Links 8/22/2020

Understanding how birds respond to extreme weather can inform conservation efforts PhysOrg

Tardigrades Have DNA Armour, And We Just Got Closer to Understanding How It Works ScienceAlert

Dounreay Nuclear Power Site Available For Reuse In the Year 2333 BBC

AI Helps Forecast Volcanic Eruptions Wall Street Journal


Covid pandemic could last for another TWO YEARS says World Health Organisation chief in grim prediction – as he calls it a ‘once-in-a-century health crisis’ that spread quicker than Spanish flu Daily Mail


For Quick Coronavirus Testing, Israel Turns to a Clever Algorithm New York Times (David L)


Second lockdown warning as R rate rises Telegraph

Deloitte gets another huge COVID contract – for ‘crazy’ plan to test millions each day openDemocracy


Japan’s virus numbers don’t add up to much Asia Times (Kevin W)


Contemplating the (No Deal) Cliff Menzie Chinn

Fed Has Used Only a Fraction of Its Main Street Lending Facility Bloomberg. Not surprised. Most small businesses have obligations guaranteed by the owner(s). The sane ones would not borrow unless they had reason to believe the Covid-19 downturn was pretty short-lived.

Covid-19 Pay Cuts Coming to an End at Some Companies Wall Street Journal


US-China: is Huawei ‘too big to fail’? Financial Times

Lawsuit Claims U.S. WeChat Ban Is Unconstitutional Wall Street Journal

China Alone Project Syndicate

Australia’s Construction Industry Faces “Bloodbath,” Says Lobbying Group Clamoring for Bailout, after Riding up the Housing Bubble Wolf Richter


Brexit: a raft of agreements Richard North. Important.

The political psychology beneath the Brexit talks Chris Grey

Old Blighty

British education: still selecting and rejecting in order to rear an elite LSE British Politics and Policy

New Cold War

You can’t trust the media on Evo Morales Carl Beijer (UserFriendly)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Hackers Leak Alleged Internal Files of Chinese Social Media Monitoring Firms Vice

Imperial Collapse Watch

US is willing to dismantle the UN Security Council to put pressure on Iran RT (Kevin W)

Trump Transition

Trump campaign fails to show evidence of vote-by-mail fraud, filing reveals Guardian

QAnon looms behind nationwide rallies and viral #SavetheChildren hashtags NBC

Ur-Fascism Umberto Eco, New York Review of Books. UserFriendly: “Blast from the past but a good read.”


DNC Finale: As Snug As a Bug On a Smug Repug Mug Sardonicky (UserFriendly)

Biden is already forming a government. Here’s what his Cabinet could look like. Politico

Trump campaign fails to show evidence of vote-by-mail fraud, filing reveals Guardian

For Election Administrators, Death Threats Have Become Part of the Job ProPublica (UserFriendly)

Post Office

Tensions flare as senators grill postmaster general The Hill

Nearly 700 Protests Planned for Saturday at Post Offices Across Country as DeJoy Slammed for Defense of Mail Sabotage Common Dreams

Califorina Burning

As fires race out of control, Big Basin redwoods burn, giant trees at Armstrong under threat SFChronicle

As Wildfires Continue To Spread In California, Its Governor Seeks Outside Help NPR (Kevin W)

In lightning-struck California, the smoke is now scarier than the pandemic National Geographic


Who would want the top investment job at California’s pension fund? Financial Times

Meltdown at CalPERS – God Save Us Tony Butka, LA Citywatch

NYCLU Publishes Over 300K Police Misconduct Records After Court Order Lifted Gothamist

Marble Ridge to liquidate funds after Neiman Marcus scandal: letter Reuters. Hoo boy.

Microsoft Plans Cloud Contract Push With Foreign Governments After $10 Million JEDI Win CNBC

Uber and Lyft’s threat to leave California over labor law would have been illegal in many countries Salon

WordPress Founder Claims Apple Cut Off Updates To His Free App Because It Wants 30 Percent The Verge

Apple fires back in court, says Epic Games CEO asked for special treatment CNBC

Palantir, Tech’s Next Big IPO, Lost $580 Million In 2019 New York Times

Most of What You Read about the Bankruptcy Filing Rate Is Wrong Credit Slips. From a couple of weeks ago, still important.

Class Warfare

Obscene Pandemic Profiteering: Largest Consolidation of Wealth in American History David DeGraw

America’s Looming Eviction Crisis Threatens Unprecedented Tens of Millions WBUR. 13,000 vacancies in Manhattan….

Antidote du jour: From Scott on the 20th. Please extend your condolences.

Arnold’s kidneys have failed and he will be put down tomorrow. He stopped eating Monday and has lost half of his weight.


And a bonus from LaRuse:

Here is a photo of a polyphemus moth I encountered on my morning run today. It was struggling in the grass, hopefully with nothing more serious than damp wings, but it froze in this defensive posture as I approached. It was easily 5″ across the wingspan.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. zagonostra

    >Sorting machines

    Can someone succinctly give me the proffered rationale for removing sorting machines in listed post offices?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Can you imagine the CEO of a huge American mining company going to the Board and explaining how he gave orders to destroy a big chunk of the excavators that they use. How he told them he gave orders to disassemble the machinery, pour sugar into the gas tanks and have vital parts chucked into the nearest lake? This is the same thing here with the post office equipment. They should bill him for all that destroyed equipment – personally.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Yes, actually … if the company is Kennecott Copper, trying to help cripple Chile’s economy to provide cover for the overthrow of a democratically elected president and install a genuine fascist (Allende / Pinochet). Oh, yes, I can totally imagine it.

      2. Tangled Up in Texas

        Agreed. And maybe a little prison time for destruction of federal property. Those machines cost hundreds of thousands each. To deliberately destroy them is criminal.

      3. Glen

        I work for a very large manufacturing corporation that has been working for years to destroy it’s core competence to ensure short term profit for the C suite.

        This is no longer unusual for American companies, it is the expected NORM. It is rewarded by Wall St, and the government passes laws to enable and reward this (because the same people who run the companies have bought the law makers.)

        What’s happening to the Post Office is actually a bit different. First it’s not a for profit institution, and it’s a government service under attack. It’s been under attack by the leaders of our government since at least 2006, but the whole concept of wrecking the government and saying government doesn’t work goes back to Reagan. Maybe people are starting to wake up to that, but it’s most likely done, cooked, dead. It’s the new norm.

        Our oligarchs will profit by acquiring the remnants of government institutions as the government services and institutions contract. Very similar to what happened when the USSR collapsed.

        1. Wukchumni

          Maybe we can compare Gorbachev trying to cut off vodka to the drunkstabulatory, to Trump trying to kill the Post Office.

          Na zdrowie!

        2. Janie

          I suppose many here have read Dmitry Orlov’s comparison if the collapse of the USSR and the US. If you haven’t, his writings and talks are instructive.

        3. Cuibono

          “but the whole concept of wrecking the government and saying government doesn’t work goes back to Reagan. Maybe people are starting to wake up to that, but it’s most likely done, cooked, dead. It’s the new norm.”

          Until you can “drown it in the bathtub”
          Grover Norquist

          1. The Rev Kev

            Newsflash – Grover Norquist dead at 63. Found drowned in a bath tub. Police looking for a small government seen in the vicinity before his demise.

      1. a different chris

        1) They are being destroyed, not mothballed
        2) Perhaps for once some overcapacity in some area of daily need would be nice, ya know?

        And anyway, where do you even get the “no longer needed” idea?

      2. Pat

        So going back to hand sorting mail is reasonable?

        Please remember that it has come out that the Post Office handles more mail and packages in a matter of days than FedEx, UPS and Amazon do in a year. Not surprising as they handle so much of those entities products along with their own.

        No this is and was a deliberate choice to slow the time they can make deliveries, give them an unsurmountable backlog and make the Post Office (currently the most reliable service) the least reliable delivery service.

      3. curlydan

        Judging from my mailbox, I have yet to see the demise of junk mail. In fact, non-profits that I haven’t donated to in years still flood me with multiple pleas daily.

        I didn’t watch DeJoy’s testimony but still have yet to see a rationale given for destroying these machines. As noted in comments above, any other CEO would have “finance” do a business case for destroying the machines and how it would “improve” the bottom line. Edit: I now see Lee’s comments below on his rationale. DeJoy’s rationale is still weak. I haven’t seen any decrease in letters and haven’t heard that they’ll be charging more for junk mail. Does anyone expect fewer credit card offers in their mailboxes?

        Unless the maintenance costs of the machines far outweighed their benefits, I could not see how on earth they would be removed without replacement.

        1. Billy

          I send all mine back, when they provide the postage, with a short message:

          “Ask Wall Street for money. It controls, benefits from and should pay for your business masquerading as a political party.”

        2. Endeavor

          Raise junk mail rates to what it costs to deliver with a profit and volume will drop big time.
          Then they could subsidize Bezos even further

    2. jefemt

      Seal the Steal The Election Deal. Trump is a Deal Maker!

      I have been waiting for 6 business days for a check emanating 60 miles from here.
      3 business days for a check from across town.

      I do live in bumphuc flyover, BUT, I imagine 600+ machines, lets say six mail sorting centers per state, now we are talking Very Serious Disruption. To mail service, and to a covid-era mail-in election.

      That the Board of Governors of the USPS have not removed DeJoy is a travesty.

      So glad all the politicians are back home f*cking off on our dime working on getting re-elected to head back to DC for more nest-feathering.

      Boy am I sour this morning?! Apologies!!

      Scott, I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my dear old gal pal pup this spring— never an easy time, but in the dark days of The Covid and distance, it hurts even more, if that is possible.
      Peace and Grace— celebrate savor and recall often the memories of all the good times and joy you shared.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Does anyone really expect that the neoliberal appointed Board of Governors is going to actually “govern” in favor of making the Postal Service a better-operating part of the haha commonwealth? Like expecting the Board of Enron to rein in Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling back in the day. Short of direct physical action by the mopery, given the way power is currently concentrated and “consolidated,” not much chance of “doing the right thing” coming out of the “government.” And of course the mopes don’t have a collective clue as to what ought to be done, or the organizing principle to facilitate that.

        So we get to wail and whine about what those Bad People Are Doing To Us, and “nothing will fundamentally change.” Other than the scope and pace of the looting, which will of course increase until it hits the Jackpot…

        They’re not even going to the trouble of spraying it with Febreze ™, tying it up pink ribbons, and painting it white before dropping it on us…

        1. vegeholic

          Isn’t the long term plan here to asset-strip the postal service so that it’s net worth becomes zero and it can be sold to private industry for nothing? I think that is the motivation behind forcing the Post Office to pre-fund retirement obligations to an extent unseen anywhere. Extract all of the cash, leaving an unsustainable debt burden. On the other hand the insurance companies selling the retirement policies are likely quite happy with the state of things. Not sure if the sorting machine heist or the blue box confiscations fit this narrative.

          1. marym

            Yes, the long-standing bipartisan project is to defund, asset strip, incapacitate and eventually eliminate (privatize) the postal service. In the short term, the current accelerated changes are in line with Trump’s stated attempt to withhold funding and suppress mail-in voting and a bonus for him and his cronies . For House Democrats it’s an opportunity to pretend they’re trying to save the post office and “our democracy” by passing bills that don’t do the job and/or go nowhere.

    3. Lee

      FWIW, the reason offered by DeJoy was that this was part of a planned transition to better handle the higher volume of packages and lower volume of letters now being sent via the mail.

      1. Tomonthebeach

        DeJoy and his board leave the public but one conclusion: The sorter destruction was arbitrary, and perhaps even capricious. He had a chance on the Hill to present data to justify the vandalism but did not. This is so typical of Trumpies – no accountability. This is the least data-based government in modern history.

        Given Trump’s record for lying, and his Chiefs of Staff, and his Press Secretary, and his cabinet, I would not trust DeJoy’s promises as far as I could spit into a Cat-5 hurricane.

        1. JTMcPhee

          The smart people spit downwind — and in a Cat 5 hurricane, your spit would go pretty far, I would imagine.

        2. Carolinian

          This was linked here in Links. All a tissue of lies?

          The article says that service downgrades are a longstanding matter of policy on the theory that “flats” (letters and large envelopes) are a diminishing part of their business. DeJoy has only been running things for a couple of months and has now said any changes will be postponed until after the election (but still intends to go forward).

          Of course there are plenty of articles that say differently and personal accounts by postal employees claiming a new change in policy.

          But I can’t help but suspect the gaslighting is strong with this one and that Trump set the stage with his comments about mail-in voting. But Trump being someone who is dumb and can’t control his mouth doesn’t make the Dems honest.

          1. marym

            Both the Dems and Trump are playing politics with this. There is some synergy, imo, between long-standing bipartisan intentions to diminish and then privatize the postal service, and their current opportunism.

            Here are some links to consider in evaluating the proportions of gaslighting and planned or actual negative impact on service.

            The Medium article cites the “Government Accountability Institute“ founded by Steve Bannon ( ). Bannon told CPAC “If you look at [Trump’s] Cabinet nominees, they were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction” in 2017 when he was part of the administration.

            See allan’s link above @August 22, 2020 at 2:07 pm for deterioration of service during the last couple of months and then documents PDF:–%20Service%20Performance%20Management%2008-12-20.pdf

            “Internal USPS documents obtained by CNN clearly show that USPS planned some policy changes that could have resulted in longer delivery times for ballots. That policy has since been reversed…”

            Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said that there are no plans to reinstall mail-sorting machines that have recently been removed from service.

          2. Dirk77

            +1. Thanks Lee and Carolinian. Another example where you get a straight answer out of the MSM. No wonder Trump is going to re-elected in spite of.

              1. Dirk77

                Lee’s repeating what DeJoy said, plus the link from djt below giving data on letter and package volume since 2010.

                1. periol

                  Logically speaking, your “straight answer” is not necessarily sufficient to explain what is happening. I would argue, stepping out of the realm of logic for a moment, that it is not sufficient on it’s face either.

                  If these changes were happening to, say, the Pentagon, suffice to say a few random supportive statistics would not be enough to stifle the raucous chorus of complaints.

                  1. Dirk77

                    I did not say it was. But it’s a step forward. The shocker here is that we have so many comments in this thread trying to figure out the real story about the current state of the post office. It’s like all we get for news is Pravda and we are left with trying to read between the lines. Everyone here should have got the straight scoop in a ten minute read and spent the rest of the afternoon playing golf or reading a book. Sad.

                    1. periol

                      The straight scoop is the post office is being deliberately sabotaged, and this has been going on for a while, with an escalation over the past couple of years. This is clear to everyone except people who are trying to obfuscate what’s going on.

          3. periol

            I note the article does *not* say how “longstanding” these matters of policy are. It does point out that people were already experiencing problems during the primary elections, so it can’t all be blamed on DeJoy. Whatever. Dejoy is a scapegoat. It is at least fair to point out that we are 3.5 years into the first term of the president who really doesn’t like the USPS, for lots of reasons. To my mind, DeJoy is the endgame, intentionally placed to manage the strategy set in the opening and middlegame, and take as much of the flak as possible while doing so.

        3. notabanker

          This is so typical of Trumpies – no accountability

          Yeah because Bush, Clinton, Obama just oozed accountability. Stop, just stop.

      2. Pat

        In a truly “planned” transition you do not remove the previous system until you can move in the new one.

        When there needs to be a transition period, as in a renovation of the space, you would this in one Post Office in an area with the duties of that office being spread to others in the area and perhaps a mobile unit until the renovation is complete and the new system is installed. It should also be done on a one by one basis until we know they work as planned and improve service.

        This is clearly bull shit, and Mr DeJoy should be required to clearly outline the new system. He should also be required to install the new system or put back workable sorting machines by September 1. The latter at his own expense.

    4. TroyIA

      First-Class Single Piece Mail volume by year

      2010 28.9 billion
      2011 25.8
      2012 23.2
      2013 22.6
      2014 21.8
      2015 20.7
      2016 19.7
      2017 18.5
      2018 17.5
      2019 16.5
      2020 3rd quarter -8.4% vs 2019 3rd quarter

      Meanwhile package volume increased 708 million pieces, or 49.9 percent, compared to the same quarter last year.

      “The strong growth of our package volume in the third quarter was encouraging, but there is great uncertainty about whether that growth will be sustainable,” said Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett. “At the same time, First-Class Mail and Marketing Mail have seen deep volume declines associated with the pandemic, and that lost volume may never return, as was the case following the Great Recession of 2007-2009. We cannot let the recent growth of our package business mask our underlying business model problems, and we are redoubling our efforts to develop a plan to ensure our viability to provide universal service to all of America.”

      Either the Postal Service is trying to adjust to the current mail volume and package delivery rates or it is some conspiracy by President Trump to steal the election. Tough call.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The problem maybe is that the thinking is in terms of “business model” rather than public-service delivery. “Run government like a business?” Which one? Enron? Boeing? US Steel or whatever it’s called now?

        1. TroyIA

          If the public is increasingly using the post office as a package delivery service and not a mail delivery service wouldn’t it make sense to adapt and provide the service the public wants?

        2. Carolinian

          If I’m not mistaken the decision to run the USPS on a business model was made by Nixon, not Trump. Indeed it’s unclear how much control Trump has over this independent agency in any case except for DeJoy and he had to be approved by the bipartisan Board of Governors to whom he’s still answerable.

          And ultimately it’s Congress that decides whither the USPS, makes it prefund its pensions etc. People who object should write, er, email them.

          If Trump really is trying to subvert the election by interfering with mail-in vote delivery it would be the most obvious conspiracy in history. Even he’s a bit more subtle than that.

          1. Dirk77

            According to the data on that link, since 2010 first class mail volume has dropped by 45% while package volume has increased by the same percentage amount. Bulk advertising mail has dropped by much less. So, it depends upon whether first class mail and bulk advertisement mail are handled by the same type of sorters. My guess is that bulk mail is presorted to justify the lower cost. Unless someone answers this question, I’ll assume it is correct. If so, then removing the first class mail sorters and replacing them with package sorters makes sense.

      2. Glen

        Postal Service should install high speed internet to every residence, and provide everybody with free email.

        And on line banking.

        Now that’s what a current Ben Franklin would want for his country.

        1. Dirk77

          I have no insight into what Franklin would think about banks, but high speed internet is consistent with the original justification for the USPS – I think. I look forward to the day when the USIS runs the internet backbone.

    5. What?No!

      From the Ari Bergman Twitter feed:

      Sen Gary Peters (D-MI): “Will you be bringing back any mail sorting machines that have been removed?”

      DeJoy: “There’s no intention to do that. They’re not needed”

      That’s the “best” explanation I’ve found so far. Some mentions of crappy analysis by USPS that led to this recommendation. Throw it on the pile of stupid vs evil and we’ll sort through them later.

    6. neo-realist

      Most of those sorting machines appeared to be swing states or red states where Biden has become very competitive in the polling.

      1. hunkerdown

        Well, good. The Democrat Party are the only ones being punished here. The more universal the franchise, the more disconnected from power it shall be. Not sure which is cause or effect.

        1. dcblogger

          huh? the entire system is being sabotaged to steal an election. what about the people who get their medicine thru the mail?

          1. hunkerdown

            My understanding is that grandma’s drugs are processed through a different class of machine specialized for sorting packages. Grandma’s drugs are more affected by the overtime cuts and the end of the commitment to finish their appointed rounds. But great job at cynically using grandma’s drugs to shill for the interests of a private brand management agency. Consider your coming loss your just deserts for EVER fighting ANY third party’s right to be voted into power by the people, for EVER signing ANY neoliberal trade agreement.

            1. Lambert Strether

              > Grandma’s drugs are more affected by the overtime cuts and the end of the commitment to finish their appointed rounds.

              Good point; can USPS mavens confirm?

              For the rest, when I wish to go Medieval, I use the Twitter; that’s one thing it’s good for (and believe me, I use it. The only thing this screechy ad hom does is set a bad example for others. Watch it.

    7. John Beech

      I have a friendly relationship with my postman, who is about to retire (meaning he’s seen it all and knows where the bodies are buried). Note; we’re in Central Florida but it wouldn’t surprise me for this to be true everywhere.

      Anyway, it’s quite simple; since the advent of email, the services of the USPS for 1st Class mail has been declining. And with each postal rate increase, said demand weakens further, inevitably leading to further volume decreases. Vicious cycle. So the reality is the postal service is built to handle more pieces in two weeks than UPS and FedEx combined handle in a year. Since there’s reduced demand for letters, the automatic sorters are just sitting idle. Can’t speak for you but I run a company. Bottom line? If I have plant laying fallow, I view it as my responsibility to either find work for it, or sell it off and convert the asset back into cash. Pretty simple.

      However, now we have Trump, whose postal board has appointed someone who didn’t rise up through the ranks but is actually accomplished in logistics doing what needs doing (because absent an outbreak of common sense, postal rates won’t go down meaning volumes won’t increase any time soon). So of course, he’s being excoriated for it (for political purposes). What’s going on is the Democrats and the union (the postal service is unionized) playing politics. How? The usual way via stories in the compliant media about how mail is being slowed down due to orange man bad, how else? Meanwhile, those predisposed to believe it are outraged, those who have a clue chuckle, and those with no viewpoint are buffaloed into voting against orange man – or that’s the plan.

      TL;DR . . . they have more machines than they need, so why not sell them off?

      1. Scott D

        I used to work for a company that made the imagers for mail sorting. Flat mail (envelopes) need a completely different machine than one used for packages. If the USPS is to subsidize Amazon, it needs to be able so sort more packages. If you have only so much floor space in your facility, the flat-mail sorting machines have to go.

        FWIW, if you gave the USPS $25B on Monday, they wouldn’t have those machine operating again by election day.

        1. Pat

          As I said above. You do not strip out the sorters from multiple post offices and you certainly do not do it without the package sorters ready to go in.

          I would add to this you also do not cripple your ability to process mail in the middle of a CSuite ordered slow down. That only slows down mail even further. As in adding to the need to hand sort when you currently do not have the capacity to hand sort what you have… well in a real business not a Constitutionally ordered government function that is a recipe for disaster and bankruptcy. Dejoy’s explanation Is a mountain of manure but less useful

        1. flora

          adding this write-up about the Sen hearing earlier this week. :

          DeJoy is taking his “just in time” bare-bones logistics mindset to an essential service that needs redundancy in the system in order to ensure proper delivery.

          Almost nothing from the bombshell hearing yesterday with former USPS Board of Governors vice chair David Williams, which detailed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s role in strong-arming the agency into policy changes, was discussed. Peters did ask DeJoy whether he spoke to Mnuchin about policy changes. DeJoy gave a long pause and then said, “I told him I was working on a plan.” Already we’re hearing about unusual one-on-one meetings between Mnuchin and members of the Board of Governors before the DeJoy hiring. (Mnuchin has denied involvement.) The House hearing should drill down on this more.

            1. curlydan

              I hope an enterprising journalist FOIAs the records/emails surrounding those meetings. Although Mnuchin was clever and apparently only met with 2 or fewer of the governors (less than a quorom) to not trigger Sunshine laws, any emails arranging the meetings should be public record I believe.

              Mnuchin also apparently vetted all the Postmaster General candidates. Why is it that everytime the Post Office is micro-managed by DC, it ends up in disaster? The thought that the USPS is somehow independent and its own business seems like a cruel joke because the clowns always get involved.

          1. Tom Bradford

            an essential service .. needs redundancy in the system

            Surely the key? I’m sure I recall reading somewhere that (years ago, anyway) the GPO in the UK was set up to be able to cope with the tidal wave of greetings cards that always occurred in the week before Christmas. This meant that for 51 weeks of the year there was excess capacity – but it also meant that on other occasions of sudden floods, such as the mass mailings of election details before national or local elections, or rates demands &tc. the system could cope. And would be able to cope in the event of something entirely unpredictable in an emergency.

      2. rd

        My understanding is that the USPS has been making a bunch of these changes for a while. Congress has done a poor job of managing the USPS over the past decade as they interfere with local closings of post offices but don’t provide subsidy money to make up for non-business decisions.

        However, Trump threw gasoline on the whole thing in mid-August threatening not funding the USPS to reduce its ability to handle mail-in balloting.

        That is after years of belly-aching about USPS working with Amazon on the last mile delivery because he doesn’t like Jeff Bezos.

        So, this is consistent with my entire view of the Trump Administration. There are things that need to be done. People get appointed who may or may not be competent to do what they are supposed to be doing (usually not competent). Execution failures show up. Trump makes random incoherent and inaccurate comments or tweats that everybody in the Administration then starts running towards or away from. His comments generally have some level of nastiness or politicization. so now what was merely incoherent is highly partisan in a word salad mess which makes it unrecognizable and unfixable. Staff then quit out of frustration or are fired because they are “responsible”. At some point, somebody does something illegal to make Trump happy about the mess, and the investigations and indictments start.

        This is something that Mel Brooks would have struggled to come up with for a movie plot because it would be too wild, even for him. The comedians have largely given up on Trump because he is impossible to satirize because he is already beyond where they would normally go.

        1. rowlf

          Are we seeing presstidigitation* again? Are we being distracted from something else occurring?

          (* Someone else around here came up with this useful word. Who gets the credit?)

          1. Wukchumni

            I’ll take credit for a word that describes the news gatherers & their sleight of hand perfectly.

      3. John Anthony La Pietra

        IIRC, they’re not selling them off — not even for scrap. They’re taking them out and junking them — if reports are to be nelieved, in some cases actually disassembling or even destroying them.

  2. Zagonostra

    >Political Yard Signs

    There are four in my surrounding neighborhood, evenly squared off against each other. If there was a political yard sign I could buy that said “non-of-the-above” I would proudly display it in my own yard.

      1. flora

        ha. My fear is that, just like after 2016, it won’t stop after the election when it’s supposed to stop. (gawd, the thought of 4 more years of media screeching is just… still not enough to make me vote for Bid/Harris neoliberals. / ;)

      2. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

        As Tucker pointed out yesterday, placing the singular blame for every problem in the entire universe directly on the person of Donald Trump means that everyone else is blameless. They’re off the hook. So Bill Clinton can be the voice of morality; Cuomo can be the hero of Covid; Liz gets to be the hero of Native Americans; Nancy P never has to answer for any of her legislation or what her party has actually done to workers for the last 40 years; and The Biden gets to be the unifier who didn’t write the Crime bill or champion the Iraq War. Best of all it means Michele and Barack never have to be the ones in charge of the worst 8 years for African Americans in the country’s modern history.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      4×8 sheet of 1/2″ cdx and some paint, plus some scrap 2×4’s and a couple of 4×4 posts.
      I did this sort of thing when i lived in town…to my unending shame for Obama’s first run…and then for Bernie(by that time, i didn’t even live there, and the house was being torn down,lol)
      I painted my tailgate in 05 in blood red “Impeach”…then when that truck finally died, “punish war criminals”….then the pink and red equal sign flag for gay marriage…and Bernie2016 and Bernie 2020, which is what remains.
      This, in a republican stronghold(at least as far as people who actually vote).
      If the pseudochristofascists can put 120 foot crosses on their property to lord over the rest of us, i reckon that my First Amendment Rights say that i can counter it within my means.*
      Use it or lose it.

      (*grousing while driving by those big ol crosses, i often speculate that if i ever won the lottery, i’d buy a hill specifically to put a large naked statue of Aphrodite on, and dare anyone to deny my Right)

      1. Lambert Strether

        > to my unending shame for Obama’s first run

        Obama was a brilliant con man (though think success slowed him down and eroded his skills). No need to feel shame. Thomas Frank and many others were taken in, too.

      2. Jonathan Holland Becnel


        For a second there I thought we would get a President that would actually help us…


    2. JCC

      My favorite that I saw recently was

      Any Functioning Adult

      With the appropriate red, white, and blue stars and bars

      1. Clive

        A ginger tom, I think, judging by the name and the photo. He will I know be sadly missed and, to Scott, who Arnold kept as his owner, I’m sorry for your loss. I know that Arnold is having a good old time of it, as only ginger toms can, in where cats go when they depart our earthly plane.

        1. Scott D

          We had catnip growing wild in our garden and he would spend afternoons in a stupor. I hope he’s back there now.

          I don’t know if posting images is OK, but maybe the mods can host it.

          Arnold in Catnip

          1. Lunker Walleye

            Arnold looks in his element. He reminds me of our long-gone orange “Kitty” and his replacement “Roy”. Great memories.

          2. Pat

            Arnold was obviously wonderful. And so handsome. My deepest condolences.

            He was as lucky in his staff as his staff were blessed to have him.

            May his new existence include a fine expanse to survey, butterflies to chase, and a nice catnip patch to relax in. Till you meet him again…

          3. furies

            Great photo, Scott!

            So sorry for you loss…this is exactly what keeps me from sponsoring another cat–the last loss still lingers.

            A memorial to Arnold~

          4. urblintz

            Arnold was loved. Thanks for helping us know him too and may memories of his presence sustain you.

          5. HotFlash

            Condolences, Scott, on the loss of your Arnold. Great photo of stoned Arnold in the ‘nip. I have pics and reminders of my kittehs of happy memory on my kamiza, it’s pretty full now. Damn, get attached to these short-lifers and your heart will be broken again and again. (h/t Robert Heinlein, “Time Enough for Love”). But it’s worth it. Virtual hugs to you and any other of Arnold’s people who are missing him.

            1. HotFlash

              Condolences to you as well, jr. It is tough to have a big (or little) cat-shaped hole in your life. I have 10-to-the-2 dearly-loved kitties who may be waiting for me. If people can cross the Rainbow Bridge (not known), I hope that they will offset all the wingless chickens I am responsible for.

          6. Lee

            I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d,
            I stand and look at them long and long.

            They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
            They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
            They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
            Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
            Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
            Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

            So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
            They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession.

            I wonder where they get those tokens,
            Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them?
            Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
            Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
            Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them,
            Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers,
            Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms.

            Walt Whitman

        2. susan the other

          Being bereft is hard to define. It’s losing a connection to reality you can’t replace. Condolences for Scott.

      2. Steven A

        Please accept my condolences for the loss of Arnold, Scott. The photo is exactly the way any cat should be remembered, serene and observant. I can also offer you empathy. Joplin, our beloved Calico stopped eating a week ago last Wednesday. diagnosed with kidney failure last Monday and euthanized on Tuesday. We are awaiting her cremation. I hope you find an appropriate memorial for Arnold.

        1. Pat

          Good thoughts to help send Joplin over the Rainbow Bridge. Hugs and sympathies to the humans who love and miss her.

    1. Pelham

      My condolences as well. We’ve lost two pets over the past few years, so we know. There’s something about losing a pet — a wholly innocent being dependent on your care — that’s uniquely saddening. They provide our only draft from the world’s well of innocence and love that’s inaccessible by any other means. They’re a wonderful presence in and of themselves and they bring out some quality in us that might not be exercised or observed in any other way.

    2. Donald

      My condolences too. We’ve gone through this a few times and know how you feel.

      Arnold is a beautiful cat.

      1. Elizabeth

        To Scott – Condolences to you for your loss of Arnold. He was a beautiful kitty. Remember the good times you had together and let the memories sustain you.

        1. newcatty

          To Scott and Jr, condolences. I want to share a brief story with you. When our daughter was going through a time of letting go of a long relationship and we were with her and her young children, our beloved cat was with us in her home. No matter where we all were, our cat always had a special place in my daughter’s life. When we were living in different places, when our daughter and I talked on the phone I would call our cat and she would run to the phone and listen to her name. One day , during the break-up, our daughter was crying and our cat snuggled up to her. I remember saying that cats and young children were so unconditionally loving. She smiled and said yeah. They don’t care what we look like or do in the world, they just are loving.

  3. Wukchumni

    Holy toledo!

    Here I am sitting on the barely lit deck of the Silver City Resor in Mineral King, and I hear what I think is one of the house dogs behind a tree, and what comes within 10 feet of me is a curious mountain lion about the size of a medium dog, probably a young one. It turns tail and I get up out of my rocking chair and take a look, and there’s another one I briefly get a glimpse of as they vamoose, exit stage left.

    It all happened so quick, I didn’t have time to be scared.

    1. flora

      wow. those forest fires must be driving wild animals away from the fires and into new areas searching for safety.

    2. Lee

      I have logged many hours observing the behavior of wild critters as a volunteer citizen scientists primarily in Yellowstone and I have yet to clap eyes on a cougar. Mother Nature just smiled at you.

      1. Wukchumni

        I saw a juvenile mountain lion in Topanga State Park about 25 years ago, but had spent 58 years being shut out in the Sierra. I’ve seen scat, tracks, heard them wailing (it sounds like a bad 50’s horror film soundtrack) but never laid eyes on one, and to get 2 @ once was especially nice.

    3. Ignacio

      Something you will never forget. Was the second also a young puma/cougar/mountain lyon?
      Wandering brothers?

      1. Wukchumni

        They were of about the same size, so i’m guessing siblings.

        And yes, you are correct, it’s seared into my memory forever.

    4. jr

      Incredible! A kiss from Mother Nature…a friend in Philly years ago told me he once found what he thought was a muddy patch with a big cat print in a nearby park. He volunteered there and was fairly up on his tracks. I know it’s highly unlikely but it is a huge park. Fairmount! That’s it.

    5. JP

      We lived 20 mi south of you against the Nat Forest boundary for 20 years before we saw a cougar. I have heard them mating for hours. You can hear them for miles. They must be having an intense time of it.

    6. Glen

      My wife saw a mountain lion at dusk a couple of months ago giving the chickens a look. Yesterday it was two small black bears eating the blackberries.

      Seeing bears and deer is not too unusual. Mountain lions are around but rarely seen in our area.

      1. Wukchumni

        I used to feel inadequate not having seen one in the Sierra, but some years ago a friend on trail crew in Sequoia NP only saw his first one after 21 years on the job, living in the backcountry 5 months a year in various camps. They’re that rare.

        3 years ago a friend who is visiting the 50 largest Giant Sequoias and I went on a walk to go to the Diamond Tree & the AD Tree and the next day he asked if I wanted to walk the Paradise Trail and we’d walked it 4 days prior, so I told him he was on his own, and damned if he doesn’t have the perfect sighting, a large one just sitting on the trail, 100 feet away. I had to feign that I wasn’t intensely jealous, ha!

        Here’s his photo:

    7. kareninca

      I live in a densely populated part of Silicon valley very near Palo Alto, and a neighbor of mine who worked in a nearby nature preserve tells me that she regularly sees mountain lion scat on the grounds of our condo complex. Sometimes at night my dog smells something out of the patio window/door and seems very spooked.

  4. Bill Smith

    I don’t follow that someone (a Belarus expat?) playing a several hundred dollars to fly a Belarus flag over Miami is a big deal. I see planes dragging banners all the time at the beach. Local places advertising, marriage proposals, birthday wishes.

    There are a lot of people in the world and they do a lot of different things. Everything is not a conspiracy.

    1. Tomonthebeach

      To many Americans, everything these days is part of a conspiracy. This is, of course, pathetically simple-minded as anybody who has ever tried to engineer a surprise birthday party can attest. Many of the articles posted on Links lately have noted that people emotionally perplexed by world events seem to find reassurance in the notion that all headlines are part of a “controlled” master plan by George Soros and the Jewish Billionaire Cabal, including their army of pedophiles (to use moral righteousness to Christianize such beliefs). As a psychologist, I view this phenomenon as metaphorically like children pulling the covers over their heads when they fear the boogieman is under their beds at night.

      I think the bedsheets metaphor has a basis in reality. Jill LePore’s recent article on the history of conspiracy theories recounts that conspiracies have been notably similar over time, nearly always asserting anti-communist and anti-homosexual panics and purges fueled by race-based nationalism and xenophobia typically using demonizing rhetoric that mentions invading, rape, and messianic salvation.

      1. Billy

        Here’s a conspiracy theory to top all of them:

        “The white race is behind all of our problems.”

      2. pjay

        Curious, I clicked on the Jill LePore article. I could only read the first few paragraphs without subscribing to the site, but I couldn’t help but notice the big picture of John and Jackie Kennedy in the car in Dallas that headed the article. I certainly hope that doesn’t mean what I think it does.

        Of course the examples you give are easily ridiculed. We can dub them “conspiracy theory” and dismiss them. Then whenever someone points out actual harmful effects of some of Soros’ “humanitarian” interventions, or perhaps the tremendous influence of the Israel lobby, we can simply lump it with the crazies and call it “anti-semitic conspiracy theory.” Or we can point to ridiculous QAnon claims and ignore evidence of sexual blackmail by intelligence agencies (including that of pedophiles) as childish paranoia by deluded rubes. This is Disinformation 101; mix the wheat with the chaff until the two cannot be distinguished.

        Just out of curiosity, what is LePore’s take on Russiagate?

        1. Tomonthebeach

          My bad, I use the “Bypass Paywalls” extension on Chrome. Install it and see if the door magically opens all the way. FWW, I have posted a series of 3 articles on how to hack most news and information sites – not just how to tunnel under paywalls but also how to grab a machete’ and chop down all the surrounding crap so you can actually see the entire article, and even put all your RSS feeds (including NakedCapitalism) in one basket.

    2. occasional anonymous

      The Grayzone crew apparently don’t understand that expats and patriots can exist and not literally everything is a CIA plot.

    3. vlade

      Because a non-trivial part of the US citizens seem to deny any agency to anyone but the US, so anything by extension must be a CIA/whatever conspiracy. It’s so much easier than a bit of thinking. Because a bit of thinkig and reading would show that (apart from the blindingly obvious you state):

      – The white-red-white Belarus flag is the original flag that Belarus adopted during its short life in 1918, before becoming part of USSR.

      – The current red-green-red (with top emproided) flag was adopted only when Belarus got a seat at a security council in 1950s (despite being part of the USSR. Sort of like England/Scotland/Wales/NI get all a soccer teams despite being part of the UK). It was an artificial flag which was meant to express the peasantry (hence the emroidery and green symbolising of nature), and was never really felt to be the national flag (the old generation felt more for the USSR flag, the young generation was indifferent).

      – the RWR was briefly re-adopted post USSR breakdown, until Lukashenko’s referendum on returning the old flag (ex hammer and sicle). Where the “it’s a nazi flag” was played a lot, despite the fact that Belarus was probably, together with Poland, the least collaborative part of the world Nazi Germany ever conquered (the partisan movement was extremely strong in Belarus, and on per-population basis Belarus lost the most people in WW2, shortly followed by Poland. Same reasons). So the flag had about nil role in “Nazi regime” or “Nazi collaboration” in Belarus, because there virtual wasn’t any (as opposed for Ukraine, for TLDW reasons).

      The “nazi”/”facist” trope is a political catch-all for opponents in parts of former USSR, where the WW2 victory and suffering were massively politicised, and these terms used to evoke like Pavlovian whistle all that goes with it and basically stops any thinking of the opponent by attaching social unacceptability to doing so. And I speak as someone whose family two genrations back was in concentrations lagers, narrowly escaped death by Nazis running from the infamous “gestapo knock” or died as an “unknown soldier” w/o us ever knowing where and how exactly while fighting Nazis (in the Red army).

      And as someone who loves strategic games, but is emotionally unable to ever play the German side in any of them.

      1. S.V. Dáte

        Most Americans believe in god and they don’t think god is American. How about that. I think it is a trivial amount of people that only believe in ‘American’ sources. I think that’s what going to college will do to you, if nothing else.

  5. Krystyn Podgajski

    I got word from some old colleagues at Cisco Systems they they were offering Early Retirement and buyout packages here in the Triangle. One friend had received an Early Retirement offer. I asked him if getting laid off would be worse be and he said; “Yeah it would be worse, but I love my job too much”.

    I hope he does not learn a hard lesson about capitalism and love. That $1 Billion in cuts has to come from somewhere.

    1. Clive

      Someone told me the other day, last week, what his happiest moment was while working, or what we call working, anyway, at our TBTF. It was: “when I realised they don’t, actually, give a damn about me”.

      1. CitizenSissy

        That realization is actually liberating.

        Krystyn, I hope your friend rolls if the package is reasonably good. The only thing Biden has mentioned that piqued my interest is lowering Medicare eligibility to 60. While that’s a BIG if, I think many, many people would run for the exits, including yours truly.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Hillary floated the idea of lowering Medicare to 50 but you don’t think that either of them actually meant it? So here, Hillary is much more progressive than Joe but the Democrats are going towards offering less than they did in 2016.

          1. chuck roast

            Do I smell a “grand bargain” wherein the cellah’ dwellah’ lowers the Medicare age to 60 and cuts my social security 10%?

        2. Count Zero

          One thing I noticed at my UK University: those who were burdened with daily teaching, research and admin responsibilities grabbed redundancy packages when they came up — often in their 50s. Those at the highest levels of management — those who rose without trace and who never saw a student or published a word — hung on till they were forced to retire at 67. Draw what conclusion you want.

        3. rd

          It would be logical to lower the Medicare age to 62 which would match the earliest eligibility for non-disability Social Security.

          1. flora

            Yes… except there’s a 25% lifetime reduction in SS benefit if you take it at 62 now for actuarial reasons.. (used to be a 20% reduction for taking SS at 62 when full retirement age was 65.) There’s no way to actuarily ‘reduce’ Medicare coverage, you could raise the required premium – yes, Medicare has a monthly premium – by quite a bit, then you’d also have to make the Medicare Advantage plans – private insurance HMOs offered as a substitution for regular Medicare – lower their age and raise their premiums as well. It was clever to raise full retirement age tp 66 (soon to be 67) knowing many would still retire at 65 when eligible for Medicare – but by retiring at 65 they’d have their SS benefits cut by something like 8%. If Hills is offering a plan check the fine print and hold on to your wallet. / ;)

        4. Arthur Dent

          It is liberating. I have worked in consulting engineering for several decades. I realized a long time ago that you are only as good as your last two weeks. It keeps you on your toes, but it also means that you understand how corporate loyalty works. Basically, job security is when you can find another similar job paying similar money relatively quickly. If you can’t, then you have no job security.

        5. Pat

          I am only a few months away from Medicare. If the age of eligibility had been lowered I would be better off today.

          We would all be better off if we had MFA. I know there are some in this country who might lose a little bit for there own health care, but I really think that they would also be better off if we had a healthier population. That other people being sick can affect the healthy should have become clear in the last months. Not to mention that society as a whole would also benefit from more comprehensive mental health care and rehabilitation services for drug and alcohol addiction.

          But just as our “betters” have deemed MFA unnecessary, have seemingly decided that the numerous problems with ACA can be dealt with merely by talking nicer about it, and now seek to further curtail veterans healthcare, there will be no lowering of age of eligibility for Medicare.

          Whenever people start noting that our for profit insurance based healthcare system provides inadequate and expensive care that includes no care or only ER care for a significant percentage of the population, Medicare at 55 or 60 gets floated as does the public option. We never even get bills to do that, that Congress pretends to half pass.

          Just another football.

          1. flora

            “We would all be better off if we had MFA.”

            Yes. Just had to repeat that.

            Well, the insurance companies wouldn’t be better off, the hospital billing systems wouldn’t be better off, pharma with cost controls wouldn’t be better off. (Even current Medicare part D doesn’t have cost controls. Pharma must thank former rep. Billy Tauzin every day for that box of candy in the Medicare part D act.) Which means a lot of the Dems donors wouldn’t be better off. Which means of lot of the current Dems in Congress wouldn’t be better off.

            Almost all of us in the real world would be better off.

            1. CitizenSissy

              IMHO no reason we shouldn’t have M4A, other than for cultural reasons. The myth of American up-by-your bootstrap individualism dies hard.

              On a family trip to Poland last fall, my sister fell down a flight of stairs in a Warsaw museum and fractured her shoulder. The hospital where she was treated certainly wasn’t glamorous, but the staff efficient and her care very good. She just showed her passport, and never received a bill. The museum staffer who accompanied us explained “healthcare is a constitutional right in Poland.” Poland, which is no one’s idea of a socially liberal society, also offers a 500-zloty per-child monthly allowance. The Law and Justice party is appalling in so many ways, but, credit due, family values are backed up with practical assistance.

              1. S.V. Dáte

                The Oligarchs in America which exist (see Stoller, Thomas, Taibbi, & Yves), will want any change in healthcare to pay their ‘asking fee’, as it were. You can’t say enough and stress enough, that we are nothing to them. FDR pulled off what he did because the people (us) already had pro-democrat populist movements, very strong unions, and could use the FTC, SEC, and all the rest to hammer away at the oligarchs. And he went after Mellon directly and as a proxy for being evil. Only the government had the money and horse power to do that.

                It’s a proven that capitalism and democracy are not the same, and capitalism in the end destroys democracy. At least the Wall Street/Mordor (the valley), kind. Hate to say it, but to date they only way to take on the oligarchs is by overwhelming force. Else, we just wait for climate change to kill us all. But it has been done before and not just with FDR. I for one would like to get going.

  6. griffen

    The story about Marble Ridge and the bid for Neiman Marcus – yikes. Worth finding extra details, that’s pretty reprehensible even by the lowered standards one might expect these days.

  7. Wukchumni

    One terrorist possibility that was always in the back of my mind, had somebody flying in from the Middle East, and once landed in SF or LA, they rented a car and stopped to pick up 48 road flares @ say O’Reilly Auto Parts and systematically set fire to the outlying districts, dropping a lit flare every 20 minutes and driving off to the ignite the next one. There’d be essentially no defense against such an action.

    Well, it came true but not exactly how I figured, the terrorist being Mother Nature armed with a veritable shitlode of electricity and with 10x as many wildfires set as my farfetched preditction.

    We’re incredibly fortunate that none of the fires are anywhere near us, and the smoke is the worst i’ve ever seen, also the forecast calls for more lightning later in the week in SoCal, so the possibility looms of something similar to the maelstrom in SF, with the catch being there will be no firefighters available to fight it, all of them being up north.

    Instead of having far away military bases of dubious value all over the world, we could’ve used those resources and soldiers to fight the real battle here, but no.

    1. rowlf

      Yesterday I was going through a collection of monthly newsletters written by a US Army veteran of Mogadishu and Panama and ran across a surprising suggestion. The person is really knowledgeable in their area of expertise but their politics definitely got stuck on the Fox channel. No problem, I can tolerate all sorts of things when I am trying to find something or do something.

      Their suggestion was that there should be a separate branch of the US military to focus on humanitarian aid, as the military can be really good at it and some people are better suited for helping people and shouldn’t have to be involved in the death-and-destruction business. The suggestion sounded like it was a sincere idea to most efficiently use the resources. This was written around 2012 and the writer thought that instead of having people overseas we should be improving the US.

      1. JTMcPhee

        How about, hmmm, a Civilian Conservation Corps, and a Rural Health System, to go with a National Health System, and oh, maybe a Take Care Of Old Folks and Disabled Army? Let alone VISTA, now “AmeriCorps VISTA,”

        I got no use for the Army Corps of Engineers, which seems to have some Peter Principle and Anthropocentric Hubris tendencies. Militarize got a national entity with such grandiose scope and powers does not seem like a wise choice.

        1. Pat

          Has the Army Corps of Engineers always been second rate or is this something that was strategically crapified in order to further the use military contractors?

          I got the impression that at one point it was highly regarded.

    2. fresno dan

      August 22, 2020 at 8:44 am

      Its 8:02 am and it is bizarre how dark it is due to the haze. I grew up in Fresno (of course, there was a near 30 year stretch I was gone), and there were times of haze, but I really can’t remember it ever being this dark, and especially over a number of days now.
      I have decided that discretion is the better part of valor and to forgo my daily walks until the air quality improves. I got my duct work replaced when they sold me some extra air cleaning last fall – usually I think the utility of such things are of dubious benefit, but something told me that maybe was not the era to skimp on air cleansing….

      1. kareninca

        fresno dan, do you ever check the purpleair website for air quality? It is by far the best site I’ve found for that. I looked at Fresno and it is beyond terrible right now. You really should stay in; with an air filter if possible.

    3. GratefulDude

      Ca has about 1/3 as many firefighters as usual, the shortage due to Covid in prisons, or so I read. Think about that. Expendable people who would rather work 48 hr days in horrible conditions and maybe die than stay locked up. “Corrections” all right. Now they stay locked up and die anyway.

      1. Skip Intro

        Shortage due to the slaves prisoners being sick and because crews from Oz that would come up for the fire season aren’t traveling. So a double covid punch combined with an unheard-of lightening storm overburden the crapified, half-assed fire fighting infrastructure. Of course this fits perfectly with the year’s theme:
        2020: I Can’t Breathe

    4. Lil’D

      We are in between the River , Carmel and Dolan fires, just outside the evacuation zone. No crews to fight the Dolan fire (by Esalen, south of Julia pfeiffer burns )
      Bags packed but wind forecast suggests that we are going to be safe. AQI > 230 for a few days. Reminds me of New Delhi.
      We are lucky, though, have an IQAir running hard and provisions for a while. Going to let the garden go. At least we had a few batches of gazpacho. Several friends have offered a place to stay.

      Friends near Carmel Valley Village had a bear visit and kill half of the chickens. 3 of their friends are totally burned.

      It’s only 75% of the apocalypse and I’m able to play hours a day so the guitar is getting better. Almost finished with “coronavirus blues”, now need to work on something upbeat.
      And still, We are the lucky ones…

      1. Lil’D

        Oops. Zone 21 (bingo! What’s my prize?) now under “Evacuation warning”. Loading up the car…
        My friend Mike evacuated from Cachagua a couple of days ago, house is gone. He is staying at friends who now have to evacuate. They have a plan B but didn’t expect to have to move to plan C
        Weather moving in but really unpredictable with the confluence of hurricane Genevieve, various high pressure ridges,…

        For most people, there’s almost no place to go.

        Perhaps we can gain empathy for refugees in general…

        1. howseth

          “In lightning-struck California, the smoke is now scarier than the pandemic”
          No shit.
          Report from Santa Cruz – Highway 9 – just within city limits. Some people are having trouble breathing now in our apartment complex – PurpleAir map sensors nearby went over 400 (hazardous) this afternoon (currently 213)
          The city has not told us to evacuate – yet. (77,000 people in the County told to leave -and tourists were warned – Stay out – Duh! – even criminals are not welcomed now, will wonders never cease in Santa Cruz).
          We have a (still) working air purifier in our bedroom where we are camped out. Most people here do not have an air purifier – about 1/2 of 300 people have left for somewhere else.
          Glad our electric is working. Got the gas tank in the car full. Bags packed.

          1. howseth

            Suddenly the the temperature has dropped! We went from choking to a fresh cool breeze. We went from 400+ to 58 PM2.5. Turned off the air purifier and went outside inhaled. Up in Scotts Valley and Felton, Ben Lomand still over 200 – but not 700+ as one spot was earlier.

            Nice pause while we wait for tomorrows expected return of those dry lightening bolts of Hades.

    5. JP

      Currently there are no fires close to us in the foothills. Except for a few lightning caused fires, in the Nat park or the Nat. forest that they mostly let burn out, all the fires that threatened private property and spread to the forest were caused by idiots and fools. So far this year (knock on wood) they haven’t been active.

    1. rowlf

      That was a neat read. I love figuring those things out or seeing someone else’s work chasing down the story.

      1. Basil Pesto

        glad you liked it, although part of me wishes I could step onto my balcony and see the completely incongruous 200 storey skyscraper to the north.

        It’s also a fascinating bit of detail into a really fascinating bit of software. I brought it up earlier this week – it’s a flight simulator where the world is mapped 1:1. sorry if I’m coming across as a fanboy – I haven’t actually played it yet. Its main interest isn’t so much as a flight sim per se but as a chance to literally explore the planet. When am I ever going to go to Sakhalin, or Antarctica? Heck, I don’t even know the next chance I’ll get to visit my hometown. I know from experience that it’s a nice place to fly in to though.

        1. rowlf

          My day job is matching reality with telemetry from fleets of aircraft, or vice versa. We’re trying to manage tons of data and build algorithms to bring up trends for review. So… I spend a lot of time figuring out why the computers are lying or omitting information to me. I love it.

  8. Steve

    I’m not sure what butterfly it is, but it’s not a polyphemus moth. Maybe some monarch species?

    1. DJG

      Steve: Yep, it has smooth butterfly antennae. But I don’t know my butterflies well enough to give the species either.

  9. Linda

    The USPS machine removal is so utterly vile that I could not have dreamed of a better way to subtly derail the elections in favor of DJT. Kudos to them for creativity.

    1. CitizenSissy

      That’s not even subtle. And it’s affecting many people who rely on the USPS for medicine, paper checks, etc. I don’t think this will turn out the way they expect.

      1. hunkerdown

        Well… we sort of agree to protect the system of predation in which we are being harvested and regrown like lettuce, if we’re lucky. Taking the counter-counterrevolution open source seems like the solution to that, with the simple message of “Aim High” (h/t US Chair Force) and the instruction to locate the sociopaths in your community and deniably sabotage them every clear chance you get.

        But really, all that we’re seeing here is that the system has near-infinite latitude to produce election results in line with its corporate policy, and that every election in which the ruling class has a hand should be assumed false until mathematically proven correct and absolutely free of tampering. Making election fraud a summary capital offense would help, too.

        1. HotFlash

          the system of predation in which we are being harvested and regrown like lettuce, if we’re lucky

          Wonderful metaphore. Cut-and-come-again peasants.

      2. neo-realist

        There may be a lot of Fox News watching republican codgers who are very dependent on the mail to cast their absentee ballots.

      3. allan

        The House Oversight Committee has just released charts showing that the deterioration
        in USPS service has been even worse than previously reported.

        I wonder whether DeJoy will resign before Monday’s hearing to avoid having to testify.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Dounreay Nuclear Power Site Available For Reuse In the Year 2333”

    No worries. All is not lost. They can do what the Japanese have done at Fukushima. Just send in really old people to live there. Sure the radiation will give them cancer and the like eventually but by then they will be dead of old age. I wish that I was making all this up.

    1. Clive

      However, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said it would be 2333 before the 148-acre site is safe for reuse.

      Would it be asking for trouble, do you think, if I were to tell them what I do when, not infrequently, I get asked to draw up schedules for the completion of a fix for this-or-that knotty little problem that isn’t really fixable, or, at least, not fixable without causing other problems?

      I just make the end date up. Oh, I know that you need to add a little pseudo-exacting-looking flourish to the date you pluck out the air. Something like 16:45 (the 24-hour clock is best, I find in these situations) on Monday 14th February 2333.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Was that the 14th February 2333 that you quoted or should that have been 31st February 2333? Just after lunch.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              It’s Trek canon, but they use the Gregorian calendar when on Earth. The Gregorian Calendar works to the year 3000, and even then, this is only because they didn’t bother to run it that far. The astronomical calculations work. All they have to do is add a day to the year 3000 to make it work and then approximately every 3200 years they need to add a day to make it work.

              Per astronomy professor Charlie Tolbert, we will be on what probably should be called the “Modern Gregorian” calendar then as the adjustments aren’t reforms as much carrying the Gregorian calendar reforms forward.

    2. griffen

      I understand LV 426 might offer a pleasing atmosphere. There are some non-native species to look out for.

      Just need to make the air breathable ! The Weyland corporation has a plan for it

  11. Wukchumni

    Christian private school sets up defense fund to fight Fresno County COVID-19 orders

    Signaling an intention to fight, Immanuel Schools on Friday launched a legal defense fund to help fuel its efforts to keep students in classrooms, despite health department orders to shut down its campus.

    An upcoming hearing at a Fresno courthouse could determine the fate of a private Christian school in Reedley that has ignored government orders to close its campus amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Immanuel officials have refused to discuss their decision to flout health department directives. However, they have invited community members to donate to a new legal defense fund, an apparent signal they intend to fight back against Fresno County’s efforts to force their doors shut.

    According to U.S. Treasury Department records, Immanuel Schools received money from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. The records don’t indicate exactly how much the school obtained, but listed the amount as between $350,000-$1 million.

    At the outset of PPP funding, private religious schools weren’t eligible, but least some of those restrictions were lifted by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to help schools through the coronavirus pandemic.

    1. edmondo

      According to U.S. Treasury Department records, Immanuel Schools received money from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. The records don’t indicate exactly how much the school obtained, but listed the amount as between $350,000-$1 million.

      These people are pikers. The Catholics know how to get the big money. I’m happy to see that the federal government has no problem funding pedophiles. Perhaps the next parish the Catholic Church opens can be St. Jeffrey of Epstein since they have so much in common.

      1. anon in so cal

        Los Angeles County, California is a Covid-19 hot spot with some of the highest case loads and mortalities in the state and the nation. Nonetheless,

        “Despite disturbing numbers of young people dying of COVID-19, Los Angeles County’s chief medical officer said Thursday that new coronavirus cases may soon drop enough to allow officials to apply for waivers to reopen elementary schools.

        During an online news conference, Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser noted that waivers can be sought to reopen schools when cases are below 200 for every 100,000 people for two weeks.

        Over the last two weeks, officials have reported 27,739 new cases, which amounts to 275 per 100,000, but Gunzenhauser said that number was steadily dropping…”

      2. Wukchumni

        Reedley is a typical CVBB burb, and a million would go a heck of a long way there, say they spent $50 on bibles and $999,950.00 on heaven reservations.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In all fairness, the DNC couldn’t come up with thirty actual people that were enthusiastic about Harris which was why they had to duplicate several of the people on the monitors.

      1. HotFlash

        And, in fairness, there is only one person who is enthusiastic about Joe for Prez, and that is Jill Biden.

        Hpw did it come to this?

        1. JBird4049

          I sometimes think of this as God’s little joke on us. The great and powerful United States being led by a clownish used car salesman or a “memory care” patient.

    2. carl

      Thank you! That made my morning. The DNC is beyond parody at this point. I love it when the narrator says “who are these people?”

  12. Ep3

    “When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare,” said Mr. Kaufman, who is leading Mr. Biden’s transition team. “When you see what Trump’s done to the deficit…all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we’re going to be limited.”

    U catch this Yves? Spending is ok under a republican. But not anyone else. Better yet, spending is ok when we are preventing a revolution by the rabble, or bailing out our friends.

    1. pjay

      That is the primary function of the national Democratic party in our WWF duopoly. The Republicans come in and blow the “deficit” to hell with tax cuts for the wealthy and increased “defense” spending for that massive constituency. Then the Dems come back and, with great sorrow and regret, have to act “responsibly.” Of course raising taxes or cutting defense expenditures to support an adequate safety net is beyond the Democratic party’s wildest imagination. That’s crazy talk!

      It’s hard to believe anyone falls for this scam anymore. But then it’s hard to believe most of what passes for politics today.

      1. JWP

        Never heard a politician say they want to add tax brackets. Probably because the real pain would be felt by themselves and their donors. Who would ever want to tax themselves when they can tax the plebs! Maybe start with some at 1,5,10, and 10+ with rates between 40-70%.

        1. LifelongLib

          FWIW, my understanding is that the truly wealthy have all sorts of ways of evading taxes — their estates are in elaborate family trusts so no inheritance tax, they borrow money for their living expenses so no income tax, etc. Its the “comfortable” who are hit hardest by taxes that are the driving force for lowering them…

    2. Tom Doak

      It was only a week ago they insisted the coronavirus relief package wasn’t big enough, and went to the mat over the size of it, so that nothing was passed at all. Apparently Kaufman (and therefore presumably Biden) believe it shouldn’t have been suggested to begin with?

  13. Wukchumni

    Ya gotta love the far right in Az, Sen McSally is asking her constituents to forego food so they can send money to her campaign.

    1. JWP

      A nice cycle they have over there. Drain their constituents of money and hope, then tell them who to blame for their problems. Rinse and repeat.

        1. Maritimer

          The Brits are actually going the other route with this. It is now known as the Pig Out To Help Out program. For those who have not heard of it, hilarious and bonkersy details at:

          The part I love about it is that things are now SO BAD that even the hoi polloi have to be given perks and little BAILOUTS. Not 2008.

          Also, the Class aspect of it, the Lowers can now get “premium” meals they could not afford before Covid. Democracy works!

  14. icancho

    The bonus pic is not of a moth, but of a butterfly; a white admiral, Limenitis arthemis, I believe.
    Easy way to tell moths from butterflies: the antennae of butterflies have knobs on the end, while moths do not.

  15. rattlemullet

    Please accept my heart felt condolences for having to put down your beloved companion. The saddest day in a pet owners life.

  16. edmondo

    There was zero chance I would vote for Joe Biden for president but that number dropped even further when I accidently went onto his website and found this:

    Biden is adopting Senator Warren’s comprehensive proposal, Fixing Our Bankruptcy System to Give People a Second Chance. In 2005, Biden worked hard to add progressive reforms to a bankruptcy bill that was going to be passed with or without him. Today, he agrees firmly with Senator Warren that we need to fundamentally reshape our bankruptcy system.

    As described by Senator Warren in her plan, this plan will:

    Make it easier for people being crushed by debt to obtain relief through bankruptcy.
    Expand people’s rights to take care of themselves and their children while they are in the bankruptcy process.
    End the absurd rules that make it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.
    Let more people protect their homes and cars in bankruptcy so they can start from a firm foundation when they start to pick up the pieces and rebuild their financial lives.
    Help address shameful racial and gender disparities that plague our bankruptcy system.
    Close loopholes that allow the wealthy and corporate creditors to abuse the bankruptcy system at the expense of everyone else.

    Does this guy think we don’t know why the current rules are in place? I know politicians are shameless but JOE BIDEN on Bankruptcy Reform is about as nonsensical as having Kim Kardashian front your high school sexual abstinence club.

    1. pasha

      senator warren is an expert on bankruptcy, has written books on it. her reforms are comprehensive, as she knows where the loopholes are. these reforms would definitely reduce the burdens of poverty — and put and end to payday loan outfits as a side benefit. if democrats retake the senate, these reforms seem entirely feasible, and warren has the allies and political clout to help force biden to honor his promise.

      1. periol

        “warren has the allies and political clout to help force biden to honor his promise”

        Can I please join you in your alternate timeline? Sounds better there.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Australia’s Construction Industry Faces “Bloodbath,” Says Lobbying Group Clamoring for Bailout, after Riding up the Housing Bubble”

    Too long this coming. Real estate prices in Australia are way over-valued and governments for decades now have helped these price increases, even changing laws long on the books to help this industry. Tough if you are a young couple trying to get a first home. Like the author of this article, I too have little sympathy to the coming bloodbath for a simple reason. Yes it will be a bloodbath and there will be a lot if heartache and bankruptcies but if left unchecked, sooner or later it would have blown up the Australian economy as it is simply not sustainable. Maybe when this is all over younger people might have a better chance at a look in to the real estate market once again.

    1. Chris

      Another problem with Australia’s construction industry is that there seems to be little enthusiasm for creating modest homes for the unhoused. The government response to COVID has included putting the homeless in unused budget hotels, but once things start getting back to nearer normal, they’ll all be out on the street again.

      1. LifelongLib

        A U.S. builder told me there’s no incentive here for low-cost housing because most of the cost is in the basic structure, which is the same whether the house is “affordable” or “luxury”.

        “I build the same house, spend a few thousand extra on fancy fixtures and veneer, then sell it for double the price I’d get otherwise.”

        Maybe it’s the same in Australia?

    2. skippy

      A few decades ago the whole Oz RE developer contango got its start with big piles of funds from Singapore. They just shopped around for a few blokes with licenses and set them up as True Blue Aussie businesses and then Bobs your Uncle.

      This makes all the FHB grants a subsidy to the off shore flow of funds investors – Lamberts self licking ice cream cone effect – in creating MBS product.

      Being a pigment on the wall paper in the social lounge has its pros and cons, Penny at Stockland – wheeeee~~~~ These glam acreages are like small dogs in Veblin handbag ….

      Just for you Kev since your in my local, just heard some bloke at Tattersall’s club has ended his membership because he saw some female wearing denim jeans in the club. Good thing people have their priorities set for a few years of corvid and whatever environmental surprises besiege us.

      Oh well … Just finishing Red Hill Qld’er exterior and fixing up interior that previous painters botched, 4 weeks mostly by myself. Seems this reno – retro rebuild intercity thingy is covid proof. If you drive by the rehab at Red Hill you can have a peek, its across the road next to the start of a referb.

  18. Jan

    Scott, my condolences for your loss of Arnold. You did the kind and difficult thing for him. May he always be with you, looking out from the big catnip patch in the universe.

    1. periol

      Yes. Truly sorry for your loss. Animals always find special places in the hearts of their loved ones.

  19. allan

    Tennessee gov signs bill upping penalties on some protests [AP]

    Tennessee protesters will face harsher penalties, including losing the right to vote,
    for breaking certain laws during demonstrations under a law enacted by Gov. Bill Lee.

    The Republican governor quietly signed off on the bill Thursday. …

    Most notably, the new law now states that those who illegally camp on state property
    would now face a Class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, rather than a misdemeanor.
    Felony convictions in Tennessee result in the revocation of an individual’s right to vote. …

    Small government for me, Orwell’s boot stomping on your face for thee.

  20. Donald

    Re the Carl Beijer piece on the press and false accusations of atrocities–

    The problem is that most people are afraid of looking like kooks and go along with whatever the press says. We all know there are endless examples of this in the past, but people act like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football–they will always believe the story of the moment and act like the press can be trusted now, even if in the past it was a conduit for propaganda. I’m like this myself to some degree, though nowadays I usually regard the press with distrust while keeping my suspicions to myself.

    1. pjay

      From the article:

      “The reason I was skeptical about this news is simple: the right uses fabricated allegations of crimes and atrocities in order to advance its agenda all of the time. And this is particularly true in the international arena, where tales of horrors perpetrated by Official Enemies of the beltway blob and its corporate sponsors bubble up constantly. At first these narratives can seem extremely convincing, and the pressure to accept them and condemn their targets is always extraordinary — yet time and after time, it turns out that they were exaggerated, or outright fabricated.”

      My only quibble is with his usage of the term “the right” to refer to what is really the liberal Establishment (just as the real “right” misuses the term “the left” to refer to that Establishment).

      On this subject, I’d like to strongly recommend Ray McGovern’s latest piece on Russiagate in yesterday’s Consortium News. He takes on the latest Senate Intelligence Committee “bombshells” (spoiler alert: there were none), but especially the mainstream media’s use of the Report to once again amplify this Nothingburger to epic levels. His focus is especially on yet another breathtaking Revelation by Mark Mazzetti on p.1 of Wednesday’s NY Times. I know most of us are suffering from Russiagate fatigue these days, but this is his opening paragraph:

      “The fresh orgy of anti-Russian invective in the lickspittle media (LSM) has the feel of fin de siècle. The last four reality-impaired years do seem as though they add up to a century. And no definitive fin is in sight, as long as most people don’t know what’s going on.”

      Forget about “mainstream media” or “corporate media” as a pejorative, or even Sarah Palin’s “lamestream media.” I’m going with *lickspittle media* – LSM – from now on!

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I do like to see MSNBC watchers squirm when I call it comcast pr. They hate their cable company as much as anyone.

  21. Stephen V.

    Interesting analysis re: Vaccines. There’s a lot of uphill given 1 in 3 USians do not want to be vaccinated.
    Consistent in the public health narratives though is the rhetoric that “only a coronavirus vaccine will bring things back to normal.” These thoughts were succinctly summarized by Bill Gates in a blog post, “Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible.”

    Might there be other possible solutions to the pandemic other than vaccines? Public health officials and government officials seemed to double down on this assumption in advance of suitable vaccine candidates.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Not really. New Zealand put that to myth. Daily and available at home testing with subsequent isolation can allow periods of normalcy.

      There is the herd immunity garbage which requires a staggering amount of dead and damaged for life people to achieve assuming long term immunity.

    2. rd

      The anti-vaxxers have been piggy-backing off of herd immunity provided by vaccinated populations for a couple of decades now. Measles is very, very infectious and so a 90%+ immunity rate is required to provide herd immunity. Communities with significant percentages of unvaccinated people have suddenly started getting measles over the past few years whereas it had been decades since there were significant outbreaks before that.

      There is no existing herd immunity for Covid-19. Even the flu generally has at least 50% inherent immunity in the population each year without vaccines, but that is not the case for Covid-19. So the anti-vaxxers won’t be able to hide successfully under the cover of herd immunity until at least the end of 2022. Until then, they will have the choice of getting the vaccine, hiding in their bunker for years, or getting sick. Many countries would probably also not allow them to travel there without proof of vaccination or antibodies. In the meantime, they would also be endangering people who cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons.

      I hope some of the vaccine trials are successful and are found to be effective (at least 80%) and safe. However, I don’t expect an announcement of that sucess until early 2021 at the earliest. Then there will be production and distribution.

    3. Maritimer

      Thanks for posting that.

      I find it amazing that so many people are willing before the facts are in to get a “vaccine”, most likely from Big Pharma. How long it might be effective, if it is effective for you, etc.—who cares? Just give it to me.

      I am watching Sweden very closely. Their Chief Medical Officer said early on: “This is a Marathon not a Sprint.” They have a long term plan. The US plan is Quick Hit—vaccine. Sounds just like Bailout 2008—no alternatives. Did not work then and…..

  22. The Rev Kev

    “China Alone”

    I somehow suspect that the author Brahma Chellaney is a fan of China. And he writes a lot of articles critical of China at Project Syndicate here. But we have to be honest in our assessments of China. Did China try to hide the virus? The local authorities did at first and it took a while to appreciate the quality of the threat. Would things have been different in Trump’s America? But him charging that China hoarding medical products is a bit of a stretch. China back then was at the epicenter of the virus so of course they were going to prioritize their own critic needs first. Later on there were several countries that stole medical supplies from other Countries so which was worse?

    And if he complains that they have been aggressive with India, a part of that is explained by the fact that Modi has proved to be an expansionist like Erdogan in Turkey. And India allying themselves with the US which might lead to strike bases near the Chinese border with India would be like a red flag to a bull. Having a combined naval force from the US, Australia, India and Japan operating near them will further get China’s goat. I’m not sure what Chellaney wants here. He seems to favour getting into China’s face with bases and naval forces right up to China’s coastline in order to achieve – what exactly? Peace in the Pacific? Pressure taken off India? I see no mention of long-term negotiations to achieve a better result here.

  23. antidlc

    I Participated in the DNC Rules Committee. I Don’t Believe the Party Is United.

    The Democrats’ pandemic convention has been an uncanny spectacle to behold. Centrally coordinated from Milwaukee but technically distributed across the country through a combination of live and pre-recorded speeches and performances, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) has sought to portray a Democratic Party whose members have united around the shared goal of defeating Donald Trump. But beneath the canned TV relays, there is an ominous edge to the DNC’s unity: The technical setup of the convention has foreclosed most avenues for dissent, and the DNC’s management of key decisions is palpably out of step with the goals behind which the party claims to be unified.

    1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

      Not a single word in four days of The Airing Of Grievances The Democratic “Convention” on three massive fault lines:

      1. Limiting the overwhelming power of corporations, from Wall St to Silicon Valley;
      2. Stopping America’s endless illegal foreign wars;
      3. Reasoning about what the “peaceful protests” did to smash local businesses and communities. What was that that just happened, who allowed it to happen, and why.

      This is not my party and I wish to see them humiliated in defeat.

      1. pasha

        i thought the convention very successfully stayed on message, taking advantage of the new format.

        every re-election battle is a referendum on the incumbent, and trumps ego will make that doubly-so in 2020.

        the democrats purpose at the convention was to show how different biden is from trump, how democrats are different from republicans.

        you don’t shore up your base or win over a few undecideds with long lists of policy. further, the three policies you mention are, sadly, not issues that have voters attention right now.

        1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

          I’m not sure what “message” you got but what I heard was that no matter what you want to do is OK, trophy medals for all, unless there is anything Orange about it. And I’m unclear on showing “Democrats are different from Republicans” by preferencing has-been Republicans at the convention over progressive Dems? And I guess I’m just old-fashioned but I can handle three or four big policies, no long lists reqd

        2. Acacia

          the democrats purpose at the convention was to show how different biden is from trump, how democrats are different from republicans.

          Because nothing shows how different they are than giving airtime to Republicans John Kasich, Cindy McCain, Colin Powell, and Susan Molinari.

          Dog food for the demodogs, I guess.

        3. CarlH

          All I saw in that convention was Dem. myth-making (poorly executed), colossal pandering, and platitudes upon platitudes leading nowhere. So I ask- what are the differences between the Dems and Repubs that you were able to discern while watching this convention?

  24. Ohnoyoucantdothat

    A further update to the ongoing Crimea saga. Spent 4 hours rearranging all my trip stages after British Airlines cancelled my Moscow flight. Wound up spending an additional $70 to cover changes. Keeping fingers crossed there are no more cancellations and I can get home on September 4th.

    On another note, wife informed me that severe water rationing begins in Crimea on Monday. They’ve run our of water. After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 Ukraine closed off the huge water pipe bring Neper river water to the peninsula. We’ve survived this long only because of favorable rains in previous years but it has been quite dry this year leaving the reservoir empty. Wife is quite upset and doesn’t know what to do. Ukraine has hinted at restoring water flow but doesn’t want that water used by the Russian military. Personally I wonder if this might push Putin to mount an operation to take control of the pipe in Ukraine. International law strictly prohibits using water as a weapon so Russia has legal standing to undertake such an action. I expect the next few months to be very interesting in my neighborhood. Never a dull moment in our family.

  25. semiconscious

    Covid pandemic could last for another TWO YEARS says World Health Organisation chief in grim prediction – as he calls it a ‘once-in-a-century health crisis’ that spread quicker than Spanish flu

    re: any & all ‘spanish flu’ references in the context of covid-19 (from

    spanish flu total death estimates from three major studies:

    24.7 – 39.3 million (patterson & pyle 1991)
    50 – 100 million (johnson & mueller 2002)
    17.4 million (spreeuwenberg et al 2018)

    meanwhile, covid-19 total deaths worldwide, as of now, are just below 800,000. & this is with the understanding that, at the time of the spanish flu, there were less than a third of the number of people on the earth (under 2 billion) as there are now…

    in conclusion: when it comes to talking ‘once-in-a-century’, covid-19 bears no resemblance to the spanish flu…

    1. rd

      I would hope we have a lower death rate today:

      1. We know what a virus is. At that time, they didn’t even know the cause of the flu. The leading suspect at the time was a bacteria Haemophilus influenze that actually had nothing to do with the flu.
      2. We know what DNA and RNA is, so we can actually do testing to identify an influenza or coronavirus strain. If you can identify it, you can start to figure out how to fix it.
      3. Antibiotics have been invented. That reduces the likelihood of major secondary infections.
      4. Sanitation has greatly improved with clean water, sewage systems, disinfection protocols in hospitals etc.
      5. Modern HVAC systems with good filtration are available. That, combined with good disnifection and PPE protocols in medical settings can dramatically reduce transmission. Their main tool back then was outdoor tents etc.
      6. Modern systems for tracking and communication about disease in widespread public health systems.
      7. Greatly improved medical capabiltiies for treatment of inflammation etc.

      Most of the developed world has been able to use all of these tools to keep the infection rate and death rate low after a few major breakouts early (e.g. Italy). Historians will be studying the US response for decades to try to understand why the US refused to use the many tools it had at its disposal to dramatically reduce the infection rate.

      The Spanish flu was unusual on how it targeted the young and middle-aged with a high death rate for them. Covid-19 is following a more traditional pattern for respiratory diseases of high death rate in the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions.They believe a mild flu circulated around 1880 that was related to the 1918 strain that helped provide immunity to people that were 60 and over while people in their 20s and 30s had no prior immunity. It was their violent immune system responses that often caused the younger people to die, similar to what we are seeing in some Covid-19 cases.

      With little apparent prior immunity anywhere in the population (very unusual), it has been pretty obvious since this spring that it will take well over 60% immunity through infection or vaccine to get herd immunity. The best estimates I have seen are about 80%. The US is probably sitting at about 10% right now. There are some neighborhoods in NYC that are probably close to the 80% now.

      Throughout history, epidemics have typically taken 12-36 months to play out. Public health measures and vaccinations have been able to snuff them out quicker over the past 50 years. I expect infection and vaccine to generally end this epidemic in the developed world around the end of 2021 or early 2022. Then I expect we will have the modern version of the Roaring 1920s, but we need to stay healthy for another 18 months to get there.

      BTW – it appears that the easiest way to regulate the rate of infection in a local area is to open and close bars. If you want a higher rate of infection, you open them. If you want to slow it down, you close them.

      1. SalonBee

        There is some published medical research showing evidence that somewhere between 20-60% of the population has preexisting immunity to covid-19 due to similarities to common cold-causing coronaviruses. (This research also provides a mechanistic explanation of the fact that covid-19 can have very different diseases courses for two people with identical ages and health status. The explanation being that some of the people with lower severity illness have some level of preexisting immunity.) If the high end estimate is correct, then you would need about 20% of the population to get infected with covid-19 to reach close to herd immunity. If you look at the percentages of the population that have been infected as assessed by antibody studies in regions where covid-19 spiked and then declined (or has begun to decline more than 50% from the peak), that is places like New York or Florida, then those studies are consistently finding around 20-30% of the population has antibodies to covid-19. In my opinion, this provides strong evidence supporting the hypothesis of a roughly 20% threshold for herd immunity.

      2. Jessica

        There is also a theory that the Russian flu of 1890 somehow affected those who were infants then in a way that made them more vulnerable to the Spanish flu.
        There is another theory that the Russian flu of 1890 was actually a corona virus, not a flu. We didn’t know how to tell the difference back then.
        As far as I know, these are just theories. Lots of theories floating around. But given how little certainty there is now, it may pay to keep track of all the theories.

      3. pasha

        excellent summary, one of the best i’ve seen! thank you. i’m archiving it for future reference

        and your comment on bars is spot on, certainly true here in michigan

    2. hunkerdown

      Can you rewrite this tendentious comparison but include the damage caused by Long COVID in your numbers?

      1. semiconscious

        certainly. as soon as you provide the commensurate figures for long spanish flu. one example:

        A similar uncertainty hangs over the effect of maternal influenza during pregnancy on the risk of birth defects. Although there is some evidence for exposure during the first trimester increasing the occurrence of central nervous system defects (particularly anencephaly), circulatory malfunctions, cleft palate and reduction deformities,31 there is also evidence against such associations. J S McKenzie and M Houghton, in their review of the literature, conclude that no direct association between influenza infection during pregnancy and congenital malformations can be substantiated, except for cleft lip and reduction deformities for which the effect is small.32 They do not rule out an indirect association, however.

        The “Spanish ‘flu” therefore hit pregnant women hard, with the consequent effects of increased stillbirths and possibly also more prematurity, which would produce more infants subject to the high risks of all pre-term or small infants. Maternal influenza may also have affected the health of infants and children by its repercussions on the quality of care a mother was able to give her child. Infants whose mothers die are generally at greater risk of death, partly through the cessation of breast-feeding. A severe, but non-fatal, illness in the mother could curtail her ability to breast-feed, thus also increasing the risks for the infant. Figure 1 shows that although the proportionate increase in mortality was not as high as in adulthood, deaths among infants and young children did increase by a factor of between 150 and 300 during the “Spanish ‘flu” of 1918–19. Many such young people may have died directly from influenza itself, but this paper attempts to evaluate the different ways in which a mother’s illness or death might have affected her child’s chances of survival, and compares them with the direct effects of the influenza virus on infants and children.

        i mean, we wouldn’t want to be comparing apples to oranges, right?…

        1. Basil Pesto

          You might want to address rd’s worthy post, since the timestamps would appear to show that you’d’ve had the chance to absorb it.

          do you really think the only thing that’s changed in the past 100 years, the only significant, determinant variable worthy of consideration, is that the population has increased? C’mon, man.

          1. semiconscious

            i believe that when it comes to referring to the spanish flu when discussing covid-19, the only significant figure worthy of consideration is the total number of deaths per total population (aka, the worldwide case fatality rate). if the worldwide case fatality rate of covid-19 is, at this point, 0.01 (that’s 800,000 divided into 7,800,000,000), while the worldwide case fatality rate of the spanish flu has been estimated to be somewhere between a low end of 0.85 (17 million divided into 2 billion) to a high end of 2.5 (50 million into 2 billion), then any comparison of the severity of the one pandemic to the other is simply misleading. for covid-19, more appropriate pandemic comparisons would be the asian flu of ’57/’58, & the hong kong flu of ’68/’69, both of which have been estimated to have resulted in 1-4 million deaths (, numbers which would result in worldwide case fatality rates still greater than double that of covid-19, but which would at least be somewhat in the same ballpark, unlike the spanish flu…

            1. semiconscious


              i have used the term ‘case fatality rate’. the term i should have used is ‘crude mortality rate’. other than having used the incorrect term, i stand by my statement…

            2. Basil Pesto

              i believe that when it comes to referring to the spanish flu when discussing covid-19, the only significant figure worthy of consideration is the total number of deaths per total population (aka, the worldwide case fatality rate).


              It’s not clear to me that when it comes to comparing two historical events of a similar type, only one statistical figure should be germane to that comparison.

    1. Daryl

      Pointless flailing. Do they think people who vote for third parties are going to go well shucks and vote mainstream if their options are taken away? I was going to hold my nose and vote D for Senate but I think I won’t, now.

      1. Late Introvert

        They would rather lose with Biden than win with Bernie. Always punch left, that’s the Dem Rats.

        I registered Green after the Iowa Caucup. And I agree I’m having a hard time even voting for down ballot members of that species. And it’s a close race for Senate here in Iowa.

        1. Jason Boxman

          Oddly, with Pelosi’s endorsement of the challenger, I’m actually going to vote for our MA senator Markey in the primary apparently. Strange times.

    1. kareninca

      That is a great blog. I live in the Bay Area and am usually not interested in weather, since we ordinarily don’t have any. But right now the topic is very interesting and this guy seems very well informed; thank you for posting that.

  26. Lupemax

    Rest in Peace Arnold. Deepest condolences.
    It comforts me to believe that I will meet up with all my furballs (so many) one of these days when I rejoin them. I wish they lived longer.

  27. juno mas

    RE: Bonus from La Ruse:

    The Lepidoptera in the photo is likely not a Polyphemus Moth. From the appearance of the antennae, it is likely a butterfly warming itself in the early morning sun.

  28. Susan the other

    Made my day. City Watch Melt Down. Very cool. Attribution to NC. Tony Butka is just the tip of the iceberg.

    1. Lambert Strether

      And from the accompanying link to the FT:

      [Meng’s] exit came shortly after the blog Naked Capitalism alleged that he had not properly disclosed his own economic interests, as required by the state of California. On August 6, Mr Meng told the Financial Times that he had disclosed all of his financial holdings on the applicable forms and declined further comment.

      Well done, FT.

  29. Billy

    National Geographic smoke screed….

    The once venerable and excellent National Geographic has been diminishing in quality and content for decades. It has now joined the parade of media mediocrity. After firing their senior enditors and replacing them with a bunch of millenials, after taking money from Monsanto advertisers and promoting Gentically Modified Organisms [Search “National geographic endorses gmos” for list of their advertisements disguised as reportage], after a shift to a Ruppert Murdoch styled TV channel, they lost all credibility.

    Now they print politically correct tripe like this:
    “And for the older adults, our especially vulnerable communities—Black, Latinx, and Indigenous, in particular—I’m very worried.”

    In other words, all the rest of you millions of Californians, we don’t care about you, because you don’t fit our advertisers desired growth demographics. National Geographic has become the ultimate in Yellow Journalism.

    The beginning of the end:


    1. Basil Pesto

      You’re projecting, not to mention very easily triggered.

      Now they print politically correct tripe like this:
      “And for the older adults, our especially vulnerable communities—Black, Latinx, and Indigenous, in particular—I’m very worried.”

      In other words, all the rest of you millions of Californians, we don’t care about you, because you don’t fit our advertisers desired growth demographics. National Geographic has become the ultimate in Yellow Journalism.

      The article says or implies no such thing in any words, not least because, even by the standards of inane identity politics in 2020, that would be a supremely stupid thing to do.

      Furthermore, the one passage you’ve highlighted is a benign – not to say anodyne – quotation within the piece of a pediatrician, not editorial from the NG writer.

      or, to précis: what the hell are you talking about?

      1. JBird4049

        Billy might have been triggered, but yes, he’s right in saying that the National Geographic has gone down in quality.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Gonna give Camp a go, although I never ever watch videos. I don’t believe on videos on the Internet.

      Bizarre watching clips of Sanders. So Biden has a plan, eh? Thanks for letting me know Sanders. It’s hard to believe he actually thinks Biden is going to do anything about health care. How deluded Sanders is.

      Camp does aptly demonstrate that history begins in 2017 for liberal Democrats. These people are functionally stupid.

    2. Jason Boxman

      Wow. This is sad to watch. If I’d watched the Democrat convention this week I would without a doubt have drank myself to death. Period. With Camp’s commentary it’s bad enough. I can’t even finish it, ouch. Couldn’t even make it through the Obama clips.

  30. Synoia

    From the WHO:

    “When the virus is not under control, it jumps straight back up.”

    Bit like Trump, the Clintons, Politicians, Crime and other forms of mischief.

    Can we get a vaccine to prevent these, or are they incurable?

  31. John k

    Vote blue no matter who is in a frenzy, used to get a couple begging letters daily, now more than that hourly. One from aoc asked if I would vote against trump, said no… didn’t ask if I’d vote against Biden. Or explain how I could vote against them both.
    Then OR begged, saying first we gotta beat trump to avoid a fate worse than death, then we gotta push Biden left. Don’t make me laugh… centrist Biden is to the right of trump, bringing in the warmongers, promise to veto m4a and nothing will change… push him so far left he only starts a little war with Venezuela…
    At least trump is willing to lie about better healthcare and he feels workers pain in flyover over the lost jobs…
    Hope trump brings reed to the debate…

    1. hunkerdown

      That would be a bold move. I would greatly enjoy watching Herman Cain spin like hand-thrown pizza crust in that event. I’d be happy enough if Trump brought Reade.

      I can’t tell if they’re just especially spirited because Kamala’s prison troll farm is spinning up, or if they’re actually terrified, or what degree of both.

      1. ambrit

        Joe might have “brass ones,” but it has come time to give him and the whole rotten Democrat Party nomenklatura a sharp kick in the “brass ones.’ My money’s on Trump being re-elected. That will not shift the top tier politicos, but it certainly will disencourage the lower level “foot soldiers” of the Party.
        Whig City, here we come!

  32. chuck roast

    Scott…sorry about Arnold…he was a good looking boy. The same fate awaits my boy Ace who is 19. Best regards.

  33. allan

    William Barr told Murdoch to ‘muzzle’ Fox News Trump critic, new book says [Guardian]

    The attorney general, William Barr, told Rupert Murdoch to “muzzle” Andrew Napolitano, a prominent Fox News personality who became a critic of Donald Trump, according to a new book about the rightwing TV network.

    Barr’s meeting with Murdoch, at the media mogul’s New York home in October 2019, was widely reported at the time, with speculation surrounding its subject. According to Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, by CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, subjects covered included media consolidation and criminal justice reform.

    “But it was also about Judge Andrew Napolitano.” …

    Citing an unnamed source, Stelter writes that Trump “was so incensed by the judge’s TV broadcasts that he had implored Barr to send Rupert a message in person … about ‘muzzling the judge’. [Trump] wanted the nation’s top law enforcement official to convey just how atrocious Napolitano’s legal analysis had been.” …

    Exactly the role of the Attorney General envisioned in the Judiciary Act of 1789.

    1. edmondo

      Look at the bright side: Every time the AG wastes his time passing on instructions from the president, that’s one less time he’s pissing on the Constitution.

  34. Cuibono

    “We are being drowned in divide & conquer propaganda while global technocratic imperialists rob us all blind and exploit the virus to implement a wickedly oppressive economic, “health” and surveillance system.”

    from the article linked above

    I get ht looting part. But can anyone explain this hyperbole around health and survelliance system?I see no evidence of it.

    1. Acacia

      Perhaps this: everything you do on the Internet and everywhere you go with a cellphone — it’s all subject to surveillance and analysis (and you probably agreed to this in the many EULAs that you didn’t read before clicking “OK”). The movements of your car may be tracked with AVL. Now, you might not have a cell phone, recent model car, and you might always go through multiple layers of VPN/TOR/etc. even to post here on NC, but most people are not that savvy.

      1. Acacia

        To elaborate on AVL (Automatic vehicle location) with a surveillance anecdote: a couple of years back, a friend decided not to renew the lease on his late model Ford. It went back to the dealer, which cleaned it up and leased it to somebody else.

        Now, it turns out the Ford had an AVL system — basically a dedicated cellphone built into the onboard computer which “reports” status to a server. Out of curiosity, my friend checked the server one day, only to discover that neither the dealer nor the car’s new lessee had reset the AVL system. For the next year or so, he kept checking, wondering when this state of affairs might be cleared up. It never was. He commented: “I could see everywhere the guy went, such as — who knows? — trips to pick up his GF instead of his wife, etc.” Finally, the new lease expired, the car went to another dealer, then a big storage lot somewhere. My friend joked that maybe he should go try to lease his old car again.

        Needless to say, law enforcement and can get access to this tracking system.

  35. Jason Boxman

    So, suddenly the Democrat party cares about the post office. So I found this interesting. John McLeod Barger was confirmed by the Senate, by voice vote, so no record, and subsequently, according to the NY Times:

    Mr. Barger was confirmed by the Senate last summer, and was tapped to lead the committee to select a new postmaster general. He attended the February meeting in Mr. Mnuchin’s office with Mr. Duncan.

    And we’ll never know how many liberal Democrats voted in favor of this, but as a voice vote it probably was not a contentious vote, just a stealth one.

    I ought to look up how many Democrats voted for the pre-fund the pension fund legislation; perhaps that wasn’t also a voice vote? Why are voice votes even allowed? (Congressional action report)

    1. ambrit

      Voice votes are allowed so as to confuse the electorate. If voters “back home” were able to see how “their” representative voted on all bills, there might be more than a few primary challenges every election cycle.

  36. ambrit

    File this under “Signs and Portents?”
    I have just finished ‘securing’ and removing a juvenile opossum that sat up on the hassock next to Phyl’s bed an hour ago and greeted her most civilly. Both Phyl and the marsupial were quite calm about the encounter.
    How the little creature got into the house hasn’t been determined yet. I lured it into a medium sized trash bucket with some dry cat food. I sat on the edge of the bathtub and watched it creep out from under the hand sink cabinet, where it had scooted after I tried to brush it into a trash basket. It followed the trail of crumbs into the basket, (lying on it’s side.) It wasn’t particularly frightened or wary of either human.
    Little Possum is now safely ensconced on the compost heap, alive, at the back of the garden.
    Now to find the method of entry.
    Nature is trying to give us a message.

    1. td

      A cat of fond memory, Eddy Puss, used to make friends in strange places. He liked to stay outside in the back during summer and we left some crunchies and water in bowls on the rear deck for his lunch. My wife was observing through the kitchen door and saw Ed sitting with the ugliest cat she ever saw. Both of the creatures would snack on a few crunchies and then resume sitting, contemplating the back yard.

      Eventually, it twigged that the ugly cat was an adult Possum. This was a surprise, since Toronto is well north of their usual range. The possum spent the summer in the foliage in our back, periodically palling around with Ed, but he vanished during the winter so I expect it was too cold for him.

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