Links 10/16/15

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Women under increasing pressure to have dragons Daily Mash

Metal-as-Hell Crazy Man Uses Van Full of Ammo to Put Out a Garbage Fire Gawker (Chuck L)

The Navy is Reinstating the Ancient Art of Celestial Navigation GovExec (Chuck L)

Our Deadened, Carbon-Soaked Seas New York Times (David L). We first posted on this in 2007.

USB Killer 2.0: A harmless-looking USB stick that destroys computers Help Net Security. Chuck L: “Soft Malware has been around for a long time. Meet the new guy, Hard Malware.”

Messing With Your Brain to Reduce Prejudice Pacific Standard (Chuck L)

Startup Theranos Dials Back Lab Tests at FDA’s Behest Wall Street Journal. There was huge media hype over this company, including, if I recall correctly, a long, fawning New Yorker profile of the glamorous, driven young female founder. I wonder if the technology will be revealed to have been vaporware.


The New China Syndrome Harpers (MS)

China warns US against maritime challenge Financial Times

Murky Housing Inventory Data Plagues Chinese Economy WSj China Real Time

The fiscal charter media fiasco Simon Wren-Lewis

Refugee Crisis

Hungary to decide whether to close Croatian border DW

European leaders offer Turkey ‘action plan’ on migration crisis Guardian


Moscow doubles down on Washington Pepe Escobar, RT (resilc)


The US Could End Saudi War Crimes in Yemen – It Just Doesn’t Want To Truthout

Obama Announces That Troops Will Remain in Afghanistan Past 2016 Atlantic (resilc)

Why We’re Not Leaving Afghanistan Any Time Soon Charles Pierce, Esquire

The AP Says the US Knew the Target of a Bombing in Afghanistan Was a Hospital VICE (resilc)

Did Russia’s Intervention Derail Turkey’s Plan to Invade Syria? Counterpunch

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The Drone Papers Intercept

A New Snowden? Whistleblower Leaks Trove of Documents on Drones & Obama’s Assassination Program Democracy Now! (reilc)

How the NSA can break trillions of encrypted Web and VPN connections ars technica (Chuck L)

Britain Refuses to Grant Julian Assange “Safe Passage” to Hospital Democracy Now! (furzy mouse)

MPs to hold emergency debate over politicians’ communications being spied upon Western Daily Press


Donald Trump Campaign Raises Specter of Boycotting Next Debate New York Times

Bernie Sanders Rejects Donation from ‘Poster Boy for Drug Company Greed’ Martin Shkreli Alternet

Hillary Clinton Is Wrong About Edward Snowden New Yorker

An historian explains the real reason Republicans can’t find a Speaker of the House Raw Story (Chuck L)

Fox News analyst arrested for lying about working as a CIA agent Guardian

Prosecutors Say “Terrorism Expert” Was Actually Just an Expert at Conning Fox News Producers Gawker

El Niño keeps getting stronger; new forecast for rain increases Los Angeles Times

Utah students will study Earth’s ‘relatively constant temperature’ in latest tweak to science standards Salt Lake Tribune (Chuck L)

U.S. Widens Probe of Volkswagen Wall Street Journal


Andrew O’Hagan · Who’s the alpha male now, bitches? London Review of Books (resilc)

US mother ‘helpless’ over church death

Bernanke’s Continuing Confusion about How Monetary Policy Works Uneasy Money

Class Warfare

No Social Security Raises Even if Medicare Soars New York Times

Bold stand against gratuities is so overdue Financial Times

Rich People Scared to Move into High Rent Apartments Because of Homeless Displaced by High Rents Alternet

Antidote du jour (). From the Siberian Times, Rare Pallas cat is saved in village in TransBaikal:

pallas cat links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Skippy

    Per the diesel thingy….

    Just drove 1350ish kl from Bisbane to Townsville on one 66lt tank with spare and it was not on the autobon e.g. Let me see a dive bombing hawk, domanting owl, and wallaby in the middle of the road (not to mention a few hundred kl of wallabies on both side of the road grazing at night whilst doing 110km hr).

    Skippy… Not all is what it seems…. Opti- ???????

    1. optimader

      corporate malfeasance aside, when it comes to vehicle emissions should urban smog capitals like LA, Paris, Beijing be the ubiquitous standard?
      When it comes to NOX control, technology exists — selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which I presume your MB is arranged with. VW pursued their alt control strategy w/ the TDI <2l engines that is a practical failure.
      So backing up a bit, what you don't see in the media are candid analysis of total emissions "wells to wheels" so to speak. In sparsely populated geographies where travel distances are longer and logistics are more sparse does a higher mileage fuel like low sulfur diesel may more sense than dragging , say ~30% more gasoline around/ or 30% more fuel stations? Should benzene and VOC emissions be more relevant in hotter climates? If so, gasoline is looking comparatively ugly.

      So if we have fidelity to uniform emission control, the oil-fired residential heater or industrial boiler using No.2-6 are comparative emission horror stories. Should heating oil distillates be banned, or at least forced into emission Tiers consistent with vehicle emissions? How's that gonna work? Lambert cant buy heating oil unless he installs an SCR control system and has an annual emission test?

      1. theinhibitor

        Perfectly said.

        There’s also the clusterfuck of units in these EPA standards. Some have emissions in cubic/hr. What happened to mpg? You can’t srsly expect me to believe that a VW Passat with 35 mpg highway emits less pollution PER MILE than a Chevy Silverado that gets 16 mpg highway?

        Also, is the emissions of refining gasoline put into the equation? If it takes 20000 BTU to convert one gallon of diesel into one gallon of gasoline, is this represented in the standards? Are they that much less? How about we get real and start assigning pollution metrics to every single part of the car, including the plastic headlights? Someone want to explain to me what the point of these standards are if a truck uses twice the plastic and metal of a VW? That’s twice as much processing of material, twice as much mining and refining, and twice as much electricity which in turn means twice as much coal/natural gas burned…

        All of these standards… they are a start I guess…but its like trying to stop a bulldozer with toothpicks where the bulldozer is the continual extraction and use of fossil fuels.

        1. lord koos

          If you buy a used Cadillac It’s probably better for the environment than buying a brand-new Prius… it takes a lot of energy to build a car.

      2. JTMcPhee

        So one should just dive into these diagonal rationalizations,, and comfort oneself that combustoconsumption as THEY are practicing it is really A-Ok, is that it? Because “we all need heat in the winter, and even illegal diesel emissions are ” de minimis” in the Outback or Death Valley”?

        “We’re stupid, and we’ll die…”

        1. Optimader

          I would prefer higher NOX emissions in geogaphies classified as (EPA) attainment areas–typically rural, given your Hobsons choice. Of course illegal emissions need not be a choice.

          You apparently prefer the benzene VOC emissions associated with gasoline, a known carcinogen with no minimum safe concentration, which is an intentionally compouned into gasoline as an antiknock additive alternative to tetraeythllead, neither of which have any relevance in diesel fuel.

          No, fuel oil is not the only residential heating fuel alternative.
          In either case, diesel transportation fuel or heating oil SCR reduction is a demonstrated technology for exhaust NOX removal . As far as i know, benzene has no practical remediation method once introduced into the enviornment as a VOC.

  2. scott

    By the time I retire Social Security will be $1500/month, but Medicare premiums will be $1400/month.

    For the next generation Medicare will send you (on your 65th birthday) a couple of cyanide pills and a letter saying “When you can’t feed yourself anymore, take these and call this number. Thank you for your lifetime contribution to Medicare”.

    1. Jim Haygood

      There will also be a flat-pack Ikea-style cardboard coffin (festooned with sponsors’ ads), but the assembly instructions many elderly will find unduly confusing.

      1. fresno dan

        I have always believed in feeding the birds…as there are a good number of buzzards constantly circling my property, I intend to die in the field.
        Free disposal of me, and delicious rum soaked carcass for the wildlife.
        As they say, win-win!

        1. ambrit

          Switch to Tequila and make the worms happy too!
          (I have seriously asked my wife to bury me in a Park, no coffin, facing sunrise. She, being Olde Schoole RC, is aghast at the idea. I’ll win her around sooner or later. A dolmen would be neat, but Mississippi is somewhat deficient in large granite boulders.)

          1. Jim Haygood

            SocSec has a $255 burial benefit. But you’ll probably forfeit it, if you insist on disposing of your remains in a non-compliant, unpermitted manner.

          2. fresno dan

            As my high school zoologist used to say, worms, the most important critters on earth.

            I will definitely start imbibing tequila…for the worms’ sake….
            I will also increase my variety of alcohol consumption – you never know what other organisms may be aided…

        2. ambrit

          Maybe you can have yourself adopted into a Native Peoples Tribe and be ‘exposed’ in their burial grounds?

          1. JEHR

            Here’s an alternative for burial:


            “And if you feel natural burial isn’t green enough, you might look into having yourself composted. While you can’t just have your corpse hauled directly out to the garden – most states require either refrigeration or burial of the body within 24 hours of death (there goes my dream of vulture-mediated burial) – you can be made into nutrient-rich fertilizer with the aid of technology. The Swedish company Promessa has created a method of removing water from the body by freeze-drying it in liquid nitrogen. This makes the body brittle enough to break into a powder (and much lighter, recall that water makes up well over half of the body). The powder is buried shallowly (Promessa contends that whole bodies are buried too deep into the ground to allow sufficient oxygen for the natural, plant-nurturing variety of decomposition). And, if you like, a tree can be planted on top. That part sounds especially appealing to me, as it would allow me to do in death what I’ve consistently failed to do in life – keep a plant alive.”

            1. fresno dan

              “….or burial of the body within 24 hours of death …”

              There are quite a few buzzards. There are also coyotes, so I’m counting on them being the second shift. And ants…

              I’m counting on a group effort to have me picked clean within 24 hours.
              Of course, if I fail, I will have to face the consequences…my stinking, putrefying corpse sitting before the authorities. Yeah, that would be good…

              1st bureaucrat: Cat got your tongue?
              2nd bureaucrat: He’s taking the 5th?
              1st bureaucrat: No! The cat is on him eating his tongue…

            2. JTMcPhee

              I see the private equity types are looking carefully at the rent potential inherent in death añd dying…

              The Mexicans and others apparently RENT grave plots, and when the family stops paying the rent, the bones are unceremoniously shoved in a charnel house…

              There’s a Grexit hook here too: “Greece May End Grave Rental as Cremation Ban Lifted (Update1)”


  3. Bill Smith

    “Did Russia’s Intervention Derail Turkey’s Plan to Invade Syria?”

    There is a bunch of stuff in the article but nothing that backs up the headline. (Click bait?) After reading the article the first time I then went back and searched for the word Turkey thinking I had missed the author’s point.

    Interestingly in regard to the Tom Engelhardt article from yesterday: “The Fog of Intelligence, or How to Be Eternally ‘Caught Off Guard’ in the Greater Middle East”, US sources are saying there are only hundreds of Iranians on the ground instead of the thousands the article quotes. Time will tell who is right.

  4. hemeantwell

    Re Theranos, and

    a long, fawning New Yorker profile of the glamorous, driven young female founder.

    Yes, I recall that article. She was made to seem focused to the point of becoming ethereal, a human manifestation of her product. The recent Depp film, Transcendence, is just an extrapolation of this perverse reformulation of passion. Passion used to connote something unruly, opposed to the logic of production. Now the term is used to suggest total integration. Betcha there’s some tie-in with the zombie thematic there.

  5. allan

    Re: Earth’s ‘relatively constant temperature’

    As Alan Greenspan would say, the Earth’s temperature is relatively constant, with notably rare exceptions.

      1. craazyboy

        Greenspan and Bernanke put their heads together, and conclude the following.

        “We can’t have a meltdown in this country. We have a printing press!”

        Ben adds, “We have a global temperature glut.”

  6. Llewelyn Moss

    Obomba extending the Afgan war — again. Hooah!

    Will another decade do the trick? Let’s see, we just spent a decade there, killed lots of US soldiers (and probably 10x as many innocent civilians), spent X trillions (go ahead try to get a straight answer on how much the US govt sociopaths spend on wars). Result: The country is worse off now and less stable than when it all started. Alqueda is alive and well. Opps I mean the Taliban. Er, who are we there to fight again? I keep losing track.

    But Obomba’s reason is we need a friend in the region. Not kidding. He said that in his presser yesterday.
    I think what we really need is a Non-War Monger in the White House.

    1. Tom Allen

      Read the Charles Pierce piece. He explains, while bemoaning the result, that it’s all the Republicans’ fault really, and that Obama was forced to pursue this awful policy because otherwise he’d face criticism.

      Granted, that’s the gist of every column Pierce writes. (That or making up funny names.) So perhaps you can skip it after all.

      1. craazyboy

        “it’s all the Republicans’ fault really”

        Which is why it’s soooo important to get Hillary into the WH in 2016!

        This way, we can enjoy another 8 years of “no fault” Democratic leadership.

        The Dems make so much sense, if we would only listen to what they are trying to tell us!

    2. andyb

      Of course the real reason we are in Afghanistan is to protect the poppies for the CIA’s global distribution channels. I’m sure everyone has seen the pics of US soldiers guarding the fields. No different from the Vietnam war when tons of heroin were flown into Ton Son Knut to be placed in caskets of returning KIAs and flown to US domestic AFBs.

  7. Eric Patton

    Did Russia’s Intervention Derail Turkey’s Plan to Invade Syria? Counterpunch

    I’m a big Mike Whitney fan. He generally writes about economics, though lately he’s been writing a lot about US foreign policy.

  8. Ulysses

    “I think what we really need is a Non-War Monger in the White House.”

    Yes!! The difficult thing is the last time a non war-monger (Bobby Kennedy) threatened to actually get elected President, it didn’t end very well for him. Anybody, who is the least bit attuned to reality, understands that directly challenging the power of the U.S. MIC is an inherently risky business.

    1. Ulysses

      Jimmy Carter turned out to be less of a warmonger than expected, while in office. That doesn’t change the fact that he campaigned hard as being more hawkish than the rest of the Democratic field in 1976.

      1. Gareth

        Carter was less of a war monger if you overlook the fact that he and Brzezinski kickstarted Al Qaeda, resulting in a world full of blowback.

      2. Unorthodoxmarxist

        Oh yea, “anti-war” Bobby Kennedy who was in fact a hard-line Cold Warrior and former aide to Joseph McCarthy? The same Bobby Kennedy who oversaw the assassination program aimed at Fidel Castro? Bobby Kennedy who wanted to cynically and safely channel radical antiwar protesters into the Democratic Party in 1968 when it became apparent the war was losing support?

        Or Jimmy Carter, the president who continued to sell arms to Indonesia while they were committing genocide in East Timor, and began sending support to the jihadis in Afghanistan in 1979 in order to entice a Soviet invasion?

        1. Ulysses

          The above points are valid, yet my initial point that even a feeble, and less than sincere, challenge to the MIC is very risky still stands. Jimmy Carter, was indeed, still a war-monger, although less of one in office than some had feared. We’ll never know what Bobby Kennedy would have done in Vietnam, since he was assassinated before we could find out.

          He did, however, have this to say in February 1968:

          “Unable to defeat our enemy or break his will—at least without a huge, long and ever more costly effort—we must actively seek a peaceful settlement. We can no longer harden our terms every time Hanoi indicates it may be prepared to negotiate; and we must be willing to foresee a settlement which will give the Vietcong a chance to participate in the political life of the country….
          the best way to save our most precious stake in Vietnam—the lives of our soldiers—is to stop the enlargement of the war, and that the best way to end casualties is to end the war….
          Reality is grim and painful. But it is only a remote echo of the anguish toward which a policy founded on illusion is surely taking us.

          This is a great nation and a strong people. Any who seek to comfort rather than speak plainly, reassure rather than instruct, promise satisfaction rather than reveal frustration—they deny that greatness and drain that strength. For today as it was in the beginning, it is the truth that makes us free.”

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          The Obot phenomenon isn’t new to Team Blue. With Carter and the Kennedys, they hide behind their short time in the sun. Hillary benefits from “just carrying out orders” or “she’s more liberal than Bill who did all those awful things” excuses.

          The one thing people hate more than conmen is recognizing they, smart and wise to the world, can fall for a myth when they just didn’t listen in the first place.

          My father, an Irish catholic type from Boston, wasn’t a fan of the Kennedys and always said Bobby was a dangerous man. As a child, I was completely baffled by this attitude. Then you spend five reading about the guy, and the red scare deserves to be treated with the contempt of the Salem Witch Trials.

          1. Ulysses

            I was only six years old when Bobby Kennedy was shot, thus I have no way of knowing whether he was sincere in his calls to end the war in Vietnam. My parents certainly believed that he had changed for the better since his red-baiting days, and that we lost a chance for ending the war when he was shot in 1968. These same parents refused to vote for Cater in ’76 (I believe they voted for Barry Commoner) because of his hawkish statements.

            Perhaps I should have named Eugene Debs as the last truly “non-warmonger” presidential candidate?

            1. fresno dan

              You have good points.
              The truth of the matter is the choice is:
              A – Genghis Khan military supremacy and conquest, uh, I mean, “aid” under the guise of “pax American”
              B – or, under the guise of “indispensable nation” we just have to get involved to fix the world

              The internationalists won over the isolationists – I think due to some misreading of history and hubris, but the fact is that we simply don’t have a realistic “peace” or “isolationist” choice in governing.

        3. Propertius

          Oh yea, “anti-war” Bobby Kennedy who was in fact a hard-line Cold Warrior and former aide to Joseph McCarthy?

          Isn’t it funny how everyone seems to forget that.

    2. curlydan

      #1 lesson for presidential candidates: don’t get in the way of a $700B train, or you will get “run over”

  9. Jim Haygood

    If the LA Times is correct that SoCal faces a rainy winter, they can wheel out that classic la-di-da headline when the rains come:

    As If You Needed Another Headache: Rain!

    Or as today’s article details: “I knew it was all over when I saw the hot tub sail into the ocean,” a Malibu resident told The Times then.

    Yeah, losing a hot tub can ruin your whole day. Damn, there goes my Beemer!

    1. optimader
      Albert Hammond – It Never Rains In Southern California

      I always thought this song would find it’s place in a beer commercial. I even used it in a college film class. Overlaid song on the sound track of slomo opening a cold beer then pouring into a tall glass. Simple…Sweaty hand, arid background, everyone wants a beer. Teacher hired me to be his flunky when he shot cheapo UHF commercials on the side. Most fun part time gig I ever had.

  10. Sammy Maudlin

    No Social Security Raises Even if Medicare Soars

    “Health care costs are going up…” because markets

    “…but the federal government is saying seniors do not need a cost-of-living increase next year.” go die!

    1. fresno dan

      They should have invested in health care stocks…

      Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act took effect two years ago in the rockiest of rollouts, American health-care companies outperformed every industry in the U.S. Taken together, they are the best collection of stocks among worldwide peers.

      What a coincidence!!!

      Remember, its the cost of living. If you are unable to continue to live, that information is contained in the cost of non-living – another data set entirely…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But gas is cheaper.

        Those seniors who can still drive and afford it, they can get their medical care south of the border.

    2. Faye Carr

      A personal example of my Medicare preimums, annual deductable and a recent emergency hospitalization:
      Annual Premium: $1764
      Annual Deductible: $147
      Mandatory hospital co-pay: $1260

      $3174 –

      Of course this doesn’t include all the other co-pays for the ambulance, ER use, surgeon, radiologist, anesthesiologist, ERCP doc, x-andray, MRI, sonogram, floriscope. The 20% co-pay bills just keep on coming!

      I never should have gotten into the ambulance my GP called.
      My funeral & green burial is already paid for and only cost $2500.
      (And no, I don’t qualify for Medicaid. My spouse works)

  11. fresno dan

    As noted above, much of the increase in the share of income going to the top 1 percent, and
    especially to the top 10 percent, over the past several decades is due to increased inequality
    within labor income. Recent research has generally found that the increase in earnings inequality
    is, in turn, explained by increased divergence in the average earnings of workers in different
    firms rather than the increased divergence of earnings within individual firms. This evidence also
    suggests that we should be looking to firm-level analysis, not just an aggregate story, to
    understand the rise in inequality.
    Figure 8 presents the distribution of the return on invested capital (ROIC) for publicly traded
    non-financial U.S. firms from 1965 through 2014, excluding goodwill (an intangible asset
    reflecting the excess of the price paid to acquire a company over the value of its net assets). This
    analysis excludes financial firms, where ROIC data is considerably more scarce. As the chart
    shows, the 90th percentile of the return on invested capital across firms has grown markedly since
    around the early 1990s. The 90/50 ratio—that is, the ratio of the 90th percentile of the distribution
    of capital returns to the median—has risen from under 3 to approximately 10. In addition, the
    dramatic returns on invested capital of roughly 100 percent apparent at the 90th percentile, and
    even 30 percent apparent at the 75th percentile, at the very least raise the question of whether
    they reflect economic rents.

    I guess the question I would have is: which companies are making so much money?
    Also, isn’t competition suppose to provide enough competitors that excess profits don’t last long?

  12. abynormal

    “…third death of a child tossed from a New York apartment since August”
    i’ve chosen Not to link to these events in the hopes NC commenters may find/share more insight. the reads i’ve given these horrors are glib. mental illness is somewhat noted in one of the articles (a mother of 4 arguing with herself all night before ‘tossing’ infant). what happen to Adults jumping out of windows?…not that i’m advocating this outcome.

    Lambert, you may appreciate this rebuttal which has kept Sociology on my radar:
    “…a short response to an article that was published on December 1st 2015 ‘ How Sociologist made themselves irrelevant’ by Professor Orlando Patterson. **It can be argued that it’s not the lack of research findings by sociologists, that makes them unable to engage in the larger public debate, or that they do not bring nothing to the table, instead i believe, partially, it’s those precise findings carried out by the sociologists that are difficult to digest by governments. Findings, of any sort, if they are seen to conflict with the existing ideology of the state, can be extinguished and thrown away with the rest of the heap of ‘junk thought’.

    1. Massinissa

      The article got the date wrong, it was December 1st 2014.

      December 1st 2015 is a month and a half from now.

  13. DJG

    The drone leaks: I’m sure that we’ll be hearing plenty about how if the Democrats do it, it isn’t a war crime. And they serve sushi at their fund-raisers! And those Clinton e-mails, don’t worry your pretty little heads about what she and Victoria Nuland were up to!

    About all you can say is that at least Dick Cheney was proud of being a war criminal. And Spawn of Evil Liz Cheney knows all about the efficacy of torture.

    1. Massinissa

      I remember a few years back someone did this study and told individual democrats about the drone strikes, and they were horrified. Then it was mentioned that they were authorized by Obama and these people who were horrified moments before then started trying to justify the drone strikes.


    1. OIFVet

      The Bulgarian media states that the refugees were hiding under a bridge. The bullet ricocheted off the bridge overhead. That I can see, provided the story is true.

  14. PQS

    I clipped this out when we first went and posted it at my desk. Still, 14 years later, appropriate:

    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    and the women come out to cut up what remains,
    jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    and go to your gawd like a soldier.

    –Rudyard Kipling

    1. Jim Haygood

      “Norman Morrison soaked himself in petrol and burned himself on the steps of the Pentagon in protest against the Vietnam war…Would it perhaps have taken greater courage to set fire to the President? A body of men who sleep soundly on a daily programme of sanctioned mass murder are surely only disturbed by personal danger.” ― Jeff Nuttall

      Self-immolation … there’s an idea for the Peace Prize Putz to regain his moral authority.

    2. OIFVet

      To the Person Sitting in Darkness:

      Extending the Blessings of Civilization to our Brother who Sits in Darkness has been a good trade and has paid well, on the whole; and there is money in it yet, if carefully worked — but not enough, in my judgement, to make any considerable risk advisable. The People that Sit in Darkness are getting to be too scarce — too scarce and too shy. And such darkness as is now left is really of but an indifferent quality, and not dark enough for the game. The most of those People that Sit in Darkness have been furnished with more light than was good for them or profitable for us. We have been injudicious.

      The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness have noticed it — they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization. More — they have begun to examine them. This is not well. The Blessings of Civilization are all right, and a good commercial property; there could not be a better, in a dim light. In the right kind of a light, and at a proper distance, with the goods a little out of focus, they furnish this desirable exhibit to the Gentlemen who Sit in Darkness:


      — and so on….

      Little has changed since Mark Twain wrote this.

    3. Synoia

      “Up the Khyber Pass” is Cockney slang for a situation beyond redemption. Orders of magnitude worse than SNAFU.

      As an interesting exercise, one might want to Google “Lord Roberts of Kandahar” and reflect on his wisdom in Afghanistan, and his failure against the Boers in South Africa.

  15. ambrit

    The short squib about the Navy reinstituting Celestial Navigation as an Academy course shouts out that the military is very worried about cyberwarfare. Does anyone here know if the Army still teaches hand signals for infantry soldiers? If the Pentagon has dropped that, and reinstitutes it, it will be an unmistakable statement of policy; “We don’t think we can guarantee electronics function on the battlefield.”
    As for celestial navigation; being able to shoot the sun in a light cross chop is recommendation enough for me. I can’t imagine doing it in a gale.

    1. OIFVet

      Yes, infantry is still taught hand signals. Non-infantry also gets the basic familiarization during basic training. The Army is not immune to costly technological hubris (like the Blue Force Tracker and the Future Force Warrior), but not to the extent of the Navy and the Air Force.

    2. Synoia

      As for celestial navigation; being able to shoot the sun in a light cross chop is recommendation enough for me. I can’t imagine doing it in a gale.

      No problem. Tie the Navigator to the rigging. All Royal Naval General Duty Officers can navigate, so there are spares too should something happen.

    3. James Levy

      My wife commented on a related issue a couple of years back when she heard that commercial ships will no longer be equipped to send or receive Morse Code and most lines were going all-in with GPS. She thought this an awful idea. I agreed with her. We both also feel the same way about copper telephone lines on a separate electrical circuit. We they are all scrapped we will miss them terribly as Climate Changed induced freaking weather takes out the highly vulnerable repeater towers and down goes the cell net.

      1. ambrit

        Your wife is right. I remember when one had to know Morse Code to get a Ham radio license. This fascination with ‘new and shiny’ always goes wrong, sooner or later. “Old reliable” is called that for a very good reason.
        One really big solar flare should convince ‘responsible’ people to keep the land lines.

          1. ambrit

            The first is ‘N’ but the second I couldn’t figure out.
            Sorry, no Q’sos from me. I never passed the test! I always used my friends rig, which, if I remember correctly was W4-DZX. This was all so long ago. I remember doing phone patches! To far off exotic lands!
            Times may have changed, but not people.

            1. JTMcPhee

              People don’t change. My question is, is what people are, in all their many and various parts, sustainable?

      2. montanamaven

        I heard an interview between Jimmy Carter and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Carter explained that he had been in the navy and an engineer. Of course, he was taught to navigate using a sextant. He was recently on a large boat or small ship (can’t remember) and asked if they had a sextant. He was shown downstairs where it was in a glass case.

      1. ambrit

        A healthy respect for “Plateau Technology” is in order. We can fall off of peaks.
        Sadly, we won’t know the answer to your question until we have passed the top and are on our way back down.

        1. abynormal

          Jan 22, 2015 the doomsday clock was moved forward 2 or 3 minutes. i don’t have the stomach to ck that link. IF it hasn’t been moved forward, it might be because the clock springs are embedded into the wall.

    4. optimader

      Navy reinstituting Celestial Navigation as an Academy

      When I originally read this my first thought was: when/why ever would they stop teaching it?? That should be a first semester class in a Naval Academy!

      Made me curious about the Merchant Marines

      Per Wikpedia, the cessation of it being taught is overstated.

      (BTW, be comforted with the knowledge that it is still a onboard navigation corection standard for ICBMS.)

      While celestial navigation is becoming increasingly redundant with the advent of inexpensive and highly accurate satellite navigation receivers (GPS), it was used extensively in aviation until the 1960s, and marine navigation until quite recently. But since a prudent mariner never relies on any sole means of fixing his position, many national maritime authorities still require deck officers to show knowledge of celestial navigation in examinations, primarily as a back-up for electronic navigation. One of the most common current usages of celestial navigation aboard large merchant vessels is for compass calibration and error checking at sea when no terrestrial references are available

      The US Naval Academy announced that it was discontinuing its course on celestial navigation, considered to be one of its most demanding course, from the formal curriculum in the spring of 1998 stating that a sextant is accurate to a three-mile (5 km) radius, while a satellite-linked computer can pinpoint a ship within 60 feet (18 m) as long as the satellites are functioning correctly. Presently, midshipmen continue to learn to use the sextant, but instead of performing a tedious 22-step mathematical calculation to plot a ship’s course, midshipmen feed the raw data into a computer.[3] Contrary to media reports, the US Naval Academy continues to practice celestial navigation as members of the USNA Varsity Offshore Sailing Team (VOST) and competes in the celestial spinnaker division in the bi-annual Marion-Bermuda Race racing aboard the venerable Navy 44 sail training craft. The Naval Academy Sailing Squadron (NASS) that consists of both the Offshore Sail Training Squadron (OSTS) and VOST crews use both long forms with paper plotting sheets and electronic celestial applications. Celestial navigation certification[4] is required to achieve the highest “E” qualification at NASS. At another federal service academy, the US Merchant Marine Academy, students are still taught courses in celestial navigation, as it is required to pass the US Coast Guard License Exam. It is also taught at Harvard, most recently as Astronomy 2.[5]

      Likewise, celestial navigation was used in commercial aviation up until the early part of the jet age; early Boeing 747s had a “sextant port” in the roof of the cockpit.[6] It was only phased out in the 1960s with the advent of inertial navigation and doppler navigation systems, and today’s satellite based systems which can locate the

      Back to my regularly scheduled coffee and PB&J

    5. GlennF

      The reason for the reinstituting of Celestial Navigation is because the military is going to encriypt GPS for their own use.

  16. Chris Williams

    Latest from John Helmer on MH17. It now seems the methods by which conclusions were drawn are classified. They just can’t be serious about this. Fair dinkum.

    Almaz-Antei has reported several times in public this week that the 9N314M warhead cannot be operated from the 9M38 missile series. The two cannot be connected electronically, according to the missile manufacturer. In addition, Almaz-Antei has confirmed that in the warhead types containing the distinctive shrapnel — the Russians are calling this “I-beam”, the Dutch “bowties” and “butterflies” — there are approximately 7,800 elements in total. Of this number, not less than a third, or 2,600 fragments, are of the bowtie type, again according to the manufacturer. If the DSB and its consultant analysts are all telling the truth, the identification of just three in the cockpit crew’s bodies, and one other fragment in the cockpit wreckage, is inexplicable. Almaz-Antei says its computer modelling, as well as its physical blast simulation, make this impossible.

    1. DSB Coverup

      I have been trying to access the DSB report but can’t
      find it online. Preliminary leaked information suggested the warhead
      was 30 kg and contained 2000-4000 flechettes. This would rule out a
      BUK missile which is 70 kg and contains 7000-8000 flechettes. It is
      consistent with the Israeli Python air to air missile which has a warhead
      of 30 kg. The DSB’s stated reasons for not doing a metallurgical analysis
      suggest criminal negligence as the probabilty of there being no differences
      between the metals of an Israeli made Python missile and a Russian made
      BUk are negligible.

    2. craazyboy

      That’s inconsistent with the evidence of the BUK nozzle and fin wreckage found. I’d like to hear Almaz-Antei take on that part of the recovered wreckage.

      But 3 bowties and one cube shrapnel recovered out of 7800 sounded odd to me as well. They would fly far in all directions, if not hitting anything, but still….

      The actual blast test did seem to pepper the cabin more densely than what I recall from fuselage crash pics. The blast test was done stationary vs the real situation was at Mach 3. Not sure how much difference that makes? Possibly not that much. The BUK is supposed to have a 95% effectiveness rate.

      1. DSB Coverup

        As the Helmer article suggests, the missile parts could have come from
        anywhere as no information has been presented as to the authenticity of their provenance.The Python missile has an imaging matrix that identifies the most vulnerable part of a plane. That would be the cockpit. It also has a proximity
        fuse so its accuracy is probably equal to the Buk. Until a forensic analysis is
        done on the metals, this report is a farce and joke.

        1. craazyboy

          Even the DSB mentioned that on subsequent trips to the site, months later, villagers gave them parts the villagers had collected.

          No yellow tape around the crime scene here, for sure.

        2. craazyboy

          Not sure how much metallurgy testing would reveal on shrapnel. It may be too generic – the cheapest low carbon steel or iron ingot is probably used by everyone.

          As far as the aircraft scenario – it was quickly poo-poo’d when the only choice was a SU-25 ground attack plane and it’s 25,000 ft service ceiling. But I did look around a bit and found a handful of SU-27 fighters in the Uki Air force.

          Got lazy and didn’t pursue which air-to-air missiles used what kind of shrapnel warheads, and which can be fired from what aircraft, and what Israel’s export policy is on Pythons, etc….

          Figured I’d leave that to the folks that get paid by the hour. hahaha.

        3. low_interer

          Seems to be just like the 9/11 Commission report. Just enough of a ‘scientific’ veneer to herd the passive public’s opinions on the matter into the desired conclusion-pen, yet ridiculously inadequate for anyone who assesses the conclusions, and how they were formed, critically. Standard operating procedure I’m guessing.

  17. Carolinian

    The Harpers Barry Lynn story on China is very good. A sampler

    Ronald Reagan is widely viewed as the chief votary of the libertarians, and in matters of domestic corporate policy, he certainly heeded Friedman’s views. But when it came to trade, Reagan stuck to traditional Jeffersonian principles. The state must retain ultimate control. Dependence on foreign nations must be avoided. Never did Reagan prove this more robustly than when he used trade and monetary policy to quash Japanese efforts to dominate such industries as cars and semiconductors.

    It was not until 1993 that Friedman found a true acolyte in the White House. When Bill Clinton took office, he moved with remarkable swiftness to shore up the power of private corporations — especially when it came to trade. By 1994, he had negotiated and signed an agreement that shifted the regulation of America’s commerce from the people’s government in Washington to the corporate-dominated World Trade Organization. By 2000, he had succeeded in winning permanent most-favored-nation trading status for China. In tandem, the two acts effectively gave a few corporations free rein to manage our trade with the autocratic regime in China.

    The gist is that trade with China could be changing us more than we are changing them. An exaggeration perhaps, but still a most interesting article.

    1. flora

      Those para’s caught my attention, too.

      … the two acts effectively gave a few corporations free rein to manage our trade ….”

      And by extension, free rein to manage US foreign policy to the benefit of individual corporations, though not necessarily to the benefit of the US or her position in the world. Harpers article is a must read.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “The US” is not an entity, certainly not a “her,” unless one is maybe subconsciously invoking Kali,, or Lucretia Borgia… Seems to me that this convention of hypostatzation and reification is a root cause if fatal category errors and “policy failures…”

  18. Propertius

    Prosecutors Say “Terrorism Expert” Was Actually Just an Expert at Conning Fox News

    I predict he has a bright future in his new career as an economist.

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