Links 12/4/2020

Cat standing up is ready to take on the world New York Post. My last cat, Gabriel, would regularly stand on his hind legs to have a look, but he would’t hang out in that pose.

Scientists solve mystery of mass coho salmon deaths. The killer? A chemical from car tires Los Angeles Times

Stone Age ‘Venus Figurines’ Have a New Explanation, And It’s Surprisingly Touching Science Alert (Chuck L)

The most striking images of 2020 BBC (David L)

Plastic pollution is everywhere. Study reveals how it travels Environmental Century (David L)

Empire of fantasy aeon


Coronavirus – Mindfulness is useless in a pandemic Economist (Dr. Kevin)

‘Covid ended our marriage’: The couples who split in the pandemic BBC (resilc)


Commentary: Want to avoid pandemics? Eliminate factory farming Chicago Tribune (David L)

Pfizer says supply chain challenges contributed to slashed target for COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2020 Reuters

102-year-old woman beats COVID-19 twice The Hill (UserFriendly)

Pfizer chairman: We’re not sure if someone can transmit virus after vaccination The Hill (UserFriendly)


Biden Says He’ll Ask All Americans to Wear Masks for 100 Days Bloomberg. But no mention of a plan to supply free masks. Even the Gerald Ford Whip Inflation Now program provided buttons:

Many Americans Ignored Thanksgiving Travel Warnings From CDC, Data Show NPR

CDC Director Dr. Redfield on the Surge in COVID-19 Numbers C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Virginia County Votes To Reject Gov. Northam’s Coronavirus Restrictions NPR (resilc)

Employers start preparing for the coronavirus vaccine with a question: Can we require it? Washington Post (MF)

First in line for Covid vaccine? Some US health care workers say no MedicalXpress (resilc)

Illinois nursing home workers strike in second week as pandemic surges: Build rank-and-file-committees to save lives WSWS

‘Everyone’s going to get that’: Americans to be issued Covid-19 ‘VACCINE CARDS’ to track doses RT (Kevin W)


UK regulator defends rapid approval of vaccine after Fauci criticism Financial Times

NHS staff no longer top priority for Covid vaccine despite fear of third wave Guardian (Kevin W)


Democrats Just Caved on COVID Stimulus Checks Vice. In case you missed the implication of the smaller numbers.

Designing Vaccines for People, Not Profits Project Syndicate (David L)


U.S. in Talks With Huawei Finance Chief Meng Wanzhou About Resolving Criminal Charges Wall Street Journal

How China Took Control Of Exxon’s Supergiant Iraqi Oilfield OilPrice

China’s Chang’e-5 Moon mission returns colour pictures BBC (resilc)

Special Report: Burner phones and banking apps: Meet the Chinese ‘brokers’ laundering Mexican drug money Reuters (resilc)

New Cold War

Turkey faces prospect of US sanctions over Russia arms deal Financial Times


RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 3 DECEMBER 2020 by Patrick Armstrong Sic Semper Tyrannis (Kevin W)


How will Iran answer the assassination of Fakhri Zadeh? Elijah Magnier (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Google researcher demonstrates iPhone exploit with Wi-Fi takeover CNET. Bill B: “This is why End-to-End encryption is a false god. As far as the heavy hitters are concerned, iPhones are glorified walkie-talkies.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Collapsed Arecibo Radio Telescope Was Originally Built For Ballistic Missile Defense Research The Drive

Trump Transition

DOJ sues Facebook, alleging it improperly hired foreign workers and discriminated against Americans Washington Post (Kevin W)

Making John Durham a special counsel will cause problems for Biden Jonathan Turley, USA Today

Can Trump pardon himself, his children, and his allies? Boing Boing (resilc). I don’t understand why this is being debated. Prior to the onset of TDS, it was widely held that the President’s powers of pardon are unlimited. However, Trump could only pardon himself with respect to Federal law matters.

Pro-Trump legal crusade peppered with bizarre blunders Politico (UserFriendly)


A lawsuit in Georgia claims that nearly 200,000 registered voters were improperly purged. New York Times (furzy)


Bomb Libya and take its oil: Biden budget chief pick Neera Tanden agreed with Trump Grayzone (resilc)

Will Biden End the Yemen War That He and Obama Started? (resilc)

Scientist, Spy Chief, Apologist for Torture? Meet Biden’s New DNI American Conservative

Joe Biden’s Cabinet Is a Lost Cause for the Left New Republic (resilc)

Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham The Hill

Extent of David Perdue’s Shady Stock Trading Revealed New York Magazine (resilc)

The DCCC chooses a leader — but needs some new rules The Hill. UserFriendly: “Good advice I’m sure they will ignore.”

Are Bill Gates’s Billions Distorting Public Health Data? The Nation (resilc)

Top AI ethics researcher says Google fired her; company denies it Reuters and Google Employees Say Scientist’s Ouster Was ‘Unprecedented Research Censorship’ NPR

Making Sense of Sky-High Stock Prices Project Syndicate (David L)

Warren Buffett’s favorite market indicator nears record high, signaling stocks are overvalued and a crash may be coming Business Insider (furzy)

Class Warfare

The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy Harpers. Micael T: “A classic to reread every now and then.”

Student Loan Horror Stories Matt Taibbi (Glenn F)

Reports of globalisation’s death are greatly exaggerated Gillian Tett, Financial Times

Explaining Our Morbid Political Symptoms Jacobin

No Escape From Our Techno-Feudal World Pepe Escobar, Asia Times (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour. Timotheus: “fFrom Ammons Reservoir in Galion, Ohio. Not sure if it’s a falcon or some sort of hawk.”

And a bonus. guurst recommends full screen. I am not a bird person but I’d love to have some:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Stone Age ‘Venus Figurines’ Have a New Explanation, And It’s Surprisingly Touching”

    And here I was thinking that these figurines were the Palaeolithic versions of PronHub. Although I do agree with their final conclusion that these figurines represent an idealized version of a woman in that she is fertile and capable of child-bearing, I think that there might be a bit more to this story which brings me to an obscure word that I read of a long time ago – Steatopygia.

    This is where women in some regions of Africa store excess fat in their buttocks for when times are more lean. With the Bushmen, it is a sign of beauty and is much admired. Several tribal nations carry this trait such as the Pygmies, the Hottentots and it may be that our ancestors also stored fat on their bodies which you see represented on these figurines. Here is an article about this subject-

    And at the bottom of the original article on Stone age figurines there is a link to the original story which is a much more better, detailed treatment-

    1. zagonostra

      The conclusion of the article was that they found a correlation between the distance from cold climes and warmer ones in that the colder the clime the more obese the figurine was carved.

      “Figurines are less obese as distance from the glaciers increases… Specifically, the body size proportions were largest when the glaciers were advancing, whereas obesity decreased when the climate warmed and glaciers retreated.”

      and they state “the bodies are not swollen as symbols of sex, they say, but as symbols of survival.”

      I am not sure I am convinced.What the heck does a “symbol of survival” mean? I think I read somewhere that there were also certain religious “rites” associated with the statuets.I think Graham Hancock refered to them in a Joe Rogan podcast, but I might be mis-remembering.

      Thanks for links, look forward to reading when time permits.

      1. jr

        A “symbol of survival” is magic, plain and simple. It’s embodies the hopes and dreams of the practitioners, shaping their consciousness, thereby their actions, thereby the material world. It inspired (not in the artificial, consumptive PMC sense to be quite clear) them to get out of their bearskin beds in the morning to face the encroaching bitter cold, to struggle through the grief of friends and family lost with the promise of a new generation, to take that extra hunting trip despite hunger and fear on the off chance they might stumble across game in lean times. If you want to see the earliest magical texts, look no further:

        Humans are the medium of magic, the intersection of the “real” world with consciousness where the quicksilver, paper thin but infinitely deep boundaries of perception and imagination swirl together. The figurines focused both of them acutely, just as they do today in the forms of say the swastika or the cross. Which is why advertising and marketing in all it’s forms are abominations: it’s the theft of the imagination, the death of magic. After all, what are the Golden Arches or the Nike Swoosh! but glyphs of power?

        1. Wukchumni

          Whilst soaking @ Saline hot springs last year I got to talking with a fellow about wall art and it turns out he was an expert on petroglyphs, and I mentioned how easy it would be to ‘draw’ modern ones, all you’d really need is a battery powered/or generator powered Dremel tool, and you’re in business. Most Native American petroglyphs in the Southwest i’ve seen are from around 300 to 3,000 years old, and still look as if they were created yesterday.

          He related that he was in fact making modern ‘glyphs, but it was more of a joke to him, he described one panel he created as having a Conestoga wagon with UFO’s above, that’ll mess with people’s minds in 3029, and I get it, as i’m a bit of a merry prankster myself.

          The most advanced society ever will leave just about nothing as a talisman on walls or caves that we were here for 400 years, isn’t that shocking?

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I believe we may be remembered in 400 years by our highway system and large deposits of strange combinations of materials like powdered concrete, rusted iron, glass, plastic and mysterious sunken and crumbling cities on the coasts — and there is Mount Rushmore. Instead of the Venus figures we will leave behind millions of Barbies.

          2. The Rev Kev

            In the remains of museums they will discover ancient Egyptian stone tablets bearing hieroglyphics which will still be perfectly readable.

        2. zagonostra

          Remember Queequeg in Melville’s Mobby Dick who would pray to a little statuet, Yojo? That was more than a “symbol of survival?” Or how Frazier describes ancient rites in the “The Golden Bough” that was associated with tree in a sacred grove.? Physical objects were more than merely physical objects which represented discrete assignations, like survival.” There was a holistic cosmogony associated with them, they constituted one object which was integrated into their whole belief structure.

          Maybe I’m making to much of the article making too little of that phrase…

            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              I guess there was a major reason why someone would complete a lengthy & hazardous journey within a pitch black cave whose walls would flicker within a scene of massive contrast on the edges & inside of the puny available light. Perhaps rather than a lone artist, he had elders & shamens for company, as he laboured on the buttresses & walls of that first of cathedrals decorated to those essential beasts portrayed in all of their glory.

              I imagine that the above was about magic in a world where just about everything was unexplainable, perhaps aided by certain herbs & the flickers from a tallow candle. The Venus figurines would I think be part of the same story reflecting the mystery of just about everything & the fact that in order to survive there was recognition that there was a debt to be paid to forces within the natural world that sustained them.

              We now as a species worship money, material things & so called success while apparently thinking that we know it all being the masters of nature with little or no respect for it which all & all IMO means that we have no family blogging idea of what those early humans were thinking, unless perhaps in a Sistine chapel religious sort of way.

              I do wish that Herzog had tried to create the effect of flickering light, as I’m sure that it would give an impression of movement which could I believe have been painted in such a light.


              1. Procopius

                I can’t recommend A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry too much. In Practical Polytheism he explains how ancient religion worked and why people believed in it. It satisfactorily explained everything.

        3. The Heretic

          I like the poetry in your prose. Humanity is the source of magic, just as parents are the keeper of transmitter of Magic for their children… (ie Santa Claus).

          But concerning the death of magic caused by corporate advertising, perhaps is it more accurate to say that they perverted magic… a appropriation of magic and symbols for inappropriate ends…

      2. lyman alpha blob

        That article was pretty weak tea. They found a correlation, but humans do like to find patterns even where none necessarily exist, and as NC readers well know, correlation does not equal causation.

        And the interpretation that these figures represent the ideal of fertility at the time because you had to be large to endure the cold climate is not new – I remember learning hearing that in art history and anthro courses 30 years ago, and it wasn’t new then.

        One of the reasons I didn’t pursue archaeology as a career is because every little discovery has to be imbued with some great significance. Ever other chamber discovered is shrine to some unknown deity because of a few pot shards. I director of the excavation I worked found a small artifact made of some mineral that can be found in Anatolia, so he used that to declare proof of an ancient trade route between Crete and Anatolia, and no doubt there were such routes. But a local fisherman who knew the area much better than the dig team pointed out a nearby deposit of said mineral just over the next hill, which significantly reduced the length of the proposed ancient trade route.

        Maybe these figurines were just paleolithic teddy bears. But archaeologists rarely offer the more mundane explanations for their finds. You need eyeballs to generate the interest needed to secure funding for further excavations.

        1. fresno dan

          lyman alpha blob
          December 4, 2020 at 9:32 am
          I always thought they were ben wa balls, shaped like women because that seemed a good differentiator to all the other round stones they might have been lying about. But that’s just me.

        2. Bazarov

          Lyman–imagine a culture more or less erased by the sands of time and the flux of existence.

          The people that made up and constructed that culture are long gone and totally foreign to us.

          Now, imagine we’re that lost culture.

          Let’s say 20,000 years in the future, some intelligent creature is digging through a bog and finds a soft, strange, human-shaped-yet-animal-faced shell of synthetic fiber stuffed with…more synthetic fiber?

          And let’s stipulate that these future intelligent beings, having encountered and studied other artifacts from our lost civilization, did indeed understand this find to be a kind of comfort item for children.

          Try to answer the question, from their point of view: Why? Why would this item bring comfort to a child? Why is it made out of synthetic fiber? Why, if it’s human shaped, does it have an animal face? Why–when they find more in the bogs of the world–do they come in so many different sizes and colors? Why–though this bog is in North America–does the tag read “China,” a civilization known to have been very far away?

          Of course to really answer these questions you have to “imbue this item with great significance,” as it does not represent merely the comfort item for a sleeping child, it represents a mass produced commodity of the vast, world wide capitalist civilization. Its story, I’m afraid, is very significant indeed.

          I see no reason why to truly understand this Venus figure, even it were a “Paleolithic teddy bear,” we no doubt need to probe similarly its “great significance” as part of this foreign, obscure, largely erased civilization.

      3. D. Fuller

        Symbol of survival… in times of food scarcity, a man or woman who displays being overweight means either has plenty. While others did not.

        Thus the person displaying more weight in lean times is the more desirable mate. The availability of food equaling wealth. Wealth is a fantastic aphrodisiac. And as polygamy was perfectly acceptable in older societies and still practiced in parts of the world today? The wealthy man is the very married man – multiple times over.

        Whereas a women who is overweight in a (male dominated) society in which food is scarce? Means her family has food, thus she is desirable, attractive.

        Those that have food during food scarcity or famine? Best to be friends… or better… their spouse… with them.

        For access to food.


      4. Ford Prefect

        A number of years ago, my doctor told me that my non-svelte figure would have allowed me to survive the deepest of northern European winters while his thin figure would reduce his survival potential in a really bad winter. However, non-svelte doesn’t work as well in today’s day and age….

        As far as I can tell, none of my ancestors came from any place south of the 49th parallel in Europe.

    2. ShamanicFallout

      These ‘explanations’ by researchers say much more about them, themselves, than anything they could possibly know about ancient people. They should stick to cataloging and dating the best they can and stay very far away from “what they were thinking, and what this means, etc”

      1. Wukchumni

        From all the wall art i’ve seen in the Southwest, it isn’t that difficult to get the gist of what the ancients were trying to impart, and that’s half the fun of it…

        Book tip:

        The Rocks Begin To Speak by Lavan Martineau

        1. ShamanicFallout

          Maybe. I do like this quote from him: “Civilized men in all his wisdom, cannot comprehend the wisdom of those who live in harmony with nature.”

          But we must say that understanding and ‘knowledge’, is state dependent; dependent on one’s being. And most of us are very lacking. We arrive so crudely with our giant, dis-embodied frontal lobes that how could we not make a mess of ‘interpreting’ what the ancient are conveying?

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I think it curious that the article showed up in the Journal of the Obesity Society. The article also makes an interesting piece of propaganda to catch the imagination and remind people of the impacts of climate change.

    4. ewmayer

      Ha, ha, you and I have the same (Penthouse) pet hypothesis for the Venuses – “d00d, check out Miss July, she is hawt!”. (Think the famous fireside scene in Quest for Fire, but with no girl around, comparing each other’s clay-figure stashes.)

      Steatopygia and her slightly-less bootylicious sister Callipygia: 2 excellent words to “build your vocabulary”. :)

  2. zagonostra

    >400 politicians worldwide press Jeff Bezos to raise wages, pay more taxes – New York Post

    So that’s the way “leaders” lead? By writing “strongly worded letters” to ask companies to pay their far share of taxes? Maybe if they say “pretty, pretty, please” they would be more amenable. We now have to rely on the beneficence of our overlords to do what is in the interest of of the common good. I don’t think you can dispense with the notion of the “common good” nor that “leaders” are (s)elected to prosecute it via legislation and the force of law.

    In a letter to Amazon’s 56-year-old chief executive — the leaders say the world “knows that Amazon can afford to pay its workers, its environmental cost and its taxes,” but that the company has “dodged and dismissed [its] debts to workers, societies and the planet,” according to a report in The Independent.

    Among the signatories to the letter are US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib…

    1. timbers

      Yep. I mean the title may as well read:

      400 citizens worldwide press Jeff Bezos to raise wages, pay more taxes – New York Post

      Politicians pretending to be non office holders and not doing their jobs, instead acting like us pheasants.

      Maybe the headline should read:

      400 politicians worldwide press Jeff Bezos to a NICER PERSON – New York Post

      1. Jesper

        & then the talk of lost productivity when people are working from home rather than commuting to the office….
        For the total economy, the total world, then the time and energy spent on the commute are (at least should be) included in (added to) the calculation of the total inputs. For the individual company those inputs are external costs and therefore irrelevant so for the individual company it might make sense to maybe (and it is only a maybe) increase output by 1-2% by increasing external costs by 25%. For the rest then their calculation makes no sense, increase output by 1-2% by increasing inputs by 25-30% seems to me to be something reducing productivity, efficiency etc but economists will get the results they are paid to get.
        I am guessing that lawmakers will produce (or not produce, if that is what is required) the laws that are best for the individual company as that is what the lawmakers believe they are supposed to be doing.

    2. Mel

      I take my model from Don Vito Corleone in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. Don Vito’s negotiations were always professional and polite. He never spoke a violent word …

      An illustration, maybe, of a principe. We’ve yet to see how many of those there are in Congress.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Yes, but like Nehru in India, Corleone’s negotiations were backed both by his previous word and more kinetic actions. Style is meaningless if you aren’t prepared to follow through.

        The subtle message of MLK was that it was his way or well he would not be responsible for all the missed brunch going forward. If one side at the table isn’t uncomfortable, why would they negotiate?

        A letter from a do nothing congress is meaningless.

        1. Mel

          Not meaningless for a principe, it’s opening a negotiation. If people listen, then fine. If they don’t, then, as you suggest, we’ll see whether something gets done.

      2. rd

        Then he would have passed a minimum wage law if his polite request was refused (and if leaving a beheaded robot dog in his bed didn’t work).

    3. Pookah Harvey

      “So that’s the way “leaders” lead? By writing “strongly worded letters” to ask companies to pay their far share of taxes?”
      Yep, that is one way. (How much do you accomplish by not signing?) Here is another, bills sponsored by Omar.

      Nov. 24, 2020 H.RES.1240: Expressing condemnation for police brutality wherever in the world it occurs.
      Nov. 19, 2020 H.J.RES.102: Providing for congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale to the United Arab Emirates of certain defense articles and services.
      Nov. 19, 2020 H.J.RES.103: Providing for congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale to the United Arab Emirates of certain defense articles and services.
      Nov. 19, 2020 H.J.RES.100: Providing for congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale to the United Arab Emirates of certain defense articles and services.
      Nov. 19, 2020 H.J.RES.101: Providing for congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale to the United Arab Emirates of certain defense articles and services.
      Aug. 11, 2020 H.R.8020: Make Billionaires Pay Act
      July 24, 2020 H.R.7781: End Polluter Welfare Act of 2020
      June 24, 2020 H.R.7315: Protecting Our Protesters Act of 2020
      June 8, 2020 H.R.7135: CIVIL Act
      April 17, 2020 H.R.6515: Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act of 2020
      April 14, 2020 H.R.6498: SAFE Act of 2020
      April 14, 2020 H.R.6510: SNAP Online Purchasing Flexibility Act of 2020
      April 10, 2020 H.R.6485: Recovery Rebates Improvement Act
      April 3, 2020 H.R.6430: Suspend School Meal Debt Act
      March 27, 2020 H.R.6409: ABLE Act of 2020
      March 19, 2020 H.R.6290: RELIEF Act of 2020
      March 19, 2020 H.R.6289: STOP Act of 2020
      March 11, 2020 H.R.6187: MEALS Act
      Feb. 21, 2020 H.R.5948: Global Peacebuilding Act
      Feb. 12, 2020 H.RES.854: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should become a state party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
      Feb. 12, 2020 H.RES.855: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should ratify the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court.
      Feb. 12, 2020 H.R.5878: Global Migration Agreement Act
      Feb. 12, 2020 H.R.5877: YouthBuild International Act
      Feb. 12, 2020 H.R.5880: Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act
      Feb. 12, 2020 H.R.5879: Congressional Oversight of Sanctions Act
      Feb. 5, 2020 H.R.5767: ENSURE Act of 2020
      Jan. 30, 2020 H.R.5734: Neighbors Not Enemies Act
      Jan. 7, 2020 H.J.RES.82: Direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have not been authorized by Congress.
      Nov. 21, 2019 H.R.5244: Homes for All Act of 2019
      Oct. 15, 2019 H.R.4684: Universal School Meals Program Act of 2019
      Oct. 1, 2019 H.R.4596: Student Loan Advocacy Act
      July 25, 2019 H.R.4050: ZERO WASTE Act
      July 16, 2019 H.RES.496: Affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
      June 24, 2019 H.R.3448: Student Debt Cancellation Act of 2019
      June 19, 2019 H.R.3366: No Shame at School Act of 2019
      May 23, 2019 H.R.3004: Protect Democracy From Criminal Corporations Act
      May 17, 2019 H.R.2832: Frank Adelmann Manufactured Housing Community Sustainability Act
      May 7, 2019 H.R.2561: Brunei Human Rights Act
      Feb. 28, 2019 H.R.1467: Protect Against Unlawful Lobbying (PAUL) Act of 2019
      Jan. 24, 2019 H.R.780: Federal Worker Childcare Protection Act of 2019

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      “Harsh language” served the marines in the movie “Aliens” well in their effort to find the lost colonists from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, “shake-and-bake” colony.

  3. timbers

    Biden Says He’ll Ask All Americans to Wear Masks for 100 Days Bloomberg.

    Boy, what a missed opportunity.

    Based on yesterday’s comments regarding travel, Biden should have announced, in FDR style, to Make America Safe For Vacation Travel Again in his first 100 days in office. Think of all the airline and cruise ship jobs that would save and bring back. And if he mandated free appropriate alcoholic drinks like champagne (or sparkling wine Prosecco as it seems favored by the working managerial set in Blue Land based on my pre Covid part time bartending days at Boston Symphony Orchestra).

    In other words, Biden should focus on things that REALLY matter to his Base. Who cares about flyover country. Has anyone there even heard of Prosecco?

    It would show he still is all or mostly there enough to read what the Team Blue managerial folk want, at least enough to connect with his Base.

    Then, things could truly become back to normal.

    1. Katiebird

      Why is he waiting for his 100 days of Masks. Can’t he make one of those big speeches and ask for it now?

      1. jr

        He just got the job!! He has to order new drapes and update the menu in the White House cafeteria! Give the guy a break, sheesh!

        1. Ford Prefect

          Actually, he doesn’t have the job yet. Not all of the states have certified the election, the electoral college has not voted, and Congress (presided over by Mike Pence) have not declared him “Pretender to the Throne” yet, so he doesn’t even have a formal job offer yet never mind signed the on-boarding paperwork.

          It is likely that he will get the job unless Rudy Giuliani can wake up the old folks on the Supreme Court.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Or how 100 days sets an end date for masks before vaccines are actually being distributed. It does matchup with nice brunch weather.

        1. edmondo

          He warned you when you elected him that he was going to be FDR-like. FDR got us Social Security and saved the banks from going BK. Uncle Joe will give us face masks. It’s an even trade. In Days 101-200 Biden will start riding in a wheelchair. It’s all about the messaging.

          1. Katiebird

            I think it’s like ObamaCare. Obama didn’t GIVE us healthCare, he required that we buy health insurance. And Biden isn’t GIVING us masks, he’s requiring that we buy and wear them.

            Basically starting in a 100 days (I know not quite)

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              “Asking,” cajoling and appealing to “patriotism” turn into “mandates” with penalties in the blink of an eye. biden doesn’t strike me as a particularly patient person.

              In 2008, obama famously denied that there would be medial insurance mandates until the big insurance companies made it clear that the great obamacare wouldn’t work without them.

              As usual, benign campaign utterances aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.

                1. apleb

                  This is something I don’t understand: how a local law officer can open declare to avoid enforcing the law. In Europe, the officer would already have disciplinary actions taken against him.

                  If he starts to allow some drugs on the street, he would be immediately gone.

                  The officer can go to the courts and plead his case, but he has to enforce every law and lawful order on the books or he is a simple criminal with a badge.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    The Feds can’t discipline state or local police officers. Moreover, policer officers have unions, making it difficult for any disciplinary action to succeed, since the union throws its weight behind the accused officer, unless his conduct is egregious.

                    1. apleb

                      From what I understand the Feds cannot take actions against the pandemic either. Both, actions and disciplinary measures against local police officers are done by the individual states.
                      The sheriff who declared he will not enforce mask wearing still violates the law and his oath, and cannot be a sheriff anymore.

                      And yes, it will go before the courts in the end in any case. Not even the unions can defend all of them probably, but I guess the bad decisions with precedents all these years before when officers get immunity for murdering citizen before the courts come home to roost here too.

                      It all reminds me of prohibition where the same lawlessness existed with the police.

                      The bigger problem is most likely that the governor doing his job in this case would have a hard time getting reelected. Which is why they won’t take effective measures against the pandemic, leading to the current situation.

      3. Darthbobber

        Maybe he thinks that asking by the president is different than asking by the president. But asking is just asking in any case. And I believe he was already asking (and asking others to ask) even as a candidate. So as close to literally nothing as one can easily get.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Does anyone really think that those who would be amenable to a biden mask “ask” isn’t already wearing one (as well as hectoring complete strangers who aren’t)?

          This is about as toothless as invoking the “Defense Production Act” to alleviate a purported PPE shortage in a country that has no production facilities.

    2. Wukchumni

      Just a little over 60 days into his FDR’s first term, the 1st CCC camp on the west coast was under construction here @ Potwisha in Sequoia NP and completed within 100 days of inauguration. It solved a number of vexing issues such as putting young men to work doing something useful and sending most of their pay back to their families who desperately needed the $25 monthly remittance. Another problem was many of the enrollees were very malnourished, the CCC camps also fixed that by providing good food in abundance.

      57,000 men learned to read & write in the CCC as well.

      In total there were over 2,600 CCC camps, and 3 million men served in them. You think of the logistics of all that almost 90 years ago and it seems awfully daunting, and now we propose to get everybody to wear a mask for 100 days, and it seems like a very tall order. How far we have fallen.

      Begun early in 1933, Potwisha is the former location of an old Yokut Indian winter camping ground three miles above Sequoia National Park headquarters at the junction of the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River and the main branch.

      The 915th Company, SNP – 1 was formed in May 1933 at Fort Winfield Scott California and moved into Potwisha by the 13th. The camp was constructed by the 23rd. Notable achievement is the carving of the indian head sign that greets visitors entering the Ash Mountain entrance, carved by CCC enrollee George Muno during September 1935.

      “The work conducted by the CCC men in the national parks primarily consisted of road construction, trail maintenance, construction and razing of buildings and campsites, fire fighting, insect and fungus control, replanting and landscaping. Those so trained conducted specialized activities such as surveying, resource planning, and even participation in natural history programs for visitors. ” NPS

      1. JWP

        Earlier this summer I was walking through Silver Falls State park and they had a ton of signs and info about how the CCC built the park, cutting through the basalt to build trails behind the waterfalls.

        It should have stayed around and continued as a brach of government, maybe a replacement for the national guard. Pays well, educated well, and does well for the environment.

      2. Glen


        And with the American west burning up, there is a need for the CCC again. Our firefighters need help.

        We need a similar program for our health care workers right now.

      3. Ford Prefect

        I keep trying to tell junior staff that we could actually start things quickly before the Internet was even invented. They don’t believe me. They think instant communication about the Kardashians is the same as accomplishing things.

    3. Phacops

      Interesting how he does not mention American self-sufficiency for PPE with programs that would also prevent future arbitrage of sourcing from low-wage, caveat emptor nations.

    4. Oh

      Boy, he’s really got a good tactic to take care of the epidemic! What a guy! We need more like him. But wait…

  4. chris

    This reader comment from Matt Taibbi’s article on student debt nearly made me fall out of bed:

    “According to the inflation calculator at, $79,000 in 1986 are worth $189,845 in 2020. In other words, although $190,000 sounds like a lot, it’s just about the principal.”

    Now, I’m sure the people in the commentariat will correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the reason why creditors hate inflation is because it makes debts easier to pay. In fact, one component of the analysis a creditor is supposed to do when assessing the risk that needs to be covered by an interest rate is the assumed inflation during the period of the loan. In basic microeconomics classes, they’ll usually have some blurb that says rising inflation makes debts easier to pay because you get to pay back older debts with newer, cheaper money.

    But it seems like some people expect a loan amount or debt to keep up and never lose value due to inflation. And it also seems like we’ve created a situation where the price everything important can be inflated but not worker’s wages. We’re doomed if the people who would benefit most from a decent understanding of what is supposed to happen start reflexively mouthing creditor talking points :(

    1. Interest in Interest

      “isn’t the reason why creditors hate inflation is because it makes debts easier to pay”


      1. Grant

        No, there are a host of unstated assumptions there. If real wages are stagnant and the costs of things are increasing, and if the interest on loans is greater than real wages are increasing, people will get crushed by both things in the long term. This entire economic system needs to be dismantled.

        I mean, you could haver a lot of debt, there could be a collapse in production and the costs of goods could go up because of that. You could find yourself out of a job, with things costing more, and no capacity to pay back the debt.

        1. chris

          Sure, but again, my fall out of bed moment came because a reader of Matt Taibbi, which assumes a certain type of audience member, said that the principal on a loan should keep up with inflation. That’s not how this works.

          I agree that there are many assumptions behind whether inflation is good or bad for an economy, but in most microeconomics textbooks you read the discussion on inflation mentions that it makes old debt easier to pay back with cheaper money. It seems now we’re not even entertaining that old chestnut in our discussions. Or, even worse, the people who are taking out debt assume that how the debt is being issued and collected and valued is correct! You don’t have to do much work when your slaves are so loyal they adore your lash…

          1. Grant

            I stupidity studied economics and the more I read from heterodox thinkers (thank you Yves, Steve Keen, Robin Hahnel, Karl William Kapp, Michael Hudson, Sraffa and others) the more I thought critically about the assumptions in these theories. I don’t see tons of value in neoclassical economics, but Joan Robinson said that an education on economics is important more than anything so a person doesn’t get deceived by economists. So, I guess it has value in that regard.

    2. jefemt

      I’m a dunce— I don’t see inflation making debts easier to pay, especially with stagnant wages?

      And, I seriously doubt that inflation is dead dead dead.
      My basket of goods seems quite different that that of the Government reporting agencies.

      1. Chris

        You’re not stupid. The concept traditionally explained with inflation is that wages inflate as the cost of goods increases. But that hasn’t happened so we all just get squeezed…

        1. Pelham

          Permit me to emphatically endorse that point. We need some other measure than CPI. Oren Cass is trying to develop one that focuses on ordinary people’s well-being (imagine that!) rather than the cost of stuff in a completely disconnected-from-reality market basket.

          1. JWP

            Especially because the “costs” often referred to are those of consumer goods like chips and cloths, ones that carry the glory of marketing campaigns but are easily substitutable, recently with people willing to pay through the roof for basic goods during the pandemic. Nowhere is there mention of utilities, medical, and other fixed costs that rise as a result of monopoly power, often state granted and legally enforced, where the real inflation takes place.

        2. rd

          Interest rates….

          For some reason the US government is still penny-pinching on interest rates and using a lot of short-term debt which means a rise in inflation could cause significant increases in interest payments, making it harder to pay off debt. This is a time now to do long-term infrastructure investments with 3-100 year bonds so that long-term inflation would actually become somewhat beneficial to paying off debt.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        You’re not supposed to be able to get “inflation” with stagnant wages.

        But “wages” have been replaced with out of control “credit.” Massive loans of all kinds with no underwriting, disappearing “tax deductions” for interest and increasingly limited bankruptcy protections. The “Bankruptcy Reform Act” was the red flag that the system was going off the rails. That and public shaming of “profligate” debtors..

        That’s how you get “inflation” without rising wages. Spending borrowed money like it was your own.

        The flaw in the system is that you have to repay those loans out of “income.” They haven’t worked that part out yet, so they keep pretending the old “rules” apply.

    3. STEPHEN

      Hate to be crass…and I’m not familiar with Chris’ family situation…but I honestly think his best case scenario is to jingle mail these student loans. He’s obviously been shafted by a system that doesn’t care about him. He should leave the country and live out his days under the radar on a Philippine island or something, where no one knows or cares who he is.

      1. Charger01

        Student debt is largely non-discharable in bankruptcy. There is some wiggle room when its gov’t sponsored vs. private debt, but his student loans will dog him for life.

      2. Stephen C.

        Although it’s a nice dream, I doubt any American could “live under the radar in the Philippines” without having access to large amounts of cash. And overstaying a visa is asking for even more trouble.

        1. STEPHEN

          ::sigh:: probably true.

          Makes me wonder…is it possible for a person to…not sure how to phrase it exactly. Drop out of society? Are there any uncharted places left in the world, in which truly new beginnings are possible? There was a time when America was that place, a long time ago.

          Are there any places to which a debt refugee could flee and start anew?

          1. Wukchumni

            There’s a story I remember reading of a German family who were horrified by goings on in the fatherland in the 1930’s, so they hightailed out of there to an out of the way paradise in the South Pacific as far away from Adolf as possible, a little island named Guadalcanal.

              1. The Rev Kev

                And then there was the case of Wilmer McLean whose house near Manassas, Virginia, was involved in the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. ‘After the battle, he moved to Appomattox, Virginia to escape the war, thinking that it would be safe. Instead, in 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in McLean’s house in Appomattox.’

            1. Janie

              Wasn’t there a farmer whose fields at Bull Run were distroyed, so, he moved to Appomattox Court House?

      3. chris

        Stephen, no one in my family has student loans.

        A situation that I think has as much to do with hard work as it does my good luck in coming of age at the right time. I’ve done very well for myself despite some ups and downs. The system IS a problem and it will become a problem for people like me and my children sooner or later. But, my comment wasn’t aimed at the system. I was speaking about a reader’s response to an article where it was assumed that the creditor needed to be made whole in today’s dollars for a loan issued many years ago. Plus interest and fees. That is quite literally not how it’s supposed to work. But to hear it as otherwise from a reader of some like Taibbi, in relation to an article on why the current system is so stupid…

        I mean, c’mon man. Part of the reason you pay interest is to hedge the creditors risk of the money being worth less by the time the loan is paid off and to cover the opportunity cost you pay because you could have done something better to earn more money if you had used the loan funds in a different way. For debtors to say that creditors should be made whole on top of that is just soul crushing. To hear this kind of ignorance in the context of federally guaranteed student loans is too much to believe. What better investment is there than for a country to have a well educated and productive populace? Student loans should have zero interest and be dischargeable in bankruptcy. But to hear so many these days is to listen to people who strongly believe otherwise even as they suffer under the current regime.

        Yves and Lambert often say that the “dogs won’t eat the dog food” with respect to what people in authority telling them what to do. I’m taking much of the negative response to the student debt cancellation debate as well as comments like the one I quoted above as anecdotal evidence that is mutts are in fact learning to love the trash our masters are putting in our dingy little bowls.

        1. STEPHEN

          Ah, sorry, I suppose my comment was not directly responding to yours; rather using yours as the jumping off point to discuss matters pertaining to that particular link.

          Now…I think we must remember that a good majority of the populace is financially illiterate. The concept that future expectations of inflation may have some impact on the net present value of an asset…whoosh. Makes my head spin too.

          “I borrow 30k 30 years ago, that’s just like borrowing 100k today, so the fact that he still has 100k balance 30 years later is normal”…this reasoning is perfectly rationale to people sitting at certain points in the personal-finance Duning- Kruger Curve.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          It’s goddamned hard to argue that the lender to Taibbi’s “Chris,” whoever it is, has not been made “whole” and then some. Or that “Chris” hasn’t been “punished” enough for his financcial “transgressions”–to the tune of $111,000 over his lifetime so far and over twice that to go.

          The “remaining” $236,000–interest plus fees plus interest on the interest and interest on the fees–is just pure and simple piling on because they can. There is absolutely ZERO “risk” to the “lender” every month they just add those bogus amounts to the “outstanding balance.” ZERO. This isn’t “lending,” it’s extortion.

          And speaking of ZERO “risk,” when the government becomes both guarantor and debt collector; tolerates massive abuse; provides perverse, abusive incentives and then removes any traditional bankruptcy protection in perpetuity, ZERO lending “risk” is what you’ve got.

          Get some free cash from the fed, “lend” it to an eighteen-year-old, and let it produce forever.

      4. rd

        That means they will garnish anything they can get their hands on over the century, including Social Security. You can’t get rid of US citizenship if the US government thinks you owe it money either.

    4. Wukchumni

      If you had bought a home in Buenos Aries 20 years ago on a 30 year loan, because the Argentine Peso has lost 99% of it’s value since then, mortgages must be a pittance in the scheme of things, certainly less than the $133 monthly mortgage my parents paid for their first home in LA in 1960.

      Inflation isn’t only good for tires…

    5. D. Fuller

      But it seems like some people expect a loan amount or debt to keep up and never lose value due to inflation.

      Inflation is the justification for interest on a loan. As the loan loses value due to inflation, the interest due increases the amount to compensate for inflation. Bankers and credit card companies, Wall Street and the wealthiest love inflation unless it is too much.

      However, if money rises in value (deflation), there is no negative interest rate in regards to loans. Wealthy people hate deflation when they have debt.

  5. Donald

    The Aeon piece on Tolkien and Lewis shows a common problem with many on the left when they try to understand the right— they stereotype. So yes, it is true that Tolkien and Lewis were ultra conservative in many ways, but the message in the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion is anti- imperialist. Examples are numerous, but for example Numenor fell into evil precisely when it started establishing an Empire. The “ Wild Men “ in Druadan Forest are treated like animals and demand to be left alone in their forest after helping the Rohirrim, who used to hunt them. Tolkien is clearly portraying the good guy Rohirrim as being in the wrong.

    Lewis’s space trilogy is in part a condemnation of colonialism. It is right there out in the open. You have to be stupid to miss it.

    Both of them were racist and sexist by modern standards and there is plenty to criticize but they were complicated people and most liberals and leftists simply shove them into boxes. I think there is probably a larger lesson here.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i read that the other day…and i’ve been something of a tolkien scholar since i was, like, 8.
      i am more than averse to applying woke orthodoxy(assuming one can even be identified) to people from the past like this….they even hate Gandhi, ffs.
      my moral/ethical stance was definitely influenced by tolkien…and i’ve known that he was a “conservative”(small-c, not the modern usa usage) for decades.
      galadriel and gandalf are probably my favorite characters in the entire oeuvre…but in the last 20 or so years, i’ve come to appreciate many more…especially those elf kings who maintained “Hidden Kingdoms”…gondolin, menegroth, nargothrond, etc.
      i’ll not be burning the books on the two Tolkien Shelves any time soon, thank you.(and I’ll keep the Gandhi, MLK(womanizer) and Jefferson(slave owner, philanderer), too.
      I’ll even keep Mein Kampf, dammit.
      and “the Late Great Planet Earth”,lol.
      “orthodoxy is unconsciousness”-Orwell

      1. The Rev Kev

        You wonder what they would make of a good Texan boy like Robert E. Howard and his Conan the Barbarian series of stories. Probably too low brow for them although the world depicted in it in his Hyborian Age is just as interesting as that depicted in Lord of the Rings-

        1. chris

          Exactly that. Michael Bay once replied to a criticism that he makes movies for 12 year old boys with, “So what? Why is that a bad thing?” He didn’t say no one should make movies for 12 year old girls. He didn’t say no one could make queen positive or trans positive media. He just wanted to make movies with lots of explosions and crazy action scenes. Lots of people like that. That’s not Bey’s fault.

          I don’t understand why we’re allowed to encourage representation and fan fiction and inclusive stories but we should shun stories like LOTR or Narnia or Conan. Next thing we’ll hear is that Jack Vance’s Lyonnesse series is transphobic because of how it highlight the role of women in society and that all women have common physical experiences regardless of status. It always seems to me like the people trying to cram wokeness into the past are insufferable children who scream at the top of their lungs that they know so much better about everything than their parents…

          Why can’t these stories and ideas co-exist? Why do all these people feel they have a claim to be cultural enforcers and why do they think they can offer criticism of works without at least trying to read them in good faith?

          1. The Rev Kev

            Because more and more we are faced with a movement to censor people, censor the past, make people fit into a social cookie cutter-culture that is more and more rarefied as compared to people’s experiences. Our culture and our artists are being required to confirm what a tiny percent of the population conceive of how things should be according to the social set that they live in. But I will let The Critical Drinker talk for me here about why the past matters-


          2. jr

            “I don’t understand why we’re allowed to encourage representation and fan fiction and inclusive stories but we should shun stories like LOTR or Narnia or Conan”

            Because it’s not really about inclusiveness, or comprehensiveness, or about advancing knowledge at all. It’s definitely not about building bridges; it’s not even about “fixing” perceived problems. IDpol fanatics are interested in othering and alienating, it’s their bread and butter, it’s the fuel in their motors. That’s why a stupid comment made 10 years back on Twitter is held over someone’s head as if they have been saying similar things all that time, unless it’s that moron Joy Reid or some other apparatchik. It’s about creating a permanent enemy and therefore a permanent war on people and ideas.

        2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

          One other commentor on there and I also pointed out the centrality of Arabian Nights in the Fantasy Corpus. Also, it’s way more accurate to say most of Middle Earth is way more Carolingian France & Germany or 7th century Byzantium than medieval Britain.

        3. Geof

          Howard started out writing historical fiction. When he shifted to fantasy, he took the settings with him, just changing the names a little and adding some magical and Lovecraftian elements. Hyboria is a patchwork that juxtaposes places and periods thousands of kilometers and thousands of years apart – but probably because it draws so strongly on actual times and places it nevertheless feels real.

          I’ve read that the damsels in distress in some of his stories are due to commercial pressures: when he had is own way, he wrote strong women. In “Sword Woman” (written in the 1930s), Agnes’s father drags her off to marry a man she does not want. She instead grabs a dagger and stabs and kills him in front of everyone. Later, when an comrade in arms asks her to ride with him, she responds::

          Let a woman know her proper place: let her milk and spin and sew and bake and bear children, nor look beyond her threshold or the command of her lord and master! Bah! I spit on you all! There is no man alive who can face me with weapons and live, and before I die, I’ll prove it to the world. Women! Cows! Slaves! Whimpering, cringing serfs, crouching to blows, revenging themselves by – taking their own lives, as my sister urged me to do. Hah! You deny me a place among men? By God, I’ll ilve as I please and die as God wills, but if I’m not fit to be a man’s comrade, at least I’ll be no man’s mistress. So go ye to hell, Guiscard de Clisson, and may the devil tear your heart!

          This is classic Howard: insanely pulpy, but with the energy of sincerity. Howard said he felt most alive when in the boxing ring beating and being beaten into a pulp. I don’t think Agnes is necessarily sexist: her attitude towards other woman parallels that of Howard’s male heroes (e.g. Conan) towards civilized men.

          The tension between barbarism and civilization was a major theme of Howard’s writing. Life in civilized society is better (which is why Conan chooses it), but the softness of civilization corrupts: it needs the raw animal energy (I would say masculinity, but see above) of the barbarian to defend it. The defense of the law requires a hard man who is himself outside the law. As RPG designer Kenneth Hite points out, this is the core dynamic of the western (e.g. High Noon, Shane, Seven Samurai). It is common elsewhere (e.g. Batman, The A Team). Other stories explore the theme, e.g. Hamlet (whose problem is that he declines to be the gunslinger), The Godfather, Deadwood.

          Maybe there’s a thread of this in most stories. In the standard adventure plot (not just Joseph Campbell’s hero myth), the protagonist begins in the world of everyday life (first act). Then something upsets the equilibrium and he steps into a world of adventure, danger, etc. (second act). At the end of the story (third act), equilibrium (new or changed) is again established. If ordinary life is life under the law (social convention, whatever), then the story necessarily takes place outside it. It is a muscular version of The Leopard‘s (conservative) “for things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

          Although it often justifies wrong (e.g. the Iraq War), I think this is an essential human story. Seven Samurai is just right. The myth of the hard man is not right or wrong; it is a reflection of the human condition, a paradox we have to confront again and again. There are no pat answers.

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘In the standard adventure plot (not just Joseph Campbell’s hero myth), the protagonist begins in the world of everyday life (first act). Then something upsets the equilibrium and he steps into a world of adventure, danger, etc. (second act). At the end of the story (third act), equilibrium (new or changed) is again established.’

            Damn. That is the plot for The Hobbit.

      2. Ford Prefect

        I look at things in context of the period in which those people lived. I have three major dividing lines:

        1765 when Watt was able to make a truly functional steam engine kick-starting the Industrial Age
        1859 with the publication of the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
        1953 when Watson & Crick figured out DNA’s double-helix allowing for mapping it

        Each of these caused major upheavals of understanding man’s role in society and the world. There were some earlier ones, but they seemed more cyclical and local with substantial regressions at times.

        The Industrial Age started a permanent reduction in population engaged with agriculture causing a massive restructuring of societies and economies. Charles Darwin kicked off a revolutionary change in how man’s place in the universe is regarded. DNA mapping since 1953 has completely eliminated any biological excuses that a particular skin tone or other physical characteristics are indiciative of an inferior being. Anybody who believes today that “Negroes” etc. are inherently inferior is a scientifically proven bigot now. That was not the case even 50 years ago.

        Most thought leaders are a couple of steps ahead of their current time. Not leaping ahead a century or more in one thought should not be something to void their many contributions.So many of the people who want to “cancel” previous generations of key leaders that fostered great change are missing the point. There is a massive difference between eliminating Confederate general statues vs. Gandhi. (BTW – as somebody who moved to the US from Canada, it was always baffling to me why military bases were named after Confederate generals who were traitors to the US – that showed a massive systemic national racism. I understood that a local community in the South would put up Robert E. Lee or something, but federal bases was beyond my ken).

    2. Lex

      I was listening to a comic yesterday talk about the active vocabulary of Shakespeare and the active vocabulary of today’s average American, and how in comparison we’re lost listening to that 16th century language. He said Shakespeare had an active vocabulary of 54k words; our average in the U.S. is around 3k.

      Tolkien was born in 1892 and Lewis in 1898.

      Here is the telling of The Three Little Pigs:

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The daily low vocabulary in the US is about 20k words. Shakespeare used between 17k and 21k depending on spelling, and let’s be honest, many of his words were euphemisms or created for his play.

        I think this is one of those radio myths that spread before people could check the Internet and was simply retold.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m not sure that using the bard as a basis of then & now is any good. The man invented 1,700 words most of which are in common usage still today.

          1. rd

            The primary difficulty with listening to Shakespeare is that words common then are little-used now. But that is no different than an American going to Britain or vice versa today. Just ordering breakfast or finding a restroom, (bathroom, water closet, washroom etc.) can be a challenge if somebody doesn’t know the alternate words.

            Reading things like Jane Austen is similar where key words or phrases may fly right over modern readers heads as they would have had great import then but little specific meaning today. Reading the annotated books of older literature is often very interesting as they provide historical context for an innocent appearing phrase.

      2. zagonostra

        What is also interesting is that Shakespeare wrote/performed his plays for the common bloke and the Puritans were so concerned about the performances corrupting the attendee’s morals that they outlawed the theater a couple of decades after Shakespeare’s death.

        Also curious how the opera around the end of the 16th century was also initially put on for the plebs. I think it was only latter that it became associated with high brow culture.

        1. LifelongLib

          I think that Shakespeare as popular entertainment lasted through the 19th century at least (maybe in part because of most people’s familiarity with the King James Bible?). And I don’t know if it was historically accurate, but I recall a scene in some movie of Al Capone weeping at an opera, and he was no scholar…

    3. David

      I read the Aeon piece a few days ago and thought it was rather odd, but also rather typical of the modern inability to understand that people thought differently in the past, just as no doubt they will think differently in the future. (I have often suggested to people that they reflect on how things they themselves have written will be viewed in the 22nd century). It seems very unlikely to me that time has stopped, and that in (checks watch) 2020 we just happen to have arrived at a point where the definitive correct opinions on everything are well established and widely shared.

      So I don’t think it’s a case of criticising anyone. Words like “racist” and “sexist” in the end don’t signify anything other than the fact that opinions and customs have changed over time, and that what was the norm then isn’t the norm now. Who knows what the norm in fifty years will be? It’s surprising how uncomfortable this elementary observation is for so many people.

      The point about Lewis and colonialism is a good one. Whilst we don’t want to give writers of the past scores out of ten for being Like Us, I was surprised, reading Out of the Silent Planet again a few years ago, to see how strong the criticism of colonialism was. But then of course colonialism was a modern concept (the Empire was at its height when both were writing) and in many ways the critique of colonialism was of a piece with the critique of modernism generally, found in both books, and now looking uncomfortably relevant again in an age when we’re bombing and invading countries for their own good. That’s what makes literature so interesting.

    4. a different chris

      Haha I came into the comments to observe the below, thinking nobody else would even have cared about that link and find a whole good discussion! Anyway, my 2 cents:

      I was reading it and thought… wait a second, I seem to remember (I dunno, maybe it was added in the movies but pretty sure it was in the books) an occasional break over to the Orc’s world.

      And their conversations were pretty much a re-colored version (weapons and long hikes subbing for computers and stupid commutes) of what all of us grumble in our cube-farms. As us, not gifted with enough imagination to visualize a different world, but certainly far from enamored of the one that they were in. Tired/bored workers, testy middle management, over-celebrated leaders. Who says modernity had no place in LOTR?

      1. RMO

        It’s a minor thing but saying that Tolkien was South African but chose to live in Britain as an adult is like saying that my friend’s paternal grandmother was a Norweigian who chose to live in Canada as an adult – they were both moved with the rest of their family when they were three years old.

  6. jr

    No discussion of fantasy is complete without a mention of Dungeons & Dragons! Lewis. and especially Tolkien were extremely influential, both in the development of the game as well as in the minds of players themselves. Many a frustrating afternoon was spent in jr’s household trying to get my “sportsball” cousins and friends to sit still for an hour to play. The video game series “Baldur’s Gate” is a lot of fun as well but nothing like actually playing the game.

    If you want a taste of the game without digging out the books and you want to see some incredible fantasy artwork, check out these guys:

    A.J. Pickett

    (Early D&D players will remember Zargon! He has been updated, look out!)

    Mr. Rhexx

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      Those fantasy games now have as much Asian, Meso American, and Islamic influence as Medieval Europe now. Which makes them a lot like fusion cuisine for the mind.

      1. jr

        Yes, and it’s a great thing. Internally, so to speak, you are now allowed to play a wide swath of different “races”, including goblins, dragon/human hybrids, centaurs, etc. It’s a far cry from the early days and of course has triggered a bit of a backlash from purists, I understand.

        1. Toshiro_Mifune

          The OSR, Old School Revival, would be that backlash. Although backlash may be a harsher term in connotation than really warranted.
          You’ll see 2 main themes when people discuss the ‘why’ of the OSR. One being, some people really liked the older dungeon crawler play style from 1st Ed/Basic/Expert. The second being, even with all of its Tolkien/Vance/etc influences, AD&D 1st Ed/Basic/Expert is clearly someone’s vision of what a fantasy world should be*. That authorial tone got watered down and expunged from later editions.
          Oddly, a large portion of the OSR is younger players in their 20s. I was expecting it to be old farts like myself who started playing in the late 70s and early 80s.

          * Or 2 people’s; Arneson and Gygax

          1. jr

            Thanks for this, I came across this discussion on another blog and some of the commenters struck me as peeved at the notion of hobbits of color, etc., this is clarifying.

            1. Toshiro_Mifune

              Oh, I’m sure you can find knuckleheads who would complain about that.
              Old D&D was weird, the weird was cool. It lost something without the Erol Otus and David Trampier illustrations.

    2. wadge22

      Another former tabletop RPGer here to raise my hand. D&D, Elfquest, Call of Cthulu, DragonBallZ, Starwars… those worlds are practically where I grew up and came of age.

      Glad to hear there are still dorks out there arguing passionately over the rules of a made up game you cannot win.

      1. jr

        “ Glad to hear there are still dorks out there arguing stridently over the rules of a made up game you cannot win.”

        Is this really the conversation for US electoral politics?

  7. The Rev Kev

    “‘Covid ended our marriage’: The couples who split in the pandemic”

    To be expected. Several months ago when the Chinese were coming out of lockdown in places like Wuhan, there was a noticeable uptick in couples seeking to get a divorce. Seems that after spending all that time 24-7 together, they considered their partners and said ‘Nope!’ When I saw that article in Links months ago, it was not hard to figure out that we would be seeing the same in other countries as people there emerged from their own lockdowns.

    1. jr

      In the last few months, there have been convoys of moving trucks moving around and leaving the West Village and no doubt Manhattan in general. Some are fleeing COVID, some are taking advantage of the dropping price of rents (I saw a headline on a local weekly yesterday that claimed rents are dropping by 20% around the city!), and I wonder how many are due to people realizing when they are forced to spend time with their partners, no longer distracted by all consuming office jobs perhaps, that they don’t have a lot in common. My girlfriend and I have grown stronger together, I’m happy to say, but I can see a lot of people saying “What the hell am I doing?!” when they suddenly have the time and sustained proximity to assess their relationships.

      1. Wukchumni

        My wife and I have been retired for 15 years and in each others face & space pretty much all the time, and little did I know that we were really in training for a pandemic, so nothing has changed in our relationship, we were just ahead of the curve, or was it a change up?

        1. jr

          The girlfriend and I used to work opposite schedules so this was a big change for us. But we pulled it off! I think it helped that I’ve been living in an ongoing disaster for 40 years, I helped cushion the blows for her.

      2. Ella

        Add a kid home or remote schooling and the story changes. It would be dreadful to juggle a split up and the logistics with 2 full time jobs and a kid home. I think this is for those who actually have time to think for a minute about anything other than work, schooling, parenting, cooking, cleaning, scheduling, feeding the dog, laundry….you getbthe picture.

    2. Lee

      “I married him for better or worse, but not for lunch.” Attributed to Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, among others, IIRC.

  8. Louis Fyne

    re. free masks

    the country still can’t produce its own sanitzer or latex gloves, let one melt-blown material

    At the local Big Box, they have an excess of hand sanitizer—so much so that the 20+ boxes are one display in one corner of the store.

    Not one box/brand is “Made in USA”. All the corn and ethanol in the world, and the US can’t even make competitively priced hand sanitizer.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps JB will advocate that the masks be provided at public expense if Congress agrees to slash Social Security and Medicare.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “A lawsuit in Georgia claims that nearly 200,000 registered voters were improperly purged.”

    Really? When 200,000 voters were expunged in New York in 2016, there was not that big a hoo-ha about it. I think that most of those vote were in Brooklyn and was that not where Hillary’s HQ was located back then? Anyway, the NY Board of Elections got a stern talking to about that one and they promised not to do it again. Until they did again later. But getting back to Georgia, Trump’s team has made charges of fraud going on. And this time, they actually have some evidence. A video clip shows ‘suitcases filled with ballots pulled from under a table AFTER supervisors told poll workers to leave room and 4 people stayed behind to keep counting votes.’ Did they not realize that there were cameras running? Or did they not care?

    1. WhoaMolly

      How many ballots fit in a carry-on rolling suitcase? My back of napkin guess is 5,000.

      Maybe its time to end the farce of voting and just auction off the positions.

      re: Did they not realize that there were cameras running? Or did they not care?_
      Didnt care. Its not like anyone is going to actually enforce the law.

    2. marym

      “Two high-level officials with the Georgia secretary of state’s office and a state elections board monitor each told Lead Stories that their investigations revealed nothing suspicious in the video. The officials said the ballots seen in the video were in regular ballot containers — not suitcases — and they had been removed from their envelopes and processed while news media and election observers for the Republican Party and Trump campaign were present. The media and party observers were never told to leave because counting was over for the night, but they apparently followed workers who left once their job of opening envelopes was completed, the chief investigator for the secretary of state told Lead Stories. The observers were free to return at anytime, she said. Georgia law allows observers, but does not require them to be there for ballots to be counted, she said.”

      fyi: This was the first time I heard of It’s a fact checker site of the RAND corporation. The sources are Gabriel Sterling, a Republican and Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, Frances Watson, chief investigator for the Georgia secretary of state, and a state election board monitor, who asked for his name not to be used due to safety concerns. Sterling has also tweeted that SoS investigators watched hours of the full tape.

      1. fresno dan

        December 4, 2020 at 10:06 am

        There is no evidence that Lin Wood and Sidney Powell are secretly working for the Democratic National Committee, but no one has definitively disproved it, either.

        That’s the kind of conspiratorial reasoning that the Wood-Powell duo, with their deep commitment to wild and unfalsifiable charges, might apply to themselves.

        The two Trump-allied lawyers have made themselves into wrecking balls against the Republican Party of Georgia, whose top elected officials, they allege, are involved in the most dastardly and far-reaching conspiracy in American history.
        Now, back when I wore the rabbit eared antennaed pink bunny slippers, transmitting directly to Putin from my basement lair, I once asked who we were actually trying to get to win – the democrats or republicans?
        And the answer was: Both
        because having a dem or repub in power is the most surefire way to screw the county up…

      2. WhoaMolly

        Scott Adams called fake news on the story too.

        I initially bought the story. Now thinking ‘Maybe’.

      3. WhoaMolly

        Re: fyi: This was the first time I heard of It’s a fact checker site of the RAND corporation
        I see nothing on fact check site saying who pays for it. Anonymous fact checking?

        Let me put on my tinfoil hat for a moment… looks like a lot of neutral fact checking for setting up validity to cover for occasional politically biased pieces

        Short version: it sets off my “caution” detector

        1. marym

          When I consider posting from a mainstream fact-checker I try to review the item for the types of sources, additional links and the logic of the argument. Often it’s known mainstream sources and fact-checkers like politifact where I’m sure NC readers already have their own evaluations and levels of skepticism.

          This one was new to me, though it may not be to others. It raised a flag with me too, so I added some info about the specific sources, and about the people who had reviewed the whole tape. A subsequent tweet from Sterling says the Trump team had the whole original tape too.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      If you click through your link to the tweet containing the video, there a notice added by twitter saying “! This claim about election fraud is disputed.”, and if you click that it takes you to this tweet about voter fraud:

      Not only is this added notice condescending in the extreme, but the tweet from Trump’s team, although it does not specifically mention it, is alleging election fraud, not voter fraud.

      I don’t know if that video proves what it claims to or not, but I do know that I’m tired of living in an idiocracy where whatever happened during this election cycle – whether it’s rigging the primaries against Sanders with the unbelievable results in Iowa starting things off, the night of the long knives sponsored by Obama prompting frontrunners to drop out in favor of Biden, or a general election held using a dysfunctional system and millions of votes counted by easily hackable, unauditable and unreliable machines – it’s pretty clear we’re never going to get to the bottom of it.

      And yet somehow the powers that be still expect us mopes to consider the US government to be a legitimate institution.

    4. Aumua

      Another bombshell which when you actually look at it, doesn’t seem to add up to much. I mean these tiny videos could be showing any of a dozen different things happening, but all you gotta do is print in big bold capital letters BLATANT FRAUD and those who want to believe it automatically do believe it. Because it sounds true or whatever.

      I note that this supposed RT ‘news story’ has no author(s) at all. We’re living in the age of fake news, deep fakes and alternate facts and yet critical thinking and healthy skepticism is at an all time low. The writing on the wall is not very encouraging. Before someone jumps on me I am well aware that this analysis applies to liberals/democrats just as well, when it comes to their preferred beliefs.

      1. Milton

        The RT story is about the Trump legal team’s claim of voter fraud and the inclusion of a video in support of that allegation. The article never claims that the video is verified and in fact, uses alledged multiple times in this brief writeup they also muster to add in “purportedly” as well. Too bad mainstream outfits couldn’t follow the same model in their Russia, Russia, Russia reporting.

    1. Cuibono

      IMO this should not be overlooked. African data is also suggestive of benefit. I wonder when we might see RCT results?

  10. Jeff W

    However, Trump could only pardon himself with respect to Federal law matters.

    Huh, what? Isn’t that the case for anyone that Trump pardons? (And, in any event, I think you mean “However, Trump could pardon himself only with respect to Federal law matters.”)

  11. Tom Stone

    I see AOC is criticizing Congress for going on vacation when millions of Americans will shortly become homeless in the midst of a pandemic.
    Sigh, she doesn’t get it.
    It’s a feature, not a bug.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This isn’t fair. DC is Hollywood for ugly people. AOC is likely the first time these people have been criticized in any real way outside of generic cut and paste fliers expected from the other side. Theyvery been too comfortable. Rahm Emmanuel was known to people like me as both terrible and incompetent back in 2008, but too few people said anything.

      I saw the future congress critter from Brooklyn Jones tweeted Obama’s own words against him. It’s particularly notable how little the contents of Obama’s book are being brought up by his fans. 12 years ago, Obama faced no real criticism except screeds from the GOP, Hillary and Brock. This is the first time bad actors are being named.

      To a certain extent, every Biden appointment is light years better than every Obama appointment. AOC can’t fix it alone.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t like juxatoposition. I mean the bulk of DC electeds and their star courtiers are ugly celebrities even if they don’t quite realize it. AOC is one of the few actual Congress critters despite her star status.

      2. polecat

        Yeah well, with regard to Biddn’$ ‘appointments’ .. ‘Light years’ looks to me as a warp-speed wormhole trip to Doom. Then we lowmokes can All experience the joys of censorship & silence – courtesy of those ‘benign’ techbro/broesses, not to mention BIG-Science … forcibly ensconced inside our disparate 6 foot bubbles, shoved screaming into the mouth of $chwabianHeLL madness!

        No thanks

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Smartphone Data: Many Americans Ignored Thanksgiving Travel Warnings From The CDC”

    What else can you say? ‘No sh*t, Sherlock.’

      1. Edward

        This is what is interesting about Trump’s complaints about voting fraud or the Dems claims about “Russian hacking”. Both parties seem guilty of tampering with the vote but seem unconcerned about drawing public attention to the voting process.

      2. marym

        From the National Conference of State Legislatures
        “State statutes govern this choice and thus state legislators are the policymakers in this area. Federal voluntary guidelines do not, at this point, address whether certifiable equipment must have an auditable paper record.”

        There may have been further progress. The report shows IL without a user-verifiable paper trail, but there is one now at least in Cook County. GA did a full hand recount/audit for this year’s presidential ele toction.

        Paper trail status by state as of 06/2019
        Recount/audit process by state as of 10/2019

        Reporting on this year’s “controversies” has included reports of counting and recounting in public, recorded on cameras visible to the counters, and live streamed.

        Lots of room for improvement of process (and candidates) of course.

        1. Edward

          A paper trail is a step in the right direction, but by itself is not enough, and could create a false sense of security. What is annoying about this problem is the two parties don’t seem to want secure elections, except maybe when they are accusing the other side of cheating. So the real problem is not what measures you could take to prevent cheating, which actually isn’t that hard to do, but how you overcome official obstruction. I have yet to encounter an argument against the viability of paper ballots, hand counted in public, and yet the politicians never bring up this option, as if it doesn’t exist. For all Trump’s shenanigans, I am grateful he is forcing this issue. Hopefully, voters will now put a fire under the government to make the voting secure. If Democrats want to claim the elections are secure– fine. Let them prove this with deeds, not words, by adopting paper ballots, hand-counted in public. I doubt words without deeds will impress many skeptics. Unfortunately, the Republicans have been doing a terrible job challenging the election results. They have not been calling for more secure voting as far as I can tell, beyond questioning mail-in voting, and this is really the key issue, IMO.

    1. ArvidMartensen

      People are looking at the election circus all wrong. Yep, Trump is bringing all sorts of crazy legal actions against whoever to ostensibly get the votes recounted.

      But as in everything to do with politics, nothing is as it seems. So of course there was election fraud by both sides, each party puts their foot on the scales to swing the result – tampering with machines, deregistering voters, voting in the names of the deceased, the list is well known. Whatever it takes.
      The question is, whose fraud was more successful this time? Must be the Democrats, qed.

      When Trump won, the Obama/Clinton gang immediately called foul. The results could not have been legitimate they said in various ways. The Dems have stymied Trump every second of every day for 4 years. Patricians never accept a vote which goes the way of the unwashed. And Obama sees himself as the apex patrician.

      So if you look at what Trump is doing as payback time, you would be closer to the truth. The msm really does everyone a disservice by continually banging on about how Trump is an idiot. He might be a lot of things, but he is also a manipulative, revengeful btard. He is in effect saying to the Dems, you made my life hell for 4 years, you took away my right to be President, so I am going to repay the favour a hundred ways to Christmas.

      I think all these law suits are a vendetta, and it will go on while he is alive and has a dollar and a supporter. Strap in for a crazy ride, team USA.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          If the votes of the voters really counted for something, then this would/could not be true. .
          “…..mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence” on US government policy.

          A more recent study on the data using the latest AI techniques has found the same result and more so, but I cannot find the link right now.

          Voting is circuses. The voters cannot be further disenfranchised if they have no say in the country’s policies already. That is why there is no M4A, and why deaths in the US from Covid are astounding and nobody in power seems to really care.

        2. Edward

          In a way, the Republicans don’t need smoking-gun proof of fraud. It is enough for the Republicans to say the elections are not secure, which is true. Especially in politics, why should you just blindly trust in the good behavior and ethics of the people managing the voting? If the elections are not secure, that by itself should be grounds for invalidating them. I would like to see the Democratic primary, and the general election done over, with paper ballots, hand-counted in public, and international observers. I would be curious to know Jimmy Carter’s thoughts on what should be done.

          1. Edward

            Of course the problem with Republicans complaining about the election vulnerabilities is they are in charge; they are often the people running the elections. They would just be accusing themselves.

          2. marym

            “The Carter Center congratulates Georgia’s 159 counties and office of the secretary of state on their successful completion of the audit of the Nov. 3 presidential election. The conduct of the audit, which constituted the largest hand tally of an election race in U.S. history, was particularly impressive given that counties had less than 48 hours to prepare for the process, which was carried out in a highly politicized environment and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic…

            The Carter Center, which has observed more than 110 elections in 39 countries, was the only nonpartisan organization monitoring the audit and was credentialed by the office of the secretary of state to provide an impartial assessment of the implementation of the audit process.”


            Because of the variety of candidates, parties, offices, and initiatives, I’m skeptical of whether completely hand-counted ballots is a feasible goal. I’d like to know if other countries have dealt with this on a level that would be needed for the US.

            In the meantime, the new touchscreens which generate a “ballot” that has a voter-verifiable list of the choices made plus encoded data for scanning is at least auditable, as are mail ballots. In informally following some of this year’s controversies, I’ve seen a lot of checks and balances and types of transparencies within the process which can maybe be improved a lot.

            As far as trusting the behavior and ethics of the people managing the voting, the disdain for the working class poll workers, ballot handlers and counters, and canvassers that’s been part of this evidence-free effort to discredit the process has been appalling.

            And of course we need better candidates.

            1. Edward

              I am puzzled that you claim there is no evidence of fraud. The four articles that I referred to in my initial comment offer precisely such evidence. I have copied below an excerpt from the third one, “Believe the Science”.

              We should not have a “faith-based” election system. Important matters such as elections or other transactions should be conducted in a transparent way that is designed to prevent cheating. There should not be a class of people that are exempt from scrutiny or from the rules that apply to everyone else.

              Believe the Science

              As the American media continues to claim that no evidence for widespread voter fraud exists, many independent forensic data analysts, who have analyzed data scrapes from Edison Research found quite the opposite.

              Since November 4th, there have been dozens of statistical analyses completed by data scientists, showing statistical impossibilities in hundreds of counties across the country.

              One thorough scientific analysis published calls into question the legitimacy of Biden victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia.

              This analysis was a through review of 8,954 vote updates and highlighted four decisive updates, which were the most anomalous updates in the entire data set. The experts found that each of the vote updates do not follow the generally observed pattern, and the anomalous behavior of those updates is particularly extreme.

              Another scientific analysis by data scientists revealed How Pennsylvania Democrats Used Fake Voter Registration “Birthdays” to Commit Voter Fraud.

              The analysts constructed a new metric of potential voter fraud using suspicious distributions of birthdays in Pennsylvania voter registration data. Under this metric, a number of counties in Pennsylvania have extremely unlikely distributions of voter birthdays. Seven counties representing almost 1.4 million votes total (Northumberland, Delaware, Montgomery, Lawrence, Dauphin, LeHigh, and Luzerne) have suspicious birthdays above the 99.5th percentile of plausible distributions, even when using conservative assumptions about what these distributions should look like.

              Another statistical analyst recently revealed a scenario of how Democrats pulled off massive fraud in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania with ballot harvesting on a massive scale.

              Another scientific analysis looked at the shift in voting patterns that occurred between the 2016 and 2020 elections to identify suspicious counties. The two with the largest shifts were Oakland and Wayne in Michigan.

              Experts analyzed the election data from the two Michigan counties, and concluded that there are major statistical aberrations that are extremely unlikely to occur naturally. Using more conventional statistical analyses, they identified nine total different counties in Michigan alone with abnormal results.
              Their expert recommendation was that those Michigan counties should have an audited recount for every ballot and signature.
              According to another analysis by William M Briggs, PhD, approximately 154,000 votes have gone missing across several states. In Pennsylvania alone, there were around 30,000 Republican ballots not accounted for.
              According to yet another expert analysis by Dr. Kershavarz-Nia who has a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D in various areas of computer engineering, Dominion memory cards with cryptographic key access to the systems were stolen in 2019.

              Kershavarz-Nia has also trained with the CIA, NSA, and DHS office of Intelligence & Analysis. He is arguably the best and most experienced cyber security expert in the world. His technical expertise was touted by the New York Times and he has been described as a hero in the Washington Monthly. The findings in his nine-page affidavit is summed up as follows:

              “I conclude with high confidence that the election 2020 data were altered in all battleground states resulting in hundreds of thousands of votes that were cast for President Trump to be transferred to Vice President Biden. These alterations were the result of systemic and widespread exploitable vulnerabilities in DVS, Scytl/SOE Software and Smartmatic systems that enabled operators to achieve the desired results. In my view, the evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible.”

              1. bob

                “Another scientific analysis looked at the shift in voting patterns that occurred between the 2016 and 2020 elections to identify suspicious counties.”

                They did a scientific?

                “… that enabled operators to achieve the desired results.”

                LOL’ing. Operators!

                Tom Clancy puts more ‘scientific’ into his operator porn

                1. Edward

                  There are “lies damn lies, and statistics”. Yes, the statistical analysis could be wrong. But do you have a specific error you can point to, or are you just dismissing the reports out of hand?

      1. HotFlash

        The question is, whose fraud was more successful this time? Must be the Democrats, qed.

        I submit that the Dem win is the result of, um, massaging by both parties. The Republican establishment was no friend of that loose canon, Trump, and as sure as Obama put his leaden hand on the Dem primary to kill Bernie Sanders’ nomination, the Republican establishment was standing by to make sure that their incumbent was not returned.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          Yep, good point. Trump went to Washington as “Nigel No’Friends”, and then things went downhill.

  13. Jim Hannan

    Regarding the Michele Lujan Grisham article, I believe that Biden should learn from some Obama mistakes.
    Obama named three sitting politicians to his cabinet that had adverse effects. The three were Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sibelius and Ken Salazar.
    Napolitano was the sitting governor in Arizona, quite popular, and at the time in 2008 was polling 10 points ahead of John McCain in a 2010 senate race. When Napolitano left Arizona to become head of Homeland Security she was replaced by a Republican Secretary of State, Jan Brewer. This was a devastating blow to Arizona politically, giving Republicans total governmental control which it still has 12 years later.
    Kathleen Sibelius was a popular Kansas Governor. Obama appointed her as head of Health and Human Services. She too had a promising future career in Kansas, including a possible upcoming Kansas senate seat.
    Ken Salazar was a popular US Senator from Colorado, appointed to Interior Department. I believe his appointment again weakened the Democratic Party in Colorado. He was one of the pre-eminent Hispanic national politicians at the time.
    Michele Lujan Grisham was elected to New Mexico Governor in 2018. She has led the state through covid with a strong hand. In the 2020 elections, New Mexico elected a new group of progressive legislators. Working with the sitting governor, they have the potential to make some significant changes in New Mexico policies.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The sentiment here in Slim’s Tucson neighborhood: What did Janet Napolitano know about Homeland Security? Our neighborly consensus was nothing, zero, zip, nada.

      After the Napster went to DC, her name was mud in this state. Oh, excuse me. I just insulted mud.

    2. edmondo

      Who in their right mind would want to be in Biden’s cabinet – except our futurte Secretary of Labor (talk about asking for small potatos) Bernie Sanders? I guess a resume stain like working for Joe Biden seems less of an issue when you are 80 years old.

  14. Kurt Sperry

    First in line for Covid vaccine? Some US health care workers say no MedicalXpress (resilc)

    I understand the reluctance but I’m not sure people should be asked to go to a hospital or medical facility with staff present who have refused vaccination while others haven’t yet even had the chance to be vaccinated.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      It would probably be prudent to respect the concerns of frontline “workers,” since they may be willing to put their money where their mouth is. With respect to vaccines, it has happened before:

      Combat pilots in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are quitting rather than take Anthrax shots, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports.

      The departure of veteran pilots, many with experience in Kosovo and the Gulf War, is creating huge holes in some military air units. CBS News spoke with over 100 pilots concerned about the vaccine.

      Pentagon officials insist the vaccine is safe, pure and effective — and say the vaccination program is going smoothly.

      “Generally speaking, this is not a significant issue. It has not had any effect on readiness at this juncture,” said Charles Cragin, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.

      But military memos obtained by CBS News tell a different story. One squadron commander writes, “Due to the controversy regarding the shots, compliance has been very low.” Another acknowledges, “We are losing a lot of experience.”

      Maybe those courageous ex-presidents will be wiling to suit up and pitch in.

  15. chuck roast

    Revolt of the Elites

    A classic indeed. I’m reading it now on a tip from a NC fellow traveler. Amazing that Lasch wrote it in 1995. The writes about the sort of things that we flog on a daily bases here. Every page is revealing and spot on. As I recall Lasch was a controversial figure in the academic field of American History. My take on his method is that he does a rigorous materialist analysis without lapsing into Marxist jargon. And my guess is that this is precisely what made him controversial back in the day. But, it also made him an employable professor.

  16. Kurt Sperry

    Pfizer chairman: We’re not sure if someone can transmit virus after vaccination The Hill (UserFriendly)

    Have there ever been vaccines that reliably confer immunity to infection but then not prevent contagion? Sounds unlikely AF, even if you can’t automatically assume it to be the case lacking strong proof.

    1. no one

      I recently went for the new shingles vaccine, and my MD volunteered that the vaccine would not prevent me from getting shingles but would ameliorate the outcome. If the new COVID-19 vaccines work the same way, many of us will experience some level of illness even if we get the shot(s). Even if the virus is not transmitted by vaccinated people, which won’t be known for some time, the logistics of modern life in a developed nation mean that the potential for exposure will continue for years. Although we are willing to mask up and social distance indefinitely, my husband and I have resigned ourselves to the fact that we will get the disease eventually. We just hope that we don’t get sick before we are vaccinated and that our CV will be mild.

      1. HotFlash

        Shingles is a different critter.* You already have the virus in your body, usu from having chickenpox as a child. The shingles manifestation is due to a reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV)and usually occurs years, even decades, after having ‘recovered’ from the chickenpox. Being vaccinated against chickenpox *seems* to reduce the chance of having shingles, but even that is disputed.

        Now, if the VZV as been in one’s (in my case, my) system and was still strong enough to, 60-some odd years, overnight *boom* take over an entire nerve branch, it seems to me that I might have been somehow contagious all that time. Cannot locate any medical comment on this topic, although I am already getting ads for shingles vaccination.

        These viruses, they are strange and mysterious.

        * although we are already getting some evidence of serious after effects in people who have ‘recovered’ from CoViD-19.

      2. jax

        Shingles vaccine. ‘No one’ – if the vaccine ameliorates a case of shingles even at 1/10th the pain you will be happy beyond belief that you took it. Two years ago I was laid low by Shingles. People, including doctors, don’t take these attacks as seriously as they should. After suffering for a month, I had to literally jump up and down in my doctor’s office to obtain pain remediation. My life long hatred of our medical system ratcheted up a notch after that debacle.

        1. RMO

          My mother in law’s doctor misdiagnosed her early shingles symptoms so she didn’t get treatment until it got significantly worse. She still has lingering problems from it. I got shingles in my early 30’s. I was diagnosed probably within a few days of it first flaring up and with the antiviral I was prescribed (along with a bunch of codeine) the experience was over in less than two weeks.

          As far as I know you’re only contagious during the shingles outbreak and then, only to people who have never had chickenpox.

  17. Mikel

    RE: “No Escape From Our Techno-Feudal World” Pepe Escobar, Asia Times (Chuck L)

    No lie. To continue reading this article I would have to create a AT+ account to sign in to.
    Pass. Doing that pass on creating sign ins as much as possible and for as long as possible.

      1. flora

        Thanks. This para jumped out:
        Is there a possible way out? The temptation is to go radical – a Blake/Burroughs crossover. We have to expand our scope of comprehension – and stop confusing the map (as shown in the Magna Carta) with the territory (our perception).

        I recall the ‘map’ created by digital data is often skewed. Did the polls this year reflect the real, analog world, or did they reflect only the digital data collected (assuming even that it was accurate data – always a question) . Or Google search results. For example.
        “We have to …stop confusing the map… with the territory….”

  18. Mikel

    RE: “Making Sense of Sky-High Stock Prices”Project Syndicate

    Outside of class war the best explanation was that article on NC a couple of months or so ago that said stock prices are an expression of power.
    Can’t remember the authors or title, but I wish NC would post it again. Please?

    1. edmondo

      They just gave away $5 trillion dollars to the richest people in the world. Do you think they are going to put it into a passbook savings account? Of course stocks are screaming. It’s 1929 all over again but this time it’s Uncle Sugar’s money on the line. Besides, if they lose it all, they will just print more.

      1. Robert Hahl

        I wonder if the Belt and Road project is causing U.S. assets to rise. The Chinese must be spending a a lot of their trillion$ on it and those dollars have to end up somewhere.

      2. Mikel

        And it’s so they can still feel powerful and secure…and project power…while evryrhing crumbles around them.

        And all this new interst in the stock market is just people going to where the bailouts are constantly churning. They can’t count on jobs, but they know what is always going to be propped up no matter how phony.

      3. Glen

        The money from Congress is only the latest, the Fed has dumped about $36 TRILLION in zero interest money into Wall St since 2008, and dumped an estimated $14 TRILLION into Wall St for the 2008 bank bailouts.

        The problem now isn’t so much that Wall St is “surging”, it’s that this free money is started to seriously distort everything else because the reality is – you cannot make a decent return on your investment in the stock market anymore. So where is PE going with all that money?

        Rents are surging. Home costs are surging – PE is buying homes.
        Health care cost are surging – PE is buying clinics and is doing “surprise” billing.
        Material costs are surging. Wall St banks are manipulating basic metal prices.

        Soon they will figure out we need to eat, and food costs will soar.

  19. flora

    re: Explaining Our Morbid Political Symptoms – Jacobin

    A very interesting read. Brown neatly describes the importance of broad philosophy to political action and the neoliberal philosophy as she reads it in depth. She’s right about its narrow, authoritarian, anti-democratic foundation. I appreciate her investigation.

    Where her description of neoliberal philosophy takes the neolib speakers at their words – the govt should not care for social demands or allow itself to be captured by capital – is where she falters, imo; first, because the neolibs public descriptions of the govt they say they prefer amounts to “assume a govt can opener.” And second, the neolibs lie to achieve their ends; they’re on record as promoting stealth as a strategy. I think the neolibs intend capital capture of govts, their protestations not withstanding. Removing public good, public interest as a force from govt actions leaves only markets and capital as a force controlling govt actions. Govt capture.

    1. flora

      much shorter: Brown seems to have more charitable interpretation of Hayek and Friedman’s intent than do I.

      1. RMO

        HSBC is gonna be angry – laundering drug money is their turf! And when they got caught all they had do do was say “Uhh, yeah…. sorry or whatever.”

  20. fresno dan

    U.S. Attorney John Durham asked a federal judge on Thursday for a prison sentence of up to six months for Kevin Clinesmith, the former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email that he used to apply for a FISA warrant against former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page.

    In a court filing on Thursday, Durham asked the judge to sentence Clinesmith to a jail term “between the middle and upper end” of the recommended sentence for the crime of making false statements in writing.

    The CIA had made the Crossfire Hurricane team aware of Page’s work as an “operational contact” in August 2016, according to the IG report. The agents who knew of Page’s work with the CIA failed to include that information in the initial FISA application against Page.

    If the FBI had discovered that Page was a source for the CIA it would have “drastically” changed how the bureau handled the FISA applications, Clinesmith told the IG.
    UH, the FBI did know that Page worked for the CIA – it purposefully arranged things to make it appear that it did not. Clinesmith was not magically the ONLY person to know Page had worked for the CIA, Clinesmith was the one who did something actively to harm Page. The others’ crime was of omission, not commission. IMHO everybody who was at the meeting with CIA about Page should serve jail time.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Kevin Clinesmith, henceforth to be known as Lynndie England.

      Lynndie Rana England (born November 8, 1982)[1] is a war criminal and former United States Army Reserve soldier who served in the 372nd Military Police Company and became known for her involvement in the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal. She was one of 11 military personnel convicted in 2005 by Army courts-martial for mistreating detainees and other crimes in connection with the torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad during the occupation of Iraq.[2] She was sentenced to three years in prison and dishonorably discharged from the Army. England was incarcerated from September 27, 2005 to March 1, 2007 when she was released on parole.

  21. Chauncey Gardiner

    Could be wrong, but I feel Sabrina Meng’s arrest and efforts re her extradition from Canada had more to do with an effort to impede Huawei’s rollout of its 5G technology than her ostensibly deceiving the Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation into violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Germany’s approval of Huawei to build out part of its 5G network, and the refusal by Japan, South Korea and others to exclude Huawei as an equipment provider, appear to moot the real issue:

    IMO Ms. Meng’s release would be a constructive move toward reducing tensions with China, which I feel is a worthwhile policy goal. Doesn’t mean we need to surrender our national interests, or those of our allies and friends in East Asia and elsewhere. Just a recognition that a deteriorating adversarial relationship with China is not in our common interest.

    I would add that I’m not a fan of authoritarian regimes, that I believe intellectual property theft should be sanctioned, and that I stand opposed to China’s incarceration of pro-democracy activists and journalists in Hong Kong, and their treatment of the Uighurs. However, those issues appear to have little to do with Ms. Meng’s situation and can be better addressed through other avenues.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It seems that Iraq receives payment for its oil into a bank – located in America. That explains a lot. So I wonder if the oil that Iraq sells China may end up in a different bank. One that is not American owned. That would loosen the controls on Iraq which may be why that blacklisting.

  22. Wukchumni

    Man, I feel like i’m the only person here who doesn’t do fantasy games, not that there’s anything wrong with reality.

    1. ambrit

      Wait just a minute there pardner! You live in the “Misty Mountains” for Heaven’s sake!
      Addendum: strange are the ways of Skynet.

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