Links 11/24/2020

Zebra finches amazing at unmasking the bird behind the song ScienceDaily (Kevin W). Cool.

Humans get sick diving in the ocean, but here’s why dolphins don’t Inverse (David L)

The Botanist Daring to Ask: What If Plants Have Personalities? Bloomberg (Robert M)

Remote Islands Will Be One of the Largest Wildlife Sanctuaries in the World MyModernMet (David L)

Utah helicopter crew discovers mysterious metal monolith deep in the desert CNN (David L)

NASA’s Curiosity rover finds evidence of an ancient ‘megaflood’ on Mars 4 billion years ago – raising the possibility that LIFE once existed on the Red Planet Daily Mail (Kevin W)

Flow physics could help forecasters predict extreme events PhysOrg (David L)

We should hold animals accountable for their crimes. Here’s how AI can help NextWeb (David L)

Psilocybin and Migraine: First of Its Kind Trial Reports Promising Results New Atlas


Chaos erupts at Shanghai airport after mass COVID-19 testing ordered over cluster New York Post (Kevin W). We are so fucked. 2 people infected, and they ran >11,000 tests in the effort to contain it.

Covid in North Dakota: One day inside a rural US hospital’s fight BBC (resilc)


Covid vaccine: CDC should warn people the side effects from shots won’t be ‘walk in the park’ CNBC (furzy)

Some things don’t add up about the Astrazeneca trial results. Covid-19 Data Science (Biologist)

Putin Can’t Take Russia’s ‘Safe’ Covid-19 Vaccine, Kremlin Says Bloomberg

People who recover from Covid-19 can be reinfected with new strain, study shows National News (Robert M)

Damaged Sense of Smell in Covid Patients Holds Clues to How Recovery Might Work Wall Street Journal

Sixty-Day Outcomes Among Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19 Annals of Internal Medicine (Robert M)

Universally available herbal teas based on sage and perilla elicit potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro BioRxiv. Warning! Preprint!

Short term, high-dose vitamin D supplementation for COVID-19 disease: a randomised, placebo-controlled, study (SHADE study) BMJ. Note small sample.


US air travel rises despite Thanksgiving pandemic warnings Financial Times

Why are millions of Americans traveling for Thanksgiving as the pandemic rages? WSWS. One friend, who clearly thinks his family is being careful, nevertheless has a daughter joining who is flying across the country since her college is on break. My youngest brother is first driving across Florida to see two of his wife’s cousins for Thanksgiving, then driving to Long Island to see her mother and two sisters. One aide has her uncle and aunt joining for Thanksgiving. They are an hour drive away. The only person I know who is as stringent as we are (no people not in our household bubble), aside from my 59 year old obese brother, is our former NYC taxi driver aide, whose partner has had four relatives die of Covid, all under 40 and she has two relatives of hers now in the hospital (and since you had to ask, she is white and he is a person of color). Is that what it will take for Americans to get serious?

Cuomo CANCELS his Thanksgiving plans, hours after being accused of hypocrisy for saying his mom, 89, and two of his kids were coming to dinner – despite telling entire state to stay at home Daily Mail

Two School Districts Had Different Mask Policies. Only One Had a Teacher on a Ventilator. ProPublica

Arizona university locks students out of classes for not getting mandatory coronavirus tests KTLA


Coronavirus: German states agree on Christmas rules DW

Germany Can Fund Virus Aid Into 2021, Merkel Lawmaker Says Bloomberg


Exclusive: In latest China jab, U.S. drafts list of 89 firms with military ties Reuters (resilc)

China Requires Real Names, Bans Spending By Teens In New Curbs On Livestreaming Nikkei

Thousands march in Taiwan against US pork imports Associated Press

Singapore civil activist Jolovan Wham to plead not guilty over ‘smiley face’ protest South China Morning Post (resilc)


Brexit: House of Lords inflicts government defeat over devolved consent to Internal Market Bill powers Independent

THE COST OF DATA INADEQUACY New Economic Foundation (guurst)

Peru: Mass Protests Against Hypercapitalist Narco-State Force Presidents’ Resignations


Why has the US sent B-52s back to the Middle East? Jerusalem Post (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

‘Smart’ Doorbells For Sale On Amazon, eBay Came Stocked With Security Vulnerabilities Cyberscoop

Walmart-exclusive Router and Others Sold on Amazon and eBay Contain Hidden Backdoors To Control Devices CyberNews

Imperial Collapse Watch

Divided Societies In Decline Use Scapegoats To Re-Unify Ian Welsh

Trump Transition

Open Skies no more: US breaks with its NATO allies to pull out of Cold War-era deal that aided global security, blaming Russia RT (Kevin W)

Immigration arrests along the Mexico border surged again in October Washington Post

Trump v. Hawaii and Kleindienst v. Mandel Verso. Chuck roast: “Blast from the past.”

Trump Supporter Who Breathed on Protesters Is Facing Assault Charges Vice. Resilc: “I spent the day cutting trees with a chain saw. Helps with my PTSD from election.”


Michigan certifies its election results, making Biden’s win official and rebuffing Trump New York Times

Biden win recognized by key government agency and formal transition begins CNN


Biden cabinet: Inner circle get key posts as John Kerry named climate envoy BBC (furzy)

Markets cheer Yellen pick for Treasury, seeing her focus on fixing the economy and not politics CNBC. More on this later…but even my right wing contacts are quick to point out that Yellen cares about inflation when there is no inflation, and not people.

Elizabeth Warren appointed Secretary of Janet Yellen BeetPress (UserFriendly)

Should Michèle Flournoy be Secretary of Defense? CounterPunch. Chuck L: “Both Wheeler and Sprey were part of John Boyd’s military reform underground.”

The Data for Progress Cabinet Tracker Carl Beijer. UserFriendly: “0 for 6.”

This Is Your Brain On Echo Chambers: Right Calls Biden A Xi Puppet As He Packs His Cabinet With China Hawks Caitlin Johnstone (furzy)

Biden appointees point to Asia policy pivot Asia Times (Kevin W)

The conservative case for cancelling student loans Student Loan Justice (Alan C)

100-mph Tesla Model 3 crash sent hundreds of scorching battery cells flying, started a fire in a house, and took 3 hours to clean up Business Insider

Comcast To Enforce 1.2TB Data Cap In Entire 39-State Territory In Early 2021 ars technica

Apple’s head of global security indicted on bribery charges MSN (resilc) and Apple’s Chief Security Officer has been charged with bribery related to concealed carrier permit. County of Santa Clara, Office of the District Attorney (BC)

Walmart Thanks Government For Completely Obliterating Their Small Business Competition Babylon Bee (BC)

Sarah Chayes’ On Corruption in America, and what is at stake. It’s simpler than it looks (UserFriendly)

The Wound That Never Heals: Lacan Meets Trump notesfromdisgraceland (resilc). Important.

Guillotine Watch

Need a Pandemic Puppy ASAP? Call the Bernedoodle Delivery People Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

How Venture Capitalists Are Deforming Capitalism New Yorker (furzy)

Secret Amazon Reports Expose the Company’s Surveillance of Labor and Environmental Groups Vice

World Bank urges governments to guarantee private profits Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

Ron Howard’s Film to Appalachia: ‘Get a Job’ DailyYonder (Kevin W)

Keep Calm & Just Die Lee Camp, Consortiumnews. Furzy: “Lee misses the fact that there is no FREE markets…..and the traditional definition of capitalism doesn’t feature the multi national conglomorates….”

Antidote du jour. This is Homer, who was a birthday present to Furzy’s husband Ron. Furzy assures us “Ron NEEDS a doggie.”

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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    1. DJG

      The article is bizarre. First, the author asserts that such an idea, a justice system for animals, would have been laughed at in other eras as impossible. Yet the middle ages are filled with stories of animals being judged and convicted of crimes. It would have taken the author a whole ten minutes of research to see how absurd the idea is.

      Referring to AI as a magic wand doesn’t give me much confidence in the authors abilities either. He manages to refer to AI twice as a magic wand.

      What the animals are doing isn’t a crime anyway. Violating Anglo-American common law and property rights? So?

      The most famous animal “trial” is Saint Francis of Assisi and the Wolf of Gubbio. The wolf was stalking and attacking the good citizens of Gubbio. Saint Francis happened to come by–Gubbio isn’t far from Assisi. The wolf was entranced by Francis’s goodness, and Francis discovered that the wolf was hungry. Francis then made the wolf a Franciscan (Friar Wolf) but imposed the conditions that the people of Gubbio feed the wolf and the wolf not bother them. The wolf supposedly lived in town–and some claim that a skeleton of a wolf was found buried in the city’s cathedral.

      Somehow I find Saint Francis still more reliable than the fantastical article posted.

        1. DJG

          Paradan: Lots of big words in a long post that could have been summed up by the Buddhist adage: Compassion for all sentient beings

        2. Mel

          Sort of beside the point, Existential Comics on Michel Foucault.

          Living as I do in association with mice and squirrels, I can assure you: they don’t care about us. I definitely felt oppressed when the mice shat in the dishes. Are mice going to offer reparations for Hanta virus. I know them, I’ll tell you: No. They won’t.
          Squirrels are totally supportive of squirrelism, and they aren’t going to give it up.
          You can argue that we owe an amount of noblesse oblige; it would be a bit easier for us to obliterate them, than for them to obliterate us, as long as our petroleum holds out, but it would be dangerous to rely on any favors back

          1. ArvidMartensen

            Tracking down a miscreant rat or bear is just funny, in the scheme of things where the natural world is slowly dying.

            The major impediment to co-existence with the animal kingdom is not unbridled creatures but unbridled human greed. That can never be solved and so we are probably doomed to extinction. Perhaps the AI cameras will capture the last human creature, but who will care?

      1. epynonymous

        Great video on this from ‘historia civilis’ on youtube “can animals commit crimes?”

        Focuses on greece, but addresses the changes in the late medieval. Note: People are animalss too.

          1. Edward

            This was in the book, not the series. I think it was the murder of one of Germanicus’s sons. The official investigation of his death concluded he had tossed a date (or some other fruit) in the air, swallowed it and choked on it. According to Roman custom, the tree was found guilty of murder and executed.

            1. polecat

              I seem to remember some references to ‘plum stones and choking’ in the televised series ..with Germanicus trying to stanch Tiberius’s broodiness over having been forced by Agustus to divorce Ipsania.. during a half-hearted bout of wrestling ..

              Nothing about any tree though ..

              1. Edward

                This is a fairly obscure reference to p. 273 of the novel. Drusillus, the son of Claudius, was betrothed to the daughter of Sejanus without Livia’s permission, so she arranged for his murder. The inquest decided that he choked on a small pear he had tossed in the air and swallowed.

                Incidentally, Tiberius’s wrestling match was with his brother, not Germanicus.

    2. Wukchumni

      I was almost the victim of a holdup with a pika wielding a Walther P38, and when glancing through the barrel told my newfound adversary ‘who takes money into the wilderness-there’s nothing to spend it on?’ I was allowed to continue as if nothing had happened.

      1. ambrit

        So, accosted by a “pika hika” eh?
        I’ll bet that story gets a big laugh around the hiva Saturday.
        Now that I think on it, you may have been in real danger. The ‘pika’ may have been after your —-. Blast! Sometimes ellipsis is harder than one imagines.

  1. Richard H Caldwell

    Janet Yellen? Janet Yellen??

    Really, c’mon; Janet Yellen? That’s the best you can come up with — Janet Yellen?

    Hoo boy… “Nothing (at all) will (ever) fundamentally change”.

    1. edmondo

      They are on track to lose 100 seats in the House in 2022. Can you say “Impeachment” boys and girls?

      1. Pat

        I would prefer that all those good Democrats who HAD to vote for Biden but who are rapidly figuring out they have no means to hold his feet to the fire recognize that part of the reason they have no leverage is re-electing their not so progressive Democrats. And so work to change those hundred seats to what they want and not just let them go to the Republican version of uninterested representation. Keep AOC and the squad (but with the implicit threat of having to deliver) and primary and replace Pelosi and Schiff and Hoyer and sad as I am to say it Nader etc. from the House, primary and replace Schumer, Van Hollen, Muray etc in the Senate even if the final replacements have to be Independents or Third Party.

        Essentially finally admit that the only way to hold politicians feet to the fire is to get a whole bunch of people ready, willing and determined to say you’re fired to the useless hacks we have and say you’re hired to candidates the blob does not want.

        Letting the pendulum swing between the two fixed points it has been is just as much smoke and mirrors as the election we just had.

      2. Big Tap

        After Biden starts his wars in Syria and Libya again go for impeachment. If I were the Republicans wait till the body bags come in and the permanently maimed are visible. They should investigate who has “skin the game” as in who has any active military friends or family in hot shouting zones of conflict. Doubt any of them do. Only the poor of all races fight America’s wars. Unfortunately the Republicans like wars too.

    2. chris

      NPR practically broke into a rendition of “Dammit Janet – I love you!” at the news.

      I can’t wait to hear how we need to fight all the inflation that will be coming from all the things that cause inflation besides wage growth. Any minute now. Just a bit longer. You’ll see. So much inflation. You’ll talk about it at brunch…

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Looks like she’s gonna be good for Dow 30,000, and cnbc is salivating at what she’ll “do” for “big american banks.”

        And for all the ladies out there, she’s the FIRST WOMAN treasury secretary in HISTORY, and, apparently, gave a “speech” in 2017 lovin’ on all women everywhere and decrying their not getting all they deserve.

        In April she gave an interview to cnbc, the gist of which was checks for everybody, checks as far as the eye can see–for spending money, medical insurance, extended unemployment, city and state budgets, small businesses. You get a check and you get a check and……

        Move over, Santa, mama’s here. Future’s so bright, ya gotta wear shades.

        1. chris

          “The future is ours, so let’s plan it – Janet
          We’ll fill up the banks and our cars – Janet
          Send Bezos and Musk to Mars! – Janet
          Promise the country we’ll help and then scam it – Dammit Janet, I love you…”

          Come to think of it, an invalid Biden in drag being manipulated by aliens wouldn’t be any weirder than what is currently going on. And the universe could use a dose of Tim Curry and the candyman, so let’s bring it!

          “In just six weeks, I can make you a man who forgets about reasonable fiscal policy and all prior campaign promises…”

          “But Joe! What have you done to help your black constituents?”
          Oh, nothing, do you think I should?

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            Bread lines stretch for miles.

            Covid “cases” go parabolic.

            No more ICU beds available.

            Hospital staffs stretched to the breaking point.

            janet yellen at treasury.

            Dow hits record high. 500 points today. 12,000 points since March when the “pandemic” began.

            elon musk adds $100 billion in “wealth” in 11 months to pass bill gates.

            W. T. F.

            1. chris

              Let’s do the time warp again!

              Yeah… I don’t have the words anymore. It feels like we won’t accept that we’ve failed as a country until something obvious happens that can’t be spun. Something so dramatic and traumatic that everyone will suffer and we won’t be able to invent any further lies. But I don’t know what that is. Prior to 2020 I would have thought a plague would do the trick. But now… who knows?

              The US is a small first world country bolted onto a large 3rd world country with nukes. Since such small numbers of citizens traveling this year it’s easy to vanish the suffering of people and the consistency of the food lines. No help is coming. Not during any mythical transition period, not in January, and not before the mid-terms. Nor after the mid terms. The only difference we’ll experience unless there is a huge outburst of violence is we won’t see it on the news.

            2. ShamanicFallout

              “Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen (diabolical laughter)”, Emperor Palpatine to Darth Vader

        2. lordkoos

          I’ve read that she’s a deficit hawk, do you have a link to the “checks for everybody” story?

        3. Mikel

          The narrative they are promoting for this current stock market pump is that it is because of the appointment. That is just the narrative.
          You are supposed to believe that is what this pump is about.
          The narratives over fundamentals is how they keep the dumps such surprises…

        4. Mikel

          Remember the ariticle on NC some weeks ago that said the stock market is an expression of power?
          I think we’ve seen that a bit.
          Early days of Covid – stock market pump so the empire doesn’t look weak.
          Troubled transition of power – stock market pump so the empire doesn’t look weak.

          You get the drift…

          1. Mikel

            The closer to the crap hitting the fan, the more fear for status – the higher the stock market goes until the crap hitting the fan causes it to sputter to a stop.
            You can tell just how bad things are with every new high.

    3. L

      The single common thread running through all of Biden’s picks is that they are people he knows, people he has established relationships with, and people with long experience in DC.

      This isn’t a team of rivals, it is a clan.

      That in turn tells you most of what you need to know about his governing plans, he will focus on “restoring the ship of state” and “saving the institutions” as it were, and secondarily on delivering for people. Under the circumstances people like Yellen may not be bad choices, (she’s no Rahm Emmanuel) but it is telling that the only “progressive” groups that have cheered her coming are big well-funded PACs I’ve never heard of.

      1. edmondo

        Hey she’s a sparkling 74 years old. Is there anyone in the DemParty who isn’t eligible for Social Security?

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Cocoon, The Movie

          When a group of trespassing seniors swim in a pool containing alien cocoons, they find themselves energized with youthful vigor.

          On the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, 3 of the top critics rate it “fresh,” and 2 rate it “rotten”

        2. chris

          Isn’t it funny that the elderly are never too old for public service if they’re not leftists or actual progressives? Perhaps that’s because neoliberals have no hearts and their blood turned to sand long ago. So they and their craptastic ideas will never die…

    4. flora

      The first Washington Post headline (paywalled) that sounds about right:

      “Biden’s nominees have pushed policies that Trump used to fuel his rise”
      By Matt Viser, John Hudson, Karen DeYoung and Carol Morello

    1. The Rev Kev

      Are you saying that people want to have a “Daddy” President again? Been thinking about the past four years of Trump lately and if you really dig into it, Trump was just putting a very ugly face on what people like Obama were doing all along. In fact, Obama was doing far worse stuff than what Trump was doing but now that Trump is on the way out, a lot of liberals will simply go back to sleep.

      1. hunkerdown

        The Most Progressive No Wire Hangers Ever™ is kinda baked into the cake at this point. Who knows how that will throw off the Oedipal dynamics.

      2. William Hunter Duncan

        I prefer Trump to Obama because I prefer the kind of corrupt power that is in your face and unapologetic, compared to the kind that masquerades as protector of all that is civilized. Most of the liberal Democrats I know are convinced Biden is the restoration of the Obama Way, that the unification between the Dem Party, Major Media, Corporations and the Intelligence Community is the restoration of democracy. So far when I have pointed out how hawkish and elitist his appointments are the retort is summed up as “Conspiracy theory!”

        1. rowlf

          I find when I bring up the topic of war crimes, propaganda and financial crimes everyone looks at me like I am a talking dog, and then they pull the Our Democracy blanket over their heads. It’s maddening.

          Maybe it is the only way they can deal with life without falling into an abyss of despair. I’ve heard military veterans explain that either their war reality makes sense, or their stateside reality makes sense, but you can’t have both fit together at the same time.

          1. Montaigne

            “I find when I bring up the topic of war crimes, propaganda and financial crimes everyone looks at me like I am a talking dog,”….

            +1, lol, classic line. And my experience too. At least outside my marriage.

        2. neo-realist

          I’ll take Obama over Trump, not because he’s a great leader, but we get judges (that is the few who sneak through) who aren’t anti-abortion and anti-voting rights/civil rights. With Trump, the anti-abortion, anti-civil rights and anti-voting rights judges institutionalize the regression in rights and makes it so much more difficult to overcome the injustices that are done–more back alley abortions, more discrimination in hiring practices, more people who can’t vote. Particularly when those reactionary appointees are young, they inflict their damage for decades.

          Yes, there is damage from the democratic side, but the corrupt power in your face is of a magnitude of oppression is much greater to the common folk (particularly those of dark skin since they don’t have the institutional power) and turning it back will take a very long time.

  2. Another Scott

    RE: Comcast data caps
    Every time that I see a story about this, I think the same thing, “why is broadband not metered?” All the other utilities (electric, gas, water) that come to people’s houses are. I understand the fixed costs arguments that some people will make, but the same ones apply to many other utilities, especially water, which has minimal marginal costs.
    I’m not pretending that Comcast’s decision has any other reason than greed, but shouldn’t people who use more broadband pay more than people who use less?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, no, no, no.

      I had a friend who ran an ISP and he said there was zero need for metering, this was just a pricing scam. Any competent ISP will not have a capacity constraint. It’s not even remotely analogous to a utility, which has costs like purification and testing. The marginal costs are extremely low. I need to turn in and hope the techies can fill in details.

      1. bob

        It’s price gouging. What does it cost comcast for another GB? Probably less than they can calculate.

        People are stuck with no other choice and comcast is marking up the product by several thousand percent.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        I’ve worked for an ISP and can cosign on this. Having also worked for traditional utilities, it’s just not the same thing when you compare what consumption costs the company for broadband vs. power or whathave you.

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          I was a network engineer at Cisco systems, and I will 3rd this. I worked directly with some larger ISPs and spending money on their backbone networks was not glamorous enough for the MBAs.

          Comcast’s gross profit in 2019 was $41 billion. Thats all you need to know. If I was not so addicted to the internet, and lonely, I would quit it tomorrow. Or maybe the day after tomorrow. :)

    2. edmondo

      Let’s ask a different question. Why do we have to pay for broadband at all? Stick a modem on every mailbox and pay phone in America. All three of them.

    3. bob

      This is some sort of half-assed ‘moral’ argument where morally superior (no one has ever said this) Comcast gets to charge more money for doing exactly the same thing they have been doing.

      1. epynonymous

        I remember paying to make non local calls. then ‘free nights and weekends’ happened, which ent fine.

      2. Procopius

        I’ve forgotten the details, but back in the early ’90s Congress appropriated several tens of billions of dollars (it was real money, back then) to “encourage” the telecoms to install fiber. They took the money. They didn’t install the fiber. There was no penalty. Sound familiar?

    4. hunkerdown

      I worked in the ISP business. Bytes are abundant and have zero marginal cost if the infrastructure is optimally subscribed for the user base. Metering requires equipment and loads down equipment with additional tracking and bookkeeping.

      Calls for metered data almost always suggest underlying motives, because normal humans don’t fetishize measurement. They are generally trying to create new property, which is what neoliberals do, or trying to create scarcity to encourage some other political program, or simply engaging in bulk censorship and preserving the right of the ruling class to create facts ex nihilo.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Just for comparison’s sake, my extremely rural community just got fiber courtesy of the federal govt.

        I now get 200 mbps up and down, which means (under the right conditions) I get music in seconds, movies in a couple of minutes.

        Things improve over time but this speed has been available for quite a while, however, I never saw it while living in the Twin Cities or exurban Chicago.

        One of my first writing service clients was a small ISP. They came to me everytime Qwest lobbied the MN legislature to make life hard on small ISPs. The lobbyists eventually won and now community-based solutions are our only hope.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Here in Australia “the left” proposed national broadband with “fiber to the home”. The right screamed about how that was too expensive at $45B, with the Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the time saying “the internet is nothing but a bunch of digital graffiti”. When they got to power they did their cheaper version, fiber to the node, which they said would cost only $25B. They built that out, which ended up costing $60B. But oops, now they have thrown in the towel and admitted it’s no good. Their proposed solution? Spend another $20B to roll out the left’s original plan. Meantime, Kazakhstan has much faster speeds…

        2. Howard Beale IV

          When I lived in the Twin Cities CenturyLink would always come knocking on my door to get me to subscribe to their ‘Fast’ DSL service. I would always ask the salescritter the crucial question: “Fiber to the premises or fiber to the node?”

          That usually ended the sales attempt cold.

        3. foghorn longhorn

          The Rural Electric Administration (REA) could rectify the fiber last mile issue quite easily.
          For instance, fiber runs approximately 2 miles from my domicile. But there is no financial incentive for atit or suddendink to pay to bring it up the road. What, actually invest in infrastructure, surely you jest.
          Fiber to every home should be a right, not a luxury in the richest, most caring, most benevolent country ever. s/

          Haha, have you seen our awesome new nukes?

          1. Tom Bradford

            “The Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative is a New Zealand Government program of building fibre-to-the-home networks covering 87% of the population by the end of 2022. It is a public–private partnership of the government with four companies with total government investment of NZ$1.5 billion.”

            That’s a Govt. layout of NZ$345 for every New Zealander able to benefit from it. Personally I think there are more deserving infrastructure projects the money could have been spent on. My pre-fibre ADSL 2+ speeds were adequate and most NZ communities are compact enough for ADSL coverage to cope with demands, so I would have preferred to spend on improving the service to the other 13% – perhaps by subsidising satellite as a last resort. (When I lived remotely out here in the twenty-oughties satellite was the only option. It was adequate for most purposes but expensive and had a low data cap.)

    5. vao

      Gas, water and electricity are resources that have to be extracted or produced, and that get used up when you switch on/turn on your end-user device (oven, tap, boiler, light, TV set, whatever). When you do not use your end-user devices, those resources do not get consumed. Hence, it makes sense to meter their usage.

      The data network and the back-end infrastructure do not “produce” bytes and packets that get somehow “consumed” by your computer: the bandwidth is always present and available (barring an outage), you cannot “spare” those communication services when not using them. Hence, it makes no sense to meter network usage.

      When the communication medium is shared among users and has limited capacity (typical of mobile networks), then it makes sense to vary the tariffs according to the bandwidth (which eventually translates into how many bits per seconds can be transmitted) required by end-users — but this is varying prices according to the rate/performance of communications, which is still different from metering of how much information (i.e. quantity) is transmitted through the network.

    6. Larry Y

      Computer broadband networks are sized for peak demand, not for how many gigabytes are delivered. Even at peak demand, there are ways of managing that – including throttling.

      If you consume terabytes at 3 AM, the main cost is electricity.

      If I remember my queuing theory correctly, as the pipes get fatter and faster, the amount of extra capacity you need to deal with peak consumption actually goes down.

    7. Geof

      I live in a suburb of Vancouver, B.C. Our water is not metered. The city has considered it, but it’s not worth the cost. A local environmentalist has said it would be cheaper to expand the reservoirs than put meters on everyone’s home. (We do have lawn watering restrictions in the summer – it’s not a total free-for-all.) Point being: sometimes marginal costs really are too cheap to meter.

    8. DrLes

      No matter what the question fibre seems to be the answer… when there are simpler legacy options overlooked. In Low density rural & semi-rural areas legacy copper can deliver super fast (>2Gb/sec upload & download) broadband to homes using xDSL networks. Simple, cheap & proven- revitalizes existing infrastructure. Can also be used to boost wifi & cell service. For all but the most densely populated environments legacy copper provides the answer. (Genesis technical systems- disclosure I’m an investor)

  3. Tom Stone

    It’s nice to see that that procedure for obtaining a concealed weapons permit in California hasn’t changed, All it takes is money ( Or 100 IPADS per permit).
    It’s a real nice thank you to the right campaign or retirement fund donors.
    Cops love being in a “May Issue” State where they can decide who gets to carry weapons, for the good of Society.
    Much preferable to those “Constitutional carry” States like Vermont where gun battles over parking spaces are a common occurrence.

    1. rowlf

      Old joke about Vermont gun laws.

      A person from New York City in visiting Vermont and sees a person open carrying a revolver. The New Yorker finds a policeman and points out the armed person saying “Look, they have a gun!” The policeman replies: “And a pretty nice holster.”

    2. Howard Beale IV

      One of Jesse Ventura’s big political wins while he was governor of Minnesota was to get a ‘Shall Issue’ gun permits issue passed, given the grief he was getting with his local constabulary when he was a mayor.

  4. LaRuse

    RE: People who recover from Covid-19 can be reinfected with new strain, study shows
    I have good friends in Colorado who are sane, chill, low drama kinds of people – and they are recovering from their confirmed second round of COVID. The husband is a deep red conservative. The wife is a physical therapist, an ultra-runner, and moderate. So politics aren’t really in play here and these aren’t attention seeking people. Anyway, they got COVID in late April – confirmed by test- likely picked up in the martial arts sparring practices they were continuing in person, albeit, outdoors. They recovered from round one pretty easily, though she had long-hauler symptoms at least through August.
    In early October, he had to fly to Atlanta for work. No idea what precautions he chose to take – having recovered maybe he didn’t worry too much about masking. Ultimately, they both got sick again, test confirmed, a week after he was back from Atlanta. This time, he has not recovered as quickly and was close to hospitalization at one point. Last I hear, they are both back on the mend now.
    My guess was that picking up the first bout in Colorado and the second one in Atlanta meant they got two separate strains. This is in one way, a relief – the same strain twice in 6 months would have been really terrible news. Still, it makes me wonder about how effective any of the vaccines in the pipeline will be.

    1. cnchal

      > My guess was that picking up the first bout in Colorado and the second one in Atlanta meant they got two separate strains. This is in one way, a relief – the same strain twice in 6 months would have been really terrible news.

      What if your guess is wrong? The terrible news would be if there were a multiplying number of strains and no immunity to any of them after catching one of them. Add in the vaccine roulette game about to be sprung and we are primed for disaster.

      Jawb one is do not get it. Everything else flows from that.

      1. LaRuse

        My guess could absolutely be wrong. There isn’t sufficient data to know for sure yet. We have taken every precaution I can in my house – my husband and my mother are both immuno-comped and both have significant health risk factors, but I am still regularly exposed to my now widowed 81 year old Mother in Law since she and my Father in Law got it during the Southern Spike in July – he didn’t make it and she is 81 and “gives no effs” anymore as the kids say. She is back indoors for Church, going out to eat again daily, and doing all the things that got her sick the first time. If she is immune to the strain she got in July now, my sincerest hope is it reduces my risk of getting it from her as I have to visit weekly and do the Honey Do items she isn’t able to do on her own anymore.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Hate to say it but you might want to tell your friends that they are not out of the woods yet. By next year the antibodies from both bouts of the virus are likely to have cleared themselves from their systems which means that once more they will be vulnerable to getting either or both of those two strains of the virus again. Yeah, there might be a working vaccine available by then but it might be more prudent to act as if that will not happen for a long time.

    3. Medbh

      My friend is an ER nurse and got covid in the spring. She also just got it again. She said that she originally thought maybe the herd immunity was going to be the best option given that the public refused to take other mitigating measures. It would be catastrophic, but at least be over with quickly. Now she wonders if she and her coworkers will just continue to get covid over and over until it finally kills them.

      One other issue she talked about that I haven’t seen mentioned much is the significant financial strain associated with infection. She was out of work both times, and has had thousands of dollars of medical bills between doctor visits, Xrays, and prescriptions.

      Another discouraging note is how many medical people are trapped because of the consolidation of providers. One of her ER nurse coworkers applied for and was offered a different nursing job, but because it was still part of the Mayo system, he was told he cannot switch over to the other job until the covid crisis is over. Unless people are willing to sell their house and move to an area with a totally different medical system, they’re stuck.

      It’s a horrible situation.

      1. mnm

        The two hospitals I have worked at since CV do not require 14day isolation/days off from work unless you are symptomatic. I work only on the CV floors at both places. We still lack adequate PPE and there are other bad bugs in the world besides CV, the antibiotic resistant TB people make me much more nervous. What a time to live CV, economic depression, forever war, etc…

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Putin Can’t Take Russia’s ‘Safe’ Covid Vaccine, Kremlin Says”

    ‘President can’t volunteer for ‘uncertified’ jab, Peskov says’

    Actually this seems logical this. Putin’s daughter has already taken this vaccine which shows that there is faith in it. But if Putin himself takes it and has a very bad reaction due to his age or whatever, that could be an enormous setback to that vaccine. If it was effective and had such a setback, that could cost the lives of thousands or even tens of thousands of lives. I suspect that one of the tenets of Putin’s beliefs is not to take unnecessary risks or get yourself into a situation that you cannot get out of. If so, there are worser beliefs.

    1. Procopius

      Saying this elsewhere would get me accused of being a paid Russian agent (similar statements already have), but I think Putin has shown himself to be the grown-up in the room. The liberals have been the tantrum-throwing babies. Putin has actually been very restrained in his foreign policy. Also, I have noticed the MSM have been absolutely silent about Netanyahu’s several trips a year to Moscow. It seems to be important to Israel to remain on good terms with Russia. I wish the Democrats felt the same way.

  6. Mr Magoo

    Re: “Comcast To Enforce 1.2TB Data Cap In Entire 39-State Territory In Early 2021”

    We are already getting hit by this. Last week of the month literally rationing any and all wifi/network usage. Comcast finally figured out how to tap into that Netflix revenue stream without outright labeling it as such.

    Next crisis, Comcast will be looking for handouts to preserve their business. It will feel just about as good as giving special financial support packages to airlines after getting smacked with baggage and other ‘add-on’ fees for years.

    1. bob

      This is price gouging. What does it cost comcast for another GB? Probably less than they can calculate.

      People are stuck with no other choice and comcast is marking up the product by several thousand percent.

      1. Mr. Magoo

        The rate is $10 / 50Gb. I checked yesterday. We used 40Gb mostly thru about 5 hours streaming. If it aint streaming, put two kids on zoom meetings for 6 hours and close to that.

        1. ambrit

          You have an excellent point there.
          Comcast is “price gouging” on school children forced to use ‘Zoom’ schooling. Unless there is a State mandated “Zoom School” price cut, this will probably lead to some serious anti-Comcast local governmental actions next year.
          Time to start ‘chastising’ Comcast executives, preferably live streamed.

          1. bob

            I know a lobbiest for Charter. They want to do the same thing. I got a preview of their PR about 6 months ago when they asked for permission to back out of their promise not to do exactly what they want to do now. This was part of the deal to buy time warner.

            Charter stock is very near an all time high.

            Why isn’t there an anti-cable company party yet? It would bulldoze the dems and repubs with very little effort other than saying- the cable company sucks. Who likes the cable companies?

    2. apleb

      I’m curious: how many people are using this Comcast line?
      Or is netflix used the same as network TV: running it in the backgroun all day at 1080p or 4k?

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        AT least in my area of WA state we already had a 1TB data cap from several years ago. Suspended briefly during pandemic, now presumably reimposed. I hate comcast, but it is the only option at my apt complex.

        Long ago i got a router running gargoyle for its detailed bandwidth analysis so i could track. 3 of us, one heavy gamer, one light phone app website browser, and me – WFH exclusively, some video watching. A very light netflix usage amongst all 3 and…

        ….Most months we barely came in under the 1TB wire. The gamer was the worst data guzzler, mainly through installing and reinstalling of steam games, patches, mods etc.
        Me a close 2nd. Now that the phone user has a laptop + remote community college classes (video calls) I assume we will be consistently close to the edge by the last week every month.

        I’ll turn the damn comcast router off though, call in sick, temporarily switch to phone tethering, whatever….rather then go over the cap…i aint EVER giving comcast one stinking thin dime of overage on this mischief.

        1. ambrit

          I read that turning Comcast executives into “compost” is one very popular idea in the ‘hinterlands.’
          Business idea; C-anon.

          1. JacobiteInTraining

            I like the cut of your jib! Happy to implement this idea, if only i can catch one or more of them varmints! :)

            1. ambrit

              You are absolutely at the Vanguard Comrade!
              Phyl laughed at my suggestion earlier, (we have somewhat different views on what is or is not “moral” action,) and said something to the effect that I should appropriate Carville’s dictum and suggest that; “You could drag a thousand dollar bill through a gated community and find a s— load of the suckers!”
              An interesting site with a skewed attitude. Fun! :
              Stay safe up there in ‘God’s Country!’ [And, as I irregularly counsel Lambert, figure out a “backcountry” escape route up to Canada. Just in case!]

        2. bob

          A good portion of that ‘data’ is overhead and ad network traffic. No word on them trying to stop that….

  7. timbers

    “The President can, without needing congressional approval or appropriation, cancel these federal loans with the stroke of his pen. This could be done without spending one dime of tax money, or adding even one penny to the national debt…..Analysts have predicted that cancelling student loans will increase GDP by about $100 billion for the next ten years, but they do not take into account the borrowing capacity (and thus spending) that such a move would free up.”

    In my fantasy world of Good and Right, would like to add a few things:

    1). Should the President actually do this, he should at the same time announce he will cancel student debt every day forever, until the 2005 law is changed. This will effectively kill the bad affects of the law until it can be changed and repealed, so that same bad debt does simply return.

    2). The same day the President cancels student debt, the Fed must normalize interest rates in one swoop and begin shrinking QE and ending it forever, the very same day. This will normalize asset prices, kill zombie finance and corporations sucking America’s productive resources, provide affordable housing, and reduce inequality maybe more than any other single act the Federal Govt can do.

    Do this simultaneously will help avoid a contraction will terminating bad policy. The unduly rich will become less rich, the poor will become less poor, the economy will move towards what people want instead of what heavily subsidized rich and financial industry wants.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      From the link: The conservative case for cancelling student loans Student Loan Justice (Alan C)

      The “public servant” whose, largely ignored, legislative “achievements” include the creation of this untenable, repressive student debt peonage was just “elected” president of the united states.

      What possible combination of delusion and derangement would lead anyone to believe that he would reverse that position and “rescue” the very borrowers that he disparaged so vehemently and set out to punish so decisively 15 years ago?

      And for those who insist on “hoping” for relief from the soon-to-be-installed, “cupboard is (already) bare” administration, the implications of these factoids from the article cannot be overstated: (Empasis mine.)

      Despite President Lyndon Johnson declaring that these loans would be “free of interest” when he signed the Higher Education Act into law in 1965, $100 billion in interest alone is now sucked out of the economy every year, and fed into the government, which was booking over $50 billion in annual profits as far back as 2012…..Some of these government profits are used to subsidize Obamacare.
      Rest assured, the taxpayers will be fine. The federal government has been profiting wildly on these loans for many years, and decades of White House Budget data show that the Department of Education has even been making a profit on defaulted loans! While no one- not even the Department of Education- can say with certainty how much of the outstanding $1.6 Trillion in federal loans is original principal, it is likely a small fraction of the balance- probably less than a third.</strong

      Student loans are a cash generating machine. If you think the grand-bargainer-in-chief is gonna give that up, you’re dreamin’.

      1. Jason Boxman

        ^ This is true. Given Biden believes in austerity and the government as a household budget fallacy, there’s no way his administration would concede the billions in student loan interest that is booked as “income”. The entire thing is unconscionable, so it will doubtless continue apace.

      2. tegnost

        The most he’ll do is pay interest to servicers on loans that would otherwise glean zero. Won’t touch principle.

        1. tegnost

          Adding… taken from the zombie company link in 11/23 cooler…
          “according to a Bloomberg analysis of financial data from 3,000 of the country’s largest publicly-traded companies. In fact, zombies now account for nearly 20% of those firms. Even more stark, they’ve added almost $1 trillion of debt to their balance sheets in the span, bringing total obligations to $1.36 trillion. That’s more than double the roughly $500 billion zombie companies owed at the peak of the financial crisis.””

          Compare this to student loan debt, from your link 1.6 trillion (and I’m guessing if my own circumstance is repeated, that the interest is several hundred percent of the principle)

          Which of these two things will yellen bail out?
          Hint…It won’t be student loans

    2. Procopius

      I much prefer the suggestion here a few days ago to have the Dept. of Education redefine “undue hardship” so people can discharge student debt in bankruptcy. I was quite surprised to learn that the problem is really the way the courts chose to interpret the phrase. Creepy Joe may not actually have intended to impose debt peonage — I doubt there’s any way to know if he knew the courts were going to impose such a stringent requirement.. However, he’s still a [unintelligible] warmonger, so I don’t have to ratchet down my contempt for him. Of course going through DoE would take longer — I think rule changes take several months of hearings and notifications. I’d prefer that to an executive order. Allowing discharge in bankruptcy, which is still a very onerous process, would be much less unjust than paying the vampire squid collection agencies.
      ETA: I forgot about his public statements back in 2005. We can make inferences.

  8. Halcyon (formerly AnonyMouse)

    From the New Yorker piece on VC distorting capitalism:

    “Masa decided to deliberately inject cocaine into the bloodstream of these young companies,” a former SoftBank senior executive said. “You approach an entrepreneur and say, ‘Hey, either take a billion dollars from me right now, or I’ll give it to your competitor and you’ll go out of business.’ ”


    Having just finished a podcast series on Softbank’s Vision Fund and how it has left a trail of destruction and madness in its wake, this certainly seems to be to be a very good analogy.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Utah helicopter crew discovers mysterious metal monolith deep in the desert”

    Has anybody checked it out to see if there is an on switch?

    1. timbers

      As far as one tell, the original in 2001 : A Space Odyssey didn’t…but it was implied touching or disturbing it triggered…something…

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Since the book and movie were storyboarded together, I presume the monoliths aren’t turned on as much as independent observers at this point with their own agenda. I think Clarke changed the shape in the books after the movie came out and Kubrick changed it for movie making reasons.

      2. edmondo

        If you look real closely, on the bottom, left-hand side, it says in very small print, “Vote for Amy McGrath.” The only way she could have spent $80 million on a senate race In Kentucky is to have her own Space Program. The sad part is that for $80 million she could have just bought Utah, become a Mormon fighter-pilot and run against Mitt Roimney with the same result.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Ha…yep. I didn’t follow her too closely, and one difference between Team Blue types is an ability to do a faux religious schtick compared to their GOP compatriots.

          She might not have made it past meet and greets in the GOP.

      3. Jeff W

        …it was implied touching or disturbing it triggered…something…

        I think that, perhaps, that’s something you inferred.

        When the apes first encounter the monolith, they’re pretty handsy with it and nothing happens. At least one person on the moon touches it, too, without incident. When the sun appears directly over the monolith in both instances, “something” is triggered. (In a subtle touch, Stanley Kubrick has the sunshine slowly creeping over the surface of the moon toward the site of the monolith as the scene progresses.)

        It seems, however, that merely observing the monolith triggers a stirring rendition of György Ligeti’s Atmosphères but it’s not clear if those on the airless moon can hear it through their headsets or not.

    2. Wukchumni

      I heard said monolith is actually an ersatz kegger, as some Utahns go to great lengths to hide their John Barleycorn tendencies.

      No idea what sort of barley soda is within, but i’m guessing Polygamy Porter.

      1. Bob Tetrault

        Ya know, Wuk, I actually looked into living in Three Rivers bc of your humor.

        But the Sierra Crest near Squaw Valley is still the best.

        1. Wukchumni

          Thanks for the fine compliment, Three Rivers is a nice place to be a sit-down comedian playing to an awfully large audience.

          I lived near Meek’s Bay for a year in 1985-86 as an aspiring gambler with a skiing problem, and it seemed as if my car was equipped with casino cruise control, for it would veer into the parking lots of said houses of chance by it’s lonesome, and this was way before computers took over our lives.

          I was cured of the odds, and have been clean ever since.

        2. Janie

          Washoe Valley west side is convenient to the Lake and skiing and has way better driving conditions. Watch out for EverTrumpers, tho. They dominate, especially around Gardnerville.

      2. ambrit

        ‘Polygamy Porter?’ Do you mean the grain based fermented drink that uses Candida yeast for that “sweet and sour” aftertaste?
        I guessed that those LDS types were out of the societal norms lane, but….

    3. Wukchumni

      On second thought, what if a merry prankster illionaire type was having us off?

      The kicker being that identical ones start being discovered in awfully remote areas of the world, all of the sudden?

      I prefer my pranks to be on the low down and more time & mind bending in that maybe a few dozen 1,800 year old Roman coins are scattered far and wide in remote off-trail locations in the Sierra Nevada. That’ll mix up somebody real good in the year 2525, if man is still alive.

      1. Janie

        Sorta like the Heavener runestone in southeast Oklahoma. Researchers have tied themselves in knots explaining it but have not reached an explanation satisfactory to all. The state has, however, accepted that there is no other explanation, along with finding other markers nearby, and made it a state park. May be like how that absurd theory of Continental Drift was ridiculed in geology courses until the late sixties (?).

    4. flora

      I’m going with the “art project” idea. Looking at all the tweet provided pics, I see a crack in the stone wall behind the glif and disturbed ground soil indicating a human alignment of the path of a sunlight to a particular spot (looking closely). This makes it look like someone had the ‘clever’ idea of building a sundial – a la stonehenge’s yearly solstice alignment – in that place, simply to confound people many years hence. A very long joke, if you like. ;)

  10. Pat

    Congratulations to Ron and Homer! (and Furzy!)

    And I expect that adorable bundle to be ruling the household in no time, that is a face I would have a hard time saying no to.

    1. Wukchumni

      Ah, a little chocolate lab that melts in your mind, how adorable!

      Did you hear what the favorite breed is in Fresno?
      …meth lab

    2. flora

      So, so, cute. I can smell the wonderful puppy aroma even from just the pic. Congrats to the new ‘parents’. I’m a tad jealous. :)

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe Biden could lease the planes that the Russian use to fulfill their part of the open Skies Treaty. Why not? The US leased Russian rockets to get to the ISS for years now.

    2. DorothyT

      And here’s the WSJ reporting:

      The Trump administration formally shut the door on the Open Skies treaty Sunday, exiting the agreement while moving to get rid of the U.S. Air Force planes that have been used to carry out the nearly three-decade-old accord.

  11. John Anthony La Pietra

    Why has the US sent B-52s back to the Middle East? Jerusalem Post (resilc)

    I don’t suppose it’s because the troops wanted to hear “Love Shack”. . . .

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i saw one of those, once.
      during this incident:
      i was working outside, west central texas, and didn’t know all that craziness was happening.
      i heard it before i saw it….like apocalyptic thunder, rolling across the ground from the south(plane was headed north)…shaking my bones.
      at first, with only the sound and vibration, i didn’t know what the hell was happening…then i looked up.
      huge…maybe 40-50,000 feet…spread of contrails streaming out behind it.
      news reportage later that day, online, had a flight path that didn’t cohere at all to what i observed…their path would have been a thousand miles to the east, and heading south.
      it was pretty creepy….the sound, especially.
      a mere taste of what millions of yellow and brown people have experienced…at least that’s what i thought about.

      (during those years, of the Second Bush Darkness, i saw all manner of strange aircraft…including what looked like a 727 coming in for a landing just to my west, passing maybe 2000′ above my place(nowhere to land such a thing over there)…an early prototype predator drone(sounded like a lawnmower)…and numerous kiowas, apaches, pavelows and ac-i30’s doing insane acrobatics at all hours(such that me and the neighbors called the USAF to complain). also once observed a pair of utterly silent helicopters one night, not a 1/2 mile from my place.)

      1. Wukchumni

        All of the sudden after months of not one F-35 overflight from Lemoore NAS, we’ve had 2 in the last 4 days, one of the sorties the longest ever heard overhead* at about an hour and 15 minutes and it seemed as if most of it was over our house**. Getting in a little extra training for something, flight attendants?

        * they are 2-3x as loud as F-14-15-16-18

        ** this is bad news in my opinion

        1. Louis Fyne

          we’re bombing some Syrians and Russians within 18 months cuz you ain’t respected unless you bomb someone.

          I believe Teddy Roosevelt said that

          1. foghorn longhorn

            I posit that before the ides of March, there will be a significant ‘unifying event’ to bring a ‘fractured’ nation together.
            Get under the desk, put your head between your knees and kiss your azz goodbye.

      1. sharonsj

        Her two fridges cost $24,000. That’s more than my annual income. And I haven’t had gelato since I lived in NYC or was in Italy (two things that won’t happen again).

      2. Maritimer

        There Goes The Neighborhood Department:

        I live in a rural, coastal area. For this region, there are actually TWO, yes 2, magazines catering to the upscalers moving in here. I opened one of these fashionable rags a while back and was absolutely floored to see a $12000 fridge advertised. This for a second home of course. Pelosi eat your heart out!

  12. dougie

    After reading the link about the Tesla accident slinging battery cells into nearby homes, I had a very proud moment. I own an Independent auto repair facility, and here is our scripted response to potential clients who call asking if we work on Tesla products.

    ” We have one service that we offer for your Tesla, and it is totally free of charge. We will pick up your vehicle from your driveway, remove the battery pack, and have it crushed into a 3 foot square cube suitable for yard art. We will place it anywhere in your yard that is accessible to our tow truck. Again, totally free of charge to you! When would you like to schedule pickup?”

    Sadly, we have had no interest in our offer, but I am a glass half full guy…..Maybe one day!

      1. hunkerdown

        One, there’s no real reason for an electric car mechanic to get inside the battery pack, which is a mechanically solid, electrically protected unit at “most” speeds below 100mph. Two, the practice of disconnecting the negative battery cable or turning off the main circuit breaker before working on electrical components is well-established and tangibly teachable.

      2. ambrit

        Electric cars are less complicated than Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles.
        The real “safety” feature for any electric vehicle is the component that limits how fast it goes and accelerates. Without internal limiting components, an electric vehicle could conceivably hurt the driver and passengers from whiplash related to the insane acceleration possible with direct drive electric wheels.
        The technology is almost “old tech.”

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Should Michèle Flournoy be Secretary of Defense?”

    Mark my words. That woman is going to get service people killed by either sending them into harm’s way or having weapons systems pushed to them that will let them down before she is finished. This will be corporate America running the Pentagon and you can see what will happen. In that artice, she said-

    “Finally, DoD should take advantage of cutting-edge industry assets. Many of the leading defense companies have state of the art simulation and wargaming centers that can play any system and can help the department test experimental capabilities and refine operational concepts.”

    Now where have I seen this before? Having a major corporate supplier be responsible for testing and certification of something that they are building. I’m just not sure. It was something-something MAX.

    1. TroyIA

      Well Kamala Harris’ brother-in-law Tony West, Uber’s chief legal office, is reportedly in play for the role of Attorney General in the Biden administration. Not to mention that Biden’s chief of staff is Ron Klain, a silicon valley lobbyist.

      Remember when during the Obama administration Eric Holder basically let every two-bit conman and wall street huckster off the hook? This time around don’t expect any crack down or decision that will effect the profits of Uber or any Silicon Valley darling.

      The life and career of Tony West, the Uber executive married to Kamala Harris’ sister, and who may be in the running for a role in the Biden administration

      1. tegnost

        This is the “biden will crash it faster” formula.
        Imagine the plans for handing everything to silly con valley.
        Infrastructure? Let’s build dedicated highways for self driving (lamberts “control the inputs”)
        Cloud computing? divide it up between the behemoths for, as someone mentioned here but I can’t recall who, protection against anti trust.
        Healthcare? no change, more penalties
        Student loans? Pay 50,000 per defaulted loan to servicers, leaving the rest of the debt intact to start climbing up again
        Corps? Free money because “we’re not socialists”
        Banks? Free money because “we’re not socialists”
        Homeless people? More of them, because…see above…
        All being 100% blind to, or unconcerned about, the outcomes.
        Bonus points if you can penalize poverty and throw those lazy deplorables into work camps/prison. Yay! More War!

        1. JWP

          Spot on. Uber and Lyft’s debt now just goes into lobbying that results in Prop 22 and now this, the only possible sources of revenue. Just another band-aid as they hemorrhage cash and screw workers. File socialism for zombie silicon valley companies under the first section of your list.

          We will finally see what four years of hand outs to a tech sector of this size looks like after decades of handouts to banks and oil.

    2. hunkerdown

      I suppose we’d better ask Kamala’s brother-in-law whether he would allow it. Or the rest of the Democrat establishment that’s been inflating the shafting economy.

  14. Rod

    Sarah Chayes’ On Corruption in America, and what is at stake. It’s simpler than it looks (UserFriendly)

    Both lower courts were persuaded this was a clear case of bribery, but the Supreme Court acquitted McDonnell unanimously, saying this is how America conducts its public policy business, and any inhibition of this behavior would be unreasonable. Remember: unanimously.


    McDonnell was thrust into the national spotlight in 2014 when he was convicted on corruption charges. Two years later, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction just in time for the former U.S. Army officer to vote for the New York businessman who promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington.

    …there are good things for America,” said McDonnell, who also applauds the president’s challenge of China on trade and the coronavirus. “The Republican party has been way too identified with the personality and persona and style of Donald Trump because that’s not who were are. We are a party of principles.

    Some Supreme Court we have here. imo, when he speaks, even his breath smells…
    Try bribing Johnny Law for a broken tail light, and see what that travesty gets you…

    1. Edward

      The Supreme Court has opened the door wide to corruption in multiple decisions. The best known was Citizens United. They also managed to axe habeas corpus, I think, in a Guantanamo case.

  15. TsWkr

    Yves – to your question about having people die for people to take COVID seriously, I think it’s unfortunately true. I had a team call yesterday for work (6 people total), 2 people talked about how they very recently had friends died and now they realize that this is a big deal and they are worried. On these same calls, we have had people talking about a friends’ mother dying, our organization has had stories from people who went on a ventilator and survived, but the proximity seems to be what really made it sink in.

    I honestly think that’s been a big part of the NYC success story — enough of the population has had someone close to them die where behaviors have changed significantly.

    1. dcblogger

      200,000 people HAVE died. we need a public figure, best would be Trump or Murdoch, to make it clear that if you do not take this seriously you will die.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        What about Joe “don’t wear a mask until after you vote for me on Super Tuesday” Biden or Andrew “I’m presiding over the biggest coronavirus disaster on the planet due in large part to my own incompetence but I gave a presser so I’m good” Cuomo?

        Either of them would do fine too.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Schools are a driver of the second wave in Europe, Canada, & elsewhere.”

    To think that not long ago that leaders in places like the US, the UK and Australia were insistent that kids HAD to go back to school. They were emphatic and stubborn on this point. One guy in the US was saying that there would only be minimal losses among those kids which would be acceptable. And it was not for the good of the kids that but to make sure that those kids had somewhere to go so that their parents could be forced back to their workplaces in the middle of a pandemic. And now to nobody’s surprise, it turns out that those kids were mixing with dozens of other kids and were bring the virus back home with them to effect their more vulnerable parents and extended family.

    1. David

      I don’t think the article shows anything one way or another, really. Certainly in France schools have been open since September, with distancing and protective measures, and that seems to have had little or no effect on the spread of the virus. Cases went up sharply as families returned from the November school holidays, and have since fallen sharply with a renewed lockdown, although schools have been open as normal. I suspect that the degree of contamination at school depends much more on the wider picture in the country, and even the region. On the other hand, we’re only just beginning to see the full effects of the lockdown on young children. It’s not just that acquisition of basic communication skills is being pushed back, it’s also that socialisation, and the learning of social skills is not taking place. Add to that the atmosphere of fear in the schools themselves (I’ve heard personally reports of children crying and even breaking down, when surrounded by adults in masks) and it’s clear that a lot of trouble is being stored up for the future. As it is, the problems of illiteracy, lack of socialisation etc. will hit the most vulnerable hardest, as always happens.

      1. Janie

        Somehow, we’ve lost the ability to rear our own children. Not too many decades back, pre-automobile, rural families were somewhat isolated, and there were no play dates or kindergarten.

        1. ambrit

          Phyl and I home schooled our three children back in the nineteen eighties. You should have seen the problems we encountered. Not outwardly professing the “State Religion” was a Scarlet Letter back then too.

  17. Wukchumni

    Utilizing backwater channels, it appears the ‘I Ran Hostage Crisis’ is now over after 20 days as surprisingly the President has cast no more aspersions over election results-having run out of various Plan B’s, Plan C’s. Plan Y’s et al, and the country has been released on its own recognizance and on the surface seems no worse for wear, thankfully.

    Mentally though, its a basket case.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      While it’s still legal I try to spend some time on the other side of The Great Firewall to see if I can locate any so-called “facts” that might complement (or contradict) Beautiful OneThink. They have some very silly ideas over there! For some reason they keep calling 1,000 pages of sworn affadavits “evidence” and referring to the people who signed them under penalty of perjury “witnesses”. There are a lot of people talking about places called “courts of law”, and over there, “cases” in these so-called “courts” do not advance to the Supreme Court when they are won in lower courts, they advance when they are lost and an appeal is granted.

      The Supremes. Once we’ve decided to drop all of that “equal protection” ridiculousness we can set up a system where counties and localities just set up their own election laws, instead of “voting” you just need to move to a county where your preferred candidate is the winner. Much simpler, no shiny new voting machines connected to servers in Barcelona and Frankfurt necessary. And what fool decided that so-called “citizens” deserve “equal protection” in the first place? When clearly there are still pockets of determined heretics still unclear about the beauty of OneThink. They can simply re-purpose the 17th Amendment to outline the rules around OneThink neighborhood struggle sessions and set out the mandatory re-education periods. Some children of white parents do not even realize that they are guilty of the original sin of being born! Shocking.

  18. Carolinian

    Daily Yonder on Hillbilly Elegy (the film)

    The message we’re getting is: “Your misfortune (and your poverty) is your own fault.”

    Yes of course it has nothing to do with a predatory coal industry, poor farming terrain, the long aftermath of the Civil War for the portions that are in the South. I’ve been watching the fourth season of The Crown and Gillian Anderson, excellent as Margaret Thatcher, has much the same message for Britain–i.e. your poverty is your fault. Oddly this personal responsibility doctrine doesn’t seem to have much to say to those who are born wealthy and therefore have done little to deserve their considerable excesses. To Thatcher the poor not only deserved what they were getting but the rich as well, particularly if anointed with holy oil (although she does get in a few digs at the queen)*

    *With the caveat that the show indulges in considerable artistic license when it comes to the facts.

    1. Louis Fyne

      and don’t forget predatory lending/foreclosure practices of banks….whether it is 2009 or 1879.

      but hey…hillbillies are the one victims that today’s polite society has decreed that it is ok to poop on

    2. flora

      I despise the book’s premise. It sympathetically expresses the cultural and economic bigotry toward the poor of too many winners in all its full, rancid flower.

      1. flora

        20 years ago Barbara Ehrenreich wrote “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.” That was before predatory lended, fraudulent mortgages and CDO bonds, before the GFC. “Nickle and Dimed” was a big hit when it came out. Lifting up the struggling was still a thing then. Kicking down the struggling seems to be the thing now. I wonder, if she wrote it today could she find a publisher? If she could get it published today would it be a big hit?

      2. Laputan

        It’s the same Horatio Alger-inspired propaganda which has a simple message: all you have to do if you were born into poverty is be adopted by your relatively secure grandparents.

        Vance is a complete mediocrity, a vacuous, self-aggrandizing gasbag who owes everything to his previous class identity and his dedication to disavowing it. We would never has known his name if not for Trump’s election and the media’s fascination with the “white working class.”

  19. DJG

    Sorry, I am not buying The Wound That Never Heals, and other anthropomorphic ideas related to U.S. politics. U.S. politics is about class, race mixed with class, and oppression by the upper-middle class. Resorting to psychologizing–a favorite pastime of liberals the last few years–is unproductive.

    What? Trump is a narcissist? In a country that has so few narcissists, right? He’s so unusual?

    Now Trump is a cartoon character. In a country that markets a certain theme park as just the happiest place on Earth? Last time I was at the Florida version, I discovered it to be a machine for fleecing the customers (they certainly aren’t “visitors”). I was there on business, so my company admitted that the 27-dollar breakfast wasn’t all that unusual…although it did work out to 13.50 an egg.

    And then this conclusion?

    “As the 45th President is on his way out, the political wound created by his presidency will possibly begin to heal allowing the entire political body associated with his following to dissolve. If it happens, it will be the happy ending of a tragedy, as George Will put it, the format America loves the most.”

    Resorting to George Will? George Will, who has been wrong about everything for some forty or eighty years? His career seems to me to have no end…

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      I must agree. With no slight intended to our superb curator (pbuh), I couldn’t see what it was in this meandering piece that warranted the (important) flag Important.

      Self-important, perhaps? after a while I began reading it in ze accent of a supercilious French intellectual. So perhaps I missed a gem….

      Sam Kriss covered this subject matter much better IMHO, and more readably.

  20. Louis Fyne

    Perilla leaves are a relatively common food in East Asia—-kinda ranking in popularity like broccoli or sprouts.

    wonder if that somehow, at the margins, reduced viral load over there

  21. Wukchumni

    NASA’s Curiosity rover finds evidence of an ancient ‘megaflood’ on Mars 4 billion years ago – raising the possibility that LIFE once existed on the Red Planet Daily Mail
    Nice report but it would have more credibility if it came from NOAA

  22. Cuibono

    a brilliant essay right up to the last paragraph. Surely he jests in his conclusion or maybe i missed the sarcasm

    1. ambrit

      Don’t be too sanguine Wukchumni.
      From the ‘cheap seats,’ the view is “Bitter Ender Trumpism.” We have been seeing a lot of cross pollination between ‘Out In Left Field’ movements, such as “The Great Reset” theory and natural medicine groups! The meme of “The Great Betrayal” is being set up to do the same function over the next four years as the Russiagate Hoax did over the last four years.
      An appropriate scene from “All About Eve”:

      1. Wukchumni

        I think i’m mentally prepared for the fall of the house of U.S.her, its the physical part that gives me the shakes.

        Just after the lockdown started earlier in the year, a lot of friends noticed what they termed as ‘zombie homeless’ people walking around who certainly didn’t fit, and I saw 3 or 4 of them as well, and it was like what do we have here moment, combined with a bit of crime in town, our mercantile had a broken front door window after somebody threw a boulder through it and made off with $2-3k worth of brand new chainsaws and weed whackers in the wee hours that probably wasted no time in being turned into $400, cash.

        Since then nothing has been out of place seemingly, but this spring was a bit of a teaser course.

        1. ambrit

          Even the defensible positions have their problems. Thanks for that reminder.
          One conundrum we here in the NADS are wrestling with, theoretically for now, is what level of violence is appropriate for times when real “poor and homeless” try to nick something from us or neighbors.
          The range of suggested responses to the coming tsunami of petty crime is what the commenteriat here would recognize. I have heard, in all seriousness, people say that murder in defense of property is morally acceptable. I’m not so sanguine as that.
          Add in the fact that most of the ‘new’ gun owners in America don’t have the faintest idea on how to safely handle their shiny new toys and trouble is almost guaranteed.
          Stay safe!

          1. Janie

            Yeah, people like my city-raised 40 something neighbor who decided he should buy his first firearm ever, just in case. Terrifying.

            1. ambrit

              It’s a lot like driving has always been. The careful handler of dangerous items always has to keep an eye out for the other idiots on the road or at the range.

  23. Mikel

    RE: “Markets cheer Yellen pick for Treasury, seeing her focus on fixing the economy and not politics” CNBC

    This brings me back to the rise of the stock market after the crash that used the narrative that the “market” was forward looking. Anybody that pointed out it was more “overlooking” (denial of economic devastation) was poo-pooed. Point out the issues that were causing rate lowering in 2019 and all the expected recession talk for 2020 back then and it was poo-pooed.

    So now here comes Yellen and the same rose-colored glasses are being worn.

    Not once do they stop to think that wars (which this country so easily slides into) could tie up alot plans for that expected helicopter money.

    At any rate, everybody is now saying how rosy 2021 looks and that is what the stock market is reacting to. I think after the big drop back in March, it’s another pump for gains this year…bonuses on the line and such.

    Let’s see how optimistic everyone is in Feb….

  24. flora

    re: Thousands march in Taiwan against US pork imports – Associated Press

    Understand that major US hog producers like Smithfield Foods have been sold to mainland China corporations.

    So when reading the AP article’s statement:

    That [ long-standing ban on U.S. pork] decision has met with fierce opposition, both by the opposition Kuomintang party [Taiwan’s Nationalist and anti-mainland CPP party] and individual citizens

    it might be useful to consider the political nuances of the rejection. US originated pork imports are now, in many cases, mainland CPP company imports via the US.

  25. Mikel

    “Why are millions of Americans traveling for Thanksgiving as the pandemic rages?”

    And people think commercials don’t influence behavior. It is the behavior of consumer culture over any other kind of community/culture although it is cloaked under the guise of family gathering. I’ll make allowances for someone traveling to see someone that NEEDS to be checked on.

    And yes, it will take more people dying that more people know for people to move to seriousness.

  26. Mikel

    Re: Divide Societies…Ian Welsh

    People need to take a look at this. It is about Peter Thiel and he is about to make some serious moves with the money being pumped into Palantir stock. They did a direct listing a few couple of months ago. Check out the history of that company and look at what has been going on with it.

    Ian is warning you all….

    1. The Rev Kev

      Peter Thiel should worry. If all his plans blow up, he has a New Zealand passport that he can use to get out of dodge. Hell, he was born in Germany so maybe he still has a German passport as well which will let him travel to the EU and set up shop there.

  27. rd

    Re: Covid vaccine side effects.

    Hello, shingles vaccine. Had my first shot a couplefo months ago. Going back in a couple of weeks for second round. Sorest arm I have had from a vaccine ever. The shoulder and upper tricep hurt for several days. I expect a repeat experience.

    My understanding is that this means the vaccine is eliciting a reaction from my immune system and should be highly effective (90% range) after second dose. I know several people who have had shingles and they have all described it as the worst experience they have had, similar to many people’s description of Covid-19.

    Have Americans officially turned into wusses who can’t put up with any short-term pain for long-term gain? Communicate what the vaccines will do and how they work. That is what my pharmacist did – didn’t sugar coat anything but gave me the stats on how effective it is if you do both doses with the second one 2-4 months out.

    1. ambrit

      The trouble with your implied comparison is that the shingles vaccine is old tech and has a track record to draw on for predictions about side effects. The “Warp Speed” Covid-19 vaccines do not. For the Dreaded Pathogen, all is new territory. As the old maps used to say about the uncharted regions; “Here be Monsters.”

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