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Dave Cohen
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Denial is not just a river in Egypt.
Interests: evolution, energy, the economy, climate, astrobiology, music, paleontology, culture
Recent Activity
DOTE Forecasting Center October 25, 2016 The DOTE Forecasting Center announced today that the United States has turned to shit. Dave Cohen, managing director for the Pittsburgh-based think tank, said "well, after long and careful thought, we've concluded that the United States has nowhere to go but downhill." Asked about people who have long believed that America had turned to shit, Cohen responded "yes, we're aware of those people. You might ask what special thing happened today which made our announcement necessary. Actually, nothing did. We're experiencing the same shit today as we did yesterday, and the day before, and... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Decline of the Empire
Brothers and sisters, this is the real world that we live in — Bernie Sanders, after being booed for urging supporters to vote for Clinton The real world. Love that phrase. What does it mean to live in the real world in America in 2016? I'm listening to the radio. The hacks on today's Diane Rehm Show just rationalized why they have hardly covered all those wiki-leaked Clinton campaign e-mails — there's just been too much news to cover, and Trump's "most difficult news cycle" (the sex stuff) didn't really permit them to cover the e-mails. Now these hacks are... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Decline of the Empire
Brad Plumer at Vox notes that there were no questions about global warming in four debates (including the vice-presidential debate). There was however some talk about puppets. As of right now, the countdown says there are only 17 days, 11 hours and 56 minutes until we are put out of our misery. This can't happen fast enough. Every passing minute is now a blessing. Have a nice weekend. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Decline of the Empire
As time goes on, humanity's big, self-created problems (e.g., global inequality/poverty, climate change) are going to get worse. Progress is an illusion, despite the heroic and delusional efforts of elites and intellectuals to convince us otherwise. I've been thinking about how humans will rationalize their increasingly obvious failures over time. If you read and understood the Flatland essays, you will see this statement as axiomatic: (1) Regarding these big, self-created problems, humans do not have the capacity to pin the blame on themselves (i.e., on their own nature) because they do not have the capacity to understand themselves. (This should... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Decline of the Empire
A much-ballyhooed agreement was reached this week in Kigali to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Here's The Guardian's first paragraph. They went to Kigali to eliminate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and take 0.5C out of future global warming, and the 170 countries that successfully negotiated an amendment to the Montreal protocol treaty agreed to get rid of 90% of them. Not bad for four days and three long nights of hard work. Here's Brad Plumer's take at Vox. Finally, on October 15, 197 countries agreed to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), an incredibly potent greenhouse gas used in refrigerators and air conditioners. While this... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Let's start with CNN's The Great Barrier Reef is not actually dead (October 14, 2016). There is a big difference between dead and dying. Outside Magazine published a somewhat tongue-in-cheek obituary for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) earlier this week, citing its lifespan from 25 million BC-2016. The article detailed the life of the reef, its active membership in the ecological community, its worldwide fame and the coral bleaching that has led to its deteriorating health. "The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old," read the article. The... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
The Hillary Wall Street speech quotation in question is copied below. This Hillary quote is from a speech to the Goldman Sachs AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium on 10/24/13. *CLINTON TALKS ABOUT HOLDING WALL STREET ACCOUNTABLE ONLY FOR POLITICAL REASONS* “That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February of ‘09, so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere. Now, that’s an oversimplification we know, but it was the conventional wisdom. And I think that there’s a lot that could have been avoided in terms of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Donald Trump's sexual transgressions are all over the news. It is not news that Trump is a misogynist asshole, but that's the "news" because the Defeat Trump agenda motivates everything our mainstream media does. Presumably, we'll all be just fine when Hillary wins the election. America saved! No level of sarcasm works here because all this absurdity goes beyond mere sarcasm. But the rest of our sorry world did not stop going 'round and 'round just because the elites need to fend off the existential threat called Donald Trump. One thing that's been lost in the noise is Elizabeth Warren's... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Veteran environmental reporter Dave Roberts gives us some bad news — No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously (Vox, October 4, 2016). Before I can get into this, I want to point out that DOTE is the only website on Earth (to my knowledge) which has consistently and insistently predicted the depressing outcome Roberts is so concerned about. You would think such insight would count for something, but on this planet, among Homo sapiens, it basically counts for nothing. Which tells you something right there. OK, here we go. One of the morbidly fascinating aspects... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
We had to believe in impossible things — NPR Ted Radio Hour audio theme It is deeply frustrating to me that I can not adequately express in words the astonishing stupidity of what we've been witnessing these last several months, and especially these last few days, here in the United States. But I don't like the word "stupid" because it doesn't do any useful work. First, it connotes something like "lack of intelligence" but intelligence is rarely the issue with humans. For example, does Elon Musk lack intelligence? Few would say he does, but his optimistic techno-fantasies are a defining... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Let's have some fun, shall we? National Public Radio had a dilemma. On Friday, thanks to Russia and Wikileaks, we got partial transcripts of Clinton's paid speeches to Golden Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and other elite organizations. The problem for NPR was this: how could they present these transcripts to the public without putting Hillary in a bad light? Long after all the other elite media had reported the story, NPR came out with a piece called WikiLeaks Releases Alleged Clinton Wall Street Speeches In Batch Of Campaign Emails (October 8, 2016, 2:21 PM EST). No doubt you spotted the key... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Reader Mike Cooper alerted me to a Guardian article by George Monbiot called Lies, fearmongering and fables: that’s our democracy. It's a good one. What if democracy doesn’t work? What if it never has and never will? What if government of the people, by the people, for the people is a fairytale? What if it functions as a justifying myth for liars and charlatans? There's no "what if" about it. Democracy doesn't work. It never has and it never will. And so on. There are plenty of reasons to raise these questions. The lies, exaggerations and fearmongering on both sides... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
I wasn't going to write anything today, but Flatland forced my hand. This is entirely for my amusement and yours. Yesterday I ran across a Vox article by Dylan Matthews called In 1990, more than 60% of people in East Asia were in extreme poverty. Now only 3.5% are. Wow! Sounds good! But there was a nagging question: what does "extreme poverty" mean? Here you go. Yes, you read that correctly — "extreme poverty" is defined as living on less than $1.90/day. It’s hard to overstate how astonishing and rapid the decline in extreme poverty in the past couple of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Last week's Ted Radio Hour is about the anthropocene. The third segment of the program features an interview with paleontologist Peter Ward, who talked about the big five mass extinctions and the human-caused sixth extinction, which we're in the middle of, or near the end of, depending on the time interval one uses to date the extinction. Ward talks about one "huge problem facing us" — toxic hydrogen sulfide outgassing from low-oxygen, stratified oceans within a couple millennia as our degraded oceans warm. But then he does an about-face and says this at the 8:45 mark— Guy Raz — So,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Motivated reasoning (bullshit) dominates political life and always has. But in terms of the sheer amount of bullshit, elite discussions of economic policy and performance run a close a second. This is not surprising in so far as economic policy can never be separated from politics, and there is no end to the lipstick that can be applied to our manifestly unfair economic pig. We understand of course that economic policy decisions (or non-decisions with no policy changes) largely determine who the winners and losers will be. There's a lot at stake, which is why there is so much bullshit... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
A new paper in Nature by Carolyn Snyder called Evolution of global temperature over the past two million years comes to a startling conclusion— ... A comparison of the new temperature reconstruction with radiative forcing from greenhouse gases estimates an Earth system sensitivity of 9 degrees Celsius (range 7 to 13 degrees Celsius, 95 per cent credible interval) change in global average surface temperature per doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide over millennium timescales. This result suggests that stabilization at today’s greenhouse gas levels may already commit Earth to an eventual total warming of 5 degrees Celsius (range 3 to 7... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Tonight Hillary Clinton will square off against Donald Trump at Hofstra University on Long Insland. This is the first of three presidential debates. It is estimated that this much-anticipated showdown will draw as many as 100 million viewers. This morning a guy on National Public Radio suggested that if you wanted to know who "won" the debate, it would be best to watch it with the sound off. To best determine the "winner" of this slugfest, I suggest it would be even better to watch it with both the sound and the screen off. Better yet, to achieve maximum effect,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
A while back I came across an article called Most Welfare Dollars Don’t Go Directly To Poor People Anymore (fivethiryeight, August 25, 2016). Let's cut to the chase. The result [of Welfare "reform" in the 1990s] has been a dramatic shift of resources away from cash assistance and toward spending on other programs. In 1998, nearly 60 percent of welfare spending was on cash benefits, categorized as “basic assistance.” By 2014, it was only about one-quarter of TANF [Welfare] spending. That shift has happened despite a burgeoning economics literature suggesting that direct cash transfers are in many cases the most... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Update — consider this an open thread. I'll be putting whatever I have to say in the comments. You should do the same. This thread will be open for a month, though I'll probably write some things before that. As I've said, I'm pretty disgusted with humans right now. — Dave Outside of playing some guitar, the only thing I want to do today is watch the season 2 finale of Mr. Robot. I doubt that anybody reading DOTE gives a damn about Mr. Robot, but then again I don't care. In so far as I am living in a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Reader MP alerted me to Bloomberg's Unmasking the Men Behind Zero Hedge, Wall Street's Renegade Blog (April 29, 2016). I assume DOTE readers are familiar with the site. Colin Lokey was one of the "Tyler Durdens" writing the content. Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is the well-known character from the cult movie Fight Club. I'm going to quote only one section of Bloomberg's story. Profit Motive Despite holding itself out as a town crier for market angst, transcripts from Zero Hedge internal chat sessions provided by Colin Lokey reveal a focus on Web traffic by the Durdens. Headlines are debated and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
The phlogiston theory is an archaic scientific hypothesis, which stated that phlogiston, a fire-like element, is contained within things that are able to burn and is actually released during the burning process... Despite its [widespread] use, the theory could not explain many phenomena... — What Is Phlogiston? Because of their lack of formal macro-economic training, or in spite of it, some people are able to make useful observations about the state of the U.S. economy. These observations are always data-based, even though in many cases there is good reason to believe that the data is flawed. For example, we now... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Nearly 24 hours have passed since I posted yesterday's critique of the Census Bureau's rosy view of household median income (HMI). The huge, historic leap (5.2%) in HMI was simply not credible on the face of it. There had to be something going on. In fact, it turned out there were several interacting factors which inflated the headline HMI number. (Also, see this important New York Times article from August, 2016, which I incorporated into yesterday's post. That article describes the Sentier results I discussed yesterday.) If you do the right Google searches, you will find only two reports critiquing... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
When I learned yesterday, 55 days before the 2016 election, that the Census Bureau and the White House had announced an historic leap in real (inflation-adjusted) median household income, my bullshit detector went into the red, went right off the scale and then ceased functioning. I'll have to get a new one Look at that jump! The biggest since 1967 when record keeping began. How fucking likely is that? My first clue appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The clue is circled. Redesigned income questions? And while I'm quoting the Los Angeles Times, there is this— Obama, stumping for Clinton... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
American's elites are all in with Hillary, yet in the polls she leads Donald Trump on average by 2.4 percentage points. How can this be? Donald keeps telling one outrageous lie after another. Then the lame-stream elite media does a bunch of fact-checking to expose the lies. They say, "See? He's lying!" That's supposed to convince people to vote for Hillary, but it doesn't. Well, this is politics, which is tribal conflict. And there's a psychological defense mechanism—it's an evolutionary feature, not a bug —called the "backfire effect". When their tribal identify is put at risk, which poses an existential... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2016 at Decline of the Empire
Writing in Adbusters, Sam Alexander wrote a piece called The pain you feel on September 6, 2016. Morris Berman quoted Alexander's post approvingly on his blog Dark Ages America, which led me to the original. Alexander's post reflects in part Berman's "dual process" theory of the future (and read here.) Here's Alexander's short post— I was drifting through cyberspace recently, not really absorbing the words in front of me, when I came across a sentence that tripped me up, so to speak, and forced me to pay attention. That sentence read: “The pain you feel is capitalism dying.” Alexander is... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2016 at Decline of the Empire