Linky Friday: It’s Been Good Knowing You

Cities:

[C1] We hear a lot of the bad, but there’s some good happening in Chicago. Even so, Chicago looks over its shoulder and asks, “What about Houston?”

[C2] Go West, young man. You don’t even need to go far. Three cheers for geographical load balancing!

[C3] Last time we were looking at places to potentially move to, Sacramento registered pretty reasonably in terms of cost-of-living. Apparently, no longer so. {More}

[C4] Buffalo may be making a comeback! Full speed ahead.

[C5] David Wheeler argues that Silicon Valley has declared war on Snake People.

[C6] Using Lafayette, Louisiana as an example, Charles Marohn explains the infrastructure trap and why your city has no money.

Wildlife:

russian bear photo

Image by dvanhorn

[W1] In New Hampshire it’s ticks versus moose, and the ticks are winning.

[W2] What the hell, Mother Nature?

[W3] But how do they taste?

[W4] Well, this is kind of a cool story. Except for the fox.

[W5] Even if not actually a Wyoming problem, this sounds like a very Russian problem.

[W6] Catfood is the most popular fish for people who don’t like seafood, and combine that with our politics and government being what they are, I guess it’s no surprise they’re a political football.

[W7] I have to say, this isn’t my response to hearing about that kind of animal with that kind of nickname.

Transportation:

[T1] Lifehacks to drive more safely in better heated cars.

[T2] Unable to get electric bikes up and running and the existing program being retired, Seattle killed its bike-sharing program. For now, at least.

[T3] In New York, drivers are lining up against Driverless Cars, and apprehension in Ohio. I didn’t know Ohio had so many truck drivers. Seems to me they’re all from Oklahoma (except Rod, of course).

[T4] An Israeli company is working on wireless charging of electric vehicles.

[T5] Angie Schmitt wants to replace these eight transportation engineering euphemisms.

[T6] this limo really rubs the wrong way for some reason.

Money:

[M1] Conor Sen’s words on shopping malls seem true. Having lived around places where shopping malls have closed, it’s hard to overstate the footprint/infrastructure issues (unless the land is valuable for repurposing.)

[M2] I thought about making a Monday Trivia out of this map, but figured it too obscure. It’s really weird to me when any Walmart is not open 24 hours. That’s half of the point of a Walmart.

[M3] Elias Crim argues is concerned about the economic repercussions entangled with the “smart city” and, more particularly, the Uberization of our workforce when better alternatives may be available.

[M4] This makes sense. And portends our doom.

[M5] Alan Moore encourages new writers to self-publish.


Editor-in-Chief
Home Page Twitter Google+ Pinterest 

Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
TwitterFacebookRedditEmailPrintFriendlyMore options

138 thoughts on “Linky Friday: It’s Been Good Knowing You

  1. C5: Three cheers for Neo Luddism!

    T3: Three more cheers!

    M3: My biggest complaint with the contemporary labor movement is that they seem intent on focusing backwards, trying to restore American labor power to what it used to be (Andy Stern’s call for a UBI is a welcome exception). And that just doesn’t jive with which direction the economy is heading. So, something like this sounds very attractive to me:

    Platform cooperativism is simply communal ownership (with roughly 170 years of cooperative movement history) brought together with today’s notions of democratic governance.

    I imagine that one of the biggest obstacles is that all that distributed capital working directly for individuals would make a very tempting target for whatever government or corporate interests are lurking around looking for rent seeking opportunities. Somewhat surprised to see this in The American Conservative, but maybe the future of labor is one of those issues where only Nixon can go to China.

    M4: My guess is that the machines are smarter, or at least less emotional, than human being and will quickly learn to stop taking the Trump bait. The problem with people is that we know better at the intellectual level, but are enmeshed in a culture that incentives highlighting the absurdities of the outgroup; therefore ensuring that those absurdities continue.

    Report

    • T3 “It doesn’t do anything for the local economy to have driverless cars,” John Tomassi, president of the Upstate Transportation Association, told CNN. “I’m sure there’s a little bit of job creation, but nothing that will match the number of jobs lost.”

      Won’t someone think of the emergency room physicians? The auto wreckers? The undertakers?

      It’s like that possibly apocryphal figure that x percent of Alberta’s GDP was due directly to drunk driving…

      Report

      • Yep, think of all the money not spent on extra health care, or wasted time sitting in traffic, etc.

        Positive first order effects might be small, but second and third order could be very significant.

        Report

    • C5 and M3: I like your quotation about Platform cooperativism…there is much to be contemplated in that.

      Given that we can’t go more than 2-days here without someone talking about conservative nostalgia for the past, I thought that Crim’s description of neo-technocratic-liberal economics as “Yesterday’s tomorrow” was prescient. Should probably be the title of Jaybird’s next travelogue.

      I’m quite certain that labor needs a Solidarity movement; but Solidarity requires trust and collaboration… which are in short supply, globally even. Makes one wonder if this isn’t rather the point of Republican and Democratic collaboration.

      Report

  2. [M2] It appears as though Americans who voted for Donald Trump also like to shop at WalMart at odd hours. Correlation or coincidence? What’s going to happen to the bargains once the tariffs take hold?

    Report

  3. C4: Buffalo still have one problem that you can’t fix. Winter and snow. Hell, I worked with a guy up there and once when I called him he said “it’s a pretty good day, only 2 feet of snow”. WTF? Pass.

    C5: Just wait for the quake. Solve all the problems.

    [C6]: And the dude hasn’t even gotten to the issue of local gov’t over promising for gov’t workers in the areas of pensions and health care! Some idea of how f’ed up one city is. My girlfriends street lights are out. The city doesn’t know which ones and requires that you provide the id number, which is at the top of the pole and is hard to see since it’s corroded. No, you can’t give them the name of the street. Then there’s the whole water bill, which she pays 3x what I do and there have been numbers people who figured out that it’s physically impossible for the amount of water to be running through their meters if you go by what the water bill claims.

    W2: Notes to self:
    – Remove La Mosquitia from list of possible vacation destinations.
    – Return new helper monkey. (Stole this from the comments in the article)

    [W7] So large and hopefully surly

    T1: It would, at least, reduce the surplus population. You can’t fix stupid.

    T5]: Accident means there was no premeditated intent. And alternative transport is correct since the default IS driving, at least for the majority in non dense cities. I’ll stop now, but you get the point. Besides, I’d rather is LOS than “Queueing time at an intersection for motorists” Christ, put that in a PP presentation. Must be a Brit. Improvement….err I consider repaying a improvement, especially if the old road had potholes.

    M1: I’ve always loathed the mall. I don’t understand the desire to wander around an area looking for ways to spend money..and to have to deal with all the idiots getting in my way and the screaming kids. I would only go to the mall in the early hours before crowds ONLY if I had to. Sadly I need to go to get some shoes….sigh…”means a loss of social and communal space for communities” Sure….if you’re idea of social interaction is shopping or eating poor fast food.

    Report

    • Buffalo still have one problem that you can’t fix. Winter and snow.

      This isn’t a problem in the “shuts the entire city down” sense. All cities that get snow shut down about the same number of days. Whether the snow to accomplish this is measured in feet or in inches (or fractions of inches) depends on the climate. If the city gets a lot of snow, the Powers That Be will devote the necessary resources to deal with it. It’s not as if Buffalo got less snow, back when it was a major manufacturing center.

      If you mean they will have trouble recruiting, you may be right. Certainly some percentage of potential inhabitants will be scared off.

      Report

      • Yeah, it wasn’t a comment about snow shutting the city down like Atlanta…

        I went to Buffalo several times for work about 6 years ago. Frankly, it’s depressing. Most of the industry in my sector had pulled out-the cost of business in NY was prohibitive. The beef on weck was damn tasty though.

        Report

    • I really disagree with you on T5

      For example, “level of service” as a jargon term for “queuing time for motorists” really does obscure what’s being discussed and stand in the way of clear decision making.

      Because everyone wants a good “level of service” – but people who live and work in the area may very much prefer that service to those on foot be the priority, while those who only drive through want service to those driving through to be the priority. Using clear language helps the conversation be productive.

      I think all the examples given in the article have similar properties. “Accident” vs. “crash” is the only one I see as maybe ambiguous, but I do prefer “crash”.

      Report

      • “Using clear language helps the conversation be productive.”

        Well, yes, it certainly does. We should also change “welfare” to “subsidy for persons who do not do any work”. I mean, since we’re talking about clear language, here.

        Report

          • Ag Subsidies are corporate welfare, not welfare for the bitter rednecks you are referring to… those people use the SNAP portion (i.e. the really big part) of the ironically named Farm Bill.

            In fact, the Farm Bill is really a bill for City Folk in that the subsidies are designed to keep the “building block” foods (primarily corn, soy, rice and wheat…with a few regional variants like peanuts, barley, oats, etc. *) in full production, and cheap. This drives a very specific type of production and protects the “farmers” from some of the vagaries of markets and nature. But primarily so that the building block resources are available as inputs to “food products” down stream.

            There’s an important social and civilizational stability that this production provides, and I wouldn’t mess with it over-much and certainly not drastically without a transition period; but the point here is not to lose sight for whom the Ag Bill is passed, it is passed for thee.

            Farmers that are diversified and not mono-cropping the industrially supported building blocks – i.e. the poor and bitter rednecks, would like to see fewer subsidies so that the price of goods would rise making their diversified production cover costs that aren’t subsidized. But that would make *your* food more expensive. Which, when we talk about collectively helping the poor, is a pretty good program. Pay more for your food, reduce corporate giveaways, help rebuild your neighbors communities so they are less bitter.

            * other major subsidies include Dairy and some Livestock production models, plus Tobacco and Cotton. The rule of thumb for everything other than Dairy/Livestock is that the product has to be storeable and shippable.

            Report

    • T5:

      :|

      Hey, let me rewrite this as I think the author intended.

      “The term accident implies a minor act with no fault imputed. We should replace this with insane fool who has selected the most health-killing mode of transport took their giant metal deathmachine, which takes up huge amount of space and spews foul-smelling toxic dirt all over the environment and was being used in the most inefficient manner possible, and smashed it, probably on purpose but maybe just because they were looking at their cellphone, directly into some poor target whose family might now be forever wondering why that person isn’t home for dinner, and all this definitely would not have happened if the country were run by bike-riding vegetarian women instead of flesh-eating men who suffer from chronic erectile dysfunction and need large metal penis substitutes to compensate.”

      Report

      • Sorry you’re having a bad morning, bro.

        I think the issue with “accident” is that it has a subtle suggestion that we shouldn’t start looking for causes. Now, you can jump to your ridiculous conclusions about what the author wants you to decide the cause always is, or you can think.

        Often road design encourages certain behaviours – by those driving, those cycling, those walking. When the road design encourages behaviours by different users that are likely to bring them into conflict, or hide each other’s presence until too late, it’s a bad design.

        There’s an intersection a few blocks from our old house where a lady was killed crossing the road a few years ago. When I read that news, I immediately knew which corner of the intersection it happened at – the horribly mis-designed one, that anyone who gave any though about safety could have told you was a death waiting to happen. I read the rest of the article; I was right.

        Of course it was accidental on the part of the lady killed, and on the part of the driver who has to live the rest of their life having killed her. But on the part of the road engineer who OK’ed that design, no – their pen didn’t slip when they signed off. It was a predictable result of actions they took deliberately.

        Report

        • “[T]he issue with “accident” is that it has a subtle suggestion that we shouldn’t start looking for causes. ”

          Speak “accident” make badthink, “killcrash” plusgood!

          “[Y]ou can jump to your ridiculous conclusions about what the author wants you to decide the cause always is, or you can think.”

          Welp. you just said that the words used to describe something can lead the listener to follow undesirable paths of thought. So I guess you’re agreeing that this is a thing that can happen? So why is it such a surprise when it does happen?

          Oh, you didn’t mean for me to follow this path, you wanted me to follow this other path? Gosh I’m sorry, I guess you’re not as good a communicator as you wanted to be. After all, speech that is not understood is the speaker’s fault, right?

          “on the part of the road engineer who OK’ed that design, no – their pen didn’t slip when they signed off. It was a predictable result of actions they took deliberately.”

          I love, love how you got all huffy about my “jumping to ridiculous conclusions” in a post where you accuse a traffic engineer of deliberately designing an intersection to kill people.

          Report

  4. “Catfood is the most popular fish for people who don’t like seafood”

    Wonderful if unintentional commentary on catfish. (I am not a big fan of fish but I dislike catfish; for one thing it has a weird texture to me, for another, if it’s wild caught, God only knows what crud it was sucking up off the bottom. For me, it’s salmonid fish (salmon, trout, freshwater whitefish) or nothing. Well, except for cod. Cod is okay. And monkfish, but I haven’t seen monkfish in YEARS)

    (Though I would probably be more prone to dismiss canned tuna as “cat food”)

    Report

      • Ah, coastal privilege. (Presuming you are on a coast). Here, fish comes frozen in a brick, in a can, or caught out of a local lake. And most people don’t have a taste for “fancy” fish, which is probably why I’ve never seen monkfish here. (It used to be cheap; now it is expensive. Too many people found out how good it can be)

        Do shad and shad roe still exist? I read about them in some vintage cookbooks I have but have never seen them for sale – but then again, I never lived less than 500 miles from the East Coast.

        Report

        • filly,
          That’s the thing — I’m in pittsburgh. Getting monkfish requires a good airlift.
          Shad appear to exist still (just googled), but are being used as baitfish for catfish. Southern thing — nobody fishes for anything but trout, sunnies and bass around here. We got good troutfishing up hereabouts.

          Report

          • yeah, my state has two commercial airports, so….airlifted fish would be v. expensive. Not saying that some of the high-end casinos don’t have it, but I’ve never seen it in the Mart of Wal or the other groceries I manage to frequent.

            Maybe that’s it and not so much “maybe monkfish got overfished and now isn’t available” idea my mom and I were talking about over Christmas – monkfish was something they really commonly had when I was a kid in the 70s and it was the only fish I willingly ate then. But they lived in Ohio, within close enough distance of the Cleveland airport that flown-in fish was possible.

            Report

    • I can’t really eat shellfish but I love salmon, and wild is better. You get frozen farmed salmon everywhere, but when I visit my home in the NW, I always try to have some fresh wild salmon.

      Report

      • Once in a while – when I get to the tony natural-foods store – I can get frozen wild-caught salmon. I also keep a small hoard of cans of the tinned kind of wild-caught salmon (and I pay the premium for skinless and boneless, because bones, ew).

        I don’t know that I’ve ever had not-previously-frozen salmon, but I have had broiled, fresh-caught lake whitefish (in the same zoological family) and it was incredible….and I do not consider myself a fan of fish.

        Report

    • One of the best meals of seafood I’ve had was catfish.

      We had gone to Calabash NC, of the famous seafood restaurants. All the seafood restaurants had huge glitzy signs proclaiming themselves as “original Calabash seafood” and such. We picked one that seemed slightly less tourist-trappy than the others. It was alright.

      On the way back, my parents took a scenic route and we ended up, if not lost, then at least clearly not going to get back to my grandmother’s in time for supper. So we ended up eating supper in a dingy-looking little gas station / grocery store / seafood restaurant at a crossroads, surrounded by nothing much and nothing else.

      It was heavenly, and exactly as my mom remembered Calabash seafood from when she was growing up.

      Report

  5. T3: “Truck Driver” is the modal job description in several states, including my home state of Kansas. Personally, I’m not terribly worried. It’s going to be a lot longer transition than what’s assumed by the breathless pieces I see on the subject. There are major technical issues yet to solve and just driving down the road is only the easiest part of this job. In any case, I’m cool with tech, so I’m okay with this job transitioning from “driver” to “heavy transport operator.”

    Report

    • Are you cool with the tech because of something intentional that you did to get proficient? Or is this something that anyone can acquire very easily?

      Wondering how much these skills can scale and what sort of things we can be doing frona. Policy perspective to help them scale.

      Report

  6. C6: I would read with extreme caution. The map is apparently a map of the entire Parish because the City and Parish have a consolidated government. This is not even hinted at in the post, so most people will interpret the map as describing variations between city neighborhoods. All the map really shows is that in urban areas (green) the ratio of people/businesses to roads is higher than in rural areas (red).

    Report

    • “When we added up the replacement cost of all of the city’s infrastructure — an expense we would anticipate them cumulatively experiencing roughly once a generation — it came to $32 billion.”

      I would have to unpack what is called infrastructure here, but if that infrastructure has been modernized or replaced recently, much of it will last several generations(if they have the capital formation to maintain it correctly).

      Report

      • Joe,
        depends on the infrastructure, really. Take a road: A good road built in the late 1930’s will last up until around 2010 without much trouble. But a decent, “buildergrade” road built in the 1990’s will decay very very quickly in comparison. Quality of work does a lot.

        Report

        • Roads have a lot of variables. The smart planners look at roads as perishables. I know in the recent oil boom down here we were seeing roads that had a design cycle life of ten years where lasting 2 months in some cases, because at any given time the truck traffic could jump several magnitudes between well sites and critical energy yards/camps that would pop up overnight. Having the majority of your traffic at or near maximum axle weight kind of screws around with what would be normal traffic loading.

          A lot of TXDOT engineers were like WTF!

          Report

          • We need an overhaul of our sewers here in pittsburgh. It’s oodles of money (billions). And I’m not sure if we’re going to do it the green way, and if that will have nearly the lifetime of the non-green way.

            Report

            • Wow, they are still running storm in with sewage. That creates a hell of a lot of extra water to treat at the treatment plants. Probably need to remedy that sooner rather than later.

              Report

              • The NE quarter of the 48 contiguous states has ~700 combined systems still in place. Hundreds of billions of dollars to fix — Milwaukee’s “mostly” fix cost about half what Denver spent on the new airport. “Mostly” because Milwaukee still dumps raw sewage in Lake Michigan from time to time, but a lot less than they used to. The federal government no longer makes grants for such projects, only loans. Some of those cities are no doubt bankrupt if the EPA actually enforces the standards.

                Report

                • The EPA does enforce it sort of. Cities with deficient sewer systems are expected to spend some percentage of their tax proceeds annually or they receive notices of violations and get to pay lawyers to plead poverty. Yes, if they take them to court, it gets pretty pathetic; its unrealistic to demand a judge force a city to close a fire department and layoff firemen or even raise taxes, mostly they’ll try to get longterm commitments that might be achievable.

                  The other stick is to bar sanitary districts from new hookups to a deficient system, but this hurts a city like Milwaukee because the developer can just move to the suburbs. One of my great disappointments with the stimulus was that it didn’t fund a longterm plan for cities to comply with these federal mandates.

                  Report

          • Most anywhere across the West that there’s an oil/gas boom, the local roads are pounded to gravel in short order. In many cases, the added state/local revenue from taxes and fees on gas production is less than the cost of restoring the roads. I assume that Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are seeing the same thing in the areas where thousands of new gas wells are being drilled in the Marcellus shale.

            Report

          • I have family in bridge and road construction and he complains that the new farming equipment is destroying all of the small rural roads in Illinois. And this is seasonal equipment, like having tanks run back and forth on a few inches of asphalt a few times in the spring and in the fall.

            Report

            • I remember recently reading a piece about Iowa and one of the tidbits was how the roads are mostly disintegrating. The presumed reason was neglect, but apparently there’s more to it. Thanks!

              Report

              • Iowa is probably like a lot of downstate Illinois. Early on the counties were divided into township grids and the townships were at least platted to have township roads that formed a checkerboard grid of equal size. Not all of the township roads were actually built, but those that were built were most likely built at a time with smaller farm sizes and more rural residences. Larger legacy costs are at the points where the grid intersects a stream or railroad. Some of the roads need to be taken out of service or recognized for what they are, and not added to the totals for crumbling American infrastructure.

                Report

              • Speaking from Texas: Sometimes it’s unanticipated wear, but it’s mostly neglect.

                They don’t have the money (or don’t wish to spend it) to resurface roads as needed, so the roads disintegrate.

                Report

            • Sort of a general for-information question… Before I moved to Front Range Colorado, road maintenance — and I’m talking metro area but not main roads — seemed to be a matter of letting them fall apart, then tearing things up and basically building a new road. Here, standard practice seems to be milling a couple of inches off the top and putting a new layer of asphalt down. The milling has to be done more often, but they zing along doing miles per day when they want to. I understand that most of the milled stuff is recycled. Contemporary asphalt seems to be getting more durable as well. Is this a common practice elsewhere these days? Or is it more a matter of being close to very large bitumen sources here, so the local economics are peculiar?

              Report

              • From my days working with the CEE Asphalt Lab:

                Asphalt has numerous formulations, some very expensive and robust, others crazy cheap but not durable. What they do when they build a new road is, once the road bed is prepared, they lay down a layer of highly robust base course, then a binder course, then a wearing course. The base course can last a very long time, so when the wearing course is degraded, the strip it & the binder off, then lay a new binder & wear.

                Eventually the base course will have to be replaced, but depending on the climate and road loads, the base course can last as long as a concrete road bed

                Report

              • My relative works for the state, which is not responsible for the township roads which farm equipment is eating up, but he does complain that a lot of his work the last several years has been stripping an inch or two off the top and applying a new overlay. During the federal stimulus era, one of the jobs was stripping and replacing two inches of perfectly fine road.

                I think his complaint is that resurfacing the top layer is often a bandaid solution because subsurface conditions have either changed or were incorrectly modeled to begin with and need to be fixed.

                Report

      • My suburb/city (pop 115,000+, you call it) is in the middle of upgrading all its old sewer lines. Where bigger lines are going in, it’s all PVC with an expected lifetime of a hundred years. Everything that’s old enough it’s not PVC already is getting in-place lining that’s good for 80 years. Preliminary results show that the linings are stopping lots of water infiltration in the old parts of town, reducing the volume to be treated by enough to push off any expansion of the treatment plant for probably decades.

        Report

      • The article implies infrastructure is roads and drainage. I haven’t been in Lafayette in about 15 years, but my mental map is that like a lot of Southern Louisiana, there are nearby wetlands, development tends to be centered originally on the best land and as development moves outward soil and drainage conditions worsen. Properties furthest from the city center might have lower property values if they are flood prone, which is the reverse from a lot of American cities. But this isn’t even a map of a city.

        (Another reason Lafayette might be interesting is that the city started its own cable system that my city discussed imitating many years ago. Too many people seemed to think of cable in terms of television)

        Report

    • I see Michelle posted about this earlier.

      For me, the significance is not about what happened in the past, but what is happening now and into the future.
      The stream of evidence of his Russian ties and their eagerness to get him elected calls into question his loyalty to the American people versus his own financial interests, and his decisions on foreign policy can’t be trusted.

      Report

    • Chip,
      Longstanding investigation into Trump supporter. Oh, wow.
      The people saying that the FBI broke clinton’s campaign haven’t even bothered to see how many presidential candidates the FBI has “convinced” not to run.

      Report

    • People unclear on the concept:

      “I did nothing wrong, for the 5,000th time,” he said. His adversaries, he added, are “pulling a page out of the Watergate playbook.”

      I’m not following your second part about the FBI? Was that a different article? Is it the entire FBI? What motivations? The thing is, if an entire agency like the FBI is setting about to sabotage a candidate, I’d start digging on that story… not the story that Comey is some sort of Republican partisan, but the one where the whole FBI is doing something unprecedented… because Comey finessing press-releases at inconvenient times is nowhere near as important as the FBI subverting Clinton… and why.

      Report

      • I should have linked to LGMs commentary on the use of selective leaks by the FBI.

        They were investigating both Clinton and Trump through most of the campaign.
        Yet they leaked that Trump was in the clear when that was false, and publicly announced a fresh investigation into Clinton which turned out to be nothing.

        It looks pretty convincing that there was a deliberate attempt by Comey and members of the FBI to shield Trump and smear Clinton.

        There’s evidence that Trump may be deep in debt to Russian sources; we can’t be sure without seeing his taxes and financial records, but of course he is witholding them; there is absolute proof that the Russians very badly prefer Trump; Proof that Trump ignored the GOP plank, except for the plank about Ukraine, making it more pro-Russian.

        Virtually everything Trump has done wrt Russia is in line with him being their puppet.

        Report

              • Marchmaine,
                you want the real truth? The Powers that Be wanted Clinton to win, but they had already gotten Trump on board. They don’t lose with Trump winning, the way they would have with Sanders. They would have burnt things to the ground to stop Sanders from winning.

                Report

          • They don’t, really.

            The actual story is murky and put together with a lot of inference and guesswork, but the short version is:

            Rudy Guilani has close ties with the senior folks at the NY FBI field office. Giuliani and those senior FBI agents REALLY hate HRC. That office was the one leaking like crazy. (To explain how off the reservation they were, it appears several agents were furious with DC because they were told the book “Clinton Cash” was not, in fact, an actual reason to open an investigation and they needed something more substantial than that. One of the recently retired senior agents out of that office was the guy that led the “lock her up” chants at Trump rallies…).

            Comey was unable to keep his ship in order, and more or less was stuck issuing that letter in an attempt to get ahead of leaks from that office.

            The FBI proper is undoubtedly investigating Russia. They’re just not leaking about it, because it’s not being done by the NY FBI office. (Who were the ones to get the original dossier, and then sit on it for months).

            So tl;dr: One FBI office, with close ties to Giuliani, leaked like a sieve anything that would promote Trump or damage Clinton. The FBI’s director was either unable or unwilling to control them (and in his defense, undoubtedly thought it really unlikely Trump would win or that any of this would really sway an election, so he was more concerned with his reputation than anything else). The rest of the FBI adhered to their procedural rules.

            Report

            • Sure, that sounds plausible… though oddly it somewhat exculpates Comey; if his hand was being forced by a leaky NYC office, then his decision tree loses a few branches.

              So the real story, or point of the investigation should be Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. Who was appointed by Comey in July 2016… about the time all this was happening… so, is that a point for the prosecution that Comey was pulling the strings, or a point for the defense that the new guy didn’t have his grip on the reins yet. Not that I’m invested in Comey in any way… just that if we’re curious about Federal Agencies politicizing their actions (beyond the usual amount) we have a pretty interesting story that has as a plot outline that includes the facts that the sabotaged candidate is the former Senator of that FBI district, whose husband is the former president and resident of said district, and according to the LGM precis, the NYTimes was also a collaborator:

              And just so we all know what happened: the FBI didn’t just only expose HRC. FBI sources also went to the NYT to run interference for Trump.

              As I say, not implausible… but pulling on that thread might unravel some interesting coats.

              Report

              • Comey clearly had no love of HRC, and happily pushed on the situation when he could (that July press conference was entirely against FBI procedure, no matter what thin justifications he tried to give it), and certainly he lacked control of at least one field office — and that’s on him if he can’t control his own kitchen.

                As for pulling on the thread — you’ll find the death’s head grin of Rudy Giuliani everywhere you turn. He was very wired in, he was clearly (from public statements he made) absolutely getting information he shouldn’t be from the FBI office.

                I don’t think you need to invent anything more than that.

                For what it’s worth my only FBI contact is on the analysis side and he’s quite Republican, and the general take of the analysis branch he works in was that the Comey letter was the most bald-faced attempt to get fired he’d ever seen. He was really unhappy about it and felt it made the Bureau look bad and was highly unprofessional and frankly just weird.

                He did mention, in specific, the way that field agents are trained and work (from his perspective, and he did admit there was something of a mutual disdain at times between analysis and field officers) is that they are cowboys who push, push, push at the slightest hint of smoke.

                Very aggressive, very quick off the gun, and something like the book “Clinton Cash” could easily convince some to go full-tilt at the Clinton’s, especially if you had a powerful contact (like Giuliani) claiming there’s something to it.

                He had a lot of stories, but a frequent theme was “Look at all this evidence! They guy’s dirty!” from the field officers with the analysis people saying “You have nothing at all. That’s not even enough for the most generous judge to grant a warrant. You can only legally call that evidence if you’re being sarcastic”.

                (Again, he’s a bit biased. I’m still shocked he ended up in the FBI. He’s a few years younger than me and I knew him growing up. It was…not where I suspected his career would take him, and neither did he).

                In the end, you had was a handful of field agents being egged on by America’s Mayor and “Clinton Cash” and 20 years of “there’s smoke, there’s got to be fire” leaking to Giuliani who leaked to the news who confirmed with the agents who told Giuliani, and apparently Comey was helpless to do anything about it.

                And in the background, a multi-department investigation into the massive ties between Trump and Russia, which…nobody leaked.

                Report

          • Why do 60 million American voters want a Russian puppet?
            Well, they don’t, any more than the FBI agents in the NY office.

            But they are willing to half close their eyes and handwave away any negative implications, in favor of achieving their other goals, such as sticking it to their enemies.

            Because that fits very neatly with all the interviews and studies of Trump voters during the election, that they don’t have a coherent vision of what they want, only an inchoate rage of what they don’t want and who they hate.

            Report

            • Why is that? Partisan animus from the 1993 healthcare failure like Damon?

              I say dig away, let’s get all the things that made them do what they were doing on the table. First suspend them, if we think that’s best, but surely there are some good California FBI agents we can send to do the investigations. Leaks are leaks and we have protocols for that, no?

              Without sarcasm, that’s a whopping lot of hate to prefer an actual Putin Puppet (for people in the know) to your former senator.

              Report

              • In order for any investigation of the Trump Administration to have credibility, we need to have faith and trust in those doing the investigating, which is now the Trump political appointees.

                Calling this a “through the looking glass” situation is an understatement.

                Report

                • Well this is disorienting; next you’ll be telling me I can’t trust the CIA statistics on collateral drone deaths, or the NSA about what data they are collecting, or the Obama administration about why they are expanding the NSA’s data to both the CIA and FBI among other agencies.

                  Admittedly that’s something of a non-sequitur (and not intended as BSDI), but should be taken in the spirit of:

                  I tell you naught for your comfort,
                  Yea, naught for your desire,
                  Save that the sky grows darker yet
                  And the sea rises higher.

                  Night shall be thrice night over you,
                  And heaven an iron cope.
                  Do you have joy without a cause,
                  Yea, faith without a hope?

                  Report

                  • Yes it is very disorienting, since it isn’t clear who we can trust.

                    The most damning thing is that sowing the seeds of confusion and mistrust is exactly what we know Putin and his intelligence agencies have been doing in Europe.

                    It would be foolish and a special sort of gullibility to sweep a hand across all sources of information and say none can be trusted any more than to say all sources of information are to be trusted.

                    Which is why the trail of clues such as Trump’s associates and behavior is so damning, and why “waiting for proof” is absurdity.

                    Report

                    • Donnie’s inability to disavow Russia, and in fact his doubling down on his pro-Putin stance, really does make you stretch for any alternative explanation than “he’s in debt to Russia in some way”.

                      It’s not like the idea of Russia having something on him is outlandish — we know he was heavily invested in Russia at one point, we know that he’s heavily in debt to foreign banks, we know he’s refused to release his tax returns despite decades of customs, and we know that Russia attempts to compromise anyone of note as a habit. (Ask anyone in the Foreign Service about their briefings before travel to Russia. It’s not something special they whipped up for Trump, it’s literally their default for any worth a few hours of their time).

                      So the idea of Russia TRYING to get something on him is just….Russians acting like they’ve acted for ages.

                      As to whether they do — the man certainly acts like it. His pro-Russia stance is the only thing he’s never wavered on when pushed, it’s one of the few things he insisted get added to the GOP platform, he constantly praises Putin and Russia even when it’s politically damaging, his first planned foreign meeting is with Putin, he’s surrounded himself with people who have made quite a bit of money from Russians (Manafort, Carter. Flynn just worked for RT for awhile), and again — he’s refuses to make even mealy mouthed denunciations.

                      When you have a country that likes to acquire such leverage and use it, and a figure who acts for all the world LIKE he’s being leveraged — you should certainly demand some investigation.

                      In business terms — Donnie not only acts like he’s got a severe conflict of interest, he’s doing so with a company known for bribery, kickbacks, extortion….

                      Report

              • “Why is that? Partisan animus from the 1993 healthcare failure like Damon?”

                Parisian animus? O really? It wasn’t partisan-ness that watched her conduct secret meetings that violated FACA. No, not that! It’s because I’m a Republican. Yes that must be it. Please.

                Report

  7. C5: The breathless “Silicon Valley as Villain” angle is annoying. The advance of AI and automation as we’ve talked about doesn’t have a villain or convenient solution.

    Solutions yeah, but not convenient.

    C6 Something else we’ve discussed- how low density sprawl is financially unsustainable.

    Report

  8. [C3] The larger Sacramento area is still pretty cheap (at least compared to the Bay Area). Like many Texas cities, what constitutes “Sacramento” is getting increasingly wide.

    Report

    • Writing as someone born and raised in California, but who moved out about twenty years ago, I find the idea of Sacramento as a desirable, high-rent locale utterly bizarre. San Francisco? No brainer. Anything that can plausibly be considered “Bay Area”? Sure: why not? Sacramento? Really? What’s next: Modesto? Bakersfield?

      Report

      • I lived in Sac for about a dozen years and hands down it is a fantastic place to live. Pro basketball, a great minor league team, UCDavis, equidistant from the Sierras to the coast, with the only issue that the cost is getting (got) out of control. Both incredibly diverse and well integrated, it puts the segregation of many cities to shame. Couple all of that with rivaling Paris for the number of trees in the city, along with being at the confluence of two rivers, it is truly a marvelous place.

        Report

        • I quite like Sac as well. It is not a jewel like SF, but my time spent in grad school at UC Davis gave me a new appreciation for the city. Some nice parks, fine weather (outside a few hot summer weeks) and some good food to be found.

          Report

  9. C5:

    Late 2000s, Democrats need an economic recovery to show that their policies are good: “Silicon Valley is the wave of the future! Look how much money they’re making, surely there are plenty of jobs there! People in ‘disrupted’ industries lost jobs, well, I guess those buggy-whip makers should just get a better education and retrain themselves! Yay!”

    2017, Trump is inaugurated: “Holy crap you guys, Silicon Valley is making a robot future with no jobs, WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, it doesn’t matter if people stop making any money!”

    Report

  10. The cluelessness of the Billionaire class:

    http://www.vox.com/world/2017/1/20/14335550/world-economic-forum-davos-2017-trump

    The first, and most obvious, is an American billionaire at a ski resort in Switzerland claiming to speak for the middle class. The second is that this is happening while Trump is literally preparing to take office, showing the Davos confab to be profoundly out of touch with the political realities of the world’s wealthiest country. The third is that people like Dalio are terrified of Trump when his actual budget — which may contain up to $10.5 trillion in spending and tax cuts — is the same kind of thing that Dalio sees as an answer to the Trump phenomenon.

    Though Vox also refuses to acknowledge any downsides to free trade/globalization too.

    Report

  11. M5: Self-publishing makes sense for some sorts of books. A book with a narrow audience, where sales aren’t really the point, would make sense. Disposable fiction (not that the writers want to think of their masterpieces that way) that can be marketed via blogs and social media is probably the largest category where this makes sense. I gather that if you manage to develop a following and keep up a steady stream of extruded fiction product, you can make a living wage. And who knows? Every book is a spin of the wheel. You might win the J. K. Rowling slot and have it made for life. Your odds are probably lower than going down to the local mini-mart and dumping your life savings into lotto, but you never know.

    That being said, there are a lot of skill sets involved in publishing. You might have the knack for writing, editing, layout design, and marketing. But probably not.

    In any case, the advise of a writer with a large following, obtained via traditional publishing, isn’t really on point for the aspiring beginner. The aspiring writer has a different set of requirements than does the established writer.

    My book project, on the evolution of the rules of baseball, benefits from having a built-in, albeit small, audience. This means that traditional publishers are at least somewhat interested in me. Indeed, I was approached by one of them. I had figured on doing this in a few years, when the kids are older, but I find having an actual contract quite bracing.

    Report

    • I think you are largely correct, as I have quite a bit of specialty published material myself, no unlike your baseball rules. Indeed I have copies of many of my fathers books on pruning, which are clearly not for a mass audience. But I do think in some fields that it suffers from the stigma that Vanity Publishing did back in my bookstore days, that it is for people who are not good enough of writers to make it with publishers.

      Of course, this is where Lord Dunsany started, not to mention much of the poetry world.

      Report

    • Charlie Stross’s occasional rants about why he doesn’t self-publish are usually entertaining. Of course, he writes commercial novels and is successful enough at it that it’s his day job. His bottom line seems to be that if he had to manage all of the things his agent and publishers do — story editing, copy editing, art, formatting, printing, distribution, etc — his output would drop from his target of two books per year to one at best. The commenters, several of them also writers, can be amusing. Mostly they seem convinced that in the not-distant future, novels will be largely written by young people with the energy to do it on the side, a relative handful who get that big hit so they can do it as a day job, “kept” people whose spouse supports them, and pensioners.

      Report

      • “Mostly they seem convinced that in the not-distant future, novels will be largely written by young people with the energy to do it on the side, a relative handful who get that big hit so they can do it as a day job, “kept” people whose spouse supports them, and pensioners.”

        So, same as today?

        I researched Print-on-demand options for a small publishing house that was interested in approaching the market differently than they had in the past.

        I was very surprised to see how *little* work it was to prepare a book for publishing… the stuff above including art, formatting, printing and distribution*

        To be sure, the editing is the biggest expense… but that can easily be contract work vs. a publishing house.

        *distribution in the sense of marketing and selling your book… that’s entirely a different matter. But getting a high quality paperback edited and published and available to be “discovered” if not distributed, is a shockingly low cost endeavor.

        Report

  12. M1: It does not help that malls were way, way overbuilt because developers could take a loss on them and make it up on all sorts of tax subsidies and other games. I would say that a majority of success in the CRE game is the ability to properly game the tax code.

    Report

  13. [C6] Using Lafayette, Louisiana as an example, Charles Marohn explains the infrastructure trap and why your city has no money.

    Not “explains”, he simply “makes claims”. He doesn’t supply enough information for me to understand the math supposedly supporting his arguments and I find it deeply suspect.

    He claimed: The median $150k family needs to pay $8k more, a year, in order to correctly fund infrastructure.

    Public water is supposed to be cheaper & better than bottled water, ditto public sewer. Bottled water and a septic system would be FAR less than 8k but seem to be what he’s worried about. The roads in my neighborhood aren’t replaced every year and there’s enough houses around that my share shouldn’t be bad.

    He claimed: We get a lot more in taxes from the poor than the rich but spend a lot more on infrastructure on the rich.

    So one Bill Gates uses far more water/sewer/streets than hundreds of normal people and their taxes subsidize him? That’s a claim which requires a ton of explanation and justification, but there’s none.

    I do think what he said about Flint later in the series made a lot of sense.

    Report

    • Public water is supposed to be cheaper & better than bottled water, ditto public sewer. Bottled water and a septic system would be FAR less than 8k but seem to be what he’s worried about.

      The average family of four uses something like 400 gallons per day. Even at $0.50 a gallon, that’s about $6,000 per month. I don’t think there’s any money left over for a septic system after that.

      Report

      • A fair counter to my bottled water statement.

        However, later he mentions it’d take about $14k per person in Flint to rebuild the entire system.

        Presumably that’s a one time charge, not a “per year” thing. Assume a 50 year replacement cost and a family of four, and we’re at a per year charge of $1120, which seems reasonably close to my water bill.

        So his extra $8k a year seems to be saying we need to replace the entire water system every 7 years or so.

        Report

Comments are closed.