961: Big BRICS

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 7m
September 3rd, 2017
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Executive Producers: Sir Henry Claeys, Duke Nussbaum

Associate Executive Producers: Sir DH Slammer, Daniel Armstrong, Incognegro, Mark Drinkwater, Sir Don Baron of New Hampshire & Merrimack Valley, Jeffrey Fitch

Cover Artist: Patrick Buijs


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Hurricane Harvey
SHE WAS RIGHT: Texas Woman Forewarned of 100,000 Damaged Homes, 50 Inches Rain >> Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 11:28
SHE WAS RIGHT: Texas Woman Forewarned of 100,000 Damaged Homes, 50 Inches Rain >> Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!SHE WAS RIGHT: Texas Woman Forewarned of 100,000 Damaged Homes, 50 Inches Rain >> Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
The Fed
Gary Cohn is staying because he wants the Fed Chair and is afraid Mnuchin will get it. Who's daddy was a founder of Goldman Sachs
New 'sonic' attack against US diplomats in Cuba | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 03 Sep 2017 01:21
The attack is feared to have occurred in Havana in AugustIt follows a spate of similar incidents which left diplomats deaf or injured19 people are now feared to have been affected by the suspected attacksThe State Department says it cannot rule out whether even more occurred By Jennifer Smith For Dailymail.com
Published: 08:30 EDT, 2 September 2017 | Updated: 09:08 EDT, 2 September 2017
Another 'sonic' attack against US diplomats at the embassy in Havana is feared to have taken place in August.
The newest incident is said to have affected another three diplomats, bringing the total number of people harmed to 19.
It comes after a spate of attacks between November 2016 and April 2017 which left 16 diplomats suffering severe health problems.
Some lost their hearing and others suffered mild brain injuries as a result of the undetected attacks which authorities fear took place at their homes or nearby.
It is not clear where exactly the most recent incident occurred.
The incident is said to have taken place in August. Pictured, the US Embassy in Havana
All are being investigated by the State Department which fears it may discover more yet.
'We can't rule out new cases as medical professionals continue to evaluate members of the embassy community,' state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Friday.
Two Cuban diplomats were expelled from Washington after the attacks came to light.
They are feared to have been caused by a subtle sonic device which can cause deafness.
The embassy in Havana reopened in 2015 after decades of hostility between the US and Cuba.
Diplomats complained of symptoms including severe headaches and dizziness.
They are believed to have taken place either inside or near their residences.
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Alexa is dumb. Double entry in the shopping list.
Art. 22 GDPR '' Automated individual decision-making, including profiling | General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Sun, 03 Sep 2017 12:33
The data subject shall have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her.Paragraph 1 shall not apply if the decision:is necessary for entering into, or performance of, a contract between the data subject and a data controller;is authorised by Union or Member State law to which the controller is subject and which also lays down suitable measures to safeguard the data subject's rights and freedoms and legitimate interests; oris based on the data subject's explicit consent.In the cases referred to in points (a) and (c) of paragraph 2, the data controller shall implement suitable measures to safeguard the data subject's rights and freedoms and legitimate interests, at least the right to obtain human intervention on the part of the controller, to express his or her point of view and to contest the decision.Decisions referred to in paragraph 2 shall not be based on special categories of personal data referred to in Article 9(2)1), unless point (a) or (g) of Article 9(2) applies and suitable measures to safeguard the data subject's rights and freedoms and legitimate interests are in place.Support this project and share the page:
AI writes Yelp reviews that pass for the real thing
Sun, 03 Sep 2017 12:37
As part of their attack method, the researchers utilized a deep learning program known as a recurrent neural network (RNN). Using large sets of data, this type of AI can be trained to produce relatively high-quality, short writing samples, writes the team in its paper. The longer the text, the more likely the AI is to mess up. Fortunately for them, short-length posts were ideal for their Yelp experiment.
They fed the AI a mixture of publicly available Yelp restaurant reviews, which it then used to generate its own fake blurbs. During the second stage, the text was further modified, using a customization process, to hone in on specific info about the restaurant (for example, the names of dishes). The AI then produced the targeted fake review.
Here's a typical post by the robot foodie about a buffet place in NYC: "My family and I are huge fans of this place. The staff is super nice and the food is great. The chicken is very good and the garlic sauce is perfect. Ice cream topped with fruit is delicious too. Highly recommended!"
Not too shabby. Here's another about the same restaurant: "I had the grilled veggie burger with fries!!!! Ohhhh and taste. Omgggg! Very flavorful! It was so delicious that I didn't spell it!!" Okay, so that's not perfect, but we all make errors now and again.
As it turns out, these were good enough to evade machine learning detectors. And, even humans couldn't distinguish them as fake.
These days sites use both machine learning and human moderators to track down spam and misinformation. This approach has proven successful in catching crowdturfing campaigns -- when attackers pay a large network of people to write fake reviews. But, the researchers warn, current modes of defense could come up short against an AI attack method like theirs. Instead, they claim the best way to fight it is to focus on the information that is lost during the RNN's training process. Because the system values fluency and believability, other factors (like the distribution of characters) can take a hit. According to the team, a computer program could snuff out these flaws, if it knew where to look.
The paper warns that in the wrong hands, this type of attack could even be used on bigger platforms, like Twitter, and other online discussion forums. The researchers conclude that it is therefore critical that security experts come together to build the tools to stop it.
Update: A Yelp spokesperson sent Engadget the following statement regarding the company's approach to moderation: "Yelp has had systems in place to protect our content for more than a decade, but this is why we continue to iterate those systems to catch not only fake reviews, but also biased and unhelpful content. We appreciate the authors of this study using Yelp's system as "ground truth" and acknowledging its effectiveness.
While this study focuses only on creating review text that appears to be authentic, Yelp's recommendation software employs a more holistic approach. It uses many signals beyond text-content alone to determine whether to recommend a review, and can not-recommend reviews that may be from a real person, but lack value or contain bias.
We encourage the authors to continue research on this important topic so consumers can continue to rely on review site content."
Art. 9 GDPR '' Processing of special categories of personal data | General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Sun, 03 Sep 2017 12:35
Processing of personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, and the processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person's sex life or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.Paragraph 1 shall not apply if one of the following applies:the data subject has given explicit consent to the processing of those personal data for one or more specified purposes, except where Union or Member State law provide that the prohibition referred to in paragraph 1 may not be lifted by the data subject;processing is necessary for the purposes of carrying out the obligations and exercising specific rights of the controller or of the data subject in the field of employment and social security and social protection law in so far as it is authorised by Union or Member State law or a collective agreement pursuant to Member State law providing for appropriate safeguards for the fundamental rights and the interests of the data subject;processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the data subject or of another natural person where the data subject is physically or legally incapable of giving consent;processing is carried out in the course of its legitimate activities with appropriate safeguards by a foundation, association or any other not-for-profit body with a political, philosophical, religious or trade union aim and on condition that the processing relates solely to the members or to former members of the body or to persons who have regular contact with it in connection with its purposes and that the personal data are not disclosed outside that body without the consent of the data subjects;processing relates to personal data which are manifestly made public by the data subject;processing is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims or whenever courts are acting in their judicial capacity;processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest, on the basis of Union or Member State law which shall be proportionate to the aim pursued, respect the essence of the right to data protection and provide for suitable and specific measures to safeguard the fundamental rights and the interests of the data subject;processing is necessary for the purposes of preventive or occupational medicine, for the assessment of the working capacity of the employee, medical diagnosis, the provision of health or social care or treatment or the management of health or social care systems and services on the basis of Union or Member State law or pursuant to contract with a health professional and subject to the conditions and safeguards referred to in paragraph 3;processing is necessary for reasons of public interest in the area of public health, such as protecting against serious cross-border threats to health or ensuring high standards of quality and safety of health care and of medicinal products or medical devices, on the basis of Union or Member State law which provides for suitable and specific measures to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the data subject, in particular professional secrecy;processing is necessary for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes in accordance with Article 89(1) based on Union or Member State law which shall be proportionate to the aim pursued, respect the essence of the right to data protection and provide for suitable and specific measures to safeguard the fundamental rights and the interests of the data subject.Personal data referred to in paragraph 1 may be processed for the purposes referred to in point (h) of paragraph 2 when those data are processed by or under the responsibility of a professional subject to the obligation of professional secrecy under Union or Member State law or rules established by national competent bodies or by another person also subject to an obligation of secrecy under Union or Member State law or rules established by national competent bodies.Member States may maintain or introduce further conditions, including limitations, with regard to the processing of genetic data, biometric data or data concerning health.Support this project and share the page:
Tay Tay Alt-Right
What does Becky mean? Here's the history behind Beyonc(C)'s 'Lemonade' lyric that sparked a firestorm.
Sun, 03 Sep 2017 12:23
"He better call Becky with the good hair."
And with those eight words, Beyonc(C) launched a firestorm Saturday. Who is Becky? (Not Rachel Roy or Rita Ora, they say.) And who is he?
(Photo: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)
We may never know.
What we do know: The name Becky has become a stand-in for a generic woman, generally white, who is familiar with sexual acts.
The cultural references date to William Makepeace Thackeray's satirical novel Vanity Fair published around 1847. The protagonist, Becky Sharp, is a social climber who utilizes one of the resources at her disposal -- her charm and ability to seduce wealthy men -- to move up the social ladder. It's a classic picaresque novel in which a character of low class lives on her wits in a corrupt society. In this case, her wits involve identifying men who stand to gain massive inheritances and convincing them to marry her in secret. She also has few female friends, and the ones she does have she tends to screw over.
(Photo: Focus Features)
Fast-forward to 1876, and along comes Becky Thatcher seducing Tom Sawyer with -- you guessed it -- her ''yellow hair plaited into two long tails.'' Though Becky in Mark Twain's world is less conniving and more a symbol of an unattainable, beautiful girl, it's the start of a trend.
In 1938, Daphne du Maurier sets up the ex that will haunt us all in her novel Rebecca. Though not the shortened version of the name, the book and the 1940s Alfred Hitchcock-directed film adaptation cement Rebecca in pop culture as the name of the woman who will always be in a man's head.
Skip ahead to Sir Mix A Lot, who adds the phrase ''oh my god Becky, look at her butt,'' to the cultural lexicon. The lyrics to Baby Got Back indicate Becky and her friend are white, somewhat basic, and mildly racist, as they do not understand the appeal of a woman's shapely posterior or wider definitions of beauty than their own. And thus adds the connotation that a Becky has a narrow, condescending world view, and we're graced with the idea of a "dumb Becky."
Dierks Bentley took the name back to its roots with his 2003 country song What Was I Thinking. A "little white tank top" on a "beauty from south Alabama" was all it took for Bentley to forget about his personal safety and her daddy's shotgun.
Things get very NSFW in 2010 when rapper Plies takes the concept further. His song Becky is cited as the start of the name's use as slang for a specific sexual act, not just a stand-in for a sexual woman. And in this connotation, an act that is believed to be favored by white women (we'll let everyone debate this last part amongst themselves).
In a quippy moment of self-awareness, Empirereferenced the name and it's meaning at the end of the first season. Gabourey Sidibe, who plays Lucious Lyon's assistant turned head of A&R, Becky, is asked by Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) "What type of black girl named Becky?'' Sidibe's Becky responds, "my mom's white." The role, producers have said, was originally slated for a boyish, petite white girl, but Sidibe's portrayal worked, and has since become one of viewers' favorite characters.
But because no one community owns a term, and language is constantly evolving, and this is the Internet, there's more.
Taylor Swift is behind one of the most searched Becky memes, which popped up in 2014. A black-and-white photo of Swift was posted on Tumblr with a caption claiming the girl was a friend of the user. Another user quickly pointed out the photo was of Taylor Swift, while yet another said ''no its becky,'' and a meme was born.
Tay joined Tumblr shortly thereafter and joked about the whole thing, then wore a T-shirt with the phrase "no its becky". And, the argument could be made, owned it in a similar way women have embraced the term "basic," because though derogatory, sometimes people like scented candles and Ugg boots.
Another incarnation has evolved simultaneously in gay communities, occasionally meaning gay or as a reference to the random girls who hang around gay bars that have no value-add.
So we have established one meaning of the term at this point in time, and likely the one Beyonc(C) was invoking: a woman, who is bland and generally white, who may or may not be scheming to further her social success and wealth, likely by using her beauty and sexual acts to do so, all while having a narrow world view.
We wouldn't go around calling everyone at brunch or the club Becky this weekend.
Sorry Aunt Becky.
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Why Do People Keep Connecting Taylor Swift's New Song to the Alt-Right?
Sun, 03 Sep 2017 11:35
While Taylor Swift's new single "Look What You Made Me Do" got savagely owned by some, the video has also caught backlash, like being accused of jacking "Formation" and shading Kim Kardashian's robbery. But that kind of bad pub may pale in comparison to the song apparently becoming an anthem for the alt-right neo-Nazi set. No, seriously.
When the song dropped on Friday, Breitbart spent the day tweeting out lyrics from the single, which is kind of eerie (on their part). That could've been seen as a "genius" way of inserting your rhetoric into the pop culture trends of the day, but it actually comes off as pure opportunistic bullshit.
In a new piece over on Dazed, it looks like this line of thinking (i.e. Taylor Swift being some part of a more elaborate scheme to inject white supremacist views into the mainstream) has spread to Reddit. Or at least to a few people over on "The Donald," which is a right-wing haven for the nonsense.
In one post titled "Look What You MAGA Do" (clever), a user broke down the lyrics from Tay Tay's latest, saying that lines like "of the fool, no, I don't like you" translate to "Democrats call us deplorables and mock our intelligence. We took it on the chin but now it's getting personal." Or something.
This is far from the first time we've seen Taylor Swift being made into the right wing pop idol, which Broadly dove deeply into last May, and apparently includes everything from fucked up Adolf Hitler/Taylor Swift mash-up meme subreddits to a fucked up Facebook page that appears to have been taken down.
Truth be told, this feels like the Vigilant Citizen for extremely racist internets, but it's not surprising that, lacking an openly-racist pop star to align themselves with, the neo-Nazis of the world wide web decided to hop on the snake and saddle up with Taylor Swift; she's one of the most talked-about artists of today. Even if it's a bunch of lies or insane rants with sinkholes big enough to consume your leg, they're grasping at straws in an effort to maintain relevance, as per usual.
Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West: A Beef History - Rolling Stone
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 14:14
By fall 2015, many of us mistakenly believed that the longstanding feud between Kanye West and Taylor Swift had finally reached an end. The clash started at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009, when West leapt onstage to interrupt Swift's acceptance speech. It seemed to have concluded on that same stage, when Taylor presented Kanye with Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 VMAs. Then, in February, came Kanye's infamously nasty lines on "Famous" '' "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ "Why? I made that bitch famous." And in June, he unveiled a video for the song featuring a nude prosthetic replica of Taylor. Then Kim got involved and the gloves really came off. And then, in August 2017, Taylor ended her musical hiatus with a song ("Look What You Made Me Do") that really, really seems like a Kanye diss track. We used to ask "How will this all end?" Now we just wonder, "Will it all end?"
September 13th, 2009: Kanye Interrupts Taylor's VMAs Speech
In 2009 Taylor Swift was a 19-year-old country star whose latest album, Fearless, was also a hit with mainstream pop fans. Her video for "You Belong With Me" beat out Beyonc(C)'s "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" for Best Female Video, and she went to the stage to accept the award. So far, so good. Then Kanye, as we all remember, jumped onstage, grabbed the mic, and said, "Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you finish, but Beyonc(C) had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!" Kanye was booed, and celebrities quickly rallied behind Swift, including the President of the United States himself ("He's a jackass," Obama shrugged) and Beyonc(C) herself, who invited Swift onstage with her when accepting her Video of the Year award later that night.
West wrote an apologetic blog post, which he yanked, then wrote another, then finally express his regret on The Jay Leno Show, saying he was ashamed. He later contacted Swift to apologize by phone. But by this point, "interrupting Kanye" and his "I'mma let you finish" were internet memes and the incident had become one of the most parodied awards show moments, as Kanye might say, of all time. Of all time.
September 2010: Kanye Apologizes on Twitter, Taylor Debuts "Innocent"
A year later, Kanye fired off a lengthy, apologetic tweet storm, saying he'd written her a song that he'd record himself if she didn't want it, and he concluded with a simple "I'm sorry Taylor." But Swift had a song of her own that seemed to address the controversy, "Innocent," which she premiered at that year's VMAs. That ballad, which walked a fine line between forgiving and condescending, would also appear on Swift's album, Speak Now. (Cynics might note that this feud flares up when there's an award show on the horizon, or one of the artists in question has a new album to promote.)
November 5th, 2010: Kanye Backtracks on Apology
The controversy seemed to have died down after that, but in an interview with Access Hollywood in October 2010, West listed Swift's Fearless among recent albums that should not have won the Grammy for Album of the Year. And as interviewers kept mentioning the VMA incident, West struggled to explain and sometimes defend it. On Minnesota radio station KDWB in November, he claimed his actions were not "arrogant" but "selfless." He also claimed that the event benefitted Swift, saying that he helped her "have 100 magazine covers and sell a million [her] first week."
Kanye West accepts the Video Vanguard Award from Taylor Swift onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. Christopher Polk//Getty August 30th, 2015: Taylor Presents Kanye With Video Vanguard Award at VMAs
In May 2011, Kanye West and Taylor Swift met on the red carpet at the Costume Institute Gala '-- without incident. The two exchanged a down-low hand slap. The hatchet seemed permanently buried when Swift was tapped to present the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award to West at the 2015 VMAs. Her speech concluded, "All the other winners, I'm really happy for you, I'm going to let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the greatest careers of all time." West's acceptance was heartfelt but rambling, suggesting his issues with awards shows were far from settled.
February 11th, 2016: Kanye Mentions Taylor in New Song "Famous"
To premiere his latest album, The Life of Pablo, West took over Madison Square Garden and livesteamed a lavish event dubbed Yeezy Season 3. The spectacle received a wide range of responses, but everyone shook their head at one set of lyrics: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous/Goddamn, I made that bitch famous." Kanye later said he'd gotten Taylor's permission to drop that line, but a statement from Swift's PR people disputed that: "Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single 'Famous' on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, 'I made that bitch famous.'" Kanye took to Twitter, as he does, where he stuck to his story that Swift approved of the lines.
February 15th, 2016: Taylor Shades Kanye During Grammys Speech
The ball was in Swift's court, then, when 1989 won the Grammy for Album of the Year. Her response was impassioned and as clearly directed at West as it could be without mentioning his name: "As the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to all the young women out there: there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame." But that was hardly the end of the battle.
Watch Taylor Swift take digs at industry sexism and Kanye West at 2016 Grammy Awards:
February 17th, 2016: Kanye Calls Taylor "Fake Ass" in Leaked Saturday Night Live Rant
And the beef rages on. ... Details about the source and the exact context are still sketchy, but two days after Swift's Grammy win, Page Six posted audio of an enraged West apparently venting backstage at SNL on February 13th. The clip is essentially an extended "Do you know who I am?" tirade '-- in which the rapper likens himself to Stanley Kubrick, Pablo Picasso and other icons '-- but West can be heard throwing in a quick Swift diss as well, labeling the singer-songwriter "fake ass."
June 16th, 2016: Kim Joins the Battle
The squabbling over "Famous" had largely died down until an incendiary quote appeared in a GQ profile of Kim Kardashian. According to Kim, Kanye not only called Taylor for approval of the line, but their call was captured on video '' and Swift, Kardashian said, knew about this footage. (In response, a Swift representative stated, "Taylor cannot understand why Kanye West, and now Kim Kardashian, will not just leave her alone.") It might have seemed like an offhand remark. But a celebrity as publicity savvy as Kim Kardashian does not make offhand remarks. ...
June 24th, 2016: Kanye Releases "Famous" Video Featuring Nude Taylor Replica
No, Kim's comment was just prepping us for the latest salvo from Kanye. On June 24th, West debuted a nine-minute video for "Famous" at an exclusive Tidal event at the L.A. Forum that featured Kanye and Kim in bed, surrounded by nude replicas of a number of celebrities. At the place of honor, to Ye's right, was a fully undressed Taylor Swift facsimile. West insisted the video had nothing to say about the individuals represented, but was just "a comment on fame." Then he tweeted: "Can somebody sue me already #I'llwait." Yes, Kanye, we'll all wait.
July 17th, 2016: Kim Snapchats Video of Taylor Approving Controversial "Famous" Lyric; Taylor Calls Move "Character Assasination"
Up to this point, the feud over Kanye's crass "Famous" lyric '' "For all my Southside ni--as that know me best/I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex" '' has been a classic case of he-said-she-said. But late Sunday night, Kim Kardashian introduced a key, highly damning piece of evidence into the court of public opinion. After venting her frustration on Keeping Up With the Kardashians '' "I've had it with people blatantly treating my husband a certain way and making him look a certain way; I'm gonna say how I feel."'' she took to Snapchat to reveal the smoking-gun video she teased in GQ, which clearly shows Swift approving the supposedly controversial lyric. "What's dope about the line is it's very tongue-in-cheek either way," the pop star says after West reads her the line. "And I really appreciate you telling me about it, that's really nice."
After the video reveal, Swift quickly fired back, taking issue with being called a "bitch" in the song and indicating that West never played her the full track prior to release as he promised: "Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination," she wrote on Instagram. Almost seven years after "I'mma let you finish," this epic beef has seemingly reached a new apex '' or nadir.
August 24th, 2017: After a long hiatus, Swift releases "Look What You Made Me Do," the feisty lead single off her forthcoming new album Reputation. With vengeful lyrics like "I don't like your little games/ I don't like your tilted stage,/ I don't like you," plus an effect that sounds as if she's singing through a phone, the track seems to allude to her long, public feud with West.
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Taylor Swift Needs to Sit This Year Out - Noisey
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 13:27
Taylor Swift said nothing last year. While America started to buckle under the weight of the rising political candidacy of an unhinged narcissist named Donald Trump, the wildly famous and influential singer remained silent. Even as Trump proved himself to be in direct opposition to LGBTQ issues, feminist values, and various other causes Swift has, at least tangentially, been a supporter of, she kept quiet. The closest she came to dipping her toes into the political waters was on election day when she Instagrammed a photo of herself in line at a polling station, with the caption, "Today is the day. Go out and VOTE." She included the American flag emoji, but failed to lean either way on the candidates. Instead, at a time when her loyal army of millions was willing to listen, she simply smiled and said absolutely nothing.
There are a couple of theories as to why Swift kept her political views to herself. Many have posited that she is a closeted conservative, privately harboring the desire to Make America Great Again. This theory has certainly been welcomed by the Trump-loving white supremacists and neo Nazis of America, who have taken her refusal to denounce the Trump agenda as a tacit endorsement. White supremacist sites like The Daily Stormer have adopted Swift as their Aryan goddess since, with her blonde hair and blue eyes, she looks like a pop star imagined by Hitler in a wet dream.
Another theory is that her silence is a means of protecting her business interests. Swift is, first and foremost, a businesswoman, after all. Her every move is a calculated decision aimed at reaching the broadest possible consumer base and advancing her brand, a strategy which has earned her a net worth of over a quarter billion dollars. Playing politics would only risk alienating sections of her base. Why denounce Trump when his followers are paying customers like everyone else? And why distance yourself from hate groups when they stream your songs too? Their Swastikas may be red but their money is still green.
Whatever her reasons, Swift said nothing throughout 2016 on social media, at her concerts, or in her lyrics. Her fellow pop stars spoke out against the aspiring fascist Trump, or at least threw support behind his opponent Hillary Clinton. Everyone from Madonna and Bruce Springsteen to power couples like Jay Z/Beyonc(C) and John Legend/Chrissy Teigen made their opinions known. Her frenemy Katy Perry even penned a pro-Clinton anthem. But Swift's voice was noticeably absent. Celebrities are under no obligation to be politically vocal, of course, and in some cases, they are better off remaining silent than opening their mouths to reveal how woefully ignorant they are. (Feel free to Google "celebrities + all lives matter.") But Swift wielded a unique amount of power in the 2016 election. She is one of the biggest pop stars in the world, if not the biggest, and her fan base leans heavily towards white women, a demographic that went for Trump at the polls by 53 percent, despite his lifetime of misogynist statements, an unearthed recording of him bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, and repeated incestuous comments about his own daughter like, "If Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her." There's no way of guaranteeing that a Swift condemnation would have singlehandedly changed the course of the election, but her All-American image could have reasoned with the heartland in a way the Big City Liberal Celebs couldn't. If nothing else, the incredibly protective Swifties would have been turned off by President Twitter Fingers who, almost assuredly, would have been online within the hour snapping back at their idol. The tweet writes itself. "Taylor Swift, who many say is very overrated, is attacking me to boost her failing album sales after her messy breakup with Calvin Harris. Sad!"
It's a pointless endeavor to hypothesize about the direct impact Swift could have had on the election, though, because what's done is done, and we're now stuck with a Trump presidency where each day Americans wake to a hellscape more nightmarish and embarassing than the day before. Levels of post-election stress and anxiety have spiked dramatically across the country for people of all political affiliations as a tidal wave of problems has arisen from sitting in the backseat of a car recklessly driven by a dangerously under-qualified huckster in an ill-fitting red hat. Americans fear losing their health insurance, being deported, or getting nuked into oblivion by North Korea if its equally unstable leader is rubbed the wrong way by Trump, a man who couldn't even meet with the Boy Scouts of America without fucking it up so badly that the organization had to issue an apology. Clashing ideologies have turned particularly volatile recently. Racists have felt emboldened enough to march proudly through the streets, and violence has erupted between them and the protestors who've taken a stand against them. Blood has been shed, lives have been lost.
It's in the middle of this national pressure cooker that feels poised to blow at any second that Swift has chosen to return with new music, giving the world a glimpse into what has been occupying her headspace over the last the year while the world has burned around her. And surprise surprise, it's still all about her.
Last week, she teased her return with a pair of ten-second videos of a CGI snake, a ridiculously ham-handed foreshadowing that she was ready to play the villain and strike back at those who had wronged her, tossing the whole "haters gonna hate/shake it off" positivity bullshit she'd been leaning on out the window. An album announcement soon followed for her sixth album, Reputation, and, sure enough, it featured Swift on the cover with a decidedly edgier rebrand. With her dark lipstick, choker necklace, and shirt carefully accentuated with a rip on the shoulder, she's pulling off a brooding persona with even more comically unconvincing results than when Olivia Newton John smoked a cigarette in a leather jacket in Grease.
Soon after the album announcement, a lead single followed, "Look What You Made Me Do." But it's unclear what Taylor was made to have done since the song is, to quote one of the President's large dipshit sons, a nothingburger. Lyrically, it lacks the specificity an effective diss track typically possesses, and makes her targets vague to keep listeners guessing as to whom in her tall stack of rivals she's addressing'--Katy Perry, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, the press, take your pick. It's general enough that listeners can even project their own vendettas onto her words, as the right-wing garbage heap Breitbart did after the song's release, tweeting the song's lyrics alongside links to their blog posts. It's hard to say how a website with a history of xenophobic commentary might interpret a lyric like, "I don't like your kingdom keys, they once belonged to me. You asked me for a place to sleep, locked me out and threw a feast," but use your imagination.
Instead, the video for "Look What You Made Me Do" does Swift's dirty work, and is jam-packed with layers of visual clap-backs at her enemies. Some are fairly frivolous, like when she holds a Grammy Award while sporting a blonde, Katy Perry-like hairdo, flexing that she's won ten Grammys but Perry has yet to win one. Other times, they are more vicious and mean, like the sequence where she's in a bathtub full of jewels (valued at $12 million), making a gun with her thumb and forefinger, which seems to mirror the scene described by Kim Kardashian last October in Paris when she was robbed of her diamonds at gunpoint while the captors forced her into a bathtub.
Even when unintentional, Swift can't get out of the way of her own pettiness. As many quickly pointed out, Reputation's launch date is set for the death anniversary of Kanye West's late mother. (A label rep claimed this was a coincidence.) And even when Swift (or presumably someone on her publicity team) first tweeted the link to the video for "Look What You Made Me Do" during the MTV VMAs, it was done while the mother of Heather Heyer, a woman killed by a vehicular attack while protesting white supremacists in Charlottesville, was speaking on stage. While likely unintentional, the unfortunate timing is emblematic of how utterly detached from the world Swift is.
This is the self-obsessed, insular bubble Swift inhabits. In a cultural climate packed to the brim with dire, pressing problems, she uses her massive platform to rehash tired grudges that she thinks the world has been eagerly waiting to be settled, completely oblivious to the actual concerns of everyday people. Instead of evolving as an artist and a human, she wallows in the petty beefs with fellow millionaires that the public might have had the headspace for in 2015, but most definitely do not anymore. It's easy to say that Reputation is two years too late and that Swift is stuck in the past, but that's not quite accurate. She's stuck in Taylor Time, an alternate plane of existence where she is perpetually the center of the universe.
Particularly selfish about Reputation's rollout is that, as horrendous as the last year has been, the one positive residual effect is that many artists on all levels have come out to champion pressing causes and effect positive social change. Even artists who have historically kept their personal beliefs to themselves have been galvanized into action. The front was so united against Trump that he had a miserable time finding people who would perform at his inauguration and eventually had to settle for wash-ups like Three Doors Down. But now that momentum is being eclipsed by the cloud of toxic smoke emanating from Swift Industries. Swift's mere presence sucks all the air out of the music industry, and with a nearly three-month album rollout ahead, she'll monopolize the press cycle through the holiday season, and well into 2018.
The Swift takeover has already begun with a few key sponsorship deals. She's partnered with Ticketmaster #VerifiedFan to encourage fans to participate in "boost activities" that improve their place in line for concert tickets. But in "a really fun way." These boost activities, of course, require pledging loyalty to her #squad, typically in the form of cash. Fans can purchase t-shirts and gold snake rings or pre-order the album to swear their allegiance to Lord Taylor. She is also doing a deal with UPS to make sure people buy physical copies of the album. Target is also offering an exclusive version of the album which includes copies of two collectible magazines.
This carefully orchestrated commercial blitzkrieg will net Swift millions. "Look What You Made Me Do" has already broken YouTube and Spotify records with the biggest debut in history. This is why she had no interest in rocking the boat with politics. Drama is the central product of the Taylor Swift business, and business is good. As the CEO of Drama, Inc., she had her bottom line to look out for, but, instead of picking a feud with the biggest possible target in Donald Trump, she continued to punch down, where it was safe.
Dan Ozzi is on Twitter.
There Are Way More Hidden Meanings In The New Taylor Swift Video Than We First Thought
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 17:19
You may recall that back in 2014, Red was nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys. When the winner was announced it led to this awkward moment where Taylor thought she'd won, but actually hadn't. She was so devastated that she didn't scoop the trophy that she missed all the afterparties, and then decided to make her next album "sonically cohesive" so that it would win next time around. And so, 1989 was born.
You Can't Criticize Taylor Swift's Feminism & Dismiss Her Sexual Assault Trial
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 16:39
As someone who's been accused on more than one occasion of championing faux feminism and playing into opportunistic victimhood, Taylor Swift can be particularly difficult to root for. She rarely takes a firm stance on political or social issues, and when she does, she's been chastised for doing so only to seemingly advance her brand. Celebrities, of course, aren't required to make cultural statements '-- they're entertainers, first and foremost '-- but at a time when the country often feels fractured, fans have increasingly relied on stars as guideposts, and Swift has decidedly opted out of that conversation. Notably, she didn't attend the Women's March, and declined to publicize her vote in the 2016 presidential election, though she did benefit from seemingly feminist messages while promoting her album, 1989. But despite all this, there are times when human decency should transcend public opinion, and shutting out Swift at her most vulnerable leans into the very feminist criticism she provokes.
Earlier this week, the trial for Swift's countersuit against David Mueller began in Denver, Colorado. She alleges the former radio DJ groped her while they were taking a photo during a meet-and-greet in June 2013. He denies her claims and seeks $3 million in damages, alleging that her accusations got him fired. The details of the case have been well-publicized, and though concerning, they aren't surprising: It's one in a line of high-profile sexual assault trials that have hit Hollywood in recent years.
What is surprising, though, is the lack of public support that's followed Swift thus far. During Kesha's case against Dr. Luke last year, the outpouring of encouragement was palpable, and when Bill Cosby received a mistrial in June, the backlash seemed equally prevalent. But while there have been many fans (and likely, non-fans too) that have already backed Swift, the response feels strikingly imbalanced: Rather than focusing on the actual proceedings, people are crafting witty one-liners on Twitter and turning her court room sketch into a meme.
Such a blatant dismissal seems inextricably tied to Swift's position as a somewhat polarizing figure. In her early years, she built a young, thriving following as a southern ing(C)nue who sang of lovelorn heartache, storybook fairytales, and waiting for a man on a ''white horse'' to come and save her '-- a narrative perfectly catered to the teen fanbase that quickly accrued. But as she's pushed further into the pop arena '-- and by relation, stardom '-- it's been easier to spot the cracks in her carefully curated image. And steadily, she's built a reputation for speaking out about empowerment and girl power only when it is self-serving and staying quiet when her voice could be most crucial.
But with Swift's trial, we have a chance to turn the tables, to show why such solidarity is so important. Her relationship with feminism in the past shouldn't impede her right to personal space or compassion or, perhaps most relevantly, justice, in whatever form that may mean here. Whether or not the allegations are true, Swift is still being forced to endure a highly visible, deeply emotional trial, and despite whatever previous attention-seeking she may have participated in, a trial over an alleged ass-grab was not something she asked for. Mueller sued her, and even if he hadn't, she is entitled to pursue legal action for a situation in which she believes she may have been violated. Discrediting that is no better than saying that because a woman is perceived by others as a "slut" or a "b*tch," she somehow deserved to be assaulted. Swift may not be the most likable, but she is still a person.
To be clear, this is not a defense of Swift, nor a dismissal of her problematic entanglement, past or present. Instead it's a simple plea to, in this matter, put your personal grievances aside. We can't chide Swift for being silent when it matters most, if we're not willing to hold ourselves to the same standard.
Joseph Kahn Defends Taylor Swift, Calls Kim Kardashian 'One of the Most Untalented Women in the World' | Billboard
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 16:37
Joseph Kahn has taken sides in the simmering Kanye West-Taylor Swift feud and there are no prizes for guessing who he's backing.
Kahn, the director of some of Swift's best-know music videos, has unleashed a torrent of scathing tweets directed at Kanye and his wife Kim Kardashian after the reality TV star leaked video of the rapper discussing the lyrics to the controversial song "Famous" with Swift.
Taylor Swift Blasts Kanye West and Kim Kardashian Over Leaked Video Discussing 'Famous' Lyrics
The filmmaker, who helmed the clips for "Bad Blood," "Wildest Dreams," "Blank Space" and others, has been on a Twitter rampage since Swift defended herself on Sunday with a strongly-worded message, which Kahn retweeted with his own addition, ''I've worked with everybody. I don't need to work with anybody. Taylor is a rainbow in a swamp.''
Kahn stayed in the flow throughout Monday with bunches of barbs, some with direct targets, others less obvious. ''Please remember to be nice to everyone today. Unless they're a bitch. Then punch them in the dick,'' he wrote in one.
''Ain't the first time the Kardashians supported the murder of an innocent blonde woman,'' he wrote in another, the context of which will be familiar with anyone who followed the OJ Simpson trial.
His final word on the matter is also his meanest: ''The irony of one of the most untalented women in the world attacking one of the most talented.''
Selena Gomez and Chloe Grace Moretz are among the celebs who've weighed in on this latest celeb beef. Neither is impressed. "Stop wasting your time on something so petulant and unimportant," Moretz' tweeted.
Plus, Charts Center Ep. 9: Inside the Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian Drama
Taylor Swift's 'Look What You Made Me Do' Rakes in Big Sales
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 15:56
Taylor Swift's ''Look What You Made Me Do'' '-- anthem for Gossip Girl's Lil J, current Breitbart News song of choice, summoner of the ''new'' Taylor '-- is, shocker, off to a smashing commercial start. Nielsen Music reports that the song sold just under 200,000 downloads on Friday, the day of its official release; moreover, it might be on track to hit 500,000 sales by the end of its first week. For context: No song has sold 200,000 downloads in a week '-- let alone in a day, as ''LWYMMD'' has managed '-- since Ed Sheeran's ''Shape of You'' did in February, per Billboard. If the song indeed hits that half-million mark, it'll have the largest sales week of any single in nearly two years, going back to the second week of Adele's ''Hello.'' Oh, and the song has also set records for Spotify streams and YouTube views. While the consensus remains that ''LWYMMD'' is a significant creative step down for Taylor, it seems that we still couldn't turn away from her angsty, clunky return to the spotlight '-- because these numbers are huge. We'll see what else she makes us do when Reputation is officially released on November 10.
To Hulu she goes.
Gold outfits and dubious headbands for days.
We all make mistakes. But not many that involve multinational beverage corporations.
Maybe Narcos really doesn't need Pablo after all.
Director Ron Howard announced the casting news on Twitter.
This version will reportedly be a closer adaptation of the 1989 comic book.
The tennis great welcomed her first child with fianc(C) Alexis Ohanian.
It's time to talk about the Narcos switcheroo.
The studio has not confirmed a second movie yet, but the director says it's his first priority.
Go atomic with Charlize Theron or take a Girls Trip.
The first two episodes are in theaters this weekend.
The front man has always been obsessed with how he lived his life, but he had to take a couple years away from music to clarify his perspective.
Common Cause has filed a federal complaint against Kid Rock and Warner Bros. asking for a full investigation.
New from Jesmyn Ward, Eileen Myles, Salman Rushdie, and more.
Le Carr(C) has always attributed his popularity to the fact that ''I was writing for a public that was hooked on Bond and wanted an antidote.''
There are a lot of blooms, and even more butts.
Fans Think Taylor Swift Is The Most F*cked Up Person For Her Album Release Date
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 14:59
Taylor Swift announced this week that she's dropping a brand new album in November after she went on a bit of a ''music hiatus'' for a while. The album, called Reputation, has already stirred the pot quite a bit on social media by apparently ripping off Kanye West's album art for The Life of Pablo, and, for her latest single calling out several celeb feuds she's had '' with Kanye West and Katy Perry.
Fans have been talking a lot of sh*t on Twitter about the album, the single and Taylor Swift in general '' but, after finding out that Taylor Swift is dropping her album on November 10th, they basically decided one honest truth '' Taylor Swift is the devil.
Because November 10th is the day that Kanye West's mother, Donda West, died. And, even worse, November 10th will be the 10 year anniversary since her death.
Taylor Swift and Kanye West have hated each other, back and forth, since he interrupted her on stage at the VMA Awards all those years ago '' and, no matter what, they've managed to make their feud go on and on and on.
No matter what happens between two people, some things are just too sacred to use against them. Dropping her album on the 10 year anniversary of Kanye's mother's death is just wrong in my eyes. So, so wrong. It's just another way that Taylor Swift is trying to remain ''relevant.'' And, no wonder she has such a bad ''reputation.''
At least Twitter agrees with me.
Ole Miss Greek life retreat ends abruptly with bias concerns - The Daily Mississippian | The Daily Mississippian
Fri, 01 Sep 2017 15:47
This weekend, leaders from Ole Miss Greek life convened upon Camp Hopewell in Lafayette County for a three-day retreat designed to build leaders and bring campus closer together. The retreat was cut short Saturday night, however, after three black students found a banana peel in a tree in front of one of the camp's cabins.
The students shared what they found with National Pan-Hellenic Council leaders, sparking a day's worth of camp-wide conversation surrounding symbolism, intended or not. In the midst of the open and sometimes heated discussion, senior accounting major Ryan Swanson said he put the banana peel in the tree when he could not find a trashcan nearby.
Alexa Lee Arndt, interim director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said she was one of the only university staff members acting in an administrative capacity at the weekend retreat. Monday afternoon, she sent a letter to all campus chapter presidents, council officers and chapter advisers, confirming the incident and outlining the university's plans.
''To be clear, many members of our community were hurt, frightened, and upset by what occurred at IMPACT '... Because of the underlying reality many students of color endure on a daily basis, the conversation manifested into a larger conversation about race relations today at the University of Mississippi,'' Arndt wrote in the letter acquired by The DM.
Student members of Panhellenic Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council and Interfraternity Council were all present at the retreat, which was organized by Fraternity and Sorority Life and the national group IMPACT. IMPACT is a campus-based leadership institute designed to foster improved relationships among campus leaders through a retreat-type program.
Makala McNeil, president of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, one of the nine historically African-American sororities and fraternities, said she saw the banana peel after leaving a group discussion that addressed race relations. Saturday morning, all of the retreat's participants ate breakfast together, followed by a session where they shared their feelings on race relations at Ole Miss. The breakfast options included a fruit cart with bananas.
''The overall tone was heavy,'' McNeil, a senior integrated marketing communications and sociology major, said. ''I mean, we were talking about race in Mississippi, at the University of Mississippi and in the Greek community, so there's a lot involved.''
This photo was circulated among students over the weekend in group messages and was provided to The Daily Mississippian.
After the large discussion session, the students split into smaller conversation groups. McNeil said that around noon on Saturday, she was walking with friends to their group session across camp when one of her sorority sisters pointed at a tree 15 feet away. She said that about six feet up the tree's trunk sat a lone, fresh-looking banana peel.
''It was so strange and surreal to see it there,'' McNeil said. ''We were all just sort of paranoid for a second.''
She said the image was especially disturbing in light of an incident on American University's campus in May of this year. The morning Taylor Dumpson was to take over as the school's first female black student government president, students found bananas hanging from nooses across campus. Some of the bananas were inscribed with references to Dumpson's sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
''That, to me, was a slap in the face to see that banana hanging in a tree after talking about the personal truths of our campus,'' McNeil said.
McNeil said that by lunchtime, people throughout the camp knew about the incident. As lunch rolled into the afternoon discussion group, the banana peel dominated chatter. That afternoon's group discussion session served as an open forum on the incident.
''As the staff member responsible for the wellbeing of our community, I felt it was imperative to provide space immediately to students affected by this incident to allow them an opportunity to voice their pain and concern,'' Arndt wrote in her statement.
At the start of this session, McNeil said one black student stood up and asked that everyone there google the American University incident to understand the banana peel's significance. She said he explained how bananas have historically been used to demean black people. McNeil said her sorority sister then raised her hand to simply ask who put the peel in the tree.
She said Swanson stood up and came forward almost immediately after the question. He apologized and said he did not mean any harm by leaving the peel in the tree.
''I want to sincerely apologize for the events that took place this past weekend,'' Swanson said in a statement to The DM on Tuesday night. ''Although unintentional, there is no excuse for the pain that was caused to members of our community.
''I want to thank my friends in the NPHC for their candid and constructive conversations that we have continued to have. I have much to learn and look forward to doing such and encourage all members of our university community to do the same. We must all keep in mind how our actions affect those around us differently.''
McNeil said that if the banana peel incident was an accident, people need to consider the effects of their actions versus their intent.
''You see how much fear and how much anger you insight in black people just from an unintentional image,'' she said.
The conversation carried on, and tensions continued to rise. White and black members of the Ole Miss Greek community shared their views on the day's events and race relations in general. McNeil said people had a lot to say, but the conversation began to move in an unhealthy direction.
''There were a lot of emotions being showed and a lot of transparency,'' McNeil said. ''I just don't feel as though it was being facilitated in a constructive way.''
The massive discussion session wrapped up as more and more students stood and left the room '' some in tears, some in frustration. NPHC members began texting friends to come and pick them up from the camp since no one had been allowed to drive his or her car up to the retreat. The remainder of the retreat was canceled later that night.
''At that point, we didn't feel welcome; we didn't feel safe,'' McNeil said. ''If we didn't feel wanted or safe at the camp, our best option was to leave.''
Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement, said her office was asked to put a plan together to handle the weekend's incident on campus.
''Right now, we're just talking to people on campus who have some experience working across diversity to help the students process what happened,'' Caldwell said.
Caldwell said she needs to talk with a couple more faculty members before deciding ''what makes the most sense'' for the campus.
Arndt said it was important for the vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement to lead the response. Arndt reached out to Caldwell on Saturday night.
''We want to be sensitive to already-scheduled events that are taking place but also do not want to delay having these important follow-up conversations,'' Arndt's statement said.
Google-Funded Think Tank Fired Google Critics After They Dared Criticize Google
Thu, 31 Aug 2017 21:53
The New America Foundation's Open Markets group was a rare, loud voice of protest against Google's ever-growing consolidation of economic and technological power around the world. But New America, like many of its fellow think tanks, received millions in funding from one of the targets of its anti-monopoly work, and according to a New York Times report today, pulled the plug after the company's chief executive had enough dissent.
After EU regulators fined Google $2.7 billion earlier this summer, Barry Lynn, who ran the Open Markets division, cheered the decision, adding that ''U.S. enforcers should apply the traditional American approach to network monopoly, which is to cleanly separate ownership of the network from ownership of the products and services sold on that network, as they did in the original Microsoft case of the late 1990s.'' It didn't take long for Lynn and his colleagues to suffer the consequences, the Times reports:
Those worries seemed to be substantiated a couple of days later, when Ms. Slaughter summoned the scholar who wrote the critical statement, Barry Lynn, to her office. He ran a New America initiative called Open Markets that has led a growing chorus of liberal criticism of the market dominance of telecom and tech giants, including Google, which is now part of a larger corporate entity known as Alphabet, for which Mr. Schmidt serves as executive chairman.
Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that ''the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,'' according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team '-- nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows '-- would be exiled from New America.
''We are in the process of trying to expand our relationship with Google on some absolutely key points,'' Ms. Slaughter wrote in an email to Mr. Lynn, urging him to ''just THINK about how you are imperiling funding for others.''
New America president Anne-Marie Slaughter quickly informed Lynn that his team would no longer be welcome at the think tank, presenting about as tidy and flagrant a case of conflict of interest and monied suppression of criticism as one can imagine. But on Twitter, Slaughter disputed the Times report, claiming that it was simply ''false'':
New America's statement, however, disputes literally not a single fact in the Times story or any of Lynn's claims:
The Intercept reviewed the full termination email sent from Slaughter to Lynn that was cited and quoted in the Times report and found that they were reported and characterized with complete accuracy. The full text does, however, show that Slaughter threatened to make Lynn's firing more difficult for him and his team should it generate any negative publicity for New America.
Neither Slaughter nor New America responded to requests to specify what was false or even misleading about the story. Over email, a Google spokesperson told The Intercept that ''Eric [Schmidt] never threatened to cut off funding to New America and that we had no role in eliminating the Open Markets Initiative.'' The spokesperson added that she would not deny Schmidt's ''displeasure'' with the Open Markets team, ''but displeasure and pressure are two totally different things '-- he did not imply pressure on NAF re: Open Markets. To characterize it that way would be totally inaccurate.''
But the displeasure of one of the most powerful men in the world is, of course, itself a form of pressure. It's safe to assume that the likeliest explanation is the most obvious one: Eric Schmidt, formerly an executive at Sun Microsystems, which itself later came under intense global antitrust scrutiny, didn't want his money paying to promote similar scrutiny for his monopolistic practices. So, he leveraged his power as head of a company with a market cap of over $600 billion to get what he wanted (it wouldn't be Google's first time).
New America and Slaughter, however, are most certainly worthy of blame, apparently caving to pressure '-- whether it was spoken or didn't need to be '-- from the chief executive of the world's most powerful technology firm, a complete dereliction of whatever purpose for being a think tank is supposed to have. Perhaps New America '-- along with all the rest of Think Tank Land and academia '-- should reconsider cashing checks from the likes of Google, even if it does buy an ''Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab'' in the office. Even when the Devil's motto is Don't Be Evil, a deal might not ultimately be in your best interests.
But for Matt Stoller, up until very recently the most vocal member of the Open Markets team, there's a significant upshot to getting the boot. ''I think the thing that's great about this, whenever you're in politics and policy, it's hard to prove you're effective,'' he told The Intercept. ''This is just Google just saying you guys are too effective.'' Even Lynn shares the feeling: ''We've been martyr-ized,'' he added. ''We'll be growing.''
For now, the new group will call itself Citizens Against Monopoly. Led by Lynn, it will be chaired by Zephyr Teachout.
Update: Aug. 30, 2017
This article was updated with comments from a Google spokesperson.
Update: Aug. 31st, 2017
''In the interest of transparency,'' the New America Foundation has released the text of three emails sent from Slaughter to Lynn. Lynn's emails to Slaughter were not included.
Top photo: Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt attends the CDU Economics Conference of the Economic Council on June 09, 2015 in Berlin.
Racism | Definition of Racism by Merriam-Webster
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 17:23
Racism appears to be a word of recent origin, with no citations currently known that would suggest the word was in use prior to the early 20th century. But the fact that the word is fairly new does not prove that the concept of racism did not exist in the distant past. Things may have words to describe them before they exist (spaceship, for instance, has been in use since the 19th century, well before the rocket-fired vessels were invented), and things may exist for a considerable time before they are given names (t-shirt does not appear in print until the 20th century, although the article of clothing existed prior to 1900).
Dictionaries are often treated as the final arbiter in arguments over a word's meaning, but they are not always well suited for settling disputes. The lexicographer's role is to explain how words are (or have been) actually used, not how some may feel that they should be used, and they say nothing about the intrinsic nature of the thing named by a word, much less the significance it may have for individuals. When discussing concepts like racism, therefore, it is prudent to recognize that quoting from a dictionary is unlikely to either mollify or persuade the person with whom one is arguing.
7 reasons why reverse racism doesn't exist | The Daily Dot
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 17:22
The state of race relations in the U.S., a country where people seem to be under the mistaken belief that we are ''post-racial,'' is dire. This week saw a young, unarmed black man killed by the NYPD in a stairwell, and a refusal to indict from a Ferguson grand jury. Responses to these events from those concerned about systemic discrimination against people of color also saw the revival of a familiar battle cry among my fellow honkies: ''Reverse racism!''
Accusations of ''reverse racism'' are dragged out in many cases when people of color and nonwhite people speak out, sometimes passionately, about racial issues. In Texas, for example, a teacher was recently forced out of her job after a profanity-laced tweet from her private account, in which she referred to white people as ''crackers.'' Make no mistake: The district's pressure wasn't about the use of some four letter words. It was about ''crackers,'' and the belief that some people think it's a racial slur. Yes, really. Recently, in another example, the ''tanning tax'' was called ''racist against white people.''
#Breaking: Reverse racism doesn't exist. Here's why.
1) Racism = privilege + powerIn order to be racist, you need to possess two traits. The first is privilege: A structural, institutional, and social advantage. White people occupy positions of racial privilege, even when they are disadvantaged in other ways. White women, for example, consistently make more than black women, because they benefit from racial attitudes. Furthermore, you also have to have power: the ability, backed up by society, to be a strong social influencer, with greater leeway when it comes to what you do, where, and how.
For instance, white people benefit from privilege and power when they aren't arrested for drug crimes at disproportionate rates, while black people experience racism when they're arrested, and sentenced, for the same crimes. This reflects a racialized power imbalance in the justice system. It's about the privilege and power of white offenders (less likely to be racially profiled, more likely to have strong legal representation, more likely to be able to talk police officers out of an arrest) and the lack of social status for black offenders.
People of color talking about white people don't occupy positions of privilege or power. Therefore, they cannot be racist. Racism is structural, not personal.
2) Anger is a legitimate response to oppression.When ''reverse racism'' is flung around, it's often in response to angry language, to protests, to fights for equality. People of color have been pushing back on privilege and power for a long time. Many of them are understandably pretty tired of it. Unsurprisingly, some aren't interested in moderating their tone for a white audience. That means that sometimes they use strong language, out of frustration, rage, or to make a heavy impact on observers. Still not reverse racism.
More importantly, insisting that people of color need to be nice about the way they talk about racism is, in fact, racist: It suggests that, for example, ''angry black women'' don't merit social attention, because they're being unreasonable.
3) Attempts to rectify systemic injustices are not examples of reverse racism.One of the most common pieces of evidence used as ''proof'' of reverse racism is that of affirmative action and minority admissions at colleges, universities, and some companies. The argument goes that people of color are stealing positions and jobs away from better or equally qualified white people.
This is not the case. The problem is that generations of injustice have resulted in underrepresentation of people of color in these settings, and the goal of affirmative action and related initiatives is to ensure that they aren't harmed by racial bias in admissions and hiring decisions. People of color aren't admitted or hired ''over white people.'' They're considered equally, with an eye to the fact that subconscious bias may be influencing decisions made by people in power, who are, you guessed it, often white.
''White folks will tell me time and time again that Affirmative Action is 'unfair,''' writes Jamie Utt, a diversity and inclusion consultant and sexual violence prevention educator, ''because it discriminates against White people. What the term 'fair' assumes here, though, is that we live in a society where there's an equal playing field for all students, regardless of race or wealth.'' Addressing these injustices is intended to give people of color more opportunities, and to ensure that future generations won't face the same imbalances current generations do.
4) Having spaces set aside for people of color is not racist.Whites are often resentful of clubs, organizations, and groups focused on people of a specific race, with membership closed to people who are not members of that racial community. The claim goes that such groups segregate and discriminate; after all, if members of those minorities cared so much about racism, they'd open their membership to all, right?
Josh Odam writes in the Daily Collegian, ''One of my favorite examples of such a mentality is this: It's unfair that black students have a Black Student Union when white students do not. To put it simply, the University of Massachusetts is a White Student Union.''
But it's about more than that. It's not just that every public space is open to white people, but that white people have an expectation that every private space should be open to them, too. Some conversations and community events need to take place behind closed doors. People of color may need to have sensitive conversations about discrimination, racism, and their lived experiences that are difficult to have when they are surrounded by white observers or people who talk over them. Such spaces provide a medium for doing so, just as members of the LGBTQ community use retreat spaces, and women join women-only organizations and groups for mutual support.
5) White people are not oppressed.The history of the oppression of people of color by the West, and, by extension, white people, spans centuries. Africans were enslaved and brought to the New World, where European colonialists stole land from Indigenous people. Colonies across the Global South brought untold wealth into the coffers of Europe, with the low, low cost of suffering for native populations.
Today, we're still living with the legacies of colonialism: In the United States, the black community is dealing with the aftermath of slavery and the poverty and systemic prejudice it left behind. In many African nations, the collapse of former colonies left governments in shambles and unable to support themselves. In Australia, indigenous people struggle with a high poverty rate and low access to health care.
White people, in contrast with people of color, do not experience systemic discrimination that makes it difficult to find and hold jobs, access housing, get health care, receive a fair treatment in the justice system, and more. When it comes to social disparities, they're the ones consuming and receiving the bulk of the resources; in just one example, black women in the U.S. are more likely to die from breast cancer due to delayed diagnosis. That's the result of racism within the medical system.
Despite the belief stated by some white people that they are more oppressed than people of color, their claims don't bear out when looking at social metrics like statistical representation in the justice system, poverty, educational achievement, and unemployment rates.
6) Prejudice and racism are not the same thing.Some people of color may view whites prejudicially; no wonder, given the interactions of racism in society. Anyone can believe in stereotypes or hold ideas about members of other groups that are not entirely accurate.
However, being, and behaving, prejudicially isn't the same thing as racism, especially when such prejudice punches up, not down. As Justin Simien of Dear White Peopleputs it, ''Prejudice and racism are different. A joke about white people dancing has no impact on the lives of average white people, whereas jokes about black people and reinforcing stereotypes about black people do have an impact on the lives of everyday black people.''
7) Hard truths aren't racist'--they're just hard to hear.Making a racist statement is a manifestation of racist culture; being ''mean'' isn't. For whites, it can be difficult to be confronted with the reality of racism, and with comments from people of color about how privilege and power operate. It's tempting to take such comments personally and to insist that people of color are being ''mean,'' which is often a hop, skip, and a jump away from an accusation of reverse racism.
In this case, the goal is often to invalidate the points made. If someone is being racist, surely her comments can be dismissed instead of taken seriously. Thus, a white person uncomfortable with a racialized conversation may claim that it's reverse racist in order to escape the conversation, or escape her own role in racist power dynamics.
On the Internet, where such conversations fly by at lightning speed and often get heated, accusations of reverse racism often come in hot and heavy. It's worth taking a moment to back up and hit those commenters with a healthy dose of truth serum.
Photo viaNicholas RIVET/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Hate Group Southern Poverty Law Center Urges Alt-left Hate Groups To Start 'Tearing Down Army Bases' '' InvestmentWatch
Sun, 03 Sep 2017 13:16
by Geoffrey Grider
THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER HAS DECLARED THREE OF AMERICA'S LARGEST ARMY BASES CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS ''WITH THE POTENTIAL TO UNLEASH MORE TURMOIL AND BLOODSHED'' IF ACTIVISTS DON'T ''TAKE DOWN'' THE ARMY BASES.EDITOR'S NOTE: They claim to ''fight and expose hate groups'' but ironically are one of the most highly-funded hate groups in existence today. The Southern Poverty Law Center is the new home of the Alt-Left, and they won't quit until they have remade America in their progressive, Leftist, Democratic image. In the meantime, they are now identifying US Army bases as ''confederate monuments'' that need to ''come down''. If that's not anarchy I don't know what is.
The Southern Poverty Law Center included Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia on a list of 1,500 ''Confederate monuments'' that the SPLC claims could inspire more violence like what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia last month. All three bases are named after Confederate military leaders.
The list makes no mention of renaming namesakes of Confederate monuments; taking the monuments down is presented as the only option. The recent leftist campaign against Confederate namesakes and monuments has included a willingness among some far-left actors to destroy government property to accomplish their goals.
THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: THE REAL HATE GROUPClick here to watch the video if it doesn't display in this article.
''More than 1,500 Confederate monuments stand in communities like Charlottesville with the potential to unleash more turmoil and bloodshed,'' the SPLC website states. ''It's time to take them down.''
ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS, LOCAL STREETS AND EVEN ENTIRE TOWNS ARE INCLUDED ON THE SPLC'S LIST OF ''CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS.''The Southern Poverty Law Center is urging leftists around the country to flood their local newspapers with letters to the editor urging the removal of the monuments, although the group's campaign against the army bases could serve as a dogwhistle for left-wing militants willing to take extreme measures to take down Confederate monuments.
The SPLC's map of ''Confederate monuments'' resembles the group's ''hate map'' that has repeatedly smeared conservative organizations as ''hate groups'' and inspireddomestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins II to shoot up the Family Research Center in 2012.
At the same time that the SPLC is waging its campaign against Fort Hood, approximately 400 American soldiers stationed at the base are down in Houston helping victims of Hurricane Harvey. source
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Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks SB4, Texas Law Targeting Sanctuary Cities : The Two-Way : NPR
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 19:41
Protesters gather outside the federal courthouse in San Antonio in June to oppose SB 4, a new Texas law targeting "sanctuary cities." Eric Gay/APhide caption
toggle captionEric Gay/AP Protesters gather outside the federal courthouse in San Antonio in June to oppose SB 4, a new Texas law targeting "sanctuary cities."
Eric Gay/AP Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled late Wednesday that Texas officials may not implement Senate Bill 4, a controversial measure designed to crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities" in that state.
The law, set to go into effect on September 1, would have given local law enforcement the authority to ask about a person's immigration status during routine interactions such as a traffic stop.
It also required local officials to comply with requests from federal immigration authorities to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Local law enforcement officials could be fined and removed from office if they did not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Critics of the law said it would encourage racial profiling and violate the First and Fourth Amendments. The cities of San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin had joined a lawsuit brought by the city of El Cenizo against SB 4, arguing that the law would undermine any cooperation between local police and immigrant communities in dealing with crime.
In his 94-page ruling, the judge said that there is overwhelming evidence from local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 would "erode public trust and many communities less safe."
Gov. Greg Abbbott promised to appeal the ruling. Attorney General Ken Paxton echoed that call in a statement.
"Senate Bill 4 was passed by the Texas Legislature to set a statewide policy of cooperation with federal immigration authorities enforcing our nation's immigration laws. Texas has the sovereign authority and responsibility to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens. We're confident SB 4 will ultimately be upheld as constitutional and lawful," said Paxton.
In a statement, Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project praised Garcia's ruling.
"The court was right to strike down virtually all of this patently unconstitutional law. Senate Bill 4 would have led to rampant discrimination and made communities less safe. That's why police chiefs and mayors themselves were among its harshest critics '-- they recognized it would harm, not help, their communities," said Gelernt.
Why Ireland should seriously consider Irexit
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 13:14
Irexit would restore a measure of control over the development of our resources and the autonomy to develop them. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
We need to talk about Irexit. Seriously. If you put your head around the door of any of the innumerable meeting rooms in which all things Brexit are being dissected, the one word that dares not speak its name is Irexit. The foolhardiness of the Brits? Yes. How badly organised and divided they are? Of course. How unrealistic their expectations are? Certainly.
With a few distinguished exceptions, ''official'' Ireland has bought into the ''spin'''. It has made the European Union the custodian of our national interests. It has ceded its responsibility for negotiations on our future relationship with our nearest neighbour and largest single-country trading partner. This makes no sense. The risks of trading the approval of ''Europe'' for the long-term interests of the country are enormous.
Behind the charade of a ''unified stance'' on Brexit is a deeply divided EU with competing national agendas which have been whipped into a facile unanimity. The pressure not to break ranks is huge. In his acclaimed book Adults in the Room: My Battle With Europe's Deep Establishment, former Greek minister for finance Yanis Varoufakis documents the devastating reality of such pressures.
Because what the UK is exiting is not Europe, but what Europe has become. Tragically, it is not the Europe of Schumann and Monnet or even Jacques Delors.
Brexit means Ireland, which shares a common stance on key issues with the UK, is left marginalised, peripheral and dependant
It is a hegemonistic and increasingly militarised political behemoth, controlled by Germany and, to a lesser extent, by a Franco-German identity of interests. Europe is bound together by an oppressive dependency on the centre. Political scientists know that even the largest of other countries play in the reserves.
Founding valuesEurope's identity and its founding values have been scarred by the macroeconomics of austerity and an unprecedented migration catastrophe caused, in part, by its support for military adventurism in the Middle East and North Africa.
RelatedAt its heart is a flawed monetary union, skewed towards surplus countries and a yawning ''democratic deficit''. Brexit should have been the catalyst for reform. Instead, freed for the moment of the threat of ''populism'' generated by its own policies, the establishment has pulled down the shutters on reform. It is now impelling members towards full political union and, beyond that, further supra-national enlargement.
Brexit means Ireland, which shares a common stance on key issues with the UK, is left marginalised, peripheral and dependant. That reality bears reflecting upon.
The core responsibility of any sovereign nation is to protect the national interest. Down the road, who will uphold and advocate Ireland's national interests? Whatever the nature of the post-Brexit governance of Europe, little consideration will be given to Ireland's needs and its capabilities. How could they be? On all issues that matter, the centre will advance its own agenda.
Amnesia can be a terrible thing. It is only prudent to remember that in the bailout negotiations the European Central Bank (ECB) cut the ground from underneath Ireland when we were at our most vulnerable. Ajai Chopra, then IMF mission chief, recalls it was the International Monetary Fund '' not Europe '' that advocated against the harshness of the adjustment which the ECB attempted to impose and, also, ECB pressure to impose on Ireland losses that should have been borne by the bondholders of delinquent banks. The threats of what would happen if Ireland did not come to heel came from Europe.
Old battles should not be refought '' we move on. But we should learn. Facing into a post-Brexit scenario it's clear that we cannot look to Europe to advocate Ireland's national interests.
Irexit would restore a measure of control over the development of our resources and the autonomy to develop them
All of the economic modelling in the world will not resolve what is an essentially political question. Are Ireland's national interests best served by being irrevocably integrated into this kind of Europe '' one which would fossilise the Border across the island, put at risk our future relationship and multiple linages with our nearest neighbour including an EU-imposed ''hard Brexit''.
Alternatively, would the national interest be better served by a ''managed Irexit'', alongside Brexit?
Suffocating oversightIrexit would restore a measure of control over the development of our resources and the autonomy to develop them, free from the suffocating oversight exercised from the centre. It would provide greater policy flexibility in relation to the labour market which took the ''hit'', in the form of massive emigration, during the EU's ''austerity regime''. It would mitigate Ireland's vulnerability to EU pressures on its ''business model'' which, as Wolfgang Munchau writing in the Financial Times, has pointed out is no longer ''fit for purpose''.
Membership of the Single Market and Customs Union benefit Ireland '' just as they do other countries including Germany which runs a troublingly massive current account surplus. Ireland is also a net contributor to the EU budget. The exploitation of our maritime resources amounts to a significant ''contribution'' to other EU members.
''Europe'' would, of course, be viscerally opposed to Irexit alongside Brexit. We would probably experience the same opprobrium and determination to ''make us pay'' as the UK has '' including a campaign (all too familiar) to ''think again''. Foolish. The EU itself has every reason to facilitate a constructive separation. Our politics should be talking Irexit. Priority.
A dependent relationship, held together by pressures and threats, is not healthy for a couple '' or for a political union. A friendship, characterised by mutual respect and an acknowledgement of the interests of each of the parties, and their shared interests, is infinitely to be preferred.
Ray Kinsella is an economist and former Professor of Banking and Financial Services, and Healthcare at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business
Far-right German candidate promises to get rid of Arabic numerals '' POLITICO
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 14:24
During a rally against the far-right Pegida movement in December 2015, a protester holds a sign reading "Bis MMXVI arabische Zahlen ausweisen" (Deport Arabic numerals by 2016) | Sebastian Kahnert/EPA
A mayoral candidate for the far-right, anti-immigrant NPD party promised to get rid of Arabic numerals if elected, German media reported Friday.
Otfried Best, who is hoping to become mayor of V¶lklingen, near the French border, was asked by a member of Die Partei, a satirical party, during a debate earlier this week what he thought of Arabic numerals used in the town, Stern magazine reported.
''Mr. Best '... I find it alarming that in V¶lklingen many house numbers are displayed in Arabic numerals. How would you like to take action against this creeping foreigner infiltration?'' asked the Die Partei politician.
The audience cheered and laughed, but Stern reported that Best gave a serious answer: ''You just wait until I am mayor. I will change that. Then there will be normal numbers.''
The Arabic numeral system is the most common system used worldwide, introduced to Europe around the 12th century, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
German lawmakers have twice tried to ban the neo-Nazi NPD, with the Constitutional Court ruling earlier this year that the party was not a big enough threat to be barred.
The NPD is also running in the federal election on September 24, but is unlikely to make it past the 5 percent threshold to enter parliament.
Tags: Far right, German elections 2017, German politics
Dame Bang Bang and I both thought there was something more to the story about unreliable consumer DNA testing in ep 958 around the 2:25:00 mark
The hit piece about consumer DNA tests like 23 and me or ancestry.com not being reliable is because DNA testing is pretty much the ONLY way to get an exemption to the California vaccine schedule. The thing that makes it a hit piece is mentioning "The Doctors" by name.
Background: In California the full CDC vaccine schedule (72 shots by age 18) is required be law (SB277) to attend ANY sort of school even home school.
Del Bigtree was the original producer of the show "The Doctors" and is an outspoken critic of CDC and big pharma especially when it comes to vaccines. Del Bigtree brought out CDC whistle blower Dr William Thompson (Head CDC scientist who has been threatened with jail if he testifies) and since then 13 more CDC doctors. Congress refuses to allow these whistle blowers to testify.
Sir DH Slammer Clan
Antidepressants found in fish brains in Great Lakes region - NY Daily News
Fri, 01 Sep 2017 15:47
Holy mackerel '-- those are perky perch.
Researchers have found concentrations of human antidepressants in 10 kinds of fish in the Niagara River, which links Lake Erie with Lake Ontario.
Active ingredients in Zoloft, Prozac and other happy-pills were discovered to be built up in the brains of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rudd, rock bass, white bass, white perch, walleye, bowfin, steelhead and yellow perch. The source of the contamination: wastewater.
''These active ingredients from antidepressants, which are coming out from wastewater treatment plants, are accumulating in fish brains,'' Diana Aga, Ph.D, a professor at the University of Buffalo, said in a release.
SEE IT: Man catches fish in Houston home flooded by Harvey
The situation is, well, fishy. ''It is a threat to biodiversity, and we should be very concerned,'' Aga added.
And for a few reasons, including that treatment plants are not keeping up with the times and the pace of today's antidepressant use. The authors note that the percentage of Americans taking antidepressants, for instance, rose 65 percent between 1999-2002 and 2011-14, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
(lemonadelucy/Getty Images/iStockphoto) Another concern is that the drugged-out fish's behavior could change. ''Other research teams have shown that antidepressants can affect the feeding behavior of fish or their survival instinct,'' said Aga.
While scientists note that the levels of antidepressants in the fish don't pose a danger to people who eat them, they said more research is needed to understand what amount of antidepressants poses a risk to animals, as well as the impact of drug interactions.
Thousands of salmon escaped fish farm, no one knows what's next
The study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
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Not Comey's Decision Exonerate Hillary Obama's Decision | National Review
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 23:36
The thing to understand, what has always been the most important thing to understand, is that Jim Comey was out in front, but he was not calling the shots.
On the right, the commentariat is in full-throttle outrage over the revelation that former FBI Director Comey began drafting his statement exonerating Hillary Clinton in April 2016 '' more than two months before he delivered the statement at his now famous July 5 press conference.
The news appears in a letter written to new FBI Director Christopher Wray by two senior Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham. Pundits and the Trump administration are shrieking because this indicates the decision to give the Democrats' nominee a pass was clearly made long before the investigation was over, and even long before key witnesses, including Clinton herself, were interviewed.
It shows, they cry, that the fix was in!
News Flash: This is not news.
Let's think about what else was going on in April 2016. I've written about it a number of times over the last year-plus, such as in a column a few months back:
On April 10, 2016, President Obama publicly stated that Hillary Clinton had shown ''carelessness'' in using a private e-mail server to handle classified information, but he insisted that she hadnot intended to endanger national security (which is not an element of the [criminal statutes relevant to her e-mail scandal]). The president acknowledged that classified information had been transmitted via Secretary Clinton's server, but he suggested that, in the greater scheme of things, its importance had been vastly overstated.
This is precisely the reasoning that Comey relied on in ultimately absolving Clinton, as I recounted in the same column:
On July 5, 2016, FBI director James Comey publicly stated that Clinton had been ''extremely careless'' in using a private email server to handle classified information, but he insisted that she had not intended to endanger national security (which is not an element of the relevant criminal statute). The director acknowledged that classified information had been transmitted via Secretary Clinton's server, but he suggested that, in the greater scheme of things, it was just a small percentage of the emails involved.
Obama's April statements are the significant ones. They told us how this was going to go. The rest is just details.
In his April 10 comments, Obama made the obvious explicit: He did not want the certain Democratic nominee, the candidate he was backing to succeed him, to be indicted. Conveniently, his remarks (inevitably echoed by Comey) did not mention that an intent to endanger national security was not an element of the criminal offenses Clinton was suspected of committing '' in classic Obama fashion, he was urging her innocence of a strawman crime while dodging any discussion of the crimes she had actually committed.
As we also now know '' but as Obama knew at the time '' the president himself had communicated with Clinton over her non-secure, private communications system, using an alias. The Obama administration refused to disclose these several e-mail exchanges because they undoubtedly involve classified conversations between the president and his secretary of state. It would not have been possible to prosecute Mrs. Clinton for mishandling classified information without its being clear that President Obama had engaged in the same conduct. The administration was never, ever going to allow that to happen.
What else was going on in May 2016, while Comey was drafting his findings (even though several of the things he would purportedly ''base'' them on hadn't actually happened yet)? Well, as I explained in real time (in a column entitled ''Clinton E-mails: Is the Fix In?''), the Obama Justice Department was leaking to the Washington Post that Clinton probably would not be charged '' and that her top aide, Cheryl Mills, was considered a cooperating witness rather than a coconspirator.
Why? Well, I know you'll be shocked to hear this, but it turns out the Obama Justice Department had fully adopted the theory of the case announced by President Obama in April. The Post explained that, according to its sources inside the investigation, there was ''scant evidence tying Clinton to criminal wrongdoing'' because there was ''scant evidence that Clinton had malicious intent in [the] handling of e-mails'' (emphasis added). Like Obama, the Post and its sources neglected to mention that Mrs. Clinton's felonies did not require proof of ''malicious intent'' or any purpose to harm the United States '' just that she willfully transmitted classified information, was grossly negligent in handling it, and withheld or destroyed government records.
As I recounted in the same May 2016 column, the Obama Justice Department was simultaneously barring the FBI from asking Mills questions that went to the heart of the e-mails investigation '' questions about the process by which Clinton and her underlings decided which of her 60,000 e-mails to surrender to the State Department, and which would be withheld (it ended up being about 33,000) as purportedly ''private'' (a goodly percentage were not).
This was the start of a series of Justice Department shenanigans we would come to learn about: Cutting off key areas of inquiry; cutting inexplicable immunity deals; declining to use the grand jury to compel evidence; agreeing to limit searches of computers (in order to miss key time-frames when obstruction occurred); agreeing to destroy physical evidence (laptop computers); failing to charge and squeeze witnesses who made patently false statements; allowing subjects of the investigation to act as lawyers for other subjects of the investigation (in order to promote the charade that some evidence was off-limits due to the attorney-client privilege); and so on. There is a way '' a notoriously aggressive way '' that the Justice Department and FBI go about their business when they are trying to make a case. Here, they were trying to unmake a case.
Knowing all these things, as we now do and have for a year, I'm baffled by complaints that Comey allegedly made ''his'' decision not to charge Clinton before key witnesses were interviewed. The main issue is not that witnesses hadn't been questioned; it is that by April 2016, restraints were already in place to ensure that witness interviews would be fruitless, and that any incriminating information they accidentally turned up would be ignored or buried.
The decision not to indict Hillary Clinton was not made by then-FBI Director Comey. It was made by President Obama and his Justice Department '' Comey's superiors. If you want to say Comey went along for the ride rather than bucking the tide (as he concedes doing when Lynch directed him to call the Clinton probe a ''matter,'' not an ''investigation''), that's fair. But the fact that Comey already knew in April what he would say in July has long been perfectly obvious. The Obama administration was going to follow its leader. What Comey ultimately stated was just a repeat of what Obama was openly saying in April, and what Obama's Justice Department was leaking to the press in May.
Bottom line: In April, President Obama and his Justice Department adopted a Hillary Clinton defense strategy of concocting a crime no one was claiming Clinton had committed: to wit, transmitting classified information with an intent to harm the United States. With media-Democrat complex help, they peddled the narrative that she could not be convicted absent this ''malicious intent,'' in a desperate effort to make the publicly known evidence seem weak. Meanwhile, they quietly hamstrung FBI case investigators in order to frustrate the evidence-gathering process. When damning proof nevertheless mounted, the Obama administration dismissed the whole debacle by rewriting the statute (to impose an imaginary intent standard) and by offering absurd rationalizations for not applying the statute as written.
That plan was in place and already being implemented when Director Comey began drafting the ''findings'' he would announce months later. But it was not Comey's plan. It was Obama's plan.
FBI, Homeland Security warn of more 'antifa' attacks - POLITICO
Fri, 01 Sep 2017 20:10
Federal authorities have been warning state and local officials since early 2016 that leftist extremists known as ''antifa'' had become increasingly confrontational and dangerous, so much so that the Department of Homeland Security formally classified their activities as ''domestic terrorist violence,'' according to interviews and confidential law enforcement documents obtained by POLITICO.
Since well before the Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly, DHS has been issuing warnings about the growing likelihood of lethal violence between the left-wing anarchists and right-wing white supremacist and nationalist groups.
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Previously unreported documents disclose that by April 2016, authorities believed that ''anarchist extremists'' were the primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets. They were blamed by authorities for attacks on the police, government and political institutions, along with symbols of ''the capitalist system,'' racism, social injustice and fascism, according to a confidential 2016 joint intelligence assessment by DHS and the FBI.
After President Donald Trump's election in November, the antifa activists locked onto another target '-- his supporters, especially those from white supremacist and nationalist groups suddenly turning out in droves to hail his victory, support crackdowns on immigrants and Muslims and to protest efforts to remove symbols of the Confederacy.
Those reports appear to bolster Trump's insistence that extremists on the left bore some blame for the clashes in Charlottesville and represent a ''problem'' nationally. But they also reflect the extent that his own political movement has spurred the violent backlash.
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In interviews, law enforcement authorities made clear that Trump's inflammatory rhetoric and policies '-- first as a candidate and then as president '-- helped to create a situation that has escalated so quickly and extensively that they do not have a handle on it.
''It was in that period [as the Trump campaign emerged] that we really became aware of them,'' said one senior law enforcement official tracking domestic extremists in a state that has become a front line in clashes between the groups. ''These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields and bike helmets and just beating the shit out of people. '... They're using Molotov cocktails, they're starting fires, they're throwing bombs and smashing windows.''
Almost immediately, the right-wing targets of the antifa attacks began fighting back, bringing more and larger weapons and launching unprovoked attacks of their own, the documents and interviews show. And the extremists on both sides have been using the confrontations, especially since Charlottesville, to recruit unprecedented numbers of new members, raise money and threaten more confrontations, they say.
''Everybody is wondering, 'What are we gonna do? How are we gonna deal with this?''' said the senior state law enforcement official. ''Every time they have one of these protests where both sides are bringing guns, there are sphincters tightening in my world. Emotions get high, and fingers get twitchy on the trigger.''
Even before Charlottesville, dozens and, in some cases, hundreds of people on both sides showed up at events in Texas, California, Oregon and elsewhere, carrying weapons and looking for a fight. In the Texas capital of Austin, armed antifa protesters attacked Trump supporters and white groups at several recent rallies, and then swarmed police in a successful effort to stop them from making arrests.
California has become another battleground, with violent confrontations in Berkeley, Sacramento and Orange County leading to numerous injuries. And antifa counter-protesters initiated attacks in two previous clashes in Charlottesville, according to the law enforcement reports and interviews.
Rallies are scheduled over the next few months across the country, including in Texas, Oregon, Missouri and Florida. Authorities are particularly concerned about those in states where virtually anyone, including activists under investigation for instigating violence, can brandish assault rifles in public.
Tensions have gotten so heated that after activists traded accusations after Charlottesville, a rumor circulated online that antifa would try and shut down the massive Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle rally because there were too many Confederate flags and Trump signs. It wasn't true, but it prompted an outpouring of pleas by attendees for anti-fascists to come so they could assault them. One displayed a ''Sturgis Survival Kit'' for potential antifa protesters, complete with a tourniquet, morphine, body cast and defibrillator.
''Both the racists and a segment of violent antifa counter-protestors are amped for battle in an escalating arms race, where police departments are outmaneuvered, resulting in increasingly violent dangerous confrontations,'' said former New York City police officer Brian Levin, who has been monitoring domestic militants for 31 years, now at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. ''It's an orchestrated dance. The rallies spill over into social media and then even more people show up at the next rally primed for violent confrontation.''
In recent decades, authorities have focused almost exclusively on right-wing groups as the most likely instigators of domestic terrorist violence, especially since Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, killing 168 people.
More recently, the antifa groups, which some describe as the Anti-Fascist Action Network, have evolved out of the leftist anti-government groups like ''Black bloc,'' protesters clad in black and wearing masks that caused violence at events like the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization protests. They claim to have no leader and no hierarchy, but authorities following them believe they are organized via decentralized networks of cells that coordinate with each other. Often, they spend weeks planning for violence at upcoming events, according to the April 2016 DHS and FBI report entitled ''Baseline Comparison of US and Foreign Anarchist Extremist Movements.''
Protesters in black, associated with Antifa, beat a man with a pole and shield during a "No-To-Marxism" rally Aug. 27 in Berkeley, California. | M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO
Dozens of armed anti-fascist groups have emerged, including Redneck Revolt and the Red Guards, according to the reports and interviews. One report from New Jersey authorities said self-described antifa groups have been established in cities including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco.
Some of the DHS and FBI intelligence reports began flagging the antifa protesters before the election. In one from last September, portions of which were read to POLITICO, DHS studied ''recent violent clashes '... at lawfully organized white supremacist'' events including a June 2016 rally at the California Capitol in Sacramento organized by the Traditionalist Workers Party and its affiliate, the Golden State Skinheads.
According to police, counter-protesters linked to antifa and affiliated groups like By Any Means Necessary attacked, causing a riot after which at least 10 people were hospitalized, some with stab wounds.
At the Sacramento rally, antifa protesters came looking for violence, and ''engaged in several activities indicating proficiency in pre-operational planning, to include organizing carpools to travel from different locations, raising bail money in preparation for arrests, counter-surveilling law enforcement using three-man scout teams, using handheld radios for communication, and coordinating the event via social media,'' the DHS report said.
The intelligence assessments focus less on guns than handmade weapons used by antifa, with photos of members brandishing ax handles and shields, often with industrial-sized bolts attached to create crude bayonets. A senior state law enforcement official said, ''A whole bunch of them'' have been deemed dangerous enough to be placed on U.S. terrorism watch lists.
The FBI and DHS had no comment on that, or on any aspect of the assessments, saying they were not intended to be made public.
By the spring of 2016, the anarchist groups had become so aggressive, including making armed attacks on individuals and small groups of perceived enemies, that federal officials launched a global investigation with the help of the U.S. intelligence community, according to the DHS and FBI assessment.
The purpose of the investigation, according to the April 2016 assessment: To determine whether the U.S.-based anarchists might start committing terrorist bombings like their counterparts in ''foreign anarchist extremist movements'' in Greece, Italy and Mexico, possibly at the Republican and Democratic conventions that summer.
Some of the antifa activists have gone overseas to train and fight with fellow anarchist organizations, including two Turkey-based groups fighting the Islamic State, according to interviews and internet postings.
In their April 2016 assessment, the DHS and FBI said the anarchist groups would likely become more lethal if ''fascist, nationalist, racist or anti-immigrant parties obtain greater prominence or local political power in the United States, leading to anti-racist violent backlash from anarchist extremists.''
The assessment also said the anarchist groups could become more aggressive if they seek to ''retaliate violently to a violent act by a white supremacist extremist or group,'' they acquire more powerful weapons or they obtain the financial means to travel abroad and learn more violent tactics.
Several state law enforcement officials said that all of those accelerating factors have come to pass. And recent FBI and DHS reports confirm they are actively monitoring ''conduct deemed potentially suspicious and indicative of terrorist activity'' by antifa groups.
But one of the internal assessments acknowledged several significant ''intelligence gaps,'' including an inability to penetrate the groups' ''diffuse and decentralized organizational structure,'' which made it difficult for law enforcement to identify violent groups and individuals. Authorities also ''lack information to identify the travel patterns linking U.S. and foreign anarchist extremists,'' the assessment said.
The two agencies also said in their April 2016 assessment that many of the activities the groups engaged in ''are not within the purview of FBI and DHS collection'' due to civil liberties and privacy protections, including participating in training camps, holding meetings and communicating online.
In another assessment this past August, DHS warned about the potential for unprecedented violence at Charlottesville. The agency also acknowledged gaps in its understanding of antifa, saying it had only ''medium confidence'' in its assessments regarding both the affiliations among the various groups and the motivation of attackers.
Said one senior New Jersey law enforcement official following the antifa groups: ''There's a lot more we don't know about these groups than what we do know about them.''
Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning '-- in your inbox.
BOMBSHELL: FBI, DHS Warned About Antifa In Early 2016. Obama Said Nothing. | Daily Wire
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 04:00
In a bombshell, Politico reported on Friday that the federal government has been worrying about the rise of Antifa since ''early 2016,'' and even labeled their activities ''domestic terrorist violence'' '-- yet the Obama administration said nothing publicly about Antifa despite ample opportunity to do so. According to Politico:
Previously unreported documents disclose that by April 2016, authorities believed that ''anarchist extremists'' were the primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets. They were blamed by authorities for attacks on the police, government and political institutions, along with symbols of ''the capitalist system,'' racism, social injustice and fascism, according to a confidential 2016 joint intelligence assessment by DHS and the FBI.
The violence ratcheted up as President Trump's campaign swung into full gear. The FBI noted violence by Antifa in Texas, Oregon, California. Law enforcement put particular focus on a white supremacist rally in Sacramento: At the Sacramento rally, Antifa protesters came looking for violence, and ''engaged in several activities indicating proficiency in pre-operational planning, to include organizing carpools to travel from different locations, raising bail money in preparation for arrests, counter-surveilling law enforcement using three-man scout teams, using handheld radios for communication, and coordinating the event via social media,'' the DHS report said.
The FBI and DHS issued a report in April 2016 openly stating that Antifa was prepping for violence; new Jersey law enforcement reportedly stated that Antifa had cropped up in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Shockingly, some members of Antifa ''have gone overseas to train and fight with fellow anarchist organizations.''
So, where the hell was President Obama while all of this was building?
Remember, in April 2009, shortly after Obama took office, the Department of Homeland Security, under the auspices of Janet Napolitano, issued a report stating that ''right-wing extremism'' was on the rise, and labeling anti-abortion and anti-immigration groups as suspect. The report specifically called out the prospect of lone wolf terrorism from those who agreed with ''right-wing'' viewpoints. The report was shockingly vague, but the Obama administration stood by it.
So, how about his apparently very specific report regarding Antifa from the year of the election? Not a peep from the Obama administration. And let's contrast the language of that 2009 memo with the language of the Obama administration regarding left-wing violence. The 2009 memo stated this regarding anti-immigration groups:
Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent.
In July 2016, a black radical who parroted the messages of Black Lives Matter shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven others who were protecting a BLM march, Obama spent an inordinate amount of time echoing the BLM message at their memorial service:
We know that bias remains. We know it, whether you are black, or white, or Hispanic, or Asian, or native American, or of Middle Eastern descent, we have all seen this bigotry in our own lives at some point. We've heard it at times in our own homes. If we're honest, perhaps we've heard prejudice in our own heads and felt it in our own hearts. We know that. And while some suffer far more under racism's burden, some feel to a far greater extent discrimination's stain. Although most of us do our best to guard against it and teach our children better, none of us is entirely innocent. No institution is entirely immune, and that includes our police departments. '...When all this takes place, more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid.
President Obama had the opportunity to speak out against left-wing violent movements, to single out Antifa, to disassociate with them, to call them out in the same way Nancy Pelosi did this week, in the same way President Trump has been asked endlessly to call out white supremacist violence. Obama didn't. Instead, he remained silent on Antifa.
Democrats today have that same opportunity, too, to call out Antifa. But the fact that they won't be asked to do so by most members of the media demonstrates something vile about our political discourse: that if people agree with the agenda of a violent group, they're too often willing to downplay the violence in order to promote the agenda.
Man On Board
Dear C.Pot & B.Kill,
I have been meaning to write this letter for a long time now to say thank you for your show, especially after the recent violence in Charlottesville which had me reeling at the number of friends and family reacting from dimension B.
But now, in the middle of early recovery from hurricane Harvey, I cannot express how much I appreciate hearing your voices while we piece back together our lives. Now, it's not just the insight you provide, but the familiarity of the pre-show stream, thank you segments (as a donator (unemployed student = measly $7.73 checks per month!) I feel obligated to pay attention to who else is one), birthday shout-outs, the promotion ceremony, the knighting ceremony, all the way to the sign off. Life is chaos currently and these segments create a regimen that provides much needed comfort.
Add to that the deconstruction, which also creates a structure for the chaos in the world outside Houston. So now I have to say thank you for changing my perspective since I started listening to the show, which was ep. 883, exactly a month after the election. As a 28 y/o Bernie supporter, my disillusion with the Democratic Party had finally hit a tipping point after the DNC Convention that summer. I already came to the show with the education about the globalism system that Congressional Dish had given me, supplemented by Briney's recommendation to read Confessions of an Economic Hitman. But I still had not examined the depths of the Clinton's corruption, I knew nothing about protestors supported by George Soros, nor how authoritarian the EU is.
The morning after the election, I looked up the results and was completely shocked by Trump's victory. To use an overused word, that day was surreal. My family are ALL hardcore democrats, my mother and sisters were crying, my father disgusted and outraged. At the time, I believed a Trump presidency would lead to all the things I was against as a progressive liberal, which translates to: the end of civilized society. I almost signed that petition to abolish the electoral college. Yet I couldn't help but be a little relieved or at least happy by spite, that Hillary didn't win.
I think the biggest takeaway for a former liberal, who was just on the precipice of flirting with Socialism right after the election, is the difference between mind today and where it would have been in an alternate timeline where I never listened to your show. I have discovered that I feel much more comfortable with certain "conservative" views, or at least I have sympathy for conservative causes that I used to be completely opposed to. I see the bigotry in my father and other hardcore liberals toward Trump voters and other conservatives, where they are painted as racists, misogynists, islamophobes, and *shudder* small minded isolationists.
In that alternate timeline, my amydala would be yuuuge, my biases would become bigotry and I would have been focusing too much energy toward trying to fight the administration but actually playing right into the hands of the globalists or coopted by Marxists who will bring about (left wing) fascism.
Every single day before hurricane Harvey has felt like I'm walking in two dimensions simultaneously due to this reeducation process that is the No Agenda show. Therefore, this natural disaster is easier to acclimate to, because I'm now a pro at living in alternate dimensions.
Newsroom : Ontario Providing Support to Those Affected by Opioid Crisis
Sun, 03 Sep 2017 13:37
Ontario is providing urgent relief to those affected by the opioid crisis, including adding more front-line harm-reduction workers, expanding the supply of naloxone, and creating new rapid access addiction clinics in every region of the province.
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, were at St. Michael's Hospital today to announce that the province is investing more than $222 million over three years to enhance Ontario's Strategy to Prevent Opioid Addiction and Overdose. These new investments, which build on previous commitments and will help ensure people with opioid addictions have access to holistic supports that address the full spectrum of needs, include:
''The devastating impact of opioid use disorder and overdose has reached every community in Ontario, and crosses all demographics. Our government has been working closely with partners across the province to combat this urgent issue for more than a year, and we are continuing to strengthen our strategy and increase harm reduction, addiction treatment and other supports. It is through this collaborative, evidence-based and comprehensive approach that we will be able to effectively address this crisis and save lives.''
Dr. Eric Hoskins
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
''We are updating and expanding our strategy as the opioid crisis evolves. By providing local communities with the tools they need, we are equipping them to help each and every Ontarian in a personalized and informed way. Short-term solutions are not enough '-- we are committed to this journey for the long-term.''
Dr. David Williams
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health
''Addictions treatment is not a one-stop shop; it's a combination of providing the proper medical, pharmacological and psychosocial support for all patients. The multidisciplinary addictions services team at St. Michael's Hospital is able to provide this support through our emergency department, our family health team and our rapid access clinic. This increased focus on and support for addictions treatment, including in primary care settings, is a step in the right direction in order to better address the burden of opioid addiction on emergency departments, and will help us continue to treat addictions across all our clinics and sites.''
Dr. Douglas Sinclair
Chief Medical Officer and Site Lead, St. Michael's Hospital
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VIDEO - John McWhorter on the Evolution of Language and Words on the Move | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty
Sat, 02 Sep 2017 09:36
How did bad come to mean good? Why is Shakespeare so hard to understand? Is there anything good about "like" and "you know?" Author and professor John McWhorter of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the unplanned ways that English speakers create English, an example of emergent order. Topics discussed include how words get short (but not too short), the demand for vividness in language, and why Shakespeare is so hard to understand.
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Readings and Links related to this podcast episodeRelated Readings
This week's guest:This week's focus:Additional ideas and people mentioned in this podcast episode:A few more readings and background resources:A few more EconTalk podcast episodes:HighlightsTimePodcast Episode Highlights
0:33Intro. [Recording date: August 8, 2017.]
Russ Roberts: Today we'll be talking about John McWhorter's book Words on the Move: Why English Won't--and Can't--Sit Still (Like, Literally).... Emergent order is a common topic here at EconTalk; and Thomas Sowell and others, clearly myself, have used language as an example of emergent order. Language is undoubtedly the product of human action but not human design. And, your book, John, brought that alive for me in an incredibly rich way. So, you write, for example,
One of the hardest notions for a human being to shake is that a language is something that is, when it is actually something always becoming. They tell you a word is a thing, when it's actually something going on.
Isn't a word a thing? Explain.John McWhorter: Um, what I mean by that is not what many people would think: which is that I'm trying to make some vague appeal to something called 'the dynamic' or that it has something to do with the fact that social context is always changing. It's actually more mundane but in its way, more fascinating than that. And it's simply that sounds in a language are always changing. One sound is always slowly on its way to becoming what will be another sound in the language at some point in the future. And that means that the way a word sounds is always in the process of moving along to something else. And, meanings of words are always changing, not just because we invent new things, but just because meanings drift along--something that only implies the meaning today might actually be the meaning later. So, what that means is that while our own sense of the immediate is so immediate--so to speak--that we think that the language is something that stands still, that we're calling upon. And that's an illusion that is encouraged even more by the printed page and dictionaries. The truth is, what we're doing is just one snapshot in the whole life of the language. And there's nothing privileged about the one point on the timeline that we happen to be on. So, Words on the Move is trying to get across to people the basic fact that a language is like clouds in the sky--always changing. If there is no change, then you know something's wrong. If the clouds aren't moving and they aren't changing shape, then there's something dire going on. And of course, that would never happen. That's not the way precipitation happens over a planet. Same thing with language.
Russ Roberts: So, listeners know that I like to talk about how some words catch on and some words die out. I've always liked the word "eleemosynary," which Milton Friedman--I heard him use it in person. It means charitable. It's not used in English other than in a legal context. So, it's a word that's dying out. There are words like "behoove" that are in trouble. You do hear it every once in a while. "Ruthless" is a word, but "ruth," which used to be a word, isn't. So, that kind of thing, that words catch on and other words die out--I was aware of that. But, your book just opened my eyes in an incredible way. Especially, since I have to confess, I'm a bit of a language snob. And, I like dictionaries. In fact, I love dictionaries. I love The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester's story of the OED [Oxford English Dictionary], which is an incredible book. But, one of the problems he faced--which is, that, by the time he finished Volume 8[A?], he was in trouble, because the language was changing. So, talk about some of your favorite examples of how words morph in meaning.
John McWhorter: Well, for example, if you are listening to Shakespeare, if somebody uses the word "generous," it can often seem a little strange. And so, Edmund, in King Lear, is defending himself as somebody who shouldn't be looked down upon as lowly-born. And at one point he says, 'Well, and I'm generous.' And you think to yourself, 'Okay. Generous is a good trait.'
Russ Roberts: It's a compliment.
John McWhorter: Yeah. But would you bring that up if what you are talking about is that people should not look at you as lowly-born? And it actually made perfect sense in Shakespeare's time. 'Generous' meant 'noble.' So, he was saying, 'I'm noble.' Now, if you are noble, especially in earlier contexts, then chances were that part of what you did was give a certain amount of your goods to the surrounding populace as part of, basically, ruling the roost. And so, the idea of a kind of uncalled-for generosity attached itself to nobility. And it was just a kind of overtone hanging for a long time; but after a while, 'generous' came to mean to be magnanimous. And so, words like that, words change like that all the time. 'Silly' started out meaning blessed. And for those of you who know German, you'll know that there's a word, 'selig,' in German, which is the same root that 'silly' was. But, if you are blessed, then you could be argued to be innocent. And so after a while, innocent. If you are innocent, then one could say that there's a certain weakness about you--that you are not out there being Thrasymachus[?], and being strong. And so that means that maybe you are weak. And, if you are weak, one kind of being weak would be if you are weak-minded. And so, after a while it means that, in written sources. Well, if you are weak-minded, then it could be that you are kind of a silly-billy. And, next thing you know, a word that started out having to do with religion was a word that you used for a fool. And what's important to realize is that some words change within a given frame of time more than others. But, almost no words stay in the same meaning for hundreds of years. And so, the words that we are using are always in a process of moving on to come to mean new things.
6:45Russ Roberts: So, let's talk about Shakespeare for a minute. Because you have many examples of words in Shakespeare that challenge our modern understanding--because they are words that we still use. They just don't mean what they meant in Shakespeare's time. And, you actually suggest the possibility--and I'm not only a language snob but a purist--you actually--so I was offended initially about the idea but then kind of enchanted by the idea--that we could re-word Shakespeare, taking the words that have changed radically--and substitute words for them. And make them, Shakespeare, more understandable to a modern audience. Defend that seemingly blasphemous claim.
John McWhorter: Yeah. That makes a lot of people very upset, because the words that Shakespeare uses are, for the most part words that we use. So, we think, 'Well, he's using English.' So, the idea tends to be that Shakespeare's language may be challenging, but it's because you have to rise to the occasion. That, the language is complex--
Russ Roberts: It's poetry--
John McWhorter: or it's poetic, yeah[?]--
Russ Roberts: Syntax is a little different--
John McWhorter: Yeah, and you have to learn the syntax; and there's an idea that the British are better-trained to get across, which is not true in my experience but people say that. But what it really is, is that a whole lot of the words Shakespeare uses have changed so much in their meaning that, today, we can't understand them when spoken live. And this is what's important. Many people seem to think that I mean that if you are sitting there reading it that you should have some sort of translation: like NoFearShakespeare that is online. I don't mean that. When you are reading, you can deliberate. You can have time to look at the footnotes. But, let's face it: What Shakespeare was expecting us to do was to experience the plays delivered on stage in real time. You don't have time to look anything up. And the truth is that much of why Shakespearean language can be so hard to process is because we have no way of knowing what the words mean, and we can't look it up when we are sitting in the theater. And I mean things such as "generous," such as, meaning, "noble" or "a haggard" meaning falcon. Or, when somebody says "wit" in Shakespeare--usually what he means is knowledge. He doesn't mean fizzy humor. And, you multiply that by, you know, by a large number--something like that is coming at you once every 5 or 6 lines. That is why Shakespeare can be so difficult. And so I say that--after this many centuries, there is an argument that there be two versions of each Shakespeare play. You can have the original, for those who desire the original, and optimally those who have read it beforehand and can actually take it in as a serious piece of theater instead of as a kind of spectacle of poetry. Which is not what Shakespeare meant. Then, there should be another version, where only the words that we can no longer understand without scratching our heads and doing some philology are replaced by some word--optimally with the same rhythm--this is quietly done. There are, to my knowledge, two versions of Macbeth that work like this. And the result is that it isn't pure Shakespeare. But it's still got the [?] syntax; it's still got the poetic diction. But, words aren't used in ways that somebody in our times has no way of understanding. And that makes for a much richer experience. And, to tell you the truth, Russ: I firmly believe that if Shakespeare were with us today and we asked him whether or not he would prefer that we do that instead of having the plays be what he wrote, if he understood how language changes, I'm sure he would say, 'Oh, yeah. Go ahead. Fiddle with it. Because I want people to understand what I said, not to think of it as just poetry washing over their heads.' So, that's the case that I make.
Russ Roberts: Well, your book--we're going to get to some of the other places where you open my mind. But this would be one of them. Because--I mean, I really, if you had said that to me, that paragraph just now, I would have been horrified: 'That was the worst idea I've ever heard. It's offensive, even.' But being open to the other points you made me be more open to this one. And I thought about it, and I thought: If Shakespeare peppered his plays with Italian because, let's say his audience knew Italian, we would think nothing--in fact, we would encourage those words to be translated. Artfully, of course. You wouldn't use a robot, an artificial intelligence program, a Google Translate, say, to render Shakespeare's words into modern English. And again, as you point out, we are not putting Shakespeare's play into modern English. We're putting some of Shakespeare's words into modern English. And we'd want another poet or thoughtful person to do that artfully. But we wouldn't think anything about--most of us don't think anything about reading books in translation. We don't say, 'Well, that's not what Dante wrote.' And, 'That's not what Tolstoy wrote.' Although, there are of course snobs would say, 'You can't read a book in translation. It's immoral.' But, I'm not one of those. So, I need to concede that you are probably right about Shakespeare.
11:46Russ Roberts: I have to ask you, though--I was thinking about this, reading your argument. When you are listening to a Shakespeare play, or watching a Shakespeare play, are you processing it the way you would an Italian speaker watching an Italian play? Excuse me. You know what I mean. Is it easy for you? It's hard for me. I love Shakespeare a lot. But, is it easy for you? Or easier?
John McWhorter: No, it's not easier. And that's why I've gotten on a soapbox about this, because I frankly am a theater person in general. I'm also the kind of linguist whose specialty is studying earlier forms of language. And so I would call myself fairly well-informed about earlier stages of English, especially, you know, in Shakespeare's time, which wasn't all that long ago. And yet, I remember when I was in college and grad school, I would go to Shakespeare productions; and okay, these people were not trained at the Old Vic. But they were doing their best. And I remember seeing productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and All's Well That Ends Well and The Tempest, where I frankly might as well have been at an Italian play. You know--my Italian isn't bad. And my friends would say, 'Oh, I got all of it. It was wonderful.' And you don't get everything, but 'I got it, because they are good actors; it was wonderful.' And I started thinking to myself, 'You're lying.'
Russ Roberts: Yep.
John McWhorter: [?] the Tempest. And I thought, 'No.' My friends at The Tempest were engineers. I thought, if I didn't get this, you didn't either. And so, no, I don't go unless I've read it. Or, if I go to a Shakespeare play and I haven't read it within the past couple of years, I just assume that I am going to be attending something in Italian and the costumes had better be good.
Russ Roberts: But is it easier now than when you were younger? Because you know more of those words? Or is it your brain still struggles to process them in real time?
John McWhorter: No. I would have to have still gone through the play and gotten a sense of when the words were coming, in order to genuinely enjoy it as a play. Now, maybe, if I don't do that, there are things that I could enjoy. But I always know that, even often when I'm thinking I'm understanding, if I haven't gone through it, I'm not really. And often the actors' expressions and various other random things can make something enjoyable, and it can connect to you. But I'm always thinking to myself, 'I haven't had a chance to go through this text: it's not an English that I speak; and so I'm missing a whole lot.' And I know that for many people that's enough. But I don't think that's what Shakespeare meant. And I think you and I both know that Shakespeare is better when you genuinely understand what they're saying up there. It's just how you go about understanding.
Russ Roberts: Totally agree. You're winning me over. It's hard for me to concede it. But, I will concede that--it's alive.
John McWhorter: Yes.
Russ Roberts: Your case is alive.
John McWhorter: Thank you.
14:37Russ Roberts: One of my favorite things in the book is your insights into how words often convey emotion rather than what we would call meaning--a dictionary meaning. And, a beautiful example is the phrase, 'Horses run fast.' We understand all three of those words pretty well. But in the sentence, 'Well, horses run fast,' that sentence, the word 'well' doesn't mean a place that holds water. It doesn't mean good. It means something very strange. So, talk about that.
John McWhorter: There are words in a language that don't mean anything in the way that we naturally think that words mean something. And, in Words on the Move, I devote a chapter to that wing of what language is, because so often, if we have reason to zero in on those words, we think that there's something wrong with them because they don't "mean anything." When really, there's a whole magic layer of language that traditional ways of teaching grammar tend to ignore, and therefore we don't think of it as real language. But, 'well' is one of those things. Somebody says, 'Well, horses run fast.' That means, 'I acknowledge that you were talking about some other animal running fast,' or, some other phenomenon, which I have to gently contradict or add to in a way that makes what you said seem incomplete by saying 'Horses run fast.' All of that is contained within that little word. And so, if somebody asks you, 'What does "well" mean?' and you go past, you know, the thing that water is in, or doing something in a good way, you realize that 'well' doesn't have a meaning. It has a function. It's part of having a civilized conversation. So many of the words we use are of that kind. And, they make a lot more sense when you realize that there's a certain collection of words, a certain collection of expressions, there are certain collection intonations that don't mean anything: they do something. They are part of managing the traffic of conversation. Linguists call this Pragmatics. That's one of those clumsy, in-house terms that is hard for even junior linguists to wrap their heads around, so I try not to use it. It's the difference between semantics--which is meaning--and pragmatics--which does something. But that jargon term is less important than realizing that words like, 'well,' or 'like' that young, or I should say today, younger people are using so much; the 'literally'--literal meaning that drives people so crazy--all of those are doing something rather than meaning something.
Russ Roberts: Talk about 'like,' because that's a phrase that, again, as a snob and a purist used to drive me crazy. But you kind of opened my mind on that one, too. What's it doing? What's its purpose?
John McWhorter: Well, you know, 'like' is so complicated that there is a whole book that's come out, that's mainly written for linguists, but comprehensible to everybody else, by Alexandra D'Arcy, who is a wonderful linguist in British Columbia. But, 'like' is a whole lot of things. And only one of them is hedging. So, we listen to people saying 'like' and we think that they are saying, 'Well, something is like something rather than being itself.' And it seems irritating, because we wonder why people won't just stand with their feet on the floor and make the statement. But that is one thing that 'like' means. And you could think of it less as a matter of hedging than as a kind of politeness--that you don't want to stomp on people's faces and assert exactly what you think. But, then, 'like' can mean all sorts of other things. It's actually useful for emphasizing things, depending on how exactly you use it in the sentence. It can be used to indicate that you know what's going on in someone else's head and you acknowledge it but you are saying something else--something that's rather related to the 'well.' And the truth is this: 'Like' exists in the real world. And all of us have a certain core sense of 'like' as meaning 'similar to.' And that's not going to change. And what that means is that people who are given to using 'like' every six words--and there really are such people; and these days they are not 17: I've heard this in people 45. It's been around a lot. People who are doing that should be told that, 'If they want to be taken seriously, they should cut way back on the 'like's' in public speech, or in any kind of speech where they are hoping to have an affect, to be heard as authoritative. Now, how they talk in their kitchen, how they talk in their car, how they talk at a party even if they are wearing a nice pair of pants or a nice dress, that really doesn't matter. But, 'like' cannot help but sound a little sweat-sock. And so people should realize that language is always changing. There's no such thing as language that's inherently bad or illogical. But there will always be some language that works better in formal contexts than informal contexts.
Russ Roberts: So, the transcript of this, the Highlights that we put out after every episode, will reveal that earlier in this conversation you slipped in a 'You know.' Now, talk about 'you know.' Which is a version of 'like,' to me.
John McWhorter: Yeah. Um, there's a kind of a typology of these pragmatic markers. And, 'you know' is one of the ones that's an acknowledgment marker. So, part of having a civil conversation--and not civilized, but I mean, among any human beings in any context--civil conversation is that you are regularly checking to see that the other person is with you. The way that you do it is not to stop in the middle of what you are saying and say, 'Do you understand and sympathize with what I mean?' The way you do it is you say, 'You know?' So, you are kind of opening up their brain for a second and looking to make sure that they are with you. So, that's what 'you know' means. It's not an actual question. It's a way of maintaining connection. So, that's an acknowledgment marker. Another acknowledgment marker--these things take all sorts of forms--is 'and stuff'--or, frankly what people probably say more often although I'm not going to use the word, that 'and blank' expression means, 'Well, then they got married and stuff.' Well, the 'and stuff' is all the things that you and the person you are talking to associate with marriage--be that rice or getting your own house or boredom or whatever it is. The 'And stuff.' When you say that 'and stuff' or other thing, what you are doing is you are indicating that you and the other person are on the same page. It's a function: all languages have those acknowledgment markers. They tend to take many forms, but no language doesn't have it. 'You know' is probably the most prominent of ours in English.
21:35Russ Roberts: And so, how is your Yiddish?
John McWhorter: Um, I can read a little of it, but pretty awful.
Russ Roberts: So, there is a word in Yiddish, which I'm sure you know, which is 'nu'--which is spelled in English N-U-question mark--it almost always has a question mark, but not always. And it always--Yiddish speakers, or people like myself who have a cultural Yiddish flavor-experience, know somebody who speaks Yiddish or loves Yiddish--we always like to say, 'Oh, that word's untranslatable.' And, one of the worries, since it's untranslatable, is that it has many meanings, and depending on context. But I realized, because of your pragmatics discussion, the other reason it's untranslatable is that it does a lot of things that are not definitional--that aren't things you look up. It conveys emotion. It conveys sympathy. It conveys skepticism. And that's why it's untranslatable. Not because 'It means whatever you want,' or 'It depends on the context.' It's an emotion word.
John McWhorter: Oh yeah, definitely. 'Nu' is one of these pragmatic markers. And so, somebody says, 'So, I came home. Everything's okay.' So, 'nu,' when that person says, 'nu?' they are looking into your soul. What that means is, 'We're on the same page, right? You understand, right?' And that subsumes a lot of the ways that a person speaking Yiddish or Yiddish-inflected English would use 'nu.' And so, it's your first clue when somebody says, 'Oh, it has no meaning.' That means that: Yeah, it doesn't have a meaning. It has a function. It's going to be one of these pragmatic markers.
Russ Roberts: So, when someone comes back from, say, a meeting, where something important was riding on the meeting--a promotion or a deal, whatever--and that person comes to me and I say--and they don't tell me about the meeting--and I say, 'Nu?' That doesn't mean, 'What happened at the meeting?' Well, it does. But what it really means is: Aren't you going to tell me about what happened at the meeting? And that sentence, actually you use an example of it in your book, that question is not really a question: 'Aren't you going to tell me what happened at the meeting?' Because the answer to that is probably, 'Yeah, I am.' It's really, 'Why aren't you going to tell me, and why haven't you told me already? And I'm a little bit surprised.'
John McWhorter: That. And it also connotes that what you are going to tell the person about the meeting is something that the other person is going to find interesting.
Russ Roberts: Correct.
John McWhorter: So, you are not talking about what food was served. There's kind of a mutual understanding between you that what you want to know is what more a schenkman[?] finally said. Something like that.
Russ Roberts: That's right.
John McWhorter: So, all of that is conveyed. Those are people opening up the doors of their minds to each other.
24:13Russ Roberts: So, I want to read a longish paragraph in the book, which I loved--because I've thought about this myself; but you really say it well. You say,
If fast means "speedy," then why can hold fast and be fast asleep? And did it ever bother you? Dusting can be removing something by dust or laying it down like fertilizer or paprika. No T-shirts about that. You seed a watermelon to get the seeds out but when you seed the soil, you are putting the seeds in. You can bolt from a room (running fast) in which the chairs are bolted to the floor (stuck fast).
Examples go on and on. And notice they matter not a jot. They are called contronyms. And the only reason nobody goes around with a shirt reading AGAINST THE MISUSE OF FAST MEANING "RAPID," I SIT STEADFAST, is that the bifurcation happened before there were thinking of English words as held fast in dictionaries. The question is: do contronyms actually create ambiguity, or are they construed as possibly creating ambiguity via willful over-analysis?
So, talk about contronyms.John McWhorter: Well, contronyms are interesting first, because it shows how much context matters in how we speak. And so, you'd think that 'fast' would be very confusing, because the first meaning we think of is probably Bugs Bunny running. But then, it also means 'hold fast,' or 'fast asleep.' It means being perfectly still. And yet, none of us would ever think of that until somebody strange like me pointed it out. It doesn't give us any trouble. The reason that contronyms are interesting, other than just giving a list--and I really think that giving lists is the last resort of the teacher--the point of the list is that 'literally' is a contronym; and people are very upset about it. So, 'literally' can actually mean by the letter. But then, literally can also mean figuratively: as in, 'I was literally boiling up, I was so hot.' And people say, 'Well, it isn't correct that you can use that word to mean both itself and its opposite.' But then again, nobody's ever complained about the other ones. 'Literally' gets picked on just because, by chance, certain people, and we'll never know exactly who the ones who originated this were, started complaining about 'literally' at a certain time; and it caught on. In the book I analogize it, I think, to that kid in 6th grade who everybody picks on for no particular reason when you look back on it--and it really could have been somebody else. And it's just because people can be mean. And so there's one kid has to suffer all year. 'Literally' is that kid.
Russ Roberts: As I'm one of those people--I'm very uncomfortable saying 'very unique' because things are either one of a kind--which is what I think literally, means. And yet, everyone says 'very unique' except me and few other snobs. And I'm starting to think I've got it wrong after reading your book.
John McWhorter: He, he, he, he.
Russ Roberts: 'Hopefully' is another one of those words that snobs like to say people misuse. There are many, many such words; and yet you make the case that, um, if you are going to complain about 'very unique' or 'hopefully' or 'whatever'--which is another word that covers a lot of ground--you have to stop using the word 'merry' to be happy. Words are always changing their meaning. And, contronyms are just an extreme example.
John McWhorter: Yeah. It's interesting, these cases. It's, for example, very unique. I completely understand the logic behind someone who ways, 'But unique' can't be very, because 'unique' is the superlative in itself. That's true. That's the way it was, once. But I think as you're catching onto, 'unique' is drifting into meaning 'unusual.' And, therefore people tend to process it as being able to take a 'very.' And, it's hard to deal with these things in real life. But, we have to, because it's just like--I forget whether I use an anecdote in that book about--my sister started dating; and it felt really weird to see her with men, because I'm a man, and I know what, you know, what I did with people who I dated. But, I thought, you know, if people didn't start dating, then what kind of lives would they be leading? And frankly, none of us would be here. That's the same thing with all of these words. What we're speaking now came from the exact same processes that feel so funny to us today. And so, 'Hopefully, she'll come,' and you say, 'Well, you don't mean that she's going to come with hope in her eyes?' But there are so very many adverbs that are exactly like that. And, you can be pretty sure that nobody was ever told: You don't mean that you are thinking this in an actual way when you say "I really think this." It's just that there are certain kinds of adverbs that end up taking on different functions than what their actual, literal, core, original meanings were. And that's how you get a language. And so, so very many of the things that we're told to attend to--which if you are certain kind of language-headed person you enjoy learning--the Strunk-and-White sorts of things; the black program[?]--
Russ Roberts: I like Strunk and White.
John McWhorter: Yeah, and it's hard not to like it. Almost all of that stuff are things that somebody made up--usually about 250 years ago--because they didn't know as much about language as we do now, and they had a notion that all languages should work like Latin. And that is so hard to accept, in a way, because we are proud that we learned all those rules. And, it's a way of feeling like you are wearing the right clothes. It's a way of feeling like you are intelligent. You know? Most of that stuff was just made up. Now, Russ, this is the point: With most of those things--once again, we live in a society. So, for example, you cannot say, 'Billy and me went to the store' and be taken seriously in many public settings. So, everybody has to learn that there are times when you have to say, 'Billy and I went to the store.' But, that does not bely the fact that that whole rule was something somebody made up who didn't know how English worked. So, that's a point I actually don't stress that much in Words on the Move, as opposed to other books. But it is definitely true. Yeah, I was going to bring that one up, actually. Because, there's a set of things that my children, who are pretty articulate, struggle with. 'Billy and me' is one of them. They also struggle with the difference between 'less' and 'fewer.' And, I correct them. And I keep correcting them. They are teenagers and in their 20s now, and I'm starting to think, 'You know, it's not working.' Is that a result of their brains--is it because their friends use it more often than they hear me use it?
John McWhorter: Yeah. They talk the way [?]
Russ Roberts: I use it--I'm in trouble, myself. I'm in trouble.
John McWhorter: [?] You talk based on the language that you hear around you. And to be a speaker of modern English, an educated speaker of modern English, is to know that a great many of the things that you feel most comfortable saying are considered wrong by certain--first of all, people in school, and then some people like maybe one of your parents, maybe both of your parents--people who seem rather uniquely concerned with such things. But, yes. Given that people all around them are always saying, 'We're going to have less books this year,' they are going to say 'less books.' You can teach them that fewer books is what you want to say in a formal context. But, I hate to say that they really are no neurological grounds for the idea that 'fewer books' is proper and logical, while 'less books' is somehow broken. Just something somebody made up because that's the way they like it. And we might like it, too. I frankly always like shag carpeting. I wish it hadn't gone out. I enjoyed how it felt. I like how it smelled.
Russ Roberts: You're an honest man, John.
John McWhorter: There are other people like that. But it's not a matter of logic. And I know how odd it seems to hear that. But it's just--it's just true. It's simple truth.
32:16Russ Roberts: So, this example we were on a minute ago, contronyms, really drove home a point that you make elsewhere in the book. I don't know if you make it elsewhere with respect to contronyms. But, we are always looking for ways to make language more vivid. And I've noticed this again after reading your book--in my own email habits, I find myself using exclamation points. I think if you went back to my own emails of, say, 2000-ish, I don't think I ever used an exclamation point. I now use it to convey an emotional--a bunch of emotional things. It doesn't just convey enthusiasm. It conveys lots of things. And you give other examples where language evolves in order to convey that vividness. And I don't know if this is accurate--you can tell me--but it seems to me that's a lot of what contronyms are doing. So, you give the example of how 'awesome' and 'awful' are very similar, and yet they mean opposites.
John McWhorter: Right.
Russ Roberts: It seems to me contronyms are to some extent a way to--in other words: This thing is so much this thing, I'm going to use the opposite to convey it.
John McWhorter: Right. Yeah, that's part of a larger issue, which is that in a language you are always seeking something that you can convey really red-hot enthusiasm with. And, red-hot enthusiasm tends to cool the novelty of the term, the novelty of the term tends to cool. And so you have these rolling words that fulfill that function. One way that you can do it is the shock value of using what's conventionally thought of as a pejorative word to mean something positive. And yes, that's happened many times; the example that's brought up so much now that I think is boring is the use of 'bad' as good. Which started[?] in the black community and then spread somewhat. But then there's 'wicked,' which I remember hearing people saying, particularly starting in the late 1970s in the Northeast--at least that's where I heard it. Today, it's 'sick.' And so what the kids are saying is that if something is sick--it's that same process. And so, yeah, you can create a contronym out of whole cloth all of a sudden, then there's a certain drama in it. So, to say, to use 'revolting' to mean that something is great--and you can imagine in an alternate universe that could happen--that sticks out because whatever 10 years ago's version of that was is starting to wear out. 'Fierce' had a fiercer meaning 20 years ago than it does now, even among young people. You need to keep replacing those words.
Russ Roberts: So, when I think about--and I just started that sentence with 'so,' which is something that listeners know that I do a lot, and didn't realize it until fairly recently; and in your book, you explain how 'so' is a pragmatic word that conveys, 'I'm changing the subject. May I?' And, it's sort of my tip of the hat to you to say, 'I hope you recognize this.' So, when I talk about language as an example of emergent order, I often point out that, unlike the market for, say, bread, in the market for bread there are these feedback loops of profit and loss, prices going up and down that send signals to people. And, in language, those signals are very, very muted. You don't get any profit from coining a new word. You might, if you use a word before--you might seem hip or cool. And it can be fun[?] to think of how many words 'hip' and 'cool' can be, or synonyms for those words. But, you get some hipness factor when you use a word like 'sick,' say, early on and you show that you are in-the-know. But, the feedback loops for English to make it more effective, say, aren't there the way they are to make, say, the process of creating a silicon chip--profits for people who make it more effective or more productive. So, English doesn't evolve in a particularly useful--'useful' is not the right word. But, it evolves in a very different way than lots of other parts of human interaction that I would call emergent. But there's one place where it's very, where this is a little bit different, and that's suffixes. So, suffixes, or cases--I learned from your book--such as the past tense, where two words get mushed together, or, the word 'like' at the end of a word to mean similar to; and then the 'ke' drops off and you get the 'ly.' And so there's a process in English--and I assume other languages--to make them shorter, because shorter is better. It's quicker, it's easier, it doesn't take as long. Talk about how that works, and the limits to that: because you obviously can't just have everybody using the word 'a' to mean whatever the context suggests it is.
John McWhorter: Um, yeah. Um, there is--
Russ Roberts: Is that a long-enough, complicated question for you?
John McWhorter: No; that's perfectly fine. Language is two processes that end up working in a complementary way. And so, definitely there is a drive towards economy. Language is spoken very quickly; there's a tendency for words that are used together a lot to come together and often become one word. And so, for example, 'slow-like' becomes 'slowly' after a while. And so certainly that's there. Now, you could say--and I know that we seek analogies between language development and economics here--but you could say that the shortness just kind of comes for-free: that it's because you are talking quickly and so you have the habit of drawing things together. The idea that you are seeking the economy--some people would agree with that; some people wouldn't. But, more to the point is that if a language kept doing that, then after a while you would start to suspect there was some kind of problem with comprehension, because if things are too short and too elided, then it interferes with comprehension. So, for one thing: Comprehension must be able to receive the signal. And, also, things like 'like' becoming 'ly' are happening all the time. And so, new things are being brought into the language that aren't as short, yet, at all times. And so it's this kind of churning process. So, for example, 'slowly.' But, we are using 'like' like that again, and you can say, 'slow-like' even now. Which, if you think about it, is different in its meaning from 'slowly.' 'Slowly' and 'slow-like' differ with a nuance that only a native English speaker could understand. But 'slow-like' is basically trying to do that again. So, language gets shorter. Language becomes more economical. But there are limits on it, because if we are too economical, nobody could understand. And, there's always new material being brought in to be fed back into the maw of this sort of boiling-down.
Russ Roberts: Yeah. I didn't mean to suggest that people are sitting around thinking, 'How can I make English more efficient?' the way, say--
John McWhorter: No, not consciously--
Russ Roberts: Right--the way an entrepreneur might try to improve a process. But what is similar, I think is the idea that: If I enter a new field in business, say, or some industrial process, I kind of--'kind of,' there's one of those words. You've made me very sensitive; I'm really enjoying it, and listening--
John McWhorter: It's an ordinary[?], an easing word, as I say in the book.
Russ Roberts: Yup. And it really is. So, when you enter a new field or a new area, there's a certain set of received things that you have to provide, or you are just not going to succeed. And so, what I love, for example, about Uber is that, when I get into an Uber I am often offered a thing of water, or a charger for my iPhone. That's just sort of standard. Now, I don't think people sort of sit around, drivers, and think, 'I wonder what I can offer.' It's just that, well that's sort of standard. And you know that if you want to compete and be successful and get your 5 stars, there's a certain minimum level of customer service you have to offer. And I think similar in English, if something is shortened, it can mean it useful: you just start using it. You don't think say, think, 'Oh, this would be good: I won't have to talk as long.'
John McWhorter: Right.
Russ Roberts: So, as you point out, though, you lose some richness when you do that. And so there is that constant tendency to add back in longer phrases. It's just a beautiful example of dynamism in evolution. It's just--it moves me, which is--um....
John McWhorter: And I know what you mean; and it's that kind of thing that I'm trying to get across to readers, because I think that that is really what language is about. And instead, we are taught to hang up on things like whether people are using a certain word wrong. Or, whether people are getting some new word from this place as opposed to that place, when really there is so much beauty that's going on in terms of how this thing is changing right before our very ears. We can miss so much; and it's because linguists have not done enough to try to teach the public about these things until relatively recently. Linguists complain, 'Oh, the general public just doesn't understand.' And one side, I was a grad student [?] I started thinking, 'Well, part of the reason is: How would they know, if we only write about these things in ways that only we can understand?' And I think that's changing. But I'm glad that you get that there is something gorgeous going on, rather than just that your kids are saying 'Less books,' instead of 'Fewer books.'
Russ Roberts: Yeah: linguistics is the only field with this problem. So you really should work hard to make it better. Every field has this problem.
John McWhorter: Oh, yeah.
Russ Roberts: And of course, to me, the saddest part of this--just to get on a soapbox that I like to climb on occasionally: The temptation to teach undergraduates the dumbed down version of the graduate class, rather than the one time you have to inspire them to go through life to be aware of something beautiful, something that will make them--not richer in monetary terms, but richer in living terms--is missed. Because they teach as if they are talking to somebody who might be going to graduate school--which might be 1 or 2 people in that class. The rest of them are going to get very little out of it except a grade. And that's a shame.
42:50Russ Roberts: You talked--you mentioned about words combining. The incredible examples you give in the book, which just, again, grab me so much, are words like 'breakfast,' words like 'blackboard,' which used to be two words. They become one word. And even when they stay two words, there's this phenomenon you point out called the 'backshift.' Talk about the backshift, which is one of the coolest things I've read about in a long time.
John McWhorter: You know, the backshift is a lot of fun. Basically, when you put two words together--if you are talking about, say, a board that's black--first you are going to say, 'Well, that's a black board.' But, suppose there are is some particular kind of board that's black, that is very specific and has very particular function--it becomes what we call a thing in society: suppose what you have, for example, the board that's black, that you hang on the wall, and you write on with chalk. Well, if you are going to say, 'Black board,' enough, because it's something so well established, then the accent shifts to the first one instead of the second one. And so you say, 'A blackboard.' Notice that you would never say, 'Go write that up on the black board.' Or, you imagine somebody writing it on a wooden plank that is painted black. It's the black board. And that shift backwards, which I call the backshift--that is not an official linguistics term, but I almost wish that linguists would--
Russ Roberts: It may catch on. It may.
John McWhorter: I hope so. The backshift means that something has become a thing. And you can hear that going on, even in our own lives. When something becomes and established concept and it's made up of two or more words, then you, very often have that shift, have that shift to the back of the word. So, for example, if we are in a society where there is this new organization that dresses boys up as Scouts and has them do various activates--you are at first going to call that, 'Oh--it's the 'Boy' 'Scouts.' But if you say that enough, you are going to call it the 'Boy Scouts.' That's why we say that. Whereas you can hear a vaudevillian in a 1930s movie like Eddie Cantor calling them the 'Boy Scouts,' or talking about eating a 'Hot Dog' rather than a 'hotdog.' And what's fun about that backshift is that after a while, when the sounds start mushing around, you can lose what the original two words were. So, for example, what's above my eyebrows, to me is not my--it's certainly not my fore head. And it's not my fore head. It's my forehead [sounds like farhead--Econlib Ed.] That's the way I say it. So you wouldn't even know. Or, also, cupboard. We all know what a cupboard is. But it should be spelled 'c-u-b-b-e-r-d.'. The idea that it's actually a cup board is something you learn when you learn how to read and to write. I'm not sure I knew that a cupboard was a cup-board until I was 8 or 9, because the word isn't used much in the Philadelphia dialect region; and we use 'cabinet' instead. So, 'cupboard.' You hear people say it. I didn't know that it was a board for cups. Especially because it isn't. Too much time has passed. So, yeah: the backshift is a kind of language change that you can hear going on in our lives. This is my favorite example, which I didn't use in the book: Listen to early NPR [National Public Radio] interviews about the Internet. If you go way back into the 1980s, you can hear people referring to their web sites: 'Oh, I have a web site.' Today we say website, because it is the very center of our existences. So, it's happening all the time. It's called the backshift. And I urge your listeners to call it that and to spread the word, because we need to know about the backshift as much as we need to know that a noun is a person, place, or thing. [More to come, 46:34]
46:35Russ Roberts: So, one of my children--I mentioned the backshift at the dinner table the other night in prepping for this--not prepping. In sharing[?] my excitement in reading your book, I can't say, I don't use my children to prep for episodes. But one of them said it has always bothered him and his friend that it's paperclip, but it's paper towel. So, paper towel is a compound phrase--a two-word thing--where the backshift didn't just seem to happen. What's going on there?
John McWhorter: You know, it's one of those things where there's a certain amount of chance. There are some cases where the backshift just has not happened. Whereas it's difficult to say why not. And so, for example, 'Broad Street.' You would never say 'Broad Street. Broadway--whereas it used to called the 'Broad Way.' But Penny Lane. And it's not because of the Beatles. Allen's Lane. Marion's Lane. You would never say "Penny Lane.' 'Marion Lane.' It's hard to say exactly why 'lane' is immune. 'Paper towel,' is interesting because it's toilet tissue; whereas you can be quite sure that it used to 'toilet tissue,' just like it used to be 'French fry.' Or 'paper clips.' Or certainly 'safety pin.' But then it's a paper towel; and that just sticks. You know, something Russ, I've never thought about that--but I'll just bet you, and you are maybe going to hear from listeners, that there are people who say 'paper towel.' I'm sure that there are some people who do say it. But why there aren't more, I really could not say. It might be because 'towels' themselves that you dry yourselves with are such a prominent part of existence that you do feel like you are saying a 'paper towel'--a paper towel. But, see, I'm just guessing, because there are all just exceptions to that. I never thought about it, and it's one of those things that, to sound sophisticated, linguists in the old days used to say, 'Well, all languages leak.' So, I'm going to have to say that.
Russ Roberts: That's safe. Have you seen My Fair Lady, the movie or the show?
John McWhorter: I have.
Russ Roberts: Do you like it, or do you hate it?
John McWhorter: I like it because I am one of the world's biggest straight musical fans; but I am also--it's one of those things where it gives unrealistic expectations in that you could not change somebody's speech to that degree and/or that quickly. And I think that that whole scenario makes it sound like people can change their accents more quickly or more easily than they can. Whereas in real life, to do it that completely, especially in our very informal age, is difficult. Now, of course, Higgins's idea that make one another despise--other people despise them because of the nature of their accent--is definitely true. And, his notion that you could solve that problem by just making people use classier accents is logically true. But, of course, there's a classicm that's caught up in the way that he's thinking about these things. He naturally assumes, also, that certain forms of speech are inherently better. And so you don't want to be too literal about these things; but to say 'Aaaouw' and [?] are what put her in her place, as if 'Aaaouw' and [?] are all that Cockney English is--so it's a wonderful confection; I wish I could play Henry Higgins one day, but I get the feeling I'll never be allowed to. But, no: there are certain assumptions in it that I think distract people from the reality of language.
Russ Roberts: I played it in the 8th grade, actually.
John McWhorter: So you got to do it?
Russ Roberts: In Miss Kineen's class, yes. I've mentioned Miss Kineen before, God bless her. And that's one of the things I'm grateful for, because I love that show. I just like the show generally. But I'm curious--the other part of it that I was interested in hearing from you is whether the ability--Higgins's ability to, say, I would call it a parlor trick, identify where people grew up or that they spent 6 weeks in the Great Lakes with their parents or whatever: Is that plausible? Or is that just for show?
John McWhorter: Well, you know, it's easier in some ways in some parts of England, because English has been there for, depending on how you count it, 2000 years; and it has developed into a great many very different varieties. There are Englishes that are more different from one another there than pretty much any English that you hear as an American unless you happen to hear the Gullah Creole of the Sea Islands or the Hawaiian Pidgin, which is actually not a pidgin but a full language, in Hawaii. So, there's an extent to which you are familiar with all the different varieties of English you could place somebody within a region because there are such stark differences. Here in the United States that can be harder, because those dialects all came here and just mixed, and they haven't had a chance to become that divergent because that kind of divergence takes time; and here, we've only had a few hundred years. But, there are, you know, there's that beautiful test that went around online a few years ago--there are certain traits of American English where if a person has a certain cluster of them, it's almost certain that they grew up in a certain place, and not that their parents were from it, but that they grew up in it. Could there be an American Henry Higgins? Yes, but the features would be a lot less dramatic and a lot less harder to make theatrically interesting than in England. However, could anybody be as good as Higgins was? No. That's good show, but humanity is too variegated for it to be a matter of your having spent 6 weeks in a certain place. Or, getting you down to the city block. No. But, what somebody like him really could and can do is impressive enough.
Russ Roberts: So, I just heard you say 'harder' [flatter 'ar' sound, closer to the 'ar' in Midwestern speech--Econlib Ed.] in a way that I would not have said it. I would say 'harder' [more rounded 'ar' sound, with the 'a' closer to the 'ah' and the 'r' less prominent as in Boston or some Northeast Coast speech--Econlib Ed.]
John McWhorter: Right.
Russ Roberts: Is that--well, two questions. Does that speak to where you grew up? And, secondly, in your casual conversations with people, are you constantly hearing those differences and processing, 'Oh, that's an interesting pronunciation. That word's drifting in how it's pronounced'?
John McWhorter: Um, my 'r' has occasioned a lot of comment from people when I've been doing my podcast at Slate. I had never thought about it before. And, you know, I'm not sure. I know that there are some people who would say that it had something to with me growing up in Philadelphia in the 1970s and 1980s, but I'm not sure that I can link it to that. It might be just a weirdness about me. We've all got our weirdnesses. I definitely have 'would 'er'--which is something that places me immediately in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, if not Baltimore. And other, or subtler sorts of things. But the 'ar'--I think that's just something weird about me. As to whether I'm always listening: Definitely. And, I'm never listening for, 'Oh, that person sounds terrible.' But, yeah, I'm listening for pronunciations; I'm listening for new ways of using grammar. Just because it's interesting to listen to people. And I find myself thinking: So many people are trained to listen to people waiting for something to call a mistake. Whereas, I'm always listening to people and thinking, 'What's going to be the news? What are they going to say that sounds a little odd to me, that almost certainly will mean that the language is changing in some new way that nobody was thinking about 10 years ago?' Words on the Move is about how language, and modern English in particular, is supposed to be fun.
Russ Roberts: Yeah. No, it is fun.
54:13Russ Roberts: How many languages can you read?
John McWhorter: I can read about 12.
Russ Roberts: And, how many can you speak?
John McWhorter: Um, these days, I don't like to say that I can speak any language but English in a way that I would like to: because time passes; I've got kids; I don't travel as much. And if you don't use a language, you lose it. If I have to, such as in an academic setting in Europe, I can speak French and Spanish well enough that nobody's going to smack me in the face. I can get along. But, it's at the point where I'm not as comfortable as I used to be. My German was never quite that good, but even today I can go to Germany, and, as they say, 'Get around, and then some.' I understand most of what I'm hearing but I've lost my ability to produce on anything like a respectable level. I can speak Russian like a chimpanzee.
Russ Roberts: Is that good or bad?
John McWhorter: That's bad. That's horrible. And I'm trying to teach myself Mandarin, and I'm trying to get to the point where I can talk, like, roughly a 6-year old--that's about as good as I can imagine getting. Reading, I retain, and I have to do it a lot. Speaking: Use it or lose it. And in my life, you live[?] in New York City, I'm losing it.
Russ Roberts: You refer to a lot of different languages in the book. It's really fun. I took 10 years of French, 3rd-12th grade, and learned virtually nothing, except a few decent, structure-sort of things that helped me recognize some English words. But, I can--if I went to France, I'd speak it more quickly than if I went to China. I go to Israel; and my Hebrew is very mediocre. But one of the things--and I bring that up because: Hebrew generally has no pronouns. There are pronouns, literally. But when you speak in Hebrew, if you say, 'I went to the store,' you would say, 'Went to the store' in Hebrew. You would never say, 'I went to the store.' It also has the strange practice that in printed Hebrew there are no vowels.
John McWhorter: Right.
Russ Roberts: Which is interesting that that hasn't caught on in printed English. It, again, would make newspapers and magazines much shorter.
John McWhorter: Right.
Russ Roberts: But, I notice that with texting and email, English is losing its pronouns. So, I will say, 'Wanted to let you know' in an email. Or, 'Went to the store.' And, that would never be something I would have written in a letter, 25, 30 years ago. And I wouldn't have generally--I don't know if I would have spoken that or not, but I see email affecting English pretty dramatically. Do you agree? And, if so, what do you think of that?
John McWhorter: Well, I don't see email affecting the way we talk. But email certainly changes. You mentioned the exclamation points: I use them much more now than I did 20 years ago, in emails, because you want to convey a certain chipperness, a certain engagement, a certain salutation. And, just, using email at all 20 years ago conveyed that. Now you need something extra. You and I might be using two exclamation points in another 20 years. And, as far as the pronouns: Partly that's economy. Partly that's because we've always spoken that way, to an extent. And so, you can say, 'Well, it was a terrible party. I went there. I didn't have enough clothes. Uch. Never want to go there again.' That's ordinary colloquial speech; and so that's just reflected in the email. Hebrew is a different matter, because languages where you have prefixes or suffixes that indicate what person and number you mean, mean that you need the full pronoun less. And so, 'halakti[?]' means you don't need the 'ani'. With English you are just relying on context completely. And that's a different matter. And part of that is just the telegraphicness of rapid speech, with, as we always know, context. Language is always used within a context where it's pretty much always clear who the participants are and what their relationship to each other is. Which means that often you can leave out the pronoun without destroying the logic. And therefore, we do.
Russ Roberts: Is Hebrew one of your 12 languages?
John McWhorter: I read it very well. I never have any reason to speak it.
Russ Roberts: You just tossed in that 'halkhti,' which means, 'I went.' I thought that was lovely.
John McWhorter: Oh, thank you.
Russ Roberts: The 't', for non-Hebrew speakers, the 't' at the end of halkhti conveys 1st person. So, you don't need to say, 'ani halkhti'--I went. That would be almost redundant. But, as you point out, there is a pronoun built into the verb.
John McWhorter: Exactly. Right.
58:58Russ Roberts: Let's talk about--we're almost out of time. Let's talk about language and what you speak about it getting personal; and you use Black English as an example; and you use other examples. What do you mean by getting personal, and how does Black English and other forms of language affect that, do that, bring that about?
John McWhorter: I use 'getting personal' within the context of what I call, 'easing,' which is one of the kinds of these pragmatic markers. And, part of speaking the language is putting the other person at ease. At all points, we are basically saying, 'Everything's okay; everything's okay.' One way that we do it is with the little giggles and chortles that are part of having a conversation with somebody, even when nothing is particularly funny. If you listen to ordinary conversation, the amount of meaningless joking and laughing can be bizarre. If you think about the fact that often nothing humorous is being discussed, we spontaneously are always putting one another at ease. And, there are various ways that you can do it. One of them is, if you speak some kind of language that's slightly different from the standard one, that's only used in your in-group, chances are there that you speak the standard language, but the in-group language is what you use to convey a familiar, comfortable tone. And so, that's pretty much the only place that Black English comes into Words on the Move, in particular, where what I am saying is that the way a lot of black people use the dialect is as an easer, in the same way as you use those laughings that I talked about, or in the same way as you would say, 'Hey, you want a little bite?' even if the bite wasn't supposed to be that small. And so, using Black English or Appalachian English or a colloquial dialect of German, or your local kind of Chinese instead of Mandarin--all over the world people are using nonstandard but not noncoherent, nonstandard language as an easing, an easing strategy. That's what I meant by that.
Russ Roberts: Yeah. When my parents grew up in Memphis--and my Dad loves to throw in an 'ain't'--a-i-n-t--every once in a while--which drives me crazy. But that's--again; you are helping me here, John. That 'ain't' is just his way of saying 'We're just kind of hanging out here. Nothing special. I'm not trying to lord anythin' over you. And I'm going to drop the 'g'--anythin'--over you. I'm not gonna, I'm not going to, I'm going to speak the Queen's English because I don't want to feel like the Queen in your presence.' It's a really deep insight about the dance of conversation.
John McWhorter: That's a good way of putting it. Yeah.
Russ Roberts: I just want to mention: We talk a lot here about Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments because it's a book I'm in love with and have written a book on, as listeners know. But a lot of that book is about our face-to-face interactions as opposed to our marketplace, at-a-distance interactions. And your book really brings to light the way that our conversations are so much more than just the words we use. You use an example of the words that I use in my book, also, which is, 'How are you?' 'How are you' does not mean, 'How are you' in America. In Russia,--I've mentioned this story before, I think; but I have a friend from Russia, when I say, 'How are you,' he says, 'Fine. Like all Americans.' And that's because 'Fine' is my way of saying, 'Gee, I am listening; I'm alive; I understand you want to initiate a conversation by the phrase "how are you?" rather than asking me how I'm doing.' And that's just an amazing thing.
John McWhorter: Yeah. That's how language works. There's often very much of a slip between the literal meaning and how we are actually using something. So, for example, many people these days--this is becoming the new 'literally,' don't like that a lot of people say, 'I feel that the economy dah-dah-dah,' or 'I feel that we should actually have Japanese food tonight'--as opposed to 'I think that.' And the idea seems to be that if you say that 'I feel that something' that it means that you are not really asserting yourself or that you think everything is about you, and your subjectivity. And people link that to various ideological currents of the past 5 minutes of American life, when really people were using 'feel' in that way quite commonly way back in the Eisenhower era. And you can also find it as far back as early modern English. It's not really new. And, when we say, 'I feel,' if anything, it's more politeness. There's a way that you say that something is your opinion without saying 'Here, I'm going to contravene what your opinion is, darn it.' Instead, you say, 'I feel,' instead of 'I think,' because it softens things. It's a kind of easing, in its way. And so, there's always that slippage between the dictionary meaning and how we're actually using the language. Which, frankly, I think is often more interesting than the dictionary solely in itself.
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VIDEO - VERIFY: Are Austin-area gas stations running low on fuel? | KVUE.com
Fri, 01 Sep 2017 20:05
With multiple oil refineries shutting down due to Hurricane Harvey's impacts on the Gulf Coast, customers in the Austin-area and throughout Texas are reporting a shortage of gasoline.
KVUE 10:18 PM. CDT August 31, 2017
AUSTIN - With multiple oil refineries shutting down due to Hurricane Harvey's impacts on the Gulf Coast, customers in the Austin-area and throughout Texas are reporting a shortage of gasoline.
Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton said there is no shortage of fuel in Texas because of Harvey, but many stations are running out due to a high level of demand. He also acknowledged that prices are expected to climb in the coming days.
"As a region - there will be gasoline. There may be pockets that take a few days to get refueled but I don't believe a week from now this will be an issue," Sitton said. "There's just so much gasoline in inventory, pipelines are coming back online, logistical problems are working out, so that is not going to be a long-term issue."
KVUE viewers have reported multiple gas stations with shortages.
Commenters on the KVUE Facebook page are sharing locations that they say do not have fuel. Redditors started a thread sharing which locations were running empty.
KVUE reached out to several gas stations in Austin and the surrounding areas. Here is what we found as of Thursday afternoon:
Mobile app users click here to see the list
(Gas stations with all types of fuel are in green . Gas stations that are out of some fuel or running low are in yellow . Gas stations that are completely out of fuel are in red .)
Manor (78653)Exxon - 12250 Harris Branch Pkway - Has all types of fuel Valero - 12300 Harris Branch Pkwy - Only out of premium Exxon - 12130 FM 973 - Has all types of fuel Exxon - 16419 FM 969 - Has all types of fuel Manor Grocery - 102 Parsons St - Has all types of fuel Walmart - 11809 US 290 - Has all types of fuel Texaco - 12836 US 290 - Has all types of fuel West Lake Hills (78746)Texaco - 7110 Bee Caves Rd - Has all types of fuel 7-Eleven - 6111 Bee Caves Rd - Only has regular and diesel Shell - 3310 N Capital of Texas - Has all types of fuel, but has a long line Shell - 98 Redbud Trl - Has all types of fuel Chevron - 2710 Bee Caves Rd - Has all types of fuel Chevron - 6804 Bee Caves Rd - Has all types of fuel Shell - 2451 S Capital of Texas - Has all types of fuel Del Valle (78617)Shell - 2475 SH-71 - Has all types of fuel Texaco - 12800A Pearce Ln - Has all types of fuel Pflugerville (78660)H-E-B - 1434 Wells Branch Pkwy - Out of all types of fuel Shell - 1701 Grand Avenue Pkwy - Has all types of fuel Circle K - 2609 Pecan St - Has all types of fuel 7-Eleven - 17511 Schultz Ln - Has all types of fuel, but expected to run out by end of Thursday Shell - 410 W Pflugerville Pkwy - Has all types of fuel Citgo - 13900 Immanuel Rd - Has all types of fuel Chevron - 14815A Dessau Rd - Has all types of fuel H-E-B - 201 N FM 685 - Has all types of fuel Shell 1909 Kelly Ln - Has all types of fuel North Austin (787857)Shell - 3310 Northland Dr - Has all types of fuel Shamrock - 7401 Burnet Rd - Has all types of fuel Exxon - 7844 Burnet Rd - Has all types of fuel Chevron - 8218 Burnet Rd - Out of all types of fuel Shell - 8224 Burnet Rd - Has all types of fuel Citgo - 1809 Anderson Ln - Out of all types of fuel (plan to refill Thursday night) South Austin (78704) Shell - 2125 W Ben White - Has all types of fuel 7-Eleven - 2820 S Lamar Blvd - Has all types of fuel 7-Eleven - 601 W Ben White Blvd - Out of all types of fuel Exxon - 201 W Ben White Blvd - Has all types of fuel Sunrise Mini Mart - 915 W Oltorf St - Has all types of fuel Shell - 3906 S Congress Ave - Has all types of fuel Mobil - 1403 S Lamar Blvd - Out of all types of fuel Exxon - 1222 S Lamar Blvd - Out of unleaded, has plus and supreme Chevron - 3909 S Congress Ave - Has all types of fuel Exxon - 2907 S 1st St - Has all types of fuel through Friday evening 7-Eleven - 2103 S Congress Ave - Has all types of fuel Chevron - 400 S Congress Ave - Has all types of fuel, but running low Conoco - 2000 S IH-35 - Has all types of fuel Mobil - 3630 S Congress Ave - Has all types of fuel Southeast Austin (78745) 7-Eleven - 8010 Brodie Ln - Out of regular, still has midgrade and premium Valero - 8205 Brodie Ln - Has all types of fuel, but expects to be out by end of day Texaco - 2800 W William Cannon Dr - Has all types of fuel Xpress Fuel - 7200 Manchaca Rd - Has all types of fuel Exxon - 5625 West Gate Blvd - Has all types of fuel Shell - 4545 S Lamar Blvd - Has all types of fuel, but running low Shell - 5401 Manchaca Rd - Has all types of fuel Shell - 500 W William Cannon Dr - Has all types of fuel E-Z Mart - 6400 S 1st St - Has all types of fuel 7-Eleven - 6607 Circle S Dr - Out of all types of fuel Central East Austin (78723) Food Mart - 5327 Cameron Rd - Has all types of fuel Texaco - 5517 Cameron Rd - Has all types of fuel H-E-B - 1801 E 51st St - Has all types of fuel, but running low Shell - 6615 Berkman Dr - Has all types of fuel Conoco - 5029 Manor Rd - Has all types of fuel Shell - 5210 Manor Rd - Has all types of fuel Gulf - 5301 Manor Rd - Has all types of fuel Valero - 4311 Springdale Rd - Has all types of fuel Mobil - 4607 Loyola Ln - Has all types of fuel, but running low Shell - 7101 Ed Bluestein Blvd - Has all types of fuel Exxon - 1660 E 51st St - Has all types of fuel Downtown Austin (78710)7-Eleven - 408 W 15th St - Ran out Thursday morning, won't have more for a few days 7-Eleven - 1814 Guadalupe St - Ran out Thursday morning, won't have more for a few days Gulf - 717 E 7th St - Has regular and diesel fuel only Shell - 900 N IH-35 - Has all types of fuel Shell - 4429 Duval St - Has all types of fuel, but running low West Campus/Central Austin (78705)7-Eleven - 2600 Guadalupe St - Out of all types of fuel Tarrytown/Old West Austin (78703)7-Eleven - 2624 Lake Austin Blvd - Has all types of fuel Phillips 66 - 2407 Lake Austin Blvd - Out of diesel, $15 limit per person Chevron - 2402 Lake Austin Blvd - No diesel, has everything else Texaco - 2400 Exposition Blvd - Has regular and diesel, no premium Shell - 2701 Exposition Blvd - Has all types of fuel Chevron - 1200 N Lamar Blvd - Has all types of fuel Cedar Park (78613)Indian Springs Country Store - 3031 Woodall Dr - Out of all types of fuel Chevron - 1410 W Whitestone Blvd - Has all types of fuel Shell - 1405 W Whitestone Blvd - Only has premium Valero - 901 W Whitestone Blvd - Only has diesel Randalls - 1400 Cypress Creek Rd - Has all types of fuel H-E-B - 170 E Whitestone Blvd - Out of all types of fuel Texaco - 1050 Cluck Creek Trl - Has all types of fuel Gulf - 500 S Bell Blvd - Has all types of fuel Costco - 4601 183A Toll Rd - Only carries premium and unleaded, has both Northwest Austin (78726)Shell - 10515 N UR-620 - No diesel 7-Eleven - 14016 UR-620 - Has mid-grade and premium, does not have regular East Austin (78702) Chevron - 2723 S IH-35 - Has all types of fuel Citgo - 1621 Cesar Chavez St - Has all types of fuel East 1st Grocery - 1811 E Cesar Chavez St - Only has 87 Valero - 3112 E Cesar Chavez St - Has all types of fuel Citgo - 3842 Airport Blvd - Has all types of fuel Phillips 66 - 1149 1/2 Airport Blvd - Has all types of fuel Double R Grocery - 1149 Airport Blvd - Has all types of fuel 7-Eleven - 863 Airport Blvd - Has all types of fuel, but unleaded running low Wells Branch/Round Rock (78728)Metro Mart - 2113 Wells Branch Pkwy - Has all types of fuel Valero - 1779 Wells Branch Pkwy - Has all types of fuel Valero - 1310 Howard Ln - Has all types of fuel 7-Eleven - 14730 N IH-35 - Has all types of fuel (ran out Wednesday but refueled) Shell -14812 N IH -35 - Has all types of fuel, but running low Exxon - 15900 N IH -35 - Has all types of fuel Speedy Stop - 14735 Bratton Ln - Has all types of fuel Lake Travis/Steiner Ranch (78732)Wag-A-Bag - 2900 N Quinlan Park Rd - Has unleaded, but out of premium Randalls - 5145 N FM 620 - Out of fuel Lakeway (78734)Texaco - 2200 Lakeway Blvd - Has all types of fuel H-E-B - 2000 UR-620 - Has all types of fuel (but has long lines) Exxon - 903 S UR-620 - Has all types of fuel (but has long lines) Exxon - 3636 UR-620 - Out of fuel *Note: This information is from Thursday afternoon*
The City of Austin released the following statement:
"The City of Austin is aware of social media reports of fuel shortages in the Austin region. The City's fuel division is currently operating normally and their ability to provide emergency and routine serviceshasnot been impacted. Howeverwe are monitoring the situation and are prepared to enact conservation methods should they be required."
None of Texas' refineries suffered major damage. Valero has already begun ramping up at its refineries and another major refinery in Texas is expected to be back on line Sunday.
However, gas prices are climbing, which is typical when hurricanes knock off refineries. Statewide, the average gas price is $2.26 per gallon, which is four cents higher than Wednesday and 12 cents more than Thursday last week. Drivers in Dallas are paying the most for gas at $2.23 per gallon.
Paul Hardin with the Texas Fuel & Food Association said if consumers see price gouging, they should report it to the Attorney General's office immediately.
''The fines can range up to about $250,000,'' said Hardin.
Help our journalists VERIFY the news. Do you know someone else we should interview for this story? Did we miss anything in our reporting? Is there another story you'd like us to VERIFY? Click here.
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