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Nostalgia Isn't What It Used to Be

by gmoke Wed Jun 15th, 2016 at 12:03:26 AM EST

Nostalgia Isn't What It Used to Be by Simone Signoret
NY: Penguin Books, 1978
ISBN 0-14-00.5181-3

(31)  At about that time [1933-34], she noticed one day that a toothbrush she had just bought herself said "made in Japan."  We returned to the store and there faced the owner, who wore a Basque beret and was probably a Croix de Feu militant [French neo-fascist movement].  Very politely, my mother said, "I would like to exchange this toothbrush.  You see, it's made in Japan."  "So?"  "Well, you see, monsieur, the Japanese have just signed an agreement with the Germans and Italians so any Japanese merchandise, even a little toothbrush, becomes armaments for Japan, Italy, and Germany.  Fascist countries."  I wished the ground would open and swallow me up.  The man replied, "So you want a French toothbrush, is that it?"  "No, I'm not a chauvinist.  No, all I want is a toothbrush that is not German, Italian or Japanese.'  We went home with a toothbrush that was made in England.  My mother considered her day to have been well spent, and today I agree with her.  But at twelve or thirteen one gets terribly embarrassed.

(94)  So that was the end of that. It has taken a long time to tell it all, 1940-44.  It seemed like twenty years.

That was the end of it for us.  But it wasn't finished for those who were in the camps.  And it wasn't finished for the soldiers.  And it was just beginning for the collaborators.  And it had been finished a long time for those who had died.

Read more... (5 comments, 1020 words in story)

The consequences of Brexit

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 09:30:42 PM EST

The Pollster average of polls has just put the Brexit side ahead for the first time, which given the trend those polls have been taking, means we now have to talk about the probability of the Brexit process starting in 10 days time. In To Brexit or not to Brexit: That is the question I examined the ramification of Brexit for the UK, and in A Tale of Two States I looked at the implications for Northern Ireland in particular.  In this piece I will embark on a speculative journey envisaging how a post Brexit Europe might evolve.

First of all, I am working off the assumption that the result will be tight, with Scotland and N. Ireland voting to remain in the EU but being swamped by the Brexit vote in England.  There is therefore a strong probability that Scottish nationalists will seek a new referendum on Scottish independence in order to remain within the EU, and Sinn Fein will call for a new referendum on a united Ireland to enable N. Ireland to remain within the EU.

Whether either referendum will be carried is open to conjecture, and much will depend on the timing and circumstances of the vote, but there is no doubt that the UK itself will be destabilized as a result. (The position of Wales is more ambiguous with many blaming the EU for the failure to support the Tata steel works in Port Talbot, as if any Tory led Government outside the EU would have done any different...)

Read more... (62 comments, 1952 words in story)

Long tunnels

by DoDo Sun Jun 12th, 2016 at 06:40:15 PM EST

A decade ago, I wrote a diary about long railway tunnels. The opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel is a good occasion for an update.

When I was a child, there were about a dozen tunnels longer than 10 km. By the 21st century, they became so numerous that a decade ago, I restricted myself to 20+ km tunnels. This time, even that would be too much, so I'll write about the 11 rail tunnels in service, in construction or in serious planning longer than 30 km (excluding subway tunnels). About the existing ones, too, because there have been interesting developments for all of them.

Inaugural train carrying dignitaries exits the northern portal of the Gotthard Base Tunnel on 1 June 2016. Photo by Keystone / Laurent Gilleron from Neue Luzerner Zeitung

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger - a great exemplar of the train blogging genre!

Read more... (31 comments, 2268 words in story)

Obama sells out Sanders

by Democrats Ramshield Fri Jun 10th, 2016 at 09:12:04 AM EST

Of course now we are confronted with the case of Elizabeth Warren selling out to crooked Hillary, whose positions are against everything that Warren said she stands for. To which itís reasonable to ask when the Bernie Sanders campaign was fighting for us in Elizabeth Warrenís home state of Massachusetts, where was her endorsement of the Sanderís campaign? What did Warren do when crooked Hillary stole the election in Massachusetts through voter suppression, where the hell was she when the Sanderís campaign needed her help? Iíll tell you where she was she was waiting for this day to endorse Hillary Clinton, so she could cash in to receive consideration as her VP and therewith get into the history books. To which I say Warren in typical style of the lawyer, she's sold us out. The fix is in, even though crooked Hillary is into Wall Street money and everything Warren tells us that she stood against. The truth is Warren has also sold us out. She will say anything and everything at every turn to try to confuse us into supporting her in the belief that she is not a sell out. Soon this will be all over the news and when it is just remember you heard it here first. The fix is in and theyíre all in it to win it for themselves, not us. Thatís the truth.

So sport fans, boys and girls, it's game over and the fix is in. Elizabeth Warren burnt us. She didn't stand up in the face of massive election fraud in California, who were disenfranchised and had their votes stolen in a rigged election. She didn't ask for any recounts or for any investigation, but let me tell you what she did do. She called up crooked Hillary and congratulated her (because she's such a nice lady) for her stealing yet another election from you and I, and this is the truth about what has happened and nothing else. No Department of Justice investigation into voter fraud, or voter suppression in California was ever asked for. What a disappointment. We feel betrayed and abandoned. The mainstream press won't tell you this, so I just did.

Now I'm going to tell you something else. Elizabeth Warren had a responsibility to us, to take seriously the fact that Hillary is under FBI investigation, but she was too polite for that. By the time you get to the end of this article you'll see why.

Warren is in it (alright) to win it, but not for you or I, but rather to win it for herself. To which I say, dear Elizabeth if you're not going to fight for us, you're going to quit. If you're going to betray us, is there any chance we can get our money back? Can we at least do that? Or will your betrayal in this regard also be complete, meaning that you'll keep the money forever to make sure you can stay in the United States Senate until you're well pass the age of 100 with the money that we've given you to win the presidency will now be used to fund your re-election campaigns to the Senate forever?

Read more... (4 comments, 1829 words in story)

Developments in Austria

by generic Wed Jun 8th, 2016 at 10:07:22 AM EST

Austria's new chancellor Christian Kern, former manager of the Austrian state railways gave an interview. (behind paywall and German). The only remarkable thing about it is that I actually read this one.
Some points with my comments in brackets:

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (1 comment, 476 words in story)

The arsonist party

by fjallstrom Wed Jun 8th, 2016 at 05:49:50 AM EST

I recently came across this map of attacks, threats and arsons against migrants and the migrant authority. Both refugees and beggars - mostly romani with Rumanian citizenship - are included. Yellow are attacks, threats and arsons against minors. Red are attacks, threats and arsons against adults (also include families with children).

The Sweden Democrat inofficial facebook groups was shown last autumn to contain lots of encouragment for arson and other terror actions directed against refugees and romani. Hence the coloraion on the map with darker brown for more SD support in the last election.

Read more... (1 comment, 115 words in story)

The tragedy of Hillary

by DoDo Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 05:47:29 PM EST

On Tuesday, the last major battle for the Democratic Party nomination for this year's US Presidential elections will be fought in New Jersey and California, so I'm rushing out this less well researched commentary on the race. These are diverse thoughts from the past few weeks which I now have time to put down in writing.

As somebody well to the left of Senator Bernie Sanders, obviously I rooted for him. However, my views of former Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are ambivalent and nuanced in a way that's out of tune with the die-hard views on both sides.

Read more... (47 comments, 765 words in story)

A Dialogue on Party Disipline

by ARGeezer Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 02:21:18 PM EST

I recently has a discussion with a FB friend about 'kicking out' members of the Labor Party such as Blair. I wondered if that were possible. The same question arises in other counties. In the USA I am certain that the leaders of the Republican Party and the RNC would have kicked Donald Trump out of the party had they been able.

It seems to me that parties are not able and should not be able to prevent people from registering to vote as members of their party. That would infringe on their right to vote. Exclude from leadership - unequivocally yes. But no matter how odious or notorious an individual might be and regardless of the possibility of their only wanting to join a party to discredit it by their very presence can they still join?

Comments >> (17 comments)

What 9/11 liberals ignore

by DoDo Sun Jun 5th, 2016 at 11:41:43 AM EST

There is a group of liberal atheists in the Anglosphere – people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Bill Maher – whose reaction to 9/11 was to view Islam (in general) as the problem, and religion as the elephant in the bathroom in mainstream discussions about the cause of terrorism. Their views were not all the same – for example, while some became liberal hawks, strange bedfellows with would-be Crusaders in supporting the so-called War on Terror, others remained thoroughly critical of Bush –, but there is enough affinity to speak of a group. I took the "9/11 liberals" moniker from Bill Maher (in a video I saw recently which made me write this diary).

I am an atheist whose view of the net effect of religion on society is barely less negative than that of Richard Dawkins (especially when it comes to child indoctrination). Even in matters where I don't think religion is the original source of problems, I think it tends to make things worse. Yet, I think 9/11 liberals are missing some quite basic facts, and only contribute to Islamophobia.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (68 comments, 1639 words in story)

Yves Smith On Voting For Hillary

by ARGeezer Thu Jun 2nd, 2016 at 02:43:40 PM EST

Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know Will Vote for Trump over Hillary   Yves Smith in Politico Magazine

Why do progressives reject Hillary Clinton? The highly educated, high-income, finance-literate readers of my website, Naked Capitalism, don't just overwhelmingly favor Bernie Sanders. They also say "Hell no!" to Hillary Clinton to the degree that many say they would even vote for Donald Trump over her.

And they don't come by these views casually. Their conclusions are the result of careful study of her record and her policy proposals. They believe the country can no longer endure the status quo that Clinton represents--one of crushing inequality, and an economy that is literally killing off the less fortunate--and any change will be better. One reader writes:


"If Clinton is the nominee 9 out of 10 friends I polled will [do one of three things]:

A. Not vote for president in November.
B. Vote for Trump.
C. Write in Bernie as a protest vote.

"We are all fifty-somethings with money and college educations. Oh, and we are all registered Democrats."

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (70 comments, 509 words in story)

Peculiar US presidential elections

by das monde Thu Jun 2nd, 2016 at 10:00:01 AM EST

As all political junkies know, the US president is elected not directly by a citizen vote but by the Electoral College - an archaic original compromise of the Founding Fathers and States. (Yes, we will have a powerful President, but the States will be influential in its election.) There were four presidential elections when the popular vote was different from the elected president: 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000. Besides, the first few elections were confused by the issue of Vice-Presidency (especially in 1796 and 1800), leading to the more specific 12th Amendment.

The most bizarre elections were in 1824 and 1876, by far. They were also influential or highly educative. If you thought that the 2000 election was a steal...

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (22 comments, 950 words in story)

France on Strike

by John Redmond Mon May 30th, 2016 at 10:06:47 AM EST

For much of the past month, large portions of the French economy have been hit by strike action, effecting in particular the transport and energy sectors, in response to the Valls government's proposal to overhaul French employment law. Public transport has been hit by rolling strikes both nationally, via work stoppages at the national rail company SNCF, as well as locally via commuter rail grids such as Paris' RATP. Similarly, petrol refineries have also been hit, with up to six (out of eight nationally) refineries either offline or at below output capacity at various points last week, with between a third and 40% of petrol stations running out of petrol to sell, causing long lines at the pump and a fair bit of consumer stress as regards future supplies.

Even France's vast nuclear industry, which provided 75% of the country's electricity needs, has been hit by strikes, though production is not (yet) reported to be impacted. And, similarly, maritime shipping has also been struck, with the ports of Le Havre, Marseille, Dunkerque, Saint Nazaire, Bordeaux and Rouen all either brought to a standstill or severely hampered from an operational standpoint. The strike actions have been accompanied by regular, numerous street protests, with heavy student participation, with a good number of street actions turning violent. Indeed, even a young American has been recently arrested for participating in a particularly violent act on the margins of a recent street protest, while the Police unions have equally taken to the streets to protest both being undermanned as well as the nature of the instructions they have received from the Ministry of the Interior as regards management of the protests they are working.

The strikes show no signs of letting up, with an outlook for the month of June, during which the European Cup football tournament is scheduled to be played in France, being at best similar to the month of May.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (37 comments, 2423 words in story)

BŲhmermann

by DoDo Sun May 29th, 2016 at 07:42:40 AM EST

ET first heard of German satirist Jan Böhmermann during the austerians' showdown with Greece's new government, in particular, when he trolled the entire German mainstream media with Varoufake-fake, a video claiming that a YouTube video used by them against then Greek finance minister Yannis Varoufakis was manipulated by his team. Recently, he earned international notoriety when he provoked a lawsuit from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with an intentionally offensive poem. But Böhmermann refused to be defined by the Erdoğan affair and returned on TV with an undercover piece exposing the malpractices of a trash TV show.

In this diary I attempt to give a more in-depth picture of the Böhmermann phenomenon, and give my view of what he's about.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (11 comments, 2007 words in story)

A Tale of Two States

by Frank Schnittger Thu May 26th, 2016 at 07:02:20 AM EST

The relative performance of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland economies since independence provides a stark case study in how political decisions can have a dramatic impact on the relative economic performance and social progress of two neighbouring states. The Republic of Ireland has prospered, whilst Northern Ireland was stagnating before and during the "Troubles", and has not recovered since.

Now Brexit threatens to put that sharp divergence into even starker contrast, re-igniting the political tensions that led to the Troubles, and putting a United Ireland back on the agenda. It may even be good news for almost all in the longer term, but at what cost in the short and medium turn? Follow me below the fold for an exploration of the chain of events that Brexit might unleash on the island of Ireland.

Read more... (20 comments, 1874 words in story)

Edmund Burke for Socialists

by ARGeezer Wed May 25th, 2016 at 12:57:58 PM EST

I could never bring myself to read more than excerpts from Edmond Burke's "Notes On The Revolution in France" This was likely due to him being presented almost exclusively as a cudgel against the French Revolution while I could not but identify with the revolutionaries. Had I been more aware of his position on the American Revolution I might have been more sympathetic. But, as I can now see, my professors were, at best, social liberals or libertarians. But Burke was a defender of the value of tradition and of the wisdom of evolved and lived practical experience. Another take on Burke:

A Few Notes on Burkean Conservatism John Michael Greer aka The (former) Archdruid

The foundation of Burkean conservatism is the recognition that human beings aren't half as smart as they like to think they are. One implication of this recognition is that when human beings insist that the tangled realities of politics and history can be reduced to some set of abstract principles simple enough for the human mind to understand, they're wrong. Another is that when human beings try to set up a system of government based on abstract principles, rather than allowing it to take shape organically out of historical experience, the results will pretty reliably be disastrous.

Read more... (22 comments, 1351 words in story)

City Agriculture - May 23, 2016

by gmoke Mon May 23rd, 2016 at 11:54:44 PM EST

City Agriculture - May 23, 2016
Skyfarm - modular vertical grow structure
http://www.rsh-p.com/projects/skyfarm/
http://inhabitat.com/wind-powered-vertical-skyfarms-look-to-a-more-sustainable-future-for-farming/

AccorHotels, which includes Sofitel, Novotel and Motel 6, plans 1000 hotel vegetable gardens by 2020
http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/apr/13/accorhotels-to-grow-its-own-vegetables-in-push-to-cut- food-waste

Renderings versus reality for tree-covered skyscrapers
http://99percentinvisible.org/article/renderings-vs-reality-rise-tree-covered-skyscrapers/

Tokyo green tower Toranomon project
http://www.archdaily.com/785775/ingenhoven-architects-reveal-plans-for-green-tower-in-tokyo
http://www.ingenhovenarchitects.com/projects/more-projects/toranomon-project-en/

Floating food forest for NYC
https:/www.kickstarter.com/projects/1152620801/swale

Urban cricket farm
http://www.fastcoexist.com/3059181/this-modular-cricket-pod-lets-you-create-an-urban-insect-farm

Farm from a Box - shipping container kit for 2 acre farm
http://www.farmfromabox.com
https:
youtu.be/VlcijvWRJGU
Freight Farms does an enclosed system shipping container food production system
http://freightfarms.com
Prairie Urban Farms "Farm on Wheels" shipping container both farm and class room
http://www.edmontonexaminer.com/2016/03/16/local-group-hopes-to-create-agricultural-and-educational- centre-in-a-shipping-container

Planton Movil - a walking forest that peacefully claims its place and respect in the city by linking art and social change. Since 2010 in Lima, Peru, people from different disciplines and backgrounds have come together to help create and maintain sustainable public green areas
http://www.plantonmovil.com
https:
www.facebook.com/Plantonmovil
http://portfolios.risd.edu/gallery/16258083/Planton-Movil

Current Extent and Future Capacity of Urban Gardening
http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2016/03/11/current-extent-and-future-capacity-of-urban-ga rdening

Parisian vertical farm
http://www.designboom.com/architecture/ilimelgo-architects-vertical-farm-grand-paris-03-22-2016/

Urban tree farms for six cities
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/state_news/vacant-lots-in-cities-to-become-tree-farms-agricul ture-plots/article_af911178-3abb-54f0-8e68-ecd9634f7cdd.html

Archives for City Agriculture at http://cityag.blogspot.com

Open thread 18 - 25th May

by Helen Wed May 18th, 2016 at 07:15:51 AM EST

New thread, NewSpeak

Comments >> (37 comments)

Nicholas Stern on The New Climate Economy

by gmoke Sun May 15th, 2016 at 11:15:58 AM EST

On May 2, 2016, Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics spoke at Harvard:

The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change
Monday, May 2
4:15 pm
Harvard, CGIS-S020, Belfer Case Study Room, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge

The Energy History Project hosts Nicholas Stern, London School of Economics, who will discuss "The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change."

These are some of the numbers for the greenhouse gas context he laid out:

We are at 450 CO2 equivalent [CO2e] now [400 ppm CO2 and another 50ppm equivalent in warming potential in other greenhouse gases like methane]

The rate of increase is increasing.  It was
.5 ppm per year from 1930-1950
1 ppm per year from 1950-1970
2 ppm per year from 1970-1990
and is 2.5 ppm per year increase now.

We are at the edge of the temperature range in our present geologic era, the Holocene, with about 1º C of heat cooked into the atmosphere from our industrial greenhouse gas emissions already.  The 2015 Paris agreement is designed to keep the globe below 2º C, and 1.5 º if possible.  Paris anticipates and tries to avert a looming catastrophe.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (18 comments, 723 words in story)

Can Trump really win the White House?

by Frank Schnittger Wed May 11th, 2016 at 05:20:43 AM EST

People who know I am interested in politics often ask me things like "Can Trump really win the Presidency?" while at the same time shaking their heads in disbelief that such a thing might be possible. To those accustomed to European sensibilities, he seems more like a cross between Berlusconi and Le Pen, with none of the "charisma" or political experience of either. Are things really that bad in the USA that wanton ignorance, rampant misogyny, crass narcissism, racist demagoguery and an authoritarian complex are what turns people on?

Trump keeps breaking through the ceilings that the political commentariat seek to place over his head. His appeal was said to be limited to 30% of the most committed Republican Primary voters. Then that became 40%, then 50%+. It was said that the Republican establishment would never allow his nomination at their convention in Cleveland. Except that now they have effectively thrown in the towel and conceded he will be their nominee. Most have made their peace with him and now seek influence within his inner circle. House Speaker Ryan and the Bush family are some of the few remaining hold-outs.

Read more... (269 comments, 1438 words in story)

The Confidence Fairy Strikes Again

by Frank Schnittger Mon May 9th, 2016 at 06:09:48 AM EST

David Folkerts-Landau, Chief Economist at the Deutsche Bank, has a screed in the Financial Times which is wrong on just about every level that can be imagined. Arguing that the ECB's policy of negative interest rates is undermining public and business confidence, Folkerts-Landau asks:

What should be done? The priority is breaking the negative spiral of lower confidence engendered by ever-looser money. The ECB needs to begin reversing its policy of negative interest rates. Moving back into the black would raise confidence across the eurozone.

Apparently lower interest rates cause people to save more and invest less. Recovery will only come when governments implement "reforms" which involve reducing investment and spending  (and employment) still further. The ECB is causing further stagnation and deflation in the Eurozone by reducing interest rates and buying Sovereign and Corporate debt, not responding to it with the main tools at its disposal.  The problem is that there are rising debt levels - not the excess savings identified by Draghi as a cause of the crisis.

Has it not occurred to Folkerts-Landau that excessive savings and debt might in fact be two sides of the same coin?

Read more... (12 comments, 379 words in story)
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News and Views

 29 August - 4 September 2016

by Bjinse - Aug 30, 28 comments

Your take on today's news media

 22 - 28 August 2016

by Bjinse - Aug 22, 37 comments

Your take on today's news media

 Open Thread 29 August - 4 September

by Bjinse - Aug 30, 9 comments

Slowly, slowly catch the thread

 Open Thread 22-28 August

by Bjinse - Aug 21, 27 comments

The greatest thing youíll ever learn is just to thread

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