Links 5/2/2020

Posted on by

Alarm over deaths of bees from rapidly spreading viral disease Guardian (resilc)

Tumbleweed tornado BoingBoing

Microplastics inhibit a hermit crab’s ability to choose shell TreeHugger (resilc)

Seafloor Discovery Shows The Ocean’s Undergoing a Change Not Seen in 10,000 Years Science Alert (Kevin W)

Creep Collared For Using His Hands To “Talk” To Female Walmart Shopper Smoking Gun. Resilc: “DNC should run this guy for an office in Florida…..”

New Model Predicts Sudden Rogue Waves Scientific American

#COVID-19

From 9/11 to 2008 and COVID-19: Signs and Wonders of a Collapsing Global (Dis)order Zero Anthropology. UserFriendly: “This is part 1 of 5.  Part 1 is good.  Part 2 is Great!!! Shredding globalization and neoliberal individualism. Part 3 is a much deserved smack down of America. Part 4 gets a bit existential.  Part 5 looks towards the future.

Science/Medicine

Map and charts showing the spread of the novel coronavirus Reuters (resilc)

Editorial: Nicotine and SARS-CoV-2: COVID-19 may be a disease of the nicotinic cholinergic system ScienceDirect (dd)

It will probably take longer than 12 to 18 months to get a vaccine. Slate. Should come as no surprise, but this is finally getting out into the MSM.

‘False Dawn’ Recovery Haunts Virus Survivors Who Fall Sick Again Bloomberg (JTM). Stories like this drive me crazy. It’s as if they are setting out to make readers stupid. They push the idea of “herd immunity” and then point out it may not be attainable: “…Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Japan’s Kobe University. ‘Development of antibody inside the body is not necessarily development of immunity against this disease.’”

US germ warfare research leads to new early Covid-19 test Guardian. Resilc: “The GILD ceo was on the today show this AM pumping his stock.”

British Doctors Say Ventilators Purchased From China Could Kill Coronavirus Patients Newsweek (furzy)

‘This is a potential public health disaster:’ COVID-19 results from TestUtah.com are raising questions Salt Lake Tribune (Erik S)

Serfs Revolt

Immigrants Making PPE Strike After a Co-Worker Dies of COVID Mike Elk

May 1 “general strike” at Amazon: A failed adventure by the Democratic Party and the unions WSWS (Micael)

French workers 1-0 Amazon: Interview with Stéphane Enjalran on the Covid-19 Court Victory Brave New Europe (Micael)

UK/Europe

EU’s Ursula von der Leyen wants billions for COVID-19 vaccine, meds DW

The Greek tragedy: Act Three CADTM (Micael)

US

Oregon Strip Club Opens Drive-Thru And Delivery Service Jalopnik (resilc)

‘It feels like nobody cares’: the Americans living without running water amid Covid-19 Guardian

Study: 71 percent of jobless Americans didn’t receive March unemployment benefits Vox (UserFriendly)

States Made It Harder to Get Jobless Benefits. Now That’s Hard to Undo. New York Times (UserFriendly)

New York Is Seeing a ‘Frightening’ Increase in Domestic Violence Calls Vice

Amid COVID-19, Deep Borehole Disposal Of Nuclear Waste Marches Forward Forbes (UserFriendly)

Texas Oil Boomtowns Devastated by Coronavirus: Photos New York Times (resilc)

Was That Military Flyover Really Worth The Cost to Taxpayers? American Conservative

Political Responses

White House blocking Fauci from testifying before Congress about coronavirus response NBC (furzy). “But the White House will let him testify before the Senate Health Committee the following week.”

GOP divided over state aid during coronavirus pandemic The Hill

While Trump was estimating that only 60,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus, the federal government ordered more than 100,000 body bags Business Insider (Dr. Kevin)

Finance/Economy

Big Mac at a distance: Dutch McDonald’s trials virus-proof restaurant Reuters (resilc)

Long lines, lots of kids, and plenty to touch: How does Disney reopen its parks? Reuters. Get everyone to suit up. We ran this before and I want one. But too pricey.

After rumours about health, North Korea state media report Kim Jong Un appearance Reuters. Furzy: “Reuters could not independently verify the KCNA report.”

Canadian PM Trudeau Bans All Assault-Style Firearms NPR (furzy)

Syraqistan

Liberal Jewish orgs stay in Islamophobic umbrella group, for the sake of Israel Mondoweiss (Chuck L)

Iran Is Hauling Gold Bars Out of Venezuela’s Almost-Empty Vaults Bloomberg

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Utah company Banjo is building a massive surveillance system with the help of the state’s attorney general Salt Lake Tribune (Erik S). From early March, still germane. Ugh.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Navy Picks Wisconsin’s Fincantieri Marinette Marine to Build New Frigate Defense One (resilc)

Trump Transition

Trump: Protesters with guns in Michigan Capitol are ‘very good people’ Business Insider (resilc)

Trump Campaign Orders Red ‘Trump-Branded’ Face Masks New York Magazine

Michael Flynn’s indictment exposes Trump team’s collusion with Israel, not Russia Grayzone (Chuck L)

2020

Whether the Ballot You Mail Is Counted May Depend on… ProPublica (UserFriendly)

Biden camp refuses to open up Senate papers that could shed light on accuser’s claims Business Insider (furzy)

If Trump is a Pathological Liar, What Type of Liar is Biden? CounterPunch

The smoke-filled room that could oust Joe Biden (resilc)

Powerful House committee demands Jeff Bezos testify after ‘misleading’ statements TechCrunch (Kevin W)

Oil traders turn to salt caves and train cars in storage crisis Financial Times (BC)

New Jersey Likely to Cut Pension Contributions, S&P Global Says Chief Investment Officer (jpr). NJ only 40% funded due to deliberate underfunding starting under Christie Todd Whitman.

Judge Vacates Oil and Gas Leases on 145,000 Acres in Montana New York Times (David L)

NASA selects Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to design moon landers for 2024 mission dezeen

Bezos to the Moon: Blue Origin joins SpaceX and Dynetics in a three-horse lunar lander race Register (Kevin W)

Class Warfare

In pictures: May Day protests around the world BBC (resilc)

Antidote du jour. Shiela M:

Jesse (of “Jesse’s Cafe Americain”) suggested I send you an upbeat anecdote about 3 kittens, Amor, Ashley, and Aspen, were found on Staten Island and wound up in NYC’s animal shelter, ACC (Animal Care Center).

They were deemed unadoptable, because they flunked out of ACC’s Tiny Tigers Socialization Program, and became candidates for the Working Cats Program, which places semi-feral cats in jobs (shops, offices, etc).

Amor, Ashley and Aspen are now gainfully employed at a Brooklyn microbrewery, Five Boroughs Brewing Co., where they are much loved and busy guarding the grain and patrolling the brew area, can line, and taproom.

Here are some pictures and a link to Five Boroughs Brewing Instagram account.
https://www.instagram.com/p/B-X3sCRph6S/

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

286 comments

  1. zagonostra

    >States Made It Harder to Get Jobless Benefits. NYT

    The failures are policy failures,” said Seth Harris, a former deputy labor secretary in the Obama administration…those policies are inseparable from the technical failures. Even states like Florida that have nominally more modern systems have still built into them obstacles that make them hard to use.

    The NYT time article, not surprisingly, gets the essential feature of unemployment Insurance wrong. In Michael Lipsky’s book Street Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services it explains that as a process of rationing/limiting service government bureaucracies are by design dehumanizing, making the term “human services” an ironic farce. Inadequate resources, byzantine application processes, and of course “technical failures” are a design feature not a policy failure.

    Agencies that provide public goods must and will devise ways to ration them. To ration goods or services is to establish the level or proportions of their distribution. This may be done by fixing the amount or level of goods and services in relation to other goods and services. Or it may be done by allocating a fixed level or amount of goods and services among different classes of recipients. In other words, services may be rationed by varying the total amount available, or by varying the distribution…

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610447713

    Reply
  2. fresno dan

    Michael Flynn’s indictment exposes Trump team’s collusion with Israel, not Russia Grayzone (Chuck L)

    Thanks to Flynn’s indictment, we now know that the Israeli prime minister was able to transform the Trump administration into his own personal vehicle for undermining Obama’s lone effort to hold Israel accountable at the UN. A clearer example of a foreign power colluding with an American political operation against a sitting president has seldom, if ever, been exposed in such glaring fashion.
    ….
    The spectacle of a top Democratic Party money man defending one of the Trump administration’s most influential figures was clearly intended to establish a patina of bipartisan normalcy around Kushner’s collusion with the Netanyahu government. Saban’s effort to protect the presidential son-in-law was supplemented by an op-ed in the Jewish Daily Forward headlined, “Jared Kushner Was Right To ‘Collude’ With Russia — Because He Did It For Israel.”

    While the Israel lobby ran interference for Kushner, the favorite pundits of the liberal anti-Trump “Resistance” minimized the role of Israel in the Flynn saga. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who has devoted more content this year to Russia than to any other topic, appeared to entirely avoid the issue of Kushner’s collusion with Israel.
    ============================================
    I remember commenting when Netanyahu got a chance to speak before congress – if only Americans could get such access….

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      People who work(ed) in offices with white sound systems, where there is a steady background of low volume noise not unlike a radio station tuned in between stations, get spooked when that system is turned off. Imagine hearing life, and deciding that all that increase in productivity wasn’t that great after all.

      Reply
    2. Val

      Good to see the Grayzone reporting.

      At the end of 2016 the East Aleppo cauldron was being neutralized, mercenaries of the various conspiring states were being excised from basement positions there, and their NATO operators were apoplectic due to the lack of escalation. These events were being discussed at the UN before Christmas. Samantha Power would yell repeatedly, “the children!”. In an apparent fit of pique, Israeli press reported that all US carrier groups had returned to their home ports for some top secret retrofitting. In response to this, the controlling elements allowed Israeli settler activity to go unprotected for one UN security council vote. Thus the frantic efforts through Kushner. The Russian response to this was charmingly frustrating, lawful and professional. The seizure of Russian real estate may be motivated by this to some degree, I forget the exact timeline.

      But Obammer “holding X accountable”? No. Never happened once. How can such a notion persist? Obama was not installed for the sake of accountability, but rather it’s opposite.

      Reply
    3. Tomonthebeach

      Just as there are US Catholics whose religious fervor leads them to support Trump because he claims to be anti-abortion (pence-pence), there are US Jews whose religious fervor leads them to support Trump for being pro-Israel (kushy kush).

      Reply
  3. Noone from Nowheresville

    Another Sanders critique. Starting point is he talks about Sanders’ advisors wanting to take billionaire money for Our Revolution in 2016 and goes on from there.

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1255458869578522633.html

    1. Jeff Weaver is also the guy who convinced Bernie and Jane to start taking billionaire money at Our Revolution in August 2016. I was there. If I and the rest of the staff hadn’t walked out in protest they would have gone ahead with it. That’s why we resigned.

    Nick Brana’s interview with Jimmy Dore. Dore has calmed down a bit after accepting the reality of CARES and it’s basically unilateral support from politicians. Doing some decent interviews.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUm8VRa1IhQ

    Nick claims that 2020 staff had to ask Sanders to move organizing back to Our Revolution.

    I think I have to go with Dore here: Don’t have heroes.

    Reply
    1. divadab

      Look, it’s about the policies. Sanders is the only one articulating sensible policies (medicare for all, financial re-regulation, UPS savings bank, e.g.) and advancing them into the main stream. He’s only a man, however! Of course he has made decisions some of which you disagree with. Of course he is not perfect.

      He may still be President. Stranger things have happened and Biden is done done done. I’m so sick of these absolutist critiques of very useful people. Of which Biden is not one. Except to his masters that buy him his job – certainly not to us – he promoted the invasion of Iraq; made sure Glass-Steagall was overturned; relegated students to debt peonage; and has been gunning for SSI and Medicare for years. Beside this Bernie’s flaws are a mere bagatelle.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The defenses of Biden indicate the Nihilists are going down with the ship. They are more concerned with the little people not realizing Team Blue elites knew what Biden was.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I’d be ok with de-nihilism, or putsch yourself in the Donkey Show position where they have to admit finally that the Eagleton has landed, and hey Joe, you gotta go.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Sorry, but this ‘saga’ is reminiscent of the Apollo 13 debacle, more than anything else. The Dems will yet again circle the Moon but not land. Then, the Dems will play up their failure as a great “adventure,” worthy of praise in and of itself, conveniently obscuring the fact that the original mission was to actually land.
            The Democrat party has turned failure into an art form, and demands redicu-lousy high prices for the canvases to boot!
            As others have observed about this phenomenon; the Democrat party has made “campaigning” the aim and reason for their politics, not governing.
            We should all adopt the position of being 1000% behind the Traditional Democrat Party.

            Reply
            1. norm de plume

              ‘The Democrat party has turned failure into an art form’

              I have come around to the Michael Hudson view that Team Dem want to lose this one. Far more upside than down for careerists. First, was a chalice ever so poisoned? Depression is baked into next term’s cake. Second, oppositionism sans responsibility provides a richer and less obviously corrupt palette of wealth-generating options than being in government.

              Failure is Success! Defeat is Victory!

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                “We have always been at war with the owning class!”
                The new “fake news” suppression policy is creating a ‘New Improved Memory Hole!’

                Reply
      2. Amfortas the hippie

        while “don’t let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good” has been badly misused for the last…say…25 years…to get us to Vote for the Lesser Evil…it is still a sound thing to keep in your cognitive quiver.
        We expect Bernie(or Obama, or…) to be Superman, or Captain America…or Cersie Lannister?
        and wave a hand and Fix It.
        That’s as silly as calling a system where we elect a person to “represent” 700,000 people a “Representative Democracy”.
        A large portion of The People can’t even contemplate that the USA! has been an Empire for going on 80-100 years…let alone that this might be a bad thing.
        the whole Mindf77k that put Neoliberalism/TINA into the brainstem of those same people should also be considered.
        How to convince some bare majority of the tiny percentage of those people who actually vote to learn about such things, and then do something about them, while the entire MSM and government and society itself stands against them learning, understanding or doing?
        From this perspective, I reckon Bernie has done a pretty much Gandalf Level job in moving the Possibility Window(never liked overton).
        How different the feedstore feels from 10 years ago!
        or the produce aisle or the bus stop!
        and it is entirely possible that the current gigantic mess will set that new awareness in stone.
        I’ll forego the recriminations and armchair general stuff for now.
        fact is, he’s managed to change a hell of a lot…sheepdog or no.

        Reply
      3. Noone from Nowheresville

        I know it’s about the policies. We are in the middle of a pandemic. The CARES Act and the rest of stimulus bills will re-write our worlds. So please point me to his organizing during this pandemic. Please point to the amendments or language he provided to the stimulus bills which make the giveaways and his lack of real opposition worthwhile. Then tell me where his power base is because it been almost 6 weeks on since his CARES performance and I’m still not seeing him wielding any power base.

        I so so want to see it and believe that Sanders is part of the solution but moralizing for sensible policies is not the same as organizing a movement which can wield power.

        Does his movement with him at the helm have any actual power during this crisis? Based on what’s happened so far, I’d have to answer no. Using Jane McAlevey’s definitions I’d have to say Sanders is a mobilizer not an organizer. But you’re right, Sanders is one man. One man can’t do it alone. Maybe the critiques are unfair but they do go a long way to explain why he is not walking the talk during an actual crisis seemingly made for him and his rhetoric.

        I no longer want a Sanders presidency. I’d rather not bother with the smoke & mirrors changey hopey thingie. How bad would it be if he got in, refused to wield power (if he has any) and everything including the moralizing simply stayed the same?

        Reply
        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          Agreed with this.

          I would add that what Nick Brana is alleging goes above and beyond a simple disagreement with a decision Sanders made. This crosses into outright dishonesty which contradicts what Sanders and Our Revolution was supposed to stand for. I don’t feel expecting “not funded by billionaires” to actually mean “we don’t take billionaire money” is anywhere an absolutist critique and considering this was so much of the Sanders brand, it shouldn’t be something one can cast any doubt on.

          Reply
        2. Oh

          I’m thankful that he (Sanders) didn’t wimp out after he had somehow won the nomination against all odds. If we’re going to get rid of the neoliberals, the faux progressives and the elites, we need to mobilize and get it done with several leaders from whom we can pick a real one.

          None of the progressives in the DimRat party seem to have helped the people during the CARES bill. All of them seem to be running into Pelosi’s arms by supporting JB.

          Reply
      4. Procopius

        Stranger things have happened …

        I haven’t seen any university adding “Porcine Aerodynamics” to their Engineering curriculum yet. The DNC might accept Justin Amash, but will never allow Bernie. However, I do agree with you against those who raged against Bernie. It’s a shame that he isn’t a demi-god, but he did more to advance good policy than anyone since Lyndon Johnson (who was a pretty venal guy).

        Reply
      1. tegnost

        yes, I think Sanders achieved great things and I am willing to accept that there was/is a limit to how much a person can tilt against the institutional behemoth windmill. The last debate, with bidens outright lies going unchallenged by the MSM is just one example.

        Reply
      2. Aumua

        Sanders made mistakes. Sanders also got screwed, big time. Sanders also accomplished some amazing feats. All of these things can be true at the same time.

        Reply
        1. Aumua

          You might also add that Sanders is a sheepdog for the establishment democrats, which is probably true in some sense as well.

          Reply
    2. dcblogger

      I think that Biden can win. The entire country is in meltdown and Trump is mishandling this in a way that cannot be denied. Of course, I thought that Hillary would win so what do I know. The Republicans have been pounded in every election since 2016, and that was BEFORE coronavirus. Biden’s biggest problem is not that he is a horrible candidate. Biden’s problem is that part of the Democratic base is literally dying. And a larger part will be so traumatized by eviction/foreclosure that they will be too distracted to vote. Even so, I think that Biden can win. That is assuming the election takes place.

      Reply
      1. Montanamaven

        Already coming up with excuses for why Biden won’t win? It will be because people will not show up because they are dead or homeless? You were right the first time. He’s a terrible candidate. Like Hilary only worse. But I wouldn’t spend too much time on Biden. I will be surprised if he makes it to the convention let alone the election. I did see Hilary losing because of not reading the room (Deplorables?) but what do I know?

        Reply
  4. PlutoniumKun

    Navy Picks Wisconsin’s Fincantieri Marinette Marine to Build New Frigate Defense One (resilc)

    Good news for the French and Italians – this is an existing Franco-Italian design, the FREMM. A rare example of common sense in defence procurement, buying a product that is actually proven and works. I wonder how they’ll work out some way to double the cost and make it less effective, they are usually quite good at that.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Was about to write a comment saying that this was a good idea this. It may be that the US Navy is finally tired of being made suckers off by American shipbuilders. Take a look at recent offerings-

      There are the littoral combat ships which are so bad that the first four are being retired at first opportunity-
      https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2019/12/24/us-navy-proposes-decommissioning-first-4-lcs-more-than-a-decade-early/

      You have US Navy ships being built which cannot stand heavy seas-
      https://www.forbes.com/sites/craighooper/2020/02/29/the-us-navys-future-fleet-will-run-aground-in-heavy-weather/#736581607053

      There are the Ford class aircraft carriers that the less said about the better-
      https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/01/30/the-carrier-ford-is-trying-to-shake-years-of-controversy-and-find-its-groove/

      And there is the advanced destroyer Zumwalt which may capsize if hit wrong-
      https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2015/12/03/instability-questions-about-zumwalt-destroyer-are-nothing-new/

      No wonder they went for a foreign proven design.

      Reply
      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Apparently the main thing Marinette had going for it was not the existing design but that fact that they are a bit short of work right now compared to BIW and Alabama so the brass had more confidence they could meet the target deadline. But I do think using an existing design was also helpful in that regard.

        Reply
      2. John Beech

        With a son-in-law crewing one of the new LCS ships, these articles Rev Kev pointed out were eye opening for this otherwise aviation-oriented soul. Having grow up on the water (pleasure boating, skiing, fishing, farting around for fun, etc.) there’s no surprise that bigger boats handle rougher water but until reading one of the articles you linked, I didn’t have a clue regarding sea states and bigger destroyers being needed to keep up with the carriers in rougher water. Makes perfect sense but I can be so stupid at times – but in my defense – it’s not my line of work and I rarely gave it a thought (unlike, hopefullly, those charged with the task). So, and just curious, who put an Army type in charge of the Navy? And God save us from beancounters doing to the Navy what they did to General Motors in the 70s!

        Reply
      1. ambrit

        These frigates are actually those “missing” customer yachts. They will be part of a DoD “Private/Public Partnership Program,” (PPPP), where the frigate/yachts owners will be given “Letters of Marquee” and be run as the very appropriately named class of vessel, Privateers.
        I wonder what the ‘Prize’ money on a loaded super-max containerized cargo vessel would be?

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Greetings Brother! I had not seen the article. Thanks for the link. Fascinating! Everything that was old is new again. The best part about this is that, if past history is any guide, these Privateers can easily slip into, or be redefined into, Pirate status. So, the State doing the promotion of the privateers can switch on a dime and denounce their previous clients. Anyone considering such a venture had better read, at the least, a “true” history of America’s relationship with Saddam Hussein. That is a real cautionary tale.
            Yes, we are indeed living in the Crazy Years.

            Reply
  5. xkeyscored

    Editorial: Nicotine and SARS-CoV-2: COVID-19 may be a disease of the nicotinic cholinergic system ScienceDirect

    And it may be; they present a fairy plausible case for nicotine’s possible role. But so far as I can see, the protective effects of smoking tobacco could be due to something else in tobacco smoke. They assert, “Furthermore, it is unlikely that any other compound in tobacco cigarette smoke, besides nicotine, would be implicated to the potential benefits observed in smokers,” without backing up this claim in any way.

    As for the snake stuff, I thought most people had abandoned that idea. “One possible intermediate host could have been a snake coronavirus. Taking into consideration that snake venom toxins are competitive antagonists of acetylcholine …”

    Reply
    1. divadab

      Tobacco smoke (smoke in general) paralyzes the cilia in the lungs. Maybe paralysed cilia are less susceptible to the virus?

      But I think it may rather be related to the tar that accumulates in the lungs. I admit to smoking a wee bit of organic tobacco daily over the last two weeks as a potential prophylactic. HOwever, even smoking less than a cigarette a day, admittedly non-filtered dark tobacco, and every morning I now cough up a small wad of brown phlegm. Regular smokers must have a lot of this stuff lining their lungs!

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve backpacked-hiked around 3,000 to 4,000 miles with a friend over the past quarter century who smokes at least a dozen American Spirits a day-along with his girlfriend who i’ve known for over a decade, and both will walk you into the ground-they’re quite fit, and i’m not a tobacco user-but appreciate ciggy breaks and in the open, the smoke is not nearly as nasty.

        A few years ago they were among 5 of us walking The High Sierra trail from the Sequoia groves to Whitney Portal on the other side of the Sierra. A great backpack trip, this was my 5th time doing it in 25 years, 72 miles worth of wonder.

        We had gotten to Hamilton Lake and set up camp in the afternoon and one of them lit up, and from a couple hundred feet away, some fellow starts yelling how he can smell the smoke, and please go a few hundred feet further away!

        I’d watched tobacco users become such outcasts in my time hanging out with them in polite society, in one instance at the Playboy Jazz Festival about 10 years ago, I witnessed a person getting arrested for smoking a Camel @ his seat, while wafts of potchouli were all around.

        Both of them have been smoking for 30 to 45 years, if anybody has built up a Covid-19 immunity via nicotine, they’re the lucky strike ones.

        Reply
        1. juno mas

          While there are outliers who smoke and live a long life, smoking takes a solid 10 years off one’s life expectancy. Smoking was de rigeur after the War and into the 70’s, but not anymore. While smoking is still popular in Middle America, only 12% of California citizens are smokers.

          I can smell a burning cigarette from a good 60 meters away, outdoors! It is an awful, acrid smell that is banned in my coastal tourist town for good reason. The smell overwhelms the fresh sea breeze. And cigarette butts rarely end up in trash containers. Butts are >25% of trash found along the shoreline; not to mention the gullets of coastal bird life.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            When you’re lucky enough to find somebody that fits into your outdoorsy world where you are for all intents & purposes together for 24/7 for a week to 10 days at a go, its easy to overlook their habits which might infuriate others.

            Snoring is another issue, but that’s why you social distance overnight, typically my hammock will be 50 feet away from others in a tarp or tent, and if I need to be closer, ear plugs come in handy.

            Reply
        2. Joe Well

          As someone who has a chronic condition that can be seriously aggravated by second hand cigarette smoke (and virtually no other kind of smoke), I will say that either the smokers are outcasts from public spaces or people like me are.

          The former social tolerance was achieved by billions of dollars worth of tobacco company propaganda.

          People who smoke in public are as bad as people who refuse to wear masks.

          Reply
          1. Eureka Springs

            I disagree. One has to learn, teach, practice with determination to be this intolerant this way, this much. Watching the demonizing of tobacco, especially second hand tobacco over decades has been eye opening on so many levels for me. Many many people want to be bothered, want to assert control.

            Anyone over 50 can recall how much smoke there used to be and how few were bothered by it… and then it was if one non smoker was in a car with four others smoking with windows rolled up. They might say crack a window please, but nobody, I mean nobody, said I can’t ride in this car or plane or grocery store or office.

            Outside at all is laughable.

            Reply
            1. Basil Pesto

              my parents used to be regular smokers. They quit, 30+ years ago, and are now probably more repulsed by the smell of second hand smoke than even I am, inside or out (and it is truly unpleasant, but i can put up with it in certain social situations).

              The old man has emphysema and honestly I think his history of smoking is a source if profound regret for him (and it is for me as well).

              Reply
            2. lyman alpha blob

              I smoked for about 25 years and quit 6 years ago. Some former smokers can’t stand even being near cigarette smoke but I am not one of them. While waiting at a bus stop I’ve had smokers very politely ask me if I’d like them to put their cigarette out and I tell them please don’t. I may be the anomaly among quitters, but cigarette smoke still smells delicious.

              I can see banning smoking in most indoor places, but I agree about outdoors. And banning smoking in bars in just ridiculous. Health clubs they are not. Before the outright bans were put in place, I noticed there were just about zero bars that banned smoking on their own, and they certainly could have. Wonder why that was?

              Reply
            3. Yves Smith Post author

              You are COMPLETELY wrong.

              There is TONS of evidence that second hand smoke is damaging. From the CDC:

              Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke

              There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

              https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/index.htm

              That’s why smoking was banned relatively early in restaurants and bars. It was to protect the workers.

              Reply
              1. Amfortas the hippie

                but to ban me from downtown entirely?
                when i strive to not bother other people with my after enchilada smoke?

                surely there’s a compromise, here?

                this issue right here is how fascism entered the “Liberal” mind.
                Early 90’s

                Reply
                1. Always forgetting my username

                  And where exactly is your “compromise” in this scenario? You’re not “banned” you simply have to not engage in illegal behavior in order to engage w society.

                  Your right to kill yourself with cigarettes does not trump the rights of those around you to not have to breathe your asthma-inducing and cancer-causing smoke. As if restaurant workers don’t already have enough working against them. Ridiculous.

                  Reply
              2. polecat

                So here we are … on the verge of having Everyone ensconsed/encased in/or behind their deflection screen/ cube/sterilization wipes/MASKS!, wanting big Bro/Sis to save them from X, if only we continue to do what one/several groups want (take your pick of many!) .. to perceive as a stop-gap back to normalcy, e.i. if we just stop doing Y !
                At some point, people go on, in spite of the risks … real or percieved .. because they HAVE to go on living their lives, in spite of the continual, and successive ratcheting-down on actions/liberties that once were considered the norm! Now, every slight, every offence .. is to be dealt with – through the sheer power of the State … to very ill effect, and for mostly, all the wrong reasons ….

                And the result is a country has gone bat-shit neurotic – wanting it all, and having none of it, simultaneously !!

                Reply
                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  2.5 million unnecessary deaths by people who didn’t smoke themselves…..and you defend that? Your right to kill third parties?

                  Do you defend pollution too? The kind that kills people, like high doses of radiation or the sort that induces cancer (Love Canal, PG&E in Hinkley)? It’s not different.

                  Reply
          2. HotFlash

            My dad quit smoking in 1991/2, right after the US Surgeon General announced that second hand smoke could cause cancer. Fortunately, (or something), my mother had died of cancer just before the announcement, or Dad would have been biggly guilted by Mom.

            Reply
        3. km

          My mother smoked when she was pregnant with me. I was born ill, nearly died of pneumonia as a baby, and had chronic respiratory conditions all my life.

          I remember, I was four years old or so and telling my mother “smoking cause cancer, Mommy!” I didn’t know what cancer was, but I knew it was bad and I knew that I hated the stink of cigarettes.

          Best day of my childhood was when my mother quit, but for years afterward, I was finding ancient cigarette packets between couch cushions. Just thinking about them, or anything associated with cigarettes, makes me want to throw up.

          Reply
        4. Always forgetting my username

          Smoking in the backwoods of the Sierras? For shame. I hope you “packed it in and packed it out.”

          95% of forest fires are started by human activity. Cal Fire responds to an average of 47 wildfires each year caused by carelessly discarded cigarettes.

          The Sierras have changed drastically over the last 40 years, and not for the better. If I had backpacked in tens of miles and found a party of careless smokers, you’d have heard a lot more than a yell to move a few hundred feet away. As an asthmatic, cigarette smokers deserve no empathy as they tread on my rights to breathe without suffering potentially serious and immediate health consequences.

          Smoking in California state and national forests should be illegal. Smokers have shown they are simply not responsible enough to be trusted to enjoy our national resource treasures without destroying them for everyone else.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Relax, they’re socially conscious smokers who burn their collected butts when we have campfires.

            Can’t think of any wildfires in the backcountry started by a errant cigarette, they’re almost all caused by lightning. But there was the McNally fire, caused by a hot dog, so tube steaks must be outlawed!

            The fire originated in what used to be the Road’s End Resort, a camping lodge about 16 miles north of Kernville burned to the ground by the fire. A woman, Peri Dare Van Brunt, started an illegal campfire behind one of the cabins. At the time, she told authorities she was cooking hot dogs when the fire got out of control. It took three hours for the fire to spread from Road’s End’s elevation at 3,000 feet up the mountains to 7,500 feet.

            https://www.bakersfield.com/news/a-decade-of-regrowth-ten-years-after-mcnally-fire-restorative/article_f5e25c5b-ff3a-51ac-91ea-683b61ac4a59.html

            There’s almost half a million acres of wilderness behind me, lots of room for everybody.

            Reply
      2. Krystyn Podgajski

        They are not talking about “tobacco smoke”, they are talking about nicotine. See my post below on why nicotine helps prevent SARS2 indfection.

        Reply
        1. clarky90

          My son Vapes high nicotine e-liquid. There are lots of people vaping nicotine. I wonder how many nicotine vapers are in NYC? There must be some statistics?

          Reply
    2. paul

      I would take professor farkoulanis’ opinion in good faith.
      He has been, over the past decade, a rather sober advocate of harm reduction in the war against tobacco combustion.
      If he can’t find a more plausible agent, I am sure he will be happy to hear of another.

      Reply
    3. Cuibono

      concur: that part was too glib. It would appear likely to be nicotine.
      i am fascinated by the role of the immune system, the nose, the nerves…zinc nasal gel working for common colds and causing loss of smell: any possible connection there?

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        Odd, that. My “Supplements for Dummies ” (actual name! provided free by a supplement company, no less) lists loss of smell and taste as a symptom of Zn deficiency. Perhaps those homeopaths are right!

        Reply
      2. xkeyscored

        They provided a reference* for the unremarkable claim that “The search for potential protective and therapeutic antiviral strategies is of particular and urgent concern,” along with 86 other references, so why nothing for the far more central claim that only nicotine is likely to be responsible for the protective effects of smoking? It’s entirely possible that nicotine is responsible, but they don’t seem to even consider any other possibility.

        *A.V. Skalny, L. Rink, O.P. Ajsuvakova, M. Aschner, V.A. Gritsenko, S. Alekseenko, A.A. Svistunov, D. Petrakis, D.A. Spandidos, J. Aaseth, A. Tsatsakis, A.A. Tinkov
        Zinc and respiratory tract infections: perspectives for COVID 19 (Review)
        Int. J. Mol. Med., (2020)

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          In principle (and thanks clarky90), it shouldn’t be too hard to compare statistics between cigarette smokers, smokers of weed without tobacco, vapers, and COVID patients treated with nicotine. There must be plenty of the first three in the USA, and such a study would do much to clear up the question of whether it’s the nicotine in cigarette smoke or something else giving this protective effect.

          Reply
  6. PlutoniumKun

    Amid COVID-19, Deep Borehole Disposal Of Nuclear Waste Marches Forward Forbes (UserFriendly)

    Essentially, using Fracking rigs to dispose of nuclear waste. Well, I guess they have to find some use for them.

    This shares the weakness of most underground disposal proposals. To get the waste down there you have to drill, and the process of drilling creates a direct pathway to the environment. So for it to work, you have to have a 100% reliable method of plugging your well once you have your material down there – this means a series of absolutely reliable plugs stretching for thousands of metres down (no, its not enough to just pump concrete down after it). Good luck with that.

    The second obvious issue is that the waste is not a liquid, it can’t be just pumped down there. If your waste gets blocked on the way down, it would be almost impossible to retrieve it or otherwise neutralise it and make it safe.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        I don’t know. Japan, through their Dai Ichi Fukushima “dispersal” program is dumping a lot of the radioactive “by products” of that atomic complex into the Pacific at a point where it all gleefully flows East to hit the West coast of North America.

        Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I thought the fracking process broke up rock formations to ‘free’ the oil squeezed out with high pressure fluids, but aren’t there a few problems with pollution of the local ground water. Are we to suppose there isn’t any potential for the radioactive wastes getting into the ground water?

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Yes.
        that’s essentially how it works.
        which makes “injecting radioactive waste downhole” stupid, at best.

        Failed State.

        Reply
    1. paul

      Multi billionaires cannot be judged alongside humans because:

      A: They have access to multi billions
      And B:
      see A:

      Reply
        1. Massinissa

          He has enough money to live in hotels for the rest of his life. Maybe hes selling the houses so he won’t buy anymore junk.

          Reply
                1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                  Theres a delicious Cannibal Vegan Film set during the Civil War called Ravenous that I highly recommend!

                  Reply
    2. Gerry

      Story is that Tesla needs to raise money but institutions and pension funds dont want to buy at yesterdays prices so he needed to get the price down to get more money.

      Reply
    3. Louis Fyne

      There are various conceivable hypotheses (reasonable depends on your level of credulity)

      I’d throw out a few but don’t want tk be labeled for dishing gossip, lol.

      The $TSLAQ hashtag on twitter is an interesting stream of bearish consciousness

      Reply
      1. Monty

        I’m surprised those TeslaQ guys are still at it. If they had skin in the game, they must have suffered harrowing, account zeroing losses in the last 12 months.

        Reply
    4. Yves Smith Post author

      His face looks like he’s medded up big time but I’m not expert enough to hazard on what. His erratic-ness and lack of control are consistent with use of stimulants or cocaine.

      Reply
      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        He blamed Ambien for a tweet a little while ago too IIRC.

        My guess is Cocaine and/or Mollie/Ecstacy

        Reply
  7. rd

    Re: Texas Oil Boomtowns devastated.

    It is important to remember that these are the “good, well-paying” jobs. Even with these, they have not saved enough to stay out of crisis within a month or two.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        For what? To build a ‘technical’ to take to the “spontaneous” demonstrations popping up all over?
        Besides, the aficionados swear that not much built after 1990 is worth the asking prices.
        It would be interesting to see if the resale giants, like Mannheim, are developing or already have “professional relationships” with car crushing outfits. As we have seen with the used housing market, so far, destroying excess inventory to keep retail prices high is the preferred strategy.

        Reply
      2. Wyoming

        Late Aug ot Sept will be even better. The dealers are saddled with the unsold 2020 models of all vehicles. The rental and lease fleets will be rolling over to the used market. The used market and the new market has collapsed. Prices are already way down on used vehicles and should drop like a stone over the summer.

        ambrit might be right that the only fix for them is to crush.

        But I am thinking that one could pick up a nice 2 year old vehicle at about 60% of the pre-covid value about Sept 1 and am planning on it if the dive does occur.

        Reply
  8. Krystyn Podgajski

    First, just thanks Yves and everyone for keeping a focus on the climate.

    RE: Editorial: Nicotine and SARS-CoV-2: COVID-19 may be a disease of the nicotinic cholinergic system

    Since that is an editorial let me also contribute and say that they are wrong. This is a disease that is caused fundamentally by reduction of cellular ACE2 activity. We already know there is a direct link to ACE2 and the nicotinic cholinergic system. They have shown for example that if you make mice with no ACE2 enzyme that they cannot be vasodialated with acetylcholine.

    But nicotine is a preventive measure, not a cure, because nicotine sheds ACE2 from the cell and that means the virus cannot enter the cell when it latches on to ACE2. When we are infected the virus ACE2 is destroyed can then we not metabolize angiotensin II. The build up of angiotensin II that causes all of the health complications.

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.27.20080432v1

    They have already seen that Clinical-Grade Soluble Human ACE2 (ACE2 that is not attached to the cell) can inhibit the virus and I am sure everyone here knows why they are not investigating this angle.

    The simple answer is that we need not only more soluble ACE2 to “distract the virus” (prevention) but more cellular ACE2 to get rid of the angiotensin II build up (cure).

    Reply
      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        Wow! This makes me concerned about the Aerosol Masking Effect being removed now that we are not creating so much particulate pollution but still have tons one CO2 in the atmosphere. There are some climate scientists who think this is a real threat to dramatic tipping of the climate.

        Here is another “early” heat wave…

        https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/valley-of-the-sun-swelters-in-unusual-early-season-heat-wave/731566

        I have one eye on this and one on COVID19 for sure.

        Reply
        1. Wyoming

          Yup supposed to be 106/107 across the lowlands in AZ on Wed/Thur. Bout time to get summer in swing…

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Yeah, but, as the Devil said to Ronnie Reagan when he ‘arrived,’ (our Dark Lord is courteous to his big name minions,) “Ah! But you see, it is a dry heat!”
            Over here in Ye Deepe South, we are expecting to experience this summer high nineties or low hundreds Fahrenheit, with high humidity. There’s a reason why fricasseeing is so popular ’round here.

            Reply
        2. Robert Hahl

          This unintended experiment in not polluting so much will generate new kinds of data for refining the climate models. It’s probably going to be scary.

          Reply
    1. Cuibono

      you sate that they are wrong like it is a known fact. THat would be unscientific.

      I do appreciate your musings however!

      Reply
      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        I did not say I was right, just that they were wrong and my theory is more likely to be right.

        Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      nicotine sheds ACE2 from the cell

      Maybe, but from this paper “Studies published before the COVID-19 pandemic [like the one you cite] reported that smoking and nicotine down-regulate ACE2 [47,48]. However, more recent studies suggest that they up-regulate ACE2 [[49], [50], [51]].”

      Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “While Trump was estimating that only 60,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus, the federal government ordered more than 100,000 body bags”

    What they meant to say was that the government was going to order 100,000 bags. But when it came to the bill to fund it, Nancy Pelosi refused to pass it unless it could be bureaucratically established that the future users were qualified to use one and were up to date on their taxes. The Republicans, on the other hand, were concerned that too many body bags would be going to Democrats rather than fellow Republicans. As this bill failed to pass, overly sized paper-bags will be used instead.

    Reply
    1. paul

      I think any fair investigation will show that the leaders acted both goodly and badly in a bipartisan manner.

      Reply
    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Brewery cats are great! There’s a lot of them out there, many breweries I’ve visited have them. I’d also recommend the Bodega Cats instagram account. People don’t think of cats as work animals, but they can be.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        Here in Cambodia, and on farms in England I’ve known, they’re seen almost entirely as work animals whose job is keeping down rodents.

        Reply
        1. Clive

          Yes, where my mother-in-law adopter her (current) cat they re-home feral and semi-feral cats in the (fairly rural) county hinterland. Lots of farms, grain stores, bakeries, flour milling, brewing etc. Apparently recycling centres and processing plants, too, need a feral or colony.

          https://www.cats.org.uk/bracknell/adopt-a-cat/feral-semi-feral-and-farm-cats

          The lady who my mother-in-law saw that was fostering her adopted cat had a reputation for being able to turn (or socialise) a lot of the usually-assessed “rescued too late to domesticate” cats. When I talked to the lady, she advised me she eschewed the programmatic approach and would start with each cat and work with them as an individual. In a lot of cases, there was something in the errant feline which you could find to win their trust. You just needed patience and an affinity for it.

          Reply
          1. Off The Street

            I’ve come to acknowledge the semi-feral aspect of all cats and have found that that can help when they domesticate me. One of my rescue cats was said to have lost the will to live, but responded to being engaged in play with a simple pencil. That was antediluvian, before the age of laser pointers. :)

            Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        I sure hope the ones we have here are; we have so many mice they rarely bother with birds. (At the moment, they’re visitors; we don’t have cats of our own. Visitors I expect to work their way, though.)

        Reply
    2. JTMcPhee

      Too bad the same kind of concern and effort is not accorded to our fellow humans. But then cats are so Cute!!! Aren’t they?

      Actually I guess there is a lot of that same notion, be useful or be destroyed, in how we treat our fellow humans…

      Reply
      1. furies

        It has always bothered me how much attention is given to abandoned animals, but not abandoned people.

        Are there just too many of us??

        Reply
      2. cripes

        JTMcPhee:

        Until there is a federal program (with appropriate means-testing to ensure undeserving cats are not free-riding) for homeless cats, the only comparison to make here is individual charity for cats vs humans.

        In an apples to apples clinical trials researchers have found that “housing” feral cats is simpler and less expensive per consumer than housing “bums” and all their demands for TV’s, medical care and clothes.

        They also found greater satisfaction for the charity givers who can place 100 cats in the 5 years time it takes to succeed–or fail–in rehabilitating an actual multi-barriered, alienated, credit-impaired person, with no address or recent job history into the straight-jacket we call “society.”

        They conclude cat people have as much sympathy for humans as cats, but lack control of sufficient resources to make any difference. So they volunteer at homeless shelters for thanksgiving.

        Now if by “we” you really mean the leading lights of the neo-liberal disorder deciding who is allowed to live, I doubt cats are in that equation at all.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          An in-law is volunteering at a shelter for homeless….donkeys. Retired, she thought “donkeys are an animal you don’t hear about much,” looked, and sure enough, there’s a donkey shelter in commuting distance.

          I wonder how hay compares with cat food, price-wise?

          Reply
    3. Keith

      I am curious if the FDA is ok with that. They had been clamping down on the winery dogs out west, well until the new normal set in.

      Reply
    4. richard

      yes, it makes me happy that they have jobs
      especially considering the cat unemployment rate which has spiked recently to 99.9%

      Reply
        1. ambrit

          I speak from experience to say that cats can indeed push keyboard buttons with their paws. So, with the help of their willing thralls, (us,) they can indeed fill in unemployment forms.
          Years ago, a friend of ours once remarked that when he was filling out his yearly income tax form, when he came to the question as to whether he could be listed as a dependent of another, he was tempted to say yes and put his cat’s name in the appropriate line.

          Reply
  10. timbers

    States Made It Harder to Get Jobless Benefits. Now That’s Hard to Undo. New York Times (UserFriendly)

    “Systems that were devised to treat each case as potentially fraudulent are now rushing to deal with millions of newly unemployed people.”

    Check boxes regarding fraud are for The Little People. They did forget to include one check box however…the one that asks “Please acknowledge you stopped beating your spouse.”

    As one who has been on unemployment in the past, the “check boxes” one must fill out demanding you acknowledge how bad/wrong/evil you are if you commit fraud in claiming benefits is ubiquitous. If I recall, you have to check such boxes more than once each time you process a weekly online claim.

    I wonder if the Fed and Treasury requires boxes like these be checked repeatedly, for all those bailed out Wall Street investor types, hedge funds, and small mom&pop main street companies like Boeing, who seem only to produce stock buy backs to enrich CEO and top execs/not planes that fly, gorge on the trillions in often non-repayable “loans” they are getting?

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      Those systems seem like a mash-up of Puritan and Grifter.*
      First, someone somewhere having fun, or doing something outside our control.
      Second, figure out how the right people make money on that.

      *no actual puritans or grifters were harmed in the production of said systems.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Sorry to disabuse you of some popular delusions. The Puritans were harmed, but accepted it with equinamity as it was a manifestation of G–‘s Will. The Grifters were harmed and then eaten by packs of other Grifters, like Socio-economic piranhas. (The original Green Economy. Everything is recycled, with an appropriate ‘rake off’ at each gatekeepers booth.) Social homeostasis was preserved.

        Reply
    2. Synoia

      On the Wall st firms the qualification (Lack of Effort Clause) is differently worded:

      Ineligible for benefit if you have you not committed fraud in the last 10 years.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        A good ‘Catch 22.’ Proof of fraud within the time period would open one up to liability. Adequate hiding of fraud disbars one from collecting the “perk.” All that money lying around, and no one signing up for it! Meanwhile, the “managers” of said moneys keep billing the government for keeping an eye on it. A Perfect Grift!

        Reply
    3. Jason Boxman

      It’s interesting you mention this; a decade ago, I worked at a small insurance agency that also offered retirement plans. It’s all highly regulated if you’re a small producer, and thus as someone that handled the files in a support role, I had to get fingerprinted for the FBI to get anywhere near securities related paperwork. The files were audited by the broker/dealer annually, and someone would come in and go over them meticulously. Annually.

      Meanwhile, Wall Street had just gotten bailed out for systemic fraud on an epic scale. Fun times, eh?

      Laws are for regular people, as the Establishment aptly demonstrated once again in 2008-10 during our great Liberal Era where no white collar crime was worthy of investigation.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You have to be fingerprinted on Wall Street too. Any NASD, now FINRA member. Every employee who is or expected to get a securities license.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          You also have to be fingerprinted when working for the USPS. You are regularly handling things of value in that job.

          Reply
  11. Henry Moon Pie

    Collapsing Global (Dis)Order–

    Nice series. Here’s something that caught my attention from Part IV:

    Where I differ from both the Marxists and capitalist political economists, is that I cannot see economic activity as the root or the engine of social life, other than as a delusion based on artifice. It is a form of mystification, of misdirection, of myth-making that falls in love with and fetishizes the artificial products of our own artificial processes. We mislead ourselves into thinking that “man” could ever conquer “nature”. If any man has ever conquered nature it could only have been in the act of committing suicide. Nature is always first and foremost, before and after, now and always.

    Humans have played a number of roles since this planet produced them. When we were all hunter-gatherers, we “found” or “received” what we needed from the Earth, and we were dependent upon our senses, memories and our community’s lore to do this finding. As more and more of us became farmers, we “grew” what we needed, and agriculture seemingly gave us more control as we decided where plants would grow and maybe when they would be watered. Still, every real farmer is aware that her control over the process is very limited. A hail storm, a drought, a plague of locusts is all it takes to destroy human enterprise and retain Nature’s control.

    While humans were transitioning from hunting-gathering to farming, they were also exercising their creative powers to make ever more complex tools. Much more recently, we gained the ability to configure some of these tools to manufacture items we use. We became creators of all kinds of widgets from matches to locomotives, and that creative power had a distorting effect on our psyches. “You shall be like God” had less to do with the knowledge of good and evil than with possession of the power to create, albeit not ex nihilo. Certain material and labor inputs were required, but the products created were so different that it was easy to forget the limits to our creative abilities.

    In the present age, it is not the hunter-gatherer, nor the farmer nor even the manufacturer who rules, but the financier who finds nothing, grows nothing, creates nothing, but decides what gets grown and created. No wonder they’re called Masters of the Universe with that kind of power, power they continue to exercise even though their failures to make good choices are apparent in a society beset with crushing wealth and income inequality that is hurtling headlong toward environmental disaster.

    As this virus disrupts everything around us, we are in stark need of people who have managed to retain some of those old hunter-gatherer attitudes. We need to employ all our abilities to probe this virus, interrogate it, listen to it with humility. Right now, it’s the financiers calling all the shots, and they are the least qualified and most biased of us all. Their inability to suss out the future has been exposed again and again over the past four decades even though this is the supposed reason for their role in our society. Hospitals built for profit, offshoring of critical manufacturing processes and an economy dependent on the resource-consuming, carbon spewing churn of countless bars and restaurants are just a few examples of how poorly these fools have used their decision-making power.

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I can’t wait to peer down on the Central Valley from around 9,000 feet, and in this winter of missed content should be able to accomplish it sooner rather than later.

        The Sierra has long been a pollution sink for a wide swath from Bakersfield to the SF Bay-Sequoia NP is typically the most polluted NP, and the haze only dissipates @ 8,000 to 8,500 feet, and when you’re above it, the effect has always been as if you’re peering into an inverted snow globe down under in the air muck, quite striking the dirty looking glass.

        With all the lessened driving et al, wonder how it will compare?

        Reply
        1. Always forgetting my username

          Pretty ironic that you’re setting out to escape the valley pollution only to go unleash your own in the form of cigarette smoke into what was once a pristine wilderness. Please pack out what you pack in and be more considerate of all the humans and wildlife whose day you’ll be destroying when you or your friends light up and smoke. Disgusting.

          Again, 47 wildfires per year caused by discarded cigarettes, according to CalFire.

          Reply
    1. JEHR

      Re: Collapsing and Global (Disorder):

      I have always had a great admiration for the sincerity and truthfulness of articles and discussions in Naked Capitalism which I read almost every day. It is not every population of a nation that can look at itself with clear and unclouded eyes and really see itself in all its blatant and tainted actions. Thank you for all the good work you have done, not just for Americans but for other countries who have been influenced by the US and been astonished and upset by US actions in the world. You are to be commended for your good work.

      Reply
    2. Susan the other

      That is a great series. Thanks for picking out that quote – I think the arguments between Marxism and Capitalism are dead-ended too. Another of Max Forte’s quotes from Part 2 goes along with this problem of spinning our wheels: “…The corporations of the public sector are what we call political parties, whereas the political parties of the private sector are what we call companies.” And it’s all the same bureaucratic impulse. We need to use our animal instincts more. imo. And I do agree with Yves that Part 3 is killer. Our ignominious downfall.

      Reply
    3. Bruno

      “Where I differ from both the Marxists and capitalist political economists, is that I cannot see economic activity as the root or the engine of social life”
      This totally misrepresents what Marx and Engels meant by the “materialist conception of history.” Not “economic activity” (a phrase that never existed before the general extension of capitalism) but *material productive* activity which is “the root or the engine of social life.” Finance-dominated capitalist “economic activity” is, for Marx and those who have learned from him, the *destruction* of social life.

      Reply
      1. MLTPB

        Did Marx include cats, horses, pigs etc. In his Labor (in contrast with Capital)?

        Can Marxists, collectively, own air or water, as Chief Joseph, I think, asked, and exclude birds, bats, pangolins, bacteria, etc from that ownership?

        Reply
        1. cripes

          MLTPB:

          Do animal rights activists include meat workers in their liberation philosophy? How?

          “Own” is doing a lot of work in your comment, collectively, or not.

          Yes, “Marxists” have long discussed what Marx thought on this subject, reading the tea-leaves in his writings nearly 200 years ago, and attempting to bring Marxist thought into a 21st century context. The forcefully egalitarian nature of his philosophy suggests it can.
          Seems legit to me.

          I suppose in the post-capitalist paradise, natural resources like water are held in common for use, not profit, and are subject to oversight in order to preserve the resource, not destroy it.
          Even for animals!

          Disclaimer: I am vegetarian, not vegan, and have rescued and placed animals since childhood because I could. People, too, but that requires a lot of documentation.

          Reply
          1. MLTPB

            I was only following up chief Joseph, about not ‘owing’ the freshness of the air and he sparkle of the water.

            How much work that word did for the chief, I dont know. Did it do a lot if work for him?

            Reading comments about cats working today, should they be included in Labor?

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              No indeed. Cats are members of the “owning class.” Their behaviour supports this hypothesis.

              Reply
              1. MLTPB

                Before they were flattened, the mice in Hitchhikers Guide argued they were in charge, for sure not cats.

                Reply
    4. mpalomar

      Agree the fools seem to misuse, “their decision making power” with a curious consistency.

      I doubt sometimes the agency of the powerful. Consider the failures of so many so the called leaders we place faith in. Sometimes it seems the closer they come to attaining it, the more ineffectual they become. Sanders, Corbyn et. al.

      They have scaled the architecture of the system’s power structure, however as they ascend, in some ways, they lose agency because the force and impetus, the momentum and direction, of our socio economic juggernaut constricts their options to deviate.

      In that sense those at the base who lack all power may have more agency, perhaps the hermit monks and true eccentrics, Diogenes or more recently Sabato (“Simon”) Rodia, more often hatch and operate down there. A little further up edifice we find the whistleblowers, academics, intellectuals, privy to power information, still retaining some ability to deviate.

      Grass roots activism, in some way is where agency resides, though it all seems to come out in the wash in the end.

      Reply
  12. CanChemist

    I have the impression from a lot of the broader internet discussion I’m seeing, that people think finding potential drugs are the hard part and then you “just” put it in some humans and see if it works. Clinical trials are actually very challenging, in terms of how you make and administer consistent product and how you run a trial. Here’s a great overview discussion of why:

    “Why Are Clinical Trials So Complicated?”
    https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/05/01/why-are-clinical-trials-so-complicated
    “The amount of noise in human clinical data can defy belief if you haven’t seen it in person. Even under all the constraints and controls that I’ve been describing here, 90% of our drugs fail in the clinic: can you imagine the failure rate if we tried to go faster and noisier? Even controlling for everything we can imagine, we barely get anything through.”

    This is from In The Pipeline, which is a blog that’s been around for a long time and run by a very experienced pharma R&D chemist, and most of his commenters are also specialist chemists. I highly recommend it for factual discussion. You can also see discussion on remdesivir here https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/04/30/about-remdesivir-and-about-game-changers.

    If you want to know what a poorly administered human drug trial looks like, look up the failed TGN1412 trial. Here’s a very vivid breakdown from a UK tabloid ;)
    “‘LIKE A HORROR FILM’ What was the ‘Elephant Man’ drug testing trial, what is TGN1412 and what happened to the men involved?”
    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2917810/elephant-man-drug-testing-trial-tgn1412/

    Reply
    1. Ignim Brites

      No doubt many of the trials will be conducted on sub-Saharan Africans. To paraphrase Ivan Illich, there is a seamy side of science.

      Reply
  13. Pookah Harvey

    ‘This is a potential public health disaster:’ COVID-19 results from TestUtah.com are raising questions Salt Lake Tribune (Erik S)

    From a Guardian’s in depth story on US testing:

    “We have too many [brands of] tests, and now there are a lot of people who are committed to their tests and they run their tests on their platforms,” said Paul Reider, a renowned research chemist in the pharmaceuticals industry who teaches at Princeton University.

    “If we had an effective administration – this is where the federal government comes in – they could essentially turn around and say, ‘What we would like to do is, we want one test, maybe two, that are fast, that are accurate, that are scalable and transferable, .

    “You want a gold-standard test.”

    Reply
    1. Susan the other

      Really disconcerting. According to my Doc. (with Intermountain), all the tests are still too unreliable, especially with false negatives. I just assume that the state health authorities are keeping a close eye on these Utah tests; I check the stats everyday and they do not level off – cases just keep inching up. I’ll say this about the profusion of tests and techniques: it is because we have gutted our Federal Government. Actually, those clowns gutted themselves. Relentlessly. Over 4 decades.

      Reply
    2. Deezy

      Guess what state partnered up with Utah, and their crap tests?

      Iowa. The state that has a shit ton of meating packing plants that are riped with COVID-19. Enjoy your meats. See you in hell.

      Reply
  14. Alex

    The contrast between Iran and Venezuela is striking. I wonder how all the supporters of Chavez and Maduro would explain why Iran, a country under similar sanctions and originally much poorer than Venezuela, now has expertise to run refineries and produce/procure necessary parts and additives while Venezuela cannot.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Long history of internal and externally imposed corruption? Which corporations “ran” Venezuela’s infrastructure? Maybe a bit of difference in Iran being a thousands of-years-old place, and VZ quite a bit less, also long history of extractive colonial rule by Spain and the US Empire?

      Reply
    2. Synoia

      The Leadership class of Iran want to make it a successful country. Iran was an empire before Oil.

      The leadership class of Venezuela appear to want to G rift from oil.

      Reply
    3. Wukchumni

      In terms of endearment to the precious, hard to say which of the I cultures are more into it, but i’d put Iranians right up there with Indians in terms of broad appeal.

      That might be more revealing as to the art of the deal, casting aspersions.

      Reply
    4. Aumua

      Wait, I know the answer to this one, Alex… lemme think here.

      What is SOCIALISM! Socialism! Socialsim!

      Reply
  15. timbers

    Zero Anthropology – Goodbye “American Greatness”

    One word: Amen.

    IMO, the myth of what America is needs to die, so that an actual force for good (or at least better) can more easily advance. And even still, if no particular improvement or replacement of America emerges on the world stage, simply letting peoples and nations be, would be an improvement over the current American hegemony.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      A fine read~

      All those condominiums built throughout cities, snatched up by over-ambitious investors looking to make a killing with AirBnB rentals, can now kiss their investments goodbye. They will be lucky to find buyers even at fire-sale prices. It is not a matter of “business not returning to normal overnight”—business will not return to normal, period.

      I think back to a lifetime ago last July at our monthly town hall meeting which attracted 233 of us on account of the topic being short term vacation rentals.

      To put things in perspective, a standard boring monthly town hall meeting is good for 2 dozen attendees, maybe 30 tops.

      There were say 15 pro-STR advocates in the gathering, with the rest of us in differing levels of disgust at what greed had snuck in under the cover of profit. Some of what was said waxed eloquent, naked anguished anger occasionally, and the gamut between the gulf.

      Those in favor and speaking their piece were all owners of STR’s and if anything they were to a one, so proud of themselves in a:

      ‘Hell yeah, I pulled off the American Dream, and rented it
      out, bay-bee!, she’s bringing in $6,400 a month from May to September, and I have to say, all of our guests have been just amazing, it’s been a great experience’

      Or when one of the main concerns in that of guests having campfires in the summer when everything is bone dry only in search of a stray ember was brought up repeatedly, a mother-daughter duopoly with a string of 3 STR’s took much umbrage to the idea that you could have campfires in Sequoia NP-but not here, totally missing the point the main campground is a mile higher in altitude, strident in their stupidity.

      A bit different now, it feels as if a canker sore on our community’s soul has been removed, but the infection is too far along.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        I’m noticing that the STR up the street has a new tenant. Or the owner and someone else is giving the place one heckuva cleaning.

        I saw two cars parked there yesterday evening. And someone inside was doing quite the cleanup around one of the front windows.

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        After the shakeout with those rogue AirBnB rentals in you area, I suggest that you now sit down and pour yourself a nice glass of Chardonnay. Or should that be Schadenfreude?

        Reply
        1. Treadingwaterbutstillkicking

          I always thought a good name for a wine bar/political bookstore would’ve been-

          Chardonfreude

          Reply
    2. Off The Street

      Grocery shelves have many empty bays, whether for toilet paper or for other products. One item that I wish would be in short supply is Bernays Sauce. These days, it is more apparent that the sauce seems to be inversely correlated with all of the others.

      Reply
      1. Trent

        A lot of these people making these the world will never be the same predictions, and it seems like everyone is in on it now, has the taste of Bernays sauce. Another thing i’ve noticed is the use of the word depression alot lately, like we are being conditioned to accept a lower standard of living.

        Reply
        1. paul

          Has not that been the point and purpose of every ‘recession’ (aka asset hiccup).

          The next normal has never been kinder, just meaner to keep us (humans) keener.

          Reply
        2. cripes

          Trent:

          Agreed.

          Every crisis seems to be an opportunity to condition the serfs, scoop up the fire sales and reset the bar even lower than it was.

          Despite being proof of the opposite.

          Reply
      2. Susan the other

        Max makes good fun of toilet paper hoarders – I’ll just say this about that. Hoarding toilet paper is better than facing the perfect storm, which is when you run out of TP and you are snowed in, or in the present situation, quarantined. At that point you have a serious management decision on your immediate hands – whether to use your fingers or your sox. (Lady Macbeth comes to mind.) It’s a Sophie’s choice. Because if you use your sox – everyone’s preferred choice – it clogs up the plumbing and then you have a terminal situation of quarantine; no toilet paper; and a backed up toilet. Life is full of choices.

        Reply
            1. ambrit

              No, no, no! The Murdoch “Press” is notoriously toxic. You don’t want a case of Elite Bum Rash, do you? It’s harder to get rid of than Candida Vulvaris.

              Reply
        1. BobW

          Back in the day, gramma’s outhouse had a selection of either corn cobs or Monkey Ward catalog.

          Reply
  16. Alex

    The article on the unemployment benefits is spot on. It reminds me of the UK government’s idea do provide help to small businesses in the form of bank loans (CBILS, with 80% of losses guaranteed by the Treasury). As ordinarily only a minority of applications for loans are approved, and now there were even more boxes to check, it was no wonder that almost no one could access the financing.

    Now they actually decided to offer fully guaranteed loans, so it might work, with banks no longer needing to assess creditworthiness. Of course there is a separate question of whether it makes sense to do it via banks at all.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      While no one likes banks and I certainly will not make any sort of case for them adding something here that the U.K. government couldn’t do if it put its mind to it, you do need basic anti fraud checking and the ability to verify the funds which are advanced are deposited in the legal entity to which they are intended for (and that they are then used for legitimate purposes).

      Only the commercial banks at the moment have the ability to do that at scale (or even at all).

      Of course, if the U.K. hadn’t abandoned its publicly-owned full-service (both retail and commercial) bank, it would still have now some much easier options to manage the business support scheme. But, hey, we can’t have the state doing things more efficiently and with less gloop in the system than so-called free enterprise, now, can we? No wonder National Girobank had to go.

      Reply
      1. Off The Street

        Postal banking remains high on my list for honest financial services. Those don’t have to go through the Congressional and Lobbyist mills and could end up being anti-oxymoronic, even beneficial for the commonweal.

        Use a legislative process similar to the BRAC list military base closure approach with a simple up or down vote and without amendments. Include only simple systems to provide savings, checking or some suitable transaction vehicle, and basic lending.

        Non-US countries have had postal savings system variations for decades, so use a crisis to enact something worthwhile to the average person for a change. I’d almost try it just to cut down on the credit card advertising.

        Reply
        1. JohnnySacks

          Savings, checking, ATM, but ‘basic lending’ is a rather vague term. The govt now depends on the credit reporting triad to make loans to citizens? Uncomfortable territory.

          Reply
          1. Off The Street

            Having worked with each of the credit reporting triad in a former life, I grew to loathe them. I found them to be incompetent, dishonest and fundamentally opposed to the reportees.

            Reply
          2. HotFlash

            Might not need credit agencies with a postal bank. Back when there were small, local banks, fractional reserve banking, and a less mobile population, the bankers pretty well knew their clients *and* took the risks seriously. But I gotta say, the person who delivers you mail knows a whole lot about you, too.

            Reply
      2. paul

        I can remember when ‘a giro’ was part of common parlance.

        The grimness of the vandalism is almost ununderstandable.

        Reply
      3. Alex

        Yes, I agree. Setting up anti-fraud/AML/payments anew would take ages.

        One entity that comes to my mind that has relationship with most legitimate businesses is the HMRC, but they are not in the business of handling massive numbers of funding requests, so considering that the speed is of essence here the banks are the only possible intermediary.

        The business model of the bounce-back loans is still not clear by the way – how banks will actually make money from all these ‘loans’.

        Reply
        1. paul

          Is that important?

          My bank, the royal one of scotland, has not been in credit, or well valued in the casino, for nearly 12 years.

          While I see them as antibiotic, they remain vital in important, and dare I say: invested eyes.

          Reply
  17. edmondo

    Who needs a 5 part series to debunk American Exceptionalism? The story about people in Tennessee brushing their teeth with creek water proves the same thing in only 200 words.

    Don’t forget to vote in November to make America “great” again.

    Reply
  18. Brooklin Bridge

    If Trump is a Pathological Liar, What Type of Liar is Biden? – CounterPunch

    A Lacigolohtap?

    Reply
  19. The Rev Kev

    “New Model Predicts Sudden Rogue Waves”

    Went looking for more info on rogue waves and was surprised what I found. It seems that rogue waves were considered mythical and people (survivors?) who reported them were regarded as liars. It was only 25 years ago that they were acknowledged to be real when one hit a gas pipeline support complex that had a full array of sensors which finally gave solid data. And yet it was about 50 years ago a movie was made called “The Poseidon Adventure” whose premise was an ocean liner that capsized due to being hit side on by a rogue wave-

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

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        We had a rouge wave come through in 1867, they reckon the river was about 50 feet high when the dam broke on xmas. You can see evidence of it, although much has been covered up over time. Things such as a 6 foot tall wall of 1,000 to 5,000 pound boulders on top of one another on a high point that extends for hundreds of feet, hundreds of feet from the river

        “One of the most cataclysmic events affecting the Sierra Nevada in historic times impacted the Garfield section of the grove. On December 20, 1867, a warm rain fell on heavy snowpack blanketing the higher elevations of Dennison Ridge. One observer wrote that “the north side of Dennison Mountain” fell through the heart of the grove into the South Fork of the Kaweah, destroying a reported one-third of the grove’s forest. The avalanche and landslide swept down from as high as 7,500 feet, covering hundred of acres, and devastating an area about 2.5 miles long and ranging in width from 1,500 to 4,000 feet. A natural dam was created measuring a half-mile wide and 400 feet high, and the reservoir that formed behind it breached the dam on Christmas night.”

        “The flood scoured the canyon, then flooded Visalia in the Central Valley to a depth of five feet. Sequoia logs and tree sections were carried to the valley, where they floated far and wide beyond the riverbanks. Though new growth has disguised most signs of the 1867 avalanche in the grove, its effects are still dramatically apparent in the vicinity of Snowslide Canyon, where dense sequoia forest ends abruptly at an avalanche boulder field which swept away all that was growing there before the slide.”

        Reply
      1. Kilgore Trout

        Great song. Thanks for posting. One can only imagine all the fine topical music he’d have made in the years since his untimely death in a plane fire. His brother Garnet is a very fine singer and musician in his own right. Stan Rogers was one of the finest of the many excellent Canadian singer/song writers over the past several decades–Gordon Lightfoot, J. Mitchell, Neil Young, Ian Tyson come to mind.

        Reply
    1. bstamerjon

      That reminds me of Poseidon adventure parties.
      A large quantity of alcohol,
      An antique console TV (CRT), turned upside down….

      So easily amused in the younger days

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate …”
      [www.atmos-chem-phys.net/16/3761/2016/] (doi:10.5194/acp-16-3761-2016)
      Hansen et al. 2016 — this paper is open access from the http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net
      p. 38 of 52 [p. 3798 in the journal publication]
      “Giant boulders of mid-Pleistocene limestone placed atop an Eemian substrate in North Eleuthera, which must have been deposited by waves, are emblematic of stormy end-Eemian conditions. Although others have suggested the boulders may have been emplaced by a tsunami, we argue that the most straightforward interpretation of all evidence favors storm emplacement. In any case, there is abundant evidence for strong late-Eemian storminess and high sea level.”

      Also see p.21 [p. 3781] “Evidence of end-Eemian storms in Bahamas and Bermuda” and p. 22 has a nice picture of one of the Boulders. There is discussion of the boulders placed on Ireland’s Aran Islands on p. 22.

      Now the wave formation process can be predicted in a model. Models can accurately model known processes but there are many unknown processes, and some of the known processes are not as well understood as the modellers might like to believe. I regard the Paleoclimate as a more reliable model for what we might expect for the future, although the present Climate Change is unprecedented in its rate of change.

      Rogue waves might have an impact on the future of Globalization, if nothing else does.

      Reply
  20. allan

    Alan Grayson, 2009: If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: “Die quickly.”

    TX AG Ken Paxton, 2020: If you vote, America, the Republican health care plan is this: “Die quickly.”:

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tells local election officials that fear of contracting Covid-19 is not an acceptable excuse for requesting a mail-in ballot. Fear o[f] getting Covid, he says, is an emotional condition, not a physical one.

    No one could have predicted that The Sanctity of Life™ doesn’t extend from uteri to voters.

    Reply
  21. The Rev Kev

    “Oil traders turn to salt caves and train cars in storage crisis”

    Hey, how about disused quarries – so long as the geology is right. No, seriously. They are just huge holes in the ground and can be turned into oil lakes in short order. It would be much better than train cars. You might lose a lot when it comes time to pump them back out again but oil’s cheap right? Just don’t smoke anywhere near one is all.

    Reply
  22. TiPs

    RE the oil “storage crisis,” it seems to me these articles have the wrong emphasis regarding the driver of the crisis, which is contango itself. Oil traders are creating the demand for oil in spot markets to make the risk-free profits off the contango trade–they are the ones driving spot demand. Once the oil storage trade profits disappear, and along with it contango-induced demand, producers will have no one to sell to and will be forced to shut down.

    Reply
  23. The Rev Kev

    “After rumours about health, North Korea state media report Kim Jong Un appearance”

    Well that was a relief that. I had read a story that North Korea had reported its first obesity related death in more than 70 years-

    https://www.duffelblog.com/2020/04/north-korea-reports-first-obesity-related-death-in-more-than-70-years/

    Of course if he had fallen off his perch, perhaps his hot sister could have taken over. Someone said that she would make the perfect James Bond villain then.

    Reply
    1. MLTPB

      Well, every life is precious, generally speaking. That is , before people confront you or us with difficult choice scenarios.

      In that first sense, best wishes to all, including the Russian PM.

      Reply
  24. Stephen V.

    Instead of a snarky comment about the Faucian Bargain we all seem to be living with… I want to thank Sheila M for the Working Cat Antidote! I sent it to my local feral cat rescuer extraordinnaire and she called to joyfully report that her org is placing a cat in a local brewery for the first time ever today. Happy Caturday.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      “Amor, Ashley and Aspen are now gainfully employed at a Brooklyn microbrewery, Five Boroughs Brewing Co., where they are much loved and busy guarding the grain and patrolling the brew area, can line, and taproom.”

      And nattily outfitted in matching cat-sized tuxedos, no less. Now that they’ve graduated to adult beverages, I wonder if teh kittehs, were they able to speak humanish, would channel Ahhnold’s great line in Pumping Iron – when asked by a reporter about his diet and whether he drinks lots of milk – “Milk is foah babies … I drink beeahhh.”

      Reply
  25. Wukchumni

    I think Trump is the last American President similar only to Gorbachev being the last Soviet Premier in their contrast, closedness versus openness.

    …does everything have to play out perfectly in this Bizarro World endgame?

    Reply
    1. TXMama

      +1
      Reminds me of the bizarre parallels in sports someone told about here a few weeks ago. Perhaps we really are in a simulation.

      Reply
  26. Wukchumni

    Live Oaks typically have anywhere from 3 to 5 foot-wide separate trunks emanating from the base, and had one 40 foot high formerly alive swaying length crack and go down a few days ago, and we can still do burn piles at this late date, which requires some disassembly with a lithium powered chainsaw and a swamper parting out the keepers and the other debris in a cinder-ella story where a tree gets turned into ashes.

    It’s the kind of work I wouldn’t be interested in doing for pay on somebody else’s property, but when doing it on my own terra firma, I multi-bask in it.

    Reply
  27. McWatt

    States Made It Harder to Get Jobless Benefits. Now That’s Hard to Undo

    Wait til everyone has to pay taxes on their unemployment income.

    Reply
  28. Oregoncharles

    “Tumbleweed tornado ”
    My wife grew up in Spokane, so we’re familiar with that area (near the Hanford nuclear reservation, so it could be carrying worse than tumbleweeds). And yes, the tumbleweed crop is enormous.

    We’ve also seen the aftermath of a similar mini-tornado here: clumps of hay falling, very slowly, from the sky. Lots of them – as far as we could see. Finally figured out a big dust devil – hay tornado – must have gone through a cut hay field and lofted all that high into the air. Very weird to see, though not as menacing as a tumbleweed tornado. If you watch all of it, you can see the weeds piled against his car.

    Reply
  29. Ignim Brites

    “It will probably take longer than 12 to 18 months to get a vaccine.”
    Something to consider for some Blue State governors, like Inslee and Newsom, who seem to believe they can keep their states locked down until victory over the virus can be declared.

    Reply
    1. sd

      Can’t speak to Inslee, Governor Newsom has stated clear benchmarks. Of course, if all you’re interested in is getting to the mall to do some shopping and then taking a trip to the beach so you can hang out with 5,000 o your closest friends you’ve never me before, then just go for the Darwin.

      Governor Newsom Outlines Six Critical Indicators the State will Consider Before Modifying the Stay-at-Home Order and Other COVID-19 Interventions
      https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/04/14/governor-newsom-outlines-six-critical-indicators-the-state-will-consider-before-modifying-the-stay-at-home-order-and-other-covid-19-interventions/

      Reply
      1. Ignim Brites

        You might as well call those the six insurmoutable hurdles to reopening the economy. The Blue state governors are ignoring that public health will be devastated as budgets are slashed. They are ignoring that science will be devastated as budgets are slashed.

        Reply
        1. Monty

          Always allow the possibility they are right, and we are wrong.

          Since they are doing it anyway, we must hope for the best for them, with this many lives at stake. Maybe the gamble will pay off, and personal responsibility will be enough to save the day.

          Reply
          1. MLTPB

            Everyone has his own needs, and it’s hard to have one size, option, choice, etc that will fit all.

            I ask myself when I will feel safe to get a haircut again at a barber shop or sit down at a cafe again.

            Will it be when there are zero local cases for 1 week, 1 month or longer?

            In island countries, they distinguish btw imported vs local cases. In CA, will we see cases from Arozina by car, or from NY by plane?

            Do I wait till zero out-of-state cases, zero imported cases as well?

            Reply
        2. Bsoder

          It’s a duality – staying alive and having an economy, not a dichotomy. That is in a duality both problems can be solved at once. Further, if I was to say that my car died and need a burial, that might and should strike people as odd. Only living things can die. An economy is many things but in the end it is an idea that is not alive, nor can die. The idea of what an economy may define can change but one can not treat an idea as ‘alive’. Keeping humans alive always comes first. Dead people don’t work or shop.

          Reply
      2. ShamanicFallout

        sd: This framing that people want the ‘stay at home’ to end so they can “go to the mall” is very irritating. I’m sure there is some of that, but maybe much of the desire to open the lockdowns is that (as someone succinctly put it here in the NC comments) there are a whole lot of people figuring out how to pay the rent with no money while living on the No Food Diet because they haven’t been able to work, nor even collect unemployment (see article in the links today). What should they do? What should they wish for?

        Further, the original justification for lockdowns was of course to ‘flatten the curve’ and not overwhelm hospitals. And think most were on board with this. But now this has shifted to… what? Eradication of virus? A vaccine that could take a couple of years? An opened ended stay at home with very vague ‘benchmarks’? Seems like a breach of trust. I follow Inslee on his twitter feed and in the beginning he was widely supported- people were behind this almost 100%. But he’s completely lost this. And there a few county sheriffs that are openly refusing to enforce the governor’s orders. This will likely become more widespread and deteriorate even further.

        Reply
        1. sd

          Given that protests have been about opening beaches, sadly, I don’t think it has anything to do with concern over whether or not people can cover the cost of food.

          Just saying.

          Reply
          1. Ignim Brites

            Yeah lol. But the Orange County beach closing does seem petty, capricious, not to say, punitive. And it provides a big target for awakening. And it does, by its very seeming irrelevancy, pose the question of whether or not this whole lockdown is actually related to something significant. And finally it juxtaposes a culture of health, vitality, youth and fun with a culture of what?

            Reply
            1. sd

              California has had over 50,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 2,000 deaths since March 14. I’d say that’s pretty significant.

              Would you be specific why exactly you would like to see large public gatherings resume?

              Reply
              1. Ignim Brites

                There will be many thousand more COVID related deaths regardless of lockdown. As there will be thousands of flu deaths and thousands of cancer deaths. The whole point was to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. So if the health care system has not been able to prepare yet, then fine. But this is not what is being pursued. Instead, we are exhorted to the entirely mystical goal of “flattening the curve”. Talk about anti-scientific obscurantism.

                As for wanting to see large public gatherings resume, it more a matter of wanting to see petty, bureaucratic, (possibly unconstitutional) regulative tyranny cease.

                Reply
                1. The Rev Kev

                  There is nothing mystical about flattening the curve. It works. Look at New Zealand for example. They only now have about 200 active cases left and none that are marked as serious or critical with only 20 deaths recorded. Even here in Oz we are down to about 900 active cases, less than 30 that are serious and have had only 93 deaths. It works, man. There were greater restrictions placed on people living through WW2 but they put up with it and endured. We have just forgotten what it was like in the war years and so don’t compare then and now.

                  Reply
                  1. Wukchumni

                    Where we’re at in these not so United States, is akin to a small percentage of Londoners that refuse to use blackout curtains and have all the lights on @ night during the Battle of Britain.

                    Reply
                    1. The Rev Kev

                      I’ll have to remember that argument. It says it all. Hope that you are keeping safe in your own area.

                2. marym

                  Are they protesting the tyranny of forcing people to work without protective gear, workplace safety measures, sick leave, or healthcare?

                  Reply
                  1. Monty

                    They are revealing there is nothing but a bottomless, dark abyss where the national soul should be.

                    Protest the lack of help, not the lock downs!

                    UK is paying 80% of furloughed workers wages, so they don’t get laid off. Canada is giving people 2k a month. Italy suspended mortgages.

                    It can be done. Wouldn’t that be better than sacrificing a million American lives?

                    Reply
                    1. ambrit

                      You are actually setting up a revolutionary calculus with that last question. Given a strict cost to benefits computation, the obvious conclusion would be to “sacrifice” a few tens of oligarchs to save most of those one million American lives.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      That was interesting – thanks for the link. Used to work for a seafood wholesaler who would dropship one or two products – these were very niche items like live abalone and it was mostly done as a favor to regular customers.

      I had no idea there were people who made it their entire “business”.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        Welcome to ‘Capitalism’, where ‘success’ is how well you can grift economic and/or political systems for your own benefit regardless of utility to… Anything or anyone, really. Who benefits the most from this practice? The people getting rich off of it?

        Reply
        1. cnchal

          >. . . Who benefits the most from this practice?

          The three platforms, Alibaba, Facebook and Shopify.

          . . . and French women had something to complain about.

          Despin shuttered his dropshipping store while it was still profitable – effectively reaching into the belly of an ATM that was belching notes, and switching it off. Why? Firstly, he hated his clients. “French people like to complain a lot,” he says. “Fuck! So we were basically targeting older, fat Frenchwomen – you’re talking to people who complain the most, ever.” Then Despin’s partner quit, and it stopped being fun. “I don’t regret it,” he says. “I’m very happy that I did it. I’m also very happy that I stopped doing it. A lot of people don’t understand that. They think that if you’re doing something and it works, you should keep doing it. Which is nonsense.”

          Reply
  30. Jason Boxman

    I have so many thoughts lately; but my most recent one is this:

    It no longer seems credible to emigrate to a civilized country, particularly if you have any family you’d like to see again ever, what with international travel essentially dead for an indeterminate length of time. Not that I seriously looked into how to accomplish it, and I don’t tick any of the right boxes to gain admission to a civilized country anyway.

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      I live in Canada, have been here for 50 years. I phone and Skype my family in the US. S’fine.

      Reply
  31. Librarian Guy

    Thank you, NC, so much for the Zero Anthropology piece on Covid!!

    I have stumbled across that website once or twice previously, but I gave a good 45 minutes to that piece for a thoughtful read, and imho it is the most comprehensive global (in a good way, not Globalist, I mean “eye in the sky”) view of what is coming down the pike, very evidence-based. I am going to spread out reading parts 2-5 over several days, to give the resource the attention it deserved.

    Although I work in an academic field, I am also American, so, sad to say, I only have 3 close friends who I can share the Zero Anthro piece with who might have both the intellects and attention spans to appreciate it.

    I also appreciated the May Day protest links, as a worker and union member, that was my quick read today. Links like these are why I donate to NC, it’d suck if it were unavailable.

    Speaking of International Worker’s day, Counterpunch from yesterday has quite a nice post on May Day in the US, both the Maypole colonial tradition and worker’s rights history (& if I missed it in the links or comments today or yesterday, my apology for dual sharing), I’d recommend it.

    Reply
    1. skippy

      What I find amazing is the ability to organize in the face of an philosophical existential threat by Capital, but, a virus has it looking for the car keys under the street lamp like a drunk.

      That or another bottle of sauce ….

      Reply
  32. Basil Pesto

    NC readers may be interested to know that the British National Theatre is releasing one of their filmed performances from their archive over the last 9 years (usually released in cinemas as NT Live) every week, showing it on YouTube, with a new play each Thursday (the previous week’s play then becomes unavailable).

    This week is Frankenstein, in two versions with the lead roles performed in repertory. Next week is Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra.

    Here is the link to their youtube page

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Highly recommend the Frankenstein. I paid to see both “versions”, and while I have a preference Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller give fine performances in each role. It is also one of the finest Live Theater on tape productions I have seen.

      Reply
      1. Basil Pesto

        what’s your preference? I just watched Cumberbatch as the creature, will watch the other version in a day or two. I was impressed though.

        The quality of NT Live’s filmed theatre is very impressive. iirc Frankenstein was their very first attempt at it. I’ve since been to many of their productions at the cinema and have more often that not enjoyed it immensely (I used to live around the corner from the NT and got £5 under-25 tickets, and saw them filming a production for the screen as well once, which was quite an impressive undertaking). If they run the Lehman Trilogy production which I saw last year gratis on YouTube I’ll link to it again in the comments, given its topical relevance to NC.

        Reply
  33. anon in so cal

    Antioch, California and the general East Bay area:

    “Ken Turnage, a member of the city planning commission in Antioch, said in a now-deleted April 23 Facebook post that coronavirus lockdowns should be lifted to “let nature take its course.”

    “We would have significant loss of life, we would lose many elderly, that would reduce burdens in our defunct Social Security System, health care cost — once the wave subsided — make jobs available for others and it would also free up housing in which we are in dire need of,” Turnage 47, wrote”

    https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2020/04/29/east-bay-councilwoman-calls-for-commissioners-resignation-over-coronavirus-comments/

    He’s been removed from office:

    Antioch City Council voted unanimously to remove Ken Turnage II from his seat on the city planning commission following his social media posting about “culling the herd” during the COVID-19 crisis.

    https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/coronavirus/antioch-city-council-removes-planning-commissioner-after-viral-uproar-over-remarks/2283277/

    Reply
          1. Monty

            The 9 wolves paid for “News”, shills, astroturf, Facebook ads and Twitter bots to brainwash all the sheep into believing it was their own idea to eat mutton chops every day.

            Reply
  34. MLTPB

    Big Mac at a distance….

    Earlier this week, I think, I saw a picture of people in New Zealand lining to get their burgers, after restrictions had been eased.

    My question then was whether it was different down there, as here, in So. Calif., people could still get burgers (to go, not sit down).

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      From what I have read, New Zealand went full Godzilla on this virus and shut down everything that they could. They figured that they would go for total eradication of the virus and do a short, sharp campaign to do it rather than play around with all sorts of changing restrictions over the course of several months. Sort of like the ripping off a band aid idea.

      Reply
    1. marym

      If the stores are open for business and the customers are allowed to leave home for in-store shopping, this is isn’t quarantine-fatigue. It’s just a refusal to take a very minimal step to help protect others.

      Reply
      1. Bsoder

        Jared Diamond’s ‘Guns, Germs, & Steel”, is the definitive work (and all that it references) as to how the world of 2019 [sic] got to be the way it is since the last ice age and longer for some other places like OZ. His proofs and methodology are exceptional. It is not at obvious why Hunter-Gatherers become farmers, nor did they everywhere. The science here is very meticulous and simply leads where it does. In fact I recommend that three of his ‘civilization’ books be read. I’ve read similar stuff but nobody does it Diamond.

        Reply
  35. Oregoncharles

    “Whether the Ballot You Mail Is Counted May Depend on”
    Oregon, with the longest mail-in ballot experience, offers a simple solution to the postmark problem: count only ballots that arrive by 8 PM Election Day. We’re all warned, on the ballots and elsewhere, to deliver them personally if it’s getting late. There are a number of handy drop boxes (donated by the PO and repainted) arranged around the county. I like dropping our ballots on the day; there’s a parade of slightly-sheepish procrastinators at the box. We’ll have to be a little more careful this year, but I’ve never seen a line.

    Reply
  36. Cuibono

    From that wonderful series:
    “The plain fact of the matter is that until a vaccine is developed, and everyone on Earth has been vaccinated, the struggle against the virus will not truly be won. Anything less than that is merely a temporary, selective, and fragmentary means of approximating an end—something that is better than nothing, with each decrease in lives lost being something that is heroically gained by front line workers risking their own health.”

    Well, i dont know that this is a fact. Herd immunity might come on its own. Ir a good therapeutic agent that was safe and cheap. Or the virus mysteriously went away.
    to say only with an effective vaccine will we have won is not a ” fact”.

    Or at least i hope it is not, since a vaccine is anything but assured.

    Reply
      1. MLTPB

        I seem to recall reading or seeing it somewhere that in the autumn of 542, it mysteriously, or just, went away in Constantinople.

        Later, decades and centuries, it reappeared a few more times.

        Reply
    1. Bsoder

      Children born will not have immunity, herds or not. Measles as a rule strips all Immunity of past diseases away so, herd immunity if there is such a thing is good in a community for about 1hr on 1 given day. After that those who don’t have can infected – forever.

      Reply
  37. newcatty

    Calling Clint E. You are needed for a public service announcement role for supporting the American right to not wear a mask when engaged in supporting our great American economy while shopping.

    Proposed story line:
    Clint, wearing the all American outfit of “western” jeans, plaid shirt and scuffed up cowboy boots, is facing an empty chair. He smiles his million dollar smile as he stares coldly at “the chair”. Line: You can take that mask and make me wear it from my cold, dead hands. Next scene: He saunters into a retail store with his bare face and smiles at the clerk behind the counter.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      Clint will turn 90 at end of this month, so I’m gonna give him an age-related get-out-of-my-opinion-doghouse-free card for endorsing Mike Bloomberg, as well as sundry libertarian inanities. I always like the scene – his first onscreen appearance – as the goofy lab assistant who mislaid his research mouse in Revenge of the Creature, allow me to insert the appropriate dialogue when he reaches into the pocket of his white lab coat and finds Mr. Mouse stowed away there:

      Uh uh. I know what you’re thinking. “Did eat six food pellets or only five?” Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magmouse, the most ravenous lab mouse in the world and would nibble your fingertip clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk? “

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        And just what kind of food pellets were they – Tater Tots perhaps?

        And to add to the Eastwood movie NC trivia, one NC commenter uses the moniker Elim Garak which is the name of a Cardassian alien character from Star Trek Deep Space 9. Seeing that username recently made me look up the actor who played the role, and I found out that Andrew Robinson, who played Garak, also played the villain from Dirty Harry to whom Eastwood directed your paraphrased threat!

        Reply
        1. ewmayer

          Of course! I grew up with those Universal creature features, still enjoy catching them when they’re on. Although he’s wearing a fighter-pilot oxygen mask in that scene, so you can only see the Clint squint – more the voice gave it away for me. “I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he drop all six napalm canisters or only five?'”

          Some fun trivia from Tarantula — Mara Corday, who plays the lab-assistant hottie (to Leo Carroll, perhaps best-known as Alexander Waverley in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV series) and who like Clint is 90 this year (belated happy birthday, Mara!) was given small parts by Clint in both The Gauntlet (1977) and Sudden Impact (1983). And there’s a scene where John Agar and Mara are driving out in the desert, exploring some rock formations, and Agar has a line talking about how life arose in that area in the geologic past, something to effect of “everything that walks or crawls.” Anyway, Clint’s character William Munny in Unforgiven has a very similar line at the end, talking about all the people he killed indiscriminately back in the day.

          Reply
  38. Tom Bradford

    Pandemic diary of a naked capitalist – week 7.

    The NZX started the week with a hiss and a roar on Tuesday – delayed by ANZAC day – climbing 3%. This may in part be due to a build up of pressure from the lost day and also the easing of NZ’s lockdown which saw an estimated 80% of the economy getting into gear again. However some of the steam leaked away during the week as it ended with our wealth-on-paper up a mere 0.6%. That takes it back to where it was in early June 2019 and means its recovery to this point from the low on 22 March took a mere six weeks compared with the six months it took to climb that much first time round. Still I suppose climbing Everest is always easier the second time.

    Monday saw a bit of a flurry when the PM and everyone’s favourite pandemic expert declared that CV-19 had been eliminated in New Zealand, and then had to walk that back by explaining that to an epidemiologist ‘eliminated’ means something different to its definition in every dictionary on earth. Quite what it does mean to an epidemiologist still isn’t clear to me but by every other definition it hasn’t been eliminated, just that we know where it is…or something.

    The NZX didn’t share Wall St’s Wednesday orgasm over Dr. Fauci’s surprising and perhaps ill-advised optimism regarding Remdesivir. After all it isn’t a vaccine, doesn’t seem to affect the fatality rate and if it does anything, which is unproven, it merely gets sufferers out of bed a few days sooner. I can imagine TPTB being happy at anything that might prevent the great unwashed having a few extra days in a hospital bed being waited on hand and foot – after all, they could get used to it – but it didn’t last and by Friday Wall St. was throwing its toys out of the cot again although whether that was because it wanted more lollies and wanted them now, had realised Remdesivir wasn’t the panacea promised or had just caught a whiff of the reality outside its ivory tower I don’t know.

    That happened after NZX’s Friday close so whether it will start next week with a Wall St. inspired headache or some optimism based on NZ’s picking up steam again and a week’s worth of new cases in the low single figures while the ongoing ‘live’ cases falls below 200, a quarter what it was three weeks ago, I’ll know in 30 or so hours.

    Last week I wondered if it was just a coincidence that the countries seemingly having the best response to the pandemic had women leaders. Of course it’s also true that those doing the worst – the UK with its blundering response, the US with its incoherent response and Brazil with no response at all, are led by right-wing males. Yet I can’t help thinking that if this had happened while Maggie Thatcher had been PM in the UK she’d have given the virus a clip around the ear and sent it packing so I’ll stick with my assessment that female leadership does make a difference. It would have been interesting to have seen how the US would have done had Hilary been President now. Of course no-one could have done a worse job than the present incumbent, but perhaps there is something in the female psyche that transcends politics when lives are are stake.

    Reply
  39. The Rev Kev

    “Oregon Strip Club Opens Drive-Thru And Delivery Service”

    Had a hunch about this mob as I thought I saw them mentioned once before. After checking, confirmed it. When the lockdown started, they tried to keep their staff working and came up with Boober Eats which was a topless food delivery service where two girls would deliver the food to your door and who were accompanied by a bouncer.

    There is a YouTube clip showing this new operation and it is simply a large tent with a raised platform & poles on either side behind safety railings and a DJ. All the staff, including the girls handing out menus out the front, have masks on. You can throw your money in a tin bucket and one of the girls will pass you your meal on a paper bag. A nearby kitchen cooks up the food. I don’t think the staff would be eligible for any aid from the State so at least this helps the staff bring in a wage. Kudos.

    Reply
  40. VietnamVet

    The Zero Anthropology COVID-19 Series is a excellent summary. I was surprised that Quebec and Georgia (the US state) are at the same time relaxing their lockdowns. Denial is strangely powerful force when money is at stake. Reopening restaurants, shops, malls and schools will expand the pool of victims for the virus to infect. Around 10% of the newly infected will need hospitalization likely overwhelming local healthcare. Hundreds of thousands of North Americans will be killed by the haphazard reopenings.

    It is strange how the Obama/Biden era became the height of globalism and American exceptionalism. All destroyed by their own incompetence, greed, a clique of nationalist oligarchs, acting federal administrators, and the Wuhan China coronavirus. The combined SNAFUs and infectivity of the coronavirus make restoration of globalism impossible. But the Gilead’s Remdesivir approval shows that Big Pharma still rules the roost. There is a desperate search for a money jackpot treatment or vaccine to reopen the world. But, meanwhile, there is no US federal government attempt to test, trace or quarantine the infected since this requires hiring government employees and taxing the Elite’s wealth. The Pandemic’s deaths will wax and wane. The lack of income and starvation guarantee unrest. Ultimately, if there is no treatment or vaccine and if the economic depression lasts for years, North America with splinter asunder.

    The only way to assure survival of civilization is to restore democracy now and mount a universal public health campaign against the virus.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      Thanks VV, I have read 2 of the 5 so far and think it’s good but covering familiar ground. Regarding ruling the roost I agree with this but rather than a “jackpot treatment” I think the neoliberal reaction is more centered on proving that the private sector, given enough potential gazillions of incentive, can fix literally anything…

      Reply
  41. Yen

    Umm if there’s so much suffering in the USA caused by the government why did people vote for Biden?? At one point one has to stop blaming the bad actors and start questioning the electorate. Unlike last few elections Biden Vs Sanders wasn’t a hard choice at all.

    Reply
    1. Felix_47

      Older African Americans were told what to think by their leaders and the younger ones did not turn out enough.. Their leaders are dependent on big money PACs and Pharma Pacs. Sanders was an existential threat with his funding model. Once big numbers were rolled up for Biden in South Carolina whites got on board because of the socialism threat.. If New York stll had a primary the results might well be comparable to California which is why New York is not having a primary. And the big money was not going to fund the Dems if Sanders was the nominee. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs pointed out that if Sanders was the nominee he would vote for Trump. The other big bankers felt the same. And they send money to the CBC members. The left lost a once in a lifetime opportunity. I feel sorry for the millions of people that did without lunch or walked instead of the bus so they could send a few bucks to Bernie. Depressing to look at Jim Clyburn in that fancy suit next to Nancy Pelosi hectoring the CNN reporter about ‘I don’t need a lecture……’

      Reply
  42. Bsoder

    Maximilian C. Forte, just kills it. Nearly ever topic that is important to @NC readers is covered – in fact so much so, I’d say anyone new here should read what he wrote. I especially like the ‘left’ v. Liberal analysis. I’m finishing up with the last of Jarred Diamond’s books (the guy is intense), and these articles fit in nicely. This is either a foreshadowing a overlooked part of reality or both: by Max ”
    If any man has ever conquered nature it could only have been in the act of committing suicide. Nature is always first and foremost, before and after, now and always.”

    Reply
  43. ObjectiveFunction

    Sam Kriss needs an editor, but some real gems in his latest rant.

    I don’t think socialism is always, by necessity, a bourgeois idea. On both sides of the Atlantic, left-populism did briefly enjoy a broad base of support. But we need to be smarter: we need to understand that ordinary people simply do not like us….

    Try to imagine the 2020 election as a highly advanced form of vivisection…. Didn’t it feel like some kind of experiment was being performed? The system throws people and archetypes at you – A Woman, A Person Of Colour, A Rich Guy – and tries to find out what sticks. We might think the contenders are just a bunch of hollow-eyed narcissists vying for control of an enormous nuclear arsenal, and they might think it too, but they’re not. These are test subjects….

    Politicians were the first humans to turn themselves into brands, to sell themselves not as a lump of labour-power but as a finished commodity, with the full fetishistic halo. Before there could be a Kim Kardashian, first there had to be a Tony Blair….

    Decades ago, politicians started being followed by people with cameras…. They had to perform, every minute of their waking lives. Forbidden from breaking character, they melted into their own personae. Politicians were the first to enter the world of inescapable digital surveillance, then celebrities, and then you and me. (The innovation now, of course, is that the person following you around with the camera is yourself. We’re all public servants now)….

    In the crypt of the Capuchin friars in Rome, stacks of grinning skulls bear a motto. Quello che voi siete, noi eravamo; quello che noi siamo, voi sarete. What we are, you will be; what you are, we once were. Look on Joe Biden’s empty face, and be afraid.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *