Links 9/11/2020

In the Animal Kingdom, the Astonishing Power of the Number Instinct MIT Press Reader

Americans are observing nature during the pandemic, helping scientists with research National Geographic. Citizen science [pounds table]. Citizen science!

To survive frigid nights, hummingbirds cool themselves to record-low temperatures Science

Amazon Raised Prices on Essentials Amid Pandemic, Watchdog Says Bloomberg

Dozens of Amazon’s own products have been reported as dangerous — melting, exploding or even bursting into flames. Many are still on the market CNN. Wowsers, it’s hard to understand why Amazon’s leadership principles didn’t prevent this.

The Coming Age of Disorder Will Favor Commodities John Authers, Bloomberg

West Coast Wlldfires

What’s in Wildfire Smoke, and Whxy Is It So Bad for Your Lungs? Scientific American

Oregon governor issues emergency fire order; three prisons evacuated Portland Tribune. This little gem: “The state’s largest firefighting helicopters are unavailable; they were deployed to Afghanistan.”

Oregon Police Beg Public to Stop Calling In False Reports Blaming Antifa for Wildfires The Intercept

Those Orange Western Skies and the Science of Light Wired (Re SIlc).

The Orange Sky (1):

The Orange Sky (2):

As Fires Rage, California Must Stop Building in Burn Zones City Watch

The US National Hurricane Center is tracking seven systems in the Atlantic Yucatan Times (Re Silc).


COVID-19 is, in the end, an endothelial disease European Heart Journal. Endolethial cell: “The main type of cell found in the inside lining of blood vessels, lymph vessels, and the heart.” From the abstract: ” SARS-CoV-2, the aetiological agent of COVID-19, causes the current pandemic. It produces protean manifestations ranging from head to toe, wreaking seemingly indiscriminate havoc on multiple organ systems including the lungs, heart, brain, kidney, and vasculature. This essay explores the hypothesis that COVID-19, particularly in the later complicated stages, represents an endothelial disease…. The concept of COVID-19 as an endothelial disease provides a unifying pathophysiological picture of this raging infection, and also provides a framework for a rational treatment strategy at a time when we possess an indeed modest evidence base to guide our therapeutic attempts to confront this novel pandemic.”

Influenza may facilitate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (preprint) medRxiv. From the main text: “Respiratory viruses—including SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses, rhinoviruses, influenza viruses, etc.—form a large class of viruses that cause seasonal infections of the respiratory tract in humans. Mounting evidence indicates that their epidemiologies are not independent, as a result of interaction mechanisms that may operate at different scales and that can be classified as either facilitatory or antagonistic.” • A preprint, a model, and heavily qualified. So I think South China Morning Post’s headline overstates.

America’s Coronavirus Endurance Test The New Yorker. “In retrospect, one of the biggest weaknesses in our pandemic planning was that many infectious-disease experts, including me, focussed on the threat posed by a novel strain of influenza. We feared a repeat of 1918—and yet, because we now have the technology to create and mass-produce a new flu vaccine in only a few months’ time, a flu pandemic isn’t necessarily the worst-case scenario. As we are currently discovering, designing and testing an entirely new vaccine against a never-before-seen infectious disease is a far more uncertain and daunting task. The fact that the novel coronavirus is RNA-based, like H.I.V., intensifies the difficulty. It’s possible that a vaccine will arrive this year—but many experts think that it could be two years or even longer before a safe and effective shot has been developed, tested, manufactured, and made widely available.”

Fauci says U.S. needs to ‘hunker down’ for fall and winter NBC

Fauci says US hit hard by coronavirus because it never really shut down The Hill (Re Silc).

America Is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral Ed Yong, The Atlantic. Sounds like a “doom loop.”


Shift to ‘strategic clarity’ on Taiwan a further risk to US-China relations South China Morning Post

China Plans Strategic Boost to Vast State Commodity Reserves Bloomberg

China’s expanded export ban poses fresh challenge to global tech industry Straits Times

Talking about the seed brushing scam on ABC RN Breakfast Stilgherrian. Chinese seeds in Australia….

Sewage in Nepal serves as affordable COVID-19 warning tool Channel News Asia


India, China foreign ministers agree to quickly disengage border troops Reuters


Doha talks could reshape Afghanistan, but peace not assured Agence France Presse

Israel Headed for Second Nationwide Coronavirus Lockdown Bloomberg

How bitcoin met the real world in Africa Reuters

Kenyans fear ‘ecological disaster’ if two swollen lakes merge Reuters


Tory civil war over rule of six: Furious backbenchers brand new Covid restrictions ‘worse than the disease itself’ as it’s revealed almost EVERY Cabinet minister argued against them – but Matt Hancock got his way Daily Mail

Who is exempt from Boris Johnson’s rule of six Surrey Live

Coronavirus: Concerns over Boris Johnson’s ‘moonshot’ testing plans BBC

Johnson’s folie de grandeur Paul Mason, Social Europe

It’s not credible for the SNP to demand independence without a sovereign currency Tax Research UK

Stonehaven derailment: Report says climate change impact on railways ‘accelerating’ BBC. “Today’s report rightly points out that the infrastructure is 150 years old and rebuilding it to modern standards that are ‘climate resilient’ would be prohibitively expensive.” Oh.

New Cold War

Why America Should Fear a Russia-China Alliance The National Interest

Baltic States at the epicenter of military exercises Baltic Word

The Current Impasse in Belarus and the Peace Alternative Counterpunch

Russia on my mind Grace Kennan Warnecke, Martha’s Vineyard Times. Of course George Kennan’s daughter has a house on the Vineyard….

9 dead in Colombia anti-police brutality demonstrations CBC

Drug cartels in Mexico are now using drones to assassinate people KnowTechie

Trump Transition

OnPolitics: Things don’t look good for coronavirus relief USA Today. Good job, political class.


Majority of voters don’t see either Trump, Biden as mentally fit to be president: poll The Hill. “The poll surveyed voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with 51 percent of respondents saying Trump is mentally unfit for the job and 52 percent saying the same of Biden.”

Bob Woodward on a Nightmare Presidency David Remnick, The New Yorker. I don’t mind David Remnick having nightmares. It’s what he does when he wakes up that I worry about.

Scientists Are Learning to Read—and Change—Your Nightmares Time

Health Care

The Health Care Lobby Is Trying To Buy Corporate Immunity From Both Parties David Sirota, Jacobin

Cambie Surgeries Corporation v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2020 BCSC 1310 (PDF) In the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Canada protects Medicare against at two-tier, American-style system.

Guillotine Watch

The Emperor’s New Rules The Baffler. On Netflix’s Reed Hastings.

Class Warfare

God Selects Fall Interns The Onion. Not just God. Calling all rich kids:

How To Get Away with Murder History Today

Marion Nestle knows it’s not easy to be a smart consumer of food, or of media. The only solution may be to get political. The Counter

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Savita

    Clive of London!
    Would you care to elucidate on a topic I’m sure will be most fascinating to our many friends here
    And, secondly, could you point in the direction of some english language books that can help me dive
    deeper into this topic? I have an instinct not to search the world wide web, it seems banal, and against the grain of the very beauty of the subject at hand.
    SO it is the idea in Japanese language – society – culture – The Bigger The Front, The Bigger The Back. The idea that, the more you can see, the more there is you cannot see. It’s elegant, poetic, beautiful – and reassuring.
    Love from Sydney Aus.

    1. David

      Not Clive, but as someone who’s been involved with the country since forever, I’ll have a go first.
      Japan is what anthropologists call a high-context culture, which is to say that many things are understood by all, and very little needs to be written down or even said. Trust, tradition, ritual and social pressure play a large role, and people generally understand instinctively what they should do, and how to interpret the behaviour of others. This has implications for personal relationships (highly structured) commercial relationships (informal and largely based on trust), the management of everyday life (unwritten rather than written rules) and so on. Much is, literally, not said. Words and signs in Japan (this is what fascinated Barthes) may be completely detached from reality: the signifier, in linguistic terms, has nothing to do with the signified. When you learn Japanese you are told that arigato means « thank you. » It doesn’t: its root meaning is « rare » or « difficult ». It’s a chopped down version of. something like « that was an extremely difficult thing you did for me. » But it acts as a code, to remind people of the whole expression. You can then add various semantic nulls, like domo and –gozaimasu which have no real meaning, but express the difference in social status between the speakers. Likewise « ohayou » doesn’t really mean « good morning », it means « early. » As always, the rest has to be inferred.
      So it’s not that lots of things are deliberately hidden in Japan, it’s just that they are not there. They don’t need to be said, or performed, because everyone shares the same assumptions. This makes it very difficult, obviously, for foreigners to understand what’s going on, and indeed it’s probably better not to try. You’ll be treated like a child, and indulged as someone who really can’t be expected to behave as the Japanese do.
      For this reason, I’m hesitant to recommend books – most of them are misleading and the result of a superficial “Aren’t They Funny?” acquaintance with the country. People used to recommend Ruth Benedict’s The Sword and the Chrysanthemum, but although she was an anthropologist, her sources were limited to second-generation Japanese in California. And I’d distrust the pile of books from the 80s and 90s purporting to « explain » the country by reference to the samurai, or whatever. Your best bet is to listen to the Japanese talking to each other, in books or the cinema. But beware of Kurosawa, for example, who essentially imitated John Ford. Watch Ozu or Mizoguchi, and try to work out what’s going on. Again, don’t read Mishima (influenced by Mauriac) but someone like Kawabata. And don’t think you’ll ever understand everything.

      1. Lee

        R.H. Blyth is good at drawing comparisons between European and Japanese, particularly Zen, literary traditions. Haiku are an excellent example of conveying more by saying less.

        1. Larry Y

          I always consider the influence of Zen on Japan to be oversold, compared to it’s relative success as a cultural export. Within Japanese Buddhism, compare Zen to Pure Land or especially Nichiren.

      2. km

        Fascinating, captain.

        You wrote: “Japan is what anthropologists call a high-context culture, which is to say that many things are understood by all, and very little needs to be written down or even said. Trust, tradition, ritual and social pressure play a large role, and people generally understand instinctively what they should do, and how to interpret the behaviour of others. This has implications for personal relationships (highly structured) commercial relationships (informal and largely based on trust), the management of everyday life (unwritten rather than written rules) and so on. Much is, literally, not said.”

        Kvestion, to you or anyone else reading – to what extent is India a “high context culture”?

      3. Oh

        You’ve pointed out all the right things about the japanese language – it’s highly nuanced, sophisiticated and is linked to their culture. Therefore it’s a fool’s errand to “transliterate” the words. One might get a better understanding if one lives in the country for a long period of time within the japanese speaking community (no english speakers). Idioms and sayings are well nigh impossible to translate!

        1. km

          I have been told that Turkic and Arabic languages are the hardest for English speakers to master for similar reasons. They tend to favor poetic expression, and getting straight to the point is the sign of a crude and unsubtle mind. Also, they are highly idiomatic, referencing poems that everyone knows, the Koran, movies that everyone has seen, and other shared cultural experiences that most outsiders aren’t as intimately familiar with.

          It would be like dropping a foreigner who has never seen q Star Wars movie in a fan convention, and then wondering why he can’t make head or tail of the conversations he hears. “What the fresh hell is The Force and why is everyone talking about it?”

        2. Procopius

          @Oh: Minor quibble, when I was studying Mandarin in the Air Force in 1955, the word ‘transliterate’ meant to use the Latin alphabet to convey an idea of the sounds of a language that does not use the Latin alphabet. Examples I’ve seen are Chinese, Arabic, and Thai. I am pretty sure you meant ‘translate.’ An example would be the Thai, “Bai nai ma?,” which translated would be, “Go where come?” or maybe, “Where have you been?” but is used the same way as, “Hi there.”

      4. Jessica

        I lived in Japan for 10 years. The Enigma of Japanese Power by the Dutchman Karel van Wolferen was the first book in which I recognized the country that I was living in. The other one was Dave Barry Does Japan. I am not kidding. I am sure that he read the the van Wolferen book. Both could be quite dated by now.
        If you ever study Japanese, it helps to know that for the common greetings, what matters is when to use them. The literal meaning is, as David points out, often quite different from what one would say in English in the same situation. Also, some of the greetings are in quite archaic Japanese. Ohaiyo gozaimasu would be Hayai desu in modern Japanese.
        I agree with David that the “Are the Japanese cute/odd” books are simply misleading.
        If you learn to read Japanese, you may find that for non-fiction books, authors who have spent a few years at one of the major newspapers write much more clearly than authors who have not.

        1. Cuibono

          the implication of “Hayai” is really so considerate. so compassionate . So many of these greetings are like that.
          “Okagesama” another one i love

      5. Cuibono

        This is a beautifully clear explanation as someone who has lived there off and on for 40 years.
        esp: “and indeed it’s probably better not to try”
        This advice is really important to those planning to move there.

      6. Alex Cox

        Don’t be so dismissive of Mr Kurosawa! His IKIRU, I LIVE IN FEAR, and MADADAYO have nothing to do with John Ford and are fascinating and revealing depictions of social customs in Japan.

        Also, those interested might check out the Tokyo Noir films of Seijun Suzuki.

        1. David

          I like Kurosawa very much, actually, and of course not all his films are influenced by John Ford. (I’d add Dodeskaden to that list.) I was really getting at the lazy tendency to assume that his better known films (Seven Samurai, of course, but also Yojimbo, and Throne of Blood), good as they are, are all you need to see to get some idea of the “spirit of Japan.”

      7. EoH

        Nice example with “arigato,” illustrating both a high-context culture and how language reinforces it. For example, a) the senior person performs his duty, b) by acknowledging that the junior person has done his, even though it was hard, and c) reminds the junior that doing so was his job.

    2. Louis Fyne

      that Feinstein job post is a feature, not a bug.

      what will be the chances that the intern eventually ‘hired’ will have a parent with links to Feinstein or DC DNC types?

      it’s like Amazon (govt contractor) adding an ex-NSA official to its board

      1. fwe'zy

        Here’s an idea: how bout Feinstein’s husband does his job of liquidating US Post Office buildings/ assets into private stock, some of which are architectural gems and all of which are in valuable locations … as an internship, with no personal gains?

      2. Watt4Bob

        what will be the chances that the intern eventually ‘hired’ will have a parent with links to Feinstein or DC DNC types?

        Nearly 100%.

        These unpaid positions are a sorting mechanism which effectively preclude participation by members of the underclass because, surprise, no money.

        So if you don’t have the support of wealthy parents you’ll never be able to keep body and soul together by ‘working’ one of these positions.

        Just more evidence of the rich pulling the ladder up behind them.

      3. edmondo

        what will be the chances that the intern eventually ‘hired’ will have a parent with links to Feinstein or DC DNC types?

        You obviously have no idea how this works. First they chose the candidate they want to hire. Then they write up the job description. The press release is issued after the job notice has expired. Daddy writes a check to Feinstein re-election committee.

        Meritocracy in action.

      4. EoH

        Ms. Feinstein, of all Senators, could easily afford to pay ALL her staff a living wage. Not doing so perpetuates a fraud. But Feinstein’s ad handily illustrates her selfishness; her culture blindness; the class-based system, which she perpetuates; and that she needs to retire now. She has “sat too long … for any good [she has] been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          America’s future Cromwell is probably preaching at a megachurch, gawd help us all. A real one, not con artists and bag men like the Falwells.

          Actually, though, I think I’m wrong. Cromwell was also driven by religious schism, which produces a lot of energy. Any such thing as a schism on the evangelical horizon?

    3. Clive

      I’ll see if I can live up to the vastness of the topic at hand! And in any case, David did a much better job than I’m about to.

      I suspect the great confusion and numerous difficulties you’ve had in trying to delve into this fascinating subject is in large part due to how much of its underpinnings are rooted in Shinto. Shinto has, if I many use a harsh shorthand, had a bum rap. Certainly since the end of WWII. In some ways, the Japanese have been the amongst the worst offenders in trying to — at least as far as non-Japanese audiences are concerned, domestically its a different story — if not actually airbrush Shinto out of the picture of Japanese contemporary culture then at least shuffle it off to the blurry background.

      Naturally, the role which Shinto was given when it was assimilated and corrupted by the military government in Japan in the war years (and during Japan’s first attempt at industrialisation which preceded it) left everyone — not only in Japan, but also in the West — uneasy about what to do with it. In typical Japanese fashion, it became simpler to just not mention it. If you watch Japan’s non-domestic TV output, like on NHK World for example, you can actually see this in action. There’s lots of shows about shrines. But the shrines themselves are treated as if they’re something like a maid café or yakitori museum — interesting curiosities and things to gawp at. Ooh, look at the lovely gate. Ahh, isn’t that a magnificent architectural structure. Wow, have you ever seen a bell that big? You might see some funny looking guy in a white outfit, but who he is, what he is doing and why he’s doing it (and how he came to be there) isn’t usually delved into or, if it is, it’s on a superficial level.

      Yet if you live in Japan, there’s shrines everywhere. Big ones. Small ones. Fancy ones. Shabby down-on-their-uppers ones. And people do attend them for various rituals, which are often very well supported in their communities. So Shinto is obviously not some dusty old remnant of a forgotten era.

      Shinto is pivotal to Japanese culture. It shapes everything from how people read and write, how building codes are drawn up, the foot they eat, their politics and even their management of their economy. It defines — and explains — all the things you mentioned in your comment. So it is a great sadness it has been treated as such an embarrassing relative at a family gathering, the one which — certainly if there’s any danger a gaikokujin audience might be present — has to be safely moved into the kitchen to help with the washing up.

      It reminds me, if I can be parochial about it, how Catholicism is removed from a lot of English cultural references. For well over a millennia it utterly transformed English society. But then when it became a little awkward and, like Shinto, embroiled in some not-very-edifying history, its role gets diminished and confused. And like Catholicism in England is now very fuzzily intertwined with Protestantism, so in Japan Shinto is in a bit of a melting pot with Buddhism. But the two are very different and the Japanese are (if you get to know them well enough to discuss this sort of thing, which has to be unfortunately very well, it’s not part of the normal superficial dialogue you initially get out of a Japanese person and it does help in this regard to speak Japanese a little) very prompt and usually quite severe, by Japanese normally-kind/polite-to-a-fault-standards, in correcting you if you don’t make the required clear distinctions between the them.

      Nevertheless, if I intuit it correctly, the concepts you’re interested in are derived, primarily, from Shinto. So for further reading, I can suggest:

      The Fox and the Jewel by by Karen A. Smyers — deep dive into the deity Inari, a cornerstone of Shinto worship with more shrines than McDonald’s has restaurants (well, almost) and the Kim Kardashian of Shinto worship (and gender-bending, to boot!) — I sincerely hope none of my Japanese friends read this, they’d shoot me for that description and please don’t let it put you off.

      Essentials of Shinto by Stuart D. B. Picken — a bit scholarly for the casual reader, but probably the best book for a textbook explanation of Shinto.

      1. The Rev Kev

        A question Clive. You said that shrines are everywhere in Japan which reminded me of the ancient world. So does each Japanese home have their own family shrine for their own personal use at all?

          1. The Rev Kev

            Thanks for that Clive. I was thinking of how Roman families had their own family shrine and wondered if the Japanese also thought the same.

            1. Olga

              What has the world come to – shrines on Amazon!
              I guess Am is all things to all people.
              But it seems to me that in Asia, generally, many homes have small shrines to preferred deities – so not just a Japanese thing.

          2. David

            Yes, these days it’s often in the form of a few photos of recently-deceased family members in a corner. It’s common to serve a bowl of rice in the morning and to leave it for the spirits of the dead to eat. This isn’t “ancestor worship” in the tired old formulation, it’s rather the traditional idea (found also in Africa for example) that the spirits of the departed hang around where they used to live, and that you can engage and talk to them.

            1. Procopius

              In Thailand just about every building has a “shrine” to the local “spirit of the land.” In addition, every home I’ve visited (except that of a Canadian friend) has a place for a Buddha image, and maybe a revered monk or a Hindu deity. Most famous is that at the Erawan Hotel in Bangkok, the first hotel built to an international standard. They were having so many accidents at the building site that they consulted a fortune teller, who said they needed to provide a shrine to Vishnu. Once it was dedicated, the accidents ceased. It’s actually a pilgrimage site, now. There is virtually no conflict between the different religions, probably because Buddhism has no god.

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Would you be terribly disappointed to learn that you can buy them on Amazon

            Southeast Asian spirit houses can be purchased at home and garden stores and also online. Those for commercial entities like hotels or malls are maintained — cleaned, figures and garlands changed, light bulbs replaced — by the equivalent of lawn care companies.

      2. OwenFinn

        Clive have you ever read Lafcadio Hearn’s “Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation”?

        It was written more than a century ago but it’s a really wonderful sociological study and attempt at understanding the culture and the roots of behavior – especially the influence of Shinto and ancestor worship on people in their daily lives.

        1. Clive

          Yes, indeed. I really should have added that to my reading list. Thank-you so much for reminding me.

          Just about the only work which conveys some of the differences between western Christianity (with a doctrinal approach to faith and an omnipotent and often-characterised as judgemental single deity) and the Japanese religious influences. I’ve not read anything else which helps the reader to understand a concept of being not only “under God” but literally to be surrounded by and immersed in an enchanted world where spirit (but not necessarily grace, far from it) resides in what is around you. While western notions dismiss this as your basic animism, the reality, as Hearn explains, is much more sophisticated.

          1. David

            This is a hugely important point, and Hearn’s observations, though obviously dated now, are very relevant. More generally, the thing to understand is that Japan never went through the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the rise of rational Liberalism, which between them destroyed the old enchanted world you mention. In fact, popular religion in the European Middle Ages, with its plenitude of saints, but also folk beliefs and a strong undercurrent of magic, was quite close to modern Japanese religion. It’s stretching it a bit, but you could regard Buddhism as the Church of the day, and Shinto as the popular folk-religion, which in England decayed substantially after the Revelation, but lasted much longer in Catholic countries, albeit increasingly assimilated to the saints. Even today, the Japanese are much closer than we are to the old enchanted world that used to be universal. It is thus a local, traditional religion, which never had to contend with monotheism after Christianity was rebuffed in the 17th century. Shinto is thus quite close to the ancient religions of Greece and Rome, for example, where deities were local and limited in their powers , and you could worship as many as you liked. So Shinto shrines were built where there was a kami or god, understood not as a transcendent deity but as a being with supernatural powers, capable of granting wishes, but also limited in scope and effect. Even today, you go to a temple , clap your hands to attract the attention of the kami and then bow and make a request of some kind, which if the kami is feeling generous it might oblige. (Students do this at exam times, fo example). I’ve translated kami as “god” which everyone does, but it’s arguable that “spirit” (as in “spirit of the waterfall” for example) would be better. This is why translating kamikaze as “divine wind” is wrong, in my view. The two words just mean “god” (or “spirit”) and “wind.” It was the Wind Spirit that destroyed the Mongol fleet.

            1. Procopius

              @David — Revelation == Revolution??? Glorious Revolution of 1688, that is. Or perhaps you meant Reformation?

      3. Darius

        I have family in Tokyo and I lived there for four years in the 80s, but I found both Clive’s and David’s descriptions most informative.

        I understand that before the Meiji Restoration, Buddhism was dominant and that the new regime elevated Shinto over Buddhism, to the point of destroying Buddhist temples and persecuting monks. Is this comparable to what Henry VIII did to the monasteries, even before divorcing Catherine?

        1. Clive

          Yes, it’s a good analogy (albeit obviously a historical reference crutch to lean on rather than an actual limb).

          A religious reformation which did have a belief-system basis, but also was a handy means of achieving some (much more worldly) political ends.

          1. David

            With the obvious exception of any doctrinal quarrels – the two religions actually existed together quite happily and still do. But the Buddhist temples were powerful political forces, and a possible challenge to the centralising and modernising project of the restorationists.

          2. orlbucfan

            Christianity throughout its blood soaked history is the linguistical worldview of English. To master any language, you have to absorb and understand the worldview of the people who communicate in it. English doesn’t get a very good cosmic grade. I recognize Shintoism and Buddhism. I don’t know their worldview. I could never master their language because I don’t know the worldview.

        2. Larry Y

          My understanding is that the Meiji governments, under the influence of nationalism, did a messy divorce of Shinto and Buddhism. What are now Shinto shrines removed Buddhist iconography, had to separate out priests into Shinto or Buddhist, etc. The terms “purge” and “destroy” are bit too strong for my taste – so I went with the metaphor of messy divorce, instigated by nationalism.

          As for persecuting priest/monks – maybe for specific sects, who fell out of favor? I mean, Buddhism is the dominant Japanese religion for funerals. And you can find Jizo (Kṣitigarbha), a bodhisattva, everywhere.

          1. Janie

            At a small rural park, i asked my young Japanese friend who the Jizos were dressed in cloth wraps. She said, because they are Jizos. She had lived a couple of years in the US and her English was quite good. She was not able to give any other answer.

    4. kgw

      Let me suggest “The Karma Of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan.” Authored by William R. LaFleur. Mr. LaFleur expands the meaning of “Medieval” Japan, in a wonderful book.

      A verse opposite the preface page:

      He has gradually vanquished the demon of wine
      And does not get wildly drunk;
      But the karma of words remains;
      He has not abandoned verse.

      —Po Chu-i (known to the Japanese as Hakurakuten)

  2. Livius Drusus

    Re: Why America Should Fear a Russia-China Alliance .

    This article is spot on about our big mistake needlessly antagonizing post-Soviet Russia with policies like NATO expansion, breaking up Serbia and “color revolutions” in Russia’s near abroad. I would also add that our foreign policy toward China was built on faulty premises, namely that China would eventually become like a giant Japan, Taiwan, South Korea or Germany, that is, a democratic manufacturing country that would be content to let the United States handle its security in exchange for favorable economic policies like entry into the WTO. This was the neoliberal idea that free markets create free people and that economic liberalization would produce political liberalization.

    Decades later we can see how bad this idea was. China is still an authoritarian state and liberal democracy is in retreat in many other countries despite the victory of neoliberalism over most of its economic rivals. Furthermore, the Chinese are obviously not content to just be America’s workshop. China has great power ambitions of its own. The Chinese have long memories and remember that economic backwardness led to their domination by the West and Japan during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Dengism was designed to build the economic and military muscle of a Chinese great power. Also, China was never either a defeated former great power (Japan, Germany) or a small ex-colony (South Korea,Taiwan) so the comparisons between China and these states never made much sense.

    1. David

      I thought the article was amusingly schizoid about Russia (and China come to that). But the author makes a good point about the sheer negligence (and I would say incompetence) of US policy after the Cold War. The assumption in Washington was that the Russians didn’t matter, and could just be ignored. In Washington in those days people were saying, “OK, yes, we probably did say something about not expanding NATO. But that was the previous administration. And anyway, what are they going to do about it?” That was then…..

        1. Lee

          An “empire of obedience” works for me. You can keep your native rulers so long as things are run according to the imperial plan. Reminds me of lines from a song:

          Oh, God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
          Abe said, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
          God said, “No” Abe say, “What?”
          God say, “You can do what you want, Abe, but
          The next time you see me comin’, you better run”
          Well, Abe said, “Where d’you want this killin’ done?”
          God said, “Out on Highway 61”

          Bob Dylan

        2. Harry

          but its true. The US always uses soft power when bombing, invasion, drone warfare, economic sanctions and other forms of regime change fail.

          1. H

            But throughout Asia, people have whole collections of “Lassie”, “Happy Days”,
            & Rambo movies, etc, etc. What is soft power? Even the Taliban love to watch Rambo.

            1. Harry

              Absolutely. That is soft power. Apparently, globally people trust the BBC. Except of course in the UK where the British left and right despise it. And they are both right. Its an element of the British establishment and if it had a purpose, it is to maintain the status quo.

        3. Olga

          Any article that begins with “[t]he United States is the world’s strongest nation. It has the largest, most productive economy. America’s military is peerless. The United States also enjoys unmatched “soft power,” with a globe-spanning culture and appealing values,” can hardly deliver even a semblance of a rigorous analysis that we desperately need.
          The only thing missing is a mention of an ‘indispensable nation.’
          Is he talking about that ‘most productive economy’ that could not supply masks to its population during a pandemic?
          As long as US analysts cannot see past their noses – and appreciate just how much the world has changed – we’ll be stuck in the ‘same ol’ same ol’ and hurtling toward an unsavoury end.
          Had a conversation with a friend, with several family members a part of IC. The debate was about the never-ending incompetence. Seems that many can see it now… but according to the friend, there really is a deeply entrenched worldview among a select few (clearly with too much power), who see the rest of the world as a major threat that must (Must, I tell ya) be confronted. In the process, however, this imaginary “threat” becomes real. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy!

          1. Anon II, First of the Name

            Well, which part do you disagree with? Is there a stronger countery at the moment? Is there a country with a larger economy? Is there a country with a stronger military? Unless you view Chinese takeout or Little Italy as “soft power” , does another country influence the US more than the US influences others?

            1. Procopius

              Anon II

              Is there a country with a larger economy?

              Why, yes, China’s economy is larger than ours. On a per capita basis, of course, it isn’t, but that’s changing.

          2. wilroncanada

            Olga, you misunderstand masks, US style.
            When the US talked about masks, it has always meant, “Hey (choose any country) put on this nice comfy mask so you won’t see me as I steal everything you own.”

      1. John

        IIRC Russia was promised no NATO expansion into the nations that it had controlled since WWII as a buffer against Germany or the West in general. Of course, expansion happened and the back of the hand to Russian objections. In the 1990s when Russia was in dire straits who was it that massively, nay ham-handedly, interfered in the Russian elections? Yes, we did. The Russians have not forgotten either and not have they forgotten their offer of assistance after 9/11 or Putin’s tenders of a change in relations on more than one occasion. The Russians are not saints, but a nation looking after its own interests and we have all but forgotten that it was the Russians who at arms length supported Lincoln and the Union in the darkest days of our Civil War and we seem not to recognize that our image of our behavior might appear delusional to an other.

        I am no expert on China; I do not have the language without which expertise is impossible. I have read widely and I have taught the History of China to young high school students for ten years and visited China several times. Does anyone in Washington actually look at the long arc of Chinese history and the persistence of policy themes? Do they look at the present government and take a cursory glance at the structure of the imperial government since the Ming and see a family resemblance? That is the long view. I have listened to Chinese talk about their collective experience since the first Opium War circa 1840. It is a living memory. We as a people barely remember WWII much less our Civil War, which, if you look around you, is still echoing loudly here in 2020. The Chinese know their history. They read Tang Dynasty poets. We are lucky if we look beyond the next ninety days. We have tactics. They have strategy; read Sunzi’s Art of War.

        The present administration looks out of its depth to put it mildly. Scary narratives about the Russians and the Chinese and and an obsession about Iran. Fantasies about manipulating the world to our liking and if the world objects sanction it or bomb it. That might work for the neighborhood bully but it is a poor excuse for the policy of a great nation.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Orientalism is the guiding light of US foreign policy. Everything done in Western capitals flows through this thinking. I linked to Paul Krugman’s rather unfortunate understanding of recent history, but the idea the Chinese could have thoughts and views developed on their own (I don’t buy any of that long term garbage; they are just like everyone else) is anathema to US FP elites. It doesn’t fit with “Think Tanks” or electeds.

          At least for the US, the wastelands and oceans have left us isolated beyond a few dozen hosers up North (the bulk of Mexico is down near the Yucatan), so Americans can live like Barbara Bush.

          1. Fabian

            I don’t think China’s long-term thinking is garbage. either forwards or backwards; both they and the Russians have very live memories of past Western invasions and the havoc they wrecked. And very little attention is paid here to the many co-operative structural arrangements they are putting together that have a very long-term view of the future, like SCO, BRI, AIIB to name but a few. And their infrastructure works, as will their vaccines.

    2. timbers

      But Russia attacked us. Rachael Maddow says so. Russia will stop at nothing. Hillary told us this and no matter how much we think Bill wanted to roll his eyes when he watched her say it, it’s still true (bet Bill was thinking MoveOn, Hills. I did).

      Seriously, it is very interesting about the global alliances. You’d think anyone with common sense running the Grand Stategery would know it’s a bad idea to take on you’re 2 most powerful “enemies” at the same time, but then Trump was a wild card who did up the anti China campaign – perhaps ahead of schedule – that was apparent but less so during Obama and his TPP and pivot to Asia.

      Quick take: The US global strategy will fail big time. We can see some signs of that already. But the governing elites, blind to their own failures and having in their own minds taken care of for now any Little People uprisings on the domestic front, seem to be putting most/all their creative energies into the geo-political empire building strategy. But as American’s lives become more difficult over time from wealth inequality, I wonder how much longer efforts to “defeat” Russia and China can continue before domestic unrest reaches the point of interrupting these agendas?

      After all, those heliocopters needed in Oregon are in Afghanistan…maybe being used to secure some drug trafficing so who knows what grifters can grift.

      1. hunkerdown

        Yes, it’s a terrible idea, but it’s the best of all the terrible ideas on offer, measured by the USA’s relative ability to deny power to others, which is the entire point of the American System since day one. The point is to hurt China and Russia on the way down so that US oligarchs aren’t as small. Here’s the apparent strategy, as “best and brightest” John Robb sketches it out.

        Domestic unrest appears to be a distraction the ruling class believes they can control. Given how the permanently adolescent culture of neoliberalism has pervaded the GOP’s flock, they might be right.

      2. Anon II, first of the Name

        The US global strategy will fail big time. We can see some signs of that already.

        Perhaps–that is definitely a key concern among the adults in the room at State and Defence, I am sure.

        However–who cares? Let the strategy fail. The US will not be severely adversely impacted–certainly not to the degree that Europe and Asia will be–and the US will likely be a much stronger country and better place to live once it reverts to focusing more on resolving domestic matters.

        The country has done extraordinarily well since the Civil War, and it got to dominate the world (at massive expense to itself) for the last four generations or so.

        Time to walk away and let some other country/set of countries to figure out how to solve their own problems

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > You’d think anyone with common sense running the Grand Stategery would know it’s a bad idea to take on you’re 2 most powerful “enemies” at the same time

        Well, it worked for Kaiser Wilhelm II, when he tore up Bismarck’s reinsurance treaty, and made an enemy of Russia in addition to France. Oh, wait…

    3. The Rev Kev

      Strange that, very strange. The author says that he is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute but years ago he got the boot from there for taking bribes to publish articles friendly to Jack Abramoff’s clients. But in any case, some of his “solutions” are delusional. Halt NATO’s advance? They are already on Russian borders. And he must know that Washington would never accept an internationally monitored referendum in Crimea as everybody knows what the overwhelming result would be.

      He has a number of other bright ideas, most of which involve Russia betraying their allies, but what would be the point? There is zero trust in Moscow on anything that Washington says is in none, nada, zip. The truth is that Washington cannot any longer talk their way of situation that the behaved their way into. And the Russians have been betrayed by Washington too many times now and consider their word or even an official treaty to be worth less than second-hand toilet paper. Who would ever have guessed that in the modern world that trust still has worth?

      1. timbers

        And yet, so many American’s think America is the one true honest actor that always keeps it’s word and honors treaties, among all the other dishonest deal breaking nations of the world.

        1. Samuel Conner

          This sobering and disheartening observation speaks volumes to the state of the US.

          It’s sort of like a secular version of a theological principle, that “we live in the best of all possible nations”. It’s not open to question, and those who do question it get portrayed as disloyal, or even agents of foreign powers.

          I would say that the class beneficiaries of the American system have the rest of the population thoroughly domesticated.

          1. Olga

            Not just domesticated, but in cages (some velvet, some not so much – but all more-or-less willingly accepted).

            1. orlbucfan

              A lot of Americans aren’t “domesticated.” We see our country slowly deteriorating. We oppose the FRightwingnut mindset that plotted the successful takeover of the country and succeeded in 55 years. This mindset is an universal one and has dogged mankind throughout recorded history. Can it be defeated?

    4. km

      The United States in its current concept needs a Big Bad Scary Enemy at all times.

      1. A Big Bad Scary Foreign Enemy is needed to justify Empire. Constant military interventions and sky-high defense and intelligence budgets.

      If we aren’t kept in a constant state of fear of attack from Big Bad Scary Foreign Enemies, why are we attacking countries that never did a thing to us and why are we spending astronomical sums on war toys and and spooks that do nothing for us?

      2. A Big Bad Scary Enemy is needed to head off calls for domestic reform. “Healthcare/Education/Infrastructure? That sounds nice, but we don’t have time for those things now! Don’t you know there’s a war going on? We gotta fight Saddam/Milosevic/Bin Laden/Saddam again/Putin/Ghadaffi/Assad/Kim/Xi/Putin some more?

      1. USDisVet

        It’s all about the MIC and the revolving door for military brass and the off-shore trusts for the politicians. Sometimes I think that Putin is the only sane world leader

    5. Maxwell Johnston

      It reminds me of 100+ years ago when the British and French began drawing together in mutual distrust of the Germans and that unpredictable Kaiser (ring any bells?). I have difficulty imagining China and Russia entering into a formal alliance, but I suspect the extent of their cooperation is much deeper than what the media reports. Their joint military exercises (pretty much an annual event) are growing increasingly sophisticated. When WW1 actually started, it turned out that British-French pre-war staff planning was far more sophisticated than the Germans had expected; the British and French fought as a team from the start. History seldom repeats itself, but it often rhymes. I don’t think this will end well for the USA, barring a drastic foreign policy reset. Not holding my breath.

    6. Tomonthebeach

      I suspect that any alliance between Putin and Xi is a marriage of convenience to pressure concessions from the EU and/or the US.

      Historically, Putin will sleep with the devil (e.g., Assad, Erdogan) just to force the US to waste defense coin or distract Pompuso from RU hegemony elsewhere – like the arctic or Africa or Venezuela. I recall during my too long time in Vietnam (I was trained in the language and culture) that there was no love lost between the indigenous population and the Chinese. Teachers remind students that Vietnam was never conquered by China. I even detected a bit of anti-Sinoism expressing resentment toward banks and businesses owned by Chinese Vietnamese. It is hard to imagine a Russia-China alliance similar to the US and Canada if even other Asians don’t like China that much.

  3. timotheus

    “Drug cartels in Mexico are now using drones to assassinate people KnowTechie”

    Maybe they got the idea from Obama.

  4. Jos Oskam

    On Stonehaven derailment. Of course it is easy to blame the result of years of lackluster maintenance and shoddy management on climate change. Just like, for example, the water crisis in Thailand is caused by climate change and not by years-long structurally under-investing in water infrastructure. Next time they’ll probably put the blame on COVID.

    But apart from that, I am still wondering about “…the infrastructure is 150 years old and rebuilding it to modern standards that are ‘climate resilient’ would be prohibitively expensive…”. So, 150 years ago, somehow the money was found to build this infrastructure from scratch. Now, 150 years of growth in productivity and GDP later, we can not afford to overhaul it?

    I am completely at a loss here. But perhaps someone can explain.

    1. Anonymous

      Now, 150 years of growth in productivity and GDP later, we can not afford to overhaul it? Jos Oskam

      Excellent question. Just some off-hand possibilities that add to modern costs:

      1) environmental studies.
      2) lawyers and the sue-happy.
      3) other make-work jobs/positions as a substitute for economic justice.
      4) multiple layers of corruption.
      5) a monetary sovereign thinking it has to borrow at positive interest and yields.
      6) NIMBY

      I say just pay people up front what they are due (a Citizen’s Dividend to replace all fiat creation for private interests such as for the banks, land reform so that all may own a place to live, work, grow food on, etc.) and they won’t have to extort a living from society instead.

      Other thoughts as to why we are effectively less capable than 150 years ago?

      1. Bruno

        What if those “150 years of growth in productivity and GDP” were entirely illusory when their environmental costs (including warfare) are included in the balance? What if modern capitalism, instead of increasing the forces of production, increases monumentally the forces of destruction?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > What if modern capitalism, instead of increasing the forces of production, increases monumentally the forces of destruction?

          That is a very astute question. I wonder if there is a rigorous answer to it, as rigorous as Capital, which IIRC treats nature not as a commodity….

      2. a different chris

        Except for #1, you actually think those things didn’t exist 150 years ago?

        Also here in Amurica F’ Yeah! we have those same infrastructure problems with, well everything (roads, water and sewers, electrical poles and towers, etc as drb48 points out below) and they were mostly built less than half that long ago.

    2. drb48

      Now, 150 years of growth in productivity and GDP later, we can not afford to overhaul it?

      “It” being not only the rail system infrastructure but ALL the infrastructure (roads, bridges, electrical grid, you name it). The alternative is what exactly? Allow it all to collapse? What’s the cost of THAT?

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        Much of that work 150 years ago on infrastructure & all sorts of construction work including the canals was carried out by cheap labour immigrants, primarilly being the Irish navvies who also migrated over the Irish Sea, as well as the Atlantic during & after the Famine – the US had the addition of Chinese Coolies for railroads etc. The native working class were also for the most part dirt poor & of course Divide & Conquer helped to keep them there. Things changed in Liverpool at least in the 1930’s when dockers both native & Irish formed a Union, which led to 12 being shot & Churchill sending a destroyer up the Mersey, but gradually things did improve for a time at least.

        Super cheap labour is of course only part of the equation.

    3. EoH

      The reference to a long period of decay is an attractive catch-all in England, rather like describing a comfortable but aging country house, whose plumbing you should not trust, unless you want to end up like Prince Albert.

      It’s a rhetorical device, comparable to using the passive voice. It diffuses liability away from any human, department, or government. It suggests the real causes are unknowable, and that, therefore, nothing can be done to fix the problem or avoid similar disasters in future. Like market “laws,” it implies that the result is inevitable rather than a creature of political choice. Except for cutting the time frame in half, the same description would apply to the NHS.

  5. The Neoliberal Order

    The Emperor’s New Rules

    “Meritocracy, if it functions at all, seems to work best when nothing is at stake.”

  6. Noone from Nowheresville

    Meritocracy, if it functions at all, seems to work best when nothing is at stake.

    That’s my quote of the morning from Baffler’s New Emperor’s Rules article on Netflix.

    Now I need to cleanse my palate. These articles are making me more and more cynical. A tiny piece here. A tiny piece there. One starts to realize that one just doesn’t know how truly bad it is out there and how much powder is just waiting for a match.

    I know it’s not really new but the stakes seems to be getting higher and it makes all the bs meritocracy and to the death warrior culture in corporate all that much more… taxing? scary?

    If the poop really does hit the fan and the stakes are high, how does one count on people who have been subjected to this cultivated behavior or work torture as it were?

    1. Polar Donkey

      Ten years ago I used to joke Memphis was Apokolips, Darksied’s planet. Unfortunately, Apokolips has spread everywhere. I don’t wish the problems of Memphis on anybody. We had early versions of this corporate mindset, Fedex/Autozone. Amazon has invaded Memphis the past 3 years. It likes the cut of our giblets. Not the high end jobs, but the bone-grinding, blood-letting warehouse ones.

      1. fwe'zy

        “Amazon has invaded Memphis the past 3 years. It likes the cut of our giblets. Not the high end jobs, but the bone-grinding, blood-letting warehouse ones.” shudder

    2. Tomonthebeach

      While I was assigned to the Pentagon several times this sort of information flood was the daily mail so to speak. You get used to it. I think that a great many people feel as you do because a) we do not trust the administration not to lie about everything, and b) there is far more access to information now that social media is shaming the MSM to act like journalists.

      The downside, as you point out, is that many exposed to this information cannot handle it – have dysfunctional bullshit detectors – and/or adopt a cultist worldview like QAnon, militias, Nazi’s, MAGA’s, etc. as a way to make sense of it all. That can cause some stupid violence like the recent Comet Pizza fiasco.

  7. zagonostra

    >Majority of voters don’t see either Trump, Biden as mentally fit to be president: poll

    How does this square with the Peter Principle (people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”: employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent” – Wiki)? I guess one answer is that the “success in previous job” is serving the ruling elites. Cognitive ability or mental fitness, is not a necessary criteria for those who have given us O’Biden/Trump.

    What the majority of the voters want and what influences legislators was proven to have less(no) correlation, rather it is the donors/business class that determines “public” policy. When you have billions of dollars backing these two candidates, it would be naive to think their rise to the top was random. In a sense what you have is a theodicy of politics. Whereas in the medieval times the scholastic provided explanations of evil in a universe where God was beneficent and all powerful, today you have MSM punditry telling us why we should vote for/against a candidate that is either not mentally fit and who we know will not serve our interest.

    1. wilroncanada

      Lawrence Peter was incompetent when he wrote that. Or was it incontinent?
      Mind you, that could still apply to both candidates.

  8. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: Scientists Are Learning to Read—and Change—Your Nightmares

    Yes please. I have nightmares, at least once a week when I am well. Lately, every night. Interesting part about “infantile amnesia” possibly being the trigger. I have been talking with therapists for years about childhood trauma. When I was 2 years old my mother slipped me in a high chair when, took a bunch of pills, and slipped into a bathtub only to be found by my Uncle shortly after. Then when i was three I had an abdominal operation and was too lightly anesthetized.I woke up during the operation and flailed about enough to muck things up for the doctors. That last event is becoming recognized as a huge problem for later mental well being.

    I have also found that my nightmares also seem to be heightened when I am living in houses. I assume it is caused by the Low Frequency EMF emission of the household electricity. The house I am in right now is particularly bad. So it is interesting they are looking at EMFs to treat it as well.

    1. douglas cracraft

      You might investigate using Ketamine. I am visiting my sister in Chicago and walked by a storefront that legally gives Ketamine sessions. I couldn’t believe it. Medicare even pays for it. google “innovative ketamine” and online research about its use.

    2. Fireship

      Okay, so you are bipolar, zinc deficient, suffer nightmares and insomnia and are sensitive to EMF. Could you have Munchausen syndrome? From the NHS website:

      Munchausen’s syndrome is complex and poorly understood. Many people refuse psychiatric treatment or psychological profiling, and it’s unclear why people with the syndrome behave the way they do.

      Several factors have been identified as possible causes of Munchausen’s syndrome. These include:

      emotional trauma or illness during childhood – this often resulted in extensive medical attention
      a personality disorder – a mental health condition that causes patterns of abnormal thinking and behaviour
      a grudge against authority figures or healthcare professionals

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        No, The only issue I have with my health is my mood disorder and mild chronic duedenitis that was recently revealed in an endoscopy and some bad kidney levels now and then. (For years they told m my stomach pain was all in my head by they way.) I am not zinc deficient by the way, just surprised that it was so low with how much zinc I take. And it might not be low, but rather, just that serum zinc does not tell the whole story. And I do not have insomnia.

        But this idea was discussed with my doctors and I would say the doctors do not think things are in my head anymore because my latest serum amino acid test results has had them schedule me for metabolic and genetic testing. That is a hard thing to imagine. I would say I am a hypochondriac though.

        Plus I have an extensive history of mental illness in my family, grandparents, mother, three brothers, nephew, and myself. My medical history is quite consistent also, I also do not seek treatment and I hate hospitals. So you can say it is all in my head, and it is not.

        And please be careful in trying to armchair diagnose something as difficult as Munchhausen’s over the internet, the stigma of mental illness is hard enough to live with. My doctors tell me I have Bipolar Disorder, so I will stick with their diagnosis, and there are a lot of comorbidities that come with having Bipolar Disorder.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          As another with an extensive family history of mental illness (and the self-medication that accompanies it), I think you’re doing great!!!

          1. The Historian

            I also have an extensive family history of mental illness and the one thing I know for sure is that treatment of mental illness is still in the witch doctor phase. I’ve met more than one doctor who insists that mental illness is not hereditary when there are so many examples where it does run in families. And I can’t tell you the battles that my relatives have had with doctors, trying to explain to them why they can’t take certain drugs – like anti-depressants – that push them into psychotic episodes. And the drugs that do work have nasty side effects. It is no wonder that many mentally ill people self-medicate, because it often seems better to them than what the doctors prescribe.

            I have nothing but praise for Krystyn for doing her best to figure out what works for her!

              1. Krystyn Podgajski

                I like being ambiguous. :)

                An SNRI will send me into acute mania but an SSRI helps me a lot. My psych doctor still treats them as the same thing so she freaks out when I take prozac without a mood stabilizer.

                1. H

                  Look up the various SSRIs. (Wiki)
                  Look at the molecular structure.
                  Notice the predominance of FLUORINE.
                  The most toxic element, the “new toy” for 40 years. Scientists died trying to isolate it.
                  Fluorine has “no metabolic function” in mammals. (Some poison fish & a poison sea urchin or 2)
                  Yet they poopoo the use of colloidal silver because silver has “no metabolic function” & “lack of quality research”.

            1. no words

              > treatment of mental illness is still in the witch doctor phase.
              . . . and with a Star Chamber as a pharmaceutical dispensary.

              An older, very well educated, person I met through similar circumstances as my own, and who suffered the same condition as I, said:

              “To those who understand no explanation is necessary; to those who don’t understand no explanation is possible.”

              They were so helpful to at the time; I’ve not been able to maintain that sense of detachment. It difficult to argue and debate “something” so critical to ones own well-being. I appreciate what David said @ 8:47am in this thread about “high-context culture” and the limits of language and meaning itself.

      1. Anon II, First of the Name

        Funny, I used to experiment with this when I was younger. I stopped because every time I generated lucid dreams, I found myself extraordinarily groggy in the morning…don’t know why it was the case, but I realized that I would rather be awake during the day and asleep at night rather than a semi-zombie at both times.

        Too bad, though–the dreaming itself was amazingly fun.

          1. wilroncanada

            I like being ambiguous too, and it has nothing to do with sexual preference. But I like being ambidextrous better.

      2. a different chris

        >It is something I learned to do

        Oh god sometimes I wonder how weird I really am… I didn’t have to learn that, it just came naturally. Well, I don’t actually switch the dream.

        I will find myself in a middle of an unpleasant or just tiresome dream, suddenly look around and pronounce it as either scary or “this is just stupid” (imagine the Monty Python guy that would stop a skit due to “sillyness”) and force myself awake which feels like pushing yourself up thru a gooey layer of, well goo and popping out into wakefulness.

        Please tell me somebody else has this ability without any training?

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          For some reason I lost the ability. like you, I could do it when I was younger. Maybe I will try it by training this time.

          I still do not know if the epinephrine comes first, which initiates the dream, or the dream comes first and that floods me with epinephrine.

        2. H

          CDB oil has that effect, being conscious in a dream & deciding to wake up.
          Then it starts again. I call it “stuck in a loop”. Getting up & walking around helps.
          Find a pleasant “go to” spot in the dreamscape like Grandma’s featherbed, or at the beach.
          Go there in your dream until you find a dream you like or none at all. I am convinced it’s
          stress related.
          White noise helps. CBD helps my neck pain, so it’s a trade off.

      3. Synoia

        I can tell myself that the dream isn’t real

        But I live in the US, Trump is president, Biden is the democratic candidate and a D party “fix,” and our representatives can toss Billions at Corporations, yet do nothing (medicare for all) for its people.

        And I can’t wake up.

    3. Maritimer

      I have a lot of Nightmares about: Scientists Learning to Read—and Change—My Opinions. These socio-psycho researchers don’t care who uses their research just as long as they are remunerated munificently. All this research there for the taking by the Oligarchs to be used against their fellow humans.

      1. H

        Reality based blogs = nightmares.
        Next stop = New series on Netflix: “The Virologist”.
        Coming soon.
        Watch “The Walking Dead”. Once sci-fi, now more plausible every day.

  9. ProNewerDeal

    Have there been any empirical studies about work productivity by occupation, for the subset of occupations that have been mostly working remotely during the COVID pandemic, vs the pre-COVID physically go to the office/worksite status quo ante?

    I feel we are fortunate that the COVID pandemic happened after the mass adoption of PCs & the internet. Had the pandemic happened say before 2000, I feel (at least in the USA) many employers would forced workers to work at the traditional worksite & the Infection & Death Rates would be much worse.

    OTOH, if the PERCEPTION of the execs is that the remote work productivivty is even 80% of pre-COVID level for a given occupation/work activity, I fear massive offshore outsourcing in the next few years. There has now been a multi-month experiment in remote work, presumably on an unprecedented scale for many work groups & organizations. For example, assume a 10-person USA work group, an exec could PERCEIVE that he could lay off 5 of the 10 USians, hire 8 in India, have more productivity at lower labor cost (which may or may not be reality but the PERCEPTION not reality will drive the exec’s decision).

    Pick your poison:
    1 remote work-possible occupations have Offshore Outsourcing risk
    2 remote work-Impossible face-to-face occupations have COVID/future pandemic health risks

    1. Socal Rhino

      Mass offshoring of jobs was underway for at least 15 years before this pandemic began. If pockets of suitable work remain, I’m confident consultants have already been whispering in CEO ears.

    2. BrianC - PDX

      From my ~20 plus years of watching various clients outsource…

      He will lay off 5 of the 10 in the US and hire 20 to 100 in India. The Indian group won’t have to actually produce anything. (Most will be management. Maybe only 5 to 10 of the 100 will be individual contributors.)

      Meanwhile the 5 remaining in the US will actually keep things running, with the help of a contractor here and there.

      From my experience(s):
      – I remember being told by one VP of a “Big Tech” Co. (you would recognize the name) that their Indian teams didn’t have to write code that worked or was capable of getting Microsoft Driver Certified. They just needed to work for under $20/hour.
      – One client maintained two sets of version control servers and bug tracking systems. The product was tracked and shipped from the US systems. The US teams would occasionally examine the outsource repos and find occasional SW work that could be taken over to the “real” systems and deployed. Company management had no idea that the ~1000 or so Indian employees weren’t directly contributing to the company bottom line as all evidence of the US systems was hidden from them.
      – One of my employees was working for a client and sitting in on 4 different team meetings a week. All of the teams were running engineering projects in India, but were late because “Rajiv” was a “little behind” and “helping other projects”. We got onto the client’s Outlook server and started looking at the org chart. We counted 19! levels of management between the company President and “Rajiv”. 13 of them in India. Plus none of the US team leads had done the work to figure out that “Rajiv” across all four teams was *the same guy*. No wonder nothing was getting done. The titles were… interesting…

      Those are just what I can remember off the top of my head. There are lots more.

      In my years of experience only two clients have ever done an in depth analysis of the cost of offshoring. Both told me the savings is about 5% to 10% once you figure in *all* the costs/benefits. Which made it a wash cost wise. Both continued because they had board members that wanted to “hear the offshore story” so management had to have one.

      Offshoring is a huge con.

  10. Ignacio

    RE: Influenza may facilitate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (preprint) medRxiv.

    Very interesting indeed. When I analysed using MOMA data the mortality rates in European countries to have an idea on how early and fast the Covid-19 epidemic progressed, besides 2020 data I took a look at previous years and found that Spain was typically the EU country showing each year higher winter increases of flu-associated mortality (at least from 2017 onwards). So it seems that every year the flu epidemic –for unknown reasons– is worse in Spain than in the rest of Europe and if this study correctly identifies this positive interaction between flu and SARS CoV 2 through ACE2 expression it could explain why the Covid-19 exploded with exceptional virulence in Spain early this winter. Supposing that 2020 was going to be business as usual for flu season…

    1. Lost in OR

      Is this not the flu season for the Southern Hemisphere? Seems like we should be learning from their experience. I’ve not seen it mentioned anywhere.

      1. Ignacio

        The worst is over for flu season in the Southern hemisphere. Since Covid-19 arrived there before the flu season then the interaction might not have worked equally.

      2. Synoia

        Where I lived in Africa, flu was uncommon. There were many other ways to get sick in Nigeria, but the High Veldt was relatively free of diseases.

      3. Irrational

        Do check out the Economist’s data sheet this week for exactly that – flu season never took off in the Southern Hemisphere.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “The state’s largest firefighting helicopters are unavailable; they were deployed to Afghanistan.”

    Newsweek just did an article on this-

    Reminds me of how about a decade ago, artillery pieces that were used to trigger avalanches to make slopes safe for skiers were pulled out and shipped to Iraq where they were needed more. I know that these days America’s National Guard has just become a part of the military to be sent to the far ends of the earth for one reason or another but I think that this comes at the cost of being available to meet any emergencies that their home State experiences – like Oregon has discovered.

    1. Wukchumni

      Gooooood Mooooorning Fiatnam!

      Carpe Diệm

      …the platoon was out on patrol-everybody equipped with sat phones if the need to make a trade was imminent, when we got ambushed by virtual capital hidden in the details, but luckily via the cloud were able to get a chopper in, an old school hacker raised on Fortran, beans & rice, not necessarily in that order

    2. Brian (another one they call)

      I wanted to not respond to the fact that our fire fighting helo’s are in Afghanistan. I want to thank our rep Greg Walden for not mentioning it or doing something to counter it, but I have come to realize he only helps the ones that pay him directly.
      Here in So. Oregon where the fires are just a matter of 20 miles away, there is no escape, no breatheable air, no response from Trumpholio or our government to get the tools we need fast. This is because burnt orange doesn’t like Oregon due to all the bad bad people here.
      They have given our firefighting helo’s to Afghanistan. This is the last insult.
      We, the people, live in a banana republic and there is no way out until our government is removed and incarcerated. Everything is going to plan. Unrest is institutionalized and Murder is incorporated.

      1. RMO

        Not quite as big a disruption as the time it was decided that all the piston powered firefighting aircraft had to go and only turbine powered ones would be hired in the future – the majority of the fleet in the US was piston powered and changing to turbine powered aircraft was not particularly easy. At least that didn’t coincide with a severe fire year though. Recently the same decision was taken here in Canada and caused similar disruption.

  12. marcyincny

    The full thread from Alissa Azar told me all I need to know today.

    People can evacuate, their livestock can’t…

  13. The Rev Kev

    “It’s not credible for the SNP to demand independence without a sovereign currency”

    Well, the Scots already have their own currency as I discovered when I went to Scotland once and tried to pay for a bus fare with UK currency. You would think that I was trying to use a $3 bill. It is pegged at parity with the British pound but after Scexit, they could always devalue it to make it more attractive to the EU-

    1. Fireship

      I would imagine it is the other way round: you were trying to use Scottish-printed currency in England. There’s no such thing as “English Pounds” and “Scottish Pounds” its all one currency – the Pound Sterling. The Bank of England pound is accepted everywhere in the UK whereas the Scottish pound may be declined in England, mainly due to ignorance, I assume.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Nope. I had just hitched into Edinburgh and went to pay for a bus with pound notes and got a lot of funny looks. While there, I saw some Scottish notes and wish now that I had saved some. I never know until I got aboard that bus that there was such a thing as Scottish notes. Imagine my surprise.

    2. Clive

      Unfortunately while Scottish banks issue their “own” currency, it (Scotland) is in a currency union (with the UK). And we know how tricky they are to get out of!

      Equally unfortunately (and without wishing to delve too much into MMT and general banking / currency / sovereign currency issuers territory) regardless of what’s printed on the notes, under the hood, it’s all wired up into the UK’s financial system. The physical paper notes would be the least of Scotland’s currency-of-their-own problems.

      1. vlade

        During the last scottish referendum, I had to have a look at this, due to the bank I was working for at the time having large scottish mortgages exposure, and a lot of it being securitised. In a way, it’s already different because the scottish mortgage law is different.

        But if the scots issued their own currency, it would play havoc with the UK banks, because I’d bet all scottish-law mortgages woudl convert to scottish currency.

        But I’m not sure whether say credit cards issued to Scottish residents have different legal language, because unlike the houses, they are not “stuck to ground”. Same goes for company debt etc. etc.

        Banks are much more explicit on it than they were before, so companies might find themselves with FX risk when they expected none, and go under because of that.

        It would be a right mess, and is probably one of the largest immediate operational and economical problem of Scottish independence (together with trading the rUK).

    3. vlade

      No, they don’t.

      They issue bearer notes that are not a legal tender, but look like legal tender.

      Unlike for pound sterling, there is no legal requierment to take it for settlements of any debts anywhere in the UK. There is a legal requirement for the issuing banks to hold physical notes and coins to the value of the issued notes, so they are credit-risk free, but they are not a legal tender.

      Basically, it’s a PR exercise for a few banks.

        1. vlade

          Yup, that’s why I responded to my comment above when I wrote legal currency to fix it to legal tender (and as I wrote “settlement of any debts”).

          In practical terms, it means that the Scotland could issue its own banknotes (and had ATMs to deal with it), but in practical terms, there would still be tons of work to be done.

          1. Jomo

            I recall being told on my only trip to Scotland to upon arrival go to an ATM and get Scot poundnotes for walk around money. Almost 10 years ago, but makes sense from the comments here.

      1. urblintz

        I spent several summers performing at a small festival in Killikrankie (Music in Blair Atholl) and always got Scottish notes when I exchanged my US dollars. I was told that in London they may or may not be accepted but that I could exchange them pound for pound at any London Bank. Honestly I never had to. I received a few odd looks from merchants but they were never refused.

        1. RMO

          Funny…I was in Scotland and northern England last summer and no one cared which type of cash I used in either region. The only problem I had was when I tried to use a coin I had received in change when getting something from a vending machine. One of the coins kept getting spit back out. If I recall correctly it was a 1 Euro coin that I (and whoever accepted it in change and gave it to me as change) mistook for a pound coin.

          I have a couple of foreign (but non-US) coins here at home that I got in change the same way. One of them looked a lot like a quarter, one a lot like a loonie (Canadian $1 coin). I exclude US coins from the count as they show up a lot here in Canada and most people just exchange them as if they were Canadian when they come across them.

  14. Lee

    If about half of those polled think both candidates are mentally unfit, that’s great news, in the sense that a significant portion of the electorate might rightly infer that the powers that be of both major parties have lost their minds and have utter disdain for the citizenry. I call that progress.

    And here’s a little exchange I had on the topic with a front row kid over at Daily Kos. God, I hate Democrats.

    1. jr

      “…slight stutter…”? Is he kidding? The man forgets whole sentences. I don’t know what kinds of cutting edge meds they had him on for the debates but the fact he didn’t stumble through them is worrying in it’s own way. A World of Illusion!

      The Democrats are delusional. But maybe this KOS crowd knows this, knows that Biden is ready for the pool deck, mismatched pastel plaid shirt/shorts combos, and a live in nursing assistant. It’s Wokes-fuhrer Harris who is the real prize. Utterly without morals or empathy, hitting almost all the right IDpol boxes; a walking, talking void who would do or say anything in her degenerate lust for power over others. Like letting off pedophile priests:

      I realized the other day though that Team Blew would vote for a lawn gnome, not just because “Trump!?” but because their sugar spun Candyland world view is melting down. Trump was merely a catalyst for this as well as a convenient scapegoat.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Based on DailyKult in the 08 primary, its the kind of place where they hate one of the IDPol checks. They may consider it a compromise where no one is totally happy, but I wouldn’t give those people too much credit.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            One of the ironies of the Bernie Bro myth is DailyKult in 08 was a cesspool of rhetoric one would expect at Red State. The sexism on display from Obamastans was appalling and very real, and though Harris may have certain elements of the Clinton circle, I think its safe to say she might not be as popular as Hillary was with that crowd, no matter how much she promises to brutalize the denizens of Oakland for example.

            1. jr

              Wow. I had no idea. How the hell do those people walk around without the cognitive dissonance sending them reeling?

      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        Maybe they found him some of the Bursar’s prescription (emphasis in original):

        In fact he was incurably insane and hallucinated more or less continuously, but by a remarkable stroke of lateral thinking his fellow wizards had reasoned that, in that case, the whole business could be sorted out if only they could find a formula that caused him to hallucinate that he was completely sane.*

        *This is a very common hallucination, shared by most people.
        Terry Pratchett, The Truth (Discworld, #25; Industrial Revolution, #2)

        Mind you, it also caused him to believe that he could fly. But since he was a wizard. . . .

    2. STEPHEN

      I’ve always wondered what % of the vote would be garnered by an official “none of the above” option on our ballots.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a little exchange I had on the topic with a front row kid over at Daily Kos

      “I believe my regard for myself is healthy and that I have high self-esteem which isn’t the same as self-regard.”

      Who among us has not spent time working out fine distinctions between self-esteem and self-regard?

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Someone put Bladerunner 2049 music to drone footage of San Francisco”

    This is so disturbing this video on so many levels. Here we are – 29 years early – but here we are. It is a brilliant concept what they did with that clip. Damn them.

    And that is a great image of a wolf in today’s Antidote du jour. They are magnificent animals and deserve all the protection that they can get.

    1. Wukchumni

      Its as if Californians all decided to take up smoking, oh and licking the ash tray clean, too.

      You had similar color schemes as a result of your wildfires back beyond Covid, no?

      1. Wukchumni


        The Rough Fire 5 years ago consumed 151,000 acres in terrain similar to that of the Creek Fire-now @ 182,000 acres and 6% contained, a week after it started.

        It took the Rough Fire over 3 months to get to 151k acres burnt…

        These new normal wildfires are like comparing a Sopwith Camel to an F-35

        1. Procopius

          The Sopwith Camel had much higher reliability and availability ratings, not to mention a machine gun that shot where it was pointed.

  16. cocomaan

    OnPolitics: Things don’t look good for coronavirus relief

    Corona relief was never going to happen because the American public is being used as a child between a couple (one blue, one red) going through a nasty divorce.

    Strangely, the child is also the judge in the dispute.

    1. John k

      Isn’t the child always the judge?
      Course, in this case most of the children that haven’t already divorced their parents have already picked sides.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “The Current Impasse in Belarus and the Peace Alternative”

    Not to worry. Lithuania has decided to have their own version of Greedo from Venezuela and declared Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania after the disputed election, as the elected leader of Belarus. Sounds legit. Yeah, you could write her resume on the back of a postage stamp but she is pretty and talks English so what more could you ask for?

    1. km

      And if you think that the U.S. State Department is no busily encouraging this, then I suggest you not purchase any bridges that might be for sale.

      1. Bruno

        Widespread protests against the legal lynching of Sacco and Vanzetti. And if you think that the Comintern is not busily encouraging this, then I suggest you not purchase any bridges that might be for sale.

        Reply ↓

        1. km

          Without bothering to examine what the relevant of an example from 100 years ago might be – the difference is that the United States government has a long, sordid and lavishly documented track record of regime change.

          The Comintern did not.

  18. Pat

    Long term unpaid internships have been on my radar for awhile. Spent some time working with young people just graduating from college (bachelors and graduate programs). The competition for these “jobs” is intense. Some were part time, some full. In one case there was a perk, reimbursement for public transportation. All ran months to well over a year. Few were going to lead to an actual job.

    Along with dealing with the abuse of use of H1B1 visas and of the independent contractor status, internships are item that should be addressed by updating labor laws in this country. It advances wage suppression along with the obvious bar it presents to class advancement.

    But obviously it isn’t just donors that like the perks of an abusive system.

    1. JWP

      It’s amazing how may young people seeking high profile unpaid internships are ok with them because of the prospect of it leading to a job. A similar mentality to those who excuse not paying college athletes. Couldn’t think of a more valuable skill than learning how to live life with the pay and norms of a real job while in college. But It seems we are stuck with learning how to live a life in slavery.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        because of the prospect of it leading to a job.

        I love the show “The Office”, but it has continuously remained popular with younger audiences who didn’t watch it the first time. I honestly believe the fantasy of a steady job is just that alluring.

  19. Carolinian

    re The Emperor’s New Rules–definitely worth a look. It’s about the terrible management culture at Netflix and the new book where Reed Hastings touts this philosophy which boils down to terrorizing your workforce with threats of firing. The rationale for this Darwinian approach is that only the super capable will be left but the measurement of that capability mostly seems to consist of “loyalty” to the company (not a two way proposition) and willingness to prove such subservience by adhering to arbitrary rules.

    In other words it’s a power trip disguised as a business. And how is that business part working out?

    In fact, the reader is almost always left to infer that the reason they are even reading this book is that Netflix has “pivoted” three times and become massively overvalued. But prior to 2013, the company more or less treaded water on the stock market, doing just enough to stay alive. In fact, Netflix’s success is attributable not to their small, tight-fisted, brutal workplace, but their pivot to production in 2013, which made investors think that Netflix was poised to monopolize entertainment. They then deluged the company with capital.

    In other words it’s mostly a stock market bubble like Tesla and other New Economy companies. With Amazon Prime and the new Disney streamer service closing in, entertainment industry stories suggest that Netflix will increasingly struggle to make a profit–particularly when they are spending large sums on original production in order to fight off the studios (who have always taken an arms length approach to this interloper).

    1. flora

      Well of course. Reminds me of the kerfuffle about 20 years ago over the old scandinavian origin word that’s been in use in northern Europe and the US for hundreds of years and has exactly nothing to do with race.
      It’s a word that means, according to Webster’s dictionary, “a meanly covetous and stingy person: miser”. The word is “niggard”. Note the word ends with a “d”. It’s pronounced with a long-“i”, “nigh-“.

      You can imagine the “emotions first, reason last” hysteria around that word when some then campus SJWs decided to declare it a r*sit term because “it sounded like” another word. No amount of pointing to a dictionary, to even the Old Oxford, could convince them. They had their emotions in high gear. They acted like a part of the Organized Moron Minions (/s) – emotion instead of reason, hysteria instead of thought – in this world.

      1. flora

        adding: Uni’s cossetting students’ ignorance to avoid hurting their feelings over a misunderstanding are treating students like young children instead of young adults. They don’t want to upset “the children”, er, “paying customers”, to heck with education.

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            And it is interesting that we “blame” the childen aka paying customers. Think of the other places where we in a sense blame the victims for the workings of The Machine.

            I see / hear this a lot. The so-called “adults” in the room get a pass when really it’s a quite purposeful choice / policy / thing IMHO.

      2. flora

        (note: the OMM is a huge, world-wide, completely equal opportunity madness. It’s the same ignorance and emotion-instead-of-reason that’s part of the klan, for instance; different ‘tribe’, same rejection of reason.)

        1. flora

          It’s possible different locals use slightly different pronunciations. Where I grew up it was pronounced as I described. I grew up in a town populated originally by Scandinavian immigrants. Even with differing pronunciations the word’s meaning doesn’t change. To be a “niggardly” person is to be a stingy, tightfisted, miserly person. It is no reflection on race, it isn’t a slur against or referencing any race. In Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” Ebenezer Scrooge was a miserly, a niggardly person, if ever there was one.

          Thanks for reading and for your comment.

          1. General Jinjur

            Of course, my dictionary link was not a disagreement with your comment. I always read what you contribute.

            Where I grew up it was pronounced just as the Oxford dictionary suggests. Admittedly the word was not commonly used, perhaps for fear of being heard as a contemptible racist comment pretending to be otherwise?

          2. General Jinjur

            I replied but it’s in moderation. In case the reply doesn’t make it to the posted comments, I agree with what you said.

      3. ewmayer

        flora, is your suggested pronunciation also per Webster’s? Because OED disagrees both to the origin and the pronunciation, which – and this is the way I always heard it pronounced – is just [n-word]+d:

        niggard |ˈnigərd|
        noun often offensive
        a stingy or ungenerous person.

        adjective often offensive
        archaic term for niggardly .

        ORIGIN late Middle English : alteration of earlier nigon.

        USAGE This word, along with its adverbial form niggardly, should be used with caution. Owing to the sound similarity to the highly inflammatory racial epithet n*****, these words can cause unnecessary confusion and unintentional offense.
        (asterisks mine)

        1. flora

          It’s offensive because it attack character as ungenerous and greedy. ;)

          Appreciate the USAGE para which is no doubt a later addition to the original.

          1. flora

            adding: language changes over time. Reading olde English, for instance, can be a struggle. If the perfectly descriptive word “niggard” passes from English usage for cultural reasons, so be it. However, insisting the Chinese eliminate one of their culturally common usage words because US people don’t understand its meaning and assume it means something it doesn’t is an example of US chauvinism writ large, and good luck with that in China. /heh

            1. Basil Pesto

              However, insisting the Chinese eliminate one of their culturally common usage words because US people don’t understand its meaning and assume it means something it doesn’t is an example of US chauvinism writ large, and good luck with that in China. /heh

              This seems like a strawman to me; who is insisting that?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > In a nutshell he said a Cchinese word that sounds like the n-word,

      “Responding to the complaint, the dean of the university….”

      I think we’ve learned an important lesson here today, kids, about what Deans do when they see an opportunity to dig in with the spurs and apply the whip.

    3. John A

      The swedish word for an unmarried couple cohabiting is ‘sambo’ short for ‘sammanboende’. People say my sambo, for instance. One time on a London street with a Swedish friend, one or other of us used the word. A very large black guy immediately turned around and glared menacingly at us. Gulping for air, we started babbling loudly in Swedish to show we were not speaking English.

      1. The Historian

        The comments were brutally funny and to the point, but I don’t think even they can pierce that elite bubble that Paul Krugman lives in.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its not a bubble but representative of how little regard American elites hold for little people “foreigners” (for lack of a better word) in this particular case Muslims. Even the Muslims, US elites would rub shoulders with are likely to refrain from saying anything for fear of being ostracized.

          It reminds me of Saint John McCain’s defense of the attacks put out by McCain’s party that Obama was a Muslim. His “defense” was to assure people Obama was not a Muslim and subsequently okay.

    1. fresno dan

      September 11, 2020 at 10:41 am

      I can guarantee that in 10-15 years the most preeminent infamous democrat will be passing a butterscotch to Trump at some funeral, and pundits will note how terrible the current republican president is, but how wise, caring and decent former president Trump was…
      The coincidence that the percentage of Americans homeless is 99.9% and national assets owned by the 3 richest Americans is 99.9% happens on this date is not noted by anyone…

  20. jr

    Re: Dreams

    I know this: anyone approaching me with one of those machines will be throttled with it’s cables. I love my dreams and you can keep analysis of them to yourself. And my dreams, when I remember them, can be glorious.

    Now, recurring, debilitating nightmares are another thing entirely.

      1. jr

        I spent two years in Dreamland when I switched my meds. I kept a journal of them. I swear there were times that the dream characters were speaking to me with intent. Some highlights:

        -An Amish man walking what appeared to be a 12 foot tall Allosaurus with the head and fur of a grizzly bear up the street where my cousins lived as kids.

        -A lucid dream in which I could fly at will and in which I slew a werewolf with my bare hands. Tore it to pieces.

        -A tall waterfall over looking a wide river. On the right bank were statues of what could be Greek gods, hundreds of feet tall.

        -A battlefield strewn with wreckage, patrolled by robots from Fallout 3. I loaded a DU round into my break loading, single shot rifle and blew it through the side of a robot tank, killing it.

        -Looking out over a city from the lip of a parking garage window when a red plastic blob begins to chase people, including me.

        I often had what could be called nightmares, but I’m wasn’t scared. I was able to confront a few monsters and slay them. Only one dream scared me. That was when a dragon was pursuing people through a maze. You knew that it knew that you knew it was coming. And it liked it. Roars and screams and small mammal scramblings….

        My favorite though was the Magicians Convocation. I was walking through a huge gathering of Magicians, watched a duel where one trapped another in a kind of fractal-y, mirror-y web. Then I was speaking with a Magus, seated on a throne and flanked by two women. He was dream-mumbling to me and at one point I responded “I understand.”

        One of the women turned and looked at me and said quite clearly “Don’t speak.”

        The Magus continued to mumble and then I woke up. It still comes back to me. Recently, I think I may have figured out who they are:

  21. Wukchumni

    As Fires Rage, California Must Stop Building in Burn Zones City Watch
    A neighbor in our cabin community has the same insurance company covering our cabin, and he got cancelled this spring, so fair warning for me to get ready to be axed out as well.

    We’re paying about nine hundred bucks a year now, and if we get cancelled, our only option will be the California ‘fair plan’ which another friend has, and for pretty much the same cabin, etc., she pays $4,000 a year. A number of cabin owners around us have no insurance at all.

    Not much building going on here as of late, for most of the cabins were built in the 30’s and 40’s.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’d guess there are actuarial reasons why insurance there is so expensive. One has to wonder if $900 covers the risks being assumed, maybe $4,000 is more accurate.

      Same deal here in Florida. People bitch about the rates and that the insurance companies have been allowed to keep writing more profitable lines like life and auto even though they have blown off homeowners insurance writing.

      So we too have state-driven homeowners insurance for a lot of people in “high-risk” areas, for some reason. And the rich folks bitch about some pretty moderately priced coverage for their McMansions built on barrier islands that come and go with big storms, or their beachfront estates where the public taxes pay to “renourish” their beautiful beaches washed away by nasty Mother Nature. And expect the government flood insurance to “make them whole” in the event of major storm damage.

      Can’t stand the heat, I say to them, get out of the kitchen. It’s not like they can’t afford it.

  22. Wukchumni

    Notes from the gridiron:

    There were 15,000 faithful @ Arrowhead, er make that ‘Knapped Obsidian’ stadium last night, and that’s nothing compared to capacity, but when in theory fans should’ve been socially distanced, they sure didn’t look to be when the camera man panned in on any given section of said fanatics in the stands.

  23. diptherio

    Militas setting up armed check points in Oregon is scary af. I’ve been getting the feeling that we’re heading for (or rather, being pushed) into some kind of widespread “civil” violence for awhile now, and this doesn’t do anything to change that feeling. The Oregon cops are saying Antifa didn’t start the fires, but they are allowing randos with AR-15s to set up checkpoints? This is not going to end well.

    1. w

      That’s crazy, especially when everybody knows the current conflagrations were all started by WW2 era Japanese fire balloons that finally touched down.

      A pity you’re about to be taken over by regional warlords, America.

    2. Carolinian

      That Intercept story in links is not exactly straight down the line.

      As the rumors swirled online, the Kremlin’s Potemkin news channel, Russia Today, added to the confusion by illustrating a report on a request from the police in Portland for protesters not to light bonfires with an image of an entirely unrelated wildfire elsewhere in the state.

      Had to work Putin in there somewhere. As for

      pretending that antifascists in the Pacific Northwest dedicated to confronting white supremacists are members of an imaginary army of domestic terrorists called Antifa.

      While I’m sure antifa are anything but an “army” (same for the militant rightwingers), the implication that it’s all a myth flies in the face of the fact that the Charlottesville protestors identified themselves as antifa and the now deceased shooter in Portland did the same. Antifa…it’s a real thing.

      And yes there’s a domestic propaganda op going on–on both sides.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > As the rumors swirled online, the Kremlin’s Potemkin news channel, Russia Today

        As opposed to the Beltway’s Potemkin newspapers, the Washington Post and the New York Times (of course we have too).

        Disappointing in The Intercept. I should have stuck to local coverage.

    3. JacobiteInTraining

      Some individuals in some law enforcement groups may be a lot closer in spirit and sympathies to qanon/conspiracy/Meal Team 6 Militia group peeps….but I think that attitude is going to wear incredibly thin *really* fast, as untrained morons and kooks try to do their armed checkpoint thing and/or insert themselves into the actual professional emergency responses.

      Talked to a Sheriffs Deputy early this morning in the apartment parking lot as he got off-shift: was asking mainly about any local brush fires he may have heard of (all OK) but he mentioned that there was a case of arson down in Pierce County….and he had to deal with a couple of armed ‘OMG ANTIFA WHERE DO YOU WANT US STATIONED MR LEO!!???’ people too.

      “…F***ing morons…” was his last quote before saying wistfully… ‘pray for rain’.

    4. Tomonthebeach

      It is very possible that militia/Boogaloo are setting the fires or just asserting blame for natural events on Antifa as a means to enhance the myth that Antifa is an organized terrorist group.

      1. diptherio

        It seems to me like everybody is blaming everybody else. I don’t buy any of it. I’m being reminded of back in ’03 or ’04 when Greece was having a bad fire year and my Greek econ advisor was getting depressed by the refusal of his countrymen to believe that it could possibly be a natural disaster, and not evil anarchist arsonists.

        My guess is that these fires are most likely natural (for some definition of that word) and that the mutual blaming going on is a result of our polarized political situation, rather than any actual facts on the ground.

        1. Carolinian

          Well lots of fires are arson but by people who just like to look at fires or firefighting. It’s hard to see a political motive either way–particular for the gun toters who are more likely to live in these places. Antifa, assuming they exist, are likely more urban and prone to burning federal courthouses (or one in particular).

          In Arizona the fires are almost always human sourced–often by campers. So deplorabes yes, militia not so much.

        2. Cat Burglar

          In Oregon anyway, most of the fires began on a hot clear weekend with strong dry winds from the east, toward the end of a very dry Summer. It was also Labor Day weekend. there were no thunderstorms anywhere in the state.

          Lots of people were in the woods, probably more than most past years, because of covid. Ranger friends of mine have told me about exceptionally high campground use this year, and you can bet many people were doing dispersed camping on forest roads. All it would take is one hot tailpipe in tall grass, or one campfire, or one carelessly tossed cigarette to start an uncontrollable fire under conditions we had last weekend. I am constantly amazed at the number of people that want to build campfires on days when it has been 100 degrees, but so it goes.

          The Antifa-Started-The-Fires meme amazed me, too. Not least because I have known many people in the milieu — and the most cynical take on why they did not do it is because they are 1)tree huggers, and 2) cannot organize anything that complex.

          The article in The Intercept looked like a great piece of debunking until I read the line about RT being the Kremlin’s Potemkin news channel! The Russian government has never hidden it’s ownership of the channel — so where is the Potemkin fakery? Where is the deception? The “fake news” meme has always made me wonder if the inventor was born yesterday.

          1. Carolinian

            I’m a lifelong camper and I too am amazed at the pyromaniac obsession of the camping set. It’s like the fire is what they are into and all those trees and stuff a mere sidebar. Most of them don’t even know how to make a proper fire and the campgrounds are soon choked with smoke.

            Guess the reason the rangers don’t forbid campfires altogether is that then nobody would come.

        1. marym

          Recently updated summary of law enforcement and firefighter statements regarding several rumors of arson by antifa and one proud boys. Also descriptions of how some of the rumors are spreading in social media.

          “As wildfires rage, false antifa rumors spur pleas from police
          At least six groups have issued warnings about the false rumors, including some asking the public to stop sharing the misinformation.”

  24. Anon II, First of the Name

    The South China Morning Post article is odd:

    “Ambiguity adherents argue that the very lack of clarity has prevented war in this major East Asia flashpoint for 40 years despite numerous provocations by both sides. They add that Beijing could easily view such a publicly announced shift as provocative, back Xi into a corner and draw the three governments into the very conflict it seeks to avoid.”

    There are some good arguments for retaining ambiguity. This is not one of them.

    Is China really likely to attack Taiwan only after they know for certainty that the US is fully committed to the country’s defence, and thereby commit itself to a suicidal path? Not bloody likely…

  25. Billy

    Those Orange Western Skies and the Science of Light

    Well written and informative until stumbling over this turd:

    “That smoke wasn’t the only layer in the sky. A marine layer of moist air slid beneath it—San Francisco’s famous Karl the Fog…”

    Famous to and renknowned by Millenial Yokels that base their knowledge of the world on Facebook pages.

    Stick to science, Adam Rogers, you’ll go further in the world and won’t become a laughing stock when people read your stuff five years later.

  26. Mikel

    Re: “The Emporers New Rules”

    Not at all surprising in the country that developed Taylorism.

    Left vs Right? Liberal vs Conservative?
    Conformist vs non-conformist is the ultumate battle

    1. Carolinian

      But Taylorism was about performing work more efficiently (and faster to be sure) whereas the Netflix scheme is just about finding excuses to fire people and thereby save money. It’s not as though the Netflix labor practices are the secret to its success except insofar as Wall Street loves it when companies beat up on labor. The author is saying to the extent Netflix is profitable it’s via stock bubble.

  27. Wukchumni

    The Coming Age of Disorder Will Favor Commodities John Authers, Bloomberg


  28. Maxwell Johnston

    “Russia on my Mind”: Never knew that Martha’s Vineyard had its very own newspaper! As for Paul Whelan, the official story stinks to high heaven. Whelan has no college degree, worked various jobs in Michigan (including part-time cop), got a bad conduct discharge from the Marines in Iraq at age 37….. and then magically became “Director for Global Security” for Borg Warner (a Fortune 500 company, hardly the Mickey Mouse league). How this fellow passed corporate compliance is beyond me, unless he was placed into the job by a certain 3-letter agency. Oh, and shortly after his arrest in Moscow (at the very swish Metropole Hotel, bit pricey for an ex-Marine sergeant methinks), Borg Warner eliminates his job (guess they didn’t really need all that global security after all):

    IMHO, Whelan (the man with 4 passports) was a CIA mule, ferrying info and documents and thumb drives back and forth. He got caught. Tough for him not having a diplomatic passport, but you take your risks in this life.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      The Vineyard definitely has its own paper — there are people, after all, including a great many working people, who live there year round.

  29. Maritimer

    “Cambie Surgeries Corporation v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2020 BCSC 1310 (PDF) In the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Canada protects Medicare against at two-tier, American-style system.”
    I’m sure the Judges in that case get Premium Canadian Healthcare so that they may rule appropriately. That link is broken. Despite that, I will make a few comments on the CDN Healthcare System.

    1. It is a poorly kept secret that many Canadians when faced with long waits or wishing better choice of treatments go outside Canada for their healthcare. This is well known to the Government. Thus, in any case, it is a Two Tier healthcare system.

    2. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have influence over the system and can get much better treatment and service than the average Jane Kanuck. Just think of all the Politicians, Bureaucrats, University Administrators, Professors, Top Ranked Cops and Fire Officials, Military Generals Colonels, Doctors, Nurses, etc. Then add on to those, their friends and family, pals and you easily have hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have influence and will get better service and treatment. (I was in an Intensive Care Unit with a guy whose family had just contributed $25000 to the hospital foundation and BOY! was he getting Limousine Service! The hospital staff were not even discreet about this. )

    3. For those who are uninfluential, paragraph 2 means they will not get proper diagnosis or treatment, may be put on long waiting lists (which are not transparent). Forget getting a Second Opinion, you may never even get a First Opinion. These poor people below can also be subjected to “queue jumping” by those influential who take their place in the waiting list. You may in fact be denied the very healthcare for which you pay taxes while those with influence will receive the benefit of your taxes!

    4. CDN officials worried about “flattening the curve” not because of the Jane Kanucks but because those hundreds of thousands with influence might be denied their usual premier service. It would not do to have the health of the influential put at risk.

    5. Covid 19 has resulted in the Jane Kanucks being denied basic services including very important diagnoses to quickly treat disease. This is not discussed or addressed by the Covid powers in all their analyses and studies.

    6. All the above, of course, little discussed since Canadians perpetuate the myth of sacred, untouchable Universal Healthcare. Like Hockey, speak no Evil.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Item #2 — for $25,000 you might get an E.R. visit and a night maybe two in the hospital. But remember the $25,000 is just the up-front money. Wait until the bills start coming from the vendors-physicians that are not part of the hospital’s billing.

      Come on down! And bring plenty of ‘Franklins’. The U.S. Medical Industrial Complex will ‘take care’ of you.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Item #2 — for $25,000 you might get an E.R. visit and a night maybe two in the hospital. But remember the $25,000 is just the up-front money. Wait until the bills start coming from the vendors-physicians that are not part of the hospital’s billing.

      Come on down! And bring plenty of ‘Franklins’. The U.S. Medical Industrial Complex will ‘take care’ of you.

      1. RMO

        Jeremy, the bottom line when it comes to Martimer’s comment is that the entire thing is rubbish. The closest it comes to being truthful is when it says that there are some wealthy people who travel to the US (or elsewhere) for procedures – but this is a tiny, tiny percentage of the population that does so. Calling that two tiered is like saying Canada has a two tiered justice system because there are countries one can travel to where acts which are illegal in Canada are condoned elsewhere.

        I needed cataract surgery, I got it quickly, my Mum needed a malignant melanoma removed, it was removed quickly, my father in law needed heart surgery, he got it quickly, a friend of mine had lung cancer, he got it treated quickly, a friend had breast cancer, it was treated quickly, I crashed a motorcycle and suffered internal injuries, the emergency room stabilized me and the surgery was done immediately, I recently needed a test for covid and got one the same day I called to arrange one… for all these incidents none of us had to do any more than give our health services number.

  30. wilroncanada

    To RMO
    Maritimer’s hyperbole aside, there are some features of Canadian medical care which need improvement. Long waiting lists for certain surgeries, for example: hip and knee replacements for one, and cataract surgery (which you mentioned) for another. My wife waited 6 months as her sight deteriorated. The waiting list was a year long, but she jumped in immediately at a cancellation.
    Note, these are not normally “emergencies” but are factors in the aging population. The waits are also factors of not planning for that, easily predicted aging population, including the expansion of medical schools, so we wouldn’t have to “steal” so many physicians from much poorer countries who have had the foresight to train more physicians.
    Another improvement would be to add dentistry and regular eye examinations, along with eyeglasses to the system.

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