Links 2/22/18

Dear patient readers,

Thanks for your kind notes yesterday. Just so you know, I don’t have a bug. I had Something Done to help with a bad injury over a year ago. I was warned I would probably be in a lot of pain afterwards. They were right :-(. And I had decided to be macho, get right on an airplane, and not get a prescription painkiller (I’ve had bad results with opioids). That was not a good call.

Better today, but could not sleep last night, so thank Lambert for pinch-hitting today.

Also I happened to catch a tiny bit of the Olympics. Who allowed some of these things to become competitive sports, like half-pipe skiing? This is a way for people to wreck their bodies. I saw two competitors land hard on the top of the half pipe in a very short period of time. One clearly had to have destroyed one leg. IMHO, the only people who can enjoy watching these events are sadists. These aren’t sports. They are surgery futures.


Amateur astronomer witnesses something scientists have been waiting decades for BGR (Kevin W)

Mexico finds illegal avocado plantation in Monarch reserve Associated Press (David L)

Ancient Britons ‘replaced’ by newcomers BBC

6 Sickening Details You Won’t Read in Billy Graham’s Fawning Obituaries Alternet (furzy)

NASA Sea Level Change Portal: New study sharpens focus on Antarctic ice loss NASA (Chuck L)

New rebellion against wind energy stalls or stops projects Associated Press (Chuck L)

Watch a Human Try to Fight Off That Door-Opening Robot Dog Wired (Kevin W)

Snap responds to the 1.2 million petition signers who hate the redesign The Verge (Kevin W)

Science Deniers of the Chicken Industry Get a Rude Awakening As You Sow (Chuck L)

More people should get pills to beat depression The Times. Looks an awful lot like pushback against the new Johann Hari book questioning SSRIs. His big point is depression is largely societally induced, a legitimate response to a degradation to our social environments and we should be focusing on that rather than meds. Notice the article only considers pills and talk therapy as remedies, when exercise has been found effective in beating mild and even moderate depression. That is not to say some people don’t benefit from them, but in the US, MDs hand out SSRIs like candy.

India, Death by Demonetization: “Financial Genocide”, The Crime of the Century Defend Democracy

Straya in “notable” slide down corruption index MacroBusiness

Martin Selmayr, the ‘monster eurocrat’ accused of trying to wreck Brexit, becomes Brussels’ top civil servant Politico

Preventing the Migrant Wave: Germany Exports Employment Offices to Africa Der Spiegel (furzy)

Another reason Scandinavians are the worst Politico


UK formally asks EU for flexibility to extend Brexit transition period… Politico. Na ga happen, at least at a price the UK is willing to pay. The EU has been insistent about a transition lasting only till the end of 2020, for among other reasons, EU budget consideration. Moving the date back is a big concession, and the UK would need to concede something in return.

Exclusive: Cabinet did not agree to Theresa May’s strategy for Brexit transition period, senior ministers say Telegraph

After Years of Crisis in Spain, Pensioners Next to Feel the Pain Wolf Street (EM)

In Ukraine, Corruption Is Now Undermining the Military New York Times Resilc: “Now?”

New Cold War


Twitter suspends thousands of suspected bot accounts, and the pro-Trump crowd is furious Washington Post

Imperial Collapse Watch

Lawsuit Against CACI For Torturing Iraqis May Proceed Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

US Empire Still Incoherent After All These Years AntiWar (Kevin W)

Witnessing the Collapse of the Global Elite Atlantic (resilc)

Trump Transition

Trump and the crisis that caused him Socialist Worker (EM)

Mueller Files Sealed New Charges in Manafort, Gates Case Bloomberg

Controversies pile up for White House, alarming GOP The Hill

Conservatives urge Trump to grant pardons in Russia probe Politico (resilc)

Jeff Sessions’ war on legal weed is spooking banks Vice (resilc)

Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions about whether they relied on ‘chain migration’ Washington Post (furzy)

Boies-Led Coalition Challenges “Winner-Take-All” Method of Electoral College The Recorder

The Low Success Rate of Independent and Third-Party Candidates in Senate Elections Larry J. Sabato (UserFriendly)


Trump ends extraordinary White House session on school shootings by endorsing more guns in schools Business Insider (Dr. Kevin)

Trump’s solution to school shootings: arm teachers with guns Guardian (Kevin W)

Calls for new gun laws are falling on deaf ears The Hill

Florida Teachers’ Pension Fund Invested in Maker of School Massacre Gun Bloomberg (resilc)

Parkland shooting: Troopers bought flight to funeral for friend of victim NBC (Jeff W)

Fake News

Twitter purges accounts, and conservatives cry foul Politico (Kevin W)

Dennis Gartman Blows Up With Investment In Riot Blockchain Phil’s Stock World. EM: “Nice reminder that even ‘sophisticated investors’ are not immune to gambling fever and being suckered.”

Refiner goes belly-up after big payouts to Carlyle Group Reuters

Fed’s Quarles Says U.S. Economy in ‘Best Shape’ Since Crisis Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Welcome to the ‘homeless’ working poor – a new neoliberal KPI Bill Mitchell (UserFriendly)

Plundering the Planet: Coca-Cola And Nestlé To Privatize The Largest Reserve Of Water In South America Defend Democracy Press

Opium Made Easy By Michael Pollan, Harpers (resilc). Note date of the article…

Churches Are Still Filing Bankruptcy Credit Slips

The concerted attack on public sector union workers is a coordinated effort financed by wealthy donors Economic Policy Institute

The Babbitt Fallacy, and Other Ways to Lose Ecosophia (UserFriendly). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus video from Kevin W:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Frenchguy

    My understanding is that “freestyles” events were included in the Olympics so that the US could win at something. No surprises, Americans like reckless and dangerous sports… (haven’t really checked this claim though :) )

    1. Wukchumni

      The only winter sports I can relate to is skiing, and i’d guess I amble along in full control @ 30-35 mph @ times, with my over the hill crew in tow, 5 or 6 of us that only ever venture on the blue intermediate runs @ Mammoth, and i’m the youngster, while the best skier among us is the oldest and 65. There is close to 3 centuries of skiing experience in the posse snowmitatus.

      One odd sight we glimpsed was marines in camo ski outfits with matching red helmets in groups of 6 to 8 going down the mountain, and they seemed to be past beginner stage, but still a little hesitant. Probably from the USMC high altitude camp about 50 miles away.

      Was watching one woman after another wipe out on the olympic downhill the other day, and @ 65+ mph on a black diamond run way more vertical and icy (you couldn’t help but notice there was no natural snow in the mountains other than the venues, and man-made snow is better than no snow-thus no olympic show) than anywhere i’d fear to tread. It’s a little bit akin to NASCAR, some of the wrecks are so gruesome you want to turn your head away, but peek anyway @ the carnage.

      Snowboarders may have saved resort skiing, in that generally there is nobody over 30 that boards and nobody under 30 that skis, and might skiing have gone the way of bowling & tennis in popularity w/o snowboarding coming along?

      I remember encountering my first snowboarders in Tahoe when I lived there for a year in the mid 80’s, and we called them ‘squeegee men’ as all they ever seemed to do was go back and forth boringly, as they pushed perfectly good snow down the mountain, grrrrrr!

      But then they got really good, and especially @ jumps and other crazy stuff where skiers almost never tread. I enjoy hanging out once in awhile in terrain parks @ resorts, watching their antics.

      Snowboarding is all about the see me-dig me aspect of it all, the peacock’s tail in the guise of overshoes strapped to an oval-curiously the same dimensions more or less as a race car circuit.

      You’d think we’d dominate the medals @ biathlon, where doing ski-by shooting, seems like a natural for us.

        1. Ed

          The Second Amendment is not about biathleticism, shooting game for the family larder, or even self-protection (though protection of one’s self and what one holds dear is a lost art). The Second Amendment is about having the weapons with which to hold off tyranny. Anyone who does nto think tyranny hasn’t been lurking outside the door like a pack of coyotes hasn’t been paying attention.

          It is interesting, this perspective on watching half-pipe and similar stuff, and I thhnk it is vitlsly necessary that we immediately pass legislation to protect ourselves from ourselves. I fully recommend reading Laurance Gonzalez’ “Deep Survival” and its sequelae.

          The Teacher of the Year in Florida said that the brouhaha in Parkland was less about guns and mroe about raising children who have a sanctity for life. Some people think such sanctity allows for finding out just how far one can push that life. [The old tale about the moutnain-climber, the cliff, the tiger and thestrawberry….]

          Some people think the way to be exceptional is to have the most pins in their face. Others think it’s about sky-diving. Still others think it’s about finding excellence within.

          The day we start denigrating our search for excellence is the day we cease to find any.

          1. todde

            Can you own a M-1 tank?
            An F-22 or F-35 or F-16 or F-18 for that matter?
            A hell fire missile?
            A TOW missile?
            A RPG?
            An ICBM?

            Looks like your Second Amendment has already been gutted, when do we revolt?

              1. Amfortas the Hippie

                I remember reading that Bill Koch(the other one) has a tank…and I know a couple of “collectors” who have some rather exotic weaponry(a howitzer, a gatlin gun, an ak-ak gun, and some weird WW1 artillery thing.)
                But to actually have any chance in “defending yourself from tyranny”, I don’t think any of that’s gonna cut it.
                is there a 2nd amendment right to bear a tactical nuke?
                a predator equipped with hellfires?
                If not, then the point is moot, and the horse is not only out of the barn, but a pile of bones on the prairie.

                1. Wukchumni

                  We aren’t taking any chances on the all cats and no cattle ranch, and have an AWACS plane constantly flying over our position 24/7, alerting us to possible wild live sightings of the human persuasion, so we can take em’ out with the ’88 we bought from an army-navy surplus store in Stuttgart.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It’s interesting that after bombing a nation with M-1 tanks, F fighters, all sorts of missiles and drones, the generals say we have to have boots on the ground.

              When tyranny manifests itself in that phase, guns can be effective.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Recall also, that in far away, distant galaxies, it will still be up to the Imperial Storm Troopers, implying mano-a-mano shoot-outs, to impose tyranny.

          2. Knifecatcher

            Our government has killer flying robots, and they’ve gotten really good at using them. Ask all the brown people overseas who they’ve been practicing on for the last 15+ years. Oh wait – those people have been blown into pink mist.

            I’m curious as to how you think the 2nd Amendment would prevent you from being treated similarly if you were to become a freedom fighting enemy of our tyrannical government.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Like above, even with flying robots, we are told by the generals that we need boots (presumably worn by humans) on the ground.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  The storm troopers can’t hide in them all the time.

                  That’s when guns can be useful in resisting, even when confronting F fighters and bombers.

          3. PKMKII

            The second amendment was to ensure that the state would have an armed populace it could conscript in the event of war, because the Founding Fathers thought standing armies were the slippery slope to tyranny. Funny how that aversion never makes it into the mythologies propagated by constitutional constructionists.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I think you really need to be outside the U.S. to get the full aroma of just how ridiculous and sick America looks these days.

              1. Guns. Seems like the country will need to decide if it wants guns or if it wants schools.

              2. Boogeymen. Mueller and RussiaGate are a cartoon (and not a funny one). Hundreds of millions of dollars and all of the oxygen on the airwaves and in Congress. Result? Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.

              3. Walls. Let’s spend billions to spread concrete across vast desert landscapes instead of to fix the roads and bridges and airports.

              As a former American, it’s downright embarassing.

              1. Ed

                I am wondering how the media, the populace and y’all would react if the tyrannical police state started using the weaponry noted above on more than two people inside CONUS at the same time. I am aware of how infected blankets were given to the allies of the French by Lord Amherst. I am aware of how air power was used in the battle of Blair Mountain, but those were only rednecks. I am aware of how Gatling guns were used at Wounded Knee but those were only the native Americans who’d already taken its colors from the 7th Cavalry. I am aware of how many people have read numerous treatises on 4th and 5th Generational Warfare, and the descriptions of how this nation could be brought down by twenty saboteurs who knew what and where to bring action, described in the book Endgame by Derrick Jensen. If you all are aware of the power of the tyranny and you think it is willing to bring that kind of death and destruction to its own people, what are you doing about it?

                1. JBird

                  I am wondering how the media, the populace and y’all would react if the tyrannical police state started using the weaponry noted above on more than two people inside CONUS at the same time.

                  Started? Man, I know we Americans tend to have the historical memories of drunken gerbils, but really if you read about workers rights movements (actually any major movements especially without middle class white people) during the past 150 years, the violence using both police and armed private security with the occasional assistance from the military, it is…illuminating.

                  The first case of the American military bombing Americans was several months before the Blair Mountain battle and it was at the Tulsa “race riot” in support of the mass racial cleansing of all the blacks from the “Black Wall Street.” The local newspaper’s archives are missing all stories of the riot that was printed during/right after, all the information in town’s government including the police are suspiciously patchy. So witnesses claim that there are mass graves and bodies dumped into the river. The probable count is 300+. As the cover up was thorough, as the eyewitness testimonies happened decades after, who knows.

                  Anyways when some ignoramous wants to blame blacks or poor whites for their conditions point to those two bombings for a start.

                  And if anyone wants to suggest that the police have not or would not do straight up murders my I suggest reading on the union movement that was supposed in the late 19th century and violently attacked (like with guns sometimes on families) during the attempted suppression in the early 20th century.

                  Some of the stories that one can read resemble the atrocities of the ant-communists, or accused of being, in Central and South America. Not as bad of course, but there were plenty of similarities.

            2. Procopius

              Well, actually it was more about having cheap armed force to terrorize slaves and prevent them from revolting and to catch any that tried to run away.

              1. bones

                It was drafted by Madison to assuage his planter pals that the federal government couldn’t use its new constitutional powers to disarm the militias the southern ruling class relied upon to control slave labor. Nothing to do with “tyranny,” unless it is tyrannical to free set slaves free. Also nothing to do with standing armies, as PKMKII suggests. The framers put together the constitution in part so that they could fund the army to put down populist rebellions and expel natives from their land.

                1. JBird

                  The framers put together the constitution in part so that they could fund the army to put down populist rebellions and expel natives from their land.

                  There was a movement to redo the Confederation’s constitution as it was such a worthless government making the entire country vulnerable to the European Powers from taking over, and the Barbary pirates were still very active. Don’t forget that the “United” States was really thirteen separate real countries, or states, each able to do whatever a sovereign nation wanted to do.

                  Including small wars with each other and not funding the navy needing to protect the very merchant ships needed for the entire American economy. Just a bit short sighted.

                  Shay’s Rebellion frighten the bejesus out out of the wealthy elites who then strengthen the central government’s powers even more than planned; the rebellion was a response to the banking and financiers corrupt, or at least weaselly, ripoff of poor farmers and traders. Shocking, I know. However, there was a still strong fear of a powerful central government as they had just fought a war to be free of one. Also a broad dislike, including among some influential elites, of large scale financial power. It did still happen just before the constitutional convention which strengthen the supporter of a strong central government.

                  Still nobody got they wanted as everything, including the Bill of Rights, was a result of arguing and compromising. Look at the Second Amendment for instance. The reasons for its existence are a fear of a central army or an armed police force, as a defense against foreign invaders, maintaining slave patrols, using in ethnic cleansing, defense against the government, and even a little for personal defense. All of the above is true at the same time and you can find writings in support of any of them at the same time. This makes any clean arguments on the Second rather difficult as you can honestly defend any side. Of course, that is what makes history so fun!

    2. savedbyirony

      I hear what you are saying about “so that the US could win something” but just a big shout out to the US women’s hockey team! Yes, for the gold medal win after all those losses to the powerhouse Canadian women’s hockey team; but also and maybe more so for sticking together and fighting the good and probably harder fight for better pay and more equatable treatment as compared to the men’s team against USA hockey. THAT was and is a lessen and inspiration for Americans! I could not watch the game last night, but i hope the commentators had the decency to mention the teams’ work and bravery in fighting for better compensation and institutional support/promotion as well. (And a shout out to all the hockey players who told USA hockey what they could do with it when the organization went looking for scabs.)

      1. barefoot charley

        They said nothing about compensation, barely alluding that many of the women were playing in professional leagues in both countries (which might or might not cover their rent). Also barely alluded to male pros being sidelined this Olympics by the NHL, yet the professionalization of the games seems otherwise complete. It’s a marvel to me that competitors may come from anywhere, and play for anywhere. This gold medal game, six women on the US team and two on the Canadian side all came from U Minnesota, under the same coach.

        Anyway, it was a fun, satisfying game. Americans got the first goal, watched Canada get two, got it together and tied up late in the third period, then won in what would be called doubled overtime if it weren’t played by Olympic tv rules, which I admit made for edge-of-your-chair tv. Made me proud to be North American, briefly.

        1. savedbyirony

          No mention of the women’s pro league? That figures. Not that it is the networks’ job to promote women’s pro hockey but lack of promotion from USA hockey was a big factor in the players’ boycott last spring. Sports money brokers and entertainment heads will yip and fuss that women’s sports don’t make money while they work to keep them out of the spot lights, under promote them and publicly malign women sports and athletes as compared to the men’s leagues. (By that i primarily but not exclusively mean that women in sports are still heavily packaged as sexual objects, not as athletes, even though studies have shown that promoting women as athletes and praising the athletic feats of their sports increases popularity with sports fans.) Well, this Olympic victory netted these women an extra $20,000 each (i don not know if this incentive was equal to what the men would have earned if they had won) because they fought both on and off the ice for it. And hopefully it will help strengthen both the junior and pro leagues of US women’s hockey as well.

          Thanks for the info. Sorry i missed the game. Wanted to sport the team and love a good hockey match.

  2. Joe

    Yves – Have you tried Kratom for pain relief? It can work quite well for many people without the opioid side effects. My nurse friend who can’t take opioids used it after knee replacement and reported that it worked quite well. Plus it’s affordable. I use it when I have a lot of pain after working out. I’m old!

      1. JamesG

        Oh wow!

        1. Commentator mentions a substance I never heard of.

        2. Yves posts today’s news that the FDA has banned it.

        Why read anything else than NC?

      2. Doug Hillman

        As a sleep aid, consider one Olympic event — curling, where the challenge isn’t survival; it’s staying awake*. It is not sadistic, but watching it may well be masochistic.

        * Maybe that’s why the (sneaky) Russian curling team had to reliquish their bronze medal, for using something more performance-enhancing than coffee. In truth, the poor guy was probably spiked in yet another Boris and Natasha cartoon scandal.

        Paging Mueller! … Mueller? … Mueller?

        1. Wukchumni

          There ought to be mandatory drug testing in curling, and often.

          But seriously, any sport you can do whilst simultaneously holding a red Solo cup nearly full of beer, isn’t one.

          1. adrena

            An article on curling, in a newsletter from my gym, explains why curling is definitely a sport.

            “For those of you that have curled, you’ll remember the two days after your first curling experience when you tried walking. But there are other muscles involved that you might not have thought are important to curling successfully.

            Hamstrings and glutes – Grabbing a stone and then pushing off in the hack (where you release the rock from) to shoot the stone down the ice is where this soreness will most likely originate. It could also come from being a sweeper and being bent at the knees and shuffling your body down the sheet while brushing.

            Inner thighs – As previously mentioned, moving down the ice while sweeping involves pushing off and sliding, heavily working your inner thighs.

            Shoulders and triceps – Pushing down hard on the broom and sweeping heavily involves both your shoulders and triceps.

            Chest – The chest is also activated when sweeping and especially the pectoral of your strong side.

            Core and lower back – Bracing your core and keeping your back straight both during your shot from the hack and while sweeping is integral to your power and keeping you upright on the ice.

            Calves – Both in your push-offs from the hack and propelling down the ice during sweeping, your calves will burn after an afternoon of curling.

            Cardio – It may not look like it on television, but brushing with everything you have while moving down a sheet of ice does involve heavy cardiovascular effort.

            If you’re thinking of taking up curling, don’t expect it to be an easy activity. Be prepared because even for the most fit, you’ll likely feel muscle soreness from using muscles in different ways.”

        2. neo-realist

          Yes, I’m also in the curling as sleep aid camp; and I know people who don’t consider themselves sports fans who like curling as well.

          I’ve been watching the women’s hockey competition (congratulations usa)–speed, skill and adrenaline.

      3. clinical wasteman

        [Dear Yves, editors & fellow readers/commenters, please forgive this ridiculously long comment.
        Dear editors again, if, because of its length of for any other reason/s, it’s in breach of comments policy, please do block it – I don’t see any particular reason to allow this much space – but please accept that it’s in good faith – following from a long time thinking about a distressing & ongoing discussion topic – & that the breach is unwitting, however stupid it may be.
        Because of the recurrent and thoughtful attention here to the opoid-related social-medical crisis in the US, and its partial intersection with personal (1st, 2nd, 3rd, every hand) experience in other countries, this (minus kratom discussion) is something I had been meaning to write for a couple of years now – even contemplated submitting as an article but still don’t think the account is systematic/thorough enough to merit that – but didn’t initially set out to write even now; it followed more or less accidentally from what was supposed to be a casual comment on the much less pertinent matter of kratom.]

        Same thing [i.e. effective kratom ban] recently in UK, under ontologically (*yes, word chosen carefully) ridiculous criminalization of “psychoactive substances” (*see!). (No test case yet to determine whether it covers music, poetry, unduly impressive natural objects, etc.)
        Philosophical concerns apart, this UK policy is a cynical exercise is hyper-prohibitionism, using the real & well publicised damage done by toxic synthetic canniboids (for which there would barely be a market without prohibition in general and a recent enforcement drive against actual cannabis in prisons in particular) to remove one of the few safer alternatives to the complementary rackets of opoid prescription/online prescription bypass (both lacking realistic dosage/harm-reduction information for “recreational” users) and ‘street heroin’ containing no-one knows what or how much of it until it’s too late.
        No particular advocacy for kratom intended here. As I hope I haven’t repeated too many times here already, I would much prefer to see low & reliably quantified doses of codeine or other relatively low-strength opoids* sold WITH safe use information, without stigma or prescription and above all WITHOUT the toxins mixed into most commercial painkillers/’cough syrups’ (ibuprofen/paracetamol in one case, promethazine or similar in the other). (*(The differences in strength between various substances classed by origin as opoids are enormous & well documented. [Equivalent quantity of] morphine is the standard unit of comparison; multiples for eg. fentanyl are staggering.)
        But anyone who wants to see less human & social damage done by these drugs as currently distributed should be furious at the criminalization of a relatively non-destructive* alternative, especially helpful to opoid users who wanted to stop but had reason to fear approaching state-run “support services”. (Or private-sector “rehab”, depending where you live, how much money you have, & your personal tolerance level for nonsense about the deep psychological nature of visceral chemical dependency.)**
        Apologies for the digressions: point was not that kratom is all that important in itself, but its criminalization (what a coincidence – both sides of the northern anglosphere!) almost caricatures the gratuitous, counter-productive cruelty of policy made at the “cursed spot” where pharma and policing meet.

        *”relatively non-destructive”: I’m sure it’s possible to prove that prolonged kratom use, massive short-term excess, &/or a catastrophic chemical reaction can be destructive of an individual user’s body. In the same way, there’s no reason (apart from the newspapers carrying the stories) to doubt first-hand reports of long-term mental impairment in some pot smokers or catastrophic chemical reactions killing a very few MDMA users. (“Very few” is reasonable, because each one is headline news here, and it’s one every couple of years in a country of 70 million where use has been “normal”, across classes & not exclusive to the most enthusiastic age bracket (c.15-35) for a couple of generations). And none of the distress in any of these stories should be downplayed. But it does matter whether the destruction in question is pervasive (like synthetic canniboids inside & to some extent outside prisons/youth detention centres, or alcohol everywhere in UK/northern Europe, or death from riding in cars everywhere, with or without drink or other drugs) or an event so rare that any attempt to legislate “against it” obviously has another purpose.

        **the UK – which in the 1960s witnessed the remarkable coincidence of total non-prohibition of opiates and a near-negligible rate of addiction – has, since prohibition, generally run quite sensible programmes of substitute prescription/reduction, using substances like methadone and buprenorphin, which are far from perfect but at least come in carefully measured quantities (in the latter case non-compoundable with other opoids) and most importantly are prescribed for free to the ‘service user’. (I say “most importantly” because by far the greatest social damage done by the ‘street heroin’ that the programmes ‘replace’ results from addicts’ absolute desperation to find the small amount of money needed to keep from going into acutely horrible withdrawal for a few more hours. Those small amounts build up, of course; hence lethal fights between apparent friends, violent robbery of strangers, violent blackmail of (&/or creeping theft from) loved ones; generalized mayhem in mostly working-class communities.) Even setting aside my personal scepticism about the chances of success of the kind of total-abstinence-plus-brutal-toughlove ‘rehab’ programmes favoured by celebrity addicts, that kind of ‘rehab’ 1. is (thankfully – because it would be compulsory if it existed) not available to the poor, who make up – dunno, but let’s say, 99%? – of addicts, & crucially, 2. does NOT even try to address physical addiction & corresponding withdrawal, which is about as acute a sickness as anyone eventually survives completely physically intact. Rather, the ‘rehab’ schemes provide a ‘sheltered’/coercive setting in which withdrawal takes place, along with a bunch of psychotherapy predicated on the idea that the problem is NOT chemical dependency but some underlying personal inclination towards it. The latter may or may not be true in any or all cases, but this method does NOT address the physical consequences of opiate addiction except by sweeping them out of sight. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to opiate, cocaine, alcohol and non-chemical ‘addictions’ is kind of a giveaway in that respect.
        New apologies for new digression. The preceding and probably now lost point was just that the relatively wise and relatively successful harm-reduction policy in the UK to date is already showing anecdotal signs of breaking down because addicts who would like to use these services are quite rationally afraid of the complications from other enforcement agencies (housing, welfare, immigration), given the way longstanding threats of comprehensive data sharing (across public & private sectors) are finally starting to come true.

        1. none

          if, because of its length of for any other reason/s, it’s in breach of comments policy, please do block it

          No problem with the length. Given that Yves was looking for a sleep aid, it looks like just what the doctor ordered.

        2. Amfortas the Hippie

          I follow,lol.
          Most of my imperial entanglements have led me to believe that “they” are not, at all, interested in my wellbeing, or that of anybody else(save those with enough jack, I guess).
          So I am no longer shocked that when it comes to the near epidemic of pain, they would do the stupidest and most cruel of all the options.
          I’ve been taking vicodin for more than ten years. same doctor, same pharmacist. and same self imposed periodic “drug holidays”, to reset the receptors and prolong this drug’s efficacy.
          The state makes it hard to get this medicine(which I will need for the rest of my life), and…as usual…the default assumption is that I am an addict and criminal, even though I have done nothing whatever to support that assessment.
          weed helps immensely, too…especially on pain days like today(rainy and cold) where I just lay here and watch tv(lol)
          (indica seems a bit better for pain, at least in my experience)
          but that too is denied us(in Texas…fingers crossed), due to dark age mentality and inertial hatred..

        3. audrey jr

          Thank you, clinical wasteman. Well stated. Now we can cue “know Your Rights,” by the Clash. “Helpful” gov’t agencies, supposedly designed for the many who need social services by the few who do not, are set up to fail and/or punish the very people they purport to aid.
          It is as though that failure to do anything truly “helpful” was baked into the cake.
          Heaven forbid.

    1. djrichard

      For body aches and pains I have success with d-phenylalanine.

      … as an inhibitor of enkephalinase, which metabolizes endorphins, D-phenylalanine may be used to treat chronic pain through blocking the break down of endorphins (natural pain killers).

      Just be aware, it’s doing other things too.

      D-Phenylalanine is converted into tyrosine and tyrosine in turn is converted into L-dopa, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, three key neurotransmitters. As a result this agent is associated with elevated levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which may alleviate symptoms of depression

  3. Quanka

    +1 on Frenchguy. The U.S. only started medaling strongly at the winter sports after they added these fake sports. I would say that your complaint misses the boat a little. In Sochi, a Georgian competitor died on the sliding track. Alpine skiing events — especially the downhill and Super G — are notorious for sending athletes off the course on stretchers (after they pull the athlete out of the mesh). Are the new sports dangerous? Yes. Are they definitively more dangerous than existing sports? I’m not sure. You will win more arguments pointing out they are events that were just taken from the X Games.

    1. Olga

      The Georgian guy died in Vancouver, in 2010 – not in Sochi. I know, I was there… and remember it well. (Given the horrible PR the west was spewing against the Sochi games, Russians would have likely been crucified if someone died there.) The death happened very early during the games, and there was a lot of discussion that the track was not safely built. Canadians denied it, but about a year later, the local paper published a story about emails between some folks connected to the design/build, in which they debated the safety of the track and their concerns. But at that point, the story was “old,” and few other publications picked it up.

    1. Annieb

      Yes, the Jimmy Dore-Bill Binny interview is absolutely worth listening to. Binney reveals that the NSA supplies evidence to local law enforcement for criminal prosecutions.

      1. Polar Donkey

        I have an interesting story that seems to connect to Binney’s parallel construction. About 10 years ago, a major drug smuggler got busted. This guy moved coke and marijuana from Texas to Detroit and other places. He was incedibly successful and smart. Young as well. He didn’t trust white people and laundered his money through LOTS of minority owned small businesses. The vast amounts of drugs and money flowing through his home town were kept off the radar. The normal players in money laundering in this town were kept out of the loop. One day, white people from an “organization” ask for a meeting. These people said the drug trade is going to change and they want his syndicate to move this different type of drug. The drug smuggler said no. He didn’t trust these guys and he moved what he knows. Two months later, he gets busted. Parallel construction seems to fill in gap of how this guy got busted for not playing ball with the “organization”.

  4. Bill Smith

    Amateur astronomer witnesses something scientists have been waiting decades for…

    Link not working…

  5. taunger

    Re: The Babbitt Fantasy. I think we have all given up on organizing and argument. Both sides have seen that TPTB don’t care about facts and argument. Having recognized that our leaders have foresaken us (and put in the fix to make change so hard) people have taken to the irrational outlet of anger and antipathy.

    We don’t actually believe the other knows the wrong of their way. But TINA, so why bother with difficult argument? Yelling makes me feel better.

    1. Watt4Bob

      I think that in order to understand the notion of a Babbitt Fantasy it’s necessary to see it as a collectivemisapprehension of reality that can lead to personal despair.

      The optimistic facet of the situation is the possibility of the realization, at a deeply personal level that the fantasy has a strong negative effect on ones quality of life.

      The problem is the collective belief in the fantasy is hindering ‘our’ collective ability to affect change, but the possibility of a personal liberation from the depressing effects of belief in the fantasy is both possible, and advisable.

      We would be better able to fight the good fight if on a personal level we could cure our minds of this useless perspective.

      The problem is collective, but the solution is personal.

    2. Ignacio

      This TINA thing brings me to a phrase I recently read in a blog post about trade-offs between growth and equity (at NC). The author quotes an european politician that, talking about “structural reforms”, publicly declared that ““We all know what to do; we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”

      This lament drove me crazy. How a politician, that should know better than I do about how complex is the world, believe that he/she “knows what to do” without uncertainty. How the political “intelligentsia” seems to be coming to a point of divorce with the population because “they know better”. This goes well beyond “Babbit’s fallacy” at a personal level (very common probably) but it is becoming a social disease. Political elites seem to be the greatest menace against democracy these days.

      Arguments are substituted with propaganda and I can`t remember a period where propaganda was so furiously submitted as today.

    3. Andrew Watts

      I’m not sure I agreed with any part of his argument, I don’t think that any one dimensional villian from a children’s book has any influence on a few hundred years of Calvinism. The history of the US is full of instances of self-righteous fury that Americans routinely direct at one another in times of social anxiety or perceived insecurity. Richard Wolff pointed out that Marxism was treated as forbidden and dangerous knowledge to the extent it wasn’t ever examined critically during the Cold War. It was treated as heresy. The ardor in which Americans denounce each other, both then and now, is reminiscent of an evangelical preacher denouncing the devil among us.

      I figure this is going to have a few different endings. Either we’ll have another era of Great Transformation that brings back the Christian Socialists as a major political force, or maybe we’ll just end up killing one another or ourselves as homicide and suicide rates steadily increase in greater numbers.

      1. susan the other

        I dunno about all of Babbitt’s and Steppenwolf’s sturm und drang, except that it was so boring it put me to sleep. But I’ll say this every time: we’re all nuts. Usually secretly frantic. So why not choose to be nuts? But in a very constructive way. Life doesn’t offer solutions, only choices. We gotta be flexible just to survive, at least mentally. Look at Billy Graham. He started out like Elvis, jumping around for Jesus and he mellowed into a virtual politician. But he certainly survived. From Christian firebrand to a humble coot. It isn’t necessary to change minds, it is only necessary to accept all opinions whether totally crazy or less crazy and let them settle like sediment in a quantum thought world. The collapse of the mental world wave function accumulates just enough consensus to steer a course – usually sane. I really can’t imagine what an overwhelming permanent thought majority might do besides backfire in a blast of enthusiasm killing off a vital diversity. Killing evolution. and etc. JMG was kinda talking in circles.

        1. Andrew Watts

          I wouldn’t necessarily call it crazy. By labeling it a fallacy JMG is assuming this has some basis in rational or logical thought instead of being a emotional and/or dysfunctional response. When Trump was elected the people who didn’t foresee the very possibility of it happening had their worldview shattered. Suddenly the world they thought they understood collapsed in on itself.

          I’m trying to have sympathy for these people but honestly it’s pretty hard. If you didn’t foresee the possibility of a populist demagogue being elected after everything that has happened you lack an imagination beyond any reason. The decades of declining living standards, the failed wars, watching a city drown during Hurricane Katrina, the Gilded Age level of inequality, mass surveillance, the crashing of the economy/stock market and bailouts of the privileged classes, etc. etc.

          If this doesn’t end in civil war I will be pleasantly surprised.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Greer notes a “similarity between the two behavior patterns, the embrace of self-defeating rhetoric and the embrace of a self-defeating strategy” and then suggests “a very curious and very widespread habit of thought” lies “behind this strange habit”. At this point I get lost in desultory commentary on Babbit, Harry Potter, and Steppenwolf with a nod to Jung. Somehow these varied bits of literature lead to the observation so many people “react with such frenzy to the suggestion that someone else might have a different view of things” and this observation somehow explains “this strange habit”. Along the way Greer suggests “None of the ways by which we’re taught to make sense of the world still live up to their billing. The grand liberal faith in a future of limitless betterment, in which economic abundance and moral improvement would someday turn the world into Utopia, has shattered on the rocks of reality.” And in conclusion a “surprisingly straightforward way out of the quandary” pops up in the “old-fashioned art of rhetoric”. I like Greer’s writing and continue to follow his posts at Ecosophia but this particular post, beautifully written as it is, does not hold together for me as a cogent argument toward the observations along the way and the final conclusion.

        I am particularly disturbed by the suggestion tossed out along the path of discussion that Sinclair Lewis and the liberalism of his time was the forbear of the liberalism of Hillery Clinton supporters and the Democratic party. Other than in the label they assume neither todays liberals nor conservatives bear much relation to the older meanings of those labels. The analysis of Babbit does not ring true to me. I haven’t read Babbit — but my impression of the common understanding of his character was that he lived an unexamined life. I strongly doubt that Lewis believed no one could truly believe in the values that Babbit lived, much as I agree that Lewis did not believe in Babbit’s lived values. Whether Lord Voldemort or Tom Riddle were the opponent in Harry Potter, Harry Potter is an entertainment for young adults. I haven’t read Steppenwolf but its mention and analysis still left me wondering how to arrive at Greer’s conclusion.

        Ad hominem is a classic fallacy which only grows more irritating when loudly shouted in an angry voice. I would categorize it as mob logic, an oxymoron. I believe that kind of logic is characteristic of a true believer, someone who believes so strongly in their cause that logic has no place. We are arriving at a situation where both political parties have devolved into waring camps of true believers growing more and more disconnected from the larger polity with each election. Argument, and even more broadly, rhetoric will not convince a true believer. True believers hold such certainty in their beliefs that argument has no place. Babbit, Harry Potter, and Steppenwolf seem like strange vehicles for discussing true believers and offer little or nothing to explain how our political machine has devolved to this level, and they are mute in speaking to what beliefs motivate those who animate the puppet theater of our politics.

    4. LifelongLib

      What if it’s not a Babbitt fallacy but a Hitler fallacy? That we think the people on the other side are so evil and beyond persuasion that they can’t be reasoned with, only destroyed (politically at least)? Isn’t this is as plausible as the notion that they secretly agree with us, and that if we scream loudly enough they’ll admit it?

      1. J.Fever

        “…… the people on the other side are so evil and beyond persuasion that they can’t be reasoned with, only destroyed”
        Red State Dogma.

    5. Paul Cardan

      It’s a thought provoking article. But I’m not sure of what he’s driving at with Hesse. Is it that there’s a diversity of opinions about ethical and political matters? Or is it that failure to appreciate the fact of such diversity amounts to a cognitive and ethical failure, a failure to know what we ought to know because it’s what we would know were we patient, curious, empathetic, and modest, all of which are things we should be?

      If it’s the latter he’s driving at, then, for what it’s worth, I’d advise revisiting what the Stoics have to say about evil, or, more precisely, the psychology of evil. The Stoics did in fact think that ethical claims, including claims to the effect that someone has done moral wrong, are sometimes objectively true (a point of Stoicism about which Greer seems confused). But they also believed that people could only do wrong out of ignorance. They were much like Socrates in this regard (indeed, some Stoics flirted with the idea of calling themselves Socratists). Given that we have powers of empathy, patience, and educative persuasion, we ought to attempt to understand where, exactly, these people who are in the wrong went wrong and then try to persuade them to do better (assuming we’ve first, out of modesty, considered the possibility that they’re not in the wrong at all). Epictetus repeatedly offers advice to this effect, as does Seneca (in On Anger). That said, Seneca acknowledged that there are people who cannot be persuaded in a timely fashion, and some of these people bring great harm to others in the meantime. In those cases, the rest of us will have to put a stop to what they’re doing, over whatever objections those in the wrong might have.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        when I read it at 16 or so, I got pretty much what Greer got: these provincial bumpkins I despise are what they are, and they’re unlikely to change that much.
        That book prepared me(in retrospect) for Kerouac when I was 20(and already on the road), and Marcus Aurelius when I was 29.
        The continuum here is that I am who I am, and must try to make it to where I can live with myself…and that all those others are, too and must, too.Meanwhile, marvel in the diversity of Us.
        As you say…Socrates, man.
        Socratic Perplexity(i know i dont know-var.) is very important to me, and like greer, I’m finding Team Blue impossible to go back to, because they are Certain!, and thereby closed off to anything outside their little cave.
        I’ll introduce this article in my remaining lib/prog social media environment, and see what transpires. I’m currently being raked over the coals due to asserting that pathetic loser guys who want to withdraw from the world because they perceive women as evil, have rights, too….and defending the eating of deer meat and chicken eggs.

    6. PKMKII

      I don’t see it so much as antipathy or, as Greer seems to be assuming, a faulty construction of argument. Rather, we’ve entered the festivus stage of public discourse. Screams of racist and “gaystapo” aren’t intended to sway minds, and most of those making those arguments believe the accused to be beyond saving; deep down, they don’t think the other side already agrees with them, but that the other side’s horribleness is innate.

      So the anger is not about changing minds, it’s an airing of grievances: “You’ve wrecked our carefully curated multiculturalism with your tweeting ethnostate reactionary! You’ve stripped us of our citizen’s right of the meaningful vote via gerrymandering and the tilted nature of the senate and the electoral college!” while the other screams “You’ve destroyed our social bedrock with safe spaces and hedonistic permissiveness, so concerned with respecting everyone but us!” Blaming the other side for all your woes.

      Now Greer is correct in asserting that both sides are more to blame for their own problems than the other; the liberals mistook tokenism for progress, put more trust in state bureaucracies than the democratic process except when it comes to the popular vote, the conservatives offered up their prized culture long ago to the slaughter for political gains and allowed the market to displace society. It’s the anger of one who’s wrecked their life and instead of taking a good hard look at how they got themselves there, project their faults onto someone else.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    That was a great piece by John Michael Greer. Herman Hesse and Steppenwolf! It was the first of Hesse’s books that I read back in high school in the late 60s due to the popularity that Greer recalls but it is Siddhartha that I love and return to again and again. Siddhartha also rejects his Brahmin father and upbringing, and moves to a fuller understanding of life and his fellow humans only after a lifetime of wrong (?) turns.

    “I can think. I can wait. I can fast.” Valuable skills for any place and time.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And I recall it was the middle way for Siddhartha at the end.

      “Not progressing too fast, nor too slow. Conserving, never too much, never too little.”

      And then, came Bodhidharma, with his ‘If you think you’re virtuous, you’re already not virtuous.’ Here, virtue is like a matter under quantum observation. When you shoot a photo at it to make an observation, it is moved (altered). Thus, the urge to ‘lose yourself in whatever you do,’ and not self-observe too much.

      To say, in describing oneself in a computer dating website, ‘I am a humorous single’ is to indicate one’s not really that humorous.

    2. CalypsoFacto

      I had to read Siddartha in high school, and one night I left it on the living room coffee table. Overnight my stepfather got up to let the dog out and started reading it to kill time while she did her business. He ended up reading the entire book to the end that night. The next morning he had the sort of wild-eyed mania of someone who has been deeply touched, repeating “What a great book! It’s just incredible!” He wasn’t much of a reader otherwise.

    3. Amfortas the Hippie

      Ja. I think that was his better book.
      I put in wife’s bedside pile of husbands books she’ll never read.
      But i wouldn’t have been ready for it at 16.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was the depth of my 16 year old self.
        Might need to revisit it.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I remember that ‘but there is no scientific way of coming up with a reasonable hypothesis.’

          It’s quite mysterious how we come up with good guesses…quite irrationally…from a dream sometimes.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Just to add.

            So there is something quite unscientific at the heart of the Scientific Method, I remember thinking that while reading the book.

            And when some one says, ‘I am being scientific,’ he or she is being quite unscientific.

            And at that crazy (or maybe not) moment, we ask, what would Nanquan do about this science cat? Would he cut it in two?

          2. LifelongLib

            I think it was the idea of the benzene ring that came to its discoverer in a dream. Out on a limb, but Bohr supposedly got the idea of electrons instantly changing their orbits from reading about Kierkegaard’s leap of faith, and Newton may have gotten the idea of universal gravitation from his occult interests (“as above, so below”). I wonder if today’s increasingly early and narrow specialization of scientists will dry up their sources of inspiration…

      1. Lee

        Having done some citizen scientist wolf watching, I must say that is a very remarkable interaction. Perhaps the pack is just hanging out with a predator-naive horse until they get hungry? For a time after wolves were initially reintroduced to Yellowstone, the elk were not afraid of them, fatally mistaking them for coyotes. Or could this be one of those unusual and paradoxical inter-species friendships? I wonder how things developed after the point in time depicted.

        1. a different chris

          I’m not sure the pony wasn’t trolling them. Yeah horses are prey-animals, so are water buffalo. The lion pack doesn’t even think about taking on a wb in his prime, and those little guys aren’t going to do anything that stupid, either. He’ll make a meal for their offspring in about 15 years, but not today.

          You don’t attack something that is going to (fatally) disable most of your pack unless you are really, really, really hungry.

          1. Synapsid

            a different chris:

            Cape buffalo (African) not water buffalo (Asian).

            I’m not sure anything is nuts enough, except Hemingway and his ilk, to take on a Cape buffalo.

  7. Karrinina

    Wow! That horse clearly read no threat in the canine body language. He is probably an experienced student of their behavior if he lives in the same environment. My horses chase and try to stomp loose dogs. I am usually trying to save the canines, not the equines.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      This has been my experience also.
      Horses are deadly accurate with their hooves.
      Cows are pretty accurate also, just don’t have the power a horse does.

    2. Lee

      I’ve seen single elk fend off individual wolves, and the successful collective defense by bison against wolf packs but it is highly doubtful that a single horse could prevail against a hungry pack.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Just as with any pack of predators, take out the alpha female or male, and they will tend to back off and seek a less worthy victim.
        Two legged or four, that is the rule of the wild.

  8. Otis B Driftwood

    The Babbitt Fallacy – good stuff. Having read both Babbitt and Steppenwolf in my student days, I’m now inspired to give Hesse’s book another go (don’t need to revisit Babbitt). The comments section of that post is rich as well – indeed, it should make the fine NC commentariat look to their laurels. ;)

    As for the article, I’ve always believed that a foundational quality of a liberal outlook is to be unequivocally open-minded, to have empathy. But then again, it was Woody Allen who quipped many years ago, “I’m a bigot, but for the left.” And so it goes.

    1. Lee

      Yes, a truly good read. Based on his conclusion, I look forward to the coming installments.

      There’s a surprisingly straightforward way out of the quandary, as it happens. It comes from an unexpected quarter: the old-fashioned art of rhetoric. We’ll talk about that next week—and in the process we’ll begin a sequence of posts I’ve been pondering for a very long time: a discussion of the place of education, and especially of self-directed adult education, in an age of decline.

        1. clinical wasteman

          Please forgive (and if you prefer, of course, ignore) the somewhat personal question, Eustache, but did your granddad also add an “h” to the beginning of your name?

          The extra “h” compensating for the dropped one seems less a part of spoken London English these days than a trope of “cockney” characters in mostly middle-class literature – although the great London working-class visionary Michael Moorcock has his wonderful character Mrs Cornelius use it all the time. But that, in part, is why I (as a novice Londoner of only 23 years, with only Scots and transAtlantic NZ grandparents) ask: do you remember people of your grandparents’ generation giving extra (h)aspiration to vowel-fronted nouns, or was that always more stereotype than reality?

  9. PlutoniumKun


    Ancient Britons ‘replaced’ by newcomers BBC

    The abstract from the original article:

    From around 2750 to 2500, Bell Beaker pottery became widespread across western and central Europe, before it disappeared between 2200 and 1800. The forces that propelled its expansion are a matter of long-standing debate, and there is support for both cultural diffusion and migration having a role in this process. Here we present genome-wide data from 400 Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age Europeans, including 226 individuals associated with Beaker-complex artefacts. We detected limited genetic affinity between Beaker-complex-associated individuals from Iberia and central Europe, and thus exclude migration as an important mechanism of spread between these two regions. However, migration had a key role in the further dissemination of the Beaker complex. We document this phenomenon
    most clearly in Britain, where the spread of the Beaker complex introduced high levels of steppe-related ancestry and was associated with the replacement of approximately 90% of Britain’s gene pool within a few hundred years, continuing the east-to-west expansion that had brought steppe-related ancestry into central and northern Europe over the previous centuries.

    This is really fascinating – archaeologists have long puzzled over the very distinct cultural break represented by the Beaker people, but I think most assumed it was a diffusion of cultural features rather than a replacement population. But it seems it was.

    There is lots of evidence in Ireland of a climactic catastrophe that may have wiped out the original Neolithic peoples. Many entire farm complexes have been found underneath bogs, the probable outcome of a deteriorating (wetting) climate causing acidification of the soil. Once it gets to a certain stage, sphagnum starts to grow and its no longer any use, and there is a rapid build up of bog. Its not hard to imagine how a weakened population would then have fallen prey to an incoming group bringing with it new diseases from central Europe.

    Current projections for climate change is that the western fringes of Europe will become significantly wetter. One can only guess what impact this will have on soil structures, already damaged through intensive farming.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      Mother Nature does periodically seem to take great pains to keep the fleas in check. Witness also the ‘Plague of Justinian’ (540’sAD) that nipped the Eastern Roman Empire’s otherwise-likely-to-have-been-fairly-successful efforts to reconquer and reunify the western portions back into one grand empire.

      And not just the Byzantines, but it also threw the other big power in the area – Khusro’s Sassanid Empire – for a complete loop from which neither ever really recovered, and paved the way for much further disruption in the spread of Islamic conquerors and further Germanic & Steppe tribes successes.

      Many focus on the internecine warfare between tribes and a collapsing empire, the always-popular ‘trade with far flung provinces brought pests’ theories, but many overlook the impact of climate in assisting the setting of the stage.

      Procopius, in History of Wars wrote of something that occurred through much of the northern hemisphere in 536, which was one of those ‘years without a summer’ we hear about from time to time:

      “…during this year a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness… and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear…”

      In this case, likely volcanos spewing out gases and particulates to shade the earth. Cold weather, crop failures, disruption, regime change, and…disease.

      I begin to think that most of the momentous times we fleas try to analyze and pin on social movements, great leaders, ancient aliens, or any other seemingly (il)logical causes are really – just Mother Nature trying out various brands of flea powder for effectiveness.

      1. Wukchumni

        The funny thing is, the ancients never knew what hit them. When Laki blew it’s top in Iceland in 1783-4, causing a series of bad crop years across Europe and France in particular, that resulted in fomenting the French Revolution, on account of the cost of bread exceeding the average daily income, nobody in a Paris salon exclaimed ‘It’s that damned volcano in Iceland!” as to the culprit.

        We all know the bringers of our climatic change that is going to effect us and few of us have ever been to the West Antarctic where wholesale change is happening right now as the ice shelves disintegrate away, just 35 years after this passage from a 1983 Time-Life book titled “Ice Ages” foretold this:

        “Scientists also want to keep track of the West Antarctic marine ice sheet, which rests on bedrock lying as much as 3,300 feet below sea level. At present, ice shelves shield the margins of the marine ice sheet from direct erosion by the sea. But if the ice shelves should disintegrate, this ice sheet would be prone to sudden collapse and disintegration-a process that might take less than 200 years.”

        It on;y took us 1/6th as long to get there…

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Indeed! “off with their heads”, can certainly be argued to have been prefaced with “gosh, honey, you notice this winter hasn’t seemed to have ended yet??”

          I’m reading a great book by Derek Wilson called Calamities & Catastrophes: The Ten Absolutely Worst Years In History and it is an ongoing theme how the underpinnings of many great events started with….climate change.

          These interesting events and how they interact has reminded me it is time to dust off my DVDs of James Burkes Connections tv series….

          1. clinical wasteman

            Absolutely important point, perhaps unusual in that lack of attention to it in most historical writing may really have do do with a relative lack of retrospective information (more of which is emerging constantly, climate-wise) rather than being strictly ideological. Although downplaying material reality is always ideological however much or little information you have.
            Fernand Braudel – and to some extent the later “world-system” Marxists (Arrighi, Wallerstein) whom he influenced despite his own non-Marxism – certainly took climatic and geological history (if history is the right word for geological time) seriously, trying to incorporate the 100-year(approx.) global cooling from the mid-16th century onwards into analysis of ‘early modern’ economies in his multi-volume tracts on ‘The Mediterranean’ and (European) ‘Civilization and Capitalism’. As far as I remember he was scrupulously tentative with reverse-projected climate data; not sure how much more is available now but hope the same caution is applied however much there happens to be.

            I doubt that either is an allusion Lewis Carroll had in mind with his queenly “off with their heads!”, but it’s interesting that 1649 comes almost exactly at the end of that cold climate cycle, & I have no idea about the (biological) climate of 1793. But in a millennium of bad years, it’s hard to think of either, at least in the places where the famous decapitations took place, as anywhere near the worst.

            (PS. I do realize it’s “Jacobite”, not “Jacobin”, so you may disagree completely about 1649 &/or 1793. There may still be some common ground though, in that, had a Scottish or Scottish/Irish uprising overthrown the Hanover/Bank of England state any time in the 18th century and beheaded whichever George happened to be lolling on the throne, that would certainly also have been on my list of better years.)

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, the more you look into the ancient records, the more evidence there is of quite dramatic climate shifts, often caused by volcanos. They were usually pretty catastrophic for the more advanced civilisations. But as this study suggests, even fairly low tech semi-subsistence cultures could also be wiped out.

        It is quite striking though just how complete the genetic wipe out seems to have been. I’d suspect a combination of a crop breakdown with multiple disease outbreaks could be the only explanation.

        Its worth noting that island populations are particularly vulnerable to disease outbreaks. The neolithic inhabitants of Britain and Ireland might well have been as genetically open to infectious diseases as the native Americans.

        1. Wukchumni

          We keep around 6 months of mostly canned food, pasta, etc. as insurance against who knows what might come our way such as a volcano spewing it’s guts, and then as the use-by dates go by, it becomes a gift to our local food bank.

          A lose-win deal.

          Think i’ll take a load over there today…

          1. kareninca

            How are you going to defend your stash if things go south? I’m curious. Don’t you think that your hungry neighbors will at some point fairly early on kill you for it, if there is a real catastrophe such as a volcanic eruption? We do keep earthquake supplies, but we have no way to defend them if someone else has any sort of weapon.

            BTW we live in Silicon Valley and all of the local cops live in the East Bay due to housing costs. We’ve been told not to expect them to leave their families to come over to police us rich (and non-rich) people in the case of a real disaster. They will stay over there on the other side of the bay with their loved ones. Same with the firefighters. It’ll be DIY self defense here. I’m not being a doomer, this is the acknowledged reality.

        2. JacobiteInTraining

          Very interesting stuff! I’m fascinated w/the genetic wipeout data, because (under the influence of shows like Time Team, and documentaries from other British archeologists I was first acquainted with through that series) …I’ve seen lots of references to the changing cultures (Neolithic, iron age, dark age) in Britain *not* necessarily being wholesale wipeouts/slaughters/displacements of the native peoples with the ‘invader’…but rather implied to be more cultural displacements – where the locals saw the newcomers and said in effect ‘wow, they have power and mucho cool stuff…lets learn their language and ways so we can blend in and become like them!’ so that in a few generations the locals were indistinguishable from the ‘invaders’….without all the death, disease, and unpleasantness.

          The truth undoubtedly includes both the former and the latter – but evidence of such a distinct genetic wipeout is certainly big news in that context and era!

          1. PlutoniumKun

            One of the most interesting examples is when the Romans came to southern Britain. The archaeological culture became ‘Roman’ for several centuries as if the Celtic peoples had been wiped out. But when the Romans left, the pre-Celtic archaeology just reappeared again, as if nothing had happened. Its as if Rome was like the fashion for bell-bottoms, it just came through, seemed all-encompassing, and vanished when no longer useful.

            1. JacobiteInTraining

              I’m using up too many electrons in posting, I guess – but that anticipates the analogy between the Roman Villa and McMansions of today!

              All the Celtic locals decide its time to abandon roundhouses as ‘so last century’ in order to keep up with the Julii and get that hypocaust and mosaic put in ASAP…well, at least as long as their credit lines with the building contractor hold up.

              Fast forward to today, or…a little further to tomorrow: How much lumber can we scavenge off the skeletons of the vast tracts of mouldering abandoned McMansions, sufficient to build us a nice cozy settlers cabin?

            2. Ignacio

              This is in fact very peculiar since in France or Iberia the roman culture was fully and rapidly assimilated by the different pre-existing cultures. I think that the british islands where nothing more than military bases for romans that otherwise were not interested on heavy rain or tea at 17:00 (Hahahahahaha!)

              1. JustAnObserver

                Don’t forget the e.g. the tin & lead mines of the West Country.

                Imperialism driven by resource extraction is not a new phenomenon.

    2. Ignacio

      Nevertheless population replacement is only part of the story of Beaker culture as it says in the abstract. Apparently the Beakers were luxury items and power symbols and there was commerce of both, raw materials and beakers through Europe. I wonder if this gene-pool mentioned in the abstract could be assigned to the celtics present in Europe in the Iron Age (supposedly from the steppes also), or even if all celtics belonged to the same genetic pool.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Currently reading Pax Romana by Adrian Goldsworthy and as he discusses Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul, he makes note of the fact that Caesar was asked on more than one occasion by Gallic communities to intervene when mass migrations of other tribes threatened them. So far the author doesn’t mention what caused these migrations in the first century BC, but between that and today’s article, it sounds like large migrations of people in the ancient world were not uncommon.

      Goldsworthy pulls a lot from Caesar’s own writing which I have never read. Now I’m wondering if Caesar mentions the rationale behind any of these migrations or just took it for granted. Anybody out there familiar with the Gallic Wars?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        From memory, Caesar doesn’t give a reason for the tribes to move. Its known that tribal movements were very common in the period, but I’ve never read a convincing explanation. The usual reason given is land exhaustion and/or overpopulation. It is one of the features of Iron Age people that they didn’t seem to have the same sense of place or home as the neolithic. Neolithic remains are very firmly embedded in natural regions and landmarks, the later Iron Age people seemed to show little interest in this.

  10. The Rev Kev

    Straya in “notable” slide down corruption index

    Not surprising at all. This article is talking about public service and this would be under the influence of a new generation of ideologue politicians whereas normally our politicians have been pragmatists in the past. As an example of this at work, when the present government got in they were fierce climate change deniers which showed up in their first actions after getting in ( thus setting Australia back decades in environmentalism.
    It is not only governments but other institutes as well. In a story called “Mortgage fraud is the dirty secret that could spark a financial meltdown, economist warns” ( it describes how banks were changing the information on applications such as inflating assets, salaries, etc. On bank employee demanded from one customer why she was having difficulty meeting her loan when she had $8000,000 in the bank. The woman offered to split it 50/50 if he could actually find it. Banks were refusing customers access to their mortgage documents as his would show up the fraud, including my bank – gulp! Finding just this one article was really hard using Google for some reason.

  11. epynonymous

    Good Morning.

    Here’s an unpopular opinion.

    Maybe the way to stop school shootings is to fix the schools?

    We’re told its a mental health issue, but most of the shooters are already on psychoactive drugs well before their adulthood. Americans take more prescription medications than any other nation, and where does that get us?

    Not more guns. Not less guns. Better schools.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Lack of a feeling of control over your circumstances and the resulting stress is one of the most common prerequisites for mental illness and depression. Couple this with the delusion that young men in this country have that the world owes them a hot girlfriend who adores them just because they exist, and you get what we have.

      One wonders why European countries with social programs that make the lives of citizens better do not have the number of incidents the US does. I refuse to call it a “social safety net” because that implies all of us should be on a financial high wire.

      Or we could address the elephant in the room, namely what so many shooters have in common

      1. epynonymous

        Funny, I just saw this going around, arguing the exact opposite.

        To quote our president, there were good people on both sides. Apparently, 136K people agree. Things are moving quickly these days.

        I have a personal litmus test for media that has served me well. Did they get the Iraq War question right when it mattered?

        15 years at war next month. Conservatively. And people say we have a gun control problem. If people cared half as much about the way minorities are treated in this country, then we’d be banning racism.

      2. EricT

        How about we offer them a proper future? Or go back to funding schools so that schools can bring back sports or clubs? Or provide our teachers with a proper secure job, cynicism can spread like a plague given the right circumstances. Or provide enough funding to bring back counselors. Our society is broken. The business/corporate side has given up its side of the bargain to pursue profit at all cost. Wall street does nothing but look for scams to extract wealth. Society is broken, and our so called leaders are the cause.

        1. Doug Hillman

          Yes, homicidal rage is a rather obvious manifestation of mental health issues — hopeless depression and despair. (Duh!). But its dangerous intersection with grinding poverty, absent parents, extreme inequality, etc, is somehow not up for public discussion in polite company.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Some see it as a gun.

            Others see the rage, anger, frustration, despair, hopelessness, madness behind the gun.

            1. Wukchumni

              I say as a preventative measure, we slice the thumb & index finger off of all Americans, thus rendering them almost unable to shoot and/or twist off the lids on jars.

                1. Wukchumni

                  The Russians already came to California @ Fort Ross about 3 centuries ago, hung 10 for awhile, serfing when a good series of waves of boats came in.

                2. jefemt

                  They’re already here and we have- or at least we can’t decide whether they are here, not here, a huge issue, or a non-issue.

                  Merely a flesh wound….

                3. JP

                  The Russians have already come. I started years ago with the need to launder ill gotten gains. We have already surrendered. There is a lot of denial on this site but I have personally seen Russian money trying to buy into mundane enterprises like public contracting. Anything to get a toe hold to process money.

                  1. Arizona Slim

                    One of my coworking friends is Russian. And it’s my goal to have a Russian conversation with him before the end of the year. Right now, I get as far as the Russian word for “hello,” and then I’m stumped.

                    1. witters

                      You can ask them, in English, to tell you why Mandelstam is untranslatable. My Russian teacher would wax lyrial on the matter for hours. Then insisted I translate Mandelstam.

                  2. JustAnObserver

                    If that’s so then the last thing any Russian would do is to take any action that might destabilise the political system that serves them so well.

        2. perpetualWAR

          Or how about really curbing bullying. It appears many shooters feel bullied and alone. We need to get a handle on this as well.

      3. Jim Haygood

        Lack of a feeling of control over your circumstances and the resulting stress is one of the most common prerequisites for mental illness and depression.

        Compulsory attendance at a Tesla gigafactory-sized educational institution with rigid time periods enforced by clanging bells = lack of a feeling of control over your circumstances.

        America’s 19th century model of industrialized mass education to shape compliant factory workers — with a quaint overlay of the 18th century agricultural calendar so students can have summers off to weed their fambly’s subsistence farm — is malignantly obsolete.

        Personally I’m sensitive to noise unless I make it myself. Wonder if a .45 pistol could take out one of them bells …

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They used to zoo animals in cages, like we keep students in rooms.

          Now, we have learned to let them regain their vagility.

        2. wilroncanada

          Old schools were built to look like factories.
          New schools are built to look like shopping malls.
          And in the P3 world, after 20 years the school district has to give them back to the ‘real’ owners to convert into…shopping malls.
          Most of the students will be into minwage service jobs by then anyway.
          The new/old mall building will feel like home.

    2. Kevin

      I believe the “mental health issue’ is a cop-out. Period.

      Better schools are an absolute necessity, but not one red cent should be spent on arming or gun prevention.

      We, the people, the so-called adults in this country need to provide a safe environment for our children to learn – it’s not difficult at all, countries all over the globe seem quite capable of doing so. we used to be able to do so here, at least when I was kid!

      Arming teachers, armed drones, security guards?…total and complete BS.
      Doing this is a rabbit hole nightmare – in which we will be sending our kids off to war each and every morning, while the NRA goes KACHING$$$. Does anyone want that?

      1. Wukchumni

        To me, one of the saddest things, is that we’ve been @ war since every one of those high school students was born and it’s all they’ve ever known.

        We spent 10 days with our 9 & 12 year old nephews in a affluent SD neighborhood while mom and dad were away on vacation, and the elementary school the younger boy went to, struck me as more of ‘concentration camp-lite’. Not quite a prison, but getting there.

        And then for fun, I went and checked out my L.A. elementary, junior high, and high school campuses on a drive-by, and they’re all fenced in now, versus just a few fences when I attended. My high school sported a 10 foot high metal one around it’s perimeter with bars in lieu of chain-link, that looked almost insurmountable from a scrambling over prospect.

        Is it any wonder the Walter Mitty Sobchaks want to be more ready for a hostage situation in our schools?

        1. Eureka Springs

          Michael Moore’s last flick made it clear we have a huge problem by showing viewers European schools. The food looked better than 60 of the 80 restaurants in my tourist town, no homework, less school hours, less prison like environment all around produced far better results. In other words just about every direction we have doubled down on for generations has failed.

          A friend who is now close to retirement, extremely popular teacher, told me her elementary allows twenty minutes total for lunch. And there is no recess at all. That’s teaching insanity. Why learn to get along, argue or fist fight when there is only enough time to shoot someone?

          1. Wukchumni

            A high schooler from SoCal in Whittier, near where I grew up was busted with a huge arsenal and ammo in his house where he lived, the other day.

            The parents were told to go out and get as armed and dangerous as possible against an intractable foe-us, why wouldn’t their kids view them as role models?

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Why haven’t more Americans emigrated to Europe?

            Can’t blame it on our sedentary genes. “How did you get here in the first place?”

            Is it then the fault of Europe? “Yankees go home. We don’t like Americans?”

            1. visitor

              Europeans are weary of immigrants, in case you did not notice.

              The USA and Europe do not have agreements allowing the free (or at least easy) relocation of people between their countries (contrarily to, intra-EU, EU-EEA, EU-EFTA, EU-Switzerland).

              I understand the tax code of the USA makes it painful for US citizens and US green cards holders to live outside the USA (they must pay local taxes and US taxes, and contend with FATCA red tape, among other niceties).

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                My guess is Europe is saying to American’s would-be-Europe-bound-emigrants – you stay home and work out your problems…we are not taking you in, out of our (tough) love for you.

        1. DorothyT

          Since mental hospitals were closed decades ago and local mental health clinics, as promised, never materialized. what “lists” of mentally ill people exist? Insurance either doesn’t or barely covers true mental illnesses. Is depression one such mental illness and who’s to say how the diagnoses of true clinical depression are made? The US penal ‘system’ probably handles more people with mental illnesses but hardly evaluates and treats them.

          Background checking of those who have committed violent crimes is one thing; background checking of the mentally ill is a fabrication that the NRA and its fellow travelers among the elected are throwing out to divert banning of sales of weapons of war to people of any age.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If mental background checking doesn’t work, it suggests that we must ban guns (and weapons) for both individuals and government workers (police, soldiers, generals, etc), as many have long advocated.

      2. todde

        We can always decommission a carrier task force to pay for fortifying our schools.

        And I got beat into the hospital twice when I was a kid going to high school. So this ‘safe environment’ never existed.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On ‘more than just guns.’

      Depression is a mental health issue.

      As Yves mentioned above, depression is largely societally induced.

      1. Harold

        The Florida shooter may well have had a severe brain issue caused by fetal alcohol syndrome — I don’t know what, if any, the answers are in such cases, but clearly anti-depressants are of little use for it.

          1. Harold

            He was an adopted child — possibly with a brain-based physical disability with behavioral symptoms caused by his birth mother’s exposure to alcohol or other teratogens during pregnancy. His explosive behavior and physical appearance are suggestive of that. Yes.

    4. marym

      People with mental illnesses aren’t more likely to commit gun violence than other people. Here’s a link to a Vox explainer with multiple links to studies.


      “The share of America’s violence problem (excluding suicide) that is explainable by diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is tiny. If you were to suddenly cure schizophrenia, bipolar, and depression overnight, violent crime in the US would fall by only 4 percent, according to an estimate from Duke University professor Jeffrey Swanson, a sociologist and psychiatric epidemiologist who studies the relationship between violence and mental illness.

      Subsequent studies, both in the US and abroad, arrived at broadly similar conclusions to the 1980s ECA study that concluded only 4 percent of US violence is attributable to mental illness, even if the precise numbers were slightly different.”

      The post also refers to a 2002 finding that:

      substance abuse, childhood maltreatment, and living in an adverse or violent social environment (like being homeless, or living in a very high-crime area of an inner city)

      increase the risk of violence.

      There are indications that mass shooters have a history as domestic abusers (see here, here, here).

      As documented in the Vox post, and elsewhere, what makes the US different in numbers of gun deaths is the guns.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Thank you. I have a sister who is schizophrenic. Never a violent bone in her body unless she is in a breakdown. And only then she uses her fists, never a weapon.

        I get so upset when I hear “it’s the crazies.” Umm, no it isn’t. It’s the abused, bullied, kids who feel alone…..

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Looking at it from another angle, we can say people who abuse, people who bully, people who are greedy, and people who deem life worthless (all forms, animal lives, plant lives, human lives) have mental health issues.

          Then, we can say, it’s crazy to want to accumulate more money than one can ever use.

          And crazy to kill.

      2. Skip Intro

        I think the logic is reversed. People who commit gun violence are categorized as having mental illness, by definition, because looking at any other causes is beyond the scope of media analysis.

    5. cyclist

      I’m a bit uncomfortable about the idea that ‘fixing the schools’ is going to fix many of the problems of society. Let’s try to work on the problems of inequality, health care, militarism, etc. in our general culture instead of expecting a bunch of stressed out teachers to do the task.

      1. Annieb

        I used to be of the opinion that gun violence in our society was a result of various societal ills that should be addressed. But I have concluded finally that we have to address the symptom rather than the causes. In other words pass gun control and hope that we fake it until we make it. If we make it clear that our society does not tolerate ownership of automatic weapons and that we have a strict license system then maybe this attitude will create a different and nonviolent environment.

        We also need to stop pretending that our schools feeI safe to students. They tell us they are not feeling safe. So we as adults need to do what is necessary to create a safer environment for them. If we don’t take actions such as these, we will continue to see this violence spin out of control.

        1. a different chris

          Yup. Drug addiction is a symptom of the underlying problem, but you start by taking away the drugs and nobody questions that.

    6. Jean

      How about indicting, trying and imprisoning pharma executives and owners?
      Start with the Sacklers.

      Something like a tobacco settlement could be used to fund treatment centers, education and reparations.

      Other countries, especially in Latin America, have the same access to guns as the U.S. and do not have mass shootings. Something’s different in their societies.

  12. Sam Adams

    Re: plundering-the-planet-coca-cola-and-nestle-to-privatize-the-largest-reserve-of-water-in-south-america/
    Is this the same parcel the Bush dynasty put together?

    1. epynonymous

      Former Mexican President Vincente Fox was on Bill Maher last week. Alot of flash with no substance, but he did allege that most of the Mexican cartels are really just producers selling to distributors in America.

      He mentioned he broke nearly a hundred years of one-party rule in Mexico, but failed to mention that he was the former president of Coca-Cola Mexico first…

        1. foghorn longhorn

          When the grandparents would go to Juarez in the 60s for their dentures and ironically 50 lb burlap bags of sugar, at the river crossing we would throw coins in and the little mexican kids would dive in and fetch them.
          No point really, just a vision that has stuck with me all these years.
          Probably beat selling chiclets tho.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Not sure about the Bush connection, but this has already been made into a movie, 007’s “Quantum of Silence.”

      Controlling water is a James Bond villain thing, and that’s a good way of looking at Nestlé.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          we thought the Bush Clan would relocate there after leaving office…no extradition.
          turns out, such contingencies were unnecessary.

  13. integer

    Re: Twitter suspends thousands of suspected bot accounts, and the pro-Trump crowd is furious

    Craig Timberg contributed to this report.

    I expect Timberg contributed the bit that references the so-called Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD). For those who don’t remember, Timberg was the author of the infamous WaPo article on Propornot, and many of the same warmongers people who were behind PropOrNot are now involved in ASD. I also note how WaPo smeared Raimondo and simply by including them in this shameless piece of propaganda article.

  14. el_tel

    re: Antidepressants

    Original article here in full text – seems they did a pretty good job (albeit with some notable limitations, which they do largely explain). Interesting that quite a lot of the most efficacious drugs are either very old and/or were developed for something else (or were SNRIs, not SSRIs). Also notable that the results, in general, support the view that if you want the best efficacy you have to accept the less desirable side-effects (e.g. mirtazapine is recognised for a variety of mental health issues but a lot of people balloon in weight; amitriptylline is a wonder drug, being used (at various doses) for a host of issues including pain management, but IMHO (and anecdotally by mental health professionals in UK/Aus/Sweden) is ridiculously under-prescribed for depression, given that side effects are a lot less than you’d expect, given its age and efficacy.

    Curious as to what a graph of efficacy vs date of discovery would look like, particularly if first generation anti-depressants were included….

      1. el_tel

        Indeed, very true, thanks. But one therapist I know who seems very on the ball both with the literature and considerable anecdotal evidence, is of the opinion that most mental health drugs developed since prozac are a waste of time and money….and that the exceptions are about 5 genuinely useful drugs (generally mood stabilisers and ones for other “more exotic” conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Yet he, too, is all too aware of the lack of a long-term evidence base for some of these in terms of anitcholinergic properties and that (for instance) quetiapine might be laying up problems for alzheimers in the future, if rat studies etc are to believed. You pays your money, your takes your chances.

        Ironically the drugs we know most/anything significant about, in terms of long-term efficacy and side effects – indeed know a HUGE amount about – are first generation antidepressants and (for biplolar disorder) Lithium. Now I’m not some evangelist for either – each has problems making them completely inappropriate for some. Yet I despair at the “crapification” (to use the NC team’s term) of a lot of psychiatry when it comes to pharmacological treatments.

  15. Katniss Everdeen

    Better on billy graham:

    In every way, Graham was the spiritual father of today’s right-wing religious leaders who so inhabit the national conversation. If he cloaked his suasion in public neutrality it was the hallmark of an era in which such intrusion was deemed unseemly. If today’s practitioners are less abashed, it is in many ways reflective of the secure foundation Graham built within Republican and conservative circles.

    Graham endorsed and courted Eisenhower and compared a militaristic State of the Union speech to the Sermon on the Mount, fanned anti-Catholic flames in the Nixon-Kennedy contest, backed Johnson and then Nixon in Vietnam, lobbied for arms sales to Saudi Arabia during the Reagan years, conveyed foreign threats and entreaties for Clinton and lent his imprimateur to G.W. Bush as he declared war on terrorism from the pulpit of the National Cathedral.

    Billy Graham approved of warriors and war, weapons of mass destruction (in white, Christian hands) and covert operations. He publicly declaimed the righteousness of battle with enemies of American capitalism, abetted genocide in oil-rich Ecuador and surrounds and endorsed castration as punishment for rapists. A terrible swift sword for certain, and effective no doubt, but not much there in the way of turning the other cheek.

    1. begob

      May be of interest – BBC radio in the UK led all its hourly news bulletins yesterday with the news of Graham’s death, and today devoted 20 mins of prime time to a hagiography of the man. My impression is the Tories have managed an editorial seachange. And of course Graham was very much the DUP’s type of man.

    2. Wukchumni

      I view the late Graham as being a handy good looking bulwark against a deity-less adversary that was at the right place at the right time early in the cold war, but like a lot of invasives that by introducing, you think are a good thing at the time, they turn bad on you, and eventually it spread like kudzu all over the oval office, the pulpits calling the moves for the puppeteer.

    3. nippersmom

      Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been dismayed by the almost universal eulogizing of this man, even by people I know who are not proponents of the policies he helped promote. This article expresses my views much more clearly than I could have done.

    4. RUKidding

      I come from a super fundie rightwing family. One relation married into a family whose husband/father was some sort of high up person in the Graham organization until Graham retired some years ago.

      I’ve long known what a scurrilous anti-Semitic scum-dog Graham is, and his spawn, Franklin, is even worse.

      My relation was super upset that I outright refused to attend one of Graham’s last brainwashing events right before he retired. No thanks!

      Good riddance. I hold Graham personally responsible for a lot of the cheapening/worsening of what passes for “Christianity” in this country. Graham should descend to one of the circles of Hell for initiating that blight in our society called Prosperity Xtianity.

    5. Carolinian

      Even though Graham from that other Carolina, big hue and cry around these parts over his passing. That said he now seems to be a figure from the distant past when the country itself was a lot more religious. I’m not sure how much he really has to do with current events.

      And in the dark underbelly department his son Franklin is a lot worse.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The Su-57 is just a prototype, they are not combat ready. If this is true, its a purely symbolic move, but a pretty big one. They may also hope to do some real world combat testing, although even thats unlikely as the danger of it getting sucked into a trap would be too risky for them.

      1. todde

        From what i hear, ‘we’ are making our stealth fighters (f-22 and 35) more visible to radar to disguise it’s radar defeating capabilities. I wonder if Russia will do the same

        1. a different chris

          Ok only in today’s military-industrial-bloodsucking context can they make a statement like that and not get laughed off the stage.

          Can you imagine telling a WWII general that “we let the enemy see us so they don’t know that they can’t see us”. W.T.F.

      2. The Rev Kev

        It may be a prototype but it is more combat ready than the F-35 is. That plane will not get the software to fire its guns until 2020. In any case, the Russians have been using Syria for a testing ground and have consequently made hundreds of improvements in their equipment alone based on lessons learned on the battle field. This sounds like more of the same.
        The Su-57 may also be a message to the Turks in case they get a bit trigger happy with the Syrians. It may even be a message to Washington as well in case there are any more attacks on Russians in Syria. That plane may be an unknown quantity in combat but who wants to test it in combat to find out? Likely though the Russians simply want to find out how well the plane does in its air-to-ground role and this is a good opportunity to find out.

      3. integer

        First Russian 5th generation Su-57 fighter jets to be put in service ‘very soon’ RT (1/6/18)

        The Russian military is expected to receive the first batch of fifth generation Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jets “very soon,” the corporation developing the plane said. The jet was known earlier as the PAK FA and T-50.

        The first nine machines are currently undergoing flight tests, according to the manufacturer. While the early jets were fitted with older “first-stage engines,” the Su-57 recently received a new engine, developed specifically for the fifth-generation fighters. The fighter, fitted with the new Product 30 engine, successfully performed its maiden flight on December 5. While little is known about the specifications, the OAK said last year it was an entirely new engine designed from scratch.

        These sorts of things are prototypes until they’re not.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Preventing the Migrant Wave: Germany Exports Employment Offices to Africa Der Spiegel (furzy)

    I would like to know if manufacturing countries like Germany, China, etc., ship their factories to Africa, along with technology transfer?

    Will we one day see cars made in Africa here?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      VW and Mercedes have long made cars in South Africa for the African market. They usually simply shift superseded plant so they can make them cheaper so a car bought there will in effect be what was a 90’s model in Europe or the US.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It seems possible to adopt the Asian export model here to create African Lions, like those Asian Tigers.

        Maybe, then, their newly rich middle class can outbid others for London properties.

    2. Fraibert

      Also, my recollection is that BMW has a significant factory in South Africa that produces 3-series vehicles, including those bought in the US.

  17. Spring Texan

    A light in the darkness: Larry Krasner, Philadelphia DA:
    Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has vowed not to hide the names of police officers who have a pattern of racial bias, lying and other abuse.​

    A beautiful example of why LOCAL elections matter, even if we have no democracy in many non-local elections.

  18. The Rev Kev

    In Ukraine, Corruption Is Now Undermining the Military

    With the oligarchs in firm control of the country, the whole place has become a black hole of corruption. Remember how this was the country suspected of supplying North Korea the technology to build superior missiles? The author mentions the ambulances scandal a coupla times and there is an article on this at for those interested. They essentially got Chinese Great Wall pickup trucks and added an ambulance module that weighed 600 kgs. Trouble is that the load capacity of the truck is 975 kg leaving only 375 kgs to carry a medic, the medical equipment plus 4 to 8 wounded soldiers. Yeah, over-loaded from the get go. And that is on surfaced roads.
    Three years ago India signed an upgrade program for its 104 AN-32 transport aircraft, 40 of which were to be done in the Ukraine. And 5 of them vanished without a trace. I don’t know if they ever found them again. In 2013, the Croatian Defense Ministry signed a deal to buy 12 refurbished Mig-21 jet fighters. Five delivered were too defective to function and another five were actually property of the Yemen Air Force. Recently I read, if I remember the story correctly, that a project with the EU to build several advanced border posts collapsed as not one of them is finished. If I was the IMF, I wouldn’t count on getting their money back anytime soon.

    1. integer

      I saw this article the other day and found this site in the comments:

      Free Ukraine Now

      Mostly Russian sources. Scrolling through the articles suggests there is a pretty serious military buildup underway. Go far enough and you’ll find some pretty unsavory reports on Azov battalion, including footage of Azov battalion crucifying and burning a Novorussian soldier alive, as well as a report about a doctor who died from a heart attack due to the trauma of treating scores of Ukrainian female inmates who were gang-raped and abused within an inch of their lives by Azov.

      Nice work Clinton, Nuland, Soros, and friends!

      1. Sid Finster

        A couple of weeks ago I met a woman from Donetsk – we spoke for a while and after she found out that I speak Russian and Ukrainian and lived in Ukraine, she confided a secret in me.

        There are no Russian soldiers in Donetsk. She never saw any, her friends and family never saw any, she does not know anybody who saw any Russian solider. A few volunteers from Russia, Serbia and elsewhere, but no soldiers. Most of the fighters in Novorossiya are local militias. (FWIW, I personally know people who fought and died on both sides.)

        All the shelling, all the atrocities were from the Nazi/Junta side. The woman told me this in confidence, because even on the rare occasions that she met an American who knew what Ukraine was or that there was a war going on there, they just repeated CNN copy on the issue and got very butthurt at the suggestion that the United States was anything less than pure as the whitest snow.

        I assured this woman that at least one American knows that his government and media are lying.

  19. uxxx

    Re: The EcoSophia post:

    Goood. dang. Holy S***t! Last night I discovered Dabrowski and the Theory of Positive Disintegration. (adult personality development, growth thru crisis, and so much more) … And how it seems to apply to social movements. Lightbulbs exploding in my head!

  20. Jim Haygood

    From Michael Pollan’s 1997 article “Opium Made Easy”:

    Would Jim Hogshire have been prosecuted for the possession of store-bought dried poppies had he never published an upbeat how-to called Opium for the Masses? It seems doubtful.

    We’ll kick down his door, Agent Anonymous had memorably vowed when I described to him a hypothetical author of articles about making poppy tea. Why? Because that’s promoting something illegal.

    Exactly what Hogshire himself said in his book, which I came across in a public library around that time. So much for freedom of inquiry and expression in locked-down, benighted America.

    Someone should tell our overlords that if the deity created evil plants such as cannabis and poppies, then the deity hisself is a satanic imposter.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The same deity who created the forbidden fruit tree?

      In one case, the warning was ignored. Perhaps other warnings were not recorded, due to neglect.

      Maybe a better guide is to look at its users, across time and space. The Chinese opium users of the 19th century, among others. Perhaps it isn’t always that bad, all the time.

      1. Wukchumni

        Forbidden fruit dept:

        We’re going through a prolonged cold snap here at night, with temps below or just above freezing, thus the new apple arrivals that showed up yesterday will have to wait a week before acquiring real estate @ the Malus Palace.

        p.s. I fear for the young lime & grapefruit trees I planted a month ago-betcha they’re goners in a week, whoops.

      2. Synoia

        The same deity who created the forbidden fruit tree?

        Are you referring to a work of fiction?

        Or the documentation of a kind and benevolent God who both approved of Solomon and treating Job so well?

        The problem with assigning homework for Divinity class, in a culture with no separation of Church and State, is that some of us read outside of the assigned chapters.

        It got to the stage where if I asked question in the Divinity Class it resulted in immediate detention. So I kept asking questions, and used detention to do homework (called prep).

  21. XXYY

    These aren’t sports. They are surgery futures.

    Not long ago I spent a day in the lodge at the Big Bear ski resort in Southern California while my wife and son skied. As I sat there looking over the parking lot, I was amazed to see an ambulance pull in about every 10 minutes and cart some hapless skier off to the hospital. This went on all day.

    I assume it goes on every day. A guaranteed revenue steam for both the ambulance company and the nearest hospital.

    What in the world do they do during the summer?

    1. Wukchumni

      There’s serious bad ju-ju with SoCal boarders & skiers in their natural habitat, and i’ve seen weird stuff go down, aside from skiers being sled from slaughter after narrowly avoiding going pro Bono, the craziest being a decade ago @ Mountain High resort near Wrightwood, when skiing with my brother-in-law, we watched 4 fistfights break out among snowboarders in longish lift lines, while a 5th fistfight between boarders decided to take it to the parking lot instead.

      Maybe i’ve spent close to 400 days skiing @ resorts in my life, and i’ve never seen a fistfight before or after that day.

    2. RUKidding

      I’m not sure if they do this at Big Bear but a lot of ski resorts charge people to take their mountain bikes up on the lifts and then they can scream down the hills super fast on their bikes. No doubt there’s ambulances and hospital visits involved with those, as well.

    3. Wukchumni


      I’d guess most skiing/snowboarding injuries happen to beginners, as nobody really has any fun learning the first few times as you’re constantly falling, and lack control, combined with the “I paid $XXX.XX to rent this gear and get a lift ticket to be tortured so?” feeling.

      I’ve never needed to be assisted off the mountain horizontally yet, but there’s still time.

    4. Bridget

      “What in the world do they do in the summer”

      They mountain bike. I was in Whistler during the summer a few years ago and decided to fill a few prescriptions with cheap Canadian pharmaceuticals to bring home with me. All the docs in town were orthopedists. The one I saw said he’s busy year round. He then looked up my drugs in the Physicians Desk Reference to be sure he wasn’t prescribing any controlled substances and merrily wrote me some scrips to be filled at the pharmacy that had referred me to him. I think that filling scrips for tourists was part of the business plan.

  22. Wukchumni

    I’m still getting a contact high from that OPM den in the basement of the Federal Reserve, since TARP.

  23. allan

    The DCCC: No better enemy, no worse friend. Chapter 3728:

    Democrat vying to challenge GOP Rep. Scott Taylor voted for him twice [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

    Elaine Luria is one of the Democrats vying for the chance to challenge U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, R-2nd.

    She has the blessing of the party elite in Washington. One thing not on her résumé: She voted for Taylor in a Republican primary in 2016 and again in the November general election, when Taylor defeated Democrat Shaun Brown to win the seat.

    “Elaine doesn’t make decisions just based on political party,” her campaign manager said by email. “Faced with the options on the ballot, she took a chance on fellow veteran Scott Taylor who promised to bring change and be something different, but he broke those promises.” …

    But Bernie isn’t even a Democrat. /s

    Your daily reminder, as if one is needed, of the contempt the Dem leadership has for what should be the base.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Which is why I told someone who informed me people might be more willing to consider my talking points if I stopped referring to the “Democrat Party.” He absolutely couldn’t bear to read what I’d written because of it.

        I said the party hasn’t been “democratic” for decades, and that should it manage to reverse that I will happily refer to it “properly.” Providing facts to support my position, including the admission by the party’s lawyers it wasn’t obliged to behave democratically when selecting a nominee.

        The fact is, as Howie Klein notes at least three times a week on Down With Tyranny!, the DCCC/DSCC notoriously recruits “ex-Republicans” to run in Democratic primaries, which is one of the major reasons they’ve lost so many elections in the last ten years.

        “The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a Republican and a Republican in Democratic clothing, they’ll take the genuine article every time.” — Harry S. Truman

  24. Jim Haygood


    CalPERS lost $18.5 billion in value over a 10-day trading period ended Feb. 9, according to figures provided by the system, representing 5% of total assets held by the pension fund.

    How does CalPERS know this when a substantial chunk of its assets is in opaque limited partnerships? CalPERS “explains”:

    Total Fund Market Value is based on daily open book market values as of the prior day close. Official asset class market values are reported monthly to the Board and therefore, do not sum to the Current Total Market Value. Private Equity and Real Estate market values reflect values reported on a quarterly basis. These values are lagged one quarter.

    So what does it mean — all the opaque stuff is just assumed to remain constant until the next monthly or quarterly update?

    Were I CalPERS CIO, I would sure as hell run a daily model to proxy the value of my garbage barge illiquid assets. But staff attorneys would warn not to post an estimate which could be materially wrong if some hapless hedge fund blew up yesterday — “Don’t do it, Jim!

    It would be an interesting FOIA exercise to winkle out the details of how CalPERS monitors its daily asset value. Eventually fiduciary duty will be defined to include knowing the daily value of your assets, which implies daily NAV reporting from hedgehogs and PE roach motels.

    1. a different chris

      >Were I CalPERS CIO

      Ha, makes sense, but: You’re a smart guy, and we both know that if you (or me!) were CalPERS CIO you
      (or me, again) would do exactly what this one is doing, which is keeping that sweet paycheck coming with minimal effort.

      Not his/her money.

  25. Summer

    Re: Witnessing the Collapse the Global Elite (The Atlantic)

    If only they weren’t collapsing so comfortably…

  26. John B

    On Trump endorsing arming teachers, and “The concerted attack on public sector union workers is a coordinated effort financed by wealthy donors.”

    It reminds me of an article I read decades ago (in the Washington Monthly IIRC) about the New Jersey toll collectors’ union. Toll collectors were poorly paid and had no political respect. But their union leader pointed out they might get robbed, and asked that they be armed with pistols. He was able to get that tiny concession. Then he demanded firearms training. Eventually, he was able to argue that since they were armed public safety officers, and should get pay parity with police. Their pay went way up.

    Having guns in classrooms is obviously worse than having guns in toll booths. Still, if teachers can somehow market themselves as public safety officers, it might help their cause in some school districts. Maybe the armed security guards that (sigh) many school districts now seem to have anyway could be replaced or supplemented occasionally by people with teachers’ certificates. Sickening to be thinking about this, but that seems to be where we are.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve noticed as many traditional ranger positions here in the National Park went unfilled as sometimes happens, there is always more room for LEO rangers, which isn’t really what the NP’s are about, and it’s not as if you ever hear about much crime going on in the midst of nature’s realm, to warrant expansion of law enforcement, but that’s where we’re at, in la vida Fortress America.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Maybe just militarize the entire teaching profession and they can collect all the usual military benefits, get Vet status and fly overs at NFL games. Heroes!

    3. allan

      Never let a crisis go to waste:

      After Florida shooting, sheriffs want armed officers in New York schools [D&C]

      New York should fund at least one armed school resource officer in every school in the state, the state Sheriffs’ Association said Thursday. …

      “This will be an expensive undertaking,” Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts, the group’s president, said in a statement. “But we owe it to our children, and their parents, to provide a safe place for education to take place.”

      Virts said New York already spends millions of dollars each year to protect a “relatively small number of judges,” so “surely we can also find the money to protect our most defenseless people — the children we send off to school each day.”

      With about 4,750 public schools and nearly 2,000 private schools through grades K-12, the association estimated the cost would be the equivalent of hiring one more teacher in each school. …


      1. petal

        Ugh. Keep it classy, Wayne County! Ashamed I grew up there. There are more urgent, important things to fix in Wayne County and its schools than this-things that would truly have an impact on students, their day to day experience and quality of life, and their success-things that would go a long way to helping head off incidents. So what happens if something happens in one end/wing of a school building? How long would it take this armed officer to get there amidst the chaos if they are in the other end of the building or on another floor? You’ll have more of a positive impact hiring that one teacher, a counselor, or a social worker than you will hiring an armed cop to hang out.

      2. Oregoncharles

        There was an armed “resource” officer at Parkland. He didn’t go into the building until the shooting stopped. He has now resigned, and the sheriff “has no words.”

        The same happened at Columbine.

  27. Synoia

    NASA Sea Level Change Portal: New study sharpens focus on Antarctic ice loss

    No problem. Just pull the funding.

    Discredit or Shoot the messengeR, always a tRied and tRue strategy. One fully expects the authors to be accused of wife-bashing or pot-smoking, or flying first call without approval, or something else completely unrelated to the quality of their work.

  28. marym

    West Virginia public school teachers on 2-day walk-out statewide. Link


    Respondents were also asked about their beliefs toward teacher compensation in West Virginia. Over 70 percent of respondents stated that it was too low, with nearly 20 percent reporting it was about right and only 2 percent saying it was too high.

  29. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

    Yves, my girlfriend and I invite you to Europe for some halfpipe skiing! We still both have two legs.

    Actually downhill is the most dangerous event probably, and that has been around for about the longest period of time for the alpine skiing events.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Downhill is terrifying to watch. I’ve seen some horrendous accidents.

      Halfpipes are as dangerous as you make them. I used to go up the sides to bleed off speed and do ‘weightless’ turns at the top, which is very safe and a lot of fun.

  30. lynne

    Sorry, but what was the point of the Politico whinging about Norway? It wasn’t funny, wasn’t satire. Norwegians love poking fun at themselves, but sitting around in another country whining that many Norwegians are healthy and white is not exactly poking fun.

    Does politico publish anything worthwhile anymore?

  31. Carey

    Last time I checked, the author of the hit piece on Norwegians, who has also written a book slamming most all
    of Scandinavia, actually lives in Denmark with a Danish wife.

  32. ebbflows

    Ref: Gunz and Mass shootings.

    A glitchy movie projector playing the Purge.

    Might have something too do with the projector attendant, their management, or a combo of the two.

  33. El Gordo

    Yves — totally in agreement on these new-fangled Olympic, er, sports. Have you seen *relay* short-track speed skating? Basically just a melee on ice. Shouldn’t Olympic competitions be only about: who can run the fastest, jump the highest, throw something heavy the farthest, lift the heaviest thing, and maybe plummeting down a snow-covered mountain in the shortest amount of time?

    1. ewmayer

      “Melee on ice” could also be applied to much of the hockey, so I suppose it’s largely a matter of taste. While being a traditionalist the alpine sports like you, I actually enjoy the wild close-range competition of short-track, and while the relay events can seem (and yes, get) pretty chaotic at times, there is a lot of really intricate choreography between the skaters and the ‘resters’, all occurring at high speed. Various strategies regarding when to draft, when to attempt a pass and where (inside or outside) also make for a lot of interestingness. Given the sheer amount of rapidly-moving humanity on the ice the fact that there are only as few collisions as there are is perhaps the most remarkable aspect.

  34. Oregoncharles

    “Opium Made Easy” – or not quite so easy. My sister in law is a laboratory botanist – a gene splicer. She did her graduate work on opium poppies, specifically on the process that produces the drug. She told me her biggest problem was getting them to grow – on a rooftop (for security) in the eastern midwest. That sounded odd; they’re a bit of a weed in western Oregon, will self-sow persistently. Maybe the heat and humidity were a problem.

    Anyway, that was when Laotian refugees were arriving in numbers, so I suggested she hire some to grow her poppies. In particular, the Meo (IIRC) were known for the opium trade. But she thought that might be asking for trouble.

  35. Avalon Sparks

    I read quite a bit of the ACLU study about sending people to jail for debt. So many of the examples were beyond disgusting. Here’s the link again to the document. I didn’t see any comments on it in this thread.

    I wanted to suggest this be a stand alone post. Would love to see what other readers think. I wasn’t aware this was happening, and thought it was illegal, but debt collection companies are using DA’s, judges and the court system for loopholes to send some of the most vulnerable US citizens to jail.

    P.S. Feel better soon Yves! :)

Comments are closed.