Links 8/27/2020

6 Extinct animals found again RTE (PlutoniumKun). A long time ago, I read a childhood, or at best young adult book (as in narrative-style) about the finding of the coelacanth, so I am weirdly fond of them.

Blueberry farmers warn of ‘disaster’ crop BBC. Oh, no! That is one of the great things about going to Maine, the tiny wild blueberries, sold by farmers on the side of major roads.

How cold was the ice age? Researchers now know PhysOrg (Kevin W)

Surprising pulses of ancient warming found in Antarctic ice samples Science Magazine (UserFriendly)

Russia Just Declassified Footage of the Largest Nuke Ever Tested Vice (resilc)

Hurricane Laura postponed due to Covid-19 concerns BeetPress (UserFriendly)

Hurricane Laura jumped from Category 1 to Category 4 in a day. Here’s why hurricanes are now stronger, wetter, and more frequent. Buiness Insider (Kevin W)

United States establishes a dozen AI and quantum information science research centers Science Magazine (David L)

Hortillonnages d’Amiens : le succès des circuits courts France TV. Colonel Smithers:

This feature on French news this evening is about the small scale planters in the marshes near Amiens and how they are increasingly selling directly and cutting out supermarket chains.

In the Wye valley, on the border with Wales, farmers are doing the same, if only because Ccovid prevented supermarkets from being able to pick up produce.



In alarming move, CDC says people exposed to COVID-19 do not need testing [Updated] ars technica (Chuck L)

New York pushes back against changes to CDC test guidance Financial Times

Tracking Coronavirus Cases at U.S. Colleges and Universities New York Times

UNC-Chapel Hill Reports 31.3% of Students Tested Have COVID—And There Are Probably More INDY Week (resilc)



China calls for ‘soybean industry alliance’ with strategic partner Russia South China Morning Post (resilc)

Microsoft’s TikTok deal reportedly ballooned after Trump intervened CNBC (Kevin W)

La belle France

Topless sunbathing: French government defends right to bare torsos EuroNews (Colonel Smithers)


Germany scraps plans for EU Brexit talks because ‘there’s been no progress’ in discussions with Britain and Boris Johnson ‘doesn’t understand how negotiations work’ Daily Mail (J-LS)


Phil Hogan resigning from role as EU Commissioner RTE (PlutoniumKun)

Hogan’s resignation averts Ireland-EU collision Terry Connelly, RTE (PlutoniumKun)

Phil Hogan’s Best Moments Waterford Whispers


Une dizaine de dauphins s’échouent sur les côtes de l’île Maurice France TV. Colonel Smithers:

Further to the update from my volunteer cousin, French TV reported the number of dolphins washing up dead on the beaches to the north of the wreck. By 5 pm, London time, 17 dolphins had been counted. The number of whales and seals have not been reported.

The area where the sea life washed up is a few miles to the north. That suggests the spill is no longer confined to the area around Mahebourg, formerly Port-Napoleon. Around the cape further north, Trou d’Eau Douce, are some big hotels. These are world class and drive much of the economy.

The Mauritian state broadcaster is under pressure to sugar coat the disaster and point fingers away from the government. Private media have been threatened with the loss of authorisation and government advertising, so are beginning to ease up. Social media is keeping the story alive.

The Mauritian equivalent of W is nowhere to be seen, but today released a statement, saying insurers would pay. That was later caveated by adding a team of top lawyers is being assembled to fight the claim.

Oddly yesterday, the government took the day off, citing the need to celebrate the feast of St Louis, a day that ceased to be a public holiday thirty odd years ago. Considering that the ruling family are Hindu and, when the need arises, anti-Catholic and anti-francophone, that was even weirder.

Demonstrations are planned this Saturday. The diaspora are being encouraged to march on Mauritian missions.


US National Security Council Official Confirms Collision Between American, Russian Forces in Syria Sputnik (Kevin W)

Kushner’s Transactional Middle East Strategy is Already Showing Strain American Conservative (Kevin W)

UN Security Council rejects US demand to snap back Iran sanctions The Hill

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Clearview AI CEO Says ‘Over 2,400 Police Agencies’ Are Using Its Facial Recognition Software The Verge

Trump Transition

Trump Has Now Moved $2.3 Million Of Campaign-Donor Money Into His Private Business Forbes


The USA: Global Leader in Election Interference Abroad and Now at Home CounterPunch. Resilc: “It’s what we do best next to pissing away money on a failure of a military.”

Biden Wants to Return to a ‘Normal’ Foreign Policy. That’s the Problem. New York Times

Mike Pence warns America will ‘not be safe’ under Joe Biden Financial Times

Last Night’s GOP Insanity Proves How Much the Two Parties Need Each Other Jacobin (resilc)

North Korean Propaganda Is More Subtle Than Kimberly Guilfoyle’s Dark, Dark Speech Mother Jones

UserFriendly: “Is there no one the liberals won’t rehab?”

Hundreds of Thousands of Nursing Home Residents May Not Be Able to Vote in November Because of the Pandemic ProPublica (Dr. Kevin)

Will the 2020 census numbers be good enough, and how soon will we know? Science Magazine

Black Injustice Tipping Point

17-Year-Old ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Fanatic Charged With Murder at Kenosha Protest Daily Beast

An artist’s canceled view of police brutality finds welcome at Mass MoCA Boston Globe (resilc)

U.S. consumer confidence at six-year low; underscores concerns about economic recovery Reuters

US Media Can’t Think How to Fight Fires Without $1-an-Hour Prison Labor FAIR (UserFriendly)

California Has a Shortage of Imprisoned Firefighters. That’s Good. New York Magazine (J-LS)

GM Sells 15,000 Low-Cost EVs For China In First 20 Days Jalopnik (resilc). Subhead: “General Motors seems to have no trouble producing desirable, affordable electric cars. We just don’t get them in America.” So cute! A little bigger than a Swatch.

The Mathematical Model of Modern Monetary Theory 2 ProfSteveKeen (UserFriendly). We had the training wheels version with our Richard Murphy video yesterday. This is Tour de France level.

O.C. Catholic donors at odds with with Bishop Kevin Vann Los Angeles Times

More evidence that housing has roared back Angry Bear

The Dead World of Blippi Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

The Bezzle

As Bezos’ Net Worth Tops $200B, Luxury Is Next Stop For Amazon Safe Haven. Misfire in the making. Amazon cheapened Whole Foods, and can’t even figure out how to buy decent fish.

Small-time scams are dissolving America from the inside The Week. Resilc: “Great link. I have a friend who is a foreign service financial officer, there is an uptick of petty financial irregularities with career people too in last few years “

Class Warfare

She Was Sued Over Rent She Didn’t Owe. It Took Seven Court Dates to Prove She Was Right. ProPublica (UserFriendly)

‘Coming here is a necessity’: demand for food aid soars in US amid job losses Guardian

Racial segregation at US universities is back, with the advent of black-only dormitories. Martin Luther King would be appalled RT (Kevin W)

Antidote du jour. From Elim Garak:

I really appreciate your love for cats, so I wanted to share my quarantine kitty with you in the hopes that it might make a good links antidote some day :)

So without further ado, I present Geordi LaFeline! We named her for Geordi LaForge, since my partner and I share a love of Star Trek and since both Geordi’s have very special eyes. We adopted her from a rescue shelter down in Long Beach this past April. I don’t know how long she lived on the streets before being found by the shelter, but she cleans up very nicely. She often curls her tail around as pictured, we call it “sittin’ pretty”

And a bonus (mgl). Otter understandably looks pretty scared. The Anchorage Daily News story explains that the otter debarked safely:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Blueberry farmers warn of ‘disaster’ crop BBC

    Quite a blow. I was helping myself to some of the last of the wild blueberries (we call them ‘fraughan’ here) in the Dublin mountains on Sunday (the wild European blueberry is similar to the American one, but a different species). They are delicious, although for some reason this years bumper crop doesn’t have the intense flavour of some years – we had a very dry spring and early summer, and a relatively wet summer, that may have been the cause. Harvesting wild blueberries used to be a major industry near Dublin, city people would come up to harvest them on commonage for extra money to sell them to England, but that business died long ago, the market being taken over by commercial growers.

    They are a tricky plant to grow. The Irish government put quite a lot of money into researching large scale growing on cut peat bogs in the Irish midlands in the hopes of creating a local industry. It was supposedly ideal habitat, but for reasons they could never quite work out, the crop was consistently poor. For some reason, the berries seem to only grow at a significant elevation. I’ve noticed that in commercial woodlands they will grow very nicely on abandoned stone walls, while they’ve been more or less wiped out at ground level by tree shading, maybe its the minerals in the rock they like, they seem to grow better over a rocky substrate.

    1. vidimi

      in the french and swiss alps this summer, i observed the same, that they didn’t taste as good as the huckleberries in northern canada which seem to be identical. no idea what this could be down to.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Just a guess, but possibly like wine grapes, they need the right stress at the right time to maximise flavour over quantity. The very pleasant weather we had at lockdown resulted in I think a high yield (and possibly low quality), and the cool and damp later weather may have stopped them hitting their full potential. That said, the birds still seem to have enjoyed them. The rocks were covered in luridly purple bird poo.

        1. Olga

          They grow like weeds in the Richmond/Surrey area of BC – no high (or mild elevation) needed. One used to be able to go pick ’em oneself for just a few loonies. The sad part is that much of that rich agri land (and the plants) are now bulldozed over for mcmansions. People are just daft – and there ain’t no stopping them.

          1. wilroncanada

            In the Fraser Valley, the wild berries have been replaced by the cultivated high-bush blueberries, which are sold both here and now exported. We have three, one each of early, mid-season, and late picking bushes in our backyard garden. We are picking the last of the late season berries now. There are also several farms with high-bush blueberry operations near us in the Cowichan Valley.
            In Nova Scotia, the whole area from Truro to the New Brunswick border was replete with low-bush blueberry farms. In the Annapolis Valley, we lived near a high-bush operation, Blueberry Acres.

    2. Off The Street

      Haven’t been Down East yet, but do savor the taste of those little wild blueberries when available through various channels. Kids remember hearing the story Blueberries For Sal when young, and got to enjoy blueberry pancakes, too. The little things, whether berries or traditions, help one ride out the stresses of modern life.

    3. ambrit

      Our experience with ‘imported’ blueberry varieties here in the NADS is that they will grow well on hills and slopes and dearly love acid soil mulches, etc. We know of a fifty or sixty acre commercial grower between Hattiesburg and Laurel. They seem to be doing well. This being further south than other commenters with a blueberry yen, our picking season ended two to three months ago. We do have a small cousin berry to the commercial blueberry that grows wild around here, but it is difficult to find.

    4. KevinD

      Grew up in Michigan’s fruit belt along the west coast of the state. Blueberries in drier seasons are sweeter, the lack of water concentrates the sugars. In wetter weather, the sugars are more diluted; bigger berries, but less flavor.

    5. rtah100

      PK, there were ZERO bilberries to be found in Fermanagh / Donegal this year. Last year was amazing; this year, nada. I suspect it may be cyclical as much as meteorological, they exhausted themselves last year.

      Certainly the best place for them in Fermanagh is on the top of the Magho Cliffs at Lough Navar, a massive limestone escarpement overlooking Lough Erne and a site of several arctic plant species hanging on at the extreme southern edge of their range, left over in north facing shade since the ice age.

    6. ChrisPacific

      One of the things I liked best about travelling in Maine and New Brunswick was finding wild blueberries pretty much everywhere. Sad to hear about the farmers’ problems.

  2. dcblogger

    someone, anyone, explain the real estate market to me. There is a small townhouse around the corner from me on sale for $400,000. The house is NOT new, I would guess it was built sometime in the 1930’s.

    I live east of the Anacostia river, in DC’s 7th Ward, one of the poorest parts of the city. There is no shopping. The nearest library is 2 miles away, the nearest subway stop is a mile away. The schools are rotten and there are no amenities to speak of. Who has $400,000 for a house like that?

    1. Saint Pepsi

      As long as it´s on sale for 400.000$, it can appear as a 400.000$ asset on some portfolio somewhere.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      If that Angry Bear link above is correct, then the US property market is proving remarkably resilient. It seems that just like the stock market, it is now gone post capitalist, with values bearing no resemblance whatever to underlying economic conditions.

      1. Billy

        Remarkably resilient as people flee cities for places with backyards in which to grow food, decent schools for their children and hopeful proximity to cranky neighbors with guns who would dissuade ANTIF/BLM rioters?

        For every home bought in such a suburb or small town, there is likely a home back in a city that needs to be sold or rented. Lots of luck with that.

    3. Krystyn Podgajski

      Right??! I was hoping housing and rental prices would come down but nothing of the sort is happening yet. There is just too much cheap money floating around.

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        There is just too much cheap money floating around.

        Aye, you can say that again. I can’t remember who made the statement (it was several months ago), but an NC commenter noted that if the commodity in question is normally purchased with borrowed money, then the price has gone through the roof. And he was right. Prices on housing, stocks, and college educations have all risen sharply since the days of ZIRP and QE began.

        I personally consider these cheap money policies to be hugely destructive. They’ve greatly benefited wealthy people who already own lots of these assets, but they’ve been terrible for people who actually need to buy something like a house or college education.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Federal and related workers. It stabilizes prices through uncertainty as they are expected to always hold value. Surprisingly it’s places like Old Towne Alexandria that are reasonable compared to similar neighborhoods around the country. People reliably commute to DC all the way down to Fredericksburg.

      The scars aren’t as noticeable as they use to be, but the post Cold War defense cuts made parts of the area look like a neutron bomb went off.

      DC’s infrastructure was too probably too small for the 80’s but Gore’s reinvention of government and the post 9/11 gift moved so many jobs and people there it’s just a nightmare. A mile from the metro isnt that bad.

      1. Tomonthebeach

        Trump is doing his part to depress DC housing prices. He is moving entire agencies to the boondocks in order to blunt their influence on Congress and business.

        There was a time, back in the 70s, when the only movement on Pennsylvania Ave was drunks crawling into doorways of abandoned buildings to get out of the sun. Then Reagan was elected and Penn became the magnificent mile it is today. Not much difference today between Rodeo Drive and Bethesda Row.

    5. Martin Oline

      I’ve noticed more real estate investment offers on TV and I assume they are looking for ‘suckers’ to invest in whatever failed schemes that were started last year and have turned into disasters.

    6. Nick

      For the broader US market, we see well off folks able to move as they wish, while those who have suffered have not been forced or even induced to sell. With lower than usual supply in most places and less pressure to sell, prices have risen.

      Even in past recessions the re market has bottomed out years later than you might think because the processes of people being forced out, eviction and especially foreclosure, can take a while to play out. Due to policy those have yet to really even get going, and if they do you can still expect the lag.

      In the near term you will see some owners in real trouble though like urban Airbnb operators and poorly capitalized, rental income dependant landlords.

    7. farragut

      Some good responses above. I would also speculate that in DC (and other prime locales such as large uni towns, govt installations such as Los Alamos, etc.) housing prices will remain relatively strong, regardless of the economy.

      And–a bit out of left field–but what if housing (like other hard assets such as gold, silver & perhaps even equities) are sniffing out the looming tidal wave of inflation coming in the near future?

      1. lordkoos

        In my small university town I’m wondering how landlords are making it — 60% of the houses and apartments in town are rentals, and there will likely be few students returning this fall, so I would think that mom & pop renters are in for a tough time. Corporate landlords can probably weather the storm.

    8. timbers

      It’s still for sale? What are they doing wrong?

      Seriously, I live in a mixed area. I’ve had several neighbors recently selling. I’m sure they experienced bidding wars. This is how it goes as in standard operating procedure as I’ve observed:

      1), Coming to market soon sign planted on lawn.
      2), Open house Saturday and Sunday.with notice all bids due following Tuesday prominently made clear.
      4). Taken off market in the next day or two.

      I’ll will soon know what prices these sold for, because that can be looked up online but I expect it will be over asking. Bidding wars were already happening before Covid. Also, the asking prices are very healthy – always over what The Zillow or what says they ought to be worth and much over what I paid for mine 4 yrs ago.

      I think this is a spill over of the Fed making the stocks go up when they should probably be a fraction of their current prices, by giving Wall Street about $3 trillion in free money.

      Another interesting fact:

      The Zillow, Realtor, whatever you choose, rates towns by their “hotness” for sellers. Those in demand are rated hot.

      Well, used to live a mostly white area and now live a more mixed area. And yet, the Zillow’s, etc, consistently use language making my former white area sound hotter than my new less white, mized area even though Zillow’s own data says the opposite.

      Example: White Town where I used to live, The Zillow says if you owned there the last 10 years you have done extremely well in appreciation.

      Mixed Town: Even though The Zillow’s figures show Mixed Town has higher appreciation over same period, The Zillow says you only did “well” not “extremely well” as in if you had owned in White Town.

    9. Wukchumni

      There were regional housing bubbles before the turn of the century, but 9/11 really got it going nationally as cocooning and fear of more terrorist attacks pushed prices.

      Could the same effect be happening now-a further redoubling, although it makes no sense, given the tragic Great Depression like unemployment numbers and businesses dead to me, or coming a cropper all over the country.

      Its worth noting that there was quite the housing boom in post WW2 America-as hardly any new homes had been built since the 1920’s.

      1. Jen

        I would say that’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods. The real estate market around Hanover, NH is insane. Lots of people heading for the hills, especially with jobs shifting to remote work. I live in what used to be the sticks but is now considered a more “affordable” bedroom community to Hanover. Houses at or below 250K would generally sell pretty quickly, but above that would sit because the higher taxes offset the lower home prices. This year everything is flying off the market. A house down the street from me, which is basically a crappy log cabin kind of thing built over a garage was listed for 297K, and went for 30K over asking price.

        Houses that have been on the market for, I kid you not, 5 years or more have sold. Even the one right next to the large dairy farm in town.

        Having bought my house in 2005, right before the last market collapse, this is probably the one time I could get back what I paid for it and all the upgrades I’ve made, but it’s almost paid for, and I’m not sure I could find something with indoor plumbing for the amount of money I’d get for it.

    10. Ed Miller

      I have a theory about housing. Maybe I am crazy, but after seeing how older houses locally literally jumped in price in about 2010-2011 I began to realize that professional investors are buying up housing like never before in my lifetime, which makes life difficult for workers who need a place to live. It’s a big squeeze on the finances of the working class, and it is intentional. Remember pricing is set at the margin, so having more investors buying up single family homes normally purchased by first-time buyers obviously pushes prices up. The change since the GFC has been dramatic in my opinion.

      The end goal is to have the rich own everything so the rentier class can soak the working class, with workers have zero means to move up in the world. With interest rates held at/near zero there is relatively little interest expense in mortgages – easily covered by the rent collected. As long as all money printed supports only the rentier class they can support themselves through MMT for themselves only. That’s not true yet, but it will be at some point. Then the renters will be stuck doing all the maintenance themselves since the big money in NY isn’t about to do proper maintenance on homes in other cities. A true overlord dystopia has been planned and is slowly evolving into the American reality.

      1. Cas

        You are correct. You might want to read Homewreckers by Aaron Glantz, that tells the sorry tale of how post-2008 financiers acquired scoops of defaulted mortgages from the govt for pennies on the dollar, turning the homes into rental property. One main player being Steve Mnuchin (yes, that Mnuchin).

      2. Billy

        A law banning non-citizens from owning property would instantly reverse that and make housing affordable again. It could be phased in over say a five year period. In the San Francisco Bay Area, it would make a huge difference. Maybe not in the Midwest so much.

        Other countries do it to varying degrees.

        1. fwe'zy

          Oh, is it less devastating being evicted by a citizen? Corporate mega-landlords are the problem. Tbe California Apartments Association (landlord lobby) tried to ram thru SB50 and will try again, deregulation housing in Cali. Sure, I’m ready for cara to be over too, but total dereg and taking control out of local hands is a disaster for people and planet, as long as profit drives the situation. Removing height restrictions etc to pack in High Density Income Housing doesn’t help anybody except the beakwetter portfolio manager.

          1. fwe'zy

            Really sorry for the typos: should be “The” not “Tbe,” “deregulating,” and “cars” not “cara.”

    11. Oh

      You can tell that the area is ripe for gentrification. The people (probably infestors) will buy, fix and flip the house and pave the way for other infestors. The poorer folk will be methodically forced out of the neighborhood just like what happened in SF over many years.

    12. Alex morfesis

      225 grand home with FHA financing including txs and insurance will run about 1200 bux per month…plenty of guv down payment assistance floating a 400 grand number… including taxes (5grand/yr) and insurance…2300 bux per month…if you have lived in a roommate situation and have been ok with it…3 or 4 br home…gig or no gig…making those numbers is not impossible…

  3. zagonostra

    >Tsar Bomba

    The insanity and hubris of mankind blows my mind and reminds me that science and scientist provide no sanctuary from the defective maladjusted human brain. Arthur Koestler probably had it right with his theory that the two hemispheres of the brain are harmoniously horizontally connected via corpus callosum but the three vertical sections of the brain, limbic (reptilian), mid and frontal are not integrated and certainly not harmonious.

    1. The Historian

      It isn’t the ‘insanity and hubris of mankind’. Mankind didn’t do these things. It is the ‘insanity and hubris’ of a few people who will do anything to get and maintain power. And quite frankly, I’m getting sick of all humankind being judged by the actions of these few. They aren’t the ‘norm’ for humankind – they are the exceptions – and it is time we realized that

      1. zagonostra

        I get your point (I always bristle when I hear “we” and “our” in certain context) but I also have to agree with Cornell West when he states that we all have the “gangsta” in us. Also, from a religious standpoint, which you are welcome to reject, we are all born in sin and corruption, so it seems, from this viewpoint, that there is something in “mankind” that seems to be off kilter, thus my comments on Koestler – I also think Carl Sagan covered the same theory in the “Dragons of Eden.”

        1. Alex morfesis

          Only a small percentage of humans are indoctrinated with the original sin nonsense…but right now… operators are standing by…for a small donation by calling the number on your TV screen…those who accept that original sin thingee can fix that right up…

          As for boom boom boxes dropped from the sky…mother nature has something called volcanoes…we paltry silly wabbytz ain’t never gonna find a way to top those…

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          The “we are all born in sin and corruption” trope is not a general religious standpoint. It is a specifically Christian religious standpoint.

      2. tagio

        But since the overwhelming majority of the well-adjusted humans do not or cannot stop them, what does that make the overwhelming majority?

        Actually want to know, it’s not rhetorical.

        1. The Historian

          I’ve been trying to figure that one out for years. My best guess is that most humans are cooperative and will ‘go along to get along’ until it becomes too unbearable to continue.

          1. fwe'zy

            Agree, with this and above. Fallible is not the same thing as sustained, knowing, deepening, gleeful race to the bottom.

        2. Maritimer

          That is the essence of the problem, the vast majority of humans are good but it is the bad folk who run things. I believe studies show that sociopaths and psychopaths are more numerous amongst the Bills. So, this is really a failure of human governance; we have yet to devise a system of controlling the evil human minority. A sad comment on the supposed greatness of our species.

          You might also want to take a look at something called “preference falsification”. I heard an interview with the usual Perfessor who either derived this theory of worked with it. Basically, it is “go along to get along” which one sees in all aspects of human life. Humans will do all sorts of devious things when it is deemed necessary.

          (I live in a rural area and came here from the city. My observation is that more of the rural people are honest, trustworthy, reliable than the more cunning, educated, predatory, “preference-falsifying” city folk. Some will even whistleblow on their company or corporation warning you away from the evil-doers. That never happened to me in the city.)

        3. Grebo

          5% of people are ‘social dominators’. Some of them succeed in dominating with the help of the 20% of people who are ‘authoritarian followers’. That is enough to control most of the well-adjusted majority most of the time.

    2. David

      To be fair, there might have been a few Soviet humans at the time, with memories of an exterminatory war in which 25 million of them died, who were happy enough to have a Big (Familyblogging) Weapon like that if there was a chance it would stop such things happening again.

      1. Olga

        All too true, unfortunately. The way the US keeps tightening the noose around Russia (and China), no wonder they’d want to develop the mother of all bombs. Very sad, but sadly understandable.

    3. ewmayer

      Interestingly, the Tsar Bomb was actually designed to yield 100Mt-equivalent, but the designers replaced the U238 ‘tamper’ wrapper shell an actual weaponized version would have had with a lead one, which provides similar high-inertia-confinement to give the fusion reaction a little extra time and pressurization before being vaporized, but does not itself contribute extra third-stage-fission yield like a U238 tamper would. Wikipedia:

      The initial three-stage design (coded A620EN, not tested) was capable of yielding approximately 100 Mt (420 PJ) through fast fission, 3,000 times the size of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, but it was thought that it would have caused too much nuclear fallout and the aircraft delivering the bomb would not have had enough time to escape the explosion. To limit the amount of fallout, the third stage and possibly the second stage had a lead tamper instead of a uranium-238 fusion tamper (which greatly amplifies the fusion reaction by fissioning uranium atoms with fast neutrons from the fusion reaction). This eliminated fast fission by the fusion-stage neutrons so that approximately 97% of the total yield resulted from thermonuclear fusion alone (as such, it was one of the “cleanest” nuclear bombs ever created, generating a very low amount of fallout relative to its yield). There was a strong incentive for this modification since most of the fallout from a test of the bomb would likely have descended on populated Soviet territory.

      The US had actually demonstrated the more-or-less as-big-as-you-like scalability of such ‘dry fuel’ (lithium deuteride) 3-stage weapons as early 1954 with its (in)famous Castle Bravo test … that one was expected to yield 5Mt but the yield ended up being 15Mt due to an unexpected nuclear reaction in the Li7 isotopic portion of the Li (natural Li is a mix of Li6 and Li7, early H-bombs enriched the Li6 portion to take advantage of Jetter’s cycle, where D+T -> He4+n, the neutron is absorbed by a Li6 nucleus which then fissions in a He4 and a tritium nucleus, the latter then fusing with another D nucleus, yielding another He4 and high-energy neutron, etc, and thus reducing the amount of expensive and fast-decaying tritium needed in the weapon. But isotopic enrichment is expensive and, as Castle Bravo showed, largely unnecessary, because when Li7 is hit by a high-energy neutron – the early modelling apparently did not go to high enough energy levels – instead of the expected Li7+(slow)n -> Be8 ->(slowly)-> 2 He4, we get Li7+(fast)n -> He4+T+n, and thus get Jetter’s-cycle-plus-extra-neutron).

      Per this site: “The Tsar Bomba was the last weapons project Sakharov worked on; horrified by the power of the device he’d helped create, he became a staunch opponent of nuclear weapons shortly after the test was completed.”

      Also, ISTR a story that the pilot of the specially modified Tu-95 bomber that dropped the Tsar Bomba, Andrei Durnovtsev, retired shortly after, saying “I have done my duty to the motherland”. His Wikipedia entry notes only that “He was promoted to Lt. Colonel after the mission and named a Hero of the Soviet Union.”

  4. Krystyn Podgajski

    Regarding the COVID19 cases here at UNC Chapel Hill, they are now up to 955, 52 of them are staff. That is over 120 more than when that article was published a few days ago. The community outbreak is not far behind. I drove through town yesterday on Franklin Street (“Main Street”) and it was busy enough, much too busy IMO for the amount of cases there. The Trader Joe’s will most certainly be a transmission hub.

    And yesterday, nearby NC State said it is shutting down dorms by “early September”. Just enough time for more viral transmission I guess.

    I am feeling like I need to get back in my van again…

    1. CuriosityConcern

      Yves placement of the cdc testing reduction and back-to-school link in close proximity gave me the suspicion that perhaps the two are related in a deliberate sense.

    2. Ford Prefect

      I think there are now almost enough cases to make it time to send the students back home to widen community transmission to achieve herd immunity quicker.

      1. T

        About herd immunity – based on herd animals with a breeding season. One reason bats are such great disease vectors is that they have babies (new members of the population, ready to be infected) all year long.

        Without an early-child-safe vaccine, herd immunity is a diluted concept for Covid and us.

          1. Gaianne


            This is a key point everyone somehow ignores.

            Europe never did return to “normal”.

            Lower kill rate notwithstanding, we won’t either.

            It cannot be said often enough.


        1. JBird4049

          Hmm, herd immunity for such diseases like Smallpox only lasted for something like 10-15 years, IIRC. Just enough time for the number of the unexposed to reach the right density. Thousands of years and this herd immunity thing only meant the deaths were in waves. 300 million dead in the 20th century alone even though it was effectively extinct by 1977.

          Is that what we want? Have all the deaths in waves? We could have stopped it, but “the economy” or making money is more important. The stupid just burns.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Dorms are so gross. I really can’t believe colleges reopened. My first year my room mate had mono, the third floor had walking pneumonia, and the sewer back flowed through the shower drains. Also my roommates gf/abuser was around around all the time.

      1. JWP

        12,000/year in room and board looks a lot better to the Admin than a Covid waiver and some angry emails. If anything, props to the schools who made the online call because they will suffer the financial repercussions for doing the right thing. Amazing how often that is the case.

    4. JWP

      Two friends (students) at UNC told me they knew this was going to happen but had to go back because of the lease they signed. Heard this is the case for a good 30-40% of kids across the country (based on talking to people from all over the place). Of course if the schools were serious about this they would’ve devised their plans while talking to landlords, but no.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Une dizaine de dauphins s’échouent sur les côtes de l’île Maurice France TV.

    This is pretty horrible – thanks for the constant coverage. The problem with the type of fuel oil spilled is that it is essentially the dregs of the refinery, so its far more toxic than even regular crude. So the possible impacts through the food chain can be much worse than the initial damage caused by the spill. As dolphins are top of the food chain, then they may be the canaries in the mine.

    Having said that, there have been a number of beachings of cetaceans in Europe, which has been blamed on military testing of new sonars. So I’d keep an open mind on the cause.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, PK.

      The Mauritian government denies that the beachings have anything to do with the wreck. That may be true, but no one has confidence in the government. Nothing like that has happened on the west coast, where such animals are more numerous.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Just heard from a volunteer cousin in Mauritius: 9 dolphins washed up dead today. The government wants them collected and burnt without any testing.

    2. CarlH

      Whenever I am reminded of our awful sonar technology and the harm it causes to our oceanic wildlife I get both depressed and angry in equal measure.

  6. TiPs

    Re Keen’s post, a very useful (and fairly simple) model for expressing the mechanics of MMT. I’ll use it in my classes. One quibble, he says the “usual” case is where reserves earn no interest, which is why banks swap reserves for treasuries, so that auctions are always over-subscribed.

    However, it’s now been over 10 years where banks are paid interest on reserves. The reason treasury auctions are always over-subscribed is because of the Fed’s requirement on primary dealers to bid at each auction. Bids from PDs are always greater than the amount offered by the treasury, which has been true when bank reserves earn interest and when they don’t.

    1. Anonymous

      The reason treasury auctions are always over-subscribed is because of the Fed’s requirement on primary dealers to bid at each auction. TiPs

      So it can’t be that positive yields on the inherently risk-free debt of a monetary sovereign like the US constitutes welfare proportional to account balance? And that’s why the auctions are over-subscribed? Because it’s risk-free “earnings”?

      What a corrupt system…

      1. rd

        It is a reasonable requirement given the massive back stops those firms get from the Fed and Treasury. Without those backstops, they would probably have gone bankrupt a couple of times in the past decade or so after doing stupid greedy (sometimes illegal) things.

        1. Anonymous

          I’m saying that risk-free returns are welfare and thus require no “requirement”.

          We need another payment system besides the one that MUST work through banks so that banks can be allowed to destroy themselves without wrecking the economy.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Little-noticed rule change last month to allow banks to hold Treasuries on their books without impairing capital. To be clear: they are now fully monetizing the debt and even recruiting the strength of the US banking system to do it.

            The immediate worry is Europe. They never re-capitalized their banks after the start of the GFC, just more can-kicking and accounting fictions. Deutsche down to just $62B in equity, or +/- 5%. But with the European small business sector much more reliant on bank credit, and those small businesses now vaporizing due to the lockdowns, Japanification looks like a wished-for upside outcome. The downside outcome is much, much worse. And note what’s at the very top of the list of the bonds The Fed is buying: European automaker bonds. There is a wall, and upon it there is some very bold writing.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              This is not new. Under Basel II, any sovereign debt had zero risk weighting. The US didn’t formally implement Basel II but regulators here took a similar view of Treasuries.

              And you are way overstating the reach of the rule.

              In light of recent disruptions in economic conditions caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 and strains in U.S. financial markets, the OCC, the Board, and the FDIC (together, the agencies) are issuing an interim final rule that temporarily revises the supplementary leverage ratio calculation for depository institutions. Under the interim final rule, any depository institution subsidiary of a U.S. global systemically important bank holding company or any depository institution subject to Category II or Category III capital standards may elect to exclude temporarily U.S. Treasury securities and deposits at Federal Reserve Banks from the supplementary leverage ratio denominator. Additionally, under this interim final rule, any depository institution making this election must request approval from its primary Federal banking regulator prior to making certain capital distributions so long as the exclusion is in effect. The interim final rule is effective as of the date of Federal Register publication and will remain in effect through March 31, 2021. The agencies are adopting this interim final rule to allow depository institutions that elect to opt into this treatment additional flexibility to act as financial intermediaries during this period of financial disruption. The tier 1 leverage ratio is not affected by this interim final rule.


              The large dealer banks that are the big Treasury holders/traders do NOT want to have to ask the Fed for permission to issue dividends.

              This might even be a targeted waiver in disguise, to Wells Fargo, which is in a mess, already cut its dividends by 80% and is subject to an asset cap too:


      2. Yves Smith Post author

        They were over-subscribed even in the early 1990s. Read any account of the Salomon Treasury bond scandal.

        One reason Treasuries are in high demand is that financial firms use them as collateral for derivatives.

  7. Code Name D

    Is it just me, or are their some major 2016 vibes coming off from the election. The polls say Biden is ahead – everything else doesn’t.

    1. carl

      If anything, it promises to be even more bizarre than 2016. A real tossup; one the one hand, Trump’s performance this year has been objectively awful, visible even to at least some of the R base and indies who lean that way. On the other hand, Biden inspires mostly nobody except the most TDS of the Ds. The usual incumbent advantage seems to be missing, but the Ds seem determined, as they often do, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

      1. Bandit

        I just have to smile whenever I read how the Dems are their own worst enemies, and the only thing they are really good at is throwing elections. Their next best skill is being over zealous to concede defeat to the Repubs on important issues even when they own both houses of congress and the presidency. A skill unmatched in my time anyway.

        Back when I really cared, I noted with disgust how Obama caved in to them on essential issues when he held the cards to win, tripping over himself to give up more ground than the Repubs were asking. Thankfully, now that I have regained my sense of humor, I just eat popcorn and watch the circus without emotional attachment. What does it really matter which party wins the election when collective insanity pervades both political parties? The show must go on.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Obama never “caved in” to the Republicans on essential issues. Obama conspired with the Republicans to advance essential issues which Obama always supported the Republican side of.

      2. Pelham

        This will sound cynical, but I believe it to be fundamentally true. Democrats absolutely do not want to win at the national level unless they can win in a way that above all pleases their biggest donors. The alternative of achieving power with a broadly popular program that might then persuade major donors to get on board afterward is ruled out. I suspect that’s because the Dems fear the big money would quickly shift over to the GOP.

        Several of the candidates in the primaries were acceptable under these strictures, and Biden was one of them.

        1. vidimi

          the democrats’ main function is to keep republican (neoliberal, hypercapitalist, imperialist) policies the only game in town. that’s what makes them more insidious than republicans, who set the agenda. their main purpose is to deprive the left of any alternatives. if they win, like with obama or b.clinton, that’s just gravy.

        2. 1 Kings

          Dems don’t ‘fear big money, they Want the big money(to continue flowing, for now and ever more. Amen)

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          This is why the DemParty elites Obombed and Clyburned the runway in front of Sanders in order to keep the Sanders campaign from taking off.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Two months ago I was talking to some friends who, knowing my nerdy obsession with following polls and American politics, asked what Trumps chances were. I replied ‘essentially zero’. My reasoning was that the consistency of the polls over many months favouring Biden, not to mention the economic outlook, seemed to point to the only chance for Trump being a war, a full dementia breakdown for Biden, or Biden picking HRC as his running mate. None seemed terribly likely. All hard political logic pointed to President Biden. I honestly thought it very likely that the Republicans would engineer some way for Trump to step aside for someone else.

      But the polls now are horribly ominous for the Dems. Biden is still justifiably favourite, but Trump squeezing a victory out no longer looks outlandish. Even from a distance viewpoint across the Atlantic, the Biden campaign seems to be based on horrendously misguided assumptions. It’s like watching Sideshow Bob step on rake after rake. He didn’t nominate HRC, he nominated the next worse thing. The insistence on only appealing to suburban centrist voters and a supposed (and in reality non-existent) rainbow coalition of minorities is simply electoral malpractice.

      1. Big River Bandido

        The incumbency advantage, and his party’s majority status, will allow Trump to hang on; he was effectively re-elected after The Night of the Long Knives when the Democrat establishment decided to throw the election if necessary to prevent a Sanders nomination.

        Only 3 Democrats in the last 60 years have even won a bare *plurality* of the popular vote, and those three (Carter 50.1%, Obama I 52.9%, Obama II 51%) only *barely eeked it out. All the others? From Gore to Kerry to Clinton…always between 45-49% of the vote. There’s no cushion for mistakes and no margin for error; the Democrats can only win by running the tables. This is what comes with chronic minority-party status in this system — you can’t win the close ones because you possess no institutional advantages.

        If he runs a good race, generates heavy turnout, and has a little luck, Biden might get 49%. In a pandemic with all kinds of vote suppression (honed and practiced by both parties), that simply won’t be anywhere close to enough.

        Trump is a weak candidate. But he has the incumbency, the solid support of his (majority) party behind him, and an opponent who will never be able to muster the popular support to seize executive power.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m not sure incumbency is the edge in presidential elections as it is in congressional or senate races. The incumbency edge is based on three things: districts, name recognition, and constituent services.

          Trump really shouldn’t be President given his pitch from 2016. He needed the gross incompetence of HRC to win. Suppression and Biden are his edges, but Biden is every bit as famous as Trump in the US at this point. Name recognition isn’t a problem.

        2. neo-realist

          Vote suppression by republicans is done against the opposition party, while dems do it in primaries against progressive candidates. Dems don’t do it against Republicans.

          Trump’s handling of Covid-19 and the post office might spur more anti-Trump opposition than he thinks (people risking infection to get their vote counted any way possible, but the DNC must help them), but I think it will matter how the dems respond to the suppression that might make a difference in the general; will the DNC put enough attorneys and electoral watchers on the ground, particularly in the swing states, to counter the republican chicanery?

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Biden has largely been a hidden character. People had strong and deeply held opinions about HRC. Biden is just some guy who avoided coverage of his career while he was veep. People who voted for Biden assuming him to be someone no one said anything negative about are at risk of finding out who he is.

        His online campaign apparatus’ message is to stop the criticism until the election is over. They know people had no idea of his record. Hell, Biden probaby didn’t even know until he did something like demand they put together a list of his “accomplishments.” It’s a real danger that would be Biden voters learn about Biden.

      3. a different chris

        > the Biden campaign seems to be based on horrendously misguided assumptions.

        Not at all.

        It’s not even an assumption that the Pelosi-Schumer-Biden wing of the Dems is hanging on to power for dear life. The only one of the people in the primary that was acceptable to them and could (not would) beat Trump was Biden. Klobuchar no, Harris no, Buttigieg no.

        Sanders or a candidate like him, even a pretend one (cough, Warrren, cough) would take the party away from them. So they would lose power either way if they ran anybody else.

        Obama scared them. They must have been really relieved to discover he was one of them after all.

        These people are *not* incompetent. You just have to realize what their goals actually are.

      4. TMoney

        Wrong lens (I think). I am convinced that both teams only care about making sure their donors keep writing checks. A close run thing – regardless of the result means both teams keep getting supplied oodles of $$$. Consultants get paid, little Timmy goes college etc…. The election is just a hold over from the Old Republic.

        1. jonboinAR

          This, here. The donors wanted Sanders derailed, so he was. As others have pointed out, Democratic victory was obviously made secondary to something. This was it, I think. It came from the top, which would be the party donors, not Schumer, or Pelosi, or the DNC, or anything like that. (I still can’t believe Bernie gave in like a silent sheep. I swear I’ll never take him seriously again. I don’t imagine I’ll be asked to, though.)

          1. neo-realist

            They were going to move heaven and earth to not allow Sanders to win the nomination. It wouldn’t have mattered if he hung in. He probably realized that and decided life was to short to go any further. At the least he’s done good work in building a growing progressive wing of the party. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have people like Pramila Jaypal, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, and AOC (in spite of a couple of bad votes). It’s going to take time to seriously challenge “the program”, even if Biden is elected.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well, we will never know if senior Democratic operatives told Sanders that his wife and daughters would be assassinated if he did not give up and support Biden. I personally have no reason to think that they didn’t.

            Just as I think Obama used that Air Force One ride with Kucinich to warn Kucinich that Obama could have Kucinich’s wife and daughters assassinated if Kucinich didn’t vote yes on Obamacare.

        2. Pelham

          Yup. That’s the main thing, donors. Winning isn’t the only thing, it’s entirely optional.

      5. judy2shoes

        “Biden is still justifiably favourite, but Trump squeezing a victory out no longer looks outlandish.”

        Does anyone else have a strong sense of surreality about this whole insane election process topped off by Covid-19 and the attendant mass unemployment with all the knock-on effects still unfolding? I read your comment, PK, and I was stopped dead in my thoughts. It’s as if there is this alternate reality playing out before me which in its own context is perfectly normal. We are discussing the pros and cons of the campaigns of a man clearly in cognitive decline and a former reality-show host turned wacko-in-chief. I feel as if I have stepped through the looking glass. Time to go pull some weeds and listen to the birds.

        1. Wukchumni

          And worse than anything else, it appears that Joe is also a golfer… is it possible to have a President who likes to hike without carrying a raised lightning rod while being about the tallest thing attracting current on a manicured lawn?

        2. lordkoos

          You are certainly not alone in feeling the unreality of it all. Unfortunately it is all too real.

      6. chuck roast

        Kudos to the youngsters on Rising: a couple of months ago they spent substantial time on the “enthusiasm factor” for the respective prez candidates. They were on to something. A large percentage of Trump supporters were very enthusiastic about their candidate. Similarly, a large percentage of Biden’s supporters hated Trump. Unfortunately, for the cellah’ dwellah’, only a small percentage of his supporters were enthusiastic about their candidate.

        Trump’s voters will walk thru fire to vote for him…Biden’s voters will flip him their votes after they clip their fingernails, put air in their tires and brush the cat…Il Douche gets four more years, and the Dem nomenklatura laugh all the way to the bank.

      7. Procopius

        The insistence on only appealing to suburban centrist voters and a supposed (and in reality non-existent) rainbow coalition of minorities is simply electoral malpractice.

        Not to mention turning so much of the convention over to Republicans and Rahm Emanuel’s gloating. This was not the time for him to announce that the Party is going to move farther right and be more corporatist. Not with over 10% (official) unemployment and a projected eviction crisis. The complete lack of attention to the things people are actually worried about is bizarre.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well . . . if the DemParty’s secret mission is to re-elect Trump, then this is the best time for Emanuel to make that gloatful announcement.

    3. cocomaan

      The last four years have been spent throwing shade on the electoral system, by both sides: that the electoral college needs to be dismantled, dead people voting, immigrants voting, Russian interference, post office/mail ins, general cheating, etc.

      There’s almost no way that this isn’t in the courts the day of the election. And having SCOTUS rule on another election isn’t going to go over well. Didn’t go too well in 2000 and that was when the biggest news story was a rash of shark attacks.

      Peaceful transfer of power is the most important part of any governmental system. Right now we’re primed to have a non-peaceful transfer of power.

        1. a different chris

          >This might be true — if the final result were close.

          Which is what you implied in your previous post. I can’t tell where you are coming from at this point? In this post do you mean the EC result, rather than the popular vote? I would think as cocomaan said, if the EC result was wildly different again from the popular vote the crap is going to seriously hit the fan.

          >The incumbency advantage, and his party’s majority status, will allow Trump to hang on;

          1. Big River Bandido

            Where I’m coming from…a “good showing” for a Democrat is a 48% or 49% *plurality*. Not a majority. Occasionally (1912, 1916, 1996,) that percentage is enough for an EV majority in a race with no strong 3rd party candidates. Usually, however, (2000, 2004, 2016), it’s not. The reason for that is Republican power is more broadly dispersed, and better organized at the local levels, particularly around actual politics, since the Democrats are not really a political party except in name only. This gives them innumerable electoral and procedural advantages.

            So…the question is, where on that sliding scale does one expect Biden to fall, especially considering the likelihood of vote suppression, lost/miscounted ballots, and a pandemic-related drop in turnout overall. Certainly he will not be able to come close to Obama’s real majority, which only happened with a strong organization and a surge of voting (factors which Obama squandered). So where does that leave Biden?

            The dynamics of this race will be no different than 2016. Probably marginally worse.

            1. Code Name D

              Well said. It cannot be overstated that there are massive structural issues behind the Democratic campaign machine itself. The battle-state strategy has become the battle-county strategy, which has become the battle zip-code strategy. More and more of the nation gets either written off entirely or taken for granted entirely. They have become too dependent on expensive computer algorithms and elaborate computer driven models that have little to do with reality. The DCCC is more of an establishment-only social-club for climbing to social ladder. State-reps to state-senate to gov/federal house to senate. And the peek of the pyramid is the presidency. Winning, let alone policy, just do not factor into their thinking.

              In 2016, I was confident Hillary would lose, largely for these reasons. The same reality is true for Biden. The machine is simply incapable of getting over 49%. For 40 years the voters have voted for change. And here is Biden campaigning on “return to normalcy.” This will not end well.

          2. Oh

            If he loses, Trump will be like the tenant who refuses to move even when served with an eviction notice

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Reality much? GMAFB.

              There is one party that *actually back here on Earth* refused to accept the result of a presidential election. Their leader recruited the full force of the intelligence agencies, first to try try and destroy the opposition candidate, then to try and oust him from office once in. Their candidate refused to appear on election night, then went for nearly four years blaming the loss on Russian trolls, sexists, racists, and Moldovan bot farms. To this day the failed candidate still insists she could “win again”.

              1. Acacia

                And not to mention that HRH HRC just announced that “Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances”.

                Pot. Kettle. Black.

                  1. flora

                    adding, and you’ll have to just take my word on this since the web site scrubbed the front page within a week of Hills losing:

                    People who wondered, and I was one, what their Nov. 2016 matching charcoal black and purple outfits of Hills and Bill were all about on election night, there was the Hamilton Project’s website home page which then displayed as background charcoal black with white text and with a light purple line drawing of Alexander Hamilton. Were the Clinton’s wearing the Hamilton Project’s “jockey’s colors”? Wish I’d taken a screen shot.

                    Nah. Probably a coincidence,

        2. Code Name D

          The final results will be close. That much is a given. If Biden dose win, it will be a narrow victory. The Dems don’t seem to have much confidence ether. HRC just said “Biden should not coincide.” So if Biden loses, it will be ugly.

          And its about to get worse. I just saw the trailer for a Hollywood version of Russia-Russia-Russia. The LAST thing you want to do is re-prosecute Russia-gate. It will turn Trump into the victim again – which is where Trump thrives.

          And I also see glimpses of Trump’s former political genus. One response from the R-convention was to try and humanize Trump. See Trump with workers. See Trumps family. See Trump pet a puppy. This attacks the Dem narrative of “Orange man bad”. And Biden will not be able to pivot.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Agree. Pivot to what? They made their “oh these are just really good peaceful protests” bed. They made sure the candidate and issue with obvious real appeal was castrated. They closed off any chance of even remotely being the party of peace and ending foreign wars. They completely subverted the primary process and then completely ignored what it was telling them by installing a VP who couldn’t even make it to the primary starting blocks, let alone fire people up enough to get 2% of the vote. And they’ve pivoted already: to Republicanism. The list of absolute failures and R party rejects and has-beens they’ve brought in reads like a list of the worst people in America. Is there one last person remaining who believes anything Colin Powell says? The man who sat at the U.N. and lied us into the Iraq War? And then later admitted it and said he regretted it? With the Grand Old Dame of the party a multi-millionaire Botox malpractice survivor cackling about the 21 flavors of ice cream in her hilltop mansion?

            Kill it with fire.

            1. hunkerdown

              I wish. Mark my words, the GOP will run to save it, lest Team Blue be replaced with something economically to the left of Friedman and the whole oligarch machine come crashing down in the space of two elections.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Could the last four years spent throwing shade on the electoral system by part of a longer-range Information Operation by the Intelligence Agencies and the Oligarchical Elite to mind-mold the American public into rejecting electionism and requesting an election-free Junta of National Salvation form of government?

    4. Dr. John Carpenter

      Oh 100%. As far as I understand, they’re running the same polls that were so flawed in 2016. There was another highly “irregular” Dem primary that forced through a candidate running strictly on not being Trump and not giving an inch to progressives. Trump seems to be running a similar campaign to 2016. Voter enthusiasm is in the toilet. The same issues which people were concerned about in 2016 exist, but intensified. Etc., etc.

      So yeah. I’ve felt in a lot of ways this year has shades of 2016, but even worse.

    5. Medbh

      I live in Wisconsin and run 5-7 miles almost every day. There are a total of three Biden signs on my route, in the most liberal city in the state.

      My dad lives in northern Wisconsin. We visited last week, and there are Trump signs everywhere through the whole state. Not just the standard lawn signs either, but massive banners and windows filled with homemade signs.

      I don’t know if it’ll translate to votes, but I’ve never seen such a stark contrast in enthusiasm. Even Hillary had far more signs and bumper stickers.

      Take that enthusiasm, then add the daily news about riots and looting. Madison has had constant gun violence this year (which is not typical for the city) and recently an 11 year old girl died because she was a passenger in a car that was targeted by shooters. Someone sprayed bullets from a AK 47 into a crowd at an outdoor funeral. People are shooting at each other while flying through neighborhoods and street thoroughfares. A 9 year old girl was hit by a stray bullet while playing on the sidewalk. Madison is smashing records for gun violence and related crimes.

      We also had some BLM protesters demanding restaurant owners venmo them money in order to direct protesters away from their establishment, and confronting restaurant patrons with bats and blowhorns.

      The Republicans don’t have the right solutions, but I think their law and order message will resonate with a lot of people.

      1. Brindle

        Yes, I mostly agree. I know WI a little bit and the conservatives and right wingers there get out and vote, where as the Dem base is a lot more erratic as far as turnout. The Dem/Biden mssg of “I am not Trump” is not one that will generate turnout. I fear we could be seeing a repeat of 2016.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’m not sure it’s the message resonating as much as GOP voters are very tribal and the elite Republicans personal grievances over Trump aren’t representative of a sliver of the electorate as Trump didn’t not invite them to the White House to Crack jokes about minorities and the poor. These people were never winnable except in safe districts and states where HRC offered a token, hey I’ll tell the grandkids I voted for a woman president appeal.

        The Clinton triangulation strategy has been a disaster for the Democratic Party at large and was highly dependent on 1992 specific issues but the wipe out orchestrated by Rahm. In 1994 left Clintonistas to man the party machinery.

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        Same here in my central Florida coastal area–big; flapping; attention-grabbing; red, white and blue Trump flags and banners. There are a number of flea markets on Hwy. 1, and each has a prominent booth, right near the road, festooned with all manner of Trump paraphernalia for sale.

        I’ve yet to see one biden / harris sign or bumper sticker. The closest thing, I guess, are some modest yard signs at a few houses that say “Stay woke and vote.” Those could go either way I suppose.

        1. Geo

          In 2016 I would occasionally see Hillary bumperstickers – usually on a Mercedes or Audi driving around Santa Monica or other posh neighborhood. Not a lot of them but enough to see there was some actual support. Have only seen one Biden sticker so far this year. It was on a white Mercedes SUV of course.

          1. Elizabeth

            I live in Northern Iowa and have not seen one Biden sign or bumper sticker. Lots of Trump bumper stickers, banners and yard signs though. I just saw a headline that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t think there should be any debates before the election – I didn’t read why, but really not surprising. Biden couldn’t hold up more than 10 minutes without becoming incoherent (unless he gets a powerful cocktail of his meds). I feel like this whole election is nothing but a farce – as someone said we’ve gone deep into the rabbit hole.

        2. McDee

          Here in the very liberal Santa Fe area there are a lot of Bernie bumper stickers and still some yard signs, left over from the NM primary. I have not seen a single Trump sticker/sign.
          I did see one Biden bumper sticker but no signs. The sticker read ByeDon.

        3. lordkoos

          I live in a rural county and it has voted solid Republican for 60 years, although the town that is the county seat leans Democrat. In the last couple of months I’ve seen one Biden sign around here. Plenty of Trump signs, banners and t-shirts. Still, I think a lot of people are going to hold their noses and vote for Joe (I’ll be one of them). Whether that is going to be enough to beat Trump is questionable.

      4. Yves Smith Post author

        There are zillions of Doug Jones signs around here, way way way more than when he won in the special election.

        Not a single one is accompanied by a Biden sign.

        Of course that may be because Team Dem has written off Alabama.

    6. zagonostra

      I just watched a video clip of the teenager with the red MAGA hat. It had close to a million views, the First Lady had about 1.5 million. If the Y-Tube clip views are any indication it seems that the Repub’s have a more energized voting pool.

      The Dems have sucked all the life out of the Left/Progressives, there is nothing but Orange Man is Bad coming from their quarter so, yes it feels like 2016.

      1. a different chris

        Trump is no longer an outsider mocking at the powers-that-be, though.

        I don’t know how many new voters he has made. He has outraged a lot of others, to the point where I would almost put money (and I don’t bet) on Biden having a minimum 5pt vote spread.

        But as the outcome via the EC? This election is impossible to predict despite all the confidence here by others.

        1. edmondo

          Trump is no longer an outsider mocking at the powers-that-be, though.

          Every time he stands in the Rose Garden it is the ultimate “FU” to the Establishment. If he was president for 40 years he’d still run as the outsider. Joe Biden’s attempt at Restoration is playing right into Trump’s hands. It may not be 2016 but it’s close.

          1. Andrew Thomas

            Orange Man IS bad. The FICA executive order alone should be enough to turn the entire 60 and over crowd, of which I am a part, over to Biden 3-1. Regardless of what anything Biden has done or his enablers might do. Starvation and homelessness are problems that kill you in the short term. Especially if you are old and weak.

            1. lordkoos

              Not to mention that Trump wants to kill social security by getting rid of the payroll tax. You’d think that would be an automatic vote against Trump by the older set, but there are plenty of oldsters who will still vote for him.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Problem problem: the candidate opposing him is publicly, loudly, and over his entire career on record and on video multiple times saying we need to cut Social Security. I’d think that issue is a tie at best

    7. ptb

      Would be, except Covid. Seniors, most likely to vote, now face a deadly hazard made 10x worse due to incompetent govt.

      Judging from the CDC recommendation to stop testing exposed low-risk asymptomatics, they also expect continuing shortage of tests compared to number of exposures. School season, naturally.

      Unless Trump admin does smth uncharacteristically smart (suspend schools until after election) or unethical (concentrate national resources into swing states like FL, PA), it’s game over IMO.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Sorry to burst this bubble, but neither this senior nor any of the others I know think that voting in person is a “deadly hazard.” (We’re not afraid of the grocery store either.)

        It’s not like a polling place is the same as a cuomo-controlled new york nursing home or public hospital, both of which we’d definitely avoid like the plague.

        IMNSHO, this “deadly hazard” schtick is just a way to get people to vote by mail so it can be jacked with.

        1. Pat

          My friends thought I was crazy when I didn’t request a mail in primary ballot. They don’t have any confidence that their ballot got counted

          With our machines there is no assurance the vote is counted accurately, you just get a splash screen that says you voted. But at least there is one to count. And many of the people who tut tutted me will be voting in person. In NYC that is a good half dozen that are going to show up and NOT vote for either Trump or Biden.

          And no I don’t think we are that unique.

        2. MK

          Agreed. In my little corner of western NY, the trump vote will be voting in person (won’t matter due to NYC area). The common refrain I hear is that most of them didn’t trust the PO to begin with, and certainly think D’s are the cheaters when it comes to mail in ballots, so the trump voters will be lining up to vote in person. YMMV

        3. Medbh

          “IMNSHO, this “deadly hazard” schtick is just a way to get people to vote by mail so it can be jacked with.”

          I have been constantly peppered with mailings, texts, and emails telling me to apply for a mail-in ballot. With all the news about about delays with the postal service, I couldn’t understand why the Democratic party is pushing voting by mail. It seemed like an unnecessary risk. My husband pointed out that perhaps the democrats are more worried about Bidden flubs/dementia than mailing delays. I also read that Pelosi is suggesting Biden should skip the presidential debates, so maybe that is a factor.

          1. lordkoos

            Here in WA state voting by mail has been the norm for some time now, and it seems to work well.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I think Trump wins the debate if it happens or if it doesn’t. Americans hate a coward. Hard to imagine people voting for someone who won’t, or can’t even stand up and discuss and defend what he believes in for a hour or two.

            The Man Who Would Be King worked side-by-side with Uncle Joe for 8 years. His team *went on record* describing how they absolutely made fun of the poor old guy every step of the way, both in front of and behind his back. Said Melanin Monarch can continue to attempt his Country Club Coup but it’s getting pretty Shakespearean out there, and I think the play reads more like a tragedy than a comedy for the crowd itching to install the AAA (African-American Aristocracy).

        4. ptb


          I didn’t mean hazard specifically for in-person voting (which I plan to do as well), but the hazard of life in general now – needing a mask to shop for food, not going within 2m of people you know well… This stuff is not normal, nobody likes it. Point being it’s the most visible national crisis of the past 4 years, and Trump’s Dept of HHS dropped the ball in many ways.

          Voters who sat out the 2016 election because they were disgusted by both Trump and Clinton? (and might be inclined to feel the same about Biden?) Now there’s something that tips the scales.

          Also / more specifically, for Democrats, the strategy is to turn out urban voters in swing states. I’d say that matters, because city dwellers would be more impacted by Covid.

    8. bob

      I’m all over upstate NY for work. The trump signs and flags are getting bigger and more numerous. I just watched an elderly couple on a road without any traffic at all spend hours on a ladder hanging a very large sign above their garage yesterday.

      I’m very worried.

      1. voteforno6

        Yard signs, etc., weren’t a very reliable indicator during the primaries.

        That being said, Trump supporters certainly seem to be very loud and proud in their support. But, I don’t think we can necessarily equate their volume, with their, umm, volume.

        1. Wukchumni

          There’s a blue Trump 2020 flag flying aside old glory @ one of the cabins in Mineral King, and to give you an idea of what’s what, when they leave, the American flag is left flying, but they take the other flag down.

          It’s a bit off-putting seeing anything political in a National Park, but the Central Valley is a hotbed of the far right and if you merely counted their votes, Trump wins in a romp in the state.

        2. a different chris

          No they are not, and it can be claimed that as a general rule of human nature, if you are confident about something, your attention goes elsewhere.

          So the “courting male bird” level of display by the Trumpists could quite likely signal the opposite of general support, they are getting pushback from friends, relatives (especially since friends at least try to be nice) and so they turn up the volume.

          Which of course the flipside is worrying for the Biden camp, their voters may be over-confident and when they do finally show up at the poll and discover enormous lines (why hasn’t the Democratic Party done anything about that? Oh, right…) they may just say “oh he doesn’t need my vote anyway” and go home.

        3. hunkerdown

          The primaries weren’t and aren’t binding, and neither is the general. Perhaps there is a reason election results correlate poorly with voter sentiment. The “lazy voter” trope is another entirely expected and true-to-form attempt of an arrogant ruling class to externalize their debts and obligations onto their inferiors, as they do, and the photographic and other evidence of the ruling class as a team avoiding polling economic populists wherever plausible proves that the institution exists for their benefit, not ours.

          Perhaps voting is a symbolic act of support for unaccountable, opulent ruling classes (i.e. aristocracies with popularity contests) as a general principle of society, and a means of inducing cognitive dissonance in favor of ruling classes. Perhaps, in turn, those are the effects actually desired by PMCs and the sport-nut “engaged citizens” who love the game too much, and the reason they are so insistent that we vote.

          Seriously, investing in pledges of submission to an agent you can’t discipline and who has no fidelity to you whatsoever? Such a sucker’s bet can only look good with 24/7/365 saturation advertising.

        4. bob

          Sounds like 2016….You agree with the smartest people in the room. They lost.

          I’m just reporting what I’m seeing, and I’m seeing a lot more that simple signs. Both the volume and the volume are up from 2016.

    9. Ella

      I’m strongly predicting Trump to win. I would not have said this a few weeks ago, but now, talking to some folks in my community (and I’m in MA) and seeing the effective “fear” campaign they are running (given the protests), it’s a sure thing. I’m going to save this post in hopes that I have to come back here and apologize in November. But I don’t think so.

      1. Tvc15

        2016 redux IMO. As others have reported, I’ve also seen a lot a trump support where I live in central Maine and zero for the other corrupt narcissist in cognitive decline. Bernie would give trump a run for his money based on yard signs and bumper stickers. Also the same as 2016. Funny how single payer healthcare is overwhelmingly supported by democrats, but they voted for someone adamantly opposed to it. /s

        1. lordkoos

          Single payer/M4A is overwhelming supported by all voters, not just Democrats. Biden could win in a heartbeat if he would endorse it, but that’s not going to happen. It is increasingly obvious that the DNC prefers to lose rather than giving the people anything.

      2. ShamanicFallout

        An anecdote, but perhaps indicative- my father, lifelong middle of the road Democrat, called me the other day, and although he cannot stand Trump, he was giving me the “I can’t believe what’s happening in Portland, Seattle, etc etc. Are you ok up there? ” (I live in Seattle). I said, if you didn’t know anything about Seattle, you could wander the streets for two weeks and never come across the so-called Chaz. It was like a three block area in a huge city.
        But that’s not what one sees in the images. The seeds are planted. My father didn’t say outright that he wasn’t voting for Biden, or was going to vote for Trump, but I can see where this is going. The ‘rioting’ is the current “this is you’re city on Democrats” routine. And I think the Democrats know this is happening. Watch for their ‘talking points’ to change (see Don Lemon the other day, Tammy Baldwin yesterday, Biden ‘condemning the riots’)
        Trump for the win. And probably winning back the House too.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The “this is your city on Democrats” has one really big thing going for it IMO: it happens to be true.

          Try refuting the black gal Klacik running in Baltimore when she lays blame at the feet of the party absolutely controlling the place for the last 53 years.

          Turns out The Big O and The Big H sucking all the money out of local and state Dems while leaving them to completely twist in the wind as far as visibility and support has consequences.

    10. voteforno6

      A problem in 2016 was that too many people assumed that it was 2012 all over again. Now, it seems that a lot of people are thinking like it’s still 2016.

      Some people are always fighting the last battle.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    GM Sells 15,000 Low-Cost EVs For China In First 20 Days Jalopnik (resilc). Subhead: “General Motors seems to have no trouble producing desirable, affordable electric cars. We just don’t get them in America.” So cute! A little bigger than a Swatch.

    It has to be said that despite the logic for so many people of a small, purely urban EV, consumers seem resistant even in European cities where the city car has traditionally reigned supreme. Even if you accept that for some families a big car or truck is ‘necessary’, it begs believe that people think two big cars are needed, and yet millions of people have exactly that. There are a few mini EV’s available in France which don’t seem to have been big commercial successes. I wonder if in Europe the huge success of electric bikes has to some extent supplanted the need for small electric cars for anyone but the elderly.

    But having seen the astonishing price of that car (under $5,000!), I wonder if the key point is that the car companies keep overdesigning cars (possibly pushed by minimum design standards based on an assumption of fast highway traffic). The result is ‘mini’ city cars that simply have too much unnecessary metal and parts. I would guess that with this car GM have worked hard at absolute minimalism – perhaps aided by China’s *ahem* loose approach to safety regulations – and this has made for a more viable EV. Maybe if you could persuade bike manufacturers to try their hand at EV’s you’d end up with something much lighter and cheaper.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I would get a cute cheap local car all day (although living somewhere where I need no car would be much better). I hate freeway driving and the most I seem to need to do is about a half hour each way. If I really had to drive somewhere (why?) why not rent a heavier-duty car?

      But how are these micro cars in snow? You need a certain amount of weight to get traction in a lot of conditions.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t think there is any inherent reason a micro car can’t handle snow as well as a big car (apart from clearance), but a simplified city car just wouldn’t have the additional engineering added unless necessary. EV’s are actually in many situations better than IC cars because the engine/fuel weight is lower down (in the chassis, rather than hanging on the front), so they should in theory be more stable in slippery conditions. Weight itself isn’t much use – I don’t know about the US, but in Europe BMW’s are notorious for being terrible in icy conditions and snow. It comes down to the ratio of weight to contact area on the ground, plus the grippyness of the tyres.

        I’d imagine it would be quite easy to make a snow capable small car – just make it 4WD by having electric drives for all four wheels, and the smaller tyres would make winter tyres cheaper to own and maybe easier to replace. But I don’t think anyone has done it. The other problem of course is that batteries hate cold weather. But EV’s are still very popular in Norway.

        1. EMtz

          Eons ago I had a rear wheel drive E21 BMW (320i). Small and light weight. Terrible in snow. Put a couple of cinderblocks in the trunk over the rear axle. Equipped the car with hydrophilic winter tires. I lived in New England and had a 100 mile round trip daily commute from the coast up into hills inland, so road conditions changed all along the way. Even so, set up this way, the car cut cleanly through snow and, with care, handled freezing slush with surprising competence. Of course, if a car is front wheel drive it will plow/understeer. That’s a whole different issue.

          1. Copeland

            For seven years I drove an E46 BMW RWD while my wife drove a VW Passat FWD. BMW was useless in snow, Passat was a SNOW EATING MONSTER, simply amazing for a non AWD vehicle.

            Both cars had all-season tires.

      2. Louis Fyne

        get snow tires for small cars BUT depends on the local climate.

        if you’re in the South, snow tires are (imo) overkill for the 1-3 times it snows/ice storms. easier to just stay home until the roads are clear—unless that is not an option

        all depends on one’s needs and climate.

        if you have to drive: rain, snow or ice, (and it is hilly) think snow tires (if it fits one’s budget)

        Minimum, most people are best served by quality all-season tires. i recommend tirerack dot com for reviews, but there are lots of good sites.

        just make sure your tires are not “summer” or “performance” tires

      3. cnchal

        > But how are these micro cars in snow?

        The rub is they would be fine with snow tires or a set of Blizzaks which stick to ice but as we know, the wrong tires on the car will reduce range drastically for an EV, never mind running lights and heaters in cold weather which drastically reduces range as well.

        A good cheap local car is a used Honda Civic (not the latest 1.5 turbo which is Honda’s version of crapification – stay away from it).

        Besides, we are at peak ugly for car design these days.

      4. The Historian

        I don’t think it is the overall weight but the weight placement that matters. I had an old VW Beetle that I drove in Butte – lots of snow, lots of icy hills, but I never had a bit of trouble getting around in that thing because the weight was over the drive axle in the rear. I’ve had other cars that were a bear to drive in the winter, including a big and heavy Monte Carlo. I was always looking for snow piles to skid into with that one!

        1. km

          An aircooled Beetle with good tires will go about anywhere a 4×4 will go, and lots of places that most won’t (because it is smaller).

          A Beetle set up for offroading is nigh unstoppable.

          Also, for Katiebird, the front seats in a Beetle are very comfortable, the best of any small car I’ve ever been in (if you don’t believe in a/c, at least).

          And I lived in Europe, so I got to sit in all sorts of small cars. Not to mention that I’m 6’4″. Plenty of head and leg room. Even my mother, who is persnickety and demands creature comforts, happily took cross-country trips in my old ’72 Super.

          The rear seats are something else entirely.

        2. EMtz

          Had a Beetle in Boston when we got close to 40″ of snow in three back-to-back storms. Put snow tires on it. It went through places snow plows had difficulty. When I had to cross a snow mound left by plowing, I gassed it. If it got hung up a little, it was pretty easy for this 5’2″ woman to push it off.

          1. Copeland

            I believe the old VW Beetles had positraction rear ends. With most cars, one wheel would immediately spin while the other did nothing. The Beetle always sent torque to both wheels all the time, no matter how slippery.

      5. SteveW

        Canadian here. The Smart Car does well in packed or semi-packed snow. In slushy or soft deep snow, it does not work well at all due to the small tires. So perhaps a small EV with a bigger tire size would do ok. Weight does not seem to be an issue.

      6. periol

        I drove my 90s Honda Civic hatchback hundreds of miles through a freak spring Oklahoma blizzard with 3-6 inches of snow covering the roads the entire way, at night no less. The tires were “all season” tires, not snow tires either. It was scary at the time, but there was never a moment I thought I was in danger, or almost got stuck. Slow and steady driving and it was fine. Didn’t even have much in the car. FWD helps.

      7. J7915

        The Classic origional Beetle wheight about 990lbs. Weight concentrated on driving wheels, front end light so it went over snow drifts. The narrow tires did not make a difference.

      8. rtah100

        I believe the theory is that a small car with narrow tyres (and ideally four wheel drive or at least not rear-wheel drive unless it is rear-engined so the weight is over the drive wheels) will bite down into the snow and have good traction. It will also not have too much momentum and will be easier to stop, avoid skidding etc. Certainly carefully small cars often outperform fast / large cars when it snows occasionally in the UK and everybody forgets how to drive!

    2. Katiebird

      How hard is it to get in and out of a micro car? I am ready to get a newer car than my 1992 Honda Civic because hurking myself in and out of it is getting more difficult and painful all the time. I don’t want something tall like an SUV or truck. I just want something normal, like a Honda Accord.

      Does anyone know how high up Micro Cars are?

      Online shopping is frustrating because this issue is never addressed.

      1. Anonymous

        Katiebird, you’re one of the people who account for the remarkable popularity of the Kia Soul. It was marketed to young hipsters, but older people have flocked to it because it combines a small footprint, generous interior room, and easy entry/exit due to the higher seating position you’re after. The price of entry is low and reliability is pretty good. The only real downside is unexceptional gas mileage. Not really a “microcar” a la the Smart or even the Fit, but small.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Its one of the few cars based on the Kei car concept you can get outside Japan/South Korea (I don’t think the Soul is a Kei car, but it takes its design cue from Japanese Kei designs).

          Its a real pity – those little cars are super practical for the elderly and they can look very cute.

          From what I understand, they originated accidentally from Japanese tax laws and parking regulations. In Japan there is almost no street parking permitted, and you have to either have a very tiny (Kei) car or a (usually very expensive) private parking space to have a car license. Plus there are tax reasons.

          As a cyclist, I appreciate being surrounded by cars that would look like they would come off worse if I collided with them. Thankfully, thats rarely an issue with the super careful Japanese drivers. South Koreans, not so much….

      2. Louis Fyne

        i second the above…..a Kia Soul sounds like a good match (or at least a good starting point). only downside a bit weak on power (which may/may not be relevant depending on your needs)

        maybe AARP reviews cars?

      3. cnchal

        Early warning – stay away from Kia or Hyundai. The 1.6 and 2 liter turbos are recprocating grenades and the CVT (continuously variable transmission) is crap. Actually all cars sold with a CVT are crap.

        As the service advisor said in a moment of candor, Hyundai stands for Here’s why you not drive an import.

        1. Mike Mc

          Respectfully disagree. 2014 Camry Hybrid w/CVT has 160K miles on it. Bought Certified Pre Owned so balance of factory warranty came with it, had 29K on it when purchased.

          Drove 100 miles round trip daily on Interstate for three and half years, then 350 miles a week on two lane state highways for last 18 months.

          It’s an appliance with wheels that’s performed better – i.e. zero problems – than any of our new appliances from 2019. All maintenance by dealership; getting ready to put our third set of tires on it. 35 MPG consistently because I have a fat foot, got 41 MPG on round trip to Indianapolis from Omaha and back thanks to lower speed limits on Interstates.

          Many friends drive Kia Souls and various Hyundai/Suburus with CVTs, no trouble. Usually bought new so there’s that, any abused used car is a risk. YMMV.

      4. John Beech

        Katiebird, I can recommend a vehicle like my Mercedes G-wagon as a decent compact truck if you decide you’re in the market for something which affords a view of traffic and is robust without the bulk of a American SUV like Tahoe or Expedition. Fuel economy is reasonable (I don’t drive much so I only fill it once a month, or so), and it’s sufficiently solid you won’t fear for your life in the event of an accident. For example, I came across an accident the other day between a Kia of some sort and a Toyota Tacoma (a mid-size pickup) where the small car driver was unrecognizable as human within the mashed remains (yes, I averted my eyes and said a prayer for the firemen trying to remove the driver). Anyway, this was at an intersection, where speeds are typically lowish 25-35mph so it’s not like this was some 70mph vs stationary object collision. I’ve read where the small cars are tested to be as good as large ones in head-on collisions but you couldn’t prove it by what I saw. My point? Small cars and saving money on fuel are only of interest if you have forgotten (or never learned) what you should have in high school physics, e.g. mass is your friend. Then again, I know people who congratulate themselves on diverting several blocks to save 5¢ on an 10-gallon fuel purchase, which in light of the certain limit on grains of sand within their personal hourglass strikes me as a skewed appreciation regarding the value of their own life itself versus half a dollar. Then again, in the words of that wise wag, Forrest Gump, stupid is as stupid does. I usually keep my own counsel when asked what I think. Anyway, what with my back issues I am not especially inclined to squeeze myself into compact cars and if you have any similar concerns, please think twice before opting for a tiny automobile. Especially if you’re in my cohort age-wise and are in the decline of your life.

        1. Jason Boxman

          in the market for something which affords

          Entertaining choice of words, as I don’t think the G-class of MB is itself affordable for most, even if it does afford a nice view of the road.

          1. John Beech

            Respectfully, there’s a difference between price and value. If we compare price, then yes mine’s about 2X the price of Tahoe, but I’m on year 10 while my neighbor has just purchased his third. Back of the envelope math leads me to suspect his expenditure now exceeds mine by maybe $60k (and he’s comfortable on family money whilst I work for mine). Add to it, based on my history of keeping things until the wheels fall off, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets two more Tahoe, maybe three before I replace mine with another. My point is this; affordability is relative. Especially based on the number of Tahoe I see on the road, which leads me to suspect either many of these folks stretch to afford it, meaning they’re foolish with their spending, or they can’t discern the difference. Based on my impression of seeing 100 of the Tahoe-class for every one of mine, I suspect the former. In any case, this doesn’t change the math regarding getting what you paid for.

      5. RMO

        Katiebird: Of the small cars available in North America lately none of them are much different when it comes to ingress/egress than a Civic or an Accord. Even the smallest like the Smart Car and the now gone Scion iQ.

        I think a big reason that CUV’s like the Honda HR-V are so popular is that they’re easy to get in and out of. After my father-in-law had heart surgery I was the one who went to drive him home from the hospital because the Honda Element I owned at the time was perfect for the job because it didn’t require any lowering down or climbing up – the seats were at exactly the right height and the roof was high enough that there was no need to bend over to get in. Funnily enough of you get a modern CUV and an American sedan from the late 40s or so before they started the lower-longer-wider trend side by side, you’ll find that roof height, floor height and seat height are very similar.

    3. vidimi

      teslas are pretty commonplace in Paris, but the most popular cars among the well off seem to be the sporty-suv types such as the BMW X6, Mercedes GLE coupe, Porsche Cayenne, and others. Not as big as some american trucks, but still larger than necessary.

        1. witters

          I tried to drive one of them in the late 80s – first drive I had to climb out and right the damn thing 5 times in 15km.

    4. David

      I am seeing increasing numbers of these. I don’t know how they compare to the GM vehicles, but they seem to be selling well, and are aimed at people who live in cities and towns.

    5. Keith

      While your point is very true, you cannot forget federal mandates, especially for “safety” that not only run up the cost, but also the weight of the vehicle, requiring more and more power to make it grow. It would be interesting to see how these cars would stock up against a US regulatory review.

  9. jr

    I caught that otter video a bit back on BloobTube, I thought the best part was when after boarding the boat without a by your leave, it’s hisses it’s intention to tear the primates hand off if it gets too close. Back off monkey boy, survival trumps manners…

    Periol talked about a semi tame rabbit, one lost and one gained. It seems I’ve been hearing similar things as the last few months have gone by. Semi domesticated foxes:

    Warm and cuddly crocodilians:

    Also, having volunteered with a bird rescue, I’ve seen firsthand where humans and animals meet. I’m understand as we encroach on their territory not only will encounters go up but new behaviors will appear as (some) species learn to fit in. It’s been well documented in NYC wildlife.

    But I’m more interested in the emotional relationships that will form between humans and animals. As we kill them off, we (the following is wildly subjective!) seem to be growing closer to them in some ways. I’m not advocating for anything here, least of all trying to domesticate wild animals. I’m just describing a dynamic I think I see.

    Although a pet fox………

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I was talking about that to a friend recently who was surprised at how friendly her local wild foxes have become. When I lived in England urban foxes were very common and generally unafraid of people, but this was always very rare in Ireland (although oddly, badgers are a little more urban and friendly here, but only marginally so).

      My guess is that that the reason is because Irish people much prefer dogs than cats as pets (this is one reason why you see far more garden birds in Irish suburbs). So I was speculating that the more recent popularity for small ornamental dogs such as those stupid French bulldogs I see around was encouraging foxes who don’t fear them like they would the more traditional big dogs or terriers Irish people tended to favour.

      So this is a long winded way of saying that I think our relationship with wild animals alters according to our favouring domestic animals. If you keep big dogs, big wild animals keep a healthy distance. If you keep cats (unless its a house cat only), forget about a garden full of birds.

      Incidentally, the discussion of the rabbits reminds me that after my mothers death, a clearly domesticated rabbit took up home on the grave next to my parents. On every visit he was there, seemingly uncertain as to whether to run or go to get fed. We liked to think he was looking over our mother, but more likely he just learned that there were nice tasty flowers to munch on the newer graves. He lasted a surprisingly long time, although no doubt a fox eventually got him, he didn’t look particularly streetwise, even by rabbit standards.

    2. Lee

      The silver fox domestication experiment

      Domesticated red fox (Wikipedia)

      Current thinking is that dogs are the descendants of wolves that self-domesticated. That is, certain wolves that were innately less fearful of humans, who in turn tolerated the proximity of wolves. It is likely that wolves and possibly both species grew accustomed to feeding on one another’s excess food production. A materially symbiotic relationship developed and evolved through selective breeding of tame canines for useful behavioral traits, and both being social animals, emotional bonds followed.

      As for the tamed foxes, it appears that they have skipped the material utility phase and gone directly to pet status.

      1. jonboinAR

        I don’t know if it was displayed in Links here, or I saw it somewhere else. There was an article about some, apparantly bored, laboratory that decided to breed foxes for tameness. It took only a few generations, the article said, for them to have foxes that were so homo-philic as to be annoying.

      2. jonboinAR

        I don’t know if it was displayed in Links here, or I saw it somewhere else. Several years ago, there was an article about some, apparently bored, laboratory that decided to breed foxes for tameness. It took only a few generations, the article said, for them to have foxes that were so homo-philic as to be annoying.

    3. periol

      Fwiw, both rabbits in our life were ?runaway? domesticated house rabbits. The first was at a wildlife refuge in California. We took an injured possum there, and they asked us to take the rabbit home because they only worked with wild animals (the possum recovered!).

      After the sad passing of the first rabbit, a few months later I saw a loose house bunny running around on the back lot with the wild rabbits. We coaxed him inside with no effort. Pretty sure he was dumped and not a runaway because he has shown no interest in leaving since joining us.

      We also took in a dog abandoned during the early stages of coronavirus.

      All this said, I am no Radagast but I do have relationships with wild animals here. The ravens and I communicate; they warn me when hawks are nearby. I keep an eye on the wild rabbits regardless – there’s that rabbit disease going around. But they all seem fine – love watching the little ones who haven’t grown into their ears yet.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Hurricane Laura postponed due to Covid-19 concerns”

    Well it could be worse. Much, much worse. At this point most of us have seen a “Sharknado” film somewhere along the line-

    So imagine a hurricane blasting in from the gulf and slamming into Louisiana. But then it tears apart a clinic that has hundreds of thousands of Coronavirus samples. Then that would give you “Coronacane!”

  11. fresno dan
    These stock sales were particularly egregious in 2015 – 2016, where for a twelve month period Doug pocketed between $4 million and $11 million in stock sales per month, and again in 2018, when for a brief shining moment American Airline’s stock price went above $50. Wouldn’t you know it, Doug just happened to choose that moment to sell 437,000 shares of stock, more than twice as much stock as he had ever sold before and almost 5x the usual size of his stock sales.

    But surely, compensation like this is well earned. Surely, American Airlines has outperformed its competition, built a solid franchise, and delivered nice returns to its investors.
    LOL. Don’t call me Shirley.
    From 2014 – 2019, the same years that CEO and Chairman Doug pocketed $200 million in real money stock-based comp, American Airlines had *negative* free cash flow of $3.2 billion.
    And took on an additional $14 billion in debt.
    And bought back $13 billion of its stock.
    The thing that is amazing to me is that even by the criteria that you are suppose to judge firms by, they fail.
    Yet the owners (stockholders) continually overpay managers whose ONLY talent is assuring that managers are overpaid…
    AND, although it is insignificant, I have to say that after finally deciding to fly once retired, to Hawaii, the 2 American airlines flight to, and than 2 back, not once was the American airlines capable of taking off on time. Not to mention the next time I tried, where I decided to just cancel the whole thing…

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Bolton says US coronavirus response has been ‘one mistake after another'”

    Yeah, and the biggest mistake was ever making him National Security Advisor. I was watching a history of the Coronavirus pandemic a coupla nights go and it reminded me of a bit of almost forgotten history. Back when he was made National Security Advisor, one of the things that he did in 2018 was to remove “Timothy Ziemer and dissolved his Global Health Security team formerly on the NSC leaving the administration’s high level preparation for and ability to respond to pandemics, infectious disease, and other biological threats unclear.” That function was shifted to an outlaying department which meant that in case of a pandemic, there would not be a direct line to the President anymore. Why would he do this? Why to streamline his team so that it could concentrate on it’s true mission and the greatest threat to America – Iran! So the neocon obsession with that small country left America blind going into the greatest pandemic since 1919-

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      But but but John Bolton is a Hero Of The Resistance!

      You can only try to invert reality so many times before people stop believing anything you say at all.

      Going from “Bolton is the worst possible fascist ever!” to “This week Bolton is a really good guy, really, no, no, really!” just gives people whiplash.

  13. nippersmom

    Per other reports, Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother drove her thug son and his gun to Kenosha. She needs to be charged as an accessory to murder. How he came by that weapon also needs to be thoroughly investigated and other charges brought as appropriate.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I just cannot fathom the irresponsible behavior all around here. The police and the parents both enabled this to happen.

      Then, after all the gunfire when he came to the police with his rifle sling and hands up, he was not detained or questioned? The contrast between the behaviors of the police in this incident and the Blake incident are so inconsistent.

      Resist arrest and try to drive away.. shot in the back

      Willfully submitting yourself for arrest or detainment.. drive away.

    2. Brindle

      There is a vid clip of Rittenhouse before the shooting saying that he is being deployed here—as if he was taking direction from someone—the police ?. other vigilantes ?

  14. Jeff W

    …I read a childhood, or at best young adult book…about the finding of the coelacanth…

    Yes, me, too: the story of museum curator Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer’s famed ichthyological discovery in Eleanor Clymer’s Search for a Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth. (We sort of bonded over that, as luck would have it, just a day after the 77th anniversary of the event.)

      1. Jeff W

        You’re welcome! It’s always nice to pin down something fondly remembered with the actual thing.

  15. bob

    Last year was great for wild blueberries. Bushes full of them, Went to the same spots this year and had trouble finding even a few.

    It’s well past prime season for them anyway, by at least 3 weeks. The dry early summer probably hurt them here.

  16. Ella

    Re: CDC testing

    THIS is ultimate reason why I’ve decided not to send my 1st grader to school this fall (in addition to the idiot parents who cannot be trusted to not send their children to school when sick). My school district has done a surprisingly (and remarkably) decent job with their reopening plan.

    But when pressed to answer questions about testing, contact tracing and quarantining, they keep saying, it’s situational and dependent on the CDC rules. Which are dictated by the Trump administration.

    I have zero trust in this.

    1. cnchal

      > I have zero trust in this.

      No less than infectioius disease expert Bill Gates has said the tests are garbage. I guess one doesn’t need to be an expert to make that call when a test can indicate you have it when you don’t, you don’t have it when you do and then wait weeks for results (for the peasants) that are hard to beleive, either way.

      1. a different chris

        It is so frustrating when yes, I do “agree with Bill Gates” but at the same time I wonder why the frell anybody is publishing Bill Gate’s view on this.

        It’s OK here when people understand not going with the herd view, but elsewhere it is so hard to explain things like why I think Dr. Fauci should just go away without immediately it being assumed I am a Trumpist for god’s sake.

  17. Tom Stone

    NippersMom, Federal law stipulates the the earliest age you can own a rifle is 18, for a pistol 21 years of age.
    No one should be surprised that the cops didn’t try to stop this killer when he walked past them, cops tend to be authoritarian and a lot of them would be happy to shoot protesters themselves.
    Few are aware that the police chief who preceded August Vollmer in liberal Berkeley CA was a Grand Dragon in the KKK.
    Racism runs deep in the USA.
    On a happier note, I woke to breathable air and walked the 1/2 mile to the Russian River.
    The fires were visible about 1,000 yards away, but there is a heave marine layer and the winds are I should be OK.
    My vehicle is loaded and pointed out but I hope to avoid evacuating again.

    1. Lee

      Cool, moist, breathable air off the ocean, the drizzle will save us. Cooped up because of the unhealthy air quality, Lady Barksalot and I can hit the streets today. Stay safe.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Reminds me of the four seasons they had when I lived in Tucson: Early Summer, Mid Summer, Late Summer, and Next Summer.

  18. farragut

    Great news from the Fed. They want to change their mandate to an “average inflation target of 2%” (meaning, I suppose, they’ll be happy to let inflation run hot for longer, in order to boost our cost of living).

    Powell also talks about a ‘strong labor market’ (which I’m having trouble seeing when you look at wage growth in the US since 1981). According to the Fed’s own data, wage growth is barely keeping up with the CPI (which is recognized by the NC commentariat to understate the actual inflation rate).

    I’ll stop now; I feel an impotent rant coming on….

  19. The Rev Kev

    “6 amazing animals that were declared extinct – and then came back”

    Came across the full story of the re-discovery of the Coelacanth as a kid. I remember from that account that when the woman that saved that fish finally convinced professor J.L.B. Smith to actually inspect it, he said that he would not have been more surprised if he had seen a dinosaur walk down the street. The only thing like that to have occurred since then was when a grove of Wollemi pines was discovered in Australia that dated too from the time of the dinosaurs and was only known from fossil records-

  20. rd

    “US Media Can’t Think How to Fight Fires Without $1-an-Hour Prison Labor”

    Baffled by this headline. Up until now, I didn’t realize that it was the US media’s job to organize, fund, and staff government services. I thought that was the job of the politicians and government bureaucrats.

    I think the US media has done a decent job exposing the fact that prison labor made up a large percentage of the wildfire fighting force in California – I knew they participated, but not to the extent. I do agree that the mdeia probably haven’t done enough analysis on ramifications. But I don’t believe it is the US media’s job to organize government services.

    1. Wukchumni

      Right up until Covid, the fawning over active military or the most hallowed of holy-veterans, was so over the top and then it pretty much stopped dead when Covid came calling with the exception of the Wounded Warrior Project, which has had to use even more messed up vets in tv commercials than usual, in a plea to get you to give up 63 Cents a day

      Those veterans are/were fit and can take orders, why they weren’t turned into firefighters earning the same pay as when they were in the military, will have to remain a mystery.

      But then there’s no real graft possibilities in Pulaskis, is there?

      1. Lee

        As with so many of today’s crapified products that mimic what we used to rightly call durable goods, one must ask where the Pulaski was made and of what materials.

    2. GramSci

      The headline writer, who was likely not the author, probably felt a need to make the story relevant to FAIR’s raison d’ etre. I was disturbed (but not surprised) to learn that the practice of using prison labor for this stretched back into the 1940s.

  21. km

    “Bolton says US coronavirus response has been ‘one mistake after another'”

    Bolton is correct. BUT if Trump had given Bolton the war on Iran that he so craves, he’d be singing the praises of Trump’s response to the COVID to anyone fool enough to listen.

  22. Wukchumni

    Saw just my 3rd bear of the year on the road briefly, a classic 2 second encounter from behind the windshield going around a corner, and down the embankment it went, adios. 150 pound 2 year old, black in color.

    A far cry from the 54 bruins I saw one summer & fall before the 5 year drought really did a number on their numbers.

    1. pasha

      to wuk: for six months, western michigan has been experiencing uncommonly-blue skies, ever since covid shut down air traffic (reminiscent of the sky the week after 9/11, when planes were grounded).
      tuesday afternoon a high level haze became noticeable, by sundown there was no blue sky, even worse wdnesday and today. radio informs us that it is high altitude smoke from your fires, hasn’t happened here since the 1988 yellowstone fire!

  23. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Dead World of Blippi”
    The subtitle to this link was: “The loneliness and sterility of children’s “educational” videos in the Trump era”. I missed the part where this was covered somewhere? I also missed mention of Blippi’s provenance and funding. He apparently he is on youtube and “racked up billions of views”. I have trouble making comparisons between the shows on offer by a youtube provider of unknown provenance and funding with the likes of “Mr. Rogers”, “Sesame Street”, or “Pee Wee Herman”. If the point of this link is that Blippi is successful because there are so few children’s educational videos around — that point is never stated. If the point of this link is that parents should be undisturbed by Blippi but aren’t — that point is mildly suggested. Blippi does look quite horrible.

  24. zagonostra

    >Democratic Party – Heads you loss, tails we win

    From Black Agenda Reports:

    The Democrats claim to be the opposition party, but they seek out Republicans, hate the left of their own party, and don’t seem to care if they lose the election…

    …the party establishment took great pains to defeat Bernie Sanders. Black people were played by their misleaders into supporting the same neo-liberal policies that are destroying their lives. It was not difficult to do with a voting block that has whittled down its demands to just one, keeping Republicans out of office. Black primary voters were the marks in the con game, as the Democrats coalesced around Biden and Sanders agreed to play the role of dupe.

    1. feox

      We also have to considered the responsibility of the voters for being so easy to “mislead”. We can’t be have a representative democracy and constantly infantilize the voters by taking away and their agency (and by logical extension, the responsibility for their choice).

      1. edmondo

        Maybe the problem isn’t “the voters” but the political party they chose as their mechanism for change. Next time, let’s have a primary without the Democratic Party and see what happens.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The voters were not necessarily misled. They believed in the primary process that as it got under way presented a carousel of policy choices and personalities. A very large chunk of them got very excited about and supported the candidate pushing M4A. He was filling stadiums with people who had chipped in $18 apiece. Various female candidates got ample air time and support. There was even a gay small town mayor and an interesting Asian-American technology entrepreneur exploring brand-new ideas about money and society. A female soldier who stood firmly for her beliefs that America should pull back from fighting foreign wars.

        Then came the votes themselves. Bellweather New Hampshire did not turn out as expected for the group controlling the party. Iowa ditto, with the added cluster of a voting app that did not work. The favoured candidate of the party establishment flamed out after the people got a chance to look at her record. Their backup, a throwback to the 1980’s on policy (and age) ended up in fourth place in Iowa.

        I don’t need to recount the rest. People can be trusted to select a candidate that is good for them and good for the nation. If they are allowed to, that is.

  25. Carla

    Re: racial segregation at US universities: I’m reading Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last book, published posthumously, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

    He’s the only person who could have authored it, but had he not been assassinated, he could have written it, almost word for word, in the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000, 2010, — or in 2016, after two terms of our first Black president. Nothing. Has. Changed.

    It’s a beautiful book — deeply tragic to read now, of course, but I highly recommend.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “North Korean Propaganda Is More Subtle Than Kimberly Guilfoyle’s Dark, Dark Speech”

    More Trump derangement syndrome on display. Kimberly Guilfoyle looks nothing like the North Korean news presenter that you so often see on the news though she may sound the same-

    Hard to believe that people get themselves so wound up by all this. The other day Trump told his supporters after listening to them chant ‘four more years’ that if they really wanted to drive the opposition crazy, that they should chant ‘twelve more years’ which they did. And going by the news, that is exactly what happened. It drove them nuts-

    1. Wukchumni

      One similarity i’ve noticed between North Korea propaganda & Fox News is that all women presented on the telly have to be wearing dresses/skirts.

      1. Carolinian

        Those who have seen Bombshell know that Ailes also required that they sit at transparent desks to further promote ogling.

        As he tells his victims during the film: “It’s a visual medium.”

        1. Wukchumni

          I think the frocks are part and parcel of what has hooked the half a dozen men in their 60’s & 70’s I know who have Fox News @ their beck and call @ all hours of the day, and frankly have turned into subservient followers, all ready for the next screen test of their loyalty. Soft pornews

    2. a different chris

      No. This isn’t funny, this isn’t some TV show. This is my country and these people are trying to run it, by some definition of “run”.

      And they are family-blogging scary, a combination of idiocy and aggressiveness seldom seen except in the Third World.

      You think I shouldn’t be “wound up” by who is going to run the place I call home?

      1. hunkerdown

        On what basis do you believe the current two-party regime who permanently runs the place has any intention, let alone duty, to serve your needs or interests, to the extent they can avoid it? Who is going to run the place is the oligarchs, and they are going to leave the lowest with bare subsistence, and that’s baked into this and every class system. Caring which puppet signs the orders is tantamount to commodity fetishism.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I think that you missed what I was trying to say. When people give over control of their emotions to whatever comes out of Trump’s mouth or tweets, then Trump is in control of you and he has won. Right now, he could say something like that he will dissolve all State governments as a joke but too many people would have a melt down and take him at his word. You don’t listen to what he says but what he does. Same with old “Crime Bill” Joe.

  27. Wukchumni

    Trump is suggesting he & Biden take drug tests, and just imagine what the debate would be like 45 minutes after dosing them both up on magic mushrooms?

    1. periol

      Yeah but Pelosi came out today and said debates are an “exercise in skullduggery”. Surely nothing to do with the drug testing, right?

      IMHO, that drug test comment was pure poker. They’re both on PEDs.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Right! — but it is a little surprising to have Pelosi point out the rigging by the bi-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates. Especially in these days when it’s not so common for a candidate to win a majority even of the votes cast, the debates should be open to anyone on a ticket that’s eligible to get at least 135 electoral votes.

        That’s right, I said 135. Sure, 270 means you could win an Electoral College majority outright — but as long as you could get 135, you could guarantee yourself no worse than third place (since at most two other candidates could get more). And if nobody gets a majority and the race goes to the House of Representatives, they can choose from the top three.

    2. BlueMoose

      I’d like to see them do the shrooms 45 minutes before the debate begins. I would pay money to watch what happens next.

      1. periol

        Can’t imagine a worse shroom trip. Lights in your face, people trying to ask you questions, a suit on your body…

        I had some good trips, but also a bad trip once, and just imagining this is nightmare fuel.

        1. Wukchumni

          …as if you’d want them to be in a comfortable natural setting with no strangers around-alone with their thoughts, aside from a minder guiding them?

          1. periol

            I dunno, my bad trip left me moaning for hours in the fetal position. I guess for some it would be riveting television.

    3. JWP

      Biden should load up on drugs just to mess with Trump. Drop an edible and maybe some HGH injections. Shrooms would make it all that much better.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “Topless sunbathing: French government defends right to bare torsos”

    At the risk of making a boob of myself, this does not seem to be a big deal in Europe. I saw topless girls sun themselves in the middle of Munich and a coupla mates saw the same in parks in Denmark. The whole incident related in this article started from a Karen complaining to a manager in the form of the local police about three girls sunning themselves because will-nobody-think-of-the-children? I am surprised the local cops fell for it. And Germany has had a FKK (Freikörperkultur) nudist movement for over a century so this is pretty widespread. And though the article mentioned modesty during Victorian times, before then there was widespread casual nude swimming. The Victorian times is an abberation that we have never succeeded in shucking. Damn Karens.

    Looking at Geordi LaFeline in the today’s antidote du jour, his left eye reminds me more Data.

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s pretty common for hikers/backpackers to skinny dip in lakes in the backcountry of the High Sierra, more the rule than the exception. We were @ Hamilton Lake 15 miles into the back of beyond and there must’ve been a dozen nekkid folks swimming, and a Swiss couple I was talking to asked if nakedness was common in the USA, he thought we were a lot more prudish, and I mentioned only in the wilderness or hot springs is when i’ve encountered it, certainly never ever ever in a city setting.

      If you want privacy while clad in your birthday suit, going off-trail practically assures you of it, as perhaps 1% of hikers stray from the beaten path. But make sure you have enough sunscreen, as some of your parts seldom see the Sun.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        “It’s pretty common for hikers/backpackers to skinny dip in lakes in the backcountry of the High Sierra, more the rule than the exception.”

        Likewise the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness adjacent to the Canadian border in NE Minnesota.

    2. Basil Pesto

      I’m not sure that FKK is a nudist movement per se, as opposed to a culture of and approach to nudity in general. Thus my surprise when, at my gym in Berlin, the changing room was full of, uh, swinging dicks. The mode I’m used to is very much transition from unclothed to clothed as quickly and discreetly as possible (and don’t become completely unclothed in the first place if at all possible.)

      1. The Rev Kev

        Got a big surprise myself when I discovered that the shower room in a big city youth hostel in Belgium was a shared one.

    3. BlueMoose

      It was an eye-opener for me 10+ years back in Budapest on a very hot day to see all the topless action at some type of spa/pool thing with full families in abundance. I don’t think anyone thought anything about it except the Americans.

  29. Wukchumni

    And on another sunny tangent, the long term homeless in California are easily identifiable by having deep tans, and you’d a thunk they would have been really susceptible to the Coronavirus, but not so much, and similar in circles i’m more familiar with, we’re all de facto Sun worshipers in the Sierra, despite wearing a broad rimmed hat and applying sunscreen to bare body parts, you can’t help but bronze yourself walking a bunch.

    Is overdosing on vitamin D via your pores a magic elixir?

  30. Jason Boxman

    According to an email from a large enterprise technology company today, the Trump administration has so far failed to provide the necessary guidance for the temporary Social Security tax suspension for employees:

    On August 8, President Trump signed an Executive Memoranda that would defer the employee portion of Social Security taxes (6.2% on certain wages) beginning September 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The memoranda instructs that the deferral of Social Security tax should only apply to employees whose wages or compensation payable during a bi-weekly period is generally less than $4,000, or $104,000 annually.

    The memoranda instructed the Secretary of Treasury to provide specific implementation guidance, though none has been provided to date. Without this guidance, we are not able to compliantly implement this change and thus will continue to withhold this 6.2% of qualifying wages from pay. As soon as we receive instruction on how to compliantly make this change, we will develop and share our implementation plan.

    Make of that what you will, but that hardly seems like an earnest attempt to provide even limited relief. The order will probably expire before it has any effect.

    And the email thread devolved into nearly everyone asking to opt-out, followed by complaints about politics at work, taking the matter up with HR, and asking how to unsubscribe from the thread. Up to 41 replies so far. Sigh.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      A suspension of withholding would just mean no taxes taken out for four months — and at the end of those four months taxes would start being withheld again, as before.

      A deferral of withholding would mean no taxes taken out for those same four months — BUT at the end of the period, not only would the withholding start up again, you’d also owe the system the whole amount that hadn’t been withheld for those four months.

      IOW, heads Wall Street privateers win a leg up toward profitization, tails you lose sooner and/or later.

    1. JEHR

      What a wonderful film ! Too bad all railroads didn’t run on aerial tracks; it makes a lot of sense.

      1. RMO

        And it’s still going strong carrying 80,000 people a day (though that number is probably down for 2020 what with the pandemic). The first time I saw it was on an episode of “Connections” with James Burke.

    2. The Rev Kev

      What a brilliant idea. Good find JCC. It looks like how people from the 1950s would have envisioned the future. Had to save that clip as it was so fascinating.

    3. Foy

      Amazing! What struck me was how calm the city felt, no hordes of people rushing left right and centre, just a few people here and there going about their stuff. Some decent sized buildings there so I assume there would have been a few inhabitants, esp if it justified a suspended railway car.

  31. Oh

    Thanx for the Otter video. So well done! Ten years ago I was in the same area in May where the video was shot but I diddn’t see any Orcas much to my disappointment.

  32. Billy

    Clearview AI CEO Says ‘Over 2,400 Police Agencies’ Are Using Its Facial Recognition Software

    A covid mask, wrap around goggles or better yet, sunglasses and a hat, all items mandated to be worn by some state governments, and certainly not unusual, defeats facial recognition.

    Ah, but even your gait gives you away and is unique? Put a tiny pebble in your shoe and your gait will be disfigured.

    Anyone who decries F.R.A.I, and who then walks around with a cell phone turned on, not in a foil wallet, and who then uses Apple Pay or a credit card to make purchases instead of cash, is a hypocrite, or at best, not too bright.

  33. maplesugar

    On my way thru the internet to NC, I looked at a couple of news sites &(caught my eye) Pence saying that we would not be safe(?) in Biden’s US………I thought,…….oh……was that a threat?

  34. Susan the other

    Science. The US is organizing research centers with 800 million $ for 5 years to research artificial intelligence and quantum information science. Forget superpositions and entanglement – this effort will surely include all 9 dimensions, so that’s an extra 6 we currently ignore. They all have to do with “direction” Up, down, right, left, left field, around, around and around. Etc. And range from the macro to the infinitesimal. That’s my guess. So it won’t be Grandma’s 5-G network anymore. Public Private Partnerships notwithstanding, this means that with anything better than peanut butter switches the sky’s the limit. We might accidentally get very coherent. My god, then what’ll we do? The DOE is in on the funding and coordination – so I’m assuming this effort will take as much anergy as mining Bitcoin. That might be kept secret.

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