Links 11/29/18

Strange waves rippled around the world, and nobody knows why National Geographic

Rare and diverse giant viruses unexpectedly found in a forest soil ecosystem Phys.org

New Zealand whale stranding: ‘I will never forget their cries’ BBC

Can lab-grown human brains think? The Week

Risky Corporate Debt Among Top U.S. Threats Flagged in Fed Financial Stability Report Fortune (J-LS).

Resource-Rich New Mexico Has a $322 Million Methane Problem Bloomberg

Alberta officials are signalling they have no idea how to clean up toxic oilsands tailings ponds National Observer

Syraqistan

Senate Defies Trump on U.S. Involvement in Yemen War Slate. From the URL: senate-yemen-saudi-sanders-murphy-lee. Note the erasure.

What’s Behind the US-Saudi Nuclear Mega-Deal? Wolf Street (EM).

If The Saudi’s Oil No Longer Matters Why Is Trump Still Supporting Them? Moon of Alabama

How a Saudi Family Feud Fueled Paranoia That Led to Khashoggi’s Murder David Ignatius, WaPo. Note the provenance….

North Korea

Kim Jong Un’s Puppy Diplomacy Pays Off With Railway Deal Bloomberg

China?

The Road to Confrontation NYT. “They didn’t like the West’s playbook. So they wrote their own.” In Chinese, no doubt.

China Blue-Collar Wave Strengthens Xi’s G-20 Hand Bloomberg. Finally some reporting on what in IMNSHO is the critical known unknown.

How Cheap Labor Drives China’s A.I. Ambitions NYT

Silicon Valley’s Chinese Dream The Baffler

China’s Most Popular App Is Full of Hate Foreign Policy

Why China will wait until 2030 to take back Taiwan – unless the island forces Xi Jinping’s hand South China Morning Post

Massive sandstorm engulfs Gansu in northwestern China Sidney Morning Herald. 100 meters tall.

Leave them alone: on the Sentinelese The Hindu

Meet the ‘vigilante’ grandfathers protecting indigenous forest life in Cambodia Mekong Eye

Bison bars were supposed to restore Native communities and grass-based ranches. Then came Epic Provisions. New Food Economy

Brexit

EU withdrawal scenarios and monetary and financial stability (PDF) Bank of England and Official Brexit forecasts show Britain getting poorer FT

A Series of Miscalculations Has Brought Britain to the Brink Der Spiegel. The section head: “Isle of Madness.” (Incidentally, note the graphic. I’m seeing the ol’ slanted text dodge everywhere since AOC used it in her campaign posters. Sorry to be a squeeing fanboi; I’ll stop soon.)

UK car industry and Airbus cautiously back PM’s Brexit deal Guardian

Trump Transition

Veterans Affairs Dept. tells Capitol Hill it won’t repay underpaid GI Bill benefits recipients NBC (DK).

Trump charity that gave away millions before 2016 election did not donate last year Los Angeles Times

The $1.7 Million Man Bloomberg. A smallish grift, by elite standards, but real, like the link below. Is this a trend?

Politically connected Syracuse group flips NY marijuana license for pot of gold Syracuse.com (Bob).

Fake News

We went from this: Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say (Guardian), to this: Did Someone Plant a Story Tying Paul Manafort to Julian Assange? (Politico) in 24 hours. A single news cycle. An impressive achievement by our trans-Atlantic political class. (“Someone” is — and I know this will shock you — Russia).

TRIBAL FICTIONS: Purity of heart is to know one thing! Daily Howler. Media critique of this NYT Manafort story (“Manafort’s Lawyer Said to Brief Trump Attorneys on What He Told Mueller“).

The godfather of fake news BBC. A neckbeard from Portland, ME. Personally, I would have said the godfather of fake news was Bill Keller, serial WMD fabricator Judy Miller’s editor at the New York Times, but at the end of the day, when you look at the bottom line, and you throw everything into the balance, mene mene tekel upharsin-style, as it were, what are the chances a multi-trillion dollar slaughterhouse could outweigh a clickbait headline about the Clintons on Facebook?

Democrats in Disarray

When Chimamanda met Hillary: a tale of how liberals cosy up to power Guardian

Fairness of Georgia elections challenged by far-reaching lawsuit Atlanta Journal-Constitution

PA Recount Settlement a Victory for Voters Everywhere Voting Justice. From the settlement: “The Secretary will only certify new voting systems for use in Pennsylvania if they meet these criteria: a. The ballot on which each vote is recorded is paper3; b. They produce a voter-verifiable record of each vote; and c. They are capable of supporting a robust pre-certification auditing process. 3A VVPAT receipt generated by a DRE machine is not a paper ballot.” So I have to say: One for the Greens! (I take the strong position: “Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public.” That means digital is expunged from every phase of the process, critical because that which is digital is hackable, including scanners, printers, etc. The recount settlement does not take that position, although implementations of the agreement might.)

Health Care

Health, United States 2017 with Special Feature on Mortality (PDF) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. life expectancy declines again, a dismal trend not seen since World War I WaPo. Suicide and opioids; deaths of despair. Everything’s going according to plan…

Report: Death Rates Increase for 5 of the 12 Leading Causes of Mortality Pharmacy Times. A useful summary.

Sources of Supplemental Coverage Among Medicare Beneficiaries in 2016 KHN. The neoliberal infestation of Bush’s Medicare Advantage slowly chewing away at Medicare’s foundations…

Imperial Collapse Watch

Exclusive: The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed The Nation. “The firms concluded, however, that the DoD’s financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible.” Defense spending is a phishing equilibrium?

Guillotine Watch

Secret luxury homes: how the ultra-rich hide their properties FT

How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime Miami Herald. It’s good that the Epstein sack of pus has been lanced, again, but see Gawker back in 2015, before Hulk Hogan and Peter Theil mortally wounded it: Flight Logs Put Clinton, Dershowitz on Pedophile Billionaire’s Sex Jet, and Billionaire Pervert Jeffrey Epstein and His Famous Friends: A Primer. It makes sense, when you think about it, that private planes would be a lawless hellscape where elites, very much elites plural, indulge their worst (and thoroughly bipartisan) impulses with even more impunity than they already have. Private planes are like private equity in that way.

Class Warfare

Restoring middle-class incomes: redistribution won’t do Brookings Institution

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’ Science

Counterperformativity New Left Review. Dense, but intriguing. `

Antidote du Jour (via):

Trying to level up my dog game, here. Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

195 comments

  1. emorej a hong kong

    Inscrutable Chinese:
    China Blue-Collar Wave Strengthens Xi’s G-20 Hand Bloomberg:

    ($475 billion) of helicopter money on shanty-town redevelopments.

    If Obama had done the same, Michelle would probably be President today.

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There are several considerations.

        1. Hurting short term vs hurting long term.
        2. Objective vs cost
        3. whether short, intermediate or long term, determine who is really hurting more.

        One question we can ask, among many questions, is, if tariffs are hurting the US more, shouldn’t China ask for higher and/or more (I think 100% of all imports from China is already covered) tariffs?

        Reply
      2. rd

        I think it is effectively a mutual-suicide pact between ruling elites.

        China hasn’t successfully derailed the US economy but they are certainly inflicting pain on political pressure points, especially agriculture. They appear to have targeted Trump voters, and Republican Senators and Representatives with surgical precision. Trump’s steel tariffs appear to have amplified this.

        Reply
    1. perpetualWAR

      I just tweeted with Jarome Powell last night. He said the banks were paid face value for the junk MBS bonds during QE. So, taking the homes was just gravy! The homeowners were collateral damage.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        Stop making stuff up. You’ve done it way too many times. I have corrected you repeatedly on your 2x overstatement of how many homes were foreclosed on as a result of the crisis (the real figure, 9 million homes out of 53 to 55 million home with mortgages is bad enough) and you have persisted in publishing your bogus numbers. I have low tolerance for people who peddle misinformation, particularly when it is clear it is willful. We work way hard to be accurate and educate readers to have people like you sabotage that in comments and then require me to waste time better spent on new posts cleaning up your messes. Agnotology is a violation of our written site Policies.

        The Fed never bought junk bonds during QE. It bought only Treasuries and high-ratings MBS, nearly entirely Fannies and Freddies.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I sold Fannie for $59 a share in 2007, and now that we’ve peaked out in housing bubble part deux, why is it only worth $1.16 a share, or 1/50th as much?

          Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              I’m more curious as to why it’s worth nothing now, in light of the real estate market coming back whole hog?

              I’d have the same reaction if a lumber stock was worth 1/50th as much, as it wouldn’t make any sense.

              FWIW, I haven’t owned any stocks since 2007, why encourage fraud by being part and parcel of the process?

              Reply
              1. Todde

                Hedge fund owners bought a bunch of stock and started threatening lawsuits.

                Its made too many bad loans and may go into receivership.

                Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Since 2015, $475 billion, or about $160 billion a year for 3 years?

      According to the article, 60 percent of that went to poorer household. With a population of 1.3 billion, approximately, that’s 60%x$160 billion or $100 billion a year for 1.3 billion people (rich, middle class or poorer households).

      That is about $100 a year per person, in cash settlements (per the article). Cash…as in UBI (universal basic incomre), sort of.

      I think, after the financial crisis of 2008 or there about, under Obama, people in the US got a one time check of around a few hundred dollars also.

      Is that and Xi’s helicopter equivalent?

      Reply
  2. Todde

    DoD Audit: contrary to what many thought, the Pentagon is underspending, not overspending.

    Next up to audit, the CIA and defense contractors black budget, or as we used to call it, the CIAs slush fund

    Reply
    1. Watt4Bob

      When your daughter asks for $200 to cover the cost of some books needed for this semester, when the books actually cost $25, and then spends the $175 difference on pizza, beer and god knows what, it’s not called underspending.

      The DOD was not audited, the whole point of the article was that it was found to be an impossible job.

      So I don’t think there is any reason to expect that ‘Next‘ audit you mention has any greater chance of success.

      That money is being spent, it’s just that we don’t know how or what it’s being spent on.

      Reply
      1. Todde

        Yes exactly.

        But that wasn’t the arguement being made.

        The assertion was, using your analogy, that my DAUGHTER SPENT $5,000, and the proof is these numbers on a page.

        But number on pages isnt spending anymore than numbers in accounting ledgers are.

        If you want to know what was spent, go to a bank statement and look at the disbursements.

        If you want to geneeate clicks, talk about the how Pentagon spent $21 trillion dollars which many journalists did.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          regardless…buried in the hypercomplexity and accounting esoterica, is fraud. and there are apparently laws against that.
          Is Ft Leavenworth full up? clear out the potheads from the prisons to make room.
          I get in trouble if I write hot checks…even accidentally.
          Geez.
          I reckon a few thousand stocks (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stocks#United_States) in all those green spaces between the pentagram parking lots are in order, and might go a long way to fixing this.

          Reply
          1. Todde

            Exactly.

            But if you want to get paid to report on what numbers mean, then know what they mean.

            If you dont know, then at least disclose it.

            Reply
            1. Watt4Bob

              It’s a disingenuous to argue that people don’t know what the numbers ‘actually’ mean, implying that because they cannot explain what was spent, and when, that have no understanding of the big picture.

              The fact that you keep making that argument makes your intent obvious.

              The point of the article is that the DOD cannot account for its spending because its accounting practices are intentionally opaque.

              The fact that the DOD spent less than it originally planned on this or that system is not evidence that they’re underspending, it’s actually evidence that they’ve been hiding something, and the $2.7 Trillion dollar figure isn’t just click-bait, it’s a way of understanding how big the mysterious something is.

              Reply
              1. Todde

                I dont have a problem with the article on this post, as it details what ive spent a year telling people.

                Accounting entries arent spending.

                Reply
              2. Todde

                https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/msu-scholars-find-21-trillion-in-unauthorized-government-spending-defense-department-to-conduct/

                That headline is false.

                And its from an University.

                A true headlune is 21 trillion in unsupported accounting entries found at DoD.

                The word ‘spending’ has meaning.

                And yws they did unserapend according to the article.

                They moved money to another fund under their control. That is not the meaning of the word ‘spending’.

                It is what it is.

                If you want to tell me the Pentagon is hiding something, then say that.

                If you want to tell me the Pentagon spent 21 trillion, then have facts that back that.

                Reply
              3. todde

                From today’s article:

                The fabricated numbers disguise the fact that the DoD does not always spend all of the money Congress allocates in a given year.

                So again, according to the article, the DoD does not spend all of the money Congress allocates in a given year. .

                Hence my statement: DoD Audit: contrary to what many thought, the Pentagon is underspending, not overspending.

                Reply
          2. Jean

            Question: Was the part of the Pentagon that was hit with a plane on 9-11 the accounting wing of the building? Or, is that just myth?

            Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              I’ve never seen anything to refute that,lol.
              and didn’t Darth Cheney’s office burn, too? a little later?

              whatever.
              Let me hear no more about how we don’t have any money for social goods.
              however the beans are counted, this gives the lie to paygo and deficit hysteria.

              Reply
              1. Jean

                Of course Building Seven housed files needed to prosecute the 1990s telecom frauds like World com etc. Coinkydink?

                Amfortas, you are a cool guy and I really like your writing. If there’s ever a revolution in this country it will start with outrage over medical care.

                Paraphrasing Patrict Henry;
                “Give me healthcare or give me an income tax waiver to pay for it.”

                Reply
              1. norm de plume

                I miss Jeff Wells. You might come out of a Rig Int deep dive less certain than you were before you entered, and some of his answers seemed a stretch, but he asked very pertinent questions and his combination of erudition and suspicion made tenuous but intriguing connections, or possible connections, across times and places with some style.

                ‘WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN’T HURT THEM’

                Reply
          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > buried in the hypercomplexity and accounting esoterica, is fraud

            That is what the purpose of the accounting esoterica is to begin with; one of the first things Bill Black looked for, back in the days when we actually enforced the law.

            Reply
                1. skippy

                  R. Smith, TJN, NEP, Panama papers, “the john birch society”, rational expectation buddy saz, public choice bias theory, maximum likelihood, et al “bricoleur” wall of sound….. your soaking in it …

                  Did you see Krugman just go pop ….

                  Reply
        2. Procopius

          If you want to know what was spent, go to a bank statement and look at the disbursements.

          They can’t do that because many of the disbursements were just shifting numbers from one account to another. Also, too, some of the bank statements were “removed.” Basically, a lot of people should be spending time in one of Uncle Sam’s resorts, but they won’t because reasons. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has the best stories to tell, because they were actually on the ground. Even they couldn’t find where most of the money went. It’s like the pallets of shrink-wrapped hundred dollar bills sent to J. Paul Bremer in Afghanistan. The only person who signed for them was a janitor at the airport, and they were left in a room in the embassy for people to take whatever they “needed.” It’s astonishing, because the Army’s procurement rules are detailed, complex, and really enforced to prevent theft at a low level. Not so much at high levels, apparently. They need to have an investigator track just one of those transfers of “surplus” funds, find out who approved it, and put that guy on trial. Then do another one. Find out who approved just one of those “adjusting entries” intended to “make the numbers balance.” If the amount is more than $100, prosecute him/her. They’ll never do it, of course.

          Reply
    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      So Calpers is modeling itself on our illustrious government. Private sector fraud, government corruption, evidently it’s the American way.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Of course it’s not just America — it’s everywhere, and kind of all through history. “Wir konnen nicht anders…”

        Reply
  3. emorej a hong kong

    Rare and diverse giant viruses unexpectedly found in a forest soil ecosystem Phys.org

    Headline writer failed to adapt to the new indications that the only “rare” thing is people noticing these giant viruses:

    “…we did it using a thimbleful of soil… Finding 16 at once is kind of overwhelming, and none of them are the same. If you think of all the soil in the world, if there are 10,000 species of bacteria in a gram of soil, about a teaspoon, imagine how many new giant viruses are out there.”

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Only ‘rare’ thing’ is people noticing these giant viruses.

      We humans are often anthropocentric.

      Take this ‘fact,’ for example – the sun rises in the east.

      After trying to correct that 1,000 times, ‘no, the earth spins into the sun’s coverage area,’ many of us simply give up, ,and just say, ‘the sun rises.’

      And from facts, we humans have advanced to ‘numbers.’

      Here, the situation is not much better.

      Question: Is the death one just as precious as the death of a few?

      The answer is, sometimes, yes, and sometimes not. “You can’t put a price on my life.”

      So, is 1 D = 5 D, for example? (D as in death). Is 1 = 5?

      Are multiple shooting victims the same as one? Here, we seem to react more to higher numbers.

      And now we are said to be beyond numbers and in the age of data. I am not sure what to say – it seems to me that numbers are data and facts are data, and we have always had numbers and facts.

      Reply
    2. Amfortas the hippie

      reminds me of Craig Ventnure’s(sp-2) Genome Cruise…where they ambled around in the Gulf of Mexico taking random water samples…and in every teaspoon found critters foreign to science.

      Reply
  4. Darius

    The Sentinalese case is a pure example of Christian evangelism as cultural imperialism. Christianity can give these people nothing but their extinction.

    Reply
      1. WobblyTelomeres

        The priests that accompanied the conquistadors would baptize native infants before smashing their skulls with rocks. Some religion, huh.

        Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Maybe gold. If the 19th century colonial powers missed them (bear in mind Anglican is still the Imperial Religion with the King of England the emperor), the U.S. is officially not religious and not capable of spreading traditional religions. Where the U.S. has been in recent years, Christians have not faired well.

        Reply
    1. DJG

      Darius: The continuing crisis of monotheism.

      Also, we’re Number 1: U.S. of A., always exporting religious nuttiness to the rest of the world. Amen. Now let’s all intone a chorus of Amazing Grace.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        That dogma will hunt, we heard “Focus on the Family” on the radio in NZ, yuck.

        The would-be Billy Graham of the evangs in NZ (not a particularly religious country) had some issues, not helping his cause.

        Graham John Capill (born 1959) is a former New Zealand Christian leader and politician. He served as the first leader of the now-defunct Christian Heritage Party, stepping down in 2003. In 2005 he was convicted of multiple sexual offences against girls under 12 years of age and sentenced to nine years imprisonment. He was released on parole in August 2011, having served six years of that sentence.

        Reply
      2. Andrew Watts

        I think that European states are to blame. Europe exported all their religious nutters to the New World and didn’t check their population growth or territory that expanded from the Atlantic Seaboard.

        Couldn’t European states have thrown another Thirty Years War to rid themselves of a few million nutcases? I mean, I’m pretty sure the Puritans left England because there wasn’t enough religious persecution.

        Reply
        1. Stephen Gardner

          I used to work for a French company. When my European colleagues would give a hard time about all the American religious weirdos (they knew I was an atheist), I would tell them not to blame me, it was they who have been dumping all their religious nut cases on us since 1620.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I saw a comedian once on Comedy TV and partway into his performance he was referencing that same problem . . . Europeans looking down on this or that aspect of America . . . he would say back to them ” Well thank YOU for sending over YOUR best and brightest to get the party started!”

            Reply
    2. Roland

      A couple of cynical observations:

      1. If they had slain a foreign investor, no doubt NATO would already be bombing, droning or regime-changing them.

      2. Why aren’t our liberals and globalists out there, demanding that the islanders become more accomodating to migrants and trade?

      Reply
    3. knowbuddhau

      Yes, it is, and there’s a perfectly good explanation for it.

      @5:35
      ….there’s something strange about Christianity, in that, it shares with Islam and Judaism, what we might call theological imperialism. Christians of even the most liberal stripe fervently believe that their religion is the best religion, and they will state it by saying, either Jesus Christ is the only son of god (that’s an orthodox way, which as a matter of fact isn’t an orthodox way of saying it but that’s the way orthodox people do say it).

      Or they will say, Jesus is the greatest man that ever lived. The point is, that you make a commitment to the following of Jesus, as an historical personage.

      And for some reason or other, people who commit themselves to this exclusive kind of following of Jesus become exceedingly obstreperous….
      https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/alan-watts-podcast/democracy-in-the-kingdom-1-dOp1nRMmQrx/

      It’s out of the realm of faith and into the realm of “facts.” You have no choice, you see. You can’t possibly disagree with (their faith masquerading as) “facts.” Tolerating you — not your position, *you (because evil is essential, right?) puts their own soul in peril. Trumpist Republicans will get right in your face about it, and then some.

      Liberals will politely make your life a living hell from behind the scenes, like cowards.

      In order to to be—to belong to the church is to be saved, really, and to be saved is to belong to innest in-group. You have to have an in-group, you see, if you want to know who you are, you have to belong to something, say if you want to distinguish yourself, because you know who you are because of the people who aren’t like you. There you get a contrast. Now this is—this is the basic arrangement for a church.

      So, if you want to be in some kind of an in-group, you must put everybody else beyond the pale. St. Thomas Aquinas gave the show away, actually, because he said that the blessed, in heaven, would often walk to the battlements and look down, and delight in the justice of god being properly carried out in Hell. So uh but you may not believe in Hell, you may be very liberal, and uh after all, it’s not nice or sophisticated to nowadays to believe in everlasting damnation, but we have new words for it. [op. cit.]

      If only we could send the “deplorables” to “indefinite detention,” amirite? It’s said that Cheney often listened to torture sessions. It’s bipartisan, so it must be wholesome, right?

      The problem is that both they and we use an inherited, antiquated, political model of the cosmos. We scientific types, remember, started off trying to prove How He Did It, not if. We ditched the idea of a blind watchmaker, but that neither rectified what we’d built, not exorcised his ghost.

      Now neither Hinduism, Buddhism, nor Taoism can possibly be called religions in this sense, because all three of them significantly lack the virtue of obedience. They do not conceive the godhead as related to mankind or to the universe in a monarchical sense.

      There are various models of the universe which men have used from time to time, and the model that lies behind the judeo-Christian tradition, if there really is such a thing, is a political model. It borrows the metaphor of the relation of an ancient Near Eastern monarch to his subjects, and he imposes his authority and his will upon his subjects from above by power, whether it be physical power or spiritual power.

      It is thus that in the Anglican Church, when the priest at morning prayer addresses the throne of grace he says, “Almighty and everlasting God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the only ruler of princes, Who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth, most heartily we beseech Thee with Thy favor to behold our sovereign majesty, Elizabeth the Queen and all the royal family.”

      Now, what are these words? This is the language of court flattery, and the title “King of Kings,” as a title of God, was borrowed from the Persian emperors. “Lord have mercy upon us,” is an image drawn from things earthly and applied to things heavenly.

      God is the monarch, and therefore between the monarch and the subject there is a certain essential difference of kind, what we might call an ontological difference. God is God, and all those creatures, whether angels or men or other kinds of existence that God has created, are not God.

      There is this vast metaphysical gulf lying between these two domains. That gives us, as citizens of a democracy, some problems.

      As a citizen of the United States you believe that a republic is the best form of government. Yet how can this be maintained if the government of the universe is a monarchy? Surely in that case a monarchy will be the best form of government. Many of the conflicts in our society arise from the fact that although we are running a republic, many of the members of this republic believe (or believe that they ought to believe) that the universe is a monarchy.

      Therefore, they are, above all, insistent upon obedience to law and order, and if there should be democracy in the Kingdom of God, that would seem to them the most subversive idea ever conceived. Now I am exaggerating this standpoint a little bit just for effect. There are some subtle modifications which one can introduce theologically, but I will not go into them at the moment.

      There are at least two other models of the universe which have been highly influential in human history.

      One is dramatic, where God is not the skillful maker of the world standing above it as its artificer and King, but where God is the actor of the world as an actor of a stage play-the actor who is playing all the parts at once. In essence this is the Hindu model of the universe. Everybody is God in a mask, ….

      http://www.pauladaunt.com/books/Alan%20Watts%20-%20Philosophies%20Of%20Asia.pdf

      How can you be a whole-hearted small-d democrat in a democratic republic, if you’re betting your eternal soul on monarchy? That’s why I endorse Lambert’s use of “Democrat” for that group. Bunch of crytpo-monarchists, I’m tellin ya. For real.

      They may give thin lipped service to democratic ideals, on the record at least, but inside they see themselves at the right hand of god, or with their own hands, god-like, on “the levers of power,” take your pick. Access to power is the highest holy either way.

      All options are on the table, except impeachment, ain’t that right, Madame Speaker?

      Reply
  5. upstater

    re. Politically connected Syracuse group flips NY marijuana license for pot of gold:

    What is especially ironic is that the growing facility occupies space at a former automotive parts plant that made transfer cases for 4WD vehicles. New Process Gear was a Chrysler facility, then sold to Magna International. It was shut down several year ago and Magna opened a plant in — you guessed it — Mexico. At its peak in the early 2000s, it employed 4500 mostly unionized workers, making over $30/hr.

    Now the displaced workers can nurse their unemployment with locally grown THC or imported Heroin and Fentanyl.

    In the Syracuse area the largest employers now are the hospitals. The largest single private employer in the region is the Oneida Indian Nation casino/hotel complex.

    Reply
    1. jhallc

      I always assumed the biggest employer in Syracuse was GE, now Lockheed-Martin. Over the last 40 years while passing by the facility on the NY Thruway, heading to see family in Western NY, I’ve watched the parking lots empty and sprout weeds. Although for the last several years I think they have stabilized with the military funding for drones and radar.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      My wife’s memories of Niagara Falls, NY, are that of a really hanky smelling place back in the day, whereas I had to be content with walking into the cavernous convention center with 200 foot high roof that was converted into an Indian casino in a land swap with the Seneca Nation.

      Gambling is a ‘broken widows economy’.

      Reply
      1. ChristopherJ

        Yes, Wuk, nothing nice about casinos. The despair and the excitement is evident for all to see, it’s in the eyes of all the punters

        Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’ Science
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Icelandic volcanoes also played a key role in the French Revolution, in that wheat harvests in France were subpar or worse for a decade after Laki erupted in 1783-84, which gets you right into the sweet spot of when revolt was a bumper crop.

    The 1st real protest was the Womens’ March on Versailles in 1789, over the prohibitive cost of bread.

    Bosch-Haber wouldn’t help us in a similar situation i’d guess, for w/o sunlight or only a scant amount, nothing grows.

    It’d be a rather effective way to winnow the world, and imagine our plight where 98% of us have nothing to do whatsoever with how our food is grown, and how Big Ag would look out for itself in terms of what could be produced, and no doubt the 1%’ers would get 1st shot.

    No daily chronicle of the era in Paris mentioned the cause of the unrest, as nobody knew it was climate change of the rather sudden variety, whereas we’d know the agent of our destruction almost immediately.

    Reply
    1. Unna

      Interesting that in 534 the Byzantines under Justinian launched the massive “Gothic War” to reconquer Italy from the Ostrogoths which went on for close to 20 years and ended in a “win” for Justinian but resulted in the devastation of the Italian peninsula. Reading just now, the opinion is that the plague slowed down the reconquest but didn’t prevent it. The plague, the destruction of the Italian cities and countryside, and the military and population exhaustion of the Byzantines resulted in the Eastern Empire losing Italy to other invaders within a decade anyway. The start of the Dark Ages for Italy.

      Reply
  7. zagonostra

    Refer: Life expectancy decline.

    The article sets the tone thus: “..a nation still in the grip of escalating drug and suicide crises.” Studiously avoiding the impact of available affordable health insurance, the author reminds me of Veblen’s concept of “trained incapacity.”

    The establishment would love to frame the issue in terms of the victim’s own moral agency instead of a system that is fundamentally designed to extract every drop of hard-earned dollar from the consumer/citizen.

    Reply
      1. RMO

        I thought it was going to be about that guy who repeatedly conned major news outlets back in the 90’s. I can recall the one where he set up a fictitious company with a fictitious supercomputer programmed with all jurisprudence knowledge and said it was being used to accurately predict the outcome of the O.J. Simpson trial. Even though the monitors in the rented headquarters were displaying nothing more than an impressive placeholder screen implying all sorts of things going on in the background they all fell for it. Of course he always made a point of revealing his hoaxes afterwards as a lesson. I believe another one was a confession box at the stadium entrance for Catholic Superbowl fans and there was also a diet-commando weight loss program which got widely picked up as real.

        Sadly, search has been crapified to the extent I can’t find anything relevant on the internet right now.

        Reply
      2. pjay

        True, but we did not have the technology for near instant debunking back then (and I was much more naive). Perhaps that’s the reason, but today it seems like they are almost experimenting with us to see how far they can push our credulity. And when a crap story is debunked after a day or so they just move on to the next one with no consequences.

        Here’s the Bernstein article; it’s a good starting point for those who have never read it:

        http://carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

        Reply
  8. Amfortas the hippie

    on Bison.
    Thanks for this.
    I am acquainted with a couple of deer ranchers(“venison”), which contains similar idealism…at least below a certain level of market exposure.
    as with this, the models of the world that the big boys run in is incompatible with the goals of the movement(yes) they’re monetizing.
    A similar thing happened with “Organic”—I was there, at the beginning of Organic’s rise out of the fringe.
    We can write off the entry of the big boys as a natural evolution…as was done with Organics…but it’s still a choice, with numerous, largely unquantifiable, effects and values.
    In this case, General Mills assumed that this was just another income stream, much like all the others….and the whole healthy/sustainability things, just a convenient way to market.
    Perhaps they’re right….and we are just another herd, to be corralled and separated into chutes for the purposes of our betters.
    But I’d prefer that it were otherwise.
    hard to get funding without adhering to orthodoxy(“expand!”)
    I wonder if there’s a word or phrase in economic jargon for “enough”, or if that concept is either foreign, or considered heresy(“heretikos”-gr. “choice maker”)

    Reply
      1. Eclair

        I think that the term and concept of the Swedish word, “lagom,” is antithetical to the capitalistic mindset. Not-too-much and not-too-little doesn’t work in the framework of ‘greed is good’ for the 1% and ‘austerity’ for the little people. Although some do say that “lagom” leads to a boring life where individuality is not encouraged and the needs of the group as a whole are assumed to be paramount.

        First thing you know, you have ‘universal health care.’ And that leads to long parental leaves so you can bond with your babies. And, for goddess’ sake, lots of low-income housing so you don’t have unhoused people sleeping on the streets. And, an honest-to-god industrial policy, that prevents working-class cities like Uddevalla from becoming a Flint or Detroit after their major ship-building company folds up and leaves.

        Sorry, I get carried away.

        Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        the federalisation of “Organic”(which I am forbidden to use to refer to my activities) was a case of the parasite overtaking the host. I abandoned my certification(Texas, which was a pretty good program, considering), because the new rules were odious to a little guy, and had little to do with health…whether of the soil or of the critters(including the customer). Manure handling was a large bone of contention, as was the kinds of chems and practices that were to be allowed.
        Some medium sized operations have managed to stay in the game, but at costs(including a bunch of nonquanitifiable things,lol) I was unwilling to pay.

        It’s too much to really dig into in a comment thread, given what I’ve set myself to do today….and it feels so long ago, now. I’ve taken a different tack, and have other concerns, these days

        Reply
        1. divadab

          Thanks for the info. In Washington State, producers with less than $5,000 in sales can label their product “organic” without paying the WSDA $500 annual certification fee. (Not “certified organic” – just “organic”).

          Also I know a couple of farmers who have given up on organic and are now “no spray” producers who use non-organic fertilizers.

          I think USDA organic = corporatist organic; Oregon Tilth or CCOF organic is better. But at least with even USDA organic Cheerios you don’t get 500 PPB of roundup for breakfast.

          Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I have read that some people want a concept of every product and process involved in creating or growing a particular food being fully disclosed and described in detail, with the prospective buyer free to decide for him/her self if he/she is satisfied by the exact nature of the food as exactly revealed and described.

          One group trying to create and apply that concept is called AgriTrue. I don’t know anything about it beyond that it exists. http://tspwiki.com/index.php?title=AgriTrue

          I have wondered sometimes about creating and applying a concept as simple as its name, namely Full Disclosure. And if you could get an inspector to certify that you are fully disclosing every thing that you use and/or do, you could then call your operation Certified Full Disclosure.

          And if plainclothes federal narks come around pretending to be customers and asking you if it is “like” organic, or “just as good as” organic, the Certified Full Disclosure grower could say: ” How would I know? Do I look like a lawyer?”

          Reply
      2. cm

        Organic does not specify animal welfare. Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) is probably the only meaningful label when it comes to humanely raised animals.

        IMO the organic certification process is completely corrupted, it is now just a way to prevent small farmers from competing with the giants.

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          Sustainable forestry also went the way of organic. The Forestry Stewardship Council started out groovy, until it learned how to certify old-growth hardwood clearcuts in Indonesia, and now certifies ‘plans’ to cease ‘hack and squirt’ poisoning of treestands for monocropping. (The actual plan is of course to never implement the plan.) And Calfornia’s new cannabis regs, bien entendu, are so counterfactually groovy that only the most submissive (or dishonest) millionaires can comply with them. Only cannabis producers are required by state law to meet organic standards, as imagined by young urban bureaucrats in a very different ecosystem from the once-happy hippie heartlands at the southern salient of the Pacific Northwest, which is anchored by the great coastal redwood forests, where we have to pay the state to store plentiful winter water for summer garden use. This illegalization of private water came in with the legalization of marijuana.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Ménage à Trimmer, what a tale of whoa.

            I don’t legalization prompted anybody to smoke any less or more than they usually partook in previously, and had a lousy conversion rate in first time 40 year old tokers.

            Reply
          2. divadab

            Ya the legalization by prohibitionists process put a bunch of self-righteous ignoramuses in charge of regulating pot growers.

            The only solution is to grow your own – and pretty much anyone can do this with a small investment. Why buy corporatist weed?

            Reply
        2. divadab

          “the organic certification process is completely corrupted”

          I beg to differ. Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good. USDA organic, while corporatist and favoring large producers over small farmers, is better than chemical torture produce. C’mon. Really. For most people, greens are something they buy at the supermarket and we should be encouraging buying organic rather than casting purist doubt.

          Reply
          1. witters

            Encourage “purist doubt” about a system which is “corporatist and favoring large producers over small farmers”? God Forbid, No!

            Reply
          2. cm

            In your post above, you justify this nonsense by saying farmers w/ less than 5k sales are exempt from the onerous regulations.

            My rejoinder is 5k is a ludicrous amount. How about a living wage?

            Organic certification is a joke. Not sure why you’re trying to defend the broken process, which prevents small farmers from earning a LIVING WAGE.

            Reply
        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          From what I remember reading, the Federal Government did not intrude itself into Organic Agriculture. Certain packs of utterly naive Organic Growers created a movement to beg, beg and beg some more for Federal regulation.

          Charles Walters of Acres USA tried to warn them that asking the Federal Government to regulate Organic Agriculture was basically like inviting Adolph Hitler to conduct a Jewish wedding. What did the Organic Movement THINK was going to happen?

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            aye. It was only a portion of the Movement…whose eyes were bigger than their stomach, as it were.
            Charles Walters was right…and Malcolm Beck(two of my heroes….I knew the latter, and corresponded with the former during that time).
            I remember the Texas organic inspector guy who would come out here every year staying for beer when all that was happening…he was planning on quitting in protest, having worked for APHIS, and knowing how the Feds were.
            it was a disaster…a profound disappointment…but, to be honest, the Market had already moved away from the little people and been wholly absorbed by the Very Large.
            Barriers to Entry are not only erected by gooberment…but by powerful interests: “Industry Standards”, where the Cartels decide what plastic bags are necessary,ol….where their parent corp owns the sole manufacturer, and charges exorbitant prices.
            Trade deals with the distributors…impossible to acquire “vendor numbers”…
            “Organic” is all but meaningless….no “Purity” is necessary for that assessment….and anyway, a measure of Purity was what it was all about!

            Reply
      1. Savita

        Wow! I saw a documentary about Eurovision song contest recently. I never realised how important it is to people. The film honed on its political relevance, and ambitions to be apolitical, as it realised just how much potential power was there to be misused. People/countries have attempted to ride that wagon, over the years, with varying results. One thing that was fascinating, riding off the back of your Swedish event (I thought it was going to be about Dagen Haaz ice cream? I’m in Australia, sounds like the sort of event thats important to Americans. Haight Ashbury being a Tom and Jerrys ice cream store now etc) – it was massve protests and boycotts in Sweden after the success of Abba. Because everyone now sought pop-song formats as the way to success, including all of Eurovision entrants, and huge numbers in Sweden protested commerce interfering with music, traditional song structures and native folk songs. Et cetera. Fascinating.

        Reply
    1. flora

      As a US reader I beg your indulgence, and also the indulgence specifically of Clive and Plutoneum Kum, and Vlade , et al ,as I am far from the EU, but see similarities with US ‘disaster capitalism’ kettling*, so to speak.

      re: A Series of Miscalculations Has Brought Britain to the Brink -Der Spiegel.

      I won’t say Der Spiegel is wrong, exact, but what it leaves out is as important as what it includes, imo.

      It seems to me Westminister (all parties) has has become more attached to the Brussels and the neoliberal view than to the UK voters and their view. (see “disaster capitalism”).

      And while I understand the deep hope to prevent war, it seems to me (disclaimers as listed above) that the EU has become only another hoped for Maginot Line, this time economic instead of physical. The Maginot Line created after WWI worked not at all when economic disasters struck various countries in the 20’s and 30’s. Again, (apologies to Clive, et al, for perhaps speaking out of turn), I cannot believe that the now neoliberal captured EU will do what it was initialed to do.

      And so, is the error with the UK voter who have grown to distrust (for good reason, imo) the EU’s touted benefits and promises (now captured by neoliberals (*1))? Or is the error in the EU itself for believing it is an economic Maginote Line that will prevent ‘wars’ without regard to the economics of regular, everyday people in the countries it purports to represent?

      Again, I beg Clive’s indulgence for using his comment and point to make my point.

      And again, apologies to UK and EU readers who must think a US opinion is out of bounds.

      * kettling
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettling

      *1. “I now doubt your seriousness in summing up that if big business interests can influence EU Directives (which is exactly the root cause of the problems with the Ecodesign Directive) then that’s the fault of big business for doing it, not the EU’s fault for failing to put a stop to it and letting them get away with it. It seems superfluous to repeat, if this is the kind of rubbish Remain supporters keep on putting forward, no-one should have to ask why Remain lost.”
      https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/11/brexit-issue-deep-go-away-will-theme-english-politics-decades-come.html#comment-3063766

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        from my hill in the middle of texas…the EU(per Gandhi’s ghost) is a good idea.
        The problem, as with so many other things, is that it’s been captured by the neoliberal aristocracy…retaining the forms, but serving far different ends.
        it is my understanding that the original brexit idea was in opposition to this neoliberal parasitism. like so many things, a set of ideas…a counternarrative that had the potential to transcend the numerous artificial divisions of the underclass was quickly hijacked and turned towards the more manageable Righty Populism.
        The Machine has gotten really good at this.
        so now “Brexit” denotes the racist xenophobic neofascism that the Neoliberal Order wants it to denote. They can manage that…hand wringing and scolding and other performative do-nothingism, while the economic party goes on without end. But they know full well that they would have difficulty managing an actual class uprising…say, the bottom 70% or so.
        so…as with the Plantation Owners of yore…such class based alliances that transcend race and sex and color and creed must be prevented at all costs.
        sadly, between being overworked and over-mediated over-indoctrinated and far too precarious, few people have the wherewithal to understand this.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous2

          The motives of those who voted Leave were complex. Any argument that reduces those motives to just one is oversimplifying badly.

          This is part of what lies behind the current mess. Some of the people who backed Brexit did so because they thought the EU was insufficiently ‘neoliberal’; others thought it was too ‘neoliberal ‘.How are those people going to be able to agree a way forward?

          Reply
  9. JTMcPhee

    On the “536 was the worst year to be alive:” volcanoes bad, yes, but interesting that “revived economy” equals toxins like lead in the atmosphere. Almost as if that “lifeblood of trade,” money, just has to be toxic. Sure seems to work out that way (see “GFC”) and crushing debt burdens and the supremacy of the filth that occupies the o.o1% niche and owns (thanks to the ”institutions of modernity” that are used to legitimize, make legal, all that “ownership”) what, over half of everything.

    Of course for most of us, it’s all just “how does this affect ME?”

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      my ex worked at the money counting place for a regional oil company( vertical integrated,refinery to convenience store). her hands were always dry and cracked from the isopropyl alcohol used to disinfect her hands while handling great stacks of filthy lucre(ringworm, among other things…and this was before the ubiquity of hand sanitizers and, I guess, counting machines).
      so yeah. money is literally filthy and contaminated with putrescence.
      …which really shores up the offhand metaphor.

      Reply
    2. Summer

      That article is disturbing when you analyze their frame for “science.”

      “At a workshop at Harvard this week, the team reported that a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Iceland spewed ash across the Northern Hemisphere early in 536. Two other massive eruptions followed, in 540 and 547. The repeated blows, followed by plague, plunged Europe into economic stagnation that lasted until 640, when another signal in the ice—a spike in airborne lead—marks a resurgence of silver mining, as the team reports in Antiquity this week.”

      Is that a requirement? Do studies matter only as justification for economic dogmas?

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Coins are by far the most common ancient artifact found in Europe (people don’t throw money away, but they often buried it somewhere) and gaps in silver coinage being minted, are unusual.

        As if the fuel that propelled their economics, didn’t matter.

        Reply
    3. Summer

      And you could take the charts in that article and write a completely different narrative around the science – a story of going from one kind of hell to another.

      Reply
  10. integer

    Regarding the Guardian’s Assange and Manafort debacle, the authors of the piece, Harding and Collyns, recently spent time in Ecuador with Fernando Villavicencio, a prominent critic of both Raphael Correa and Julian Assange:

    https://twitter.com/AssangeLegal/status/1067435292745854995

    The authors of the bogus Guardian story, Dan Collyns and Luke Harding, were in Ecuador 10 days ago with US-funded Villavicencio, who they have previously bylined with in bogus stories. This picture was taken last week.

    From June of this year:

    The Truth About Fernando Villavicencio, the Guardian’s Source for Their Anti-Assange Campaign LLAMA

    Fernando Villavicencio is a journalist, activist, and former union advisor for the oil industry who just so happened to also co-author one of The Guardian’s articles published last month during their almost week-long smear campaign against Julian Assange and former President Rafael Correa. However, he’s attacked these men in the past, his contribution to The Guardian hardly being his first rodeo. In 2010, his associates supported an attempted coup against Correa and then he and others sued Correa for the deaths and injuries that occurred during the uprising. In 2013, he forged the documents of an agreement between Ecuador and China, and in 2015, he published questionable and unverified documents about Assange and the security system at the Ecuador Embassy in London. Perhaps more notably, he has ties to Thor Halvorssen (there’s that name…again), U.S.-funded NGOs, and the U.S. intelligence community.

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      Some people never learn…sounds like they got burned by someone in Ecuador with an axe to grind. That’s similar to what happened when national reporters first went to Arkansas, and got taken in by Bill Clinton’s political enemies.

      Reply
        1. divadab

          Great interview – Harding gets redder and redder and throws more and more BS as chaff until he finally hangs up when it’s clear Mate is not buying his propaganda. Good on Aaron Mate. Top notch exposing of a rotten lying piece of slime. War propagandist filth.

          Reply
        2. integer

          Craig Murray asserts that Harding is an MI6 asset:

          The right wing Ecuadorean government of President Moreno continues to churn out its production line of fake documents regarding Julian Assange, and channel them straight to MI6 mouthpiece Luke Harding of the Guardian.

          Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        Except that Bill Clinton’s political enemies turned out mostly to be right — if not on the specifics, certainly on the general character of the individuals. The Clintons are corrupt as a summer day is long. Today they just operate on a grander scale of grift.

        Reply
        1. pjay

          Right. In the 1990s I had an occupational interest in Clinton’s economic policies and was already quite critical of his DLC “centrism”. But like a good lefty I assumed most of the stories about Arkansas (with the exception of a few “bimbo eruptions”) were products of the “vast right-wing conspiracy”. Later I discovered that the stories that actually made the papers were the tip of the iceberg.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            It goes way back. Like the “Air Central America” flights from Mena to supply the Contras during Reagan’s reign.
            I’d love to see an insider book on how the DLC was nurtured and foisted upon the Democrat Party. Al Gore should do it. He was there at the time.
            Call it “An Inconvenient Fake.”

            Reply
    2. Baby Gerald

      Thanks for that LLAMA link, integer- it really is a fascinating read and useful to get a deeper grasp of the Ecuador/US dynamic and the diverse corrupt players involved. The author even includes a handy chart connecting them all together, all CSI-like. I will bookmark this and follow up on his reporting.

      The shamelessness of the Guardian and their betrayal of journalistic integrity scratches only the surface of the forces aligned against Assange. That Thor Halvorssen [Mendoza] guy is coming up all over the place. He’s the grifter whose Human Rights Watch hosted the forum in Olso where Garry Kasparov called Jimmy Dore ‘Putin’s Buddy’.

      Reply
      1. integer

        My pleasure. Nice to know someone read it. For what appears to be a relatively unknown site, LLAMA has extremely well-researched articles.

        Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “Kim Jong Un’s Puppy Diplomacy Pays Off With Railway Deal”

    They are doing cooperation right across the board in both Koreas. Just read today that the South Koreans sent about 50 tons of insecticide to North Korea help stop a pine tree disease from spreading. South Korean forestry officials are also visiting to tackle problems common to both countries. Story at-

    http://www.startribune.com/south-korea-sends-insecticide-to-north-to-save-pine-trees/501499762/

    Needless to say, Pompeo is absolutely p***** at this because the South Koreans are doing this without waiting for the permission of Washington first. Apparently they forgot to touch first base or something.

    Reply
    1. PhilK

      Many years ago, at a time when I believed that I wouldn’t live long enough to see the Berlin Wall come down, I was working with several young Korean-Americans. They were confident that Korea
      would eventually be united, because, to Koreans, the issues of north vs. south, and “communist” vs. “capitalist” were nowhere near as important as being Korean. They weren’t making emphatic statements, just casual remarks once in a while. But it’s starting to look like they were right.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        So the War of Northern Aggression (haha) has never ended, here in America the Great. What chance, given that “we the people” don’t have those thousands of years of homogeneity behind us, that the US of A will ever become “unified?” Family ties mean pretty much nothing, thanks to Bernaysian atomization and the apotheosis of Homo economicus. And the Few bleed out the Many, and intentionally exacerbate the feuds and disaffections of the most of us against each other.

        Koreans seem to have some kind of “organizing principle,” an overarching identity, to work from. Not so much here.

        But of course reunification, that political-economic sea change, provides no guarantees of decency, comity, stability, socio-political homeostasis or survival. Look how well the German example has worked, bringing the two parts back together and producing stuff that other ‘lesser’ nations and ‘peoples’ are unhappy with in the forms of power and dominion that Deutschland has asserted — “neoliberalism,” Euro style, is “continuation of war by other means”?

        Reply
        1. Andrew Watts

          It isn’t a matter of homogeneity and is an aspect of continuity. Several cultures maintain a meaningful respect and connection with their previous generations. What this means in the cultural mind is that a single generation’s failure can be undone with enough time, patience, and perseverance. Hence the uncompromising faith that PhilK’s acquaintances possess. If I am being completely honest this cultural deficiency in American life is why I think America will fail in my lifetime.

          Reply
    2. Andrew Watts

      If Washington continues their uncompromising attitude it’ll be what eventually sinks the alliance with South Korea. Their inaction while relations between the North/South Korea are on the mend is typical. It’d still be a real shame if there wasn’t another Trump-Kim summit that would offer progress on North Korea’s nuclear program and/or a peace treaty that ends the Korean War. ‘

      Trump had a real opportunity to initiate a masterstroke of diplomacy and strategy by declaring an end to the war and making the US a genuine partner in the reunification of the Korean peninsula.

      Reply
  12. johnnygl

    Okay, now that my head is done exploding…let me get this right…

    A former CIA officer, who’s an established fiction writer, writes that if Luke Harding’s story if fake news, it was russia who faked it to discredit russia-gate.

    Someone seriously sat in a meeting where it was agreed to run this story with a straight face?!!!?! Are they trying to put the onion out of business?!!!? Because that’s how you do it…

    Drug dealers know not to get high on your own supply, but the political class han’t learned that…

    Reply
  13. ChiGal in Carolina

    For the record, the linked article on sources of Medicare traditional supplemental insurance excludes any discussion of Medicare Advantage. The primary sources of supplemental insurance, which was used from the get-go to pay the remaining 20% of costs covered at 80% by Medicare, are employer insurance, supplemental or Medigap insurance, and Medicaid.

    Beneficiaries in the first two categories tend to be better off than those who qualify for Medicaid as a supplemental, who also include a higher percentage of non”whites”.

    About 10% (skewing male and over 85) have no supplemental so are most exposed to costly bills or foregoing care.

    Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    Bought a neat item online, everything that a visitor to Sequoia NP would have received upon entrance in 1928, including booklet, brochure, maps, etc.

    One of the car camping rules is so appropriate for the era:

    “Remember that 110,000,00 people have an interest in this park, so do not be selfish. Hundreds of people use this camp every year, so help one another and us. Be QUIET in camp, particularly after 9 pm. People come here for rest and quiet—-not for JAZZ”

    It also came with this sticker, also appropriate for the time, in that we thought we’d have a non-contested divorce from Mother Nature, by stopping any fire, every fire, from happening.

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22Fire%5E_Keep_it_Away_from_Our_National_Parks%22_-_NARA_-_514262.jpg

    A friend works as an interp for the US Army Corps of Engineers that runs Lake Kaweah, and told me that some people are pretty adamant that recent conflagrations are on account of ‘the environmentalists that wouldn’t allow regular burning’ or other such tomfoolery placed in their heads by the puppeteers wielding the strings…

    Now, as evidence from 90 years ago to the contrary, he’s in possession of a blown-up version of the sticker and humorous JAZZ jive as part of the regulations sheet. A picture sells a thousand words.

    It’s time to stop blaming, and fix the problem, by getting our forests back to an even balance where they can withstand ordinary every-year fires not so worse for wear.

    It’s raining cats and dogs here <there goes a Cheshire}, which means the perfect wildfire is a done deal now.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Sequoia NP Wildfires Create Beneficial Landscape-scale Treatments

    Burning since October 4th in the John Krebs Wilderness of Sequoia National Park, the 1,777 acre lightning-caused Eden Fire is now 90% contained. The onset of winter-like weather and a combination of visual and infrared flights this week have shown the fire’s growth to be very limited.

    Located in and adjacent to the Eden Creek Grove of giant sequoias, the terrain is steep and rugged with no access via the ground. The fire is working its way through an area that has no modern recorded fire history of significance.

    This fire should be seen as a success story for the health and well-being of our public lands. By not taking any direct suppression action on this fire, the parks did not put any on the ground firefighters at risk, created contemporary fire history in an area that has over a century of extreme fuel loading, and greatly reduced costs and risks associated with suppressing all fires, all the time. Compared to the 2018 Horse Creek Fire in the same area, the Eden Fire cost about 1/10th the amount and covered an area 52 times the size.

    “Decades of fire exclusion has resulted in drastic changes to most of our forests.” said Tony Caprio, fire ecologist for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “We strongly believe that by managing fire on the landscape under these conditions, we are starting the process of making these areas more resilient to climate change and sustainable for future generations.”

    In addition to providing for long-term ecosystem and watershed health, having low, and in some cases moderate, fire intensity in this area provides fire managers options when the time comes to take a more aggressive response. When weather conditions are vastly different, fighting a fire in terrain like the Sierra Nevada, is dangerous and expensive, especially when there is no modern fire history.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      I recall one of the most striking impressions of a new visitor to Sequoia being the blackened trunks of the ancient trees. They say many trees are still standing in Paradise, CA even though the buildings all burned.

      Which provokes the thought: maybe we are the forest litter. If we are going to keep our wildeness–and we should–then we have to play by its rules.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Damn near every aged Sequoia has fire scars from a few thousand years of possibilities, but they’re a neighborhood bully gang that doesn’t allow lesser trees to invade their turf, via hogging the Sun so it’s not a problem typically. Most fire damage happens on the upslope end of one on a hill, from a log on fire rolling downhill right into the trunk.

        I’ll be really curious to take a hike to the Eden Creek Grove next summer to see what transpired…

        On extreme cases of fire getting through the bark and into the hardwood of the tree, a chamber with a conical roof 10-20 feet high will be created, and these are fun to sleep in overnight.

        A favorite is called ‘The Room Tree’ about a mile from the Sherman Tree. Accommodates 4 people.

        Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        There’s a place not far from the museum in Sequoia NP called “Bear Hill” and from the 1910’s to the 1940’s, you were guaranteed to see a bruin, or a dozen. They came up with a fool proof way to get rid of food scraps and leftovers from the restaurant, and created ‘garbage bears’ that still plague the campgrounds, 75 years after they stopped feeding them human food.

        https://digitized.library.fresnostate.edu/digital/collection/woodward_pc/id/1014/

        Not unlike the 45 minute video of the mountain lion hunter further down the thread (he killed 669 cougars in 25 years) we realized we were making a big mistake in allowing the deer to multiply way beyond their normal numbers by getting rid of an integral member of the food chain, as we also did with doing away with feeding wild animals, as in no picnic basket for you boo-boo.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Classic 1928 double-speak from the pamphlet:

          “Visitors must not feed the bears, they are fed daily from camp garbage.”

          Reply
    2. BobW

      I have been unable to find it again (thanks, Google), but recall seeing a satellite picture of the US – Mexico border showing burned areas from wildfires, the US side having huge swathes burned and Mexico relatively small areas.

      Reply
  15. Peter Pan

    Bloomberg has article dated 11-28-18 titled “The $15 Billion Money Pit Dragging GE Down” (I’m not providing a link due to previous experience with skynet obliterating my comment).

    For those of you that have long term care insurance (LTCI) through Genworth, which Yves has previously written about, please take note of this excerpt from the article:

    “While GE is hardly alone when it comes to the headaches caused by long-term care policies, it stands out because of the sheer size of its reserve deficit. Complicating matters is the fact that, as a reinsurer of roughly 300,000 long-term care policies, GE is on the hook for payouts tied to those policies but has no power to increase rates itself and must rely on the primary insurers to raise them. (Some are held by Genworth Financial, a GE unit spun off in 2004.)”

    I would interpret this as GE having sold it’s LTCI to Genworth with a financial warranty. If GE goes full bankruptcy, then the Genworth LTCI policy would be backstopped by the state insurance commission in which the beneficiary resides. The total amount would differ by state.

    Given the nature of Genworth’s appalling service to beneficiaries, I can only imagine the hoops that one might have to go through having to deal with both Genworth and the state’s insurance commission.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Actually, Genworth is way better than any other LTC carrier….they actually do have a generally good reputation despite my mother’s initial bad experience. The second time we tried putting in a claim (after getting the agent who sold the policy involved), things went quickly.

      But your factoid is very important. Thanks for passing this on. Genworth is way older than GE, so GE must have bought them at some point.

      Reply
      1. Peter Pan

        I wasn’t aware that Genworth was spun out of GE. Thanks for that tidbit.

        In May 2004, Genworth Financial was formed out of various insurance businesses of General Electric in the largest IPO of that year.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Word on the street or around Holiday gatherings….is Genworth moved to LTC much too fast without an idea of how to price anything while selling off the traditional aspects of the companies which resided in the buildings Genworth was made out of wrecking its financial picture, necessitating a sale to a Chinese company which is still not done. The GE MBAs planned on cashing in on all those boomers who would need LTCs ignoring all the problems in the U.S. economy.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            It appears no one got LTC right. CalPERS is in the same sort of trouble. Everyone piled in with no experience. It was the new hot business area. And the big mistake everyone made was assuming that a fair number people would pay for a few years and then drop the policy. Pretty much no one did.

            Reply
  16. DJG

    Strange earthquake waves ripple from Mayotte across the world. (National Geographic)

    Let’s use Ockham’s Razor here: It is Mothra.

    Finally, our lepidopteran future has arrived.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Cthulu was what leapt to my mind.
      I wonder if he’s related to Mammon or Moloch…
      In the spirit of Carolinian’s “maybe we are the forest litter”, above…earth rings like a bell, and we have no clue why.
      we’re just passengers, no matter our self image delusions.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Unfortunately, at least a plurality of us passengers are like the ones who fly and take the train down to Spring Break in Florida, and throughly trash the train or plane. And some of us think it is entertaining fun to pile logs on the tracks or jimmy a switch or two, or shine our really cool laser pointers into the eyes of the pilots in the cockpits from miles away…

        Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    The travel blogger from the US was on a five-day hike on the Rakiura or Stewart Island with a friend when they came across the tragic scene.

    Bummer about the whales, and just freaky timing is that she was there when it happened, as the Raikura winds through a rainforest so thick that all you have is canopy above you for large stretches, with some hiking near the water. If it wasn’t for the handy wooden chicken wire shrouded sidewalks on the trail for large sections, it’d be a muddy mess, and what the Kokoda Track must’ve been like, except with people shooting at you, yikes!

    We thought the bird life there was even more amazing than on the North & South Islands-as stoats, possums and rabbits didn’t invade, and it’s easy to miss-as there is so much to see in NZ, but if you’re in the vicinity, take a ferry there.

    Reply
  18. Off The Street

    The Miami Herald story has been heartbreaking to follow. Those pedophiles deserve everything that justice can hand down, that is if they don’t escape via statutes of limitations or some technicalities pursued by their legal counsel. To see so many public figures makes me think that they have quite a support network to preserve their impunity.

    The following springs to mind.
    The good news is that a busload of attorneys that drove off a cliff.
    The bad news is that there were three empty seats.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      And speaking of organized pedophilia and protection by association with people in high places and rotten deals, let us remember that a whole lot of “priests, the vicars of G_D’s Holy See and Word,” are still out there lifting the pious robes of young males and females, and telling them they will be rewarded in Heaven for fully genuflecting before the Man of the Cloth…

      And no, I am not talking about the homosexual fraction of the priesthood, engaging in actual consensual sex with willling partners, as they disseminate and support the larger, ahem, perversions of the Church’s systems and dogmas and doctrines. Nor the priests who carefully read and understand the dogma of priestly celibacy which does not, what a surprise, impose “chastity” on the clerics, not by a long chalk. Even if that is what a whole lot of Catholics and others tend to think it means, so they get all huffy when Father Sebastian is found to have done the dirty with Mrs. Abernathy or Sister Sourire… And a search on “are nuns and priests supposed to be celibate and chaste” turns up a whole lot of firmly held confusions.

      Hypocrisy — a wonder of the world…

      Reply
      1. boz

        There’s no question at all that massive hurt and harm have been done by some in the clergy and religious orders.

        There’s also no question that the actions of many superiors have been inadequate, covering up, and compounding the trauma for the victims of sexual or violent abuse.

        There is an unhappy but very real debt of gratitude to the bravery and persistence of victims, their families and the secular media.

        If after all of that you would like to have a constructive discussion about priestly celibacy, here’s a link you could start with: http://canonlawmadeeasy.com/2010/09/30/celibacy-and-the-priesthood/

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          “De gustibus non est disputandum.” The subject area has patently been worked over with great thoroughness by people a whole lot smarter and more subtle in the forensic arts than I. Seems like a matter of culture, taste, history and belief. And nothing you or I could offer on the curious institution could make the slightest diffference in the thinking and beliefs of that larger world. But thanks for the offer.

          Reply
  19. JohnnyGL

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-29/looking-toward-2020-democrats-shift-focus-from-health-care-to-mueller?srnd=premium

    With those pesky elections out of the way, dems can get back to the real issues they care about….DC insider power games that the other 300+ million of us don’t care about.

    Then there’s this consultant who gets a little too honest….

    “What the campaigns are trying to do is put up acquisition ads that are relevant to the news cycle,” says Tim Lim, a Democratic consultant and former partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive, an agency that places digital ads for Democrats. “Because of what happened with Sessions, that’s what’s relevant now. The primary purpose is to get more people onto the email list and thereby get dollars from them.”

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Back to the real issues they care about…

      The story has always been the D’s put up token resistance to the R’s before caving in, whereas the R’s can stop the D’s even without the number needed (ostensibly).

      Was that what happened to the resistance to Pelosi’s speakership? Not enough resisters?

      Reply
      1. John k

        Not enough with any interest in resisting the money flowing thru Pelosi from the oh so many corps to the faithful. Manna from heaven. Wouldn’t want to stop up any of the various streams.
        So for now it’s ok to pretend to support m4a, but wouldn’t ever want a majority in both houses to pretend… unless a smart pres is in office.

        Reply
  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Road to Confrontation NYT. “They didn’t like the West’s playbook. So they wrote their own.” In Chinese, no doubt.

    —-

    The playbook needs to be updated, for sure.

    That it was re-written by China, or China and Russia someday, was and would be unfortunately, as well.

    We might, for a moment, think that was or would be good (and shout, Go China or Russia is great), but upon further reflection, perhaps it would be better if even the little guys (nations) should have a say.

    Reply
  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    It makes sense, when you think about it, that private planes would be a lawless hellscape

    —-

    Presumably over international airspace.

    In that case, a question (not as morally urgent though) is this: is income earned on the private plane is subject to US taxes?

    If so, are acts on the same plane subject to some American laws?

    Reply
  22. Jason Boxman

    It’s hard to read the Epstein stuff, of which I was only passingly familiar. The most remarkable thing about this world is the kind of imaginative evils humans inflict upon each other and the world.

    Reply
    1. Eclair

      God, yes, Jason! I started the Miami Herald article and had to stop reading. ‘Pedophile’ is too nice a word for these guys (and any women involved as procuresses). They are ‘men who f**k little girls.’ Because they can. And because they know they are too powerful to suffer any consequences. At least for now.

      Reply
      1. elissa3

        So profoundly disgusting that it makes you want to take a shower after reading it. Aberrant humans should be excised from normal society–in prison for the rest of their lives. And how can the enablers live with themselves? Further confirmation that there is no god.

        Reply
        1. newcatty

          Yes, “profoundly disgusting”. For the moment, the question of God existing could be set aside. I think what is confirmed is that greed and selfishness exist. Physical and sexual abuse of children exists. The abuse is almost always enabled. Power does, often, indeed corrupt. Child abuse is still swept under a rug or cloak of denial, often fear, or accompliced by a fellow of sister traveler. When the fact that adults “f**k little girls ( and/Or little boys) is not stopped dead in its tracks, whether at church, the gym, in elite mansions, at a school, in motel rooms or at home then what is confirmed is that children are used by adults with no conscience. An adult who does these actions are what some would call evil.

          Reply
  23. Sparkling

    “China’s Most Popular App Is Full of Hate” Oh for God’s sake. Twitter is Full of Hate, Reddit is Full of Hate, every social media platform of any kind is Full of Hate as long as it has a bunch of people saying things We don’t like.

    Bigotry exists everywhere (it is a tried-and-true bullying technique) but I lost all sympathy for these people when they claimed Corbyn and his supporters are all anti-Semitic. They’ve brought this on themselves and the rest of us by crying wolf so many times that regular citizens are blowing them off and getting eaten by an actual wolf as a result. Would a lot of the Chinese and Chinese-Americans in the article have been driven to these groups and radicalized if the New Democrats/New Labour hadn’t spammed the race card in the absence of meaningful public policy? No.

    “A decent person shouldn’t be too CNN” is one of the most(/only) genuine statements in that entire article.

    Reply
  24. Summer

    Re: Life expectancy decline since WWI…

    Hell of a job! Didn’t even have to throw the working class into trenches this time.

    But one thing never changes about life “expectancy” – expect to live longer if you are wealthy.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >Didn’t even have to throw the working class into trenches this time.

      Actually that is a mistake they do not intend to make again. Notice that the best times we know of in Western history for the working classes were post Black Death and post WWII. Well, for the remaining members anyway!

      I would not be surprised to find that the same is true in non-Western history.

      Reply
  25. Pelham

    Re deaths of despair: I wonder whether we should also include deaths of lameness.

    Labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan once observed that many of his blue-collar clients are basically lame and/or half-crippled by the middle of their work lives due to the high, repetitive physical stress of their exceedingly hard work. But they still have 10 to 20 years to go before Social Security kicks in. What to do?

    Pretty much the only thing is to go to a doctor and obtain powerful painkillers — opioids — to keep going. And opioids, due to their very nature, require increased dosages over time to achieve the same effects. Years ago, doctors refrained from writing these prescriptions. But then how much suffering did these workers then have to endure? I suppose that’s unquantifiable.

    Isn’t it silly that we mandate that every single job requires 40 hours a week over 40 years? Maybe jobs should be categorized in ways that greatly curtail permissible hours for some grueling types of work while jacking up hourly pay to make up for the diminished hours. Or kick in full and generous retirement benefits for these workers after one or two decades instead of four.

    Of course, such measures would more correctly accord with the actual value of these jobs — without which the frothy remainder of the economy would collapse in a heartbeat — and I suppose we can’t have that.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      We sort of – sort of because they have to be where they are told to be 24/7, even if they can do “normal” things during that time – have that for the military, don’t we? I have worked with a number of “retired” military people, many in their 40s. They lived in “one sh(family blog) place to another” for a few decades, and then were set free.

      Makes a lot of sense if you are literally getting shot at as part of your job.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Isn’t it silly that we mandate that every single job requires 40 hours a week over 40 years? Maybe jobs should be categorized in ways that greatly curtail permissible hours for some grueling types of work while jacking up hourly pay to make up for the diminished hours. Or kick in full and generous retirement benefits for these workers after one or two decades instead of four.

      You are right that there is a strange modern obsession with fixed work hours. I was reading recently a history of harbour works in Dublin and one of the worst jobs was in building stone quay walls and bridge abutments in the 19th Century. Workers had to operate inside steel pressurised bells sunk onto the seabed. It was so intense that nobody could work for more than 2 hours a shift inside one of these bells. But this was accepted, and the workers then went home after their very short shift. Nowadays they’d be made fill out forms for the remaining 5 hours of the day in the name of efficiency.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Read the same about workers doing the foundations of a bridge in New York. I think that those bells were called “caissons” and the workers were getting a case of the bends working in them. Extremely painful and it wrecked their health to boot.
        Am hearing a lot of people saying that people can work into their seventies but people that say that tend to be the sort of people who work at their desks all their lives, especially politicians, but more to the point people who don’t have to stay at their desks for their work like politicians. Those men who work in heavy industry don’t tend to be included in these calculations.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          True. Include men, and now women, who work in construction trades. A brutal banging of the body, with no ‘extra’ provisions for old age.
          In a similar vein, my Dad cast around for a different line of work from his original choice of engineer and draftsman once his eyesight began to worsen. With plans and blueprints, details are diabolic.
          Then there is computer work and tunnel carpal syndrome.
          Could we include politicos and cognitive dissonance? (‘Pelosi’s Paresis’ comes to mind.)

          Reply
  26. Carolinian

    Re the bison bar story–fans of great explorer nonfiction know all about this meat/berry combo under an alternate name: pemmican.

    North Pole explorer Robert Peary used pemmican on all three of his expeditions, from 1886 to 1909, for both his men and his dogs. In his 1917 book Secrets of Polar Travel, he devoted several pages to the food, stating, “Too much cannot be said of the importance of pemmican to a polar expedition. It is an absolute sine qua non. Without it a sledge-party cannot compact its supplies within a limit of weight to make a serious polar journey successful.”

    The voyageur fur trade with its canoe portages and fantastic calorie expenditure also depended on it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pemmican

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      OMG yes I’ve heard of that! I’m not even sure the “non-fiction” part is necessary, because I don’t recall reading much non-fiction* when young. I wonder if my exposure to it came from, say Jack London?

      *Actually, for people of my age most of our non-fiction was mostly fiction, wasn’t it? Custer was a hero for instance. Not that it’s got a ton better…

      Reply
  27. pjay

    Re: ‘When Chimamanda met Hillary: a tale of how liberals cosy up to power’

    On a day when we are rightly slamming the Guardian for its blatant propaganda, I continue to be surprised that it can still occasionally publish articles like this. Author Fatima Bhutto is scathing – and spot on in her examples showing that:

    “One of the tragedies of the Trump era has been how American liberals have co-opted and utterly ruined the word “resistance” so that it now applies to neo-con interventionist hawks, former CIA directors and anyone who has ever tweeted against the 45th president.”

    Don’t skip this because it’s the Guardian (like I almost did). It’s good.

    Reply
    1. Sparkling

      The first- and second-generation British writers seem to be more resistant to neoliberal brainwashing than their co-workers. They might also have, like Ryan Coogler might’ve when he was making Black Panther, more leeway to treat neoliberalism with an even hand because it’s more difficult to play the race card on them. Not that it’s impossible, as we saw during the DNC Chairman election, so they still need to toe the line most of the time.

      Reply
  28. a different chris

    Ok I never, ever get this theory of leadership, yet is is accepted across the board without question:

    >https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/29/politics/donald-trump-cancel-vladimir-putin-meeting/index.html

    When I do something stupid I hear about it from my friends. They find me, they tell me, they make me explain myself (or more likely explain how I’m going to make amends). Yet at the high level, the solution to a problem is to…. not talk. Every freaking psychologist in the world tells you to go “talk it out.” But apparently not our Glorious Leaders.

    Well, it’s a big club and I ain’t in it but it sure operates by inscrutable rules.

    Reply
  29. Olga

    This would be a good addition to tomorrow’s links:
    https://www.sott.net/article/401621-Heres-Why-Everything-You-ve-Read-About-Ukraine-is-Wrong
    Vladimir Golstein, a professor of Slavic studies at Brown University, clarifies some of the myths around Ukraine; for example:
    “Ukrainian conflict is not the conflict between the “pro-Russian separatists” and “pro-Ukrainians,” but rather between two Ukrainian groups who do not share each other’s vision of an independent Ukraine.
    Western Ukraine was joined to Russia only during Stalin’s era. For centuries it was under the cultural, religious, and/or political control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Poland. Hating Soviet occupation, western Ukrainian nationalists viewed Stalin as a much greater villain than Hitler, so that the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists aligned themselves with Nazis and, led by their radical leader Stepan Bandera, proceeded to rid their land of other ethnic groups, including Poles and Jews.”
    Kievskaja Rus (before it was demolished by Mongols around 1240) did include a good chunk of what is today western Ukraine – but that was a long time ago. the neo-nazi cries of ‘Slava Ukraine’ (glory to Ukraina) harken back to those times. Unfortunately, KR never regained its presumed glory after the Mongol invasion.

    Reply
    1. Matt

      A nice article. One small quibble is that the website chose a photo of the burning Independence Square in Kiev to illustrate the Odessa massacre

      Reply
  30. Steve H.

    > Counterperformativity

    Models and the world select for quick incomplete solutions. Those quick solutions in the world can also alter the environmental conditions so rapidly that the smart models can’t keep up.

    A concrete case to consider is the Great Oxygenation Event, anaerobic bacteria running their algos. The interpolated world was an evolved but not conscious model. The bacterial excreta created an extrapolated world, good for us, not so much for them.

    > “Finding the highest-yielding combination of debts that could achieve the desired ratings was tantamount to finding the riskiest combination.”

    Table 1 can also be interpreted as a case of perverse incentives. S&P did nothing to undercut the risk as long as they got to make money by having more instruments to rate, but only if the default probability assumptions were kept low. Interpolation provided deniability until the fat tail wagged the dog.

    “Ends realized are nothing more than means expressed.” – R.G.H. Siu

    Reply
  31. Olivier

    In the BB article about Xi I noticed this gem: “A 100-square-meter apartment (slightly smaller than the average in Shanghai)”. Am I the only one to be floored by this? The implication is that the average Shanghai flat is larger than 100qm. That is enormous!

    Reply
    1. divadab

      thirty ft by thirty ft is enormous? It’s the size of many American great rooms. 900 sq ft is a small two-bedroom living space.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        It must be a typo. 100 metres is 328 feet. So, 328 squared is 107,584 square foot. Almost two and a half acres. Make it ten metres squared and it comes closer to the truth.
        It’s like renting retail space by the acre. It can be done, but not by many.

        Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Chinese apartments (excluding Hong Kong) do tend to be on the larger size. Friends I’ve visited in cities like Shanghai or Nanning have had apartments around the 100-120 square metre range, and these seem fairly average. In fact, Chinese friends who’ve stayed with me have commented on how ‘compact’ my Dublin apartment (a fairly typical 75 square metre is.

      Interestingly, in many parts of China, home prices are quoted ‘per square metre’, which I suspect may encourage larger units, rather than in countries where developers try to squeeze down sizes while using multiple tricks (including scaled down furniture) to make people think they are larger.

      Reply
    3. PlutoniumKun

      Btw, for those not used to it, in ballpark terms a square metre is pretty close to 10 square foot, so just add a zero.

      Reply

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