinders,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 12, 2015, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Economists-Remove-Your/151057/; Paul Krugman, “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?” New York Times, September 2, 2009, https://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/magazine/06Economic-t.html; Paul Krugman, “Triumph of the Wrong?” New York Times, October 11, 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/opinion/krugman-triumph-of-the-wrong.html; Andrew Simms, “Economics is a failing discipline doing great harm – so let’s rethink it,” Guardian, August 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/03/economics-global-economy-climate-crisis; Mark Thoma, “Restoring the Public’s Trust in Economists,” Fiscal Times, May 19, 2015, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2015/05/19/Restoring-Public-s-Trust-Economists
  8. [8]Binyamin Appelbaum, “Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In,” New York Times, August 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/economics-milton-friedman.html

Boris Johnson prepares to prorogue Parliament

Brexit

Remember that this is the Parliament that not only cannot agree on anything Brexit,[1] but cannot even agree on how to stop a hard Brexit,[2] which remains the legal default,[3] and which is now even more certain to produce calamity.[4] But just to make sure, Boris Johnson is seeking legal advice on how to keep Parliament from stopping it.[5]

There’s a reason politicians are immune to malpractice claims. It’s just a spectacularly bad one.

Toby Helm and Heather Stewart, “Boris Johnson seeks legal advice on five-week parliament closure ahead of Brexit,” Guardian, August 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/24/johnson-seeks-legal-advice-parliament-closure


Cultural Anthropology

I have a confession to make. I knew very little of Franz Boas—I think I had heard his name and that’s about it. But it would appear that his work and the work of his protégés is fundamental to much of my understanding.[6] I’m not ordering many new books these days; I have so many I haven’t read, even amongst those my mother has already sent me from the other side of the continent, never mind the two (out of still about five total, of various sizes) bookcases full of unread books still there. But this is important; I’m ordering this one.

Louis Menand, “How Cultural Anthropologists Redefined Humanity,” review of Gods of the Upper Air, by Charles King, New Yorker, August 26, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/08/26/how-cultural-anthropologists-redefined-humanity


Recession

There is a new blog post entitled, “About that recession timing and the 2020 election.”

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, “Economists Are Bad At Predicting Recessions,” FiveThirtyEight, August 21, 2019, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/economists-are-bad-at-predicting-recessions/


.

  1. [1]Heather Stewart, Jessica Elgot, and Rowena Mason, “Brexit: May calls for cabinet showdown as MPs reject all options,” Guardian, April 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/01/brexit-deadlock-continues-as-mps-fail-to-find-compromise
  2. [2]Al Jazeera, “UK’s Labour vows to oust Johnson, delay Brexit and call election,” August 14, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/uk-labour-vows-oust-johnson-delay-brexit-call-election-190814163557439.html; Camilla Tominey, “Jeremy Corbyn writes to MPs in bid to oust Boris Johnson over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/14/jeremy-corbyn-writes-mps-say-make-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit-cross/; Jessica Elgot, “No-deal Brexit edges closer as key Tories refuse to back Corbyn,” Guardian, August 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/16/sadiq-khan-lib-dems-jo-swinson-corbyn-only-viable-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit
  3. [3]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Double Dishonesty of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Proposals,” New Yorker, August 22, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-double-dishonesty-of-boris-johnsons-brexit-proposals; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  4. [4]Bobby Allyn and Frank Langfitt, “Leaked Brexit Document Depicts Government Fears Of Gridlock, Food Shortages, Unrest,” National Public Radio, August 18, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/08/18/752173091/leaked-brexit-document-depicts-government-fears-of-gridlock-food-shortages-unres; David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/; Lisa O’Carroll and Rowena Mason, “Johnson told no-deal Brexit will crush domestic policy plans,” Guardian, July 28, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/28/boris-johnson-ifg-no-deal-brexit-crush-domestic-policy-plans; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Double Dishonesty of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Proposals,” New Yorker, August 22, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-double-dishonesty-of-boris-johnsons-brexit-proposals; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/
  5. [5]Toby Helm and Heather Stewart, “Boris Johnson seeks legal advice on five-week parliament closure ahead of Brexit,” Guardian, August 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/24/johnson-seeks-legal-advice-parliament-closure
  6. [6]Louis Menand, “How Cultural Anthropologists Redefined Humanity,” review of Gods of the Upper Air, by Charles King, New Yorker, August 26, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/08/26/how-cultural-anthropologists-redefined-humanity

Dwight D. Eisenhower took a tough line with Israel, Lyndon Johnson changed the U.S. policy, and Robert F. Kennedy got assassinated

Israel

It would seem that Lyndon Johnson’s decision to embrace Israel, which arguably provoked Sirhan Sirhan to assassinate Robert F. Kennedy,[1] came in stark contrast to the policies of his predecessor.[2]

Derek Leebaert, “When Eisenhower Republicans Censured Israel—Three Times,” American Conservative, August 22, 2019, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/when-eisenhower-republicans-censured-israel-three-times/


Brexit

Amy Davidson Sorkin covers some of the ground[3] I covered a while ago. There is still no realistic alternative to the Irish backstop,[4] and Boris Johnson is bluffing, if you can call it that, with an empty hand,[5] while Britain hurtles toward the legal default: a hard Brexit.[6] One has to suspect that Johnson is every bit as delusional as Donald Trump.

Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Double Dishonesty of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Proposals,” New Yorker, August 22, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-double-dishonesty-of-boris-johnsons-brexit-proposals


Gig economy

Several other companies [besides Amazon] have come under fire for similar tip-taking practices, including Instacart and DoorDash. The latter is still dipping into driver tips about a month after announcing it would stop, but it said Thursday that practice will end next month with the implementation of a new pay structure that will also feature higher base pay.[7]

Johana Bhuiyan, “Amazon ends practice of dipping into drivers’ tips to meet their wage guarantees,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-08-22/amazon-flex-fares-tips

Alyse Stanley, “DoorDash Announces It’s Replacing That Whole Tip-Skimming Scheme Thing,” Gizmodo, August 23, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/doordash-announces-its-replacing-that-whole-tip-skimmin-1837492337


Pittsburgh

Paul Guggenheimer, “Woman stabbed in Downtown is Pittsburgh’s 3rd stabbing this month,” TribLive, August 23, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/woman-stabbed-in-downtown-pittsburghs-third-stabbing-this-month/


  1. [1]Thaddeus Russell, “Does U.S. Support for Israel Threaten American Safety?” Daily Beast, July 14, 2017, https://www.thedailybeast.com/thaddeus-russell-does-us-support-for-israel-threaten-american-safety
  2. [2]Derek Leebaert, “When Eisenhower Republicans Censured Israel—Three Times,” American Conservative, August 22, 2019, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/when-eisenhower-republicans-censured-israel-three-times/
  3. [3]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Double Dishonesty of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Proposals,” New Yorker, August 22, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-double-dishonesty-of-boris-johnsons-brexit-proposals
  4. [4]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Katy Hayward, “Can technology and ‘max fac’ solve the Irish border question? Expert explains,” Conversation, May 23, 2018, http://theconversation.com/can-technology-and-max-fac-solve-the-irish-border-question-expert-explains-96735; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280; Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs; Steven Swinford and Henry Zeffman, “Backstop protects stability in Ireland, Macron tells PM,” Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/find-an-alternative-to-irish-backstop-and-brexit-deal-is-possible-angela-merkel-tells-boris-johnson-dmtfzf9gz
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/
  6. [6]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  7. [7]Johana Bhuiyan, “Amazon ends practice of dipping into drivers’ tips to meet their wage guarantees,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2019-08-22/amazon-flex-fares-tips

Watch how it all comes together: Recession (probably), Uber’s demise (probably), and a hard Brexit (probably)

Gig economy

There is a new blog post entitled “Proof of investor irrationality: The case of Uber (and Lyft).” Remember that my argument has been that a recession—see below—might provide the company a psychological push off the cliff.[1]

Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural

Shirin Ghaffary, “DoorDash is still pocketing workers’ tips, almost a month after it promised to stop,” Vox, August 20, 2019, https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/8/20/20825937/doordash-tipping-policy-still-not-changed-food-delivery-app-gig-economy

Stephen Wilmot, “Uber’s Long Road to Profits,” Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-long-road-to-profits-11566471068


Recession

Murphy’s Law dictates that “If anything can go wrong, it will.” MacGillicuddy’s Corollary suggests that it will do so “[a]t the most inopportune time.”[2] Some might say that with an utterly incompetent president who is utterly unprepared for a recession and an utterly incompetent administration,[3] so many reasons to worry,[4] and this president’s and this administration’s only answer amounting to scapegoating the media and the Federal Reserve,[5] this might be the time.

I suppose that might be true if you support Donald Trump.[6] For the rest of us, it’d probably be after he’s re-elected (assuming that happens). On the other hand, even if the neoliberal party, which worries a lot—seemingly even more than the Republicans[7]—about deficits and the accumulated federal debt, wins the 2020 presidential election, it still might not be able to do much about a recession.[8]

Rebecca Ballhaus and Nick Timiraos, “Officials See Few Options if Slowdown Hits,” Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/options-dwindle-to-boost-u-s-economic-growth-11566431581

Jeff Stein and Jonnelle Marte, “With deficit rising, worries grow the U.S. may be out of tools if recession hits,” Washington Post, August 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/21/us-deficit-expand-by-more-than-billion-over-years-than-previously-expected-cbo-says/


Brexit

One of the recession concerns I’ve listed among many[9] has been rather specifically about spillage from a hard Brexit.[10] That remains on track[11] as, really, Europeans remain unyielding on the Irish backstop. Angela Merkel is making sure it’s Boris Johnson who gets the blame[12] and Emmanuel Macron argues (correctly, and understating it[13]) that the backstop would preserve Irish stability.[14]

Steven Swinford and Henry Zeffman, “Backstop protects stability in Ireland, Macron tells PM,” Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/find-an-alternative-to-irish-backstop-and-brexit-deal-is-possible-angela-merkel-tells-boris-johnson-dmtfzf9gz

Henry Zeffman, “Brexit: Angela Merkel’s 30-day gambit piles pressure on Boris Johnson,” Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/angela-merkels-30-day-gambit-piles-pressure-on-boris-johnson-ch559t90r


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Uber appears to be going down,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/uber-appears-to-be-going-down/
  2. [2]Originally Sod’s Law, author unknown. Raanan Avidor, “Murphy’s laws,” Murphy’s laws site, n.d., http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-laws.html; Raanan Avidor, “Murphy’s laws origin,” Murphy’s laws site, n.d., http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-true.html
  3. [3]Aaron Blake, “Maybe it’s time for Larry Kudlow to stop making predictions,” Washington Post, August 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/08/19/maybe-its-time-larry-kudlow-stop-making-predictions/; Catherine Rampell, “Trump has a dream team for mismanaging a recession,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-a-dream-team-for-mismanaging-a-recession/2019/08/15/0254451c-bf98-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  4. [4]Rebecca Ballhaus and Nick Timiraos, “Officials See Few Options if Slowdown Hits,” Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/options-dwindle-to-boost-u-s-economic-growth-11566431581; Jon Hilsenrath, “After Record-Long Expansion, Here’s What Could Knock the Economy Off Course,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-record-long-expansion-heres-what-could-knock-the-economy-off-course-11559591043; John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF; Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html; Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath, and Taylor Telford, “Stocks tank as another recession warning surfaces,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/14/stocks-tank-another-recession-warning-surfaces/; David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html; Jeff Stein and Jonnelle Marte, “With deficit rising, worries grow the U.S. may be out of tools if recession hits,” Washington Post, August 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/21/us-deficit-expand-by-more-than-billion-over-years-than-previously-expected-cbo-says/; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/; Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html
  5. [5]Stephen Collinson, “Fretful Trump goes on attack as economy fears cloud 2020 hopes,” CNN, August 19, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/19/politics/donald-trump-economy-2020-election-china-trade-war/index.html; Jeff Stein and Jonnelle Marte, “With deficit rising, worries grow the U.S. may be out of tools if recession hits,” Washington Post, August 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/21/us-deficit-expand-by-more-than-billion-over-years-than-previously-expected-cbo-says/
  6. [6]Andrew Restuccia and Rebecca Ballhaus, “Any Economic Downturn Could Scramble Trump’s 2020 Strategy,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/any-economic-downturn-could-scramble-trumps-2020-strategy-11565898073; Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-banking-on-strong-economy-to-win-reelection-frets-over-a-possible-downturn/2019/08/15/04a85352-bf67-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html
  7. [7]Charles J. Sykes, “Whatever happened to the party of fiscal responsibility?” Los Angeles Times, November 10, 2017, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-sykes-gop-fiscal-20171110-story.html
  8. [8]Rebecca Ballhaus and Nick Timiraos, “Officials See Few Options if Slowdown Hits,” Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/options-dwindle-to-boost-u-s-economic-growth-11566431581; Jeff Stein and Jonnelle Marte, “With deficit rising, worries grow the U.S. may be out of tools if recession hits,” Washington Post, August 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/21/us-deficit-expand-by-more-than-billion-over-years-than-previously-expected-cbo-says/
  9. [9]Rebecca Ballhaus and Nick Timiraos, “Officials See Few Options if Slowdown Hits,” Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/options-dwindle-to-boost-u-s-economic-growth-11566431581; Jon Hilsenrath, “After Record-Long Expansion, Here’s What Could Knock the Economy Off Course,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-record-long-expansion-heres-what-could-knock-the-economy-off-course-11559591043; John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF; Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html; Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath, and Taylor Telford, “Stocks tank as another recession warning surfaces,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/14/stocks-tank-another-recession-warning-surfaces/; David Scutt, “The ‘doom loop’ that could bring on a global recession,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 15, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/the-doom-loop-could-bring-on-a-global-recession-20190815-p52h9v.html; Jeff Stein and Jonnelle Marte, “With deficit rising, worries grow the U.S. may be out of tools if recession hits,” Washington Post, August 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/21/us-deficit-expand-by-more-than-billion-over-years-than-previously-expected-cbo-says/; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/; Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html
  10. [10]Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/
  11. [11]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  12. [12]Henry Zeffman, “Brexit: Angela Merkel’s 30-day gambit piles pressure on Boris Johnson,” Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/angela-merkels-30-day-gambit-piles-pressure-on-boris-johnson-ch559t90r
  13. [13]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Katy Hayward, “Can technology and ‘max fac’ solve the Irish border question? Expert explains,” Conversation, May 23, 2018, http://theconversation.com/can-technology-and-max-fac-solve-the-irish-border-question-expert-explains-96735; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280; Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs
  14. [14]Steven Swinford and Henry Zeffman, “Backstop protects stability in Ireland, Macron tells PM,” Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/find-an-alternative-to-irish-backstop-and-brexit-deal-is-possible-angela-merkel-tells-boris-johnson-dmtfzf9gz

Surprise! Surprise! Resistance in Kashmir

Kashmir

The Reuters story is about one neighborhood.[1] There’s no word on to what degree such resistance might also be occurring elsewhere in Kashmir or on what shape other forms of resistance might be taking.

That Indian forces haven’t already crushed this resistance suggests to me 1) that India fears bad publicity, either internationally or domestically as its dubious claims of Kashmiri backing for its moves are unmasked, or 2) that the army is stretched thin, in part because of the face off with Pakistan at the Line of Control and in part because of resistance in other locations, or 3) some combination of more than one of these factors. But I just don’t know.

Zeba Siddiqui and Fayaz Bukhari, “Besieged Kashmiri neighborhood in test of wills with India’s Modi,” Reuters, August 19, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-kashmir-hotbed-insight/besieged-kashmiri-neighborhood-in-test-of-wills-with-indias-modi-idUSKCN1V921T


Pacific Gas and Electric

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) had been cleared by the State of California of blame for the Tubbs fire that burned through large parts of Santa Rosa in 2017,[2] but a bankruptcy judge is allowing suits to proceed against the company,[3] which surely has far deeper pockets than the homeowner whose private equipment the state blames.[4]

PG&E stock and bonds “plunged” in response,[5] but it had “soared, closing up 75 percent on Thursday [January 24] at $13.95,” following the state’s decision.[6] “The stock ended the day [August 19] at $10.67, a drop of 25.3%.”[7] I’ll leave the arithmetic here to others but it sounds to me like investors should, in aggregate, still be ahead on the deal.

I’m no fan of PG&E and I couldn’t care less about its investors—they accepted a risk with their investments and if they don’t like that risk, they shouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. But presumably, the state’s conclusion will weigh heavily against the plaintiffs.

Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling


Brexit

Boris Johnson’s latest demand that the European Union drop the Irish backstop was just more of the same old bullshit and the E.U. is responding accordingly.[8]

France24, “EU rejects Johnson’s demand to scrap Irish backstop,” August 20, 2019, https://www.france24.com/en/20190820-eu-rejects-johnson-s-demand-to-scrap-irish-backstop

Rebecca Staudenmaier, “Brexit: UK to end EU freedom of movement immediately in no-deal scenario,” Deutschewelle, August 20, 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/brexit-uk-to-end-eu-freedom-of-movement-immediately-in-no-deal-scenario/a-50090564


Donald Trump

George Monbiot blamed Donald Trump’s election on the absence of a competing narrative to neoliberalism.[9] I still don’t really see that narrative. Even ideas such as the “green new deal” need to be fleshed out—and it seems like to the extent that they are, they lose credibility—it seems unlikely they could ever actually be enacted.

Monbiot’s point stands, even if it is an incomplete explanation. For a lot of people, including me, whom the neoliberal party (the so-called Democratic Party) ignores at its peril, neoliberalism is as evil and as fascist as Trump.


Guns

Just in case you thought this time might be different.

Jack Crowe, “Trump Assures NRA President That Universal Background Check Bill Is off the Table: Report,” National Review, August 20, 2019, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/trump-assures-nra-president-universal-background-check-bill-off-the-table/

Elaina Plott, “Trump’s Phone Calls With Wayne LaPierre Reveal NRA’s Influence,” Atlantic, August 20, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/08/trump-background-checks-nra/596413/


Climate change

The news on climate change keeps turning out to be worse than the predictions we had only just previously heard. Now we’re starting to see why. It’s phrased differently from how I have phrased it and in more detail, but the upshot is similar: scientists feel pressure not to appear to be exaggerating their findings.[10]

Naomi Oreskes, Michael Oppenheimer, and Dale Jamieson, “Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change,” Scientific American, August 19, 2019, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/scientists-have-been-underestimating-the-pace-of-climate-change/


  1. [1]Zeba Siddiqui and Fayaz Bukhari, “Besieged Kashmiri neighborhood in test of wills with India’s Modi,” Reuters, August 19, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-kashmir-hotbed-insight/besieged-kashmiri-neighborhood-in-test-of-wills-with-indias-modi-idUSKCN1V921T
  2. [2]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “PG&E Is Cleared in Deadly Tubbs Fire of 2017,” New York Times, January 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/business/energy-environment/pge-tubbs-fire.html
  3. [3]Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling
  4. [4]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “PG&E Is Cleared in Deadly Tubbs Fire of 2017,” New York Times, January 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/business/energy-environment/pge-tubbs-fire.html
  5. [5]Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling
  6. [6]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “PG&E Is Cleared in Deadly Tubbs Fire of 2017,” New York Times, January 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/business/energy-environment/pge-tubbs-fire.html
  7. [7]Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling
  8. [8]France24, “EU rejects Johnson’s demand to scrap Irish backstop,” August 20, 2019, https://www.france24.com/en/20190820-eu-rejects-johnson-s-demand-to-scrap-irish-backstop
  9. [9]George Monbiot, “The Deep History Behind Trump’s Rise,” November 15, 2016, https://www.monbiot.com/2016/11/15/the-deep-history-behind-trumps-rise/
  10. [10]Naomi Oreskes, Michael Oppenheimer, and Dale Jamieson, “Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change,” Scientific American, August 19, 2019, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/scientists-have-been-underestimating-the-pace-of-climate-change/

The weather, it is a-changing

I know the weather has changed in California. The wildfires there now are unlike anything we had before. And to hear many people talk, a few recent years of relatively normal rainfall might as well have been Noah’s Flood. Their disorientation is understandable: California has suffered many more dry years than wet during my entire adult life.

I’m starting to hear that the weather is indeed also different in Pittsburgh. Summers are wetter and winters are less cool, a passenger told me yesterday. She blamed climate change for Dutch Elm disease (trees are more vulnerable when stressed, including by climate change) and lightning (presumably from severe storms that could be more common as a result of climate change) that had killed some trees around her driveway. She is blind, but she could feel the difference in the pavement: It was cool before; now it is hot. She also conflated the issue of fracking-induced earthquakes. But she’s a believer in the climate crisis.

By the way, she identifies herself as a conservative—I couldn’t identify what tendenc[y|ies]. As I’ve mulled it over, my initial, so-preliminary-that-I-probably-shouldn’t-say-it guess would be traditionalist.

Solastalgia describes the feeling of distress caused by environmental change, and it was coined by Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht. “It was important to give that feeling a name because it was missing from our language,” Albrecht says from his small farm in Australia’s Hunter Valley region in the eastern state of New South Wales.[1]

It’s hard for me to address the weather difference here in Pittsburgh from my own experience. I lived here for a couple years as a kid and my memories from fifty years ago are hazy.

But the pattern I don’t much remember but have seen a lot so far this year has been of a rapid increase in temperature and humidity, followed by rain or thunderstorms. The latter bring some relief, but the temperature rises again following them. This has been happening a lot, even on days when the forecast calls for a relatively low chance of rain.

I do remember walking to the Mount Lebanon swimming pool as a kid. I’m pretty sure I had a bicycle but with the hills around here, it’d have been easier just to walk. People still go to swimming pools, sometimes taking a Lyft to do so. And I see them in the Dormont pool which is visible from McFarland Road (between Beverly Road and Banksville Road).

But it’s kind of hard for me to imagine doing that now; the chance of thunderstorms seems much higher than the forecasts ever indicate. Though there are a number of massive antennae about that I’m pretty sure also serve as lightning rods, a swimming pool is not a wise place to be during such a storm.

I’ve taken to watching the cumulus clouds as I drive around. It seems like they’re here every day. When even only some turn dark, it seems I can be sure that some precipitation is coming, even if it’s only a few big fat drops on my windshield.


Trade

But Donald Trump is a “master of negotiation.” Brilliant. Absolutely fucking brilliant.

Stephen Bartholomeusz, “Trump is escalating a trade war he isn’t winning,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 5, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/trump-is-escalating-a-trade-war-he-isn-t-winning-20190805-p52dxf.html


Ridesharing

This[2] adds to the pile.[3]

Laura Bliss, “How Much Traffic Do Uber and Lyft Cause?” CityLab, August 5, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/08/uber-lyft-traffic-congestion-ride-hailing-cities-drivers-vmt/595393/


Migration

2019-8-5-libya-security-migrants
This is a refugee camp. Image by Ismail Zitouny on July 3, 2019, via Public Radio International.[4]

James Reinl, “Libya’s hellish refugee centers remain open despite calls for closure,” Public Radio International, August 6, 2019, https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-08-06/libyas-hellish-refugee-centers-remain-open-despite-calls-closure


Kashmir

One has to take pronouncements, such as this one about the possibilities of war and ethnic cleansing,[5] by Pakistani politicians with a grain of salt. I have noticed a tendency towards hyperbole. But there is absolutely zero up-side to India’s move to revoke Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status.[6] Zero. None. Nada. The risks of a conflagration between these two nuclear-armed countries are considerable and it is entirely worthwhile to wonder what India’s intentions are.

Diaa Hadid, Scott Neuman, and Abdul Sattar, “Pakistan Warns Of War After India’s Move To End Kashmir’s Special Status,” National Public Radio, August 7, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/08/07/748957876/pakistan-warns-indias-move-to-end-kashmir-s-special-status-could-lead-to-war


Brexit

I’ve heard about the difficulties of re-erecting a hard Irish border, as would be required in a “no deal” scenario,[7] in the abstract. But here they are in a damning first person account.[8]

Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs


Royalty

I’m an anarchist, remember? Which probably should mean I would prefer a republic to a monarchy. Both are authoritarian, but the republic at least has some representation. Which isn’t real democracy and falls a long ways short of what’s actually needed but is at least something.

Here’s someone pointing out, with some considerable justification, however, that British royalty is making a hell of a lot more sense than British politicians.[9] This is the part I really like:

It is typical of the age that anyone allying themselves with an optimistic vision – what if we could avert climate catastrophe? What if we stamped out prejudice? – is immediately greeted with this kind of ire. The mean-spirited arguments are constructed on a foundation of bad faith. Only the underprivileged can talk about privilege; only the excluded can talk about bigotry; only the monk can talk about consumption. The ploy is quite clear: virtually nobody counts as quite deprived enough to have ambitions for a better world, so everybody should just pipe down.[10]

Ouch. There remains the issue of speaking for others, but if you read to the end of her chapter, which a certain professor emeritus I know of might never actually have done, Linda Alcott explains that those of us with some privilege should speak on behalf of others, but in consultation and cooperation with them.[11] Ouch anyway.

Zoe Williams, “I never thought I’d see the royal family as a beacon of hope,” August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/post-referendum-britain-royals-progressive-meghan-markle


Police

I wanted to put a line in my blog post yesterday, “Of course the cops don’t care about white supremacism,” about people of color being more likely to be shot by police.

A quick search indicated that might be wrong and it seems the story remains unclear. Brentin Mock goes into all this in some detail.[12]

Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/


  1. [1]Will Higginbotham, “Are You Climate Homesick? He’s Got a Word for That,” Ozy, July 26, 2019, https://www.ozy.com/rising-stars/are-you-climate-homesick-hes-got-a-word-for-that/95504
  2. [2]Laura Bliss, “How Much Traffic Do Uber and Lyft Cause?” CityLab, August 5, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/08/uber-lyft-traffic-congestion-ride-hailing-cities-drivers-vmt/595393/
  3. [3]Emily Badger, “Is Uber Helping or Hurting Mass Transit?” New York Times, October 16, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/upshot/is-uber-helping-or-hurting-mass-transit.html; Katie Dowd, “Why is San Francisco traffic so bad? Uber and Lyft are to blame, says city,” SFGate, December 13, 2016, http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-traffic-Uber-Lyft-SFMTA-blame-10791265.php; Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, “SFPD: Uber, Lyft account for two-thirds of congestion-related traffic violations downtown,” San Francisco Examiner, September 25, 2017, http://www.sfexaminer.com/sfpd-uber-lyft-account-two-thirds-congestion-related-traffic-violations-downtown/; Nikil Saval, “Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life,” New Yorker, February 19, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/dept-of-design/uber-and-the-ongoing-erasure-of-public-life; Faiz Siddiqui, “A new study says services like UberPool are making traffic worse,” Washington Post, July 25, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2018/07/25/a-new-study-says-services-like-uberpool-are-making-traffic-worse/; Heather Somerville, “San Francisco investigating whether Uber, Lyft are public nuisances,” Reuters, June 5, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-san-francisco-rideservices-idUSKBN18W2F3 See also David Benfell, “San Francisco’s war on Uber and Lyft drivers,” Not Housebroken, September 27, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/09/27/san-franciscos-war-on-uber-and-lyft-drivers/
  4. [4]James Reinl, “Libya’s hellish refugee centers remain open despite calls for closure,” Public Radio International, August 6, 2019, https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-08-06/libyas-hellish-refugee-centers-remain-open-despite-calls-closure
  5. [5]Diaa Hadid, Scott Neuman, and Abdul Sattar, “Pakistan Warns Of War After India’s Move To End Kashmir’s Special Status,” National Public Radio, August 7, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/08/07/748957876/pakistan-warns-indias-move-to-end-kashmir-s-special-status-could-lead-to-war
  6. [6]Niha Masih, “India revokes special status of Kashmir, putting tense region on edge,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/india-revokes-special-status-of-kashmir-putting-tense-region-on-edge/2019/08/05/2232fcd0-b740-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html
  7. [7]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280
  8. [8]Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs
  9. [9]Zoe Williams, “I never thought I’d see the royal family as a beacon of hope,” August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/post-referendum-britain-royals-progressive-meghan-markle
  10. [10]Zoe Williams, “I never thought I’d see the royal family as a beacon of hope,” August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/post-referendum-britain-royals-progressive-meghan-markle
  11. [11]Linda Martín Alcott, “The Problem of Speaking for Others,” in Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity, Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman, eds. (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 1995), 97-119.
  12. [12]Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/