Links 1/18/18

Check Out This Sneaky Railway Smuggler Tram Makezine (resilc)

Aliens, apocalypse, lightning? … No, just a meteor rocking Michigan Reuters (EM)

Concerns Grow That Infections From ‘Zombie Deer’ Meat Can Jump To Humans NPR (Dvid L)

500 years later, scientists discover what probably killed the Aztecs Agence France-Presse (Chuck L)

What Goes Into Orbit Could Be Zapped With Lasers Before It Comes Down, Say Chinese Scientists Fortune (David L)

Scientists Just Recalibrated Our Future Climate Scenarios And We Need to Pay Attention Science Alert

Turning Soybeans Into Diesel Fuel Is Costing Us Billions NPR (Chuck L). I don’t know if it is still true, but from what I have read, the only biofuel that makes ecological sense is ethanol made from cane sugar, and then only when grown in Brazil.

McDonald’s Just Made a Stunning Announcement That Will Completely Change the Future of Fast Food Inc. (David L). A step in the right direction, but why are they taking so long?

Did Bitcoin Just Burst? How It Compares to History’s Big Bubbles Bloomberg (furzy)

Researchers: One Person Drove Bitcoin Price from $150 to $1,000 ExtremeTech (furzy)

Meltdown and Spectre

Spectre and Meltdown patches causing trouble as realistic attacks get closer ars technica

Mark Zuckerberg says he’s changing the way Facebook works for people’s well-being — but it could be worse for your mental health Business Insider (David L)

Magic mushrooms: Treating depression without dulling emotions MedicalXpress

China?

Bullets and bombs on China’s high-speed rail network Asia Times

North Korea

Exclusive: Trump says Russia helping North Korea skirt sanctions; Pyongyang getting close on missile Reuters (resilc)

Saker’s Jan. 12th interview with Bonnie Faulkner – transcript Vineyard of the Saker. Chuck L: From a few days back but still very much topical. The following especially caught my attention:

I got a letter from this intelligence analyst who said that I underestimated the threat just by having economic chaos in South Korea, because, he said, the ports in South Korea are crucial. A lot of what is produced in China is actually manufactured in Korea, then assembled in China, so war in the Korean Peninsula would also stop a lot of the manufacturing in China. It would dramatically effect shipping through the entire region and even air movement because crucial airports are also located in South Korea, which I had overlooked. And yes, of course, in Japan.

So we’re looking at a paralysis of basically Far East Asia economically, which would be devastating economically worldwide. And this is not something that’s usually discussed.

Brexit

Juncker says would like Britain to rejoin EU after Brexit Reuters (Kevin W)

Carillion

Carillion’s downfall shows dumb money knows no borders Financial Times

Hat tip Richard Smith, this long tweetstorm is very informative:

Residents of tower with Grenfell-style cladding told they must foot £2m bill Guardian (Kevin W)

Russia moves toward creation of an independent internet DW

Syraqistan

US military to maintain open-ended presence in Syria, Tillerson says Guardian

Tillerson denies US plans to form Syria border force Aljazeera (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

The IMF has choked Tunisia. No wonder the people are protesting Guardian

A Foreign Policy Of Sticks And Stones LoebLob (resilc)

Nukes

Pentagon Mulls Nuclear Response to Cyberattack New York Times. Help me. When attribution is at best informed conjecture? Bill B, who is a security expert, adds:

The quandary of attribution makes deterrence unrealistic. However, it would effectively lower the bar for false flag attacks. Thanks to WikiLeaks we know the CIA poses as foreign entities, like Kaspersky. Cyber Gulf of Tonkin anyone?

Building a Better Bomb: Reflections on the Atomic Bomb, the Hydrogen Bomb, and the Neutron Bomb
Daniel Ellsberg The Asia Pacific Journal. Chuck L: “Nearly nine years old but as pertinent as ever.” Moi: Today’s must read.

Trump Transition

Majority of U.S. National Park Service board resigns, saying it was ignored Reuters. EM: “After learning of the resignations U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, in an embarrassing open-mic gaffe, was heard muttering to an aide, ‘who needs that bunch of goddamned tree-hugging hippies, anyway?'”

Trump wall: President’s view on Mexico border has changed BBC (resilc)

Shutdown drama grips the Capitol The Hill. Will probably be resolved by Links launch time, but if not, this gives a real-time look at some of the sticking points.

WH: Dems using ‘s—hole’ comment as ‘excuse’ to not reach DACA deal The Hill

World’s confidence in US leadership under Trump at new low, poll finds Guardian

The Trump Administration Targets the Poor New Yorker (furzy)

Appropriations bill would bar SEC from requiring political spending disclosure Minneapolis Star-Tribune (TF). Not well covered in discussions of the shutdown bill…by design.

Tax “Reform”

Apple Plans to Pay $38 Billion in Repatriation Taxes, Likely the Biggest Payout Under New Law Wall Street Journal

Democrats Score Special Election Upset In Wisconsin GOP Stronghold Huffington Post

Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings; Blame Men Politico (JTM). Mark Ames, in his book Going Postal, found that the common element among mass shooters (and this included the very few women) was being on the receiving end of sustained bullying.

The poorly reported Aziz Ansari exposé was a missed opportunity Guardian (UserFriendly)

#MeToo effect: Calls flood U.S. sexual assault hotlines Reuters (EM)

Dow Industrials Top 26000 for First Time Wall Street Journal

Pimco Says Lack of Fear in Markets Means You Should Be Worried Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today? Michael Hudson, Center for Economic Policy Research

An Assistant Allegedly Stole $1.2 Million of Goldman Sachs Exec’s Wine Vice (resilc)

Buses carrying Apple and Google workers had their windows broken in a series of targeted highway attacks Business Insider

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “This is a little “Ceraunus Blue” (20-30 mm wingspan) butterfly keeping me company in the front yard while I watered.”

And a bonus antidote (Chuck L). A bit rough to watch…

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129 comments

  1. nechaev

    excellent analysis by Cockburn, as usual:

    JANUARY 18, 2018
    The Destabilizer: Trump’s Escalating Threats Against Iran
    by PATRICK COCKBURN

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/01/18/the-destabilizer-trumps-escalating-threats-against-iran/

    “…Some observers say reassuringly that Mr Trump’s aggressive rhetoric is frequently accompanied by prudent action and often by no action at all. But in the Middle East threats are taken seriously and, even when empty, may provoke a brutal counter-reaction. This is what happened in 2003 when US Neo-Conservatives spoke of following up the capture of Baghdad with regime change in Tehran and Damascus. The Iranians and Syrians became determined that the US and Britain would never stabilise their occupation of Iraq. If Mr Trump does succeed in capsizing the Iran nuclear deal, the US may soon regret reigniting a series of conflicts likely to end badly for them”

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      The US intends to maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria, not only to fight Isis and al-Qaida but also to provide a bulwark against Iranian influence, ensure the departure of the Assad regime and create conditions for the return of refugees, the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said on Wednesday.‘ — The Guardian

      This is toxically laughable on many levels, the most prominent one being that US-hired jihadis wrecked Syria so badly as to change the face of Europe with a full-blown refugee crisis. So illegal and destructive is the US presence in Syria that, but for the dim bulwark of Nikki Haley, the UN Security Council would long since have authorized the forcible eviction of Syria’s uninvited, bloody-minded yankee occupiers.

      As always, a hidden hand behind America’s obsession with a country that presents zero military threat to faraway North America is the Lobby. Israel wants Iran-friendly Hezbollah neutralized in Syria and Lebanon, and is willing to fight to the last American in pursuit of its objective. With well-greased palms 535 Kongress Klowns reply, “Sure, shef. Can we shine your shoes or carry your suitcase?“

      Reply
      1. Jean

        “Permanent military presence in Syria?”

        How about a good old fashioned American maxim for America?

        Mind your own hemisphere” or “Mind your own meridian.”

        i.e.
        Bring home all the troops from the Middle East and Africa and use them to occupy Mexico and Central America, making it a U.S. protectorate, eliminating the cartels and the oligarchs while creating a reason for immigrants to return to their own country. Even Mexico would vote for Trump if that happened.

        Reply
        1. RWood

          Good! That would also make them available for redeployment north, though some integration with extant security services there could be problematic.

          Reply
          1. MichaelSF

            They’d have to then tear down the Maple Curtain that keeps the Red Candians from sending their tanks rumbling south over the prairies.

            Reply
            1. rd

              This is a major threat today now that the craft beer movement has improved beer in the US. The Canadians may be much more interested in invading now.

              Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      As you say, excellent as always from Cockburn, but I think it should be read along with the Saker article linked above. They both provide an excellent overview as to why the US is in such a fundamentally weak situation, and getting weaker all the time. I think the Iranians know full well that most of what comes from Trump (and the Saudi’s) is just bluster, so they will focus on strategic strenghtening on all their borders – this means wiping out the last of Isis and Al-Q in Syria and Iraq, preventing the US from using the Kurds against them, and protecting Qatar from Saudi/UAE dominance. The big risk is a rash, stupid decision from Trump – it would seem there is nobody left with sense in the White House, the only pragmatists (apart maybe from Tillerson) are at lower levels in the US military and the White House.

      One piece of leverage that is rarely mentioned that the Iranians have is the Taliban. They are not ideological allies, but everyone in Afghanistan must be aware that if the Iranians supplied them with a few thousand guided anti-tank missiles and a good range of Manpads, then the US occupation would become completely unviable.

      Reply
      1. cocomaan

        They are not ideological allies, but everyone in Afghanistan must be aware that if the Iranians supplied them with a few thousand guided anti-tank missiles and a good range of Manpads, then the US occupation would become completely unviable.

        Which is extraordinarily easy, given the border that Afghanistan and Iran share.

        America ever achieving victory in Afghanistan has been a joke since the beginning, since a refusal to cooperate with Iran is like a refusal to cooperate with Pakistan on the Afghanistan problem.

        Reply
      2. VietnamVet

        This is incredibly crazy. Kurdistan and Afghanistan are both landlocked. The United States has actively pissed off all of the nations around these combat zones; Turkey, Syria, Russia, Iran and Pakistan while catering to the wants of Israel and Saudi Arabia. This could turn into a repeat of the Stalingrad airlift campaign if US troops aren’t pulled out.

        Reply
    3. Sid_finster

      All of the predictions that the naysayers made with regard to Iraq in 2003 have since come to pass, along none of the neocons predictions. The neocons plunged ahead regardless.

      What makes anyone think that they have learned anything since then?

      Reply
  2. RabidGandhi

    The World Bank is stoked as its balleyhood reconquista of Latin America (w/ the IMF, natch) is finally bearing fruit, with the region squeaking out almost a full 1.0% GDP groaf:

    Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is estimated to have reached 0.9 percent in 2017, the first positive rate since 2014. The recovery was broadly in line with expectations in June 2017, as stronger-than-expected [weasel words in original] growth in Brazil was offset by a much deeper-than-expected contraction in República Bolivariana de Venezuela and more modest shortfalls in the Caribbean subregion and Peru.

    See Ma, austerity does work! So now that those lefty pinko populists are out of power, everyone and his brother wants to invest in LatAm, amiright? Eh, not so much:

    Private consumption was the main contributor to activity in the region in 2017. Investment has been slower to recover in LAC than in other commodity-reliant emerging market and developing economy (EMDE) regions, where investment growth picked up in 2017 after years of weakness.

    “Private consumption” you say? You mean like people having money in their pockets to buy things? That sounds suspicously like boosting aggregate demand (aka “communism”). Nevertheless, a deeper dive into the stats shows that the country that most bucked the trend was ornery Bolivia, which at a 4.3% clip outpaced its neighbours by bounds.

    Once again, internal demand has helped maintain the economic dynamism: improved labour conditions with constant wage hikes, combined with greater state transfers to the population with fewer economic possibilities have been policies that have allowed for these results.

    Improving labour conditions and boosting real wages: crazy talk. Bolivia, you will also note, is traditionally dependent on its natural gas exports, and its main buyers are Argentina and Brasil, which are mired in austerity-induced “secular stagnation”. So Bolivia is just another third-world colony living off a commodities boom, right? Well the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) should know that answer to that question:

    Bolivia will again lead economic growth in 2018. It has reduced extreme poverty from 38.2% to 16.8%… and lowered its Gini index from 0.60 to 0.47.

    I.e., the growth is coming from decreasing inequality, which spikes internal demand. So bottom line: Macri (Argentina), Temer (Brasil), Piñera (Chile), Kuczynski (Perú)… have all dedicated themselves to satisfying the IMF/WB mandate to slash public spending, lower wages, cut pensions and deregulate. But the country actually improving its major stats (Gini, poverty, GDP, infant mortality…) is Bolivia: the country that has most focused on boosting its internal market– putting money into the pockets of the masses, foreign investors be damned. The IMF et al. will always prattle on about squelching aggregate demand to woo the confidence fairy (FDI), but it will always be the opposite– forgetting about fabled investors and investing instead in the population– that will win the day.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for all this, very enlightening. I do wonder if things will change under Trump. If you read the Sakers very good article linked above he makes the point that there has been a significant worldwide loss of fear of the US recently, and this is likely to accellerate under Trump. Quite simply, Trump and his neocon puppetmasters have expanded the list of ‘enemies’ so much, no single country is all that worried to be labled as such.

      While the tide is flowing against progressive governments in South America at the moment, I think that it can easily be reversed, thanks to the enormous mess the neoliberals are making (once again) in Brazil and Argentina, not to mention the laughable incompetence of the Venezuelan opposition (not that Maduro is exactly competent either).

      Reply
      1. RabidGandhi

        I am hesitant to share that optimism.

        First, the dynamics of the rightwing backlash in South America should be noted. Here US influence can basically be divided into 3 stages. In the first stage, the US would just send gunboats and get whatever it wants. In stage two, the enforcement tool was switched from the military to the IMF: get US-allied governments to take out massive debt, and then use IMF bailouts to enforce austerity policies. We’re now in a third stage, where the enforcement mechanisms are internal. The Macri, Temer and Kuczynski do not have a gun pointed at their heads by the US Army or the IMF, nor do they have the US ambassador whispering in their ear, but they do the institutions’ bidding anyways because they themselves have internalised the Washington Consensus (import substitution means we now have our own homegrown neolibs). Thus, I don’t see the Saker’s astute comment on the ME translating wholeheartedly to South America, because the US is not nearly as involved here.

        Second, I’m not so sure the reactionary changes will be so easy to reverse. There are serious institutional battles underway throughout the region, and the tactic is to see which side can make its changes most permanent whilst in power. Thus, the Temer regime has amended the constitution to practically criminalise deficit spending. In Argentina, the Macri government has packed the judiciary with extreme rightwing judges, in addition to essentially liquidating the pension fund and swamping the country in dollar-denominated debt. Even if the Keynesians were to return to power with a decisive mandate, these radical measures will take years and bitter struggle to undo.

        Lastly, I lived through the mess the last time the neoliberals lit the place on fire, and getting things (somewhat) back on track was no cakewalk.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I love the quote above, “economic dynamism”.

          If “growth” of .9% is “dynamic” I wonder what word they would use for 0% growth? “Stable”?
          “Steady”? “Measured”?

          Reply
    2. Jim Haygood

      Grudging agreement with Rabid Gandhi from a surprising source:

      Without the IMF, Bolivia now has the chance to develop on its own terms instead of under the rule of technocrats.

      Evo Morales’s refusal to cooperate in the US war on drugs and a decidedly laissez-faire attitude to informal and small-to-medium enterprise means that the state’s presence as an antagonistic force in the lives of ordinary people is at an historical low.

      All over cities like La Paz, colorful mansions known as cholets (a term combining cholo, the discriminatory term for someone of Indian descent, with the word chalet) are springing up, constructed in Andean style architecture, often five stories high, with the lower levels turned into businesses.

      A great leveling of the playing field has occurred under Evo, not through forceful redistribution of wealth, but rather through standing back and letting freedom and entrepreneurialism of the people run unchecked.

      https://mises.org/library/what%E2%80%99s-driving-bolivia%E2%80%99s-booming-economy

      Still, Bolivia’s economy has disturbing similarities to Venezuela’s, including a nationalized oil & gas sector which supplies 45% of government revenues. Resource extraction helps fund public spending on infrastructure, health and education.

      Bolivia is better off than Venezuela, as it has not ruined other productive sectors such as agriculture with expropriation and stifling price controls. But “better than Venezuela” is not good enough.

      Focusing on industrialization of the resource sector has actually made Bolivia’s economy more dependent on gas production and less diversified. Economic diversification to become less commodity-dependent is one moral of Venezuela’s dark cautionary tale.

      Ironically the worst thing that could happen to Bolivia is $100 a barrel oil, a not-unlikely prospect by 2020. Hundred-dollar oil would make Bolivia boom like crazy, but would undermine the incentive for economic diversification, to Bolivia’s long-term detriment. Olé!

      Reply
      1. RabidGandhi

        Definitely agree about the need to escape the commodities trap. (I have a friend in a Eurasian government who says “the Lord has blessed us by depriving us of oil”). However I think the Mises lads are hallucinating when they say there has not been a forceful redistribution of wealth in Bolivia, as can clearly be seen by the Gini and poverty numbers. The rich have been dragged kicking and screaming into taking a smaller slice of the pie; but Evonomics has grown the pie, so todos contentos.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          If you ever have time to kill and want to get away with it, take a drive on Hwy 33, the ‘Petroleum Highway’ west of Bakersfield. You’d think you were in Saudi Arabia there are so many wells going at it, and the nexus of activity is in Taft & Maricopa, the latter town being so down @ the heels that the entire main street was bereft of viable businesses last time we did a drive-by.

          http://mavensphotoblog.com/2012/05/11/traveling-the-petroleum-highway-through-the-oil-fields-of-kern-county/

          Reply
        2. JohnnyGL

          I’d love to see an in depth write up on this, but the comparison/contrast between Venezuela and Bolivia seems striking.

          Perhaps the American business and cultural ties in Venezuela are/were deeper than in Bolivia? Maybe CIA/DEA and the rest have more ability and more desire to stir up trouble in Venezuela? Not sure how much of a factor this is in Venezuela’s problems, but it certainly seems like they’ve tried to do the same in Bolivia….

          https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/operation-naked-king-evo-morales_us_55f70da2e4b077ca094fdbe1

          https://news.vice.com/article/bolivia-ended-its-drug-war-by-kicking-out-the-dea-and-legalizing-coca

          More broadly, it seems the Bolivian oligarch class (and in Ecuador, too) has basically chosen to compromise whereas the Venezuelan oligarchs have chosen to burn the place down, rather than cede any measure of control.

          And, of course, as more than a tip of the hat to Haygood, it’s hard to talk about Venezuela’s problems without mentioning their screwy exchange rate mechanism which they STILL refuse to fix. I really don’t have a good grasp on why that is. If a country wants to do capital controls, just follow the example of Malaysia circa 1998. It can’t be that hard to recreate, can it? Granted, circumstances are different and Malaysia had a strong industrial base for exports and it mostly just needed to buy time for itself. But, at this point, Venezuela’s crushed imports and more or less got something close to an external balance-of-payments, and yet….they’re still descending into an ongoing monetary disaster.

          Anyone who’s got a better grasp on this story that can provide some good analysis would be quite welcome. I still feel like I don’t.

          I’d be curious to know…..1) how the balance of class forces is different in the two countries and 2) how USA ties factor in.

          Reply
      2. JohnnyGL

        https://america.cgtn.com/2018/01/17/the-lithium-rush-bolivia-looks-to-profit-from-battery-production

        Here’s a crazy idea….using your naturally endowed commodities to build an industrial base and move up the value chain.

        Imagine that?

        It’s not easy to turn around a 500 year old economic model of shipping your naturally endowed wealth abroad on the cheap, though….
        http://www.smh.com.au/world/lithium-bolivia-20170523-gwb8me.html

        Seems like quite a struggle to bring in the knowledge and foreign capital to develop that industry locally.

        Reply
      3. John k

        Not punishing ag, or allowing insiders to loot via an insider only special exchange rate, should not just prevent the accelerating Venezuelan death dive but also allows long term growth. Granted, oil income should be used for long term projects benefitting all.

        A dangerous example, there will be many annoyed actors. Hopefully cia remains distracted in ME.

        Reply
    3. Enquiring Mind

      Bolivia entering the cross-hairs, looking like the odds are going to turn against them. Maybe stocking up on tin futures is a hedge.

      In the old days, we had the Rockefeller brothers to keep things in line, however nobody has risen to the occasion since the passing of David.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve been dating them for years, although I only ever seem to get to first base in our embrace, which often involves heavy petting, and it’s the ultimate May to December romance, the object of my desire being perhaps 1,437 years old.

        Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From time to time, one can love a tree better by not hugging it.

        An oleander or a poison oak tree, for example.

        Maybe even a thorny rose bush.

        Reply
        1. Arizona Slim

          Which is why I’m not a literal tree hugger. I have two ironwoods with nasty tempers and a mesquite with a bad attitude. And don’t get me started on that oleander at the property line. Just don’t.

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          Ever seen a natural honey locust? Branched thorns up to a foot long on the trunk.

          The ones in people’s yards have been bred to get rid of those.

          Reply
        3. Anon

          Just so no “fake news” gets propagated: Poison Oak is actually a woody, perennial shrub; not a tree. (It’s called “poison oak” because of the skin irritation it causes (in some, not me) and its leaves are oak like in shape.)

          Reply
    1. Carolinian

      James Watt is back. In Reagan times environmentalists fought back. Now they sit on their hands, probably worrying more about Putin.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The scary truth is the ‘environmental movement’ only really exists as a boogeyman for the hard right, otherwise it’s a joke, and i’m looking @ you, Sierra Club.

        Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    Magic mushrooms: Treating depression without dulling emotions MedicalXpress
    ~~~~~~~~~
    I’ve only ever indulged in nature’s realm and always selected some place profound to partake, and each experience brought me to the edge of a world that was always there, but I never quite noticed heretofore. As an elixir of exhilaration i’ve found none to equal it’s gentle embrace, my mind & body racing with emotional well being and a sense of place and purpose, and belonging to my surroundings, and vice versa.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEaGQhT0_QQ

    Reply
    1. Croatoan

      I did not need Mushrooms or LSD to experience their effect. Lucky me was born with the HTR2A (Serotonin 2A receptor) genetics that make it all possible naturally, but mostly unpredictable. What you described Wukchumni is “Mania”.

      While SSRI’s try to activate these receptor by flooding them with serotonin they also flood all the other receptors with serotonin as well, hence, side effects. Receptor agonists are most direct way to get people to feel better, but they can also make you feel too good, which might make you empathize with people and quit your job to follow Christ or Buddha, and that is no good for the GDP.

      There is a way to find a balance without any drugs. I can easily trigger my hypomania by going on a very extreme diet high in Omega 3 and very low in Omega 6 that changes the function of these receptors.

      Reply
      1. IHateBanks

        Personally, I have, in the past, through use of drug free ritual over a lengthy period, been able to experience “mystical” states, and my “self/other” operating system was shattered to the point of deep awareness of the interconnectedness of all and everything.

        Frustration with my inability to bridge the gap between these “peak” experiences, and incorporate them into my everyday, waking “normal” life, caused me to give up that path as sort of a fools errand, about 15 years ago.

        Although, ultimately, I was a poor student of “mysticism”, I found that those experiences changed me forever, and for the better.

        My point in all this is that even though the article mentioned use of drugs, they are not necessary. They DO kick down some doors, and make a therapists job “easier”. But don’t they create a mental dependence on a substance to create a “state of being”? Careful with that……

        Reply
        1. Croatoan

          The mistake you made was thinking it was viable to live in that state forever. Even the Buddha saw that was not possible.

          It is only something to be experienced to break the illusion, and attachment to, the dominant hallucination.

          And I agree, drugs are not necessary.

          Reply
      2. B1whois

        this was funny to me, because I just took mushrooms for the first time on Sunday. it was the late completion of my 2017 New Year’s resolution, to do more drugs. in the last year I’ve done LSD 6 times, ketamine once, ecstasy once, and finally magic mushrooms. the only one I wouldn’t do again is ketamine.
        I undertook this resolution because I was so mired in negative thinking and exhibiting rage alternating with depression and self-blame. I decided to try these drugs as a way to bust my frame and forestall suicide or job loss. the results have been good, although I also left the US so it’s hard to attribute solely to the drugs. either way, my mental health has much improved.

        as to the negative thinking, something that has helped me recently is to study nonviolent communication as put forth by Marshall Rosenberg. His theories focus on universal human needs and connecting to these and our own feelings and those of others. this is a better understanding then blaming ourselves or others for how we feel or how they make us feel. I’m very thankful to feel once again like I am making progress on my own mental and emotional development. I suspect I wouldn’t be doing as well today if I hadn’t started doing psychedelics. It did break the frame that kept me from growth.

        my friends are really quite worried about me, but I think they just buy the War on Drugs rhetoric uncritically. When I look at the side effects of prescription drugs, which are okay for everyone to be encouraged to use, and then see how LSD and mushrooms are characterized, I am quite skeptical. I recommend everyone do your own research and have an open mind.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The journey of self-love is a long one, sounds like you’re doing better so keep going. Some people only need one drug experience to know that another frame even exists, I seemed to need daily reminders but then that ended many years ago. I do find that America is the nexus of “you’re not worthy!” messaging so being in a different culture is probably good. Another way to look through a different frame.

          Reply
          1. RWood

            (ecumenical)
            sat nam

            Seeing into darkness is clarity,
            Knowing how to yield is strength.
            Use your own light
            and return to the source of light.
            This is called practicing eternity.
            Lao Tzu

            Reply
          2. Meher Baba Fan

            Just to contribute to the discussion. I am genuinely concerned by the new popularity in some of these substances because of the lack of information- not respecting or knowing powerful they are and using them without ‘ set’ and’ setting.’ I read, one should prepare for an experience with all the diligence one would choose a brain surgeon to remove a tumour ‘ because thats what you are basically doing, here’
            dose and frequency determine whether a substance is poison or medicine. we observe this with coffee, alcohol. psychedelics as substances are so damn powerful. this mindfulness re: dose /frequency is essential
            For the flipside read books by Stanislav Grof. He ceased chemicals for personal exploration and therapy when he saw what the breath could do : ‘Holotropic Breathwork’. The man is a legend

            Reply
        2. UserFriendly

          If you wouldn’t do k again, you were doing it wrong. Especially if your chief goal was mitigating depression. There is a possibility you were given S-Ketamine which is a more potent dissociative but doesn’t have the depression mitigation that R-Ketamine (or a racemic mixture) does. Did you do too much and get in a K hole?. I have once or twice and found the experience quite interesting. But generally you want to aim for a lower dose; it’s more fun and you can still walk.

          Reply
    1. Alex Morfesis

      Citizens suggest Pentagon counter devastating lack of real enemies with hugs and kisses for all…maybe turn the five sided building into a really big museum where people can go visit and our grandchildren can look up to us one day and ask…what was war ?

      Reply
      1. voteforno6

        Well, they do already offer tours of the building. If you want to hear the really interesting stories, though, you need to talk to some of the old salts there, rather than the young enlisted people that are the official tour guides.

        Reply
    2. UserFriendly

      IMO the headline is more ‘Trump is a New and Unconventional Evil’ than any real reflection of a policy change. They are just putting in writing what has always been the US policy of refusing to swear off first strike options. Does anyone think if North Korea had taken out our power grid with a cyber attack and started using artillery to flatten Soul that any other president would have hesitated in launching dozens of nukes?

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        This framing is perfect for the BAWMM (Bi-partisan American War Making Machine), if another country slams planes into towers or sends troops across a border then it’s simple for citizens to know when and whom to start a war with. But all the Pentagon needs to do is state “Kenya did a cyber attack so we are nuking them” and the public will have no way to know if they really did it or if it’s just the Clinton Foundation retaliating because they got kicked out of Nairobi.

        Reply
  4. Kevin

    Regarding McDonalds; I often ponder renewables as I drink my morning ice coffee from Dunkin Donuts in a plastic cup. I enjoy the drink for maybe 10 minutes tops – and my cup will live on for 50?, 100 years in a landfill?

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      My memory may be awry, but I remember the very first time I visited a McD’s – I think in the late 1970’s or early ’80’s when the first one opened in Dublin – I think I was around 12 – noting approvingly that most of the packaging was stiff cardboard with instructions on it about where to recycle it. I seem to remember they made quite a thing of their recycling policy back then when moving in to Europe. It was, of course, just PR when launching into new markets, so I would reserve judgement on anything McD’s say until the evidence is in.

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Zero use is worse than single use.

      Some people buy hundreds of pairs of shoes and never wear them.

      It is said that the Qing emperors wore a new dragon robe everyday. That was single use.

      The robes that were never worn – that’s zero use.

      Reply
      1. epynonymous

        Conspicuous consumption is a key part of power-cliques in any era.

        Every day, the Mayan king would choose from the finest clothes in the land, and at the end of the day it would be burned.

        Reply
  5. Kevin

    Vox has a piece out:
    “Senate Republicans are trying to blame Medicaid for the opioid epidemic”

    Same old playbook: Cut, Demonize and Eliminate.

    Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    US military to maintain open-ended presence in Syria, Tillerson says

    Looks like Rex Tillerson has swallowed the Beltway kool-aid. They’re not even pretending to hide their aims anymore. Militarily occupy another country illegally, set up a dozen bases without going through the UN while trying to pretend the UN has given them the nod, announced that their main aim is to remove Assad and make way for a Beltway crony who will spend most of his time killing his own people and selling off the country – what’s not to like.
    According to the map that I have, where they are is surrounded by three countries hostile to their aim – Syria, Iraq and Turkey with the later being a NATO country. This mean that they also have to overfly those countries to supply them which would be expensive as hell. Trying to set up a force of some three divisions – about 30,000 men – on Turkey’s border composed of Turkey’s enemies as well as former Jihadist allies while denying that they are doing so is not impressing anyone in Ankara. Another aim is to curb Iran, a country that was actually invited into Syria. Does that mean having ex-Jihadists attacking Iranian militia while under a protective US aerial umbrella?
    I feel sorry for any refugees that return to this part of Syria. Young men are being forced into US trained forces and the same would probably happen to any returning young men which may be the point of that aim. I especially like Tillerson’s line “A murderer of his own people cannot generate the support required for long-term stability.” And that after the number of people that have been killed in northern Syria by US aircraft which is probably in the thousands if not the tens of thousands. Last I heard, Raqqa is still devastated and unfit for people to live in. As far as the aim of getting rid of chemical weapons, the Syrians did that two years ago but just the past coupla days the Jihadists have used chlorine gas on Syrian troops advancing into Idlib. So, get rid of whose chemical weapons?
    What is really funny is that Staffan de Mistura is demanding that all negotiations take place through him and not through Sochhi. The only thing is that he has been a failure while Socchi has been a great success. Gotta do something to earn a Nobel Peace prize I guess.

    Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    Each of the previous shutdowns has left our local economy in shambles for a spell, and worst of all, tourists might go to Disneyland instead of visiting living legends in the forest for the trees.

    Reply
  8. allan

    Luggage limbo: Bags still missing after JFK airport woes [AP]

    … The luggage in limbo is a fraction of the thousands of unclaimed bags that accumulated during the chaos. But it illuminates the magnitude of the breakdown and airlines’ limitations in handling baggage backups.

    The industry generally has a good record on luggage: Thanks to improvements in bag-tracking technology and processes, the rate of mishandled baggage has fallen 70 percent since 2007, hitting a record low in 2016, according to airline technology firm SITA. But airlines aren’t prepared for an unexpected backlog that happens fast, said Robert Mann, an industry consultant and former airline executive.

    “When an event like this happens, there’s suddenly no physical manpower to address it,” Mann said. “They are forced back into manual procedures and not equipped to handle it.” …

    Gotta love the passive voice.
    Workers have to plan and take responsibility for their retirements
    but executives don’t need to plan for weather emergencies.

    Reply
  9. PlutoniumKun

    Bullets and bombs on China’s high-speed rail network Asia Times

    This is a very confused article. First off, it is suggesting that Chinas HSR network will be upgraded with 400kph trains – this is very unlikely, if anything the network is slowing down, mainly due to the poor quality of construction (especially concrete quality) on much of the lines. It may be possible to squeeze out more speed on the very highest quality lines, but to do so on most of the network would require a huge upgrade of the physical lines (including realignments of tunnels, etc), its not just a simple matter of putting on faster rolling stock.

    The issue of military use is also very confused. HSR lines are purpose built for high speed passenger rolling stock. This is particularly so in ‘twisty’ lines where cambering is required on turns. Quite simply, you can build a camber for a 300kph passenger train doing a corner, or for a 50kph goods train, you can’t for both. So the possibility of HSR being used to transport heavy military equipment is highly unlikely, and even less likely that they could be used for ICBM’s. Add to that the problem that HSR lines are much more vulnerable in a conflict and the military would never consider using them in a conflict, except for the transport of high value individuals or lightweight equipment. The traditional rail system would always be the workhorse for military use within China.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps they think three hundred Kamikaze low-life-value patriotic, light-weight Spartan division soldiers can be decisive.

      Reply
    2. XXYY

      This was an odd article, entirely based on “is believed” type hyperventilation and no new facts at all. Is the goal to throw shade on China’s world class train system? Mentally link them to the nefarious Rooskies? It was obviously written after watching Dr. Strangelove 20 times in a row on acid.

      But it is believed the trains have also been designed for a security role, as they will be capable of rapidly deploying troops, military materiel, weapons and other firepower if the need arises.

      How sneaky can you get!

      Of course, the US Interstate Highway system, pushed by General (later president) Dwight Eisenhower, had the same goal; Eisenhower was himself reportedly inspired by the Nazi system of autobahn during his European adventures. It’s no secret than transportation infrastructure is dual use.

      Not mentioned here is Reagan’s notorious and idiotic Strategic Defense Initiative plan, which also was supposed to shuttle ICBMs around on trains from one hardened missile shelter to another. Though AFAIK this system could carry no passengers.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        I lived a short time in the late ’80’s in NY and I remember reading an article from a semi-serious source which suggested that the best place for Reagan to put his new ICBM’s would be shuttling around NY’s subway. The thinking was that the investment needed would upgrade then then (as now) creaking subway system, the military presence would scare away all the muggers, and since NY would likely be a target anyway, nobody should worry too much about being vapourised. It made a sort of wierd sense.

        I was under the impression that Eisenhower essentially invented the military dual use to get the expenditure past congress, he never really believed it. Wasn’t it called the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act or something like that?

        Reply
  10. PA

    In regards to the Zombie Deer article on CWD – CJD, I was deeply concerned when friends of mine volunteered to assist with monitoring efforts years ago to track CWD in Wisconsin. Prions and their pathway to disease are not fully understood and yet volunteers contact / manage nerve or infected tissues. Are they being placed in harms way? What kinds of personal protective measures and training are provided to those assisting with these tests?

    Reply
    1. cocomaan

      I tried to post this before but the board ate it.

      The best protection against CWD involves careful handling of nervous system and other areas. However CWD prions have been discovered binding to soil particles, so you’re never going to get rid of them. They’re also extraordinarily difficult to destroy, needing to be heated to several hundred degrees to destroy them. You can’t cook it out of meat even if you tried.

      The assumption is that this influences hunters, but the truth is much bigger. The role hunters play in conservation is huge. They are the largest source of conservation funding, last time I checked, through things like the Pittman Robertson act. A breakout of CWD would reduce hunting of ungulates and potentially doom conservation in this country.

      This is a problem that goes beyond wildlife and into broader wilderness management.

      Reply
  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today? Michael Hudson, Center for Economic Policy Research

    Why not give everyone some money?

    Debt cancellations discriminate against those who have not yet borrowed today (who might have to tomorrow).

    “You’re so lucky you borrowed last month to buy a car. Now, you own it free of debt. I will have to borrow heavily to get a car, in order to get a job.”

    If Johnny were given some money, he too, could have gotten a car without borrowing, and at the same time, his brother/friend/sister could use that money to pay off their car loan.

    (The more people a program benefits, the more popular it is. In this case, everyone).

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      That was an excellent article by Hudson, and he misses out on one key factor of debt jubilees though, in that until the Lydians invented coins, money was arbitrary and not a fixed thing, as it would become later especially in the Roman Empire where for the first time, wealth was created in easily divisible amounts in copper, silver & gold, a troika that included all levels of the citizenry at large, whereas heretofore, only silver & gold existed as a medium of exchange in coin form.

      Creating a debt jubilee for post war Germany was probably on account of Cold War tensions and our needing a dependable bulwark to counter Soviet aggression, along with memories of what went down in the previous post war period when the debt was so onerous, it brought on the 3rd Reich.

      Reply
    2. TroyMcClure

      Steve Keen has outlined a plan similar to what you described.

      Everyone gets $100k and you have to spend up to 50% on debt. If you have little to none, then you get it all free and clear. something along those lines…

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The claim is that it costs a million dollars per soldier to keep them in harm’s way in some lonely outpost in the ‘stanbox, and in lieu of sending them there, why not give each soldier a million dollars with the proviso that they have to spend it within a year, an ad hoc Brewster’s Millions?

        We’d get the recruitment numbers up in a jiffy, i’ll tellyawhut.

        Reply
      2. Jef

        The problem with giving people money is that it will mostly go to continuing to pay all of the leaches that dominate the economy. Then what?

        First Jubilee, then outlaw usury/rentier, then;
        pay people to NOT consume
        pay people to go to school
        pay people to farm
        pay people to couch surf
        and on and on

        Reply
    3. marym

      What about something like a student debt Jubilee combined with publicly funded tuition at public colleges, and, for those who paid their debts in the last xx years, a tuition grant if they or their kids want to pursue education at a private college?

      Not to say that’s a perfect plan (I thought about it for 5 minutes), but we need to acknowledge that getting out from under the burdens and injustice of our predatory systems won’t be easy or perfect. We need plans that bring relief to the present, undo some of the harm of the past, and provide a better way in the future.

      Reply
  12. Barmitt O'Bamney

    There is no I in irony…
    “There’s no off-switch,” said ICANN Chief Technology Officer David Conrad. In theory, he explained, the US government could force ICANN, a US-based firm, to influence the top level domain concerning Russia, for instance to take the .ru from the root server, adding that connections would become more difficult but overall, it would have a limited effect.

    The DNS, Conrad said, is based on trust. “If the US government were do anything as crazy” as meddling with the root server, he explained, that trust would be gone, and alternative root servers would crop up. The damage to the internet as a global market place and means of communication would surpass the benefit, he concluded

    Oh yes, they would lose all trust in us. Future conditional – but such an unimaginable future. Surely the Russians understand how our tender concerns over this kind of contingency places an insurmountable and everlasting restraint on US actions? “Alternative root servers would crop up” he says. Hmm. I suppose that in some “bizarro” alternate dimension, where the US technomilitaryfinancial global imperium was actually untrustworthy instead of being the source and guarantor of all trust, they might start to crop up here and there.

    Reply
  13. Jim Haygood

    Today Ed Yardeni’s fundamental economic indicator launched higher as Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort index reached a fresh 17-year high.

    Adding to the Yardeni indicator’s rise was a drop in the 4-week average of unemployment claims to 244,500 from 250,750 last week.

    Despite a slight dip in the third component, industrial materials prices, Yardeni’s indicator is now just a fraction below its high of the past 12 months, set on Aug 31, 2017 just before the hurricane. Chart:

    http://ibb.co/eYZiBm

    Consumer comfort and stock indexes are both correlated and mutually self-reinforcing. Our current economic phase is like the twin lead guitar solo at a raucous rock concert. Don’t bogart the spliff …

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      This was my first ever rock and roll concert I attended. The sound quality is so awful on the y/t you want to cringe, as it probably emanated from somebody’s less than state of the art tape recorder hidden on their body. I can still see Freddie Mercury prancing around the stage in a harlequin outfit, in my mind.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5UbshEe5N0

      Reply
  14. Eureka Springs

    26,000. Sans the internet and these fancy little phones, life was as good if not better before it hit 2,000.

    In re Syria. What’s the mission again? Is it still Assad must go? In re U.N. votes it seems to me on matters of war/invasion/occupation no single country which is the subject at hand should have veto power.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      A most excellent book on the 1960’s stock market that valiantly tried to get over 1,000 on the Dow, but couldn’t make it until 1972, is John Brooks “The Go Go Years: The Drama and Crashing Finale of Wall Street’s Bullish 60s”

      Twas a different era altogether, although greed and larceny knows no bounds and the players were different, yet similar.

      A good read if you’re into history~

      Reply
  15. fresno dan

    The poorly reported Aziz Ansari exposé was a missed opportunity Guardian (UserFriendly)

    It’s a shame. Not because these stories shouldn’t be told – if anything, we need to talk more about how pervasive power imbalances benefit men and make sex worse for women*.
    ….
    The language of “a bad hookup” fails to capture the unequal power dynamics and the deep sense of disorientation and betrayal that comes when someone treats you as a hole rather than a person.
    ===========================================
    Again, what I have a problem with is that the story takes a point of view that the woman is going out with this guy and is helpless in every respect, and that SOMEHOW, this hook-up happened entirely without the knowledge or action of “Grace.” Now, if Aziz had economic power over Grace, that is very serious that he wants to compel sex due to his economic power and that is something society should do to STOP.

    But this story seems to be that Aziz just wanted this woman for a one night stand. Yup, I agree. Would we be better off in a David French/Mike Pence world of chaperoned ladies and men never alone in the presence of a single woman to prevent such licentiousness??? Seems to me women were no better off when such customs prevailed than they are now (and indeed, the Victorian age was an age of grinding hopeless poverty).
    If you don’t think sex should be casual and loveless….than don’t have it.
    Again, the question that seems improper to broach is: WHY did Grace feel such a need to acquiesce to a man she barely knew? The article makes the rather implausible argument that:

    Feminists have been on the forefront of tackling these knottier issues of sex, consent, pleasure and power. And so it’s up to us to lead the way in confronting the private, intimate interactions that may be technically consensual but still profoundly sexist.

    So….Grace did want sex….but Aziz is just a lousy lay – crass, self centered???? OK than. Soooo…..what are we to do about this???? maybe we go back to the original Facebook thing of ranking people, and feminists can rank Aziz”
    1 Cute
    2 Wealthy
    3. Famous
    4. troglodyte at oral sex and post coital snuggling DATE AT YOUR OWN RISK (this would be in flashing red letters)

    Its difficult for me to attribute anything but worship of wealth and celebrity to this hook up.
    Was this woman, a denizen of LA and the celebrity culture, unaware of the ethos of casual sex that pervades the upper classes on the coasts? REALLY?
    It seems to me that someone who is of even middling intelligence, knew what the night was to be about.

    * So, so sad that young women today have absolutely NO men of their own age and economic standing to date, and are forced to go out ONLY with rich, famous men…..

    Reply
  16. Chris Hargens

    Regarding, “The poorly reported Aziz Ansari exposé was a missed opportunity.” It’s tiresome to read generalizations like “Girls are raised with a contradictory set of expectations: be kind and acquiescent, but also be the brakes on male sexual desire. We are taught to reflexively say yes except for when we’re supposed to definitively say no, but we don’t learn how to know when we want to say either.” And “Men aren’t morons, and they know as well as anyone that a woman who is silent, physically stiff, or pulling away is not exactly aflame with desire. But they also know that we are collectively invested in a social script wherein men push to get sex until women acquiesce. And so they push, even when they know it’s unwelcome, because they can.” Of course, the writer of the article, when pressed, would concede that there are exceptions (and would perhaps argue that such generalizations are merely shorthand for making a point); however, it’s worth asking how many readers are uncritically accepting the writer’s over-generalized observations and incorporating them into their own views about relations between the sexes.

    Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    500 years later, scientists discover what probably killed the Aztecs Agence France-Presse
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    The native peoples of the Americas didn’t stand a chance with their stone age immunity systems against the likes of us. Here in utter tranquility, peaceful indians lived for a millennia or 2, until measles came calling in 1868-69, killing about 85% of the population in no time flat.

    In the aftermath, the survivors of our tribe and all other tribes along the western edge of the Sierra Nevada got together in 1870 for the first of many ‘Ghost Dances’, marathon sessions lasting about a week in the forlorn hope of bringing back dead ones.

    How differently would we react if a similar number of us were wiped out if our immunity systems couldn’t handle radiation from nuclear weapons for which we had no defense?

    Reply
    1. Anon

      I believe the key insight into the obliteration of the Aztec people was that the virus was NOT transmitted directly by Old World explorers/conquistadors, but by their animals. (If, by some stretch) this is supposed to exonerate these explorers it is beyond me.) Measles and small pox likely would have eventually killed the ancient Aztecs just as readily as the animal entero-virus.

      This obliteration of New World peoples is an essential part of Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel”. Since germs not guns did most of the work, why do we still call these explorers “Conquistadors”?

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Much of Western literature makes reference to the end-times atmosphere of the Black Death and many plagues that followed. So I’ve often wondered at how the peoples native to North America thought and felt about the strange diseases mysteriously destroying entire cities, towns, and villages with death rates higher than the death rates from the Black Death. The only movie I’ve seen that even hinted on this theme was Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” — and the hint was minimal. The alien invasions of ruthless Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch and others came after the mass extinction of much of the existing human population of North America — at least according to what I recall reading in “1491”. In “Apocalypto” they seemed nearly coincident. I am amazed at the rapid spread of disease from the incursions of the earliest adventurers and explorers. If runaway-pigs and smallpox-blankets could so quickly wipe out a large part of the human population in North America in a period with lower rates of transportation and smaller population densities compared with today … imagine the effects of similar diseases — possibly created in war labs by genetic modifications of the earlier pathogens through efforts of governments — like our own.

      Reply
      1. visitor

        in a period with lower rates of transportation and smaller population densities compared with today

        The Incas, Aztecs, as well as the lesser-known populations that lived in what is now the Brazilian Amazon had extensive, well-developed and maintained, and intensely trafficked road systems. The road and bridge network of Incas was famous, and an essential infrastructure for maintaining power on their vast realm. Several North American tribal confederations also had extensive ways (e.g. via rivers).

        As for population densities, pre-Columbian Aztec and Inca capitals rivaled in size and densities with European ones. In Brazil, there were dense networks of agglomerations interconnected by truly large (wide and long) roads criss-crossing their territories.

        Communication, though on foot instead of horse, dromedary or donkey, could therefore be quite effective.

        It is now pretty much a certainty that the small, isolated “primitive tribes” living in the Amazon are the meagre remains of the descendants of large populations that dwelt in town and villages with an agricultural system well-adapted to their surroundings (mix of large cultivation and tree plantations enabled by “terra preta” and systematic forestry management, with fishing thrown in). They were the survivors of the demographic and cultural devastation caused by the diseases brought by Europeans and that reached them via trade and inter-tribal exchanges well before the Europeans managed to get to the interior of the continent.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          You comment confirms what I recall from reading 1491. But I was not comparing Europe with North America circa 1491 — I compared the population densities and extent of transportation in 2018 versus 1491. A plague like smallpox in 1491 North America would strike today’s world unlike anything in human history.

          Reply
          1. Anon

            I haven’t read “1491” (probably should). Another good read on the history of native Americans (North & Central) is “One Vast Winter Count” by Colin G. Calloway.

            A Winter Count was a pictogram (usually drawn on prepared animal skin) that provided an accounting of the previous 4 seasons. It was developed each Winter, thus the title of the book.

            Reply
            1. rd

              Both 1491 and 1493 are very enlightening books.

              1491 looks at what the Americas were like before European colonization. A primary reason we perceive indigenous Americans as primitive is that huge swathes of their populations had been destroyed, mainly by disease, by the time the scholar types showed up in the villages. So the social fabric had been smashed, similar to the Black Death in medieval times in Europe, causing large losses of knowledge, skills, and social structure. so they were reverting to primitive states after that damage, similar to what would have been observed if a sociologist had tried to evaluate the level of civilization in the Flanders area of Belgium in early 1919 after WW I and the Spanish Influenza had ravaged the area and population.

              1493 looks at the creation of a global economy and ecosystem in the centuries after the linkage of Europe-Americas-Asia-Africa created the Columbian exchange.

              Reply
              1. Wukchumni

                Loved 1491 & 1493, and another book recommendation:

                “House Of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest”, by Craig Childs

                It’s all about the Anasazi, in the aftermath of being pushed away from Chaco Canyon on account of climate change, and into the jaws of white man’s diseases centuries later in Mexico, where many ended up.

                Reply
    3. Plenue

      From the article:

      “Many salmonella strains spread via infected food or water, and may have travelled to Mexico with domesticated animals brought by the Spanish, the research team said.

      Salmonella enterica is known to have been present in Europe in the middle ages.”

      So that settles that. Yes, Europeans brought over disease the natives couldn’t resist. This counters some weird revisionism I’ve seen in recent years, where there were claims that the mass dying had already started before the Europeans arrived. Tosh.

      Reply
      1. rd

        I think the evidence shows that there were local rises and falls of civilizations in the Americas due to shifts of climate etc. over time, similar to what you find anywhere in the world. However, I think it is very clear that massive near-extinction occurred due to the introduction of diseases from Europe and Africa.

        Reply
  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From the Re-calibrating our future climate link:

    That study, by the Carnegie Institute for Science’s Patrick Brown and Ken Caldeira, used a conceptually similar methodology but focused on the incoming and outgoing energy at the top of the planet’s atmosphere, rather than annual temperature wobbles.

    And it actually pushed upward somewhat the estimate for how bad warming could get.

    The Carnegie study gets sort of an ‘oh by the way’ treatment in the article. This is the lead paragraph:

    Climate scientists on Wednesday suggested that they may be able to rule out some of the most dire scenarios of what would happen if greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere were to double.

    If it’s already too late, is it best not to let us know?

    Reply
  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings; Blame Men Politico (JTM). Mark Ames, in his book Going Postal, found that the common element among mass shooters (and this included the very few women) was being on the receiving end of sustained bullying

    .

    Sustained bullying…

    Like

    1. letting you know everyday you’re poor
    2. letting you know everyday you’re not smart enough
    3. letting you know everyday you’re deplorable

    Reply
  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Apple and Google buses.

    The tech giants operate free shuttle services between San Francisco and their offices in Silicon Valley, at least an hour’s drive south. The buses are available to employees only, and they have long been a symbol of division between the tech world and everyone else.
    Read more at https://www.businessinsider.com/photos-of-apple-google-charter-buses-attacked-on-highway-2018-1#koXFzw5sSqPwb54m.99

    Why aren’t they encouraging their workers to live closer to work?

    And isn’t it more expensive to live in San Francisco?

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      We’ll all be riding the company bus, buying from the company store, banking at the company bank, schooling at the company school…The Pullmans Part Deux.

      Reply
  21. Oregoncharles

    “Building a Better Bomb: Reflections on the Atomic Bomb, the Hydrogen Bomb, and the Neutron Bomb
    Daniel Ellsberg”

    Yes, extremely moving. I’ve heard Ellsberg speak; he’s quite extraordinary.

    This issue has cosmic implications. People have been “listening” for signals from the stars for a couple of generations – the Earth itself has been leaking radio waves into space for considerably longer. And now astronomers have established that there are, indeed, an untold number of planets, many of them habitable.

    The silence is profound, and calls for an explanation. One is embedded in Ellsberg’s article. It is that there haven’t been any intelligent species that could get past the ability to destroy themselves, which corresponds with the ability to send out detectable radio signals.

    Reply
    1. knowbuddhau

      There’s that, but I think the way we’re destroying ourselves already is the better example. It hasn’t taken an all-out nuclear exchange, or even a “limited” one.

      We divorced ourselves from Mother Nature a long time ago (as in 1st millenium BC. Recent finds, though, are hard evidence that Yahweh had a wife. All that effort, to blame Eve, all these centuries of writing women out of the story, shot to hell by sherds of clay). All that “conquest of Nature” hype that’s gone on ever since the Industrial Revolution hasn’t helped, either.

      I heard a BBC physicist, Prof. Jim Al-Kalili, say just last night that when the early electricians showed that lightning is electricity, then and there ‘man” had “tamed” lightning, fully “domesticated” it. Oh really?

      Mother Nature’s our bitch, is that what yer sayin? How’s that working out?

      It’s not impossible for an intelligent species, however, to remain integrated, harmonized, even symphonious with its environment. Look at all the effort that’s gone into wiping out all the indigenous peoples, and they still ain’t dead yet. Now that’s #Resistance.

      Had the Europeans who made first contact not been lusting after enough gold and glory for themselves personally to live like royalty, had they seen them as related, like we all are (Universal Common Descent: all living organisms of Earth are related; and we all arise from the same biosphere; taken as a whole, as seen from the moon let’s say, the Earth is alive) and treated them with common human decency, we might not be in the 6th mass extinction.

      History is highly contingent. The way it’s gone and going ain’t the only way. Just because we’ve fouled the nest for everybody doesn’t mean everyone, everywhere, always, will be so stupid.

      You can take the melancholic’s version of the Drake equation, of course. I think our sample is hardly representative enough to make any such galactic generalizations, let alone universal, let alone multiversal.

      In the 200,000 years since H. Sapiens arose, we, the entire solar system, have covered <.1% of a galactic orbit. It takes 230,000,000 years to do just one lap, even though we're going at the astonishing speed of 828,000 kph (514,495 mph. Sez NASA). And how long have we been actively searching with hight tech? Less than the blink of an eye.

      We know very, very, very little of what's out there. My vast ignorance gives me endless hope.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was thinking recently that things wouldn’t necessary be the same every trip along the galactic orbit, with respect to climate change on this little rock.

        Additionally, there might have been some rough patches (around the galactic orbit) whose evidence have not yet been discovered by us humans.

        Reply
        1. knowbuddhau

          Not only are we going around and around at over half a million miles an hour, we’re also going up and down, too (w/r/t the galactic plane). I’m feeling it today.

          That we’ve barely moved over the course of human history just shows the scale. We can still scan vast numbers of incredibly distant objects. Still not representative.

          And then there’s the stuff we’ll never know about, beyond the light cone, or in possible other universes. All the data will never be in. I’m suspending judgment without prejudice.

          Just takes one cell, or one nice piece of alien kit, from anywhere or anywhen. I can wait.

          Reply
  22. Oregoncharles

    From “The Poorly Reported Aziz Ansari Expose…”, the paragraph that set me off:

    ” In a perfect world, Grace would have walked out the door. But women are so strongly socialized to put others’ comfort ahead of our own that even when we are furiously uncomfortable, it feels paralyzing to assert ourselves. This is especially true when we are young.”

    That isn’t feminism; that’s making excuses. At the beginning, Women’s Liberation was very clear that equality made demands on women, too. One of them is overcoming some of that “socialization”. And indeed, many women were deeply unimpressed with that argument, which is implicit in the original expose. In particular, it “exposes” Grace, who is telling the story, just as much as Ansari. I’m not defending him, but there were two people there, both of them adults. And she didn’t describe coercion; maybe she “felt” forced, but she was free to leave. If she had, he might have learned something; as it is, he had to learn it from “Babe.”

    I’ve gone on about this before, and Yves reminded us that it’s a two-way street, but from a man’s POV, women set the terms, in particular by refusing to take explicit initiatives themselves. That’s exactly what Filipovic is complaining about in: ” be kind and acquiescent, but also be the brakes on male sexual desire. We are taught to reflexively say yes except for when we’re supposed to definitively say no, but we don’t learn how to know when we want to say either.”

    I was also triggered (handy term, that) by: “When we haven’t yet agreed that female pleasure and clear enthusiasm are prerequisites for a sexual encounter.” Oh, come on; we agreed on that 40 years ago. That line is either dishonest or bizarrely ahistoric. If she believes it, it means that women themselves don’t “agree” on something so basic. I’m starting to think we’ve wasted 40 odd years.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Ah, yes: I’m sorry to be so hard on Filipovic’s article, because her basic point is correct: an educational opportunity was wasted (well, not entirely: it’s loud and clear that he did it wrong.) Unfortunately, I think she wasted it, too.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        CNN, of all places, has an article that gets it right, by one Lucia Brawley: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/17/opinions/lets-be-honest-about-aziz-ansari-brawley/?iid=ob_lockedrail_topeditorial

        My favorite bit: “Consider that if men publicly shared details about bad sexual experiences with women, we would call them misogynist monsters.”

        And: “Women are strong. Let us show it. We are playing into a narrative of fragility and helplessness when we say “yes” with our actions — as “Grace” appears to have done — when we mean “no.” We are painting ourselves as hapless victims if we decry men for making choices for us, even after we have left the choice entirely up to them.”

        Human consideration, and power.

        Reply
  23. D

    Re Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings; Blame Men …

    Thanks so much for that Yves. So unfortunate that the banner of the Mentally Ill™ as being a Violent Danger (to the normal sociopaths in DC?) has unfortunately already allowed horrid legislation to be passed into The Law™ under that myth.

    The latest legislation started with Dr. Tim Murphy, R PA’s (a bit of dark female ‘humor’ on my part, since us females are apparently still, after all these centuries considered the most mentally ill™ of the mentally ill™) House Bills (premised on the utter Myth that those with mental health issues are prone to violence): HR 3717, in a no doubt self serving response to the Sandy Hook shooting; then, after that failed HR 2646, many of which horrid provisions ended up stealthily stuffed into the bill which passed into law, the PHARMA pigfest lobbied, HR 34 – The 21st Century Cures Act , Elizabeth Warren noted that the bill had been “hijacked” by the pharmaceutical industry, per Wiki.

    As can be horrifyingly expected, with a bought Federal Congress, the beneficial aspect of the bill, more National Institutes of Health [NIH] funding (which is likely what passed the bill) is noted as not being what was promised (from Wiki):

    The NIH funding was actually less than many advocates hoped for,[9][10] and earlier versions of the bill had promised.

    (Some here may appreciate Leah Harris – who wrote the November 2015 piece I linked to above for HR 2646 – like I do from what I’ve read so far.)

    Reply
    1. rd

      It needs to be edited – blame ARMED men.

      I don’t think men in the US are that different from men in the rest of the developed world when it comes to being bullied, etc. The really big difference is that the rest of the developed world doesn’t allow them to casually assemble enough weapons to stock an Army platoon. As a result, those men in other countries will beat up a couple of people, not invade and shoot up an entire school or shoot hundreds of people at a concert.

      The terrorists who did the mass shootings in France needed an entire supplier network of illegal arms dealers to amass their cache of arms. Here people can just go to the local sporting goods store to accomplish the same.

      Reply
  24. rd

    Re: Biodiesel

    You can see one of the major drivers for the use of biodiesel in Section 2.3 of this document (one of many): file:///C:/Users/p0005619/Documents/References/USEPA/Green%20Remediation/methodology_0.pdf

    One of the arguments made about doing lots of dig-and-haul remediation on hazardous waste cleanups is the amount of petroleum usage and carbon emissions involved with construction excavation and hauling equipment – dirt is heavy and uses lots of energy to move around.

    If biodiesel is used, the greenhouse gas emissions essentially vanish from a regulatory standpoint and do not stand in the way of regulators requiring dig-and-haul. It’s like magic. It also makes for very good soundbites in public meetings and press releases.

    Reply
    1. Gaianne

      rd–

      The PR works better than that.

      How much diesel does it take to make one barrel of biodiesel–using, of course, industrial agricultural methods? About a barrel, right?

      So you just credit yourself with two barrels, where there was only one before: 1) the original barrel of diesel 2) the barrel of biodiesel that you made with the first barrel!

      This is called win-win!

      –Gaianne

      Reply
  25. Summer

    Re: Russia moves toward independent internet

    Every other country that can do this, should do this.
    Like, yesterday!
    Not only because the American internet was bred out of surveillance agencies, but to move toward innovation. Innovation takes many viewpoints and talents of the world and no, the USA’s “diversity” is not necessarily a variety of viewpoints. All steeped in the same ideologies, with just a few differences in appearances.
    Too bad most of the other countries have the same type of paranoid elites. But it could be a start…

    Reply
  26. D

    Speaking of the Mental Health Industry and its victims, I had been meaning to thank Elizabeth Burton for this :

    It’s my belief that anyone suffering from depression, PTSD, or any other diagnosed similar condition should be asked to initial questions: When did you begin feeling this way? and What are you angry about?.

    We live in a cultural that rejects the acceptability of anger—even rage—as a response. We are taught from earliest childhood that we must control it, that it’s bad (even evil), and that anyone who gets angry over anything has something wrong with them ethically, morally, and/or emotionally. To put it another way, we are taught the only acceptable target for our anger, other than things we can’t do anything about like massacres and so on, is ourselves for being angry.

    That, in the end, was what cured both my “conditions” and my daughter’s. We recognized that we had a seething cancer of anger deeply buried in our minds. Anger we had never been permitted to express, and when we did express it were told our anger wasn’t acceptable as a response.

    Considered in light of the current economic, social and political situation in this culture, I’m not at all surprised to hear that 20% of the population is being drugged into submission. We have more to be angered and outraged about than we’ve had for a very long time, and we are also being told we have no right to be angry about it because there are people in other countries who are fighting to have what we have. It’s the new version of the “starving children in China” we Boomers heard every time someone tried to cram a hated vegetable down our throats.

    I haven’t read Mr. Hari’s book, but what I heard definitely resonated with my own experience. I suspect it would do so with my daughter’s as well. My cure was rejecting the lie that I had no right to be angry and learning that anger is a valuable tool for making necessary corrections. Like any tool, it has to be used properly, but its expression is vital to our balance as human beings.

    On this issue, I’m always reminded of what was labeled The [Howard] Dean Scream, over a decade ago. It horrified me – even though I wasn’t Dean or anyone’s fan, after all was said and done – as it was clearly a message of non violent anger being unacceptable by the powers that be.

    Following that has been over a decade of despicable are you off your meds comments whenever anyone expressed a valid emotion, I don’t believe that was an accident.

    Reply
  27. D

    Oh damn, Oprah?????, Nooooooo!

    After having spent more time on Leah Harris’ commentary; which I referred to as having appreciated above, I should have known better and read further before recommending with no qualifications. Nonetheless, I still stand by my thoughts about the ghastly legislation that was passed, including Leah Harris’ post on HR 2646.

    Reply

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