Links 8/24/2020

‘The mystery is over’: Researchers say they know what happened to ‘Lost Colony’ The Virginian-Pilot

Gandhi’s glasses left in letterbox sell for £260k BBC

Deadly force behind the wheel WaPo

Low blow: Sydney’s new ferries won’t fit under bridges while passengers on top deck Oops! Reminds me of the tunnel – or it may have been an overpass – with low-clearance in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Every year, the occasional driver lost the top of her/truck truck the s/he failed to fit into the top of the tunnel – and IIRC the errant drivers were often out-of-towners ferrying junior to university. I wonder whether this is still the case, or have the enlarged the tunnel. MA readers?


A Detailed Look at the Downside of California’s Ban on Affirmative Action NYT (RM)

Preserving Trees Becomes Big Business, Driven by Emissions Rules WSJ


Coronavirus is putting the whole idea of fashion out of fashion Guardian

Hong Kong third wave: city’s top officials unite behind universal Covid-19 testing scheme even as some in opposition camp hope to derail it SCMP

Italy tops 1,000 daily coronavirus cases for first time since May Thomson Reuters

If Trump Had Followed Vietnam’s Lead on COVID, US Would Have Fewer Than 100 Dead TruthOut

Trump considers fast-tracking UK Covid-19 vaccine before US election FT. Why do I think this is not going to end well.

Airplane mode and prepaid SIMs: some Israelis dodge COVID-19 tracking Thomson Reuters

The two largest democracies in the world are the sickest now Scroll

Tempers Flare Over German Mask Requirement Der Spiegel

Covid 19 coronavirus: Why New Zealand might never know how virus came back New Zealand Herald (PR). A contact tracing failure.

Gear and Garments: California Awaits the Next Pandemic Capital & Main

NHS managers told care homes to put blanket ‘do not resuscitate’ orders on ALL residents at height of Covid crisis, report shows Daily Mail

New York City will rise again New York Post


FDA, under pressure from Trump, expected to authorize blood plasma as Covid-19 treatment Stat

India to get Covid vaccine by end of year if all goes well, says Harsh Vardhan The Print

Inflammation: the key factor that explains vulnerability to severe COVID The Conversation


The UK exam debacle reminds us that algorithms can’t fix broken systems MIT Technology Review

Johnson urges parents to send children back to school as unions warn plan to reopen classrooms ‘negligent in the extreme’ Independent

California Burning

Class Warfare

The Building Trades Unions Aren’t Just Home to Trump-Loving Conservatives Teen Vogue. Kim Kelly.

A poorer retirement is pandemic’s hidden legacy FT

The Battle for Decatur Intercept

Time for action on America’s uneven debt drought FT

How the ‘Useful Idiots’ of Liberal New York Fueled Income Inequality 
NYT (UserFriendly)


Joe Biden Would Likely Use a Familiar Tool—Executive Powers—to Reverse Trump Immigration Policies WSJ

Ralph Nader: Here are 8 glaring issues Democrats are avoiding in 2020 AlterNet

How the Emmy-Winning Team Behind the Tonys Created the 2020 Democratic National Convention (EXCLUSIVE) Variety

Republicans Rush to Finalize Convention (‘Apprentice’ Producers Are Helping) NYT. So, duelling TV producers.

Trump campaign announces speakers for Republican convention Politico (The Rev Kev)

President Trump to speak every night of RNC this week as full lineup revealed NYPost Can’t Wait! Pass the popcorn.

Donald Trump and Barack Obama agreed on one thing in dueling Pa. visits: Win, or it’s the apocalypse Philadelphia Inquirer.

Roaming Charges: Conventional Weapons at the DNC Counterpunch

Alex Morse Was Accused,Condemned and Then Vindicated. Will His Experience Change Anything? NYT

Biden: ‘No new taxes’ for anyone making under $400K The Hill

Trump is going to war on low-income housing in suburbs. He once embraced it. Politico


Ahead of Monday CWC Meet, Sonia Gandhi Tells Congress to Find a New Chief The Wire. A big, big deal. But who?

Congress Working Committee meet: All you need to know Times of India


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Stoked Washington’s Fears About TikTok WSJ


Is Iran set to forfeit its national interests to China? Qantara

Lawyers sound alarm on welfare of former Saudi crown prince FT


Tens of thousands of anti-Lukashenko demonstrators rally in Minsk Al Jazeera

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. S Haust

      Well, just go have a look at If you want, you can expand the videos
      into Youtube.

      It’s addicting, so try not to have too much of a dose before returning to NC

      1. JWP

        The Can Opener Bridge! hours spent watching trucks fail to make it. They’re finally raising the clearance.

    2. Harry

      If its the Storrow Drive bridge, a truck hit it today (and got stuck). Doesnt help with the traffic problems.

    3. Big River Bandido

      I rented a U-Haul truck there once; the attendant at the rental place warned me not to go on Storrow Drive, “or you’ll be bringing back a convertible truck”.

      Davenport IA also has a few classic “truck eating” bridges.

    4. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Yes! I lived in Cambridge for a total of 7 years, on two separate occasions, and I’m glad to hear it remains!

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        There used to be another low pedestrian bridge / UHaul killer on Memorial Drive, near Magazine Beach, but it got rebuilt and raised. That old bridge also did in a few rowing shells atop crew trailers around the Head of the Charles regatta.

    5. Kurt Sperry

      Couldn’t they at least build a sacrificial flimsy warning bridge over the road before the low clearance proper?

    6. rd

      This is a century old railroad bridge with a low clearance. A number of people were killed a decade ago when a double-decker bus got lost and ran into it.

      They have closed this road to commercial traffic, put warning systems in etc. and all it does is reduce the number of hits. A percentage of truck drivers appear to be oblivious to anything resembling a commercial restriction, height restrictions, or warning system.

      The bridge was here long before the highway and would require major changes to raise it as that would require raiing the railroad for a long-distance to meet grades in an area with very soft comrepressble and weak soils. NYSDOT is moving towards making major changes in the roadway to reduce lanes from 4 to 2 and make it slower speed to make it less inviting to trucks.

      So it appears that ferry designers are similar to truck drivers in not paying attention to the clearances of pre-existing bridges. BTW – they did a song about this a long, long time time ago for the Erie Canal, so the captain of the ferry can simply play it over loudspeakers for the passengers when they approach the bridge:

  1. Olga

    ‘Tens of thousands of anti-Lukashenko demonstrators rally in Minsk Al Jazeera’
    It should be obvious to all that a full-blown colour revolution is taking place in BR. The goals of the ‘sudden’ opposition are full integration of BR into EU and Nato. That worked out really great for the Ukrainians.
    There are also pro-Luko demonstrations, but these obviously do not fit into the narrative.
    The events also prove just how easy it is to stir up a coup d’etat.

      1. Olga

        Yes, though feel free to do own research:
        “Before being taken down, the election campaign website of Belarus Presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya had an entire program for the future development of Belarus as a country.
        In a relatively hidden section, it has a section named “National Policy” which reveals the opposition’s plan for Belarus’ eventual entry into NATO and the EU.”
        It’s in Russian, but if I recall, you speak the language.
        I like Tichonovskaia’s proclamation “I want to be BR’s president!”
        I want to a Nobel prize novelist, but it ain’t that easy…

        1. Alex

          My response apparently didn’t pass some filter (maybe Cyrillic letters trigger manual review of comments?). If it doesn’t appear soon I’ll try to post it again

          1. Alex

            My previous post didn’t get through so I’ll repeat it briefly.

            Thanks for sharing Tikhanovskaya’s program, In the foreign policy section I see three things:
            independence is the most important and is non-negotiable (can hardly be construed as anti-Russian,
            we are going to have good relations with everyone as long as it’s in the interest of the country
            partnership of equals without a dependency on natural gas or loans (now this is clearly aimed at Russia but it’s a sensible policy all the same not to be 100% dependent on anyone)

            There is no mention of NATO or EU whatsoever, where did you see it?

            1. Olga

              Check out Saker for more info… he has the entire program posted.
              Asking for independence is a subterfuge… BR and Russia signed an agreement (CIS), which stipulates a high level of cooperation (Ukr. did, too, but after 2014: ‘The government continues to withdraw Ukraine from cooperation agreements within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States and breaks a number of agreements’).
              But it went even further with BR – there was something called the Union state (check out moa, who wrote about it, or –, except Luko has been dragging his feet in signing the required agreements.
              internet research will show you many more results on these topics…
              BR – a landlocked country, with no energy resources – can hardly claim independence (it ain’t Switzerland, for sure) – I don’t oppose independence (not that anyone cares what I think) – but in a geopolitically realistic world, that is hardly an option.
              For the west, having BR in its pocket would allow for a complete encirclement of Russia (which some may like, but I kinda think it is a very bad idea, mainly from the standpoint of our general survival).

              1. Alex

                The article from the Saker is a translation of a text from, which is (as far as I can see now that the site is down) is not affiliated with Tikhanovskaya, who makes a point of not mentioning EU and NATO in her program that you linked earlier.

                I think that most of the protestors and striking factory workers are there for reasons that have nothing to do with geopolitics.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          It’s pretty understandable that some in these small, militarily weak ex-soviet states bordering Russia might want to join a Western defense pact like the Baltic states.

          1. Olga

            What is understandable about it? Or are you being sarcastic? (If not, what exactly has Nato brought to Litva or Latvia?)

            1. Kurt Sperry

              Insecurity doesn’t need a rational basis to be real. I interact with people in the Baltic states that actually fear the Russians spilling over the border. We may both know it won’t happen, but their fear is still real.

              1. km

                “Understandable” was your choice of words to describe those irrational fears.

                Of course, nowhere is it written that NATO (read: the United States) must answer every demand for protection, understandable or not.

              2. Olga

                What evidence do you have to say the fear is “real?” It is mainly stoked by corrupt politicians, who have nothing else to run on. As in ‘fear gives us meaning.’ It is a way to distinguish themselves from Russia – even though under the USSR, these three countries did quite well. Today – not so much, hence depopulation.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Try this thought experiment. So it is the US that has a collapse in ’89 instead of the Soviet Union. Soon after Chile joins the Warsaw Pact but the USSR promises the US that there will be no movement north. But over the years other countries join the Warsaw Pact such as Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Bolivia and right up to all the small countries of Central America. Pretty soon the only country that has not yet joined the Warsaw Pact is Mexico. But then a revolt starts there which you know will end up there being Russian nuclear missiles being stationed on the other side of the Rio Grande. How much proof would you be demanding about the Warsaw Pact’s intentions then?

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          No problem, just send in Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and Powers Boothe and those Sandinista paras are all toasted Cubanos.


      3. jo6pac

        Go to web site The Vineyard of the Saker. Then look for this article “these-are-the-real-goals-of-the-belarusian-opposition”

        Sorry NC won’t let post a link to story

        Olga is right about eu and nato but they will become another Ukraine.

        1. pjay

          Yes. I was also unable to post this earlier. But it would help if some of the knowledgeable commentators here would take a look at it. For one thing, I was not quite clear on the source. The link is provided, but it is in Belarusian. If it is indeed a policy statement by the opposition, then based on the English translation it would be a pretty big deal, I would think. The Saker has a pro-Russian bias, of course. But I don’t think he would allow a blatantly fake policy statement to be posted.

        2. Alex

          This is a translation of a political program by Alexey Yanukevich (at least I can only see his name), the leader of one small opposition party in Belarus. He was not the main opposition candidate (her program can be found at tsikhanouskaya2020. by) and is not the driving force behind the protests.

          Based on this text alone, you absolutely cannot say that these are the real goals of the opposition. The fact that it’s published by the Saker without an attribution and context means either utter lack of competence (it took me literally 10 minutes to understand who wrote this) or an intent to paint the opposition as anti-Russian.

            1. deplorado

              Ok I have to post this, since there were quandaries about the opposition’s program.
              Just read these 3 exerpts and translate to yourself from neoliberalese into reality:
              “To create a modern labor market with low unemployment, opportunities for young people, the economic potential for investors and entrepreneurs, it is necessary to establish a new balance of interests. It certainly has a place for the state. Today the situation with the unemployed has reached an impasse. The government discourages the optimization of the workforce in state-owned enterprises. However, the main decisions on the choice of areas of activity, the amount and forms of investment, the location of production, the number of jobs, the level of wages must be made by investors. It is entrepreneurs who implement ideas on their own, not on budget money.”

              “3. Take all possible measures to attract foreign investors, including transnational corporations (TNCs).

              Today the potential of TNCs in Belarus is sharply limited. For its full use, the following measures are required:

              large-scale privatization,
              development of a full-fledged land market,
              ensuring the independence of the judiciary,
              creation of legal guarantees of property rights,
              debureaucratisation I and de-monopolization of the economy,
              liberalization of current and capital accounts,
              the adoption of basic market norms and EU standards for goods and services,
              creating a free trade zone with Russia, Ukraine and the European Union,”

              “4. Carry out restructuring, modernization, partial or complete privatization of large and medium-sized state-owned enterprises.

              For this, it is necessary to provide the following measures:

              detoxifying assets,
              liquidation of “dead” capital,
              optimization of the number of old jobs,
              attracting foreign or Belarusian partners,
              adaptation of the development strategy to post-crisis demand.

              As a result, state-owned enterprises will be able to create 100 thousand new jobs.” — HA HA

              1. Olga

                Yes, it is a program of full privatisation. I’ve seen the same story play out in the other previously socialist countries – give us your cheap labour for our transnationals, and de-industrialise so we may flood your market with our not-so-cheap goods.
                This has an added geopolitical dimension – exactly what happened in the Baltics and Ukr. will happen in BR. How many times does one need to watch the same film to get the point?

      4. GettingTheBannedBack

        A better question is this. What strategic advantage does a large and powerful organisation/country gain by taking over the government of Belarus? Analyse with evidence and submit by Monday deadline.

        There are very few instances in the world where the ordinary people overthrow dictators without the complicit approval of the powerful, whether inside or outside of the country, eg the country’s military and police, the US, NATO etc

        I look with interest at the moment at the demonstrations in Thailand against the monarch. When the old monarch was in power, these demonstrators would have been immediately beaten and thrown into a black hole jail. But now the government is “treading softly”.
        Parallels with the way the Egyptian military treaded softly when the crowds were shouting for the resignation of Mubarak in Egypt. But when the crowds demonstrated to keep the elected Brotherhood government later, leaders were treated savagely, jailed, executed by the military. Rule through terror.
        And now the country is ruled by dictators. Old wine, new bottles. Everywhere. Belarus, Ukraine, Venezuala, Chile, Egypt, Iran back in the day. You don’t win in the playground without a playground bully or two on your side.

    1. Bill Smith

      How ‘sudden’ is this? Hasn’t Lukashenko been putting down the opposition as best he could for a decade or two? What is ‘sudden’ is that Lukashenko has lost at least some of his control over that suppression of the opposition?

      How open has the border between Belarus and the West been?

      1. Olga

        As I mentioned earlier… even NPR admitted that two months ago, Tichanovskaia did not even know she’d be running. But now, she “wants” to be the president. Any credentials or experience?
        (And fyi, BR has been run quite well (economically) for the benefit of even the plain folks. It is a landlocked country, with few resources, except for successful agri sector. Who in EU do you think is interested in their agri exports? BR has been getting cheap energy from Russia – if that is cut off, what do you think will happen? Oh, I know, they’ll buy US LNG. BR, under Luko, preserved many of the social protections from the socialist times. They even have right to pensions memorialised in their constitution, and until recently, women retired at 55 and men at 60 – just one example. If the west takes over, it’d be depopulation time – just like the Baltics.)

      2. deplorado

        A Russia based commentator on YouTube has said that the immediate events are driven by money from gas interests. For example, Viktor Babariko, the other opposition leader – was president at Gasprombank in Belarus. Gasprom and its bank are owned actually by an entity registered in Luxemburg (where the Russian share is less then controlling – probably possible to check) and are reportedly in financial trouble.

        Lukashenka was being extorted by Russia on gas prices, and he tried to show he has alternatives in the West. This way he exposed his position as between a rock and a hard place, and the long-awaiting mechanisms of the long term game (subjugating Russia and any countries trying sovereign internal and external policies) were put in motion again as it was assumed he had no place to go to anymore.

        Also, it’s interesting to note that Lukashenka completely blew off WHO and was sent consultants multiple times and received threats for economic sanctions, in the last few months. Which (the sanctions bit) is interesting, to say the least.

        But all this probably points to an answer, why now.

    2. vlade

      I have some Belarus sources, but they of course have their own bubbles, so it’s second hand information, but I believe them more than most official news.

      The anti-Lukashenko crowd is a mix of pro-EU and pro-Russia folks, who both had enough of Lukashenko – for different reasons. The pro-Russia crowd because he’s not integrating with Russia as fast as they would like. In fact, before the elections he got arrested a few Wagner chaps who used Belorus as a transfer point, accusing them of formenting an “election plot” – by Russia! Which was just Lukashenko’s way of trying to show how strongly he’s pro sovreign Belarus. On the first demonstrations, Russian journalists were beaten and detained by riot police. Including a journalist from Sputnik Belarus which cannot be by any stretch of imagination claimed to be anti-Kremlin and pro-EU/NATO.

      The pro-EU folks is actually a misnomer mostly, as they are actually extremely wary of going the Ukraine way, and even if they might be pro-EU, they actually don’t want to ask to be in the EU or NATO because they very correctly believe that even raising something like that very noisily would immediately invoke response from Russia. Ideally, they would like some sort of neutrality. In fact, I believe that the best thing the anti-L opposition could do now, if they really want to get rid of L, is to tell Russia explicitly they will not be looking for EU/NATO membership, and will continue close relation with Russia (similar to what Armenia’s opposition did two years ago).

      There are signs that even Russia is not entirely happy with Lukashenko, because they usual statements from Russia are way more guarded as usual (for example “it cannot be decisively proven that Lukashenko did not win” is a very weak statement from Lavrov – it very explicitly doesn’t sat he really did win), and the first statement of “Western interference” was coming fairly late (yesterday, after two weeks of protests). And again, made by Lavrov, not Putin.

      Oh, and the “Lukashenko demonstrations” are small compared to the anti-L ones, never mind that they are usually very clearly staged. Not even Sputnik or other pro-Kremlin media report any comparably sized pro-L demonstrations.

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks. I’ve read on a site I cannot link that Belarus is all Russian ethnic and therefore unlikely to go along with another Ukraine scenario where a large chunk of the populace had deep anti-Russian roots. Plus Ukraine is a mess–not exactly an encouraging example.

      2. Olga

        Let’s agree that opposition is pro-west or pro-Russia. Anyone might get tired of a prez after 26 yrs. And yes, Russia is not happy with Luko because he is a bit of a weasel – he tried to dabbble with the west, not realising that his head would be the first one to roll. I think he now sees that.
        But the Wagner stuff is pure disinformation – it has now been credibly refuted as a lame attempt by UKR SBU to trap some hapless guys and frame Russia. Luko and VVP talked and figured it out.
        The against Luko demonstrations are very clearly staged – a tell-tale sign: all have the same placards and flags.

        1. Basil Pesto

          The against Luko demonstrations are very clearly staged – a tell-tale sign: all have the same placards and flags.

          Forgive me, but how is that a telltale sign? Couldn’t organisers just be printing placards and flags in large numbers to hand out to fellow protestors for maximum visual impact?

          1. Olga

            I think you answered your own question – if there are “organisers” who get to prep materials, then how can this be considered spontaneous? Organising implies planning… implies some goals… And who are these organisers?

      3. km

        If the West gets its way, those anti-Lukashenko, pro-Russia demonstrators will be treated with the same light touch as pro-Russians in Ukraine.

    3. deplorado

      What I find astonishing in all of the Belarus talk is that no one in the “West” has mentioned anything about the economy of Belarus. That their large Soviet era industry was more or less preserved intact, that their collectivist agriculture was more or less preserved, that their free healthcare was preserved, and lo and behold – their gdp per head are something like close to Russia’s and about 3 TIMES higher than Ukraine’s. That they export tractors to the US. That Moscow’s supermarkets are flush with their ag products – which they are not allowed to export to the EU. And yet, have you ever seen better streets and better dressed young crowd at protests? They have an IT and software sector larger than that in many post-Soviet Eastern European countries of even bigger size. They have no post-Soviet population crash, like in Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria. How does a 10-million land-locked backward communist dictatorship achieve that?

      Does that tell a thinking person anything they need to think about? I think it does, and then some.

      Also, I’m not a close follower of Belarus, but have not heard any oligarchs mentioned. Where are they? On the contrary, I’ve heard that Russian oligarchs have definite designs on the place and ARE interested in toppling Lukashenka. We’ve heard plenty about Ukrainian oligarchs. Why not here?

      I understand Tikhanovskaya’s program includes privatization. Of course. Imagine the billions that can be made when those chunks of functioning industry, agriculture, healthcare are picked apart. It’s one of the last plump unpicked economic carcasses that are left. And why should Belarusians stay and work and live in their own country? After privatization, they can go and work in the hotels and construction sites of the EU and UK, and give a chance to their children to be full European citizens. Like their Ukrainian brethren did, what’s wrong with that? /s

      Also, I’ve heard that Tikhanovskaya’s husband — a blogger of recent renown in Belarus — was really the one aiming for a political leadership role, but for a reason I dont recall he couldn’t (no time to look this up) and she was asked and accepted, very reluctantly, to play the role of a face of the “opposition”. And she had no program when she started, and no doubt there are consultants now who are coming to plug the gap.

      The whole thing stinks, and too bad for the Belarusian people.

      I’ll be happy if someone illuminates further the above points, as the disinformation and ra-ra parroting around it is rampant.

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        You’re a bit too upbeat about Belarus’ demographic and economic situation. A quick glance at Wikipedia shows that its population has dropped by about 500k (out of roughly 10m) since 1990; but the magic question is, how many of these citizens are actually living in Belarus proper? There are a lot of Belarussians who have long ago moved to Russia but keep their Bel citizenship. Many Belarussians move to Russia seeking better economic prospects because their local economy is moribund. Luka is happy to see them go (reduces local unemployment and discontent, plus many of them wire money back home), and Russia is happy to take them in (they are educated and white and speak perfect Russian). I agree that Luka has maintained the USSR’s positive aspects: good education and infrastructure, decent public healthcare, little visible poverty, and safe streets. But all of these good things (as well as Luka’s extensive police state) cost money that Luka doesn’t have, so he depends on Russian subsidies. And Russia is tired of paying these subsidies, and will continue to reduce them unless Luka agrees to submit to VVP’s will. My sense is that the Russians will do whatever’s necessary to keep Luka in power, and once things calm down Luka will be eased out. And quite possibly there will be a referendum and Belarus will agree to join Russia officially. And for sure, the Russian oligarchs will sink their teeth into Belarus’ juicier assets. I hope the violence doesn’t spiral out of control; maybe it will fizzle out a la Armenia 2018 or Venezuela more recently.

    4. chuck roast

      Lately I find myself waxing nostalgic over the gone but not forgotten Non-Aligned Movement. Nehru, Tito, Castro, Nkrumah, Nasser, Sukarno. These were leaders that demanded to be taken seriously, and were forces for peace if only because their demands were legitimate. Look at the pip-squeaks that we are currently surrounded by. And they all seem to continually replicate from the same damaged DNA…saints preserve us.

  2. John A

    To sub-editor
    Why is ‘Tens of thousands of anti-Lukashenko demonstrators rally in Minsk’
    under the heading ‘Ukraine’ rather than Belarus’?

      1. Harry

        It is a short cut, but refers to “color revolutions”.

        Was there an attempt to have one in the US?

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Inflammation: the key factor that explains vulnerability to severe COVID The Conversation

    I was recently talking to a doctor in my family who spent months dealing with Covid patients. She said that in her experience there was one variable, and one variable alone that allowed her to predict whether an incoming patient would recover quickly or need intensive treatment – BMI. I guess that since obesity is an obvious marker for inflammation, it amounts to more or less the same thing.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      if BMI is the determinant, that doesn’t bode well for the usa…especially the underclass.

      related: i suppose that theres different kinds of ‘inflammation’…i suffer from global arthritis…in all my joints.
      does that kind of inflammation have associated things in the bloodstream, too?
      how does this differ from the glucose related inflammation mentioned in the article?

      not talking much, today…hurricane in the gulf may as well be hovering over my bed….so i’m painful and fuzzy-headed.
      suddenly felt it around noon yesterday…no local pressure change, and therefore an unknown mechanism…but i’ve had this “weather problem” for 30 years, now. Pain that’s of a fundamentally different quality than my normal, everyday, or labor-related painfulness(which i just muscle through with grit teeth). weather phenomena are the only correlation that fits…either hurricanes(the recent Hanna was closer, but milder than this one) or rapid and/or strong cold fronts…or where a strong high and a strong low are close to each other(such that there’s high winds, due to the steep pressure gradient).
      anyhoo…i can go on and on about this subject, which main stream medicine dismisses out of hand,lol.
      still pretty darned surprising, every time it happens, that i can feel a storm 1500 miles away, and that essentially warm wet air can kick my a$$ so thoroughly.
      waiting now to see if we get any of the rain i’m paying for.

      1. pasha

        temperature and pressure extremes really trigger recurring symptoms of lyme’s disease in me, so i totally empathize amphortas. we get winter colds naps that you don’t, but i cannot imagine all the variables relating to TWO hurricanes advancing on me!

    2. rtah100

      PK, this is “anecdata”.

      I cannot paste the charts into this comment (Shades of Fermat and his proof being too big for the margin!) but please download the latest UK intensive care national audit and research centre COVID report (July 2020) covering data on 10,557 Covid patients admitted to ICU in 2020 against 5,782 controls (viral pneumonia 2017-2019).

      You will find:

      Figure 11 – BMI distribution of patients critically ill with confirmed COVID
      This chart shows that the BMI distribution at admission of patients is SIMILAR to the age-matched and sex-matched general population.
      0.7% of critically ill Covid patients had BMI <18.5 vs 0.8% of general population have BMI <18.5
      25.6% had BMI 18.5-25 vs 25.8% in general population
      34.4% had BMI 25-30 vs 41.7% in general population
      31.4% had BMI 30-40 vs 28.9% in general population
      7.9% had BMI 40+ vs 2.9% in general population

      Only this last category of Covid patients is materially higher, nearly 3x more Covid patients are, um, supermassively obese than the matched general population. 90%+ of the Covid population is no fatter than the rest of us.

      Your relative is doubtless a good doctor but she is either extrapolating from a comparatively small data set, given Ireland's skill in controlling the pandemic, or her memory of the patient population is biased by the systematic prejudice and morality play against the obese. Please do not reinforce this message.

      There is a divine justice looking after we cream-cake guzzlers though. You must also look at Table 10, outcome by patient characteristics. The columns are Covid – #(%) discharged alive; Covid – #(%) died in care; Historic viral pneumonia (i.e. the control population) – % died in care

      BMI Covid lived Covid died Control died
      <25 1498 (59.3) 1030 (40.7) (23.1)
      25-<30 1936 (57.8) 1413 (42.2) (22.5)
      30-<40 1936 (63.6) 1108 (36.4) (18.9)
      40+ 502 (65.2) 268 (34.8) (13.6)

      You can see that Covid patients at all BMI's were more likely to die than viral pneumonia patients, 2x more likely for most BMI and nearly 3x for the supermassive ones. But the supermassive Covid patients were *LEAST* likely to die of all the Covid BMI groups. Touche, thinnies!

      (It's a 10% better odds and I imagine it has a low statistical power….)

    3. rtah100

      The article in the inflammation link is behind the curve. Here is a lovely Dutch paper which has identified mechanism behind the fatal inflammatory relapse in patients at Day 14.

      It appears to be an immune reaction, as suspected, specifically macrophage over-stimulation by the presence of anti-spike antibodies. This results in the immune system attacking the pulmonary vascular endothelium, causing pulmonary oedema and then microvascular clotting and pulmonary thrombosis.

      There is a link to metabolic disease complex as noted in the poor prognosis of uncontrolled diabetics (and misrepresented in the obesity witchhunt): the over-stimulation seems to be related to abnormal patterns of antibody glycosylation in the patients who take a turn for the worse at Day 14.

      And it can be blocked with a small molecule drug, fostamatinib (no, me neither!), which is easy to scale up, compared with a biologic.

      Hurrah for science!

  4. mothy

    I thought you were talking about this low overpass:

    I live in Manchester, NH, and frequent Boston, but had never heard of “Storrowing”! I suspect the Durham, NC, “haircuts” are even more dramatic (and plentiful).

  5. Olga

    ‘Is Iran set to forfeit its national interests to China? Qantara’
    The only proof for the “concerned’ headline is a link to an obscure website, with an article by a fellow at the Brookings Institution at Doha (which does not even state that clearly).
    But yes, one forgets, Iran is supposed to forfeit its national interest to the west, not China. Don’t they know what is good for them?

  6. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Ha ha so Zuckerberg did Tik Tok, who says billionaires don’t completely own this place lol

    1. The Rev Kev

      Well that makes sense that. Zuck liked the idea of Tik Tok so much he stole the idea and had his nerds build a knock-off called “Reels” as a competitor. But having Trump sabotage Tik Tok will certainly help Zucks bottom line.

  7. Clive

    Re: NHS managers told care homes to put blanket ‘do not resuscitate’ orders on ALL residents at height of Covid crisis, report shows

    I’m trying to, for personal reasons, get a straight yes-or-no answer on whether there was a mandatory DNR in place (at an assisted living complex, rather than a care home, but the principle is the same) here in the U.K. between March and fairly recently. I’ve asked the facility owner, the coroner, the hospital where the deceased was previously treated (but discharged some weeks before — they merely went there for some routine tests but there was some admin done and their medical records edited which is a bit mysterious) and primary care.

    Everyone passes the buck to everyone else (this is why I’ve accumulated such a long list of actors who I’ve made enquiries of). That alone raises my suspicions — I know how bureaucracies work like the back of my hand and this kind of responsibility pass-the-parcel is a standard method of obfuscation. I also got an opinion from a medical malpractice lawyer, I was told this is really gaining traction. I was asked to join a class action but it is giving instructions to a real load of ambulance chasers so I demurred for now. I’m going to knock on a few more doors and see what I find.

    I will keep readers posted, if interested.

    1. Harry

      Is it still “ambulance chasing” if they are chasing a hearse?

      And I am very sorry for what I assume to be your loss. I lost a parent in Dec, and it looks like I will lose another soon.

    2. paddlingwithoutboats

      In the US, the protocol for DNR orders is that if a patient is discharged, or goes to a rehab facility, then goes back into the same hospital there have to be new DNR orders each time/each location.

      The default for all existing inpatients who have not made explicit written orders stating otherwise is full code meaning intubation, ressusitation the works.

      Once you leave a facility, post surgery if it’s out patient, your ‘account’ flips back to full code again even if you have previously signed written orders for anything else, even if recent, a day ago.

      Photocopy many and take them with.

      Might be a combo of fear of liability (the US is good on that), putting as many magical boxes between the person and the process, or other.

      Be ready.

    3. cocomaan

      It’s awful that you have to do this kind of work. It reminds me of wartime families having to ask a million questions to find out what happened to their loved one. All the best, Clive.

      1. Clive

        Yes, that is always a good idea. I spoke to a care assistant and she was being very kind and helpful (I think she appreciated what it meant if you weren’t there when someone passed away and you get some comfort from knowing that they didn’t suffer, someone was with them and so on).

        She let it slip that (I tried to remember the exact wording which of course I can’t but it went something like) “and we didn’t have to worry about calling for an ambulance with everything going on like it was so he wasn’t in any distress”. That got my attention and suddenly put me on alert but the care worker spotted instantly either she’d said too much or I was going to want to know more (if you’re in geriatric care, I think you are very skilled at learning how to defuse contentious topics of conversation with relatives).

        Care staff get enough hassles, are paid far too little and in any event can’t give me definitive information that carries weight (I’d just get told they’d made a mistake if I relied on it and they’d get insurmountable pressure to recant it) so I dropped it with the care assistant and decided to get corroborated documented details.

        The professional classes all closed ranks and clammed up.

        I’d probably have not paid that conversation any mind if it wasn’t for another phone call I’d had a couple of weeks prior to it. I’d called the local florist to arrange for flowers to be sent. I’m from the north and so was the lady I spoke to. So I know the mannerisms, the tones of voice, the ways of saying things without saying things. I made a few gallows humour jokes, like “well, at least your line of work is pretty recession proof”, but you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. I may have completely imagined the undertone. I’d be delighted if I was totally wrong and completely barking up the wrong tree. But during that conversation, I get an awful, cold, suffocating sensation. Like the person I spoke to knew something had happened. Something terrible.

        Let’s hope I’m mistaken.

  8. Krystyn Podgajski

    My jaw dropped to the floor when the FDA chief said that a 35% reduction of mortality meant that if 100 people had COVID, 35 would still be alive with the plasma treatment.

    I mean, I am not the best at math but, uhm, no.

    How many people heard that who you will not be able to convince otherwise? How many people heard that will never have it challenged? The big lie works, and I am going into hiding.

    (Also, anyone have a bad reaction to propofol? Two days after my anesthesia I am severely depressed and tired. Turns it it is a thing for people with pre-existing anxiety/depression.)

    1. Winston Smith

      In the present circumstances, it is difficult to resist the pull of the abyss. I hope you have something/someone that can draw you away from it

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        Thanks Winston. I figured it out, it was low blood sugar. Propofol inhibits CPT1A and I already have a slight deficiency there with my Saami heritage. I drank a bunch of glucose water and I am better.

    2. Clive

      Re: anaesthesia reaction.

      Yes. I had a four and a half hour operation a few years back. I don’t have any major depressive disorder or anxiety but I have never felt so fatigued. For at least ten days, it was like I was swimming in molasses. Every sensory experience was distorted. I slept for maybe nine hours or so solid, but awoke feeling unrefreshed.

      Slowly — very very slowly — I started to feel mostly like my old self again, over a period of a couple of months. But please go easy on yourself, don’t expect instant results. Do what you can, when you can and no more. Try to set very modest goals — a bath or a shower every day, a simple meal cooked or prepared from fresh ingredients and clean clothes. Just that. Just the basics.

      Once you can do those, maybe add in a ten to fifteen minute gentle stroll round the block. But only if you feel like it. No heroics!

      As I said, I don’t have any mental health issues. But the anaesthetic process itself is, I think, very underestimated in its impacts. I still, many years after, recall that impelling, irresistible force dragging me unconscious. And it wasn’t like drifting off to sleep. It was utter oblivion. An unsettled experience to say the least.

      I’ve talked to a couple of people who’ve reported other longer term effects too. You’re not alone.

  9. zagonostra

    >Ralph Nader: Here are 8 glaring issues Democrats are avoiding in 2020 – AlterNet

    I find it interesting that Ralph Nader has been relegated to AlterNet in order to reach an audience. What Nader says of the progressive party could be said of him and his viewpoints, he has been excluded with impunity by those who control the political narrative.

    The Democratic Party avoided the issue of what to do about the gross maldistribution of power between the tiny few and the rest of the people in America. This glaring omission signaled that the…progressive wing of the Party…could have their priorities excluded with impunity by the Party bosses.

    The “Party bosses” is just another name for the oligarchs. The fear of ochlocracy and the “revolt of the massess” somehow morphed into a political stasis where priorities can be excluded with impunity by the ruling elites. What can the ” populus” want, we let them vote for Senators, allowed women and blacks to vote, reduced the age of the vote to 18, Democracy has flowered and blossomed over the the decades.

    I think Madison in Federalist No. 10 was paranoid, he had nothing to fear. When the vast majority of people want a good, like, M4A, all the elites have to do is say the other party is evil incarnate. They then proffer to the people a candidate with his/her neatly attired garb, glistening white teeth, million dollar smile who can exude at heart-felt concern over his subjects and presto, lather, rinse and repeat while grandma is hooked up to a monitor and you have to sell the house for at-home healthcare.

    1. Donald

      Just mention the name “Ralph Nader” among online liberals and they go into a temper tantrum. It doesn’t matter what he says–if anything, the fact that he says something is probably reason enough for them to deny that there is any way the Democratic Party could improve.

      It’s childish and stupid, but much of what passes for liberal politics is childish and stupid, and yet they are the ones who continually accuse policy-oriented Sanders voters of being a personality cult.

      1. JohnnySacks

        Their Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader game plan didn’t work with Sanders, I’ll go far as to say it even backfired on them. Sends them into a vindictive rampage of well deserved self destruction.

        Anything but an introspective analysis of the cause of their 2000, 2004, 2016, and more likely by the month, 2020 failures

        1. a different chris

          Another almost toss-off by Nader (he has more brains than the top 10% of the Dem party, even allowing for sociopathic intelligence):

          . Speakers could have felt secure by quoting President Eisenhower’s farewell warnings regarding the military-industrial complex.

          You want to reach out to Republicans, instead of putting a pea-brain like Kasich on there why don’t you find some real conservatives like Eisenhower? You know, there is this thing called “historical footage” that would be way more interesting than Kamela Harris.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The unbelievable embrace of Republicans at the DNC convention was intended to say to them “we’re OK with you!”.

            But the inhabitants of the DNC “big tent” should have been asking themselves “but how come they are OK with us?

            The obvious answer is this: because your program is Republican.

            Last time I checked we already had one of them on offer.

      2. hunkerdown

        Politics is about creating enemies. Therefore, to the commoner, out of whom those enemies are customarily created, politicians are irreconcilably and permanently the enemy however the current coalitions might lay.

    2. Carolinian

      relegated to AlterNet

      Not exactly a new thing. Counterpunch always links up his columns and I believe he still has his podcast called The Ralph Nader Radio Hour. I don’t follow it much anymore because his message has largely been absorbed by sites like this one.

      1. zagonostra

        ‘The message has been largely absorbed by sites like this one.’ Yes you are correct.

        Unfortunately, these views are Terra incognito to the 100 million non -voters who inhabit some nether world of corporate media and infotainment.

  10. Alex

    The article about the affirmative action literally contradicts itself. First they say that ‘degrees from the state’s elite universities were a ticket to the riches of Silicon Valley’ and then after a few lines that white and Asian students ‘received little concrete benefit from the policy’.

    1. Chris Smith

      That and the article made it sound as though the real limitation was poor primary and secondary schools serving black and Hispanic students, leaving them unprepared for college.

  11. timbers

    MSM Good Morning America wants tax cuts for business? Glad I only check on the MSM once in a great while to see what they are pushing.

    Good Morning America Yahoo article featured tax cuts on Biden’s “first joint appearance with Harris.”. Don’t know it other issues were discussed, but that was main issue in the written article

    “Is it smart to tax businesses while you’re trying to recover?” Muir asked. Why not ask what you really mean: “Is it ever smart to tax businesses or the rich?”

    Like, that’s what’s on every voter’s mind? That’s why folks line up at food banks and smash windows? Not “Is it smart to spend a trillion a year on wars and invasions and defense systems we don’t need or giving Apple money by purchasing their bonds so they use them for stock buy backs, while you’re trying to recover?”

    Maybe Kamala should have interjected her plan to help the voters: Instead of cutting business taxes, make business more profitable by putting more minorities in privatized for profit prisons for life, and use them to put out fires.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      The Lower taxes crowd is a religion.. it has zero knowledge in the Laffer curve, nor does it care. It will keep asking for lower taxes until there is no more government.

      1. workingclasshero

        Why not lower or promise to lower business taxes going into an election.modern money theory states that taxes don’t in the final instance fund government spending at the federal level.the high tax crowd is the real “religion” as far as i can see and it’s been shown to be a political loser.

        1. hunkerdown

          MMT doesn’t state it directly, but the reason you raise taxes on the rich is to protect them from temptation and arrogance, by depriving them of some of the ability and the fruits of acting in their own interest at others’ expense.

          Those who fetishize competition (which, one should remember, is just a euphemism for predation with the blood censored) will whine and cry all day about that, babbling about the basis of society or excellence or some other narcissistic larpy crap. Laugh at them and their vision of humanity.

        2. timbers

          I don’t recall raising taxes on corporations and the rich as being political losers, but rather winners.

          Both Obama and Hillary campaigned on raising taxes on business, the rich, and Wall Street and stumbled over each other in the primaries to rake in votes based on that. Of course Obama never did what he promised.

          Unless you mean the donor class. They definitely don’t want the candidates they fund to talk about raising taxes.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            “The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible.”

            – Thomas More, 1516

        3. Kurtismayfield

          According to MMT, taxes are a way to control inflation. Since we see a lot of inflation on assets if you truly were advocating for MMT you would be advocating for increasing taxes on property and stocks.

    1. Harry

      Glad to hear he was vindicated. Attacking progressives is a contact sport here in the US. Funny cos Liberals dont usually want their kids playing contact sports. Maybe its like Lacrosse?

  12. Michael

    RE: Housing in the suburbs
    SB1120 here in CA seeks to eliminate single family zoning in the entire state. It is scheduled for a vote this week as the legislative session comes to an end Aug 31.
    It would allow two homes on every property by right and the ability to divide each sfd lot into two parcels, so upzoning x 4 potentially.
    It is sponsored by a SF assembly member (whose SB50 transit area housing bill crashed and burned thankfully) and the powerful San Diego member who is Pres of Senate. Exiting the Appropriations committee where bills must sink or swim over be carried over to the next session, it is now in the hands of the full body.
    Stunning power play trying to wrest control from local zoning decision making. Much opposition but the fact that it’s cleared for a vote shows much support. CA has liberalized granny units over local opposition, not all fair, but still wrestles with Air bnb where tourism runs cover for illegal “hotels”.
    Our state is such a mess.
    The Democratic Party currently holds veto-proof supermajorities in both houses of the California State Legislature. The Assembly consists of 61 Democrats and 18 Republicans, with one vacancy, while the Senate is composed of 29 Democrats and 11 Republicans.
    Paging Mr Pendulum,,,

    1. sd

      My guess is that since housing prices are way out of whack from income so the only real hope is to double the occupancy of the property.

    2. Billy

      Housing prices are based on how much debt a bank is willing to lend for a piece of property.

      The building trades unions, construction companies, debt finance masters like Wells Fargo, and suburbaphobics are in control and donate heavily to the state Real Estate Democrats.

      It would be nice to build housing with preference for local poor families who live in small towns and suburbs but The Civil Rights Act of 1964 means that whatever is built, is given out by lotteries run by local low income housing activists to anyone who applies, with preference often given to those fleeing inner city housing projects, bringing their problems with them.

      As to those “exclusionary-all white suburbs”:
      “Immigration and the growth of other non-Anglo groups have accelerated this integration of suburbs. Roughly 60 percent of Hispanics and Asians, notes Brookings, already live in suburbs, and more than 40 percent of noncitizen immigrants now move directly to suburbs.”

      “Simply put, racial integration is occurring, as it should, both massively and organically. This trend reflects most people’s basic aspirations and desires. This social ascendency will not be helped by forcing upwardly mobile minorities to accommodate a policy that imposes on them again the social problems – poor schools, gangs, unemployment – they sought to leave behind.”

      1. hunkerdown

        And there it is, say the neoliberals, if we just get Black people invested in bourgeois ownership, social justice will have been achieved. Well, too familyblogging bad for neoliberal social ascendancy.

        1. Billy

          Yes, you get gangbangers living near succesful black families whether they like it or not. Supervised by the non-elected activists who know what’s best for those defective black people who require the white man’s burden to look out for them.

      2. periol

        I am *shocked* to find that the Orange Country Register, the newspaper of record for Orange County, California, is not best pleased with a new state law being discussed that would decrease the OC’s ability to NIMBY zoning laws for the large wealth pockets in Newport Beach, Irvine, North Tustin, Anaheim Hills, Huntington Harbor, Lake Forest, Coto de Caza, Yorba Linda, etc. etc.

        That said, this law would not overrule HOA covenants, correct?

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          IANAL in California (I’m in Michigan — and earn most of my money from being an attorney who can read Japanese well enough to review documents in big cases when there are any moving) . . . but AFAIK HOA covenants are part of contract law involving private parties agreeing on how real property will or won’t be used, while zoning involves government law to regulate how real property will or won’t be used by private owners (and sometimes renters/possessors).

          A state could pass a law to regulate — or, let’s say perhaps, set the legal environment of conditions for — what terms HOA covenants taking effect after that law does may, must, or can’t include. It generally can’t pass a law that would have the effect of “impairing the Obligation of Contracts” (as Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution puts it) — that is, the obligations created by contracts already agreed to and implemented — unless there’s enough of a public-interest consideration to justify use of the state’s “police powers”. If you’re interested, you can take a look at this annotated discussion of Section 10 (contract considerations toward the bottom):

      1. periol

        My reading of the bill is that it’s targeted towards urban areas, specifically at cities. From my quick read it wouldn’t even impact the rural-zoned area I live in now. But I could be wrong, do you have info I’m missing on how this will hurt open space inside or outside of cities?

        It just seems like it makes it easier to create two dwellings on one lot. I would think the bigger issue with a practical application of this law is how many homes in Southern California already consume the entire lot, or nearly so. And if the house doesn’t take up the whole lot, they usually have a pool take care of the rest.

        “SB1120 aims to build up existing residential neighborhoods, which are largely zoned for single-family housing, by making it easier to split lots and convert homes into duplexes. Projects that meet local zoning and design standards, do not require demolition of occupied housing, and fall outside historic and environmentally sensitive districts would go through a streamlined approval process.”

  13. Tom Doak

    The link for the FT article on the fate of the Saudi prince, goes instead to an Intercept story about PFP’s in Alabama.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Because Wall street and Corporations love him! He is the representative of Wilmington Delaware.

    2. zagonostra

      Nor will they eliminate overseas tax havens for corporations where trillions are parked and where taxes are legally avoided.

      When the you live in a corporate oligarchy these types actions now don’t shock me much…but they do continue to disgust me.

    3. Glen

      Ask and answered: to do NOTHING.

      A more honest answer: He has been propped into place by Obama TO DO NOTHING THAT MAKES OBAMA LOOK BAD. So absolutely NOTHING which really fixes real problems for real Americans is on the agenda.

      So that’s Obama’s real legacy, reach out of the grave, take the mistakes you made on 2008/2009, and magnify those mistakes 1000x to run the whole country into the ground as the Democratic party response to the New Great Depression.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “How the Emmy-Winning Team Behind the Tonys Created the 2020 Democratic National Convention (EXCLUSIVE)”

    Sounds good until you remember that they are competing against a game-show host who had years in the business. Couldn’t stand the saccharine sweetness of this event so only watched it on the local news. But I see that the capstone speech by Biden was what was suppose to launch his bid for the Presidency and was a big hit – with the Daily Kos. Unfortunately, old Joe could not help himself and like in the past, plagiarized the words of another politician for his speech – that of Jack Layton, the leader of Canada’s left-wing New Democratic Party. He just can’t help himself after all these years as that is all he knows-

    1. Phillip Allen

      Not that Biden wouldn’t have committed the error were he acting on his own, at this point it makes no sense at all to think that he is anything but a meat puppet being operated by a claque representing the oligarch factions backing the Dem ticket. That plagiarizing was a staff failure, not necessarily that of a man who could well be seen as needing a conservator of person.

      As to the behind-the-scenes factional struggle, I think the real fight will be over who has the most influence on Harris, the person who is really being foisted as President when inevitably Biden is declared incapable of serving. Assuming they win – and it’s not clear they really want to.

    2. Lil’D

      Well, I am not a Biden fan
      But this doesn’t look like plagiarism. Words are different. He’s using a standard rhetorical cadence that I bet we can find in Obama speeches and New Testament. This is more like Ed Sheehan borrowing a groove.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      i did not watch it…but from the next room, it sounded almost identical to one of those espn shows about the glory days of the dallas cowboys…all thousand yard stares and glory and strings in major chords sweeping and sunrise through clouds in mountains.
      the pre-game breathlessness was also very similar.
      they’re really not making it easy to stave off the misanthropy.

      1. RMO

        “How the Emmy-Winning Team Behind the Tonys”

        So… they won an entertainment industry award at an awards show for producing an awards show for the entertainment industry? That is gloriously ouroboros right there.

        I am right there with you on the difficulty of staving off the misanthropy. In more normal times it’s easier as even being a bit of a hermit my regular interactions with people keeps reminding me that the world we get fed through media isn’t reality and that really helps.

  15. Olga

    An interesting article on what is going on with US finances:
    “Here – finally – we come to the crux. In outlining the monetary ‘revolution’ taking place in the U.S., there is much in it for the Wall Street ‘Davos’ contingent to like: the move from traditional money into digital; Central Banks issuing digital money (though the ‘Davos’ crowd would prefer that to be done by a global authority); the end of cash; and the system-control and transparency that digitisation would allow. Some of this – such as the political instrumentalisation of smartphone apps – have been given a push by the Coronavirus.”

    1. Winston Smith

      The pandemic certainly helped in taking people away from the “paper” currency mindset for fear of transmission

      1. polecat

        Some people. But not me – using cash is an act of liberation. Treat those bills like the flu – just don’t lick your fingers, don’t touch your eyes .. and scrub those hands like a old-school surgeon afterwards!

  16. Wukchumni

    Gandhi’s glasses left in letterbox sell for £260k BBC
    I’m frequently amazed at the prices relics of famous people fetch, you could probably procure a pair of glasses like that for £26 or even much less.

    What does the new owner get out of it really, ‘these are the very glasses Ghandi wore’!

    A couple years back, a Beatles ‘Butcher Album’ signed by John Lennon fetched a similar number to said glasses, absurd.

    1. zagonostra

      It kind of makes sense when you framed (sorry about pun) it in terms of “relics.”

      In the “Dark Ages” ages centers of religious worship and teaching used to via against each other for how many splinters of the cross or bones of saints they procure.

      Now, we worship the rich and powerful, the beautiful and glamorous; celebrity = saints, and mammon=god. It all makes perfect sense, the principle remains, the forms change.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      i have two particular rocks, among prolly thousands(lol) in my Library.
      one is from the Federal Building in Oklahoma City(friend of a friend was an emt there, and they had to stand down, until all clear, so had nothing to do…so they threw a bunch of bits of rubble in the “bus”…one of which ended up with me)
      …and a chunk of the Berlin Wall(ex wife was there when it was coming down, stuck it in her pocket)
      i have often, without explanation, handed one or the other of these to people who come over for the first time…”here, hold this rock for a while”(for some reason, people seem to accept such things out here)
      3 out of 4, when asked if they have any feelings about their rock after a time, report a feeling of sadness and loss…which they can’t explain.
      drunk, high, sober…doesn’t matter.

      similarly, i’m inheriting a camel saddle…old, obviously hand made…that my dad obtained from somewhere and used as a footstool.
      and my “coffin table” is a 1860 era Romanian child’s coffin with stains in the bottom that my mom gave me for my 18th birthday(!?)

      people attache themselves to various objects for all kinds of reasons.

      it would be way cool to have a moon rock….or a sliver of trinitite.
      just sayin’.

    3. Glen

      Just what do you spend your money on when you could easily spend a million dollars a day for the next year, and still have a billion dollars? (For us math challenged, that $365M.)

      We normals do not understand that if you are one of the 0.1%, you have a LOT of money. One of the biggest problems you have is trying to figure out what to INVEST your money in to maximize return on investment. So they buy all sorts of crazy crap which has driven prices crazy on all sorts of stuff.

      They will spend all sorts of crazy money if they think it could potential MAKE MONEY. The funny/sad part about this is that the “economic uncertainty” which they complain about WAS CREATED BY THEM. The last thing they could possible want to do is pay taxes and support the common good which would actually reduce that same “economic uncertainty”.

      1. RMO

        I understand the “relic” appeal myself. I remember for instance going to the Victoria (BC) Maritime Museum and seeing the little boat “Trekka” on display. Being about twenty feet overall it fit easily into a room with the mast and fin keel off. This was the boat that John Guzzwell built and sailed around the world in back in the fifties. I had read his book about the voyage many times. Being able to reach out and touch it was wonderful. Spending a vast amount of money on something owned by a famous or historical person isn’t something I would do even of I had the cash though – unless it was in a way that could be shared such as through a museum donation. Spending a large sum of money on something owned by Ghandi though really seems kind of weird.

    4. Maritimer

      It is probably out of fashion these days, but who authenticated that these were indeed Gandhi’s glasses? Notorious obfuscators of securities like S&P or Moodys? Or some of the dodgy premium “auction” houses. The Collectible World is extremely lucrative and therefore, just like Finance itself, extremely attractive and, therefore, susceptible to fraud, deceit, fake and counterfeit. Not to be outdone by the Fine Art World, even sports memorabilia is the subject of counterfeit.

      There are a lot of books about collectible fakes and frauds. The key item is the provenance of an item. Where there is profit, there is provenance for sale.

      Hey, is this Bridge actually from Brooklyn?

      1. Wukchumni

        About 20 years ago @ a coin show in Long Beach Ca. that included sports cards & memorabilia, a friend gave me an 8×10 glossy of Warren Spahn to have him sign it in person, as he was there doing that, and I plumb forgot and felt bad about it, so I practiced his signature with a sharpie until I thought it’d be ok, and let er’ rip.

        I told my friend about the bogus signature around a decade ago, and he laughed his proverbial arse off, in regards to.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Low blow: Sydney’s new ferries won’t fit under bridges while passengers on top deck”

    There is no way that this turd can ever be polished enough to make it shine. Like the ordered trains that did not fit the tunnels, the Minister and his minions never thought to check just where the boats were to be used. And of course they had to be built overseas as nobody knows how to build a boat in Australia apparently. And wouldn’t you know it – it was discovered that the boats have asbestos aboard them. The NSW Libs remind me of the guy that built a boat in his basement as a hobby but when finished discovered that there was no way to get it out the basement-

    1. Synoia

      “Low blow: Sydney’s new ferries won’t fit under bridges while passengers on top deck”

      If I understand this, the ferries do fit, but the sitting passengers do not, for two obstacles Camellia Railway Bridge and Gasworks Bridge.

      What percentage of the routes are affected?

    2. ewmayer

      I’m reminded of a classic Looney Tunes Sylvester & Tweety sketch from my childhood, one of the ones that had a little inside joke for any adults who might be watching, in form of a warning sign reading Ducka You Head, Lowla Bridgeada. (Before digging out the link, I had actually misremembered it all these years as being a Daffy Duck cartoon, probably because “Ducka you head” would’ve been doubly funny as a warning to Daffy.)

      I wonder if they could safely add ballast to the ferries to lower them in the water by, say, a foot?

      1. Tom Bradford

        No worries. I understand that after nine months a Ministerial Inquiry staffed by a ex-Minister, five senior civil servants and many supernumeraries commissioned a report from a Private Consultancy run by the Prime Minister’s brother-in-law which has (at a total cost of approximately A$120 million) reported that the solution is simply to lower the water-level under the bridge.

  18. Wukchumni

    It had been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple years doing it’s best to be ignored, but I finally read Day of the Triffids in one fell swoop of a smoky day, and what a fine tale was woven.

    Really enjoyed it~

    1. The Rev Kev

      One of my favourites too. If you like John Wyndham’s work, then you might want to look for “The Kraken Wakes” which is just as good and is a fine tale.

      1. ambrit

        “The Mind Parasites” is Colin Wilson. His neo-Lovecraftian books are good. A very interesting character all around. His first book, “The Outsider” is interesting. (Not a work of fiction.)
        L. P. Davies is also very compelling in that oeuvre.
        Europe has a different sensibility about it’s fantastic fiction. For example, Phillip K Dick was moderately successful in America, and only achieved significant recognition during his lifetime in France.

  19. bandit

    Roaming Charges: Conventional Weapons at the DNC

    To retain my sanity in these chaotic times, I have sworn off all articles or headlines regarding a number of topics, starting with Trump, Covid-19 and including the 2020 election. However, in a dazed-out state of lethargy brought on by the quarantine I somehow found myself reading “Roaming Charges…” As I was absentmindedly scrolling down the list, Bernie Sanders popped me to attention, as he actually morphed into a cheerleader of the DNC and the party line. That should give all progressives who supported him a bad case of indigestion and little hope for the future.

    One of the prerequisites of a politician is to be a grifter, a carpetbagger of the most loathsome ilk, among other serious negative qualities; liar, scammer, con artist and traitor to our rights and freedoms as written in the Constitution. I am old enough to remember when our Constitution had some substance, a brilliantly written and enduring legacy that has been all but completely trashed by these very subversives who pretend to represent us. We should know better than to encourage their morbid spectacle.

    1. hunkerdown

      The more you read the history of American politics, the more you find that the Constitution’s substance was always for the oligarchs to have first dibs on literally everything.

      You’re right, though. The more I see of the sausage factory, the more willingly I would accept less and better whole-muscle meat. I eagerly await the end of politics and the beginning of administration.

    2. Carolinian

      For the very reason you mention the founders like Jefferson pretended not to be politicians and adopted above it all front porch style campaigns, letting others do their dirty work.

      Modern politicians like Obama seek to maintain the facade via plentiful P.R. Trump breaks the mold by making everything about him–sort of the anti-Jefferson in every sense.

      Of course these days Jefferson has been Hamilton-ed so he’s on the outs too.

      1. Carolinian

        And re St. Clair–he does go on a tad but I liked this

        + How to raise a McCain up when it’s in defeat…the night they dropped the Nalpalm down and all the Democrats were singing…

        Strangely he doesn’t point out the perhaps unwitting appropriateness of Julia Louis-Dreyfus–who starred as a comically incompetent Veep–plumping for the comically incompetent veep. Guess Jeff doesn’t get HBO.

    1. zagonostra

      I don’t know if it was a typo or a creative turn of phrase, but reference to Joe Biden should be made simply by typing “OBiden.”

      1. RMO

        As long as you reduce their policy goals to “They both want to do some stuff” that statement could be construed as accurate.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The final graf absolutely nails it:

      “We choose not to use that scientific knowledge for national policy around the virus and school opening. We choose not to teach collective sacrifice by sheltering-in-place nationally all summer. We choose not to prioritize education with our public dollars in this time of crisis. We choose to fail our young people, and now we are preparing to blame them for it.”

      To which I add, the young people will remember this failure for the rest of their lives.

      1. JWP

        “we choose to fail our young people”

        Teaching them the valuable lesson that the almighty dollar comes before everything. My generation who has not known peacetime, economic stability, competent leadership, or social and familial stability is in for one helluva life. I have no idea where all this will go, and neither my friends nor I trust our elders or superiors, but are taught we must respect them. How can you respect generations of people who have laid waste to your future. At some point there will be a harsh blowback and whether it be destructive protests, massive systematic overhauls in government or acceptance of societal collapse, I cannot see a reason to blame us.

        I am drawn to a link a few days ago which talks about succession and the importance of passing on knowledge. We have been given (because few my age have the enlightening and caring commentariet at their fingertips) knowledge of war, corruption, and greed, and so far have answered with cancel culture. This is a bit of a charged comment and i don’t want it stuck in mod land, but the article is right, we were set up to fail and defiance is always the natural response of young people.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          I agree with this, JWP. I’m by some definitions the earliest of the Millennials, so I did get the peace and relative prosperity of the ’80s and ’90s (yes, I know that it was nothing compared to the Trentes Glorieuse of 1945-75, but it was better than now….) I don’t blame working class Boomers or Gen Xers, nota bene, but I think it’s absolutely true that the vast majority of people I see under 25 today are suffering really badly right now and have been screwed for much of their lives. Obviously I’m not talking about Chad and Madison from Westchester.

          At any rate, and full disclosed I’m a (community) college prof who was recently cut out of a job via Covid-related “downsizing,” I am in total sympathy with the students. They are precisely right to blame the Administrators et al. College administrators are among the most cowardly and cynical of bureaucrats, and they cynically brought these kids back, knowing this would inevitably fail, so they could get their tuition dollars before killing a few dozen or sending them all back home. If they didn’t know what 19-year-olds are going to do when gathered even socially distanced en masse, after months of not seeing each other, human nature being what it is, and a culture of total excess preached to them since they are toddlers, these administrators have no place holding their fancy degrees and elevated positions in our society.

          But I don’t think that’s it. They knew, and didn’t and don’t care. The MBAization of the universities sowed the seeds, and now we are reaping the whirlwind.

  20. Wukchumni

    The Castle Fire in Sequoia National Monument went from a nothingburger a few days ago to nearly 4,000 acres and growing.

    It’s reminiscent of the Rough Fire in 2015 which scorched 151,000 acres, and as it doesn’t threaten anything human or structures, will probably be given short shrift in terms of firefighters, and I can’t say I blame the powers that be for doing so, there’s bigger fish to fry up north. It’s in vertical rocky terrain nowhere near roads, as an added bonus.

    1. Carolinian

      I saw an interesting show on Public TV last night about how the California wilderness that John Muir encountered was completely different from now because native Americans used controlled burning to keep places like Yosemite open and park like–forests that “a horse could move through”–as opposed to clogged and understory-ish. The message was that the longstanding Forest Service policy of total fire suppression had created CA’s current problems along with AGW and the historic drought. Show said the Park Service does use controlled burning but the separate Forest Service mostly does not.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was walking down to the East Fork of the Kaweah River yesterday through so much fallen wood on the ground, thinking of African women that walk 10 miles for a bundle of sticks. If we could only use them to clear up the abundance of firewood, we might get somewhere.

      2. periol

        The other problem is these fires are happening where fires don’t happen, and if they do certainly not at this scale. Improper forest management is not a sufficient explanation for the scope of what is currently happening.

        I’m still waiting on links blaming the fires in Siberia on improper forest management.

        “Warm temperatures (such as the record-breaking heatwave in June) can thaw and dry frozen peatlands, making them highly flammable.”

    2. Glen

      It looks like the Shotgun fire is just south of MK. Is that one under control?

      I have been watching all of the California fires with equal amounts of acceptance, horror, and despair. Why? Because it was totally predictable even ten years ago that wild fires like this were coming.

      Global warming is JUST LIKE corona virus. You cannot lie it away. You cannot disbelieve it away, you cannot conspiracy theory it away.

      1. Wukchumni

        The Shotgun fire is a bit closer, but right where the 2017 Lions Fire was, so only a few years worth of tinder, versus the Castle Fire in an area that hasn’t burned since the Wright Brothers went aloft, probably.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “FDA, under pressure from Trump, expected to authorize blood plasma as Covid-19 treatment”

    The reaction to this has been funny to watch. it is identical to when Trump was going on how he used HCQ and like then, all these people are coming out of the woodwork to say it is reckless and dangerous and need months of testing. But with 180,000 people dead already in the US you wonder how long people will be willing to wait to do the whole regime of testing. Especially since this has been in the news for months already.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I believe they are using plasma aggressively in India. And the last time I noticed, the numbers in Delhi were good, with R just over 1, although I believe there was a spike today. That also happens to be where they launched the first plasma bank in the country in July. I had read the treatment showed promise, but I have not followed up on the story in detail. I also eblieve India is still giving HCQ to its front-line health workers. I believe there’s a special Delhi treatment protocol of which plasma forms a part for serious cases but once again, I’ve not followed this closely.

    2. td

      You are right that there is much sardonic humour to be gleaned here. Trump also wants vaccines to be released by the FDA before results are in. Without Phase 3 testing, there is a very high risk of releasing ineffective treatments and vaccines and the same with bad side effects, all of which have occurred numerous times in the past.

      Making decisions because of the length of time something has been in the news is equivalent to responding to the question “Are we there yet?” by declaring the current location to be There and stopping.

          1. wilroncanada

            You must have been in Canada at the time, Wuk? Thalidomide was never approved for use in the US. Ironically, it was a Canadian Doctor, Frances Kelsey, who fought against its use there, probably saving thousands of deformities, while it was prescribed in Canada with dire results.
            There is a high school in the Cowichan Valley named after her.

            1. Wukchumni

              A fair number of pregnant American women were able to procure it on the sly I suppose, as it’s main benefit was alleviating morning sickness.

              I can still see that boy to this day, wonder what became of him?

    3. cocomaan

      I actually think that’s why Trump did it. From what I understand, transfusing blood plasma antibodies is another one hundred year old treatment.

      When the media and twitterati then go around trashing yet another treatment, it makes me, and probably the public, wonder what the media would do if an actual vaccine that arrived.

      1. hunkerdown

        Obviously, it depends on whether pharma can patent it. Yes, now that the material economy has little left to capture and parasitize, the entire global economy is based on “MOM he’s copying me” being decreed sufficient cause to deprive one of life, liberty, and possessions. And that’s why the PMC act like under-disciplined four-year-olds: because they are.

  22. Musicismath

    None of … my struggles make me unique or interesting. What they make me is American. I was among the 40 percent of working Americans who struggled to come up with $400 to pay for an unexpected bill, whose stories we don’t usually hear in mainstream media. I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m looking for solidarity.

    Thoughtful piece of memoir on precarity in American journalism from Ryan Zickgraf, one of the guys who founded The Bellows: Confessions of a Failed Journalist.

    1. zagonostra

      >Confessions of a failed Journalist

      Thanks for posting. Here is the longer quote, worth reading again. I suscribed.

      Part of the reason we got married so quickly after we got engaged was so that I could get on her health insurance through the University of Chicago. For the first time in my life, I’m now on antidepressants and sleep aids and getting the help I need.

      None of this is to say my struggles make me unique or interesting. What they make me is American. I was among the 40 percent of working Americans who struggled to come up with $400 to pay for an unexpected bill, whose stories we don’t usually hear in mainstream media. I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m looking for solidarity.

      There was a time not that long ago that I internalized my own failures, as most of us are taught to do in a world where neoliberalism is like water to a fish. “If only I worked harder or caught the right break, I’d make it,” I thought. A steady diet of reading perspectives from the Left—the true Left—especially during the first Bernie Sanders presidential campaign helped me understand my class position as a worker and how capital exploits me (and countless others), and how the only way to fight back is to fight together.

  23. fresno dan

    What with the political conventions on TV, I recall an earlier, more innocent time…

    What with the despair, tumult, and chaos, I find it comforting to return to the prophecies contained in the ancient texts….of the early Simpsons seasons.
    Which predicted the democratic party platform:
    We hate life and ourselves and we can’t govern.
    And the republican party platform:
    we want what’s worse for everyone, we’re just plain evil.

    Of course I jest – the actual party platforms are not nearly as optimistic as the platforms predicted by the Simpsons…

    1. Phil in KC

      Did not one of these Ur-episodes feature a sequence showing President Lisa Simpson in the Oval Office on her first day declaring that she had to clean up the financial disaster left by former President Trump?

  24. The Rev Kev

    “‘The mystery is over’: Researchers say they know what happened to ‘Lost Colony’ ”

    Roanoke is not that big a deal. So in order to survive the colonists went native. Mystery solved – though it would make a great novel one day. The big one in my opinion is Jamestown. This colony dating back to 1607 was thought to have been lost to the James river. But then in the 90s it was discovered to be still mostly there. This place is the gift that keeps on giving and gives the best window on what it was like for the very first colonists in North America. Here is a page talking about this find and mentions how they are actually managing to identify individual skeletons-

    And here is the website for this place-

    1. Wukchumni

      If only they could’ve found Amelia Earhart @ Roanoke as well, we could’ve put a couple of mysteries to rest.

      Truth be said, I hope they never find a trace of her, when they found Mallory or was it Irvine on the slopes of Mt Everest 25 years ago, nobody cared about them anymore.

    2. jr

      Years ago there was a great sci fi story about the webbed footed and moon eyed troglodytes the descendants of Roanoke had become, riding alligators in the sewers of some Southern city. I’ll never recall it’s title.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      It was just the original fort that was rediscovered. They know where the colonists were and wound up. Jamestown was the capitol until they founded Williamsburg.

    4. Swamp Yankee

      I have to say I respectfully disagree, Rev Kev. I’m an American historian, and I really think this is a big deal, partly for reasons that have more to do with Jungian psychology and the collective unconscious of the US rather than the usual subjects of academic history.

      The mystery of the Lost Colony always held out the possibility of massacre — did they go to live with Croatan? Did Croatan massacre them? Did they starve?

      It was part, I’d argue, of the many reasons the Wilderness is understood as such a threatening and fearsome thing in early British America, and then the US. Contrast the French experience in Canada and the Great Lakes/Mississippi Basin. Early New England Puritan writings are full of terror of the forest wilderness around the settlements, back when the West began at the doorstep. Wrote one Plymouth settler: “I did greatly fear for Abigail, for she is gone into Duxbury [ed. — my hometown!], and it is her first time in the West.” Duxbury is quite literally across the bay from Plymouth (though at that time it did stretch some 20 miles into the interior, which has since been split of into newer towns).

      And what is the prime fear — Indians!

      Now that we know that a form of peaceful acculturation and ethnic mixing occurred at Croatan, I think it can begin to form a new hopeful narrative of American history — one that is marked by neither of two dueling and harsh Monisms: the John Wanye, “Winning of the West” story, and the Wokeista revival of the “Noble Savage” myth under the guise of ahistorically finding modern forms of domination in the past and obliterating both of them.

      It’s a hopeful story and moment, I think.

  25. Butch In Waukegan

    The Republican convention will contrast Biden’s strategy of avoiding public appearances with an upbeat Trump. He will be speaking all 4 nights of the RNC. The convention will have “a great uplifting message from the president.”

    Many voters are trying to figure out which is “less bad’’. Will Trump, a successful salesman/conman, convince enough people that despite his failures he is “less bad”?

    Will Trump get a bump from the convention? Did Biden get one from last week’s convention?

    1. edmondo

      Biden hit his high point last week. It’s all downhill from here. I expected Trump to be 50 points behind right now. I think he has a 50-50 shot at re-election.

  26. zagonostra

    >Krystal Ball: Rahm Emanuel REVEALS Dems Class War Against It’s Own Voters

    During DNC “Convention,” OBiden made the following statement in his acceptance speech that stuck in my craw. “I have always believed you can define America in one word: Possibilities.”

    It looks like Krystal Ball fixed on this as well. She provided a really good analysis of how this term fits so smugly with the philosophy of Rahm Emanuel and today’s Democratic Party.

    1. Wukchumni

      The worst thing that could happen is Senator McSally pleading with UofA students to donate their tuition to her campaign, and get jobs @ McDonalds instead.

      1. edmondo

        She’s a nasty piece of work. She’s running against “a Democrat” who was registered as a Republican for the last 30 years. This race is about as appealing as the presidential one. Fortunately, I still get to vote for my Congresswoman – if they can get her out of rehab in time for the election. Yeah Democrats!

  27. The Rev Kev

    “Covid 19 coronavirus: Why New Zealand might never know how virus came back”

    Trump has mentioned New Zealand a coupla times lately taking satisfaction in their outbreak as if their success was an affront to him personally-

    But this has clarified my thinking this event about eradication versus containment. The latest outbreak in Oz has shown me that you cannot have containment. It is impossible. We went from about 107 deaths for a long time and with the outbreak in Victoria it has barreled to well over 500 deaths. And all because they did not take it seriously in one quarantine hotel. Containment means that people go under lockdown every few months with your economy getting slammed. Better to go with eradication. Yes you may have outbreaks like the one in NM Zealand but they will be localized and you have a far better chance of dropping the hammer on it before it gets out of control. With containment you have clusters all over the place and are constantly reacting to each and every outbreak with your economy getting taken apart.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “With containment you have clusters all over the place and are constantly reacting to each and every outbreak with your economy getting taken apart.”
      i’m sure some unicorn outfit, or(worse) palantir type dark lord outfit, will figure out how to exploit that scenario.
      target rich environment for “consultants”.

      1. c_heale

        Containment is to give societies time to figure out what to do about this virus (find a vaccine, restructure society, etc.). The only alternative is to let the virus destroy your society in short order as it rampages through the unprotected population. This is why the UK and USA are in deep trouble, and Continental Western Europe and East Asian countries are in less trouble.

  28. leigh hogan

    The MA Tunnell you refer to is on Storrow Drive along the Charles River, where NO TRUCKS are allowed. Rookie truck drivers ignore the NO TRUCKS signs and can get squished under the overpass.

  29. barefoot charley

    Wildfire surreality in Northern California: we live more than 200 miles North of the Bay Area, in California’s richest timber country. Yesterday word went out across the North Coast that residents must be prepared to evacuate at any moment, due to the unstable remains of Hurricane Genevieve which had walloped the Baja, now slowly drifting north as it disintegrates. Two weeks earlier a similar unstable mass sparked 12,000 lightning strikes across the state, burning more than a million acres in a week, while covid devastated fire teams, especially prison gangs. Holding the fire lines often isn’t an option.

    Upshot: if lightning strikes twice, as it does now, we were told, we were on our own. Our Calfire teams were on duty further South, our VFDs were covering Calfire stations, and what we were left with was thoughts and prayers. I’m not exaggerating, this is what climate change has already wrought in one of the richest places on Earth.

    In the event, the unstable mass fell apart faster than feared, largely sparing the Bay Area, and drifting off to threaten the Sierra instead. Another Red Flag night ahead, for the last of the unstable mass. Bring on the locusts already!

      1. Wukchumni

        There was a similar swarm of lightning strike fires in California in 2008, it just happened in areas where few people lived, that’s the difference.

        1. barefoot charley

          Exactly, Wuk–while eating dinner on our porch in June 2008 we watched a storm cloud slink up the opposite ridge of our valley, shooting bolts every minute or two, and starting six columns of smoke that we could see before dark. Fun summer.

          That was the first unquestionable global weirding event for us–lightning seldom happened before, and never before fall. Now anything can happen anytime.

        2. periol

          I think these fires are more than just chance, with random lightning strikes as the sole culprit. It’s true that these days fires are burning where people live, but they are also unprecedented fires. The heat and dryness has changed the fire dynamics.

          “This fire is historic for an area like San Mateo-Santa Cruz,” said Ian Larkin, unit chief of Cal Fire’s San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit. “We have not seen fires burn like this in this unit — in either one of these counties — for many, many years. And those fires were much smaller than what we have in front of us today,” Larkin said.

          1. periol

            If anyone wants to dive in, there was a 2014 study predicting an increase in lightning strikes as the climate warms up…

            “The new study, detailed in the Nov. 13 issue of the journal Science, has found a relatively simple way to use other atmospheric factors to predict changes in lightning rates. The findings suggest that lighting rates will increase 12 percent per every degree Celsius (about 2°F) rise in global temperatures. That comes to a 50 percent increase by the end of the century.”

      1. Wukchumni

        If a similar temblor to the 1868 Hayward event happens, say goodbye to the California Delta freshwater delivery system as it becomes compromised with salt water. That would make these fires seem like so many small potatoes.

        Book tip:

        A Dangerous Place: California’s Unsettling Fate by Marc Reisner (author of Cadillac Desert)

  30. Wukchumni

    Interesting story, and when these Islamic gold coins were struck circa 800 AD their society was in their salad days.

    Aside from the Byzantine Empire, no gold coins had been struck in Europe for about 400 years after the fall of the Roman Empire in a situation similar to the post WW1 era, as the combatants (aside from the USA) were well and truly broke, bringing on the temporary end of the Au Standard and fostering in the fiat era of unlimited money we’re currently experiencing.

  31. jr


    “All of their backers believe in a vibrant postpandemic future and are spending fortunes to be part of it.”

    Or someone somewhere stands to make a crap ton of money off of building empty buildings. I am far from an NYC real estate guru but it doesn’t seem impossible that someone has been sold a bill of goods about the future. Just a thought.

  32. Geo

    “Coronavirus is putting the whole idea of fashion out of fashion”

    The fashion industry has been dying a slow and agonizing death of its own self-inflicted wounds for years. I’ve seen it first hand as many of my clients/employers over the years are household name brands. They’ve all followed the crapification route of cheap materials, cheap labor, and disposable fashion designed around “trends”. There are some smaller brands that have tried the quality over quantity route but few have succeeded. Customers have been trained to define the word “value” to mean cheapest possible purchase instead of quality and longevity. Until we reorient our values we will continue this race to the bottom and If it takes Covid to make people reevaluate those values then I guess that’s one positive to come from it.

    1. Irrational

      But the irony is that even if you pay big bucks for brand names, quality does not look much better – at least from my limited market research.
      How do you get a piece of clothing which is not plastic and made to last?
      I used to have my suits tailored out of wool blends, but the textile shop in London has gone out of business and so has my wonderfully economical tailor lady.
      At least there is less need for suits now!

  33. juno mas

    RE: California Burning—Inmate firefighters

    The hyperbole about the inmate firefighters obscures the details of their deployment, See here:

    There are about 3000 inmates who qualify to be wildland firefighters. Yes, they are working in dangerous setting and paid a pittance. They are also screened and trained for the work they do. Some are even employed by CalFire after their incarceration ends.

    Most of the firefighters working on the fires are professionals. Trained with special equipment and communications to stay as safe as possible in probably the most dangerous environment one can work in.

    1. periol

      To me, the slave prison firefighters highlight that we are unable/unwilling to spend money on actual firefighters to protect our communities in California. If this isn’t a sign of societal collapse I don’t know what is.

    2. juno mas


      The current fires in California have ~14,000 professional firefighters and equipment from 11 western states and Canada attempting fire suppression. 1,300 are inmate firefighters; who are doing arduous and dangerous work for a pittance.

      1. periol

        Here’s a some detailed info on the inmate shortage. The entire article goes into excellent detail on the number of firefighters deployed at different current and historical fires, and the challenges faced…
        “The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional complications, limiting availability of the low-risk inmate fire crews the state typically relies on, as state officials have urged early release of minor offenders to avoid prison crowding and spread of the disease. Williams said Cal Fire, which is budgeted for 192 inmate fire crews, currently has just 90. But Newsom noted the state approved $72 million to hire more firefighters to make up for that, enough for an additional 838 firefighters — about 56 more crews, which average 15 firefighters.”

        1. juno mas

          California does not “rely” on inmate crews to suppress fires. As I noted above, there are usually up to 3000 potential inmate fire fighters, but this year their are only 1300. That is less than 10% of the firefighting crew on site of the current fires.

          So instead of training more inmates (who work for a pittance: “slaves”) Newsom hired more professional firefighters; who belong to a union and get more than a living wage. Good idea! It saves time training new people and the new hires will spend the money and juice the economy. What’s not to like?

          1. periol

            I had a longer comment with links that didn’t make it, but I’ll try to summarize:

            1. I agree that the issue here is fire season is worse than ever, and what needs to be happening is spending money to hire and train more firefighters to deal with what is no longer a surprise – fire season in the age of climate change in California.

            2. I do think California has heavily relied on prisoners for fire. In the current fires, the issue isn’t how many firefighters are there now, after 10 days of fires, from all over California and western states. The issue was during the first couple of days, which is when they would have emergency called up the inmate crews to come join the first line of defense.

            So yes, now there are well over 12,000 firefighters on these fires. But I saw an article that Santa Cruz doubled the firefighters working between Wednesday and Thursday last week, as reinforcements started to arrive.

            My argument is that while firefighters are only a small percentage of the overall fighting force at this point, a week ago, if the inmate firefighter crews weren’t decimated by COVID-19, they would have been the largest group by numbers fighting the fires until probably mid-week last week.

            But they were not available, and the state didn’t hire enough firefighters to overcome the lack of inmates, especially during the first few days of these fire. We cannot repeat this mistake again, and we absolutely can’t rely on inmate firefighters as a major part of our fire resistance teams.

  34. Lee

    CZU Lightning Complex: Body Found; Looter Steals Fire Commander’s Wallet, Drains Bank Account; 77,000 People Evacuated

    These lootings are big news locally and are being picked up nationally. I see such acts not so much as a despicable, but as an early indication of growing economic desperation. On the bright side, those who have been arrested can be put to work as super-exploited, convict firefighters.

    Meanwhile, here in the smoky SF bay area, the phrase “I can’t breathe” is taking on new meaning. I’ve lived here near the bay shore for most of my life, at least partly because of the mild climate and consistently better than average air quality given the population density and number of cars on the road. The prevailing winds for most of the year tend to blow the local pollution over the hills east of us to become other people’s problem.

    Now, with global climate weirding, I’m thinking of moving farther from the equator. Any readers live up Portlandia way? I have fond memories of my visits to the Columbia Gorge. If one tires of fishing, hiking, and boating, one can turn to rioting in the streets. As to the latter, given my status as a retired street fighter, I will probably be able to serve only in an advisory capacity. What does a riot consultant get paid these days?

    1. heresy101

      Having grown up in Eugene and then moved to Portland, I had reached my limit 45 years ago of the perpetual rain (only July & August dry). The Oregon mist of 60-70 inches per year can take a week to put down a 1/4 inch. My choice was to choose which of the 14 bridges in Portland to throw myself off of or move to California. Since I am writing this, my decision was to move to the Bay Area, and I don’t regret it.


      1. Lee

        Thanks for the advice. Maybe the California lost coast would be a better option. I would have to forego riot consultancy, but one cannot have everything.

        1. Leftist Mole

          The Lost Coast is stunning but you can get a lot of the same vibe, with much better weather, on CA’s Central Coast. 4 hours from SF or LA, it’s inconvenient for commuters so the housing is a bit less extortionate, and there’s medical and young people in San Luis Obispo.

  35. zagonostra


    Being inclined to reading/buying esoteric books, I noticed that prices are going way up. I was trying to find a copy of a book published in 1967, no hard copies available and the ebook version is USD $70.00. I don’t know if the books is worth my shelling out scarce denaros on, I know my local library or even the College Library will not have it sitting on their shelves.

    Under cover of COVID I fear libraries and inter-library funding will continues to see funding slashed so that if you want to buy or just read an arcane book you will be forced to pony up some money to Google, and to be tracked for good measure. I can foresee a time when hard copies are controlled by Amazon and access to internet content will be controlled by Google. It’s not F451, but more akin to Dylan’s song “It’s not dark yet, but It’s getting there”

  36. a different chris

    This is why we get nowhere — on Alternet

    They want to believe that if the economic circumstances of Trump’s “deplorables” could be improved, and if the effects of neoliberalism and globalization could be attenuated, then Republican voters would ultimately abandon their investment in white supremacy and male supremacy…..Adherents of that worldview consider multiracial democracy to be an existential threat. They will do anything to stop it. They cannot be reasoned with or rehabilitated or convinced otherwise.

    So what are we supposed to do? Kill Grandpa? OK he will die soon anyway, but what about cousin Jack? And the guy who runs that little restaurant that makes great breakfast?

    So stupid.

    The easiest solution to any human problem is often the worst, find a common enemy. Real bullets-flying war is certainly hell itself. But in this case, the solution actually is a good thing – we have 2K billionaires to point at. We don’t have to shoot at them. We can tax them. We can then chase them down in their tax havens – or let them live in such places, isolated from the very commerce that made them billionaires. Abandon them like the sunk cost they are.

    But Mr. DeVega has no chops to offer us in any useful endeavor. He will just rail on racism as long as it pays by the word.

  37. chuck roast

    Re the Carnegie theft:

    The article mentions the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or Blaeu Atlas. Back in the day it seems that getting the latest Atlas was all the rage among the ruling classes. They could go to one-anothers houses and oh-and-ah over maps of the latest discoveries. Blau first published the Theatrum in 1635. It was subsequently republished by his children a number of times. A fire destroyed their Amsterdam business in 1672. Blaeu was a pupil of Tycho Brahe. Many were lost in various conflicts and many more broken up and sold piecemeal.

    The original versions of the maps appeared with long narratives on the verso in French, German and Dutch. I have a map from the 1662 edition called the Atlas Maior. The title of the map is Nova Belgica et Anglia Nova. My edition has Latin on the verso…which I wish I could read. It shows the northeast coast from Virginia to Penobscot Bay complete with turkeys, egrets, beavers and the like. It also depicts native Americans in their canoes. The Narragansett Indians cite this map when describing their ancient native craft…go figure. The beauty of it is that east is south and west is north. Disconcerting, but very cool. Blau used Adriaen Block’s charts to depict the southern New England coast. I can distinctly find my little harbor on it. A real treasure.

    1. Martin Oline

      I wondered if anyone would comment on this story. I have some older books also and was amused to see a copy of the breeches bible in the story, though in much better condition than mine. A earlier edition was much larger, though thinner of course. It is depressing to see all of the old books taken apart for their illustrations. “This will look great on the wall of my practice.” I used to tell people, “I had a 500 year birthday party for my book” a decade ago. Not really any candles, it’s the thought that counts.

      1. Phil in KC

        It makes me wonder how vulnerable University libraries are to this kind of theft. Wandering through the Music Library at my University one day, I found sheet music for a song inscribed and signed by Richard Strauss. I could have checked this out with my library card! Another time I found a Brave New World edition signed by Aldous Huxley. I took it to the circulation desk and pointed out that maybe this shouldn’t be sitting in the stacks. I received a shrug.

        And then there was the time I found a Thomas Hart Benton signed lithograph rolled up and tossed into the garbage. I kept it!

  38. Jessica

    One difference between Belarus and Ukraine is that the western third of Ukraine, called Galicia, was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, not Tsarist Russia, until WW1, then part of Poland between WW1 and WW2. So it was only under Russian control from 1945 to 1991. On the other hand, the eastern-most part of Ukraine, Donbass, was a crucial, integral part of Russian industrialization, so the connections to Russia were very strong.
    The western part of Belarus was part of Tsarist Russia from the partition of Poland in the late 1700s. So except for the years between WW1 and WW2, during which western Belarus was part of Poland, Belarus was unified and under Russian control. So there is not the extremely different historical development between eastern and western parts, as there is in Ukraine.

    1. Olga

      True that the Ukr you see today did not emerge until 1945 (after a strip of land that belonged to Czechoslovakia voted to become a part of USSR and the Ukr Socialist Republic). But the borders prior to 1945 moved every few years. This site has a number of maps for every period… very helpful:
      And the Donbas region was actually called MaloRossia (Little Russia) – it was basically a part of Russia. The reason it was added to Ukr was mainly bec the Bolshevik govt was really concerned with balancing farmers (peasants) and blue-collar labour in each republic. There were endless debates about the need to maintain such a balance.

      1. Wukchumni

        Yesterday there was not quite a ‘spirited defense’ of evangs, upset that some on here dared call them detested, is there a stronger word we should have used?

  39. MarkT

    Thanks for sharing the superb photo of the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. I have something of an obsession with parrots. They’re so intelligent, and I find them endlessly entertaining. They’re always a highlight of any trip to Australia. Hopefully, travel across The Ditch will resume sooner rather than later!

    1. Tom Bradford

      Gave my heart a jolt – just like my Buddy I had as a pet here in NZ. Could take him anywhere and he’d sit on my shoulder like Capt. Flint’s parrot, chortling, or hang upside down from my sleeve voicing his displeasure at a nerve-shredding 80dB. He could bite a pencil in half effortlessly yet never did anything more than nibble at anything fleshy.

      Alas he used to enjoy spending his days in a plum tree in the garden lecturing the world on whatever he was thinking at that moment and I suspect he picked up something from a wild bird he couldn’t fight.

      His successor was a galah who was equally bolshie. Must be something about Aussies.

    2. wilroncanada

      Sulphur Crested Cockatoo?!! I thought You were referring to the previous post about Jerry Falwell Jr.

  40. c_heale

    Regarding the UK going back to school, my niece (elementary school) went back for a couple of weeks for the previous semester. She was the only one wearing a mask, no other students or teachers were.

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