Links 11/21/2020

With Forests Gone, Elephants Wreak Havoc in India Vice (resilc)

For 15 Years Sweden Thought Enemy Submarines Were Invading Its Territory. It Turned Out To Be Herring Farts IFLScience

Mysterious object falls from sky onto Navajo Nation: Was it from space? Or is there a more earthly explanation? USA Today (David L)

Another Feature of the Climate Crisis Is More—and More Severe—Disease Esquire (David L, resilc)

The way we train AI is fundamentally flawed MIT Technology Review (David L) Important.

This 2-Acre Vertical Farm Out-Produces 750 Acre ‘Flat Farms’ Forbes

Hidden world of bacteria and fungi discovered on Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings LiveScience

Boy Scouts: At least 92,000 have filed sex abuse claims against the Boy Scouts, legal team says CNN (UserFriendly). From earlier in the week, still germane.

All Your Genes Are Belong To Us NPR (David L)


Gov. Cuomo wins Emmy for ‘masterful’ coronavirus briefings during early pandemic Syracuse. Bob: “The second worst man in America gets a fucking Emmy for “informing” people.”


Arthritis drug effective in treating sickest COVID-19 patients Imperial College

Long COVID: let patients help define long-lasting COVID symptoms Nature


UK sourced PPE from factories secretly using North Korean slave labour Guardian (David L)

US. Chuck L: “Here in MN, a 4 week lockdown starts at midnight.”

After Big Thanksgiving Dinners, Plan Small Christmas Funerals, Health Experts Warn MississippiFreePress (William T)

We Must Cancel Thanksgiving,’ Says CDC Scientist Who Looks Suspiciously Like A Turkey In A Lab Coat Babylon Bee (BC)

U.S.-Canadian border closure extended through Dec. 21 Fox5NY

At New York’s Hospitals, Staff Brace for Another COVID Wave: ‘We Know What’s Coming’ THE CITY

Are Covid Patients Gasping ‘It Isn’t Real’ As They Die? Wired

Iowa’s Covid Wave and the Limits of Personal Responsibility Wired (resilc)

Berkeley professor sparks outrage by comparing Trump supporters with an ‘indifference’ to COVID to Germans who ‘ignored and profited from the Holocaust’ Daily Mail

Slow Bleed Heisenberg Report (resilc)

How Many Americans Are About to Die? Atlantic (TonyAI)

AICPA Says Current IRS Penalty Relief Measures Are Not Enough CPA Practice Advisor


An ‘Electrifying’ Economist’s Guide to the Recovery New York Times (David L)

Hazard Pay Was Just a Brand Exercise New Republic

Carnival Cruise boss banks on safety measures BBC


New US Indo-Pacific fleet ‘would be akin to grabbing China by the throat’, analyst says South China Morning Post (Vikas S). Increased incentive to finish the Belt & Road Initiative.


I don’t think the PM knows’: Boris Johnson and the Brexit endgame Financial Times

UK preparing to finish bilateral trade deal under Biden administration Inside Trade

Big Brother Boris bans the combustion engine and here is why it won’t work DriveTribe (resilc)

Former Mexican defense chief will return home a free man after U.S. drops drug charges War Is Boring. BC: “I can only imagine the backstory here.”

Under a Divisive Peace, Wartime Rifts Hobble Hope in Bosnia New York Times


CENTCOM Chief Warns of Iranian ‘Escalatory Spiral’ (resilc)

‘Night of the beating’: details emerge of Riyadh Ritz-Carlton purge Guardian

Hardline Pakistani religious leader Khadim Rizvi dies Al Jazeera (resilc)

Trump Transition

Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship The Hill

US terminates Jonathan Pollard’s parole, ex-spy free to travel to Israel Times of Israel. Kevin W: “The intelligence community will not be happy about this. Which is probably why Trump is doing it.”

Spokesman: Trump’s eldest son tests positive for coronavirus Associated Press

Trump Announces Issuance of Two ‘Groundbreaking Rules’ to Lower Drug Prices Sputnik (Kevin W)


Will The Trump Team Prove A Global Conspiracy or Will Dominion Sue For Defamation? Jonathan Turley (Chuck L)

A Simple Theory of Why Trump Did Well New York Times (furzy). Gah. How many weeks after the election, and someone finally notices “material concrete benefits”?

More conservatives break with Trump over election claims The Hill

A Bogus Dispute Is Doing Real Damage Wall Street Journal


Ten Foreign Policy Fiascos Biden Can Fix on Day One (and Should) Medea Benjamin and Nicholas J.S. Davies

Team Biden’s Left Derangement Syndrome Sardonicky (UserFriendly)

Emily Murphy Needs to Do Her Job, Begin Presidential Transition to Joe Biden Esquire

Our Famously Free Press

FBI and DOJ prepared takedown of “Iranian” American Herald Tribune website with years of legal chicanery Greyzone Project

A newly-released government review makes the case for scrapping the compulsory super increase and focusing on home ownership instead Business Insider Australia. Kevin W: “Just off to bang my head against the keyboard a coupla times now.”

Economics in a Post-Pandemic World Project Syndicate (David L)

Oil Majors Are Paying The Price For Investing In Renewables OilPrice

A Stock Market Bubble? It’s More Like a Fire Wall Street Journal (David L)

Class Warfare

Reform Doesn’t Have to Cost Votes IMF Blog. UserFriendly: “God, this is evil.”

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. jr

    Re: NYT seeks Russophobic journalist with no grasp of the word “objectivity” and a willingness to regurgitate what their editors tell them to.

    The whole advertisement is so wildly unbalanced that it would take my breath away if it wasn’t pretty much par for the course for the NYT. The first sentence, however, hints at a bigger problem. How could anyone come to the conclusion that “Putnin’s” Russia, or anyone’s Russia, would ever NOT be one of the biggest stories? If Putnin were to suddenly turn into a cloud of helium and disperse harmlessly into the atmosphere, wouldn’t Russia still be “one of the biggest stories” around? Given their nuclear stockpile, their sphere of influence, their long history vis à vis the U.S.?

    It’s a minor quibble but then again it isn’t. Words have power! (gorge rises) I think it points to a lack of scope for one thing, a blinkered view of Russia and thereby a heck of a lot more.

    1. timbers

      NYT needs to urgently update that job description with mention that Putin has planted Fake News stories about fish farts being mistaken for his Nuclear Submarines of Death on Europe’s coast. Just like he planted those fake stories about insects mating calls being mistaken for his Evil Hate Beams aimed our embassy in Cuba.

      Racheal Maddow better get on this but quick.

      Is the NYT slipping or what?

      1. Pelham

        Thanks for the link. Those two are immortal!

        Separately, I’m sure the Times has a flock of eager internal candidates applying for a restful 4 years covering Biden/Harris. But I like to imagine how a Times job ad for that posting might read. There are probably regular commenters here who can formulate the appropriately fawning language.

        1. jr

          “restful four years”


          I’d love to see a graph of the no doubt statistically significant increase in time spent playing “Animal Crossing” at the NYT during the Biden/Harris Era of Errors…

        2. Tom Doak

          The Biden/Harris beat will require unprecedented ability at fawning and ass-kissing, so yes, the NYT will have a bunch of highly qualified candidates already on payroll. [Or on the CIA’s payroll.]

    2. Arizona Slim

      And here I am, plodding my way through an online Russian phonetics course.

      People, let me tell you something: Russian is NOT an easy language to learn. I’m better at than I was back in 2017, when all that Russiagate talk inspired me to start this project, but I still have a long way to go.

      Hmmm, maybe I’ll apply for that NYT job.

      1. The Historian

        I took a year of Russian in college. I still can’t speak the language or read it adequately. Russian is difficult!! I’m glad you are sticking with it!

      2. urblintz

        What you said. I was a classical singer and sang in many languages. My dad, whose family originated from Sparta (Karyae/Arahova) was a polyglot, professor emeritus of Spanish Language and Literature (a Cervantes scholar) so I grew up reading and speaking both Spanish and his first language, Greek. One would think the cyrillic Russian alphabet would come easy, and I’m sure knowing Greek and a familiarity with cases was an advantage but, aside from the painted Asian languages (which I don’t do at all), Russian was one of the hardest, second only to Finnish.

        And accurate pronunciation is even harder.

      3. Randy G

        Arizona Slim — If you want that NYT Russia reporter’s job — forget those difficult Russian phonetics and that labyrinthine inflectional morphology! If you can say — “Putin Nyet!” — you are plenty fluent.

        Just memorize all the CIA and State Department talking points — and be able to spout them in your sleep. A cartoonish grasp of global politics and history will also decisively upgrade your chances.

        удача to a fellow Tucsonian landing that job at the prestigious voice of the CIA!

      4. Wukchumni

        …a Kopek for your thoughts, Slim

        Watched Solaris (the 1972 version) last night and it blew my mind. It starts slow and in lieu of whiz-bang special effects, the orbiting space platform around which much of the film revolves is kind of a mess and disheveled, not the perfection that comes with most western space-fi flix.

        2 huge thumbs up!

        1. Mel

          Crew Dragon Resilience that just flew to ISS is eerily photogenic inside.

          From the novel, the messiness in Solaris station is a plot point; you are implying that, yes?

      5. Louis Fyne

        for difficulty, Russian is a Level 4 language for native English speakers.

        only languages tougher are Arabic and the East Asian languages. (Level 5).

      6. rowlf

        A friend learned Russian in the US Air Force and was assigned to signal analysis. I don’t think he ever thought he had more than a basic grip on the language. When Volga-Dnepr would be at the airport we worked at he often tried to help the crews and the ground workers so he could practice using the language.

        Contrast this to my uncle who was trained by the US Army and was a translator in the basement of the Nixon White House. When he left the Army he became a Soviet Analyst for the CIA. He lost that position in the government draw downs in the late 1970s but his losing his position may have been that he was fluent, had visited the Soviet Union, was objective and didn’t fit in with the group think. Looking back there were a few unpopular people that noted the USSR running on fumes but where is the profit in the US Defense Industry in responding to that? There was a joke that the US counted Soviet Tanks in junkyards as functioning units. If the turret was on the ground next to the hull that counted as two functioning tanks.

        As a kid I was fascinated when my uncle and my father would discuss the Secret Cities that didn’t show on commercial maps, radar installations and anti-aircraft sites.

      7. CitizenSissy

        Hey Slim – got a bit of an alternate viewpoint about Slavic languages. Dad, OBM, hailed from a Polish immigrant family, and English was his second language. Classic immigrant story – Polish at home, English outside the home. Grandparents, who arrived here as adults, learned sufficiently well to hold jobs and to navigate what they needed to do in their town, but never achieved any real fluency. IMHO it’s really difficult to do as an adult.

        Dad spoke English fluently ( Massachusetts accent notwithstanding), read fluently, but always had a problem with written English. He got through grad school and a long career with writing help from mom, secretaries, and daughters. He refused to teach my sister and me Polish, saying “you girls are American, so speak English.” But he’d switch back to Polish effortlessly when the opportunity arose.

        Are you listening to Russian broadcasts? That may help train your ear. I was in Iceland a few years ago, and many Icelanders spoke flawless American English – they listen to American podcasts and watch American TV.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Listening to foreign language broadcasts does help. I picked up a lot of German that way by listening to them in the background on the radio. Although you are not really taking it in, your brain certainly is and is learning to differentiate the different words and the standard stock phrases that every language uses. With the internet, you can use it to go to a foreign language radio station and have it playing while you work.

          1. HotFlash

            Indeed! Although far from fluent in Japanese, my years of anime-watching have set me up with many useful phrases — and astonished my Japanese friends (most gratifying!).

      8. Savita

        Yo Arizona from Sydney Australia. Please read the book Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner. And find his website which provides tools for the method. You will view language learning very differently. It CAN be easier than what you presently perceive. Science and neurology backed methodoology

    3. Procopius

      In fact, that advertisement is so wild I have to wonder if it’s real. There’s no link, no URL, nothing but the NYT logo at the upper left corner. The link the the @nyt twitter account doesn’t show it. A couple of the respondents in the thread even brought up the question of whether it’s a joke or not, but there was no reply to them I could see. Confirmation bias makes me want to take it at face value, so I have to be skeptical (to be honest I accepted it until I saw the suggestions it might be a hoax).

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      I don’t think the word “russophobic” captures the depth of the culturacist hatred against Russia on display in that ad.

      I think the word ” antirussianitic” conveys the antirussianites’ culturacist antirussianitic antirussianism here. Even if it is syllables longer and clunkier.

      So I will keep using that word-cluster.

  2. Wukchumni

    Boy Scouts: At least 92,000 have filed sex abuse claims against the Boy Scouts, legal team says CNN

    I never made it past the Cub Scouts and seeing as my mom was the den mother for our troop, it’d be downright awkward claiming she had unwanted sexual relations with me, but if I was broke and saw that pot of gold between $1 and $10 billion that BSA had in their coffers it might be a different story. I’d guess 99% of the 92,000+ claims are strictly on the basis of getting something out of the deal.

    I’m looking at a picture of me in my blue uniform marching down the street on July 4th in 1970 in SoCal, and in theory being a Boy Scout should have appealed to me, as i’m very outdoorsy and always have been, but even as an 8 year old I was cognizant of the militaristic look & feel of what it was all about, and at a tender age could see the similarity to our mess in Vietnam and the protests of the latter that were certainly at their height in the first year of the 70’s.

    A couple of friends were Boy Scouts and one went all the way to being an Eagle Scout, while the other became my lifelong backpacking partner with easily 3,000 miles shared together on the trail. I asked both recently if there was ever any inkling of unwanted sexual advances from the father figures, and they told me none whatsoever, it never reared its ugly head, nor any rumors of such things happening.

    To me, the bigger scandal is ineptly led Boy Scouts by weekend warrior father figures that have no idea what they’re doing, and their young charges just repeat the same mistakes not knowing any better. I practically cringe when I come across a troop in the backcountry, such is their reputation of being total family blog ups, which is not to castigate all of them, occasionally you run into a gaggle which has leadership, but its rare.

    1. Tom Doak

      Sadly, I think you grossly underestimate the incidence of sexual assault on children. Your sample size of two who were not assaulted is hardly a good study. I was not a Boy Scout so I have no first-hand experience, but the numbers from other organizations make the number 92,000 look fairly plausible, and even if it was 9,200, that would be horrible.

      1. Wukchumni

        It is indeed horrible, but the motivation is there to part of the funds.

        If I was to sue the BSA, it would be over events that happened 50 years ago, and it probably boils down to anybody that files, wins some money.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I believe the Roman Catholic Church said that about lawsuiers. And I believe the various anti-Indian authorities said that about Indian Nations people suing decades after the fact.

          One hopes this comment is not just projection onto counter Boyscout lawsuiers of one’s one pursuit-of-money-based values.

    2. Lost in OR

      Several years ago my son and I attended a “Boy” Scouts meeting. My goal was to find a space where my son could bond and develop with other boys. I believe that boys need a space to be boys as they grow to manhood. We lack the rites of initiation into manhood that exist in many cultures. While I didn’t receive that initiation, I would like to have my son get one.

      The Boy Scouts is no longer the “Boy” Scouts. Girls make up about 50% of the local Scout troupes. While I have no idea what Girl Scouts do other than sell cookies, I support girls and women having a space to be themselves by themselves. I am sad that no equal space exists for boys.

    3. Aumua

      Yeah I heard Tara Reade made it up for money too. Heck, I’ll bet a LOT of sexual assault “victims” are just making it up. In fact, we should probably just assume they are making it up. Also @ LostinOR: Girls now allowed in the boy scouts… my God will the horrors never cease?

      1. Aumua

        I’m saying that I don’t think merging the scouts is a big deal. There’s really nothing that boys can do together without girls that they can’t do together with girls. I would support getting rid of girl scouts in that case though, so I suppose you do have a point there.

    4. JTMcPhee

      The troop I was in for some seven years back in the late 50s-early 60s had what seems like a too common episode. An assistant scout master in fact took the opportunity to groom some of my fellow scouts with a bunch of slick moves and tricks, including extinguishing cigarettes on his tongue and pushing hat pins through his tongue and cheeks, and to draw in at least 6 of my fellow scouts to engage in illicit sex. He was a sly one. He was lucky the scoutmaster, a medal-holding veteran of the Marines in the South Pacific, did not relieve him of his junk, just sicced the cops on home and got him kicked out of Scouting. At least as far as anyone knows — I’m betting the predators attracted to positions of trust like in Scouting or the Director of Christian Education in a church I attended or the swimming coach at my high school and of course all those Catholic priests are skilled at evading consequences, and with the connivance of the several hierarchies of which they are a part, at moving on to another gig, another set of smooth and innocent and unsuspecting young males…

    5. Once again, unimpressed.

      “To me, the bigger scandal is ineptly led Boy Scouts by weekend warrior father figures that have no idea what they’re doing, and their young charges just repeat the same mistakes not knowing any better.”

      I’ve been purposely avoiding the commentariat lately due to gems like this. Seriously.

      To counter Wukchumi’s very scientific sample size of 2, I’ll add that I have 2 former longterm partners, both of whom were in Boy Scouts, both of whom were scarred for life by adults in troop leadership positions in ways I can’t even begin to describe on this family blog. In 2 different states, mind you, so obviously different troop leaders involved.

      Being a lifelong backpacker myself, I’ve held my tongue many many times at the amateurish Sierra bound misadventures of the resident self aggrandizing backtrails “experts” here.. but the horrific nature of this comment and the ones below about Boy Scouts vs Girl Scouts simply cannot go unaddressed.

      1. Wukchumni

        Here’s a gem from a couple years ago…

        A Boy Scout troop from tony Pacific Palisades had their backpacking trip canceled in New Mexico on account of wildfires there, and decided to go to Mineral King, and somehow procured a wilderness permit in Kernville using local connections there, which makes no sense, but it’s just the beginning of the saga~

        There were 2 BSA troops, and the scoutmasters decided to spray paint directions for each of the troops on a boulder in the backcountry quite visible from the trail, and they had a packer who thought it’d be good to keep his stock @ Columbine Lake (illegal to do so) where he spread alfalfa all over the place, a serious violation which required much cleanup.

        A ranger told me that they were staying @ Cold Springs car campground and said scoutmasters left about a dozen bottles of hard liquor on top of bear boxes there and were nowhere to be seen, and he confiscated them all, and left a note telling them to come and retrieve their ‘goods’ at the ranger station, which never happened as they realized how much they’d screwed up, and then split leaving a mess in the campground.

        I could give you so many other stories of BSA screwups in the backcountry, it would make your head spin…

      2. Savita

        i intend this in a genuine spirit of community and curiosity. I find your comment opaque, and while I appreciate you are attempting tact, you’re also being quite blunt. Can we be black or white here? As it stands, I don’t know what point you are making and yet I’m sufficiently intrigued to want to ask. Be black, and don’t say anything. Or, be white, and spell it out please :-) You are obviously referring to Wukchumni and holding issue with his posts? So, what’s wrong with his obvious experience in the back country? Some examples please? And what’s the issue with the comment about weekend warriors leading the boy scouts – that’s easy enough to understand at face value. We did get the follow up example also. Thanks

  3. Eelok

    Any news article that talks breathlessly about the yields of vertical farms without discussing the energy inputs is little more than PR for a sector that’s currently attracting a ton of venture capital and private equity.

    Yield per acre and lowered water usage are all well and good as metrics, but the energy inputs are well in excess of what traditional farming has to pay for (where at least the light and heat are free) and they increase linearly with output. On the heat side, it’s almost all natural gas. Converting diffuse wind and solar energy to heat just can’t be made efficient enough to get the job done.

    Then there’s the matter of cost. I’d love to be wrong, and I do continue to read actual scholarly work on this subject, but my prediction is that the produce of these operations isn’t going to penetrate beyond high-end restaurants and the overpriced organics sections at luxury grocers.

    1. apleb

      There is a reason for all the cash infusions into this
      Vertical farming is for future space colonies, be it orbital stations, moon or mars. All of them can only do farming with artificial light, all have a huge premium on the cost and amount of water, and need maximum yield per volume.

      Energy is their least problem basically. I’m sure it will show up in some totally green, pesticide free upscale Whole Foods or whatever shop, it’s not what it is for.

      And that explains why the space crazed venture capitalists invest. However, none have so far in any way solved how to create a closed ecosphere outside Earth for longtime habitation. Rather, they all failed miserably when tried.

      1. polecat

        “future space colonies” ..

        A hi-tech bro/sciencey x’perted’ pied-piper’s dream (to be imposed upon the broke & broken 90+%ed lowlymokes currently residing on Terrible Infirma) .. if there ever was one! We will run out of revenue and resources before that comes to fruition, to be flippantly wasted on the ShwabianCloudCrowd, instead of being put to more mundane uses – like fixing some of the dire issues plaguing various lifeforms on THIS good Earth!
        Ah, but for the shiny state of PROGRESS .. as per deemed holey by boffins, policy wonks, stupid politicians, and Big Oligarchic Corpse, All wearing bright stylish blinders … Forever Upward and Grand! Do I have that right?

        GAIA, stating emphatically, to anyone who’s anything within the local ‘neighborhood’: “Nobody gets outta here alive!”

    2. Samuel Conner

      This was my immediate thought on just seeing that link, and the linked article did not disappoint. It will require multiple flat acres of photo-voltaic arrays to “illuminate” one acre of vertical farm — unless one wants to power them with non-renewables. The ratio will depend, approximately, on the product of the PV conversion efficiency and the light output efficiency of the LEDs in the farm, with further losses if power storage is required between the energy farm and the food farm.

      I find it hard to believe the economics of this will work for calorie crops on any near-term time horizon, but for high value fast growing things like annual herbs (fresh Basil is IMO shockingly expensive at the local not-high-end grocery), it might be feasible already.

      For my money, I’d like to see green roofs on all urban construction and food forests instead of suburban lawns. Maybe precarity will drive us in that direction. Wise policy doesn’t seem to be helping up to now.

        1. carl

          The method I used to grow Thai basil was to plant a couple of plants. The next year, they sprouted up all over the backyard. We had at least 20 basil plants growing. They die off in the winter, but return again in spring.

        2. jr

          This one is free if you order won-ton soup. I punctured holes all around it and the bottom, marbles and gravel for drainage, and soil on top. I water it about every four days, basically when I don’t see dampness in the soil. The lid goes underneath as a catch tray.

      1. Pelham

        Even my cursory interest in vertical farms over the past couple of decades yielded one big question: Why are they all growing basil? How much basil do we need? Is there some fundamental nutritional quality of basil that I’ve missed? Is basil somehow the key to a brighter future?

        1. Wukchumni

          Maybe the hope is they’ll grow into being Rathbones?

          The real reason of course, is it’s all about the money, and basil is spendy.

          The same reason there is about 200 million almond trees here…

          1. JacobiteInTraining

            was just going to say… I LOVES me my pesto, but i don’t remotely have enough raised-bed garden herb space to grow enough basil for more then a modest amount of fresh pesto at a time.

              1. JacobiteInTraining

                The link was pretty neat, and in a roundabout way is also grist for yet more Musk conspiracy theories – i.e., his new Starlink system as precursor to a Mars satt comms network…to be funded through insane federal contracts, natch. (though truth be told I flunked college algebra, let alone trig – I still want to try and figure out how to do the maths it references)

                Goddard and Tsiolkovsky have been dead so long, and snark aside – it would be fascinating to know what their thoughts on the farming topic would have been.

                I did find this though: also, interesting in a non-snark way. As I read through it, I see echos of my time in my teens and twenties growing illegal marijuana in rockwool growing mediums, with hydro-based fertilizer systems, high pressure sodium grow lights, CO2 injection, and all that. I got out of the biz just about as LED growlights became a thing (legalization, yeeeaaahhh!!) but maybe I can still add that to my resume some day when the time comes to get a job on Free Luna!!


                1. ambrit

                  Actually getting working habitats up and running in space will take a lot of resources. This means very large organizations to “fund” these schemes.
                  Von Neuman machines for manufacturing sounds wonderful, but I have yet to see any mention of the successful implementation of such.

        2. HotFlash

          I can think of one spendier herb, for sure. Suppose that one might be vertically grown at a good ROI?

    3. jef

      You can grow plenty of fluff vertically but not nutrient rich, high calorie foods. Vertical farm has the same negatives as our current big ag farms that have, dead soil that only grown something when you pour tons of FF based inputs.

      Healthy food is all about healthy soil biota;

      “Soil biota consist of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, archaea, and algae), soil animals (protozoa, nematodes, mites, springtails, spiders, insects, and earthworms), and plants…”

  4. upstater

    Regarding Andrew Cuomo’s Emmy… Apparently the award committee did not read the October 21 FT:

    How New York’s mistakes let Covid-19
    overwhelm the US

    Rivalries between city and state leaders meant that
    although health authorities were warning of the threat —
    and the need for a strict lockdown — politicians were slow
    to react, potentially costing thousands of lives.

    19,000 excess deaths in New York State alone. I guess if Bush 2 can be rehabilitated, why not every misleader? It is like a children’s soccer league; every kid gets a trophy.

    1. rd

      Cuomo’s Emmy ranks up there with Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

      cuomo has been better than most governors during the pandemic simply because he has been doing something to control it. However, he was typically late to the party in coming up with effective closures etc. and then struggled with providing sufficient latitude to effective locals leaders.

      Between DeBlasio and Cuomo, they let NYC get completely out of control in February and March. The upstate County Execs were way ahead of Cuomo and De Blasio in effective leadership on when and how to clsoe then.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe Cuomo is being set up for a future Presidential run. The awarding of that Emmy would be used to show how he did such a great job for New York so cannot be criticized for all those deaths.

  5. jr

    These are segments from Rising featuring the rhetorical chicanery of one Roger Fisk, Democratic consultant and student of the NPR school of pseudo-intellectual voice modulation. What jumped out of his cloud of misdirection was his framing of the “Red“ states as essentially being welfare queens riding roughshod over the “Blue” states in their low-rider, tricked out Cadillacs. They apparently aren’t grateful that hedge funds and their ilk strip mine wealth from them on the regular. Someone had brought this up here a few days back but this is the first time I’ve come across it myself. Apologies: It’s in one of these two segments, I don’t have the stomach to listen to them again at the moment:

    The hate-mongering is off the charts. Denying people, and thereby innocent children, aid based on who they voted for. Entire states condemned as being freeloaders. Let the pogroms roll, baby.

    1. flora

      Marshall Kosloff was good. Roger Fisk sounds like a coastal… what’s the word?… cultural bigot? … which isn’t helping elect Dems in flyover.

      Here’s George Goehl’s answer to “thinkers” like Fisk:

      As for denying people and children life saving aid based on who they voter for: It has a whiff of the Khmamla Rouge to it, does it not? /not a snark

        1. JBird4049

          Kamala Harris jailed parents for their children’s wilful, or in some cases necessary, truancy while she protected kiddie rapist priests. Now she is one frail, old man away from the Oval Office. How nice. I wonder who the wealthier defenders were? Not that I would dare suggest that mere bribery donations has anything to do with American justice. /s

      1. JBird4049

        This **** has been getting worse for decades. Ronnie’s “welfare queens,” the Clintons’ super predators, then those living in disaster areas like California’s earthquake zones and the Midwestern flood zones after the disasters, then Hilary’s Deplorables, followed by the Democratic urban zones and the Republican rural areas, and now with whole states being disposable with people like McConnell saying they doesn’t want to help the Blue states with COVID aid and the “other” side saying that the those Red states should just die.

        Looking like everyone is disposable now, although some are still considered more disposable than others.

  6. Whistling in the Dark

    > Reform Doesn’t Have to Cost Votes
    Quite a quote from the IMF article!

    Even when economic conditions are difficult, though, governments may be able to implement reforms without an electoral penalty. For example, the cases of Spain in 1979 and Peru in 1995 show that crisis periods often present unique reform opportunities that do not necessarily incur political costs. What it takes is strong ownership by leaders to build consensus in society that reform with stabilization is unavoidable.

    1. carl

      In IMF-speak, “structural reforms” means impoverishing people. UserFriendly is correct, this is the banality of evil.

  7. GramSci

    Creepy punchline to the AI story:

    … Google on AI for healthcare: “We’ve lost a lot of trust when it comes to the killer applications, that’s important trust that we want to regain.”

    1. a different chris

      “killer” yeah ROTFLMAO… because there isn’t anything else I can do about the self-imposed end of the human race.

      Anyway, I’ll say it again:
      1) Nothing we are doing is mimic’ing mammalian (or probably any other type) intelligence in the basic underlying construct. They’ve finally admitted that, I think.
      2) More importantly: we don’t want to do that anyway. If we do mimic human intelligence, then Robot Doctor is going to sometimes misdiagnose Grandma (“we bury our mistakes” is what the human doctors joke), Robot Driver is going to crash occasionally. Robot investment adviser – well if all the advisers are supposedly perfect then the entire system locks up so better they aren’t actually.

      Maybe they won’t be influenced by being tired, maybe they won’t be thinking about the fight with their girlfriend (but if you mimic humans how do you avoid emotions?) but the intelligence we know means it gets things wrong fairly regularly.

      And nobody is going to accept that from a machine.

      1. apleb

        You must live in a different world than me then.

        We already have robot investment: HFT for example. Quants don’t trade anymore, they build machines (aka software programs that run very very fast) that trade instead according to some strategy. For years to decades now. And I’m not in finance, but I am certain there are dozens of companies building ML driven trading algorithms right now. Maybe they already are making their inventors billions or maybe it is all bovis merda, but I do know there are multitudes of them already.

        We accept broken machines all the time. We accept it right now right on this blog from cloudflare which gives us and the admins errors for seemingly no reason. We accept it when our computer crashes, we accept it when Windows, again, has some strange error, etc. And we accept it when there is a software “glitch” that costs lives. Boeing?

      2. Mikel

        They don’t have to fool the older people, they just have to program the kiddies about all the “progress” they will be leaders of…wink,wink.

        It won’t have to work well or be responsive. The beliefs, imagination, and emotions of humans will do all the heavy lifting.

    2. Jesper

      Great spot :-)

      The article had some conclusions and those conclusions indicate something…. For me it indicated flawed assumptions in other areas. Some people believe that AI is ready to replace humans, I’d say that at the moment AI is able to assist humans, nothing more and nothing less. See AI as a junior employee, can do the basic stuff learned in school but will need the supervision of someone more senior for more complicated stuff in the real world. The examples seems to be about believing that AI can do everything because the engineers who designed it are brilliant.
      Possibly one day then AI can do what people selling AI claims it can do today.

      The conclusion at the end of the article indicated some hubris. The reason why people (at least I) distrust AI is because it is over-sold and therefore under-performs. Sell it at what it can do or better yet, undersell it and then overperform. The example of Linux on a computer might be a classic similar example, Linux was oversold for decades so of course people distrust it since it couldn’t do what it was said it could do. I’d say that Linux now is what it was claimed to be 15 years ago. But after 15-20 years of Linux not meeting expectations then who’d believe it to be true now?

      As far as I can tell there is a lot of money in AI, areas where there are lots of money tend to attract: charlatans, gold-diggers, scam-artists etc. Therefore I believe that AI will continue to be oversold and it will continue to underperform as the expectations were unrealistic from the beginning.

      1. apleb

        AI replaces tons of humans. AI is simply more automation. More automation the same way we had since the 1970s just for a different field now.
        In the 1970s automation started with production. The result being we need now half the workers to produce twice the output, quarter the workers to produce 4 times the goods, etc.So automation, machines, industrial robots replaced millions of workers. All we need now is basically those supervisors you wrote about and not the actual workers.

        AI now replaces symbol workers, people who can recognize complex patterns like radiology scans in medicine, or people needed to build a database of dissidents in pictures of a anti government demonstrations, etc.

        Assist yes, assist the few that are left to do more work than could be done before in less time.

        And I don’t distrust it cause it’s oversold: all hype tech is always oversold. I mistrust it cause it allows the rulers to use less henchmen, which means it decouples the rulers from the masses further which means the masses will have it worse due to this new tech. I mistrust it for what it will be used for: oppression in the end.

        1. Jesper

          The linked to article claims that AI can’t do the radiology and that AI fails with image recognition.
          A supervisor is, in my opinion, not the same as a senior specialist. Supervisors, managers and executives might believe themselves to be experts but in my experience the actual experts are often the people doing the work. I know that some have the title of manager or supervisor even though they have nobody reporting to them, to me their title should be specialist rather than manager or supervisor.
          In some areas then yes, AI is ready to replace many. Finance and accounting would be one such example. But even there then AI will not be able to replace all.
          Leaving AI as it is today alone, to do the work is about as wise as leaving a junior employee alone and unsupervised. The ones designing the AI solutions might believe that AI is ready to work alone, if they do so then they are in my opinion likely to fail,

          You are right, the distinction between replacing and assisting might be nil. Someone who would have been hired as a junior but isn’t hired as AI will do the job of the junior.might see it as being replaced by AI. While the senior might see it as being assisted by AI. Same scenario, different point of view.

        2. Dirk77

          Another reason to mistrust is when technology reaches the point where most of the research involves fixing problems of older technology, changing things that aren’t broken, giving us stuff that no one cares about, or enabling essentially criminal activity. Which I guess is now.

        1. ambrit

          My money’s on Werner Herzog.

          Addendum: Wow! Werner Herzog goes directly to moderation!!!??? Now that is a head scratcher.

  8. Wukchumni

    Fresno bishop warns Catholics against stem cell-based COVID vaccines, including Pfizer’s

    I think the bishop is right to warn against the vaccines, but that dogma won’t hunt, its for a completely different reason in that said Rx have been rushed into service with the press being the equivalent of a marching band and cheerleading squad in defense of their assured potential, and by the way that word ‘potential’ is code for: you haven’t a damned thing yet.

    1. jrkrideau

      Good for the bishop. He is going against official Catholic policy I believe. This should be a career enhancing move.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “For 15 Years Sweden Thought Enemy Submarines Were Invading Its Territory. It Turned Out To Be Herring Farts”

    The two researches who found the answer to Sweden’s problem – Magnus Wahlberg and Hakan Westerberg – were later awarded the IgNobel prize which they good-naturedly received. And to this day the Swedish Navy is still chasing phantom Russian submarines. The Russians should just let the tides carry over little rafts with imitation periscopes attached to them to punk them.

    1. Follow the Smell

      Given that the Swedish defense budget is going down from 3-1% from 1975-2015 as share of GDP – even at peak-red thunder when they were were breaking maximum wind in the underwater sails – it seeems as if enemies laying eggs all were more gas-lighting that efficient an argument for blowing up the defense budget.

      All puns intended

    2. rowlf

      The Russians should just let the tides carry over little rafts with imitation periscopes attached to them to punk them

      Sweet! There used to be some really talented disinformation artists.

      Nowadays they could also make a fake sub crew facebook page too.

  10. Sailor Bud

    Stoller tweet is fun, but the counter tweets seem to be the majority. “Dismissing the right wing” is weird, because I do in my own way, as long as they continue to insist that corporate Democrats are radical leftists, socialists, and commies, etc., which makes the tweet functionally against me too, just for a different reason.

    I’m still not sure what percentage of the Dems=commies bit is vestigial, pure dishonest trollery and lib owning, ignorance & parroting, or purely idpol conflation as in “cultural Marxism,” or maybe some other factors I’m not thinking of. As long as it goes on, calls for left-right alignment will have a tender and constantly irritated sore.

    1. neo-realist

      Seems to me that the underlying agenda of labeling all stripes of democrats as radical leftists and socialists is to manufacture consent to austerity policy regardless of which side of the money party is in power. Ensure that the government trough is used for corporate welfare – tax cuts, MIC spending – and not for the potential quality of life improvement and empowerment of the 99%.

  11. a different chris

    But this ban is not a smart idea in my humble opinion.

    Well, what was that saying? “He’s a humble man with much to be humble about” methinks.

    It’s just new cars, he says that in the beginning but seems to lose the thread after that. Despite comically poor assembly, delivery, repair nightmares, very few people are going back from their Teslas. And I don’t know any major automobile companies that are developing any IC for the 2030s.

    Boris’ goal is a bit of a moonshot, and who knows his motivation, but moonshots are actually good things.

    Anyway, the writer would be a really, really happy member of the Democratic Party:

    This can all be fixed, probably, but if you shove a substandard product onto the market before it is ready it will not be a success

    Always say in your most reasonable voice “we hear you, you have good points but now is just not the time”. Pelosi should hire the guy.

    1. Terry Flynn

      The whole UK PPE issue is depressing as I got to obtain insights from “inside” as it were. Our family business produces, as one of its products, Japanese Shoji type blinds/room dividers…. BUT using “spun polyester” (resistant to kids and cats) not paper. Oodles of Japanese immigrants here in UK love them as they hate the regular replacement costs as soon as they have a kid or get a kitty if they “follow tradition”. (My dad has amusing stories about Japanese people saying “great! This will fool my parents but I hope they don’t realise people like you are producing modern types!”)

      Early during pandemic Dad realised “spun polyester” is almost identical to the spun fabric (polyethylene?) used in surgical masks. He retooled and I swear a significant minority of care homes in UK were desperate for our masks. However getting “official” OK to even have our masks TESTED was clearly not going to happen. Our services were not required. Despite fact you can wash ours up to 10x in hot water for reuse. We even were lucky enough to have an elastic manufacturer two doors down from us. So we could have provided a good number of masks, possibly to surgical standards. But we were outsiders.

      So absolutely nothing will surprise me about the government approach to PPE production and commissioning.

      1. rd

        Most surgical masks are made using spun-bond or melt-blownpolypropylene, but polyester is very close in function.

        Non-woven geotextiles used as filter for underground drainage are generally made from either polyester or ppolypropylene.They are generally needle-punched (like felt or flannel) or heat-bonded like the Typar house wrap materials.

        So my guess is that your dad’s face masks are quite effective, even if they are not officially recognized as “surgical masks”. The non-woven materials are much better than woven fabrics for filter purposes because they have a lot of actual open void space to allow air or fluids to flow but they are very tangled and complex so particles get trapped in the maze of varying sizes of openings as they try to traverse the thickness of the material. Woven fabrics have larger continuous openings without the blind alleys, so if something can get into an opening, it can get out the other side.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Wow many thanks. Dad did a load of “non official” tests (like showing his masks held moisture, no leakage etc). Great to hear the “official” account of those types of material.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “New US Indo-Pacific fleet ‘would be akin to grabbing China by the throat’, analyst says”

    Not going to be so easy that. Not after activating another Fleet for the North Atlantic to be used against the Russkies. And of course the problem comes up with having enough hulls to stand up a Fleet. And yet another is having a base for this Fleet. It has been suggested that Singapore be used but I am not sure if anybody asked Singapore first. They are not keen on the idea as they do not want to get in the middle of a shooting war between the US and China and having an American Fleet based in Singapore would make it a primary target. This whole thing sounds like the Pentagon wanting hundreds of billions of dollars more to build a new fleet and you can bet that the industrial-military complex is pushing this idea. Here is more on this ‘floated’ idea-

  13. farragut

    “VIDEO: Top Biden advisors Flournoy and Blinken promise smarter, more secretive permanent war policy”

    17-minute video at top of linked page, with text version immediately underneath. It’s both infuriating and disheartening to read. It’s a bizarro ‘greatest hits’ review of military actions endorsed by the neocon team of warhawks Biden will install in his admin as he seeks a ‘return to normalcy.’ Includes some devastating stuff about the ‘humanitarian’ intervention in Libya. Some excerpts:

    It’s long past time we end the forever wars which have cost us untold blood and treasure,” Biden has said. Yet Biden – a fervent supporter of those wars – will delegate that duty to the most neoconservative elements of the Democratic Party and ideologues of permanent war. Michele Flournoy and Tony Blinken sit atop Biden’s thousands-strong foreign policy brain trust and have played central roles in every U.S. war dating back to the Bill Clinton administration.”

    “Under Bill Clinton, Flournoy was the principal author of the 1996 Quadrinellial Defense Review, the document that outlined the U.S. military’s doctrine of permanent war – what it called “full spectrum dominance. Flournoy called for “unilateral use of military power” to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.”
    [farragut: hmm, the bit about ensuring freedom, safety, or democracy must’ve been cut off]

    In 2007, [Flournoy] leveraged her Pentagon experience and contacts to found what would become one of the premier Washington think tanks advocating endless war across the globe: the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). CNAS is funded by the U.S. government, arms manufacturers, oil giants, Silicon Valley tech giants, billionaire-funded foundations, and big banks.”

    “Flournoy continued to champion the endless wars that began in the Bush-era and was a key architect of Obama’s disastrous troop surge in Afghanistan. As U.S. soldiers returned in body bags and insurgent attacks and suicide bombings increased some 65% from 2009 and 2010, she deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee, claiming that the U.S. was beginning to turn the tide against the Taliban: “We are beginning to regain the initiative and the insurgency is beginning to lose momentum.”

    “When the Trump administration launched airstrikes on Syria based on mere accusations of a chemical attack, Tony Blinken praised the bombing, claiming Assad had used the weapon of mass destruction sarin. Yet there was no evidence for this claim, something even then-secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted: “So I can not tell you that we had evidence even though we had a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin were used. While jihadist mercenaries armed with U..S-supplied weapons took over large swaths of Syria, Tony Blinken played a central role in a coup d’etat in Ukraine that saw a pro-Russia government overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated color revolution with neo-fascist elements agitating on the ground.”

    “As for the catastrophic war on Yemen, Biden has said he’ll end U.S. support; but in 2019, Michele Flournoy argued against ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.”

  14. edmondo

    US terminates Jonathan Pollard’s parole, ex-spy free to travel to Israel

    He will be in Villa #3, next door to that nice Mr. Epstein and his granddaughters. Hey, if Sheldon Adelson is willing to buy back a an israeli spy for a 50 million dollar campaign contribution, who am I to say it’s illegal?

    1. William Hunter Duncan

      US terminates Jonathan Pollard’s parole, ex-spy free to travel to Israel Times of Israel. Kevin W: “The intelligence community will not be happy about this. Which is probably why Trump is doing it.”

      I don’t know anything about Pollard, but I have been hoping Trump would pardon Leonard Peltier as a nice FU to the FBI for treating Trump so badly.

      1. ambrit

        Pollard was a spy for Israel working in the American Intelligence system. He wasn’t just an Israeli “patriot,” but a paid informant. He is said to have compromised much of the American system to the Israelis. The general term used to describe people like Pollard is ‘Traitor.’

  15. farmboy

    “What we are witnessing is a power grab carried out chiefly by some white Americans against other white Americans.”
    “He’s Advised Pro-Democracy Activists in 50 Countries. Here’s His Advice for Americans.”
    “Thompson concluded that the most striking thing about them was not their hedonism but their “ethic of total retaliation” Name Was Hunter S. Thompson.
    I fumbled linking to this earlier in the week, try again.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      “…Movements never win by mobilizing only like-minded people; movements win because they are capable of building diversity, figuring out who potential allies are and finding the smallest common denominator between them. Often that means building weird coalitions with people you wouldn’t normally have a coffee with….”


      If I am reading that Popovic article correctly, then my cunning radical leftist plan to stick it to the trumpalos via pressing thru w/overturning birthright citizenship, followed by using ICE/DHS to cage, brutalize, and then deport everyone who isn’t at least 3/4 Native American back to wherever s***hole euro country they originally came from may not be as popular as i thought.

      I’ll go back to the drawing board.

    2. Watt4Bob

      Remove the /His from the link and it works.

      Great article, and pretty spot-on.

      I read ‘Hell’s Angels’ when I was 13.

      I’ve mentioned this before, when first published, I thought HST was employing massive hyperbola, today I see his writings as totally realistic assessments of our political environment.

    3. Phil

      The “ethic of total retaliation” has been around for a long time, and is by no means confined to “red states.” In the late 1970s I was a student at an elite small New England college. My parents were poor, so I had to work a campus job in order to be able to afford to attend. Instead of choosing an administrative job, one that would impart “real-world” skills that could help me in later life, I decided to work for the Buildings and Grounds department. The men (and they were all men) with whom I worked were of exactly the mindset that Thompson describes – their political stance was summed up by one of the guys as, “We need to get a couple of machine guns and go down to Washington and clean house.”

    4. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

      Too bored to do your homework for you but you might do a simple search that combines the search terms “Popovic” and “Soros”. You can then pull on a yarn that leads to the National Endowment for Democracy, a US NGO whose co-founder Alan Weinstein told the Washington Post “a lot of what we do today was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago”. It’s color revolution time again, like it was for Serbia, Azerbaijan, The Ukraine, and yes folks even back to Cory Aquino. Open inquiring minds might even research the Soros #2 man and see whether he owns the company that provided the voting machines used in 27 US states. Last question: are the colors this time red, white, and blue?

  16. Pelham

    Re Matt Stoller on elite media: Can’t remember where I read it (perhaps here), but some author observed that, in the UK, it should be frankly acknowledged that the BBC is inherently (systemically?) biased due to the simple fact that elites are drawn to the profession of journalism at that level. I took the implication to be that there ought to be some prominent media source somewhere that offers either a kind of balance or a more vigorous commitment to the goal of objectivity. Of course, the UK does have a substantial right-wing press — and we have Fox News — but nothing that quite rises to the stature of the BBC. (Or, in the US, the New York Times and Washington Post.)

    What’s needed? Would it be too much to suggest a publication based in the center of the country and staffed exclusively by bright “flyover” high school graduates, old and young, who haven’t attended and have no intention of attending college? Who knows what its politics would be and which subjects its editors and reporters would choose to cover? Leave that to them to determine. Given the random, weed-like growth of billionaires across this vast land, perhaps there’s one with a glimmer of conscience who would fund such a project, beginning with an enforceable vow to keep his mitts off the final editorial product.

  17. Wukchumni

    We Must Cancel Thanksgiving,’ Says CDC Scientist Who Looks Suspiciously Like A Turkey In A Lab Coat Babylon Bee

    We’ve been here 15 years and there were a dozen wild turkeys initially and how cute they were, but in a trouble with tribbles kinda gig, i’d guestimate there to be thousands around these parts in a gobble gobble choir. I think they must’ve come from the Big Apple, as they tend to be very standoffish if you come across them when driving on the road, in no hurry to get out of the way in a ‘HEY, i’m walking HERE’ style.

  18. smashsc

    Re: Hazard Pay was just a brand exercise

    A family member was employed as a “personal shopper” at a SouthEast US grocery chain. They got their last “HERO” bonus pay in early June. By mid-July, half of their hours were converted to “on call” (they needed to call in between 7a and 8a each day they were scheduled to see if/when they were needed that day). A mere 6 weeks from “our employees are our greatest asset” to “our employees are our biggest cost”. (They immediately quit that place).

  19. Maritimer

    I don’t think the PM knows’: Boris Johnson and the Brexit endgame Financial Times
    For those who love All Things Boorish Johnson. (Johnson is, appropriately, slang for an important part of the male anatomy.)

    The Fallen Idol movie (1948) was adapted from a story by Graham Greene starring Ralph Richardson, Jack Hawkins and one of the best British tweed overcoats I have ever seen on the screen. Director Carol Reed (The Third Man) and Bobby Henrey as Phillippe (Boorish).
    This movie has a young 6-7 year old (Phillipe) who is the spitting image of Boorish Johnson! Not only physically but in all his prattiness, annoyingness, whininess, fabrications, deceptions, etc. And Short Pants to boot! As an added bonus, young Boorish just cannot stop yapping. Alas there is no Pretty Polly for Boorish to dally with and entice. Labour should see about buying the rights to this, then tarting it up with even more obnoxious young Boorish behaviour and reissuing it before the next election. Then again there might be Zipline Effect and it might pop BJ’s numbers.

    This movie is available at your local Torrent dealer. Someone at NC might want to watch this gem and then post a link to it later at NC. Maybe on an eventful Boorish Day. Many NCers, particularly skeptical Brits should particularly enjoy it. Too bad we don’t have similar celluloid fare on this side of the Pond for our precious young Donald. All we got was the Grab Video clip.

    You can read about it here but I would watch the movie first.

    1. urblintz

      now that you mention it… I saw that movie decades ago and easily remember that, yes, that kid really does look/act exactly like BJ. Ha!

    2. General Jinjur

      We watched that movie a few months ago. I’d seen it years ago and watched it again with my husband. We were both in sympathy with the little boy and thought him lonely and sweet. If he seemed whiney and annoying the circumstances of those looking after him were confusing for him as well they might be to a young child.

      I have no opinion on whether or not the little boy physically resembles B Johnson.

      1. urblintz

        Ya know, you are right too. I remember the initial impression of the kid is bratty and a bit borish – director’s choice surely – but there’s no doubt that I shifted my sympathy to him as the plot developed. It’s a good movie.

    3. ambrit

      Wonderful movie. The child as played is believable as a child. Carol Reed did many very good films.
      “Odd Man Out” is also excellent. James Mason doing another of his inimitable ‘flawed’ characters.
      For the present day American zeitgeist, I suggest a watching of Marcel Ophuls’ “The Sorrow and the Pity.” America is coming to look like an “occupied” country.

        1. ambrit

          I can understand why Ophuls split it up into two pieces.
          There are many “forgotten” gems out there. The lesson to me is; “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

  20. Geo

    Gov. Cuomo wins Emmy for ‘masterful’ coronavirus briefings during early pandemic Syracuse. Bob: “The second worst man in America gets a f——g Emmy for “informing” people.”

    Same NYC-centered media that rebranded Giuliani from a crackpot scoundrel into “America’s Mayor” and Trump from a punchline and two-bit scammer into “America’s CEO”. They love rebranding the worst authoritarian cretins NYC can excrete.

    The thing that baffles me is how much of the country (“Real America” as they have called it) despises “coastal elites” (rightly so) seems to love these grotesque caricatures of the mafioso-bravado crooks straight out of a Scorsese knock-off movie. Cuomo, Giuliani, and Trump are like direct-to-video Goodfellas wannabes that should be laughed at by all and yet are adored. My liberal friends all think Cuomo is a righteous leader and my conservative ones all think Trump is a savior. I truly don’t get it at all.

    Is media branding really that powerful even when so many claim to not trust the media? For all the scorn “Hollywood elites” get (and often deserve) how do people not see the charlatans on TV and in politics as little more than the caricatures of “leaders” they are poorly acting as? I guess if they didn’t learn from Reagan’s bad acting they never will.

    “No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. The mistake that is made always runs the other way.” – H.L. Mencken

  21. Wukchumni

    Carnival Cruise boss banks on safety measures BBC
    The cruise ships could never get a handle on Norovirus, but they’re good to go on Coronavirus?

    Also, increasingly the proles on board were fed from buffets, which forced them to eat cheap filling food for the most part, how are you going to get around that?

    When the virus was in it’s early stages, I found amazing deals on cruises for a few hundred bucks for a week with free drinks and upgrades. The cruise industry knew well & good that they were the purveyor of Death Ships (with apologies to B Traven) and were desperate to get people on board, just like now.

    The real solution is to sell said ‘yachts’ to the moneyed crowd and seeing its all about size, they can lord over similarly rich people in their crummy little 300 foot yachts, ahoy pikers!

  22. Kouros

    Ten Foreign Policy Fiascos Biden Can Fix on Day One (and Should)

    We should start a bet to see how many of these 10 issues will be addressed in the appropriate way in the first 100 days. Maybe 1 – the New START

  23. fwe'theewell

    My god, I just clicked on Team Biden Left Derangement Syndrome and my heart is still palpitating. Truly, the terrorism is austerity, aka planned thinning of the herd. Can we really blame those psycho yokels with their tragically impotent ethic of total retaliation? Good luck with those pitchforks. Shudder:

    Morales Rocketto was referring to criticism of Biden by the Sunrise Movement for his selection of Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), a recipient of oil industry largesse, for his administration, along with the Justice Democrats and other progressive groups slamming Biden’s stuffing the White House with various cronies and lobbyists. Biden has also named his pal Bruce Reed, the architect of the infamous austerian Bowles Simpson “Catfood” Commission, to his staff – an ominous signal that cuts to social programs in the middle of a pandemic are very much on the grownups’ table.

    1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

      Yesterday someone commented that I had “right wing views”, avec l’esprit de l’escalier maybe I can now respond: “I believe you might have the polarity flipped, Biden is for crushing Labor with more globalism and is against de-escalating foreign wars. That’s “right wing”.

      If you want some fun, have someone who says they are “left” “Labor” “progressive” or “working class” attempt to finish the following sentence: “The best thing about globalism for me is ______________________________”. Oops, they can’t.

        1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

          My friend just suggested the following: “The best thing about globalism for me is that even though I went from earning $80K at the machine shop to Assistant Night Manager at McDonalds, I saved $100 on a washing machine. I used the $100 to buy some Chinese made Fentanyl to try to forget about it”.

      1. fwe'theewell

        The best thing about globalism for me is the chance to achieve consensus around things that affect us all. There: snatched a word from the jaws of narrative.

      2. apleb

        They can.

        Globalism has lifted the most people ever, by far, out of total poverty. Brought the most people ever from subsistence to some form of modern living with accompanying increased living expectancy and comfort. It’s just not doing this here with you, it’s doing it on another continent far away. But to do that for them and all the rest of the world, you being in the sort of worst country of them all, you will have to radically downsize to take one of the PMC words. You have to use only 20% or so of energy and resources you use now. Which will hurt. A lot. For decades.

        Your question is a poisoned chalice in the form of the minuscule addendum “for me”.
        “left” “Labor” “progressive” or “working class” is not supposed to be about for me, it’s about the greater good for the most number of people, otherwise it’s simply all mini Bezoses at a smaller scale. “I have mine, let the others starve and die”, which is exactly the mindset of Bezos and his class essentially.

        If you go down this path, there is not even the mini step of unions. “Let our workers in our factory have good jobs with wages and benefits. And if they hire temp labourers they can work for minimum wage so I don’t have to give anything from my hard fought for bennies!”
        This is exactly what our unions here in Europe for high paying jobs in highly profitable industries do and did for the last decades. With expected disastrous results for the unions in the last 3 decades. They go to their own decadence, corruption and ultimately irrelevancy quite willingly.

        This applies however to the world too. Either socialism, left, whatever, is for mankind or it’s useless mini-capitalism, mini-me for everyone, in which case you cannot fault Bezos and his ilk for doing it either. Goose and gander, bovi and iovi.

        That doesn’t mean labor shouldn’t oppose and hopefully crush Biden (ok, now I have to laugh at myself and my stupidity having written this….) and his policies of course. That is a localized problem where the upper class takes 60% local wealth and by now probably more like 70% of all earnings vs. lower class crumbs.

        PS: I’m writing this as a person who is chronically ill. My treatment which is going on for decades now, however long I live, costs roughly the same amount as the GDP per capita in my country, which is thankfully paid by M4A obviously since I’m in Europe. Still, I am therefore using at least ~3 times as much as I should use globally, only for my medical bills. It’s one of the few conditions in the US where treatment is paid by society as well btw, no need for insurance.

        So that’s another thing actually which is good about globalism I guess, for me as a pleb personally: the powers that be allow me to continue to live. Of course it would have worked with old fashioned colonialism and imperialism too, no need for globalism. only that my country is richer, on the backs of poor countries it exploits, to be rich enough to afford my medical bills. Look at me, a mini Bezos!

      3. aumua

        The thing is that “globalism” is very slippery term that can take on a number of shades of meaning. And yes, it is a term that is used profusely by some very right wing groups, in case you didn’t know.

  24. futurebroketeacher

    I’ve been reading about vertical farms for 20 years now. If they’re a better way to produce food, why hasn’t been done on scale yet?

    1. fwe'theewell

      As with solar and other supposed holy grails/ “nice things,” we can’t have them until our capitalists decide they get a big enough creamy cut off the top. Extraction needs to be a milky cool smoothie for them. I don’t have a clue which agriculture is “best” or even “appropriate,” because most news about it comes filtered through lobbyistPRSpeak. Why does Koch fund Mother Nature Network and TreeHugger?

  25. Daryl

    RE: NYT’s Russia Job posting.

    The good news is, a Russian newspaper can just re-use it for the America correspondent position with a small edit:

    It sends out drone strikes against its enemies, most recently Iranian general Qasem Soleimanei. It has its cyber agents sow chaos and disharmony in the West to tarnish its democratic systems, while promoting its faux version of democracy. It has deployed private military contractors around the globe to spread its influence. At home, its hospitals are filling up fast with Covid patients as its president hides out in his villa.

  26. IdahoSpud

    Holy family blog!
    Andrew Cuomo legit won an Emmy Award? I thought for sure that link would go to an Onion article…

    Man, the powers that be are making a serious effort to rehabilitate the reputation of a guy who sent Covid-positive people into nursing homes. I guess inflicting needless death on the elderly is cool, long as it’s in a morally superior blue state.

  27. JWP

    Been reading Tim Watkins’ blog more recently and enjoy his perspective on looking at the world through the lens of energy. There is no energy included in economics and it does undermine all models, so where the movement to include it? Probably nowhere because the show runners of the economy reject the notion their economy will fall apart once resources and energy are insufficient to sustain this way of life.

    Would be interested to hear opinions of other readers who have read his stuff before.

    1. polecat

      ‘Tis the economists who will eventually ‘fall’ apart .. limb, from limb!

      Within the immediate trajectory of mass small business closings, backruptcies, immediate destitutions .. combined with even greater untoward pressures forced onto the broken plebs, by controlfreak eCONomic/($hark)FINancial poobahs & ‘perts’ and politicians .. ..seeking, well .. Moar Rents of course! …. I can almost guarantee such impromptu ‘disincorporations’ will be forthcoming in our near future.

  28. Wukchumni

    A team of researchers believes cave ice held within lava tubes helped Ancestral Puebloans in the landscape protected today by El Malpais National Monument survive droughts.

    According to the team from the University of South Florida, for more than 10,000 years the people who lived on the arid landscape of modern-day western New Mexico were renowned for their complex societies, unique architecture and early economic and political systems. But surviving in what Spanish explorers would later name El Malpais, or the “bad lands,” required ingenuity now being explained for the first time by an international geosciences team led by the University of South Florida.

    Exploring an ice-laden lava tube of the El Malpais National Monument and using precisely radiocarbon-dated charcoal found preserved deep in an ice deposit in a lava tube, USF geosciences Professor Bogdan Onac and his team discovered that Ancestral Puebloans survived devastating droughts by traveling deep into the caves to melt ancient ice as a water resource.

    Dating back as far as AD 150 to 950, the water gatherers left behind charred material in the cave indicating they started small fires to melt the ice to collect as drinking water or perhaps for religious rituals. Working in collaboration with colleagues from the National Park Service, the University of Minnesota, and a research institute from Romania, the team published its discovery in “Scientific Reports.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Great article that. But did you see what was near the end? ‘Unfortunately, researchers are now racing against the clock as modern climate conditions are causing the cave ice to melt.’ Looks like down the track that option will no longer be available to support any people in those bad lands. I would have thought that those early people would have simply transported big chunks of ice in a container which would have turned back to water by the time they arrived at where it was needed. Easier that way getting it to the surface too.

    2. The Historian

      Reminds me of my first visit to the Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho. Although it was 90 outside, the lava tunnels we walked through were cold and contained ice!

      1. ambrit

        Are you suggesting that the “lost” Anasazi people were kidnapped by interstellar slavers and are on their way to being the Fremen? Now that would be an interesting plot line.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’ve given out too much information already, but yes they flew a 1/7th warp speed orbiter en route to Alpha Centauri, and to their disdain are referred to as ‘undocumented aliens’ there.

    1. jr

      Reminds me of an advertisement currently running on MTA bus stops where some fashion designer has teamed up with Nat. Geographic (!?) to create a line of clothing with animal fur patterns on it. Why Nat. Geo. was needed to identify a zebra pattern and a tiger pattern is unclear…

  29. Maritimer

    The U.S.-Canadian border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month through Dec. 21 as Covid-19 cases surge across America.
    These articles never say nor do the power seizing Governments say what is “essential”. So it is reasonable to conclude that there is a Two Tier Closure, one for the hoi polloi and the other for the powerful and influential.

    And what of private jets? Oh, anything the Rich do is “essential” since it it theoretically trickling down.

    Folks in favor of these draconian measures should take note.

    1. Jessica

      Not sure about private jets, but a lot of the essential workers are truck drivers and health care workers.

  30. Glen

    So I know AOC can be divisive, but this needs to be said. It would be better if this message came from all political parties, and all corners of the political spectrum:

    AOC goes after Washington establishment in SCATHING remarks on House floor

    “We are supposed to be here to work for everyday people — we are not supposed to be here to work for political donors or political favors or the powerful.”

    Our people are going hungry, losing homes, losing businesses, and jobs.

    1. edmondo

      All it takes is for three Democrats to abstain and Nancy is not the Speaker anymore. Words are nice. Actions are real.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Always said that you should see how people like that vote and not what they say. So Nancy Pelosi has been nominated to be House Speaker again. Unopposed. Not one person from the squad even stood up be a ‘nominal opponent. And like the voting for the CARES Act, there was no formal count but was done by voice so as not to have a written record of what people there actually did. And yet once more I have a link to a Jimmy Dore video where he talks about this- (14:36 mins)

      1. Glen

        I hear you both, and you’re both right.

        Pelosi is a plague, we will not have progress until she is gone.

        1. Pat

          Pelosi and Schumer and at least half of the Congressional Democrats are a plague and we will not have progress until the majority of them are sent packing against their will.
          We will have a better shot at getting things done when the usual suspects fear the voters will take them out, until that happens, and for more than Pelosi, we are spinning our wheels.

  31. a different chris

    This is really good:

    I will as usual point out that socialism != communism otherwise we wouldn’t have the word “socialism”, now would we? What he calls “mixed markets” literally has been actually brought into being everywhere including the US, but only in our benighted country can people be so stupid they think “socialism” means we all have to read Marx and more amazingly means it will kill Social Security.

    I don’t think anybody in Britain would blink if you said the NHS was a socialist construct.

    But you work with the idiots you have, not the people you wish you did, so this isn’t just required reading it should be carved in stone and the Dems should march with it like those MP&The Holy Grail dudes, banging their heads with it until they get it.

    I’m actually curious how many times AOC has used the word socialism. I would bet a soda from the nearest machine the answer is “never”. She speaks about specific problems the government will need to have a hand in solving, and nobody wants to hear it I guess.

  32. polecat

    Re: All That Basil from the bright n shiny ‘futura, as per discussed above:

    “turning thailandese ..we’re turning Thailandese ..I said We’re Turning Thailandese ..MY GOD! WE’ER TURNING THAILANDESE..!”

    ‘would someone please pass the curried ________ ‘( Imagine the entr’ee of your choice).

    Personally, I prefer Massamam beef.

  33. The Rev Kev

    You gotta laugh. So there was a highly secure EU videoconference set up. Real hush-hush. Unfortunately, the Dutch defense minister’s Twitter account had published the login details of this conference online so an enterprising Dutch journalist decided to pay them a visit. Some were not amused but others were laughing as he waved to them. Here is an article about what happened with a comedy gold video of this visit-

  34. Mikel

    Re: Training AI fundamentally flawed

    The entire world is going to turn itself upside down over more fundamentally flawed models than these. Just adding it to the mix.
    What they want to do with AI is “flawed” anyways.

  35. Pat

    Stupidity grows in Brooklyn.

    I can’t decide what is worse, it turns into a super spreader event OR it doesn’t. We really do not need or deserve the fall out if these idiots get sick, but if they don’t there this will just be the beginning of defiance that will eventually be deadly.

    And despite my belief that religion can be a support and comfort for humans, I also despise the ultra* forms, which are largely arrogant, authoritarian, misogynistic and most of the time a massive form of grift for their “leaders”.

    *The term conservative would often be put here, but I reject that asmost are radical in seeking dominance regardless of belief. And that applies whether they are Jewish or Christian or Muslim or some cultish hybrid.

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