Links 11/14/2020

Cats Are the Best Philosophers Wall Street Journal

Cat Who Lived In A Church For 12 Years Passes Away, The Church Gives Her An Entire Memorial Service Bored Panda

MeowTalk app translates cat’s ‘language’ for pet owners New York Post

Monarch butterflies’ spectacular migration is at risk, and an ambitious new plan aims to save it PhysOrg (David L)

A Newly Discovered Tick Germ Is Sickening Dogs in the U.S., Vets Say Gizmodo (David L)

Tree rings may hold clues to impacts of distant supernovas on Earth ScienceDaily (Kevin W)

Camel-fur-inspired power-free system harnesses insulation and evaporation to keep items cool Techxplore (Chuck L)

Neanderthals And Humans Were at War For Over 100,000 Years, Evidence Shows Science Alert (Chuck L)

Recent readings on meaning of ‘net zero’ Yale Climate Connections

Air taxis set to soar over Seoul’s skies Asia Times (Kevin W)

Measuring the true cost of conservation PhysOrg (David L)

The biological research putting purpose back into life – Philip Ball Aeon (David L)

Solid progress being shown with patients at medical marijuana clinics in Thailand Pattaya News (furzy)


Here’s why conservatives and liberals differ on COVID-19 PhysOrg (Robert M)

How Australia brought the coronavirus pandemic under control Financial Times


Lilly’s Monoclonal EUA Science Magazine (UserFriendly)

Covid-19: Government buried negative data on its favoured antibody test BMJ


Coronavirus: Oregon, New Mexico plan two-week shutdowns to combat Covid resurgence Financial Times

Trump: New York Won’t Receive COVID-19 Vaccine in April With Other US States Until Governor Approves Sputnik (Kevin W)

Are you in the coronavirus yellow zone? The map can change. How to look it up Syracuse. Bob: “There is still no way to look at the color coded map of NYS. It’s the perfect emperor has no clothes moment. The fucking map doesnt exist and no one will say it.”

Red state governors reject Biden on mask orders Politico. Except Alabama, as Lambert flagged in Water Cooler.

In Wi-Fi ‘Dead Zones,’ Rural Students Can’t Log On to Virtual School New York Times


Denmark’s mink farmers count cost of botched cull Financial Times (David L)


Beloved businesses are going bankrupt waiting for federal help. It will get worse NBC (resilc)

Lockdown 2.0: Food companies overhauled production to put more toilet paper, pasta sauce in stores Reuters (resilc)

Manhattan Empties, Brooklyn Hangs on as Renters Prioritize Space, Amenities Over Commute in Pandemic Economy THE CITY


China about to pull off ‘diplomatic coup’ by striking world’s largest free trade agreement RT (Kevin W)


“Own Nothing and Be Happy”: The Great Reset’s Vision of the Future Off Guardian (Chuck L)

Princess Diana’s Restless Ghost Still Haunts the Royal Family Daily Beast (furzy)

What Happens When Techno-Utopians Actually Run a Country Wired. UserFriendly: “Or how to use a blog to take over a country.”

The Scammer Who Wanted to Save His Country Wired. UserFriendly: “The backstory behind the carwash leakers.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Lots of Missiles: How China and Russia Could Win a War Against America The National Interest (resilc)

Trump Transition

Scoop: Divisive Pentagon hire may rush troop withdrawals before Trump’s exit Axios (Chuck L)

Acting SecDef Signals Troop Withdrawal in Memo: ‘It’s Time to Come Home’ Kevin W: “Embeded memo.”

More than 130 Secret Service officers are said to be infected with coronavirus or quarantining in wake of Trump’s campaign travel The Hour (resilc)

Unelected Officials Override The President To Continue Wars (But Only Kooks Believe In The Deep State) Caitlin Johnstone (furzy)

Trump races clock on remaining environmental rollbacks The Hill (UserFriendly)

Ann Coulter: What America Wants Is ‘Trumpism without Trump’ Breitbart (UserFriendly)


Top CEOs secretly met to plan collective response to Trump’s denial of election results Fortune (David L)

Trump comes close to admitting defeat but stops short of formal concession Guardian (Kevin W)

Brazil: Trump Ally Bolsonaro Refuses to Acknowledge Biden Win & Downplays COVID as Death Toll Mounts Democracy Now! (Kevin C)

Latinos could swing Georgia. Don’t repeat the mistakes of Florida and Texas Guardian (resilc)

How The Navajo Nation Helped Flip Arizona For Democrats NPR (Kevin W)


Yellen Under Consideration by Biden Team for Treasury Chief Bloomberg

Joe Biden blocked from receiving State Department messages during transition period (Kevin W)

Charles Koch Says His Partisanship Was a Mistake Wall Street Journal (resilc). Translation: Now he thinks he can buy Democrats too.

FBI wanted to arrest Epstein at Virgin Islands beauty pageant months before plea deal cut NBC (furzy)

DeSantis pushes expansion of Stand Your Ground law as part of ‘anti-mob’ crackdown Miami Herald

Introduction to The New Economics: A Manifesto Steve Keen (Chuck L)

Quant Shock That ‘Never Could Happen’ Hits Wall Street Models Bloomberg (David L). Taleb (and Mandelbrot) would not be impressed:

“Events happened that statistically never could happen,” said the chief investment officer of disciplined equities in a telephone interview from St. Petersburg, Florida.

the only way to save reading is by reading Fredrik deBoer (UserFriendly)

Class Warfare

Only 51% of CA Union Households Voted Against Prop 22 Exempting Uber Drivers from Wage Laws Los Angeles Times

Big tech threw $200m at a ballot measure to hurt gig economy workers. And they won Guardian

Maldives resort offers $30K ‘all-you-can-stay’ package CNN

Antidote du jour. Homer (Alaska) News’ Pet of the Week for the end of October, courtesy mgl:

Billy is a 10-year-old male cat.

Billy always wants a snack,

Billy never do an attack,

Billy wants a loving house,

Maybe Billy catch a mouse.

And a bonus. Guurst recommends full screen:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. bassmule

    “Within Los Angeles, Proposition 22 was voted down in several liberal-leaning precincts but found widespread support in neighborhoods with large Black and Latino communities and majority white suburban areas alike.”

    Cheap rides beat worker’s rights.

      1. Mr. Magoo

        Nor the indirect costs of traffic, pollution, eroding public transportation infrastructure (thru less use/funding)…..

      2. Upwithfiat

        Otoh, (reductio ad absurdum) rich people can work for free (volunteer).

        The question then is why so many US citizens in the 21th Century depend on wages for a living?

        What happened to family farms, businesses and the commons – the means to avoid wage slavery?

        1. D. Fuller

          Neoliberal economics and Wall Street supremacy over our political & economic life.

          Well, for starters. The details are vastly more numerous.

          1. JP

            Try agribusiness. How can farmer Brown compete with Tenneco? It’s about economies of scale. It is not about out of season strawberries being imported from Mexico.

            If we did go back to Adam Smiths cottage economy people would soon be surprised to find their food and shoes costing a substantial fraction of their hard earned money.

            Why do most prefer wage slavery to subsistence or life without a refrigerator, would be a better question.

            1. D. Fuller

              The happy medium of small and medium sized businesses catering to local solutions versus a faceless corporation dictating what one buys.

              Of course, that is overly simplistic.

              All businesses run up against the wall of market saturation. Even money printing in excess. For example, large dairy companies dump in excess of 90 million gallons of milk a year. Producing vast waste in every step of the process from feed to fossil fuel waste to production. Waste in resources, time, money, effort; costs incorporated into the price of milk that is sold. Then throw in the costs inflated by middlemen.

              What is the solution? A good question.

              1. eg

                One solution for agricultural products like milk, unpopular in America, is managed production (Milk Board)

    1. Pelham

      Also, doesn’t Prop 22 clear the way for ALL employers in California to make their employees gig workers?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Not a lawyer and don’t know the fine print, but that’s my fear. If the trend continues it’s going to be upper management raking in the big bucks with everyone else being a contract worker and nothing in between. Companies are being larded up with software with the idea that the software is what really makes things hum, and all that’s needed are a few interchangeable meatsacks to come in every so often to fix the glitches.

        We’re getting into Charlie Stross’ Accelerando territory where corporations that are nothing but software compete with each other in digital markets, with flesh and blood human beings having become largely irrelevant. I really enjoyed this book when the future it predicts seemed a lot farther away.

      2. Cas

        Short answer, No. Prop 22 applies to app-based drivers only. It makes these drivers a separate class under Assembly bill 5, which legislated gig workers as employees. As I’ve commented before, it is a terrible law that has ramifications (like being a “model” for other states, race to the bottom, bad for future legislation–not just the 7/8th vote to override, but which politician will go against $$$ now, etc). Here’s more info.,_App-Based_Drivers_as_Contractors_and_Labor_Policies_Initiative_(2020)

        1. Mikel

          It’s going to a model for other businesess in Cali too. They’ll slime their way into finding ways to make it apply.
          The point of Uber has been as a tool for deregulation of labor laws. That’s what the biggest investors in this non-profitable business are paying for – the battles over labor laws and regulation from country to country and city to city.
          All this talk about drivers…they can’t wait to dump drivers for autonomously driven vehicles.
          But those labor laws they destroyed will still be a model in Cali and everywhere else.

      3. Clem


        like these?

        “city employed truck drivers in San Francisco making $159,000 per year; lifeguards in LA County costing taxpayers $365,000; nurses at UCSF making up to $501,000; the UCLA athletic director earning $1.8 million; and 1,420 city employees out-earning all 50 state governors ($202,000).”

        “Using our new interactive mapping tool, quickly review (by ZIP code) the 340,390 California public employees and retirees who earn more than $100,000 and cost taxpayers $45 billion (FY2018-9).”–340000-public-employees-with-100000-paychecks-cost-taxpayers-45-billion/

        1. edmondo

          And I can find a drill press operator who hit the lottery. What’s your point? That there are always exceptions to the rules? Thanks Cap’n Obvious.

          1. P Walker

            It’s not that public sector workers are running away with large salaries, it’s just that no one else but upper management types are allows the same right now.

        2. tegnost

          Lifeguards in cali are part of the fire dept., and you hate them (well some people do, not me) until they’re scraping you up off the street and saying thanks for wearing a helmet. or pulling your kids out of a rip current… then all of a sudden you’re like, “hey, maybe they should get paid for going to work…

          “Lifeguards are balking at their portrayal as sun-tanned slackers lounging in beach towers as the surf rolls in.

          Those whose salaries are in question point out they hold management roles, have decades of service and are considered public-safety employees under the fire department, the same as fire captains and battalion chiefs. The full-time guards train more than 200 seasonal lifeguards who make between $16 and $22 an hour, run a junior-lifeguard program that brings in $1 million a year and oversee safety on nearly seven miles of sand.”

        3. Glen

          So the choice is everybody has $hit jobs, or not?

          The way to fix America is for EVERYBODY to have the jobs you list.

            1. fwe’zy

              Agree, but Take a gander at $quillion private sector salaries for draining our commonwealth, and $billion golden parachutes for losers like the WeWork chief.

              They do ratchet the inequality into unbearable territory by imposing artificial scarcity on some things like housing, and over-consuming on things like travel, fashion, and “fine dining,” aka extreme waste.

    2. Oh

      They love low wages except for themselves. They’ll buy from Amazon, sign up for free stuff, won’t support labor unions, want low mortgage rates, etc.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      I saw a tweet in real time that showed the CA ballot and how Prop 22’s vote line was somehow misaligned to make it very easy to vote the opposite of how you had intended.

      Haven’t seen anything about that since.

  2. lakecabs

    Beloved businesses going bankrupt.

    Sorta like the Indians.

    As long as the grass is green the rivers run and the sky is blue.

    Big government is your savior.

    1. D. Fuller

      When one looks at the ancient civilization of Mohendaro in India, before it was destroyed? Government was their to organize production & distribution of grain with protection of such activities.

      So, yes. Government. To organize the means of production & distribution & protection necessary to produce a civilization. There’s the original function of government.

      History has a lot to teach people, if they so bother.

        1. D. Fuller

          Well, Ronnie Administration was a cartel-friendly bunch of cocaine smuggling facilitators & did arm Iran with sophisticated weaponry, as well as aiding in creating Iraq’s WMD programs.

          In part, Ronnie was right. Just not in the ways most would expect.

            1. km

              Iraq did – before the First Gulf War, Iraq used chemical weapons pretty extensively in the Iran-Iraq War.

              That said, Iraq had gotten rid of its WMDs before the United States seized on this as a pretext to make war on that country.

              Something similar could be said for Libya. Pakistan was smart and has refused to let go of its WMDs.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Washington was pretty sure about the extent to Iraq’s biological warfare program as well. Why so? Because they had the receipts from the company that sold them all this stuff – just outside of Washington DC.

            2. D. Fuller

              As km posted.

              France was assisting in building Osirak before the Israelis blew up those ambitions. Killed any nuclear ambitions Saddam may have had. How ludicrous it was that Bush promoted that idiot yellowcake hoax.

              Biological weapons? Iraq may have never gotten past the beginning stages. Having given up early on if any program existed at all.

              Chemical weapons, a WMD by any definition. Maybe not yours. Saddam’s Iraq had plenty of those up until after the First Gulf War. Whatever was left after the second round was left over and forgotten by the regime. Decaying into uselessness over time so much so that what little was found was leaking, damn near useless.

              Next time you think you know what another person is aware of? Think again. Do yourself a favor and do not project. Such does not serve you well.

              1. Count Zero

                WMD or “weapons of mass destruction” ceased to be a meaningful term 15+ years ago and became a slogan and a lie. The term is now poisoned. It cannot now be retrieved to any good purpose.

                All you are pointing to is that Hussein’s Iraq, like just about every nation state on earth, had a variety of nasty weapons of one sort or another. It was a nasty brutish regime that harmed its own population and threatened its neighbours. Like others in the region — and elsewhere.

                But WMD? A propaganda term devoid of meaning.

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    The great reset–

    I’m going to juxtapose two quotes, the first of which comes from the Great Reset article:

    What will happen to our social and personal identity? Is that to be eradicated in the quest to commodify and standardise human behaviour and everything we do?

    The billionaire class who are pushing this agenda think they can own nature and all humans and can control both, whether through geoengineering the atmosphere, for example, genetically modifying soil microbes or doing a better job than nature by producing bio-synthesised fake food in a lab.

    They think they can bring history to a close and reinvent the wheel by reshaping what it means to be human. And they think they can achieve this by 2030. It is a cold dystopian vision that wants to eradicate thousands of years of culture, tradition and practices virtually overnight.

    The second is from Ursula K. Le Guin’s posthumously published Always Coming Home:

    It is the story that makes the difference. It is the story that hid my humanity from me, the story the mammoth hunters told about bashing, thrusting, raping, killing, about the Hero. The wonderful poisonous story about Botulism. The killer story.

    It sometimes seems that that story is approaching its end. Lest there be no more telling of stories at all, some of us out here in the wild oats, amid the alien corn, think we’d better start telling another one, which maybe people can go on with when the old one’s finished. Maybe. The trouble is, we’ve all let ourselves become part of the killer story, and so we may get finished along with it. [Lookin’ at you, Russiagaters.] Hence it is with a certain feeling of urgency that I seek the nature, subject, words of the other story, the untold one, the life story.

    A dying old story that seeks to take us with it. A new story being born that leads to a new life. That pretty well sums up our situation.

    1. JTMcPhee

      The minions of the squillionaires and their machinery are doing a great job creating the “story” of this year, the process whereby the Mighty Wurlitzer supplants the culture, tradition and practices of electing a leader (out of a no-real-choice pair of candidates.) it has been decreed, and the groundswell of manufactured consent reinforces, the “victory of return to normalcy.”

      So we get pronouncements like this:

      Officials condemn Trump’s false claims and say election ‘most secure in US history’
      State and federal officials confirm no evidence of voter fraud
      Trump continues to refuse to accept defeat by Joe Biden

      No significant “voter fraud,” but ELECTION FRAUD on a grand scale. Not visible because so much voting is via manipulable code, but more important, a fraud on the populace engendered by the Duopoly, a sham miasma of “democracy” in the seeming choice between two equally but differently Bads.

      But we must believe, must believe, must weep tears of joy at the reported “result” because otherwise we are “tools of foreign interests” or “useful idiots” or “disloyal to America.” The pounding on the Narrative that Trump has been defeated, raised an octave to drown any notion that the will of the people, the preferences of the plebs, has been once again disserrved. Part of the messaging being that we all are supposed to just sing victory together Just. One. Month., give the media-anointed “winner” that “grace period” that will show us all how things will inexorably turn for the better (and because it’s the obligation of the voter to “hold the rulers’ feet to the fire”,” it’s not the rulers’ fault that everything goes from bad to worse for the ordinary people…)

      1. fresno dan

        November 14, 2020 at 10:33 am

        Officials condemn Trump’s false claims and say election ‘most secure in US history
        Its just the illogic of the thing that gets me. The Obama administration is in charge of national security, for a WHOLE 8 years, so his administration is responsible for the election of 2016. It is a disaster, due to Russian interference (I admit, me and my red rabbit antenna eared bunny slippers in my Mom’s basement lair generated 98% of the Russian facebook posting, which if I do say so myself, alone undermined the love of the American people for Hillary Clinton) but the Obama administration was unable to find me (probably due to my use of analog technology and the US run by Tech oligarchs who sold the US nothing but digital…).
        NOW, in a mere 4 years, the Trump administration has fostered the most secure, HONEST and trustworthy election system and most accurate election results is US history – despite Trump being an evil dictator and contemptuous of law and representative government.
        Maybe its me, but I kinda see a …contradiction?
        (usual caveat – I hate Trump but I refuse to stop thinking)

        1. Janie

          Your bunny slippers are red??? That’s just wrong; ask your mom for a nice neutral pair for Christmas. Unless you were speaking figuratively, as in Commie.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        From your Guardian link:

        “When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

        The statement was tweeted by Chris Krebs, the agency’s director……

        And from today’s Caitlin Johnstone link quoting “Trump’s” outgoing US “envoy” to Syria, james jeffrey:

        “We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” Jeffrey said in an interview. The actual number of troops in northeast Syria is “a lot more than” the two hundred troops Trump agreed to leave there in 2019.

        And, finally, from a different Johnstone post dated 11/13 regarding “TIME Magazine editor-turned State Department spinmeister-turned MSNBC pundit-turned Biden transition team official [Rick] Stengel: (emphasis mine)

        “There’s another word for master narratives: it’s called history,” Stengel said at a 2018 event organized by the immensely influential think tank Council on Foreign Relations. “Basically every country creates their own narrative story. My old job at the State Department was what people used to joke as the chief propagandist. I’m not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population. And I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful.”

        Something tells me I’m going to become a broken record on this, but it is what it is–When they tell you who they are, believe them.

    2. Dr. Robert

      I’ve just started reading Le Guin’s ‘The Dispossessed’ as I battle Covid. At first I found her characters coming off as wooden props for her utopian ideological points, but I’m coming around as I’m getting into it.

      Thankfully my symptoms have been very mild, some slight fatigue, slighter congestion, and a brief bout of ‘digestive symptoms’. I was lucky to test positive when I did, as I was already under quarantine. Had I not been tested I would have worked right through this and possibly killed a few elderly people I interact with through work. I’m looking forward to freely patronizing some local bars and restaurants once I’m completely over it.

    3. Maritimer

      In my jurisdiction, there is a lawsuit underway referring to the Institutional, Organizational and Human Oligarchs. I think that is a good was to describe the Elite. Given then the now confirmed dominance and control of the Oligarchs, I see the problem for them now to be uniting themselves. So, they must have common goals and strategies. For instance, the interests of Producing Oligarchs are very different from those of Financial Oligarchs or Space Oligarchs. So, they either arrive at consensus, possibly by making the Earth itself a Corporation and issuing the Oligarchs shares or, the more likely scenario, the Oligarchs fight it out to rule the Shambles. Would be a very interesting scifi yarn.

    4. Aumua

      The off-guardian story is dumb. The author is indulging in flights of imagination and presenting it as truth. If you take (waste) the time to chase down the links he is supplying to allegedly support his narrative, you find they don’t actually say what he is saying, and even say the opposite in some cases. More bald speculation masquerading as reporting. I’m done with falsehood. I’m done with the bullshitting. All I want is the truth.

  4. lakecabs

    The solution for Uber and Lyft is to make them rideshare companies.

    Limit drivers to 4 runs a day with a destination filter on.

    Uber and Lyft lose billions a year. The more runs they make the more money they lose.

    They would do less runs and lose less money.

    This would be a win win for everyone.

    As long as they have access to cheap money from the Fed they at least should be eco friendly.

    1. pebird

      If you view Uber and Lyft not as profit making enterprises but as a VC funded program to redefine worker rights, it starts to become clear.

      1. Pelham

        Exactly! I knew Prop 22 could be used to redefine all California workers as gig, but hadn’t quite put 2 and 2 together. It will be fascinating now to watch this cancer spread to other states.

        1. Noone from Nowheresville

          add in the dismantling of public transportation and local “rules” on things like taxi services and you have a three-fer vacuum sucking of power & monies ever-upward.

          On every level there is it’s always been about control. The money & power are side benefits.

          ETA: The cancer has already spread. Unfortunately now it will start to gain critical mass, potentially terminal mass unless something changes fast.

      2. Mikel

        Glad to hear more people are understanding what they are about.

        And they keep getting money on the “promise” that one day drivers will be removed from their business model.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    China about to pull off ‘diplomatic coup’ by striking world’s largest free trade agreement RT (Kevin W)

    A trade bloc made up almost entirely of countries dedicated to running large trade surpluses. This should certainly be an interesting experiment.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Was just reading that there seems to be near radio silence in the main stream media about this deal. And India never got aboard either. It would be interesting to compare it with the TPP to see how it works in detail. The TPP was an everybody-in-the-Pacific-but-China pact while this one appears to be a everybody-in-the-Pacific-but-America pact. What is noteworthy is the timing. There have been rumbles in Biden’s camp that they will have the US signing up to the TPP. But first they have to rewrite it so that it is to their liking so that in Obama’s words, Washington will be writing the rules of Pacific trade. Signing up to this pact now seems to be a way of getting ahead of a Biden TPP before it can be rolled out.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Neanderthals And Humans Were at War For Over 100,000 Years, Evidence Shows”

    I’m not buying it. The description that is made here would form the basis of a great video game but the honest truth is that we do not know what relations there were between our ancestors and Neanderthals. Considering the fact that the remains that we have found of Neanderthals when analyzed have the Y chromosome of our ancestors rather than Y Neanderthal chromosome implies that there was a lot more nocturnal traffic between camps for the two human species rather than daytime fighting.

    Maybe when early humans came across Neanderthals, our male ancestors checked out the female Neanderthals and said ‘Oh man, I have to go get me some of that!’ while our female ancestors, looking at the solid ruggedness of those Neanderthals men were saying ‘Now that is one bad boy I gotta get to know!’ It would explain a lot of how our Y chromosome replaced theirs. A hundred years ago back in the 1920s there were old black-and-white films showing humans fighting Neanderthals and this article seems to be just more of the same.

    1. Arby

      One 2009 genetic study estimated the total Neanderthal population hovered around 70,000 individuals in all of Europe and the Middle East for millennia. Too, much of Europe was inhospitable to hominids and other large creatures during the period before modern homo sapiens appeared on the landscape.

    2. The Historian

      Scientists are human too and they too can let their beliefs override their logic. If you think humans are intrinsically violent, then you interpret everything in terms of that violence. But this scientist is not in the mainstream of thinking about Neanderthals these days. New discoveries have found that humans and Neanderthals existed side by side for much longer than was originally thought.

      Of course, there probably was some violence between the two groups from time to time, but all out war? I don’t think that is at all possible. One of the things I’ve learned from reading history is that people don’t start wars – their leaders do. And it takes a lot of preparation by those leaders to get their people to go along with their war plans in terms of propaganda and promises. Humans just don’t naturally want to wipe out other peoples – they’d rather live and let live – unless stirred up by someone who wants power and riches.

    3. trhys

      And rape as a tactic in warfare is as old as history and still part of the story.

      Females are booty to be taken and used as slaves.

      I could go on and on.

        1. a different chris

          Ha and this:

          were Usain “Lightning” Bolt to go head-to-head with an ancient Australian aboriginal, it’d be silver medal position for the Jamaican sprinter.

          Start every gold medalist at every distance together with that aboriginal and he would cross every finish line first, I suspect. The marathoners would never even see him given the initial gap.

          The butt-hurt comments are something

    4. David

      Not convinced. Wars are fought between groups with at least some minimal degree of organisation and above a certain size. Population density at the time was extremely low, and hunters largely tracked animals as they moved. The concept of war for territory makes no sense in such circumstances. Indeed, in parts of pre-colonial Africa in much more recent times, organised warfare was basically unknown because there was really nothing to fight over. There was most probably occasional violence within and between groups, but “war” is massively overstating it. You can’t begin from the hypothesis that humans are naturally violent (which they are not) and then interpret evidence from long ago to supportive conclusion you started from.

    5. Stephanie

      Reproduction can take place without sexual attraction, and violence and sex aren’t mutually exclusive endeavors. For example, many Black Americans have some European ancestry, but this is not evidence that their enslaved ancestors thought white people were super-hot. Likewise, according to 23 and Me, there is a trace of Mongolian DNA in my family line, and that also is not necessarily evidence that Mongolians and Eastern Europeans lived happily side-by-side hundreds of years ago.

      Which is not to say that Neanderthals and humans weren’t buying each other promise rings and flowers. But as you said – we don’t know.

      1. Fireship

        Not only that, but some black, sorry, Black Americans are very proud of their white slave-owning ancestry such as Condoleeza Rice:

        Whatever the specifics of Rice’s ancestry-the family says there were white landowners, favored household servants, and education going back generations on her father’s side as well-the important point is that it powerfully shaped her view of herself as a black patrician. Any serious look at her life must begin here, in an intermingling of the races and two separate strands of American history. Rice grew up seeing herself as part of the nation’s founding culture. At the least, her ancestry was a crucial part of the self-confidence that fueled her rise. She never considered herself an outsider or called herself an “African-American”-to her ears an immigrant designation she has always rejected.

        In Rice’s family, the Italian ancestry appears to have been a source of pride, or at least was valued enough to make the family pass Italian names down through succeeding generations. Albert Robinson Ray III’s brother was named Alto, and later, Albert would name one of his own sons Alto-Alto Ray, Condoleezza Rice’s uncle. Two of the other children of Albert-Angelena and Genoa-also had Italian names.

      2. Clem

        ‘Me, there is a trace of Mongolian DNA in my family line’
        You are Not Special.

        “An international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have found that nearly 8 percent of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical.
        Khan’s empire at the time of his death extended across Asia, from the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea. His military conquests were frequently characterized by the wholesale slaughter of the vanquished. His descendants extended the empire and maintained power in the region for several hundred years, in civilizations in which harems and concubines were the norm. And the males were markedly prolific.

    6. Randy G

      Rev Kev — Yes, an awful lot of speculation based on a modicum of actual facts. Sounded like a clickbait title rather than any sort of serious science analysis. “Neanderthal counteroffensives” in the Middle East? Was this guy moonlighting as a Russiagater at the Guardian between courses at the University of Bath?

      It was not so long ago that the majority of physical anthropologists were absolutely certain that interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals was biologically impossible.

      The appearance of Homo floresiensis came out of nowhere — totally unexpected and disruptive to the tidy ‘family tree’ models.

      Ditto for the Denisovans. You would think that would instill some caution on the “just so” narratives in human evolution, but apparently not.

      I suppose for his next “science” article he can tell us whether the Denisovans joined the “Neanderthal counteroffensive” or maintained strict neutrality in that military campaign.

      1. a different chris

        You would think that would instill some caution

        Preening self-regard is really the way to the spotlight in the modern world. Caution won’t get you to where you want to go. Sure it’s a risk, but once you get to a certain height you’re good.

        “Science advances one death at a time”.

    7. nippersdad

      Off topic, but that article reminded me of an ongoing joke in comments here a few years ago about Scots/Irish being bred for thousands of years to kill each other and steal cattle.

      I still find myself laughing at that. Kudos to whomsoever originated it. In that case, however, it is funny because it is probably true.

    8. Dr. Robert

      There’s a more recent case of near total Y-chromosome replacement in hominid populations, and that’s the Spanish Conquest of the Americas. It’s true the Palaeolithic was a bit different, with lower population densities and all that, but that probably just allowed independent Neanderthal groups to survive longer. The idea seems to be that H. Sapiens tended to form larger groups than Neanderthals, allowing them to overpower their more rugged – and possibly more intelligent – relatives. Of course with so much of our intelligence stemming from our collective social development, Sapiens might have had an edge there too, even if the individual Neanderthal had superior cognitive abilities. The smaller groups might have helped Neanderthal’s survive in more marginal ecological niches, but once the climate improved, those niches vanished.

      The other potential explanation for the Y chromosome imbalance is something we see in other cross-species hybrids. It could be that Sapiens Male – Neanderthal Female pairings could produce fertile offspring, but Neanderthal Male – Sapiens Female pairings produced either no offspring or sterile offspring. If this were the explanation, however, and the populations were in constant, largely peaceful coexistence, I don’t think you’d see the persistent cultural distinction between contemporary Neanderthal and Sapiens groups in the archaeological record. War is pretty common, though usually somewhat controlled in intensity, between H. Sapiens hunter-gatherer groups. It wouldn’t surprise me if war was even more common between the two species than within them.

      It’s also possible that the small family-based communities among Neanderthals is evidence of a higher propensity for inter-group violence among Neanderthals. Maybe they didn’t give our H. Sapiens ancestors any choice but to wage war against them, and the violent colonizer/innocent native paradigm really doesn’t fit in this situation.

    9. Kelly in Texas

      My question is why we don’t follow recent history. The European encounters with natives in the Americas were STRONGLY affected by diseases. The lack of immunity to diseases commonly encountered in Europe pretty much wiped out the natives all over the Americas.
      If we’re guessing, I’d guess the human side developed an immunity before the other side and some disease or other did most of the work.

    10. lordkoos

      It’s much more likely that women from different tribes and groups were captured in raids by opposing forces — I doubt there was a lot of teepee creeping in the middle of the night.

    11. Maritimer

      Love these Feel Good stories.
      “Neanderthals And Humans Were at War For Over 100,000 Years, Evidence Shows” (They don’t make Wars like they used to.)
      US now has only 99,980 years to go for a resolution in Afghanistan!

    12. jeremyg

      About 15 years ago, waiting with my dog at the vet, I read a magazine article about the period when Saps and Neanderthals were living at the same time in southwest Portugal. They were eating the same food, apart from one thing. In the Neanderthal middens they found dog bones with tooth marks on them. The dogs at the human sites were found buried with the children. No tooth marks.

      I’ve looked for this research ever since and have never found it. But I am prepared to think that we gained the gift of empathy from dogs. Perhaps they loved us first.

        1. jeremyg

          I’m glad you saw it marym. I guess I was hoping to find a member of the commentariat with the search skills to find the original research. Co-evolution makes a lot more sense than the article.
          Wars. Leaders. Victories. Maps with military arrows. He’s a lecturer! What age are his pupils?

          1. marym

            Took the challenge.

            Didn’t find it but found this about a researcher who does think humans had “superior skills and weapons” but also that early dogs bred from wolves gave homo sapiens an advantage in hunting. Here’s what’s interesting bit about early empathy – early humans and early dogs may have looked into each other’s eyes.

            “The wolf possesses white sclera as does Homo sapiens though, crucially, it is the only primate that has them.

            “The main advantage of having white sclera is that it is very easy to work out what another person is gazing at,” added Shipman. “It provides a very useful form of non-verbal communication and would have been of immense help to early hunters. They would been able to communicate silently but very effectively.”


            1. jeremyg

              The information about the eyes is interesting. As you say, it could be a channel for empathy. ( O to be a researcher into this mysterious quality!)
              As for the meaningless ranking (as though it were knowledge!) you pick up on – “superior weapons” “top predator” – well, science is quite male I believe.
              Thanks for turning me on. I’ll start hunting again myself. Now if I had a dog that could sniff out data…

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Lots of Missiles: How China and Russia Could Win a War Against America The National Interest (resilc)

    So the National Security establishment has just discovered that putting lots and lots of military bases right up against your potential adversaries boundaries means that…. you have put much of your military within easy first strike distance of your adversary. Geniuses these people are. (This was actually Stalins big early tactical error against Nazi Germany).

    The Chinese for one have realised this vulnerability, hence their focus on opposing THAAD in South Korea and Japan, even at great cost to their economy and soft power (the pressure they put on South Korea in particular has encouraged that country to diversify strongly away from dependancy on the chinese economy).

    1. David

      Agreed. The story mixes two things together: BMD is essentially about defending against ballistic missile attack (hence the name) in small numbers and with nuclear warheads . It isn’t an alternative to short-range air defence against much closer-range attacks with conventional weapons. The latter is, very largely the successor to conventional air attack – it’s just more difficult to defend against.
      But the thing that always puzzles me about these articles is that there’s an assumption of something amorphous described as “war.” But there are only wars, and what the article describes isn’t of any interest unless you believe either that the US is going to attack these countries (why?) or that these countries are going to attack US bases (double why?). Otherwise the article is of purely academic interest.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The DoD does not even define “war” in its dictionary of military terms, though it uses the term thousands of times throughout the rest of the document. There is, I would argue, in fact an “amorphous thing” called war, which is the assumed state of nature by our rulers, especially the self-selected types that have gravitated to the positions of power in the military, the contractors, the think tanks,, the media that set the policies all the rest of us have to live under.

        It’s just a blob of infinite elasticity, where the threat perceivers and the threat generators are constantly at work creating new ways to destroy stuff or ways to protect stuff from being destroyed.

        In the US Imperial context, I’d note that the DoD dictionary does not even contain separate defined terms for “victory” or “success” or any related concepts, though once again those words are used many times in the mil-babble texts of the thousands of other esoteric entries in the document.

        1. Janie

          Yes, “victory” and “success”. Takes me back to circa 1970 conversations.

          So, my gung-ho friend, what will give us success in Nam?

          More troops and politicians getting out if the way.

          And what does that success look like?

          We will win the battles. Triumph!

          Remember how that worked out. If you’re too young, watch the footage of the 1975 helicopter evac of the embassy in Saigon, I mean, Ho Chi Minh City.

          1. rowlf

            Didn’t winning battles in Vietnam lead to the signing of the peace treaty in 1973 and the removal of US military forces in March of 1973? The timeline is important to me as my father flew lots of B-52 missions and my younger brother left Vietnam during Operation Babylift.

            1. RMO

              Proposing terms that were practically identical to the terms North Vietnam had proposed several years earlier led to the signing of the peace treaty. The intervening years of violence on the ground and B-52 raids didn’t get the South and the US any concessions at all.

          2. Janie

            Treaty in ’73, and in ’75 the south was defeated. John Paul Vann’s “A Bright Shining Lie” is good. So many young men conned into sacrifice and so many more southeast Asians dead. Yeah, I guess I’m still fighting that war.

            Rowlf, I’m glad your brother was able to get out.

      2. Pookah Harvey

        From an interview with Col. Wilkerson:
        –The Chinese military is salivating over sinking multiple U.S. aircraft carriers. They’re salivating overtaking the U.S. on in the South China Sea. That’s a real problem for Xi Jinping, it’s a problem for him, like our military-industrial complex is a problem for us. It’s no different now in China.–

    2. Charles 2

      The thing is that land-based infrastructure is much less fragile than sea-based. Provided that the US is not complacent and hides well its military equipment and mix them with decoys, a salvo of missile would not destroy much. The most important thing that cannot move is airfields, but with fast drying concrete, it can be repaired quite quickly. The Indian Air Force estimates that China needs 220 conventional missiles to incapacitate one airfield for one day ! Fixed radars are vulnerable, but the USA has many mobile ones.
      Also, distance from China to Guam is around 5000km. Even at Mach 5 there is enough time to put planes in the air and to move mobile assets out of the way. All air forces and armies in the world practice this kind of drill.

      Missiles at that stage are more to annihilate the will to fight of the civilian population, targeting essential infrastructure to create chaos, a bit like what happened in Yougoslavia. Maybe it could work in some pacifist European countries, but it certainly wouldn’t work against the US. Japan tried, it blew in its face…

      1. David

        I assume that in a period of crisis the US would have its assets dispersed and as many of its aircraft as possible in hardened shelters. For the Chinese the best way to attack would be to make the airfields unusable. The traditional method of doing this is by sub-munitions, and it may well be that the Chinese have cruise missiles with suitable warheads. The idea would be to scatter explosive thingies (including anti-personnel ones) widely over the airfield, which take time and effort to clear up. After all, the easiest way to defend against an aircraft is to stop it taking off.

        1. a different chris

          Does it matter? The next war the airforce wins will be the first, the saying goes.

          I suppose that assertion hinges on the argument about whether Japan had already lost before Hiroshima or that was the actual death blow.

          So with two nuke-equipped adversaries, they either hold off on the nukes and nothing happens except to us poor civilians (aka Afghanistan for all!), or they nuke human civilization into oblivion.

          That second sentence was less than three-dozen words, can our enlightened leaders grok it?

  8. PlutoniumKun

    What Happens When Techno-Utopians Actually Run a Country Wired.

    Sadly, this confirms my long held suspicion that beneath the cool hippy extremities of libertarian oriented tech types, there is a far right activist not far beneath the surface. And for all the talk about flat hierarchies and crowd sourcing the reality so often is hyper control freakery.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Air taxis set to soar over Seoul’s skies Asia Times

    From the article:

    According to Kim, the flying taxi project aims to cut road congestion in Seoul. The city has a dense population of 10 million, with 25 million in the extended conurbation, and suffers horrendous traffic jams.

    Yeah, right. The notion that you could scale something like this to make a real dent in traffic movements in Seoul (which has an excellent subway system) is obviously not credible. Sadly it seems even South Korea has its Musk style scam artists. There is no way air taxis will become anything other than rich peoples luxuries, the law of physics (or to be precise, the amount of energy needed to lift people into the air) sees to that.

    Of course, if you do want to reduce congestion in Seoul the solution is cheap, easy, and could be done in a year. The city is lined with a series of multi-lane highways and a grid network of wide streets. Just take one lane out of each highway and convert it to a dedicated lane for bikes and power limited EV scooters. Mark out bike lanes and counter-flows on the denser network of older streets that are beneath the newer grid. Seoul is already taking baby steps towards this by converting some grade separated overpasses into greenways (they are superbly done), but its not nearly enough. Unfortunately, South Korea has taken its cue from the US rather than Japan/Europe in seeing bikes as a leisure thing, not a means of mass transit. But its not too late for them to change.

    1. anon y'mouse

      i always tell people who fantasize about this that people perform badly enough in two planes of movement.

      do you really want every fool who drives a car to occupy three planes?

      even trained professionals don’t do that well. Kobe’s crash comes to mind.

      as told me by an old (and retired) biker: it is not IF you will crash, it is when, and how bad that will be.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        “as told me by an old (and retired) biker: it is not IF you will crash, it is when, and how bad that will be.”

        Just like bull riding, dress for the crash, not the ride.

          1. eg

            Just put away the bike for the season after year 31 of riding. You have to ride with one eye on the road and the other on the eejits all around you …

      2. apleb

        Aircars are the one area where self-driving, excuse me: self-flying, cars will and actually can work.

        The only obstacles are birds not other humans or big animals, no other vehicles except those aircars, there are no streets to follow, no signs that might be overshadowed by plants, no legacy vehicles, no pedestrians, long time experience with autopilots in planes. A plethora of reasons why it will work there just fine.

        In short: it’s the best place to start the robotic transport revolution.

    2. David

      There was a time when I was in South Korea a lot, and traffic jams, especially in Seoul, are one of my strongest memories. But one day I was in the back of a car with someone who was living there, and, after half an hour stuck at a major junction, he said, “you notice something? There are no roundabouts here.” And it was true: I never saw a roundabout anywhere in Korea (nor, for that matter in Japan). The explanation, apparently, from Koreasn themselves is that such cultures find the kind of instant subjective judgement needed (do I go or do I stay) too complicated, and social customs being what they are everyone would wait for everybody else. Certainly this is believed to be the case, even though I don’t think the experiment has ever been tried. The result is massive intersections, where everybody tries to go outside everybody else to tun left, and produces as impressive a gridlock as any I have seen in the world.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its true that roundabouts are very rare anywhere in Asia – I’d heard that the reason is that most Asian road engineers post war had trained in the US, hence the insistence on numerous controlled junctions. But I could well imagine that there is a cultural reason as well. A Japanese friend of mine here said that the time her mother flew into Ireland to visit and hired a car from the airport was one of the most terrifying experiences in her life as her mother simply drove straight through every roundabout, so not every Japanese is willing to give way.

        I cycled quite a bit in Seoul and Busan and some smaller Korean cities and its pretty fraught compared to Japan, cyclists in Korea stick to the student areas and minor streets. The drivers were surprisingly vicious in my experience, on my first day one tried quite deliberately to force me off the road (I could well have been breaking some unwritten local traffic law, I don’t really know). But I think the traffic moves much better than it did in the past, most Korean cities now have really good metro systems, this takes a lot of pressure off the road system.

        1. carl

          If you want a really fun and exciting experience, try Hanoi on the back of a scooter. A mix of pedestrian, bicycle, car and scooter traffic moves essentially without traffic signals of any kind, other than the odd signal at a major intersection (where five or six streets come together). Yet somehow, they seem to make it work. I saw no accidents at all in ten days there, while in Bogota for the weekend I saw four.

          1. David

            I was in Hanoi for the first time twenty-five years ago, and it was said at the time that there was one traffic light in the entire city, though I never saw it, then or later. Obviously there are a few more now.
            Saigon, of course, was much worse, and I remember standing on the pavement opposite my hotel for several minutes, watching traffic (mostly scooters and motor bikes) whizz past, wondering when it was going to slow down, or even possibly stop. There were no pedestrian crossings, no traffic lights and (as far as I could see) no road signs on one of the biggest thoroughfares in the city. It looked like I had a choice between dying of hunger and being run over, so I chose the latter, watched for a slight reduction in the average speed of the vehicles passing, and walked across the road. Everybody just drove round me. I did the same thing the next day and the day after, and survived to take the plane home. I’m told the traffic is worse now.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            Its many years ago, but I have cycled in both Hanoi and HCM. Its quite an experience, to put it mildly, but surprisingly safe once you observe all the unwritten rules that make cities like that work. The most important thing is to cycle fast – very fast – to keep up with the scooters, otherwise you are like the slow fish in a school of mackerel – you’ll quickly get eaten.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        only big roundabout i’ve experienced is south of downtown houston…near the medical system, hermann park, the museums, etc.
        it’s a nightmare–i got stuck on the inner lane, somehow(in a big f350, no less), and spent half an hour trying to extricate us …texans just aren’t suited to it….(although a feature of that part of town is the road confusion: one ways turning abruptly into two ways, an ill advised light rail plonked into a busy street, and a chaotic street layout that seems designed to foster panic and stupidity.)
        i’ve noticed a few newer, smaller ones here and there going in…on relatively lightly traveled roads, as if it’s a social experiment.
        i remember them from when we went to canada…grandad let me drive, and i found them sort of bewildering…but no one else apparently did,lol.
        so i’d say that it was my fault.
        i’ve read that they work well in other, more civilised places…perhaps they are like the metric system:try as they might to force such changes, the people just keep using inches and feet.

        1. foghorn longhorn

          If you consider Alexandria LA as more civilized.
          Loved the round abouts
          You might have to make a loop or two, but still faster and less risk of head on, and t-bone accidents.

          The odder and probably safer rule was the no left turn in Nawlins. Hated it at first, but grew to love it and many things about that place.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            I call the French Quarter roads ‘The Grid’ for this very reason.

            I fn love Nola :)

    3. Oh

      After reading the article felt it was scam too. Their solution would pollute the skies with thousands of drones and still not make dent in the traffic problem. Another tech industry wet dream in search of a problem.

    4. c_heale

      I live near Seoul and I’ve noticed a big increase in bikes, scooters, etc. some electric, some not. Korea currently has a high rate of car ownership, due to the car industry here, but I think the younger generations can’t afford them, so I think the future is not electric cars or automated vehicles, but bikesand scooters.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its good to hear that its increasing – I did the Four Rivers route between Seoul and Busan and I was very impressed by how good the cycle infrastructure is that they’ve put in. Typically Korean, they did their homework and for the most part did a job that put many European countries to shame. I saw lots of new bikes around so it looks like Korea is on the verge of a cycling boom. If they get it right it could be transformational. And the South Koreans usually do get things right when they put their mind to it.

    5. Janie

      PK, re bikes to relieve congestion: bike lanes and lights in Amsterdam are awesome, a great model. Of course, the Netherlands are way flatter than South Korea.

  10. Zagonostra


    That is what this election between Biden and Trump was NOT about.

    Who was tougher on China, is Russia enemy number one. What is to be done about Iran, N. Korea’s, etc. Narry a word about how to bring about peace and turn the swords onto ploughshares.

    Pause and think about it. War is now the status quo that must be preserved. Not how to dismantle the weapons and achieve good relationships with neighbors, but how to dominate. If this doesn’t convince you that you are living in a sick society and in precarious times what will?

  11. edmondo

    Thanksgiving is canceled, schools are closed but Nancy Pelosi’s big indoor dinner for new House members is totally safe

    So Nancy should be the MinorityLeader in about two weeks?

    OTOH – It will be a really small gathering

    1. The Rev Kev

      “It’s very spaced,” she said. Well, yeah. That’s because there was no big Blue Wave. The House may have new members but there are less Democrats in it than before. That is why the tables can be spaced out so far. I guess that Nancy’s “No Billionaire Left Behind” Act was not such a big vote winner after all. Nor it seems was her idea of letting the peasants starve so that Trump would not get any sort of victory by giving money out. At the rate that Democrats give up seats and positions, by the next generation they will find themselves on this Wikipedia page – right between the Democratic-Republican Party (1844) and the Dixicrats-

      1. Pat

        I don’t suppose one of her staff took their life in their hands and showed her the salon video and asked if she wanted to repeat being that clueless to convince her. I hope so.

    2. Keith

      Nah, just reinforcing people’s beliefs that this is the most important thing ever (Progressives) or this pandemic is blown out of proportion (conservatives and more and more independents).

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Rumor has it that Pelosi was gonna break out the Dry Powder from storage, but alas its cancelled now…

  12. Watt4Bob

    Ann Coulter is confused.

    Trump’s election was confirmation of America’s political reality, not a change of course.

    America’s power structure has been working at perfecting ‘Trumpism‘ for decades, but what they call it is always changing.

    Now it’s time to call it something else.

            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Trevor Noah is an Establishment HACK.

              Used to watch Daily Show/Colbert on the regular.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Bill Maher was also all for the attempted coup on Venezuela and urged the Dems to ignore Progressives a year ago. I see many of your late night comedians here in Oz from time to time over the years as they are cheap late-night fill. And for years now they all have one thing in common – they aren’t funny. As in bland and boring. An old-style comedian like Red Skelton would mop the floor with the whole lot of them

  13. Tom Stone

    There have been some interesting precedents set recently, The DOJ failure to release an unredacted Mueller Report despite being twice ordered to and now this little gem about Syria.
    The President is both Chief Executive and Commander in Chief.
    A Civilian commander in Chief.
    In theory
    And the overt Censorship by Facebook and Twitter was also interesting, in that it was so comforatably overt.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “How Australia brought the coronavirus pandemic under control”

    To quote the Duke of Wellington on the battle of Waterloo, it was a near run thing. We had our own spectacular stuff-ups such as the ocean-liner “Ruby Princess” and the botched quarantine hotels in Victoria which both accounted for the bulk majority of our death toll. They don’t call us “The Lucky Country” for nothing. And that huge swell on that first chart in August represents the virus getting loose from the quarantine hotels and spreading inter-State.

    But what encouraged people to obey the laws were thousand dollar fines. Four thousand if you tried to sneak into another State. That got the message across real quick. Also, people here were very suspicious about so called corporate leaders demanding that everything be opened up for the good of the country. Even today they are still demanding everything has to open up everywhere because will no one think of the profits?

    In that article a Nobel prize winner said; “Australia doesn’t have anything like the amount of international travel as Europe or the US.’ In 2019 – with a population of 25 million people – we had 9.3 million tourists. And that does not include tens of thousands of international students or the huge number of immigrants. So that statement of his was just bollocks.

    Finally leadership was a mixed lot. Basically Scotty from Marketing and the two big States were pushing to open everything up as quick as possible while the smaller States were saying not so fast. Scotty would constantly criticize those States that refused to open if their Premiers were from the opposite political party but would give an understanding free pass if it was a State run by someone from his party. And he was still doing it today. In the end, leadership counts but you cannot disguise a leader who is willing to throw you to the wolves for the sake of an economy.

    1. Basil Pesto

      In that article a Nobel prize winner said; “Australia doesn’t have anything like the amount of international travel as Europe or the US.’ In 2019 – with a population of 25 million people – we had 9.3 million tourists. And that does not include tens of thousands of international students or the huge number of immigrants. So that statement of his was just bollocks.

      But Kev, if I’m reading this right, the EU for instance has 55-110 million passengers per month. It’s indisputable that we don’t have anything like the air traffic of the US or EU.

      In fact, alongside Horne’s lucky country thesis (I would never dispute that we are led by second-raters), I think alongside that we can consider Blainey’s Tyranny of Distance argument. No doubt, even in a world as globalised as ours now is compared to earlier in our history, that our relative remoteness (and probably also the fact we’re the only nation on the landmass) redounds to our benefit in terms of managing C19.

      1. Oh

        Sanders won’t get a seat at the table for dinner. If he’s lucky he can do a take out or dine with the servants.

        1. ambrit

          Dine ‘with’ the servants?
          Perhaps he already knows that the Demenklatura view him as one of the servants. Elite entitlement and all that.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’ll fix the comment on the link:
      “Translation: Now he thinks realizes he can buy Democrats too.”

      1. a different chris

        It’s even more than that.

        The Democrats have become the party that Koch wanted the Republicans to be. He is clearly completely charmed by that development.

    2. Ford Prefect

      The best thing to say about Charles Koch is that he is 85 years old and will probably follow his brother’s path soon. Hopefully, they become largely irrelevant within a decade or so.

  15. Lee

    “Measuring the true cost of conservation PhysOrg (David L)”

    Author proposes using market value of land, using sources such as Zillow, as a factor in determining the cost of conservation. According to this method, the cheapest land per hectare in the U.S., discounting deserts, is the Midwestern bread basket, while lands occupied by coastal elites, who typically neither plow, spin, nor weave, is the highest. I found the author’s view not well grounded.

    There was a time here in California when the valuation of farmlands for the purpose of levying estate taxes was based, not on the then current food-producing use of the land, but its theoretical “highest and best use”, often deemed to be conversion to housing tracts. Needless to say, many farms ended up being sold to developers.

  16. Fireship

    The idiocy quota is off the charts today.

    1. Marjorie Taylor Greene: Masks. My body, my choice.

    2. Tommy Tuberville: misidentified the three branches of the federal government and claimed erroneously that World War II was a battle against socialism.

    3. Anne Coulter: invited to speak by Leadership Institute at UT Austin. In what sane universe do Anne Coulter and public universities go together?

    Anyone who thinks America can be saved at this point must be out of their minds. It’s like watching Idiocracy in real time but this time as tragedy rather than comedy.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Re: Tommy Tubberville

      -for many World War II was a war against socialism. Tubberville isn’t a German name, but what about his mother?

      -to be fair, how many electeds can name the three branches? 1/4?

    2. Darthbobber

      Tubervilles battle against socialism line is not a mistake, Just a repetition of a standard right wing line that uses the word socialist in the Nazi’s official name to pretend that they actually were that.

      1. LifelongLib

        Some of the early Nazis considered themselves socialists, and insisted over Hitler’s objection that ‘Socialist’ be added to the party name. He kept the name but got rid of the ‘socialists’ as soon as he could.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          My understanding is that the killings that made up the Night of the Long Knives were not just about power and turf struggles between Hitler and Ernst Roehm, but also because Roehm sought a more prominent place for labor in Nazi policy-making.

    3. fresno dan

      November 14, 2020 at 9:24 am
      It’s like watching Idiocracy in real time but this time as tragedy rather than comedy.

      I wish – If only we could match the scholarship, intellectual honesty, and mental curiosity of Idiocracy.
      We would be much better off if the Three Stooges ran the joint (seriously…they may be dumb, but they had good hearts and were honest)

      1. anon

        As I recall, a high profile northeastern congresswoman (who studies economics in college) not long ago claimed that people working two jobs was the reason for a low unemployment rate.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          She meant that a lot of people are stuck working several part-time and gig jobs just to make ends meet, never knowing when they will get the joy of working 4 hours waiting tables, 6 hours restocking a Walmart, or squeeze in 2 hours for Uber or GrubHub. None of which offer any benefits.

          Of course, that was pre-Covid. Now it is even harder. But of course, if you work one hour a week, you’re considered employed. So, yeah, your blinding insight into her statement, that having more people working fewer hours, struggling to get enough hours to feed themselves stands. Congratulations.

    4. Ford Prefect

      Tommy Tuberville was technically correct in Europe. The official name of the Nazi Party was National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

      However, in order to defeat the Nazis, we had to ally with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union which in turn started out as the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. So I assume this makes Communists better than socialists and Communists the same as the Democratic Party in the US and the Labour Party in Great Britain.

      The Japanese didn’t appear to have socialism, which I am sure is very confusing to Tuberville.

      I will note that the United States currently spends more public money per capita than all but two countries. Does that make us socialist? Or just incompetent?

      Its all just so confusing. Best to just stick with the propaganda labels. It keeps things simple.

          1. Paul Boisvert

            Eric, I have no idea where Ford Prefect got his figure, but in the link you provide, US govt. spending as a percentage of GDP is 26th highest on their chart, not 12th highest. This is roughly in accord with my previous understanding.

        1. Charles 2

          That is assuming that compulsory exorbitantly priced health insurance is not a tax.

          Oh wait ! That is a far right argument. My bad…

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            No one has to buy insurance, and not from the Feds. You missed the Obamacare penalty was reduced to 0 in the tax reform bill and the body language of the Supremes in the current cases to kill the ACA is that they’ll let the ACA stand but sever (as in kill) the “mandate” only.

      1. marym

        Yes, anti-maskers think they’ve been real clever with this slogan. They don’t care if they spread a disease to other people, including to pregnant women. Slogans don’t change that.

    5. Daryl

      > 1. Marjorie Taylor Greene: Masks. My body, my choice.

      So women should be allowed to decide what to do with their bodies? Fascinating.

  17. Carla

    “Charles Koch Says His Partisanship Was a Mistake Wall Street Journal (resilc). Translation: Now he thinks he can buy Democrats too.”

    And who on earth would say he’s wrong?

    1. Darthbobber

      They started with the Democrats through their DLC role. It was only after the Democratic Party had been cleansed of its New Deal/Great Society sins that they went all in on extremist Republicans.

      Now the Democrats have signs of insurgency, so he plows money in over there to fend that off. This already started this past primary cycle with support for blue poodles in contested races.

    2. edmondo

      And who on earth would say he’s wrong?

      Mike Bloomberg proved the Dems are very willing to prostitute themselves. Charlie’s just offering the fair market value for a House in Washington DC.

    3. D. Fuller

      Too late.

      The Koch Bros. helped fund the Democratic Leadership Council around 1984. By 1987, The DLC was being fully funded by Wall Street, oil companies, and other corporate entities. The DLC, a well funded attempt by Wall Street that was successful in subverting the party of FDR with the election of Bill Clinton.

      The modern synthesis of Democratic & Republican corporate philosophies began with Democrats & Nixon. With health care and the creation of HMO’s. By the time Carter was elected, the country was primed for Universal Health Care (UHC). Teddy Kennedy wanted credit for UHC and detested Carter – as did most of the Democratic Party; Carter being an outsider.

      The Democratic Party leadership sank the best chance for Universal Health Care & marijuana legalization in the late 1970’s. All because the Democratic Leadership detested Carter enough to oppose all the Carter represented and proposed.

      By the time Reagan was elected with the help of crypto-Nazi Paul Weyrich and actual Nazi sympathizer from the Arrow Hungarian Party, Lazlo Paszteur. Both were involved in the creation of The Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, and The Moral Majority. While Democrats were ready to acquiesce to the old practice of financialization of the economy, rebranded as “supply-side economics”. Something FDR had fought against. Tip O’Neill was an enabler of Reagan and his merry band of thieves and criminals.

      The best way to defeat one’s enemy? Is to co-opt the leadership. What The Koch Bros. and others could not foresee was the increasing reliance on The Republican Party on religious voters to win elections. That effort to recruit religious voters began in the very late 1960’s. 1994 was the turning point of Republicans morphing from a party of business to that of religious fanaticism and business. Perhaps the best example of the modern Republican Party would be that of Dominionist Christians with their focus on wealth being a sign of favor from God.

      Coincidentally enough, the last few years saw another religious movement. Or, at least one based on a religious conspiracy and hoax.


      In 1980, a book came out by the name of Michelle Remembers detailing the abuse of a child for Satanic purposes. Within three years, the book spawned Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax that at its worst detailed a worldwide conspiracy of rich and powerful elite organized to abduct children for sexual torture, child trafficking, and ritual sacrifice to Satan. The Reagan White House was itself not immune from being a suspected den of child molesters. Sound familiar?


      Perhaps the best known case of SRA prosecuted by authorities was the McMartin Preschool Trial. A product of the hysteria gripping the United States in a Satanic Panic. Substitute McMartin Preschool for Comet Pizza, a “tunnel” under the pre-school with the non-existent basement under Comet Pizza. Change a few names, modernize it. And publish it on social media. Just like 1980’s Satanic Ritual Abuse that QAnon is based upon? We have a Satanic Panic for the 21st century.

      All of which the Republican Party old guard has to contend with. A creation of their own making. As the Religious Whacked Out Right – those minds easily susceptible to hoaxes such as SRA/QAnon – became a major force within The Republican Party.

      This is what the Koch Bros. helped create. The DLC, very intentional subversion of The Democratic Party. And QAnon, unintentional to be sure.

      1. LibrarianGuy

        Thank you for a very thorough history, including the Satanic Panic of the 80s, which even some of the (fake) left bought into– Joan Baez wrote a song about it.

        As to the main political currents of the Clintons turning the Dem party into a Neoliberal Kiss Up and Kick Down party to complement their (R) friends, Taibbi & Halper’s Rolling Stone “Useful Idiots” podcast yesterday had a nice, long interview with Thomas Frank on the subject. He actually pulls out the DLC materials/ books from the 80’s, “What is a Neoliberal?” etc., very thorough in his past research on the corruption of our faux Lesser Evil Party, at

    4. cocomaan

      You beat me to it, I was going to say, “He’ll be really successful as well.”

      George W Bush has seen a resurgence, why not the Koch Brothers?

      Democrats have proven that they willing to align with any neocon who says bad things about Trump, whether it’s Mittens Romney or John McCain or Colin Powell and so on and on.

      1. D. fuller

        The Koch Bros were instrumental in creating the Democratic Leadership Council around 1984. The DLC assumed control of The Democratic Party with the election of Bill Clinton.

        My tl;dr post above mentions that.

        1. skippy

          Interesting to see someone argue about top down social organization yet at the same time deploy squillions over decades to achieve just that outcome … difference being 600+ billionaires dictating social organization verses one person one vote on paper hand counted in open public settings and call it freedom.

  18. FreeMarketApologist

    Quant Shock That ‘Never Could Happen’ Hits Wall Street Models

    In a recent NYTimes interview, artist Barbara Kruger said “Every time I see people on television say, ‘I’m shocked, I’m shocked,’ I say, ‘Your failure of imagination is why we’re where we are today,’ not with the pandemic necessarily but everything. I just think that these are horrifying times.”

    The transition from human-based to machine-based decision making (which is inherently unimaginative) has only increased the likelihood that portfolio managers are going to be unpleasantly surprised by the occasional actions of the world around them.

    (The whole NYTimes interview is pretty good:
    Readers will immediately recognize her work.)

    1. D. Fuller

      Ever see the movie, A Beautiful Mind? About a mathematician who figured out some economic law.

      Said mathematics from said mathematician was used by Long Term Capital Management, integral to their strategy. LTCM believed so much in that “economic law” as if it were a law of physics. Unfortunately, the mathematics failed quite spectacularly and threatened to collapse the entire world economy. Taxpayers to the rescue as usual. One of the first of modern bailouts (first pioneered by JP Morgan in 1907 for that crisis) that culminated in 2008 with the continuous Quantitative Easing program now the only life support for Capitalism.

      Economics is – at best – a soft science that is more akin to psychology and Freud. Whose practitioners wish to be considered a hard science such as physics. Which will never happen.

      1. skippy

        I found this to be informative in that regard.

        Time for a Change: Introducing irreversible time in economics – Dr Ole Peters

        You can fast forward to 34 min mark for the all too familiar ***slight of hand*** that occurs in economic development over the ages. Shades of what Kochs have done because the sociopolitical agenda supersedes and T or F information which messes with their agendas.

    1. Phillip Cross

      I thought the article missed an important aspect about the difference. In my opinion, conservative ideology is all about the primacy of individualism over the collective. e.g. Dogma regarding bootstraps, personal responsibility, greed is good, who dies with the most toys wins, makers and takers, success is simply a result of hard work, and other fairy stories.

      If making some personal sacrifices for a greater collective good is the best strategy for minimizing Covid19 deaths of our neighbors, then that opens a whole can of worms about the rest of the conservative worldview. Could applying collective effort to achieve the greater good improve our lives, or solve other big problems we face, even if there was no personal profit involved?

      To admit this would be akin to sacrilege, and so that is why we got the widespread disinformation campaign to promote ‘freedom’ (to infect and kill) and other covid denialism from far right think tanks like The Hoover Institute. They don’t want a successful collective effort to provide concrete evidence that could undo generations of powerful brainwashing of the public, even if that costs hundreds of thousands of American lives.

      1. D. Fuller

        Considering the organization of religious groups and their sense of community (as long as one is of the right persuasion and religious ideology)? Quite the contrary. Individualism is about power over others in such communities with charismatic leaders with their followers. In which group shaming is used to enforce the will of the charismatic leader. One can be an individual in such a group as long as they generally conform to the group ideology while submitting to their leaders. As for the “logic” used to justify such hierarchies? There is none. They make it up as they go. Which leads to all sorts of contradictory beliefs held down to the level of the individual.

        Abortion being a favorite example of mine. There are non-zero (Trump lawyer reference) examples in the Bible of God committing abortion or ordering abortion and at least one commandment (Bitter Water). Yet, abortion is opposed by modern day American Christians who fail at their own religion.

        The Nicean Creed upon which most Christianity is based is all about submission to earthly authority. Used by Byzantine Emperors to cowl and cull their own population into submission to the Emperor as God’s representative on Earth.

        1. Phillip Cross

          Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t suggesting it was an internally coherent or honest ideology!

          …and also thanks, that is an interesting take! “If God is omnipotent, why is His universe a monarchy and not a liberal democracy?”

          1. D. Fuller

            Oh, no I did not think so. I was simply providing yet another view. Your post got me thinking enough to.provide a differing view

        2. Darthbobber

          I don’t recall either the Nicean or the Apostles’ creeds directly referencing earthly authority at all, aside from references to the universal church.

          1. D. Fuller

            It does not. Each book was selected for inclusion in The Bible.

            One example would be King Solomon, favored by God. Wealthy beyond means. Wise beyond measure.

            Riches = Wise = favored by God.

      2. tegnost

        Dogma regarding bootstraps, personal responsibility, greed is good, who dies with the most toys wins, makers and takers, success is simply a result of hard work, and other fairy stories
        Unfortunately these aspects of conservative ideology are quite popular in the power centers of the democratic (sic) party
        “f making some personal sacrifices for a greater collective good is the best strategy for minimizing Covid19 deaths of our neighbors”
        Like M4A you mean?
        The problem with making poor people richer is that it makes rich people poorer…

        1. tegnost

          It’s going to be hard now for those of us who absolved our sins by saying 5 “but trumps” and 10 “f@(!ng Deplorables”. The dog caught the car. It’s all on you now.

          1. Phillip Cross

            Last time I checked, the transition takes place in January, right when the horrific wave of sickness and death will be cresting, but it will be much too late to do anything to stop it. Can’t raise the dead after all, of which there will be many, they will be Donnie’s legacy!

            1. tegnost

              It’s already too late to do anything to stop it. Covid is not the only crisis facing the country, nor is trump. If nancy wanted to help people she wouldn’t have waited until right before the election to be stymied by those mean repubs,(unless scoring gotcha points is more important than people to elite dems, which of course is true, besides, she managed to join hands with the evil mitch to bail out corps and banksters so her work was done as doing things for people is just too socialism ,right?) she would have done something much sooner. Indeed waiting til the election so you personally could come here and point your finger at donald/repubs (weird, I must say, that you seem to have a kind of bipolar comment consistency, always demonize trump/ repubs, sometimes saying they’re all the same, but always defaulting to defending the dems.) “See, this is one of those people I told you about” referring to Ralston (imo let’s you and him fight) like no one here could figure that out, and from early in your tenure (paraphrased, It’s not worth the time to dredge it up) -biden could be caught with sacks of cash and he wouldn’t be as bad as trump! (end paraphrase) Too clever by half is my “bold take”.
              Shorter, it is/was more important to you and the dem elite to be able to blame the universe of he worlds ills on the donald and absolving your own complicity with the above noted incantation. Yes you are correct, new presidents take office in january. All of the tearing of hair and rending of garments that your side wouldn’t mess it up, will govern competently etc… in spite of mountains of evidence to the contrary from joe bidens personal history combined with the democrat corporations collective history that every problem can be solved with sinecures and wall st giveaways and those stupid people should either commit suicide or move to seattle and become a coder (do NOT look at all the homeless in seattle…they do NOT exist, they are a hologram devised by the evil trumpists. Timmy “foam the runway” told me so and he’s really smart) are landing in your unprepared lap. No, I do not expect you to stop blaming donald. It’s all the game you have. Prove it. What will be so much better once biden takes office? (cue phillip cross saying they’re all bad like it’s some kind of clever antidote) The coronavirus is uncontrollable because our ridiculously expensive health insurance system- under the auspices of the ACA which was a republican plan (OOOOMMMMGGGG!!!!) written by lobbyists for the insurance industry who were hand picked by Saint Obama- can’t cope with healthcare, all it can do is rake in money. That would be on your democrats, and act II is about to start. Get to your seats folks, it’s showtime. Hey look! That war mongerer HRC has an article in foreign policy about how we need to send those deplorables out to kick some russian/chinese ass! Send them over there so we don’t have to fight them here! BOOyah! Join up now! You know donald left the cupboard bare! Where else are you gonna go?

              1. Phillip Cross

                One of the lengthiest paragraphs that I have come across around here! Epic!

                Hard to know where to start, but seeing as I haven’t got all day, I will just assure you that they most certainly are not “my Democrats”. Where you appear to see opposite poles, I see a single cabal, enriching themselves and their sponsors at everyone else’s expense.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, misidentified the three branches of the federal government and claimed erroneously that World War II was a battle against socialism, in his first big interview as a senator-elect.”

    In all fairness to Alabama, he was only a recent blow-in who rode to power on Trump’s coat-tails. The guy has been a coach most of his life inter-spaced with a few dodgy deals so basically he is a football jock made good. Sure, you have plenty of jocks who are also very smart but apparently Tommy boy is not one of them. He reminds me of people that you see on YouTube who when shown a map of the world and asked to identify a single country, cannot do so. Not even the one that they are standing in. I am afraid that he will be a source of embarrassment for years to come for the great State of Alabama-

    1. edmondo

      I am afraid that he will be a source of embarrassment for years to come for the great State of Alabama-

      Obviously, you have never been to Alabama. I was greeted by the attendent at one of those “Welcome Centers” that you hit when you cross a state line. I signed in to the guest log so that they knew that visitors were grateful for a bladder check and some soda machines. The woman who was guarding the state maps noticed I was from New Jersey. She freely admitted that there was no way she could ever live in NJ. “Traffic?,” I asked. “No” she replied, “I could never live in a state that banned hollow points (bullets).”

      I told her we all have out struggles and moved on.

    2. Darthbobber

      Given that the former VP and presumptive next president can’t make it a month without a howler or two of similar magnitude, maybe Tuberville just needs a media willing to interpret these as “charming gaffes”, when it doesn’t ignore them altogether.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      “With a few dodgy deals” is a huge understatement. He went into partnership with a hedge fund operator who is in prison for having defrauded the investors of said hedge fund. Why Tuberville isn’t behind bars is beyond me.

  20. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Re: Troop withdrawals

    We still need to see follow-thru, but if Trump and his new temporary Defense Dept. leaders succeed in getting all our troops home from Afghanistan and/or Syria, before Biden and the Neo-cons can stop him, that will have made his presidency worthwhile.

    I bet the Pentagon will still try to fight it and try to run out the clock. It would probably be easier to accomplish in Syria where the US has no real long-term strategy and has not established the kind of permanent base infrastructure. When the last troops leave the protocol is to destroy temporary bases by bombing them, unless there is a local force to handover to, and that will be difficult to impossible in Syria with the Russkies so close by.

    Bombing the bases as they retreat will make it much harder for Biden to reverse the situation once he takes office. In Afghanistan it may be more complex due to the local Afghan forces perhaps retaining some American military bases.

    1. D. Fuller

      Neocons do have a long term strategy in Syria: seize the oil. Like it was with Iraq. A little known US oil company founded by some former special operations officer received a contract to develop Syrian oil fields. US troops are there to guard the private enterprise.

      From Politico, Former diplomat and special forces soldier got green light to work with Kurds to develop crude in northeastern Syria.

      Smedley was right.

      1. km

        There isn’t enough oil is Syria for it to be worthwhile to seize, at least for not the oil itself. Keeping the Syrian government’s hands off of it is a slightly different matter.

        We are waging war on Syria to keep Saudi Arabia and Israel happy, not for resources themselves.

        1. D. Fuller

          Oil pipeline routes. Assad nixed a Qatari pipeline in favor of an Iranian pipeline back in 2008 or 2009. Shortly thereafter, regime change was on the menu.

          Good point of yours about denying Syria the oil revenue.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Not just oil. Washington came up with a law forbidding the world to help Syria rebuild after the destruction of the past decade or they would find themselves on a sanction list. The only way for Syria to receive aid is for them to reform their government i.e. letting the Jihadists take power and the present government going into exile if not a stint into the Hague.

      1. D. Fuller

        $1.5 trillion in mineral resources and a potential oil pipeline route that was abandoned over a decade ago.

  21. Terry Flynn

    Perhaps off topic but the brewing Conservative civil war is right on cue causing Labour to implode in UK. Clive and I briefly discussed this elsewhere but the ruling NEC election results are in. Whilst Starmer has his majority, twas hardly a ringing endorsement and one of his top lieutenants – my local Councillor (identity politician) – didn’t get elected.

    It just confirmed what Clive and I have seen in our respective local parties with mass resignations. Starmer is in trouble, no matter what national polls say. Nobody is really gonna go out walking the streets for him. Echoes of USA.

  22. John Beech

    Just a thank you to Lambert for the nicer mix today of animal and human interest stories today. I’m so burned out on politics and COVID-19 that this was restful. Especially the bears playing in the puddle. I’ve only seen one in my life, it was looping across the road about 300 yds away whilst I was driving through backwoods of NC about 15 years ago. I recall being perplexed because I knew it wasn’t wasn’t a deer or dog, wrong stride. In retrospect a small black bear. Now, in central FL, we have a plague of them interacting with humans too self-centered to use bear-proof trash bins or wait to put bins out until the morning, or worse, feeding them. Me? I have yet to catch so much as a glimpse again, which suits me just fine although we have bunch of turkeys and other wildlife in the small woods by my home. Anyway, good on you today Lambert, well done!

    1. Carla

      @John Beech — Yves compiled and posted the links today, so perhaps you should re-direct your thanks to her. No dis-respect to Lambert intended, of course.

  23. Pat

    Covid and small businesses, I’m thinking they are the equivalent to 2008’s struggling mortgaged home owners. From the article two telling quotes:

    First this is from the owner of a oyster restaurant that survived two decades and multiple hurricanes.

    When you shut businesses down, I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on, you got to help them get back up,” he said. “I’ve paid several million in taxes, and you saw the misuse of it going to the big corporations that don’t really need it and people like us going without.”

    And from the owner of Zaidy’s, a family run deli in Colorado who did get some of the early relief but closed in October.

    While the restaurant struggled to implement the rules and adjust to new customer habits with limited capacity and staff, he assumed that more federal loans and grants would help cover the difference. Instead, it slowly dawned on him that Congress and the White House had other plans.

    “I just sort of saw the writing on the wall, that we weren’t going to get any money in the near future,” he said. “They care more about their election, and they don’t realize what’s happening in America.”

    There will be another Trump and probably sooner than any of the political regulars from both parties can even imagine.

    1. Synoia

      Helper: I’m from the Government and I’m here to help you.

      Helpee: With help like that, who needs enemies?

      I refer you to the tale of Robin Hood, and his trials with the Government.

      1. Randy G

        Synoia — Maybe you should blame the immense corporations and banks that own and run the U.S. Federal Government for their own benefit?

        Nah, that would completely confuse a coloring book ideology that prefers mantras to thinking much about anything.

      2. Pat

        More I’m from the government and will demand you bankrupt yourself while aiding the “right“ people to the point where they not only don’t go under they thrive.

        Once again the “government” picked winners and losers by what they chose to act on and what could be ignored.

      3. D. Fuller

        Government is a fiction. Useful to blame. Government is not the problem. The problem is the politicians. That people elect to act as agents of government. The true problem being the voters who elect those politicians.

        A harsh reality that people refuse to accept. Instead wanting to blame some nebulous being for their problems. A being that does not exist. Also, akin to charging corporations with murder – here’s looking at the Sacklers – for the actions of human beings.

        Government is not a person. Some would make it out to be Satan – a being who does not exist. So as to have something to blame for their choices in political life. A convenience. Easy. While absolving those politicians who do make the decisions that result in corrupt government; from blame.

        Such is the psychological failing of voters.

        Government is neither good nor evil. The people – agents of government – are who makes government good or evil. Voters are supposed to remove the chaff from the political wheat; however ideology blinds the majority.

        1. hunkerdown

          That religious narrative fails to acknowledge the significant discretionary capacity of incumbents to rebuild the playing field, exclude contestants, and shape popular conceptions via ubiquitous propaganda and soft or hard enforcement, among others. The very objective authors of school textbooks have a veto. The media have a veto; here’s Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian bragging about deradicalizing some folks by deleting Marxist subreddits and megathreads, and probably boosting establishment subs like r/neoliberal and r/Conservative. Those who write election laws in the bipartisan interest have a veto in the establishment of arbitrary eligibility requirements. Those who take the polls and count the votes have a veto, and they are many. Those who take primacy in creating the money have a veto; the BIS head’s recent call for a 5% tax on uppity insolent stay-at-home workers talking amongst themselves out of turn shows that austerity is deliberate and strategic. Murder is true to elite form in extremis, as revolution is the end of any class order and there are many privileges at stake. The wheat has already been quite thoroughly removed or spoiled by the time we get our bushel, and we have been left with pure simulacrum.

          A system not designed to perpetuate itself is a necessary precondition to holding the electorate to any great responsibility. That entails, to start, substance beyond the PMC’s collective ability to deny us.

      4. HotFlash

        Helper: I’m from the Government* and I’m here to help you.

        * a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Finance, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Ag, and the Military-Industrial, Hospital-Industrial, Education-Industrial complexes, and of course, Silicon Valley.

      1. Oh

        Synoia and Jef,

        Ronnie’s probably smiling from six feet under seeing that his misinformation and misdirection has worked.

    2. Vichy Chicago

      There was a point in April/May that I really thought that Trump was going to go all Huey Long on us.
      And if he had I think he would have won in the landslide he dreamed about.

  24. fresno dan

    Many industries use heat-intensive processes that generally require the burning of fossil fuels, but a surprising green fuel alternative is emerging in the form of metal powders. Ground very fine, cheap iron powder burns readily at high temperatures, releasing energy as it oxidizes in a process that emits no carbon and produces easily collectable rust, or iron oxide, as its only emission.

    If burning metal powder as fuel sounds strange, the next part of the process will be even more surprising. That rust can be regenerated straight back into iron powder with the application of electricity, and if you do this using solar, wind or other zero-carbon power generation systems, you end up with a totally carbon-free cycle. The iron acts as a kind of clean battery for combustion processes, charging up via one of a number of means including electrolysis, and discharging in flames and heat.
    seems to good to be true, but I have not come across enough articles to evaluate it.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      In terms of overall deaths, 1918 is ahead by a country mile.

      Low end estimate of 1918 flu pandemic deaths is around 20 million with the high end being 50 million or more. The world population at the time was about 2 billion people while there are 7.5 billion or so now, so all other things being equal, the 1918 flu would have killed at least 75 million people today. So far deaths from covid-19 have been orders of magnitude less than that.

      In terms of poor societal response, it’s covid-19 in a landslide.

      1. rd

        The 1918 flu pandemic was effectively pre-medicine. The US and many other countries were only a handful of years past using bleeding as a recommended technique, Antibiotics were stil a decade away from being discovered, and they couldn’t conceive of what we currently know to be a virus. The peak bouts of it also occurred during the First World War with heavy censorship and masses of people in unsanitary trenches. Clean water and sanitary sewage management were still rare.

        If we can’t do far, far better than the 1918 pandemic, then we should be utterly ashamed.

        Ironically, the same techniques that were found to be relatively effective then, such as masks, limiting indoor activities, avoiding large groups, and building ventilation are still controversial for implementation today even though the science is solid. Communities that were able to implement these public health measures back then did markedy better than communities that did not.

        The two key challenges with the 1918 flu appear to be the lack of immunity for people under 60 and intense immune system responses that killed young people very quickly. Since most people died before 60 back then, much of the population was highly susceptible. Now the primary deaths were in the over 60 group, but that has been less of an impact now as susceptible groups have been seuqestered away. Fortunately, the immune system responses in young people have not been as extreme and frequent as the 1918 flu.

  25. Wukchumni

    I slept right through a Friday the 13th earthquake centered about 30 miles east of Olancha in the Owens Valley and 60 miles as the crow flies from moi-measuring 5.2, no doubt related to the other ones of size that have been occurring since last year’s 7.1 in Trona-adjacent.

    Here’s John Muir’s account of the 1872 Lone Pine quake measuring nearly 8, from his vantage point in Yosemite Valley about 60 miles from the epicenter.

    At half-past two o’clock of a moonlit morning in March, I was awakened by a tremendous earthquake, and though I had never before enjoyed a storm of this sort, the strange thrilling motion could not be mistaken, and I ran out of my cabin, both glad and frightened, shouting, “A noble earthquake! A noble earthquake!” feeling sure I was going to learn something.

    The shocks were so violent and varied, and succeeded one another so closely, that I had to balance myself carefully in walking as if on the deck of a ship among waves, and it seemed impossible that the high cliffs of the Valley could escape being shattered. In particular, I feared that the sheer-fronted Sentinel Rock, towering above my cabin, would be shaken down, and I took shelter back of a large yellow pine, hoping that it might protect me from at least the smaller outbounding boulders.

    For a minute or two the shocks became more and more violent–flashing horizontal thrusts mixed with a few twists and battering, explosive, upheaving jolts–as if Nature were wrecking her Yosemite temple, and getting ready to build a still better one.

    … It was a calm moonlit night, and no sound was heard for the first minute or so [after the earthquake], save low, muffled, underground, bubbling rumblings, and the whispering and rustling of the agitated trees, as if Nature were holding her breath. Then, suddenly, out of the strange silence and strange motion there came a tremendous roar. The Eagle Rock on the south wall, about a half a mile up the Valley, gave way and I saw it falling in thousands of the great boulders I had so long been studying, pouring to the Valley floor in a free curve luminous from friction, making a terribly sublime spectacle–an arc of glowing, passionate fire, fifteen hundred feet span, as true in form and as serene in beauty as a rainbow in the midst of the stupendous, roaring rockstorm.

    After the ground began to calm I ran across the meadow to the river to see in what direction it was flowing and was glad to find that down the Valley was still down.

  26. jr

    Re: Book inch-worms

    I mentioned the Blinkist app to my GF and she laughed, not so much at that fact but at the fact I was surprised. She got me there.

    I read voraciously as a youth and paid a social price for it. (A friend in Philly was nearly assaulted for reading an engineering book on the bus one afternoon, true story.) After school, disillusioned with book-learnin, I drifted away from steady reading with the exception of the Internet. (Anyone here remember the Left Business Observer? Boy I made a fool of myself on that blog more than once. Forgive me, Doug Henwood.)

    Now I find myself reading again, NC of course but books again too, albeit of a far different nature. Reading a Magical text is unlike anything else, closer to poetry perhaps in that you are in essence lacquering metaphors across the walls of your mind, but Magic led me to Kastrup’s Idealism, which has led me to Schopenhauer’s Idealism, which is now bumping up against Spinoza, Hume, Kant…

    A notable difference is that my attention span has suffered mightily over the decades. Gotta get that back, limit screen time, except for NC of course!

  27. fresno dan

    “Much too much of current political debate consists of people clicking ‘like’ on content that flatter their prejudices and biases — content that is usually crafted by other people in order to harvest those clicks,” he explained. “The reality is that most people, most of the time, mostly don’t care whether the stuff they read about politics is true or if the ideas they advocate for actually work
    Its my understanding that TV media was a loss leader, and for newspapers, classified advertising is actually how they made a profit. Well, Craig’s list, and if you have to sell something to make a living, people kinda have to like it, so FOX and MSNBC. And the rate of obesity in this country tells you that people will gobble down what they like in prodigious quantities, and seldom eat all their broccoli (I’m not noble – I actually like broccoli).
    I have both “liberal” and “right wing” friends. I just self censor because if I didn’t, I would have considerably fewer friends at all. Yglesias has the good fortune of being well off enough to be totally independent. But the truth is, the world cares little for my opinions, and the truth also is, I shouldn’t care that much either.

  28. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Tree rings may hold clues to impacts of distant supernovas on Earth

    Interesting theory – Science Daily can be a mixed bag and clicking through the links I could only read the abstract of the original, with the full paper costing $35 – way to go scientific journals if your goal is to make sure no one ever reads your publication!

    From the Science Daily piece –

    He assembled a list of supernovas that occurred relatively close to Earth over the last 40,000 years. Scientists can study these events by observing the nebulas they left behind. He then compared the estimated ages of those galactic fireworks to the tree ring record on the ground.

    He found that of the eight closest supernovas studied, all seemed to be associated with unexplained spikes in the radiocarbon record on Earth. He considers four of these to be especially promising candidates. Take the case of a former star in the Vela constellation. This celestial body, which once sat about 815 lightyears from Earth, went supernova roughly 13,000 years ago. Not long after that, radiocarbon levels jumped up by nearly 3% on Earth — a staggering increase.

    The findings aren’t anywhere close to a smoking gun, or star, in this case. Scientists still have trouble dating past supernovas, making the timing of the Vela explosion uncertain with a possible error of as much as 1,500 years. It’s also not clear what the impacts of such a disruption might have been for plants and animals on Earth at the time. But Brakenridge believes that the question is worth a lot more research.

    The article doesn’t say how close the supernovas need to be to have a noticeable effect, and yes dating can be difficult. The other difficulty would be finding 40,000 year old tree rings to compare to a 40,000 year old supernova.

    But astronomers know the dates of many relatively recent supernovas for certain, and there should be plenty of extant tree rings to compare those to. The Crab Nebula was created by a supernova documented in 1054 AD by Chinese astronomers and Tycho’s Supernova occurred in 1572 and was documented extensively by Tycho Brahe and presumably many others – both of those were relatively close in our own galaxy. And then there was the 1987 supernova, however that one didn’t occur in our galaxy and may be too far away to have had a noticeable effect on radiocarbon levels on earth.

    Would be interesting to see if they did try to find evidence from any of those events, but the article doesn’t say…

  29. jef

    I have been commenting about PCR cycles for a while now. Good to see that it is being talked about more.

    What also needs to be talked about is the fact that the same high cycle count PCR is the most common test used to determine cause of death.

    “Additionally, DHEC is requesting that COVID-19 testing be performed on any decedent that died at home or unexpectedly without another cause of death, even if evidence or suspicion of COVID-19 is lacking.”

  30. Mikel

    RE: Airtaxis
    “South Korea will introduce flying taxis to ease ground traffic congestion in 2025, but a regulatory jungle needs to be cleared before private flying cars and delivery drones are permitted to soar over high-rise cities.’

    1) I saw propellers. It’s a redesigned helicopter. FFS. Taxi service helicopters.
    (I can’t stand the breathless hype over everything).
    2) High rise cities. Maybe not for long. So much empty office space.

  31. Mikel

    I’m glad people found the Neanderthal study to be lacking. Science as victim of war propaganda.

    Now if only anthropologists would stop lying about what happened to Easter Island – that simple minded tale fron Jared Diamond.
    But people are slowly coming to understand what happened there.

  32. D. Fuller

    Similar to plasma arc waste recycling using a plasma that also produces electricity.

    Plasma arc waste recycling reduces the costs of garbage disposal. Waste recycling companies are reluctant to adopt the technique as, lower costs means lower contract fees.

    It’s all about the money and how old technology giants wish to retain their guaranteed revenue streams by resisting change. The Green New Deal is all about the future of energy production. Energy being the lifeblood of modern civilization. Those that control the future of Green New Deal energy technology & production? Will control the future of the world. Oil will be necessary as oil produces lubricants and other materials. Oil will lose importance as an energy source in the future; the future that those reliant on oil for their wealth, resist. As it means lost profits for them.

    That is what opponents of The Green New Deal are missing.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Magical thinking… That is, the disbelief that after all the grift is grifted, there will be any meaningful accomplished

    2. qmess

      good point Re: GND has transpired into wealth opportunities
      without the original point of helping the earth survive

      it is not worth all the money in the world
      to sell out our resources for a shortened future

  33. Hepativore

    Say, I am surprised that this has not been talked about yet, but if it has I might have missed it.

    Mike Figueredo, the host of the Humanist Report, posted a video regarding an interview between AOC and the New York Times. She talks about a lot of the bullying and constant hostility that she has faced from the rest of the DNC, particularly the Clintonite/Pelosi wing. I knew it was bad, but it was worse than I thought.

    I do have some disagreements with AOC, but I wonder if this means that we will no longer hear more “mama bear” characterizations of Nancy Pelosi from her. I was afraid that the DNC would use the tactic of slowly corrupting AOC to become another rank-and-file neoliberal Democrat and bring her into the fold. However, it appears that they still hate her so much that they do not even feel compelled to try. Still, perhaps AOC has learned that the DNC leadership can never be trusted and that trying to work with them will only get you stabbed in the back. Hopefully she realizes that she has no choice but to stand her ground against the likes of the corporate Democrats.

    Still, it will be an arduous task as this seems to give even more evidence that the Democratic party would rather lose election after election and fundraise off of the aftermath than actually win with anything resembling a progressive agenda. I am not sure what would be an effective means of coercing the Democratic Party to listen to people if they are that willing to sabotage themselves in order to undermine any candidate’s attempt at moving the party left. How do bargain with people who would rather lose and be rich than win and be not-so-rich?

    1. Oh

      I don’t think AOC was able to defeat an incumbent DNC favorite by being stupid. I’ll give a chance to get the better of the Gelato woman.

      1. flora

        And she didn’t need to use the Dem estab’s money to win. That must have sent shock waves through the estab. ;)

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for letting us know. We are not omniscient, and we also keep Links to ~55 which is why we encourage readers to pipe up. However, please never link again to YewTube. I was appalled by the notices I got when I clicked and I still had to go to YouTube to see the video. I’m blacklisting YewTube. This is the link to the AOC talk on YouTube.

      1. Hepativore

        My apologies, it is just that I have gotten tired of YouTube’s ads on their videos and their heavily biased search algorithm as well as the fact that you cannot listen to YouTube’s videos in the background anymore on mobile. Because of this, I have been using a frontend for YouTube called Invidious which was similar to HookTube before it was shut down.

        Unfortunately, the creator of Invidious abandoned the platform in September and so now the Invidious website lists various instances as an alternative. YewTube is but one of them. Supposedly, another team is trying to ressurect Invidious in the near future, but that remains to be seen.

        In the meantime, I am looking for an alternative frontend to YouTube due to its crappification so if anybody has any suggestions, I am all ears.

  34. doug

    the bears splashing was my most pleasant 1 minute 30 seconds in a while. Full screen . thank you thank you. I watched it twice.

  35. Trogg

    How about the feminist take on net-zero emissions? Interesting to read about the “lionesses” who fought to water down climate accords. Roar!

  36. Arthur Dent

    Re: Yellow Zone

    Ryan McMahon is the Onondaga County Executive. As a county resident, I would posit that he has probably been the single most effective politican in the country regarding Covid-19.

    The actions and rules that the county has issued have been timely and make sense. Are they always right? No. But on the whole, they have been effective and they have shown tremendous flexibility in changing things up when needed and working with businesses. He has had to work around Cuomo’s rules. As a local Republican politician, he has focused on basing decisions on the science and data, leaving the politics out of the pandemic fight. As a result, there is little of the fuss over masks etc. when you go places. We have consistently had some sof the lowest levels of cononavirus in the country despite being within a 4-hr drive of every major northeastern city that got hammered in March.

    We get nice little graphics and data presentations saying what is going on and why things are needed to be done or why rules are being relaxed. Their regular briefings are a model of public communication with Democrats and Republicans standing up there with no party positions on display – just getting the job done.

    This one is amusing. Syracuse (in Onondaga County) averages 120 inches of snow a year, so the local governments are figuring out how to work with restaurants and bars to facilitate outdoor dining where possible:

    1. qmess

      I like the fact your leader had a consistent message, changing as needed
      as new information comes in. what is needed throughout

  37. JWP

    Been disappointed the The Automatic Earth as of late. They’ve shifted for solid covid and economic coverage and stories about rigged elections and DNC corruption. I would think they would be keeping their eyes on the big stuff but seems to have fallen into the anti-party political trap of hating a certain group so much it becomes the focus and loses sight of the bigger game being played.

    1. christofay

      I find the recent Automatic Earth news compilation with a little commentary informative. DNC corruption is the big stuff. If the politburo of the DNC is corrupt responding to the big stuff won’t happen or be taken care of well.

  38. heresy101

    Coal is dead! and oil and gas are on the way out. Would you have believed that Johnson would announce zero carbon energy in 2050?? There are plans for most of Britain’s energy to come from wind turbines offshore.

    Four Corners and Intermountain coal plants are closing.

    New gas and diesel cars are projected to only be available until 2030.
    BMW is going all electric and Mercedes is not far behind.

    New electric pickups are coming.

    The biggest obstacle to adopting the Green New Deal are supporters that say it can’t be done. For example, 17 years ago we proposed the plasma arc (pyrolysis at 1500 degrees F) process of turning garbage (after removing recyclables) into synthetic gas that could be used to generate electricity, but the “greenies” in San Francisco said there would be small amounts of gases released so the project was killed. Very few harmful gases would be released because almost all molecules break up into basic constituents at that temperature.

    Go Green New Deal!

    1. chuck roast

      Amazing that they closed the Four Corners plant. Not so long ago that was the most polluting stationary source of air pollution in the US.

  39. Jessica

    Neanderthals And Humans Were at War For Over 100,000 Years, Evidence Shows Science Alert (Chuck L)
    Others above have explained the one-sidedness and inadequacy of this article.
    The image it paints of chimpanzees is also based on flawed research. When researchers first tried to study chimpanzees, they saw very little of them. To solve this problem, they started putting out treasure troves of food. Once they did this, the chimpanzees started hanging out at these treasure troves and fighting over them. A bit like rival drug gangs or imperialist rivals. This behavior tells us that they have a dark potential, but tells us little about what they are like when we do not create an artificial situation for them.

    1. The Rev Kev

      There is a story – true I think – how a whole body of research was built up by studying animals in zoos in the 19th century, particularly chimpanzees. Their violence for one was noted. Then the first teams went out to Africa to study them in the wild and it was disconcerting. It was like observing a whole different species as they were mostly quite and very social. It totally went against all the body of research gathered over the decades. It then occurred to these scientist that the ones in Africa were normal and it was the ones in zoos (concrete floors and iron bars in that early era) that were not normal but were under stress. And that an analog would be to study prison populations to generate scientific principles of human behaviour.

      1. Michael Hudson

        Kev is right. There are 2 narratives: the “Zionist” narrative of Cro-Magnons coming in and killing the Neanderthals; and the archaeological narrative of their intermixing.
        As my Peabody colleague Alex Marshack has shown, the Neanderthals taught the Cro-Magnons tool-making and other techniques. There simply were MORE Cro-Magnons than Neanderthals, so the latter were ABSORBED.
        The logic of this article is ignorant and despicable. Of course tribes fought. But to WIN, you needed to adopt as many OTHERS into YOUR tribe as possible. (Viz. the Native American practice.) Wife exchange was a typical way to intermix. Hence, our 3 to 4% Neanderthal.

  40. Person

    Benjamin Studebaker on the EU economy: The Unfolding Economic Catastrophe in Europe

    Anyone have a clear enough picture on the EU situation to comment on this? Except for Coronavirus and the slow pipeline battle, I haven’t heard much from or about Europe lately. So much depends on vaccine effectiveness and production capacity, I’m sure.

    1. Person

      Did some looking around and I found a few articles on the theme:

      Analysis: Pandemic payment holidays mask wave of European problem debt

      Italy to Seek Approval for Up to 20 Billion Euros in Extra Debt

      G-20 Looks to Deepen Debt Relief With China’s Coordination

      A footnote from the last article, re: the world outside the West:

      As of last year, almost half of all low-income countries have reached, or are near, debt distress, according to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

      Although the framework should help cut the debt load, lack of a real commitment by G-20 creditors will likely derail the initiative, said Daniel Munevar, a policy adviser with the European Network on Debt and Development.

      “The predicted failure of the G-20 response will condemn a large number of developing countries to a lost decade,” Munevar said.

  41. Maritimer

    Inner Tubes becoming scarier and scarier every day.

    First, the proliferation of “feel good” stories which usually involve a “non-profit”(lots of profit for management), or company. These “feel goods” are so numerous and frequent, there must be one of more turnkey Feel Good Story companies that come in, see what you’re hawking and then do all the PR and marketing. Even seen this routine for police and fire departments. Soon DaFauch appearing with a rescued raccoon somewhere in DC?

    Secondly, clicked on the “Solid progress being shown with patients at medical marijuana clinics in Thailand” story and, high and behold, to the right on my puter is an ad “Hungry Now? Order Now?” I guess the algo there is that a lot of starving Cheeches will be clicking so what can we sell? Munchies!!

    Science reshaping our world. I am not a bot. Honest.

  42. Robert Hahl

    “Cat Who Lived In A Church For 12 Years Passes Away, The Church Gives Her An Entire Memorial Service Bored Panda”

    Reminiscent of the great children’s book series by Graham Oakley about the church mice Arthur and Humphrey, and their adventures with the church cat Sampson, who has sworn never to harm a mouse, having listened to many sermons on brotherly love and meekness while living in the church.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That was one good looking cat that and will be hard to replace. Like any good christian, you can bring a cat to church but what will make them stay? And cats don’t do guilt either.

  43. marym

    Georgia recount
    Live updates

    Livestream links for Gwinnett, Paulding, Dade, Decatur, Camden, Athens-Clark counties: (do a find on Gwinnett – it’s the second match). Had trouble accessing Dade. The links are from the live update page for yesterday.

    Carter Center is monitoring

  44. anon in so cal

    >Covid case counts are escalating again in Los Angeles County. 3,061 new cases today, 3,780 the day before…..meanwhile, warehouse parties continue:

    “LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Two women were shot and killed at a warehouse party in South Los Angeles, authorities said.

    Investigators believe the women were at a large gathering when the incident unfolded on S. Hill Street and West 32nd Street. Before 2 a.m. Sunday, authorities received a first call of shots being fired. When they arrived, they found a large group of people at the scene.”

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