Links 12/22/2020

How to watch tonight’s ‘great conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn LiveScience. Several webcasts.

Light Pollution Is Causing Birds to Nest Earlier, Mitigating Some Effects of Climate Change Smithsonian (Re Silc).

Giant black vultures besiege a small Pa. town. Killing them is illegal. Now what? Philadelphia Inquirer

Google, Facebook Agreed to Team Up Against Possible Antitrust Action, Draft Lawsuit Says WSJ. “Team up.” Points for the self-own by two mutuals?

Lael Brainard: Strengthening the financial system to meet the challenge of climate change (speech) Bank of International Settlements. Good to see Neera’s shop hosting events like this.

The Stimulus/Relief Bill

Six things you may have missed in the US stimulus bill FT. Means-testing and complex eligibility requirements, for one thing:

That’s hardly fair. Such bureaucracies are also Jobs Guarantees for those with the credentials to run them.

How powerful health providers tamed a ‘surprise’ billing threat Politico

Mitch McConnell Successfully Blocked Mandatory Paid Leave For Workers With COVID Buzzfeed

GOP Senator’s Last-Minute Fed Language Helps His Biggest Donors David Sirota and Matthew Cunningham-Cook, Newsweek

Pirating Streamed Content to Become Felony TV Technology. “The bill targets large-scale, criminal, for-profit streaming services, not good faith business disputes or noncommercial activities. Nor does it target individuals who access the pirated streams, knowingly or unknowingly.”


ACIP: Adults Ages 75+, ‘Frontline’ Workers Get COVID-19 Vaccine Next MedPage Today

Rio Grande Hospital Workers Turned Down the Vaccine. A Senator and a Sheriff’s Deputy Lined Up Instead. Pro Publica

3 lessons from Stanford’s Covid-19 vaccine algorithm debacle STAT

* * *

Possible Aerosol Transmission of COVID-19 Associated with an Outbreak in an Apartment in Seoul, South Korea, 2020 International Journal of Infectious Diseases. From the Abstract: “We investigated the epidemiological relationship among infected cases on a recent cluster infection of COVID-19 in an apartment building in Seoul, South Korea. All infected cases were found along two vertical lines of the building, and each line was connected through a single air duct in the bathroom for natural ventilation. Our investigation found no other possible contact between the cases than the airborne infection through a single air duct in the bathroom. The virus from the first infected case can be spread to upstairs and downstairs through the air duct by the (reverse) stack effect, explaining the air movement in a vertical shaft…. This study suggests aerosol transmission, especially indoors with insufficient ventilation, which is underappreciated.” Handy diagram:

Flow-Mediated Susceptibility and Molecular Response of Cerebral Endothelia to SARSCoV-2 Infection (PDF) Stroke (nvl) (press release). From the Abstract: “Brain endothelial cells are susceptible to direct SARS-CoV-2 infection through flow-dependent expression of ACE2.” Caveat: Study is in vitro.

Vaccinating Pregnant and Lactating Patients Against COVID-19 (practice advisory) American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

* * *

Four Months That Left 54,000 Dead From COVID in Long-Term Care AARP

Trump Officials Tried To ‘Cripple’ The CDC’s COVID-19 Response, House Panel Says AP

How Effective Is the Mask You’re Wearing? You May Know Soon NYT

How Science Beat the Virus The Atlantic

U.S. physicists rally around ambitious plan to build fusion power plant Science

Why An ‘Operation Warp Speed’ Approach Is Needed For Climate Change Forbes


Breakingviews – China’s economic triumphalism gets harder to take Reuters

An 18th Procrastination: Season finale A Procrastination. Deck: “In which Hong Kong reaches the end of a long year.”

China Used Stolen Data to Expose CIA Operatives in Africa and Europe Foreign Policy

Taiwan reports first locally transmitted COVID-19 case in more than 8 months Channel News Asia


‘This winter, our hearts are burning embers’ People’s Archive of Rural India


Nagorno-Karabakh and the Fresh Scars of War The National Interest

How the Army Out-Innovated the Islamic State’s Drones War on the Rocks

Kenya’s Mobile-Banking Pioneer to Expand into Money Management Bloomberg


‘Sick man of Europe’: UK cut off over fears about new COVID strain Reuters

Work begins on ‘Freedom passports’ to allow those who test negative into pubs Mirror

A medieval European union: why the Hanseatic League still matters History Extra


Brexit transition period will not be extended amid the border chaos linked to new Covid strain, No 10 says iNews but Britain and France race to negotiate reopening of borders FT

U.K. Gets Preview of Brexit Chaos With France’s Truck Blockade Bloomberg. Bad timing:


It would be great if Trump pardoned Assange, because Biden certainly won’t:

Ontario will enter strict lockdown on Dec. 26, nearly all non-essential businesses to close CTV News

Trump Transition

Barr: No special counsel needed on election fraud or Hunter Biden NBC. So I guess that entitles Barr to a Resistance party card?

Democrats en Deshabille

Congress to approve $1.375 billion for border wall in 2021 The Hill. I just don’t understand why liberal Democrats keep giving Hitler new toys.

Sister Insider Katha Pollitt, Democracy Now. Book review of Molly Ball’s Pelosi. Deck: “Nancy Pelosi has broken more glass ceilings than most women will ever see. But does America wants [sic] badass women?”

Our Famously Free Press

Maybe Freedom is Having No Followers to Lose Zeynep Tufecki, Insight. On the dynamics of social media:

[O]n social media, the dynamic for in-group status assertions and status competition is strong—and getting stronger for this topic as the pandemic rages on. I’m no stranger to this dynamic, as it is something that’s very common among social movements (something I’ve studied at length) and, well, pretty much any human group….

One really interesting pattern in all this status-justling as well as substantive and important gatekeeping has been that sometimes, the people with the highest status—leaders in a scientific field—can be less caring of the status aspect of all this. In fact, that is one of the advantages of the academy and the process of tenure. The same dynamics that produces the occasional curmudgeon Nobel laureate in chemistry who makes ridiculously wrong claims about epidemiology produces, in my impression, an often larger number of people on top of their fields who are beyond status competition and can be bold.

How The New Yorker Fell Into the “Weird Japan” Trap The New Republic. Add, to the New Yorker and The Atlantic debacles mentioned in the article, Rukmini Callimachi’s recent fabrications at the New York Times. Happily for Callimachi, she landed on her feet, being simply moved to another beat, rather in the manner of a well-networked cleric being moved from one parish to another parish in the Catholic church.


Boeing should build 757 replacement in Washington Leeham News and Analysis. Persuasive, although Boeing management might not find it so, given that their main priority is busting the unions, as opposed to building planes that don’t fall out of the sky or catch fire.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Robert E. Lee’s Statue Was Finally Taken Out of Congress Vice (Re Silc). Of the photo accompanying the article, Re Silc comments: “I like the chains.” Lambert here: One of the many pleasures of the Civil War podcast is listening to Rich and Tracy politely and methodically explain how Lee lost the Battle of Gettysburg through inferior generalship. We are now on Episode #347 (!). That said, we’ve now had two enormous Black uprisings that culminated in episodes of statue removal, fundamentally a form of symbol manipulation without effect on material conditions. Something to think about?

Imperial Collapse Watch

West Point accuses more than 70 cadets of cheating in worst academic scandal in nearly 45 years USA Today

Class Warfare

Hospital Laundry Workers Fear Their Infection Risk Is Rising Bloomberg

The Man I Saw Them Kill Elizabeth Bruenig, NYT. Capital punishment.

Sperm Count Zero GQ

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Robert Hahl

    re: Possible Aerosol Transmission of COVID-19 Associated with an Outbreak in an Apartment in Seoul…

    “Thus, we infer that the first infected person probably released the virus during a shower in the bathroom by coughing, breathing, singing, or flushing…”

    Sounds like toilet plums are the biggest threat but they are downplaying that scenario. My practice is to stay away from highway rest stops and campgrounds with flush toilets.

    1. chris

      Sanitary vent stacks with dried out traps were a source of SARS transmission in high rise apartment buildings in Hong Kong in 2003. We know that coronavirus can get into the gut and that you’re actually able to transmit viral particles with an infectious potentialfor longer through the gut than through your breathing. That’s why a big change that needs to be made in many of the public spaces in our country is the addition of toilet seat lids. It’s also a problem that comes from the recent phenomenon of ghost owners. Traps dry out due to non-use. Unless they’re prepared to be kept dormant for long periods of time your appliances can cause a lot of problems for those who are still living in the building. All these investment properties, vacant AirBnB places, or flats where people have been evicted and the landlord hasn’t done anything about it can create a lot of problems.

  2. zagonostra

    >Spend Carefully This Christmas – The American Conservative

    When I go the “Right” I get this:

    I make these reflections because a very special Christmas approaches—marked by the pandemic, by health restrictions, a certain generalized sadness and a worrying economic and employment situation. And perhaps the time has come to stop complaining and take action. And no, I’m not suggesting that you dress like a Cristero rebel and start setting fire to snowy shop windows lacking religious motifs. Maybe it’s enough that you pay a little attention to where you’re putting your dollars this time. That’s part of your power.

    When I go to the “Left” I get this response to Forcethevote:

    The Left’s goals can’t be won with procedural tricks or exhorting individual leaders to fight harder. They have to be won by organizing the working class at the base of society and, hand in hand with that, building an electoral left that can, instead of using some dubious “leverage” against centrists for the sake of symbolism, defeat those centrists and take power for itself…Voluntarism is dangerous for the same reason that it’s dangerous to go swimming in a riptide and tell yourself that you won’t drown if you only paddle hard enough. We need to understand why we’re losing if we ever want to win.

    Time to step back and try and get a broader perspective to view the present:

    Mankind is divided into social groups each of which is set apart from other groups by beliefs, sentiments, habits and interests that are peculiar to it. The individuals who belong to one such group are held together by a consciousness of common brotherhood and held apart from other groups by passions and tendencies that are more or less antagonistic and mutually repellent (page 72)

    1. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

      Jacobin are sheepdogs for the Democrats. You should look a little bit harder for Left perspectives outside the “herd immunity is good actually” people.

      1. Mao "No Landlords Now" (Except ME) Zedong

        “Jacobin are sheepdogs for the Democrats. You should look a little bit harder for Left perspectives outside the “herd immunity is good actually” people.”

        The whole pseudo-left are nothing but social fascists.

  3. FreeMarketApologist

    Re COVID transmission in apartment buildings: “… each line was connected through a single air duct in the bathroom for natural ventilation….”

    Many older high-rises have these, typically in bathrooms, kitchens, common hallways, and service areas (i.e., the room with the garbage chute). There is usually a fan on the roof which runs constantly, always pulling air out of the apartment. Unfortunately, building managers may not keep the fans in working order, or the ducts have become clogged with years of dust.

    This should prompt building owners and tenants to get these systems working properly.

    1. Samuel Conner

      The thought occurs to cover the duct inlets with some kind of filter, to at least retard back-air-flow from the stack into the living spaces.

      1. chris

        See my response above. Covering vents won’t do a lot of good in this case if what we saw in Hong Kong is happening in other places.

        Properly handling filters at this time is a cost a lot of building managers don’t know how to do, or don’t have the budget to do. In non-pandemic times the filters for large public spaces (think malls or casinos) should be treated a hazardous and require a lot of PPE to safely remove and dispose. Now? Now you need people willing to do it and that have full types suits, respirators, gloves, goggles, etc. And then you need to be able to dispose of the filters as biohazards. That costs extra.

    2. carl

      Perhaps it’s hidden somehow, but I currently perceive zero attention to ventilation. Not seeing how anyone who’s well-informed would consider indoor dining at a restaurant, for example, without assurances of how the ventilation system operates. I can certainly understand why restaurant owners wouldn’t want to address this; in many cases, it would seem to be expensive to retrofit HVAC systems.
      We’re not still having a debate between droplets and aerosols, are we?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Attention to ventilation could be hidden in Carrier’s stock price.

          Good point. Though I’m not sure that’s the same as retrofitting or cleaning HVAC systems.

      1. Phacops

        I don’t know about zero interest and think that aerosol transmission has been pretty well established by this and other studies.

        But, a HVAC retrofit to proper, protective, airflow could prove to be so expensive that resources are not there. Consider a space with uniform (filtered) airflow from the ceiling, downward, with return chases around the perimeter. That also indicates the need for proper design and balancing including chillers, reheaters, and humidity control in the air handler unit. This does not even remotely resemble systems most people are familiar with and can well be unafordable.

        But, interestingly, some proper control of airflow is showing up in consumer materials. I just installed a bathroom fan by Panasonic that responds to exhaust duct pressure automatically.

      2. Mikel

        And there is a bigger problem: all of this still needs to be done even if there are vaccines. Too many will look at the vaccine as a way to save money by not taking care of ventilation issues.
        There will be more deadly airborne viruses coming.

    3. Phacops

      The other issue with commercial HVAC design is turbulent flow, especially with systems subject to flow fluctuations. Induction of backflow in branches from a common chase (ducting) in turbulent flow conditions is not uncommon.

      The chip and pharma industries reliant on particle/aseptic control spend enormously on the design, validation, and maintenance of HVAC systems to maintain unidirectional, laminar, flow, with little turbulence around critical operations. Think of what that means for open filling and capping operations for injectable drugs that cannot be sterilized by common methods, like high temperature steam sterilization.

  4. Carla

    Just a note: The article entitled “Sperm Count Zero” dates to Sept. 2018. Still relevant of course, but not current.

    1. Robert Hahl

      The article never tries to estimate when birth rates might start to drop. The last I heard, human population rises by 200,000 per day (350,000 births, 150,000 deaths), about 80 million per year. I say the less sperm the better.

      1. Terry Flynn

        I say the less sperm the better.

        As the actress said to the Bishop.

        Awww come on you were all thinking it!

        1. Tim W

          Ah. The ever appropriate Actress/Bishop trope. Is it me or is it a singularly UK invention?
          The ‘that’s what she said’ alternative just doesn’t measure up IMO.
          Thanks for that

      2. Arizona Slim

        And isn’t that the point of the snip down below? To reduce the emitted sperm count to zero? Anecdotally, I’ve heard couples say that their relations markedly improved after the mister got the snip.

        1. SE

          It is strange that more women (especially in America) get tubal ligation than men get vasectomies, given the latter is by far the easier procedure. Artifact of our ideas of masculinity and sense that birth control and childbearing bearing are the women’s burden.

          That said, most people prefer to have children before undergoing this procedure. I think you would have to know that the trend is continuing to see a drop in birth rate. Certainly, I see overpopulation as more of a problem than low sperm count on its face. I see as a greater problem the fact that low sperm count may be one symptom the mass biological experiment ( that that we are running on all of nature, ourselves included.

          1. ex-PFC Chuck

            Random fact of interest. A friend who was tragically killed in a vehicle accident a few months ago through absolutely no fault of his own was active in the Tulsi Gabbard presidential campaigne and manned its booth at the MN state fair in 2019. One day Tulsi’s father was there and during a lull in the traffic flow he told my friend Tulsi and her sister were conceived after he had had a vasectomy reversed.

      3. Ander

        In my own perspective, a growing human population is no problem. This planet receives enough solar energy, and stores enough chemical energy and geothermal energy, to support a population of humans, their agriculture, and wildlife far greater than what it supports currently. Resource and space management will be key, and while I don’t think a more slowly growing population is a bad thing, I firmly believe this planet could easily support 100 billion, or even 500 billion humans without too much trouble.

        1. CuriosityConcern

          It seems like waste heat and co2 expiration would make 500 billion hard to accomodate, that’s just my first thought on reading that. Haven’t attempted any math.

          1. Wukchumni

            I eagerly await the trillionth human, but the only way feasible would be to shrink us down to the size of a tic-tac, not that we wouldn’t still have sparkling personalities.

        2. juno mas

          The issue isn’t enough solar energy, it’s trapped heat. Arizona is rapidly becoming unliveable because of it.

          And what about loss of habitat of non-human species.

          And dwindling resources will be tough to manage without too much trouble? Clean water is a dwindling resource.

        3. Dirk77

          At 500G, that’s a land area of 17×17 m^2 (55×55 ft^2) for every person, assuming the mountains are also populated.

        4. Temporarily Sane

          I don’t know about 500 billion but when Bill Gates and his pals talk about ‘overpopulation’ they’re not talking about culling the herd of carbon spewing multibillionaires. Sterilizing young women in sub-Saharan Africa is more along their line of thinking.

          If the Davos crowd and wealthy northern capitalists are so worried about overpopulation they should lead by example and promptly volunteer to get themselves and their families sterilized.

          When these people talk about “solving” global problems what they really mean is people with the least power and the fewest resources paying the price, figuratively and literally, so they can continue living their unsustainable, resource hogging lifestyles with impunity.

          The problem is always somebody else, it’s never them. So when the super wealthy sociopath class starts talking about “final solutions” and “making the world a better place” it’s probably a good idea to stock up on pitchforks and sturdy lengths of rope and finding out where they live.

          1. JBird4049

            It doesn’t have to be “the super wealthy sociopath class” either. The (upper) middle class and the intelligentsia often also love, love, love them eugenics as well. Reading on the subject for the United States is almost as scary and depressing as for Germany. Actually, Social Darwinism is as American as apple pie and a bigger favorite here than anywhere else.

            I think that Identity Politics and the whole Deplorables are racist meme is often use to deflect and avoid any responsibility for the actions of both themselves and their class or group; the labeling of others as bigots, in effect inherently defective racists, to avoid doing any of the hard work of truly helping others and improving society especially if it lowers your own comparatively high wealth and status.

          2. ArvidMartensen

            Where is the reference for Gates and other billionaires discussing sterilisation of young Sub-Saharan women?
            Or is that just an urban myth put out by those who want unstoppable population growth so that they can sell more stuff and get rich like Gates.

        5. rhodium

          But…. Why? Also, with the track record of humanity, even if it were possible, we’d more likely get a genocidal world war before we all pack in like sardines. Many if not most animals will become extinct on the way to figuring it out.

          We still haven’t figured out what the meaning of life is anyway. Instinctive procreation followed by ecology balancing predation? Yes, in which case there is nothing nature loves more right now than covid.

      4. Earl

        No mention in that article of
        “Pesticides” nor “Genetically Modified Food.”

        Farmers have reported that their pigs, fed GM corn, had low conception rates, false pregnancies or gave birth to bags of water. Both male and female pigs became sterile.

        The EU has banned the use of GMO products throughout Europe, while the United States continues to allow them throughout our nation. While some of the top food manufacturers like Kellogg®, Heinz®, Pepsi®, Coke® and Kraft®, have changed their recipes in Europe, no longer using GMO ingredients in their products, those same products sold in the States continue to use these ingredients, thanks to the lack of action being taken by the FDA which has yet to require food manufacturers to list the use of GMO foods on their packages.

      5. Old Jake

        This same phenomenon is likely happening throughout the animal kingdom. Artificial means of reproduction will be useless in a world where no other animal life is reproducing.

    2. Pelham

      On the general subject, the reaction among many is welcoming. Fewer human beings equals a healthier planet, and so on.

      Yes, planetarily that may hold. But isn’t there an argument to be made that if a society isn’t constantly reproducing itself — not necessarily expanding but basically holding steady with a mix of generations alive and active — that all manner of societal ills will ensue? For one thing, we end up with a dearth of workers and an overabundance of frail elderly. And speaking for myself alone, I would find it depressing to live in a world that’s choosing to just die off. (And as the article notes, we may be indirectly making such a choice by ignoring our environment’s saturation with endocrine disruptors.)

      1. Tom Bradford

        The Black Death in mid-C14th Europe triggered some substantial and lasting social changes arguably for the better, bringing the end of the feudal system and breaking the iron grip of the Catholic Church which had so spectacularly failed to save the world.

        Hopefully this won’t be a bad but we’re already seeing changes in the zeitgeist that needed a shock to the system to give them teeth and perhaps some permanence – working from home, an appreciation of what it takes to fill supermarket shelves, the fragility of health services, the power of science and its weaknesses, the incompetence and/or helplessness of Governments, the disdain of the rich for the rest of society – that might prove to be seeds that take root in the aftermath.

        A falling birthrate on top of this, perhaps with climate crisis on top of that, might well set the scene for profound and overdue social changes.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Well when you get down to it, Scotty from Marketing is a bit of a plank himself. Country’s’ trying to pull the economy out of the chaos of the pandemic so he gets the bright idea to pick a fight with our biggest trade partner – and then proceeds to bring a knife to a gun fight. I hope that he enjoys his gong.

      1. Wukchumni

        Scotty from Marketing really walked the plank back on that gaffe, and is wholly deserving of a major award for the holidays.

      2. skippy

        @RevKev ….

        Don’t you find it curious that Republicans don’t seem to have a condition about Russia, but more than make up with it wrt China’s anti freedom and liberty – state – totalitarianism thingy.

        Corporatist Liberal Dems on the other hand don’t bat an eye at China, post Bill*, but think Russia is the biggest threat to liberty and freedom ev’a …

        * Remember them having an nanna over that back in the day, Bill and burgeoning Chinese market political donations, Republican anguish at having its legacy US/Atlantic Corporate donations pool diluted by the resurgence of a once conquered people that embraced the Marxist dark side anti spiritual materialism thingy.

        Best bit is the LNP and right wing ALP had no dramas selling off Australia to Atlantic investors – back in the day – ***in the open markets*** in the name of efficiency [tm]/government crowding out [theft] and now take umbrage when the Chinese are doing the same open market machinations ….

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Breakingviews – China’s economic triumphalism gets harder to take”

    In a fit of remorse, China decides to adopt western practices in dealing with the Pandemic such as non-compulsory wearing of masks, partial instead of full lock-downs, keeping bars & restaurants open to help the economy and opening up the country to tourists from places such as America, Europe and Brazil. Chinese officials state that they are fully confident that in no time at all they will be on par with the west with their economy.

    1. K.k

      Not to forget making sure to keep their airports open to u.k. and the rest of the world with practically the absolute minimal effort to contain the spread. Im guessing since the Chinese require visitors from abroad a mandatory two week quarantine and multiple negative tests before being allowed to enter their cities they probably don’t have to worry about the new variant from the u.k or SA?

      In all seriousness, can someone please confirm with first hand knowledge or information shared by family and friends about the protocols for foreigners entering china. Are they still as strict as they were several months ago? I saw a video of some American expat who had left china as the news about the virus started to spread in china in early 2020, of course he was horrified by how the u.s was dealing with the virus and went back. When he and his family got back to china, he taped much of their arrival at the airport and the protocols , i was shocked! They were treating it like it was freking ebola! Ok, thats a bit hyperbolic , but they were treating it very seriously.
      They separated him from his wife and kids , he got his own room , the wife and kids got their own room . They quarantined for two weeks, were tested again, and sent on their way. He was annoyed by having to be separated from his family , and was not particularly excited about the quality of food served but ultimately said he appreciated them actually trying to do something to contain the spread.

      1. jay

        A bit late to reply, but the answer is yes it is that serious or even more so now. I can’t comment about the man staying separately from his family. In order to get a green qr code to board a flight, you need negative test results from two kinds of test from within, I think, 48 hours of the departure. When you arrive you quarantine for 2 weeks, and are tested several times. You even have to put a chemical into the toilette and wait before you can flush.

        1. K.k

          Thanks you kindly for the feedback. I figured it would be foolish to loosen travel restrictions, but seeing some of the recent footage out of Wuhan and the seemingly post covid roaring 20s kicking off out there had me wondering.
          Its last week of December and the u.s or rather the state of ny is finally requiring u.k residents flying in to bring along a negative test. A friends mom was flying out to Pakistan from Chicago last month, they told her she would have to bring a a negative test in order to enter the country. I would have thought this was already required of travelers flying into the u.s. Silly me.

          1. jay

            No problem. They’ve loosened internal restrictions, and tighten up whenever a new case crops up. As for entering, as far as I know it is still quite a challenge. Best of luck to anyone traveling right now.

          2. HotFlash

            Bringing a negative test done *before* the plane ride is locking the barn door after the horse is stolen, er infected. Sensible precaution would be to quarantine *everyone* on arrival, test several times, iff 14 days negative, then you can go. What, we don’t have lots of spare hotel rooms? We don’t have lots of tests? Fix that!

  6. floyd

    re: West Point

    Am I reading that correctly? Cheating on a math test is really not that a big deal because the cadets were off campus. “Normally” they wouldn’t have the same temptations to cheat? Alrighty then.

    1. Samuel Conner

      “A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do”

      Evidently the prohibition on toleration does not extend to the senior officers who administer the code, Perhaps it’s the military version of the exceptions clause to the rules of neoliberalism.

      1. Stephen C.

        I think this issue (cadets cheating) relates to the article on status within social (media) groups and the comment about those who have earned the right to be bold (tenure, and such.) The expectations to a code of honor among cadets is vital to their group formation. Once they go through various trails and earn a high enough rank, blowing smoke to outsiders is part of the job.

        So I think it’s the military version of what happens in all groups, and it’s been going on long before neoliberalism and will be going on long after neoliberalism.

        Indeed, it could be that one of the most destructive things about neoliberalism is the idea that there is zero need for a formative process of training to a code of behavior. All that is required to succeed is a willing embrace of unrestrained antisocial psychopathy.

      2. skippy

        With thy own eyes …

        In the mid 70s whilst being processed for military service our group was lined up at a table where some questions are asked before swearing in and all are informed of the serious consequences of lying. One question was have you ever used marijuana.

        So after quite a few answer no over and over again, one kids said yes. This required the Sgt to repeat the question until the kid, bit confused at this point, looking back at the line for guidance, till he finally said no.

        Next – !!!!!

        Best bit was the Sgt asking the kid if he was sure he – understood – the question with a pained look on his face. It is as it ever was ….

      3. HotFlash

        “A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do”

        Not tolerate. I am *so old* that I remember when the first women were admitted to West Point. Why any woman would want to be a West Point cadet has always been beyond me, but no accounting, and I digress. The women got the ‘silent treatment’, that is they were not spoken to, no one would associate with them, eat with them, study with them, talk to them, look at them, or otherwise acknowledge their existence. That for four years.

        I remember this from an article I read back in the 70’s? 80’s? which also informed me that the ‘silent treatment’ was the punishment West Point cadets deliver to cheaters in their ranks.

        Just a flash from the past. :)

    2. The Historian

      I too found that article completely odd. It sounds they are saying it is OK to cheat – it just isn’t OK to get caught cheating. And besides, it wasn’t all that serious because these people were 1st year students and are early in their ‘developmental process”? What? West Point now has to ‘develop’ people not to cheat? Or is it that they have to teach them how not to get caught?

      Sounds like the rot is much deeper than just the students at West Point.

      1. Stephen C.

        Isn’t this what most parents are faced with? While you teach your kids not to cheat you worry that your kids will be easily taken advantage of until they learn other skills, such as what kind of people to avoid at all costs. (That is, if you’re interested in being a good parent.)

        I think the article shows the awkwardness that comes when outsiders get a glimpse into a group’s internal sausage making, and that group tries to explain it and gets all tangled up because they themselves don’t fully understand it. This sort of thing is somewhat unconscious and gets done through tradition and following institutional forms. When it comes time to explain to outsiders, it gets clunky.

        Maybe the military, along with so many other institutions in our society, are finding it harder and harder to find kids who grew up with parents who had the time and skills and attention span to do their part. I really don’t know.

        I will add that cheating isn’t much of an issue in civilian schools, colleges and universities. Why? Because they capitulated on enforcement a long time ago when they were turned into businesses. They close their eyes and hope it isn’t happening, and when any prof tries to do something she’s attacked from above and below, putting her job at risk.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      …..when the military tries to downplay effects of cheating at the academy, we’re really downplaying the effects on the military as a whole. We rely on the military to tell us honestly when we should fight wars, and when we can win them.”

      No shit, Sherlock. And how’s that been workin’ out for “us” in, oh I dunno, Afghanistan?

      From the looks of things, there were a few “honor code” violations over the years that slipped past the “Character Integration Advisory Group.” On the other hand, raytheon and northrup-grumman have a limitless supply of lobbyists and board members.

      1. edmondo

        Are the cheaters’ names passed over to the DNC for recruitment purposes? Why not select a bunch of people who have proved they have no ethics? They could come in handy if Obama needs to “lead us” out of this morass.

        1. polecat

          How’$ about a ‘brunch of people’ … a turn of phrase that has a nice brass ring to it. Seems that lack of ethics combined with 10am mimosas would compliment such a bananabunch quite well.

            1. polecat

              ‘people’ leaves open all newcomers/anysiders to stream into the mix, Intact! .. as a MUCH enhanced rat’s nest.

        2. HotFlash

          Are the cheaters’ names passed over to the DNC for recruitment purposes?

          Of course not! The CIA and NSA get first dibs.

      2. Tim

        How dare you deny us the glorious conquest of
        The Nutmeg Republic, Granada,
        the only war that our military might and our U.S. servicepersons have won since August 1944!

        1. Procopius

          I think it’s fair to say we “won” Gulf War I. We achieved our stated objectives. The trouble is what we did after. Some people in our foreign policy establishment encouraged the Shi’a and Kurds to revolt against Saddam Hussein. He responded by brutally suppressing the revolts (using some of the poison gas we sold him to wage war against Iran); so some people in our foreign service establishment had an attack of conscience. We were too late to help the Shi’a in the South, but we established “safe zones” for the Kurds in the North, and estblished a no-fly zone, then threatened any Iraqi ground forces that tried to approach the Kurds. Anyway, our failure wasn’t failing to remove Saddam Hussein at the end of Gulf War I. It was letting idiots in the State Department encourage insurrections against him afterward.

    4. D. Fuller

      West Point is overhyped. My dealings with West Point officers can be collectively summed up as: dumber than a box of bricks. Though, admittedly, a very rare outstanding officer did happen along every once in awhile.

      Officers who graduated West Point with an ASVAB/AFQT score below 31 were and are not uncommon. 15 was the lowest score I had heard of for an officer; personal knowledge of an officer score of 22. The worst was LT “Spanky” – score unknown but probably lower than 22, who in peacetime almost managed to kill (almost) an entire squad on a field training exercise at Fort Irwin. Resulting in a Code Black temporarily halting all operations. Through heat exhaustion that required MEDEVAC of multiple casualties. How? By neglecting to inform Supply about the location of said squad so that water would be delivered in a timely manner. Over many, many hours.

      Never could get rid of him. Though many a murder plot is suspected. Eventually, we stopped trying, joking that if we did? The Army would replace him with another West Pointer who would get us killed. This was pre-9/11.

      LT Spanky was well connected. Other exploits of LT Spanky?

      Sending a squad downrange on a tank gunnery range to put out a fire. Forgetting to tell the range safety officer. Tanks commenced live fire. Zero casualties, one Bradley IFV mistaken for a target, total loss. The exploding Bradley, complete with fuel and ammunition, called for the RSO to call an immediate cease fire.

      Attempting to force a Bradley driver to transverse a slope greater than 40 degrees. Undoubtedly would have been fatal for all if the Bradley would have rolled. Senior NCO countermanded the ill-advised order. A few charging handles on our M16’s were pulled and released to emphasize just how unnecessary the order was.

      Deployed with platoon to fight wildfires in the Northwest, LT Spanky disappeared for almost the entire duration of a few weeks . LT Spanky was found when it was announced that a certain General would be making the rounds to congratulate the troops. LT Spanky appeared 5 minutes before, in a starched and pristine uniform, stole a shovel from a junior enlisted, smeared soot on his face.

      JAG learned to ignore any recommendations of Article 15 or court martial proceedings from LT Spanky. LT Spanky was also known for lying about orders he gave that almost resulted in casualties. Amazingly enough, despite many near-fatalities, no one ever actually died.

      At one time, our CO had to order the entire company to stop using the designation, LT Spanky.

      It is unfortunate that West Point has devolved into an institution where (mostly) connections back home determine acceptance of enrollment. Breeding a culture of competition resulting in the making of self-serving, career climbing backstabbers willing to sacrifice their own troops for career advancement we all fondly know of as: U.S. Army Officers from West Point. Sounds Libertarian.

      Not all, but the majority.

      1. HotFlash

        OMG!!! Worse than ROTC!

        I think that the British Imperial Army and Navy had experience with bad results when well-connected families could purchase commissions for their (loser) sons.

        1. Procopius

          It seemed like a good idea at the time. The experiment with appointing and promoting officers based on their intelligence and demonstrated capability was a novelty instituted by the Parliamentary armies, called the New Model Army. It certainly proved superior to the Royalist armies, which were led by people who got rich through inheritance. In the Glorious Revolution that restored the royal house, it was realized that having your armies led by people who got rich by inheritance had the great advantage of having your army controlled by people who had a stake in maintaining the status quo.

    5. Michael

      What level of math were they cheating on? Jeez they are cadets!

      Not going to read the article cuz the headline says it all.

      Sarah Palin speaks: good on her

  7. Upwithfiat

    Such bureaucracies are also Jobs Guarantees for those with the credenitials to run them. Lambert

    Reminds me of “I can hire 1/2 of the working class …”

    Tooth pun on “credenitials”? As in one must be able to afford dentistry to get one of those jawbs?

  8. Samuel Conner

    Didn’t finish the “sperm count zero” article, but my reflexive thought is “quorum sensing.” In bacterial biofilms, the cells in a mature crowded film will metabolically down-regulate, becoming less proliferative.

    Perhaps (probably a remote possibility) in humans there are epigenetic effects of crowded conditions that reduce fertility for the sake of resource conservation for the well-being of the entire “herd.”

    More likely it’s just an “own goal”; we’ve soiled the nest and this report shows us one of the consequences of that.

    1. cocomaan

      They trace it to plastics and synthetics in the article. BPA and BHA and other materials that serve as endocrine disruptors.

      My food philosophy has worked out well since I adopted it: the fewer hands and the fewer machines my food runs through, the better!

    2. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

      I’d be willing to bet the constant stress and pressure of living in this hellworld plays a significant role.

    3. HotFlash

      Alarm bells went off when the Aamjiwnaang First Nation residents, who live on (are confined to) a reserve in Ontario’s Chemical Valley (Sarnia), fielded 3 girls softball teams and only one boys team. Holy and similarly moley.

      Can’t find the original article I read (via Truthout?), but this from the Globe and Mail in 2005 covers the same territory, free subscription, but you gotta sign up. Sigh. CBC has a totally free and public but 2013 much later story.

  9. fresno dan

    Not only does Sarah Palin apologize for public mobbing against Julian Assange—in 2010, she said hunt him down like an al Qaeda terrorist—but she also offers more clear position on one of most alarming cases against global press freedom than virtually all progressives in Congress
    I am Gobsmacked. But it goes to show that in politics, there are no permanent friends and no permanent foes, only interests. Palin on this is to the “left” (I would say on the side of justice) of the vast majority of the supposed “liberal” dems, NYT, and WP. Palin’s brand used to be ignorance. She has come a long way – dare I say “woke?”
    I can only hope that others on the “right” will see that the FBI and CIA are not unadulterated good guys, not JUST because they are against Trump, but because of many, many other wrongs they have perpetrated.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I feel the same way that you do. Was it because she had time to think while under lock-down? Did she lose family members to the virus and so started to think things over in general. But to have Sarah Palin – Sarah Palin! – talk about a pardon for Assange and freedom of the press is like seriously WTF territory. When I read that I was thinking of a German phrase I heard once that goes ‘Ich versteh die Welt nicht mehr’ which translates as ‘I don’t understand the world any more.’

      1. montanamaven

        I have been appealing to Greg Gutfeld of Fox’s “The Five” to join the pardon Assange movement. Dana Perino on The Five” won’t say Assange’s name but is apoplectic about Trump pardoning “this person”. Whereas some of the Libertarians on Fox are sympathetic since they have been debunking the “Russia, Russia Russia…” deal because of Trump. But also because people like Gutfeld says that “we have to be consistent” with our free speech positions. Wikileaks exposed Clapper and Brennan. Those guys made it pretty clear that there is a Swamp. I have given up on the Dems. Seems that the people who admit they were wrong are mostly conservatives. (Tucker Carlson was a pro Iraq War guy and now says he got fooled. He was wrong!) Interesting times.

        1. Stephen C.

          I think it’s easier for conservatives (perhaps paleo-conservatives) to admit when they were wrong. Liberals not so much. When your whole shtick is to pretend you know what’s right for everyone, and that you’re able to make large numbers of people live happy lives, well, that’s a lot of investment in the idea that you’ve got some sort of special insight into the mysteries of the universe. Conservatives are coming from a different place. Yes, perhaps it is a more negative view of human nature and what we are capable of as a society, but there is less sunk costs when you admit a mistake.

          This doesn’t apply to conservatives who hang their hat on a strict, literal interpretation of a religion text. They lose their freedom to change their minds right there.

        2. fresno dan

          December 22, 2020 at 10:36 am

          I have mentioned a number of times my old friend who can only be described as a rabid Trump supporter. I have no problem agreeing that Trump has been the victim of …(un, this is just the best way to say it) …Trumped up charges. And that these are SERIOUS and outrageous injustices. But the whole problem is that after my friend tells me a long, LONG litany of true abuses of the FBI and DoJ toward Trump, it just stops. NO real reform, no acknowledgement of the long, long history of police abuse in US history and the OTHER victims. The FBI, DoJ and police in general has not significantly harmed ANYBODY else, particularly, minorities is his view.
          Its like the election – an election CAN ONLY be unfair if Trump doesn’t win. It is awfully hard not to conclude that my friend believes the most oppressed people in the US are middle class white republican people, and this is why he is so IN LOVE with Trump. And some of them are – why should they be exempted by the oligarchs? But to believe they are the most oppressed is willful blindness to the suffering of others.
          It would be great if Trump were to pardon Assange, but if Trump does, it is merely a random incoherent act, and only precipitated by convincing Trump that a free Assange will cause democrats to explode upon seeing the pardon. (Hey, I’m all for the twofer, but I am used to disappointment in politics)

        3. John Wright

          In the USA political sphere, admitting that one was wrong about something is going against one’s group.

          I remember Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney, getting sent to the political hinterlands for suggesting he was “brainwashed” about the Vietnam War.

          And George W. Bush’s statement to singer Tony Bennett that the Iraq War was a mistake, was immediately walked back by Bush spokesman.

          In politics, the truth does set one free (of a future political career)

        4. neo-realist

          This smacks a bit of Trump Rationality Syndrome: People are projecting rational policy choices on to Trump that he has no interest in acting on: M4A – he would never do it unless it was formulated as a private sector initiative such as a tax cut or voucher to be used on a choice of private medical insurers. As far as a pardon for Assange, Trump’s favorite donor used a company of his to help spy on Assange at his Ecuador Embassy hideout. Trump’s administration is looking to extradite him and charge him under the Espionage Act.

          The only person Trump is interested in helping is his himself, whether it be getting two more terms in the presidency, or getting himself out of criminal charges in NY state. An Assange pardon does nothing for him, so he will not stick his neck out for him.

      2. pjay

        Today, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength according to our highly educated liberal pundocracy.

        That Sarah Palin is a voice of sanity makes perfect sense.

        1. a different chris

          Isn’t she falling into the category of “these idiots who were wrong and should have been ignored now get further attention by proclaiming their enlightenment”. Meanwhile we still ignore those who got it right the first time.

          She’s still a maroon. I thought she went away. She needs to.

          1. Bruno

            “She’s still a maroon. I thought she went away. She needs to.(sic)”
            A MAROON is an escaped slave. All maroons are heroes.

      3. Geo

        I’m with you. It’s just crazy. Pat Robertson telling Trump he’s living in a fantasy world and Sarah Palin supporting Assange… Both are still reprehensible and would need to devote what remains of their lifetime to totally reconciling of their past destructive ways before I’d give them any positive regard… but, considering the hysterical state of the national dialogue, two broken clocks telling a truth is kinda nice to see.

  10. Alex morfesis

    Kansas City Star publicly acknowledges it’s part in unfair and unflattering coverage of it’s local black neighborhoods and citizens…hello poynter/Tampa Bay times…that city plaque for that black lynching victim…there was no internet nor radio back then…after the white wife of the white murder victim insisted to police the man arrested and eventually dragged from the police lock up and lynched WAS NOT the black man who killed her husband… newspapers in St Pete ran extra extra special issues “demanding justice be done”… getting the genius white folks in town to make sure they hang the black innocent day laborer from a light pole in the black neighborhood…hello poynter/Tampa Bay times…time to go to your archives and go a little further than the Kansas Star just did…time for a front page apology…

  11. Terry Flynn

    Re plummeting sperm counts. Interesting given previous work linking the huge fall in foecal bacteria and mental health issues, suspected to be caused by more processed foods and other factors implicated in the article for “less male” characteristics.

    Using physical characteristics to infer things to do with sexuality is not new so using it to infer fertility is no surprise. Homosexuality in women is highly predicted by the finger length ratio test (determined by intra uterine testosterone exposure). Whilst male homosexuality is suspected to be more multifactorial the “toxic chemical to make the foetus male in nature” finding has the benefit of explaining the long observed finding that once a mother has a gay son, the chances subsequent sons will all be gay becomes disproportionately large.

    I always found it curious that friends claimed they could predict fairly accurately if you’re predominantly top or bottom depending on the distance between sex organs and anal area. I never believed this until I started reading up on the articles that showed links with real clinical outcomes like this one….. Not the same thing of course but the similarities jump out at me anyway.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Endocrine disturbance is one of those ‘so scary nobody really wants to think about’ issues. I’ve had this discussion many a time with colleagues who casually throw out ‘the dose equals the poison’ nostrums about pollution. No, it most certainly does not, and we’ve known for decades that if anything, very low doses of endocrine disruptors in the environment might actually be worse than high doses – and yet we persist with the myth of ‘safe levels’. Our bodies are actually quite good at detecting and blocking very high levels of hormone mimicking chemicals – it’s the very low doses that are creating all sorts of subtle changes in our bodies, generation by generation.

      The problem is that its incredibly hard to distinguish these from all the other changes in our bodies, from epigenetic changes, to dietary and biome alterations. What we know is that we are changing, and there is no guarantee at all that we are not reaching some sort of tipping point where those changes become serious and irreversible.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Yeah I remember around the turn of the millennium when Professor George Davey-Smith in my dept gave regular seminars on epigenetics but since so much (at that stage) was theoretical I didn’t pay enough attention.

        Regretting it now since so much is being shown to be rooted in epigenetics…. Currently fighting clinicians about genes I think have been “switched on” in my family to explain common illness.

  12. Mikerw0

    Fusion, again, still. 2040 maybe if it works.

    There may be valid reasons to work on fusion, but a carbon free energy generation technology that still has no foreseeable deployment date is not one. This only might make sense if it doesn’t divert resources away from things we can do en masse immediately to arrest and then reverse carbon discharge into the atmosphere.

    As a famous scientist said… “fusion is always 30 years away”. So even if they can get it to work, and given the extreme complexity of the machines, mass deployment to have a meaningful impact on power generation is generations away at best.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, I winced when I saw that they were using the climate emergency as a reason to invest in fusion, at the same time as admitting that it would be 2040 before we even have a prototype. Thats far too late.

      So yes, we should invest in fusion, its probably the long term solution to our energy needs, but there is simply no chance of it making a difference when it matters, which is between now and 2050. If we don’t get to grips with climate change now, we won’t have any long term to worry about.

      1. Pelham

        Yes, we need to go full steam ahead with whatever it is we have now. It’s one of those very simple points that somehow eludes nearly everyone nearly all the time and the pivotal point for my extreme pessimism on the subject of climate change.

      2. Aumua

        If the nations of the world set aside their differences, took their military budgets and put them toward working together to solve the problem, then I’ll bet we could do it. I’ll bet we could do just about anything, but now back to reality and your regularly scheduled mass extinction.

    2. Phacops

      What is not explained is the massive neutron flux that will be present in those reactors. Neutron activation of materials as well as embrittlement will require some thought to maintenance.

      But neutron shielding is interesting. Borated polyethylene is effective.

    3. Earl

      I hope they are paying for this with a GoFundMe campaign.
      And if it were to ever work, it would be funded, liability insured by taxpayers and then handed over to for profit wealth extracting corporations. Like the internet, paid for and developed for the taxpayers through DARPA, and now the domain of those who blast us with kitty videos, sell crap, are crippling the Bill of Rights as well as becoming de facto governments.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Don’t know why the PEG is there, but the thought occurred that it might be to improve the thermal stability of the mRNA through hydrogen bonding with it.

      This item

      asserts that PEG has not previously been employed in vaccines approved for use in humans, so I suspect that the reason it was incorporated was not for known adjuvant effects.

      1. Samuel Conner

        An interesting point is that the Moderna vaccine also contains PEG, and is both more thermally stable and evidently more allergenic than the Pfizer vaccine

        Perhaps it contains more PEG?

      2. TMoney

        PEG may be being used as a cryo-protectant. Cooling molecules down in a water solution to dry-ice and below can cause bad things to happen, mostly due to the thermal expansion of water and hydrogen bonding. It is common in protein crystallography* to use a protective oil. The idea is to displace some water to disrupt the H-bonding. PEG may be doing something similar for the mRNA.
        Cryo damage to cells is just one reason why the “freeze-me-now-revive-me-later” idea hasn’t ever worked for anything bigger than embryos (at least that I am aware of).

        * Lots of water in most protein crystals

      3. Dean

        PEG is not used in the formulations. Rather it is pegylated Dimyristoyl glycerol where PEG is attached to the third hydroxyl of glycerol. As such the PEG portion sticks out from the lipid layer and does not interact with RNA in the interior of the particle.

        Apparently the PEG creates a steric barrier preventing opsonization and removal by phagocytic cells.

        This might be a decent review of lipid nanoparticles:

        1. TMoney

          Thanks for the detail. A sort of (primitive?) fat based protective coat, but to protect it from damage when it’s in the body. I can see how that would/could “freeze” safely. The water unable to damage the mRNA cargo inside.

        2. epynonymous

          Researched. The anthrax vaccine today. Two articles denying (or proving) it didn’t cause infertility.

          Lots of compelling stuff at

  13. Pat

    I have been a registered Democrat since I first registered to vote. The only reason that has not changed is the ability to vote in primaries doesn’t exist for independents here.

    I spent years bemoaning Republicans voting against their own interests. I managed to remain ignorant of all those good ostensibly Democratic union members who voted for Reagan and later for Clinton.

    I’ve spent most of my adult life watching politicians of both parties enrich themselves and betray their voters by enacting laws not just enabling their donors to take their jobs elsewhere but actually encouraging them to do so, see various tax breaks. I have also watched them belittle and insult those now out of work Americans. Sneering behind their faux concern as they suggest spending thousands of dollars to train for jobs they know are either going to be shipped out of the country or even better be filled by immigrants with special visas.

    Then there are the wars. Wars on crime that really just keep whole swaths of the population incarcerated and working for pennies. Wars of aggression that may provide the only jobs and “opportunities” for the children of previously middle class Americans. A situation that finds so many killed, or worse returning home broken with a system even more determined not to provide the services and help they promised.

    We just elected a man who happily pushed most of those wars, most of those economic policies and who hasn’t hesitated to try to take a machete to what little safety net this country has during his decades in office. His running mate is younger but no less an opportunistic vampire seeking to enrich themselves and increase their power and status by sucking the life’s blood from anyone not in the investment class.

    Can we please stop declaring that members of X party are ignorant and voting against their own interests? Whether it is tribalism, or falling for a con, or being mislead by a no longer free press but fully purchased media, or yes willful ignorance Americans voted against their interests. It doesn’t matter if you voted for Trump or for Biden, for Pelosi or McConnell. Most of the “choices” presented offered little or no choice. And unless you are in the top 0.5% your concerns are of no interest.

    What this long rant is about is that while I may not have everything in common with a Republican in the rust belt, I am now of the belief that Many of us are together in the wilderness screaming at the gods politicians that have betrayed us. I recognize that for whatever reason I have also voted against my interests. That the system has been so willfully broken that it is difficult almost impossible not to do so. I am no longer going to blame or condemn others for the same. Maybe finding common ground and banding together is the only way to eradicate the rot in our political structure which is distinctly bipartisan.

    1. fresno dan

      December 22, 2020 at 9:11 am

      I agree. American politics is essentially a binary choice: death by bullet or death by bayonet. The choice of “neither” is never given.
      And I can’t help but note it again – our biggest problem is the people who say that voting for a 3rd party is wasting your vote…
      As long as people want to choose their representatives the way they choose their soda pop, we will have dozens of flavors made by two giant corporations.

      1. hunkerdown

        The wasted vote argument is just a continuous process of its own fabrication. Remind them that the condition wouldn’t exist were they not pretending not to be the ones arguing for it, and that they are the real enemy.

    2. Phillip Cross

      Is there a nefarious conspiracy among “politicians that have betrayed us”?

      Perhaps… Or have candidates, who are just folks like us, used the tools of marketing to find the effective ways to stimulate and pander to our id, in order to get elected and retain power?

      Perhaps we betrayed ourselves by being a nation where the majority of the electorate is incurious, selfish, cruel and greedy. A people who, on the whole, let those base impulses steer our votes to folks who press out “secret” buttons?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I don’t buy it. People are incurious and don’t pay attention, and it may take some time for the majority to catch on to what’s happening, but they aren’t complete morons either.

        Were it not for Obama’s Night of the Long Knives and Sanders had gotten on the ballot, and we had hand marked paper ballots, hand counted in public, I am convinced he would have won. Bigly.

          1. Phillip Cross

            Yeah, but they have to be elected first, before they can get those perks. If the electorate is so savvy, why do they keep re-electing treacherous scum?

            1. flora

              I don’t know. PR, historical appeal and advertising? Belief that
              the current party still represents what the older New Deal party stood for? The Dem estab pols have been running (falsely imo) on New Deal history, the older New Deal support of the working class, the New Deal belief in Keynesian economics for some time now. So, you tell me if it’s the electorates’ failing or the pols’ misrepresentation of what they are that lead to that failing.

            2. Massinissa

              Because essentially everyone on every ballot are treacherous scum. The system’s set up so that the candidates are essentially pre-selected. Vote D or R, but either way the establishment is able to weed out candidates they view as dangerous during the primaries by funneling insane amounts of money to any candidate who could plausibly beat them in the primary.

      2. Temporarily Sane

        How’s this for a conspiracy theory.

        What the powers that be fear most is the electorate revolting against the duopoly. They make a big show of trashing Trump and Bernie but maybe that’s all part of a psyop to keep the electorate within the confines of that duopoly. Maybe Trump and Bernie are unwittingly playing the roles of controlled opposition.

        Sound nuts? Think about it…TPTB have surely noticed that the American electorate has trouble thinking outside the duopolist box. Hate the Democrats? Vote Republican. Hate the Republicans? Vote Democrat. As long as they can keep the electorate trapped in that box they are safe.

        Despite his anti-establishment rhetoric Trump quickly fell into line and Bernie folded like a cheap suit without even trying. That worked out great for the status quo.

        What better way to keep the electorate from straying than by creating an unwitting controlled opposition that’s firmly ensconced within the duopoly?

        I have no idea if that’s what is actually happening but it certainly doesn’t sound as crazy as it would have ten years ago. It’s more plausible than the election fraud conspiracy theories.

        1. Massinissa

          Had I been a voter at the time (I was younger than six), I would have voted for Ross Perot exactly for this reason. I don’t actually like any of Perot’s policies that much (Though his ‘great sucking sound’ comment on Nafta has been proven to be spot on), but his entire candidacy was pretty much the greatest political shock to the establishment in recent memory.

          Hell, if the Libertarians had a chance of getting 10% of the populations votes I would probably vote for them even though their policy slate is essentially a joke.

        2. neo-realist

          The Green Party has done nothing to grow their brand, e.g., no active campaign of note at the local and state level. It runs a presidential candidate every four years to draw in the dissatisfied progressives to allow them an opportunity to blow off steam at the duopoly then disappears until the next presidential election. The Green’s do nothing stance between election cycles strikes me as it being part of the “controlled opposition”.

    3. urblintz

      Well said.

      “Willfully broken” indeed, everyone is triangulated one way or another and everyone, essentially, votes against their interest no matter what buttons are pushed.

      A feature, not a bug.

    4. montanamaven

      Yes, Pat. See my post above. I was a Democrat all my life. Voted for McGovern in my first election. Then went to sleep until 2000. Sensed something was up with the Al Gore fold. So I became active in the Democratic Party because Thom Hartmann said “We need to change the party from within.” Subscribed to “The Nation” , “In These Times”, “Mother Jones”, “The Progressive”. Went to Media conferences and Take Back America conferences. I tried. The party was not about the people in the party. It was about power and getting friends jobs in NGOs and government. I was married to a conscientious objector who served 2 years at a hospital as a Nurse’s Aid. I am still anti-war. Lo and behold, the party I thought was with me on this was not. I was as shocked as Sarah Palin to realize that I had been fooled. Fortunately, at the time I began to come awake, I discovered Lambert at Correntewire and from there Naked Capitalism. It’s been my home for 14 years. And now I have taken off my smugness and have looked at conservatism in a new light. Thanks to this site, I’ve discovered Christopher Lasch’s books. I’ve discovered “The Other Founders” by Cornell. Those founders swam upstream to try to get a Bill of Rights and trial by jury instead of faraway judges. Opened my eyes once again. I freely admit to being wrong about many things. My liberal friends almost never admit to wrong headed thinking and voting against their interests. Most of them are comfortably middle and upper middle class, so as long as they have their BLM signs in their windows, they think they are “happy”.
      I am leaving upstate NY with regret as it has been difficult to go back and forth from Montana. I will say that New Yorkers are the most generous of the people I have met in my wanderings, especially the people who fix things like sump pumps and boilers and sewers and remove snow.

      1. Tim

        Correct. The Republican Party is going to be the vehicle by which this country is resurrected for the benefit of the average middle class person after the fossils are removed. DEMEXIT!

        1. Temporarily Sane

          Or maybe thats just wishful thinking and if you keep voting for the Republicans (or the Democrats) you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

        2. Massinissa

          Wake me up when there’s a Republican alternative to the Progressive caucus. Alot of them are spineless but at least some of their policy aims are somewhat sensible. I think there’s a way to do something like that but in a conservative way, Nixon style, but I’ve never seen anything like that in American politics since, well, Nixon.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      Only reason I voted this year was in an attempt to change the local school board so my kid has a chance at her education improving over the next several years, and to participate in Maine’s instant runoff voting. Both school board candidates I voted for lost, and the 3rd party candidate I supported for US Senate only got around 5% of the vote even with IRV, so not sure why we even bothered with it. And then there are the voting machines.

      I’ve voted consistently for over 30 years and the candidates I’ve supported rarely if ever win. I think I’ll take George Carlin’s advice and stay home from now on. At this point in history continuing to vote in a rigged system only serves to give that system legitimacy it doesn’t deserve. Government exists due to the consent of the governed, and I refuse to give my consent to these criminals any longer.

      1. skl1n32

        “I think I’ll take George Carlin’s advice and stay home from now on.”

        I did this after the Bush-Kerry election. That’s when I realized there really isn’t any difference between the parties and they do what the super rich want.

        Can’t remember who said it, but paraphrasing…If voting changed anything then they would have made it illegal already.

        A book I really like is The Politics of Obedience by Etienne de la Boetie.

        1. Count Zero

          “If voting changed anything then they would have made it illegal already.”

          Or another old anarchist remark: “it doesn’t matter who you vote for the government always gets elected.”

  14. The Rev Kev

    “3 lessons from Stanford’s Covid-19 vaccine algorithm debacle”

    Apologies to any Stanford graduates here but seriously? What is going on at Stanford? Every time I have heard about them this year, it is never in a good way. Sorry but I am going with the theory that putting admin staff and people working from home ahead of front-line staff was just a bit of self serving on their part. This is not an ‘honest mistake’ on the part of humans as claimed but this team putting together a dodgy algorithm to protect the people that they think deserve protecting.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Assuming” is what’s going on at stanford.

      Because this was a straightforward rules-based algorithm, Beam said, Stanford’s developers may have assumed it would produce the result they intended. After all, they understood all the factors the algorithm was considering, so of course it would fairly prioritize people for vaccination.

      But the way to know for sure is to test the algorithm before it is deployed.

      A more sensible way to “know for sure” is to stop “assuming,” and take an actual look at the results to see if they make sense on any level.

      And by the way, who says the algorithm didn’t “produce the result they ‘intended’?” All anyone knows for sure is that they got caught.

    2. Ohnoyoucantdothat

      Stanford alum here (PhD 1975). No offense taken. I ask the same questions all the time. My thesis advisor (still teaching at age 77) asked me the same question last time I saw him 2 years ago. In early 70’s Stanford was still a liberal hotbed. Had to push thru demonstrations outside my lab and Hoover Institute was still boarded up after all the violent riots there during Vietnam. That all changed after I left and now … damn … ultra right wing bastion reserved for kids of the super rich. Don’t recognize the place anymore. Truly sad how far they have come.

  15. Wyatt Powell

    Lots of good links today hard to pick a topic to discuss before work, so Ill go with the one that gave me the biggest LOL … Unsurprisingly, it comes from the failure-addicted US military. Were intelligence goes to die and failure is rewarded.

    “Therefore when the military tries to downplay effects of cheating at the academy, we’re really downplaying the effects on the military as a whole. We rely on the military to tell us honestly when we should fight wars, and when we can win them.”

    Tim Bakken is a moron, or a liar. Both fit the military mold, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. What is important is this… we have the new test to see if a persons mind has been corrupted by propaganda beyond repair.

    The reaction to the last sentence of that quote tells you all you need to know about a person.

    1. Geo

      “We rely on the military to tell us honestly when we should fight wars, and when we can win them.”

      Seriously, anyone who can say that sentence with a straight face is either dumber than a bag of rocks, a sociopathic salesman, or the victim of a botched lobotomy. The military will tell us to fight all wars and will never “win” any of them. They military brass doesn’t get paid to “win”, they get paid to destabilize and perpetuate conflict. There’s not much profiteering in peace.

      1. Fred

        Tim Bakken just wrote a powerful book titled, The Cost of Loyalty: Dishonesty, Hubris, and Failure in the U.S. Military. Having taught at West Point for more than twenty years, Bakken is well placed to see for himself the corruption, dishonesty, and arrogance that define life at the academy.

        It is tragic that, as Bakken says, “We rely on the military to tell us honestly when we should fight wars, and when we can win them,” but it is also the truth, isn’t it? I think that Bakken’s point is that academic cheating is so much worse when practiced by cadets because they learn to continue the successful habit when they assume positions of power and authority. Many of our disgraced generals are West Point grads. Loyalty over honesty.

        West Point, according to the professor who teaches there, is a breeding ground for the kind of corruption and incompetence that permeates the military. His willingness to expose the problem from inside makes him heroic.

      2. Stephen C.

        I think the “we” in the last sentence refers to civilian leaders, not the public at large. If I remember correctly, it is the civilian leadership, the leadership at the CIA, and the corporate media that concocted the Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction Big Lie. The military had been for a decade or too trying to tell the civilian leadership “no more Vietnams, please, we can win only winnable wars and we don’t do nation-building.” The civilian leadership replied (post 9/11 but also in Somalia) by saying, “you will be required to fight endless wars and you’ll learn to love it.”

        The military had to flush out a lot of their top brass before they made the switch to survive, as an institution, in the new paradigm. I mean, after all, the CIA had built their own black op army and had put it to good use in the first stages of the war in Afghanistan.

        It’s easy to rag on the military, but I believe it was the civilian leadership who went batshit crazy in the last 30-40 years.

        At least that is my way of looking at it.

        1. Geo

          Thank you. Your response is much more thoughtful than mine was. And with the info Fred provided above it seems I misunderstood the intent of the statement.

          Remember well the purge of Generals that warned about troop levels and other concerns leading to Iraq invasion. So true that failure is rewarded – which I guess was my point even if that point was misdirected and poorly thought out. :)

  16. The Rev Kev

    “China Used Stolen Data to Expose CIA Operatives in Africa and Europe”

    An interesting history of the intelligence war between China and the US but this sort of thing goes on all the time. So the US penetrated China with their local assets and when the Chinese worked this out, cleaned house and upgraded their intelligence network. So then the US targets Chinese in places in Africa and now China said ‘two can play that game’ and nailed CIA assets there rapidly. The article complains that ‘China is “one of the leading collectors of bulk personal data around the globe, using both illegal and legal means,” ‘ but if we are going to be truthful, the actual leading collector of bulk personal data around the world would be the Five Eyes. Did the CIA assume that the Chinese were going to stay amateurs forever? Doesn’t work that way. And just because they are Chinese does not mean that they are no good.

    1. pjay

      Well, in terms of competence, being Chinese they are *both* no good, and also the greatest, most devious, most dangerous threat to the “free world” ever! Just like the Russians. And the Iranians aren’t bad either (but they are also not good!).

  17. William Hunter Duncan

    Speaking of humiliating bureaucracy, I’m trying to see if I can get any health insurance through MNsure, Minnesota’s health care “marketplace”. I have never purchased insurance through it before, so I tried to set up an account. After fifteen minutes the site says, “you already have an account, click here if you do not know your username. Fill in your email.”

    click. Email. “The information has been sent.”

    No it hasn’t. Try Again. “the information has been sent.” No, it hasn’t. Now what? “Return to the home page.”

    Round and round we go. After 20 minutes I’m so infuriated I can’t even…

    The whole bloody thing is designed to infuriate me, humiliate me and otherwise take a thousand times longer than it should, to push me out and force me to accept direct corporate (bankrupting) terms, or die or whatever.

    Western Medicine has turned into one giant blood sucking leech.

    1. William Hunter Duncan

      I found an email from 2016, Mnsure telling me what my username is. So I tried to reset the password…four times. Forget it. Health Insurance isn’t worth the hypertension. Maybe that’s the thing, insurance designed to make me ill. No thanks.

      Sorry for venting. At least I know the folks at NC get it.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      Make sure to check your spam folder. This is where many of these types of emails hide.

      But, yeah, I’ve been through this process on most govt websites (and some commercial), and it’s no fun…

      1. WHD

        I did, repeatedly. The reset username emails were never sent, and the change password emails were a hyperloop. Answers to security questions appear to have to be typed exactly like I did four years ago. This is more than negligence, this is very expensive, deliberate dissuasion.

  18. DJG

    An irony indeed. I woke up before dawn with this poem repeating in my head.

    Archilochus: πόλλ’ οἶδ’ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα

    Many things knows the fox, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

    tr. DJG.

    And here we have a fox dreaming of many, many things that it will accomplish today.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “How the Army Out-Innovated the Islamic State’s Drones”

    Congratulations on this team’s work in dealing with ISIS drones but they were still amateurs that they were dealing with. The big concern now is drones fielded by regular armies like as seen in Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh. I’m not sure how well prepared many modern armies would be to an assault by these new generation drones but warfare has now changed.

    1. rowlf

      I would expect most drones would be susceptible to RF countermeasures (like the top picture in the article). It is really hard to get workers to shield wiring harnesses to spec and I don’t know if the consumer drones bother with shielding. Remember when the US Army figured out flying a fly-by-wire helicopter near a ground radar transmitter was a bad idea if your wiring harness shielding was poor? Poor wiring practices (design or craftsmanship) will always come back and bite you.

  20. Carolinian

    Re Hollywood, streaming and the law–here’s an old article by tech theorist Cory Doctorow. It’s about Napster but the principle is the same.

    Doctorow’s point was that the entertainment industry would always lose in any sort of copy protection arms race and while that industry spent years defying his advice–seeking to lawfare their customers into submission (those FBI warnings and even civil suits)–they have eventually come around to his point that convenience and not litigation would win the day. Therefore out in the open sites like Napster that made piracy convenient and “normal” had to go but all the other stuff that goes on is basically winked away unless it’s sharing of those Oscar screeners before the movies have even opened. That said, I believe Netflix and even Disney Plus are still in the red on their huge content investments. As with Amazon the square peg gets hammered into the round hole and fingers are crossed. Symbolic gestures by Congress will only curb the obvious offenders.

    1. Terry Flynn

      As various YouTubers have commented, it will rapidly become impossible for most people to afford all the streaming services. Result? They’ll pay for some and pirate others.

      You can’t even do what you used to do and download, binge watch entire season of your favorite show…. NETFLIX, Amazon Prime et al have reverted to releasing many of their “top” shows weekly in order to make you pay for months rather than a week or two, cancel, then resubscribe for a fortnight 3 months later.

      The streaming services will have to change just like the music studios had to. Why? Because the market can’t and therefore won’t support the status ago.

      1. Carolinian

        I get all my movies from the library which fortunately tends to buy quite a lot from all sources if you don’t mind waiting. One big reason movie theaters exist is to keep the latest product off the web. But if people are afraid to go to theaters then that puts the movie studios on the spot, just like restaurants, airlines etc. Unclear whether theaters, sitting on those expensive leases, can wait out the disease.

  21. CuriosityConcern

    I went down to the local test site last week but I think I took the wrong test, they said I was CORVID negative and I need to be nicer to crows.

  22. Kurt Sperry

    Work begins on ‘Freedom passports’ to allow those who test negative into pubs Mirror

    What’s the useful life of a negative test result? Minutes? Maybe at best hours? Madness.

  23. Lex

    ‘Sperm Count Zero’

    What petrochemicals seem to be doing is accelerating our normal hormonal aging process, so that what we’re seeing is less viable eggs, lower sperm counts, more problems with natural implantation and carrying to term, low progesterone, smaller genitals in men, and more children born on the spectrum, and/or children who are neurologically challenged.

    We should expect to see some of those issues anyway because we’re having children later in life. If I could magically go back before the industrial revolution and ask some village mom (pardon my classism) of fifteen to kindly line up her eight grown-assed sons, naked as a jaybird from oldest to youngest, I’d be surprised to see eight matching sets of wedding tackle. That eight of them should make it adulthood would almost be amazing enough. That they should also be equal in ‘growing and showing’ is unlikely. I’d guess the first born was pretty happy with his lot and the youngest lived with some teasing; I’d also lay odds he’s good with numbers.

    But it’s the Gentleman’s Quarterly, where they’re inclined to make larger mountains out of smaller dicks. I don’t think we can count the human species out yet, much less an increased dependence on IVF. The meek may yet inherit the earth.

    1. Mikel

      And this is only a study of one half of the baby making equation.
      No telling what other kinds of adaptations for reproduction could occur.

    2. Stephen C.

      “If I could magically go back . . .eight matching sets of wedding tackle.”

      So that’s what they mean by junk science! I always wondered about that.

  24. chris

    The articles and tweets from Water Cooler yesterday pointed to the poor not being excited to have a mass revolt because it’s not worth their lives. But it occurs to me a class of people in this country is approaching the conditions for revolt, even if it’s less violent – the middle class who still can’t send their kids back to public school.

    In my own area the people in charge of education have refused to even define a plan to get kids back in school. Teachers are refusing to get back in the classroom even with the promise of vaccines or PPE. It is now likely that we won’t have kids back in school full time until Spring 2022. This is breaking many families. This is causing a lot of damage to kids. We are trying to figure out what to do but since all the local private schools and charter schools have no vacancies to accept more students, we’re stuck in this awful virtual learning set up with equipment that doesn’t work tied to networks and apps that are buggy run by teachers with no training while we’re trying to keep our jobs. It’s miserable. But I don’t see an end in site for us currently.

    I imagine there are other counties with similar issues and parents who are running out of both options and their employer’s sympathy. If I had to pick a place where a revolt could start, it would be in places like that.

    1. Louis Fyne

      blame the teaching union admins. along with the media hysteria about the covid risks for healthy people w/no pre-existing conditions under 60 versus the actual CDC statistics and data re. ACE2 receptors in children and resultant very low covid transmission among those pre-puberty.

      (I know that this hot take might affront some people, i am not reflexively anti-union!)

      Remote learning hurts those who supposedly the virtue-signalling teachers union leadership are fighting for: low-income households, special needs kids, families who can’t afford child care, kids for whom English is a second language.

      Just saying

    2. HotFlash

      Here in Toronto public schools are open, parents can opt in or out on a month-to-month basis. My neighbour, who teaches grade 2, says that with the much smaller classes he gets to spend much more time with each student individually in addition to the regular front-of-classroom teaching. He also reports that keeping order takes much less time.

    3. Pelham

      You may be on to something. Revolutions tend to occur not when the poorest and most miserable get fed up but when people who have some modest means begin to lose them. That has been happening on a number of fronts for years, and now the school mess compounded by the factor of parents who can’t afford to stay home is adding to the pile-on.

      1. chris

        In our case I can see this coming to a head soon. Our leaders don’t want to make any of the hard decisions this situation will require. There is a limited budget for repairs to schools such that they’re able to meet the recommended guidelines for operation during the pandemic. There is a limited budget for PPE. Just about none of the teachers have volunteered to return to teaching in person. So what’s going to happen sooner or later is the teachers will be told here’s what we can do, take it or leave it. The parents will be told, here’s what you need to agree to in order to send your kids to school, take it or leave it. We may argue a bit before we get there, but I can’t see people’s resistance to in person schooling holding up in the face of vaccines, PPE, and declining numbers of infected people this Spring. I feel really sad for my teacher friends who may be harmed by this but I’ll be glad if all my friends and acquaintances who work in the restaurant industry or related fields can go back to work and not have to worry about their kids during the day.

        1. ShamanicFallout

          Here’s my situation to add a little to the discussion. I am a single parent of a six year old, living in a big west coast city. Schools have been closed, remote “learning” in effect. I have to work (I’m in an ‘essential’ industry) so I must send her to daycare at the boys and girls club. Where all the kids eat together, learn together, play together, have recess together, do projects together. In other words, they are GOING TO SCHOOL! They are all masked and the club and all families have had no issues since they started doing this March. I really don’t get it. I am lucky in that I am able to swing this, but as has been said above, I really don’t know how some parent(s) can handle this

        2. HotFlash

          We may argue a bit before we get there, but I can’t see people’s resistance to in person schooling holding up in the face of vaccines, PPE, and declining numbers of infected people this Spring.

          Well, be nice if it happens. We aren’t even sure they are vaccines — what, exactly do they do? It is not clear that they provide much if any immunity or for how long, or that they prevent transmission (apparently not tested?).

          1. chris

            You should listen to the TWIV podcast. It’s a bunch of virologists who really know what they’re talking about and they review the papers behind things like the vaccines in detail. I wouldn’t go to them for policy discussions, because they’re hopelessly biased on that end. But for understanding the science and answering questions, they’re top notch. Also, you can email them and they respond. I asked them my question about what we know about a person who has recovered from COVID and if they should receive the vaccines (my personal situation). I got an answer back in 24 hours. I am planning on taking the vaccine when it is available to me based on my discourse with these doctors.

            Anyway, the theory behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is that they train your body to recognize and attack the spike on the messenger RNA envelope that lets it attack to your cells. Evidence has been collected regarding how these vaccines prevent transmission and what kind of immunity they provide. The how long part remains to be seen as people who are vaccinated encounter the virus in the wild.

            When it comes to teachers and all this though… the problem in my opinion is that in the current situation they’re not able to perform as required. So we recognize they’re essential but we’re not recognizing that they can’t do their jobs under these conditions. And yet we’re being told that’s OK and could indefinitely continue. That’s not going to hold up long in my area.

            I believe that this is all being used as a different kind of negotiation tactic by the local union but I don’t know that for certain. It’s just frustrating.

  25. Retaj

    U.K. Gets Preview of Brexit Chaos With France’s Truck Blockade

    The Sainsbury Supermarket Airlift may be happening 72 years after the Berlin Airlift. Will supply shortage inflation fund the heroics?

  26. Mikel

    RE: Supply chain disruption is the last thing the UK needs right now. Look how low retailers’ inventories are!

    Gangsters and pirates are not complaining.

  27. Louis Fyne

    –Pirating Streamed Content to Become Felony —

    there is one very popular service that hacks Roku and Fire sticks for practically unlimited streaming across all platforms.

    The Warner-Netflix-Disney-Hollywood, etc lobbyists earned their pay for the year

  28. marcyincny

    “How Science Beat the Virus” The Atlantic

    Criminal headline adding to the ‘the vaccines are here! we’re good to go’ messaging.

    I’m assuming it was an editor, not Ed Yong. At least the link is corrected: covid-19-manhattan-project

  29. fresno dan

    Yeah, I don’t know. As surprising and interesting as this is, I don’t know that Pat’s the guy to lecture anyone about alternate realities.
    I thought he didn’t raise the 8 million and was recalled? OH, OH! – that was the Roberts withOUT the “on” at the end of the name…man, hard to keep track of these guys…
    And I never could figure out naming someone “oral” – but I digress.
    So, you can’t do better for probity, propriety, and prudence than Pat Robertson…other than that Roberts guy…

    1. Wukchumni

      In no way was it the cadets fault, as they had been infiltrated by al’ Gebra and fractionalized along what appears to be a long gray line with a smaller number on top and a larger one on the bottom.

  30. Geo

    “So I guess that entitles Barr to a Resistance party card?”

    Yes, it does. Literally had that convo last night with CNN-watching family. They’re thrilled with him.

    Listening to the thoughts of people getting their news from TV is like satire at this point. After discussing the suffering of so many I know right now, the hopelessness, and how nothing substantial is being done, nor will it be, the response was: “I just hope under Biden we can have a day without stress and not have to worry about what the President is going to do.”

    Biden’s slogan should have been: “Its brunch time in America.”

    Just hearing Bill Hicks in my head: “ Go back to bed America, you government is in control again. Here, here’s American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up!”

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Build Better Brunch?
      Build Back Brunch?
      Brunch Back Better?

      Oh and the “so glad I don’t have to think about the government anymore” tweets are out there already.

      1. Geo

        “Brunch Back Better” is my favorite!

        I’ll have the Eggs Benedict Biden, the Kamala Mimosa, and a side of Hash Buttigiegs.

    2. edmondo

      Hey Bill Barr needs a job and no one wants to be Biden’s AG. Why not just leave him there?

      Would it really matter?

      1. Geo

        I’m kinda surprised ol’ Hilldog hasn’t gotten that nomination yet.

        And it’s not like Barr ever defended death squads in literal banana republics like Holder had, so you’re right that he’s probably not much worse than whatever the Biden Admin while plop in that position.

  31. fresno dan

    The initial screwup of the raid was bad, but it was far from the worst thing about this story. The police are humans too and fallible like any of us. Mistakes happen. If they had simply apologized, the city would probably have just had to pay out a large settlement in a lawsuit, suspended a few people and moved on. But that’s not what happened.

    From the moment Ms. Young began asking for videos, the police and the city fought her and her attorney tooth and claw. After CBS broke the story, rather than apologizing, they sought sanctions against Young’s attorney for leaking the video footage and attempted to get an injunction preventing CBS from airing it. All of those efforts eventually failed and the story came to light. Only now are the long-overdue apologies coming out.
    There is something in humans about admitting error. But what real effective corrective action has occurred? One person resigns (just out of curiosity, why not FIRED and I wonder what the hit was to retirement and other benefits)

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Of course the mayor is “shocked” by all this, and never heard one single thing about any of this until it hit the news. Except when shown the emails that were sent to her during the obstruction process, and then she claimed to not remember.

      I’ve lately been using the childhood phrase “whoopsie daisy” whenever I hear these lies. “Mayor Lightfoot, can you comment on these emails that prove you knew about this before you said you did? Mayor: “Whoopsie daisy”, and everyone laughs and moves on to the next subject. “Governor, what about those pictures from dinner at the French Laundry violating your own covid orders”, Governor: Whoopsie daisy?!?

      Recently, it seems I’ve been using this expression multiple times a day.

      1. fresno dan

        Duke of Prunes
        December 22, 2020 at 12:24 pm
        Does a lie told in a forest to a government bureaucracy defacto charged with covering up police abuses heard? Its not a lie unless you get caught. And almost always, its not a lie that harms the liar in any way…
        Its kinda amazing we get as much reality as we do.

  32. pjay

    Re: ‘How The New Yorker Fell Into the “Weird Japan” Trap’ – The New Republic.

    I couldn’t help but focus on this paragraph:

    “An emerging theme in both controversies is that there is a fatal chink in the armor of even the most rigorous fact-checking process—that it is especially vulnerable to a naked betrayal of trust by an author or source. There is only so much a fact-checker can do if someone is intent on telling lies, particularly when the stakes are so low (falsehoods about varsity-level fencing and the sad lives of Japanese people are not equivalent to falsehoods about, say, Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction).”

    Yes. It’s a good thing there was no “fatal chink in the armor” of the “fact-checking process” at the New Yorker or the Atlantic when the stakes were higher — say, on a story about war in Syria, evil Russian aggression, or a treasonous President. Then we might *really* wonder about possible biases slipping through the cracks!

    And thanks to the intrepid New Republic for being such a champion of unbiased reporting.

  33. Wukchumni

    Lots of bad apples in the Navy Seal program, and now massive cheating on math weapons of deduction. Perhaps a refresher course is needed for the latter.

    If Major Skreup sees what looks like some hostiles on the ground in a Stanbox and decides the gravity of the situation calls for a fire & forget missile from a drone overehead, what does he need math for?

    If a cadet decides to score an eight ball in nearby Newburgh (less than 10 miles from the point, with a crime rate like you wouldn’t believe) and overpays because he can’t do basic math, did the transaction really happen?

  34. antidlc

    re: How powerful health providers tamed a ‘surprise’ billing threat (Politico)

    “They folded on every single issue that mattered to those of us who actually wanted to lower health care costs,” one employer lobbyist said.

    Should we have expected anything different?

  35. anon in so cal

    >Pandemic relief package

    Besides $433,000,000 to Ukraine, the deal allows DHS to import greater numbers of H-2B non-agricultural workers—for industries such as construction, fishing, meatpacking.

    >Antidote Really cute fox. There were some foxes on Manhattan Beach a couple of weeks ago:

  36. antidlc

    RE: West Point accuses more than 70 cadets of cheating in worst academic scandal in nearly 45 years

    If they couldn’t even pass calculus, how did they even get admitted into the program?

    Full disclosure: undergrad math major here

  37. Wukchumni

    Missed our family Zoom jam on Friday, and now we’ve incorporated relatives from the great white north into ‘max headroom’ with more to follow and I look forward to chewing the poutine with them.

    Would have never happened without the pandemic…

    1. polecat

      Well, at least you got your (Your monetary specie – Here -)’$ worth. The horoscope, I mean.
      Good things come to those who wait .. prophecied the occular doc.

      May your new year be bright, Mr. W

  38. zagonostra

    >NY Magazine Intelligencer

    I haven’t had time to read this carefully enough, just the bullet points and the usual bromides on how Jimmy Dore curses and is the the bete noir of the Y-tube left. This is a good sign when the establishment has to write a thousand plus word article to try and debunk you. I hope NC puts link in their 2:00 pm Water Cooler.

    From the author’s Twitter Account:

    – A political tactic is only as moral as it is effective.
    – Public support for single-payer is broad but fragile.
    – The case for pessimism of the intellect.

    Also from the author’s Twitter feed:

    Eric Levitz
    If politics is a tool for minimizing needless suffering — rather than a theater for performing one’s personal convictions — then a tactic is only as morally sound as it is likely to succeed.>em>

  39. a different chris

    >Boeing should build 757 replacement in Washington Leeham News and Analysis. Persuasive

    Yeah if you accept the inevitable in this World Of Crap, that Boeing is going to continue to build passenger airplanes.

    In a better world they would be out of business.

  40. Geo

    Nothing Will Fundamentally Change

    “Biden will not immediately roll back Trump immigration and border restrictions, Susan Rice and Jake Sullivan tell Spanish news agency EFE, and Title 42, MPP etc will take time to undo, despite campaign promises for “Day One” reversals”

    As someone with a three close friends who are on their last appeals for immigration before being booted from the country, the one thing I was hoping for from a Biden admin would be immediate action on this. Wasn’t expecting it, but was hoping.

    Going to to curse at the sky in impotent rage and sadness now.

  41. YPG

    Re: Maybe Freedom is Having No Followers to Lose

    I’m working my way through Karl Mannheim’s “Ideology & Utopia” and it’s been such an intellectual jolt for me. What’s funny is that one of the least satisfying portions of the book is the author’s discussion of which group he thinks is best socially positioned to see the Ideological & Utopian elements in society. He concludes that it is likely to be the ‘Intelligentsia’ (i.e. his social group, conveniently) as they increasingly tend to be culled from all walks of life and don’t have to be allegiant to the social position into which they were born. There’s more to it than that but you get the idea.

    In a book that was otherwise a very engaging read (no matter how dryly written) this felt like weak tea. Yet, the example from this article seems to show, though anecdotally, that there’s perhaps *some* basis for this thinking. Maybe this one of those the-truth-once-found-need-not-prove-interesting cases.

  42. pricklyone

    “Tonight’s great conjunction event”. Dated yesterday.
    Actual event was the 21st.
    Did you have this queued up?

    1. johnson

      The naivete on display here would be shocking if I weren’t already so cynical. Just send some call center operator in the Philippines a copy of American legislation and they’ll surely head on over and override the centralized billing algorithm lickety split. ISPs are well-known for scrupulously following the law, after all.

      1. HotFlash

        For over six months I have been fighting a company whose call centre is i te Phillipies. The people I talk to are very nice, very helpful except their help doesn’t work. I can’t access my account, which I know was hacked. Young Marc(o) sent me temp ones many times, none would work. Ms Dina promised to send me a statement via email, never happened. Requests to speak to supervisor dodged. A friend who has truck with a Phillipine call centre in her job says she is seeing similar — theory at her place is that they are working from home and supervisors are not available. Dunno. It’s a financial thingy, so I have an email in to my federal Member of Parliament.

  43. Anonymous

    rather in the manner of a well-networked cleric being moved from one parish to another parish in the Catholic church. lambert

    Yet the disgusted laity feel they have no choice but to remain in the “One True Church.”

    Very sad to me since my own family members are so trapped.

    Not that non-Catholic denominations are necessarily safe but at least one can pick and choose much more easily or simply stay home and read the Bible themselves till they’re wise enough to perceive the wolves.

  44. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    It’s never a good look when the crazy old coot uncle disrupts the family gatherings, it’s really bad for family harmony, it’s bad enough that he always seems to need a shower and a shave, and gets all handsy with the nieces, but this one keeps yelling crazy and unhinged conspiracy theories with absolutely no proof. Very upsetting. He keeps going on about how before we continue closing down the world economy we should really find out if 2020 excess virus deaths may just be mostly misclassified from other categories (“Where have all the heart attacks gone?”, Johns Hopkins, Worse, he’s pushing wild theories that the man about to be installed in The White House is under “criminal financial, counterespionage, and extortion” investigation, he seems to get those wacko ideas from far right wing conspiracy blogs: And the last straw, really the most outrageous of all, is that he keeps yelling that Americans deserve elections that are transparent and legal! But he has absolutely no proof they aren’t: ( Maybe Crazy Gramps should just go off fishing and leave the family in peace, the kingfish are back in the harbour, some mahi-mahi are showing up offshore, and the boys in Jervis Bay are starting to get some nice yellowfin tuna: ( Halco deep diving lures of course are the standby but the red and black skirt lures are also performing well.

  45. Brian westva

    Unfortunately athletics has overtaken academics at many colleges and universities. I believe that many of the big division 1 schools such as UA probably make money or at least break even. However, the small D1 schools and all of the rest D2 & D3 schools lose money on athletics. I know at our small college we spend over 12% of our $28 million dollar annual budget on athletics. The local community and the state get very little in return since many of the student athletes are from out of state. In addition many of them don’t graduate. A tremendous waste of resources in my opinion.

    If you are interested in how much your local higher athletics institution is spending, check out the equity in athletics data website:

  46. JBird4049

    >>>That’s hardly fair. Such bureaucracies are also Jobs Guarantees for those with the credenitials to run them.

    That my being bounced off and on my disability benefits do to the 1-3 times per year eligibility checks, misfiling, mistakes, and general baloney is a jobs program for other people is nice… I guess…

    At least I am good with paperwork unlike too many other disabled, sick, unemployed, homeless, etc people.

  47. drumlin woodchuckles

    Pete Sweeney gave his “China” article a semi-poor title with a “wrong” word in it. China is not “triumphalizing”. China is “triumphing”.

    The article would better have been titled: China’s Economic Triumph Gets Harder To Live With. And as time goes on, it will get harder to survive in the teeth of. Eventually those country-fulls of people who don’t wish to become a collection of “New Overseas Tibets” will have to join eachother in forming a Defensive Survivalist Autarkizone. Or perhaps several little Defensive Survivalist Autarkizones.

    The US could become a semi-survivalist semi-autarkizone. EUrope could be another. It would require lower standards of living, including for the rich. The payoff would be enhanced resistance to Creeping Tibetanization. But the rich people want to turn their countries into China’s future Tibets, because they feel confident that they will be China’s well-paid local enforcers of the One Ball One Chain Great Han Prosperity Sphere World Order.

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