Link Roundup, 1/14/2020

From CleanTechnica: Tesla is now the most valuable auto company in US history.

From MIT Technology Review: Biologists have used an algorithm to create a customized life-form.

From CNBC: Warren seems to have settled on her voter turnout strategy – a hyper-aggressive student-loan forgiveness plan.

From CNN: Blackrock is joining other major hedge funds and asset managers, incorporating climate change into their investment strategy.

From The Washington Post: Doctored images are becoming ubiquitous on the campaign trail.

8 Comments

  1. David Graeber, of bullshit jobs fame has several intriguing interpretations of Brexit, Trump and Corbyn’s loss. I am going to paraphrase some portions of the article without necessarily agreeing with him:

    His first claim is kinda boring. The main opposition to Corbyn came from “sellouts.” People who finished their education for free and were able to gain property and then agitated for changes that made their children’s education expensive and property harder to obtain . More importantly those are people who made it impossible for their children to “sell out” their principles because there is now nothing more to sell. What those people (in their fourties, fifties and sixties) wanted is some kind of British Obama — a figure that is superficially inspiring but vacuous. Corbyn was shocking to them because he actually believed in things.

    His second claim is more interesting. He says that the biggest rise in “service” jobs came from two classes: The one is “care” class (teachers, nurses etc) and the other is “professional-managerial” class. Both greatly increased in number. And the effect of the latter is to bury the former in paperwork. The biggest class enemy of “care” class is therefore precisely the professional-managerial class. Both Boris and Trump benefited from posturing against PMCs, while the left tried (ineffectively) to posture against the bankers.

    His third claim is that the world’s left-leaning parties are divided because they are trying to simultaneously carter to both “care” class and PMCs/”sellouts”. Which doesn’t work as those two clasess have totally opposite priorities and the result is critically weakened, divided left everywhere.

    https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/01/13/the-center-blows-itself-up-care-and-spite-in-the-brexit-election/

  2. EJ

    Chris:

    From the last few weeks it looks as if Warren is pivoting away from being Sanders-lite and towards being the Last Chance of the Capitalists. Is this also your view? If Buttigieg fades, then how much of his oligarchic support do you think will fall in line behind her, and how much do you think she’ll be willing to be their mouthpiece?

    I like Warren, but I would be disappointed if she sells out.

    1. I don’t see Warren selling out. What I do see is an honest person who is both realistic and principled. She is not going to misrepresent the facts. This is a very smart woman whose personal agenda has been consistent. I don’t see her selling out to capitalists, but rather is balanced in her awareness of the role of business in bringing about change.

      I have not decided who I will vote for yet but Warren is still on my shortlist.

    2. To date, Warren remains the only candidate who has even raised the subject of official corruption. By itself, that makes her more appealing than the Kremlin’s second favorite 2016 candidate. She is the last best hope for capitalism, because she’s the only candidate running who seems to even be aware of the rot that destroying it. It doesn’t look like she’s going to win, but that’s a shame.

  3. Tesla being the biggest car company by market cap doesn’t really mean anything yet. It’s market cap is a ton of leverage and cult fandom of Elon Musk. Unlike the TSLAQ people, I also don’t think it’s a big scam about to come crashing down, but at this moment of market history valuations literally don’t mean anything at all regarding.

    All asset prices are inflated by historically low interest rates backed up by a pretense that the Federal Reserve is essentially insurance against calamity (it may not effectively be). The standout stocks pretty much follow the Internet virility level of depth behind their enthusiasm– get a lot of likes and shares and people debating on your Twitter thread, get some movement on your stock. This is part of the reason why Trump can be President at this time, because he can actually influence minor swings of various stocks with Tweets at a period when financial news outlets actually take the total fuckdump that is Twitter seriously. Since everyone thinks Twitter is important, it makes Twitter important, and because Twitter is made to be important, CEOs that can handle Twitter make their shit look important. Musk and Trump have cults if personality for the same reasons, though Musk actually makes real cars that actually do stuff and can read anything longer than the Tweet he wrote.

    Tesla might grow into it’s current valuation in some way resembling “fundamentals”, but at this time in stock market history valuations and market news about them are about as meaningful as that article Google Feed tried to feed me about what DC universe heroes should show up in Watchmen season 2: pure fantasy missing the point and blowing off the history in a sadly geeky overinformation sort of way.

    1. EJ

      I’m pretty amazed that anyone still takes Musk seriously. His car company exists purely because of the US federal subsidies for electric vehicles, and the less said about his tunnelling company the better.

      If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because people are desperate for a charismatic Captain of Industry, and if they can’t find one then they’ll find someone who wants to roleplay one. This is, IMHO, similar to how people are desperate to believe that Trump is a political genius, that Johnson is a strong man of the common people, or that Corbyn is the next coming of Lenin.

      Your point about Twitter is an interesting one. Do you think it’s true of all social media or just of Twitter?

      1. Twitter is metonym for social media, except for one specific point:

        You don’t see reporters quoting Facebook posts or LinkedIn articles as representative of authoritative sources or digital Man On the Street the way they treat any dumbfuck with a Twitter handle.

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