Links 1/29/18

A salamander with a genome 10 times the size of ours regrows lost limbs Ars Technica

Vernacular Economics: How Building Codes & Taxes Shape Regional Architecture 99% Invisible

Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews Consortium News

Wrath of the Centurions LRB. About My Lai.

Spermageddon: Why the human race could be infertile in 50 years Telegraph. More substance here than the mere clickbait headline.

The idea that everything from spoons to stones are conscious is gaining academic credibility Quartz. Chuck L: “I’d say it’s time to get your tinfoil hat out of storage, but these are serious people; Roger Penrose for example.”

‘It Was the First Time I Cried in the Operating Room’ Der Spiegel

The Internet Makes Life Better and Safer for Sex Workers. Obviously. Reason (Chuck L)

Japanese don’t need digital currency as they love cash, BOJ says SCMP

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Fitness tracking app gives away location of secret US army bases Guardian (The Rev Kev)

Americans Wanted More Privacy Protections. Congress Gave Them Fewer. Slate

The Mexican Border-Crossing App That Suddenly Disappeared Motherboard

Once around the blockchain: Funds Europe interview with Ken Tregidgo Funds Europe (Richard Smith)

‘Jackpotting’: new hack attack makes ATMs spit out cash like slot machines SCMP

Tesla’s giant battery in Australia made around $1 million in just a few days Elektrek. Chuck L:  Based on what I recall from US wholesale electricity costs back when I was paying closer attention, $1K/MWh sounds to me like a high price for off-peak charging power and $14K is an insanely high sell-back price. I vividly recall the pearl-clutching at one of m y clients back in the 90s when a 500MW coal-fired unit tripped during a record high summer peak and they had to pay about $2K/MWh for replacement power. This was in a Great Plains state and a part of the eastern USA grid. The incremental production cost of that unit was about $20/MWh, IIRC.

The fact that the loss of one unit in South Australia drove the frequency down 0.3 Hz suggests that the SA power system is operated as an island, that is it’s not connected to to the grids of other states. Unless things have changed significantly since my days in the industry, here in North American by the time the frequency dips a tenth of a hertz the grid is in deep shit.

Health Care

We’re treated like drug addicts’: As America fights opioid addiction, the healthcare system is failing people who live with chronic pain Business Insider

One chart shows how this year’s flu season is the scariest in years MarketWatch. Note the lack of IV bags is making it more difficult to treat victims.

Guillotine Watch

Atlanta ‘safe house’ lists for $14.7 million WaPo (Dr. Kevin)


India’s Asean embrace: Unlike China, Southeast Asian countries do not have a problem with India’s rise Times of India

Indian Workers Headed Towards a ‘Vulnerable’ Future, Confirms New ILO Report Newsclick


Command and control: China’s Communist Party extends reach into foreign companies WaPo

Intel reportedly notified Chinese companies of chip security flaw before the U.S. government TechCrunch (The Rev Kev)

At Davos, the Real Star May Have Been China, Not Trump NYT

Donald Trump’s talk of ‘America First’ and fair trade smacks of double standards, says China SCMP

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Wants to Stall Creditors. That Went Badly in 1842 Bloomberg


Brexit’s impact on small businesses: the experts may be spot on after al The Conversation

Brexit: where is that cake now, Boris?

North Korea

Peace Is Still Possible Jacobin

Inside North Korea’s Literary Fiction Factory The Wire

Imperial Collapse Watch

Underestimating American Collapse American Conservative

U.S. farmers have much to lose if NAFTA deal collapses Reuters (furzy)

Class Warfare

You Can’t Trust Capitalists Jacobin

Does America have a caste system? The Conversation

Modern Asia’s “Win-Win” Model Has Averted War Between Turkey, Iran and Russia Eurasia Future (bwilli123)

Russian economy under Putin: Quality of life tripled, foreign debt fell 75% RT (WS). I know this is RT, so the usual caveats apply, but just the same, if true, this sure looks interesting.

New Cold War

British government’s new ‘anti-fake news’ unit has been tried before – and it got out of hand The Conversation


US blinks under Turkish pressure in Syria Asia Times

In case I die: Why Afghans keep notes in their pockets Al Jazeera

A Modest Proposal to dismember Syria … Sic Semper Tyrannis. Re Silc: “The French and British created the state of Syria in pursuit of their imperial interests and now, in association with the US and Saudi Arabia, they seek to destroy it. Jordan? This is laughable. Jordan is yet another artifact of the post WW1 re-structuring of the ecumenical empire that the Sublime Porte had more or less governed for hundreds of years in the name of Islam. For the Jordanians to sign on to the destruction of Syria is worse than a crime. It is stupid. Have the Jordanians no sense at all of what may be their fate when greater powers find them inconvenient.”

Trump Transition

One Year in, Trump’s Guantánamo Policy Is an Echo of Bush — and Obama TruthOut

Deadline looms for Trump and Russia sanctions Politico


GOP lawmakers confident on prison reform ahead of midterms The Hill

The Latest And Greatest In President Trump’s Judicial Nominations (Part 2) Above the Law

Scoop: Trump team considers nationalizing 5G network Axios

Antidote du Jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Kevin Smith

    re: One chart shows how this year’s flu season is the scariest in years

    It would be interesting to calculate the area under the curve for each year’s flu duration x magnitude.
    That might give us a better illustration of the differences in total flu impact in each year.
    Eyeballing it, I’d say this will be a year to remember, and it ain’t over yet.

  2. fresno dan

    This excerpt is an excerpt in the American conservative article that was posted in NC a day or so ago:
    America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days. That’s one every other day, more or less. That statistic is alarming enough — but it is just a number. Perspective asks us for comparison. So let me put that another way. America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days, which is more than anywhere else in the world, even Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, the phenomenon of regular school shootings appears to be a unique feature of American collapse — it just doesn’t happen in any other country — and that is what I mean by “social pathologies of collapse”: a new, bizarre, terrible disease striking society.

    Why are American kids killing each other? Why doesn’t their society care enough to intervene? Well, probably because those kids have given up on life — and their elders have given up on them. Or maybe you’re right — and it’s not that simple. Still, what do the kids who aren’t killing each other do? Well, a lot of them are busy killing themselves.
    It shows that when a number of Hawaiians knew that they weren’t going to die in a nuclear explosion, they rushed to the Internet to watch pornography to calm themselves. They didn’t go find a wife, a partner, a friend. They went to their computer and, alone, watched strangers screwing.
    fresno dan
    January 18, 2018 at 5:28 pm
    Porn Hub and the Hawaii missile alert traffic.
    So….impending nuclear annihilation has an adverse impact upon porn viewership – who’d have thunk it? If anything, I would have thought…that viewership immediately preceding a nuclear attack would have…uh, swelled and stiffened…..its not like you can go anywhere
    But once the all clear sounded, it looked like people celebrated by immediately checking porn and launching their own mini minute men missiles…..

    But there is something deeply wrong with us. Something that is hard to pin down, but that more and more people sense is real. In an earlier essay, Haque writes about the epidemic of loneliness. Excerpt below; emphases are Haque’s……
    “Is There Anything That Working Less Does Not Solve?” – 01/29/2018 – Yves Smith
    I think if there is any connection (irony – connecting articles to highlight the lack of “connection” in American life) in the snippets I have posted, it is the atomization and disconnection that seems to uniquely pervade American culture. Whether it is the people who can’t keep a committment to show up at Yves dinner parties, or watching sex alone, or children shooting children, it seems to me at core it is people estranged from people.
    At some point the rugged individual is just lonely and bored…

    1. Eureka Springs

      Usually nine months to the day after a disaster there is a bit of a baby boom. I suspect the porn spike is a measure of a much larger primal response to impending disaster.

      As for school, so much to say. However I recently got around to watching Michael Moore – Where to Invade Next. How children are treated in European schools, well it was shocking. Prisoners as well. Like Sicko, every U.S.Asian should learn from that flick. I think so many ‘Mericans would have a difficult time believing it… I mean really believing society could be that way.

      1. apberusdisvet

        The video for “Just Another Brick in the Wall” is symptomatic of the regimentation of UK schools; the better to indoctrinate and propagandize. The US is rapidly following suit.

        1. Anonymous2

          IIRC the song was the band’s way of subtly commenting on the intelligence of their fans, knowing that the fans were insufficiently intelligent to realise they were being insulted.

          or at least, so I was told.

    2. Wukchumni

      When I lived in L.A., twice a year there was the Great Western Gun Show, held @ the L.A. County Fairgrounds in Pomona.

      I probably went 4 or 5 times over a decade period. It had been held there for 22 years prior, and garnered huge attendance. 6 foot long seller’s tables were $25, so it brought all kinds of things out of the woodwork from private sellers, and not just gun related, antiques & historical items, old western memorabilia, coins, etc.

      They utilized 8 of the giant quonset hut looking permanent structures and also the aisles in between, and you’d walk a few miles going through everything, but it wasn’t your legs that were tired, it was your eyes. There was so much to take in, including the roving geekfest of military enthusiasts, say a pair of 22 year old fellows dressed in perfect 1917 German uniforms, or a 32 year old black gent draped in a Union uniform. It was fun.

      …and then came Columbine

      Blaming a recently passed ordinance banning firearm sales on county property, officials of the Great Western Gun Show said Thursday that they are leaving Los Angeles and moving to Las Vegas.

      Los Angeles County has been home to the gigantic gun show, one of the nation’s largest, for 31 years–22 of which were at the Fairplex in Pomona.

      The decision is the culmination of a heated gun control controversy that took front-burner status after the rash of mass gun assaults across the country, particularly the August shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills that wounded three young children, a camp counselor and a receptionist.

      The move to the Las Vegas Convention Center will cost Fairplex $600,000 a year, about one-third of its annual earnings.

      So, the gun show moves to Las Vegas, and I never go again, wasn’t into it that much…

      In the recent aftermath of the largest mass murder spree ever in the country in Las Vegas, a really big gun show there went off with nary a whimper, of “maybe too soon?” last week, as if we’ve super anesthetized to the eventuality of violent acts in such a fashion.

      I’ve mentioned it before, and guns are the only thing that would continue to function in the eventuality of us being not being able to swing the body electric anymore, and for a time they would hold sway, that is, until the ammo runs out, and then we’ll resort to lengths of aged 2×4’s with rusty nails protruding on the business end, followed by rocks thrown in anger, finally reduced to hurling handfuls of sand at our opponents eyes.

      1. polecat

        Don’t know about the sand … but there’s lots o rock in that thar lithosphere ! And if one knows what to look for, say, a modest piece of agate, or even better, some obsidian, along with a few straight sticks for those stones and a bit of hide, well then …. u 2 could become Atlatl the Hun .

        Then there’s the other guns … Blow Guns !

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        “until the ammo runs out, and then we’ll resort to lengths of aged 2×4’s with rusty nails protruding on the business end, follbowed by rocks thrown in anger, finally reduced to hurling handfuls of sand at our opponents eyes.”

        You left out thousands of years of refinement of pre-gunpowder weapons. Swords, spears, maces, non-gunpowder projectiles (crossbows are easy to shoot if you don’t have the patience for a bow), to say nothing of what you can do at scale and distance vis-a-vis fortification with preparation and the high ground.

        Run your sequence backward and you go from the ape with the bone at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey to the 16th century pretty quickly.

        Alexander and the companions stood shoulder to shoulder and conquered the known world with steel and intelligence by age 33. You can do better than a board with a nail sticking out. At least carve yourself a respectable shillelagh if you can’t acquire a bayonet of some kind. Use your imagination!

    3. cocomaan

      I recently ran across psychologist Jordan Peterson. He’s become a darling of the alt right. I don’t really consider myself alt-right, but his psychology is empathetic and social. He says he receives hundreds of letters from people, almost all young men, saying that he saved their lives through his lectures.

      I think his popularity is interesting at this moment, when loneliness and despair appears to be fracturing the society from below.

          1. UserFriendly

            +1 I wish they found something they disagreed about though. That would have been very interesting.

          2. UserFriendly

            As someone with a math science background and only a hazy understanding of postmodernism this video is exactly what I needed to understand what the hell it is and why it’s horrible and yet still widely used. I then went and reread Outis’s postmodernism series with a much better appreciation.

    4. Bitter, Party of One

      One of my concerns about the Media And Device age is about the impact on young minds in particular. What former generations thought of as learning and mastery seems so different from what appears to be happening on the ground and on the screens. Combine No Child Left Behind or similar notional approach with disengaged kids looking at smart phones hidden behind the text books, and it is not much of a stretch to think that we’ve devolved into an inverse of Bloom’s 2 Sigma Problem.

      Young people train each other all the time, on whatever topic in or out of a classroom, and may be unaware of or hostile to the notion of history or other boring subjects. Devolution or faster mean reversion seems inevitable, with a minus 2 sigma result and a higher price tag.

      1. JTFaraday

        I don’t know how to talk about it, but there is something about the immediacy of this new technology, the way one apparently communes so intimately with it one on one, electron straight to brain, that leaves me very ill at ease. I can’t image what it is like to come of age within this nexus, and as we so frequently hear, to be bullied about by it.

        1. JTFaraday

          Honestly, it’s almost as if “social media” and the whole online internet environment goes into the evacuated space once occupied by God, or the superego. One might almost have to resort to the language and theoretical structures of (Freudian/post-Freudian) psychoanalysis to talk about it.

          1. jsn

            The search for meaning in the unknowable God has been short circuited by AIs that tease us that we can know everything, and that it’s all now in the palms of our hands.

          2. Mark P.

            JT Faraday wrote: Honestly, it’s almost as if “social media” and the whole online internet environment goes into the evacuated space once occupied by God, or the superego.

            Almost as if? Social media and the online ‘environment’ are tapping into the same space. And that’s exactly what you’d expect, if you think about it.

            Religions have arisen everywhere among descendants of the East African plains ape — humanity — because of our primate propensity to create dominance hierarchies, which the symbol-forming human mind – unsatisfied with raw apish feeling – has extended into abstract realms. Our deities are merely hyperdominant if invisible members of the human tribe — great Sky Apes that we imagine presiding over everything.

            In that context, ‘Social media and the whole online internet environment’ — instantaneous global networks, essentially — provide individuals with the capability to experience and tap directly into all the symbol-forming and dominance heirarchies of millions of people in real time. That’s unprecedented.

            So yeah, those things are tapping into the same space of primate symbol-forming and dominance heirarchies occupied by God, or the superego — which, remember, is the part of a person’s mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting standards learned from society.

      2. cocomaan

        What the technology-based learning is actually doing to students is something I don’t think we’ll understand for a long time. These children will need to grow up into adults before we understand the ramifications.

        But one thing that’s clear to me is that literature, whether novels or other forms of media, is likely on a decline. Mastery of language seems to be out of the question. I glean this from a few primary school teachers I know and parents whose children are in school.

        One friend pulled her kids out and decided to retire to homeschool them. She said that the endless discussions of who could wear what and what bathroom was used by whom drove her nuts. She wanted to know when the children were learning geometry and couldn’t get an actual answer.

        My only hope is that the youth, in their need for rebellion, find actual learning to be the rebellious act. Not the horrific system we’ve created but something more substantive.

    5. anonymous

      Isn’t that kind of what Robert Putnam documented, in his classic, “Bowling Alone?”

      His data showed the same % of Americans go bowling, but do so now, alone, not in bowling leagues.

      The atomization of American society, loss of community and trust .

  3. fresno dan

    Fitness tracking app gives away location of secret US army bases Guardian (The Rev Kev)

    Americans Wanted More Privacy Protections. Congress Gave Them Fewer. Slate
    trying to find a silver lining, maybe national security can be invoked as a reason why all our info shouldn’t be make available for public consumption……

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Strava was in trouble a few years ago in the UK when the police noticed a series of garage thefts of high end bikes. It turned out thieves were using published Strava data to identify the houses belonging to the owners of expensive time trial and road bikes (they are much favoured by thieves because of their high resale value and the difficulty in identifying stolen ones). The police warned users not to turn their Strava’s on until they were out of range of their house.

  4. Darius

    Death of Robert Parry opens big vacuum in independent journalism. Parry was fighting the good fight his whole career. An untimely loss.

    1. G

      Really devastating considering his reporting over the last year. There is nothing else with the amount of focus and detail that he provided reporting on RussiaGate and related issues. One of the genuinely irreplaceable reporters alive.

  5. Ed

    ” Underestimating American Collapse American Conservative”

    I haven’t read Rod Drehar’s commentary on Umar Haque’s essay yet, though I am about to. However, the original essay was linked to on this site earlier and is well worth reading.

    1. Ed

      An update. Reading the comments on the Drehar essay, apparently there were a lot of attacks recently by crazy people on schools in China, which explodes the entire logic of the Haque piece.

      1. curlydan

        a link would be helpful. I DuckDuckGo’ed “China school attacks” and got links from 2010 and 2012, so I certainly don’t see any of Haque’s arguments on schools shootings being undermined.

      2. Massinissa

        To follow up Curly’s comment, I googled china school attacks 2018, and all I got was info on the 2010-12 china school attacks, and info on a few school attacks that just happened… In Russia. Three this month. Maybe that’s what you were referring to and you got the countries mixed up?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Am I right in saying that its projected that there will be another severe cold snap in the way for the US? That could have quite an impact if the drawdown in storage facilities keeps hitting records.

        1. polecat

          In my little neck of the northwestern world, my immediate surrounds are showing early lifesigns of spring, and many of our perennials have not died back as completely as they would have normally done. Humm …

          Here’s hoping for enough snow to get though the dry season … and yes, we DO have a rather arid 2 to 3 months in spite of the wet during the rest of the year !

      1. integer

        You are obviously a Russian bot. Say privyet hi to Putin for me.

        (Sorry, I know this joke is getting old, but you know what they say about small things and small minds ;)

      2. rjs

        yes, it’s quite incredible; liquefied Russian gas from Siberia is shipped to an English terminal and then reloaded onto tankers headed to Boston while US gas from Pennsylvania is piped to the Gulf Coast where it is being liquefied for shipment to Lithuania and Poland.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I just checked the Wikipedia article on Strategic Petroleum Reserve and it doesn’t include natural gas.

      Maybe it should.

      1. cocomaan

        We should just bottle up Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and the rest of those burbs.

        There’s enough gasbags in there to power the united states for decades.

        1. polecat

          I’ve heard tell that Graham Gas is really big there, especially in, and around CNN & MsNBC Studios …

    3. Ed Miller

      Looking at 5 years of data is in no way indicative of record anything when it comes to oil and gas. Concern about availability of natural gas is verging on hysteria IMNSHO. I have followed energy markets for 20 years. Although I am not an expert I do remember a few things not evident from recent data. First, the “fracking revolution” which resulted in an oil price collapse has driven oil storage numbers well above historical norms. Oil storage is only now returning to the historical range so there is no shortage of oil (hence gasoline) to be expected this year.

      Regarding the natural gas storage numbers, again the data shown is only for 5 years. Fracking can allow for faster recovery of supply streams compared to prior technologies, so I am not concerned about running out of gas this year (or next year either). One should look at historical data of natural gas prices from 2000 to the present to see that we have abundant gas as reflected in the current price. I don’t know of a source for gas storage that goes back that far, but the low in seasonal storage has been more extreme that the 5-year data indicate. Seasonal fluctuations in gas storage numbers look wild, but they are normal. Another factor to consider is that IIRC gas production resulting from fracking is adding gas in Ohio and Pennsylvania, close to where heavy winter demand will be if we have several more cold snaps this winter. This makes moving gas from the fields to the users faster than shipping from the Gulf Coast. I am not concerned.

  6. Tom Stone

    If you define a caste system as different classes having different legal rights the USA has had a Caste system for some time.
    The “LEO Bill of Rights” would be one example.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Wrath of the Centurions LRB. About My Lai.

    Powerful article – its worth noting that its rare to read anything like this outside left wing anti-war circles in the US, but the writer (Max Hastings) is a very conservative and quite right wing English establishment war historian.

    I often suffer this cognative dissonance when I hear American left wingers decry (to take one example) the Japanese failure to compensate the ‘comfort women’ of Asia while apparently unaware of the mass slaughter carried out all over SE Asia by the US (along with documented examples of women being kidnapped as sex slaves) with hardly any compensation or formal apology. And there is a similar glaring hole in the awareness of most British about the horrors in Kenya and Malaysia inflicted by nice Tommies in the 1950’s in the wars of the dying era of the Empire (referred to in the article).

    Weirdly though, the countries themselve seem to have gotten over it. Most young Vietnamese will just yawn if you mention the ‘American’ War. I was recently listening to a radio history show on the anniversary of the Tet Offensive in a car with a young (21 year old) Vietnamese woman (we were in a car, I was driving, so had control over the radio). She was quite bored with it, and I actually had to explain to her what the Tet Offensive was. She had no interest whatever. I gave in and let her switch to music.

    1. visitor

      What is further interesting, are those wars of the dying era of the Empire that were as horrific as Kenya or Malaysia, but which are now utterly forgotten.

      For the UK, the war in Yemen comes to mind. I read in an article a few years ago that British military personnel still alive who participated in it refuse to talk about it, fearing indictments for crimes against mankind. Hastings does not mention Yemen.

      For the French, the war in Cameroon is relevant. After a few French officers opened the door slightly ajar about it, everybody clammed shut. Leaders in France and those in Cameroon, who benefited politically from the war, remain tight-lipped and archives have been either destroyed or locked. From the little that is known, the counter-insurgency in Cameroon reached genocidal dimensions.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its amazing how little historical work has been done on the immediate post-colonial wars. So far as I’m aware there are very few published histories available about Britains war in the Malay peninsula, which was, even by the standards of the time, very brutal (and, it must be said, very effective). If it wasn’t for the bravery of Kenyan survivors pursuing the British government relentlessly through the courts, that conflict would have been more or less forgotten as well. I must admit I didn’t even know the British were involved in Yemen to any great extent.

        1. visitor

          There was plenty of action in Yemen in the 1960s. First, one of the last wars of independence pitting Southern Yemenis against the UK. In parallel, an affair in North Yemen that was as bloody and confusing as the one going on nowadays, involving Saudi Arabia, other Arab states (esp. Egypt), a civil war, Shias against Sunnis, with the UK thoroughly involved in the conflagration — especially via mercenaries that were of course officially totally not under the control of the UK government (till their cover blew up).

          Did you know that Spain and Morocco waged war in the late 1950s regarding the then Spanish Sahara? Is anybody aware that the Dutch fought against the independence of Indonesia for over 4 years in a bloody conflict post-WWII? And then again because of Western Guinea in the 1960s? The various wars in Portuguese colonies (more of them than you think, although a few of them against India and Dahomey/Benin, were extremely brief) have been eclipsed by the long civil wars in Angola and Mozambique.

          There is a myth that some of the colonial empires, most prominently the UK, departed “gracefully”. None of them did.

          1. ambrit

            The lesson being, I’ll hazard to guess, that the American Neo-Colonial Empire will degenerate just as violently as all the others did. Now, however, the ‘degeneration’ can be exported from the fringes of Empire to the heartlands. I’d cautiously predict that there will be a slow but definite upsurge of “terror” attacks within the American Oligarchiland. Definitely in the Outposts of Empire. In this regard, the attitudes of Russia and China towards ‘disruptions’ within America will have some weight. All they have to do, to ‘sponsor’ “terrorism aimed against America, is do nothing. Really, once the Islamist ideology is co-opted, those ‘actors’ will have little reason to co-operate with the Americans. If they can also peel off Europe from the Anglo American Oligarchy Project, what’s, from a Eurasian perspective, not to like?

            1. Wukchumni

              There’s an interesting parallel with the former Soviet Bloc party and armaments, in that after Communism went the way of the Dodo, all of the sudden there was tons of new in the box, never used ammo for sale on the cheap in these United States. It might’ve been 15 years old but it still worked. This would’ve been in the late 90’s, really about the time gun nuttyness started going rampant.

              And there is still a lot of newly made small arms ammo that comes out of Russia and environs.

              Should we devolve into the Riled West, it would behoove China & Russia to keep our factions armed & dangerous, as we turn on an invincible foe, us. There’s a veritable shitlode of hand cannons in the country, but ammo is where the bear & dragon perpetuates the god & I want my pony show.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            One historian (it might be Norman Davies? I can’t quite remember) has argued that WWII actually extended from the the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 to the end of the Malay campaign and the defeat of the French in Indochine around 1961. In other words, it was a war marking the beginning of the crumbling of Anglo-French-Dutch power in Asia and Africa to the ‘Pax Americana’ of the early 1960’s in the Pacific Region. The titanic struggle between Hitler and Stalin was one very bloody sub-plot, while the western Europe campaign (which so obsesses Brits and USasians alike), was really just a minor regional conflict.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Calley steadfastly maintained that he had just followed orders at My Lai; that he did his duty as he had been trained and briefed to interpret it. Some of his former soldiers took the same line.

      According to Nick Turse in Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, there is more truth in that defense than any of the military brass, including that icon of warfare, colin powell, are willing to admit. The only difference between My Lai and the rest of that sorry war was that there were pictures and they had to be “explained.” And someone held “responsible.”

      Turse documents the conscious intent to dehumanize all Vietnamese people by insisting that they be referred to as pajama-wearing “gooks” and “dinks” by impressionable young draftees, beginning in an especially abusive basic training. The american military apparently realized that its troops were severely outnumbered, and ultimately “victory” would only be possible through significant population reduction–by any means “necessary.”

      With regard to this particular article, its author writes:

      He applauds the courage, decency and steadfast refusal to acquiesce in barbarism, despite ferocious institutional pressure, exhibited by the handful of soldiers who reported the crimes, most notably Hugh Thompson, who to the end of his days was plagued with abuse as a ‘commie’ and ‘traitor’, receiving hate mail and death threats from people who called themselves ‘patriots’, today doubtless Trump supporters.

      I would also “applaud the courage, decency and steadfast refusal to acquiesce” in the institutional barbarism exhibited by a precious few. Not so much the gratuitous cheap shot at Trump and his “supporters” that seems to be a requisite feature of so much of what passes for “journalism” these days.

      1. apberusdisvet

        Vietnam was all about “body counts”, the bigger the better. As an intelligence officer for 2 years in Saigon, I can attest to constant “massaging” of numbers to produce McNamara’s wishes. Naturally, this dictum was passed through the Chain of Command down to platoon level. I’ve always maintained that Calley was scapegoated, even though his guilt was obvious.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          According to Turse, mcnamara was convinced that he could “manage” the war using the same principles he had used to “manage” Ford Motor Company as its president.

          He was convinced that once the North Vietnamese sustained a large enough number of casualties, they would give up. Kind of like a balance sheet–he was convinced there would be a tipping point that, once reached, would render the resistance no longer “profitable.” I believe he thought it would take about 6 months.

          Needless to say, his plan was somewhat flawed.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Ironically, the North Vietnamese ran their campaign on the same basis – that the US would not be able to politically sustain a campaign if they were losing too many soldiers. I’ve seen evidence that from the Tet offensive onward is was a specific objective to focus on inflicting casualties on US servicemen over and above other strategic objectives (such as holding territory).

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        Except he’s accurate. Many vocal, chest-beating Trump supporters are the kind of heels who would have shouted ‘traitor’ at people who exposed war crimes in Vietnam. Self-indulgent, preening NPR-caste journalists don’t change this just because they irritate you. Their snotty stupidity doesn’t wash away anyone’s sins.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          I guess you’ve got me. Deplorable people do deplorable things. So, once an action, of any kind or in any decade, is identified as deplorable, it is “accurate” to ascribe it to Trump supporters.

          I don’t know how I could possibly have referred to such a thing as gratuitous.

        2. FluffytheObeseCat

          “I don’t know how I could possibly have referred to such a thing as gratuitous.”

          Possibly because “gratuitous” down-grades his observation, belittles it, and suggests the past has no bearing on the present.

          The pig-thug stuntsmanship of Trump and his camera-hog supporters is similar to that of Vietnam era “Hard Hat anti-protesters” for a reason. Their raging bull shtick is used by Trump – who is the right age to remember it well – because it worked beautifully at dividing Americans along tribal lines. Reminding readers of what Trump is doing, and where he got his playbook, is not “gratuitous”.

          The media elite are too taken up with elegant disdain for the deplorables to bother noting the history behind Trump’s schtick. They titter at him and his followers in order to promote their own tribal biases, not in order to thwart his game.

    3. cryptocontrarian

      The fire bombing of residential Tokyo during WW2 which killed 100,000 civilians needs to be included. It specifically targeted civilians.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Dresden was no picnic either. Am I a bad person for selfishly being less put off by Dresden than Tokyo (and much less than Hiroshima or Nagasaki) because without Dresden we probably don’t have Kurt Vonnegut as we knew him, and we certainly don’t have “Slaughterhouse 5”?

      2. ambrit

        Don’t forget “Bomber” Harris and his firebombing raids on Germany.
        Dresden. A city with no strategic industries. Flattened and incinerated for the H— of it.
        Never underestimate the raw power and allure of revenge and basic hatred.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        Even at the time, Churchill and others acknowledged that bombing cities was a war crime, and the losers would be punished for it.

        There was an interesting different perspective, arguably motivated by racism, in the approach of the British and Americans to bombing Germany and Japan. The RAF openly targeted civilian areas in night time bombing, while the USAF at least tried to focus only on industrial targets (and paid the price in a much greater loss of airmen). Post war studies indicate that the US bombing campaign was far more successful militarily than the RAF night time bombing.

        But for Japan, from the beginning there was no compunction about bombing civilians. The ‘official’ explanation was that Japanese manufacturing was scattered in small workshops through cities (which is actually true), so there were no nice juicy industrial targets as in Germany. But its hard not to conclude that they cared less for Asian civilian life than German civilians – given the Germanic surnames of so many US generals its hard not to see why.

  8. The Rev Kev

    Wrath of the Centurions

    Not everybody loses it. At My Lai a gutsy bloke named Hugh Thompson Jr. landed his helicopter between an advancing ground unit and frightened villagers, ordered his crew to focus their guns on the platoon, and told them he would shoot the men in that platoon if they attempted to kill any of the fleeing civilians. One of the most outstanding acts that I have ever read of in military history. To my mind, that is the difference between being a warrior and being a soldier.

    1. Lemmy Caution

      I agree — Captain Thompson demonstrated outstanding moral clarity in that situation. Thanks for reminding me of this story.
      He and his crew saved many villagers that day by escorting them away from advancing U.S. troops and ensuring their evacuation by air. Meanwhile, Thompson repeatedly radioed to HQ that a massacre was underway, but nothing was done to stop the massacre. It was only when he angrily confronted his superiors in person at HQ did the order go out for all ground units to stop their search and destroy missions.
      More here.

  9. fresno dan

    You may not need another reason to retire early, but I’ll give you one anyway: It could lengthen your life.
    The Dutch study echoes those from other countries. An analysis in the United States found about seven years of retirement can be as good for health as reducing the chance of getting a serious disease (like diabetes or heart conditions) by 20 percent. Positive health effects of retirement have also been found by studies using data from Israel, England, Germany and other European countries.
    I don’t know how many articles I’ve read that retiring EARLY is bad for you. Anyway, the article gives the arguments for and against.

    I had plenty of time for exercise, but when I lived on the east coast the weather prevented me from doing my intermittent jogging outdoors a good portion of the year – and I hate, hate, hate being on a treadmill in a gym (and having to watch CNN – its like Torture). Also, the streets and neighborhood with traffic was so noisy and unpleasant that it also made me want to jog only in the woods, but the paths were not paved so they were often so muddy that they were impassable. So being in CA I can get outdoor exercise whenever I want.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Instead of 4 day working week (or 32 hour week), or in addition to, maybe also mandatory retirement at 50 (with Social Security).

      Of course, we need studies (or more studies) to link living longer with a shorter work week and earlier retirement.

      *Personally, I take mandatory early retirement…at say, 18, with pension. That works out to be equivalent to Basic Income.

      1. Summer

        Mandatory retirement at 50?
        Not everybody does strenuous, manual labor and are still quite good to go at 50.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I do strenuous manual labor and I’m still working, albeit only part time, at 72.

          I think it’s keeping me healthy – but I’m self-employed and free to set my own terms, so that’s a big difference.

          1. Yves Smith

            Hard physical work is very good for you as long as you aren’t doing repetitive movements. And it sounds like you aren’t, otherwise you wouldn’t still be at it!

    2. ambrit

      What good is retirement, whether voluntary or enforced, when what you get for retiring is not enough to pay for a decent life?
      The entire meme about there being “winners and losers” in life is a misdirection. If we were sub sentient brutes, that could be stated as a “fact of life.” We are not sub sentient, however. We are thinking beings who struggle with our atavisms and pre-cultural ‘instincts.’ Neo-liberalism, as presently expressed, is a reversion to pre-civilized norms.
      “I like that bright shiny thing you have. I want it. I will bash you over the head and take it from you.” Now, “bash you over the head” is replaced with “cheat you with a piece of paper.” See how far we have come?
      Well, since the Masters of the Universe have opted for “force manure” as an operating philosophy, it is time to start demanding our piece of the action, in the strongest manner possible.
      On that note, I’ll be watching Bernies’ response to the SOTU address tomorrow to see just how far he’s willing to go. This one event might make or break his 2020 aspirations.

  10. Wukchumni

    Homeless are our caste-aways, untouchables as in that law enforcement realizes there is no revenue there, and who knows what disease d’jour they’re dying to share with you?

    It’s interesting that as the Dow Jonestown index is at record highs, and all around big cities are clusters of what would’ve been termed ‘Hoovervilles’ in the depths of the Great Depression. They didn’t have cheap made in China tents and tarps, so they were constructed of wood, metal and whatnot.

  11. allan

    How NYS public colleges are using campus food pantries to fight student hunger []

    In his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to address a growing problem on New York college campuses: students who lack access to food.

    Cuomo’s proposal, which was included in his 2018-19 executive budget, would require State University of New York and City University of New York institutions to either have food pantries on campus or provide an alternative program for students to receive food. …

    “Hunger on Campus,” a study released in 2016, found 48 percent of students surveyed experienced food insecurity within the previous 30 days. Nearly one-quarter of respondents — 22 percent — reported “very low levels of food security that qualify them as hungry,” according to the study. …

    At Stony Brook University, one of the largest institutions in the SUNY system, the campus food pantry has been open since 2013. Anyone with a university identification card — students, faculty and staff — may access the food pantry, which is open primarily during the fall and spring semesters. …

    Stony Brook learned more about its food insecurity challenges through an informal survey conducted by a graduate social work student. From that survey it was determined that food insecurity affects faculty, staff and students….

    As the former junior senator from NY said, America already is great.

    1. Jim Haygood

      One is surprised only that alert lenders have not issued universal Mcdonalds “Cuomo cards” to incoming freshman classes. Monthly spending would be added to their “lien for life” student loan balances.

      By the time the victims kids are educated enough to deduce what happened, the steel-jawed trap of indenturement will have snapped shut round their ankles, as they writhe under the yoke of servitude to atone thrice over for long-forgotten Happy Meals. :-)

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Jim, it’s already the case the students take out “supplemental” loans to cover living expenses, including food. After the inevitable load consolidation, those get wrapped up into the usury package to pay back the company store. If only the kids could live on carrots alone…

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          And yet the Snark-O-Sphere just catalogs this as “another interesting item”, and gets on with their Me First lives.
          Unimaginable and accelerating inequality; 25% of children living below the poverty line; life expectancies falling; and now college students begging for food. And all of us idly chronicling the disaster, not throwing bricks through windows

      1. Duck1

        astonishing that people who as Bill Clinton used to opine are trying to work hard and play by the rules have a near 50% probability of experiencing starvation matriculating the state university

  12. Alex

    Re Spermageddon, the decline was observed in the West (broadly defined) and not in South America, Asia and Africa. The purported explanations are “prenatal chemical exposure, adult pesticide exposure, smoking, stress, and obesity.” Now I don’t doubt that these could be reasons however something doesn’t square out: in the period from 1996 to 2011 (for which a decline was observed) I’m pretty sure that chemical exposure, adult pesticide exposure, smoking were no worse in developed countries than in developing ones. Stress is trickier to measure but it still defies belief that the average stress in sub-Saharan Africa is lower than in the West.
    So these factors do not explain the apparent difference in the sperm count between the West and the rest of the world.

    Btw, can someone explain if this really can impact fertility. After all if there are millions of spermatozoa, who cares if their number halves or even falls 10 times: there will still be more than enough…

    Here’s a link to a Times of Isael article for those who don’t want to register with the Telegraph

      1. Alex

        This particular study is not granular enough…

        In case of Israel the “ecological” variables are closer to the Western ones. On the other hand half of the Jewish population are relatively recent arrivals from other places in Middle East so who knows

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Presumably the champion swimmer from out of 10 million is better than the champion swimmer from a pool of 1 million.

      1. John k

        in a swim meet they’re all forced to start at the same time. In a sperm race some start in the lead, doubt those last out of the gun have much chance.
        So why so many?

        1. Oregoncharles

          Sperm competition – evidence that women, or hominid ancestors, used to go in for multiple matings, as chimpanzees do. Don’t know about bonobos, but probably. Then the sperm fight it out inside.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          How do they know each way to swim?

          Up? Down? Left? Right?

          Do some score wrong-way touchdowns?

          1. Oregoncharles

            Probably, but I seem to remember there’s a hormonal gradient that tells them which way to go, especially if there’s an egg in place.

    2. Summer

      But I’ve read that Asia has a lot of smoking. Guess it may depend on the age group of men doing the smoking?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Men in American are not more likely to put smartphones in their front pockets, I would think.

        So, we have to look for explanations elsewhere.

        Maybe too much audiovisual exposure too early.

        1. Summer

          I put more weight on the stress factor.
          A good number of articles lately have focused on the constant pressure for “self-improvement” and the unrelenting competiveness for so many in the West.

      2. Charlie

        Another question: How is the introduction of GMO crops affecting sperm counts? Many developing countries (and Europe) have banned GMO crops.

        Not that the prognosticator is sound, but maybe worth looking into? The pesticides used on these crops especially.

    3. Lee

      Maybe the sperm are wising up. More and more of them asking themselves, “Do I really want to go out there?”

    4. derechos

      From the University of Maryland:
      The Path to the Egg. The sperm’s passage to the egg is a difficult journey.

      Usually about 100 – 300 million sperm are delivered into the ejaculate at any given time. Even under normal conditions only about 15% of these millions of sperm are strong enough to fertilize an egg.
      After the stress of ejaculation, only about 400 sperm survive the orgasm to continue the journey.
      Out of this number, only about 40 sperm survive the challenges posed by the semen and the environment of the vagina to reach the vicinity of the egg. Normally, the cervical mucus forms an impenetrable barrier to sperm. However, when a woman ovulates (releases her egg, the oocyte), the mucous lining thins to allow sperm penetration.
      Sperm that manage to reach the mucus lining in the woman’s cervix (the lower part of her uterus) must survive about four more days to reach the woman’s fallopian tubes. (Here, the egg is positioned for fertilization for only 12 hours each month.)
      The few remaining sperm that penetrate the cervical mucus and are able to reach the fallopian tubes become capacitated.
      Capacitation is a one-time explosion of energy that completes the sperm’s journey. It boosts the motion of the sperm and triggers the actions of the acrosome, a membrane that covers the head of the sperm and resembles a warhead. The acrosome is dissolved, and enzymes contained within it are released to allow the sperm to drill a hole through the tough outer coating of the egg.
      In the end, only one sperm gets through to fertilize the egg.
      (Note this link may be NSFW as it has a diagram or two of male anatomy.)

      1. John k

        Really interesting. And only the very strongest survive the start… sad.
        So with lower sperm counts, are we losing a random selection or the weakest?

        1. Lee

          I’m guessing the strongest sperm may not carry the traits that in the larger environment turn out to be the most advantageous or adaptive. Also, I recall reading, albeit some time ago, that penetration of the egg by one sperm is the result of concerted effort by many surrounding the perimeter of the egg. If this is the case, then the reduction in the total number could reduce the possibility of a singular success. OTOH, this view might be the result of a collectivist bias whereas the other view might be the result of and individualist bias.

    5. Expat2uruguay

      Ah, that’s an older article. Presumably the new one has an update, but I didn’t sign up to read it. I will say though, that this news gives me hope for the human race. It’s a case of less being more.

  13. Wukchumni

    “Jackpotting” would be the kind of a story, if it wasn’t real, that i’d want to get out there, if say your plan was to get rid of that pesky little bit of the overall money picture that refuses to be chronicled as to comings & goings, i’m talkin’ long green, cold cash, semollians.

    1. perpetualWAR

      It’s terrible to cheer on the hackers, but I am.
      Here’s to more jack-potting! Steal from the real thieves, the banks.

  14. crittermom

    RE: ‘We’re treated like drug addicts’

    I have a dear friend much younger than myself, who has suffered from severe chronic pain for over 7 years now.
    It’s heartbreaking. She was finally diagnosed (which required trips to 11 different doctors first, as the first 10 told her the pain was ‘all in her head’).

    After much research, she underwent surgery for it over 5 yrs ago. Even then she was told she could never hope to be pain-free.

    Unfortunately, it gave her no improvement. She spends her life using pain pills while laying on ice packs as she continues to pay the bills (as best she can) doing her beautiful leather work. Pain pills & the ice packs allow her to ‘function’ in this manner but never completely relieve the pain. (She has also tried electrical stimulation).
    She is basically confined to bed between trips to swap out the ice packs.

    Without the pills, the pain would be too much to live with.
    The opioid crisis is already affecting access to her prescription & I fear for her.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Is she in a state with legal marijuana? I gather CBD can work wonders, but I suspect it depends on the case. for instance, it helps with arthritis.

  15. Angry Panda

    Russian economy under Putin: Quality of life tripled, foreign debt fell 75% RT (WS). I know this is RT, so the usual caveats apply, but just the same, if true, this sure looks interesting.

    It is true, but there is a very simple, non-Putin related reason for it.

    The RT story starts the clock in the year 2000, which, one might deduce, occurred straight after the period of 1991-1999. I.e. the very period during which a) the Soviet Union was dismantled and, in the process, b) both the economy and the social spheres were absolutely destroyed. The Great Depression is sort of an apt comparison from a statistical point of view, but the social impact was far worse, not the least because the entire society went from “guaranteed employment” and “free or subsidized services” to “capitalism uber alles” overnight (with extant savings being wiped out in a day by the first Ruble devaluation – if memory serves, by one or two orders of magnitude). That is a sort of system shock that is not easy to take, to put it mildly.

    In other words, a sock puppet becoming president in 2000 would have seen some economic and living standards improvement over time, especially once the oil markets picked up in 2004, because they’d be starting at or near the absolute bottom. The real question, then, is whether Putin (and the Russian government as a whole, because it isn’t just him), added any substantive value viz. a sock puppet. I suspect the real answer to that goes something like – pre-2014, a little, post-2014, a lot, since 2014 is the break point when US and EU sanctions forced (some) Russian elites to realize that they’d better actually invest in domestic economy/agriculture/etc. rather than rely on the West.

    Incidentally, from the last stats report I saw on some metrics Russia is still not back to 1980s USSR levels, so that’s some additional context there.

    P.S. The real-real question viz. Putin’s popularity going forward will be – what happens when the generation born after the “Wild 90s” (as they are known in Russian) gets into their 20s. Putin has been riding the recovery/steady hand horse his whole political career, but that only works if you remember how bad things were before he’d shown up…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For people and countries that live under ‘if anything can get worse, it will,’ even starting from rock bottom, that still looks very impressive.

    2. Montanamaven

      40 million Russians were in poverty in 2000 and by the time Putin did the interviews with Oliver Stone in 2015, it was down to 20 million. He said that had a lot more work to do on that front, but it certainly is to be applauded. Keeping military spending down, encouraging agricultural production over military, keeping oligarchs in check…. sounds like a leader to me. If you read his speeches, he has a great affection for his Mother Russia and he is wise to learn from mistakes made. In the 2015 UN speech he speaks of learning from the mistakes of the USSR. He no longer believes in spreading an ideology but rather each nation should decide for themselves what kind of democracy they desired. He told Stone that the degradation of the environment is the number one threat to humankind.
      And come on, look at the way he handles his puppy. Putin and his Puppy

      1. The Rev Kev

        Something that I saw a few years ago says a bit about his character. He was at the G20 in Brisbane and western leaders were treating him like a lot of adolescent brats, including ours. He left as soon as business was concluded and was of course given a motorcycle escort to the airport to his plane.
        After getting out the car at the airport, he stopped, went over to the police motorcycle cop, and shook his hand. He could not have know that that gesture would be seen on the news so I think that that was a genuine side to his character, in short, a gentlemen. Makes a contrast to our own politicians, doesn’t it?

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      “The RT story starts the clock in the year 2000, which, one might deduce, occurred straight after the period of 1991-1999. I.e. the very period during which a) the Soviet Union was dismantled and, in the process, b) both the economy and the social spheres were absolutely destroyed. The Great Depression is sort of an apt comparison from a statistical point of view…”

      So things were really bad and they’ve gotten way better and the Depression is an apt comparison…

      You’ve basically made the case that he’s Slavic FDR. Then you compare his performance to a theoretical sock puppet. Why not compare him to the actual sock puppet he replaced, Yeltsin?

      We conclude with “Wait till all the people who aren’t old enough to remember how bad it was become adults”, which assumes the Russian people have the same historical amnesia problem Americans do. They don’t. Being surrounded by enemies for 1000 years will make you be a little more circumspect than a 200 year old cowboy empire built atop the bones of natives with the backs of slaves. America has a vested interest in forgetting the past and misremembering when they are forced to think about it. Russia has never had the luxury.

      As they used to say in the old USSR: “And you are lynching negroes…”

  16. Wukchumni

    When I fist went to New Zealand in 1981, one thing you would come across were Plunket Rooms in towns-an interesting sight for a Yank, and the NZ of the time was thought in some quarters even more socialistic than Scandinavian societies, as in the ultimate cradle to grave variant.

    NZ went pretty much all out capitalistic later in the 80’s, and the Plunket Society continued on the good work they’ve been doing for over a century now…

    With the motivation to form a ‘society’ that would ‘help mothers and save babies’, Dr Frederic Truby King worked on an article focusing on child welfare. A meeting, which led to the founding of the society, was held on 14 May 1907, in Dunedin, by Truby King. King was a medical superintendent and lecturer in mental diseases. He believed that by providing support services to parents, the society could ensure children were fed on a nutritious diet, reducing child mortality rates. He also believed that this would improve adult health as the children got older.

    In 1912, King made a lecture tour on the Plunket Society. In these tours he was highly successful in attracting support for the society, partly because he exaggerated the effect on infant mortality rates. As a result of his tour, 60 new centres opened around New Zealand, each employing a nurse. The centres were badged as Plunket Rooms, however they are now referred to as Plunket Clinics. King published several manuals, among them Feeding and Care of Baby (1913), and The Expectant Mother and Baby’s First Months (1916). This latter publication was given to every applicant for a marriage licence

    Many changes have been made to Plunket teaching and organisation over the years. The initial strict parenting regimes have given way to more flexible care and support, and Karitane Hospitals were replaced in the 1970s with Plunket Karitane family centres. 1981 saw the introduction of a car seat rental scheme, and in 1994 a telephone advice service, PlunketLine, was inaugurated. Special training schemes have been initiated for Māori Health Workers to give culturally appropriate guidance where necessary, and Plunket is also seeing an increase in the number of Pacific Island families enrolling.

    Today, there are hundreds of centres across New Zealand. The Plunket society is continuing to grow, through the help of technology being able to promote the society. Instead of just having clinics they have centres/services that help with car seats, they also have Facebook chats online so parents/caregivers can ask questions or simply find an answer.

    Think of the all the money we’ve wasted on war, that could fund a similar scheme here

  17. Lee

    Tarlov Cysts

    And I thought I have it bad with spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis. So far, the only trouble I’ve had in obtaining my duly prescribed pain medication, is from the large chain pharmacies. Ironically, or not perhaps, these chains have been themselves fined for tens of millions of dollars, for opioid related transgressions. So, their reaction is to over-correct, making legitimate patients, who are fully compliant both legally and medically, feel like criminals. How many people with legitimate medical needs are forced to take their business to the streets, I cannot say. Fortunately, we still have a non-chain pharmacy in town. They operate strictly by the rules, as do I, and they treat me with respect.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      I can assure you that this “criminalization” is rampant at the VA. A 75-year-old friend who has been toting around souvenir shrapnel in his back since Vietnam, used to get hundreds of pills in the mail every month. Now all he gets is cold turkey.

      Quite the turnaround for a federal agency that never met an opioid it wouldn’t take a chunk of cold, hard cash to peddle:

      A key role in spreading opiate use was played by Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin manufacturer convicted of hiding the drug’s addictive properties. It gave $200,000 to the VA pain management team that essentially turned the VA into its propaganda arm, according to secret corporate documents obtained by Newsweek. The team helped develop the initial VA–Department of Defense guidelines that concluded opiates “rarely” cause addiction. A 2001 budget plan outlining Purdue’s marketing schemes hailed “additional corporate initiatives and partnering efforts [that] were very successful with the Veterans Administration” and other major health organizations in promoting the phony campaign, “Pain: The 5th Vital Sign.”

      1. Lee

        A recent episode of the radio program Reveal, “Too Many Pills”, is quite enlightening as to the role of distributors, like McKesson, Amerisource Bergen and Cardinal, and their political influence, in determining DEA policy and enforcement.

        Lenny Bernstein: Just to give you a sense of the scale here, between 2007 and 2012, distributors shipped nine million hydrocodone pills to a pharmacy. A single pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, which is a town of 392 people.

        Laura S.: Nine million hydrocodone pills for a town of 392 people. If all those pills were really for the people of Kermit, West Virginia, each man, woman and child would have to take at least 12 pills a day every day for those five years.

  18. Jessica

    About the sperm reduction article, the reason why low sperm counts matter is that the female reproductive system functions to prevent pregnancy unless the sperm count is high enough. This makes sense because a lone sperm from a male only able to produce a low number of sperm has a higher probability of carrying lower quality genes.
    As far as I know, there is no hard and fast cut-off point, but it takes millions of sperm.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It should be said, just in case we have naive readers, that nonetheless, there are occasional freak pregnancies from really minimal exposure to semen, as in deposited outside the vagina. There seems to be a wide range in how easily women get pregnant, as well as in how active the sperm are.

      There are statistics, and then there are individuals (the inverse of “anecdotes aren’t data”).

      1. polecat

        As any Python will tell you … “Every Sperm IS Sacred !”

        Well, depending on one’s neighborhood.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From Axios’ 5G Network article:

    Reality check: The U.S. wireless industry is already working on deploying 5G networks, with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, for example, investing heavily in this area. The process for setting 5G standards is well underway. Korea has been at the forefront of testing, as have Japan and others. It’s not clear a national strategy would yield a 5G network faster or by the memo’s 3-year goal.

    Too bad it didn’t get a head-start under Obama. I doubt he would have had anything to do with ‘nationalization.’

    1. rd

      Since there is currently vibrant private-sector participation in providing the capital for building and maintaining roads, bridges, sewers, waterlines, etc., it is perfectly logical that the federal government would focus its attention on infrastructure areas abandoned by the private sector, such as cellular telecommunications. This is brilliant thinking from a business-focused mind on how to improve and modernize government.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Meanwhile, in a rural area 35 miles from a city of nearly 100,000 and less than 3 miles from a major interstate freeway my cell phone is lucky to get 1 bar. Texts drop in days later than they were sent. I tell people to email me, it’s faster. I use my phone only when I go to town, which is 4-8 times per month. I pay over $100 per month for this privilege.

        In the same country that landed on the moon nearly 50 years ago, has military bases in 180+ countries, and the largest military budget in the history of Earth (which eclipses #2 through #20 combined).

        We have all been stolen from, and are being stolen from every second of every day. If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention, or you’re part of the problem.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    Intel reportedly notified Chinese companies of chip security flaw before the U.S. government TechCrunch (The Rev Kev)

    Donald Trump’s talk of ‘America First’ and fair trade smacks of double standards, says China SCMP

    It’s not double standards for Intel to inform “America (or the U.S. government) First.”

    Unfortunately, in this case, Intel made America second.

    1. shinola

      Thanks for the link Sid. Thought I’d pull this little chunk from the article:

      “State revenues will be squandered in grandiose projects and futile wars in an attempt to return the empire to a mythical golden age. The decision to slash corporate tax rates for the rich while increasing an already bloated military budget by $54 billion is typical of decayed civilizations. Empires expand beyond their capacity to sustain themselves and then go bankrupt. The Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires all imploded in a similar fashion.”

      1. perpetualWAR

        Well, at least we can “go out” with the best equipment the military and the local police can purchase. Full armored gear with tanks for every small town in the USA! USA! USA!

        Can you eat tanks, btw?

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    At Davos, the Real Star May Have Been China, Not Trump NYT

    Is Mao turning over in his mausoleum?

    To be adored by capitalists?

  22. polecat

    Well mr. dan, I can safely vouch that I’ve been ‘retired’ for ’bout decade + … and I’m still kickin … and rather than havin banksters hours, I’ve got sumptin far, far better … bees n blueberry infinity !!! **

    So long as I avoid the $ickcare bone-rattling grifters at all costs !

  23. Reify99

    The Enron like maneuvers by federally cahooted gas companies to lever the rates blew up in recent years as Australian states decided
    to take matters into their own hands after some gnarly outages.
    Enter the “world’s largest battery” by Tesla. It was this Tesla/Nouen battery which hovered up the money with the latest outage/rate spike by picking up the slack immediately. Currently there is discussion to end the rate spike after 5 minutes instead of the customary 30.

    Australia also features long distances between end users, a deterioration of electrical lines, poles put up years ago. ….

    It is more than economical to use a micro grid in these situations though crony politics is pushing back.

    And then there’s this

  24. polecat

    My above comment was in reply to fresno dan towards the top …

    Not sure what happened … ‘sigh’

  25. HopeLB

    I’ve brought up this idea before, but that fascinating building code article, forces me to broach the possibly looney architectual subject again. Pass a new building code that mandates abodes in low lying, flood/hurricane/rising sea prone areas must be retrofitted to float, be tethered to the land below, be equipped with water filters/desalinators and be equipped with a small green sun/wind microgrid.. Call the code, Noah’s Arks.

    1. Oregoncharles

      We’ve thought about tethering a houseboat in the lower land, which floods most years.

      OTOH, our house could not be retrofitted to float, since it’s built on a concrete slab on grade. One reason for that is that the water table is sometimes above zero – that is, standing water all around us. And usually, in that case, several feet of water running across the driveway. So far, no flood water to the house. It’s exciting, living in the flood plain. But it’s the reason we have a rural situation literally inside the city.

  26. lyman alpha blob

    RE: The idea that everything from spoons to stones are conscious is gaining academic credibility

    Really interesting read. 40 years ago the Gaia Hypothesis promoted by Carl Sagan’s ex-wife Lynn Margulis was considered crazy and now it’s become much more widely accepted. Going by memory here and not a biologist so take with a grain of salt, but that theory posits that complex organisms such as ourselves developed through the symbiosis of micro-organisms. Basically we are all a giant collection of microbes that have learned to operate together – for example neurons were once independent microbes and through evolution gradually became incorporated as part of the larger organism. Our gut bacteria operate symbiotically with us now but over time, through evolution, they would gradually become part of us.

    Definitely not doing the Gaia theory justice as it’s much more detailed, but am wondering if it and the pansychism theory might be related? Both seem to be a way for consciousness as we humans understand it to ’emerge’ as organisms become more complex.

    1. Paul Cardan

      Old wine in new bottles, the wine in this case being nonsense. Analytic philosophers of mind along with fellow travelers in cognitive science, having rejected Descartes in favor of Hobbes, now turn to Leibniz (or Spinoza). Maybe in another twenty years or so they’ll have managed to work their way back to Kant.

      “The idea that everything from spoons to stones are conscious” is nonsense. I’m not sure of when I learned to use the word ‘conscious,’ but I probably did so on the basis of previously having mastered (or got the hang of) words like ’sleep,’ ‘dream,’ ’see,’ ‘hear,’ and ‘feel,’ as well as ‘think.’ So, I was probably led to apply the term ‘conscious’ on conditions when it made sense to say that someone was perceptually aware of their environs, by doing things with their eyes open, for instance. This is certainly the way I use the term now (like most people who can speak English). Someone is, moreover, said to be conscious in distinction from being unconscious, as when sleeping and apparently dreaming. Given similarities between human beings and some non-human animals (such as dogs), it makes sense to make a similar distinction where the latter are concerned. It makes perfect sense to ask about a dog at the vet’s office whether or not it is conscious. For spoons, on the other hand, the question does not arise. But, for the sake of argument (reductio ad absurdum), suppose that it did. Wouldn’t it then make sense to ask, of the conscious spoon, questions such as: “How long has it been conscious? When did it wake up? Do silver spoons dream of the Sackler kids?”, and so forth? These questions are bit like questions concerning the colors of the rational numbers: “What color is three-fifths? Some shade of purple? Perhaps mauve?”

      1. Lee

        This seems related to an ancient intuition such as animism, wherein all things are imbued with life. This way of perceiving the world lives on in poetry, art and music, even as it is rejected as heretical by major western religions. More recently I heard a related worldview expressed that all things are elements of consciousness. As the physical structures of consciousness are indeed made of these elements, then potential for them becoming a portion of a consciousness such as our own inheres within them. Maybe we are rocks, water, stars, etc. looking back upon themselves. Works for me.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        What color is three-fifths? You could ask someone with synesthesia ;)

        Maybe ‘conscious’ isn’t the best descriptor for what I was thinking of, ‘able to perceive’ might be a better way of phrasing things. As someone mentions below, plants seem to be able to react to changes in their environment and communicate, so why not inanimate matter which can also perceive in the sense that it’s able to store information and pass it along. Some sort of quality of perception is inherent in all elemental matter, and as interactions between matter become more complex, life, sentience and consciousness emerge from this inherent ability to perceive.

        1. Paul Cardan

          Synaesthesia is an interesting phenomenon, and, I think, irrelevant in this case. The fact that someone happens to suddenly imagine some color when hearing a word has nothing, in principle, to do with what the word means. Numbers, in our language, are not the kinds of things that are said to have color (which is not to imply that they are transparent either). But, if this is a sticking point, consider the length of the number 3’s inseam. About 31”? Or is 3 taller than that? And when was 3 born anyway? Maybe sometime in May? So 3’s a Taurus? No? Gemini then. What does 3 think of the Dem’s chance of retaking the House? Of two minds?

          As for ‘perceive,’ that’s used in connection with things that have sense organs, like eyes and ears. Perhaps plants have them. That would be an interesting and unexpected fact about plants. Spoons don’t. Neither do rocks.

    2. Oregoncharles

      In my opinion, “consciousness” is an empty set, rather like other religious words. At most, it’s a word for our experience of the operation of our nervous system, which spoons don’t have.

        1. ambrit

          Forgive me for typing this, but, I’ve read that knives are pretty sharp. I mean, who’s ever heard of Occams’ Fork?

    3. Liz

      Re: symbiosis of microorganisms
      What you describe above, L Alpha Blob, is discussed in the book I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong. Here is an interview with him:

      Highlights I remember (been a few months since I listened): bioluminescence in octopuses is the result of bacteria harnessed by the organism, experiments in which organisms raised in a sterile environment don’t develop properly because some growth processes require symbiosis with microorganisms, and I think he said almost half of the cells in the human body are actually non-human microorganisms.

      Really interesting research!

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Thanks for that! I just looked up Yong and realized I used to read his old Discover blog and just added his book to my list.

    4. Lambert Strether

      Christopher Alexander believes this. Rocks are conscious. They just aren’t very conscious.

      Since if anything I’m an animist, that makes sense to me. Though I’m not sure if it makes very much sense.

      1. ambrit

        So, Finagles’ Corollary to Murphys’ Law is true? “A falling object will strike the place where it can do the most damage.” Those rocks are out to get us pardner.

  27. Reify99

    When I was a public health nurse I looked into influenza. Two things in particular:
    1. I wondered what killed people, especially robust young people?
    “Cytokine Storm” was a term that came up, meaning that the body’s own immune response became overwhelming and people drowned in their own disease fighting secretions. At the time of the 1918 flu epidemic western medicine had little to offer except an aspirin, whiskey and a bullet to bite.
    Jumping models and world views…
    Homeopathy had some success, perhaps by dampening down the overwhelming immune response. (Hijacked by the virus.)

    2.The other thing that bothered me was why did we have to reinvent the vaccine every year, with it’s hit or miss risk?
    Back to the western medicine, capitalist variant:
    There was a company at the time (2004-2006) that was working on making a vaccine that targeted the part of the influenza virus that did NOT change. That would mean you would get 3 shots, 1 month apart, and you’d be DONE. Maybe a booster every ten years.

    Crucell, NV, symbol CRXL. They also had an immortalized cell line, ( fetal retinal cells)That they licensed to the likes of Glaxo,and there was shared info between licensees. They had a pentavalent product for childhood diseases that they gave away (for free) after the 2004 Aceh tsunami. Not a start up,one trick pony.
    Oh yeah, also working on TB and HIV,
    working with co-infected cohorts inSouth Africa.
    Johnson & Johnson bought them in 2011
    and they sank like a stone.

    I haven’t tried contacting Janssen (J&J)
    to ask what happened to the cell line “Per.C6” or the various vaccine developments that were underway. I note that Crucell targeted diseases that were not necessarily going to be blockbusters.
    And gave stuff away.

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