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Site Update

This main site blog is basically defunct. But i abandoned it and the chronology sites rather suddenly 2 years ago. I think anyone following along at the time saw why i shut down, but since i've subsequently started sporadically doing updates on the comics project again, i thought i should put up a little post.

First - why i shut down the comments and forum and stopped doing reviews: A small part of it was dealing with the 90s. The quality was one thing; the sheer AMOUNT of comics i was feeling obligated to buy and review was the larger aspect of that. But those things by themselves i would probably have just powered through. The real issue was the comments. Most commenters were fine, and in fact awesome. I was always somewhat annoyed by some of the more nitpicky "corrections" and Um Actuallys but that was to be expected when writing on any nerd topic. It was the increasing nastiness from some commenters - towards me (which i again might have just powered through), towards each other, and towards creators. An unhinged screed directed at Kurt Busiek, in response to something he posted on the site, was the final straw. Somewhat relatedly, the site was also possibly getting too "big". Seeing that great creators like Busiek and Ron Frenz were aware enough of my site to post on it was kind of intimidating, in part because it made me think twice about being critical in my reviews. But it was the general nastiness, especially fights between commenters, that i just got sick of.

I do hope to continue working on the project. Last fall and winter i added 1995 to the project. I just did it with the comics i already owned; no large purchases for once. In some ways it was fun, in some ways it kinda sucked because i knew i was skipping too much stuff to really nail down the chronology. And i missed covering some "important" but awful events like the continuation of the Clone Saga. But i intend to go ahead and do the same thing for 1996.

My plan is to only do reviews in the winter months, from late fall through winter (up until i finish whatever year i'm working on). And only with whatever is currently in my collection, which is much less complete than you may think.

I'm not turning comments back on (yet, at least) but the forum is open again.

In not-really-related news, Min and i have moved to the mountains. The view from our deck:

We're in the Adirondacks, where winter starts early and is long, which means plenty of time for comic reviews!

By fnord12 | September 3, 2020, 7:28 PM | Comics & My stupid life | Link

Bernie 2020

Show them, not me.

By fnord12 | December 22, 2019, 11:14 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

You're fired, Norman

By fnord12 | August 31, 2018, 12:19 PM | Ummm... Other? | Link

Motherfuckers Can Gallop??!!

What the fuck with your bullshit?

Zoologists have long known that some crocodiles can gallop and bound. You may have even seen freshwater crocodiles doing so on nature documentaries, pushing off with their front legs and swinging their rear limbs forward for a big spring. But, as biomechanics expert John Hutchinson and colleagues have revealed, at least seven species of crocodile are capable of what can honestly be called a "gallop." Alligators, by contrast, can move just as fast, but they can't, or don't, bound in the same frighteningly floppy way.

"Zoologists have long known"?? Excuse me? Why are this and the tree-climbing not on warning posters all over the world? Why isn't this part of the elementary school science curriculum? How come you're only telling me now?

Crocodiles shouldn't even exist anymore!!

By min | August 16, 2018, 11:07 PM | Science | Link

Recaps 86 and 87

The Tomb of Gilez-Hotep

Hear Me, My People! Keep Your Chains on a Little Longer So We Don't Get Attacked!

By min | August 15, 2018, 4:06 PM | D&D | Link

Henry Kissinger decides what you can see on Facebook

Matt Taibbi:

You may have seen a story this week detailing how Facebook shut down a series of accounts. As noted by Politico, Facebook claimed these accounts "sought to inflame social and political tensions in the United States, and said their activity was similar -- and in some cases connected -- to that of Russian accounts during the 2016 election."

Similar? What does "similar" mean?


Facebook was "helped" in its efforts to wipe out these dangerous memes by the Atlantic Council, on whose board you'll find confidence-inspiring names like Henry Kissinger, former CIA chief Michael Hayden, former acting CIA head Michael Morell and former Bush-era Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. (The latter is the guy who used to bring you the insane color-coded terror threat level system.)

Taibbi says many of the pages look like "parodies of some paranoid bureaucrat's idea of dangerous speech". The last batch gave us Buff Bernie and Jesus arm-wrestling Satan, so i think they are a boon to society and just their on artistic contributions alone shouldn't be shut down.

But least one of the pages Facebook shut down was apparently taken over by legit activists organizing a counter-rally against white supremacists, so thanks for shutting that down, Facebook.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2018, 5:21 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

A taste of things to come

Ben Jealous won his primary in Maryland and now the party machine is dragging their feet in getting behind him. The reason:

Leggett said he's concerned its residents would suffer unfairly from Jealous's proposal to pay for programs in part by raising the state income tax by one percentage point on the top 1 percent of earners.

Just wait till Bernie wins the 2020 primary.

And once Bernie gets in office, you can expect his agenda to get bogged down in courts presided by conservative crank judges that Chuck Schumer isn't fighting.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2018, 7:27 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Democratic Elites More Likely To Be Classified As Selfish

Related to the post below, the question is always are the Democrats spineless or are they in fact governing and campaigning according to their policy preferences. This study suggests the latter.

Many scholars view global wealth disparities and income inequality as the defining moral, economic, and political issue of our time. Income inequality has been rising in the US for several decades, and the majority of Americans tell pollsters they think the level is too high. Why, then, has the response from policymakers been so tepid--even under two popular two-term Democratic presidents?


The "extreme" elite--a group made up of 208 Yale Law School (YLS) students--held these attitudes, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of YLS students self-identify as progressive Democrats. The Democratic Party has been traditionally thought of as the party of economic equality.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2018, 7:17 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The progressive agenda is popular

Politicians should do what's right because it's right, not because it's popular. But when it's right and popular, politicians should act - and campaign - on it right fucking now.

In the insanely popular category: generic drugs, public internet, a jobs guarantee, and ending cash bail.

In the more popular than you'd think category: UBI (& UBW, aka baby bonds) and a 90% millionaire's tax. These things don't necessarily poll net positive, but they're still more popular than things that the Republicans brazenly push for, like their tax cuts and cutting social security.

It's also worth repeating that Democrats should do what's right regardless of what's popular. The least popular progressive policy polled - reparations - polls better than repealing the ACA, which the Republicans of course have had no qualms about pushing for years. And in addition to it being right, it's popular with the Democrat's base - very popular among POC and +2 among people under 45. But there is so much low hanging fruit that a Democratic government should be able to implement right away.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2018, 6:52 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Dems are bad at picking candidates

I've of course noted that the Democrats are really bad at picking their own candidates based on "electability" (Howard Dean Would Have Won), but it's also become clear that the leadership is really bad at picking their opponents. We already knew that the Clinton campaign elevated Donald Trump as part of a pied piper strategy, but now thanks to Brian Abrams's Oral History of the Obama administration, we know that the Obama administration was elevating Trump too (thanks to Corey Robin for reading and publishing excerpts from the book):

David Plouffe, Obama campaign manager: "There was strategy. Lifting up Trump as the identity of the Republican Party was super helpful to us. The president went out in the briefing room to present his long-form birth certificate, but really to continue the dance with Trump. Our view was lifting Trump up at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, you know, as kind of the example of the Obama opposition. There was a strategy behind the material and the amount of time we spent on Trump. Let's really lean into Trump here. That'll be good for us."

By fnord12 | July 31, 2018, 4:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

More evidence we got the Internet improvement too soon

I've said before that we seem to have used a cheat code to get the Internet while skipping Socialism, and here's another example [Facebook link used to defeat paywall] of that kind of problem it causes. I have no sympathy for Amazon, but what they're trying to do with their algorithm here makes sense and it sucks that people try to take advantage of it (and moreso that there are warehouses full of poor people in Bangladesh who don't have better options than resorting to this).

Every day, dozens of young men crowd into tiny rooms with 30 computers each in northern Bangladesh. Their mission: Trick Amazon.com

They open Amazon.com and repeatedly type in search terms, each time clicking on the links of products they were paid to boost, according to people familiar with the practice. Amazon's algorithms begin recognizing that these products are popular, ranking them higher in the search results. The higher the ranking, the better chance of sales.

The scams are used to try to outsmart Amazon's automated system that ranks some half-billion products in search results, according to interviews with consultants and businesses engaged in these practices, as well as sellers who say they have been approached by such businesses. It's one of an ever-rotating wheel of tricks used to game Amazon's algorithms.

By fnord12 | July 31, 2018, 4:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

What is QAnon?

I generally don't like to engage in nutpicking, but i was berated by my Not-Online friends for not telling them about incels, so here is a primer on the QAnon conspiracy theory.

By fnord12 | July 31, 2018, 4:14 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Stock buybacks

Annie Lowrey at the Atlantic:

How much might workers have benefited if companies had devoted their financial resources to them rather than to shareholders? Lowe's, CVS, and Home Depot could have provided each of their workers a raise of $18,000 a year, the report found. Starbucks could have given each of its employees $7,000 a year, and McDonald's could have given $4,000 to each of its nearly 2 million employees.

"Workers around the country have been pushing for higher wages, but the answer is always, 'We can't afford it. We'd have to do layoffs or raise prices,'" Tung said. "That is just not true. The money is there. It's just getting siphoned out of the company instead of reinvested into it."

The solution to this isn't (just) going back to the pre-Reagan rule of not allowing stock buybacks, although that wouldn't be a bad band-aid. The real issue is that workers aren't sharing in the fruits of their labor, and that suggests, er, a different economic model altogether.

By fnord12 | July 31, 2018, 12:13 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Koch study says Medicare For All will save $2 trillion


At first glance, it is strange that the Mercatus center, which is libertarian in its orientation and heavily funded by the libertarian Koch family, would publish a report this positive about Medicare for All. The claim that "even the Koch organizations say it will save money while covering everyone" provides a useful bit of rhetoric for proponents of the policy.

But the real game here for Mercatus is to bury the money-saving finding in the report's tables while headlining the incomprehensibly large $32.6 trillion number in order to trick dim reporters into splashing that number everywhere and freaking out. This is a strategy that already appears to be working, as the Associated Press headline reads: "Study: 'Medicare for all' projected to cost $32.6 trillion."

Update: The post initially said M4A would save #$300 billion but it's been updated to $2 trillion.

There was also a (huge!) mistake in the initial report:

The study, which came out of the Koch-funded research center, was initially provided to the AP with a cost estimate that exceeded previous ones by an incredible $3 trillion -- a massive error that was found and corrected by Sanders's staff when approached by AP for comment.

By fnord12 | July 30, 2018, 11:46 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

When the second sentence contradicts the first

The top Democrat in the Senate [Chuck Schumer] has vowed to fight President Trump's Supreme Court nominee with everything he's got. Just don't expect him to crack down on his red-state Democrats who go rogue and back Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.

This is from an article with a headline saying that Schumer is playing the long game, because what could be more transitory than a Supreme Court appointment?

By fnord12 | July 28, 2018, 12:20 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


Matt Taibbi on Why We Know So Little (really, why we hear so little) about the crisis in Yemen.

Worth noting that a bipartisan Sanders/Lee/Murphy bill that attempted to do something about it failed 55-44 back in February. Maybe with a little more coverage (instead of MSNBC being the All Russia, All Stormy Daniels channel), those numbers could have been moved.

By fnord12 | July 27, 2018, 1:09 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"Every country thinks America has gone crazy" - China

More on the Russiagate contrarian beat.

By fnord12 | July 27, 2018, 11:28 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Why You Should See Sorry to Bother You

I found out about this movie because Steven Yuen's in it and not playing a stereotypical Asian character role (tech nerd, martial arts expert, etc). And fnord12's been a Boots Riley fan for years. But then we learned there was another reason to want to see this movie.

"Sorry to Bother You" is unique insofar as it is not a story in which our protagonists escape their lowly material circumstances through individual industry, professional grit, or uncommon genius. Rather, it juxtaposes meritocratic excessive wealth with a living wage earned through solidarity. The former comes by chance and accrues only to a chosen few: Cash's voice is a gift -- not something one could work toward -- and, because this gift is both profitable and rare, it's highly valued. By contrast, the telemarketing employees hope to gain a dignified standard of living for everyone by withholding their labor en masse.

This movie differs from classic "rags to riches" tales like "The Pursuit of Happyness" -- a moving film, but one which celebrates a poor man's journey from homeless to stock broker without critiquing the relationship between concentrated wealth and a dearth of affordable housing, or the absurdity of a "meritocracy" that would hinge a family's survival on a parent's ability to dazzle an interviewer with a Rubik's Cube. "The Pursuit of Happyness" is touching because it shows one man overcoming impossible odds. "Sorry to Bother You" is moving because it shows that we don't have to beat those odds alone.


By min | July 25, 2018, 1:13 PM | Liberal Outrage & Movies | Link

Loophole that Takes Away Your Right to Counsel

Lopez, who speaks limited English, couldn't afford to hire a lawyer, so in keeping with her constitutional right to representation, an attorney from the San Bernardino County Public Defender's Office was appointed to handle her case. As a pretrial matter, that lawyer, Joy Hlavenka, challenged the legality of the stop that led the cops to secure evidence that Lopez was intoxicated. Hlavenka won the challenge, meaning the evidence against Lopez would be suppressed and prosecutors would not be able to use it to try her.

Without that evidence, they had no case, so the judge dismissed the charges. But the prosecutors were undeterred and filed what is known as an interlocutory appeal, challenging the judge's decision to ditch the evidence. A panel of three trial judges from the San Bernardino Superior Court would hear the case. If they sided with the prosecution, the evidence would be re-introduced and Lopez would again have to face the DUI charge.

Given that the appeal was critical for Lopez, the public defender's office sought to have a lawyer appointed to represent her interests before the appellate panel. The court refused, claiming Lopez didn't have a right to counsel. If she had been convicted and sentenced to jail on the charge, she would have had counsel appointed to handle her first appeal. But here, the court said, since Lopez wasn't yet jailed for any crime, she was not entitled to appellate representation.


...[T]he Court of Appeal agreed that Lopez had no constitutional right to a lawyer as the prosecutors sought to revive their evidence -- logic that appears to pervert a defendant's rights under the Sixth Amendment. At the request of the public defender's office, the California Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.


By min | July 25, 2018, 11:53 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

More twisting of "free speech"

As i've blogged before, DMCA Takedown notices are out of control and have the effect of shutting down legitimate websites because providers and hosting services pften react swiftly without investigation when they get these notices and shut sites down. That's a real free speech concern (among other things).

But the MPAA has now taken to arguing that, no, actually, DMCA Takedown notices promote free speech:

"In fact, curbing such illicit activity promotes free expression by creating a safer, virtual forum where individuals feel comfortable to engage and communicate. In this sense, it is leaving lawlessness and bullying unchecked that is chilling free speech," the MPAA adds.

Of course, as noted above, "curbing such illicit activity" isn't the problem.

This is normal political jujitsu, i guess (using your opponents arguments against them), but it also reminds me of how free speech is being used in dubious court arguments.

By fnord12 | July 24, 2018, 1:37 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Russiagate & the Left

Seth Ackerman:

But most importantly, if anything is liable to "split and disable the Democratic party," it's spreading breathless rumors that certain Democratic primary candidates, along with their supporters, are currently serving as unwitting agents of Putin, but I won't tell you which ones, except they're definitely the ones "demonizing" other Democrats as "establishment." You know, those candidates. Be on the lookout for them.

And of course this comes at a time when the DLC/Third Way/"Opportunity Democrats" are preparing an attack on the Bernie wing. BoomerCorps and apprenticeship programs (see here) aren't going to win that fight, but maybe some modern day McCarthyism will.

By fnord12 | July 24, 2018, 1:27 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"You guys got houses and we got slightly nicer shampoo."

This is good (requires a free login):

Millennials say: we are paying a price for a global crash we did not cause. Boomers say: it's hard to take you seriously when you're frittering away your salary on smashed avocado on toast.


Home ownership rates for young people have been declining for decades as house prices have detached from incomes.


At the same time, young people faced another post-crisis hurdle: in an effort to make the financial system safer, regulators limited how much banks could lend to housebuyers. Suddenly, many young people needed far bigger deposits to buy their first home, effectively locking them out of the market. In other words, young people -- who were not at all to blame for the crisis -- bore the costs of repairing the economy that everyone else broke.

By fnord12 | July 24, 2018, 1:03 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


The Fox news reporting on AOC & Cori Bush shows how it would be possible for Dems to break through the bubble if they would embrace the Bernie wing.

By fnord12 | July 24, 2018, 12:30 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


And they say all the ideas are coming from the left.

By fnord12 | July 23, 2018, 10:15 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Trump to crack down on plant-based milk

Seems ridiculous, but it's really just typical Republicans doing the bidding of industry. Dairy producers don't want competition in the dairy section, and this re-classification would relegate non-dairy milk to the hippie aisle.

By fnord12 | July 23, 2018, 9:28 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Do people really not know about Obama & HAMP?

Good old Atrios had a bit of a (justified) meltdown on Twitter (Atrios isn't a threaded Tweet-storm kind of guy, so the link is just a small sample), and one thing i'm seeing in the responses is disbelief that Obama could have had anything to do with the foreclosure crisis. Here is one of several articles from dday on the subject.

By fnord12 | July 21, 2018, 5:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

You aren't imagining things

I've been enjoying my daily (sometimes more) security updates from Microsoft.

By fnord12 | July 21, 2018, 5:16 PM | My stupid life | Link

The New Guilded Age

Ryan Cooper.

By fnord12 | July 20, 2018, 4:47 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Abolish the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is just an undemocratic third legislative body where the "Justices" make up whatever laws they want based on whatever nonsense they feel like. Anyone who thinks otherwise should read this:

The past decade has borne fruit for this conservative judicial strategy, with the 2010 Citizens United case acting as a bellwether. In that case, the court ruled not only that corporations were speakers protected under the First Amendment, but also that corporate campaign contributions constituted protected speech-and therefore could not be limited. The decision triggered an avalanche of subsequent cases built upon similar logic. In 2011, the court struck down a Vermont law barring the sale of subscriber information to pharmaceutical companies. The Justices ruled that "speech in aid of pharmaceutical marketing ... is a form of speech" protected by the First Amendment. A year later, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a rule requiring companies to post federal labor protections on the grounds that it "compelled" companies to "speak" against their will. The same court later overturned an FDA rule requiring graphic warning labels on cigarettes, saying they too violated free speech by compelling tobacco companies to "speak."

By fnord12 | July 20, 2018, 10:53 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Separating Fact From Hyperbole in the Russia Story

Good piece from Elizabeth Hamilton-Argyropoulos.

By fnord12 | July 19, 2018, 3:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Eyeing NJ incentives

A report on New Jersey's tax incentive programs:

The release of the report comes nearly five years after the state significantly overhauled its approach to economic development to boost job growth, which had been stalled in the wake of the Great Recession. Those changes included allowing companies and developers to get more generous tax incentives, while also reducing their requirements for investment and job creation.

But those new rules have been hotly debated since they were enacted in 2013, with critics raising the cost of the incentives as a primary concern. The new Rutgers analysis estimates the average annual per-job cost for the state's popular Grow NJ program has been $7,650 for a new job created, and $3,670 for jobs retained using the state incentives. But those estimates don't count projects in Camden, which is treated as an outlier in the analysis because the 2013 law made the city a top-priority economic-development zone with its own set of rules. The annual per-job average for Camden is $34,000, counting both new and retained jobs, according to the analysis.


The new analysis of the incentive programs comes out as Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is awaiting the results of a comprehensive audit of the programs, which are soon up for renewal. It's widely expected that Murphy -- who has loudly criticized the way the incentive programs were administered during the tenure of his Republican predecessor, Chris Christie -- will want lawmakers to make a new round of changes, reflecting his policy goals.


...the authors point out those figures are generally on the high end of national benchmarks [even] if you don't count tax breaks that were used to lure companies to or keep them in Camden.


"It is not always clear that such projects would not have been pursued elsewhere in the state in the absence of the ERG grant, and the state benefits therefore may not necessarily constitute a net return to the state," according to the analysis.


On the residential side, the authors suggest making changes that would expand the places where developments could qualify for incentives, and it flags as questionable the use of some $25 million in residential credits on athletic facilities by Rutgers under the existing rules.

Murphy recently enacted huge incentives for Hollywood, which i think is extremely dumb, but it would be good to at least see him trim the incentives in other areas.

By fnord12 | July 19, 2018, 11:27 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

In Camden, changes in policing for the better

This is good:

Every few months, the police chief here asks which officers wrote the most tickets.

Elsewhere, this might lead to praise, but in Camden -- where 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line, the murder rate compares to that of El Salvador and one of the most interesting experiments in American policing is underway -- Chief J. Scott Thomson sees aggressive ticket writing as a sign that his officers don't get the new program.

"Handing a $250 ticket to someone who is making $13,000 a year" -- around the per capita income in the city -- "can be life altering," Chief Thomson said in an interview last year, noting that it can make car insurance unaffordable or result in the loss of a driver's license. "Taxing a poor community is not going to make it stronger."


An early sign that Chief Thomson's message was taking hold among his officers came on Nov. 9, 2015, when a 48-year-old man walked into a Crown Fried Chicken, behaved menacingly toward customers and employees, brandished a steak knife and left. Outside, officers ordered him to drop the knife, according to video from police body cameras. But the man began walking away, slashing the knife through the air as he went.

For several minutes, the officers formed a cordon around the man and walked with him for a few blocks, trying to clear traffic ahead and periodically instructing him to drop the knife.

The crisis ended when the man did just that. Had the episode taken place a year before, "we would more than likely have deployed deadly force and moved on," Chief Thomson said.

By fnord12 | July 18, 2018, 9:38 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The fiscal hawk who cried wolf

Alexandra Scaggs at Financial Times (requires a free account):

A prime example of this can be found in the warnings from some fiscal hawks about how financial markets would be overwhelmed by the wave of government bonds needed to fund the stimulus. Seven months later, 10-year Treasury yields are hovering around 2.8 per cent.... Where are the storied bond vigilantes?


For their efforts, US lawmakers have now educated a generation in the risks of dogmatic opposition to government debt, and made austerity a more tangible threat to young Americans than harmful inflation. Small wonder then that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the self-described democratic socialist, was recently elected to represent New York in Congress. She has backed the increasingly popular view that restraints on a government's spending are primarily set by the amount it can borrow in its own currency without fuelling inflation -- not its annual tax revenues.

Some economists may find this perspective uncomfortably liberal, but it is not necessarily inaccurate. It acknowledges global demand for US Treasuries, which is a more honest depiction of the government's finances than a Treasury that is only capable of spending the amount it raises through tax revenues in any particular year.

Milton Friedman famously said inflation is "always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon". So those who argue that government borrowing causes an acceleration in inflation implicitly acknowledge that Treasuries more closely resemble money than a highly burdensome debt load.

Beyond that, when it comes to rising prices, more evidence is required to argue that wage-driven inflation hurts consumers. Particularly because it is shareholders whose companies' margins are dented by rising wages, and bondholders who get hurt by inflation regardless of its source.

Americans, particularly young Americans, are starting to question the assumptions that underlie some policymakers' categorical opposition to federal government borrowing. For those hawks who make politically motivated forecasts of doom for the US's fiscal health, it may be their own credibility that ends up paying a price.

By fnord12 | July 14, 2018, 10:35 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials"


A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother's milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.

...The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

By fnord12 | July 8, 2018, 3:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

What the years are doing to the soil

I've blogged about the great nutrient collapse previously, but that article focused on crop varieties and (mainly) CO2 levels. This article focuses on the soil:

Broccoli. One of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet.   But 70 years ago, it contained twice the calcium, on average, and more than five times the amount of Vitamin A. The same could be said for a lot of our fruits and vegetables.   Why? How?  The answers lie in the soil and how Americans farm it. Over the last two centuries, U.S. population growth and food production methods have stressed and degraded our dirt.   Our soil is not as alive as it once was, and experts say that's a problem.  

By fnord12 | July 6, 2018, 5:57 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

They Must Be Making Them A Lot Smaller Nowadays

Here is our ice cream maker (with a lemon included as a size reference):

And here are the warnings in the instruction manual:

Forget that there's no door to remove. Who are these miniature children who are able to fit into my ice cream maker? Why didn't Scientific American tell me about their existence?

Also, what the hell are people putting into their ice cream maker that would require the use of a flammable liquid to get it clean??? Tiny, tiny children, i presume.

By min | July 6, 2018, 4:54 PM | My stupid life | Link

Literally how it's supposed to work

"America's labor shortage is approaching epidemic proportions, and it could be employers who end up paying."

It's called "supply and demand".

By fnord12 | July 5, 2018, 2:43 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The victims no one thinks about

(I haven't actually read the article yet, on account of i'm too busy laughing.)

By fnord12 | July 5, 2018, 11:57 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Such a messed up system

New Jersey's new budget is more of a compromise than it should be (which, again, is so insane considering the government is made up entirely of Democrats), but one good thing is that we're joining 25 other states in enacting a policy called combined reporting. The move has apparently caught the "business community" by surprise, which is kind of delicious (this only affects multi-entity corporations, so the idea that it's a burden on small NJ-based businesses is ridiculous).

Here is the loophole that combined reporting closes:

In the trademark holding company scheme, a chain sets up a subsidiary in a state that does not tax certain types of income, such as Delaware, Michigan, or Nevada. Home Depot, for example, has a Delaware-based subsidiary called Homer TLC, Inc. The subsidiary, which consists of little more than an address, owns the company's trademark, and Home Depot stores in other states pay the subsidiary a hefty fee for using the trademark. Home Depot then deducts those fees as business expenses from its tax returns in those states. Meanwhile, because Delaware does not levy corporate income taxes on earnings from intangible assets such as trademarks, the profits are not taxed in that state either.

Often the subsidiary will also lend money to the rest of the corporation, enabling a second stream of profits to be transferred free of state taxes through the payment of interest on the loan.

Another method, the REIT scheme, has been widely used by large retailers, notably, Walmart.

Established in the 1960s by Congress, REITs are exempt from paying taxes on dividends paid to their investors. Chain retailers have taken advantage of this by setting up their own REITs (often called "captive REITs"), which own the land and buildings that house their stores. The chain then pays rent to the REIT and deducts the rent as a business expense from its state tax returns. The REIT's income is then paid back to the chain as a tax-free dividend.

The fact that all of this is even possible is a sign of how messed up our economic system is.

Update: I spoke too soon. This isn't fully in yet.

Final update: This issue is apparently too in the weeds for most of NJ's media, but the whining from NJ's Chamber of Commerce seems to indicate that it was included although this article indicates that the provision was "slightly modified... to include more specifics". Seems mostly like a win.

By fnord12 | July 1, 2018, 12:14 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

DSA makes Yahoo News

I didn't dare click on the comments.

By fnord12 | June 30, 2018, 11:40 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

No need to stop here. There's plenty more SuperMegaMonkey where that came from.